Andrew Wetzler is President of MoreVisibility and one of the dozens of thought leaders featured in DMA’s just-published 2017 Statistical Fact Book.

The heyday of the call center and direct mail industries was a bit like the Wild West – the more you called or mailed, the more revenue there was to be generated. It was a brutal, costly and tiring existence, particularly from the perspective of staffing and managing an outbound telesales team. There was also a huge degree of variability in the quality of the lists used for mailing or calling.

What’s transpired over the years has been a 180-degree shift in the fundamentals of direct marketing. Instead of having to chase and hound people to take an action step, through mail or telephone, with Search Marketing interested prospects can reach out and identify themselves and, for many businesses, consummate a purchase. That’s not to say that the human element has been removed altogether, but instead of conversing with lots of folks who have little to no interest in a product or service (very costly), Search has presented the ability to zero-in on those who do, thus making direct marketing dramatically more efficient.

“Interested prospects can reach out and identify themselves and, for many businesses, consummate a purchase.”

Here are a few keys to availing your brand the greatest opportunities in Search right now and into the future. You’ll see that these recommendations are foundational. While there are always new channels to test and additional strategies to employ, most organizations remain deficient in the fundamental blocking and tackling aspects of their Search/Digital Marketing.

This inhibits their ability to reap the benefits that Search can deliver and makes more advanced tactics and strategies less relevant.

Mobile is no longer a theoretical concept. It is the bedrock of everything that will occur moving forward. Google will effectively penalize your website and de-emphasize it within their search results if it isn’t mobile friendly or doesn’t load rapidly on a mobile device. Not only does your site need to be constructed in a “responsive” manner, but it also must be intelligently organized for mobile users. It’s essential that you take the time to thoughtfully review the degree to which people can accomplish your website goals on a mobile device.

The content creation is now on steroids. This is due to the amount that’s needed to garner the greatest SEO value for your website. It’s not only on-site content that matters, but the social content pipeline needs to remain full as well. Additionally, a strategy of what to write about and how to structure it that’s backed up by search data is incredibly important. The hardest part though isn’t everything I just mentioned; instead it’s finding the folks to write quality content on your behalf.

Analytics has become more precise, customizable and insightful than ever. If properly installed and customized, the insights to be gleaned are tremendous. The ability to shuffle keywords / content, adjust the advertising mix and monitor performance is dramatically improved to the point that ROI can be significantly greater than in the past.

One example of how analytics has evolved is through cross-domain tracking, which enables a marketer to identify the person who began a search on their mobile device, yet converted later via tablet or desktop as the same buyer. This helps with attribution so that the appropriate marketing efforts are receiving the appropriate degree of credit for contributing to a conversion.

There’s more competition than ever. With physical location no longer the impediment that it once was, your competition isn’t just down the street, it’s around the globe. If there is a “local component” to your business, be sure that it is properly optimized for local Search. Quite often, people will favor a local business over one based elsewhere.

Search will continue to evolve in 2017 and new opportunities to test will arise. Additionally, the algorithms of Google, Bing, etc. will undergo change, as they always have. Be sensitive to those opportunities and updates, but be sure that a plan is in place to address the fundamentals outlined here as the most important steps.

More than a dozen thought-leaders from across the marketing ecosystem have contributed their perspectives to DMA’s 2017 Statistical Fact Book. Executives from leading solution providers such as Return Path, Vehicle, IBM and more have shared how best to build a customer-centric marketing operation in the face of technological disruption. Download your copy of the Statistical Fact Book today and gain the business intelligence you need to make informed marketing decisions in the digital age.

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