SAN FRANCISCO – SEO marketers relish the opportunity to increase spending, but when it comes time to make their case in the boardroom they often get stuck in the weeds. “You are not thinking the way the boardroom is thinking. You need to change that thinking,” says Alok Jain, SEO senior manager at Walmart.
He encourages his colleagues in SEO to keep their head above water by focusing on the metrics and forecasts that matter to the chief marketing officer. As CMOs and board members make decisions on where to invest finite resources for marketing, they need to be convinced of the forecasted gains in traffic, revenue, return on investment (ROI), share of voice, channel risks, and any outstanding dependencies, Jain says.
“Before you ask for money, you need to build confidence that their investment is really going to drive value,” he adds. Simplify the SEO landscape for your CMO and board by speaking in their language and creating analogies to illustrate your strategy and plan for execution.
With that comes a responsibility to not oversell or promise what SEO can accomplish in the near term. “SEO is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Jain. As such, he suggests giving decision-makers options for different levels of investment that can be tied to individual forecasts for total revenue contribution and year-over-year lift in visits.
Jim Yu, founder and CEO of BrightEdge, says SEO is driving the rise of earned media all while consumers and brands create content that is driving an astronomical growth in data. “Ninety percent of the world’s global data has been created in the last two years,” he said.
The current landscape is marked by a “massive change in what consumers are expecting in content, and what that drives is convergence,” Yu adds. “That’s how the end customers that we’re trying to reach are interacting with us, and at the heart of that is SEO.”
When brand created content is optimized with organic search it carries a ripple effect across every channel, according to Yu. “When you look at what end customers trust, it is earned media.”
He tells marketers to focus on four key areas at the board level: understanding the competitive landscape, the value of those markets to your business, market share, and ROI. First-time investments in SEO are the hardest to sell in the boardroom, says Jain, but once the light turns green it is imperative that the board is regularly updated on what SEO is delivering and how it’s driving incremental growth.
“SEO is not just incremental gains, it’s also keeping the existing baseline that you have,” adds Yu. And finally, that’s why he and Jain say it’s important to frame SEO as part defense and offense.