I just wrapped up a strategy session in Europe with two different companies and wanted to recap some of the issues I encountered and how we are working through them.
It was interesting that in both cases, their US programs were fairly advanced and organized, yet their local market programs were under-performing and in a few cases non-existent.
Selling The Opportunity
In the very first meeting, I had a Brand Manager ask why he should bother with search marketing. I have not heard this question in a number of years. For his brand there were only about 35,000 searches each month for the product category, which did not seem to be worth the effort.
Once we dug into the data we found that the average search visitor looked at 5.5 pages and spent 6 to 8 minutes engaged with the content. Once we put it into the context of level of engagement with his target market got it and could not wait to get started. To make sure he was really on board, we showed how his top competitors were in the top of the SERPs with paid or organic.
It is important that you adjust to the objectives, brand philosophy and metrics to match those of the client. In this case, by aligning them to awareness and brand interaction we were able to demonstrate the need for search and social media activities but that they should be core to the content development process.
Survey Needs & Interest
In both cases, these companies had decentralized management structures with minimal corporate guidance. Corporate felt they should not interfere in the local markets which is why few of the successful techniques used in the US were not deployed in the global markets.
We surveyed each of the markets to ask then what they were doing, what they needed or wanted help with and what should be the level of corporate involvement.
Every market indicated they did in fact want help with best practices and support from corporate. Once they corporate team saw the results of the survey they realized that not only in Search should be provide guidance but in other forms of digital marketing.
This resulted in training being rolled out to each market along with all of the best practices and an update of all the reports.
Tools & Services
While we have had significant improvements in the global capabilities of search tools many are still lacking. Another challenge we uncovered was the corporate procurement team negotiated a global license to SEO tools that had few global capabilities and did not allocate budget for tools that work in individual markets.
As you are working with the vendors make sure that the tool can work in the local markets and when they do not ask your markets for alternatives that can compliment those markets.
Rank checking tools, link analysis tools and SEO scoring tools need to accommodate the local language and search engine scoring attributes. This will be most acute in Asia due to the local languages, different search engines and scoring attributes.
Since there is often a need for locally developed tools you will have to budget accordingly.
Empowering The Team
This is often one of the hardest things for the corporate team to do is to empower the local team to make decisions for things unique to their market.
One of these clients did not sell direct in many European markets but were forced by corporate to waste time creating reports with sales data even though they did not have sales.
In other cases, they were not able to adjust templates to accommodate longer or shorter words in the local language or even change the message to accommodate local references to the content.
A great form of empowerment was putting the best practices online where the local markets could get to them. On our survey above, we found that metrics and best practices were two of the largest needs and requests of the local markets. We often assume that by just putting these documents on the intranet, people will find them. They should be promoted and where possible integrated into your CMS tools help guides.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.