SEO 2015: A Deeper Look Into ROI and Conversion
by Al Gomez
You probably know that ranking alone will not really benefit your business in the long run. Although it’s still important so the right audience can see you – but it should be accompanied by other strategies to bring in money. We are businesses after all. At the end of the day, you want to know that every dollar spent will work for you and the expansion of your enterprise. Sadly, this isn’t the case with many online campaigns.
There are SEO agencies who say they will make you rank, but mention nothing else with regards to returns on investment. Likewise, there are digital marketing companies who promise an increase in ROI and conversions, yet you’re left wondering what happened after a year with them. To really get the most bang for your buck for an online campaign, you must first understand what ROI and conversions are, as well as how they contribute to your business.
Conversion happens when a user completes a desired action: be it to subscribe, to buy, or to signup. It doesn’t have to be on the website. Conversion can occur when someone clicks a link on one of your newsletters; or it can also take place on your blog when a visitor reads one of your articles. The ultimate conversion though, is always a closed sale. But this rarely happens overnight.
ROI or return on investment is a measure of how effective a marketing campaign is. As Google put it: it’s the ratio of your net profit to costs.
Depending on how much you get back for every dollar you spend, you may change tactics OR put your resources elsewhere. Anything can have an ROI; be it physical products, services, or even subscriptions.
What People Don’t Understand About Conversion and ROI
It usually takes 30 days (or approximately a month) before we can see the results of an online campaign that involves ROI and conversions. Even if the numbers are little, there should be SOME progress. Let’s take the example of an online flower shop. Each beautiful bouquet costs $5 to put together, and sells for $8. After creating a campaign on Google Adwords for $150, you were able to sell a total of 50 bouquets in a span of 30 days (wow!). That amounts to net revenue of $400. Using the above formula, we will arrive at:
($400 – $400) / $400
0 / $400
This is the best example of conversions WITHOUT any return on investment. At first, you will feel happy that you’re generating sales from your campaign. It seems as if you’ve hit the jackpot and money will keep rolling in. Only after you have calculated for your ROI will it dawn on you that you need a new strategy. Either you need to lower production costs, up your prices, or abandon Adwords and switch to a cheaper online marketing tactic.
As you can see, getting conversions doesn’t guarantee ROI. But there can be no ROI without conversion.
If you – or your digital marketing agency – don’t understand how these two work hand in hand, you will end up losing more money. And no business wants that. Let’s take another example from the same online flower shop. Let’s assume that on their second month, they decided that Adwords wasn’t working as intended so they switched to PPC. Spending only $100 this time, they were able to generate $320 from selling 40 bouquets in one month (that’s actually 10 less than the previous data). That brings us to:
($320 – $300) / $300
$20 / $300
Surprisingly, they spent less AND earned less BUT experienced an increase in ROI. We can now draw the following conclusions after two months of different campaign strategies:
• Adwords was great at pulling in customers, but didn’t bring any return on investment
• PPC costs less, but failed to attract more sales
The flower shop can then decide whether it wants to spend a bit more on PPC, continuing the campaign for another month; OR they could try yet another technique. Usually, businesses are happy to carry on a strategy that drew in the most returns. Ultimately, you would need to analyze matters together with your SEO expert to uncover greater opportunities for growth. But one thing is certain: you can’t get these numbers if you don’t first attract customers.
The Secret To Making Conversion Happen
Why do some businesses attract leads like bees to honey, yet you can’t seem to obtain a single email for your newsletter? Even the most experienced digital marketing consultant often forget this little ‘secret’: divide your conversions.
You’ve heard of going viral overnight – but that rarely happens when it comes to actual sales (unless you sell glitter). In fact, most customers today take their time by as much as a month or two BEFORE they make a purchase. This applies especially to online services like SEO. So how can you even get them to pay attention? Here are a few concrete ways to increase your conversions:
Step 1: Be Visible Using Technical SEO
Organize your content so Google can easily recognize and index your pages. Make sure you have proper meta descriptions and title tags. Post updated, interesting articles and/or images. Make your URLs easy to remember. Use long-tail keywords where it matters.
