The surprise answer – run display ads.
Just read an interesting article over at eMarketer “Display Campaigns Boost Search Effectiveness” about a study that shows that display ad campaigns increase visits from search engine users by nearly 14% from both organic (SEO) and PPC search combined. Another benefit? Cost per click for PPC decreased as well – demonstrating greater efficiency of the PPC campaign as a result of display.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. A lot goes into whether or not users are going to click on a search result… or even search for something in the first place. Depending on the type of search I’m doing, I know that I personally run through a little bit of a mental checklist before clicking on a result that goes something like “does the result seem to match what I’m looking for?” (title/description), “is the source credible?” (URL/recall), “have I heard of/been to the site before?” etc. Those last two questions are where display and other marketing efforts can have a bigger though less direct influence than you’d think on whether or not someone’s going to click on your result in a search engine.
There are some great stats in this article, but I think the number one takeaway for all marketers is that search engine marketing is a great option and it should absolutely be part of your marketing mix, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that your organization is doing to market itself. I think this is also cause for celebration amongst “traditional” marketers and agencies. Search has been a much easier sell over the last year, but here’s a reason to encourage their clients to spend money on display and better integrate with search marketers to improve marketing results overall.
While most PPC marketers (myself included) frown upon running programs like Google’s content targeting option within our PPC campaigns because the click through performance is poor, perhaps it’s time to change or adjust our perception. I know that I always encourage our clients not to put all their eggs in one basket and rely on search as their only marketing tool, but this study definitely makes the case that display campaigns should be a consideration for any SEM campaign.