iProspect And JupiterResearch Find 81% of Organizations Tie Search Engine Marketing Metrics to Employee Evaluation

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New Market Research Also Finds Website Traffic And Search Engine Rankings Used More Than Sales Or ROI To Measure Marketer Performance

According to new market research published today by iProspect, The Original® Search Engine Marketing Firm, 81% of organizations tie search engine marketing metrics to the evaluation of their search marketing employees. The iProspect Search Marketer Performance Study also found that more organizations use website traffic and search engine rankings to measure marketer performance than sales and ROI.

The study is the result of a recent iProspect-sponsored executive survey conducted by JupiterResearch and reveals some surprising findings about how organizations evaluate their employees who are responsible for search engine marketing and search engine optimization.

High-level findings included:

  • A full 4 out of every 5 search engine marketers have the evaluation of their performance tied to some search engine marketing metric.
  • Only 8% of search engine marketers whose annual online media budgets are greater than $1 million are not evaluated on search engine marketing metrics, while 22% of search engine marketers whose annual online media budgets are less than $1 million are not evaluated on search engine marketing metrics.
  • 1 out of 2 search engine marketers are evaluated on website traffic volume and/or top search engine ranking.
  • 4 out of 10 search engine marketers are evaluated on ROI or total sales generated by their search engine marketing efforts.
  • Just 1 to 2 in 10 search engine marketers are evaluated on offline results generated by their search engine marketing efforts.

The fact that more organizations evaluate their search engine marketers’ performance based upon search engine marketing campaign metrics such as resulting website traffic and search engine rankings, rather than the business results, such as sales volume or ROI that their campaigns produce, is a particularly surprising finding.

While individual search marketing campaigns are evaluated using these metrics (traffic or rankings), iProspect did not expect the individuals managing these campaigns to be measured more often by these means to an end, rather than the bottom line value their efforts netted their organizations.

"I am taken aback by this finding," said iProspect President, Rob Murray. "We expected that business results would be the big factor in search marketer performance evaluation since this discipline has significant costs associated with it -- costs that organizations would ostensibly need to justify in order to continue investment in it. This is especially surprising given that the organizations participating in this survey have dedicated search marketing resources and budgets.”

However, iProspect recognizes that business results might not be employed in the evaluation of search engine marketers if the organization is unable to accurately tie business results back to search engine marketing activities.

“This could also explain the difficulty that search marketers at some organizations have in convincing their colleagues in the IT department to implement search engine optimization recommendations to their websites, because IT departments will often not make SEO changes when the business impact of those changes cannot be clearly projected,” according to Murray. “If more search engine marketers’ results were being tied to business results, marketers would be better able to make the case and win these turf battles.”

The study also reveals that very few organizations tie offline activities or conversions that occur as a result of search engine marketing efforts to evaluate the performance of their search engine marketers.

“Industry research continues to prove that search marketing drives offline behavior. It is clear that there is a direct correlation between searches conducted on the web and offline transactions. But despite the research that confirms the effect search marketing has on offline transactions, organizations are not considering this factor in evaluating search marketer performance,” noted iProspect’s Director of Algorithmic Search, Dr. Naga Krothapalli.

"This finding has two important implications for organizations: First, organizations are missing an opportunity to motivate search marketers to generate cross-channel conversions, which may suggest that at many organization search engine marketing is not effectively integrated with offline marketing. Second, if organizations do not recognize offline transactions generated by online searches, they are most likely under-investing in the search marketing channel,” continued Krothapalli.

About the Survey and Methodology

JupiterResearch surveyed search engine marketers and agencies. Respondents were targeted by familiarity with their company’s search engine marketing efforts and screened for involvement with marketing their company’s products or those of clients. A total of 636 qualified search engine marketers and 224 qualified search engine marketing agencies completed the survey. Respondents received an email invitation to participate in the survey, with an attached URL linked to the Web-based survey form. As an incentive, respondents were entered into a sweepstakes for the chance to win a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate.

In this survey effort, JupiterResearch worked with its sister company JupiterWeb on the technical tasks of sample building and survey fielding. JupiterWeb properties include more than 150 Web sites and over 150 email newsletters that are viewed by 20 million unique users and generate over 275 million page views monthly, thus enabling JupiterResearch to survey hard-to-reach audiences.

Proper attribution requires that the study is clearly identified as the “iProspect Search Marketer Performance Study." Copies of the study can be obtained at http://www.iprospect.com/ecampaign/pr1_0905/searchenginemarketingwhitepapers.htm.

About iProspect

iProspect® is the Original® Search Engine Marketing Firm. The company helps many of the world's most successful brands maximize their online marketing ROI through natural search engine optimization, paid inclusion management as a Yahoo! Search Submit Certified Ambassador, pay per click advertising management via their own patent-pending bid management agent called iSEBA™, and Web analytics through their own SEM-configured version of WebTrends™. Located in Watertown, Massachusetts, the company can be contacted at 1-800-522-1152, or by visiting http://www.iprospect.com.

Questions regarding this release should be directed to iProspect Media Relations Manager, Colleen Reed, at 1-800-522-1152 x1203 or creed@iprospect.com.

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