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SEO Might Be Doing More Than You Think

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You know the Old Spice social media campaign that exploded in the end of July?  Lots of online views, and low ROI (well, according to the preliminary reports from outside of the Old Spice camp).  I’ve read enough articles calling this a failure for the low impact to revenue.  Whether true or not***, all I know is that Old Spice, which I always considered (for whatever reason) a low quality, old fashioned product, is now on my radar.  This is momentum, and this is a rare gem today.  A lot of marketing fails to gain any attention at all.  When you succeed, and cut through some noise, consider that a success.  Now, in 2010, you need to ‘level up’ on that success, or you might as well have not even tried.  Some success isn’t enough success.

SEO is marketing and branding, too.  Getting routine rankings for similar queries helps the searcher buy into your brand.  Your customers spend a lot of time in Google.  Typically more unique visitors come to your site from a Google search than any other medium.  Maybe you’re not getting the sales you’re hoping for from natural search, but you may be building your mindshare just by appearing frequently in the search engine result pages.  A lot of searchers trust Google.  If Google constantly shows your webpage to the same searcher, the perception may be that Google knows something you don’t know.  A lot of people actually think that Google ranks based on traffic and popularity.  Whatever the reason, that semi-conscious thought goes a long way in online marketing.  It could even influence offline foot traffic or sales through your other online marketing channels.  With good rankings comes good brand visibility.

My goal isn’t to convince you to ignore ROI in SEO (or any online marketing), but I do want to help you think about it differently if you’re one of the people who say, “my campaign failed because it didn’t turn a profit.”  I want you to remember that marketing is more than just immediate sales.  Sales is an important piece dependent on the components of your strategy.  Brands that concentrate on branding do so because they know the value.  Just because we’re online with amazing abilities to cookie and track, doesn’t mean we should forget the original definition of marketing and branding.

As a postscript, and as far as Old Spice goes, I was walking through the grocery store last week.  I did stop and pause at the deodorant.  I didn’t need any.  But I was semi-consciously influenced, and I this time I caught it.  If Old Spice keeps up their momentum, I might stop next and buy when I am in the market for deodorant.  If they don’t keep it up, that stop may have been it for me.

***Update – Per the beginning of this article, it looks like the reports I was reading of low ROI for the Old Spice campaign have been, well, wrong.  Hard stats are in.  According to BrandWeek, Old Spice’s sales increased 107% over last month and 55% over the course of the past 3 months.  Nice.


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    Comments

    The comments are do-follow. However, any comments that use keyword anchor text as the name will be removed.

    1. Steve
      August 2, 2010

      hi Bill,
      Interesting post. I have often wondered if, all things being equal, people would be more likely to buy a product from a website that ranked #1 on google instead of the website (with the identical product at the same price) that ranked #5, because they see the google ranking as an indication of quality or trust by google.
      Put another way, I think trust is a very important piece of the online buying process, but sometime people mistake seeing something over and over again (repetition of message, as you say) with it being trustworthy, if that makes sense.
      Anyway, where you rank is important, in more ways than one. Steve
      PS. I too like the Old Spice commercials, but will not be changing my deodorant. :)

      Reply


    2. Steve
      August 2, 2010

      hi Bill,
      Interesting post. I have often wondered if, all things being equal, people would be more likely to buy a product from a website that ranked #1 on google instead of the website (with the identical product at the same price) that ranked #5, because they see the google ranking as an indication of quality or trust by google.
      Put another way, I think trust is a very important piece of the online buying process, but sometime people mistake seeing something over and over again (repetition of message, as you say) with it being trustworthy, if that makes sense.
      Anyway, where you rank is important, in more ways than one. Steve
      PS. I too like the Old Spice commercials, but will not be changing my deodorant. :)

      Reply


    3. Jeff Louella
      August 5, 2010

      Hmm… “Lots of online views, and low ROI”. I beg to differ.

      Old Spice Sales Double With YouTube Campaign
      http://mashable.com/2010/07/27/old-spice-sales/

      Old Spice Smells Like a Billion Bucks
      http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/135/smells-like-a-billion-bucks.html

      Hey Old Spice haters, sales are up 107%
      http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2010/07/hey-old-spice-haters-sales-are-up-107.html

      I guess it all depends where you get your data.

      Just using the term ROI indicates money. Your return on investment refers to cold hard cash. I tend to look a everything as a campaign and every campaign has specific goals.

