November 05, 2013

Marketing Research Chart: Integrating email and search marketing tactics

SUMMARY: You are busy! You might even think you’re too busy to read about this week’s chart.

But, what if you could kill two birds with one stone? This week, those birds are search and email marketing. So, knock out a few deliverables with that rock and then dig in to see which SEO tactics your peers are prioritizing.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

"It's growing in popularity, but the overall cost and time that it takes to achieve results is less appealing than emailing and prospect emailing."

This quote comes from an e-commerce marketing manager responding to the MarketingSherpa 2013 SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey. It highlights the either/or view some marketers have of email and search marketing.

At first, there does not seem to be as obvious an overlap between these channels as there is with, say, search and social.

To identify areas of overlap, we needed to understand where marketers focused their search marketing time and resources. So in the survey, we asked:

Q: Which of the following SEO tactics has your organization used in the past year?

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

At first glance, this chart highlights one of marketers' key challenges. They're doing a lot. Even the least used tactic — digital asset optimization — is being conducted by 45% of marketers.

Since many marketers find it difficult to do less or gain more resources for the current workload, the only other option is better integrating the work that is already being conducted. So take out your silo-busting sledgehammer, and read these three ideas for combining your SEO and email tasks to get more done in less time.

Combo #1. Keyword and keyphrase research is email send planning in disguise

I know of a company (that shall remain nameless) struggling with getting its weekly event promotion email out every Wednesday.

They're too busy. Who has the time? Every week's send is a last-minute scramble. No time to optimize or test … just get-the-send-out-the-door-fast!

However, if you are one of the 88% of marketers who are conducting keyword and keyphrase research (that number is even higher — 91% — when we break out the data to marketers who have a dual B2B/B2C audience), what you’re really doing is finding topics where you can fill into a send calendar to plot out your promotional and content emails for the next quarter or even year.

If that keyphrase is relevant enough to your audience that they're searching for it, it should be relevant enough for their inbox, as well.

Once you have those topics planned (and last-minute tweaking is always possible, of course), you can start keeping your eye out for products, content, promotions, graphics, news stories, testimonials and the list goes on that you can slot into that calendar — so as the send approaches, you have a lot of information to work off of.

BONUS: Subject lines are one of the hardest things to get just right and can take up a lot of time with tweaking and last-minute refinements. People don’t just type keywords into search engines. The right keywords also reflect prospect interest. If you already have those in your email calendar, adding them to your subject lines (and even better, testing those subject lines) can lead to more opens and faster subject line writing.

Combo #2. Content creation feeds both Google and Gmail

Yahoo and Yahoo Mail. Bing and Outlook. I’m not trying to play favorites here. My overall point is that inbound and outbound can benefit from each other, will help you create one integrated process, and save you time.

A VP of Marketing responded to the benchmark survey by saying, "We don't have a process as of now; we're focused on outbound tactics. However, I have been reading about inbound and content marketing, which seems to have reached 'frenzy' status. We engaged in discussions and presentations with [vendor name removed] to replace our current email provider."

If you're among the two-thirds of marketers engaged in content creation for SEO, look beyond the landing page. Content is the perfect food for the ever-hungry beast that is your email list. Even promotional emails can benefit from some added content to increase perceived value before an "ask.”

This may involve such arduous tasks as cross-departmental collaboration, or even sharing budgets and resources. Or, worse yet, it could force different ad agencies to work together. But, the tough upfront work will pay off with a more streamlined workflow to make better use of the time and resources your company is already spending to create content.

Also, the content should flow both ways. If you have an established email provider and are focused on outbound email, before you rip and replace with a new type of platform, take a look at how you can add inbound and SEO to your current process and repurpose your email content.

This VP of Marketing sees the possible combination of using email to drive traffic to website content, "We view SEO as a longer-term strategy.

"As a relatively young company, we rely on inside sales [telemarketing] as our primary source for lead gen. The second priority is a combination of content marketing tied to email marketing and our website. The content will help drive traffic and we plan to publish new content on social media channels."

Combo #3. SEO landing pages beg for some email capture

"SEO has actually gotten less important as we have switched to email marketing and affiliate marketing. We offer online conferences to psychotherapists and partner with presenters that have large email lists, thus improving our reach. The only one that cares about SEO is me, the co-owner, though I have not found just the right mix and offer for using it to increase our email sign-up list," a company owner replied to the benchmark survey.

A little over half (55%) of marketers are building SEO landing pages, with the practice slightly more prevalent for B2C marketers (57%).

While those SEO landing pages can be used for a direct sale, many products would benefit from a little lead nurturing first. For example, through previous MarketingSherpa research, we've found that marketing departments with a lead nurturing campaign in place reported a 45% higher ROI than those that did not utilize a lead nurturing track.

So, you can test combining your SEO landing pages with your company's list-building efforts by either making email capture your main goal, or perhaps an option in your sales process. This also opens up the possible use of retargeting for prospects that are interested in a product, but don't pull the trigger to purchase.

BONUS: The re-use of work can flow both ways. You can use content from emails to build SEO landing pages. If the content only appeared in email, you don't have to worry about any duplicate content issues with search engines. You may have some fresh, underutilized inbound-traffic-generating content that has been used once and forgotten in your email newsletters.

My overall goal with this week's chart is to challenge you, the busy marketer — don’t only look at what SEO tactics marketers are engaged in, explore ways to integrate these tactics into your other campaigns, efforts, and work to create more efficient, effective campaigns.

After all, no marketing channel is an island. Your customers just want information and offers for products and services they are interested in. They don’t silo themselves into channels. Neither should you.

Related Resources

Search and Email Marketing: Why these channels dominate

Mining Gold through Email Integration: 3 lessons from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 winners

Inbound Marketing: Unlock the content from your emails and social marketing

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