digital marketing budget - focus on sales funnel

Selling is Tough!

Before getting into SEO marketing in 2004, I spent 20 years of my career selling – mostly internationally and mostly in software and high technology markets.

For me, by far the toughest piece in selling was prospecting – finding new sales opportunities. I was never good at cold calling and often struggled to tee up meetings with new sales prospects. I have to say though that once I got to the first meeting stage, I had a pretty good close rate!

 

KEEPING IT SIMPLE:

  1. If website visitors don’t convert to leads and ultimately to customers, what’s wrong?
  2. Visitor was of the wrong type (could never have bought from you)
  3. Your value proposition simply was not compelling enough
  4. Your page did nothing to convert

Should have done it years ago!

As I look back on, in particular my later years in selling, all the internet infrastructure was there; email was and still is a major communications channel, and even Google was there, not as heavily used then as it is today, but nevertheless, a big player in search. If I had known then, what I know now, even back then, I could have used digital prospecting with significant success. It would have totally revolutionised my personal selling process and indeed, that of my employers. Actually it did, but not back then!

Inbound Marketing and Content as Bait

So today, cold calling is substantially replaced with digital marketing methods that are focussed on capturing sales leads from what is known as “inbound” digital marketing channels. These are online channels that leverage your “content” to attract inward visitors and contacts from your served market. Inbound channels include search engine optimisation, blogs, social media and other content or engagement-driven online interactions. In essence, inbound marketing uses “content” as a bait to attract potential prospects based on your value proposition.

Why SEO Marketing?

Among the largest of the inbound channels for most businesses is SEO. It is very easy to lose sight of why a company should invest in SEO. Too often, SEO is poorly implemented or its role in the sales process is misunderstood. So for clarification, you would invest in SEO for one or both of two reasons:

BRAND:

In the digital world, brand means “association”. In SEO terms, your brand’s associations are the totality of  search behaviours or key-phrase queries that your website or your content, is present for – consistently. However, many companies think that coming up first on a Google search against their company or product brand represents good SEO. Not so! Good SEO is consistently ranking against the hundreds or thousands of different ways in which your target audience can search for their requirements using brand-neutral language.

SALES:

In digital speak, “direct response” targeting. This means that you are specifically optimising your website / content with the intention of attracting visitors that pre-qualify themselves based on their search behaviours, as having the potential to buy from you. Whether the nature of your sale is a low-value online purchase or an off-line, high value complex sale, starting the process from a pre-qualified suspect in this way is an extremely effective prospecting method. So the role of SEO in the sales process is to attract website visitors that have the potential to buy from you; as evidenced by the search queries they used and which you intercepted because

  • you anticipated them, and
  • you created content that was directly relevant since it was written in the language of your target persona.

It doesn’t stop there. SEO goes hand-in-hand with a thing called “conversion rate optimisation”. That means, adapting the pages that people visit when they enter your website, for the best possible chance of either making an online sale (if you are online retailing), or capturing a sales lead if you use a more complex sales process.

Not an A – Z

Contrary to the beliefs of some, this search engine optimisation process is neither simple nor straightforward. But it is substantially scientific. There are processes which you can apply that will yield results just as there are processes that you can adopt that will get you penalised by Google. The right way to do SEO is not by following an A to Z of steps. It is by aligning not just the content you produce but your very own SEO process to the online behaviours of your targeted persona(s). It is from here that your greatest value add will come when you view SEO as an integral part of your sales process.

SEO is an extremely powerful sales tool. There is no other digital channel that can pre-qualify visitors as SEO can. This means that you are there when your prospect is ready to buy, not just when you are ready to sell. Your choices in SEO are to either outsource it or to up-skill your team and do it in-house. Whatever you choose, you can significantly improve your probability of success and reduce cost in the process by joining the next PraxisNow Certified SEO Practitioner group – click here to read more. It will help both your company and your career.