Why Marketers are Moving from Social to a Paid Search Strategy

BY Rachel Cagle
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42% of retailers reported flat or declining sales in 2022, according to data from Commerce Next. The predicted economic slowdown is beginning to rear its ugly head. So, it’s no wonder that 56% of retailers expect little growth, no growth at all or a decline in online sales this year. AND 36% of retailers are also concerned about generating marketing ROI in 2023. It may be time for a new strategy, specifically a paid search strategy, to help ease your client’s concerns.

Why Marketers are Moving from Social to a Paid Search Strategy

Social is Declining

Privacy restrictions have negatively impacted paid social KPIs, according to Commerce Next. Only 26% of retailers saw either improved or flat KPI performance for their paid social efforts in 2022. 33% saw KPIs decline up to 10%, another 31% experienced 10%-30% KPI declines and 10% had their KPIs decline by more than 30%. So, social ads are starting to decline in favor of other ads, such as a paid search strategy. Retailers that experienced declining KPI performance plan to reduce their social ad spending on:

  • Facebook: 66% of these retailers will reduce their ad spending
  • Instagram: 46%
  • Pinterest: 12%
  • TikTok: 10%
  • Snapchat: 7%

Only 25% of retailers don’t plan on reducing their social ad spend in 2023.

2023 Marketing Goals

This year, retention marketing and acquisition marketing are the top marketing strategies retailers will be supporting. According to Commerce Next, paid search is the ad medium retailers will be investing the most in this year when it comes to customer acquisition. Here’s the breakdown of ad media in both strategies:

  • Retention:
    • Email: 87% of retailers agree that email will be their top investment allocation
    • SMS: 64%
    • Loyalty Programs: 58%
    • CRM-​Based Retargeting: 46%
    • Direct Mail/​Catalogs: 29%
  • Acquisition:
    • Paid Search: 81% of retailers agree that paid search will be their top investment allocation
    • Paid Social: 63%
    • Affiliate/​Partnerships: 44%
    • Search Engine Optimization: 37%
    • Paid Influencers: 36%

Paid Search

You may be thinking, “Sure, paid search is retailers’ first choice for acquisition marketing, but paid social is right behind it. Why should I care about changing my client’s paid social strategy?” That’s because paid social is taking quite the hit in top investment allocation this year compared to 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, paid social’s top investment allocation fell by 15%. Of the top five customer acquisition ad types listed above, only paid social and SEO decreased (and SEO only decreased by 5%). Meanwhile, paid search’s top investment allocation grew by 12%. And it makes sense. When you’re looking to make a purchase, but aren’t sure where to buy from, you’re probably going to start with a general internet search, right? That’s why a paid search strategy is so important.

Also, according to a previous SalesFuel blog based on research from Sagefrog Marketing Group, a paid search strategy gets results. “Paid search advertising not only heightens brand awareness and website traffic, it also brings leads into the sales funnel… the top two sources of sales and marketing leads in 2022 are SEO and Search Engine Marketing.” Want to boost your client’s sales? Get them to consider paid search.

More Information

Want to see how your client’s target audience reacts to paid search before recommending a paid search strategy? Look up their audience profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel. There, you’ll be able to see what percentage of this audience took action after seeing sponsored search results within the last year, as well as their internet usage habits, such as what percentage of these consumers visited a local store/​business website to research a product or service before buying within the last month.

Photo by Cookie the Pom