Over the past decade or so, digital marketing has become a divided terrain. To start, there are more acronyms than you can count (ABM, CRO, CTR, FFS), then there are experts in conversion, SEO gurus, integrated marketing, omnichannel marketing. Whatever you can think of, there’s an agency or marketing expert out there to solve the challenge.
But this raises an important industry question. Are marketers hurting more than helping themselves, by working in these distinctive siloes? John Wilkes, co-founder of growth marketing agency, Somebody Digital, believes that it’s a trap agencies often walk into “What’s interesting is that this doesn’t just happen across agencies, but within agencies themselves, where different divisions fail to play on the strengths of their counterparts in other areas,” he says.
“Let’s take the classic CRO versus SEO as a practical example. SEO and CRO are two sides of the same coin, and yet for far too long, marketers have treated these as completely isolated activities, with their own targets, techniques, and outcomes. When really, these two aspects of any agency’s offering should be closely collaborating to give clients the best ROI,” says John.
The Holy Grail of Conversions
One could argue that (especially for e-commerce sites) conversion is the ultimate goal of having a website. “Let’s set aside, for now, the shifting goalposts of whether conversion means newsletter signups or purchases,” says John. “The fact is that a business website exists to deliver a result that is unanimously defined ahead of time as a conversion.”
But that’s putting the proverbial cart before the horse, right? You could have a site that is highly optimised for conversion, with zero visitors.
That’s where SEO plays a crucial role.
Optimising is an old game
Optimising sites for search engines is no longer new, but it is an art, especially with Google’s ever-changing algorithms. “SEO remains as much in demand as it was ten years ago,” he notes, “particularly due to the low-cost impact on businesses when it’s done correctly.”
SEO offers the tantalising potential to get thousands of customers to a site in any given month, but again, you could have those thousands of visitors landing even daily, if they don’t convert, and the website has a high bounce rate, all that potential is simply wasted.
SEO and CRO must work together
So, SEO teams bring in the traffic, while CRO works to convert it. While the idea of the sales cycle is a stale one, it works as an example here, notes John:
“SEO reaches people in the discovery stage of the sales cycle, while CRO works its magic towards the middle and end stages. When done in unison, these two techniques can work to make once-off customers repeat customers in both B2B and B2C.”
SEO offers visitors to the site relevant content that answers their search queries. Strategically placed keywords drive greater site awareness and visibility, allowing greater discovery and more brand traction across the board.
Once on the site, CRO works with user experience to optimise conversions. Most crucially, unlike SEO which can be very formulaic in its output and iteration, CRO is site and product (and ultimately client) specific, and not a one-size fits all formula for delivering results.
CRO requires testing the site to see where the best place for CTAs is, whether there’s an easier way for users to checkout their baskets, where the best place to put a subscribe button is, and so forth.
Testing, optimising repeating
SEO addresses intent, whereas CRO provides solutions, which is why they should work in perfect harmony to drive greater results for businesses. The key to all of this is measurement.
“Siloing data in different departments prevents the opportunity for cross-pollination, allowing for greater insight and stronger outcomes for both client and agency,” notes John.
The same is true for teams
While this is all true of SEO and CRO as marketing techniques, it’s even more true of marketing efforts and the teams that drive them. While striving for greater cross-pollination between SEO and CRO opportunities, sharing insights across analytics and sales, or project management and PPC teams is just as critical.
For too long digital marketing teams (and efforts) have been going in their own direction. “At Somebody Digital, we’re trying to change this by providing a holistic, cohesive marketing solution that is platform agnostic across departments for our clients,” John concludes.