Direct Marketers Clueless About Search


Jeremy was at the Direct Marketing Association Conference last weekend and came away "shocked", shocked because DM's were absolutely clueless about Search marketing. Which is, when you think about the nature of direct marketing, really quite amazing...

In talking to some of the Search Engine Marketing folks that were in sessions on Saturday, I discovered that the vast majority of DMA folks are very, very, very new to Search Marketing. I'd go so far as to say many of them are incredibly clueless about the process, benefits, costs, etc.

Here's an example. One presenter said that many folks stopped him early on his presentation and asked him to explain or define things that he thought were common knowledge already. When the session was over, a few came up to ask questions one-to-one. At least one of them asked what the difference between "organic" results and "sponsored" results was. In other words, they didn't understand why some links are on the right or are at the top in a different color.

I was shocked by this. But it just goes to show the differences between the tech-savvy west coast bubble I live in day to day and the real-world.

He goes on to point out that the upside of that is that there are millions of marketers that have not discovered paid search yet, and that means good growth in the industry as these laggards catch up...



Sorry, but that is bollocks.

Can you expand on your

Can you expand on your bollocks?

Yes, i'd like to hear more

Yes, i'd like to hear more about chris' unqualified bollocks also..


Do you think SEMs invented things like A/B split testing, conversion rates? If you pointed someone at IHY forum they would think all SEOs were clueless too.

Search isn't everything

I'm with chrisgarrett

Search isn't everything.
Read the whining about jagger and you'd think search only meant Google.

I met a woman who runs a LARGE mall site and sponsors rock concerts. 90+% of her traffic is from bookmarks.

We @ TW think in terms of search while there are others who only think of double opt-in.

Check out this request to become an affiliate in a program I manage.

"Our company has over 50 million opt-in email addresses and over 12 million users of our proprietary pop up/under serving technology. In addition, we can generate up to 100,000 leads a day through our co-registration network of over 80 sites and over 120,000 downloads a day through our active X channel.

We would welcome the opportunity to market your offers and are confident that we will be able to meet your metrics of success."

12 million users of our

  • 12 million users of our proprietary pop up/under serving technology.
  • and over 120,000 downloads a day through our active X channel.

Sounds dubiously like a adware/spyware company.

I don't think he is far off.

I don't think he is far off.

I have found it amazing that many direct marketers will talk and talk about what they do, such as put up billboards and magazine ads and don't even give a thought of measuring effectiveness.

With search marketing, you can measure if that ad is effective or not, but many direct marketers assume that since I am doing only "one thing" that it *must* be less effective than the 50 things they are doing that they cannot measure.

The DMA Show Is Direct Mail and Spammers

I was working the DMA show last week as well. About 1/2 of the people I spoke to were indeed very clueless about search marketing/advertising. Oh yeah they knew that "those little boxes" to the right of Google results were paid advertisements. Most DMA attendees have never tried to advertise in search or did not think their business model was suited to it.

I've been around this game a long time now with the last four years inside the engines. There is so much misinformation and confusion in search that many traditional offline advertisers look at it and decide not to bother with it.

I've always stressed education for search advertisers in any role I have held with an engine. The worst part is that the engines have the resources to educate and open the market even wider but they don't bother. They sit back and let new customers educate themselves through mis-information and then profit from it - eventually ending in a poor experience for the advertiser. There are horrible - and I mean pathetic - customer retention ratios in search advertising. All of the majors and middle market players suffer from it.

In the long run taking the time to educate means savvy advertisers. That's good for business and keeps you on your toes. So far the engines are happy with the 'yeah we built it - now let them come' scenario. They still fail across the board when it comes to education.

There's triple the revenue out there for the engine that takes education to heart as a solid part of their customer acquisition process.

Regardless, the DMA should do FAR more to educate its membership on search marketing. They are really missing the boat. Over 13,000 attendees were at that show I believe. A lot of them thought the only way to advertise online was with banners, pop ups, and spam.

Scary aint it... even more

Scary aint it... even more scary that a lot of Agencies with large corp clients are just as clueless, blind leading the blind springs to mind.

Search is a small part

If you base all your plans on SEM you'll get a rude awakening some day. My marketing is part email, part RSS, huge supply of inbound links, lotta bookmarks, and of course... SEARCH!

I've avoided most paid advertising for years with huge success but paid placement that may soon play a factor to ramp up to the next level.

If you base all your plans

If you base all your plans on SEM you'll get a rude awakening some day. My marketing is part email, part RSS, huge supply of inbound links, lotta bookmarks, and of course... SEARCH!

That's exactly I find it odd that direct marketers haven't put search into their'd think THEY of all people would realize that you have to diversify your marketing methods. That they haven't even considered search at all seems strange to me.


Seems hugely unlikely to be honest. Marketing 101 says you always find out how existing customers found you. Unless they don't currently receive any clients via SE's then it must have crossed the radar.

If you think about it though SEM is relatively new. I mean you've been able to advertise on Mobiles Via SMS for, what, six years now? But no one would be shocked if a Direct Marketer didn't instantly know everything about that. I'd say SEM as a viable general marketing method is really only a couple of years old? Plus it does involve dealing with the traditional enemy of the Marketing Dept, the *play horror music here* IT dept, for most clients. Probably they're all hoping it might go away.

To refer to my comments above

I don't think Jeremy has been particularly scientific in this survey. So some people asked questions (the ones that didn't know the answers right?). And some people here know some DMs who don't do search. All of a sudden DM != SEM. Sorry, but that is bull.

Until recently you could say I was a direct marketer amongst other sins. There are good ones and bad ones, there are DMs who continually change and improve and those who are stuck in the 60s. Some of the best were the ones who pioneered using OV and Adwords and some of those late to the party will kick ass.

I think it is complacent SEMs who need to worry, these folks know how to write copy, have clients who trust them with huge budgets and have lived and died by their numbers for their entire careers.

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