There has been a longstanding debate on whether search marketing (organic and paid) or social media marketing is better for a brand or business. Some market studies have shown that a good number of companies in Singapore are shifting their digital marketing emphasis to search marketing, whereas others may seem to suggest that social media marketing consistently brings in the better results. Where then should a marketer invest his or her efforts; search or social?
For a marketing agency in Singapore like Yoursite, we feel that the answer is pretty obvious. The fact is that every digital marketing campaign requires a combination of both in order to be successful. It is likened to how bread and butter come together nicely to fill your stomach early in the morning. If we really had to pinpoint which is better, well, as a general rule of thumb, the following applies:
- Business to Consumer (B2C) – Social media marketing consisting a clearly defined demographic, proper content strategy and some social media ads will do the job
- Business to Business (B2B) – Search marketing consisting search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search with the appropriate keyword research is likely to work better
For you to better understand why this is the case, it is important that you understood the pros and cons of each strategy.
Social media marketing
One thing nobody can deny is the massive reach of social media and its ability to get your brand, ads, and content in front of a great number of people. With the leisurely mentality that users are in when accessing social media sites, the delivery of quality content (consisting good visuals and copywriting) about your product or service through such channels has every power to influence consumer decisions. Interestingly enough, social media marketing has proven to be not that shabby on the B2B front too. A study done by CMO showed that 54% of B2B respondents generated a majority of their leads from social media.
So what are the advantages of social media marketing?
- Social media makes it easier than ever to discover your target demographic. Everything is provided for you from their gender, age, location, and interests to their friends and much more.
- Social media is a great source of peer endorsements which in most cases lead to instant conversions. A report by eConsultancy.com indicated that 75% of people aged between 18 and 26 relied on recommendations from other users of social networks to decide on a product or service.
- Social media marketing gives you full control over your online reputation management. You can instantly handle all your negative reviews and argue your case in front of a wide web audience.
- You can grow your brand loyalty quite easily via social media. Many consumers today are actually basing their purchase decisions on what they learned about the brand on social media. A digital marketer who knows how to use social media properly can easily acquire life-long customers within a short period of time.
The downside of social media marketing
- Not every consumer has a social media profile. A majority of the older generation still consider social media a “thing” for the young.
- People do not go to social networking sites to shop but to socialize. As a result, conversion rates tend to be lower on social media than on search engines where the “intent” is more inherent.
- Social media marketing can be time-consuming. Expect to spend at least 6 hours per day on creating content and engaging with customers via the various channels to get positive results.
Search engine marketing
Any digital marketing initiative executed in Singapore or elsewhere in the world will comprise the search channel as it has always been and still is one of the most powerful methods for digital marketers. It is a highly targeted and trackable medium that you can rely on to generate a constant flow of the right traffic and even measure your conversions and return on investment (ROI).
Advantages of search marketing
- A majority of consumers who come to your website via a search engine have the intent to buy or interest in your products or services. With the best ranking on search engines (be it through organic or paid search), you stand a far better chance of getting higher conversions.
- Should you have the budget to invest into paid search platforms (eg. AdWords), you will be instantaneously propelled to the top of search results for various money terms and the results will be seen shortly after.
- You can use analytics to tell you which phrases or words bring you the most traffic.
- You can also use paid ads to get your brand or products on top of search engine results if you do not have the time for SEO.
- Should you manage to reach the first page of Google using SEO, such a rank will be relatively sustainable and long lasting.
The downside of search marketing
- For paid search platforms such as AdWords, expect cut-throat competition for various keywords. In some cases, the cost-per-click (CPC) for some high competition keywords can hit $20 to $30.
- If you choose to go the search engine optimization (SEO) route, ROI is not instantaneous. Especially if you are targeting medium to high competition keywords, it will take months and quite a lot of effort to rank your site on the first page of search engines.
- With search algorithms changing ever so often, you will need to be constantly aware of the latest updates by Google (eg. Pigeon, Panda, Penguin) in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Both strategies can complement each other
As we have seen, search and social media have their pros and cons. More often than not, digital marketing agencies design them to complement each other. To start with, social media will establish your credibility and help to build your brand awareness. A consumer who gets to know of and takes an interest in your products or services from the social media exposure will feel more obliged to readily click on your listings in search engine results. Such is a simple example of combining both strategies to great effect in Singapore.
Which is the better option then?
In a place like Singapore, stick to the general rule of thumb that we described above (search for B2B and social media for B2C) and you cannot wrong. However, as every situation calls for a different approach, it is always best to devise a digital marketing strategy on a case by case basis. A good online marketing agency often utilizes a combination of both strategies to achieve the best results for their clients. By taking a leaf out of their book, you can certainly reap the benefits too. If you are having trouble devising such a strategy, be sure to arrange a consultation with your digital marketing agency today.