SEO for C-Suite: How to Convince Top Management to Invest in SEO
Posted on 17.09.2021 /
A 8 min. read
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.
What is the perspective of C-level for SEO implementation?
To convince C-suite executives it is always good to know what their perspective on SEO initiatives is. In a nutshell, top management does not care about things such as the number of keywords used, what these rank at and which SEO strategy is being implemented. What they do care about is the number of qualified leads, the growth in traffic, and ultimately, the direct sales that are taking place on the website. Revenue, profitability and brand positioning are the main focus of C-suite executives.
While presenting SEO suites and software tools to CEOs, remember that they have no time to beat around the bush. Straight to the point conversations, preferably with important numbers, targets and visual representation of data, will work to your advantage.
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 overall approach is. While the CEO cares about delivering results, the focus of the CFO is on making the right use of money.
If you are wondering how to market to CEOs, for instance, it will be prudent to have answers to the following questions ready:
On the hand, if you are presenting to the CFO, no marks for guessing that you will need to answer aspects such as:
With a CMO, SEO officers should be ready to answer questions centered around:
In fact, if you do your homework carefully, you will notice that C suite 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. This resource from HubSpot, can also come in handy in determining the metrics that CEOs care about the most.
Educate them about the importance of SEO
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
It may not sound like grave advice, but its importance cannot be overstated. Simply put, you need to start at the very beginning. Oftentimes 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 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 as it targets potential customers who are already far along in the sales funnel.
Some of the aspects to begin with could include:
While pitching SEO initiatives to C suite executives, you also have to master the art of communication and selling! You need to speak their language. Some pointers that’ll help you in convincing top management about the importance of SEO are:
- Start from the beginning. Explain what SEO is and what it is not
- Stress on the importance of SEO
- Discuss matters in a precise and to-the-point way
- Focus on aspects such as SEO Audit, SEO tactics, and customer acquisition and how these will be beneficial to the organization
Restrict Technical Jargon
It will be worthwhile to check to see if the presentation that you have been making to the C-suite 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.
Success in pitching SEO for C-suite, is also 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.
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.
Two core metrics that are likely to be of interest to the C-suite include:
Customer Acquisition Cost
Time to Payback
Remember, however, to set realistic expectations so that the C-Suite is aware that SEO 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.
Your job, of course, only begins once budgets are allocated 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 hands-on and who can guide your internal IT team through a successful implementation. Oftentimes, 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 so that implementation is seamless.
Demonstrating ROI is imperative when it comes to your SEO plan. 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 SEO services but continues well into sustaining the interest with the right data points.
3 Plausible reasons why your SEO for C-suite plan isn’t working:
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
This SEO strategy will help us increase our Organic Traffic by 30%
With this strategy, we will be 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 keywords would cost $10k if you were to get this traffic through 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.||Improving the CTR for X number of keywords by 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.|
Even though all the points in the left column make 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.
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:
1. Where are we today?
2. Where do we want to be?
3. 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!