Everyone is talking about search marketing, but do you know where to start your program? With your objectives, that’s where. Search marketing is, after all, marketing, so think through the marketing impact of your program before you start.

Search Marketing Drives Sales

Search marketing has two major marketing impacts. The first one, which you probably thought of, is driving sales. If you examine your Web site’s overall purpose, you’ll figure out what your Web conversions are—which is the first impact. You can identify what events on your Web site are your Web conversions, which could be direct sales on an e-Commerce site, or they could be collecting leads on a site that makes offline sales. Whatever your conversions are, you can count them and you can drive more of them with search marketing.

You start by valuing your conversions—what’s each conversion worth? When you count your conversions and know the value of each one, then you know the sales impact of search marketing. Knowing the value helps you justify the investment you need to improve your search marketing results.

You can increase your results through organic search marketing, which can often be inexpensive, and through paid search marketing, which usually is not.

Search Marketing Drives Brand Awareness

Search marketing, like any kind of marketing, can drive brand awareness as well as conversions. But before we see how search marketing drives brand awareness, let’s see first how it measures brand awareness. At IBM, we conducted offline advertising campaigns when we first introduced the ThinkPad airbag, but we used the rise in search queries to tell us how well those offline campaigns were working.

Measuring brand awareness is interesting, but nowhere near as exciting as raising brand awareness. Just as with offline marketing, search marketing can raise brand awareness. At IBM, we launched the on demand concept, but you might expect that there were precious few searches at first. To raise brand awareness for “on demand,” we identified products and services were we already had high search rankings, and we made sure those offerings were described in “on demand” terms. We additionally linked from those offerings pages to the on demand pages themselves, and we found that searchers did work their way deep into the on demand site from seemingly unrelated queries. What’s more, our brand surveys showed that search marketing raised brand awareness more than any other form of marketing.

Whether you are looking for higher sales or more brand awareness, search marketing can provide huge impact for your company. Download the complete set of slides for this talk on the marketing impact of search. For even more ideas, check out Search Engine Marketing, Inc.