Although organizations are investing in search engine marketing despite the economic downturn, they are unhappy with the performance of SEM, according to a report from [x+1]
More than half (57%) of senior-level SEM professionals from a cross-section of industry sectors gave SEM performance in their organization a low ranking (1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 7); only 20% gave it a high rating (6 or 7).
Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds of respondents—65.4%—said they would spend the same or more on SEM in 2009 than in 2008, with 13.1% saying they would increase spending by more than 20%.
Among the report's other findings:
- Almost half (48.6%) of SEM marketers said the economy had no impact on their SEM budget.
- Most respondents (59.8%) said they are using SEM to drive leads more effectively; another 16.8% said they were using it to reduce the overall marketing budget.
- 15.9% said they had not noticed a big difference in conversion rates through use of SEM; only 10.3% said they consistently saw lift rates above 20% (lift refers to increase in conversions to offers, registrations, or other calls to action, measured before and after the use of SEM).
- Less than one-quarter (21%) said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their company's ability to optimize sites for 30-100 keywords and redirect searchers to dynamically created landing pages; 42% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
- A higher percentage (40%) were satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to optimize for 30 or fewer keywords and redirect to a pre-built landing page (an easier but less-effective method than dynamic landing pages).
- Just 23% were satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to continuously improve the performance of their landing pages in response to keyword searches.
"While search engine marketing is without question a key business strategy for driving the online channel in 2009, our report shows a high level of dissatisfaction among SEM pros in key performance categories," said Ted Shergalis, cofounder and chief strategy officer of [x+1].
Among the recommendations of the [x+1] report: Use dynamic landing pages; and rely on an integrated system for outbound media (display ads) and inbound search (Webpages), allowing for common data, reporting, and analytics.
The [x+1] report , "Search Engine Marketing in 2009: Reality Not Matching Expectations When it Comes to Performance," is based on a March online survey of senior-level SEM professionals.
Just over half of respondents said they have decision-making authority on spending and allocation of search; 35.6% said they were at the director or VP level or above in marketing or advertising. Two-thirds of them came from companies with sales of $100 million or less; 16% reported $1 billion or more in sales.
Ann Handley is an 11-year veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Currently, Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how for marketing and business professionals through a full range of online media and live events. She also blogs at Annarchy, her acclaimed personal web log.