Wiedemann: Likely You Can Pitch, but Can You Catch?

Having strong outbound efforts and a weak inbound search net is like having an ace pitcher on the mound, but a less experienced catcher behind the plate allowing passed balls and stolen bases.

Get More Customer Relationship Value from the Same Budget

You can extract more value from the budgets in place to engage new customers. The way to do this is to have the right balance between the efforts and budgets you direct to Outbound touchpoint communications versus to technology and creative in place for capturing Inbound responses.

by George Wiedemann

In my article today I want to address Inbound responses and lead/visit conversion beginning with Search.

The Inbound Search touchpoints are the most important places to start optimizing your budgets because prospective buyers, in addition to clicking on the links in your ads and your competitor’s ads, will look around at several buying options using search. These searchers are prospects generated by your ads, by your competitors’ ads, and just by their needs of the moment. If you do not focus hard on catching and converting these search leads, your competition will harvest a chunk of yours. If you do this well, you will not only harvest your leads, but you can be the competitor grabbing the other brand’s leads. You can also beat competition and harvest a disproportionate share of in the moment searchers.

Having strong outbound efforts and a weak inbound search net to me is like having an ace pitcher on the mound, but a less experienced catcher behind the plate allowing passed balls and stolen bases.

Make Sure Your Search “Catch Net” is Competitive

When reviewing my client’s digital search net it has consistently proven to have serious holes in it. Simply put I find competitors picking off double digit percentages of prospects from leads that my clients efforts generate. It is vital to keep in mind that in addition to clicking on your links, your prospects and customers will also search to research the item or service. The first and most important fixes to make to optimize customer relationship budgets are in search practices.

I do not usually get into the detail, but please allow me to suggest a vital exercise given how important search is these days as part of the catch net. To see how much this is worth in your organization calculate how much 10% more new customer yield revenue is from your current budget levels. How many millions of dollars of customer buying does 10% represent? To bring that in your team needs to regularly see what is happening in the micro-moment, in real time in search results.

Search Net Exercise

You need a Search Net team from across your organization to monitor search experience. The members of your team, at least once a week in a personal rather than business mode, monitor search results using the top five keywords for the product or service you are pitching. The objective of the exercise is to assess effectiveness of the path to conversion, specifically focused on beating the competition’s search results page by page and click by click.

There are several ways to determine the top five keywords for your product. Google provides this, as does Semrush for example. You can do this research specific to your campaign. Looking for a jewelry store for example, the top keyword will most times be “jewelry near me.”

Let us say you own a jewelry store and that its shopping area involves four zip codes.

So that your research location does not generate the wrong results, use an incognito search to have the right store location zip code algorithms drive results. The easiest way to open an Incognito window is with the keyboard shortcut combination Ctrl-Shift-N (Windows) or Command-Shift-N (macOS). Next enter the keyword – in this case “jewelry near me” – and the relevant zip code and check the results screen. For example, I went incognito, and typed in “jewelry near me 06831” using my old zip code 06831 rather than the zip code I am now in. The click generates a search results page that begins with paid ads (PPC ads) above the map, the map – these usually are above the fold on a laptop – followed by more paid ads under the map and below the fold. After that below the fold will be the organic ads (SEO-driven ads).

After clicking the results page began with two paid ads: Zales – The Diamond Store, and Kay Jewelers. They bid high on the keywords I used to dominate the jewelers with paid ads below the map: Indoxi Jewelers and Steven Fox Jewelers. If you were them, would you want to bid more and appear above the map? Then, I put in 06830 to check that location. This pulled six ads above the map, and above the fold!!!  This reveals that four competitor’s paid ads are not showing up in the 06831 zip code. If you are one of those four, you must ask if you want to show up in 06831. The point is to see how your company and brand shows up in the zip codes you compete in, and tackle making it better if you fall behind competition (who will grab your leads if you do not). Even with excellent agencies managing search for you, and excellent marketing staff supervision, it will serve you well to have the Search Team look at this on a regular basis due to the pace of change. For example, days later the incognito search in this example brought up different results with new reveals about how to compete better. That is why the team needs to do this regularly.

The last step in this process is to invest in the search net gains by shifting poorly performing outbound spends to performing search words. By doing so you will have better Outbound/Inbound budget balance, and better customer relationship value production.

I took you to this detailed space because never, given this technologically connected age we live in, has God been more in the details. If you do not have a team look at search results as individuals on a regular basis, and just leave it to AI and/or agencies, you are behind a competitor with a better net who is picking off your leads.  This is not to say do not use agencies and AI, it is to encourage you to put your search team in place and monitor.

In subsequent Relationshipping articles we will address efficient user experience by aligning the product offerings and calls to action with landing pages and micro sites that successfully build the brand relationship and convert leads to purchasing customers. We will also address balancing the touchpoint budget spends by grounding the analytics in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) rather than performance marketing cost per clicks.

As always please share your thoughts and experiences with Inbound customer engagement.

George WiedemannGeorge Wiedemann was founder and CEO of Grey Direct for 21 consecutive years of worldwide growth; CEO of pioneer Silicon Valley email platform Responsys; and CEO of The DRUM Agency. He is founder and CEO of Relationshipping Consulting, focusing on bringing efficiencies to large-scale enterprises through deep budgetary analysis and process alignment. George is also a frequent contributor to TheCustomer.

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash.

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