"He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly."...Job 20:15
Recently, during timeouts at Portland Trailblazer basketball games, the team has been entertaining the crowd with something called the Regurgi-cam, consisting of having Trailblazer employees film members of the crowd eating and then playing the tape backwards, making the people look like they are pulling digested food out of their mouth. This entertainment never ceases to draw a bunch of laughs and hopefully, it will to be part of their entertainment rotation for a while.
Yet, somehow watching this silly stunt multiple times somehow triggered a powerful insight into search marketing from which I can draw out the following concept:
Online conversions need to be regurgitated in order to properly learn from them.
When I talk to SEO or PPC prospects, they almost always ask questions about analytical metrics that exist at the top of the sales funnel whether they are keyword rankings (SEO) or bid prices (PPC). In my humble opinion, thats a bass-ackwards way to begin a conversation about search marketing. Search marketing clients need to focus on the conversion metrics (Cost Per Lead / Cost Per Sale) at the bottom of the sales funnel and work backwards to get to how the top funnel metrics might fit into fulfilling their revenue goals.
The core of any search marketing effort is web analytics. I dont run into too many prospects that dont have any analytics installed on their websitebut I run into plenty that havent configured it to quickly and easily show conversion metrics. Even worse, Ive seen plenty of analytics setups where the checkout system breaks the visitor path funnel, rendering any conversion analysis impossible.
If conversion tracking is properly setup, the search marketer can isolate the commonalities of website conversions and come up with plans to exploit them. On the paid search side, it might involve creating unique campaigns for certain keyword subsets, really fleshing out the relevant long-tail keywords in the campaign, and bidding aggressively on converting terms / ad groups. For SEO, it might involve pushing link-juice towards highly performing pages and adding some long-tail focused copywriting. Another relevant tactic might involve optimizing the sales path on the website itself to make the conversion process more seamless. If the company is doing email marketing or database marketing, the same principles applyone can track the sales / leads back to the relevant lists / groupings of people and determine common tendencies that can be accentuated on future campaigns.
I think some prospects Ive talked to might be put-off when I guide the search marketing conversation towards ROI metrics and Im OK with that. After all, their Google Rankings arent going to pay their billstheir corporate revenues will :.)