Friday, November 14, 2008

Search Insider: Lead Generation And Paid Search

Lead Generation And Paid Search

WE ALL AGREE THAT THE economy is not great, but there seems to be mixed feelings on the impact the economy is having and will have on paid search. Some feel paid search sits on a pedestal of tangible results that will keep funds moving its way, while others look toward subsequent impacts like declining conversion rates or a potential decline in online demand as offline advertising is minimized.

I think most people agree that of all search campaigns, those aimed at generating leads have felt the biggest impact. When we think about the types of campaigns that focus on collecting leads, real estate, financial services and home services come immediately to mind.

Search is great. We love it. We have become so addicted to it that we often forget there are other places outside of search to go for great leads. Our thinking has fallen into a silo where we simply want more volume from search. Now, there usually are incremental gains that can be made even to the best paid search campaigns; however, advertisers must understand the tradeoff that comes with it, which is typically a loss in efficiency in order to gain additional volume. On the other hand, there are several other methods of lead generation that are often overlooked in overall marketing efforts.

Cost Per Action (CPA) is a form of online advertising that is performance-based, meaning you only pay for the leads you receive. Many advertisers overlook this method because of previous experiences with bad leads; however, this channel has made amazing strides recently, and granular tracking from lead to sale by source allows for optimization at a partner level, just as search allows for optimization at a keyword level. CPA can extend your reach into display, contextual, incentivized sites and more.

Direct Response Marketing is also overlooked, as advertisers shift budgets from offline initiatives to online. As we see advertisers decrease their "less measureable" spend, brand awareness will inevitably decline. But what if advertisers simply shift the way they look at print, TV and radio? This is a win-win scenario that allows for tangible results, while continually promoting your brand in traditional advertising channels.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the one thing that never ceases to amaze me. Everyone knows it is important, but time and time again it is neglected. While the results are not "immediate," the long-term impact is undeniable. If any advertiser has extra budget for search and paid search is maximized or close to it, SEO should receive high consideration for the additional spend.

While it is important to have tangible results in order to justify spend, we must be careful of the potential impacts budgetary shifts can have on the performance of other channels. Rather than abandon initiatives in tough times, make adaptations to improve their weaknesses.

Janel Landis is senior director of search development and strategy at SendTec, Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based multichannel, integrated marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing, direct response television and lead generation.

Search Insider for Friday, November 14, 2008:

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