Search and Social: How Are Your Customers Finding You and How Are You Keeping Them?

Marketers today know that if they have any hope of reaching their Internet-using customers (which is everyone but my grandma these days—and she’s starting to catch up), they have to implement both search and social strategies. Most people today use organic search to find products, and they also turn to their various social media channels for insight into how their friends and fellow customers interact with brands.

It’s not only because companies are trying to reach customers that both types of strategy are necessary. Search engines are increasingly using a combination of social media signals and keyword placement (among a range of other factors) on web pages to determine which results will be shown. So you really can’t have just one piece of the puzzle if you want to achieve your marketing goals.

With the trillions of web pages and businesses online today, how will your customers find you? And more importantly, what will make them keep coming back to you for your products and information?

Here’s the answer: A content marketing strategy! Traditional advertising, the kind you see in magazines or on television, doesn’t cut it anymore, as search is the primary method of online discovery. Brand advertising has to now come in the form of quality, optimized content, which is what the Skyword Platform is designed to help create.

Good content is the key to being found through search, which is then augmented by social. An early 2012 comparison of the benefits of search versus social by South Florida advertising agency MDG found the following:

  • Lead generation is better achieved through search marketing;
  • Social media is superior for building brand awareness;
  • Consumers rely on search engines to find local businesses; and
  • Most marketers prefer social media to search marketing when the goal is interactivity.

These findings may seem fairly intuitive to many marketers today. But the devil is in the details, as there is far more to SEO and social media than meets the eye, particularly when the landscape is shifting and evolving daily.

In early 2011, a report by GroupM and comScore, analyzed by Priya Ramesh at The Buzz Bin, discovered that only 1 percent of conversions are made purely through social media without search, but 64 percent of consumers are likely to follow a brand after a purchase, and 74 percent of consumers prefer to follow a Facebook page as a basis for future engagement with the brand. This supports MDG’s findings that consumers may not use social media to find their desired products, but a strong social media presence is crucial to continue brand awareness and support—and this can be built through featuring the quality content of your website on your Facebook page. Just being found by your customers is not nearly enough to keep them coming back—they need to stay engaged with your brand.

I know that when I buy clothes from a new company, I often check out both its Facebook page and website after the purchase. When there, I find that great content about styles or fashion trends is especially compelling.

I recently saw that a friend on Facebook had reposted a collection of content from J. Jill’s Facebook page on different ways to tie their scarves (which then linked back to their website). This is a great example of driving new and existing customers to a brand so they will be entertained, informed, and want to buy your products in the process.

But sometimes specialized retailers can get lost in the shuffle, as retail giants like Amazon and Target dominate the market. I often use organic search when I’m looking for a product that is not already offered (or satisfactorily offered) by a retailer or brand I support. But the world of online retail marketing can be a wild and overwhelming one, and I often find myself running back into the familiar arms of a company like Amazon that can offer me essentially anything I’m searching for.

Amazon often wins by virtue of price, selection, and user reviews (another important factor found in Buzz Bin’s comparison to be more important than traditional social media in purchasing), but Amazon does not compete in terms of quality content that is informative and inspires brand loyalty.

Amazon’s retail dominance is great for them, but it doesn’t bode well for smaller retailers that are more specialized in their product offerings. But being small and specialized can be a fantastic opportunity to create the kind of unique, informative content that larger retailers don’t feature. Skyword can help brands that want to draw their customers away from retail giants and keep them engaged.

The Skyword Platform is designed to optimize content for both search AND social, so that customers can easily find you through their search engine of choice and can share your quality content through their social networks. If you’re interested in creating content that will keep your current customers engaged and expand your reach to new prospects, email us today at learnmore@skyword.com. You won’t regret it!

Katie Ingegneri is Skyword’s Creative Communications Specialist, a wearer of many digital hats on the Sales and Marketing teams. A writer, editor, and Massachusetts native, she holds an MFA from Naropa University and a BA from McGill University. The Internet is one of her favorite things.

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