THE SCIENCE of SEO SALES:
This is a proven, 5-Step SEO approach to search engine optimization
to help improve online marketing and sales using data.
Successful companies combine creativity and intuition with data analysis to achieve peak marketing and SEO sales performance. Learning from the success of others, CustomBulkUSB coupled its technology innovation with a proven method for improving organizational performance. This approach was developed by Bill Smith and Dr Mikel J Harry out of Motorola University in the 1980s.
Dr. Harry brought the scientific method to business. He called it Six Sigma, complete with a five (5) step approach: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC).
What is the DMAIC Method?
DMAIC applies the scientific method to business operations and can be used on SEO sales strategies:
- Define. Define the problem. Most problems are not well defined, which results in people focusing and working on the wrong thing. This leads to frustration, higher costs and longer time to achieve results.
- Measure. Next, we measure our current level of performance vs our target goal to identify the gap that we wish to close. Use hard data to describe (measure) current state vs desired future: current $20K in monthly sales vs goal of $30K.
- Analyze. Third, we analyze the problem in order to get to its root cause(s) and not focus on symptoms of the problem. Most initial ideas or solutions are WRONG as they erroneously solve symptoms of the problem, not the true problem.
- Improve. Fourth, we put in place improvement initiatives (solutions) to fix the problem. Whenever possible we test ideas on a small scale first.
- Control. Finally, based on lessons learned (i.e., the solution reduced the gap between our initial state vs desired future sales), we monitor performance in order to sustain the gain and we pass along lessons learned.
Over the past three years, we have used this DMAIC approach to improve our brand awareness, SEO ranking and the sales performance of CustomBulkUSB.com.
Organic Sales Growth Using DMAIC
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution.”
– Albert Einstein
Define the Problem
“A problem well defined is half solved.” These are the wise words of Charles Kettering. Equally instructive is Einstein, who told us that “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution.”
Sales are too Low
Defining the problem well is the single most important thing you can do. Get this wrong and everything else you do will be wasted time, money and effort.
For us, our sales were too low to pay our customer service team and cover all of our overhead expenses. So, how would you define this problem?
Ultimately, we decided on the following problem statement:
The process of capturing sales leads through our website by Google Adwords is leading to very high costs (as much as 40% of sales), which is resulting in an inability to make enough profit to pay our people and cover our overhead expenses.
Measure Current Performance
In this phase you set up the measurement scale. For us, it included several key metrics:
- monthly and daily ad budget for Google Adwords (Goal to cut by 50%+)
- number of daily and monthly impressions (No initial goal at the start)
- number of clicks per impression, the click through rate (CTR)
- average cost per click, which varied by keyword (Goal to reduce over 20%)
- number of daily website visits
- number of quote requests from visitors
- quote conversion rate (# online quotes / # website visits)
- call conversion rate (# call-in requests for quotes / # website visits)
- count and dollar value of daily, weekly, monthly sales
- average order size per sale
We collected all of these metrics and analyzed them using run or trend charts and Pareto charts to understand baseline performance. The next step was to analyze all of this data, our internal processes and the external voice of the customer.
Analyze Data, Processes and Voice of Customer
After several weeks of analysis it became apparent that we had a business that was growing but unsustainable. At the current rate, we would be out of business in less than six months. We had to find a way to cut our advertising costs by 50% or more. This meant improving our SEO strategy.
Using the cause and effect diagram and the 5-Whys analysis we realized the root causes of our problems were only a few:
- Three products represented nearly 90% of our sales; we were confusing customers with too many choices. An SEO analysis of keywords found an optimal combination of less than six keywords that led to the most traffic and qualified sales leads.
- Our website was not designed in a way that was simple for visitors to use in order for us to get highest conversion rates (too many products was creating part of this site clutter and confusion)
- We were not developing valuable, quality content that could drive free, organic traffic to the website; this included use of social media, local, mobile
- We needed to anticipate continued growth of mobile visitors and develop a WordPress, responsive theme website ASAP
Improve Processes and Systems
In the improve phase, we test out potential solutions to see if they work. We keep those that work and discard the others. For CustomBulkUSB, we focused on a short term and long term strategy. Key improvements for the short term included:
- Reduce product line with focus on top 3 selling flash drive types
- Redesign website using a WordPress responsive-theme template. This allowed us to accommodate visitors coming to the site via PC, MAC, iPhone, Android device or any other mobile device or smartphone.
- Develop content that helped our customers to better market and brand themselves. We did this by sharing SEO and online marketing lessons we learned and by passing along emerging trends and best practices.
Control the Improvements
In this phase we erected process controls and monitoring tools / reports to ensure that we sustain improvement. For example, we conducted a weekly review of all key metrics and developed algorithms to understand correlations. These correlations found associations between how many impressions lead to a site visitor; or how many visits were required to get one quote.
Early warning alerts with leading indicator metrics helped us to make course-corrections prior to month end. This helped us to achieve monthly sales targets more often.
We cut advertising cost by 30% in three months and by 80% in less than six months. We also grew sales with higher profit margins. Additionally, we passed on some savings to our customers in the form of lower prices. Today, we can generate over 60% of our sales goal without spending a single dime on Google Adwords. This can be primarly attributed to a new content management based SEO strategy.