Here at SEMPO we’ve been thinking a lot this month about how digital has evolved so far this year and how we expect it to continue to evolve over the second half of 2014. There are many angles from which we could write about the topic—from Matt Cutts’ statements on the changing nature of guest posting, to Google’s de-emphasis of Google +, to the penalization of content networks and more.
With this article I want to focus on one specific way in which digital is changing, specifically, how we target and address our audiences.
The graphic below is from SEMPO’s State of Search research study. The ‘peaks’ in each section represent where marketers are developing a keyword strategy based on the position in the buying cycle of their audience. Although the degrees to which this is occurring vary widely based on the activity, the presence of the peaks—and the inclusion of the question in SEMPO’s annual report for the first time—reflect a mindset shift for marketers towards a more targeted approach in addressing their audience.
In 2014, what we are witnessing is the next step in the maturation of digital marketing. Carried by the renewed focus on content marketing, digital is evolving from the old ‘cast one wide net and see what lands’ to the new ‘cast multiple focused nets’ with a clearer expectation of not only what will land, but what will drive the prospect to the next step in the buying cycle, culminating in a conversion event.
The ‘multiple nets’ approach applies not only to content focused on speaking to your audience based on their specific needs based on their position in the buying cycle, but it applies to evolving from speaking to a broad ‘audience,’ to speaking to individual personas who each have their own unique pain points, desires, and motivations for evaluating your product or service.
Oracle Study Foreshadows the Future
In the same way the ‘peaks’ in the graphic above portend the writing on the wall when it comes to a shift from ‘broad’ targeting to ‘specific’ targeting, the chart below from an Oracle/Eloqua study foreshadows a coming shift to specific targeting.
Nearly half of marketers surveyed say they are in the process of learning to align content with strategy and better map it to the buyer’s journey. The fact that this group–those ‘learning to align content’–is the largest group of all respondents shows that change is one that is occurring now. Yes, respondents to an Oracle survey likely skew to the enterprise, but changes in the enterprise often foreshadow coming to mid-market and SMB’s and this is a case where all digital marketers should be aware of what’s coming.
What Does it Mean for You?
Certainly there’s no expectation that you transition overnight from broad to targeted digital marketing. But you can start thinking about who the personas are that you are addressing, what their pain points are, and how you might better map your content and SEO efforts to target them. If you do so, you are likely to find that better targeted content results in higher click-through, consumption, and conversions.
It’s hard to believe but six months of 2014 have already passed. As important as check-ins and analysis are for any program, it’s equally important to take a step back and look at the broad picture of what’s happened in the first six months of 2014. As search and social become more intertwined, it’s key to note where the social media industry currently stands and where it is moving. Here are a few of the social media developments that will likely impact search and other digital initiatives as the year moves forward.
Pinterest Web Analytics
Pinterest introduced Pinterest Web Analytics, which allow site owners to see insights about how people are interacting with pins from their website. Users can get information on how many people:
1. pinned from their website
2. have seen these pins
3. visited their site from Pinterest
The most repinned, most clicked, and most recent pins features give users insights into the most popular pins. This change signifies the upward movement of Pinterest as a key player in the social space. Offering analytics demonstrates the impact social media plays in website traffic.
Facebook Algorithm Changes
Facebook rolled out a new algorithm to the News Feed that removes what Facebook considers “spammy” posts. Like-inducing posts, links that lead to a website full of ads, and frequently circulated content have been reduced on Facebook’s News Feed in order to combat spam behavior.
Facebook is concentrating on making quality posts, such as status updates, legitimate articles, and links appear in the News Feed. Businesses and brands must now focus on generating a quality conversation on posts to improve their appearance in the News Feed. Content that includes comments and conversations will appear on fans’ feeds more frequently.
With algorithm changes and increased brand competition, there is less space on the News Feed resulting in declined organic reach. As the algorithm moves forward, brands will need to adapt to these changes and consider implementing social media ad budgets to focus on engaging fans and making the most out of social media marketing.
Twitter Profile Updates
Not to be outdone by Facebook changes, Twitter introduced a new profile redesign in the first half of 2014. The design features a larger header image and more dynamic features, like pinning tweets to the top and larger tweets for higher engagement. As Twitter’s first major overhaul in years, this change was a big move for the established Twitter.
