The Difference Between Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Selling

Posted by Jennifer July 28, 2006
I neglected to mention that Bill Wise wrote an interesting article earlier this week for MediaPost Publications. It examines the difference in concepts between search engine “marketing” and search engine “selling”. To put it more simply, Bill points out that much of search marketing is “branding” related and that to actually sell your product to search engine users, it’s sometimes necessary to take a slightly different approach.

From the article:

Marketing, to my mind, is about introducing new modes of thinking. It’s about convincing people that you’re able to enhance people’s lives in ways they might not have considered. And since it’s about changing people’s modes of thought, marketing works best at earlier buy-cycle stages, before people have made up their minds about what they’re looking for.

Sales, more than dealing with influencing thought patterns, is about reeling in customers and driving purchases. It’s about the very end of the buy-cycle, when a customer actually decides to buy.

And so when people point to the effectiveness search in terms of capturing the easiest buyers, they’re not talking about marketing at all. They’re talking about sales.

Bill points to the increased interest among marketers in the branding value of their search engine traffic and explains that it shows a progression in the greater understanding of the power of search. He goes on to explain that since search is primarily a “research” medium, it’s important for site owners to have a solid grasp on the search term buying cycle so that they can create more realistic expectations for visitors that come in via specific search term searches.

In other words…

The importance of search engine marketing–beyond just search engine sales–means that advertisers need to look at early buy-cycle keywords a lot more seriously than they might be doing now. It also means advertisers need to look into crafting ad copy and landing pages that are uniquely developed for research-phase searchers, just as they’re currently doing for later buy-cycle searchers.

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