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SEM Campaign & Project Management, Part 2

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More tips and techniques on managing and getting the most success out of search marketing campaigns, continued from yesterday's SEM Campaign & Project Management, Part 1.

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies conference, December 5-8, 2005, Chicago, IL.

Moderated by Michael Sack, the SVP and Chief Product Officer of Inceptor, the panel featured four executives from SEM agencies: David Williams, Chief Strategist of 360i; Harrison Magun, VP and Managing Director of Avenue A | Razorfish Search; Ani Kortikar, Founder and CEO of Netramind; and Barbara C. Coll, CEO of WebMama.com.

Ani spoke next about creating or becoming a project manager.

William Shakespeare told us how, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Ani agrees and said, "Some are born project managers, some achieve the project management capabilities, and some have project management thrust upon them!"

While David had used quotations and Harrison had used bullets, Ani used photos to illustrate how to identify a born project manager. One photo featured a juggler, another showed a juggler balancing a pole on his forehead, a third showed a block of wood supporting the pressure of an elephant, and a fourth featured a lion tamer.

Ani then discussed the most common roadblocks to the organic growth of a talented specialist into a project manager:

  • Unsure of required skills
  • Unclear about what's expected
  • Unwilling to be in unknown territory
  • Uncommitted to taking on new responsibility

The best way to avoid these roadblocks, according to Ani, is "learning to unlearn." As Einstein observed, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

However, "learning to unlearn" involves key attitude adjustments for a talented specialist:

  • No longer a functional expert
  • Lack of specifics
  • Less flexibility with own time
  • No more instant gratification
Ani recommended creating a roadmap for training project managers made up of many short learning units. He also suggested using the SES conference handbook to create topics for units on:
  • Web design
  • Content writing
  • Web site optimization
  • Analytics and tracking
  • Blogs and RSS feeds
  • Dynamic web site issues
  • Pay per click management
  • Link program management

He then presented a sample learning unit. Its objective was to identify common problems with dynamic websites. It covered:

  • A current problem and opportunity
  • Various solutions to the problem
  • Links to internal documents on your intranet
  • Links to web posts, blogs, and books
  • A document of processes as well as internal people and experts
  • A "how to" on managing risks
  • A log or blog of issues and lessons learned

Ani suggested using a site like del.ico.us to collaborate, or web meetings like WebEx or gotomeeting to record internal discussions and presentations. He also recommended creating a short quiz to test knowledge.

He then shared a typical project manager skills profile:

Pre-project

  • Proposal creation/presentation

Project setup phase

  • Setting objectives (define metrics)
  • Developing budgets
  • Planning activities (various tracks)

Project continuation

  • Prioritizing (resources/costs/timeline)
  • Analyzing ROI numbers
  • Getting customer feedback
  • Maintaining logs of risks, issues, new findings

Project close

  • Feasibility review
  • AAR - what worked, what did not
  • 360 degree performance review of the team

Soft skills

  • Coaching juniors and training
  • Staff communication and motivation
  • Set the scope of work and get a PO!
  • Set expectations about deliverables and timelines
  • Identify the people involved within the organization

Barbara asked, "Who is involved?" She answered her rhetorical question with an animated slide entitled "The team," that ended up listing: Marketing manager, product manager, marcom, sales, IT, legal, demand generation, content managers, inventory managers, web producer, public relations, customer support, copywriters, webmaster, executive management, programmers, international, investor relations, marketing, developers, and graphic designers.

Barbara said the first SEO deliverables should include:

  • Keyword analysis document - sliced and diced in multiple ways
  • Competitive report
  • Ranking and traffic benchmarks
  • Architectural, technical and source code review or "SEO audit" - with priority-based recommendations

She said there are additional key deliverables, including:

  • Production of SEO guidelines - part of a company style guide
  • Page by page audit and keyword mapping
  • Recommendations for new content
  • Development of unique meta data or formula for automated meta tagging

Barbara then advised "watching, patience and fine tuning." She presented a diagram showing a timeline for deliverables. It started with implementation, but before that was complete, monitoring and fine tuning began. When that finished, maintenance started.

Barbara also talked about integration of online and offline marketing campaigns, from the team and project management point of view.

Like David and Ani, Barbara said the key is education. She recommended, "Come to a common terminology. Talk about why you can't just do 'organic' search optimization. Provide case studies and suggestions as to how and why to integrate."

Since overlapping budgets are a chronic problem, Barbara said it is important to tighten your relationship with other agencies and talk about who owns what budget.

Barbara also addressed the issue of measurement. "Offline marketing affects online traffic," she said, and "online marketing affects offline sales." So, she said it was important to "attempt to merge multiple tracking systems and backend CRMs."

When it comes to "creative," Barbara said consistency is not the same in online and offline marketing. Text is not the same as images. Keywords are not the same as the location of a page of advertising. Pay-per-click (PPC) is not the same as cost-per-thousand (CPM). And searchers are not the same as eyeballs.

Barbara said that online and offline marketing share responsibility for the branding experience, trademark protection, and reputation monitoring. But, she added, "All bets are off as..."

  • Google moves to print ads
  • MSN goes to demographic targeting for search
  • Local/city classifieds go online
  • Personalization takes off
  • Community based search catches on
  • Vertical search gets more popular

The sophisticated advice about SEM campaign and project management provided by the panelists is an excellent example of a new kind of value-added services that SEM agencies can provide to their clients. While many companies are trying to manage their SEM campaign and projects in-house, some are beginning to realize that this is both costly and complicated. SEM agencies that can reduce complexity and increase efficiency for their clients will be the ones that capitalize on this opportunity.

Greg Jarboe is the co-founder of SEO-PR, a search engine optimization company and public relations firm that specializes in news search, blog search and vertical search.


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