Increasing Lead Generation By Improving Marketing Integration

Spending more money on lead generation & marketing is not always the right answer – spending your money smarter is
by Karl Hindle – Founder of Wellspring Search

My marketing strength is SEO, Content Marketing, and PPC (especially Google AdWords), so I have a digital bias, but with that admission out of the way, let me get to the meat here.

How can you increase your lead flow right now without increasing your marketing spend?

This is going to apply to 99.99% of businesses right now – you have multiple marketing efforts in flight, both online and in the real world, and your metrics may look good or bad compared to prior year or prior period results.

If down – do you need to spend more money?

Possibly – impossible to say right now.

If up – can you readily explain why you are up – especially so you can do more of the good stuff?

Maybe, but probably not.

Irrespective, you haven’t worked out makes for a good marketing balance across all the channels you are active in right now, and this is something I see almost every time I sit down with a prospective client – even at enterprise-level.

balancing marketing activities to optimize lead generation

What do I mean by a good marketing balance?

By this I mean, have you coordinated your paid search with seasonal promotions being advertised in the local press, radio, or TV?

Are your SEO strategies working in conjunction with your PPC/Paid Search campaigns?

Do you have a logical schedule of promotional events and strategies, with collateral prepared in advance, and direct marketing supported by your digital presence and vice versa?

If I visit your website, navigate through to your Facebook page, catch your TV ad on cable, will I see a continuity and uniformity of the message you are pushing to me?

In other words, have you looked at how different marketing and promotional channels work in unison, not as standalone campaigns?

For the vast majority of readers, you are going to say “No!”

But how different marketing channels work together can make the difference between making and breaking your business.

Drawing from personal experience, I find Social Media campaigns to be great ways to improve awareness and branding, for acting as a sound board with potential prospects and the market generally, and for getting in front of a potential train wreck when it comes to dealing with customer complaints.

But, I do not find Social Media to be a goldmine for lead generation for most businesses (unless you are selling something that lends itself to social sharing).

I see a lot of ROI from lead generation campaigns using Social Media – most of it is negative!

So, on the face of it, we should can Social Media for not delivering ROI – right?

Wrong!

What I also find with Social Media is that it is used a great deal by prospects who do become leads, but come in from another marketing channel, e.g. SEO or PPC, touch Social Media profiles as part of the “can I trust this business” process they make, and then come back to the website for more research before hitting the CTA.

Prospects are checking you out on Social Media as a ‘trust’ validation exercise, so while I do not credit Social Media with the actual lead generation, it deserves credit for helping to move prospects through the funnel, to the point where they follow your Call to Action and turn from prospect into a lead.

This issue applies to every marketing channel you are using – how do specific activities contribute to your lead generation, as opposed to which activities are getting the credit.

Working with Google Analytics and Google AdWords, we can see the interaction across digital channels much more clearly than when TV, radio, and direct marketing is in the mix. It is possible to gauge the value of marketing activities that look like lead generation dogs in terms of creating leads, but are in fact lead gen stars as they assist prospects to make the leap in contacting you.

Your challenge is to unlock the data you already have (and you have a lot you may not realize) and see how channels are interacting and helping each other (or not).

Spending more money is not always the right answer, and optimizing your marketing balance will not only cost you less, but give you visibility into what is actually working well for you and why.

Karl Hindle is the founder of Wellspring Search, and a Google Analytics & Google AdWords certified individual.

Contact:

 

t: (717) 658-8683

e: karl@wellspringsearch.com

linkedin

twitter @wellspringseo

 

Karl Hindle’s Big 3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency

Ask SEO Agencies These Three Must Ask Questions Before Hiring Them

SEO is a powerful digital marketing technique, and one for which many businesses will pay a premium to be able to leverage. There are also no qualifications to start up in business as a digital marketer, or optimization specialist, and certainly none as an SEO agency or practitioner. So with almost no barriers to entry, almost every business you can see a lucrative prospect, and with a lot of money to be made, it is no surprise that there are a lot of SEOs who will happily pitch like a champion, but can barely find Google online.

How do you know you are getting a search optimization specialist that really knows what they are doing, and will actually properly execute on the work, and deliver results?

Ask questions.

Questions to ask SEO firms

I’ve been on the agency side of the table for over 15 years and also acted as the in-house expert helping select vendors, and I’ve heard some good questions and some really bad ones. I’m drawing on my experience working for clients, the challenges I faced when choosing vendors myself, and my own opinion based on knowing what I do about SEO.

So, I’m going to suggest you include these 3 questions for prospective SEO partners, and see what they come up with.

Question #1 – Do You Offer a Guarantee for Rankings?

This separates out the vendors after money from those who have a deeper understanding of SEO, the purpose in asking this question is to help you create your vendor shortlist.

If you are told by anyone that they will get you to #1 in the search engines, or even guarantee you will get to the first page, then shut that conversation down fast!

Guaranteed seo ranking scam

The reason I am so emphatic about this is that the only person who can guarantee you will get to #1 on Google is Google – and they don’t do SEO.

SEOs, even the most experienced ones, may have some understanding of what factors are taken into account for search engine rankings, but they do not know all of them, and in any event they change constantly. Also, where you rank is also determined by how well your competitors are doing with SEO too, and that can also come down to size of budget, experience of their SEO practitioner, and things such as how old is your website. None of which makes it possible to guarantee you will get ranked, nor how long you will stay there if you do.

