Conversion and Search – Getting rid of the silos

There’s a significant shift in marketing to move to a much more multi-channel approach. No longer can we treat SEO and PPC in silos, nor should we dismiss the benefits of referral and social traffic adding to our last click conversions. Ultimately, the way users behave has changed to use multiple devices and visit via multiple channels before the point of conversion and so the way we approach marketing has had to get smarter too.

Not only are all the channels growing closer, but a focus on the onsite experience is also becoming key. Why drive traffic if we aren’t going to convert it anyway? However, if your revenue is being attributed cross-channel, where does the ultimate responsibility of improving conversion rate fall. Enter the conversion rate specialist.

Who’s job is it anyway?

Search Marketing, as you undoubtedly know, is how we gain both visibility and traffic in search engines. It refers to both organic efforts and paid media activities. Based on this definition alone, it is easy to see why those working within SEO or SEM frequently disregard conversion rate optimisation as simply not being part of their work. But let’s be realistic here, as nice as keyword rankings are, we wouldn’t be employed as marketers if we weren’t also impacting the bottom line of the businesses we work with.

This alone is enough to show why there’s such a big conflict when it comes to who is responsible for conversions and conversion rate. It makes absolutely no sense that so many SEO agencies are accountable for the organic revenue they bring in, yet not empowered to make on page changes to benefit conversion rate. It is the definition of bringing the horse to water, but we can’t make them buy. Conversely, there are many conversion rate optimisation teams who aren’t invited to the right conversations around market research, SEM strategies, and audience targeting.

So if you’re an agency with contracts which directly target you to revenue, and you’re not joining up the dots, then you may be putting your own business at risk. You need clear definitions of where and how responsibilities are divided up. Yes, the agency can drive traffic – but if the rest of the funnel is c**p then, arguably, they can’t be responsible for the outcome. Similarly; if you change your on-page experience to be the very best ever for one audience type, and that’s not the type of traffic your agency are driving, then who does the blame fall on?

The success of the businesses you are marketing is down to a team of people; experts from different disciplines. So as an SEO, it’s up to you to take the time to learn everything about SEO and improving your strategy to deliver the best and most relevant visibility and traffic. But that’s not enough – you need to add an understanding of how consumers then convert, or don’t . With that understanding, you can work impactfully with a conversion rate specialist, the brand itself, and your own team to really drive commercial results.

Integrating Conversion Rate Optimisation

Recommend each other’s services

As Stephen Kenwright said in his interview last year, there are so many more companies investing in SEO than CRO right now. Often, we see that SEO’s are scared to recommend employing a CRO specialist or hiring an additional agency because they don’t want to lose out on work nor to have another business critiquing their work. But this over-possessive nature we have towards client projects isn’t sustainable for driving a brand the best results possible.

At Search/Conversion Elite you’ll find some of the best in the business from both these disciplines, so it’s the perfect time to meet people you will trust to deliver quality results for your clients. It is better for both parties that the site is gaining a large amount of traffic and with a high conversion rate, so working together is the only way forward. If you aren’t utilising specialists, you also risk an integrated agency who work across all these elements coming in and providing far better results.

Cross-training

Whilst a training session or a conference won’t give you the skill set to pick up conversion rate optimisation from scratch, it will give you a good understanding of what is really out there and what is possible. The same for conversion specialists learning SEO, it takes time to become an expert but the ability to understand the high level of what the other team is doing is important.

Understanding the gaps in your knowledge is just as important as knowing the things in the first place. By taking the time to understand the scope of SEO or CRO and all the possibilities within the discipline, you can identify the interaction points where it’s smarter to hand the project over.

Check out your competitors

As marketers we spend a lot of time talking about building product/service awareness, getting users searching through the funnel and then winning the final conversion. If you’re absolutely nailing marketing higher up the funnel, but your competitors have a bit conversion journey, you risk that you’re simply generating a bigger market for them. To me, this is the most persuasive point for why CRO needs to be part of any digital marketing project.

nfluencer marketing has led to people learning about products they’ve never seen (for example, did you know you can order Cactus on a subscription service?) which then leads to people googling these weird products.

If you’ve driven the search volume on these products with some kickass influencer marketing, it’s then frustrating if a competitor swoops in and picks up the traffic or conversions by simply being better on-page. Testing your conversion experience against competitors can be a really good case for investing more time into this part of the purchase funnel with a specialist.

Focus on your speciality

In contrast to cross-training, it’s still important to develop learnings within your own specialism and be on top of the latest industry changes. If you try to make yourself individually too broad in your skills, you’ll find that your T-shape marketer turns much more into just a flat line. It’d be great if we could all pick up skills to an expert level and juggle 100 tasks at once but it’s not a realistic approach.

Being able to admit a weakness in this discipline doesn’t make you bad at SEO, nor does a CRO who can’t do SEO appear to be bad at their job just because they don’t know every ranking signal. The key here is diversifying and collaboration on projects to drive forward the businesses we work on.

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