Nearly 80 percent of marketing decision-makers fail to include SEO in their budgets, according to new research from global tech public relations agency Hotwire.
For its Marketing Silos report, which was released today, Hotwire surveyed 300 senior-level, decision-making marketers. While 52 percent said their spend includes online advertising, only 21 percent said the same for SEO despite the fact that search engines display so much of their digital advertising. According to Google, one in six people on the planet use Google to do more than 1 trillion searches each year.
Rebecca Honeyman, senior vice president and general manager of Hotwire’s New York office, calls these statistics “interesting and slightly terrifying.” Comparing modern marketers to those who believed the 1970s cliché, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,” Honeyman thinks many are sticking with tried-and-true methods rather than experimenting with the unknown.
“If you’re unsure of a new channel, you tend to go with the tried and tested and what’s worked previously, and to me, that would be the reason behind the higher number in more traditional channels,” Honeyman says.
But while she understands that logic, she still considers it problematic.
“Garnering a mass audience today is much more about search; even as a consumer myself, all of my purchase decisions begin with a Google search,” she says. “By overlooking this channel, you’re overlooking a huge portion of your audience.”
Benjamin Spiegel, chief executive (CEO) of Houston’s MMI Agency, points out that another issue with SEO is a lack of industry standards. Having worked on campaigns for hundreds of brands, he’s seen it handled by creative, search and tech agencies.
“Measurement and execution is tricky; you can spend 1 million on your SEO agency, and they can create amazing recommendations, but if the creative agency does not implement it and nobody creates the content they asked for, all the brand gets for their investment are papers,” he says, adding that SEO is also a long-term investment.
According to Spiegel, search is the most common way to discover content, and SEO focuses on improving the user experience of discovering that content. He thinks more marketers would benefit from treating SEO as media, rather than keeping it in the non-working dollar budget.