Marketing executives faced the Herculean tasks of proving efficiency and accountability amidst an ongoing, worldwide crisis during this past tumultuous year, as the importance of search to digital became increasingly clear.
The ability to appear and be found in search was suddenly critical, as entire sectors moved to digital nearly overnight.
But moreover, search insights gave us a near real-time view into the rapidly changing wants and needs of customers.
The historic data we had relied upon for campaign planning, benchmarking, and more for so long was roundly tossed out as companies shifted and pivoted to find new revenue.
Gartner’s most recent CMO Survey gives us insight into what marketing leaders are looking to achieve next.
Improving lead quality remains a top objective, although it has dropped 5% from 2020.
Marketing leaders are also looking to drive sales from those leads (38%), increase brand awareness (35%), acquire new customers (35%), increase named contacts (34%), and create and deliver personalized experiences for customers.
SEO insights are essential in achieving each of these objectives.
As I shared in my June column, the acceleration in digital transformation we have collectively experienced demands streamlined access to data around consumer behavior, needs, interactions, and intent.
The insights gleaned from consumer search queries and onsite activities have proven invaluable across the enterprise, from product development to advertising and marketing budget allocation and beyond.
How can you activate the power of SEO -- both as a marketing channel and a source of critical business intelligence -- in your organization?
1. Educate stakeholders on the value of SEO
Are you able to clearly and succinctly demonstrate to key decision-makers how SEO impacts key areas of the business including revenue, cost efficiency, sales, and customer retention?
The time to educate executives and other teams about SEO is not when you’re asking for budget — that ship has already sailed by that point.
Help other internal stakeholders understand the value that SEO offers their operations by:
Your ability to explain the importance of SEO as far as its impact on digital, brand reputation, share of voice and other marketing objectives is essential. But going further, you have to be able to teach others how its value relates to their own priorities and objectives as well.
2. Evangelize the results you get from SEO
It’s one thing to sit everyone down and regale them with the great things they’ll achieve with SEO. But how effective are you at circling back to follow up with tangible, demonstrable results?
Create opportunities to showcase and celebrate SEO wins in meaningful ways, and understand that “meaningful” will vary by department and leader.
First, identify who it is you need to engage in your evangelization of SEO. Some stakeholders will be easier to please than others; it’s important that you have a solid idea of how to best communicate results to each one.
Next, decide how you’re going to amplify wins and generate excitement beyond simply reporting on figures. How can you draw a straight line between an SEO win that drove an achievement your stakeholder can get excited about? This is the key to evangelizing SEO internally so you’re not the only one singing its praises. You need to have others openly championing the program, too.
3. Communicate what matters, in ways that matter
Finally, how will you communicate these wins to various stakeholders? As with all great communications, it starts not from a place of what you want to say but from what your audience wants to hear, instead.
Speak the language of your target stakeholder. If you’re presenting to IT to get them excited about how the technical SEO issues they helped fix led directly to positive review sentiment, share those customer reviews with them.
Show them the impact their working with you had on driving new traffic to valuable pages of the organization’s website.
If you’re presenting to the executive team, leave the ranking reports behind and align on business results. What new revenue did your SEO program help find? What quantifiable gains have been made in customer retention and sentiment? How has the customer and site visitor experience improved as a direct result of investment in SEO?
Elevating SEO Success Beyond the Channel
Just as the gains in ranking, traffic, and revenue that search optimization creates are incremental and grow over time, so too does the success of your SEO program.
Investing in learning to better evangelize for your campaigns, team, and technology ensures that business decision-makers are on board and aware of the value you bring when it comes time to divvy up the digital marketing budget.