Social Media Marketing & Search Engine Marketing

As more companies are leveraging social media marketing and online PR in their marketing mix, one of the questions that is brought up is the relationship between social media marketing and search marketing (or pay-per-click advertising). Do they complement each other or do they target the same audience?

To assess this, we’ve used our own press release campaign as a case study. More specifically, we were interested in knowing the overlap between the PR and PPC audiences. The results: the two are very complementary.

First the background: the press release was launched on January 21 and can be found here. The release was also picked by a number of bloggers covering the social media and online PR measurement landscape. Simultaneously, we ran a series of PPC campaigns around social media and PR measurement as shown below. The question to ask is whether these two campaigns are reaching the same audience or are different ones.

In order to analyze the results, we’re using web analytics solutions (Google Analytics and NetInsight in our case). The results inside the web analytics solutions reveal no overlap whatsoever between the two campaigns. In other words, those who came to our site as a result of PPC did not have any exposure to either our press release or the blogger coverage of it. This is done thanks to the Tealium Social Media product. Let’s look at some of the analysis.

First, we’re going to look at the AdWords report inside Google Analytics. This is shown in the figure below. However, we need to also look at the overlap of the report with the social media segment. The social media segment is an additional segment that clients of our social media measurement service get access to. It allows you to compare what percentage of your traffic has been previously exposed to your social media and online PR (examples are PR stories and blog coverages).

We expected very little overlap between the two campaigns. In other words, we expected that our press release and blogger coverage targets a different audience than AdWords. But we did not expect the two to be mutually exclusive. Out of the 107 visits generated to the site as a result of PPC advertising, not a single one previously viewed our press release or read any of the blogs covering the release. This even holds true for the contextual advertising portion of our PPC campaign.

Now let’s take a closer look at the effectiveness of these two campaigns. For this, we’re going to look at the key performance indicators of the two campaigns, which is shown below. We can see surprisingly strong performance by the PR campaign. For example, the site conversion rate of the social media campaign is at 11.5%, only slightly lower than search advertising. At the same time, the cost per visit for the PR campaign is just slightly lower than search advertising.

The benefits of search advertising have long been known: you reach an audience that’s ready to buy at the most critical stage. But the fact that PR campaigns enjoy a similar performance means that online PR can be as effective as search advertising.

To reiterate, this study is for one site only and other sites may not experience the same effect, so you should take this into consideration. But marketers are well served adding online PR and social media marketing into their marketing mix. Not only does it target an audience that’s complementary to search advertising, but it also enjoys a level of success that’s in tune with PPC advertising, with similar cost per visit, cost per conversion and conversion rates. So go ahead – start experimenting.

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