Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Thinking After SES Toronto 2008

My mind is racing. I started to write this post as my key take-aways from SES Toronto, but as I fleshed it out it got more infused with other thoughts I've been cultivating. So I've had to change the name. It's no longer "Key Takeaways from SES Toronto", but "New Thinking After SES Toronto."

I really am thinking in a new way.

1: Search has become the center of all marketing - and life.
It's built into human nature - it's the only way to find anything in our over abundant world of choice. Everything is about search more every day. Tivo's are search for TV. YouTube is search for video online. iTunes is search for Music. Netflix is search for movies. Millions of us search for news and weather every day. On your phone you search for everything: people in your address book, a local restaurant in your browser, an address in Google maps.

SideNote: What's search for your keys or wallet? Can someone please give me some RFID tags to put on them and build a phone to search for them? I am joking but I am not.

2: Seriously: search is not an option, but a required component for integrating media. People are searching on words they hear or see in the media to find what they've become aware and interested in. Do you want your competitors gaining from awareness generated by your TV commercials, radio, outdoor media, etc.?

In Fredrick Markini's cogent and engaging Toronto SES opening keynote, he told a story of a company in Norway that ran TV ads but didn't pay attention to the effect in search. Their competitor noticed the increased traffic in the organic results, and bought 50 phrases in PPC related to the TV campaign. They had to shut it down after 30 days because they could take no more business. The company that ran the TV ads gifted thousands of customers to the competitor.

One of his stats:

"40% of people going online because of an offline campaign make a purchase."

3: Vertical search is becoming more important, and it will continue to be so. Giants like Google can't provide the context and expertise that a vertical site can. That's not to say that Google can't buy, build or otherwise own many successful properties, but the point is that people want and need the context provided by vertical sites. Google is used more and more to find portals, directories and other search engines on specific topics.

This means as marketers we've got to search for all of the new places that our audience is searching for someone like us. We need to be in front of our audience wherever and whenever they are searching. All of the time.

4: Social Media is real and it's time to start paying attention. It's so incredibly friggin' big and so friggin' broad. It's the natural evolution of life on the Internet and it will evolve much more. It is not going away. But we are now really getting our hands around it as an industry. Social Media (SM) is different than search in that it shows feelings and expressions, while search shows intent. What can we do with feelings and expressions?

  • Monitor reputation and brand attitudes. Reviews, blogs, comments, videos - there is a lot of discussion and data out there
  • Catch problems in their infancy and allow us to address them quickly before they get out of hand.
  • Join the conversation about our brands and make a positive influence. The conversation is happening with or without us.
  • With creativity and some luck, you can even create a community around your brand. (But really think it though first... that can be a huge undertaking.)
These are all useful from a PR perspective, but without diminishing their value, they are more difficult to draw a straight line to improved financial results. There are other ways to use social to more directly influence the bottom line:
  • Leverage comments, reviews and recommendations as third party proof sources to increase credibility and draw direct line to increased sales. The exact effect of various changes to content and pages used to be hard to measure, but with Google WebSite Optimizer and a skilled hand, it's now quite easy - and statistically provable.
  • Social video like YouTube offers excellent opportunities for improved visibility through optimized postings and clever content on themes directly, or maybe even indirectly, related to your business.

    A directly related example: The company that makes information videos on their obscure product niche. People are searching for it, and there is no other video competition online.

    Indirectly related example: A shampoo company that posts videos about hairstyles (because people search for hairstyles, but shampoo's - not so much)

  • You probably shouldn't get into SM just for the extra links to your site. But you can get a lot of extra links to your site. Links can produce traffic, improved search engine rankings (therefore more traffic), and traffic equates to more sales.
The incredibly targeted advertising promised by the very scary big brother stuff thats being built on demographics, interests and preferences has not really materialized in any big way yet. Facebook Ads are still in their infancy. But this has got a very long way to go, and it is going to get really interesting over the next few years. That's for both the incredibly targeting advertising and the very scary big brother stuff.

But now I have to stop. I have so much more to say but this is getting long and it's getting really late. To be continued....

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