2 min read
We find this question comes up a lot. Here's one answer; we hope it helps.
You've recently created a local Google My Business listing and added your business details to Google Maps, received the code and verified the business.
Then this happens -
"It's been nearly three weeks and the business still does not show when searching for 'Dentists in Sydney'. I've checked my profile to make sure there are no errors and everything is correct. Why isn't my business showing up in Google search results?"
Displaying Google Results: Two Possible Cases
Broadly, there are two possible cases with this:
1. If your business listing has been verified and you search for your exact business name or phone number, your listing should appear.
2. If you search for a business category or keywords related to your business - such as category, location (for example 'Dentists Sydney') your business listing may not appear.
How Google determines which businesses appear in the map listings in the second case is decided from over 200 ranking factors.
The Basic Idea of How Google Displays Results
It's important to note that Google's algorithm to determine what shows in the map listings and the standard 'organic' listings is slightly different.
When general keywords are used, the results displayed are decided from over 200 Google ranking factors, some of which (in the map display, especially since Google's Possum update) may be more heavily weighted towards location.
And as far as we're aware, simply having a high number of reviews does not mean you will rank higher - though it may contribute to other improved website engagement metrics (click through rate, time on site etc.), so could indirectly impact website rankings.
Beyond this - exploring ways for your business to appear higher in the organic search results listings in Google is definitely moving into the realm of 'SEO'. If high organic rankings are a requirement for your business, it might be worth discussing your options with an SEO professional in your area.
Check this article for more info about what's involved with SEO - including costs, as well as additional explanation and tips on choosing SEO providers.
The video below from Google (as well as this support article) give a detailed explanation and cover some of the other possible reasons why you may not be able to find your business on Google.
7 min read
Whether you are in a large or small business; engaging with an SEO provider can come with it's share of uncertainty, as well as a minefield of SEO myths to navigate.
This continues in part because the industry remains unregulated and also because of a significant knowledge gap - leading to the perception by many that SEO is a type of 'black magic' (when really, it isn't). Even Google has recently released a video about the topic in an attempt to help businesses choose an SEO provider and steer clear of the pitfalls.
This article covers top level detail about SEO as well as aiming to answer the question 'how much does SEO cost?', for both small and large businesses.
Understanding What's Involved (the short version)
Unlike many things, SEO is an intangible product and few people understand it really well.
Hence the dilemma.
A recent SEJ article mentions a survey in which 38% of small businesses believe investing less than $100 a month will net them major SEO results.
Another 33% believe it's very likely that their businesses will rank on the first page of Google results.
To us, this is a clear (and somewhat alarming) illustration of the knowledge gap that exists.
The short explanation of what's involved:
In terms of SEO - everyone is climbing to the top of the same pile.
And, this 'pile' keeps changing as new competitors enter the ring and invest in their own SEO; at last check a new website goes live about every 1.6 seconds. To add to it, Google keeps refining their search algorithm (read: 'changing their mind about how they rank websites') and shifting the goal posts.
SEO therefore, is NOT a 'set and forget' solution. It requires regular checks and constant vigilance to have any chance of keeping up, let alone making it to the top of the pile.
Furthermore, nobody knows 100% 'what needs to be done' for SEO; nobody knows Google's 'secret sauce' (don't listen to anyone who tries to convince you otherwise). Even though there are guidelines, the most you can ever do is to put your best foot forward and see how Google responds and ranks your site.
Most of SEO then is educated trial and error. It's not one-size-fits all, and it's never guaranteed to work.
So... How Much Does SEO Cost ?
A comprehensive industry survey by Moz and AYTM Market Research (albeit a little old now, from 2012) covered 490 respondents in 10 countries - USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, India - and had the following findings.
Most agencies will work and provide services and pricing either packaged/per-project usually based on deliverables, or a monthly retainer model usually based on hours:
The thing to keep in mind for most agencies is that it all comes down to hours one way or another; pricing will based on hours, which is indicative of the amount of work being done.
Client side, it's important to be clear on the scope of work and expectations (as per points above).
