Search System Takes Human Approach

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Companies need to use more human interaction if the traditionally technology-led channel of search engine marketing is to reach its potential, an executive at an SEM consultancy maintains.

One product that takes this approach is SendTec's SearchFactz bid and position management system, which analyzes campaigns across search engines in real time and also provides a drilled-down evaluation of a single keyword's efficiency.

"Human interaction is essential to the online marketing channel due to the numerous moving parts that require a real, live person rather than a machine to be successful," said Chris Copeland, senior partner and managing director of consultancy Outrider, St. Louis. Outrider is unaffiliated with SendTec.

"Search, for example, requires a human to prepare creative," he said. "And while machines can discern to some extent the relevancy of a landing page, a human is far more effective at identifying and leveraging connections that can be made between a user and an advertiser's site."

SearchFactz is an "assistive" technology that gives SendTec's in-house marketing professionals continuous and concise SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analyses of the search landscape along with suggested courses of action, the St. Petersburg, FL, direct marketing agency said.

An example is a company that markets soccer-based games by developing keywords related to the World Cup soccer tournament or a soccer star gaining prominence in the news -- an analysis that a computer cannot make, SendTec said.

Keyword development, search term copywriting, destination page analysis, review of multiple variables when making bidding decisions and impact of affiliates, resellers and other third parties are all search functions that need a human mind.

Online auction site uBid.com uses SearchFactz and reports improvement to its paid search program. The volume of site visitors has increased, and keywords have expanded from a few thousand to 120,000.

Extra Space Storage Co. used SearchFactz to improve its paid search strategy. SendTec initially faced bid, position and copy challenges because of the program's structure. The storage company serves about 60 percent of the country, so a geographic-based strategy was required. SendTec lowered the cost to acquire a new client by 72 percent in 90 days, SendTec said.

Mr. Copeland said that an algorithm cannot account for consumer search intentions, marketing copy triggers and irrelevant landing page content. Such qualitative factors require human involvement.

"There are many things that can be automated and put into technology and dashboards," he said, "but the reality is the education, execution and strategy needed in the space are still aspects that are best served by human interaction."

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