Business spending on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and digital marketing efforts, including Pay Per Click advertising, has increased exponentially in just the past few years. In 2016, businesses spent over $77 billion on digital advertising. In April of that year it had been predicted that SEO-related spending would top $80 billion per year by 2020, but that nearly happened less than 9 months later.
I am a Marketing Strategy Consultant, and it is very rare for me to have any conversation about marketing that does not have a heavy focus on SEO. Most business owners are very concerned about driving traffic to their website and appearing in the top spot on Google. But should that be the primary goal of your digital marketing budget? What does that do for your company?
The average SEO agency retainer is between $1500 and $3000/month, which means most companies are spending between $18000 - $36000/year on SEO and digital marketing to try to be seen in the top spot on Google. In spite of this cost, many business owners are afraid of what will happen to their business if they do not engage in digital marketing, so most companies’ marketing budgets are heavily focused on SEO, PPC, and digital marketing. But are businesses getting a return on their investment? What is the truth about the traffic generated by digital marketing and SEO? As it turns out, the answer is “It depends.”
First, let’s acknowledge that there are some snake-oil salesmen in the digital marketing industry. A market of this size is bound to attract opportunists, and they will never provide any value for your company. If you’re working with one of these, the truth is you’re just wasting money. I don’t want to spend more time discussing these “agencies” here. If you’d like to learn how to identify and avoid them, feel free to contact us, we’ll be delighted to discuss it with you.
The majority of digital marketing agencies are reputable and very good at targeting and driving traffic to your site. That still doesn’t provide a true Return on Investment (ROI) however. You need to drive a very specific type of traffic to your website: Traffic that converts to sales! In order to do that, your marketing needs to move the visitors through all of the stages of a buyer’s journey – and that takes a programmatic approach and strategy. Basically, it’s a three step process:
- Attract the right searchers – those that are in your target market;
- Provide content that captures their attention; and
- Start a conversation that captivates and converts visitors to customers.
If your digital marketing agency can achieve all three of these, you will see a decent ROI. But, again, not all agencies can provide this. If you’re using SEO and digital marketing in your marketing stack, make sure your agency’s strategy is solid and addresses every aspect of your marketing program – or bring in an independent marketing strategy consultant, because traffic should not be the end goal; sales and maximum ROI should be.