The changing nature of the search marketing industry makes expertise a moving target.
The direct marketing industry has traditionally been slow to embrace search (SEO or SEM) as a viable channel because the DM industry is about pushing content out and search is about customers pulling themselves to content. It’s a new way of thinking.
What that push and pull marketing have in common are targeting and to some degree segmentation along with the ability to test and refine.
Direct Marketing and search engine marketing have a lot more in common than most marketers think. This is especially true in terms of testing and measurement of results. Search marketing is exceptionally measurable and that type of feedback and accountability is something direct marketers have been closely accountable to for many years.
Along with search, social media is increasingly becoming a channel direct marketers need to pay attention to. Much of what makes up social media has to do with consumer generated content and direct marketers are very familiar with creating content in the form of infomercials, direct mail and web sites.
One organization is working very hard to help educate the direct marketing community about the opportunties with search called the Search Engine Marketing Council. The SEMC is a special interest group for the national Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and is working hard to educate DMA members how search and social media marketing channels can fit within their marketing mix.
There are several education initiatives:
1. Topic-oriented council member meetings via teleconference are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month with the next on held in July 19. Social Media is the topic and the panelists are al tenured industry conference speakers that have been in the search marketing business 10 years or more.
2. Conference and seminar programming.
– DMA07 will have several sessions covering various aspects of search marketing
– Webinars – A “Search Engine Basics” series is coming up this summer
– Networking events at DMA conferences
4. The biggest initiative for the DMA Search Engine Marketing Council is the Search Engine Marketing Certification program. Two levels are offered cover organic and paid search marketing. The SEM Certification program allows in-house and agency online marketers as well as web developers, copywriters and anyone else responsible for the promotion and content of a company web site, to gain consistent knowledge from industry experts.
Back to my question posed in this post’s title: “Can Direct Marketers Learn Search Marketing?”. You can easily guess my answer as, “yes!”. In fact, many search marketers are already embracing pay per click. As they grow to understand the value of quality content creation as well as the use of multiple media formats, the DM industry will make it in the world of search and social media marketing.