Digital marketing has long created controversial arguments.
Perceived value. Proper use. Effective strategies.
Today, the industry still evokes skepticism and arguments among decision makers. It’s no wonder, considering some of the mistakes and misguided efforts that plagued the early days.
- Remember QR codes? Those were largely an over-hyped waste of time.
- Display ads — largely bought without any consideration for targeting.
- Black-hat SEO tactics — employed by many companies, resulting in poor results.
As companies unearthed the potential for this advertising opportunity, thousands of companies and consultants capitalized on those who knew they needed digital help, but did not necesarily know how to employ best practices.
There is, however, one argument that I would like to put to bed: that SEO and SEM are mutually exclusive and do not work together.
S.E. The Initials My Objection Is Founded Upon
I would like to start my objection to this argument — that SEO and SEM are mutually exclusive — by focusing on the initials S.E.
The objective for both SEO and SEM is to target low-funnel, in-market audiences, the people typing specific queries into search engines. And these queries signal what produces and services they’re looking to research, find, and purchase.
Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing both help businesses gain visibility in this important space where people demonstrate intent or shopping behavior. These strategies increase visibility and opportunity for these businesses to influence that low-funnel intender.
It’s very difficult for me to comprehend how there are so many companies that try to do just one or the other — SEO or SEM — because, as you make changes and build content to match the search demand, you have the huge opportunity to gain additional consumers in each arena.
So what should companies do?
It starts with research.
There are many tools available to today’s digital marketer that signal the specific keyword and query trends that people are typing into search engines, including readily available information in real time. Start with determining the high-volume demand signals here and benchmark where you show up for those.
Begin building specific content.
Build high-quality content around these buying signal keywords and optimize the pages to rank organically through SEO efforts, as well as drive paid search traffic to these pages that are highly relative to the search intent. Remember: the easier navigation to the item(s) a consumer wants, the less likely they will exit your website — and the more likely they’ll convert and demonstrate shopping behavior. If you’re not building content, then you’re hoping to have your less relevant homepage rank for these searches, and every click someone takes to find what they want in the results, a percentage of people bounce or exit the site.
Once the landing pages are built with SEO best practices in place and paid search keywords and ad groups are built to drive traffic to these specific pages, the next step is to measure conversion. One of the most common complaints in all of marketing is that clicks don’t sell products — and that’s absolutely correct! But clicks do represent real people demonstrating actual online activities. What all companies should incorporate into their digital plan is to leverage the reporting power that Google Analytics can bring.
The Glory of Google Analytics …
Filters are the starting points that you must create in every Google Analytics account. They ensure that bad data does not pollute the reporting, commonly spam traffic and internal traffic, as well as set up specific shopping behavior goals to measure beyond website leads and phone calls.
If you’re only looking at those emails and phone calls, you are missing out on the behavior of the vast majority of your website audience. Measure product pageviews, chat sessions, hours and directions page visits — basically any macro or micro-conversion on your site that correlates to an increase in sales or in-store traffic should be measured. This data then allows you to hold your SEO, SEM, and other partners accountable for the traffic that is being delivered.
Google Analytics data certainly doesn’t stop there and can deliver much more robust reporting. You can gain essential insight into bettering site conversion by using reports that measure and determine which cities convert better than others, which pages have higher shopping rates, and which are losing audiences, which devices produce better engagement and so much more.
If you are not utilizing SEO, SEM or analytics in your digital marketing game plan, then you are largely behind the rest of the marketing world. For the majority that incorporate these elements, ask yourself how you stack up against the competition.
- How much data are you using in making your decisions?
- How transparent are your vendor partners, agencies, or internal teams in delivering the data and insight necessary to continue to grow your business?
If you do not have full access to your Google Analytics or your Google AdWords, then dump your vendors or fire your agency. These tools are a necessity in a successful digital marketing plan today, and the outdated philosophies that these should not be directly owned by the companies and businesses who own the websites is no longer acceptable.
There is a reason Reunion Marketing continues to reinforce and endorse our primary mantra: data beats intuition. Do the research, put in the time and effort that most of the competition is too lazy to do, and reap the rewards that come with a progressive and all-encompassing digital marketing plan.