Those who follow me on twitter (@pcmguy
) have seen me tweet this probably multiple times. “Google commodities everything” this is a quote from @jeffjarvis book “What Would Google Do?”
for those of you that haven’t read it you should do so as soon as possible.
Along these same lines I recently heard a great analogy about search marketing that will I hope will set your mind for the rest of this post. “Great Search Marketing is 1% about the click and 99% about what you do next.”
In an earlier post “Get Outside Your Random Access Website”
I talk about why your main website is not the place for your search marketing respondents to end up. We also discuss why single landing pages and deeplinks don't optimize conversion as well as a well constructed conversion path.
As we begin 2010 I believe we will find that conversion optimization is the new SEO.
Now SEO isn’t dead
, it is still evolving and you need to pay close attention to SEO when you build out any kind of online marketing, but there is a growing movement within our industry to get beyond the click to the conversion. After all if you don't what's the point?
SEOMoz’s Rand Fishkin recently said that conversion optimization is the most underused and highest ROI activity in the marketing department. Predicting that 2010 is the Year of Conversion Rate Optimization
, he wrote, “Online businesses can generate so much revenue from this… 2010 is the year, simply because it’s an inflection point for companies to assess their spend and where they derive value.”
SEO and conversion optimization (CRO) are in many ways technically alike, but with different goals.
Conversion optimization and SEO live and breathe where the customer meets technology. SEO professionals are experts at the technical landscape of the click. They are search engineers & strategists.
The same talent applies in CRO only now we go deeper into the funnel taking many of the same principal strategies and applying them to customer behavior post-click.
Conversion optimization, like SEO is an ongoing integral part of your marketing practice. There is no “Silver Bullet” for SEO or CRO. To get the most out of your online and search marketing you will need to go beyond just optimizing your website and putting up a few single landing pages. Conversion optimization will need to be ingrained into the culture and principal of your online marketing efforts.
Shortcuts aren’t the answer, anyone can “optimize” a single page or deeplink page for conversion by eliminating all the choices and beating customers over the head with crazy offers or promises. You can increase conversions somewhat this way, but at what cost? A depredated brand, bad reputation and an overall terrible customer experience. These short term gains ultimately aren’t worth the price of destroying good legitimate business.
Like all online marketing conversion optimization is data driven. Data & web analytics are your best friend. To get the most from Post-Click-Marketing (I use this term to define the process of maximizing conversion by focusing efforts on the customer experience after the click.) you have to go deeper into the funnel and analyze respondent behavior not just clicks. Here segmentation is crucial, ultimately the Respondent is King and the content is the Queen that entices the King. What do all King’s want?...Choice.
All Google ads look the same what you do Post-click is Conversion Rate Optimization and makes all the difference. Segmentation will yield good behaviorally scored leads that produce sales.
Pages VS Platforms
Don’t let SEO technicalities get in the way of what the purpose of your online marketing: compelling value propositions and meaningful brand experiences. In SEO, this wins you links (great if you’re a blogger); in conversion optimization, it wins you customers, something we all have too few of.
SEO optimizes pages that people can find, hopefully get information from then hopefully act. Unfortunately “Hope is not a strategy”
In this case I use the term Platform do describe a landing experience that helps people do things. This ultimately saves respondents time and saving time is the reason they are online in the first place.
So we are back to the title of this post “Begin With the End in Mind” I have heard this term before but forgotten it I have to give props to @meganleap for reminding me of it in a tweet a few days ago. Also have to give props to Scott Brinker who’s post “SEO to CRO: link building to dream building” is the inspiration behind this post, these two are heroes of Post-Click-Marketing.
Ask yourself this question “What does the respondent want to do when they click?” the ultimate in CRO then is… “How can you help them do that fast?” Build a platform that helps the respondent do what they want to do even if that involves pointing them to your competitors ie: the progressive.com model “We’ll show you our price as wells as the price of our competitors.”
In the end if you help me do what I want to do I will be more likely to want to do with you! To coin a phrase from my good friend Chris Brogan “The best way to compete is to help”
The differences between SEO & CRO
There are those who have you believe that SEO should greatly diminish or even eliminate the need for search ads. A fine goal to be sure, however difficult and time consuming to achieve and even harder to sustain, conversion optimization maximizes paid search and works to boost SEO at the same time.
Conversion optimization working with your PPC campaigns will allow for very controlled spit testing, testing multiple variations of a landing experience or completely separate value propositions, combined with different keyword sets and even different geography. You can do this over matter of hours and react quickly to iterate non-performing landing experiences and/or redirect to those experiences that perform well. The mantra here test, test, test then iterate and test some more.
Sure you can and we encourage you to optimize SEO traffic for conversion; however PPC offers some great control and can and should take advantage of that. PPC is like turning on and off a fire hose you just need to be sure that where the water lands its putting out the fire.
Also by linking your landing experience network back you your main website you are creating good organic SEO for your main website while at the same time drive directed traffic to sites that instantly match the message of your PPC campaign. There a number of standard Microsites a dealership should keep up and can be SEO optimized along with conversion optimized, a service Microsite, a Microsite for each new car model (with actual pictures of the vehicles not stock photos) just to name a couple. We have indentified all together 32. By linking these 32 sites together and to your main website then also linking them to your social media sites you get a virtuous circle of links that make for great organic SEO.
One of the best ways to test SEO is with a blog post; with CRO testing involves ad words and a landing page. While it has become relatively easy to put up a blog post, quickly and easily producing landing pages and microsites have been a bit more challenging never mind iterating those experiences on the fly.
Conversion optimization most effective beyond a single page, while SEO usually avoids breaking up content into multiple steps, with PPC we find a multiple step conversion process to be the most effective. These multi-step experiences engage respondents allowing them to easily get to the content that interests them most.
Where SEO works best by indexing with search engines and open content, something I would certainly encourage this with the standard group of microsites your dealership should have. Conversion optimization combined with PPC campaigns are usually shorter offer expirations and really shouldn’t be indexed by search engines at all, you will want to change them on the fly based on the respondent feedback or turn them off all together. For these shorter term promotions the meta tags you will want to use is probably “follow, noindex” you wouldn’t want the vehicle you have already sold or an expired incentive hanging around the net for someone to stumble on.
Why a landing experience network?
For a dealership this is the number one way customers are looking for your product and your store. The best analogy I can give you is, “if you were buying billboards you would buy just one and you would want to strategically place them…right?” Landing experiences are like billboards on the information superhighway, key words are the streets and highways you place your billboards on and now you have the ability to change out the message of those billboards at will, test who drives by them and why they did so, changing message and offers accordingly. Finally these billboards can help your customers do stuff not just find stuff.
So why do you have just one or two right now, and how do you think just one website can handle the needs of the thousands of customers searching the net for a vehicle today?
Hope this helps,