Search as lead-gen

Offers key to success

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Most marketers, however, consider the offer a key to success—a strategy that informs their search marketing approach, too.

Brent Shean, senior manager-audience acquisition at IT Business Edge, an online publisher of business technology topics, makes sure offers such as white papers or tech management e-books are mentioned in the headlines of his paid-search ads. That, he said, drives visitors to the company’s website, where they get their premium only if they register and sign up for one or more of the company’s newsletters.

"We find that getting people to sign up with a newsletter is key, a lifetime value, so we’re nurturing people along as best we can," Shean said.

Industry observers say the future of search marketing as a lead-gen tool will involve organic search and SEO, which will complement the already well-understood paid-search part of the equation.

"CMOs need to be able to track, measure and understand the returns associated from investments in organic search," said Gregg Makuch, CMO of search optimization company Enquisite Inc.

"In order for organic to be on the same plane as PPC or other direct-response media, marketers need to be able to link investments with actual results, such as more online traffic, leads and conversions into customers," Makuch said. "CMOs need to understand their ROI from organic search and easily compare it with PPC, e-mail, direct mail, etc., to better allocate media budgets."

Mathieu echoed that observation: "I do believe there is a continuous cycle of improvement," he said. "As tools get better, people get better, learn more and optimize not only their websites but their own marketing skills as well."

Originally published Sept. 14, 2009

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