A CMO’s Guide to SEO and Marketing

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To some SEO and Marketing might seem like apples and oranges, however search engine optimisation (SEO) is no longer a secret weapon of bleeding edge propeller heads or black hat wearing marketers. It’s critical to online success. Most traditional companies have to make sure they rank in search on websites like Yahoo and Google and that they find them consistently — because search engines are the primary way prospects and influencers learn about products and services as the Yellow Pages are now a click away on our laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

In most instances companies de-prioritise SEO or glaze over during conversations about search engine optimisation because the leadership team does not understand it well enough to provide the necessary validation and support. If you as a CMO do not view it as priority, marketing and sales people are will be even more resistant to put it on the to-do list. Using the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” logic marketers will apply traditional more common approaches, shying away from one of the most efficient, measurable ways to get in front of potential clients and genuinely interested eyeballs. Here at Mighty Media Group, we believe that SEO is an essential aspect of effective digital, social and mobile marketing for both B2B and B2C marketers and credit inspiration for this article to Todd Miechiels, who articulated this in 2006 before the rise of social media and the onslaught of opportunity that channels like Twitter and LinkedIn create for pre-purchase research and Zero Moment of Truth serendipity.

Delegating SEO to the IT Department or the webmaster, you’ll focus on the technical aspects of SEO and lose sight of the more important strategic aspects. Spiders, meta-tags, hits and visits don’t mean much to company others in your C-Suite and or your shareholders. Results‚ in terms of better leads and more of them however do. What you should be aiming for are better, higher quality traffic and a shorter path to purchase.

As a CMO here are the questions you should be asking:

What do we want our web visitors to focus on?

Whether your desired response is a to get someone to sign up to your data base, ask for a demo, download a product specification sheet or complete an inquiry form, it’s important to have a plan articulated and understood across the business. It is likely that each web visitor will have a unique need, so there are probably several different actions you should be paying attention to. If your contacts page gets the most clicks, it is likely that your website lacks pertinent details obvious to the web visitor. If your Store Locator gets the most hits, that too would be an indication.

Focus image created by http://www.mightymediagroup.com.au

How many of these visitors are converting?

New to marketing metrics is the “Take Rate”. I first read about this in Mark Jeffery’s book Data Drive Marketing – the 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know.  Simply put, a “take rate” is the number of impressions to the number of conversions — whatever that conversion point is. In his book, he cites the example of a QR Code leading to a microsite where folks could sign up for a test drive of a new Porsche Cayenne. Previously a website’s success was based on unique search visitors. Knowing this number now and tracking it each month will give you quick insight into the quality and quantity of your search traffic. Do not be surprised to learn that as much as ninety-nine percent of this traffic is not taking the desired action. Pulling in the right traffic and converting it into bona fide leads is a never-ending challenge and requires the use of landing pages, content, and social proof. Knowing how well (or poorly) you’re doing in this area is a big first step. Lots of traffic without conversions is an indication that your content model needs some attention.  Google Analytics offers marketers clear insights into daily traffic, demographics, click path and bounce rates but doesn’t on it’s own tell the whole story.

What percentage of my traffic leave within the first 10 seconds?

What Todd Miechiels  refers to as “short visit syndrome” is that magical number of people who came and left, quickly making a split second decision that your website wasn’t for them. Focusing on unique visits tells us a couple of things. You should review your keyword strategy. You should also ask yourself is your website doing an adequate job of engaging and feeding the curiosity of each web visitor and delivering to them what they are searching for? I’ve watch companies who really could not afford it  spend lots of money and resources to drive search traffic, only to have the a significant number click away within 10 seconds. Developing a content marketing strategy that feeds the web visitors, and our natural curiosity. Your website should serve to foster trust as a subject matter expert. Doing this will improve time on site.

Which search phrases are we focusing on?

You want to come up on the search engines for the phrases that your best prospects and influencers are likely to type. You’d be surprised at how differently people actually search, compared to how your sales and marketing people think they search. This is because most searches occur in the research and investigation phases of the buying cycle. In fact, more than half of all B2B searches for purchases over $50,000 occur between two and six months before a purchase is ever made. And often, the person doing the searching may not have the technical understanding of your product or service. The key is to consider carefully how your audience searches (Google Keyword tools will give you some great initial findings) and come up with a list of approximately 20 phrases that become your company’s target phrases. These are the phrases that you should measure and develop your content around. If you haven’t already, develop your online buyer personas so that each page of your website exists for the express need state of your web visitor, be it in the research, derisking, or advocacy stages.

How often are we appearing for our target phrases?

Too often, a webmaster, marketing manager or even CMO assumes everything is up to par because the company appears at the top of Google for their company name or some extremely specific, non-competitive phrase. It’s important to know how often you are coming up in Google search queries (as well as other major engines like Yahoo and MSN) for your target phrases as a whole. While it may be more rewarding to focus on where you are coming up, it is more productive to see where you are not currently coming up, and thus missing opportunities.

How often are we appearing compared to the competition?

Whilst it does sound trivial, it is important to know how often your competition is being found on the search engines compared to you.  After all, the Internet and search engines have become the largest, most prolific sales marketplace on earth. Follow these stats so that you can better understand your online share of voice. Social listening tools like Nuvi and Radian 6 can help you listen to brand mentions and track how many conversations are being started about you, your products and your leadership team.

Integrating SEO into your Marketing – The Convergence

Obviously, there are other and even more important things that as a CMO you’ll want to know about an SEO effort such as the cost per lead, number of opportunities generated, the amount of revenue generated to name a few. Most executives assume that someone is tracking this information and reporting on it. But more than likely, no one is. Beginning to capture and act upon some of the basic points covered here could act as a catalyst to help measure the true effectiveness and better define what your company does online. After all, your website should be your best performing salesperson — it never goes on holidays, gets the flu, or has a bad hair day.

All of this data should be readily available to you if your company invested time to articulate a prudent SEO strategy and implemented appropriate tools. If this  information is not part of regular marketing reporting consider making a mandate. Compared to the amount of energy and resources you are currently spending to generate new business, integrating SEO and marketing may be the most efficient and cost-effective way to fill your pipeline.


About the Author

Stephenie RodriguezStephenie Rodriguez founded Mighty Media Group, a leading data-driven digital, mobile and social marketing strategy and solutions firm, in 2004 and is currently the company’s Chief Executive Officer. She is also the former publisher of Ocean Drive Magazine (Australia), a speaker and futurist on all aspects of social technology, an evangelist of engagement,  and has advised companies including SSP – The Food Travel Experts, Austereo, JR/DutyFree, Radar Group of Companies, Transfield, Allied Mills, Lincoln Indicators, Income Solutions, and Bayer (Berocca), Toyota, Mercedes Benz, and the UN FAO. You’re likely to find her Tweeting here @digitalgodess or presenting at events such as #SXSWi, #TFWA, #Tedx and #SocialBiz.


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