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Incorporating SEO Into Your Integrated Marketing Efforts – Michelle Robbins // Aimclear

Episode Overview: As Google gets better at natural processing language and continues to place a higher emphasis on excellent content, it causes brand marketers and SEOs to integrate their initiatives more often. Join host Ben as he continues Integrated Brand SEO Week with Aimclear’s VP of Product Innovation Michelle Robbins discussing how to best incorporate SEO into your integrated marketing efforts.

Summary

  • Creative teams lie at the core of integrated marketing campaigns, often bridging the gap between departments to successfully execute campaigns. 
  • Aligning on a campaign’s narrative across departments is key to reinforcing brand messaging, creating a consistent consumer sentiment toward your brand or product.
  • SEOs who place themselves in the shoes of their CMOs to understand what the organization as a whole is trying to accomplish is an essential component to helping drive integrated campaigns forward.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  Welcome to Integrated Brand SEO Week on The Voices of Search Podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, talking about how you can think about how your brand is impacted by SEO, and how SEO impacts your brand.

Ben:                  Joining us for Integrated Brand SEO Week is Michelle Robbins, who is the vice president of product innovation at Aimclear, which is an integrated digital marketing agency that focuses on elevating brands to beloved status by reaching everyone ranging from uber focused audiences to mass market branding.

Ben:                   Aimclear integrates paid and organic search, social, bleeding edge creative, PR data, and human expertise and performance marketing so you can make more money. So far this week, Michelle and I have talked about why brand marketers think that everything is content, and what SEOs can learn from brand marketing principles and practices, and today we’re going to talk about incorporating SEO into your integrated marketing efforts.

Ben:                   Okay. Here is the third installment of Integrated Brand SEO Week with Michelle Robbins from Aimclear. Michelle, happy hump day. Welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Michelle:         Good to be here.

Ben:                   So far this week we’ve talked about, essentially, the overlap between brand marketing and SEO, generally two things that marketers keep in separate camps. SEO, very technical keyword optimization, brand marketers. There’s the fluffy guys that are writing the narratives and putting up the billboards.

Ben:                   It turns out, we’re getting a little bit more overlap between these two different camps as Google gets better at natural language processing, which brings us to the question, how do these teams start to work together? What advice do you have for SEOs who want to be more tied in to integrated marketing campaigns?

Michelle:         I’d say work a little more closely with the creative team. The creative team typically tends to be the repository that everyone works with, right? You need an ad, you need a billboard, you need a commercial, you need … Any different type of asset that you’re putting together with your content, you’re utilizing the creative team. So get to understand how they work and have them be your ally into getting you into working with the other teams, if you’re not already working with them.

Michelle:         I know a lot of other agencies are also integrated and don’t just focus on SEO or one thing or the other. They tend to have a lot of departments. I don’t know how closely everyone’s working together though. I imagine it’s harder at larger organizations. And so it’s going to take a lot more intention and more effort. But getting together with your PPC colleagues is probably the most important thing you can do, as well as getting together with your creative team and making sure that everyone’s putting out the same information and the same marketing pitch, or story, about your brand, or your product, or your service.

Ben:                  So let’s break that up into two different topics. First off, getting together with your creative team, the people that are producing your copy, and throw the brand team in here as well, right? Figuring out what the narrative, what the story that we’re trying to get across as an organization is, how does that affect the things like your keyword optimization, your on page SEO optimization? If you know what the story and the narrative is, how should that be impacting the daily operations of the SEO team?

Michelle:        Well, that goes towards, are you looking for the right data? Are you looking for the right information? Because, if the result of a story meeting is that one team walks away thinking, okay, our focus is going to be on this topic, and another team walks away thinking our focus is on this topic. And so for example, you’ve got your PPC team optimizing all of the ads toward a certain phrase that the SEO team is not also ensuring that you rank for, organically, or that there’s copy on the page to support that campaign.

Michelle:        Consider, for example, you’ve got an ad team creating a pretty large campaign, and creating landing pages that would be targeted towards whatever key phrase they’re trying to target. But then once the person lands on that landing page, let’s say they don’t convert immediately and they start surfing around the site. And the content on the site doesn’t match at all the content from the ad or the landing page, there’s a huge disconnect and you’re going to lose that customer, right? So if everyone’s not on the same page, you’re sending out confusing signals, basically.

Ben:                  So essentially step one for being built into the integrated marketing efforts of your organization, get on the same page, understand what the narrative, what the story that you’re trying to get across. And then the second part you mentioned was, go sit down with your PPC team. And that could mean a couple of different things, right? There’s your ad words team, the other side of Google’s house, people that are running programmatic performance marketing, influencer campaigns, affiliates. There’s lots of different ways that performance marketing can be run. Why is that relevant to SEO, what all those other teams are doing?

Michelle:        Because everything needs to support the common goal. If everyone’s off trying to win five different goals when … I mean the goal is a conversion with the customer. Everyone ultimately does have the same goal, but if everyone’s trying five completely different narratives to get there, the likelihood that you’re going to capture as much consumer attention is lessened. Right? I can’t think of the exact number, but I feel like I read a study not too long ago that said, before a customer converts, there’s six or seven touches with a brand. So are each of those seven touches with a brand, whether it’s seeing a commercial, or clicking on an ad, or seeing a social channel, something in social advertising versus the website itself, are all of those touches telling the same story? Is everybody on the same page so that the consumer makes their decision with a level of confidence that what they think they’re getting is what they’re getting? Or are they seeing a different story each time they interact with the brand?

Ben:                  I think that’s why it’s important to understand what the rest of your team is doing, in that you need to create a unified front to approach your consumers, because you do want to build consumer confidence. If you’re saying you’re selling a car and it’s a luxury car on one site and it’s an economic car on the other, if somebody is looking for a luxury car, they’re going to be turned off when they’re not hearing that same message reflected multiple places. It’s a little bit of a stretch for a metaphor.

Michelle:        But it’s reinforcement, right? It’s you’re reinforcing a message. And the more that that is reinforced, the more it just becomes your natural sentiment toward a given brand, product, or service. Right?

Ben:                  I think what I’m trying to say is that consistency really matters. And that essentially, the more impressions that you can collect targeting the same consumer, only starts to build momentum if you’re saying similar things or you’re adding more credibility to the message.

Ben:                 Michelle, what are some of the best practices for SEOs and other content marketers to try to engage with their integrated marketing teams? And how do they stay on top of everything that’s happening with the rest of the organization when they’re busy focused on actually trying to show up for Google?

Michelle:       Yeah, that’s the tough part, right? I mean, if this were easy, we wouldn’t be talking about it. So, I’d say depending on the size of your organization, and the distribution of people within the organization, I’d say everything should start with a really tight editorial calendar. And the marketing campaign calendar, a centralized location, where everyone that is working on a brand can see what everyone else is doing. And can understand what the timelines to rollouts for their campaigns are, so that you can understand, okay … This is going to kind of an outlier, but let’s take the Super Bowl, for example. Imagine if you’re working for a brand, whether you’re an agency or you’re in house. I mean in house you would know if you guys are going to roll out a Super Bowl ad, but let’s say you’re working in an agency and you’re tasked with managing the site’s SEO, and you don’t know that they’re going to be advertising during the Super Bowl. And you’re not a sports fan, so you don’t watch, right?

Michelle:        Suddenly you see traffic spiking around the Super Bowl. And you think, wow, my SEO is great. Look at all this traffic. My SEO drove, right? They did great. But you don’t realize that it was actually the impact of the Super Bowl ad, not so much your SEO.

Michelle:         And then you don’t account for that traffic, and account for that spike, throughout your reporting. You could be falsely attributing spikes or declines, it can go in both ways, to things that actually have nothing to do with the work that you’re doing, but also prevent you from putting things into context for your clients, or for your bosses.

Michelle:        So really understanding what everyone’s doing, and how what everyone’s doing feeds into success online, is critical. It’s really just critical, even from a data understanding standpoint.

Ben:                  I think, one of the pieces of advice that I would have for SEOs, first off to just be a good SEO. Second off, to get ahead in their career, is to start thinking like your boss, right? Start thinking like the CMO and try to understand what the organization as a whole is trying to accomplish. That’s really the CMO’s job, is to be able to look at all of the data sources and all the campaigns across the entire marketing organization, and try to interpret what is actually making the business drive forward. And so the better you have an understanding of what that is, the more effective you’re going to be able to deliver results for your team, and also be able to talk about the impact that your SEO efforts are actually having.

Michelle:        Right. And I would add that the ability to augment, what SEO can do to augment these other campaigns and these other initiatives, and understanding how you can help influence the direction of those even, is critical. But if you don’t have a seat at that table, and if you’re not actively engaging yourself with those other departments, then you’re missing out on that opportunity for growth.

Michelle:        So I also think that in addition to understanding what the marketing teams are doing internally, understand what’s happening in the market for your clients externally. For example, if you have a client that, let’s say it’s in hospitality, and they have a hotel, and there’s a big event that happens every March, and that event gets canceled. Understand what that’s going to do to your traffic leading up to that event typically, and what that’s going to look like year over year, but without understanding markets, in markets, and environmental factors, as well as what’s happening organizationally.

Michelle:       And that’s something that’s, again, this actually goes to what you can learn from brand and marketers, brand marketers have to understand the environment that they’re working within as well as the story.

Ben:                 I think one of the best traits for marketers, generally, is a sense of empathy.

Michelle:       Yes.

Ben:                 Whether it’s understanding what’s happening with your leadership team, with the rest of your organizations, with your customers, even your engineering team, some of the technical operations of your site, keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the rest of the organization is going to do nothing but help you keep your campaigns integrated, help you work within your organizations, and deliver content to your consumers that’s always going to be relevant.

Ben:                So we’re going to talk a little bit more about that type of empathy and specifically how SEOs can and should work with their engineering teams in our next episode.

Ben:                So that wraps up this episode of The Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Michelle Robbins, vice president of product innovation at Aimclear. Tune back in tomorrow morning to hear more of my conversation with Michelle when we discuss how SEOs and engineering can coexist peacefully.

Ben:               We’d love to continue this conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Michelle, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter where her handle is Michelle Robbins, M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E R-O-B-B-I-N-S. Or you could visit her company’s website which is aimclear.com, A-I-M-C-L-E-A-R.com.

Ben:              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, or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on The Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:              Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter and my personal handle is Ben J Shap, 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 an episode every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon.

Ben:              All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.