Integrating e-mail and search campaigns

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Last year, the luster of social media dimmed search engine marketing’s star. But according to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO’s) sixth annual “State of Search Engine Marketing Report,” released in March, the search market is expected to spring back in 2010. The report, based on a global online survey of more than 1,500 marketers and agency respondents, estimated that the North American search engine marketing industry will grow from $14.6 billion in 2009 to $16.6 billion by the end of this year—a 14% change. But this increase won’t come from e-mail budgets. (The report found that 49% of respondents would be shifting that money from print and 36% would be shifting it from direct mail.) In fact, said Nicholas Einstein, director of strategic & analytic services for Datran Media, this shift in spending only illuminates an opportunity for e-mail marketers.

“I don’t see people doing it very often, but marketers should be thinking about campaigns that bring search and e-mail together,” he said. “By combining the two you can build your e-mail list and drive opt-ins.”

Marketers overlook the opportunity because search, especially in some categories, can be very expensive and competitive, so they focus only on the core business objective of driving near-term incremental revenue while overlooking the long term, Einstein said. Here are four things he said everyone should be thinking about when planning any search campaign:

  1. Include an e-mail sign-up on every search landing page, and make it very visible. “This is a huge opportunity because, when someone opts in when they find you via search, you can tie back any e-mails to the original search terms,” he said.

    Simply put, if someone searches “green Web server,” you know that they will probably be open to e-mail campaigns that focus on that topic.

  2. Tightly integrate search and e-mail marketing. What was the subject of this week’s e-newsletter? Did you update your paid search terms to reflect it? If you didn’t, you may be missing out. “If a current reader does a search for something they see in your newsletter and you’re the first paid link on the page, it boosts your visibility and caché in that customer’s eyes,” Einstein said. “Whether you’re pushing a white paper, or a conference or whatever topic, a tightly aligned campaign is going to generate synergy.”
  3. Post e-newsletter content to boost organic search rankings. Hosting versions of the newsletter on your website—in proper directory structure, of course—creates content that’s multipurpose and will be indexed by search engines, Einstein said. “It’s low-hanging fruit,” he said.
  4. Don’t get lazy. You might think that you can use the same landing page for an e-mail marketing campaign that you use for a paid search campaign. This is very rare, Einstein said. “Someone who comes to a landing page from search might have different needs than someone coming to the landing page from e-mail,” he said.

    For one thing, a searcher probably doesn’t know the basics about your company, and in some cases that click may be their first introduction to it, Einstein said. “You really need to hone your message for each specific channel and test different messages and content strategies based on individual channels,” he said.

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