Creating a Cohesive Search Strategy Across Multiple Business Units

If you have ever grappled with trying to create SEM strategies for companies with more than one business unit or how to sell in the value of SEM to upper management, then this session was for you!

David Roth did a particularly good job of explaining how he created the current SEM strategy for Yahoo (to be clear, these are campaigns to increase Yahoo’s visibility through search – he is a marketer working for Yahoo, not a representative of the engine technology).

Introduction by:
Amanda Watlington, Owner, Searching for Profit

Speakers:
Eduardo Llach, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-founder, SearchRev
David Roth, Director of Search Marketing, Yahoo!

David:

The challenge is to do a few things well across a large scope. You really have to pick your battles.
Yahoo is a particularly complex case : every form of advertising – CPM Media, transactional, lead generation, B2B campaigns, B2C campaigns.

The only way to compare campaigns is to look at the lifetime value of the customer.

One big takeaway is to work out the money you are not making from doing SEO – the opportunity cost. David shows the spreadsheet he uses to formulate this. He works out what are the rankings they are currently not getting. Using data from paid search and other tools, he works out how much traffic this translates to, and finally using conversion data, works out the lifetime value of these customers. The numbers will not be exact, however you should try and ensure that they are somewhat realistic.

For the SEO stratgy, the message for projects of this size is to not fix what’s out there. David focusses on the new stuff being built. This works well in a world of limited resources, and over time all assets are optimized.

David offers the mantra: “if you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist”. With this strong emphasis on metrics, Yahoo reforecast every month to ensure campaigns are on target. This is a considerable task with workflow to manage the process across marketing, sales and finance.

Measuring success
Use a marketing scorecard to compare different campaigns.
Create an SEO dashboard that is available to upper management.
Ensure there is a strong relationship between marketing and finance (in Yahoo’s case, the Markops finance team) to create LTV figures and keep on top of budget management.

Eduardo:

Perform the optimization across the frontend (traffic, or the data you would find in Google Adwords interface) and backend (site, the data you would find in your web analytics).
Successful traffic optimization involves finding the difference between geo (or metro) targetting, network and creative. Eduardo advocates the use of optimization algorithms to figure this out across large data sets.
For site conversions, track microconversion points (ie. look at each click along the path). By optimizing for lifetime value, it has been possible to increase campaign performance by 20% for same traffic level.
For ad creative, don’t just look at CTR, also consider conversion rate. The CTR could be low yet the messaging could still produce quality traffic.

Questions:

David: when considering brand terms think of canabalization and lift (what do you gain by adding these?)
Eduardo: on the thorny question of market attribution (which marketing channel gets the credit for the sale when many channels have been involved?) – Eduardo recommends thinking of search as closing the loop – in particular look for SEO traffic uplift from offline activities to help build a case for this.
David: take people out to lunch, even your competitors
Eduardo: concentrate on the top terms

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