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How to Evaluate Your B2B SEO Efforts – Lillian Haase // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: Every successful B2B content marketing strategy ends with one essential process – Evaluation. Join host Ben as he concludes B2B SEO Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of European Marketing Lillian Haase to talk about how you can, and should be, evaluating your SEO efforts to maximize your B2B impact and evaluate the success of your B2B content strategy.

Summary

  • New versus returning visitors is a key metric to pay close attention to when evaluating CRM data.
  • An essential part of any production cycle is performing an audit to examine your content’s performance and glean information to inform future content pieces.
  • Your evaluation methods should include the buyer’s journey by examining solutions to the problems prospects have at different stages.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                   Welcome back to B2B SEO Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. And this week we’ve been publishing episodes every day, discussing what you need to know to optimize your SEO efforts to reach new business partners and find new prospects. Joining us for B2B SEO Week is Lillian Haase, who is the director of European marketing at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. 

Ben:                   And so far this week, Lillian and I have talked about everything from whether SEO matters more than ever for B2B brands, how to build a B2B content strategy, how to use that content for lead generation and yesterday, we talked about optimizing or updating your content to drive B2B success. Today, we’re going to wrap up B2B SEO Week by talking about how you can and should be evaluating your SEO efforts to maximize your B2B impact. Okay. Here’s the last installment of B2B SEO Week with Lillian Haase Director of European Marketing at Searchmetrics. Lillian happy Friday, and welcome back to the last episode of B2B SEO Week. 

Lillian:             Thanks Ben it’s good to be here and I’m glad it’s Friday. 

Ben:                   It took me nine times to say B2B SEO Week. 

Lillian:             I wasn’t counting.

Ben:                  Excited to wrap up the week. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of ground here all the way from, isn’t it important to think about SEO for B2B? How to build your content strategy? Everything all the way to, should we be optimizing or updating your content today? We’re going to talk about evaluation. Let’s talk about KPIs. Let’s talk about the numbers that people look at. You’re a data driven marketer, something that most people don’t really think about with content marketing. What are some of the ways that you’re using data to understand the performance and impact of your SEO efforts?

Lillian:             So many ways I think I could take a whole day to answer the question actually. But I think a fundamental thing to mention that I do focus on and my team would focus on as well is in B2B, no matter what industry you’re in the buying cycle is not linear. So you’re not starting at awareness and ending up in buying. You’re going around in loops. You’re coming back and again. The same from B2C of course it’s not limited to B2B. It’s just that this nonlinear experience means that you have so many different KPIs along the way. As people move through the buyer journey from awareness to purchase or awareness purchase, customer canceled purchase again or awareness, I’m a little bit interested, I’m not interested anymore. 

Lillian:            There are all these different pathways. And so from a KPI perspective, you can look at all of the different touch points as best as you can depending on what software you’ve got in place to understand the patents that happened in your business and evolve over time. And a lot of people really stick with the first and last touch point because it’s quite obvious actually, it’s quite measurable in many instances and in most CRMs and most backend systems, you can collect that data quite easily. But this middle section is where it all gets a bit fuzzy where we do miss a lot of information. So if someone’s having a conversation with a salesperson or they’re having a conversation with their colleague, there’s no tracking there most of the time.

Lillian:            So you’re really stuck with that first and last point. And so the challenge then is to say, “Okay, we need to measure something? We need to know, is that content good enough? Is our website good enough?” And so on, we can use that first touch point. We can use that last touch point. We can also get a little bit smarter and look at what was the journey on the way. And it does take effort. It does take commitment and it does take good data and tracking in order to dig that up and there are different ways to do that.

Ben:                I feel like the performance marketers are hopefully listening to this podcast, but probably not sitting here saying, “Look, content marketing, you put something out there, you hope it has an impact. You don’t really know whether it drives a conversion. People come, they read your blog post and maybe they come back later.” You’re saying, it’s not that simple people do jump around when they get exposed to a brand, they move from stage to stage. But how are you tracking the value of a given piece of content when you don’t know what stage the buyer is in at all times?

Lillian:          Sure. Again, it’s back to tracking. So anything online can be tracked. And if you set things up in a way that makes sense for analysis then you need to backtrack through that data. So if there is a piece of content, that’s a longstanding piece of content on the website there will be data associated with that in terms of sessions, visits, repeat visits. So new versus returning visitors is the metric to pay attention to a lot of the time. It’s actually quite a hard question to answer without looking at a specific CRM or looking at a specific analytics tool. So I want to be general, but it’s tough. Yeah.

