I just returned from the HubSpot Inbound conference. In fact, I’m actually writing this in the airport on the way out of Boston. I was able to hit some good sessions on inbound and digital marketing, and also a few sessions that were the same message that most of us have already heard 10 times. Which is to be expected from a conference of that size (14,000+ attendees. Damn. Hats off to HubSpot for building that community). Among the speakers was a guy named Jason Falls, an SVP over at Elasticity, with a straight forward summation of how to approach and prioritize digital marketing strategies. One point he made stood out … search is still #1 … don’t overthink it. This is a truth that I absolutely believe in, and has been my personal mission to civilize for quite some time. I was glad to hear a thought leader in the space telling the same story, and summarizing it so well. 

I believe that most marketers realize the importance of search, but it can be very difficult to communicate this importance to team members, clients, the guys that set the budget upstairs, and generally everyone else. So here we go. I will keep it short and sweet. Here is the ONE reason that Search Marketing is still #1.

Active Buying Cycle

If someone is searching a product type, service, or general question around a product/service … what are they doing? Right. They are looking for a solution. They are literally asking for someone to pitch them a product that fits their specific need. Person searches “football gloves.” Person is considering buying gloves to catch footballs with. Person searches “specials on summer dresses.” Person would like a new dress that looks fly (I’m pretty sure that phrase proves I grew up in the 90’s). Let’s not overthink it. If consumers are searching for your products or questions related to your products, you absolutely want to be at the front of the line, pitching your solution over competitor solutions. These individuals are in an active buying cycle.

Inactive Buying Cycle

I’m blatantly stealing the phrase “Inactive Buying Cycle” from Jason. Marketers often refer to channels like Social Media and Display Ads as targeting users in a “passive buying cycle.” I myself use that term or the term “passive advertising” too often. But in reality, that person is on Facebook looking at pictures of cats, videos of cats, and pictures of people wearing cat sweatshirts. They are not there to buy anything. That person is a completely inactive buyer. It takes real disruption to move a person from an “Active Cat Cycle” to an Active Buying Cycle. This is the main difference between search and other channels. Active vs. Inactive.

Search Deserves Your Attention

In the end, this is the backbone that drives all of inbound marketing. Inbound is about delivering real value to a prospect when THEY are asking for it. Not when YOU want them to know more about your product. And search is still the most effective medium for doing just that. I highly recommend that you take another look at your digital marketing initiatives. Make sure that search is getting the attention it needs. Perhaps this means a new content based organic search initiative, or perhaps you need a fresh take on paid search to complement your SEO. Use search as a foundation to provide value to your audience, build brand awareness, and convert some of that audience into customers. Those are the prospects that really need your products, and those are the prospects that have the highest likelihood of becoming a loyalist to your brand.