So you’re thinking of starting an SEO campaign and you’ve decided to work with an agency to help you reach your online goals. If you’re narrowing down your list of potential agencies, add this important point to your interview questions: How will you help me measure success?
Set the Metrics at Campaign Outset
You’ll want to get a good read on how the agency sets up SEO key performance indicators (KPI) and how they report them to you. Ideally you want your agency to say that they will benchmark your data so you’ll have a starting point to compare to, as your campaign matures. What you also want to hear from each agency you interview is that they will be depending on your input to help shape metrics before the SEO campaign starts.
Online success has a unique look for every company. For you, it may be that you triple the number of downloads of your podcast by January 1. For another firm it might be that they sell 200 widgets by March 15. Notice the pattern? Success is defined by reaching a goal (podcast downloads, widget sales) by a certain date.
Consider Micro-Conversions: They Represent Steps Along the Path to a Sale
While it’s vital to set up defined success metrics, it’s also important to take a step back and consider the bigger picture; what else has occurred in addition to what you’re measuring? You’ll want to dig deeper to see what other successes you’ve earned along the way.
You can call these micro-conversions or mini-goals. However you label them, it’s important to stay alert for them at all times. Often conversions don’t occur on a prospect’s first visit to your website, or the first time she engages with you on social media or via email. Unless the prospect needs the item immediately, she will likely not buy at once. Think of the conversion process like attracting birds to your yard. The more seeds (blog content, email and social messages) you provide with easy pathways (links) to your site, the more visits you’ll get to your website. Soon, like a bird who comes to depend on your generosity, a site visitor will return more often as you gain her trust. You have prepared the path to conversion.
What Your Digital Marketing Agency Brings to the Table
All of this sounds so logical; almost easy. Then why should a business need help from an agency to drive more traffic and conversions? One of the biggest reasons an agency is so helpful is that you have to spend your time running your business. Handling online marketing on top of everything else you do can be incredibly time consuming. And think about it: you feel the same way about your customers. Sure they could try to fix their own car engine, decorate their own home, sew their own dress, etc. but in most cases, they would do an inferior job as compared with an expert. Why? Because the expert will provide the best solution. That’s what a good digital marketing agency does – you get from Point A (the benchmark) to Point B (your online marketing goal) more quickly and with less time spent by you.
Do Today’s Sophisticated SEO Tools & Marketing Automation Platforms Remove the Need for an Agency?
SEO tools and marketing automation platforms often come up in discussions about measuring SEO campaign success. Incredible tools exist today to make every marketer’s job easier. From automated email campaigns, to scheduled social posts, to tools that help you write better blogs, it would appear that one could sign up for a few of these tools and never need an agency. And one could…but the better result comes from a combination of expert insight and the right tools to keep track of metrics.
The Tools Capture the Data – Your Agency Helps You Interpret It
Remember that your agency will help you define the metrics at campaign outset. This is key because while tools can alert you to movements up or down for your stats, the interpretation of these is how you arrive at informed decision making. For example, a tool can be set to inform you each week on ranking changes for your keywords. Let’s say one week it sends an email that says for 10 keywords you had ranking losses or non-movement, and only 5 keywords increased in rankings. A quick glance at those numbers might throw you into a panic! Your account manager at your agency will be able to interpret the information, and show you that in this case, the 5 increases were for your most important keywords, and the 10 other keywords were the ones that they had mentioned would take longer to rank for; so this information is really nothing new – you planned for that at campaign outset.
Bonus Tip: Keep in mind that there are many tools that provide pre-prepared recommendations based on data reads they make. These are not the same as human interpretation. A tool may tell you that it recommends you make a change to content on a page. When you look at the page, only you can know if the suggested content updates would pass muster with your legal department, or if they would actually describe your products to best advantage.
Here’s another example of getting the best result by combining tools with agency expertise. Recently we discussed with a client how we like to glean statistics from as many pertinent data points as possible. We asked what he had learned so far from his email marketing data. He admitted he had been so busy, there was a build up of over two years of data in his email software, and that he had not analyzed any of it. This is where an agency can be a tremendous help to its customer. We asked for the login to his email platform and we examined his campaigns. We found data that helped us get to know his customers better so we could move them closer to conversion. We presented this data to the customer and it helped him refine his subsequent email marketing messages.
Recap: How Do We Measure Digital Marketing Success?
So what’s the best way to measure digital marketing success? It comes down to three main points:
- Setting measurable metrics at campaign outset (Agency and client work on this together so what’s measured has meaning to the client.)
- Creating a strategy complete with milestones and regular reporting to measure progress. (Agency and client work together so the campaign has the best chance of reaching the agreed-upon goals.)
- Reviewing and adding tools to help carry out the strategy and measure established metrics. [Your agency will know the best SEO and marketing automation tools to use and how to get the most from data generated by these tools.]
Next time we’ll look at a sample SEO campaign and see how the agency provided value to its client, beginning with agreed-upon success metrics.
Are you ready now to partner with a digital marketing agency that offers documented success in dozens of verticals? Contact Engine-IUS Marketing and let’s get started on your new SEO campaign!