Traditionally, companies have had a love/hate relationship with search. Yes, they loved being at the top of a Google search page and getting lots of traffic, attention and sales. But they felt forced to use search engine optimization (SEO), where dense terminology and poorly-communicated concepts left execs feeling they were entering an arcane world of dark arts—they hated the typical push/pull relationship with SEO practitioners. But you can’t escape reality: Search has become marketing.
As Google’s traditional first page fragmented into increasingly personalized search verticals—Google Now, Google Local, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Image Search, to name but a few—so has search become the predominant means through which the enterprise and customers connect.
Enter Intercept Marketing
What if you could bring a potential customer’s search process to an abrupt halt, and close the sale before your competitors have even been invited to the table? That’s intercept marketing. But it requires a shift in the traditional corporate search-marketing mindset. In a semantic Web, being found relies on many different factors—chief amongst them being prevalence and serendipity. Translated from search-geek speak, these two are simply being everywhere and being connected with people:
- The more places where your company, content and brand surfaces, the more likely you are to be found by people.
- For more, see How to Jump to a Social Business model
- The more that people talk about your brand and its values, the more likely that your company will surface, thanks to friend-of-a-friend connections.
The better these two work, the more likely you are to intercept the attention of your online audience—an audience that moves across screens and clicks away from anything that fails to engage it at a glance. The issue is this: What sounds easy to do at the level of the lone webmaster working from home, is hard to implement at a corporate level. An environment of department heads, corporate hierarchies, performance reviews, and line managers is not the setup usually associated with semantic search success. However, solving this conundrum need not ‘break’ the corporation. Here are four deceptively simple steps to get ready for intercept marketing:
1. Get Back To Brand Basics
In order for your content to be everywhere, and for your brand to have enough connections for successful intercept marketing, you need to have a clearly worked out corporate identity. This includes knowing:
- The values your brand stands for,
- the ‘voice’ it needs to speak with on the social Web, and
- the attitude and style of your every online communication.
The key here is consistency—which means that corporate guidelines and best practice-sharing need to go into overdrive.
2. Understand How Search Works
No one goes into a corporate environment so they can become a SEO geek. But then again, if the principles of marketing are something that every MBA knows inside out, it should be no different for the principles of search: Search is marketing. Get to understand the basics of the semantic Web, the way search and social work together, and how to best use them to intercept busy, potential customers. If necessary, appoint a “search champion” within your company: Someone whose job it is to make sure that lessons learned are shared, best practices are followed, and that every department is in-sync with the company’s search goals.
3. Get Out Of The Numbers Trap
The classic pitfall that corporations fall into when they outsource services like search is the numbers game: They play metrics bingo. ‘X’ number of pages on Google’s first page, ‘Y’ visitors on a website, ‘Z’ Likes, +1s and Tweets. But what may look great on a spreadsheet rarely delivers actual results. Instead, start off with real propositions: “We want to increase sales of product A,” or “We need our brand to be seen by more people,” and listen to the steps required to make them happen.
4. Form Partnerships, Not Transactional Relationships
This is the hardest thing to do. Traditionally, corporations are great at using contracts to establish the parameters of exchange: An SEO’s agency time in exchange for some cash, the achievement of a particular milestone as a metric of success. Corporations aren’t so good at helping an agency understand what the company does or learning from those they outsource services to. This old “out of sight, out of mind” approach now needs to go. If you hire an agency, help it understand what you need to achieve—in detail. Ask the difficult questions about how the goals can be reached and how you can assist in the process. See the relationship as a symbiotic one—as your corporation acquires new knowledge, the agency role will also evolve and change with time.
The Bottom Line
Behind these four deceptively simple steps hides an entire shift in corporate thinking. For those who achieve it, the benefits are obvious: agility in marketing, visibility in search, and commercial success.
Source : forbes.com/sites/netapp/2013/10/28/intercept-marketing/