the search-driven marketing planWhy should any marketer consider a search-driven marketing plan? Can’t we just take what we did last year, do 80% of that and add some new bits? You know, we’ll add in some social strategery and what not.  Create some viral videos. Update our Facebook page…no?

Unfortunately, many marketing plans are built with a few minor modifications to the previous year’s plans and some new buzz words added in. But an analysis of what marketing activities have really worked for many of us in the past will show that something like 80% of what we do is ineffective and does not justify the cost.

So keep the 20% – the best tactics, creative, campaigns and programs – and use the rest of your budget to drive a search-driven marketing plan…

What is a Search-driven marketing plan?

A search-driven marketing plan is the only way to ensure that your marketing activities are aligned to your audience. Through a search-driven marketing plan, you are using the words your customers use. You are using the volume of searches to prioritize their most important issues. From this you can create an audience-focused marketing plan that delivers valuable content on your customers’ hottest topics.

You can group the keywords into appropriate category clusters and analyze their importance by buying stage:

  • “what” and “how” searches are generally “early-stage” searches indicating your customer’s desire to get educated on how to solve their problems.
  • “who,” “”why” and “where” searches will indicate middle-stage searches when your customer’s are looking to identify the vendors that can solve their problems.
  • “how much” and comparison terms like “vs.” (such as “Coke vs. Pepsi”) indicate late-stage searchers who are looking to make a decision.

What exactly is Search?

Search is simply about getting found. Earlier this week I wrote about search engine marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as one of the keys to effective inbound marketing along with social media and content strategy.

Shelly Kramer (@ShellyKramer) also wrote earlier this week a post called SEO 101: How Google Works where she provides a link and overview to Google’s Matt Cutz who attempts to white board his explanation on how Google works by 1) crawling the web, 2) indexing those pages and 3) ranking and serving up the best results to keyword searches.

Shelly also provides links to great resources like SEOmoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” and Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO.”

How to get started:

  1.  Help your marketing team understand that a Search-driven marketing plan is key to your success
  2. Don’t forget that for most marketers, search is really hard. It does not come naturally to the traditional marketer who thinks in terms of targets, promotional messages and outbound tactics.
  3. Find SEO resources to help you do the research. You should start with Google’s Keyword Idea tool to understand the important keywords for your audience, group them into clusters and prioritize the clusters based on search volume and conversion.
  4. Combine this information with your social media and content strategy to create one heck of a killer inbound marketing plan.

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

13 Comments

  1. Billy Mitchell said…

    Michael,

    I believe in the “punches in bunches” approach to marketing.

    What you have described is the first punch. Too many B2B marketers are still investing too heavily in finding new business while under-investing in making it easier for new business to find them.

    To continue with my boxing analogy (or MMA for those more enlightened fight fans), the second punch is CONVERSION.

    How much business opportunity are you misssing if you attract a lot of traffic and can’t convert that interest to meaningful, measurable leads and sales?

    For many of us in B2B marketing the sales process is lengthy and complex so I understand the benefits of INTEREST and AWARENESS that curious traffic can provide at the early stages.

    But I like being ready for that second punch of CONVERSION as soon as the round starts.

    Just as any top fighter has their own style and benefits from a dynamic personality, a good B2B marketer needs unique CONTENT to attract an audience.

    Punches in bunches – CONTENT>TRAFFIC>CONVERSION>NURTURE>SELL>CRM

    That’s how I see winning the championship belt for B2B Inbound Marketing.*

    *Fighting for great ideas is part of the game

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Billy, I love it. Punches in bunches. We definitely cannot forget that second punch and must focus on conversion. Traffic, then conversion is definitely the way to go.

  2. Shelly Kramer said…

    Preach it, Michael. And like Billy, I agree that what you’ve described above is just the first step … and one that so many businesses haven’t even considered. But once they get their heads in that place – and understand that marketing is about data, analysis and the science of attracting leads and then converting those leads to sales …. oh what a wonderful time they’ll have. Great analogy, Billy! I love it.

    Shelly
    @shellykramer

  3. Deepti said…

    Michael, I have been looking at Google trends data and it seems we are not in sync as far as our priorities are set! But what’s more challenging is the buy-in from senior mgmt on spending more on Digital medium, we are very heavily focussed on traditional forms of B2B marketing.
    How exactly you prove the ROI when you are still crawling in online world.

  4. Nick Stamoulis said…

    A business website is an important part of a marketing plan for any business. People are searching for products and services in the search engines, not in the phone book. If your business can’t be found, you will have a tough time competing.

  5. alrabh.com said…

    I was curious if you ever considered changing
    the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect
    with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  6. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter
    to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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