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Digital Disruption is Affecting Search Marketing: Are You Ready?

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disruption"Digital disruption is here," Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester Research announced during the day two keynote at Covario’s INFLECTIONPoint 2013 conference. "Marketers must innovate to manage digital disruption."

Of all the brilliant minds in Forrester, VanBoskirk seems to have the best handle on search marketing and what it means to SEO professionals. But she also knows a thing or 12 about disruptive innovations.

VanBoskirk’s presentation was filled with interesting examples of how digital disruption is throwing some business models for a loop. Digital is no longer going online and reading a Web page.

Digital is disrupting our very lives and appliances. It's done through apps and content pushed to our devices – even in new refrigerators and bathroom scales.

Digital technologies have disrupted traditional business for many years. But really, how can digital disruptive innovations affect search marketers?

Apps & QR Codes: Search Disruptors

"Search marketing is no longer only about promotion via search ads. It's being disrupted," she said.

Citing the social media application Flipboard, she explained how Flipboard allows you to dig deeper into content without making you stop reading the social media and going to a traditional search. Not only that, you can find and share content based on other content you're consuming.

QR codes were up next. The big deal with QR codes are that they "allow you to skip over search altogether."

People are bringing their smartphones shopping. When they see a new product or an ad with a QR code listed next to it, they scan it.

Consumers no longer have to pull up a search engine in a browser or even a search app. They can instantly get additional information while on the go without ever needing to pause and use search directly.

The same can be said for Uber, a car service app that finds your location and the nearest car to you to pick you up. Or the app that allows you to find a parking space in the bay area based on your location and where you're going. Both of these apps take traditional search engine paradigms right out of the equation.

How Should Search Marketers Combat Digital Disruption?

Leverage content across multiple channels. VanBoskirk explains that omnichannel is understanding how digital and traditional collide.

It's important to understand how consumers are using multiple channels – digital and traditional – to get the information they want. Thinking omnichannel should not be part of your "digital initiative." It should be a customer initiative.

She likens how a company would prepare for digital disruption to agile software development. In that agile development method, you must understand four things:

  • Everything is a point of interaction. Create valuable interactions against all of your known customer touch points as your customers consider buying or use your products and services.
  • Launch Quickly. Get ahead of the next big things and put it out there. Then test to improve your results.
  • Collaborate with internal and external advocates. If you have customers and employees who will advocate your product, pull them in. Give them special access and help so they'll want to be your advocates.
  • Adjust based on market conditions. If you mess up, fix it. If the market wants something else, adjust your product to it.

Remember, digital disruption is already coming for your brand. It's not optional. It's force will overhaul all the currently expected business dynamics regardless if your company changes around it or not.

Digital disruption is already transforming traditional search marketing. It's a great opportunity for agile innovators. Will your company be one, or will it be yesterday's news?

Image Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi/Flickr


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