NEW YORK - MAY 06:  A guest holds a catalog be...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

A client asked me this very question recently and it got me to thinking about what's wrong with the way a lot of us think about search marketing. The major concept behind successful search marketing (and indeed all of Internet marketing) is direct marketing. And the more you know about direct marketing, the less this question makes sense.

A veteran direct marketer would tell you that direct marketers don't easily distinguish between sales and marketing. After all, if you are sent a catalog and you rip out the order form and send it in, where did the marketing stop and the sales begin?

But most companies can easily separate their sales from their marketing. I mean, most companies have a Chief Marketing Officer on one side and a VP of Sales on the other. Any communications that go to big groups of customers are called marketing, while interactions with individual customers must be sales.

That's because brand marketing, which is what most companies do, is easily separable from sales. Unfortunately, Internet marketing, and search marketing in particular, are based on direct marketing--on tying each individual sale back to the marketing that produced it.

So, if your company is tossing and turning over whether you need to align search marketing with marketing or sales, you might be asking the wrong question. Instead, try to figure out how to make search marketing align marketing and sales with each other.

If you're thinking, "We don't sell things online, so we can't do direct marketing," it's not so. I admit that it's harder to count offline sales than online sales, but it's just as important. If you can't tie your offline sales to how they started on the Web, then you don't know what you did right to get that sale. Once you figure that out, you're a direct marketer. And probably a successful search marketer, too.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

March 25, 2009





Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.






Comments(23)

Marketing should lead to sales, if it's not - there's a problem. Great post.

Very true Mr. Karr, slaes and marketing go hand in hand.

Interesting article, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.

Great post

Hey Mike,

You have picked a nice topic to talk about and a very interesting one too. So what is your conclusion on this? Once you use the term Marketing associated with anyother word is pretty much signifies that it falls under the marketing segment. I would rather say " Does SEO fall under Search Marketing or Sales". I guess other readers would agree with me on this one.

Cheers,
Eddie Gear

Search Marketing belongs to Marketing Period.

Depending on the nature of the product your selling, it is usually marketing's job to bring in leads and prospects, it's sales jobs to close those. Sales should provide feedback to marketing so marketing can help optimize their campaigns for higher conversion and better ROI, but ultimately Search should be run by marketers.

Nice article Mike, I agree with Doug "Marketing should lead to sales" or that is the plan right? So our business is marketing first to result into sales.

Marketing DOES have to lead to sales. You should not have to "sell hard" all the time in order to generate business. I think marketing is more creativity and sales is just more pure skill.

Christian

Hi,

That can be categorized...because it is also a type of marketing...

hi,

This article is very informative especially to those involved in marketing or sales area.
Excellent!

We are all direct marketers now...

As a long time DMer I've always seen the connection. When working with clients I always want to get them to focus on the allowable even if its for leads that go to the sales team. Once we know that magic number we can really go to town especially with PPC.

If you can't prove your ROI then you are viewed as an expense and you're gonna get cut in these hard times.

Mr. Karr this topic is genuine topic i found after couple of days. Actually Search Marketing Belong in Marketing and Sales also because the sales in a part of marketing. If you do research on sales, that means you are researching marketing.

Hi,

Search Marketing belongs to marketing category as it innvolves promotion of websites to get a higher place in result pages of search engine.

Mike,
You have well explained Sales & Marketing Concept.The marketing effort is of no worth if its not converted into sales.After all the main purpose of marketing is sales.

I've always considered search marketing to be a marketing function and not a sales function and that's not just because of the name. It's part of a larger overall positioning and marketing strategy and not just revenue generation.

I agree, Poptropica, but the rub is that on the Web marketing and sales get merged (just as in direct marketing) and public relations and market research gets thrown into the mix, too. Search affects all of these disciplines and can't be totally claimed by any one of them. It's as if we tried to say that phones belonged to the telemarketing group and no one else was allowed to use them. Search marketing might be mostly marketing but it is a tool to be used by many in the organization.

You bring a good point about how search marketing overlaps between marketing and sales. This is certainly true, but, as you point out in your comment above, search engine marketing is also strongly public relations, and I think this tie is far stronger. This is especially true given the importance of social media and press mentions in organic SEO efforts. Publicity leads to links, and social media is an efficient way to populate links. Search marketing is a blend of marketing and sales, but it is much more of a blend of public relations and marketing.

Definitely agree, John, but PR has always been one of Marketing's Four Ps (promotion), so I think that tie is less newsworthy than the one to sales, which heretofore had been the domain only of direct marketing. What you say is undeniably true and is a good way for PR pros to think about how they use their skills in a new way.

So what is your conclusion on this? Once you use the term Marketing associated with anyother word is pretty much signifies that it falls under the marketing segment. I would rather say " Does SEO fall under Search Marketing or Sales". I guess other handbags readers would agree with me on this one.

@joe, my conclusion is that the question doesn't make sense, because search marketing is a form of direct marketing, where marketing and sales are not distinguished. Using the word marketing (as in "search marketing") doesn't help clarify the question, because "direct marketing" includes both marketing and sales, too. Companies that split offline marketing and sales (which is most of them) don't realize that they can do so only because they are not direct marketers, and once they try to adopt search marketing (either paid or SEO or both), those silos need to come down. That's what I was trying to say, so I hope this answer hasn't confused you further. Thanks for your question.

This is certainly true, but, as you point out in your comment above, search engine marketing is also strongly public relations, and I think this tie is far stronger. This is especially true given the importance of social media and press mentions in organic SEO efforts. Publicity leads to links, and social media is an efficient way to populate links.

@handbags, you make a great point. SEO is very analogous to PR in that you don't pay to be shown in a public place, but you must do other things to get your message there. I notice, however, that direct marketers get a lot more money to do their work because they can show ROI, which PR people usually can't. My bigger point is not which silo to align with, but to show that you must break down the silos to succeed, just as direct marketing does. Adding PR to the list of silos that must be broken down is fine by me.

I've always considered search marketing to be a marketing function and not a sales function and that's not just because of the name. It's part of a larger overall positioning and marketing strategy and not just revenue generation.

I understand that, Pranburi, but direct marketing includes branding, too. L.L. Bean markets everything online and through catalogs, but it has a very strong brand name. Direct marketing, despite its name, actually brings marketing and sales together, which is what successful search marketers must do, too.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Does Search Marketing Belong in Marketing or Sales?