93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
57% of B2B marketers feel that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative.
Yet, ask any marketer and the pet peeve of most is the lack of support that SEO for C-suite receives in terms of strategy . In fact, it remains among the lowest funded priorities when it comes to the marketing budget. This is despite the fact that organic search is known to deliver a higher rate of conversion than paid search, referral, social media, or outbound marketing.
If convincing the C-suite to invest in a viable SEO strategy feels like achieving the impossible, it will help to look inwards and re-evaluate your own strategy. Odds are that your pitch needs to be customized for the C-suite. With this handy framework you should not only be able to get their buy-in into the concept, but also get them to commit the necessary budget that gets your SEO project rolling.
Educate them about the importance of SEO
God, they say is in the details. Before you start schooling the corner office about the importance of SEO, thorough preparation will be in order. Importantly, you need to speak to them in a language that they understand. Check to see if the presentation on SEO that you have been making to them by far, is loaded with technical jargon related to link profiles, canonical URLs, missing alt tags, and more. Hard as it may seem, resist the temptation to wow them with these technicalities and focus instead on terms the management is familiar with. No marks for guessing, that C-suite executives don’t really care about the number of keywords ranked for, as much as an increase in revenue and profitability in the long haul.
Often times we land up focusing on the “how” when we actually need to be talking about the “why”. More so, with people at the top who are dealing with the paucity of time and care about results and not the logistics of how you plan to achieve them. It will, therefore, work far better to impress upon them why SEO is a powerful business development tool and that it targets potential customers who are already far along in the sales funnel. Using hard data, statistics and competitor case studies on the efficacy of SEO can go a long way in getting your point across. Success is in keeping the information and data, high-level. It is when you keep the data granular and get more technical, involving design and implementation that you aren’t appealing to the business acumen and leadership that the top-management is trained for. This is not to say that any subsequent queries for detailed information should not be followed up, but that the initial pitch needs to be based on high-level data that makes problem detection and subsequent remedies, easier.
Do not treat the C-suite as a homogenous mass
At the risk of generalizing, if you have dealt with the CEO, CMO and CFO, you sure know how different their approach towards looking at things is. What this means for you is that depending on who you are presenting to your SEO pitch needs to change. While the CEO cares about delivering results, the focus of the CFO is on making the right use of money.
If you are talking to the CEO, for instance, it will be prudent to have answers to the following questions ready:
- What is the benefit of SEO versus other strategies that you may be currently using?
- What will be your KPIs?
On the hand, if you are presenting to the CFO, no marks for guessing that you will need to answer aspects such as:
- What will it cost you?
- What kind of ROI are you expecting?
With a CMO questions are likely to be centered around:
- What kind of qualified leads are you expecting?
- How will the brand exposure benefit?
In fact, if you do your homework carefully, you will notice that C-level executives often spell out their business objectives for the year by way of interviews, analyst calls, speeches and more. It will be a good idea to show how your SEO plan could help towards achieving that objective, to ensure buy-in.
Compute the monetary benefit of ranking higher
With SEO being not just a nice-to-have tool, but one that offers a real tangible advantage, it will help to put a monetary value to a higher rank. It is also prudent to present case studies of strategies that have delivered results. The expected outcomes at different levels of investment need to be clearly presented so that the right budgetary decision is taken.
Other core metrics that are likely to be of interest include:
- Customer Acquisition Cost
- Time to Payback
- Percentage of Customers that are driven by your marketing efforts
Remember, however, to set realistic expectations so that the SEO for C-Suite knows and requires time/commitment. This is an extremely important step as the inability to set the right expectations can lead to the company abandoning SEO efforts midway as opposed to staying the course and getting the desired benefits.
With the above approach, congratulations will certainly be in order as you get the necessary buy-in into the SEO plan and importantly are also allocated the required budgets.
Your job, of course only begins from here as not only do you need to ensure that the implementation of the project is done right, you need to carefully track performance. It is important to figure out whether you have the wherewithal to carry out the project internally or if you need to engage an SEO agency. In going for the latter option, be sure of doing your due diligence to ensure that you have someone extremely hand-on and who can guide your internal IT team through a successful implementation. Often times, SEO agencies conduct robust audits and make strong recommendations but face a challenge when it comes to implementation. Providing access to your IT resources is therefore, key.
Demonstrating ROI is imperative when it comes to organic search. Your preparedness with the right performance metrics that you can showcase to the management periodically, will ensure that the confidence that you have inspired isn’t lost and that you do not have to deal with sharp budgetary cuts in the midst of the campaign. Importantly, your job does not end with selling the concept of SEO but continues well into sustaining the interest with the right data points.
The following grid presented by Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor, and presenter at the SEO in the Boardroom: Tangible Search Metrics session at SES New York, to gauge ROI of SEO, can come in handy:
|3 PLAUSIBLE REASONS WHY THE seo for c suite isn’t buying your pitch:|
|1. You aren’t speaking their language|
|2. Your focus is on vanity metrics as opposed to the bottom line|
|3. You haven’t sufficiently demonstrated ROI|
Even though all the points in the left column makes total sense, you are still selling yourself short because you are failing to demonstrate how any of these tactics will help improve the bottom line.
|This SEO strategy will help us increase our Organic Traffic by 30%||With this strategy, we’ll able to increase the Organic traffic to our most profitable business Category by 30%.|
|We can improve the rank of these keywords which will boost our CTR by 10%||
Improving the position of these keywords in Google will help us target traffic with high purchase intent. These same keywords would cost you $10k if you were to get this traffic by paid advertising.
This SEO tactic will give us more brand visibility in the SERPs. We can target more long-tail queries with this SEO approach.
We get a 2% Conversion rate in Organic traffic. Improving the CTR for X number of keywords by at least 5% can help us bring 10k additional traffic which can translate to 8k in monthly revenue, considering our 2% conversion rate & average order value of $400.
To Sum Up:
Come to think of it, all decision making whether in business or in life is aided by answering 3 seemingly small questions:
- Where are we today?
- Where do we want to be?
- How do we get there?
As long as you help the corner office find the right answers to this, a winning SEO for C-Suite strategy will certainly be in your hands!