The team at MarketingSherpa produce timely, relevant and specialized marketing research and a recent article caught my eye. The article is a recap of a recent presentation (Oct. 12, 2006) in which Sherpa President Anne Holland and Stefan Tornquist, Research Director reveal the findings of a study about search marketing.
Summary: Find out what 3,944 marketers revealed about costs, conversions and what is working now for search marketing. Highlights include:1. How to cope with rising cost per click. 2. New “norms" in searchclickthrough and conversion rates. 3. How consumers use search engines for offline purchase decisions. 4. Eyetracking study on Google's changing “golden triangle. 5. PR and search explosion.
Their conversation is available as an 8MB .mp3 plus you can download (and share) the PowerPoint slides as .pdf to follow along with the presentation. Also, you can just read the transcript or subscribe to RSS feed to catch all the Sherpa news.
Any way you digest their info, the content is top-notch - compelling topical info presented in a casual format. For example, while talking about Organic vs Paid clickthroughs (and why people chose one or the other), Anne relates an anecdote about how her mother searches/browses the web and they combine this real-world relevance with their empirical research.
Stefan Tornquist: If I put in Bombay.com into the search bar, which by the way is very common, ...
Anne Holland: A great brand and a place.
Stefan Tornquist: Right, but then it is very common to use the search bar as navigation. You know? It's one of the things that complicates some of the data on click fraud is that a lot of people instead of putting in, you know, Nike.com into their favorites or ...
Anne Holland: Or browser.
Stefan Tornquist: ... or browser directly, they just type it into the search bar because they know that if they misspell it a little bit or they get the dot-com versus dot-net wrong, they're going to see the result that they want thanks to the search bar.
Anne Holland: Or if you're my mother, you think you actually have to do that to get to a Web site.
Stefan Tornquist: Well, that's probably true of a lot of folks as well, but navigational searches make up a big chunk of the most popular searches that we see are brand and site specific.
Anne Holland: Alright, but what we are seeing here is that conversion rates, natural versus paid, I mean there's not a huge difference there, so that organic traffic is converting pretty darn well just as the paid traffic is converting. So it's not like there's this complete out of whack, you know, gee, one's much worse than the other.
Stefan Tornquist: Absolutely not, and one thing that this doesn't show is the conversion for specific terms that got folks there versus via natural search. You know, that's one of the best tactics for figuring out what keywords you want to optimize your site for and to buy in auction are those terms that convert highly, and natural search can potentially bring in more people than the paid side.
So it may not have the same top-end average, but in terms of ROI it's fantastic.
Innovative retailers, marketers and salespeople will cetainly benefit from this knowledge. Indeed, as browser (both the human and software kind) become more sophisticated SEO becomes increasing important and SEO done well can increase traffic, improve conversion rates and reduce the cost of acquisition compared to (often competitive and expensive) PPC campaigns.