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Communication Breakdown: 5 Avoidable Failures That Derail Search Marketing Campaigns
Last week I had occasion to visit with a B2B prospect. Halfway through our meeting they voiced concern about their ability to uphold their end of the SEO partnership. Naturally, soon thereafter we were engaged in a spirited discussion on the main reasons B2B campaigns fail.
As it turns out, they were already familiar with how both lack of implementation and lack of measurement can contribute to campaign failure. However, they were genuinely surprised to learn that lack of communication between internal teams can play a huge role in determining whether a campaign succeeds or fails.
Personally, I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen a lack of internal communication either significantly hold up a campaign or send it off in a tangential direction—or worse still, completely derail it. Here are five of the most common internal communication issues that adversely affect SEO campaigns, and a few thoughts on how to deal with each one.
Lack of common goals. While sharing a common SEO goal might sound like a pretty easy objective, in reality it’s not. Why? Sometimes two or more internal groups are involved in SEO, and each has a different agenda. The most common of these groupings is IT and marketing. Both want to see SEO be successful, but their definitions of progress are different. IT wants an easy to maintain site, while marketing wants to launch all sorts of new initiatives and push the envelope with blogs, videos, and social media—all of which makes life more challenging for IT.
Improved communication between these groups will do much to help achieve a common goal for the initiative. I recommend getting everyone’s goals out and on the table so that all involved parties can understand what they need to be thinking about.
Inconsistent messaging. Successful marketers provide a consistent experience for their audience. Yet I see disjointed campaigns every day. Sometimes it is simple things like not having a consistent look and feel between a website and the print and TV ads. Other times it’s more serious issues like when marketers send users to many different websites with what appears to be little consistency, or when the messaging is radically different by medium. This makes it difficult for your audience to understand your message.
To keep this from happening, smart marketers will make sure their internal teams agree on a few message points at most, and give sufficient attention to consistency across the board.
The big disconnect: search and offline marketing. The impact of offline initiatives on a search campaign is dramatic. But search does not generate demand—rather, it captures it. In fact, a recent iProspect study found that 67% of online users are driven to search by offline channels. Yet, despite their interrelationship, rarely do I see the two disciplines in synch.
Ideally, you want your offline and online folks to be on the same page. They should be communicating and meeting regularly. For example, as your offline initiatives spike, the search team needs to understand where the demand is coming from to ensure that you are well positioned on those terms. Failing to communicate such information would allow your competitors to capture the demand you created, and capitalize on your offline spend.
Now I’m not saying that these two groups have to be joined at the hip, but each should definitely know what the other is doing. I would even recommend that you begin to measure the peaks and valleys in searches for your brand and product terms to understand how much demand your offline activities are creating.
Lack of alignment: search and public relations. Similar to the above issue, your search and public relations teams need to be in alignment. This is especially important given the development of Google’s Universal search, which now delivers various forms of digital content into the main search results pages – including press releases. Yet, few organizations have regular communication between these two groups. This is a mistake.
If you are going to put out a press release, you want to make sure that it can be found when people are searching for your brand or the specific product name. If your search team is aware of your plans, they can work to optimize around the terms you plan to mention in the release. Since a press release is almost always a quick turnaround, you will find that, in addition to optimizing the release itself, PPC marketing is going to be your best bet. It provides a quick solution to create a skeleton campaign with the major engines to which you can add keywords and be off bidding within a few hours. However, all of this becomes much more difficult without regular communication between these two groups.
Lack of alignment: SEO and PPC. This might sound odd, but at many companies, especially larger ones, these functions are actually handled by different groups. Not surprisingly, neither one usually knows what the other is doing. This scenario often results in inefficiencies in both programs, and keeps each one from reaching its full potential.
Improved communication between these groups will help you avoid this situation. You can start small by simply understanding what keywords each program is focusing on. Those who are a bit more advanced can start to leverage their findings from creative testing to improve their meta tags. As your campaigns mature, you should also consider sharing keyword level data for clicks and conversions to help both teams be more informed.
Search marketing is a complex, iterative, and involved endeavor. Consequently, good communication is vital to its success. Smart marketers will take the time to align internal teams, encourage regular communication amongst them, and provide them with an open forum to share their learnings. Doing so will help keep your campaign on track.
Brian Kaminski is managing director of search engine marketing firm iProspect in San Francisco, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
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