Combine Search and Social for Marketing Impact

Many businesses still view social and search advertising as separate and distinct marketing strategies. However, when businesses rely on only one marketing tactic, they are missing out on consumers who are in different phases of their buying journey. Consumers have different preferences for consuming information online, and data shows that a digital marketing approach that includes multiple marketing mediums, such as search and social, often outperforms a singular effort.

 The Connection Between Search and Social

Search and social advertising are two marketing efforts that have proven to work well together. These two methods can play off each other in numerous ways. What a consumer sees on a social site often influences what they look for on a search engine like Google. Conversely, we also know that a search on Google can influence which ads appear on a consumer’s social pages.

ReachLocal recently undertook a study that analyzed 1,000 local businesses to gauge the impact that Facebook advertising had on their search advertising efforts. The study suggests that local businesses gain greater results by combining Facebook advertising with their search campaigns, underscoring the power of a multi-faceted marketing approach. Additionally, businesses who employed more than one tactic on Facebook experienced even further improved performance.

The Importance of The Buyer’s Journey

The buying or buyer’s journey refers to the process through which most consumers go before making a purchase. Before making a purchase, consumers spend time becoming aware of and learning about a product or service during the buyer's journey. Consumers use this information to make a purchasing decision, but how they acquire that information is varied. It may be through search. It may be a banner ad, print, video or social ads on Facebook, or perhaps it’s an email message or a social post or review they have read. The point is, there are many, many ways for consumers to be introduced to a product, service, or brand. These different touch points all inform consumers and influence their purchasing decisions.

Successful digital marketers pay special attention to the various internet touchpoints. Touchpoints are important because the majority of a buyer’s journey, from research to purchase, is done online. Since people access and process information in different ways, this varied approach results in an expanded reach that leads to larger audience numbers, more views and more potential customers. By thinking about the entire buyer’s journey, and focusing marketing efforts at strategic points during the process, businesses can reach a wider audience, and create stronger connections with consumers at an efficient price.

How Businesses Can Align Search and Social

Search and social marketing are both effective at reaching consumers. Facebook users, in particular, regularly use the platform for everything from gaining recommendations from friends to checking in to a local store. The question for businesses isn’t so much whether to expand their marketing efforts to include search and social, but how to align the two methods.

To do this, you first need to understand at which point in the buyer’s journey each type of ad is most effective.

  • Facebook ads are useful at every stage of the journey, particularly for local businesses. Facebook ads are triggered by past behaviors, interests, and locations, and show up at any time during the journey. Ads should stand out on the News Feed page. They need to catch the eye, provide relevant information, and encourage click-throughs. Keep in mind that they don’t have to close a sale, but they do need to encourage consumers to gather more information.
  • Consumer triggered search results, on the other hand, are typically used when a consumer is nearing the purchasing decision stage. Search ads must be highly targeted and relevant to consumers who are ready to make a purchase. This is where the right keywords, calls to action, and content becomes important.

Aligning these two marketing avenues isn’t as difficult as you might think. In many cases, simply using similar content and keywords, along with high-quality images from the business’s website or online directory is enough to yield significant results. Stay engaging and tackle creative ad fatigue by refreshing Facebook ads constantly.

Use Search and Social to Build Relationships

This dual use of the same or similar content is another reason why growing businesses should take a fresh look at search and social marketing cohesively. Combining the two methods effectively will stretch the marketing dollar.

Businesses and brands must take advantage of the multiple marketing tools available today. By consistently connecting with consumers at various points throughout their buying journey, brands engage and connect with their consumers on a deeper level. This connection establishes familiarity and breeds trust in a brand that has the potential to influence purchasing decisions.  In the end, it’s these connections that ultimately influence consumer buying behavior, and can have a profound impact on the customer lifetime value for a business.


Josh Markham, Senior Vice President of Digital Media Products at ReachLocal, a USA TODAY NETWORK company and a part of Gannett Co.