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For episode 170 of The Search Engine Journal Show, I had the opportunity to interview Garrett Mehrguth, CEO at Directive, enterprise search marketing agency.
Mehrguth talks about the importance of focusing on your brand being discoverable for SEO and challenges some of the traditional sales funnel models.
Why is focusing specifically on your brand one of the most important aspects of your SEO right now?
Garrett Mehrguth (GH): I’m going to look at it in two different ways:
- From a psychological perspective.
- From a financial perspective.
And why both of these matters so much to in-house marketers or agency side folks.
First and foremost, we all know the importance of brand. There’s a reason why people do Super Bowl commercials and run these very expensive ads to get awareness for their products or services.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have … become so obsessed with understanding the KPIs to conversions and the metrics that we’ve devalued how people actually make purchasing decisions.
And so what I mean by that is the traditional marketing funnel right now in my opinion, is broken when you run it on a cash model.
And so this is kind of that financial side of it. I would love to see in a cash business a 10% cost of sales ratio.
So what that means is if you think you can generate $100,000 in total contract value in a month, if you can do that with a $10,000 spend, including salaries, ad spend, and all of that stuff, you can now create a highly efficient model.
Now, the problem is that current marketing funnel doesn’t allow that. So let me talk from exact personal experience.
I’m blessed to work with some really good advertisers at Directive and they helped me with my stuff for our own advertising. In fact, we got to the point where we were converting at 60% from LinkedIn.
So it’s hard for me to say, “OK, my team could do better.” Right? If you get to 60% conversion rate on any platform, you’re already well past the benchmark.
Now the problem is marketing – especially SEO and PPC – is entirely timing-dependent. In other words, you cannot force someone to make a purchasing decision.
And that’s what makes SEO so powerful is because you can take the keywords they’re searching and then position your brand to be discovered when you know there’s purchasing intent.
Now the problem with a funnel and lead gen is there’s not purchasing intent. So when someone’s on LinkedIn, they’re not looking to purchase.
And so what happens is, even at 60%, let’s say our cost per acquisition for a lead was still around $17 on LinkedIn, but we have a 1% qualification rate – meaning that in a given one month period, if we were to generate a hundred leads from LinkedIn, we were able to turn one of those into a proposal and then we have anywhere between a 20- 30% close rate.
Twenty percent means you’re doing well. If you’re above 30%, you should probably raise your rates.
But the problem is when you look at that funnel, if you want to get enough opportunities to hit a deal or revenue goal, you’re going to have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on your lead gen.
Brent Csutoras (BC): And so where does that tie into the brand? Do you just bypass a lot of that by having brand exposure?
GM: You delete lead gen.
Imagine if you get rid of running white papers to generate into Marketo and try to nurture leads. Imagine if you just deleted all of that spend, OK?
Here’s what you can get for $250 on GDN. You can use it for in-market audiences, find people looking for exactly what you offer, and for $250 you’re able to generate 1.5 million impressions.
For the same amount, you could generate 10 leads with a 1% qualification rate and never get an opportunity.
What I found is, if you can get above the lead area and go to the brand, so I think the new funnel has to go brand, lead, opportunity, deal revenue. And if you can go above leads and go to brand, you’re going to see phenomenal results.
Just since launching this in the last month, we were able to have conversations with five enterprise brands. By the way, our advertising says the search marketing agency for enterprise brands…
I’m talking enterprise companies that we’ve never been able to talk to before, who fill out our form.
We started to launch a brand campaign, and it was just a billboard, that drove awareness at what Directive was.
Now here’s the beautiful part. You can’t just have awareness.
Then you go to your SEO and your PPC strategy and you say, when someone searches for the products or services you offer, do you show up?
And now the difference is you’re the brand that has seven impressions on the ideal customer persona, while the others do not.
If you have your product market positioning right, you’re discoverable, plus you’ve built brand equity, now you have a powerful combination that drives incredible revenue at a lower cost per sale and allows you to have an efficiency in a cash model.
Is there any other low-hanging fruit opportunities to increase your brand opportunity?
GM: I would say podcast advertising. It’s truly actually good not only brand but also lead gen. It’s a captive audience and we still generate amazing deals from podcast ads.
With GDN, how would you go about finding the sites?
GM: You find the software that your ideal customer persona uses and then you leverage their login pages. Now you know they’re an active user of the product and you run from there.
Why does discoverability really need to be one of the primary focuses of our marketing campaigns?
GM: I think it has to be the number one focus because it’s the one thing that’s going to increase close rate, lower time to close, and allow you to essentially create velocity within your sales department.
The reason I say that is because currently if you’re not being creative with your SEO efforts, for example, you will almost guarantee, in any vertical, not be able to rank when the timing is hottest or when the purchase intent is strongest.
At the very bottom of the funnel when people start to modify the keywords they searched when looking for you by top best reviews and other purchase-related kind of modifiers, third party review sites are showing up like crazy.
In the services business, you got Clutch.co, you’ve got TopSEOs, all these people had been there forever. Are they transparent, are they good? That’s a whole other conversation.
Either way, they’re showing up number one and getting a 28% click-through rate, which is still 10 to almost 20x sometimes the volume you can get even from a search ad for the same keyword.
And so if you go search top ERP software, we talked about this before, no ERP software is ranking because Google is saying, due to what I call the Yelp and the Amazon effect.
This means when people are searching and they have purchase intent, they don’t want to hear how great you are from you, they want to go to what they are considering an unbiased source – whether that’s true or not – and they want to look at reviews.
If they look at reviews before they buy a $5 breakfast burrito, they’re sure as hell going to look at reviews before they buy a $250,000 software.
And so you have to take that same purchase reality of a consumer in 2019 and make sure that your being discovered when those users are looking online to make a purchasing decision.
What does it mean to be ‘discoverable’?
GM: I mean if you see other websites ranking, that means you could rank, you just need to write a better piece that’s more authoritative like traditional SEO. But that’s still one position out of 10.
And unless you’re number one, and if you’re outside of the top five, the click-through rate frankly won’t be substantial enough to generate any type of net new business unless it’s a very high volume term.
The second we stop thinking about websites and start thinking about brands, that’s when we become world-class search marketers.
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita