Posts Categorized: How to Sell

How to Sell Search Engine Optimization

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NOTE: This is the fourth segment in our “How to Sell Series.” You can read other segments here.

So you’ve built your client a whiz-bang website. It looks great, captures visitor contact information to add to email lists, moves potential customers along the sales funnel and drives branding. But how are you driving traffic to it?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), of course. SEO is the process by which a website is optimized for certain keywords so that they appear higher in the search engine results.

Theoretically, agencies should be selling SEO services with every single website they build (unless, of course, the client doesn’t want their site to be found by search engines–and there are some out there). Yet, budgets being what they are, some clients choose to forgo SEO. Here are some tips to help agencies convince clients it’s worth the extra expense.

Basic beginnings of an SEO program

Oftentimes, when a client doesn’ t have budget to support a true SEO initiative, the agency will assure them that the site is built with “best practices,” in mind, meaning that the site architecture is built with searches in mind, that the copy is readable by both humans and search engines, etc. While that is sometimes the case (and sometimes not), the only true way to take advantage of SEO is to start with keyword research and analysis. By researching relevant keywords (in addition to those the client supplies), an agency will have a solid foundation to create the AI and start creating content.

For written content, the copy must be written in a way that balances what the search engines want and what visitors need. Fortunately, with the ever-increasingly sophistication of search engines, these are quickly becoming one and the same. It’s worthwhile to invest time and energy into copywriting that serves all those purposes simultaneously. And not all copywriters do this. For non-text content (images, video, etc.), it’s essential to properly tag them, as they are virtually invisible to search engines.

Taking these first steps are the basic steps that should be taken for all sites, and should be required. However, additional steps are needed for an SEO program to truly have an impact on the bottom line.

Kick SEO up a notch

One thing that all search engines love is fresh content. Once the SEO basics have been implemented, it’s essential to continue to keep site content new, relevant and interesting, and the easiest way to achieve this is blogging. The more you blog, the fresher the content, the bigger the impact on the site’s traffic.

But posting new content doesn’t always have to blogging. It could be video. It could be a podcast. It could be images that are regularly updated (just make sure any non-text content is properly tagged, so the search engines can find it).

The SEO Coup de Grace

If on-page optimization efforts are like a target for search engines to send traffic to, then inbound links are like arrows pointing the way. Inbound links back to a site tell search engines that what the information on the site is valuable, and this is particularly true when an inbound link contains relevant keywords.

There are many ways to obtain inbound links. Website and business directories are a great place to start, as search engines sometimes use these to help their indexing. Directory listings are also a more affordable way to garner inbound links.

More time-intensive methods can include blogger outreach and online community engagement (i.e. social networking), and social bookmarking. In each of these instances, it’s important to understand that the company is participating in a community with the goal of generating links back to its site. The key, of course, is participation, and not spamming. That means posting relevant information, and not just the client’s latest blog post. It also often can lead to relationship development, which in our opinion, is a key goal of participating in social media.

The bottom line is this: Building things is nice. Building things that people find useful is better. And building things that can be found (and then used) is best.


How to Sell Pay Per Click Campaigns

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NOTE: This is the third on our “How to Sell” series. If you like this, check out the first and second parts.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a rather broad term that often gets confused with other similar terms such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC).

SEM works to build traffic to a website by raising its visibility in search engines. That can be either through paid inclusion in search results (pay-per-click–PPC) as well as on-page and off-page tactics to boost a site’s appearance in organic search results (Search Engine Optimization).

It would seem obvious that an agency might try to sell these services whenever they build a new website. Yet, there are certain times when SEO is preferred over PPC, and vice-versa. Here’s how an agency can identify the need for PPC (more on SEO later).

Is the client in a highly competitive marketplace?

Theoretically, all clients who turn to marketing agencies are in a competitive marketplace. If they weren’t, then they likely wouldn’t need to hire an agency! Yet there’s a difference between “competitive” and “unique.” Being in a competitive marketplace is a great opportunity to (literally) rise above the competition through PPC. Here’s why. In competitive marketplaces, it can be very challenging to organically improve a site’s ranking in organic search. There are many factors that can contribute to a site’s ranking, some of which a company can control and others which it can’t.

By engaging in PPC, clients can quickly elevate its visibility in search engines (as well as other websites through display network advertising). However, the client should have a budget to support a PPC campaign, especially in a competitive marketplace. The same keywords

Does the client want an online brochure or a sales & lead generation machine?

If a business is not looking to convert customers through its website, then why should they pay for traffic?

Yet, if they’re looking to generate sales and leads, then PPC can be an extremely useful, cost-effective tool. Some things the client should consider:

  • PPC can drive a lot of traffic. But the key is to drive qualified traffic, and that usually takes time to develop.
  • The effectiveness of your ads are only as good as the effectiveness of your landing pages. It’s essential to build customized landing pages for your campaigns.
  • The client may need to give something away for free in order to close the deal with the customer

How well does the client knows their customers?

