SEO, and how to measure its effectiveness, are top concerns for marketers, according to Webmarketing123‘s new “State of Digital Marketing 2012 Report.” The survey, which drew on responses from more than 500 B2B and B2C marketers, found growing interest in social media from B2B companies, but ongoing frustrations with how exactly to gauge the impact of these online efforts. (See infographic below.)
Direct Marketing News spoke with Paul Taylor, CEO of Webmarketing123, about the findings and what they might mean for marketers.
Direct Marketing News: When asked what most impacts lead generation, both B2B and B2C marketers put SEO in the top spot, with 59% and 49% citing it, respectively. Why do you think SEO has such high interest from both sides?
Paul Taylor: I think marketers in the past have maybe put more emphasis on building brand awareness and things that are a little harder to measure. But now every CMO we talk to and every marketing leader says, “I’m really being held responsible for numbers now.” It’s no longer about developing these great campaigns, but [about] the bottom line and increasing revenue. SEO is super-measurable in terms of, “We spent this much, we got this many leads from it and this much incremental revenue.”
DMN: Sticking with SEO, the study found that 70% of marketers felt they were unable to attribute ROI.
Taylor: There’s clearly a gap there, because it is very measurable. Anything that’s online you can apply tracking codes and other measurements to, but it sounds like the world doesn’t understand that. It may be that if you’re just looking at SEO to get better brand awareness, that’s not a subject you will be as concerned about measuring [versus] if you are thinking, “How many leads did I get, how much incremental revenue?”
DMN: Something that really stood out was the finding that companies using an agency were twice as likely to be highly satisfied with their SEO program versus those that ran internal marketing. What do you think explains that difference?
Taylor: One thing that an agency has is kind of a laboratory. It’s this concentrated learning and cutting-edge approach because you’re getting so much experience across so many different clients. When you’re in-house, you may not get that concentration of learning. SEO changes constantly and every month there’s a major algorithm change that impacts what factors Google considers in deciding whether or not to put you at the top. If you don’t have that kind of learning laboratory, you might not be getting that update.
DMN: You also found that while 70% of B2C marketers say they’re highly engaged with social media, 63% of B2B marketers said the same thing. I think the perception is that the gap would have been much wider between those two sectors.
Taylor: B2C tends to lead the charge and B2B marketers are the slower adopters. We’ve seen B2C companies really utilizing social media over the years and now B2B companies are starting to observe that and recognize, “This can be a real value to us as well.” The same thing is true of online advertising in general. B2B companies are increasingly recognizing that having a strong Web presence is critical for them, but also that it tends to be the most cost-effective marketing channel they have for bringing in new sales leads and revenue.