Today’s guest expert in our Intersections series is Danny Goodwin, Managing Editor of Momentology, a digital marketing strategy and news resource, published by enterprise-level SEO software platform Linkdex. Prior to joining Linkdex, he was Associate Editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, setting the editorial direction, and covering search and digital marketing news for several years.
KW: As the former Associate Editor at Search Engine Watch, I’m sure you had the unique position to see how conversations in the industry have evolved. How has the discussion around cross-channel marketing, particularly search and social, changed over the past few years? Was there anything that surprised you along the way?
DG: Especially in the last couple of years, people are starting to realize that SEO is about audience, not just keywords. A whole universe exists beyond your domain.
Yes, optimizing the various elements of a website remains as critical as ever, but businesses now understand that, to truly succeed, you must think like a brand and put consumers at the center of your plans. You must build an audience, always deliver great user experiences, and keep your audience engaged wherever they are – and not all discussion happens on your website.
Organic search is still driving a lot of visits and purchases, but businesses and brands can’t rely on just Google. Algorithmic changes have proven that putting all your eggs in one search engine’s basket is far too risky. Bing is an important component. And social is another viable way you can build a more diverse marketing portfolio.
Consumers aren’t just looking for your website; they’re looking to see what other people are saying about your brand elsewhere, in places like Facebook and Twitter, or on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can’t afford to ignore any channel that has the potential to increase your revenues, because if you aren’t there, someone else is or will be soon.
Now at Linkdex, you serve as the Managing Editor for Momentology, which focuses on providing resources to marketers on how to engage and influence customers throughout the path-to-purchase. How has the more multifaceted buyer journey shifted how marketers think of the traditional purchase funnel and how they approach their digital plans and programs?
It would be great if people conducted one search via a browser on their home desktop computer, clicked only on your website, and purchased after their first visit – ideally all during normal business hours. The trouble is, this doesn’t happen. Consumers might be on tablets, smartphones, or another connected device; using search engines or mobile apps; clicking and comparing several websites. And, they are looking at all times of the day, everywhere you can imagine.
Every day, there are thousands of moments when you can influence and engage consumers. It could be with an email, a television ad, or a real-time conversation on Twitter. It could be a display ad, a video, or a positive online review of your brand found via the organic search results.
Businesses need to optimize digital plans for the entire funnel. Reaching today’s consumers is complicated. The brands that will ultimately win in their industry or niche are those that are authentic and relevant, and are best able to reach consumers at critical moments when they are discovering, considering, comparing, and buying online.
When it comes to improving search and social strategies, what are the benefits of taking a customer-centric approach?
Taking a customer-centric approach frees you from blindly creating content without a purpose. Don’t add to the noise and push out content for the sake of content.
Forget the old phrase of content is king. Now, in this multi-screen world of Internet everywhere, context is king.
When developing any marketing strategy, think about why this content exists:
- Who is it targeting?
- Is it informative?
- Is it persuasive?
- Does it tell a story?
- Does it evoke emotions?
- Is it useful?
- Is it meaningful?
- How does it tie into your business goals?
- Is it optimized for search?
- Is it optimized for each social platform?
By thinking about consumers, where they are in their purchase journey, and developing your content and marketing strategies around them, you’re more likely to attract the type of targeted traffic you want.
As we prepare to head into 2015, do you have any predictions for the future of cross-channel coordination and search and social synergy?
Search and social are two powerful ways to reach consumers, and consumers use them in combination during the purchase process. While for many, the path to purchase starts on search engines, users move between both channels. So be there in those moments.
Hopefully more brands and businesses will make it a top priority to become consumer-centric. Brands that put people first, by delivering outstanding personalized customer experiences across all channels and devices, will see revenues soar. They will do this by understanding the customer’s specific needs and then meeting or exceeding those expectations.