Search Marketing & Surviving A Recession

Jun 4, 2008 - 1:13 pm 3 by

Session Intro: Many expect a recession to hit and no one knows how search will weather it. This session looks at strategies and tactics for those who want to prepare in advance for a worse case scenario.

Jeffrey K. Rohrs, Vice President Marketing at ExactTarget is moderating this session along with Jessica Bowman, SEO Strategist at SEM In House doing the Q&A moderating. Speakers include Andrew Beckman, President of Location3 Media, Dave Davies, CEO of Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Russ Mann, CEO of Covario and Jon Miller, Vice President Marketing at Marketo.

After speaker introductions, Jeffrey polls the audience whether they think we are in a recession or not. Most agreed that we are in a recession. Looks like this is going to be more Q&A than presentation so I am going to try to do my best to capture what is being asked.

1. What worries you and/or your clients that are driving marketing decisions?

Russ says the fear of national recession. CFOs are tightening up, scrutinizing purchases and the like. Jon says larger companies with larger pockets may increase budget to take advantage of smaller competitors. So more spending from big companies and less from smaller which creates opportunity. In recession, people are more concerned over bottom line results as opposed to branding efforts.

2. With regards to larger companies spending more, will we see price spiking in paid search?

Andrew says it would be a good time to take advantage of SEO and link building instead of going after high priced PPC keywords. He is in fact trying to get clients to move money away from traditional media. Dave says that analytics are key as they can prove whether adverting is successful of not, unlike other types of traditional advertising.

3. In our current environment, where do you place your first advertising dollar?

Andrew thinks people will get back to the fundamentals (i.e. targeting the right phrases, SEO, etc.). He goes on to say that businesses should do a better job analyzing post click results such as using heat maps and the like. Dave agrees, saying that companies need to make sure they have basic SEO covered. Russ thinks first dollar should go towards customer research to define strategy. We can't just be search experts but need to be business experts as well. It revolves around understanding the customer. Jon says when budgets are tight, you get fewer leads so optimizing those leads is crucial. Improving conversions becomes more important than ever as you have less money to burn. Try to get more out of what you already have.

4. Do you expect expect the consolidations of industries to be impacted by this so-called recession?

Russ thinks we will see a polarization. You'll see big players with big pockets trying to gobble up smaller companies but at the same time there will be fragmentation as well as new companies staring up. Dave thinks we will see some degree of consolidation but that is not contingent on whether we are in a recession of not. It has already been happening and will continue to do so.

5. Jon asks his own question regarding SEO - "How do you show clients that you are getting value out of SEO?"

Andrew says with good analytics, he can show whether good rankings are producing conversions or not. He sees SEO as much more cost effective and can prove that to clients with analytical reporting. It is a struggle however but doable.

6. Jeffrey polls search marketers in audience what they are prioritizing as far as marketing for clients.

One audience member says SEO. Andrew points out that it is cheaper to do SEO from the beginning than to do it after-the-fact (i.e. PPC campaign, site redesign, etc.). Dave says one of the most overlooked things is titles and meta description tags - something that is so easy and cost effective to adjust.

7. Any other tactics besides what has already been discussed?

Jon says it is more important than ever to really track the marketing campaign. Define what is working so you can feed it as well as what is not working so you can kill it. Andrew says the metric that we really need to focus on is the conversion percentage. He also talks about affiliate marketing, saying that search marketing and affiliate marketing can work hand in hand.

8. How do you deal with prospects who have interest in SEO but in an environment where positioning cannot be guaranteed?

Dave says they do guarantee rankings so question cannot really apply to him. Andrew says it is more of a time process, showing them the growth of keyword saturation by developing content and increasing inbound links. Russ shows new prospects case studies to prove the possibility of getting results for them. While you cannot guarantee 1s place results, you can educate clients that SEO is a process and constantly evolves.

9. Because economy is worse in some places than others, how can marketers deal with this?

Andrew says you can use geo-targeting (PPC) to avoid bad areas. Russ jokes to go East (Asia), in other words take advantage of developing and evolving countries.

10. How do you get clients to not cut ad dollars and where are they currently squandering?

Dave says we all waste money in different ways. He then reminds us once again to analyze what is effective. Jon thinks biggest area where people waste money is where they are simply "shouting" to the market.

So, the key takeaways from this Q&A style of session are as follows:

  • SEO is the most cost effective thing you can do so utilize it as a foundational search marketing tactic.
  • Take advantage of good analytic programs because you can show clients how effective search marketing is.
  • Measure very closely to define what is working and what is not so you can concentrate efforts on what 'is' working.

Session coverage by David Wallace - CEO and Founder SearchRank.


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