Last week a client called me with a burning question. One of those doozies that made her brain hurt and kept her up at night.
Let’s call her Belle, which obviously isn’t her real name.
Belle leads marketing strategy and effectiveness for a huge global company. And while global roles sound exciting, they normally involve herding cats across different countries (think a normal siloed structure on steroids).
One of Belle’s biggest pain points was that local countries, and their agency partners, were going rogue with search activity. They weren’t a cohesive ‘glocal’ (global and local) team that partnered with, and leveraged, each other’s activity.
They also operated independently of global targets; and weren’t delivering maximum bang for their search buck.
Her question was: “What are the search non negotiables we must embed globally to accelerate business outcomes?”
Belle is no search newbie, she’s one of the sharpest operators I know. Her company’s global ecommerce strategy is underpinned by ‘search’ – both SEO and SEM (SEO/M).
She knows SEO/M are interdependent and include elements like ranking for keyword searches, content marketing, user experience, and online advertising performance.
And Belle’s challenge was how can she put a global stake in the ground and embed a consistent measurement framework to align global performance.
I’ve been asked this question many times, so I thought I’d share my advice.
1. Diagnosing intent turbocharges marketing
Used properly, it gives you the power to identify the best user experience, killer content, and secret sauce to drive significantly higher advertising click-throughs.
And designing web and content experiences that start with intent enables you to capitalise on Google’s latest update ‘BERT’, which basically focuses on better interpreting, and answering, the search queries.
2. SEO/M should streamline the consumer journey
We all know the consumer journey isn’t linear – note the squiggles in the image below – and you have to maximise all touchpoints to influence how people move through the process.
For simplicity, lets break it down into a six-stage process:
The ‘life moments’ that prompt someone to search for a solution – whether it be information, advice, a product, industry or service. This ‘trigger’ often won’t correlate to your brand, but sparks research and discovery. The opportunity for you is to provide utility and begin nurturing the customer and capturing data.
Example search: Why do I feel tired at 6 p.m. every day?
The consumer knows their need (e.g. I’m not getting enough sleep) and they’re looking for products to help solve the problem.
Example search: Products to help me sleep better.
The consumer is assessing which products or service best meets their needs and lifestyle.
Example search: Reviews of sleeping pills for brand X vs X.
How do we ensure they keep purchasing from us – noting this may often restart the entire consumer journey.
Both SEO and SEM are highly effective across this entire journey.
In the pre-trigger stage, you can use SEO keywords to develop a suite of intent driven content to talk about the signs and symptoms of tiredness. From a measurement perspective, I suggest focussing on driving search impressions and website traffic, as well as building up audience pools for any performance marketing in the next stages.
Within the acquisition stage, you can use SEM to provide a personalised limited time offer on the sleeping aids. And you would measure conversions and/or CPA.
3. Get the nuts and bolts right
I can’t believe I’m writing this given it’s 2020: if your site isn’t up to scratch technically with mobile responsiveness, load times and seamless transactions – your SEO/M performance will be poor.
4. Optimise within an inch of your life
Make sure every single landing page and piece of content is properly optimised for search. This is a no brainer for anyone that’s serious about business outcomes.
It should only take you an hour to identify keywords, refine your content and add schema code and meta data.
Developing content without doing this is a bit like turning up at the pub without your wallet. So, embed this into your content marketing process.
It’s also worth noting that Google isn’t the only search engine in town. Adding metadata and keywords should also be tailored for other channels like YouTube, Amazon, eBay. And most importantly, within your ecommerce site.
5. Simplicity = sophistication
I’ve never seen Kim Kardashian’s shoe collection. But I’d imagine it resembles too many SEM accounts – ghastly in size, overly complex, and frustrating to manage.
Too many organisations make this mistake and think bigger is better. Large, un-wieldy accounts often lead to inefficiency and mistakes.
When you have an account that’s so hard to use you’re focused on not breaking it, you can easily lose sight of the business goal. And this often leads to ineffective spend, wasteful targeting and loss of performance.
6. You’re not smarter than Google
Humans are strategically smart, but machines have the capability to digest tonnes of data, seek out trends, match them against key marketing signals, and correlate them back to your business objective. And they do it a thousand times faster than any human can.
Google’s SEM machine has learning capabilities to streamline time and increase conversions.
…. Fast forward an hour and we’ve agreed we should’ve had this chat over an espresso martini, not a coffee. But it is what it is.
Belle’s chuffed and has a clear action plan. She then asks my all-time favourite client question: “Can you please summarise this for me into a one-pager.”
I laugh, somewhat nervously, as we’ve covered a fair bit of ground. “Sure, I’ll have this to you tomorrow morning!”
I got this down to a pretty tight one-pager for Belle, but I had to get it out of my head.
And given this is the question I keep getting asked over and over again, I thought I’d share the ‘long’ version with you.
Tread your own search path. I hope this helps.
PS, Belle has implemented all six edicts globally and she now has local search, content and performance teams that love her (and the new frameworks) because they’re making more money through e-commerce than ever before.
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