Tablet showing SEO metrics

How should I measure my SEO agency?

A friend of mine was looking for a SEO agency, and was casually mentioning to me about the different views the managers had about how to measure the performance of the new agency. The first view was measuring based on Google Search Rank position for the selected keywords (ie: page 1 for “Buy a boat”), and the second was total ROI for engaging the agency (ie: total value of sales from web generated leads vs. agency cost).

Website SEO Metrics Measurement Template
Click here to download Website SEO Metrics Template (14.12 KB 26 downloads)

To his surprise, I strongly agreed with the second view. The purpose of SEO is to generate business, not to achieve rankings. What would be the purpose of achieving page one rankings if it didn’t get you any business?

The purpose of SEO is to generate business, not to achieve rankings.

There are lots of ways to track the performance of your SEO agency on a technical and ethical level, but when you’re thinking about delivery against targets there are only three things to watch out for:

  1. Google Analytics Goals (when visitors achieve specific objectives on your website)
  2. Total number leads generated from your website (how many qualified leads your website is generating for you every month)
  3. Total revenue from web leads (how much money you made from your web leads)

You need to setup a baseline for comparison. This allows you to  compare your current website performance, vs. the performance after your agency has started work. Even if you’re not tracking these details at the moment, it’s easy to start. Send your website leads to a specific mailbox so you can count them seperately, or use a lead management tool such as Sales Gorilla (Disclaimer: I’m affiliated with this product). Your agency can setup your Analytics Goals, their lead gen work will take time to start working, so your’ll be able to establish a baseline in the first month.

What about all the other website metrics? Things such as bounce rates, time on site, visitors, etc.? They’re all secondary metrics. Great indicators as to what your visitors are doing, but meaningless if your primary lead & revenue goals aren’t being met.

For clarity, you should still track the other indicators & check your agency is doing the right thing (ethically). Just don’t lose sight of the main goal in the process. Effectively your SEO agency is part of your sales team, so I prefer to track, manage and reward them in the same way.

Website SEO Metrics Measurement Template
Click here to download Website SEO Metrics Template (14.12 KB 26 downloads)

Elevator Pitch

Creating your one liner

Before you can begin marketing your product/service, it’s really important that you can talk about your offering. If it’s not defined to the point that everybody on your team, or a random person from the street can understand it in one short sentence, then you need to stop. Breathe deeply. And start again. You need to build your one liner, this is more powerful than your elevator pitch. It’s you, distilled down to a tweet, with no emoticons, lols or cat pictures.

Moore’s positioning statement from Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm, provides a great template for creating your product definition:

For (target customers)
Who (have the following problem)
Our product is a (describe the product or solution)
That provides (cite the breakthrough capability)
Unlike (reference competition),
Our product/solution (describe the key point of competitive differentiation)

When you’ve nailed your positioning statement down, it’s time to start working on your elevator pitch.
I recommend the following structure:

We (customer) (the solved problem)
Whilst (overcoming a common objection)
With (grandma’s explanation of your solution)

For example:

We allow hospitals to maximize the use of doctors & equipment
Whilst improving the patient experience
With a really clever appointment & queuing system

The overall structure is similar to Moore’s statement, but with a few key differences:

1. Tell people about the solved problem not the problem. Problems are negative, and everybody has them. Don’t’ talk about your solution either, that’s your story not theirs. Instead tell people about what happens when you solve the problem. That’s what they’re waiting to hear. It’s positive, non-technical, story based, and easy to remember.

Example #1:
Problem: Disposable coffee cups burn your hands when hot and are slippery
Solution: Thermally insulated coffee cup sleeves
Statement: We provide café’s the coffee cup sleeves that prevent burns

Example #2:
Problem: Tea gets cold too soon after being poured into a cup
Solution: New ceramic compound with massively improved thermal properties
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)

2. Positively overcome a common objection. Most solutions have a common objection, or a slight negative that you need to work around. Put this in, so it’s clear that you’ve solved the other headaches that go with your solution. Bear in mind that this, like your earlier statement might differ from client to client.

For example:
Statement: We provide café’s the coffee cup sleeves that prevent burns
Included objection handling: They’re made from recycled material, so they’re environmentally friendly too

For example:
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)
Included objection handling: They’re the same price & weight as regular cups

3. Keep the explanation of your solution to it’s simplest possible form. This should be the same as what your grandmother tells her friends that you do. In casual conversation, nobody’s paying enough attention to remember anything more specific, detailed or technical than this.

For example:
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)
Included objection handling: They’re the same price & weight as regular cups
Explanation: We make the cups with our special baking process.

In a lot of scenarios just the first two lines are enough. The explanation is only really necessary if there isn’t an obvious link between your solved problem & your solution. Here’s a real life example for you to think about:

For example, about the medical (C3R) collagen cross linking process:
Statement: We save people from with KC from going blind.
Objection handling: It works on early stage KC
Explanation: We have special drops that strengthen their eyes

Edit: I recently read a post about creating one liners for books, and think the idea of adding some flavour is brilliant. It’s deifnitely something that I’d recommend doing. When I next update this format, I’ll be including Flavour as a must have ingredient.

Client Persona Profiles in a globe

What is a Customer Profile?

Building a client persona helps you to better understand your clients. Armed with knowledge of your client, their environment and the hurdles they have to jump, you’ll be able to target specific groups with customized content and improve your sales process to better suit your clients. Whilst it sounds like extra work, targeted marketing can be a lot more cost effective than a shotgun marketing method. Here’s a quick one page template that you can use:

One page Customer Persona Profile template
1.21 MB 11 downloads

It’s much easier to market to a customer when you understand them & their environment, but identifying a customer isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There can be many different people in the decision making process, and ensuring that you’re targeting the right person (with the right information) is important.

Identify the players & their roles

Think about a child that wants candy, the child (Influencer) doesn’t have money to buy the candy, but can influence a parent (Decision Maker) who can make the decision to buy – but the purchase is actually completed by an older sibling (Buyer) that’s at the store. I’d recommend analyzing several of your previous sales, and understand who played what role – and at which point you’re making an impact. Once you’ve identified a few of the key players, you’ll be ready to start creating personas (or profiles) for the key individuals that you want to sell to.

Getting the information

Most people in similar roles have similar problems, but don’t base your persona on just one individual. Try to speak to as many people as you can and understand their commonalities. It’s important to speak to them and not to hypothesize in a closed room – even if it is based on your past real experiences. If you can’t conduct actual interviews, organize casual meetings and tactfully elicit as much information as you can.

What you need to know

Try to a build a well rounded profile of the customer (Who), the more complete your profile, the more human you can make your approach & the better you’ll be able to sell. Here are a few high level categories you’ll want to cover:

  1. Where; do they go? Which clubs, societies & events do they attend? Which magazines do they read, and what websites do they frequent or trust? This will help you understand where you need to promote your brand & reach your audience.
  2. What; problems & challenges do your clients face on a daily basis? Who do they report to and what are their KPI’s? Help them fix their problems, make their lives easier and they’ll want to work with you.
  3. Why; does your customer want your solution? What problem does it actually solve? This might be different from the one you intended it for, so listen carefully. People buy things because it helps them in some way, not because of specific features.
  4. How; do they actually buy your solution? What internal hurdles are they going to face, what business cases or justifications will they have to present? Prepare materials that will help your buyer deal with their internal issues quickly. This will make it easier (and faster) for your product to actually get sold.

Once you have all this information for one your clients, you’ll be able to leverage this information to create more relevant buying stages, and to improve objection handling. You’ll probably have to make 3 or 4 of these profiles so that you can address each player specifically.