Selling Search up the Chain: Money & Traffic

Getting the support and groundswell to push a search program forward in an organization can be absolutely aggravating, even for the largest of teams with the biggest budgets. It’s the eternal paradox: fewer people means projects can get undertaken faster but there are fewer hands on deck to actually execute, while bigger groups with all the manpower in the world get caught in limbo.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems indeed.

Search: Making the Case

  • Money: Show bottom line growth as a result of search engine optimization or paid campaigns.
  • Traffic and Visibility: Show growth potential via SEO and PPC if you need more than revenue to spur action.
  • Rankings: Show growth potential and appeal to ego.

Last time, we discussed one method of selling search through your organization faster, by putting an emphasis on the year’s incredible shrinking timeline. This is a great tactic for SEO or SEM plans that are already in queue, but get caught in “priority” limbo and need a reminder of the urgency of getting strategies in place to get it over the top.

But what if you’re facing the challenge of making a case for starting a search campaign to begin with? With all the resources available and past performances to lean on to show the huge value of search, there are those who still don’t get it.

Even when the value is understood, generally you still need to provide some kind of potential gain or ROI to get a signoff. So, how do you go about hitting this particular pressure point to get the budget and blessings necessary to make search happen for your team?

The Bottom Line: The Bottom Line

Take SEO. With 2009 in the rearview mirror, look at your top-line results for natural search. While a good SEO campaign will generally push bigger results than this, generally even a 10 percent lift in traffic, revenue, orders/leads, etc., at a $0 media cost is enough to get anyone’s attention and focus them on what’s to be gained.

PPC in some ways is even easier, given that you control virtually all the levers. While precise return levels are difficult to gauge until you’re actively running and optimizing a campaign, keep your goal ROI and what it means in bottom line growth in front of the gatekeeper. Present in terms of both percentages and monetary figures, both of which appeal in their own special ways: the percentages to the practical, the dollars to the animal instinct.

This is an area where prior experience in the field and/or case studies can really reinforce the point. Especially when the numbers are such that you can make a good case at a lower growth rate, and allow those that hold the purse strings to dream of even better returns.

Traffic & Visibility

Does your business not operate on direct revenue? Is your organization focusing on visibility and branding? Need more than revenue to spur action? Traffic might be a good metric to build your case with — and one that offers even more ways to show growth potential.

While the same “just 10 percent more means X” comparison works just as well for traffic as it does for revenue, public keyword traffic estimators, and the information available from AdWords on potential traffic and costs, put even more options at your fingertips. It’s easy to compile potential traffic from keywords on a given ad spend, or to point to the potential gains from getting even 1 percent of a high-traffic keyword’s clicks. Or, if you’re pursuing branding, the number of impressions your brand will get by showing up for a heavily-trafficked keyword.

Better yet for SEO — have you identified a page that’s going after a lower-traffic variant than it could be? Show them the difference it would make to change strategies.

For example, if you had a page that was targeted to “footwear,” showing the decision makers that by changing your targeting to “shoes” you’re potentially driving about 13 times more traffic. Emphasize that even more similar opportunities exist. Be sure to quickly illustrate the importance of getting the resources to get your natural search in order.

Keep Fighting

Time, money, and exposure aren’t the only pressure points by any means. Rankings, while increasingly meaningless with Google’s personalized search, offer several ways to show growth potential and have great ego appeal.

These aren’t the only ways to leverage these particular metrics to get your search program underway. No matter the approach, keep bringing your case back to the money and traffic that can be gained — and the importance of starting ASAP — and you’ll find yourself under way even faster.

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