News of eBay's unfavourable report on the use of paid search marketing may encourage many in the channel to look again at their use of that strategy.
Many years ago, paid search marketing was seen purely as an immediate direct sales channel, but it has evolved and is now also used as a research tool.
The crux of the matter is that conversation lag time will naturally be longer and the tracking much more complex.
EBay in its report appeared to have overlooked that, while it is fair to say that less frequent web users may be more influenced by search marketing tactics as a direct sales route, it may not be the channel that is wrong but the execution of the activity.
Customer knowledge and expertise of online tools – such as price comparison websites – has increased. So has the complexity of how a customer researches and selects a preferred provider.
The public has become aware and suspicious of pay-per-click, but optimised pay-per-click alongside search engine optimisation will drive relevant, profitable traffic.
If a business stops using a particular channel to market, the immediate impact may be an increase in efficiency. However, over time businesses may see their online performance fall, due to their reduced visibility online.
Web analytics tools can provide a depth and breadth of information on top of that already available to anyone with a website, but not all businesses have access, so marketers should use the data they have to put themselves in their customers' shoes.
Think about how they research you and your competitors and how they arrive at their buying decision, as well as about key touch points.
There are many ways to structure paid search that will help to optimise a business's best-performing channel or activity, enabling better decisions and budget management.
This can take time but it is worth the investment.
If anyone is looking for a magic solution, there isn't one. It's about the recipe: testing new ideas and moving with the market, which essentially is being driven by the customer.
Pay attention to your customers and you can't go far wrong.
Simon Yeoman is general manager at Fasthosts
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
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View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
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