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March 4, 2010

The Fallacy of Search Engine Marketing Only

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Allow me to offer a pre-emptive caveat – I own a successful search engine marketing company. Like most businesses, we are constantly trying to expand our client base – primarily through using the same search engine and internet marketing methods that we deliver to our clients. A quick search on terms such as “search engine optimization company” or “internet marketing company” on Google will demonstrate that we practice what we preach. As I write this, on a “clean machine” (one with all browser settings reset and cookies removed), my search engine marketing company ranks number 1 on Google for both of these phrases and the plural forms of the phrases. Based upon your past search tendencies, your specific location, and whims of the Google Gods, your mileage may vary, but you should find us near the top of the SERPs for those and hundreds of other related terms.

The Value of Integrating Different Internet Marketing Methods

The point here is not to boast – these results are due to the collective efforts of my expert team, not solely my own expertise. The point is to back up my contention that we practice what we preach and that the vast majority of our leads come from the internet marketing methods we apply to our own site. However, there has been much debate over the years in the search engine marketing community about whether it is proper or even hypocritical for a search engine marketing company to use other forms of advertising unrelated to internet marketing. The naysayers generally have a common argument: a quality search engine marketing company “shouldn’t need” to engage in any forms of offline marketing. Depending on the goals one has for their search engine marketing company, this may actually be true for some. A smaller boutique firm or an independent consultant may have all the leads they ever want from their internet marketing methods. They may even be turning business away while they make blog posts about how companies such as mine shouldn’t need to look offline for additional business opportunities.

However, this again relates directly to goals. If a search engine marketing company has capacity even after they maximize their online leads, and their business plan calls for maximum growth, what is the issue with engaging in other forms of marketing? As long as other marketing channels provide an acceptable ROI, I do not buy the argument that you “shouldn’t need it,” no matter what your situation.

The metrics are obviously what are important. It has been our experience that our own internet marketing methods provide us with, by far, the highest ROI of any of our other marketing efforts. However, this does not mean that the ROI from our online marketing efforts constitutes the baseline for what is ACCEPTABLE in terms of a return. In fact, we have done the math, and we know that we can afford to pay much more per lead.

Or, to look at this another way, we often work with companies that are embarking upon online marketing for the first time. These companies almost always already have successful offline marketing campaigns in place (after all, they are successful businesses). They are obviously delighted when they discover that their cost per lead or cost per sale with internet marketing is much lower than their other marketing efforts – but does this mean that they decide to shut those other successful channels down? Of course not.

And do we, as a responsible search engine marketing company, advise them that they should shut down those channels and put all of their eggs in the online basket? Of course not. We just enjoy the fact that our internet marketing methods provide the best bang for their buck.

Nobody can deny that the advent of various internet marketing methods has been a game-changer. Some forms of traditional advertising may even be on their last legs. Trade show attendance is down. Magazines and newspapers are in decline. I can’t remember the last time a door-to-door salesperson came up to my house* (except those selling a particular religion – but that’s a different story).

However, some channels, in our experience, still can provide exceptional returns. Direct mail, done properly, still works for us. Channel partnerships with offline marketing businesses can be profitable. Offline PR, when done properly, provides our search engine marketing company with exceptional exposure and returns. As long as we are achieving acceptable margins on these endeavors, we will continue to use them. And I will continue to stand incredulous when I hear from those who tell me that we shouldn’t.

*Unless you count Girl Scouts peddling cookies.


Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue, which was named the number one organic search engine optimization company in the world in 2006 and 2007 by PromotionWorld. Scott has contributed content to many publications including The Complete Guide to Google Advertising (Atlantic, 2008) and Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004), MarketingProfs, ZDNet, Organic Rankings, WebProNews, DarwinMag, SiteProNews, ISEDB.com, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue serves local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, Cbeyond, and DeKalb Medical. Contact Medium Blue now to see how we can help you achieve your online marketing goals.

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