Integrating search and e-mail marketing

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Search and e-mail marketing campaigns have historically been run by separate people within the marketing organization and are nearly always outsourced to different agencies. Yet under this structure, companies are missing opportunities to derive benefits from the synergies between the two marketing methods.

Specifically, a marketing strategy that tightly integrates e-mail and search marketing can offer marketers the ability to hone their creative, provide better insight for segmentation and present a more complete view of a customer's lifetime value. Marketers should remember that search marketing is not a final goal; it is a means to drive an initial purchase and, ultimately, to create a loyal customer.

The search keyword leads consumers to an ad, which leads to a landing page, which leads to a purchase, which leads to a retention effort. Each piece of this path can aid another. Understanding which words drive search sales will help a marketer craft retention messages and subject lines that speak more directly to customers, while successful subject lines should be integrated into search copy.

Search is true intent-based marketing, and the insights gleaned from search campaigns should be copiously applied to your retention efforts.

Once a customer is acquired, tracking search campaign data and marrying them to individual customers acquired through search can provide new and valuable segmentation data that can then be employed in e-mail campaigns. For example, if you are a retailer selling outdoor apparel, it would be useful to segment future e-mails based on whether a customer was acquired through the keywords "water sports" or "gym apparel." The key, though, is testing whether targeting these segments actually enhances consumer response.

Further, an integrated marketing strategy will help marketers measure and enhance the value of a consumer beyond immediate cost per click or cost per action. Measuring search efficacy based solely on cost per click or cost per action means that the marketer is not able to understand how search drives the lifetime value of a customer. While a consumer may click on a keyword and not make a purchase, this person may sign up for e-mail campaigns and prove to be a highly valuable e-mail customer. In fact, to gain more of these valuable customers, place an e-mail sign-up box on every search landing page.

Marketers must put a value on the various actions that can be taken on a site and through e-mail campaigns and use their analytics tool to tie this value back to a given keyword. Eliminating keywords that do not drive immediate sales may cover up a highvalue customer who interacts in other channels. Focus instead on long-term profitability per click, rather than short-term cost per click, to maximize value driven by the search channel.

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