Intentions – good or otherwise?

SEO prospect intentions

Despite all the chatter about AI and big data a lot of the basis for success in online  marketing comes down to sussing out your prospects’ intentions. This is a very human process. 

People can be characterized into a number of personality types. There are a number of well-defined systems for analyzing these types. One is the DISC system. 

This system is useful both for its simplicity and accuracy even when you have little observational data to work with.

Your online presence can satisfy the needs of all of the different personality types with the proper strategic planning. Carefully oversimplifying would mean: Be succinct and clear about benefits everywhere for D types. Be upbeat for I types. Cultivate your business on social media for S types. Provide information about your business with microscopic granularity buried on your website.

How do you gauge your prospects’ response to these items?

  • Website analytics: Look at the webpages your visitors visit, how long they stay on, and their activities. Patterns and trends can indicate your visitor’s goal. For example, pages with high bounce or exit rates may indicate a mismatch between content and visitor expectations.
  • Surveys and market research: Ask questions about customer preferences, needs, and motivations.
  • Customer interactions: Analyze customer service logs, call center recordings, and online chat sessions.
  • Visitor identification data: See who’s visiting your website and what they’re doing there.
  • Buying signals: For example, when prospects sign up for a free trial or complementary offerings, it’s a clear sign of their interest in the product.
  • Clicks a link in your email: Analytics of their behavior on where your link directed them to can show their buying intent. For example, if they click on a link like the content of your email but may want some time to do some research on their own before speaking with a sales rep, you can follow up with them relatively quickly while their attention is focused on you.

This is an overview of the process that we follow at sem[c].

Contact us for greater detail or to get started.

Social media marketing (SMM) can benefit a business in several ways:

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  1. Increased brand awareness: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others can help increase brand awareness by making it easy for businesses to reach a large and targeted audience. By regularly posting content and interacting with followers, businesses can build their brand and establish themselves as industry leaders.
  2. Improved customer relationships: Social media platforms provide a way for businesses to interact directly with customers, which can help build strong and positive relationships. By responding to customer comments and reviews, businesses can show that they care about their customers and value their feedback.
  3. Increased website traffic: Social media can drive traffic to a business’s website by providing a platform for sharing links and promoting content. This can lead to increased sales and revenue for the business.
  4. Targeted advertising: Many social media platforms offer targeted advertising options that allow businesses to reach specific demographics and interests. This can help businesses reach the right audience and increase the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
  5. Better customer insights: Social media platforms can provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, which can help businesses improve their products and services and make more informed marketing decisions.
  6. Increased brand loyalty: By regularly engaging with customers on social media, businesses can build brand loyalty and encourage repeat business.

What would you do when attacked in social media?

One of our clients was recently forced to respond to a personal attack on both him and his business by individuals using social media. His business is not of a type that you would expect to be reviewed on Yelp.  He did respond at length to the first attack “review”. This did not end the problem and other negative posts followed. This, in turn, worsened the situation to the point at which he was told by a very likely prospect that he was taken out of consideration for a professional engagement because of these negative reviews on Yelp.

What would you do?

First and foremost it is really important for you to respond. If you don’t respond you create the impression that the negative comments may have some validity. The nature of your response is critical. It’s natural to feel attacked because that is indeed the case. If you respond in a way that can be considered in any way defensive it will only make the matter worse.  It may even invite “piling on”. sem[c] has created a plan to improve the situation on Yelp in a positive way that will give the users of that service a more accurate and balanced view of the situation.

It’s a good practice to think of your response as an opportunity to educate the public about what you are doing. You are not going to change the mind of the poster.  Especially if, as in the case of our client, the poster is completely mistaken about what your role is and is complaining that you did or didn’t do something that has nothing to do with you. The beauty of a social media success is that your clients can say what you did for them. This is a great way to allow prospects to discover the answer to the all-important question “What’s in it for me?”  (W.I.I.F.M.) in a very understandable and relatable way.

You can be absolutely sure that your prospects and clients don’t think about what you do the same way you do. This being the case you need to talk to them in the way they think, not you. You really want to answer the W.I.I.F.M. question… but how? In order to do that successfully it is to your advantage to know how people use search to look for what you do.  Figuring that out for you is an important part of what sem[c] offers you.

Getting you found for that by Google and other search engines is the rest of what we do. Call, email or click.

SEO and other online channels: different parts of the buying process

SEO Marketing and sales expectations


Google has created a map of the buying process that positions each type of online channel in relation to a purchase:

SEO and the buying process graphic
Google shows where the influence of various channels is closest to the sale in the buying process.

