Recently, Pauline and I were at the SMX West conference in Santa Clara. The event was well attended, and we'd both recommend the SMX conferences to anyone interested in the search marketing industry. In fact, if you're looking to learn some SEO/SEM stuff that is more complex, SMX Advanced in Seattle is coming up in June.
Pauline attended numerous sessions at SMX and will be writing about her experiences for the newsletter every now and then. Here's her first article for your reading pleasure.- Jill
A Marketer’s Thoughts from the SMX West Trenches
By Pauline Kerbici
A few weeks ago, I attended a session at SMX West that addressed how to defend your paid-search budget.
As marketers or small business owners, you may be faced with defending certain line items within your overall marketing budget. Even though it's hard to measure results, traditional print advertising rarely needs to be defended anymore. So it can be perplexing that paid search, which is practically "traditional" these days, still does. And to make matters worse, paid-search budgets now have to compete with all the shiny new advertising vehicles such as mobile, local, video and social networking! Therefore, even when you have experienced a positive ROI with paid-search ads, you may still find that you have to defend it.
Define Your Goals
Before heading into the session, I thought, “Well, this is an easy one. When defending your budget you just have to know your numbers, right?” Sort of, but I was getting ahead of myself. Adam Jewell of NetPlus Marketing got me back on track by simply saying, “Clearly define your online goals and what success means.” This makes perfect sense and it’s different for every site. Some goals may bring in leads, sales, and registrations or simply bring in more traffic to build brand awareness.
Know Your Numbers
First and foremost, you need to provide the numbers and data to state your case. Nothing is more telling than the facts. Call a meeting with the decision makers and show them the cost per acquisition (how much each new customer costs to acquire). This is an exercise we do monthly at High Rankings and it really helps us determine what marketing initiatives are working and what’s not. A simple comparison chart of what it’s costing to bring in leads can be a great eye opener. Over time, you should see some trends that will provide you with even more ammunition to help your company’s success.
Beyond the Session
When the presentations were done I was about to call it a day, but my ears perked up when hearing Brian Combs of Apogee Search say, “Doing SEO first doesn’t work.” I thought this was interesting, so after the session I asked him to elaborate.
Here’s what Brian said:
“I’m a big lover of natural search/SEO, but it has real limitations. Most notable is the amount of time it takes to show results. You pick your keywords, optimize your pages/content, and build links as needed. Three to six months later (or longer), you attain the needed rankings and traffic starts to roll in.
"Then, and only then, do you find out that you picked keywords that just don’t convert (to leads or sales or whatever).
"If you run a paid search campaign first, you can find out whether keywords convert or not in a matter of days or weeks (depending upon your sales cycle). Then you can begin your SEO efforts knowing you’ve picked the correct keywords.”
Brian has some valid points, but I was happy to hear Kchitiz Regmi of Milestone Internet Marketing offer a different opinion. He believes that SEO and PPC go hand in hand.
Here’s what Kchitiz said:
“For any business to get the maximum online return, they need to focus their efforts on both natural as well as paid searches. Natural and paid search are not exclusive to one another. To illustrate my point, we had a client that was ranking #1 on organic results for their own name. However they felt that there was no need to run PPC campaign for their name as they already had very good positioning. But after convincing them to also run PPC for their own name, we managed to increase their ROI by 4X. So, I feel, better ranking on SEO and PPC will lead to a better ROI.”
So, what do you think? Paid search first and then organic? Or both at the same time?
Director of Marketing