Improving marketing efficiency with technology
The story is classic: A factory replaces the human worker with a machine to mass produce and streamline its process. Well, this isn't quite the same story, but the idea is the same — leveraging technology to make your business more efficient. In today's challenging economy, marketing budgets are being slashed and agencies are being tasked with squeezing every last drop from their precious budget, and many are developing tools to do the same work in less time, using fewer resources.
For instance, as an agency, part of your standard search process is — or should be — competitive review and analysis. So if I'm developing a search campaign for a client, I'm going to go out there and find out where our competitive sites are ranking with the same keywords and phrases we might use. I'd apply statistical analysis to each site, to find out why they rank as high or low as they do, and then use that knowledge to develop and optimize my client's campaign.
Sounds simple, right? But the actual execution of that analysis and review actually employs a great deal of time and manpower, and depending on how your invoicing structure is set up, that can suck up a lot of budget. But what if you could automate that process, making it light years faster and taking much of the human resources out of the equation, leaving them free to take on other tasks?
A great thing about search marketing is that there are clear elements in the process that lend themselves easily to a technological adaptation. You, as an agency, simply need to invest your intellectual capital, knowledge, time and money into the creation of the tool. This acknowledges your partnership with your client, recognizing the challenges and working to increasingly provide value whether it is in strategic expertise and/or efficiencies. Identifying and implementing processes and supporting tools to manual, identified tasks can save you and your clients a great deal of time and money down the line. For instance, we recently developed an in-house tool that allows us to automate our own SEO process, so now we can conduct competitive analysis on 12 sites in a fraction of the time it once took us to complete one site.
How did we get there? It started with a belief and experienced insight that many of the manual, time-consuming tasks associated with gathering and analyzing Web site data, content, and identifying architecture issues could be automated. We developed a proof of concept application in a matter of days and proved that this could be done. Along the way, we realized that while there are some tools like WebPosition that might give us some high-level data, it would be more beneficial to actually crawl and index those competitive Web sites into our tool and analyze them with a variation of the same tools we use for client sites.
Using this tool, we can now pass on the cost savings to our clients, and some of the manual but important tasks in the SEO process requires much less work from our team so we can focus on other more strategic elements of the program to further advance value, return and results. Dedicated search firms can provide similar services, but they have to be outsourced and are not always an integrated part of your media program. I say why wait for an independent firm to create the technology that is specific to your needs, when most digital agencies are equipped to put that technology together themselves. It saves you time and money in the long run, and can be a major benefit to your clients in the short term, especially as marketing and advertising budgets get more squeezed.