      At the beginning of any campaign, metrics should be set in place. For a Pharma site, there are no direct selling and many times their are patents on products. So it is all about awareness. For e-commerce sites sales are the biggest metric. A site like trip advisor isn’t selling anything. They are an information site, but they make money from ads. So traffic is huge for them. Thats why they have content about every place on the earth.

      On sites, you can have separate SEO goals. Take e-commerce. Yes, main goal is cash. But say you build a content library or blog about electronics. That section would have separate goals and metrics. Then you build a twitter page. That profile should be there to interact. It’s not “Follow Me on Twitter”, but more “Talk to me” or “Engage with me” on twitter. That metric is tougher to track, but it’s basically a consumer confidence index type rating.

      ah, i am just rambling now.

      Reply


    4. Jeff Louella
      August 5, 2010

      Hmm… “Lots of online views, and low ROI”. I beg to differ.

      Old Spice Sales Double With YouTube Campaign
      http://mashable.com/2010/07/27/old-spice-sales/

      Old Spice Smells Like a Billion Bucks
      http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/135/smells-like-a-billion-bucks.html

      Hey Old Spice haters, sales are up 107%
      http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2010/07/hey-old-spice-haters-sales-are-up-107.html

      I guess it all depends where you get your data.

      Just using the term ROI indicates money. Your return on investment refers to cold hard cash. I tend to look a everything as a campaign and every campaign has specific goals.

      At the beginning of any campaign, metrics should be set in place. For a Pharma site, there are no direct selling and many times their are patents on products. So it is all about awareness. For e-commerce sites sales are the biggest metric. A site like trip advisor isn’t selling anything. They are an information site, but they make money from ads. So traffic is huge for them. Thats why they have content about every place on the earth.

      On sites, you can have separate SEO goals. Take e-commerce. Yes, main goal is cash. But say you build a content library or blog about electronics. That section would have separate goals and metrics. Then you build a twitter page. That profile should be there to interact. It’s not “Follow Me on Twitter”, but more “Talk to me” or “Engage with me” on twitter. That metric is tougher to track, but it’s basically a consumer confidence index type rating.

      ah, i am just rambling now.

      Reply


    5. Josh
      August 8, 2010

      I agree with Steve. Ranking on number 1 brings you respect. I have seen sites that even put a sign on their site saying: Number 1 in Google for “keyword”. They are so proud :). As long as there is the phrase “Number 1″ it will give you respect.
      By the way I think this guy on old spice is so .. cool (almost said sexy, but that would be gay) :D
      .-= Josh´s last blog ..The first step in SEO optimization of a site =-.

      Reply


    6. Josh
      August 8, 2010

      I agree with Steve. Ranking on number 1 brings you respect. I have seen sites that even put a sign on their site saying: Number 1 in Google for “keyword”. They are so proud :). As long as there is the phrase “Number 1″ it will give you respect.
      By the way I think this guy on old spice is so .. cool (almost said sexy, but that would be gay) :D
      .-= Josh´s last blog ..The first step in SEO optimization of a site =-.

      Reply


    7. Bill Sebald
      August 9, 2010

      @Jeff Louella – great stats! Nice to see hard evidence against the conjecture I’ve been hearing.

      Reply


    8. Bill Sebald
      August 9, 2010

      @Jeff Louella – great stats! Nice to see hard evidence against the conjecture I’ve been hearing.

      Reply


    9. Bill Rowland
      August 14, 2010

      I agree that SEO is not only about ROI, but also marketing and branding. At the end of the day, there are many types of value; it’s important to consider all forms created through the use of SEO and then carefully evaluate how that value meets one’s needs. To Jeff’s point, pharma, ecommerce and advertising websites may all have very different goals and the value created for one website may not be equal to the value created for another.

      Reply


    10. Bill Rowland
      August 14, 2010

      I agree that SEO is not only about ROI, but also marketing and branding. At the end of the day, there are many types of value; it’s important to consider all forms created through the use of SEO and then carefully evaluate how that value meets one’s needs. To Jeff’s point, pharma, ecommerce and advertising websites may all have very different goals and the value created for one website may not be equal to the value created for another.

      Reply


    11. Daniel
      August 30, 2010

      It is just that I will always prefer a product that I have heard somewhere, than a product I have never heard. This is what an ad can do. It does not matter if it is actually better.

      Reply


    12. Daniel
      August 30, 2010

      It is just that I will always prefer a product that I have heard somewhere, than a product I have never heard. This is what an ad can do. It does not matter if it is actually better.

      Reply