The most potent form of marketing, search engines uncover people with needs. It is the only place where people write down what they want and get it instantly.
The Search Engines give us a way to connect with these individuals at the precise moment they are in the act of searching for, well, the things that we do.
It always works, as long as you take the time to understand what they are looking for precisely, who ‘the keyword audience’ are, and build your offer to match.
Whether or not we want to do that for the audience is another matter.
There are variables of course. Sometimes your perfect prospect is surrounded by clients you don’t want. Sometimes the money is not in the single niche, sometimes the high value prospects take too long to land.
How we get ROI
The simplest way of explaining how we get a compound return on investment for our search marketing clients,
- We measure individual ‘key phrase’ performance as closely as we can, to establish which ones generate new business conversations
- Based on results, we focus more on productive keywords and cut out wasted spend on those that don’t help
- That filtering process, in combination with improving each keyword performance by developing design, site and content proposition, delivers more for less, continuously and automatically.
- It sounds simple but search engines try to hide performance with averages, and often it is unclear at first which bit isn’t working.
- Testing tells us the difference, whilst experience tells us what to test
- The vast majority of keywords don’t help at all, better if we don’t spend anything on those in the first place
- It can take time to measure because low volume keywords deliver way more value than high volume keywords
- Not every visitor is ready to act right away
- Success relies on ‘negating’ and avoiding work on keywords that don’t work right away, or face paying for their every click in their buying journey.
- We then build in those converting keywords into the site for SEO
- Eventually, it becomes very profitable
- At points along the way, we are not so profitable, because we are investing in knowing what works.
It isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, but measuring is absolutely the critical activity. Measuring and valuing are different of course, which leads to a whole extra conversation.
What we learned
From doing this over many years we see patterns.
The vast majority, 95% or more, of client related google search terms are worth nothing at all; a few of them are worth rather a lot.
Some of these words deliver conversations at the rate of a lead every 4 or 5 clicks. Most keywords don’t deliver leads, even if there are thousands of visits.
There are often tens of thousands of key phrases for each topic so there is always a few hundred to go at that aren’t too competitive.
The trouble is, to the untrained eye they look very similar to each other.
Making good even better
Cut out clicks that don’t produce, and even then, not all leads generated are profitable.
So we have two choices.
- We can switch off those not converting well enough.
- If relatively possible, we’d rather improve all the elements that influence success.
Both choices have a massive impact on over time.
Working on those keywords that identify those people closer to buying, will affect those further away too.
For each of these golden converting key words and search phrases, its always possible to improve.
Once enough of these are working well,
We work to achieve profitability by improving performance of all the elements.
The benefit of experience
In the early days, pre-2012, we measured all search clicks, paid and organic.
The clicks were very much cheaper, experimenting cost less, we did lots of measuring. We were able to simply separate and measure different keywords.
The value was being able to quickly and cheaply spot patterns amongst those search terms, classify them and finally make predictions about how well they will perform given websites, company propositions
- Measuring digital marketing is one thing but valuing it is quite another.
- A process of constant improvement.
Make the traffic, the site, the content value proposition better and you get compound growth.
Over the years we have significantly improved the fortunes of many.
2x2x2 is quite a lot better than 1x1x1
And then, once you have the leads you can improve the handling, the sales process, the quality of the product and service, you can reduce costs.
In fact, there are so many ways to improve profitability, but you can only really do that when you have leads and clients. Or else there is nothing left to measure and improve processes against
Valuing vs measuring.
- You know the price of a stock market share, but what is the value?
- You see the number of visits to a website, but what are they worth?
Both are difficult questions, but arguably the marketing is less well researched.
Perfection is impossible, due to the nature of advertising tech, but the closer we get to valuing, the more we can improve performance.
Trouble is, most companies are unable to share what the value of a new client is worth, because they don’t know.
They never measured the lifetime value of different types of lead, opportunity and deals.
Often, they have never received online leads before. How can you predict the improvement.
This is a notable point. In some ways the actual figure is not as important as the ability to measure and improve.
Sometimes the journey is towards profitability.
The prize of search marketing can be so great, that it if you are producing revenue that is not profitable, would you stop producing the revenue or seek to make it better.
Would knowing change what you do?
Knowing it wasn’t profitable yet might spur you on harder.
Knowing it was profitable might make you complacent.
As outside providers we can never rest.
Investments by their nature don’t often pay you back instantly. Any revenue you get now could be multiplied in the future.
We are lacking knowledge on the lifetime customer value, are we not? Always, is the answer.
How to get a return on investment on your marketing spend.
Understanding value is the key.
The first step is to understand the value of a lead.
Many companies don’t.
Are we talking the average value of a lead? Well, this might be a start, but averages tend to hide more waste and star performers than they reveal.
Tracking the leads through to
Averaging the value of a lead might be a start, but real improvements come when you start to compare the value.
Why measure keywords and not pages
Why paid search traffic is more valuable than organic search traffic
Why brand traffic needs separating
‘Website traffic’ (also known as human beings), is one of the least intuitive commodities.
In life we often experience the ’80-20 rule, where a high percentage of value comes from a ‘small’ number of the overall.
But with web marketing, the vast amount of visits can often be entirely worthless, certainly to begin with. The trouble is, all the words look relevant.
The ratio for web traffic can be mind-boggling. Half a percent of keywords could be responsible for all the new business.
It’s why graphs of visits to the website can be so misleading. In my first big project I always remember the boss saying ‘the first thing you did was to switch off most all of the clicks’.
Mixed into the vast worthlessness are
Paid Clicks are the only thing you can measure properly.
With paid traffic, we bid on keywords for clicks. We pay differing amounts according to what everyone else is bidding for them.
This is a little like buying shares because of the price. But the price is what you pay, value is what you get. We are searching for value.
We began by asking ‘what is a keyword worth’ having researched a book about Warren Buffet, the world’s most successful or famous investor. He accumulated his vast fortune by working out what shares were worth, comparing that to the price, and only buying shares that were going to go up. He then set about working with companies to improve their performance.
There are a number of steps
Measure keywords, not pages.
The keyword is like the football player, the page is the stadium. I might play in the same premier league football stadium but not be worth as much as Ronaldo. We shouldn’t be paid the same to play.
The difference in value of keywords is remarkably similar to this analogy. Most keywords are worth nothing at all.
How to measure the relative worth of keywords
Track actions on the website that enable conversations with prospects. Forms give you contact details, phone calls give you contact details and immediate conversations. Any other ‘action’ shouldn’t be ignored exactly, but don’t count anything other than contact as valuable.
Double counting is common, we have to make sure we’re not. Agencies do this all the time to ‘look better’, but it is short term thinking.
It’s not enough to count them. We need to know the keyword responsible, and how much we are paying per ‘enquiry’.
Creating our campaigns to separate keywords is a skilful enterprise. Google make it harder every year, but, we can still do it. And it is so valuable.
How to value traffic
*In fact, Google is doing a lot to backpedal on measurability, in the name of privacy but more likely it is to do with their profitability. Luckily, we found out what keywords were worth before they started hiding the data.
The trouble with SEO’s
Is they never value anything
They never measure anything
Are they don’t know the value of anything.