Google+ Business Pages
Google enabled Google+ business pages to connect their page to their local business listing on Google Maps. Business owners will no longer have two independent Google properties to maintain, creating a more streamlined Google experience. This change demonstrates the continued integration of all Google properties and features.
What changes have you seen make an impact in the first half of 2014?
SEMPO is pleased to release our 9th Annual State of Search Report. For an industry that is constantly evolving, this report remains a critical touchstone for digital marketers looking to assess where they stand today and where they should be looking to succeed tomorrow. Plus, our unique approach of surveying and segmenting results for both companies and agencies provides perspectives and insights not easily found in other reports.
The 2014 State of Search Report is no different in this regard but we did make some significant changes in the survey approach to be able to capture today’s reality of search marketing’s integration into the overall digital marketing mix. Here are some of the key elements that we implemented to further enhance our ability to provide meaningful and relevant data:
- The survey was shortened to be more strategically oriented – focusing more on objectives, metrics, and ROI and less on resources and tactics. This appears to have produced the desired result as 70% of our company respondents either manage or contribute to strategy, budgets, and direction of marketing.
- We added social media marketing questions to the survey several years ago as it was becoming clear that search engines were evolving their algorithms to include social signals. This year we added more digital channels, including mobile, email, and display. The results illustrate the degree to which content marketing integration is still more of a strategic concept than tactical reality – somewhat more particularly with companies. We think you will also find it interesting to compare key objectives, metrics, challenges with emerging trends, and ROI perceptions between channels as well as between companies and agencies.
- Budget questions were included as in the past but this time we drilled down a little deeper to understand allocation/aggregation between digital channels as well as flexibility to alter spends based on more real-time ROI assessment.
- There are also a few new questions around how much time digital marketers are investing in learning/researching the latest trends and how experimental they are in testing new techniques/technologies by channel. We were a little surprised to see that both companies and agencies are less experimental with search engine optimization than all the other channels except email. Another sign of the maturation of SEO or more of a reflection of last year’s developments regarding Google’s algorithm and analytics “enhancements?”
SEMPO members can access the complete report here. We look forward to your comments and the ongoing conversation around the report as we dig deeper into the findings and surface more observations.
Finally, sincere thanks to our members and sponsors for their participation and support of this survey and for their continued commitment to advancing search marketing best practices as part of today’s integrated digital marketing mix.
SEMPO is excited to present the 2013 Salary Survey Infographic.
What are search marketers getting paid? What is the job growth for search? How many search marketers are in agencies? Discover the answers to those questions in the 2013 Salary Survey Infographic. The infographic is a visual representation of the 4th Annual Salary Survey that was fielded by the SEMPO Research Committee in conjunction with ClickZ.
SEMPO members can download the 2013 Salary Survey here.
If you would like to become a SEMPO member, please click here.
Past Salary Surveys can be viewed here.
SEMPO’s State of Search Report has been an industry stalwart for eight years running providing valuable data and insights regarding search strategy and tactics. In order to gain as much participation as possible and thereby provide more actionable data, we are extending our 9th Annual Survey period through November 23.
For those who have not yet taken the survey, we’re excited to announce some new features/topics that have been added while we have retained some of the aspects that have provided unique perspective over the years. Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve kept and what’s new:
- We’ve kept the core strategic questions around channel specific budget increases/decreases, objectives, and metrics so we can compare/contrast with the results from previous studies. That’s one of the advantages of having established benchmarks over the years.
- We’ve also kept the key survey structure that has similar but separate tracks of questions for advertisers and for agencies. This is a unique feature of the SEMPO Survey that has consistently generated interesting take-aways and discussion when we analyze and report the survey results.
- We added Social Media to the survey several years ago as it was becoming clear that social activity was being incorporated into search engine ranking algorithms. This year we’ve added Mobile and Email Marketing questions to further gauge the expanding integration and evolving role of search with other digital content marketing channels.
- And we’ve added questions around some of the major developments recently announced (Hummingbird, keywords not provided, etc.) along with our now standard questions to help identify and prioritize other emerging trends and industry challenges.
