What CMOs Are Really Thinking About Search In The Realm of Digital Marketing

Search Engine Strategies 2009 - San Jose - Brian FetherstonhaughLeave it to chairman of one of the world’s largest agencies to tell it like it is when it comes to digital marketing in the eyes of a company’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). That’s exactly what Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman & CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide told a crowd of people during his panel session at the 2009 Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose last week.

Entitled The Adaptive CMO: New Digital Marketing, Fetherstonhaugh uses his 30-plus years of experience to tell the attendees at the search conference exactly where he thinks search is going, how it’s changed the way marketing is done, and what exactly the priorities are of the CMOs with respect to digital marketing – unfortunately to this day, CMOs are still seeing search marketing as an outlier to the rest of the digital marketing spectrum and the growing gap over the years just seem to prove that.

With respect to CMOs, Fetherstonhaugh states that their dilemma is that stakeholders and other decision makers demand that programs be more innovative and also have more accountability. Essentially they want to know what is the Return on Investment (ROI) for these programs and it seems that search marketing just isn’t that apparent for them. Over the past 10 years, there have been at least three significant failures when it comes to marketing. Fetherstonhaugh highlights them as:

  • Integration: businesses are trying to use a “matching luggage” approach and have things be more uniform.
  • We are being led by the consumer: It’s not the other way around. Nearly 30% of all consumers spend their time online but nearly 10% of advertising dollars are spent on online marketing programs. This gap is not closing and as a result, we’re chasing away the consumers – instead we need to catch up to them & walk with them into the future.
  • Different view of information dashboard: Fetherstonhaugh believes that it’s amazing that a 13 year-old boy has a better information dashboard when playing World of Warcraft online than a CMO who only gets bits and pieces of information when he asks for it instead of automatically given this information. Why is that?

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways that would help redefine digital marketing is the erosion of the “Four P’s”. Any marketer understands what this time-honored philosophy is – it’s all about product, price, place & promotion. But according to Fetherstonhaugh, this is antiquated and inefficient. Instead, we need to be looking at what he calls the “Four E’s”: Experience, Everyplace, Exchange & Evangelism. The Four P’s are still necessary (albeit a bit outdated) and shouldn’t simply be shoved to the side, but to help maximize the marketing program, companies should explore the Four E’s as well.

So what else are CMOs thinking about? At least two things: job security and the value of whatever marketing campaign they choose to run with. At the very least, they need to be concerned as to their own selfish needs since if the project fails miserably, their position within the company may be a bit short-lived. It’s tough enough that the average lifespan of a CMO within a company is about two years, but to be toppled because of a failed campaign is agonizing. This also ties in with the value created through the campaign. Also, CMOs are responsible for figuring out how digital marketing efforts fit in with the larger picture – working with other business units across the global matrix.

Now where does search fit in? Fetherstonhaugh states that approximately 1.5% of a CMOs mind is fixated on search marketing. That means that there’s a lot more information going into the CMO that will cause them to put little effort into understanding search. So what can a search person do to move this tactic up the marketing agenda?

Search Engine Strategies 2009 - San Jose - Customer JourneyStart with the customer journey.
Fetherstonhaugh advises that you shouldn’t tell the CMO to go straight into search. Instead, show them that you understand the journey that your customers are going through. From a trigger event to doing research and ultimately buying to using and sharing, the CMO should be made to see how through this process the search marketing efforts would be used to help convert potential customers.

Search = Research
CMOs must be made to know that while more money is being spent on research versus search marketing, there are alternatives to spending that much money and still getting better results. There’s a massive competitive advantage when using search for research. It’s basically in real-time and also localized for the intended recipient with a very global aspect to it.

More Lift. Less Attack.
Search marketing is not used to attack other media, but rather CMOs and companies should be using search engine marketing to help prop up other marketing efforts online. Show how search leverages and helps other media like television, direct mail/email, print, telemarketing & customer service, face-to-face, social media & sponsorships.

Search can help CMOs extend power.
Through global search governance, it can reduce inefficiency & duplication, bring monetary value to business units & creates a global best practice.

Search + Innovation.
How can search work with mobile, social media, LBS & local, digital POS, etc.?

All in all, the discussion by Fetherstonhaugh was pretty thought-provoking and showed that while we may think of search engine marketing as a huge component of online marketing, there appears to be some hesitation amongst CMOs and others in related fields that may create more opportunities to reach out and show the true potential of search marketing in the grand marketing scheme.

    By Ken Yeung

    Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."