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.

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How important is SEO in lead generation?


The Samurai Business Group is one of the finest sales management training companies around. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take their Black Belt Sales Training course and it gave me a string of epiphanies about the buying process and how marketing and sales fit into that process.

I have the pleasure of talking with both of the founders, Bob Lambert and Dan Kreutzer, on a regular basis. We frequently touch on various problems of interest to most people in business. I consider both of them to be trusted advisors.

Samurai has this to say about prospecting for leads:

5 Active Activities on Prospecting include: 
1. Quality Introductions (QIs)
2. Referrals
3. Alliances
4. Networking
5. Targeted Direct Mail/Phone

This is ordered to represent the most likely activity to result in a sale (QIs) to least likely. It is a good thing that numbers 4 and 5 can be helped by SEO because large numbers of interactions are necessary to achieve a lead, let alone a sale. Networking in particular must be seen to include not only search engine results but the entire ecosystem of online interactions. A business can begin to analyse metrics that include how many visits to the company website result in a lead or a sale.

What the list doesn’t suggest is how important validation has become in both the development of leads and getting a sale. Almost every buyer consults a range of online resources before making a buying decisions in nearly every type of transaction according to the research funded by Google in the pamphlet “Zero Moment of Truth”.

If we look at the process for achieving success with quality introductions, referrals and alliances we see that the validation process that is now so common in the buying process would be incorporated here as well. Wouldn’t you Google a potential alliance partner or referral?

SEO increases the number of qualified visits to your website. The specific number of visits necessary to reach your goals will vary but, in the case of website visits, more is always better. These visits are better yet when properly qualified to how people look for what you offer which is the point of SEO by sem[c].

This report shows the relative effectiveness of SEO against social media and pay per click:

2012 State of Digital Marketing Report - SEO company, Webmarketing123