“I’m investing a lot of money in search marketing, but don’t see the results I expected.”… “I brought search in-house to save money but the return is still not acceptable.”
Sound familiar? These are common complaints made by B2B marketers. Often times, it’s because these firms are focused on only half of the success equation.
SEO programs and PPC campaigns improve visibility and drive traffic to your website. But it takes more than traffic to achieve an acceptable ROI.
The restaurant analogy
Imagine you own a local restaurant and business is not going well; very few people are coming into your establishment. So you create a marketing plan to get people in the door. You run ads in newspapers, on billboards, maybe even hire an airplane to fly a banner.
And it works. More people show up. But unfortunately, too many of these prospective customers leave without sitting down and ordering. Lesson: more traffic does not automatically equal more revenue.
Why? In addition to great promotion, you need to ensure your restaurant offers an experience that delivers good value, is unique, enjoyable and easy. For example, running compelling specials, printing appealing menus, putting special boards up, and training your wait staff to help with meal selection.
Only by focusing on the experience after a prospect walks in the door, can you turn traffic into revenue.
Search marketing similarities
Your search marketing program is very much like this restaurant. Nearly all B2B search marketers focus on improving their SEO efforts and PPC campaigns, but too few focus on improving website usability, engagement and conversion, in other words, the experience after the click.
SEO metrics include rank/position and volume of organic clicks. PPC data includes impressions, paid clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), and cost-per-click. These are the most common success metrics that search marketers track.
Ironically, post-click metrics offer the largest opportunity for ROI improvement. For example, with PPC advertising, if you work to double your conversion rate, you will receive twice as many leads without any increase in media budget. Now that’s impressive.
Pre- and post-click alignment
The key to maximizing ROI is to have your pre- and post-click activities aligned; the right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing. If you are running ads that focus on one particular product, drive prospects to a page that specifically addresses that product (not the home page and not an all-products page).
Also, if a business buyer is early in the buying cycle, and enters a very general search query, it’s really not effective for advertisers to offer product discounts or “free shipping”. This type of searcher will be much more likely to click on a message related to industry research and market trends. Only when they are further along in the B2B buying process will they be open to pricing and fulfillment offers.
Bottom line: make sure the searchers’ query is aligned with your ad copy, which is aligned with the content, or offer, on the landing page.
If you offer multiple products or services, you can see that the coordination between the pre- and post-click activity is very important. Your PPC team (selecting keywords and writing ad copy) must be aligned with your web team – creating new landing pages with specific content and calls-to-action.
Work the entire search marketing success equation
Still wondering why you can’t achieve an acceptable ROI from search marketing? Make sure you’re focusing not just on PPC and SEO but also the customers’ experience after the click.
Have you reached a point of diminishing returns regarding SEO and PPC program improvements? Perhaps you should devote more time and energy to post-click activities such as testing to improve website usability, engagement and conversion.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.