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.

Business Woman Partner Network

Do I have a good channel partner network?

After putting in lots of effort to build a partner network, you’ll want to be able to measure your success. The easiest metric, the one your CEO will love – revenue, won’t always be the most applicable though. Some companies try and peel this back a little and talk about the volume of new opportunities opened. Both are undeniably important and should always be a focus, but when you’re first establishing your network and leads aren’t forthcoming – how do you know if your channel is growing the right way? Other metrics such as geographic coverage, knowledge, engagement & loyalty can be excellent indicators.

 I like to consider several non-financial measures when reviewing a channel network:
      1. Size &  coverage: Some partners are a good strategic fit because of their geographic coverage. They may not sell much of your product, but they give you the capability to advertise coverage in an area that you would otherwise struggle to service. You might also want to interpret coverage as access to particular market segments. For instance a partner that specialises in hospital & clinics, providing access to a market that most other partners can not easily access.Individual partners aside, an important metric to consider is your overall geographic/market coverage. You could measure this by a metric as simple as countries served (by an active dealer), or be more detailed and consider cities/regions or specific markets within countries.
      2. Knowledge & capability: Most people are happy proposing systems that they understand, rather than ones they don’t. So the more people that are trained to use your product, the more likely it is that your product is going to be recommended & sold. Keep track of the volume of staff that are trained & certified on your solution. The more people your partner is sending for training, the more likely they’re proposing it.The total number of trained/certified engineers or sales people, per partner, country and overall are good metrics to track by. This will give you an indication of how involved & how important your partners feel it is to keep their teams abreast of your technology.
      3. Engagement &  motivation: This is slightly harder to gauge. It’s possible to use a simple metric such as sales or lead volume, but it’s easy for lead volumes or revenue to be skewed by advertising or one or two big orders. As metrics go, they dont’ really reflect how motivated a partner is to sell your product. Instead I prefer to look for more qualitative factors, how often & how many team members join your webinars, inquire about new products, or actively try to source other materials. If your partners launch their own in-market campaigns, the volume/frequency of their campaigns can be a great metric.
      4. Loyalty: Are they pitching any other competitive products? How many similar products do they promote? Do they have any dedicated sales people? Have they converted any competitive opportunities to yours? Loyalty is particularly hard to  measure and is very much a qualitative metric. All other factors aside, loyal partners are worth their weight in gold. There’s nothing more difficult than having to change a partner (especially when a client is already engaged with your product) and having to restart the education & relationship building process. Even if a partner sells good volumes but flits over to the competition for a few extra percentage points, they’ll likely represent more of a risk to your business than the potential revenue bonus is worth.

There are a few negative indicators you should track too. This is where I like to consider:

  1. Revenue & leads: If you’re sending business to a partner but not getting anything back in return, I’d start looking closely at the lead pipeline, are there a good volume of leads coming in? Is the lead volume trending upwards? Even if lead conversion is poor, lead volume trends are a good indicator of the sales effort your partner is putting in.
  2. Communication: How quickly do they respond to you? There are always other priorities, but if the response time to your emails & messages is poor, then you might need to consider trying to re-energize the partnership. Response times and pro-active communication are good indicators of whether your partners are really interested in working with you. Poor response times are also a worrying indication of how your partner is going to be treating any clients that you might send over.