Last week, we held a CMO breakfast in Chicago with a select group of top-tier marketing leaders. The topic of discussion for this event was “Mastering Search Marketing at Your Enterprise Business,” and we held it in collaboration with Catalyst.
The event operated under Chatham House Rule, but here we’ll highlight an overview of the discussion.
How do you decide how much to spend on organic vs paid search?
When it comes to search marketing, PPC and SEO often work together in a 1+1=3 situation.
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SEO is something we do to enhance paid search. Paid search is something we do to boost SEO.
But despite their compatibility, in the end, organic and paid search fall into two quite distinct categories of budget. SEO is a capital expense, PPC is a media expense.
It’s the difference between a performance channel versus an asset. An asset can be monetized over several years. What’s more, every year it gets harder and harder to generate traffic and value on paid search.
For both organic and paid search, you’ll have similar costs of staffing people. But for paid search — you have to buy the media on top of that. On the contrary, when we invest in SEO it creates a long-term gain — that doesn’t need additional media budget every week.
As one participant said, “Your website is a property. Invest in it that way — call it owned property budget versus media/advertising budget.”
Another tip: Bury organic search costs in the capital expense of your website development. It really should be there anyway.
How do you get more buy-in on paid search and SEO efforts from the rest of the C-suite?
A classic topic often on people’s minds: Asking for budget.
A couple ideas surfaced here.
First, “you just don’t tell them.”
Or rather, you tell them a few months in, after you’ve already tested your strategy and have something positive to report. Take budget from somewhere else, prove search marketing value, then ask for more support.
Second, “Hide SEO budget as part of a site migration or redesign (which it is).”
We touched on this above, and it was a recurring topic. Organic search efforts can be classified as owned assets, and don’t have to come out of the media and advertising budgets. Fixing broken links, improving site speed — these are things that hold benefits for years to come.
Finally, “Organize a workshop for your senior leadership on the value of SEO / paid search.”
As per usual, people need to understand something before they want to put money and resource to it. You could do a half-day workshop, or you could use an online learning platform if your company already does that.
What are trends on organic side of search?
Another topic often on leaders’ minds: Where are other people putting more money and resources?
If overall shifts are away from paid search and toward organic, then what trends should we be mindful of, regarding organic search? A few trends came to the forefront.
SEO teams becoming smaller and more specialized
As search in general becomes increasingly more complex, search marketers increasingly tend to specialize in one or a few areas.
In 2002, it may have been easy for the one webmaster to also write content, track rankings, and run paid ads. In 2019, that screams one person spread far too thin to be effective.
Now, we’re seeing trends toward smaller, specialized teams. We’re also seeing flatter teams with less bureaucracy. Again, search changes so frequently — Google apparently changes their algorithm literally every day — that agility is a necessity to keep up.
Social media as a customer support channel
Oftentimes, when a customer can’t find an answer they’re looking for, they take it to Google.
Or if they can’t find an active customer support rep to chat with on a website, they take their complaint to Twitter.
Social channels help organic search in two primary ways.
- They clue you in to what questions customers are asking. Add those questions to an FAQ section on your site, and it may rank the next time a user searches the query.
- They tell you what words people use when they talk about your product. Use these in your messaging, content, etc as you try to boost visibility.
They also might be able to give you a sense of how effective your on-site search is.
One participant mentioned how their team had realized via social media that users were having a bad search experience on the company’s website. Users would try the on-site search bar, to no avail. So they would go to Google, look up a product or page, then be directed back to the website.
What starts as a platform to advertise products, distribute content, or grow your audience, soon becomes a primary channel for communicating with and supporting customers.
Getting more first party data
Speaking of low cost per acquisition — organic SEO and first party data are two of the best investments you can make.
First-party data could be collected via contests, reviews, registrations, or events, for example.
One participant shared how their company had recently struck a deal with Amazon, where Amazon would sell their product en masse. The catch? Amazon gets all the first-party data, and won’t let their company collect any customer info.
And again, like the contrast between paid and organic search — first-party data is a long-term investment.