You can click on the graphic to adjust the display to show how this relationship varies from industry to industry.

This quantifies the delay in time between marketing and sales. The effects of SEO take months to realize but its value is seen by its proximity to an actual sale in the chart. The only channel that is closer is a direct click which means the prospect can go to the URL of the item of interest directly.

We have seen a lot of consternation about the direct effect one can expect from social media marketing.  The chart proposes that it and display advertising are at the far end of assisting interaction whereas successful SEO and its benefit to organic results are closest to the last interaction or sale.

To improve your lead generation you need to talk so that everyone can understand

The DISC model of behavioral types can be a valuable way to help identify how to best communicate with a person to generate the most leads. If you speak in a way that is most accessible to a person they are much more likely to understand your point. The DISC model can be visualized as a set of axis:
This model predicts a dichotomy between “Task oriented” and “People oriented” behaviors. Another popular behavior model, Myers-Briggs, identifies a very similar thinking/feeling axis.

In ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth we read: “The truth is that for many shoppers, the single most powerful impetus to buy is someone else’s endorsement.” The DISC model predicts that this would be most especially true for those on the “People Oriented” side. The Target Training International, Inc. DISC manual Chapter 11 shows the overall mean averages for each behavioral group as well as details when comparing gender and other variables. In general, the types of behavior models are fairly evenly distributed across the population.

The statement about endorsements in no way dismisses the probability that for around half of all shoppers the facts pertaining to their buying decision would be “the most powerful impetus to buy” because they are more “Task Oriented”. Equally true.

The point of this discussion is to underscore how important it is for marketing to speak effectively to all pertinent behavioral types.

The actual weighting of how important this dichotomy is for any particular business depends additionally on the type of business. For example the above average up-time stats for an ISP may be just as effective for that business as a Pinterest following is for sales of a particular dress.

The complexity of all this tends to increase over time.  ZMOT shows an ever-increasing number of online influences involved in many types of buying decisions. Yet, confusion still exists in the business community about how this works.

sem[c] had a client who convinced himself that his 4.5/5 overall Yelp average was not valuable to his business because he couldn’t get Yelp to remove the reviews that he found offensive. His sales figures showed that females were an important demographic to his car repair business. He removed all website references to his business’ Yelp rating out of anger and against our very vocal objections. Almost immediately, he began reporting that he was getting fewer prospects from website contact. According to TTI, Inc. data, females are more frequently identified in “People Oriented” behavior patterns and consequently we would predict that endorsements would be particularly effective in influencing their buying decisions. Implementing a new AdWords campaign specifically targeted to a female audience more than doubled traffic to his sites but he reported no change in sales.  Despite the obvious conclusion, he saw no reason to resume using the Yelp reviews as a sales tool.

In another Yelp anecdote, I had a personal response from a restaurant owner who offered me a $100 gift certificate to his place if I would “take down” my Yelp description of an unpleasant evening there because it lowered his average down to 4.5. Both of these examples show the desire of business owners to manipulate endorsements as well as the value to the consumer of a supplier like Yelp who resists being manipulated.  Yelp realizes that impartiality is of the utmost importance to validity of their content. Both car repair and restaurants are types of businesses that are very influenced by Yelp for better or worse.

It remains important to practice the discipline of SEO which is to clearly identify your business NOT in the terms which you think of it but, rather, how others are looking for the benefits that your business offers. This will meld into the social media aspects of your business. A good record at Yelp can be an influential sales tool but you need to visibility from online marketing to build the lead generation that will allow prospects to see your ratings and to discover the facts about what your business offers them.

SEO marketing and its critical role in the buying cycle

Wouldn’t it be great if SEO got you sales the day you started? While that is frequently the expectation, it ain’t gonna happen in the real world. The effect of successful SEO will increase the number of qualified prospects knowing about you. SEO takes time to achieve this level of success that is measured in months… a length of time that is far from instantaneous.

But even though a prospect is qualified they will be somewhere along the time line in their buying cycle.  This is to say that they may not be at what the Google commissioned study “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” refers to as ZMOT or the point at which the prospects decides to buy. Our friends at the Samurai Business Group teach that it is at this point that the prospect’s apparent reason is re-defined by their compelling reason and they make their purchase.

