Search Marketing Influencer Series – Dan Golden (Part 2)


Continuing our conversation with Dan Golden, President and Chief Search Artist at Be Found Online, a full service performance digital media agency he co-founded nearly 8 years ago.

Even though retail seems more digital- and device-minded than ever, Golden still remains transfixed on brick and mortar. In his own words, “Physical stores still matter… now more than ever.”

You are a big believer in physical retail locations. Does this mindset conflict with your search marketing practice?

Actually, quite the opposite. We work with a number of retailers whose brick and mortar and e-commerce marketing priorities overlap.

Even though online sales are growing faster than brick and mortar with many of our clients, online still represents a rather small percentage of sales – perhaps 1-2% of total retail. Even with some of our larger clients – those with 30-person e-commerce teams – online still only represents about 8% of total sales. If you had listened to Google 5-10 years ago, you would have believed (or at least, bought into) the misconception that everyone would eventually buy online and that physical stores would slowly fade away. Not the case at all.

How is your team using search to support in-store retail?

In the past, search was primarily targeted based on people’s actual search queries while other digital channels – like display, video, social – were targeted largely based on audience demographics. This has changed. Thanks to improvements in how search performance is measured, it’s now possible to combine the two together. As a result of this, search traffic can now play an essential role at practically any stage of the purchase funnel – not just the bottom or “last click” transaction, as was the case years ago.

How should retailers adjust search efforts to take advantage of audience targeting?

For starters, I would strongly suggest reevaluating the value of keyword lists. Keywords are typically configured for the bottom of the funnel – in other words, intended for extremely transactional interactions.

It’s no longer about which keywords are important. Rather, marketers must focus on the overall customer experience no matter where the transaction may ultimately take place – whether online or offline. This means combining search efforts with the right ​and ​most relevant audience targeting to reach users earlier in the buying process.

Consider durable goods. Potential customers may search 10 or 20 times for these high ticket items. Related terms used by consumers represent discovery searches. The opportunity here via audience targeting would be to influence consumers earlier in the buying process. When looking just at the last click from a transactional standpoint, most ROI-driven programs do not focus on discovery type keywords. This is a huge ​and ​vastly untapped opportunity.

Some additional examples for layering in audience data with search:

  1. Retarget users who previously visited your site via RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads) and other sources
  2. Develop look-a-like audience segments based on customer matching profiles and partner behavioral data
  3. Consider proximity factors, specifically for mobile devices, to target customers at a specific time of day or within a certain distance of your retail location(s) – making them potentially 10x as valuable than a generically targeted potential customer.

It sounds like using audience data with search requires client investment – both time and money. Correct assumption?

CMO’s are smart. They want to see data ​and they want to see proof that their marketing efforts are paying off. Performance, however, is typically incremental. Once you prove something works, it’s a lot easier to implement and expand on over time.

For marketers who are relatively new to layering audience data with search, it’s wise to start off small. Trust your own data sources first – such as actions on your website like store locator or coupon printing – then move on to more advanced tactics like on-board site transactional data matched against your keyword lists. In short, you need to become a master of your own data sources or bring in a team that can do it for you.

As mentioned earlier, a Lifetime Value (LTV) customer mindset is slowly gaining traction with marketers. However, from my vantage point, as an industry we still focus too much on immediate goals and performance, and end up sacrificing the “long term” in the process. Physical stores are a long term investment for our businesses. We should ensure our data and search marketing practices for both brick and mortar and online drive LTV as well.


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