Integrating Search and Social Media into your Marketing Mix
Truly integrated marketing strategies factor in SEM&SMM
By Kent Lewis
With increasing regularity, clients and partners are asking how search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM) integrate into the overall marketing mix. That’s good news, as the previous questions related to the “what” and “why” of emarketing. Now that we’re in the “how” stage, I feel like companies are finally getting serious about true integration between search, social media and traditional marketing. This article will outline the “how” of integration of SEM & SMM into your marking mix.
Before we dive into the fundamentals of integrated marketing, I feel it’s important to ensure our readers are on the same page when it comes to the differences between traditional, online and integrated marketing. For starters, traditional/offline marketing relies on corporate and agency-driven messaging, broadcast in a one-to-many fashion, over long-lead, expensive and difficult-to-measure media.
By comparison, online/interactive marketing may utilize a collaborative message development platform with two-way conversations, and provides a real-time, cost-effective and measurable media format. On the other hand, integrated marketing offers community-based conversations and collaboration, as well as consistent, media-appropriate messaging.
Now that you have a better understanding of the nuances of integrated marketing, let’s talk about how you can leverage SEM & SMM strategies and tactics to amplify the effects of traditional marketing. The five areas we’ll cover include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing (SMM), online reputation management (ORM) and measurement/analytics.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Long seen as the most affordable method of generating awareness, traffic and sales, SEO has been under-valued in its ability to turbo-charge traditional public relations (PR) efforts. SEO can leverage online news rooms, press releases and article syndication to increase visibility in organic search engines. By integrating unique URLs, toll-free numbers or tracking codes into a release, you can transform SEO into a direct response vehicle. It’s not about column inches of ink or associated ad dollar value…it’s about tracking leads or sales against a press release or PR campaign.
While SEO is commonly associated with unpaid placement (ala PR), PPC is logically associated with advertising, direct response, events and promotions. Any time you create unique creative for advertising or direct marketing, it’s an opportunity to repurpose the content as landing pages for PPC campaigns. Print or broadcast ad/DM creative can be used for text, image or video ad content, if not for the associated landing pages. Similarly, content developed for events and promotions can also be utilized for PPC efforts. In fact, all advertising, DM or event campaigns should incorporate, in at least a limited PPC program, to capture interested parties that slipped through the cracks, or happen to be looking for specific information the campaign addresses. Additionally, PPC is highly effective when targeting “tail terms” and localized/geographically-specific audiences.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media marketing is still in its infancy, but the art is quickly becoming a science. Now that Google OneBox (aka Universal Search) is prevalent in targeted search results, marketers can no longer ignore the impact social media. When integrated properly, SMM offers a multitude of benefits, including brand-building and reputation management. Social networks are ideal for personal brand-building and proactive online reputation management (ORM). Similarly, content syndication sites (i.e. Flickr, YouTube, iTunes, etc.) offer opportunities to distribute existing media assets (photos, videos, audio and more) to a much larger audience. Last but not least, blogging and micro-blogging (i.e. Twitter & Plurk) offer an opportunity for competent writers and technologists to spread the company’s messaging and engage in direct conversations.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Online reputation management is truly a compendium of all of the above efforts, including traditional marketing. ORM is basically the net result of effective integrated marketing. Proactively managing search engine result pages (SERPs) to mitigate undesirable listings through SEO can be enhanced with strategic use of PPC. Ensuring a company and its executives are proactively managing their profiles and syndicating desirable content will further mitigate the impact of negative listings in targeted search results. The easiest way to manage your reputation (online and off) is to create remarkable projects and support customers with excellent service. Too bad more companies choose not to make our jobs easy.
When it comes down to measuring the overall effectiveness of an integrated marketing campaign, it’s important to choose the proper metrics and set benchmarks. While traditional media rely on third party measurement, focus groups and surveys to gain insight into a particular ad or campaign’s effectiveness, online measurement (aka Web analytics) are more affordable and timely. Common metrics for online marketing campaigns include visibility in SERPs, total impressions generated by PPC ads, resulting clicks from all forms of online marketing, and last but not least, conversions. Conversions can include registrations, downloads and inquiry forms for B2B or lead generation and online sales for B2C or ecommerce companies, as well as offline leads tracked by unique toll-free number, URLs or promotional codes.
In the end, integrated marketing is about leveraging existing assets (usually from traditional media) on the Web for additional visibility, leads and sales. There are additional benefits to online marketing efforts: first and foremost being reputation management. Utilized seamlessly and intelligently, integrated marketing strategies and tactics and move the needle for your business quickly and effectively.