To better understand this let’s use a real-life example of a car repair shop. It’s easy to see that anyone that owns a car would have an apparent reason to buy car repair at some point. The ZMOT study shows that online research in the Automotive category can be intense months before a purchase. This suggests that there is great benefit in having your marketing make you one of the “usual suspects” for future customers that will buy several months in the future. SEO marketing in this case is an investment in the future success of your business. The ZMOT process also details the increasingly large number of online interactions now involved in many if not all buying decisions. It is no longer enough to simply have a good website. There is an entire virtual landscape in which your digital reputation is recorded. It has become a very good business priority to tend this landscape. Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and others are all little gardens in this landscape.

It is only when a prospect’s compelling reason asserts itself that they will make a purchase. Samurai teaches that those reasons include pain, fear of future pain or the prospect of gain. In our example of car repair the prospect of gain is probably the least persuasive. It could figure in when someone is about to sell a car on their own.  Otherwise, a purchase will be made when the car is broken or likely to break soon. Once again, it’s easy to see that these two options have different degrees of urgency. The worse the problem the more quickly a purchase will be made. With proliferation of smart phones the research at the zero moment of truth may be done from the broken down car. It is only in this last resort that marketing might lead to a quick sale.

SEO marketing is our business.  Contact us to find out more.


The reports of the death of SEO are greatly exaggerated

SEO is going to die in two years” asserts no less an expert than “one of the top SEO consultants in Utah”. This must be true because Utah, as everyone knows, is the center of the online marketing industry. Actually, when you read what was written after the headline the only thing being said is that SEO is changing due to the inclusion of social media statistics. What a surprise!

The same reason that led Mark Twain to say: ” The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” exists today. The death of something makes a great headline. The truth really isn’t a factor in a great headline. Unless you confused “truth” with Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness”. This “death of SEO” headline is especially popular with purveyors of social media marketing and content marketing who would like people to think that their specialty is more important than SEO.

But when they include phrases like “To be clear, keyword research and internal linking strategy still matter, but they probably only control 15% of your website’s overall ranking” it doesn’t really seem anything has died, does it? They are talking about how important a tool SEO is in social media and content marketing. They are using the word “probably” in an unsupported guess about rankings. Google doesn’t share the weighting percentages of their ranking algorithm so where does this weaselly “stat” of 15% come from? Thin air evidently. They go on to say that external links are more important but now include links from social media. None of this is anything very new. None of it suggest that SEO is “dying”.

So, we are to believe without any evidence that the “death of SEO” is going to be the result of including social media more in the weighting of links from other sites? Even though the giant Facebook is a walled garden that search penetrates in a small way and inconsistently at that? Actually, not at all. The fact is that social media and content have been parts of SEO since the days of AOL.

SEO, at least as practiced by sem[c], is about clearly stating online what your business does so that people know that they can buy what they need from you. This is easier said than done. So many businesses talk about who they think they are and why they are proficient without ever touching on “what’s in it for me?”. SEO by sem[c] helps businesses answer that question in the most effective way using all the tools of online communication: SEO, SMM & PPC in a unified and effective campaign.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.  I prefer to work from facts.  The fact is that SEO is the most effective way to increase sales. Contact us to get SEO working for you.

How can you get your website to be better at lead generation?

Every business needs to generate leads. Leads become customers and if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business. Consequently we see a lot of material online purporting ways to improve lead generation . However, if we look closely at the advice it is not clear how the recommendations could be supported by results which probably explains why they are not.

A post on LinkedIn claimed to identify the elements of a “great lead gen landing page”. It was posted by a prominent marketing company and cited another online source. Let’s start with their top three:

1. A concise headline. Was A/B testing performed with a concise versus a non-concise heading?  What does that even mean? An example would be fascinating as would the raw numbers in the difference on leads from each. Wouldn’t a headline that addressed what visitors were looking for be more persuasive than something that is simply concise? What process should be followed to identify a concise, or even better, a pertinent headline?

2. An image or video. Was testing performed with and without images for a variety of business types?  What was the difference in raw numbers of leads by business type? This suggestion is a no-brainer for physical products but illustrating services in a way that makes sense to visitors is not so simple.

3. A core benefit statement. Many businesses get tripped up on this because they state what they think is a core benefit rather than doing the research to discover the benefits that most people are searching for. What is the process for crafting an effective statement?

The point of this exercise is that your landing page needs to be customized to the needs of your best prospects. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. A careful search engine optimization (SEO) process can give the direction you need to properly craft your landing pages. By starting with the proper research as we do at sem[c] you will know how people are looking for what you are offering. Only then can you start tailoring your landing page to their needs.