Tom Manning, Business Director and Head of PPC at Forward3D, shares his perspective on Search Marketing and Planning.
The Importance of Search as a Marketing Channel
There are two reasons why search is right at the heart of the digital marketing mix. The first is quite simply the sheer volume of traffic, conversions and transactions that it drives. For our clients, it’s sometimes as much as 50%. No other channel is going to deliver that much by itself.
The second reason is the influence that search has on other channels. It has a direct influence, in that you can get real-time results from tests and can use these to inform other channels.
But it also has an indirect influence on how other channels are optimised. Advertisers are now accustomed to using search for optimisation and receiving real-time performance data to shape their decisions. This makes it harder for other channels to hide behind a lack of data or to guess at an activity’s potential outcome. Now that we have the data to prove it in search, we expect other channels to deliver that same level of performance impact.
The Skills Required to be an Effective Search Marketer
What makes search really interesting for us is the variety of skills needed to run cutting-edge search marketing campaigns. You need great technical skills of course, but also the analytical skills to interpret data and the creative skills to make sure you’re using the most effective copy.
Interpersonal skills are also important to ensuring that you can work with your clients effectively. Our agency doesn’t have a client service layer; our teams do it all themselves, so we need really well-rounded people with a good balance of skills. It’s the need to maintain and develop all these skills that makes our work so exciting.
Paid Search and Planning
We don’t do a huge amount of traditional planning. Our preferred way of working is to launch small tests and to base our strategy on the resulting data. However, when we do plan – especially when we’re scoping new markets – we’ll use Google Trends and the Keyword Planner to build a case for launch in those markets. In terms of optimisation, we’ve found that a lot of Google’s tools have replaced the need for third-party technologies to manage accounts of scale. We can now do it all within the Google interface, which gives us great flexibility.
The Future of Search
So what’s next for search? I see it evolving in two ways. It’s going to become increasingly informed, through the use of more and more audience signals: we’ve already seen that over the last 12 months, but it’s going to continue to grow. The other way in which search will progress is in how it will join up multiple devices, as well as online and offline customer journeys. Other channels will need to do that too, but I think it’s going to predominantly come from search – because it’s the fastest-moving area and the one that already interprets the most data.