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The Sophisticated Search Marketer

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A new report from JupiterResearch finds that many search marketers have yet to become "sophisticates" in how they conduct search marketing campaigns and highlights interesting differences between them and their "unsophisticate" brethren.

Sophisticates are search marketers who somehow manage bids or track traffic from paid and unpaid listings. Unsophisticates are those who undertake search marketing activity without gathering such feedback.

Of 538 search marketers surveyed, only 25 percent were considered sophisticates. What pushes a marketer into becoming a sophisticate?

  • Experience: The survey found 69 percent of sophisticates had advertised on search engines for two years or longer, compared to only 54 percent of unsophisticates.
  • Spending: The survey found that nearly half of the unsophisticates (48 percent) spent less than $10,000 per year on search marketing. In contrast, only 15 percent of sophisticates spent that little. Most -- 44 percent -- spent $100,000 or more. Sophisticates were also about twice as likely to have a total marketing budget of $1 million or more.
  • Advertiser Type: Those with direct marketing experience were more likely to be sophisticates, while those who have focused more on branding were likely to be unsophisticates. (And who wants to bet that those with branding backgrounds were also newer to SEM, as well?).

Sophisticates were also found much more likely to buy more than 1,000 keywords (39 percent versus 14 percent) and to use second tier search engines in addition to the top tier ones.

Sophisticated or not, nearly everyone plans to maintain or increase spending. Only 8 percent of unsophisticates said that in the next year they would drop search spending. Only 4 percent of sophisticates said they would. In contrast, 60 percent of unsophisticates plan to increase spending and 80 percent of sophisticates do.

An interesting part of the report looked at tactics. Sophisticates were most likely to change bids -- 77 percent said they did this action, followed by 45 percent saying they selected keywords. But interestingly, arguably the most sophisticated activities ranked last among these sophisticates. Only 38 percent said they changed ad text and only 27 percent said they changed landing pages.

Another part of the report looked at the primary goal of campaigns. Both groups said "immediate online sales" were a top priority. Sophisticates rated this tops at 50 percent, while unsophisticates ranked it tops at 33 percent. But the second most popular goal differed. "Generate online leads" was second among sophisticates at 22 percent, while "generate offline leads" was second most popular for unsophisticates at 24 percent.

Branding as a goal was also an interesting difference. Only 4 percent of sophisticates had this as a primary goal, while 13 percent of unsophisticates did.

Differences were even more pronounced when looking at ways to measure success. For sophisticates, the top choice of 63 percent was "immediate online sales." But for unsophisticates, the top choice of 59 percent was "increased web traffic."

For more on the report, see also this write-up from MediaPost: Report: Three out of Four Search Marketers 'Unsophisticated'.


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