People who know how to do offline marketing are often mystified by how to get started with search marketing. They know how to think about their market segments in terms of demographics, so they know which magazines to buy ads in and which industry trade shows to attend. But search seems somehow different, because there are no demographics to latch on to. When I talk to them, things often become clearer when I explain that search keywords are their search market segments.

It's not that demographics will never be important in search. As personalized search takes hold (and especially as mobile search grows in importance), marketers are likely to know much more about searchers than they do today. So, you might, in fact, know gender, age, industry, and other demographics (and firmographics).

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But that's not he place to start. Instead of trying to map your existing market segments onto search, you need to give in to the idea that the first level of segmentation in search marketing is the keywords that your customers type into the search engine. Those keywords give you the insight you need to craft the message, whether it is for a newbie trying to solve a problem or for a customer that has purchased many times in the past. It's the difference between "Unix server" and "IBM Blade Server model 3426-A45." There's a huge difference in the proper message between those two segments, just as in offline marketing, you have different message for different segments.

That's the key to success. Put your messaging ability to work. Instead of trying to think about what message you want to send, and blanketing it over as many people as possible, you must do your keyword research to find out what people are looking for. Then, like a good salesman, you tailor your pitch to hit the points they need.

So, market segmentation isn't dead when it comes to search marketing. You just need to take what you know about segmentation and apply in in a new way. If you do, your skills in messaging will suddenly start to make you successful in search marketing, too.


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January 11, 2010





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(4)

It's understanding your market segment and understanding the buying process of your market.

The "Unix server" vs. "IBM Blade Server Model 3426-A45" could reside in the same market segment. They are no doubt in different phases of their buying process.

My point, Walt, is that the point of market segments is to use different messaging for each one. In traditional marketing, you typically can't tell where people are in the buying cycle, so your market segments aren't aligned that way. In search, you can, so you can tune your messaging to buying phases and other differentiators that traditional marketing does not allow. Conversely, search marketing typically doesn't give you access to demographics, which helps you tune your message to offline market segments, so you shouldn't try to use keywords that way.

Market segments divide your audience so you can craft individual messages for each segment. Offline you use demographics and other factors to do so. In search, you use keywords.

"That's the key to success. Put your messaging ability to work. Instead of trying to think about what message you want to send, and blanketing it over as many people as possible, you must do your keyword research to find out what people are looking for. Then, like a good salesman, you tailor your pitch to hit the points they need."

What a great lesson in marketing.

Thanks Mike for this useful post.

Jose

I would have to agree with Jose. That's a great approach to defining the keywords and tailoring the message to answer your customer's questions. Excellent point, Mike!

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Search Keywords Are Your Market Segments