I’m often driven by a business question I began answering over ten years ago: “What is the unique value my team can bring to this business challenge and how will that improve the outcome?”
Value in the global search marketing space equates to the result of the effective use of tools and resources that strengthen brand capital and revenue. While you share common attributes with your competitors’ search teams that deliver value to your respective enterprises, it’s what is called the “unfair advantage” your team brings to the table that ultimately launches your brand to a leadership position.
What Are Your Value Drivers?
Search marketers tend to walk and talk the same way. We understand which KPIs to hit and which tools to use. Our search teams have SEO and SEM specialists. While our teams may perform similar functions across channels, geographies, and product categories, it’s important to step back, grab a 40,000-foot perch, and figure out where the value drivers are within your work flows, tools, and resources.
Each team member has unique attribute sets that he or she brings to the group. The group as a whole is an amalgam of technical skills and marketing acumen. Where are the opportunities to leverage the unmatched skills your team members possess? Whether it’s driving stronger keyword rankings or sharper geo-localization, the unfair advantages within your team contribute to the value it can deliver.
What Value Can You Deliver?
When I think of delivering value, I’m reminded of a lean manufacturing management technique Toyota originated, where each workflow process is mapped to determine its value to operations. Steps seen as unnecessary or problematic are removed from the map, or changed to create an efficient model to build towards. This is closely related to the Theory of Constraints, popularized by Eliyahu Goldratt in his book of the same name. In the search marketing space, the approach is different, yet we seek the same outcome. Sure, we model for optimization in our workflows. but we’re not modeling strictly to reduce budget or increase capacity; we model to maximize outcomes across varying and ever-changing environments.
Search Marketing and SEO, like other enterprise segments, must more and more function as a strategic value driver in the marketing channel. And of course with ROI in mind. Here is one area where value can be delivered by your Search Marketing team. The first opportunity is to optimize your work flows to create maximum customer engagement. We look at what steps we can take to enhance results in geographies with as few iterations as possible. Basically, how do you achieve the highest results with the least effort. Testing is crucial to this effort, which means that tools are deployed to evaluate ROI as we roll out new campaigns. The tools for each campaign will vary in how they are used, but the bottom line is we assess the value derived by paid search campaigns, SEO results, mobile focus, on-page targeting for conversion optimization and more.
Enterprise value is dependent on the value we offer to our global markets, since without our markets, we have no value. We constantly look for ways to communicate with our markets more effectively, to uncover their needs more efficiently, and to satisfy their demands more fully. Through our market value delivery model, we can then translate the value we deliver to our markets to value delivered to the enterprise.
How Do You Maximize Your Team’s Value?
When it comes to maximizing your Search team’s value, there are three management “wells” to fill. Know your market well, know your team well, and know your enterprise well. First, market comprehension stems from analyzing data after SEO & search marketing engagements. Second, evaluating your team on a continual basis leads to a better understanding of the unique value drivers each member possesses. This includes the shared value of aligning with colleagues and stakeholders. Lastly, the final “well” – your enterprise well – is filled by understanding clearly how to integrate search strategies with operational goals. This is the most beneficial, difficult, and longest-term plan – and most search marketers never really maximize their value by aligning well within the organization.
How Do You Deliver Value?
The most important question is this: How do you drive your team’s value to your markets?
Simply, the value you deliver to your global search markets is driven by your ability to provide solutions that your markets need and understand. The value you deliver to your local search markets is driven by your ability to focus your brand’s appeal into the top geo-markets.
Driving your enterprise to search marketing excellence comes down to the value your team delivers through its unfair advantage.
Your team’s ability to create effective messaging in optimized delivery channels provides your markets value. Today’s customer-driven landscape demands rich content and last-millisecond delivery. Best-in-breed brands all connect with their markets where they meet (social) or where they shop (ecommerce), but those that deliver value from their unfair advantage reign supreme. The value delivered by your search team’s unfair advantage may come from the team’s geo-targeting strategy, its mobile optimization focus, co-optimization of the search marketing channels, or attribution analysis across multi-channels. The point is: when you find your unfair advantage, your long-standing route to success is to consistently unlock the value it brings to your enterprise.
Maximize Your Search Marketing Value; Determine, Define & Drive
Make it an exercise this week to walk through this process and discover your opportunities to maximize the value of your search marketing efforts.
1. Determine your team’s unique value.
If you’re a team-of-one, how can you leverage the expertise and bandwidth of colleagues and offer more training to transfer knowledge? For larger teams, what are key strategy decisions to ensure you prioritize how best to maximize your unique value? Regardless of the size or level of expertise of your team, know the priorities of your top executives and how your search marketing work matters to them.
2. Define your most important Search tools and how to use them best
Tools come in various forms – classic keyword research and rank, analytics, link research, and more conversion-oriented tools related to targeting, optimization, and social. Whatever tools you use, you must maximize their value – your goal should be to automate everything that otherwise must be done manually.
3. Drive value consistently
There is no magic formula or silver bullet. Credibility and reputation matter in making a case to stakeholders on why they should listen to your SEO recommendations. You must use everything that matters most to your organization – including but not limited to improved ranking, findability, revenue projections, improving your brand story, better customer success, consistent messaging, improved collaboration, or even technical solutions related to load time or improved crawl rate – to get the attention of those who must implement what you believe to be right based on your understanding of markets and your unique value as a professional search marketer.
Don’t forget the other side of the coin, though: your team must receive value in return. The output delivered to your markets comes back in keyword ranking, search impressions, CTR, better share of search, and of course, conversions and improved customer loyalty. The value received reinforces your successful practices and highlights ineffective ones so they can be improved upon.