Ben:               Well, let’s talk about that. You mentioned that there’s data in the CRM that you’re looking at to evaluate your content. Are you going into specific customer records and saying, “Hey, look, the customers that are converting were exposed to X pieces of content.” How are you actually thinking about mapping your CRM data to your content performance?

Lillian:         Well, you’re asking me to give away a lot of our secrets with this question. So I’m not sure that I can answer that.

Ben:               We listened to this podcast, right?

Lillian:         No, no. I can definitely tell such a metric story now because it actually answers the question and I would recommend it for others. So we do attribute revenue with our webinar program and we’re able to do that with tracking basically. So we can see that when there has been engagement with a webinar from people who are already in our CRM and so whether it’s the first of the last touch point is always, it’s another way to look at it. You could say they were already in the CRM but the last touch point they had was a webinar or vice versa. And either way, there is a value associated with that prospect. If they turn into a prospect, I should say, based on the data that we’ve got in the system there.

Ben:               This makes me think that I should have renegotiated. I’m going to be a guest on Searchmetrics’s webinars on Thursday and I didn’t realize it was a revenue attributable event.

Lillian:         Yes, you have it. So thank you in advance for all of the new customers.

Ben:              You’re welcome. I hope they mentioned my name when they sign up.

Lillian:         Hello, new customers. There’s a special bonus for you there Ben.

Ben:              So there’s this channel of content you’re thinking about webinars and you’re able to attribute revenue back to them. But when you’re thinking about what most people think of for SEO content when you’re thinking of your blog posts, your help center, your knowledge base, how are you able to understand where those pieces of content are providing value? How are you evaluating them? And how does that feed back into the content production machine? How does it dictate what content you should be producing in the future?

Lillian:           Well, I think if you do have a content marketing team, a healthy part of the production cycle is definitely an audit. So you look back, you audit the content you have and you look at the performance. In order for you to move forward using the intelligence that you’ve gained from the past. So when you do an audit of the content this is multifaceted it’s not only a website business but it’s also connecting to sales and revenue. And then this gives you that insight into those situations where perhaps you thought, “Hey, this is a really good idea. I should create some content on this topic.” And you go ahead and do it as a team but actually no one researched the topic and it boomed. The data starts to show you this immediately and you can learn not to repeat that same type of content based on your learning’s from the past. So it’s a mix going back to go forward more intelligently.

Ben:                So help me land the plane here. We talked about the importance of B2B for SEO brands and now we’re talking about the ways to evaluate it. And the truth is it’s not always clear.

Lillian:          Nope, that’s right.

Ben:               That every brand is a little different. We’re all unique snowflakes. And it is very hard to attribute what value is coming from a piece of content because a piece of content can be impactful to a prospect at different stages of their buyer’s journey. For the SEOs and content marketers that are listening to this podcast saying, “Okay, great. I understand that you need to evaluate your content to understand how it is providing a business impact but it’s just not that easy. How do I do that?” What are the easiest ways, the resources, the rules of thumbs that they can apply to make sure that they are thinking about content evaluation in the right way?

Lillian:         Well, yeah, developing content that converts is the name of the game. And again, it’s all based on, of course the learnings from the past but understanding that buyer journey. So as we mentioned on Monday, the buyer journey really is that foundation for you. So if you are solving problems that your prospects have on a mass scale lots of prospects have the same problem. There’s a high likelihood that content will convert. So I definitely suggest sticking with the buyer journey, looking at what problems you solve at each stage and really diving into that topic with your content choices.

Ben:               Lillian, I think it’s great advice. I appreciate you coming on the Voices of Search podcast and spending the week with us-

Lillian:         My pleasure.

Ben:               … talking about content marketing and making sure that the B2B marketers out there are evaluating their content in the right way.

Lillian:         Thanks very much, Ben. It’s been fun.

Ben:               It’s been a blast. And that wraps up B2B SEO Week and this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversations with Lillian Haase, who is the director of European marketing at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Lillian, you can find the link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter. Her handle is lillonline, L-I-L-L-O-N-L-I-N-E or you could visit her company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can send us your topic, suggestions, your SEO questions.

Ben:             You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter. And my personal handle is benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed next week. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.