To find out the top search engine marketing strategies for 2017, we made the trek to the annual SMX East conference in New York City to learn about the most important trends and developments in the industry. Here are the top 3 takeaways:
1. Online-to-offline (o2o) is a must for retail
As Kishore Kanakamedala of Google explains, the majority of retail sales, some 90%, still take place at physical storefronts, yet e-commerce is quickly eating up market share, experiencing 23% growth compared to brick-and-mortar’s 6% growth. Perhaps more tellingly, during the 2017 holiday shopping season, online sales are projected outpace offline sales. So how would this affect your search engine marketing strategies for 2017?
This enormous growth on all sides puts into focus the need for a multi-channel strategy that incorporates physical storefronts, digital advertising and mobile, with unifying factors such as full-funnel metrics and local tracking and targeting through methods such as Bluetooth beacons, query history and visit duration.
Digital advertisers have several tools to tackle these challenges, including new types of Google reporting (demographic, time lag and new vs. returning customer tracking, multiple ad types such as Local Inventory Ads (LIA) which display product availability in local digital listings and local ads for Google Display Network (GDN). For more search engine marketing strategies for 2017 on driving o2o conversions and sales, see QuanticMind’s webinar: “6 Best Practices for Local Search to Use Today.”
2. Additional digital channels are growing in importance – but so are their metrics
In addition to looking just at search engine marketing strategies for 2017, digital marketers may wish to look at alternate channels such as video ads and even GDN. YouTube, for instance, has 1.3B users who upload 300 hours of content to the popular video portal each minute and watch nearly 5 billion videos daily. Facebook also has enormous reach, with 2 billion worldwide users, 500 million of which watch Facebook videos daily. Display ads, of course, appear on more than 2 million websites daily and offer a variety of targeting options to whittle down ad delivery to the right audience.
However, these channels are not without their challenges – among these being analytics and reporting. Display is still a broad advertising platform which, despite extensive targeting options, doesn’t necessarily offer strong conversions. YouTube and Facebook also offer conversion challenges, primarily being top-funnel channels that drive awareness rather than purchases.
While many marketers have looked to expand beyond standard search engine marketing strategies for 2017 to these alternate channels, both publishers’ campaign performance and other metrics are locked up in each others’ respective walled gardens. Integrating data from these two drastically different publishers isn’t easy without the use of a third-party solution that can tie together metrics from both channels.
3. Automation is coming to digital – and that’s not a bad thing
Automation is already here in digital marketing, and probably already part of your search engine marketing strategies for 2017. Performance marketers use a variety of different automation-based solutions, and will likely use more in the future, such as Google’s own data-driven attribution (DDA), which uses an automated system to attribute clicks to different campaigns across different funnel stages.
About automation, there were two primary trends that emerged:
Automation lifts performance – …By virtue of processing enormous amounts of data. Marketing automation users reportedly see a 451% increase in qualified leads, and 63% of surveyed companies observe overall stronger performance using marketing automation than those that don’t use it.
Automation isn’t a job threat – While automation can drive powerful performance gains, it can’t provide the ingenuity and real-world guidance for key performance indicators (KPIs) that humans can. The creativity and realistic perspective that human marketers provide won’t be replaced by artificial intelligences (AIs) anytime soon.