Posts Tagged ‘search’

Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

May 24th, 2016

We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers. In my role as chief evangelist for MECLABS Institute, MarketingSherpa’s parent company, I get to talk to marketers and thought leaders daily.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. When I read the report by Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, on “revenue road blocks,” I wanted to see what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting six key focuses right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

Brian: What inspired you to do your research on revenue road blocks?


Kristin: Actually, it was our day-to-day experience working with company managers that drove us to these conclusions, combined with our research on the best practices of digital market leaders in more than 28 industries. The gap between the companies that are successfully using the newer methods and those who are not is growing wider by the quarter.

What is really concerning is we are seeing otherwise solid, successful companies slipping behind their more digitally adept competitors, and they can’t figure out why. They’re doing what they’ve always done, and it’s not working anymore.

Of course, that’s the problem. Buyers have radically changed the way they buy, especially in the last couple of years, and these sellers haven’t changed the way they’re selling. Mobile and the cloud have changed everything; today’s buyers are not the obedient, pass-through-your-funnel buyers that we used to be able to depend on. They are looking for any excuse to say no, because they are sure that there’s another solution only a click away. There is absolutely no risk for them to reject you. In fact, rejection is the safest option for them.

Read more…

Evidence-based Marketing: This blog post will not solve your most pressing marketing challenges…yet

June 23rd, 2011

Here at MECLABS, we have a pretty singular focus – to help you optimize your sales and marketing funnel. Or as I like to say in every email I write: Our job is to help you do your job better.

But, as Tom Cruise said to Katie Holmes (or maybe it was Cuba Gooding, Jr.), “Help me, help you.”

So evidence-based marketers, on what topic do you need more evidence? Evidence to help you understand what your peers are doing. Evidence to help you understand what really works. Evidence to do a little internal marketing to your business leaders (or for the agency folks out there, your clients)?

Below are a few key topics you’ve been telling us you want to learn more about. We’re trying to decide on the topic for our next MarketingSherpa Benchmark Report. In which topic should we invest 5 months of a research manager’s time digging into to discover the evidence you need.

Please take 7 seconds and rank them in order of importance in the poll below. Or if we missed a topic entirely, please tell us in the comments section below.

In no particular order, the nominees are…

  • Analytics – Using analytics and metrics to drive business decisions from which products to launch to which landing page works best to which content is most relevant to your audience.
  • Mobile – Mobile tactics can vary slightly or widely from traditional approaches, so how are marketers developing and implementing wireless strategies? How are marketers planning their budgets and measuring their results? And, for the love of all that is holy, when on Earth will I be able to view Flash on my iPad? OK, maybe not that last one. But seriously Steve, it would be nice.
  • E-commerce – What do direct sale sites view as the top opportunities for the upcoming year? Are they investing in site speed enhancement, conversion optimization, or both? And is social media impacting purchases?
  • Agency and vendor selection and management – What factors play into how marketers choose and compensate agencies? How do marketers determine if they need a software platform in a specific space? And if so, do they buy, go with open source, or attempt something homegrown? How do you get IT’s support in choosing a vendor? And then, more importantly, how do you get IT to stop talking about “Star Trek: The Next Generation” already?
  • Salary survey – How much does Bill make?  He hasn’t had a good idea since 1993. And his tuna salad lunches stink up the office. OK, if not Bill, then what about the rest of your peers. Are you being fairly compensated? And what should you pay your team?
  • Lead generation – Which information do marketers view as most valuable? How do they keep their databases updated and clean? Do marketers find third-party lists effective? And in an age of social media, do marketers value a big email list as much?
  • Content marketing and lead nurturing – Do my peers outsource content creation or do it in-house? If so, how? Do they have their own teams? Or just beg, borrow, and steal from other departments?

Search Engine Optimization: The SEO value (or lack thereof) of domain name keywords

March 25th, 2011

Search engines rank websites by attempting to determine their relevancy to the searched keyword phrase. It makes sense for a search engine to consider the keywords in a domain name as part of the equation to determine relevancy.

