The importance of SEO in omni-channel marketing, part 2

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The first part of this article series on SEO in omni-channel marketing explained how search engines are intimately integrated into your customers’ lives. Ignoring SEO will eliminate you as an option when customers evaluate and buy things. SEO is critical to any company’s financial success and should be a top priority.

Today, let’s look at a seven-step process to incorporate SEO into an omni-channel marketing strategy.

Note: This blueprint was inspired by P.R. Smith’s SOSTAC framework, an effective model for various elements of business strategy planning. You can learn more about it here: http://prsmith.org/sostac/

Step 1: Situational analysis — Where are you now?

On a treasure hunt, it’s better to know where the chest of gold coins is buried before you start digging! Data from an SEO analysis that looks at your customers, competitors, potential growth areas and ways to secure your investments help your business grow faster.

Ignoring situational analysis creates problems that snowball over time. Many businesses have faltered at this stage — and paid a high price for rushing right into tactics and implementation.

Remember, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. An experienced SEO analyst can give you a realistic picture of where you stand and show where your weaknesses lie. Maybe it’ll come as a shock to know you’re invisible to 95 percent of your prospective customers — but this knowledge can help you revise your strategy.

What to do

Look for a consultant with experience in SEO strategies, mobile search and a technical background, someone who also understands overall marketing strategy and can integrate it with search engines and SEO.

Have them perform a situational analysis that addresses the following questions:

1. Does your organization have an SEO strategy? (And, if so, how good is it?)

  • How effective is the strategy at targeting your audience?
  • Are you reaching all your qualified customers or missing any high-value segments?
  • Does your strategy continuously uncover new business opportunities and growth strategies?
  • Are you easily found on Google’s mobile search results for business-critical keyword searches from relevant geographic locations?

2. How does your SEO strategy impact business goals?

  • Does your SEO strategy positively influence business-critical goals and KPIs?
  • Which are your areas of strength? Where are you weak, and why do you underperform?
  • Are you maximizing your business’s potential or leaving opportunities untapped?
  • How can you become better at getting more customers and making more sales over the next one to three years?

3. Do you analyze your competition?

  • How effective is your competition’s strategy?
  • Do you keep track of how their activities affect your business goals?
  • Are you safeguarded against their marketing and business strategies? Can you respond effectively to their actions?
  • Do you have tools to monitor your marketplace for the arrival of fresh competitors with better tactics?

4. Is your SEO strategy future-proof?

  • How well protected are you against adverse trends and shifts in the search ecosystem?
  • Are you vulnerable to algorithm updates?
  • Are you using tactics that risk penalties in the future?
  • Is everyone in your organization following the SEO strategy and intel to your advantage?

Once you have this information, you can begin to identify incorrect priorities, wasted resources and ineffective activities that have a low impact on financial results. From here, you can move on to step 2.

Step 2: Objectives — Where do you want to be?

Setting measurable goals that are bound to business-critical KPIs will help you reassign budgets and resources from less profitable areas to others with greater impact on the bottom line. Prioritizing tasks correctly within your SEO omni-channel marketing plan also speeds up implementation.

What to do

  1. Seek external assistance to oversee the goal setting process. Look for an SEO specialist with expertise in digital analysis who can convert overall business strategies into measurable goals.
  2. Get experts to help with technical implementation of your analytics. You’ll have to make technical adjustments and configurations to your analytics tools, scripts and website to track more effectively while collating data from offline and online channels into a single place. This is highly specialized work and is best handled by specialists.
  3. Set SMART goals. Define SMART goals that are action-oriented and give you a broad overview, along with granular control of your activities. Armed with facts and analysis, you can focus on whatever helps meet your goals.
  4. Run a safety check. Make sure everyone has a clear idea of what each goal is about. Explain why you chose this goal and not another. Consult your team about which KPIs are best to track performance. See if everyone in the room understands what must be done to meet these goals and how to know if they’re getting off track.

Step 3: Strategy — How are you going to get there?

Situation analysis has exposed your individual strengths and weaknesses, letting you focus on details and information that are important for your business.

What to do

Strategy will vary depending upon the business’s goals and objectives. When it comes to determining strategy, it’s important to focus on your prospective customers. Ask yourself:

  • Who are your ideal customers? How many are there?
  • Are they on mobile devices? Or do they use desktop search?
  • Which of them are local buyers?
  • What areas should you focus on to connect with them?

