SEO, according to marketers questioned for the above research, has the biggest impact on lead generation. But what does that SEO actually constitute and is it made up, either partly or mostly, of PR activity?
It’s not a question that’s ever answered in Webmarketing123’s State of Digital Marketing Report. More of that later. In the meantime, what else does the research tell us?
Clearly, the metrics of success are firmly focused on tangible returns: for marketers across B2B and B2C, it’s far more about generating leads and making sales than anything else. Taking the B2B marketer in particular, the lesser objectives include building brand awareness (15%), generating site traffic (11%) or building online communities (5%). Curiously, the latter is even less important for the B2C community (2.8%). What was once considered a desirable digital outcome, certainly of social media, seems to be have been relegated to an uncommercial own goal.
But when identifying what these marketers consider the most important measure for digital marketing – i.e. sales – our B2B and B2C cousins are surprisingly close (62% and 68% respectively). Bearing in mind the comparatively more protracted and complex journey for B2B buyers, it’s a revelation that those selling B2B are looking for such high sales conversions via digital alone. While I can see it as a vital part of building reputation, understanding and consideration along the B2B procurement pathway, I’m sceptical about its ability to close the deal.
Which brings me back to SEO and impact.
Achieving a high, organic search engine ranking takes more than one technique – some delivered better by SEO specialists, others by professional generators of compelling and insightful textual content. Yes, I’m talking about PR people. But PR doesn’t get a mention in the report. Does that mean PR has become a subset of SEO and, if so, are SEO specialists qualified to advise clients about and generate material hitherto done by PR people?
The lines are blurred and, what seems increasingly apparent, is the need that SEO and PR people have to collaborate; after all, if gaining a high search engine ranking has the biggest impact on a client’s lead generation, the tools to do it are not necessarily the province of one discipline alone.
Update: since posting the above, I found this excellent post by Lance Concannon on the SEO/PR dilemma and how it needs to be worked out for everyone’s benefit.