Online Exclusive: Let's Get TogetherWant to bring in more of your best customers? You and your search team need to work together. You provide all the information you can. They'll turn that information into targeted search. Then sit back and watch as you get endless traffic from the customers most likely to buy the most, tell all their friends, and come back again and again. (But it's not so simple.)
Your information, their targeting. You probably know a lot about your customer demographics already. We mean things like how old your customers are, how much money they have, where they live, and what kinds of things they're looking to buy. You probably even know a lot about what they do in search -- like the keywords they search on, and the types of conversions that different keywords might lead to. Your specialized search team can take all of the initial information you have, and refine it to make it much more powerful.
Maybe, for instance, you know that you get the most repeat visitors from people looking for running shoes. Your search team might be able to zero in on what that information really means, to learn that you get more repeat customers who come to your site looking for Nike Airmax 360s on Wednesdays than there are who come looking for New Balance 857s on Fridays. Which is information that can be translated directly into more aggressive search advertising, aimed at your most valuable customers.
How does your search team learn so much? It's all about a combination of granular metrics, and smart analytics. Search marketing. remember, gets you all the information that the rest of Internet marketing has to offer -- like who does what on your site, when they took an action, and where they came from. But it also tells you much more -- like which keywords and engines brought your search visitors to you; and, if your tracking is good, what each keyword-driven visitor did on your site and even beyond your site. Which is precisely the information you need to know if you want to reach out to your target searchers best.
The hard part. Of course, getting all of this information requires real effort on everyone's part. On the client side (or the side of the relevant non-search department, if you're using an in-house team), it means supplying your SEM management with the richest market information possible. Which might mean that you'll really need to look far into your metrics, learnings, focus group information or any other storehouse of marketing wisdom that you may have -- and that you've never associated with online marketing.
It might also mean you'll need to learn how best to explain everything you know to your search team -- setting up whole new channels of communication. Because the more you can tell your search team, the more your search team will have to go on when they're hunting down the people you want to target.
On the SEM management side, you'll need your team to work with the best technology possible, so they can see who's doing what, where and when -- and how different targeting impacts who does what through your site. Your search team also will need to know which questions to ask -- both of you directly and of your conversion metrics. They'll need to know, for example, whether page views, product views, whitepaper downloads or e-mail list opt-ins are the most relevant indicators of a potential return visitor; or how to tell which visitors' "e-mail-a-friend" click brings in the best-converting friends. And, to really get you to open up, they'll have to know many, many different ways of saying, "Tell us more of what you know."
All of this requires experience, expertise, and strategy. Which is to say that targeting for the best customers isn't necessarily easy to do. And it's probably not something that everyone can do -- either on the SEM management side or on the client side. But if you've got the capabilities -- the strong search management, the right communication lines, and the powerful technology -- then you just might be poised to turn your search campaign into a channel for long-term growth.