The benefit of investing in SEO and social marketing automation is obvious to you as you sell those products and services. Yet you repeatedly hear “no” from potential clients.
Frustrated? It’s time to go back to the drawing board and reexamine the all-important question:
Why are SEO and social marketing so important to small businesses?
Customers have changed and so has the shopping process. We start the shopping process online and we increasingly choose to do business with small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that align with our values and show concern for their customers’ needs.
Since SEO and social marketing strategies are built on quality content dispersed across company websites, social media profiles, and other locations around the web, these strategies help to bridge an important gap between customers and SMBs. The content helps create and strengthen a company’s reputation and sends important signals such as:
- The company’s authority in the industry
- The company’s concern for customer needs
- The company’s differentiating factors
By continually creating authentic content, a business attracts customers to engage with them. This engagement includes online conversations with the company, questions and answers, sharing the company’s messages with their social circles, and making purchases. The result is increased sales as well as stronger relationships between businesses and consumers who transform from customers to loyal brand advocates. Furthermore, when done properly, search engines pick up on these signals and begin to rank the associated content higher in search engine results which leads to more traffic.
SEO/SEM priorities for small business owners
A recent report from BIA/Kelsey 2015 showed that among the advanced adopters of digital technology, SEO/SEM was the highest priority over the last 12-month period, beating out email marketing, social media advertising, video, and broadcast advertising. Those SMBs who understand digital technology are making SEO a priority; if your clients understand the whole picture, they will too.
A closer look at SEO and social marketing automation services
SEO is important, as we have discussed, and many ask, “Can’t we just manage it ourselves?” Maybe. But it’s very difficult.
The digital environment has become extremely competitive. You cannot just create content and expect that it will put you in the number one spot on a Google results page. Content creation is a fine art that must engage an audience and send the right cues to the search engine.
Furthermore, small businesses need to use the right strategy to compete with global brands.
How does that work?
A small business can choose keywords that are specific to their product or service and then target a specific location so that they reach the relevant geographical audience searching for their services. Small businesses also have other key attributes which can make them more appealing to their local customers; for example, quality and family-oriented. On the other hand, a global brand will just focus on its category-defining product.
Social marketing automation is the other piece which is an essential part of SEO. It plays a helpful role in broadcasting website content and other brand messages to a larger targeted audience. Social marketing is crawled by search engines so it can help to improve SEO efforts if it is well-crafted, linked properly, and in line with the SEO strategy. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how SEO and social marketing work together to achieve the desired end goal.
Combining SEO and social marketing: Easier said than done
SEO is a relatively new marketing strategy and many companies try and fail to engage their target audience. Investing in the right automation service provider can result in the relevant and authoritative content a business needs to get to the top. It will require hands on cooperation, as the SEO provider will need to understand the SMBs voice and business goals thoroughly.
Unfortunately, similar to how SMBs are failing in their SEO and social marketing attempts, other SEO service providers are as well! It’s important to show clients that you are a company who has a proven track record of success, who will not only help if they have no professional experience, but also if they have another professional SEO service that isn’t working. When they find the right provider, SEO will work wonders, so show them that you are that solution.
Do the small business owners you are selling to know all of the nuts and bolts that make a digital marketing strategy work? Most don’t know or don’t have time to execute the strategy effectively, so they are in much better hands hiring professional like you. They can eliminate wasted time and money which would otherwise be spent in trial and error.
The problem often comes in getting SMBs to understand the details about why the investment is worthwhile. This is where you as the salesman have to come in and make technical and difficult concepts simple and easy to understand. You have to show customers:
- That the industry is growing rapidly
- That those who are not investing in SEO and social marketing are not going to be able to compete
- How the pieces of a digital marketing strategy fit together, both long-term and short-term
- The anticipated timeline
SEO and social marketing vs. paid advertising
Now, many small businesses may say, “I can get by just fine with SEM and I’ll see the ROI right away.”
Advertising online, which accounted for more than $146 billion in spending in 2016, is an important piece to the puzzle. However, advertising is just that: one piece to a much larger puzzle. Ads appear on the web which help to increase brand awareness and drive traffic but much of that effort is wasted without the accompanying web presence to back it up.
Consumers are getting wiser in gauging which online businesses to trust. Studies have found that consumers trust the opinions of a third party more than they trust the voice of the company itself. So both voices are necessary, working in cooperation with each other.
For example, when performing a search on Google, many customers will skip over the paid results, instinctively looking for the organic results that earned the top spot. The top organic results are associated with quality. However, if a search brings up a paid result and an organic result which are the same, the two together reinforce the quality of the business.
Thus, SEO and social marketing are both crucial components of an effective online presence. They show that both a community and search engines find a particular SMB relevant and helpful. SEO and social marketing strategies take time to build, but they also take time to lose their effect if efforts stop, unlike paid advertising which stops the second you stop paying for it.
For those of us who are selling products which automate marketing, we have the challenge of showing small businesses why they should invest in a sizable amount of billable professional hours for SEO and social marketing services. It can be a hard sell at first since the investment is made up front and the results take time to realize.
How long does it take to see results?
The BIA/Kelsey report looked at fourteen case studies of Boostability Inc.’s customers and found that the first positive result happened after four months of SEO and social marketing services. In all cases, at least one metric shifted within six months, and the longest time to reach a goal was twelve months. So, even if you get businesses to sign up, they may scrap the project before progress is made if they don’t have a realistic understanding of the timeline.
Overcoming the fear of investing
It may be helpful for your business to have technical assistants who can answer the nitty gritty questions and help SMBs understand the process. It is also helpful to focus on the primary goal of your SMB customer’s campaign. Do they want to increase traffic overall? Do they want to improve their search engine results on Google? Do they want to lower bounce rates while raising conversion rates?
Whatever the goal, show them how progress will be tracked and set the expectation that they are likely to see real progress starting in month six. Also show them their expected ROI after the first year. Then, the process will be like a snowball growing as it rolls down a hill. The reporting provided to the SMB should be consistent and easy to understand. Outlining this process to them can help them to understand why investing is a good idea.
Demonstrate everything they can expect from you
At the end of the day, we all know SMBs need SEO and social marketing automation. The only question is:
Are you going to be the one that convinces them that you can provide it?
By knowing the specifics of what you have to offer and explaining it in a way that is easy to understand, your chances improve greatly. Furthermore, by showing proof that you have helped other SMBs in the past, you can further instill their confidence in you.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme and lacks the instant gratification our culture is accustomed to. However, it is the road to true sustainable success online, and it’s your job to get that point across.
Still have questions?
Feel free to send over any obstacles you run in to or objections you have trouble overcoming. We will be happy to offer up feedback to help you close the deal. Check out our new resources on selling SEO and social automation to SMBs.
Jon began at Boostability as a part-time sales agent and quickly became their top performer. His achievements landed him the Director of Sales position. As Director of Sales, Jon managed 25 sales agents and implemented sales practices and trainings that resulted in millions of dollars in revenue. Now Jon works with top Boostability partners and launched a “sales support” initiative which enables Boostability partners to sell more online services.
Through Jon’s career he has trained hundred of sales agents across the country. He specialises in online marketing sales, especially SEO, Social Media and Websites. A significant contribution to digital sales is his ability to teach “traditional marketing” sales reps how to sell digital marketing.
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