The “SEO Business” is tougher and more complex making it difficult to build successful campaigns. These days, it’s more like making a seven tiered wedding cake than a batch of Betty Crocker brownies.
Return on Investment? Prove it!
In addition to the complexity in building and maintaining awesome campaigns is the difficulty in pricing our services. When I joined the Dinkum team about three years ago, we measured goals in terms of “ROI” (return on investment) to ensure the client made a clear return from the money spent on our services. It usually sealed the deal, since other SEO’s didn’t talk too much about business stuff. We meant it, but it was a dicey game – things changed and generally we’d end up doing more work for the same amount of money, which is no way to grow a business.
Real Business Stuff Continues
Just as today’s campaigns tend to involve a lot more components moving in a synchronized fashion (remember, three years ago Twitter was small, Pinterest didn’t exist, mobile was going to be big someday, and the browser wars were a reference to the 90’s) – the way in which companies budget for internet marketing is vastly more important. This is no longer a side game, an investment, or a case of black magic. This is, to quote a Philly peer Wil Reynolds, real business sh*t.
My Mea Culpa
To tell you the truth, when it comes to SEO, I never really believed you could have your cake and eat it too. You need to earn your stripes. Relying on just SEO (keywords on pages, link building, etc) is NOT a path to long-term, jaw-dropping, lots of big numbers success. It’s a way to say you’re doing “SEO”, but in the end it’s really pretty frustrating. How do I know? Because I spend a lot of time talking to small and medium business clients who fork over hard-earned cash (cash they feel coming out of their pockets) and while they want to believe the fairy tale about SEO, they can’t take the risk of it not turning out well. Words like ‘scope’ and ‘ROI’ and ‘rankings’ get tossed around a lot at our weekly and monthly meetings.
There Has to Be A Better Way
When we built this website about a year ago, my partner Paul and I were looking for a way to articulate how we approached what we do. To be clear, we’re not SEO’s – we’re Internet Marketers. It may sound pedantic to slice and dice the terms, but to us the difference is fundamental, and it’s grounded in our approach.
The EOS Model
At this same time, we were working through a business development process with the brilliant Steve Smolinsky. The process is called EOS (read about it, really) and it is a packaged-up, highly-researched, formulaic approach to getting your business in high gear.
EOS was developed by a guru named Gino Wickman to work for businesses of all sizes and industries. I said to Paul, if we had a methodology like ‘EOS’ for ‘SEO’, we’d be able to communicate its value to our clients and remove some of the anxiety, mystery, and black magic from this process.
Here’s how Gino describes the EOS model:
The EOS Model provides a visual illustration of the Six Key Components of any business that must be managed and strengthened to be a great business. This model applies to big and small businesses alike, in any industry.
What I love about this model is that it can be applied to any type of business. I wanted something similar to describe our approach so it wouldn’t have even a scent of black magic about it.
Paul has been telling me for years that our approach is the same. The exact initiatives have changed and evolved for each client, but the concept is the same. I told him we needed to prove it.
The Dinkum Model
Our model consists of having the right buckets for the various activities that exist, used to exist, could exist, and will exist. The beauty and the challenge of any Internet Marketing strategy is allocating resources to the proper channels, when the channels are shifting and growing all time. We feel the following four buckets are the key components of a successful, ass-kicking, self-regenerating, results-delivering, stress-reducing approach to Internet Marketing. They are Core, Production, Outreach, and ROI Drivers.
- The Core is all about your website and your data. Make sure the health of your website is strong (onsite and offsite) and that you comply with best practices, both for Google and for your users. Collect the data you need and include split testing, heatmaps, and our old friend, Google Analytics. Have a process to review this data and drawing actionable conclusions from it.
- Production is about getting stuff done. There is no great website, landing page, ad campaign, email marketing, infographic, video, or other initiative on the internet without the hand of a pixel crafter, wordsmith, or a code monkey at some point. Managers tend to drastically under-budget for quality production. Understand the resources involved.
- Outreach is a popular word in our industry but it’s often misunderstood by “normal” business people. In our view, outreach is the practice of getting out and about. It’s about sharing your value, participating in conversations, listening and learning from others, and ensuring people know who you are and what you have to offer. This bucket changes and grows to include new outlets including social media and guest blogging, video diaries and text messages. It might even include a phone call! Whatever it is, it’s currently our #1 activity for many clients.
- ROI Drivers is the practice of proactively driving a direct transactional event. This includes Pay Per Click, display advertising, remarketing and retargeting, and the like. It also includes tools to help reduce shopping cart abandonment, and to increase lead nurturing through marketing automation. These are the tools and approaches to step on the gas when you’re confident about your foundational activities, processes, and team.
Why This Model Works
While this model doesn’t account for all aspects of your approach to internet marketing (choosing the right vendors, allocating the proper resources at all levels, communicating strategy throughout an organization) it DOES provide a holistic way to look at the big picture, and then drill down to the specifics that make great campaigns great.
And for us, it’s also organic. It flows from one step to the next and back again, with each new achievement in one area feeding success in another.
- Improve your core and you’ll have a better strategy for what to do with your homepage, your landing pages, or your checkout process. You’ll know which sites refer the best traffic, and where users are having issues completing the goals you’ve assigned.
- Invest in your production capacity and you’ll see your campaigns become refreshed. Creative, worthwhile content and high quality designs and coding will encourage your users to act and interact.
- Engage more deeply in your outreach and you’ll see more qualified leads coming to your website prepared to buy, or talking about your brand or product in a fluent manner. You’ll gain loyalty, trust, and goodwill and you’ll have enormous ears for feedback.
- Hone your ROI Drivers, and commit to them for the right reasons, and you’ll see your bottom line grow fat with increased conversions and efficiencies throughout your marketing and sales life-cycle.
We’ve implemented this methodology into our proposals and pricing structure. We no longer charge a set fee per month for 12 months. Rather, we break the pricing structure out and work with clients to ensure all elements are covered. We also review the strategy each quarter to make adjustments (up or down) to take advantage of new opportunities or a changed environment.
Want to see your internet marketing perform at its best? Is your approach healthy, balanced, inclusive, and thought-out? Or are you running a bit blind, hoping for rock star moves and growth to meet your numbers?