How to Keep Your Search Team in Asia Humming With the Right KPIs

  |  October 28, 2013   |  Comments   |  

As a senior marketer, how do you plan and build team KPIs that could keep the team accountable and motivated while remaining sensitive to the Asian context?

In businesses that are marketplaces in Asia such as, or my company, search is an integral part of how you bring new visitors to your site, so much so that your search people can become the superstars of your marketing team.

SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click) text ads are the bread and butter of your site’s traffic that can contribute significantly to the goal of bringing new visitors to your site.

Given the importance of this channel, as a senior marketer, how do you plan and build team KPIs that could keep the team accountable and motivated while remaining sensitive to the Asian context?

Here are some ideas for KPIs (key performance indicators) in an Asian marketplace business.

For your PPC colleagues that write those slightly “boring” but highly effective text ads, here are some important things to have in their KPIs:

  • Keeping up to date. Reading and being up to date within 3 days of publication of new algorithm updates on (or a similar site) and ad formats. This is an easy measure to spot check in meetings. You just need to read ahead.
  • Sharing. Sharing one item a week in the corporate wiki on monthly group sessions and explaining how it makes you think differently about the current search strategy.
  • Keeping the house tidy. Have their campaigns 80 percent up to date and ensure the deep dives pick up new issues rather than the same old ones.
  • The bread and butter KPIs. It’s difficult to write about this as it is unique to each business but here are some commonalities across the majority:
  1. Efficiency. Search is about how efficiently you can drive visits and acquisitions so you usually want to have some efficiency measure. For example, KPIs for search, a 5 percent reduction in CPC (cost-per-click) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition). However, when doing this, you want to factor in for CPC inflation. In some industries in Asia, the CPC has risen 35 percent in 12 months, so your measure should always be relative.
  2. Contribution to your visits target. Contribution to overall site traffic is another measure. You want to have solid targets of what they need to target, for instance, 25 percent growth of traffic from SEM (search engine marketing).

For your SEO person, KPIs can be harder to write as there are so many dependencies in SEO that it’s difficult to set targets that do not become de-motivational as the year wears on.

This is especially important in Asia where team members often have internal benchmarks about where they stand with regard to relative performance on a regular basis. Your SEO person may be comparing themselves with your PPC colleague and getting quite despondent.

To balance the equation and recognize those dependencies, these performance metrics will focus on getting the SEO governance process 100 percent right even while work may be stuck in the development pipeline:

  • A project Gantt chart updated to the minute with hard deadlines along with monthly reporting on any changes to the work plan.
  • Reading and being up to date within 3 days of publication of new algorithm updates on and similar sites.
  • On time delivery of SEO requirements to Product and IT so as to make it easy to get feedback from these departments.
  • SEO training every 6 weeks for the company stakeholders that have an impact on SEO.
  • Play devil’s advocate to ensure all alternate solutions are fully explored and documented by a core group of 2 or more SEO peers.

In addition to all this, we know search can get boring after a while so you need to keep your team interested as part of your retention strategy.

Be a bit different from other employers in Asia and remove the silos. Get the SEO team member to teach the PPC colleague and vice versa. Give them solid cross-disciplinary mini projects to own.

Keep moving them up the skills ladder and you’ll soon see the holy grail of search emerge on the horizon – integrated SEO and PPC strategies.

Yes, that’s correct. Once your PPC and SEO team members know what each other is doing, then cross-pollination will happen naturally. For example, conduct cannibalization studies to see how much your PPC is helping or hurting your SEO and other interesting actionable insights.

Image on homepage via Shutterstock.


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Max  Sim

Max Sim is regional head of digital at JobsDB. He oversees digital marketing in China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia.Max began his career as a developer at Accenture's e-commerce Development Centre. Over the last 12 years, he has worked for a variety of global digital marketing projects with a focus on rolling out large scale enterprise SEO projects for News Corp subsidiaries. Before joining JobsDB, he was hired by Omnicom to bring BlueCurrent, a boutique agency group from Japan to Hong Kong. He has worked with many blue chip clients including Estee Lauder, Hitachi Data Systems, Metlife, and Harrow International School. Max takes an integrated approach to digital marketing and practices PR, SEM, and social in many of his projects.

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