The 2013 State of Search survey is open to SEMPO members and non-SEMPO members alike and it’s time for your voices to be heard. Please take the 10 minutes or so to participate by clicking here. By participating in the survey, you will receive a complimentary copy of the report as well as a chance to win an iPad 3. Please also help us spread the word. The more participation we get, the better the data is for all of us.
A key finding from SEMPO’s 2012 State of Search Report was that advertisers and agencies had a very different perspective on the need to integrate search and social media activities.
We are pleased to announce that the 4th Annual Salary Survey Results is now available for download.
The report provides an in-depth look into search marketers’ salaries, job roles and responsibilities, verticals/segments, compensation extras and perks, budgets, and more. The results and key findings are compared to previous Salary Survey results in order to evaluate trends in the search marketing job market.
Findings for 2013 include:
- A 10% growth in Entry-Level Employees with 27% of respondents reporting they have been in search for 0-3 years. The majority of these salaries were in the 0-$30K range with some representation in the $30-$60K range.
- Top Salaries including for VPs decreased and the number of respondents in the top four salary ranges also decreased.
- The average salary across the board decreased from $75,543 to $68,600.
- Holistic marketing that included a combination of organic and paid grew by 11%. Additional growth was in search combined with email and online media efforts.
- 64% of respondents report up through the Marketing Department rather than to a Search or IT department.
Conducted in January 2013, the survey was completed by 2,180 respondents. The 4th Annual Salary Survey was fielded by the SEMPO Research Committee in conjunction with ClickZ. The 23-question survey collected data from both in-house advertisers and third-party agency personnel including SEMPO members and non-members.
SEMPO members can view the detailed survey findings for free by downloading the 2013 Salary Survey here. You can also see how the search marketing landscape industry has changed by viewing SEMPO’s past Salary Surveys here.
Past Salary Surveys are available to non-SEMPO members as well but the current Salary Survey is only available to members. To become a SEMPO Member and view the 2013 Salary Survey results, please click here.
This post comes to us from Scott Smigler, Chair of the SEMPO Boston Working Group, and CEO of e-commerce marketing firm Exclusive Concepts, Inc.
Last summer, Andrea Wasik and I met with Googlers Seth van der Swaagh and Katherine Allan to propose a crazy idea. We pitched a series of one-day “Search Summits” at local Universities throughout the country that would encourage its best and brightest students to consider pursuing careers in search.
Our logic was simple.
On one hand, the Search industry is composed of technology companies and agencies of all sizes that are starved for talent. On the other hand, the unemployment rate amongst millennials (Americans aged 18 to 29) is over 13%.
We suggested that by bringing these two groups together for a day of learning and networking, we could help grow the search marketing ecosystem while empowering young people to discover meaningful career paths.
We later summarized the grander mission as follows:
Grow and strengthen the “search” ecosystem by advocating “search” to the best and brightest college students throughout the country.
Seth and Katherine didn’t need much convincing, and began helping us to flesh out what would become our first Search Summit at Boston University (watch the video).
Seth helped marshal resources from Google (including both dollars and many volunteers including Whitney Moskowitz who project-managed the event), and we proceeded to sign on Microsoft and Yahoo! as joint sponsors of the event.
We then recruited speakers for sessions that included:
- Search industry overview (both Google’s and Bing’s perspective) - Career panel discussions from recent grads - SEO – “Designing and Delivering Great Content” - SEM – “Effective Marketing Strategies” - Social Media
In one breakout session, students were given an overview of search marketing strategies, and then asked to create an impromptu presentation for their imaginary CEO. I was amazed how quickly they picked up what seemed to me to be esoteric jargon and relatively complex concepts!
We also signed on 6 local agencies (Digitas, AMP Agency, Gupta Media, RKG, iProspect, and my company Exclusive Concepts), which participated in a networking lunch that connected students with 45 open internships.
130 students in total registered to attend the event, which surpassed my expectations. That was thanks, in large part, to the incredible support we received from the Boston University School of Management, its Dean (Kenneth W. Freeman), and Tony Tristani.
I believe the event went incredibly well, and that it could easily be scaled to cater to students and businesses throughout the country, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the students told us in the post-event survey:
- Attendee likeliness to recommend the event to peers: 8.56 (avg from 1-10 scale) - 92.3% of attendees “more likely to pursue a career in search marketing” - 76.9% of attendees pursuing an internship with a company they met at the summit - 100% at least somewhat likely to join SEMPO
SEMPO Working Group leaders from other cities who would like to organize a similar event can feel free to email me with questions, or for the planning materials we used. My e-mail address is Scott@ExclusiveConcepts.com.
Once again, I would like to thank Google for its incredible support. They provided a lion-share of the resources that made this event possible, in addition to the SEMPO Boston Working Group members Michael Flint (Metropolis Creative), Seth van der Swaagh (Google), Andrea Wasik (Skyword, Inc.), and Pavel Khaykin (AMP Agency).
I attended the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York last week (#SESNY) in the role of “reporter” as DBE is the agency of record for SEMPO. As usual, SES delivered an intensive three days of wide-ranging keynotes, sessions/tracks and networking opportunities making it both extremely comprehensive and frustratingly impossible to cover everything.
Fortunately, Twitter lets you see what other “reporters” are sharing during simultaneous events and that’s one of the great things about tweeting during events like SES. I also use Twitter as my note-taking platform and look over my sent tweets as well as the other tweets in the hashtag stream to refresh my memory and spark new thoughts.
Following are highlights of my tweets/retweets for SEMPO at SES. Due to the quantity, I’ve edited from chronological format and organized into related groupings.
-eMarketer: 41% shifting $ from traditional to digital tactics ow.ly/jo4Zr Good context for #sesny this week
-@McProuix #sesny keynote “Google says TV major catalyst for search” Why you need integrated online/offline marketing strategy
-Interesting: search conference keynote is about tv and social. Reflects shifting focus to content marketing integration #sesny
-Marketing change from outbound/push to inbound/pull = need for search/content marketing #sesny
-Nice concept: SEO scales horizontally across entire organization vs. vertically by function #sesny
-Good point – marketers can be too focused on what’s next vs. getting the fundamentals done right now #sesny
-@joell preaching on Twitter as part of integrated marketing approach. Keyword = integrated. #sesny
-@joell from Twitter “plan ahead to react to and win the moment” – sound advice for all marketers and all platforms #sesny
-Marketing integration starts with strategy based on how you make money and why/how platforms contribute to that cause #sesny
-Don’t forget email as part of integrated “permission-based” marketing program – especially for continuing the conversation #sesny
-Use Google Trends to plan your integrated marketing efforts in the short and long term #sesny
-Marketing coordination issues include online and offline agencies speak differently languages and so does internal procurement #sesny
-It is a search conference but still good point re search being the “thread” between online and offline marketing #sesny
-2/3 of online searchers are driven to search by an offline channel! #sesny
SEO/Link Building and Content Marketing:
-@lauranlippay “I don’t always build links, but when I do I call it content marketing”
-3 types of searches – informational, navigational, transactional – match content to intent #sesny
-Shari Thurow – Good SEO and link building is all about “aboutness” #sesny
-Thurow – good content supports good SEO findability and good user experience once they get to your site #sesny
-Matt Cutts says links still important; social signals will become more important, AuthorRank coming #sesny
-2nd mention this morning of “Authorship” as next big thing for Google algorithm/rankings #sesny
-Blogs get 55% more visitors and 97% more links than regular website pages – clearly a powerful content marketing tool #sesny
-Do you plan marketing according to your content or plan your content around your marketing? #sesny
-@leeodden Content creation is like getting ready for a long run – maturity model – stand, stretch, walk, jog, run. #SESNY
-You don’t need to be run TV ads to leverage TV events for social. Think of it as “gorilla social marketing” #sesny
-Social media integration starts with 1. Narrative 2. Development 3. Interaction 4. Planning. Think planning should be 1. #sesny
-#sesny wow, real Google+ figures! 500m Google services users of those 235m socially activated G+ login, of those 135m 30day active G+ users
-B2B SEO ROI dependent on having the right content and the right context found at the right time #sesny
-Nice acronym: HiPPO = highest paid person’s opinion. Not just appropriate for B2B. #sesny
About the author: Marc Engelsman is Director, Strategy & Analytics for Digital Brand Expressions. DBE is a leading digital marketing agency whose innovative mix of SEO, PPC and Social Media connects buyers and brands. Marc is also a long time active member in SEMPO and has led SEMPO’s State of Search Research Survey in recent years. His Twitter handle is @marc_engelsman.
As coincidences go, this is a good one. I’m sitting in the bar close to my office where I’m often found with colleagues, clients or friends (frequently all three) after work. I’m rattling a few notes into my iPad while waiting for a friend to arrive and chatting to the barman at the same time. I mention to him that I happen to be president of a trade association and that I’m working on a post for the launch of our new blog.
“Well if you’re looking for inspiration you certainly came to the right place” he says. “You do know the first trade association in America was founded in this very bar don’t you?”
Pauses for the “knock me down with a feather” moment…
And sure enough it’s true. Back in 1768 twenty New York merchants got together in what is now known as Fraunces Tavern, in lower Manhattan. Together they formed the New York Chamber of Commerce to protect and promote the business interests of merchants in New York City. Erie Canal, the Atlantic cable and New York City Transit Authority are just a few of the key initiatives which sprang from the minds of New York luminaries in the group, such as J Pierpont Morgan and John Jacob Astor.
That may be the American forerunner but a huge number of these types of groups have formed since then. Trade associations, or industry trade groups as they can also be called, come to together for various reasons. Usually founded by businesses that operate in a specific industry, activities tend to include PR, advertising, education and lobbying, to name a few. But generally, the main focus is based around collaboration between companies, standardization within industries and professional business recognition of a specific trade.
Back in 2002 when the nascent search marketing sector was still wobbling around trying to find its legs, there really wasn’t an organization that it could easily slot into. And so, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) was founded to fill the gap. The intention, of course, was to do “all the above” increasing recognition of the skills involved and managing the reputation of an online marketing sector seemingly prone to giving itself a black eye!
Now, as we head towards the upcoming tenth anniversary of the association being founded, along with my colleagues on the board of directors, we can reflect on past achievements and ambitions, but my greater focus has to be on the future. Not just the future of SEMPO, or the future of search. Indeed, regardless of the disciplines we have learned individually as practitioners, it is the future of marketing itself we all need to be aware of.
For almost a decade, digital marketing seemed to be centered on search (or maybe that should be Google!). Search is such a powerful way for marketers to connect with both their existing and potential customers. But potent as it is, digital marketers are patently aware that it’s not a panacea.
The way we as people consume media is changing. We have literally become transient media consumers as we move from place-to-place and skip from device to device. And the web is no longer just a huge collection of HTML pages linked together being crawled by search engines. It has become so much more. It is a network of networks of people who are constantly connected to each other, communicating, creating and sharing.
They’re no longer stuck in front of keyboards and monitors in homes and offices – they’re on the move. This truly is the age of connected marketing. In fact, connected marketing may be a much more realistic and descriptive term than social media.
Modern consumers are forming communities and peer-groups to pool their power, resulting in a dramatic revolution of how businesses interact with their customers. Decision makers no longer act independently of each other but are all the more connected to other consumers, to other channel members and often to brands. In turn, brands and companies are now vying for central positions inside consumer networks.
Perhaps the biggest change where search is concerned is this shift toward information-seeking on social networking sites. The knowledge possessed by your friends and people you know acts as a supplement to the web’s huge amount of other, often less verifiable information. This knowledge can provide extremely qualified answers to specific queries through a process that could be defined as information-seeking via a chain of trust. Consumers are increasingly engaged with each other through collaborative research, product review and price comparison.
Much of the received wisdom in marketing circles is undergoing reconsideration. The nature of consumer and business markets is going through major change. And SEMPO will need to adjust and align with the natural progression, growth and rapidly advancing technology in the field of digital marketing.
For sure, the core concept of search is what glues the SEMPO community together. But as our membership develops a broader range of marketing skills, SEMPO needs to appeal to a wider audience.
Fortunately, I have a genuine dream-team of industry professionals sitting on the board of directors with me. Each one an expert in their given field. And each one bringing sound business acumen to the table.
I’m very confident that, with the help of this group of brilliant minds, SEMPO as an organization can capitalize on the great work done by our predecessors and move organically and successfully to a whole new level of support and service for its current and future members.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of marketing, SEMPO and… heck, whatever’s on your mind about the industry!
Mike Grehan: President SEMPO
Publisher: Search Engine Watch | ClickZ
Producer: SES Conference & Expo