Search marketing is evolving. Historically, search marketing has been considered to be a more tactical, “lights-on” marketing discipline—and not a strategic one. Good for driving back-end conversions, but not always perceived as providing any strategic insight that could inform larger company plans and initiatives or foster deeper customer engagement.

Recently, many companies have started to realize the strategic importance of search marketing, and it has become a highly valued and much more strategic tool in the hands of the corporate marketer. This realization has centered around search marketing’s strategic position at the frontline of customer engagement and thus an area where sophisticated marketers can capture the customer voice (and their engagement intent) in real time and rapidly share that valuable and actionable information throughout many levels of the enterprise.

The variety, volume, and velocity of customer data are one development that has driven this evolution. The advent of social media signals being captured from search engine results pages (SERPs) has also accelerated this paradigm shift. Capturing, analyzing, understanding, and effectively communicating that information throughout the organization is the basis for change. Thinking of search marketing as a tactical exercise in keyword management and only valued for back-end customer conversion is regressive thought these days. Progressive search marketers think in terms of being the first point of contact for customers … the pointy, strategic end of the marketing spear.

The ultimate goal of any company today is to create a corporate culture that knows the customer more intimately, provides personalized services, and engages the customer directly in the realization that customers have taken back their voice and are telling us every day what they want and how they want it delivered. We just have to listen, analyze, make good decisions, and meet the customer’s expectations while respecting their privacy and being a trusted partner in their online experience. Search has a critical role to play in this new customer-centric environment.

As the director of Global Search Marketing at Adobe, it is my job to create a world-class showcase of search marketing for my brand. That means being a process innovator, thought leader in organizational change, and a visionary in seeing beyond today into what the future must be to realize the remarkable and strategic opportunity of search marketing.

In future posts, I will discuss these paradigm shifts and how to make search more strategic in your organization in more detail. I hope to kick-start a thought-provoking dialog with like-minded strategic search marketers as to how you are making search more strategic in your companies.

Does search play a strategic role at your company?