Monday, July 30, 2012

6 Critical Action Items B2B SEOs Need to Consider With Converged Media

Last week, Altimeter Group published its report "The Converged Media Imperative," which explores how paid, owned, and earned media can join together to become a disruptive force in digital marketing strategy.
Converged media represents the utilization of two or more channels (paid, owned, and earned media) working in concert and enabling brands to reach their target audience regardless of channel, medium, or device.
The three media channels are defined as:
  • Paid media is classified as display or broadcast advertising (PPC, sponsorships, etc.)
  • Owned media is content assets the brand wholly owns or controls (websites, blogs, etc.)
  • Earned media is user-generated content created and/or shared by users (social media posts, shares, organic reviews, etc.)
B2B search engine marketers should be at the forefront of converged media, since best practices and opportunities inherent to SEO will only be enhanced by companies embracing this initiative.
B2B SEOs should consider these six critical action items for spearheading the converged media imperative.

Tout the "Pervasive Nature" of Search

SEO results are generated and can enhance almost all B2B marketing initiatives, giving them greater impact in the long term. Some of the ways SEO has positively impacted organizations, leading to improved results for clients, include:
  • Videos and webcasts optimization – SEO tactics included link acquisition, keyword research, development, and optimization.
  • Microsite development – SEO tactics included keyword optimization, implementation of on-page/on-site SEO best practices, link outreach.
  • Blog post development – SEO tactics included link acquisition via blogger outreach, keyword research, on-page (post) keyword optimization.
Search can also be a component of almost every digital marketing initiative, not just public facing search engine technology (Google, Bing, etc.). B2B search professionals lead the responsibility to optimize content marketing asset visibility across platforms, from optimizing internal search mechanisms to establishing visibility in popular social media networks.

Succinctly Tie PPC Reporting to SEO Activity

It can be challenging to tie SEO initiatives to immediate results because the indexing of assets and acquisition of links take time to appreciate value. As a result, it might be easier to dismiss SEO, as pressure for short-term lead generation results mounts.
That is a key difference in comparison to PPC, where traffic, conversion rates, and cost per action metrics are much more immediate. B2B SEO teams should work in coordination with the reporting metrics developed through PPC management, to spot the best performing keyword phrases to target organically.
Considerations for B2B SEO:
  • Bring well performing PPC landing page concepts into site-specific SEO content development initiatives.
  • Evaluate existing content marketing assets for opportunities to optimize in coordination with low volume but higher converting PPC keyword phrases.
  • Provide and create additional content marketing recommendations that will support existing PPC strategies with historically above-average conversion rates.

Build Links via Social Media

It wouldn't be surprising if social media teams are looking for more tangible KPIs in their initiatives related to converged media. Helping to build quality links via social media participation, in a post-Penguin search environment, might be a win-win for both B2B SEO and social media.
The below referenced chart from a 2011 Marketing Sherpa report takes a look at social media tactics, illustrating the correlation between tactical effectiveness and the degree of difficulty to implement. Blogger relations, while most difficult, were also considered the most effective. B2B SEO and social media teams should work together to build quality links through effective blogger relationships.
In a recent example from our office, our team worked with our client’s social media team to build a blog post meant to be distributed to related industry bloggers. Using social media tools like Twitter and StumbleUpon, we secured more than 50 Twitter mentions and 2,000 views within the first 12 hours of publication.

Establish Clear Calls-to-Action

Review content marketing assets built for SEO campaigns and make certain conversion actions are clearly defined (or incorporated at all). B2B organizations are concerned with leads, both quantity and quality (hopefully in that order).
Examples of better call-to-action optimization include:
  • Evaluation of form requirements in association with content marketing assets. Conversion actions tied more directly to sales should require more in-depth field requirements, whereas content assets meant for lead nurturing programs should require fewer (but still hold true toB2B lead scoring systems).
  • Testing landing page layouts and optimizing for keyword strategies in an effort to increase conversion rates.
  • Considering secondary calls-to-action to increase awareness of social media profiles, email newsletter subscriptions, and visibility of related content marketing assets. Example: cross-link these assets on confirmation pages of completed form submissions.

Dig Deeper Into the Data

A key element of the converged media imperative is "understanding the flow" of the digital consumer. Visits to the website, referral sources, and the paths they took and/or assets viewed all need to be evaluated.
B2B SEOs can look toward proactive reporting in web traffic tools to help establish patterns of success (or improvement) of digital marketing initiatives.
Some of the first places to evaluate (if using Google Analytics specifically):
  • Visitor Flow reports (reference)
  • Page Views in coordination with Traffic Sources (reference)
  • Establishing Goals and Event Triggers and measuring conversion rates in coordination with these actions (reference)
Reporting tools, particularly in larger organizations, are often separated from the marketing group. Because SEO relies so heavily on metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, B2B SEOs can lead the effort in defining website reporting requirements that measure success (and understanding) of a converged media implementation.

Find and Communicate Even the Small Wins

Because converged media puts change and additional pressure on multiple players in the organization, skepticism and earlier failures seem likely. It's important to motivate others by finding and celebrating even the small wins.
Examples of small wins to consider:
  • Hitting milestones and due dates associated with the first converged media project.
  • Leads acquired that can be traced back to the SEO of owned media assets.
  • Links acquired through successful earned media initiatives.
Early wins are important for building momentum in the much more collaborative environment of converged media. Because B2B SEO can be related to so many groups involved, SEO professionals can take the lead in recognizing proof points that lead to long-term success.

Final Thoughts

The search marketer's job constantly evolves and becomes more complex, but change is nothing new in our field. As technologies and marketing disciplines become more integrated, B2B SEO helps connect strategy more cohesively.
Is a converged media imperative taking place within your organization? I would love to hear your perspective, what is working, and what I've missed in this column, via comments below.