That said, the search engines place less weight on internal factors that can be influenced by the webmaster, and more weight on external factors such as links, authority, etc. So, while having the keyword present in the domain name is helpful, it is just one piece of the puzzle and there are many other elements to search engine optimization (SEO).

Read more…

Social Marketing Lifts Organic Conversions

August 6th, 2010

I’ve been digging through MarketingSherpa’s new 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Report: SEO Edition and finding very interesting data describing social media’s impact on SEO performance.

The most interested stat I came across noted that marketers working in social media reported an average 27% conversion rate for organic search traffic. Those not working in social media reported 17%. That is a 58.8% difference — which is huge.

What could cause this disparity?

Possible explanations are found in a second chart. Marketers were asked whether social media or SEO were effective marketing tactics for achieving a list of objectives.

More marketers said SEO, rather than social media, was a “very effective” way to:
o Increase brand or product awareness (42% vs. 37%)
o Increase website traffic (57% vs. 33%)
o Increase lead generation (35% vs. 18%)
o Increase offline sales revenue (17% vs. 10%)
o Increase online sales revenue (26% vs. 9%)

On the flipside, more marketers said social media was a “very effective” way to:
o Improve brand or product reputation (37% vs. 29%)
o Improve public relations (36% vs. 27%)

Clearly, SEO is more effective at attracting attention and ultimately converting people. However, social media is more likely to increase positive thinking around a product and brand.

This leads me to a hypothesis: marketers who engage in SEO and social media have 58.8% higher conversion rates for organic traffic because their social media work has increased trust in their brands and products.

But that might not be the whole story.

As pointed out in the benchmark report’s analysis, working in social media provides additional benefits. Social profiles and content are indexed by search engines and added to results pages. These additional results can push down a brand’s competition, increasing its organic conversion rates. Also, the social results can broaden the variety of content on a SERP and help brands appeal to more people.

The data are very interesting. If your team has well established SEO and social media strategies, take a look at your stats and look for similar trends. It just might make you smile.

SEO Metrics to Measure

February 23rd, 2010

Natural search marketers have been in a precarious position for the last few years. Much of the data they’re using is supplied by search engines, and some of that data is fuzzy at best.

Adam Audette, in a Search Engine Land post today, goes as far as calling some of the data unreliable and “downright misleading.” However, Audette astutely notes that marketers need the data even if they don’t completely trust it.

What’s a marketer to do? Here are Audette’s suggestions for the SEO metrics you should track:
o Percentage of overall site traffic from search
o Percentage share of each engine
o Free search traffic at the keyword level, clustering related terms
o Difference between branded and non-branded search traffic

Metrics that he implies are far less reliable:
o Ranking reports
o Indexed page counts
o Backlink counts
o Toolbar PageRank

For marketers, I would add conversion data to Audette’s list of primary metrics to measure — especially conversion data for non-branded keywords. If you’re a natural search marketer, any conversions you can prove came through non-branded keyword searches point directly to money you are bringing the company.

Branded search conversions are great, but they show that the searcher already knew your brand. The searcher has likely been reached by another marketing channel. A non-branded conversion implies that someone chose you over the competitors also listed in the results.

Which metrics do you consider vital? And how reliable are they?

Big Returns on Low-Cost SEO

September 1st, 2009

We’ve had a couple of great search marketing articles come through the pipeline recently, and we have one more this week on the way. Since our articles are available for one week before being added to our membership library, I thought I’d highlight a few key points while our readers can still peruse the pieces for free.

Last Tuesday, we featured Dan Tate, COO, The Concrete Network, and his team’s video SEO strategy. The team has uploaded over 220 short videos about concrete design to YouTube. The videos are:
o Branded
o High quality
o Generally less than 5 minutes

Tate’s team optimizes the videos’ metadata, adds them to relevant pages on, and hosts them on their YouTube channel. Many of the videos show up in Google’s universal search results for broad phrases such as “concrete pool decks,” giving the team multiple links on the results page.

The videos capture thousands of views daily, have about a 17.9% clickthrough rate, and have about a 12% conversion rate among those who clickthrough to the site. That’s pretty amazing for not spending one dollar on advertising! (Details are in the article here)

Today, we published an article featuring Sean Reardon, Director, Sales and Marketing, The Liberty Hotel, and his team’s efforts to enhance their Google Maps result. The Boston luxury hotel opened about two years ago. Around that time, the team checked their result in the local search engine and noticed that it had the wrong address. Yikes!

The team jumped into action to take ownership of the result through Google’s Local Business Center and fix the address. They also started adding loads of descriptive content and pictures.

After building up their result, the team noticed that they were ranking high in local searches for terms such as “Boston hotels,” and increased their traffic from Google Maps by several thousand percent.  (Details are in the article here)

The two campaigns mentioned above are great examples of the low-cost, high-effort nature of SEO. Natural search often involves a little research, a little cash investment, and a heaping load of elbow grease–but it can pay off with time.

Lastly, keep an eye on our business-to-consumer newsletter this week, as we will feature Jennifer Brady, Director of Marketing, UMassOnline, and her team’s PPC strategy. Brady’s team started with a single generic landing page, expanded into dozens of search-specific pages, and used multivariate testing to further strengthen results. Their cost-per-lead plummeted and their per-month lead volume shot up over 80%.

Online Leads and Offline Conversion

May 5th, 2009

I recently talked with Chris Knoch, Principal Consultant in the Best Practices Group at Omniture, about how to best measure and monitor a site’s SEO results (keep an eye out for the article in our search newsletter).

Knoch provided a wealth of information. One bit I found particularly interesting was about connecting offline conversions to online behavior. Many marketers invest loads of time and effort into search marketing to generate leads that will convert offline. Most of these marketers are certain of how many leads they’re getting, but are less certain of which channels generate the best leads; those most likely to convert.

A rental car company, for example, might collect leads online by pointing traffic to an online registration form. The customers convert and pay when they arrive on-site to pick up the car. So leads are generated online, but not all of them will arrive on-site to complete the conversion.

For marketers in this boat, connecting online lead gen to offline conversions is essential to determining which efforts are pulling in the best leads. Is it paid search? If so, which keywords? Is it natural search? Is it display advertising? You should strive to segment the performance of each channel, Knoch says.

“If you’re not mapping your online [lead gen] to your [in-store] conversions, you may be judging your natural search just the same as your display–which is not a good thing to do,” Knoch says. “If you’re not optimizing to offline data metrics, then you’re missing the full picture and you may be spending money on the wrong keywords or the wrong channels.”

Calming Comparison Shopping Mayhem

March 2nd, 2009

Third-party shopping comparison sites such as and Shopzilla can get products to consumers who aren’t visiting brands’ sites directly. However, these sites pose challenges: they have different audiences, data requirements, bidding requirements, and capabilities.

Mercent, a Seattle-based company founded by former Amazon execs, has built a platform to help marketers sell across a range of third-party sites. I chatted last week with Mercent CEO Eric Best and several marketers from specialty retailer Brookstone.

Read more…

Google Too Big to Fail?

February 5th, 2009

Google is a growing giant. Some stats from comScore’s 2008 Digital Year in Review (a free report if you surrender some info):

– Nearly 85 million searches were conducted on Google sites in 2008

– Google sites captured 63.5% of the searches among the top five engines in December 2008

– Google captured about 90% of the overall growth in search volume last year. Read more…

Historical Searches Reveal Shift

October 8th, 2008

Online marketing has changed a lot in the last seven years. But by how much? Google gives us a little insight today by opening up its index from 2001 in honor of its 10th birthday.

Read more…