The five best ways to ruin your search program efforts in 2009

Whether you’re talking about major banks or the stock market, poor performance is hot for ’09. Don’t leave your SEM campaign out of the mix — read on for five great ways your search can underperform this year.

Have a bad staffing strategy: If your search staff leaves you — and takes your search campaign history with it — you’re well on your way to bad things. With no backup staffing strategy, your SEM will be down the tubes. Don’t think your search team will find a new home in this economy? Think again. Your budget may be contracting, but the search industry is growing. Someone will gladly invest what it takes to poach your whole team.

Get slow technology: Quick quiz: If your search technology updates bids once a day, and your major competitors update their bids in real time — which of you will make the most of  ongoing changes in the search landscape? Who’ll be able to afford a greater share of search clicks? Answer: It’s not you.

Lose every opportunity: Your search touchpoints include — but are not limited to — keywords, ad copy and landing pages, often in tens (or hundreds) of thousands of permutations. Each of those touchpoints and permutations are opportunities to lose the attention of potential customers. Be certain to stumble over all of them! (Tip: To be sure you lose out on those touchpoints, run inadequate reporting and testing. You’ll have no way to know what’s helping or hurting you.)

Don’t target by customer segment: Every customer segment is different. Men and women might respond to different ad copy. Florida searchers might use different keywords than Texas searchers. Firefox searchers might like different landing pages than Internet Explorer users. Don’t want to do well in search? Be sure to ignore the wealth of campaign data that will let you target different audience segments.

Ignore the rest of your marketing: Customers search for you simply because they’re interested in you. One reason they’re interested in you is because of your marketing. So if you want to hurt your overall marketing and let your SEM go to waste, don’t follow up your TV, print, catalog or other marketing efforts with search. See? It’s that easy!

Follow these simple rules and your search campaign will be bleeding money, hemorrhaging opportunity and hurting badly fast. Happy losing in ’09!

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