Search marketing takes a back seat to other marketing channels used by large enterprise companies, as indicated by a new survey released today. Of 500 companies surveyed, a modest 5% rank paid search ads as their top marketing priority, while only 4% prioritize ‘organic’ search engine optimization (SEO) – targeting unpaid listings at the top of Google search results pages. The survey was a collaboration of the B2B research firm Clutch, and R2integrated (R2i), a digital agency.

With over 90% of enterprise companies surveyed indicating the low priority they place on search marketing, the potential result is that enterprises that neglect search marketing as part of their multichannel strategy are unlikely to capture the full extent of customer demand, in the view of industry analysts.

“SEO is inextricably linked to other channels like social media, content marketing, and even email and TV,” said Kara Alcamo, vice president, Digital Activation at R2i. “Many studies show that people pull out their phones immediately and do searches after seeing a television ad. They want more information, and if search isn’t taken into account, the company isn’t putting together the most holistic strategy possible.”

Several reasons were cited by those surveyed as to why search marketing typically receives low levels of attention. Measuring return on investment (ROI) is the top challenge that companies say they face with SEO, cited by 18%. This is likely because SEO can take months to show results, making it difficult to prioritize. Highlighting the right metrics is also important for marketers to consider, say industry insiders. For example, 28% of search marketers say traffic volume is the most important metric they use for SEO, which is counter to what industry experts recommend. 

“Incoming traffic from search marketing is simple to measure, but does not give a clear indication of success,” said Alcamo. “More important is the amount of value that traffic is driving – the leads and conversions it brings.”

Experts say search marketing should be integrated with all other marketing channels for best results, not relegated to another department as a separate channel.
“Modern SEO is really about the customer experience and about working with all other marketing channels,” said Dan Golden, president and chief search artist at Be Found Online, a digital agency. “SEO content and customer content are not separate silos, but rather content needs to be created for both humans and search engines.”
Clutch and R2i’s Enterprise Marketing Survey 2016 consisted of 500 respondents who work in a marketing role at companies with at least 500 employees. About half are from companies with 1000+ employees. 88% of respondents are manager level or higher. Responses were collected between March and April 2016. The full data can be found at .