Can SEO Alone Be A Successful Lead Generation and Online Marketing Effort?
Let’s cut to the chase: The answer is no, not by a long shot.
Of course, SEO is essential if you want to see a significant ROI on your website. You could have the most fantastic business in your industry and area but, without an optimized site, the online audience that you’re trying to reach just won’t find you.
However, SEO is only the baseline for your online strategy. The fact is that even if you are on the front page of Google, so are a number of your competitors. What will set your business apart from the rest and bring in the customers?
The solution is a diversified marketing strategy—gone are the days where SEO alone will generate successful leads. The process now is much more complex.
This post will guide you through everything else that needs to be done if you want those customers to come to you.
Attribution and Touches
To give you a better idea of why you need a widely diverse online marketing strategy, let me introduce you to the idea of attribution and touches.
Attribution is a marketing term referring to the process which leads a consumer to a desired outcome, or conversion. It’s the consideration of what combination of events and exposure to marketing materials have generated that particular lead.
Touches are the individual events that contribute to this process; for example, spotting a website on a search engine, seeing adverts on social media or reading a positive review. Each attribution process can have many or few touches, it varies a lot.
Should You Focus Entirely On Your First Touch?
No, because there is no way of knowing what that first touch will be. You need to cover all of your bases.
Here’s an example of how an attribution process might look:
A consumer may stumble upon a website to read a blog, follow the site on Twitter and then later see an advert for the same company but not connect the two. This can happen even before they’ve decided that they want to buy a product or service. When they’ve decided that they’re in the market, they might search for a particular term, visit several websites, compare prices and read reviews. The exposure to the original website’s branding may mean that they return and become a paying customer.
The blog, social media, advertising, reviews and each website visit all count as individual touches. Through all of this exposure to the company’s branding, the customer absorbs information—both actively and passively—about them and begins to associate the brand with a particular product or service. When the customer has finally made their decision, they will come to the company because they have that association.
If the company had assumed that SEO would be the first touch and focussed their efforts on it, the consumer would not have had the same exposure to the brand and may not have ended up as a paying customer.
The Channels You Need To Maintain
As we’ve seen, there are several channels which can count as touches in a consumer’s attribution process. Here they are in more detail:
Aside from being optimized to appear in a prominent position on search engines, your website should also contain regularly-updated, quality content.
This could be in the form of a blog or news page. The intention is to give consumers a number of reasons to visit your site that aren’t just for transactions. If they keep visiting your site, they will become familiar with your brand and what you’re selling.
If you’re not blogging already, start thinking about what content you could include to bring in new potential customers. You could even let others write guest blogs for you. Whatever the content, it should be informative and shareable to gain a wider exposure.
Social media enables you to do many things for your brand. You can use networks to help your website and content gain views and shares, you can engage with other brands, your customers and a wider audience, but most importantly, you can give a more natural, human voice to your brand.
This last point is particularly important as, done correctly, your social media can help consumers to trust your brand. This is particularly true if you have a younger audience: 82% of Millennials say they have more faith in a company if they actively use social media.
Keep your social networks targeted, well-maintained and engaging, and you will have an easy touch point for potential customers.
If you have a database of emails that you can send promotional material to, make sure that you are utilizing it. These are people who have specifically handed over their email address to hear from you—not doing so is a waste! Send out emails about your latest exciting offers or website content to keep your audience informed.
However, be careful with email marketing. Research the best times and frequency to send emails. If they are received at the wrong time they may be deleted straight away, and if you send them too often you might annoy people.
Taking out advertising space on social networks or Google Adwords is a good way to get touches with your audience. Whether they directly interact with the ad or not, it will register with them in some way. It could be that they know your company’s name for later, or are now aware of who you are and what you do. Furthermore, paid ads are targeted and will reach the people most likely to become a customer later.
If your advertising budget is a little short, you could always use alternative methods. Writing a guest blog on another site is a good way to get your name out there, and a link to your website will boost your SEO in the process!
With the vast amount of choice that consumers have, good reviews and recommendations are essential to promoting a business. The difference between seeing a good review and seeing a bad review (or no reviews at all) can be a huge gap for a consumer in deciding where to spend their money.
Make sure that you have some solid testimonials on your website as a starting point, then ask existing customers to post reviews on other sites and social media. You may want to offer an incentive for doing so, such as discounts or freebies.
Other Points To Consider
If you have all of the above channels active and trickling through as touches for potential customers, then that’s fantastic. Bear in mind the following as well to make sure your efforts have the greatest impact:
Make sure that all of your channels are consistent in their message, voice and branding. Your company is more likely to make an impression this way. If you have different logos, colours or straplines across your channels, this could confuse consumers or prevent them from recognizing your brand.
You’ll need to keep all of these channels moving to avoid missing those all-important touches. You never know: if you let one fall by the wayside, it could have ended up as a vital final touch for one customer. Develop a strategy that makes sure you are able to keep them all current, with adequate time assigned to each. Some will require less maintenance, whereas others will require much more. Over time you will become more familiar with how to balance this.
Online marketing is much more complex than getting your website onto search engines and sitting back as the customers roll in.
The vast range of customer choice on the internet means that they will be looking for the absolute best scenario for what they want. To become the business that springs to mind when they are in the market, you need to maintain wide exposure over the channels mentioned above, to make sure that your brand is recognized, trusted and accessible.
How do you maintain your diverse online strategy? Let us know in the comments!