Whether your company’s Search Engine Marketing (SEM = SEO + PPC) work is done in-house or by an outside consultant, SEM efforts are all too often done in a silo with little knowledge of the company’s other marketing efforts (off-line advertising, in-store branding, events, social, etc.). There are many potential reasons for this: SEM roles tending to be dominated by data analysts and kept separate from other more traditional marketing functions; SEM efforts being outsourced to specialists that are solely focused on CTRs or moving your company up in organic search; or the good, old “lack of communication” between business functions in general. Regardless of the causes, having a disconnect between your SEM strategies and your other marketing efforts can be a recipe for disaster. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Brand Consistency
Most successful companies spend a great deal of time and effort honing their brand image. Are you a low cost leader (Walmart)? A luxury brand (BMW)? Hip and urban (FUBU)? Functional and trustworthy (Tums)? Is excellent customer service your difference maker (Nordstrom’s)? Great brands usually have between one and three core brand attributes that help define it in potential customers’ eyes. Deviating from this core message can cause a customer to be confused and can hurt your brand’s creditability. Increasingly, the very first impression your brand makes with a potential customer is found on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and this needs to match up with the company’s core attributes, regardless of the temptation to improve CTR by claiming to be the lowest cost or producing a controversial infographic to improve SEO (if those attributes don’t match your brand).
2. Funnel Creativity
Even though SEM professionals tend to be on the data analysis side of things – many actually do enjoy the opportunity to be creative (infographics, catchy adwords ads, unique blog content, etc.). If your SEM people are “in-the-loop” about upcoming marketing efforts (a social media contest, a creative ad campaign, etc.), they can unleash their pent-up creativity in ways that can complement those other efforts while also improving upon their own key metrics (like CTR).
3. Congruent Goals
Lastly, a company may have differing goals for various aspects of their business or product lines. An appliance company may be a low cost leader that makes most of their profits later via service contracts. A software company may be transitioning away from its additional consulting services to concentrate on new product R & D. The more your SEM people understand your business model and revenue streams, the better they will be able to prioritize their efforts, be more efficient, and increase the company’s bottom line.
If you suspect that a disconnect indeed exists between your company’s SEM strategies and its other marketing efforts the obvious place to start is better communication, both from the top down and across marketing functions. If not easily done – encourage your SEM people to at least follow the company’s investor relations, press releases, CEO and CMO interviews, or perhaps sit in and observe an occasional higher-level marketing meeting. If you hire an outside SEM firm – look for ones that ask about your brand attributes, other marketing efforts and general business goals. If you already work with an outside SEM firm – make sure they fully understand these aspects about your business and keep them in-the-loop as your relationship continues.