So, you’ve decided that your company really needs a solid SEO Platform. You’ve done your homework and narrowed things down to a handful of vendors. Now it’s time for The Demo, that meeting where you’ll get a run-through of all the bells and whistles.
What’s the best way to prepare for The Demo? What should you look for?
The following is an excerpt from the recently updated report, Enterprise SEO Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide, published by our sister site, Digital Marketing Depot. The report covers market trends, information on evaluating SEO software, plus profiles of leading vendors in this space.
What To Look for During the Demo Call
Set up demos with your short list of vendors within a relatively short timeframe after receiving you’ve received the RFP responses, to help make relevant comparisons. Make sure that all potential internal users are on the demo call, and pay attention to the following:
- How easy is the tool to use?
- Does the vendor seem to understand our business and our marketing needs?
- Are they showing us our “must-have” features?
Don’t be afraid to ask the rep to show you again how something works. Make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
10 Questions to Ask During the Demo Call
Other questions to ask each vendor include:
- How do you calculate your search volumes? Knowing how the system treats information types will impact how you ascribe value to certain keyword terms, make decisions about keyword and content choices, and affect the ROI of your search marketing efforts. Find out if the tool uses exact match, broad match, or phrase match, and where raw data is extracted from (i.e., analytics, log files or a proprietary tracking pixel).
- Can this system track millions of searches, visits, site pages, etc? Knowing whether the platform is a true enterprise solution or a simple tool that may not scale for your business needs is crucial. Limits on the numbers of keyword rankings, pages or traffic tracked could impact your use of the system or significantly increase the cost.
- Do you support international search? There are many nuances within international SEO that can mislead even the best SEOs. Find out if the numerator in the calculation of the platform’s average clicks per search or average search volume are normalized for global or local (in that market) search, and whether or not search ranks are calculated from within country or remotely. Misapplication of international data could impact the ROI of your search marketing efforts.
- How do you track and report universal search results? As an in-house SEO expert you will want to know if and where your site was listed on the results page. For example, did your listing appear in web results, the In the News segment, an in-depth article, or the video results? That location and reporting feedback helps to quantify strategic and tactical efforts.
- How robust and flexible are your reporting options? Different users have different reporting needs. Find out if reports can be customized and automatically delivered to different users and types of users. For example, high-level KPIs for the CMO versus drill-down details for web development or IT. And, whether any and all data can be exported in CSV format.
- Where are the actionable reports? Enterprise tools all have dashboards and generous amounts of data but it’s very important to understand how, and which, reports can immediately benefit your business. A good sales team will understand your company’s objectives and KPIs and will have reports ready or can run them in real time. This is data that can be handed over to the appropriate teams and promptly acted upon.
- What other meta information does your system collect that may be made available to me via API? Being able to trace search traffic data from the front of the funnel all the way to sales data in a CRM or business intelligence (BI) system will help you to more accurately calculate ROI.
- Is there a workflow built in that allows me to coordinate the work of my marketing, content, web development, social media, and PR teams across the organization? SEO cannot operate in a silo. A true enterprise platform should provide built-in workflow management that includes task assignment, management, and monitoring of completion rates across groups.
- What kind of ongoing support and client engagement will your account team provide? How will you gauge our use or non-use of the platform’s features? One of the most common reasons a company transitions out of an enterprise platform is because they don’t use it enough. A vendor should be prepared to address this issue and specifically how the tool creatively engages users and gets them back into the environment.
- What new features are you considering? What’s the long-term roadmap and launch dates? The SEO landscape is constantly changing with new features to further leverage digital assets rapidly coming out of Google and Bing. It’s important to understand the level of innovation and the ability to add and track emerging technologies. Rel=canonical, Rel=prev/next, Google News Keyword Tag, and structured data are all examples of enhancements that should be on every vendor’s radar. Knowing a vendor’s new feature release date schedule and its ability to stick to committed timelines is also very important. This helps establish a long-term trust and relationship with the vendor that it will always be on the cutting edge of SEO.
- Next steps? Before finalizing your selection, take the time to speak with one or two customer references, preferably someone in a business similar to yours. Once you’ve decided, all that’s left is negotiating the contract. Good luck!
Enterprise SEO Platforms 2015: A Marketer’s Guide is available for download here.
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