By now, you must have all heard about Google threatening to leave the search Market in Australia. Making the situation even more serious is that at least 94% of online searches in Australia are on Google. Consider that you have spent the last decade fine-tuning your marketing around Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEM). There is a similar issue brewing around taxes on Google Ads in the states.
Businesses have already been forced to make one major pivot to their sales and marketing strategies within the last year. During the early stage of COVID-19, where in-store traffic was stopped to protect public health, store owners quickly adapted to online e-commerce with delivery or curbside pick-up. For many, this involved large investments in digital strategy and digital marketing – with strategies heavily focussed on ranking highly in Google.
If a significant search player leaves, taking away your primary marketing channel, you will face a situation where your digital storefront closes with little or no notice. How will you cope with that? Are customers going to stop finding you? What happens now? Will your business get impacted? Are your revenues going to drop?
Oddly enough, not many corporations – in particular Business to Business (B2B) orgs – don’t have a clue because they have not figured out how to connect the dots from eyeballs online to revenue recorded on the financial systems (that’s a problem by itself).
Experts in the field claim the impacts range from an inability for customers to find your business to the failure to reach suitable targets with your advertisements. The questions are, what is the specific impact on your business, and is that material enough to worry about. Keep in mind that there are other players in the industry that will fill the gap so this problem could be short-lived, or Google may compromise and compensate the content producers and keep going. Still, they will eventually pass their cost to their customers like you, and will your business be able to afford the additional costs?
Regardless of what happens, it’s time to figure out Plan B around your dependency (or perceived dependence) on search engines. Is your business really dependent on Search to drive revenues that you depend on? Is it just a feel-good thing you are doing because your competitors are doing it, or some marketing experts show you your high rankings (that may or may not drive leads) and insist that you should do it? It’s time to figure what Search does for your business. If it turns out to be necessary, you need to quickly try and figure out your strategy if a significant search engine stops providing service or increases your costs to use their services.
How do you start the journey to figure all this out? It’s quite simple. The first step is to audit your digital marketing and determine if it’s driving revenue or behaviors leading to revenue generation. Once that is done, and the connections are established, the next step is to trace your customers’ digital journey to purchase and create redundant paths for the customer to get to you without reliance on Web Search. This can include alternate marketing strategies to reduce your dependence on one channel, depending on your business and customer persona. For example, you could optimize your local search optimisation using marketing strategies for Google and Apple Maps or shift some of your focus from search traffic to social media. All you need is some smart people from your business who are aware of these shifts in the digital landscape brainstorming what would work best for your company and start investing in small experiments to validate your hypothesis.
If you are interested in proactively starting this journey, contact us (or have your head of strategy reach out). We would be happy to walk you through the DIY steps to do this in-house.