Study: Search Marketers Are Not Making Business Case

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Most companies evaluate search marketers' performance on campaign results, such as search engine ranking, rather than actual business results such as sales volume or return on investment, according to a study released yesterday.


The JupiterResearch study, based on a survey of 636 search marketers and 224 search advertisers, found that 81 percent of organizations tie search engine marketing metrics to the evaluation of their search marketing employees. The study was published by iProspect, Watertown, MA.


But one out of two search marketers is evaluated on Web site traffic and how high the company is ranked on search engines. Forty percent are evaluated on ROI or total sales they generated through search marketing. Only 1 percent or 2 percent are evaluated on offline results obtained through their efforts.


The findings surprised iProspect president Rob Murray.


"We expected the business results would be the big factor in search marketer performance evaluation, since the discipline has significant costs associated with it," he said.


This could explain the difficulty that search marketers at some organizations have in persuading IT departments to implement search optimization recommendations, because "IT departments will often not make SEO changes when the business impact of those changes cannot be clearly projected," Murray said. "If more search marketers' results were being tied to business results, marketers would be better able to make the case and win these turf battles."


Search marketers also are likely not showing companies that search marketing drives offline behavior.


"Despite research that confirms the effect search marketing has on offline transactions, organizations are not considering this factor in evaluating search marketer performance," said Naga Krothapalli, director of algorithmic search at iProspect. "If organizations do not recognize offline transactions generated by online searches, they are most likely under-investing in the search marketing channel."


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