PPC is not the place to go to figure out who your customers are. It’s essential to have a solid definition of your customers before starting a PPC campaign. Why? Because it’s essential to understand how people search for products. After all, it’s not what the client thinks, it’s what their customers think.

Does the client have enough budget to justify SEM?

Success in search engine marketing only comes from sustained efforts. And sustained efforts require a budget. Sometimes significant resources.

It’s a common misperception by some small businesses that Goolge Adwords–or other ad network–is an affordable place to market their business. And they’re right, when comparing the costs of Adwords to, say, buying a television ad. However, that doesn’t mean they will get something for nothing. Unless you’re in a very niche market, long gone are the days where you will spend less than $1 for a click. And, if a client wants more than one lead per day, the client should expect to pay a bare¬†minimum of $500/month.

Additionally, it’s essential to develop landing pages that match your ads. Too often, a company will spend money on ads, but will only send potential customers to their home page. And too often, that home page is not equipped to handle that traffic.

Ultimately, it’s essential to pose these questions to the client to determine if PPC is right for them. While it’s not always a good match, with a little bit of common sense, a smart agency can find ways to integrate PPC into their arsenal of tactics that help their clients reach a competitive edge.


How to Sell Public Relations Services

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Although Evolve Communications was founded to primarily help agencies enhance its digital marketing services, we quickly saw the need to offer public relations services. PR is an excellent compliment to other digital marketing tools, particularly social media (some would even argue that social media is public relations and not marketing, but that’s a different discussion).

However, some agencies don’t always know when to steer clients towards a PR solution, and as result, public relations is sometimes deployed to accomplish goals when there might be a tool that’s a better fit.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for agencies that can help identify when public relations is a good fit for your client–and when it isn’t.

The client has a good story to tell

Some PR practitioners would argue that every company has a story to tell. And to some degree that’s true. The question is whether or not it’s an interesting story. Yes, it’s the PR practitioner’s job to make a story appealing to a company’s audiences. But let’s be honest: putting a “spin” on something less than appealing doesn’t serve anybody (not the agency, not the practitioner, and least of all, not the client).

What makes a good story? Several things: uniqueness, timeliness, relevancy. The client’s story should demonstrate the company’s differentiators, and it should be clear how the client relates to its clients and its industry.

We can certainly help a client articulate their story, but they need to have a story to begin with.

The client has data to back it up (or budget to buy data)

A story is only a work of fiction until you can back it up with data. Clients should have data to back up the claims in their story, or at least have budget to devote towards obtaining supporting data–either through secondary or primary research.

If a client doesn’t have this information, or isn’t interested in obtaining it, then PR may not be a good match for them.

The client has the assets to support it (or the budget to pay for it)

By assets, we mean images, infographics, videos, etc. If they don’t have this already, they need to be willing to pay for it. It doesn’t have to be a huge line item in the budget. But if the client wants to launch a new product, or wants to do a new hire release, or wants to promote a travel package or a destination, or whatever, they’re going to need assets.

Having quality images is integral to securing coverage much of the time, and the client needs to be made aware of that.

The client is open to working collaboratively

Like many marketing disciplines, PR is a collaborative process. It is often an ongoing, evolving process that shifts over time. In PR, the relationship with the client should not be a scenario where the client provides some information and guidelines about what they want to see, and then a few weeks later have an end-product. In PR, it sometimes takes time to develop a story, and that often means collaboration.

Successful public relations requires regular communication between the client and the agency. If a client feels like this is a burden, or they think that hearing from their PR person is just an annoyance, then its likely that they also will not want to talk to the media (see the next item).

The client is willing to talk to the media

We understand that every business has things that are considered proprietary and they don’t want to discuss them publicly. And that’s fine.

However, once we identify the story and how we want to tell it, the client must be willing to tell that story to the media. The client doesn’t have to be media-trained; we can train them to give great interviews. After all, its incumbent on the PR practitioner to prepare the client, including helping the client answer difficult questions that they might not want to answer.

But, if the client is afraid to talk to the media–regardless of training and preparation–then their expectation for obtaining coverage needs to be tempered. Journalists (and bloggers) want access–not necessarily to every detail of a business–but enough to get the story right.

You might be asking, “Does a client need to meet all of these criteria?” Our answer is Yes. But No. But Yes. Yes, ultimately clients need to be able to do all of these things. No because they don’t need to meet these criteria right off the bat. We can work with you to help get them up to speed. And yes, again, because ultimately, the client’s interest in obtaining coverage for their business must be matched by their willingness to contribute to the process.