Last time, we looked at the 9 Key Considerations for selecting an International Search Agency. Let’s now jump forward beyond the procurement and vendor onboarding nightmare and assume we have our stable of partners in place to launch our program. The following are recommendations to ensure your project gets off to and stays on the right path to success.
Assigning Your General Contractor
It is critical that you appoint a single person as the “General Contractor” for the project. This is especially true if you are using multiple agencies. This single person will be the collector, coordinator and arbitrator of all activities to ensure there is collaboration and alignment on the project. They can be a lead agency, a lead market and either a person on the in-house, agency team or even an outside contractor brought in to manage the overall process.
This person will run interference with the different team leads and help to align all of the actions to ensure they stay on track as well as monitoring scope creep, resource utilization, collaboration and uniformity.
This seems like a no-brainer but all too often, I see where these expectations are not well communicated to the wider team. Kick off the program with a detailed review of the following:
- Explanation of why you are undertaking this project.
- Who is the Executive sponsor of the project and how can they help.
- What the anticipated global and local outcomes and KPI’s.
- What do you expect from each participant?
- What are the escalation channels and key points of contact?
- How will IT and content changes be funded and prioritized?
The more prepared you are for this meeting and the better you explain all of the details, the more successful you will be.
We all know there are little kingdoms and egos that get bruised when you kick off projects and don’t include the right people so widen the lens and invite all who would be connected up or downstream of the project. This will ensure the widest buy in as well as ensuring everyone have the same base to operate from.
Reporting Structures & Cadence
This is where the wheels typically fall off the wagon. Especially if you are using multiple agencies and KPI’s within the organization. If you develop the KPI’s, report templates, dashboards and report delivery cadence upfront there is no confusion and allows you report the same statistics at the same time in a uniform format.
There are a few items you must consider:
- What language(s) do the report have to be in? Is there lead time necessary for translation?
- What will you be tracking? Is that data available in all markets?
- Will the reports be rolled up into master regional or global reports?
- How will success or challenges be communicated?
- Will there be variations in KPI ranges between markets?
Document & Process Coordination
This is critical to create efficiencies. There are a number of online collaboration tools like Basecamp and Google Docs so there is no reason not to share reports, best practices and collaborate as a team.
Make checklists, report formats, audits and all other bits of information available to the wider team. The more you can share and empower people to help themselves, more tasks will get completed and completed uniformly.
When I was responsible for the Search Program at IBM, I was inundated with questions on how to get started and/or why search marketing was important. In either case, I set the requester to the Wiki to have them watch the videos and complete checklists and online models to help them understand.
Once they did that, we were better able to have a proper conversation about their needs and could look at specific examples. I estimated that I saved over 100 hours a year by doing this and sharing on a global basis.
Another technique that helps is to create voice over presentations and how to videos to educate new members of the team on the basics as well as any unique issues related to your site and company. People can review these when they need and not have to ask for information. This is especially true in a multinational situation where time zones, language and staff availability can be major challenges to education and most importantly fostering a consistent process.
Site Template Audit Sharing
This one will get me hate mail from agencies since this is often a margin maker for them. I have seen too many times where an agency or agencies will do a hundred or even a thousand page level audits in a dozen countries and all find the same basic elements. The reason they do is because the company is using a CMS system and all of the pages use the same template, so of course they will share the same basic problems.
I recommend choosing one of the agencies to audit the various templates and then share their findings with the wider global team. Then, the template specific issues can be integrated into each of the country page level audits and not have to be redone over in each market. This allows the local team to focus on the utilization of the best phrase and local centric issues.
Diagnostics, Webmaster Tools Monitoring & Clean Up
No one likes to do the non-sexy tasks like looking for broken XML site maps, duplicate titles and other HMTL and link issues the local Webmaster tools accounts can give you. But there is a gold mine if you just take the time to review this area. There are a lot of “quick wins” you can discover and that will help build momentum like the following:
- Are there XML Site Maps and are they all correct and being indexed?
- Do we have any keywords that rank in Top 5 but low click rates?
- How many pages in each country/language and how many indexed?
- Do we have any problems with language or country detection in each market?
Be Ready To Improvise, Overcome & Adapt
While many of these recommendations promote rigidity and uniformity you must allow for flexibility, change and that few to no things will go as you want them.
In the immortal words of Gunny Highway, you can be ready for any challenge by if you are willing to “improvise, overcome and adapt” to any change or problem thrown your way.
However, by better planning, over-communicating and coordination you can minimize many of the typical challenges faced in launching a global search marketing program.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.