What Happens After The Click? - Mark Taylor and Shane Atchison report on how success online is dependent on both the relevance of, and the customer experience with, content


Online marketing has come a long way since the 1990s where “eyeballs” were the currency of the Web. Today, it has moved well beyond passive, unidirectional awareness work that was so prevalent then, to differentiated models brought about by new tools, techniques and methodologies that make real online relationship marketing more effective and more affordable.

Google, Overture, MSN and others have made keyword-driven search engine marketing the “darling” of acquisition marketing. Jupiter Research says search spending will continue to be a larger percentage of online advertising revenue—about 43%—and is expected to grow 11% a year, powering search to $11.1 billion by 2011.1 Search marketing is a powerful addition to the online marketing arsenal, and tying established relationship marketing principles to the arsenal is even more potent.

With more than one billion Web pages competing for attention, marketers cannot afford to sit back and hope their content is found.

Consumers undertake a search because they are actively seeking information. If the keywords used directly relate to our clients’ products and services, there is no better time to show them an advertisement and accompanying link. Potential customers have declared their interest in our product or service, they have eliminated our competition, and they have made another entry in the now-famous database of intentions.2 The cost of paid search campaigns has not stopped growing. The battle is moving after the click—fail to engage your visitors here and the cost of the pay-per-click model becomes prohibitive.

The Holy Grail is when online marketing becomes interactive marketing and the initial click becomes a first step on a customer journey that engages prospective customers in meaningful, relevant dialogues that lead to lasting relationships. That’s when Web “spectators” become Web “participants.” That’s what leads customers to take action— whether they purchase a product, sign up for more information, or register on your site. That’s what online marketing today is all about —or should be! We call it After The Click™.

Success on the Web requires a combination of solidly established goals, effective metrics, data and insights, testing, optimization techniques and (perhaps more than anything else) relevant, idea-driven creative messaging. Yet, search engine marketing today is about buying traffic as efficiently as possible. Hence, 96% of the money spent on search leads to lost opportunities and abandoned or aborted searches.

After The Click™ is about engaging that traffic and establishing a relevance-based dialogue. Search engine campaigns involve hundreds or even thousands of keywords and phrases, all of which require monitoring and management. Without experience, time and tools for effective monitoring, marketers will be at a distinct disadvantage. A long list of purchased terms most certainly increases traffic. However, marketers beware! Care must be given to the quality of that traffic. Cheap keywords may provide a less than 0.1% conversion rate. “Good” words may offer conversion above 4% but can cost more than $100 per click because of competition from other bidders. A well-constructed search engine marketing strategy gets people to your site. However, a good After The Click™ strategy helps convert those visitors into valuable customers, raising the site’s conversion rate.

Conversion rate refers to the number of site visitors who took a desired action divided by the total number of visitors. Converting your visitors means persuading them to do what you want them to do, i.e., subscribe to a newsletter, buy a car, or give permission for future contact, etc. The call to action must be a reflection of the site’s business objective. When conversion occurs, site spectators turn into participants and site browsers become prospects.

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This article originally appeared in volume 13 of WPP's Atticus Journal.

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