In general, keyword analysis can identify what your prospective customers are looking for (customer intent). This helps you provide exactly what information they want.

Step 4: Tactics

Tactics are the action items that allow you to implement your strategy.

1. Pick your SEO tactics

Again, tactics will vary depending on your overall strategy. Sample tactics might include:

  • Tweak on-page technical SEO factors on your e-commerce website.
  • Squeeze more value from existing content by optimizing text and images on product pages.
  • Improve conversion rates using keyword analysis to determine user intent.
  • Create content and visuals that better match visitor needs.
  • Enhance your website architecture and content organization by topic and category.
  • Redesign your e-commerce website from the ground up to make it customer-centric.
  • Revise your content strategy, using content marketing on other prominent sites in your industry to draw qualified prospects.
  • Include social proof like customer reviews, awards and social media shares to convince visitors of the value you offer.
  • Gather email addresses and add them to your marketing automation systems. Use them for future follow-up communication and to make special deals and offers.
  • Use organic search to build remarketing lists so that your marketing message follows visitors and displays relevant information of interest to them.

2. Select your tools

Your choice of tools depends on the nature of your organization, how many people are involved in implementing your tactics and other factors. For instance, Google My Business can help boost visibility with local audiences in a city or location near your store.

3. Assign your budgets and resources

Knowing your tactical plan helps deploy your resources for maximum impact.

To deliver results and meet your goals, it is essential to delegate some tasks. Non-SEO activities like content marketing can be outsourced to other agencies or teams — but only if you previously plan and budget for the expenses involved.

Step 5: Take action

Now you’re ready to decide upon what to do — and who should do it. You must now:

  • delegate responsibility to team members;
  • inform everyone about their role;
  • set expectations and benchmarks;
  • explain what they need to do, how and when; and
  • allocate resources (time and money).

What to do:

Make people accountable for specific action steps. Be specific. Set deadlines.

  • Display project plans where all members can see the overall picture and know where their contribution fits in.
  • Establish reminders for each task to make sure no one forgets an upcoming deadline.
  • Let team members know how and where they can track progress with overall goals and KPIs. If they fall behind, they should be informed in time so that they can adjust and improve.
  • Make a project plan linked to a calendar and set reminders
  • List all responsibilities along with names of people involved, dates for completion and clear instructions about execution — and make it available to everyone.
  • Have the leader or project manager follow up periodically to check if team members are on track.
  • Have a backup plan in case of delays or setbacks.

Step 6: Staying in control

Measuring metrics and monitoring progress will help you stay on course and lead better. If you measure, analyze and improve regularly, it’s easy to prioritize critical factors and tactics. Being able to filter out less relevant things is important.

What to do

  • Decide who is responsible for overall measurement and control.
  • Set a timetable for how often you will review data. A project timeline must show when each goal should be met.
  • Give team members freedom to control their own progress. Everyone should know how to measure their efforts against critical goals and KPIs. Everyone should conform to the same targets, tools and processes without going off on a tangent.
  • Build an executive dashboard in your analytics tool. Collate data from all sources in it. Data should be actionable and make you more effective at decision-making and priority-setting.
  • Make sure your data is correct. What is fed into the system must be accurate. A simple error with tracking codes could throw all your complex programming for a loop.
  • Invest in knowledge and training. Team members should learn how to use your analytics tools and interpret the data. Hire an external consultant to work with your employees over time and teach them what they need to know.
  • Put up a screen to keep everyone up to date and motivated. Display information where everyone can view it daily.

Step 7: Motivation

Employees and leaders need constant motivation. Old habits die hard. It’s tough to change mindsets. Sometimes people need to unlearn things. This effort must be continuous, not sporadic or short-lived.

What to do

  • Conduct individual training programs. Have team members attend seminars, courses and SEO-related training recommended by your SEO consultant.
  • Hold group training sessions for roles and teams. External partners and consultants can help with role-specific training in areas like content marketing, SEO and social media.
  • Brief quarterly presentations that highlight results and progress, explain how you are performing, where you are successful and where you are lacking and detailed plans for the next quarter are all very motivating.
  • Discuss course correction plans. If anything isn’t performing as expected, someone should be responsible for finding a better solution.

I hope this list of practical guidelines to implement an omni-channel SEO marketing strategy in your business is helpful.

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