Mashing Search & Social Marketing

Online marketing today is not quite what it used to be. Just a couple of years ago, the combination of SEO with PPC seemed to be the final word in online marketing (excluding affiliate and email marketing). With Social Media having made a strong presence in recent years, more and more web channels and communities are accessible to users where they prefer to ‘hang out.’
Users are researching blogsphere & community websites for product reviews they want to buy, find solutions to their problems, or just share their views and feedback on subjects that would interest most marketers in reaching out to them. Most users feel that peer groups tend to offer a more unbiased and genuine reviews about products.
Facebook’s traffic alone is inching close to Google’s traffic and is growing at a much faster rate than Google’s traffic. Twitter’s traffic is in the vicinity of Yahoo’s & Bing’s traffic put together. Smart marketers need to put their content in front of these potential buyers, right where they hang out. 

The increase of Social Media usage, as against traditional marketing channels like SEO & PPC is also throwing up several uneasy questions –
  1. Is SEO losing its effectiveness, becoming obsolete or already dead?
  2. Will PPC become more expensive? Will it continue to serve its original purpose?
  3. Will companies divert part of their PPC budgets into SEO & Social Media Marketing?
  4. Is Social Media just a fad? Can Social Media really serve as a serious marketing vehicle? Should one have a defined and serious Social Media Marketing strategy?
  5. Will Social Media continue to grow at the same pace or is it reaching its saturation?
  6. What will happen if search engines like Google make more radical changes to their algorithms?
  7. Should one have a common or a complimentary marketing message across SEO, PPC & Social Media?
  8. How should SEO, PPC and SMM dovetail into your online marketing strategy? What role should each play? What kind of performance can one expect from each of these marketing vehicles?
  9. How does one decide how much budget one should allocate to each media?
Today’s marketers need to take a fresh look at their marketing strategies when they plan their media mix of SEO, PPC, Social Media and other vehicles to deliver their marketing message. Conventional promotion techniques and approaches need to be innovated to get powerful results and fight competition. 

One can no longer think of SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing in isolation. You need to have a holistic approach in planning the media mix, keeping in mind the power as well as limitations of each media. The role of each media should be deployed in such a way that they fill gaps of the other. One needs to use each medium for what it is best suited to individually accomplish, given its distinct advantages. Ideally, SEO, PPC and Social Media should together serve your common business goals.
Online Marketing Objectives
Before you can go about planning how each marketing medium should be used, it is important to first outline your specific short-term & long-term marketing objectives. Getting clarity on your marketing objectives is key to setting a roadmap for your resource deployment and budget allocation to SEO, PPC and Social Media.
SEO usually works well to serve your long-term objectives, while PPC and Social Media Marketing can be used to achieve both short-term and long term marketing objectives. 

For example, SEO can be deployed to steadily build website traffic for your main key phrases but may require considerable time and resources to get good results. However, SEO can achieve quicker results for your long-tail keywords with minimal efforts. It is also cost effective to promote ‘non-commercial’ product-relevant keywords, which may not boost instant sales on your website, but is good to get potential buyers interested in your product and may eventually convert into sales.
PPC is ideal for promoting special offers, seasonal sales, geo-targeting, new product launches, direct website sales, lead generation, website page content A|B split testing and getting traffic for your ‘head’ or competitive keyword phrases that result in conversions. Essentially, it is best to invest in PPC where time is of essence and the results can be commercially measurable.
Social media promotion can play an effective role in building customer relationships, interactivity, providing customer support services at reduced cost, get direct customer feedback on your products, your services and your website. It allows you to build communities, positively influence existing communities and steer a positive peer review of your products. Social media also works well in affiliate development, engaging new marketing partners, hiring key people, channel development, brand image building, creating brand visibility, online reputation management and lead the users to useful online resources, information and reference material on your website.
SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing each work together holistically as marketing vehicles to coordinate and deliver the maximum mileage for your marketing dollar. A well planned marketing strategy based on clearly laid out objectives not only enables you to measure the success of your campaign but also secures your investment for a long term and help you remain ahead of the competition.
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