Pricing model and deliverables aside, at very least the agency should be able to show 'we did this many hours, carried out X tasks with Y results' (and explain the reasons WHY they did those things).
How Cheap is Too Cheap?
With SEO more than some things it really is a case of getting what you pay for. Good SEO providers can deliver great long term results and achieve positive ROI for your business - small or large.
Armed with a thorough understanding of what's involved and realistic expectations based on your budget and competitors/industry, it's also fine to go searching for value for money.
But how cheap is too cheap?
Keep in mind the points raised above. Ask questions. Check contracts and be clear on what work is being done.
Also, consider some of the risks of going 'too cheap':
A good rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
* This Forbes article discusses these points and goes into more detail.
Then, Is SEO the Wrong Tool for Some Businesses?
Yes,it certainly can be.
Factors such as complexity, longer time frame to see results/get ROI and uncertainty can mean that SEO is not the best (or ONLY) tool for all business cases.
Remember: SEO is not easy. You won't get anywhere for $100 a month. It takes time to work.
As always, bring it back to:
Briefly... on Choosing an SEO Agency
We thought this point was important to include. However, since there are many great articles online which cover this, we won't go into detail here.
Some of the best articles we've come across for 'How to Choose an SEO Agency':
SEO is not black magic, but it can be challenging and it takes time and effort to do properly.
If it's done well, the rewards and ROI from SEO can be great - but it's important to be aware of what's involved, choose an SEO/agency partner wisely and be clear and realistic with expectations.
Keep in Mind...
Due to the longer time frame, complexity and uncertainty, SEO may not be the best solution for all businesses.
In almost all cases, it's worth considering SEO as one part of a holistic digital marketing strategy which may include other channels such as paid ads.
We'd love to hear your comments and any personal experiences.
(9 min read)
Marketing, Sales and Web Development... together in harmony?
Data based decisions being made, with information being fed back via closed loop reporting to keep departments aligned, informed, agile and working collaboratively towards common goals?
Yes it is possible. And it's already happening.
Growth driven design (or GDD) is relatively new as an 'official' methodology and continues to gain traction amongst web developers, sales professionals and marketers alike: perhaps because GDD just seems to make sense.
This article explores some of the core concepts around GDD and it's alignment with growth marketing. We'll go on to suggest how marketers can apply a growth mindset to tie together and drive effective customer centred digital strategies in an increasingly data-driven environment.
What is Growth Driven Design? (the 2 minute version)
Growth driven design (or 'GDD') was born from the idea that the process of traditional website design is broken.
You may have experienced this 'broken process' first hand in your organisation if you've ever had to build or rebuild your company website.
When you think 'website', do any of these issues and risks sound familiar?
Growth driven design not only sets out to solve these common issues, but it's also tightly integrated with marketing and sales. What analysts learn about website visitors and behaviour helps to inform and improve marketing and sales strategies and tactics (and vice versa).
In addition, there is a phase of 'continuous improvement' built into the process.
Continuous Improvement follows a 'launch pad' site which is aimed at being the minimum viable product to go live with. This launch pad site is still a complete site, but is made live with the understanding that it isn't perfect (websites in general, by the way, are never perfect).
With traditional web design, going live is usually considered the end point - break out the champagne and move on. However, with GDD - the launch pad website forms a starting point to work from and begin collecting the valuable user data which will guide future decisions around features, pages, design and content.
** There are plenty of resources online that cover growth driven design in more detail. For a deep dive, check out Hubspot's own excellent GDD certification course and growthdrivendesign.com
What is Growth Marketing?
Another logical extension of these concepts comes in the form of Growth Marketing (and just quickly - we do mean growth marketing here, not growth hacking).
A Growth Marketer, in a basic sense, could be any data driven marketer whose goal is attracting more engaged customers, leading to growth. Typical efforts may be towards running experiments such as A/B testing, digging into user data to derive meaningful insights and focusing around conversion rate optimisation.
As this article on Drift puts it - the key difference between growth marketing and traditional marketing is:
"traditional marketing focuses on the top of the funnel, the growth marketing job description requires focusing on the entire funnel."
Fundamentals of a Growth Driven Mindset
As we then look at both Growth Driven Design and Growth Marketing, we start to notice some convergence in the core values of both mindsets:
Notice anything similar?
Since we're starting with a (somewhat) unified mindset, let's next take a look at tying together three of the core principles and putting things into practice...
1. Everything Starts with the User / Customer
It's no secret businesses are realising the importance of putting the customer at the centre of marketing, sales and service efforts.
According to Adobe's recent 2017 Digital Trends report, 71% of respondents considered 'optimising the customer experience' to be 'very important' for their digital marketing over the next few years.
Both growth driven design and growth marketing share a similar user-first philosophy:
Hubspot goes a step deeper on this last point to suggest this comes even before business needs. This makes a lot of sense when you realise that there is often a gap between what a business wants and what the business' customers want.
When you focus on solving for the user first, solutions immediately become more meaningful and less time is wasted on building 'solutions' that nobody actually wanted in the first place!
2. Focus on The Whole Funnel
Customer experience should not be the responsibility of one individual or department; it is the responsibility of the entire organisation. Therefore, it makes sense to consider the entire funnel (not just sales, marketing or customer support) when focusing on growth driven initiatives with the customer at the core.
... many different parts of the organization are responsible for delivering the ultimate customer experience. Providing a seamless customer experience thus begins with the customer’s perspective at the center of the organizational structure and requires all parts of the organization to work together in lockstep.
Once you have adopted a user/customer first approach and identified your highest value customers, it's important to:
For business operations - the aim should be to unify the organisation around these goals.
Only a basic understanding of the modern purchase funnel is needed to realise how important this full funnel mindset and approach can be and how critical it is to long term business success:
3. Continuous Learning & Improvement
Be willing to measure everything; be willing to admit failure; always be learning; get stuff done. These core principles all ring out in support of an agile, experiment-driven approach to marketing.
In new businesses this is particularly important, because:
Though even in well-established businesses where the consumer environment is changing at a rate faster than ever before, the principles are valid. Besides, with so much access to data and software and tools such as A/B testing so readily available, why wouldn't you test, measure, learn and grow?
Lastly - close the loop and make sure the data from customer service is flowing back to sales, vice versa and all the way through the funnel. Say no to silos.
Putting It Into Action
Now you've got your 'grown driven hat' on and you're ready to tackle the whole funnel.
Where do you start? How do you prioritise?
Conveniently, Growth Driven Design suggests an 8 Step Framework for prioritising the changes and attention/focus areas for websites (or 'website hierarchy').
The two interconnected pieces of this process then are the 'GDD Website Hierarchy' and the 'Continuous Improvement Cycle' (Plan > Build > Learn > Transfer).
In order of priority/hierarchy:
We're assuming in the example above that a company website forms the central point and conversion funnel of the overall sales and marketing efforts. Credit for the 8 points above to Hubspot.
For more help on implementing the steps above, or for in house training sessions on growth driven concepts, you can speak to one of our experienced digital consultants.
Concepts like growth driven design and growth marketing reinforce a convergence towards a customer first, data driven mindset. Whilst some organisations find this shift easy, others are still struggling to adopt this approach and move towards customer experience excellence.
Even in 2017 a number of challenges still exist around this, such as navigating data, cultural challenges, strategy and creating momentum within the organisation, as well as digital marketing skills gaps. McKinsey&Company suggest a three tiered approach to tackle these challenges at an organisational level.
For marketers, the movement starts with the right mindset, then considering the key actions:
We hope this article has provided some ideas to light that 'fearlessly creative' spark.
An article first published in 2012 from the IPA (with Thinkbox) demonstrates the importance of and improved effectiveness of pairing short term, data driven campaigns with long term creative ones. The report examines the business effects of 1,000 advertising campaigns from over 30 years of IPA Effectiveness data. Of particular note - it warns about the danger of using very short-term metrics as primary performance measures for long-term success, since short term and long term effects work differently. We felt it important to reference the article here: https://www.thinkbox.tv/Research/Thinkbox-research/The-Long-and-Short-of-it
(7 min read)
There are differing schools of thought on whether the idea of a 'full service digital marketing agency' is actually a good idea in reality.
