The First Objective in SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is to just get started, then use the sophisticated tools out there to generate statistics, evaluate performance, refine, and constantly learn. SEM is a marketing geek’s dream because there are so many tools businesses can use to investigate, evaluate and refine their strategy and it gives CEOs a tremendous taste of how measurable effective marketing can be.
From a CEO perspective, SEM lead generation is not just about having ONE lead channel. It’s about building this as a step toward incubating many lead channels that work together and result in a continuous pipeline of leads for sustaining growth. It’s the concept of building a marketing engine and too often an initiative like SEM can be seen in isolation rather than as a strategic outcome which could take a company toward sustained growth.
This type of multi-channel marketing is built on:
- Technology – Foremost in here is marketing automation technology (MAT) which allows you to track lead sources, automate communicating and incubating these prospects, and determining when they are likely to be considered qualified leads our sales team should call. You may have a CRM used by your sales team for your current customers and leads, and you may have a separate email campaigner for prospecting and incubating leads by the marketing team. Now with MAT these can be the same integrated system so they all communicate and work together.
- Changing the way you look at marketing – Set yourself a goal where half the opportunities in your sales pipeline are traceable back to a marketing lead. Would this goal change the perception of what needs to be done in marketing? For many companies, this is a sizeable challenge, but, that goal also focuses marketing strategy.
- Skills – The right skills need to be in place to develop the strategy and keep it producing repeatable results within a defined budget.
- Process Improvement – Companies often need to mature and streamline the process of handling leads and the qualification of leads for the sales organization. For many companies, the first step of defining “what’s a lead we want our sales organization to call” (i.e., what’s a “Marketing Qualified Lead” or MQL). Defining this is critical as it makes lead costs measurable (for a defined quality level), it informs us if there are missing functional pieces in our organization (do we need inside sales to pre-quality leads?), and it stops the complaint around lead quality.
Frankly, much of this comes from implementing a system that drives the right process improvements and enables the company to deliver more leads to sales – that’s a marketing automation system. For me, it’s about rapid iteration – getting results and using those results to fuel the next layer of business development. So much of rapid iteration also comes from having the right tools to efficiently deliver new services to the organization and, in turn, refine and direct strategy development. Not having a rich kit of capabilities is like being a carpenter without a tape measure… having the tools is synonymous with being able to deliver value. In marketing, the tools available are changing around all the time and you need to be constantly on the alert for new ones so you can increase the value that gets delivered for clients.