Search marketing continues to play the most prominent role in the integrated digital marketing mix, according to a recent survey conducted, in late 2016, by SEMPO, a professional digital marketing organization serving the search and digital marketing industry. SEMPO found that, among the marketers they surveyed, search was still the preferred digital marketing channel. Social media advertising emerged as the fastest-growing digital marketing tactic and measuring ROI of SEO was seen as the most challenging digital marketing management task.
Search and Digital Marketing Tactics
The SEMPO survey revealed that search was the digital marketing tactic most frequently used by marketers in 2016. SEMPO found that 92% of marketers participating in the survey were using search engine optimization, 84% used paid search, 69% social media advertising and 84% social media marketing. Mobile search was the most significant emerging search trend. Search advertising dominated the advertising segment. 84% of marketers cited paid search as their preferred digital advertising tactic, followed by social media advertising (69%) and display advertising (68%).
The SEMPO survey results show that social media advertising was the fastest-growing digital marketing tactic in 2016. More than two-thirds (69%) of survey participants reported a jump in social media advertising use from 57% in 2015 to 69% in 2016 while other digital advertising tactics, including search advertising and digital display advertising, remained largely stagnant or were seeing a minor decline.
It’s interesting to compare the SEMPO results with recent research n the same topic released by the New York American Marketing Association (NYAMA) and BrandSpark, in partnership with software provider Dapresy. The survey data shows that email marketing was rated the preferred digital marketing channel. 84% of survey participants said email marketing was their main digital marketing channel, followed by social media (77%), online video 69%, online display advertising (67%) and paid search (61%).
SEO and Paid Search Campaign Management Challenges
Marketers participating in the SEMPO survey were asked to identify the greatest challenges in managing their digital marketing efforts across various digital marketing tactics. SEMPO found that most of the primary issues that were identified by marketers became considerably more challenging compared to 2015. For instance, it was much harder to get funding for SEO and paid search projects in 2016. 11% of marketers polled in 2015 said obtaining a budget for SEO efforts was an obstacle, 36% said it was a barrier in 2016.
Measuring ROI emerged as the top challenge for SEO, paid search and display advertising, in each case outpacing other challenges such as getting a budget and hiring talent. Measuring ROI may have surfaced as a greater challenge due to pressures from business executives to prove digital marketing’s value. Integration, hiring and training staff and staying up-to-date with the latest search engine indexing, ranking algorithms and technology were also cited as major challenges.
It’s noteworthy to compare the SEMPO results with research on SEO management challenges released by SearchDex in April of this year. Nearly all marketers (91%) surveyed by SearchDex agreed that building and managing an effective SEO strategy and team is difficult to achieve. More than half (55%) of marketers said they found it challenging to build an expert SEO team and 45% indicated that they had difficulty working with the IT department to execute the company’s SEO strategy. Another 45% said they were having difficulty finding time in their schedules to examine analytics reports. Still others (35%) pointed to the lack of SEO tools to execute the tasks at hand and another 32% cited lack of access to proper service providers as a barrier to success.