Make your life as an in-house search marketer easier and more efficient; create processes that hook into your company.
Laura Callow, Senior Search Marketing Manager for Intuit Global Business Division, introduces us to the two key steps to achieve this with maximum results.
The First Step is to identify exactly what folks you work with perceive search marketing to be; from what it actually is and can achieve, to who understands what and to what extent. Get together with all your counterparts in web development, design, copy, QA, online advertising as well as whoever is responsible for revenue/profit goal achievement.
Unless you are a search marketing business I would be surprised if half the folks involved actually get it all, even at a high level.
Based on the outcome of this meeting, and assuming you have any sales blood in you at all, you will be able to help these folks understand why they need to know more about SEM; why it needs to be included proactively and productively in all initiatives And by all initiatives I do mean all initiatives.
Two Why?! Examples
Here are 2 very real examples illustrating the 'why':
1. If online advertising comes up with a cracking new campaign and landing page, they really need to speak to search. Why?
They may have picked a totally useless vanity URL, they may have forgotten the need for a vanity URL, they may have decided to put the page In an old folder that has since been included in the robots.txt files, they will probably forget all about the title tag (good for SEO and usability), they will not consider the fact that a well conceived campaign may generate a significant number of relevant, quality backlinks and may simply remove the page after campaign end.... You've just read a non-exhaustive list of potential pitfalls that SEO could easily address prior to them becoming a problem.
2. Offline marketing generates a fantastic new tag-line. It will be in all print material including bus decals, bill-boards and magazines. A TV ad will be created around the tag-line, and a few target radio stations will be included in the mix. It's mass advertising for the business on a grand offline scale. The problem is, no-one contacted the search marketers. Why should they?
The point behind a great tag-line is that you trust it will appeal to your target market, and that they will remember it. In prior years the push on people to immediately write down a tag line, call a number, or cut out a print ad was much higher than it is today. People today are far more likely go to their preferred search engine to get more information on the brand and to remind themselves of the offer to which they were exposed. In fact it may be a few days before they hit the engine with their query. For most of them, their search query will be the information that stayed with them and which they now have time to recall and address; the tag-line.
BUT, search marketing was not consulted; there is no SEO page targeted to the tag-line, nor are there any PPC ads displaying for the tag-line. To compound the oversight, the competition have already got both SEO & PPC in their mix within 24 hours of this offline campaign going live.
What to do? Educate.
Start educating different disciplines and managers on what you can do for them, with very tailored training material, speaking to their specific need and their levels of understanding directly.
Focus on what you can do for them, how you can make them shine, how you can boost the business's online brand exposure and online organic and paid revenues.
Make it as easy for them as possible to listen to you in the first instance. This is not about SEM, this is about integrating SEM as a viable promotional element of the marketing mix
That's the first point covered. Educate. Educate. Educate and Tailor
The Second Step is to get SEM into every facet of your existing processes. It's not hard to do, and it depends a great deal on your previous education, or at least 'sales meeting' if it's early times.
Develop a master process doc highlighting exactly where and when different folks need to reach out to SEM to engage them effectively and efficiently.
This doc will probably highlight your precise requirements as to your wish-list on SEM engagement including at a bare minimum the following 5 areas;
- include SEM at the wire-frame stage " SEO to consult on navigation and URL naming protocol, PPC to check if there are gaps in recommended navigation and PPC requirements to allow PPC to include a request for additional landing pages.
- include SEO in template design/design to ensure <h> tags, alt and image titles and naming protocols, navigation design etc. Include PPC in template design for dedicated paid search landing pages.
- include SEO in copy " if they are separate, which in many instances they are - to map prime brand and non-brand keywords to the recommended URLs in the revamped/new navigation in the approved wire-frame.
- enable full SEO integration and interaction with web development regarding redirect strategies, robots.txt files, new folder structures, CMS (especially open CMS) if CMS is the selected option, meta tags for xml file verification etc
- QA for checking all elements are in place " if you are not using a really good project management tool, you should be. In which case, ensure that your search peep (be it SEO, PPC or SEM in general) is a required contributor, and in some key areas, a decision maker or even approver if your level of authority reaches that high.
It sounds great, and it is, but it ain't that easy You need to hands-on manage the first few projects to make sure you are a sticky-beak in every way. This is where your skills in people management and interpersonal relations will be tested to a point of utter frustration in some cases.
It's not necessary to create full process docs for each discipline. You'll find in the end that they merge very closely, and more documentation doesn't make the water less murky " in fact it can result in creating a drop-off shelf of trouble into very deep waters due to miscommunication and misunderstanding, which is totally against your intent.
I strongly recommend you keep very clear spreadsheets (or however you best track your work) and maintain constant, clear, concise, open communications with your PMs, MMs and other core disciplines until they really get to grips with what you need, and what you can give them to make their life easier " both in the short-and-long term.
Back everything up with clear reporting on goals achieved, new opportunities, and challenges that were missed. Award praise to each and every member of the team based on what their input was in achieving the organic listings and revenues and PPC returns you are trying so hard to achieve. The important thing to remember is that you are a team, working to a common goal for your business.
Being humble, likable and flexible to an extent does not detract from your ability and knowledge, nor from your right to push back and escalate when things are not working despite your best efforts. But I will caution you now, if you have not already sold the folks responsible for revenue/profit generation and reporting on the importance of SEM and educated them to a certain extent on what you can do that will benefit them with some show-stoppers as you move forward with your initiatives, you may hit a brick wall. Persevere.
That's point 2 done. Process. Process. Process and Perseverance.
In closing, and to recap: If you can figure out who knows what regarding what you can do, if you can educate them to fill the gaps, if you can develop effective processes and have the gumption to persevere, your life will become much, much easier. I personally guarantee it. And you'll have results that will show, both as a people manager, and as an SEM-Rockstar!
Laura Callow is Senior Search Marketing Manager for Intuit Global Business Division. In her capacity as SEM manager in previous positions she has provided SEM solutions for golden brands including Rolex, Mercedes Benz USA, Pampers and Moen. She has also provided SEM consultation to a group of Microsoft's ISV global partners. She will next be speaking at Pubcon Las Vegas. Come meet her there!
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