Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looking Beyond the Click

As search marketers, we’re used to having a lot of control. We have all sorts of levers to pull – creative, keywords, bids, budget caps, etc. And optimizing these factors to make our accounts run as efficiently as possible is our bread and butter.
The more we sell at an efficient ROAS – or the more signups we get at an efficient CPA – the better we look to our bosses and our clients.
But all those levers are usually just focused on the media. We lead the horse to water.

Sure, we can make sure the right horse sees the right ad and is taken to the right stream, but we still can’t make them drink. That’s typically someone else’s job. We track the user’s journey and then hand them off.
Yes across the marketing organization our goals are probably aligned. Marketing, media, IT, and content creation teams usually all want the same thing (directly or indirectly) – more sales or signups. And we count on those downstream from us to push those goals. In turn, we take what we learned from those who made it all the way to the end of the stream and converted and then optimize against insights gleaned reactively.
We spend much of our time and energy tailoring the media experience – making sure the right message gets in front of the right user. And while we can extend our influence beyond the media a bit and perform landing page testing to get users to the best possible page, we’re still only working from someone else’s bag of tricks.
When you stop and think about it, search marketers are like the waiters in a restaurant. We can answer questions about the menu, help our customers order the right meal based on their taste, make sure it’s delivered properly and even “dynamically” generate offerings for those with particular tastes or needs. But we don’t actually cook the meal. When the dish comes out from the kitchen and the steak is overdone, the portion way too small or the plate full of grease, we’re the ones who get shafted with a crummy tip.
So what to do about it?
Quick – name the person in your organization who’s responsible for the user experience on your site. Now name three improvements you would suggest to them if they invited you to lunch tomorrow.
Not sure? Of either? You’re not alone. But this situation needs to change.
You aren't driving a bus just to drop passengers off at someone else’s door. You’re guiding them on a journey to convert.
Partner with the folks who get the customers – your customers who you brought to them – through the checkout process. Set up regular meetings to match what’s working in your different areas and come up with new holistic solutions that combine media and user experience to increase the pie. If nothing else, your CMO will love you for it. Better yet, you may learn some critical things that feed your own optimizations.
If you have access to tools that customize the user journey based on their interests or behavior, tie those back into your search program. Get an understanding of how different media impact user engagement through time on site, page visits, frequency and, where available, a user score. This should be an easy link between your media and your colleague’s onsite experience and will allow you to optimize both.
Stores hire people in clown suits to draw customers through their doors. The clowns don’t care who buys something. But we do.
Don’t be a clown. Make the full conversion experience the focus of your efforts, not just your part.

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