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Measuring Search Marketers' Job Performance

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A new study from iProspect and Jupiter Research finds that more search marketers are able to measure ROI than could two years ago, and more search marketers' jobs are being measured against both search metrics and overall business results.

According to the iProspect Search Marketer Measurement & Performance Study, more search marketers' job performance is being measured by the results they produce, both in terms of search-specific metrics and overall business results.

Search marketer job performance evaluations that are based upon search-specific metrics like online or offline leads generated or brand impact have jumped to 86 percent, up from 81 percent in 2005's Search Marketer Performance Study.

"As more companies acknowledge the benefits of search, we're seeing more key performance metrics being put on search results, and those are being tied to performance evaluations and bonus plans," said Rob Murray, president of iProspect.

A larger number of search marketers are also being evaluated on real business results they produce as well, including total sales, return on advertising spend (ROAS), and ROI. Specifically, the percentage of search marketer evaluations tied to total sales increased by 16 points to 50 percent, those evaluations based on ROAS increased 13 points to 42 percent, and those based on ROI rose 6 points to 49 percent.

"Given what we know about the effectiveness of the channel and its ability to measure ROI, I'd want to be measured on the returns I'm generating," Murray said.

Total sales and ROI came in second and third overall as factors taken into account when a search marketer's job is being evaluated. Web traffic remains the most common performance metric, with 58 percent of respondents this year saying it was taken into account when their jobs were being evaluated, compared to 51 percent in 2005.

Search engine ranking remains a common metric, but slipped below total sales and ROI from search. Ranking is tied to performance of 48 percent of respondents this year, compared to 49 percent in 2005. Other common metrics include number of clicks/referrals (43 percent), customer acquisition costs (31 percent) and site changes implemented based on the search marketer's efforts (30 percent).

The fact that more search marketers are being judged on the ROI they produce can be tied to the fact that more search marketers are able to measure ROI today than they were two years ago. The study found that 88 percent of search marketers now measure the ROI of their campaigns. When the same question was asked in the 2005 iProspect Outsourced SEO Metrics & ROI Study, only 79 percent reported they were able to measure their ROI.

"The fact that there are still 12 percent of search marketers not measuring ROI is somewhat surprising," Murray said. "With the amount of money people are spending on search, you'd expect them to know what that money's doing for them."

Most of the time, a lack of knowledge or ability is not what's preventing the measurement of ROI, but institutional obstacles built into a company's technology or systems, Murray said. The most common culprit is a disconnect between online and offline components of the business, especially when online marketing generates leads for offline sales, he said.

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