Note To SMBs: Stop Separating Search And Social Media Marketing

When businesses rely on only one marketing tactic, they tend to miss out on different phases in a shopper's journey, says ReachLocal's Josh Markham.

Marketers of all stripes face opportunities and challenges when it comes to the range of targeting capabilities and platforms to use to reach their customers.

Nevertheless, it’s not a level playing field for all stores. SMBs don’t tend to have the same resources that the enterprises and chains they compete with. As a result, the allocation of SMB marketing budgets tends to be viewed as series of distinct choices: traditional and display advertising versus social media marketing versus search, says Josh Markham, SVP of Digital Media Products at local marketing platform ReachLocal.

Still, Markham says, SMBs don’t necessarily have to accept an either/or scenario when it comes to their local marketing efforts.

GeoMarketing: Do SMBs tend to see search marketing and social media marketing — particularly on Facebook — as wholly separate?

Josh Markham: Many of our clients still view social and search as totally separate marketing strategies and this is exactly why we underwent this study. Based on the fact that online consumers spend most of their time on Facebook and Google, for distinct reasons, we knew that there had to be interplay between these two marketing mediums. This interconnection is what we wanted to better understand.

Based on our findings, we believe local businesses should be viewing their marketing efforts comprehensively (not as silos) so they can understand which programs work best together. When businesses rely on only one marketing tactic, they are likely missing out on consumers in a different phases of their buying journey. In addition, consumers have different preferences for consuming information, so the combined effort is more effective than a singular effort.

Is there anything you can say about the combination of Facebook and search ads and whether they also lead to greater store traffic for brick-and-mortar brands?

We have not concluded definitively, but it is something that we are keeping an eye on. Here is what we do know:

  • 76 percent of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone, subsequently visit a business within 24 hours, according to Think with Google.
  • Facebook users spend 40 to 50 minutes a day on Facebook; Facebook not only delivers leads to local businesses, we also see a healthy amount of store check-ins, an often unintended benefit.
  • 83 percent of ReachLocal search clients saw an improvement to click through rate, when they add Facebook ads

Regardless of the correlation, having both working together are very important to a local business’s media plan.

More clicks through combined sources. — ReachLocal

Facebook ads and search ads both seem to respond to consumers’ intent (they’re looking for a service or a place to go for a service or product). Is there anything in the creative/messaging that SMBs need to know to align search and social?

Facebook ads can influence the consumer in multiple phases of the consumer journey – from awareness, to consideration to purchase. In addition, while Facebook ads are intelligently served based on past behavior, they are not triggered by a specific action like a search. Lastly, Facebook ads are in the News Feed and competing with a lot of other content. For these reasons, successful Facebook ads can be quite different than a search ad. Outwardly, a Facebook ad and a search ad could look similar, but how the marketing person arrived to the creative/messaging would likely follow two different paths.

Facebook ads need to be visually attractive and have a compelling message or an offer to help them stand out to compel consumers to take action. Depending on the product, they can be educational in nature, or simply offer a significant discount.

On the other hand, because search ads are triggered by a specific action and are typically used when the consumer is in the consideration to purchase phase, search ads need to be relevant and meet the needs of the consumer in their moment of need. This requires a deep understanding of how to align the right keywords, with the right call to action, and with the right ad content to incent the consumer to click. For some products, this could be a significant discount, for others it might be an emphasis on quality.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.