This was the core question behind the SES San Francisco panel session, ‘Search – Where To Next,’ moderated by Graham Mudd, Vice President, Search & Media, comScore, Inc.
Joining Mudd were the following search marketing professionals / soothsayers:
- Brian Kaminski, Chief Operating Officer, iProspect
- Marc Poirier, Co-Founder and CMO, Acquisio
- Shashi Seth, Senior Vice President, Search Products, Yahoo!
So where are search marketing and social media definitively heading? Would you believe that no one quite knows for sure?
That said, below find 10 actionable clues and predictions that can help guide our direction as search marketers:
- Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you may miss something – Ferris Bueller. Shared by Kaminski at the open of his presentation, this quote was used to illustrate the death of the Sony Walkman, slayed by the iPod and a lack of evolution. Key philosophical insight for us to keep in mind whenever we feel as though we are on top and can stop evolving our offerings.
- Data is the new creative: seen on the final slide of the presentation offered by Poirier. As search transforms from the channel, to one of several, the amount of data needing analysis will multiply exponentially. The workforce to invest in today is the workforce that will be able to transform mounds of data into creative content, solutions and insight tomorrow.
- Data will move from advantage to basic necessity – In a prediction by Kaminski, data will transform from something leveraged by the smartest marketers to something that will spell the death of any marketer who ignores it. As Adam Singer notes in another post covering this event, one of the secrets of current top converting websites are their ability to make data-driven decisions.
- Those who hit 3 out of 10, will end up in the hall of fame - Baseball – is there anything it can’t teach us? What data can you point to that says social media will help you boost your sales or increase your online exposure? Better yet, what data can you point to that states it will not be an undue risk for your company? While you try to find out, your competitor will be developing the next great social campaign, learning from three big wins and seven big mistakes they make in the field. Because data is everything, it can also be handcuffs. Never underestimate the power of trying something.
- Personalized = Profitable – Insight offered by Seth, but repeated by all, is the idea that the more personal search results can become, the more the potential for profit. As such, common human benefits – from the best restaurant two blocks from our current location to your best friend’s opinion – will seep their way into all search results. The importance of optimizing for local, mobile and social all tie into this.
- Mobile search will greatly outpace PC Searches in the next 5 years - A prediction offered by Kaminski, supported by the dual growth in the popularity of mobile applications and prevalence of local search results. Are you optimized for mobile?
- One website does not dominate in search - It’s simply terrific that your website specializes in both Yamaha and Pioneer speakers. But in an effort to create competition, variety and a better user experience, search engines will do what they can to ensure your site does not dominate the speaker category. Focus on your core offering and expand your channels.
- Media will be used to drive search. Search will no longer be the net – Per Kaminski, the current online marketing cycle ends with pulling the user in the net of search. More and more, marketers will benefit by driving search queries, planting targeted keywords in campaigns to drive targeted inquiries.
- Searchers will continue to gravitate towards content they find useful – What marks the difference between insight and obviousness? The amount of people actually following through. If every company were dedicated to sharing value through search or social channels, rather than simply promotional materials, this would fall more towards the latter.
- Search will be less about keywords - Sketch and search, a new Yahoo! mobile application will allow searchers to find local businesses with no more than the scroll of a finger on a mobile application. At no time will a keyword be entered in this search. Are you mobile and local ready?
Agree, disagree? What do you think the future holds for search and social media marketing?