Integrating search is important for SMEs

August 12th, 2011

Integrating search is important for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that invest in their search strategy could see their sales increase and cost per acquisition (CPA) go down.

A case study detailed in a new report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) saw one company's sales go up by 45 per cent after they spent 55 per cent more on search.

At the same time, CPA reduced by 38 per cent and the halo effect – when high search rankings influence people's perception of the brand – improved by more than a quarter.

These statistics echo comments made recently by Microsoft's group search manager Colm Bracken, who claimed search can extend the reach and impact of other media.

He said: "With the halo effect, some of the individual parts [of the marketing mix] add up to something that's greater than maybe a TV campaign plus a search campaign."

IAB Search Council member Jack Wallington, writing in a blog post for Brand Republic, said the Search for Integration report also highlights how search can "significantly multiply the brand effectiveness of all media in the mix".

But in order to achieve such results, SMEs need to integrate search engine optimisation efforts into their overall strategy.

According to IAB statistics, 99 per cent of brands have not fully combined search with online advertising, radio, print and TV communication.

Mr Wallington said: "All marketers from all disciplines must re-evaluate the use of search in the integrated mix and then re-educate staff about its role."

The report also claims the ability of search to drive offline sales is an important factor for SMEs to consider.

While someone might first become aware of a brand or product via the internet and do all their research about it online, the final step of purchase may be conducted offline in a shop – a phenomenon entitled the research online, purchase offline (ROPO) effect.

Internet users go online to check and compare prices and specs of products, research different brands and read reviews. However, Google points out a great deal of search activity centres around "purely ROPO-related activities" such as finding out in-store product availability, opening hours and contact details, and getting directions to shops.

The search engine adds: "Your website needs to cater to both people who want to buy online and those who research online."

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