Nearly Half of Search Marketers Do Not Integrate Efforts with Offline Channels

Search engine marketing firm iProspect today published the iProspect Search Engine Marketing Integration Study. Sponsored by iProspect and conducted by JupiterResearch, the study reveals that 45% of search engine marketers do not integrate their search marketing efforts with offline channels. In addition, it also uncovers a big disconnect between search engine marketer strategy and search engine user behavior.

While the concept of integrating search with offline channels is far from new, the findings from this new study seem to indicate otherwise. In fact, the study finds that just over half of search engine marketers (55%) intentionally integrate their efforts with at least one offline marketing channel. Specifically, that integration most often takes place with direct mail (34%) and magazine/newspaper advertising (29%), while both television (12%) and radio advertising (12%) trail behind.

When compared to the iProspect Offline Influence on Online Search Behavior Study, these results take on new meaning. Published in August of 2007, the study revealed that two-thirds (67%) of search engine users are driven to search by an offline channel, and that 39% of those offline-influenced search users ultimately make a purchase from the company that prompted their initial search. Moreover, it also shows television advertising to be the leading offline channel that drives users to search (37%).

“Despite such a clear demonstration of the power of integrating search and offline channels,” said Robert Murray, President, iProspect, “surprisingly, the strategy has yet to gain widespread adoption. Unfortunately, by failing to integrate their efforts with offline, search marketers are essentially ignoring the very channels that drive users to search. Obviously, there is a big disconnect between search marketing strategy and search engine user behavior.”

But the subpar state of integration revealed in this study can be attributed to a lot more than search marketer failure, as obstacles abound. The study shows the lack of integration can be attributed to a number of factors, including: lack of budget (19%), lack of human resources (15%), not considered (13%), lack of senior management buy-in (11%), and separate people managing search marketing and offline channels (11%).

“There’s no question about the combined power of search and offline channels — that is well established,” said John Tawadros, Chief Operating Officer, iProspect. “What’s missing from this equation is the right environment. To truly push integration forward – and fully reap its benefits — it is incumbent upon the CMO to break down the silos, eliminate the obstacles that plague its progress, and create a culture that rewards integrated efforts.”

The study also discovered that when search marketers are optimizing various digital assets (press release, images, video, etc.), they give priority to images (58%) more than press releases (32%) or videos (20%). However, findings from the iProspect Blended Search Results Study (April 2008) show that when measured by their propensity to click on these asset types within the blended organic search results of Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, search engine users attributed importance to these forms of digital content in the following order: news (36%), image (31%), and video (17%).

“While search marketers are diversifying their digital content portfolios with videos, press releases, and images to remain competitive in the blended search landscape,” said Murray, “their lack of alignment with user behavior suggests that they are missing the mark. Again, this speaks to the big disconnect between search marketer strategy and search engine user behavior. To fully capitalize on their efforts, search marketers need to take user behavior into consideration at all times.”

Other key findings from the study include:

* The two integration techniques most frequently employed by search marketers are: prominently including the company Web address (84%) and the company name (66%) in offline marketing initiatives.
* Only 26% of marketers utilize the same keywords in offline campaigns as are used in search marketing campaigns in their integration efforts.
* Nearly a quarter (24%) of companies DO NOT participate in offline marketing at all.

About iProspect

iProspect is the Original® Search Engine Marketing Firm. The company helps many of the world’s most successful brands maximize their online marketing ROI through natural search engine optimization, paid inclusion management, pay per click advertising management, shopping feed management and numerous other related services. By dramatically increasing business results for clients, iProspect helps to create search marketing heroes every day.

Proper attribution requires that the study is clearly identified as the iProspect Search Engine Marketing Integration Study.

With U.S. offices in Watertown, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California, as well as offices across the globe, iProspect can be contacted at 1-800-522-1152, or by visiting http://www.iprospect.com.

Questions regarding this release should be directed to iProspect Media Relations Manager, Colleen Reed, at 1-800-522-1152 x1203 or colleen.reed(at)iprospect.com.

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