SVP, Media Strategy

The Future of Search Marketing: The 2016 Forrester Search Wave

In March, Forrester released its latest Search Marketing Wave report, the first since 2012. As one of 10 agencies invited to participate in the report, we’re honored that Rise Interactive placed as a Strong Performer, scoring the highest marks possible in market research, reporting and analytics, and client satisfaction.

Forrester issues new reports when it sees a seismic shift in the industry. So what’s been happening over the last four years that’s caused so much disruption? Forrester shared the following insights:


Search Marketers Need Search Specialists – In such an evolved, mature space, search marketers need the advanced search tactics of an agency, rather than relying on internal talent. As the number of search resources has grown, so has the need for more efficient paid search management and technical search engine optimization.


Organic Visibility, Paid Search, and Corporate Vision Are Key – The agencies featured in the report take differing approaches to both organic visibility and paid search services, as well as how they balance the two. The magnitude of search marketing provides an opportunity for a variety of techniques, tools, and processes within the space.


One of the main reasons Forrester recognized Rise was due to our unique approach to digital marketing. Rooted in the principles of financial portfolio management, our Interactive Investment Management approach looks at a client's entire digital marketing investment and identifies areas with the greatest opportunity to drive business results. This enables our clients to accomplish two important things: allocate their budgets as effectively as possible and deliver the most relevant experiences possible for their customers.

As the digital marketing space continues to evolve, this ability to have cross-channel visibility into your spend and performance is becoming increasingly important, not just within paid and organic search, but also in relation to how search impacts and influences other digital marketing channels.

We’ve been helping leading brands achieve this holistic understanding. From our experience, as well as insights garnered from Forrester’s report, we’ve compiled a few common themes that will enable agencies and brands to stand out as leaders in the search space. Here are a few areas of focus for a successful and scalable search strategy that will enable you to best leverage all of your digital marketing channels.



Just 39% of the clients interviewed for Forrester’s report indicated that they use their search agency to create content. However, looking at trends in searches over the years, the need for optimization has clearly exploded. Content fuels all channels and goes far beyond search marketing. That said, at the heart of any content strategy lies an understanding of your target audience. By leveraging data-driven market research and creating persona-driven content maps, our clients have been able to use content marketing to drive results for their business.


Prioritization, Integration, and Personalization


In a mature space where everyone has access to many of the same tools and technologies, being able to use them in the most innovative and impactful ways is the true differentiator. This team and technology approach means you must focus on strategy and prioritization and avoid an overreliance on automation. It’s not possible to tackle everything at once, so developing a prioritization roadmap to understand where and how to invest your time and resources is critical. We’re working with brands to evaluate speed to impact versus investment. This enables us to set clients up to dominate with quick win strategies that identify areas of opportunity for immediate impact, while also establishing long-term plans to keep brands ahead of the competition and continually increase efficiency.


Today more than ever, search is the avenue for information exchange and is all about creating meaningful, integrated interactions with your customers. No longer can search marketers solely rely on Google as a traffic source. Search has gone beyond engines to include outlets like Waze, Cortana, Siri, social networks, and more. Brands that understand the significance of channel integration and creating a seamless digital experience for customers will see massive gains.


With advancements in technology and data collection, personalization has become an essential part of every brand’s marketing playbook. People expect to see what’s extremely relevant to their interests, and if they don’t, marketers are at risk for losing share of mind and wallet. With Rise’s Connex Personalization platform, we use machine learning to dynamically deliver marketing messages based on an individual’s interests and interactions with the brand, making every experience as relevant as possible.


Reporting and Analytics

While this area was weighted just 5% in the Forrester Wave, it is a fundamental and integral piece of any successful search strategy. The insights gained from reporting and analytics help our clients make business decisions, manage internal stakeholders, and ultimately gain a competitive edge.

Many brands interviewed for the Wave shared that they did not have visibility into how other channels were impacting their search programs. By leveraging cross-channel attribution technology, brands can better understand the full customer journey and all the various touch points a user goes through before making a final decision. Through our Interactive Investment Management approach, we’ve been able to help clients understand the value of one channel versus another and allocate budget as appropriate to achieve their goals.


Search has gone beyond the traditional engines to become a comprehensive and influential tool. It creates utility for customers, while also providing brands with moments in time to intercept and create meaningful interactions. The brands who are able to develop compelling and relevant content, understand the importance of both team and technology, and invest in the right reporting and analytics infrastructure will be well-positioned for future success. 


To download a complimentary copy of Forrester’s Q1 2016 Search Wave report, click here.

Feel free to reach out to Rise with any questions or to learn more about opportunities to impact your business through search marketing.

About The Forrester Wave™: Search Marketing Agencies, Q1 2016 - Forrester is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world, providing advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester’s Wave reports are data-driven evaluations of software, hardware, and services that help marketers make well-informed vendor and agency decisions without spending months conducting their own research on the topics. Vendors participating in the Waves undergo multiple rounds of scrutiny including questionnaires, executive presentations, and client references.

04/13/2016 at 11:00