Step 2: Attract With Enticing Headlines
We can’t stress this enough: catchy headlines lead to clicks. Of course, don’t use black-hat tactics such as link-baiting (great headline, poor content). Employ the services of a content specialist if you have to. Be sure to study WHAT your customers are looking for, so you can provide it.
Step 3: Encourage Action with Prominent CTAs
Make sure important calls to action are right where they can be easily seen (above-the-fold). Test your landing pages on different mobile devices to ensure your buttons are right where you want them.
Step 4: Make It Easy
Whether it’s an online form or navigating from one page to another; make the transition smooth enough for optimum user experience. You wouldn’t want your visitors to be stressed when they come to your site. The better and faster they can get things done, the more inclined they will be to make that much-awaited ‘click’.
Step 5: Be Available
This is perhaps the most important step of all. Remember that the ‘secret’ to sales is multiple little conversions over time. And customers can’t complete this action if they can’t contact you. Always provide multiple ways of getting in touch. Be it on social media, through email, or live chat assistance – what matters is you’re there to guide them into the right direction.
Primary Indicators for Measuring Conversion and ROI
There are in fact, plenty of free online tools to help you measure how well your SEO strategy is working. But one that shouldn’t disappear from your arsenal is Google Analytics. This one tool can tell you both your conversion and ROI – as long as you know how to use it. Focus on the following attributes to determine the effectiveness of your chosen SEO campaign:
• new vs. returning visitors
• bounce rate
• avg. duration of session
• source of traffic
New vs. Returning Visitors, Bounce Rate, and Session Duration
You want to balance this aspect. Compare previous month’s statistics to see if you gained repeat visitors (which mean you offer awesome content that’s worth coming back for), as well as new ones (which is great for new leads and sales possibilities). Take a look at our website’s (seoexpertpage.com) numbers between December to January:
And here’s our result from January to February:
Looks great, doesn’t it. If it weren’t for the decrease in our average session duration, we would celebrate. According to this data, we received new users who apparently found us good enough to stay (decreased bounce rate – yes!). However, their time on the page lessened from 9 to 8 minutes. This can be interpreted in two ways: 1) they immediately saw what they were looking for and completed an action; OR 2) they didn’t find our content awesome enough.
Another positive note here is our decrease in bounce rate. Bounces happen when a user immediately exits a landing page without doing much else (not to be confused with exit rate). Again, this can mean that we’re getting good at what we offer – or they simply exit at another page. Still, as we now have the numbers, the next step is to analyze and improve our strategies.
Source of Traffic
Next, you want to know where that traffic is coming from. An effective online campaign will bring in users from organic search (Google) and other referrals (like social media, press releases, etc.). Depending on which medium you focused your efforts on, these numbers will vary. For instance: if you concentrated your campaign using social media, expect to have the most traffic from Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms.
When it comes to checking your website traffic, you want to be wary of hidden referrals or ‘fake visits’. What are they? They are sites who stand to gain traffic from YOU. They will appear usually as unknown or questionable sources on an analytics report. The bad news is, you need to click it first before you can be certain. But once you do, it could send malicious malware to your hardware. Always let your SEO expert know what’s happening, especially if you found suspicious burst of traffic from unknown sources.
One More Thing
Google Analytics is great – but pair it with other online tools such as Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer (Moz) for even better data. Ahrefs has the capability to check competitor backlinks and compare up to five of your competitors. Open Site from Moz on the other hand, can check for link opportunities and more.
As always, go back to your business goals: what do you want to achieve? What type of numbers do you want after the online campaign? Unless you can be specific, it’s going to be very difficult to align digital marketing strategies to your business objectives. However, if you suspect that your SEO expert isn’t giving you results, go ahead and talk. Voice out your opinion. Otherwise, you’d be wasting money.
At the end of the day, what matters is progress. Choose an LA SEO expert who understands what YOU want –and knows HOW to get it.
March 12, 2018