Online Exclusive: Search Isn't Only for Search
We've already spoken about how search can help you with your traditional offline marketing and PR. If you've changed your branding, gotten a great PR hit or just come out with a new ad, you can use the keywords your search visitors use to get a sense of how well your offline efforts have worked. After all, if your multichannel efforts have worked, they'll change the ways that people think about your brand. And the keywords that people use to find you will reflect that change.
If there isn't any change in the keywords that people use, that could mean you haven't been successful in changing the way they think. If there's a lot of change in the keywords that people use, that means you've changed the way that people see you. And, done right, tracking the new keywords from the search engine to conversion or dropoff can give you a sense of how powerful your offline multichannel efforts really are.
But your keywords aren't just a source of marketing intelligence. Because using the same analytics principles -- that search keywords can show you who's interacting with you, and how -- also can show you some very deep things about your business overall.
You might have certain ideas about who your core demographic and psychographic is, the geographic regions that your core markets come from, and even about the best basic business models to work in (business to business versus business to consumer, for example; or, another example, the niches you try to fill within your industry). But are those ideas right? Your search metrics can help you answer that question.
That's because, again, your keywords and other search metrics tell you who's visiting your site, and what they're coming to find. In other words, your search metrics can tell you -- to a phenomenal level of granularity -- who your market really is, what they think you can offer them and (by following traffic through from landing pages to conversions or dropoffs) how good you are at delivering on your prospects' hopes.
If the keywords that drive good conversions correlate well with the kinds of people you think you should be dealing with, in the ways you think they'd like to deal with you -- then you've probably made the right presumptions about where your business ought to be. But your keywords (and other search metrics) might show you that you've overlooked a lot of the people who are interested in finding you and that offerings that you think of as secondary might really be worth a lot more investment and energy.
So look at your search conversions carefully. You might find that an entirely surprising set of searchers yields a surprisingly high conversion rate, for a type of product or service that you happen to offer, but you never thought would really take off at all.
Of course, that kind of discovery is only possible if your search team understands how to analyze your search metrics correctly. And it's also only possible if you've got good lines of communication between your search team (whether it's in-house or outsourced) and the rest of your business -- so your search team can know what your entire business is up to, and so that each side can be as proactive as possible in helping the other side learn where new opportunity might lie.
But if you do have that combo -- the best search analytics possible, with the best client services or in-house communication possible -- then your search can be a lot more than the most powerful, efficient part of your marketing campaign. It can tell you where to take your entire business next.