MarketingSherpa has released a report entitled Top Three Search Marketing Trends to Watch in 2006. It’s a must read. Here are the highlights:
Trend One: Search Engines as TV Networks Jockeying for Audience
Using search engines is the third most popular activity online, just behind using email and surfing. But the majority of search activity occurs on just a handful of search engines. Google, Yahoo! and MSN account for 83% of all searches. MarketingSherpa compares this to the national TV audience in the 1970s, when only three networks ruled the nation's eyeballs.
Trend Two: SEO Still a Tiny Portion of Total Search Marketing Spend
Total money spent on search engine optimization represents only 12% of what is spent on pay-for-click advertising (PPC). What makes this statistic so startling is that it is the undeniable truth that organic search engine results (those that show up in natural "free" listings) are better noticed, read, and clicked on than the paid listings. And organic clicks convert as well or even better than paid clicks. As MarketingSherpa states, "The disregard of SEO in popular marketing is so thorough that a study released May 2005 revealed only 13 of the Fortune 100 had ‘effective SEO.’" What's more amazing is that SEO does not have to be expensive (see related blogs SEO - Do it Now! Search Engine Optimization Basics and The SEO Industry – Gold Rush or Fool’s Gold?). So why don't more marketing professionals invest in SEO? Same reason that as late as 1997, many businesses still did not have a web site. A lot of marketing professionals simply don't get it.
Which brings us to the last trend…
Trend Three: Search Marketing -- A New Application for Press Releases
Because virtually every press release sent via a wire service ends up on the Internet, the public and B2B buyers can read press releases directly on various Internet news portals, such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. This has resulted in reporters’ interest in these releases to plummet. If everyone can see the news directly on the Internet, what's the point of a reporter using it? MarketingSherpa states:
"And as marketers and PR pros skilled in SEO have discovered in the past year, although releases may not be response devices for reporters, they make great response devices for the search-using public. For example, marketers for Southwest Airlines used four press releases deliberately written with search engine optimization and consumer response in mind, to sell $1.5 million in tickets in 90 days. Every ticket sale was directly traceable to links in the releases. SEO firms, PR firms and marketers themselves have begun to seize on this low-cost tactic in droves…"
HRmarketer.com posted a similar blog just a few days ago entitled Using Press Releases as an Online Media Visibility Tool. In the blog posting we stated, "Using press releases as a lead generating marketing tactic, marketers are now realizing that press releases sent via wire services can be effective online visibility activities that generate sales leads. In other words, whether a journalist actually finds the release or responds to it is secondary in importance." This trend IS HUGE! If you are in marketing and not sending at least 1-2 "marketing" releases per month, you are missing the lead-generation boat and placing your company at a competitive disadvantage. Remember, these "marketing" press releases are different than traditional press releases. Marketing releases are SEO optimized (i.e., include imbedded hyperlinks, key search terms, shorter headlines) and are written for your buyers, not for reporters.
And also remember, the two major wire services PR Newswire and Business Wire do not yet allow you to place imbedded hyperlinks in your releases so you cannot fully optimize them. HRmarketer.com members who use Direct2Net wire service can take advantage of all the latest SEO capabilities including imbedded hyperlinks for key search terms. So why don't more marketing professionals send "marketing" press releases? Most simply don't get it yet – nor do their PR agencies.