I’m a Digital Manager. I think.
I have my targets, my budgets and maybe my bonuses. In short, I’m good with excel. The way that I want to do my job is the most easy and secure way possible (remember I’m a manager, not a entrepreneur). But what kind of channels should I pick?
The above stated plays around in 90% of the managers’ minds. It’s no wonder they end up with bannering, PPC, Email campaigns, maybe even landing pages. Don’t forget some random pushy twittering (something with “enough shit at the wall” and “eventually will stick”) since they’ve been hearing that for 3 years in a row from every event they went to.
One of the most valuable options however still is a bit vague: SEO. “Something really technical which I don’t want to understand, something about content which sounds like work and don’t forget linkbuilding. We can probably outsource linkbuilding, I keep hearing and reading about ‘buying links’ for Google.”
Are you getting the picture yet? SEO is last in line with these managers. But there is a special group, with firm believe in the channel, maybe from experience, maybe because the strongly believe in an integrated approach of Digital marketing. These are the 10%. The other 90% really don’t want SEO, but (feel the) need to, they are channel focussed.
What can we do?
While we keep making awesome SEO business cases, keep telling people that we have huge conversions rates next to email and if done correctly SEO isn’t all that expensive, a lot of managers still don’t feel SEO after all this time?
Sure this might have something to do with pushy link traders from countries with low wages, sure this might have something to do with an old contract that never got fulfilled by that crap SEO agency which promised a pot of gold, sure they might have expected more in less time.
But imagine you need to make the choice that manager has to take? What would you need to get convinced? In my opinion: Education, and more education. In the least amount of time possible. Debunk all SEO myths in an hour. That will clear the road a bit already. Then start telling about the impact and the placement of SEO. Not as a channel, but as a touchpoint.
Tell about the “buying cycle”, how content needs a place in there. About transactionable, informational and navigational queries and how they related to the other campaigns they are running. They need to see it’s more complex, but also a with a lot more science and business as they expected.
We need to get (someone) a place on that crossroad of technical challenges, content challenges, number crunching and outreach, someone has to help them out. We can take a close look at how Social Media has done that within the bigger companies. C-level reporting and decision-making.
The biggest mistake
The biggest mistake we’ve made as an industry is to dumb things down for a sales purpose. SEO isn’t something we must dumb down. We can’t make really sellable packages from 499 to 6999 that will help them with their “SEO”. I’ve never lost a pitch because it was too hard for them to understand. I’ve lost pitches because the thought they knew better and I’ve lost pitches because of the budget. And 90% of those pitches were done over or came back to me/us within a year time. Those managers actually learned that they didn’t only need a couple of hands to do thing for them, but the company needed to learn how to handle SEO.
Okay, trying to get the line in the article wrapped up here. We need to:
- Educate the managers more about the importance (debunking more than showing shiny graphs).
- Work less with sellable sales packages (or sales in general)
- Get entrance with the real decision makers (big nasty penalties sadly help with that)
Funny thing is, that I’ve seen a lot of mid-level managers who actually get SEO well done, got promoted within the company to decision-making positions faster than anyone else. Be sure to share that story if you have seen the same and I would be surprised if you haven’t, but that’s what the comments below are for!
This post is part of a special guest post series this summer in which we’ve asked (search) marketers to take a ‘different perspective’ on things.