Many feel that a full service agency simply doesn't work in practice - the digital marketing skill set is far too varied and becoming more so all the time. So why do some agencies claim to be 'full service providers'? Is the concept itself flawed as they set out to 'specialise in everything'? Is it all just a myth?
This article sets out to answer these questions along with helping you to decide which type of agency to partner with and why.
The Amazing Agency That Does Everything, Really?
What is really meant by 'full service' when we talk digital marketing?
'Digital' in itself is a massively broad area (what isn't digital these days?) ... so where do you draw the line when talking 'full service'? Web hosting? IT services? Print?
Or, even if we focus solely in the marketing direction, different digital marketing disciplines are highly specialised in their nature - such as SEO, SEM, Social Media, Content Marketing - and only becoming more so (we discussed the different areas of digital marketing with infographics in a recent blog post).
It's a LOT for one agency to handle.
Is it realistic then for an agency to refer to themselves as a 'full service agency' in the first place?
(and what is the actual definition of a 'full service agency'?)
Is this similar to saying 'we specialise in everything'? *shudder*
The Challenge - Putting it All Together
If agencies then aren't truly 'full service', but there is a strong need for cohesion and alignment between marketing efforts, how do we put everything together?
As service offerings get added on and snowball there is the risk that a digital agency seeking to become too large or provide too wide a range of services simply becomes bloated, or diluted in some areas - such as 'a web design company who also does digital marketing'.
Yes, the agency might physically have staff filling the roles , but the calibre/skill level can vary considerably - or as this article suggests, in some cases even ending up with junior staff handling parts of the project.
Clients want specialists, not lightweights.
This then leaves two other options for the agency:
1. Partner up with another provider(s) / outsource to provide a 'full service' experience
2. Choose a niche to specialise in and focus on that
The Outsourcing Debate
There are many agencies that choose the outsourcing route. Whether an agency outsources can sometimes be a sticking point question (especially in Australia), when it probably shouldn't be.
Outsourcing should not, in itself, be a bad thing at all.
If work is being outsourced to specialists then it can certainly be:
... and it should come at no compromise to quality.
For the digital agency, the real challenge then is how well they can maintain the outsource relationship/s to ensure a minimum level of service to their clients.
It's also worth noting that sometimes the 'outsourcing' can come in the form of a strategic partnership with another agency of a different skill set or speciality.
If this experience is seamless, then there shouldn't actually be any problem with outsourcing.
Which is Best? 'Full Service' Agency Vs Specialised?
Looking from client side, is it better to go with a 'full service' agency, or manage a number of smaller, specialised agency relationships?
This can vary depending on needs and situation. It could also depend on what resources you have available in house. It's always important to start with your marketing goals first.
The 'Full Service' Agency Experience
Above limitations considered, the convenience of having 'everything' in one place can still certainly be an attractive option, especially for smaller businesses.
Depending on your needs, this might be the best arrangement for your organisation.
However, do consider the points raised in this article. Be realistic on expectations (you may need to compromise a little in one or more areas for the sake of convenience) and generally try to avoid an overly 'one-stop-shop' mentality.
There are limits to the definition of 'full service agency', as explained above.
If you already have a strong team or resources available in house, or already work with one specialised agency, it might make good sense to partner with a specialised agency (or a second or third one) that offer different or complimentary services, each focusing on their strengths to get the best overall result.
On the flip side, over-diversifying and trying to manage too many separate agency relationships can create silos, impede communication and cohesiveness of strategy, be difficult to manage and create a risk of agencies 'stepping on each others' toes'.
Managing several specialist digital marketing agencies can definitely take time and require specific skills.
'Boutique' Agency Vs 'Large' (Huge) Agency?
Closely linked to the previous point, this question is focused on 'size', and there are arguments for both sides.
Small / Boutique Agency
An oft-referenced study from the Horn Group and Kelton Research in 2011 concluded that "two-thirds of chief marketing officers preferred agencies with 50 or less staff".
Reasons cited for preferring a boutique/smaller agency included:
In the same study, 80% of respondents also mentioned that 'integrated services will be more important in 5 years' (2016).
This prediction certainly seems to carry some weight.
With so many available digital channels these days, it's becoming increasingly important for different teams to coordinate and work together to seamlessly align marketing campaigns, work towards unified goals and learn from each others' experiments and experiences.
So, does this leave smaller agencies at a disadvantage?
It should be made clear at this point that there is a distinction between a 'full service' agency and a small, agile group of experts under one roof.
A smaller team that can provide integrated services but still remain light and agile may have the upper hand in many cases.
Large / 'Huge' Agency
Large agencies might come with more clout, an intimidating swathe of case studies and client experiences to draw from, formidable buying power and ample resources to get s**t done quickly.
Though bigger isn't always better. Increased size potentially comes at the cost of agility.
Especially in an industry that moves as fast as digital marketing, large agencies can take longer to turn, adapt, or implement the latest practices. Though top digital marketing companies may be able to leverage their industry relationships to manage this more effectively, shed weight when needed and keep much-needed momentum.
There are also the corresponding counter-arguments to the pros raised above for choosing a smaller, boutique agency to potentially consider with larger agencies:
Depending on what your goals and values are, these points may or may not be as important.
Creativity Over Experience
Have you ever seen an amazing-looking website, only to immediately realise that it takes 5-6 years to load? Or that the company can't be found anywhere in Google?
Creativity, without a question, is an essential part of marketing planning - just proceed with caution and don't become blinded by it. Creativity does not immediately equate to technical competence in digital marketing.
Depending on your situation and goals , it might make more sense to partner with a 'creative digital agency' or a 'digital creative agency'.
If in doubt, always bring it back to your business goals and ensure that the agency has the ability to deliver on those. I.e. you don't want wonderfully creative and entertaining content that nets you new Facebook followers when your business goals all along were to drive conversions on your website.
Despite contention over the term 'full service', both full service agencies and smaller, specialised agencies can be effective, acting as an extension of your existing team and add tremendous value to your company's digital marketing efforts.
What matters most at the end of the day is that you find an option that works best for your situation, and partner with an agency (or agencies) that understands your needs and works with you to achieve your business goals.
An agency should be large enough to be able to service your needs, but also specialised or creative enough to deliver excellent results in the key areas most important to your business.
Need Some Unbiased Advice?
Chat with us and get advice on working with your agency or choosing your next digital agency partner.
(9:30 min read)
Digital marketing is becoming more complex; lines between marketing and IT are blurring; in the midst of it all, we're faced with a looming digital marketing skills gap.
This article provides background and 5 strategies for businesses to effectively tackle digital marketing and build their own highly effective digital marketing team, whether it's in-house, outsourced or a combination of different options:
1. Build a Digital Marketing Team Internally
2. Upskill Existing (traditional) Marketing Staff
3. Manage Your Agency Relationship/s As Best As You Can
4. Hire a Full Time Digital Marketing Manager
5. Outsource or Contract Services
Bridging the Digital Marketing Skills Gap
Digital marketing moves fast.
How many features do you use online today or see in Google search results that you didn't use 5, 2 or even 1 year ago? It's no surprise that marketers are having trouble keeping up.
A number of sources are predicting a digital skills gap in the near future.
5 years ago, Gartner forecasted that by 2017 CMOs would be spending more on IT than CIOs (such is the requirement for analytics software, reporting tools, automation and personalisation software and more).
It looks like the prediction might come true this year.
So, where does this leave marketers and businesses?
It means (at very least) that your marketing manager is going to need some help, and soon.
Which Digital Skills? Where to Start?
There is a broad range of skills these days that fall under the umbrella of 'digital marketing'.
A couple of our favourite graphical representations of these are below:
1. The graphic below from Unbounce titled 'The Noob Guide to Online Marketing' gives a great representation of the scope of tasks involved and current 'digital marketing' skill set.
2. The one below from Gartner is one of our personal favourites that shows how Digital Strategy is interconnected, represented as a subway map, built from real data taken from over 1,800 businesses.
In-House Vs Outsourcing: Start with Your Core Strategic Goals
It's the million dollar question - in-house Vs outsourcing?
The truth is that there are pros and cons to both of these arrangements. But before we deep dive into the different strategies available, it's worth starting at the core of your strategy.
Your business' core strategic goals should form one of the main deciding factors on whether you outsource or build/hire the resources in-house, where you start and how heavily you invest into each area.
For example -
Core competencies and focus of your digital strategy can be guided by:
Now to our 5 strategies...
Strategy 1: Build an Internal Digital Marketing Team
As the Gartner Map above illustrates, there are key areas or 'zones' of digital marketing skills to narrow in on. For the purpose of this article, let's assume we're building a smaller cross-functional team of 3-5 staff at an SMB level (rather than a specialised or enterprise level team focused on one of those digital marketing 'zones').
A typical 5-person cross-functional digital marketing team ('pod') could consist of the following roles:
There might be overlap between some of the roles depending on particular skill sets. I.e.: Your social media manager might also be skilled at content creation, in which case you might consider subbing in a designer or UX specialist (as an example).
Hubspot suggests an example 5 person pod structure for "an agency that works with small businesses and does a lot of website redesigns" as:
Larger organisations may still start with this core structure, but expand by create additional roles and teams based around functions and objectives - for example, teams specifically built around acquisition, growth, engagement or retention/loyalty.
The key consideration for any cross functional team is that the team should have all the skills required to complete the project*
* the cross-functional team could be made up of a combination of internal and external resources - see section 5 on outsourcing or contract services.
Principles of Scrum suggest that an optimal size for a cross functional team (or 'pod') is between 3-7 staff and no more than 9 staff. Research suggests that communication significantly declines past this number.
Hubspot takes this a step further and suggests two different 'pod' configurations for a cross functional, 'growth driven design optimised team' - one of 3 staff and one of 5 staff which also keeps an inbound marketing skill set in mind:
Image credit: Hubspot.
Strategy 2: Upskill Existing Marketing Staff
For smaller businesses with a more restrictive budget, or where there is a strong opportunity to upskill existing 'traditional' marketing staff, there are a number of resources online, both free and paid, which can make this a good option.
Due to the fast moving nature of digital marketing, these online resources from reputable organisations are often kept more up to date than offline sources.
Where to get started upskilling?
Strategy 3: Manage Your Agency Relationship(s) as Best as You Can
Working with a good digital agency can be a highly rewarding experience and even feel like working with members of your own team, all whilst proving more cost effective and less risky than hiring the same full time resources in house.
Then, some other times, things don't go so well...
There are some key considerations to keep in mind when working with a digital agency that can help you achieve great outcomes together:
If choosing a digital agency...
Know What to Expect
Strategy 4: Hire a Full Time Digital Marketing Manager
For organisations with larger budgets, hiring a full time digital marketing manager can be a worthy option to either:
1. Lead an internal digital marketing team
2. Manage the relationships with your existing agency/s
3. Do a bit of both
Again, this can be very much a case of 'you get what you pay for' in terms of skills and depth of experience.
A quick aside - take Care When Hunting Unicorns
Remember the Gartner transit map at the start of this article?
If you're hoping to find a real person with a full skill set like that (who isn't lying to you), you could be searching for a long time.
Strategy 5: Outsource or Contract Services
This can be one of the most agile and flexible solutions. In some ways, it can even be a combination of all 4 options above.
Once you've decided on the requirements for your core competencies, your goals and budget - engaging with a professional for a flexible hours agreement can give you the extra punch you need, just when you need it, to ensure that things are getting done right and you're not wasting money.
Some of the best ex-staff are out there running their own consultancies, broken free from the agency world and brimming with knowledge from both sides of the fence.
A good digital marketing professional can:
There are a number of effective strategies for building a highly successful digital marketing team in 2017 and beyond. Which is best really comes down to your business needs and budget.
Here's a quick checklist:
Be sure to prioritise and remember that you can use a combination of strategies to spread your risk rather than going 'all-in' in any one area.
We hope this article is useful and would love to hear feedback or any other points from your own experience.