Any SEO or agency claiming you are guaranteed to get to #1 is either (a) flat-out lying to you, or (b) they are so ignorant about SEO you cannot trust them to actually do what they claim they can do.

Wellspring Search has a high rate of success at generating high rankings and increasing website visitors, but we can never guarantee you a #1 ranking, and neither can anyone else.

 

Question #2 – What Experience Do You Have with SEO and With My Type of Business?

Really, this is two questions – how much experience have you got with SEO, and how much with my own niche.

Let’s take the first one first: how much experience as an SEO do you have?

SEO is a strange brew of creativity, technical expertise, current knowledge of search engines and behavior, and the ability, discipline, and resources to execute and to be effective with SEO.

Someone who has spent a year reading about SEO may know enough to put their foot on the gas and go faster, but they will not be able to steer, nor will they be able to brake if they are doing something that is adversely affecting the website health.

baby-google

I think a good yardstick is that you are looking for someone with at least 5 years as a practitioner, and ideally with multiple disciplines under their belt in addition to SEO.

My reasoning is that firstly, they need to have a good grasp of the SEO fundamentals in action, and also have encountered situations where things do not go according to the original game plan. Secondly, they need multiple disciplines and skills because SEO is about combining a multitude of tactics and strategies to get to the desired outcome, and you need the ability to look up and see the bigger picture. It’s no use getting to #1 for a keyword term, but overall you have ignored all the other rankings and now see a drop in visitors and ROI.

The second question is experience in your particular niche, and I personally love being asked this question because, (a) chances are very high I do have experience working in their niche, and (b) this tends to be a buying signal from the potential client that they are moving to hiring me.

If you ask this question, be aware of the buying signal you are sending out, but that said, you ought to dig into where the SEO firm has gained their experience. If you are in a highly competitive environment, having someone who already knows and understands the general environment within which you are operating is invaluable. For instance, personal injury law SEO is helped enormously if you understand things such as “TBI”, that railroad workers are not covered by worker’s compensation (they have their own federal scheme), or can spell “mesothelioma” correctly without looking it up in a dictionary.

Question #3 – Do You Practice Black Hat SEO?

There are 2 types of SEO – White Hat and Black Hat (and I suppose it is fair to say there are an infinite number of shades of grey in between).

White Hat is ‘good’ SEO and uses techniques that are unlikely to result in you being penalized or punished by the search engines, and they are also unlikely to damage or harm the long-term health of your website and business.

Black hat seo versus white hat seo

Black Hat is ‘bad’ SEO and uses techniques that are associated with spammers and criminals. While Black Hat can generate very impressive results very quickly, they are almost always short-lived and the benefit disappears very quickly. A frequent results with Black Hat SEO is that your website is penalized causing a massive loss of rankings, and in extreme cases, your website can even be banned.

One word of caution here: Black Hat SEOs will typically deny they are doing the ‘bad’ stuff, while White Hat SEOs will probably know quite a lot about Black Hat simply because they know the rules. Be on the lookout for the former, but don’t discount the latter: at this point you may want to get some technical support in to help you identify who the good guys are and eliminate the questionable from further consideration.

Summary

Before hiring an SEO agency, ask questions and lots of them.

The Big 3 for me are:

  1. do you offer a ranking guarantee – a trick question to be sure, but it eliminates the dishonest and incompetent;
  2. what is your SEO experience in my industry – dig into this, you’re looking for broad and deep, including handling things that went wrong; and
  3. Black Hat-v-White Hat – you’ll be looking for a White Hat SEO agency in all likelihood, but dig in to this, there is a lot of Black Hat stuff that goes on under the White Hat banner.

About Karl Hindle – Wellspring Search founder

cropped-Karl-Hindle-512-px-for-Search-website-1.jpgKarl Hindle has practiced SEO and digital marketing for over 15 years both as an external consultant, and as an in-house resource, working with clients such as Colfax Industries, Adidas, Barclays Bank, and Childfund International (formerly Christian Childrens Fund), and a very long list of small and medium-sized businesses, including clients here in Frederick MD who will provide references.

He has direct, hands-on experience working with small, medium, and enterprise-class clients in a wide variety of niches, at home and internationally. Karl is also certified Google for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords (including AdWords Video and Search Advertising).

LinkedIn Profile and Google Partners Profile

Looking to Hire an SEO Firm?

You’re looking for an SEO company to help you, and we certainly have the skills and experience to do that, but we also like to make sure we’re a good fit for the long haul, so if you answer “Yes” to these 3 questions, please call us:

1. Is your business established?

(We do not take on start-up clients for SEO except in very rare circumstances, but we can help you in other ways so call us)

2. Are you selling great products and services, and have a strong commitment to providing fantastic customer service?

(We have a very strong customer service ethos, and we will not work with clients who don’t care about their own customers or their own reputation)

3. You are a B2B or B2C business in the mainstream, i.e. you do not sell porn or adult-related services?

(We’re asked enough times about this that we want to make it clear, we do not provide SEO or digital marketing services to porn providers, get rich quick schemes, or escort services, so ‘regular’ businesses only please)

If you answered “Yes” to all 3 questions, call us – (240) 415-6191 – because we would love the opportunity to earn your business.

Google Certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords