Marketing a brick and mortar business is driven by seasons. What this means is that business processes that determine income are not constant year round, but morph depending on seasons. Hence, marketing processes for a brick and mortar business are not identical across all seasons in the year, but change to create varying seasonal – Client appeal – for the business as the business process change.
Internet delivered businesses are no different. Marketing techniques used for Internet business need to change seasonally as well. This means that Internet marketing campaigns run to market any Web / Blog site should change to fit the season of the year.
Web / Blog site business seasonal cycles must be understood, documented and referenced when deciding on an SEO strategy. The site’s SEO strategy has a direct impact on the success of its marketing campaign. What one must bear in mind is that a seasonal business cycle will vary greatly across business models, for example seasonal / cyclical changes within B2B business and B2C businesses. Once this is known and pegged, an effective SEO strategy needs to be built around such information.
Among the multiple business cycles that support businesses, what should be tracked carefully is their:
- Sales cycle
- Conversion cycle
- SEO cycle
A sales cycle begins when the company identifies a lead. There are multiple ways in which such leads are identified:
- A phone call from a prospective client
- The submission of a properly filled in online form
- An uncompleted attempt at a purchase,
i.e. a shopping cart filled in but the purchase cycle is not complete And so on. The Web / Blog site needs to decide which of such leads is worth pursuing.
A sales cycle triggered by any such action does not complete until it is flagged as gone cold or successfully completed. Some leads may remain active for several weeks as client go through – Deciding – whether they wish to close or not.
A lot depends on the types of products and/or services that the Web / Blog site sells. The rule of thumb is, the costlier the product / service the longer it takes a client to decide to purchase.
E-Commerce Web / Blog sites typically have short sales cycles. Visitors come to the Web / Blog site driven by the desire to make a purchase, but the same rules of purchase seem to apply, i.e. the costlier the product / service the longer it takes a client to decide to purchase.
Hence, it is necessary to map the company’s sales cycle to the company’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Let’s say your company is selling condos. Its average sales cycle is about six months.
Now of it takes six months to build a sound, well planned and execute SEO strategy, the Web / Blog just cannot judge whether its SEO efforts are having any impact at all on its income stream until at least nine months have passed.
The Web / Blog site owner has to allow the average sales cycle to occur, ( that is how long it takes to get any Return On Investment – ROI – anyway ). Hence, making a decision that the SEO campaign being executed is not bringing in any results within three to five months, is incorrect. Many ( what could be ) successful SEO campaigns have be crippled and discarded due to such premature decisions being taken.
Once a lead is successfully identified, the conversion cycle kicks in. The conversion cycle is about guiding site visitors to – Take positive action. It’s in a Web Blog site’s conversion cycle that things go awry. The conversion cycle completes only when the site visitors purchase transaction completes. Hence, it is pretty important that a Web / Blog site carefully – Leads site visitors – to complete their purchase transaction with an appropriate – Call To Action.
If the Web / Blog site’s call to action is to get site visitors to phone in, there better be phone numbers, prominently listed on the site. Those numbers must be manned, by individuals capable of ensuring that those who phone in move on to purchase.
It is crippling for the Web / Blog site to make it hard for site visitors to find the information they need to convert a lead to a purchasing client. Offering something of value for – Free – is a great way of engaging a site visitor, building a relationship and moving the sales cycle to conversion to purchase ( i.e. closure ).
- A free in-depth analysis of a website
- Free installation of a CMS for a client ( eg. The free install of WordPress or Joomla )
- Free critique, with a report document of a site visitors website
- Free testing to determine the vulnerability of a website with a report
And so on.
A lot of SEO professionals indicate that their SEO strategy is only to drive focused traffic to the Web / Blog site. Subsequently many SEO professionals claim it’s the Web / Blog site owner’s responsibility to ensure that such traffic gets converted into leads, leads in to conversions and conversions in to purchase transactions. While there is a modicum of truth in this, SEO professionals and marketers in general must be willing to be accountable for every USD that they consume. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that marketing is really a Cost To Company ( CTC ) process.
The SEO professional, who often doubles as the Web / Blog site marketing consultant, must be willing to prove to the Web / Blog site owner that their investment of time and money ( and at times manpower ) is worth it due to the measurable Return On Investment ( ROI ) it brings in. SEO and site visitor user experience go hand in hand when it comes to conversion.
The SEO cycle is how long it takes for a Web / Blog site to start seeing its SEO strategy paying off by better ranking for targeted keywords within search engine result pages. The SEO strategy applied to a Web / Blog site is mapped to:
- The level of Web / Blog site’s competitors
- The past SEO efforts made
- The actual room for growth
And so on.
What must be remembered is that SEO strategy is irrevocably married to the Web / Blog site’s SEO cycle.
Here are two commonly faced scenarios by Web / Blog sites when trying to measure and determine their SEO cycle.
The competition is dominating search engines. It is quite possible that the competition has been in existence longer that you. That they have had a strong, well planned SEO strategy in place much longer than your Web / Blog site. Search engines trust them, due to the number of back links they have from authority sites, that they have acquired over time.
Under these circumstances you really have no choice but to buckle down and implement your SEO strategy over a period of time before you will begin to see its results.
The dream situation for your Web / Blog site. No one in your Internet driven business niche is doing a good job on their SEO. No business is really dominating this online space. Hence, this is the appropriate time to put into place a well thought through and executed SEO strategy. Thus lay claim to your online space.
If the Web / Blog site has been inexistence for at least 4+ years, it’s already noticed by search engines. Hence, simple to apply SEO tactics would help propel the site onto the first result page returned by the search engine. This is a good time to go after the more competitive keywords used in your business domain and succeed.
An Internet driven business cycle will vary from industry vertical to industry vertical, and from business model to business model. The product or services being marketed will also impact the Internet driven business model.
The Sales cycle, Conversion cycle and SEO cycle are all critical components of any Internet marketing plan. These directly affect the success of the SEO campaign strategy. Failing to factor the impact these cycles have on the SEO campaign strategy being applied may cause the SEO campaign to be stopped just prior it begins to pay off handsomely.
Alternatively, if the Sales cycle, Conversion cycle, and SEO cycle are not mapped an ineffective SEO campaign strategy may be allowed to continue will simply be a cost to company without being able to produce to results that it was brought in to deliver.