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MarTech Interview with Matt Colebourne, CEO at Searchmetrics

MarTech Interview with Matt Colebourne, CEO at Searchmetrics
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With the increasing complexity of search and SEO practices, it is important for B2B marketers to know what to continually enhance and how; Matt Colliborne, CEO of Searchmetrics He has some ideas:


Welcome to the MarTech Matt series chat, tell us more about your current role as CEO at Searchmetrics and your journey through the years…

Being a CEO at Searchmetrics is a great job. Since we are relatively young, the role includes operations and strategy. So sometimes I will focus on making the issue of organic search a much larger part of the digital marketing mix and other times I will work directly with clients and prospects to make sure we meet their needs.

Personally, I am a computer scientist and sales manager by training and since the late 1990s I work almost exclusively in adtech and martech. I joined DoubleClick (the leader in display ad technology) early on. I then moved from Display adtech to Paid Search and was responsible for transforming and selling the last major European pay-per-click network. Along the way, roles in various organizations have allowed me to cover telemarketing, video, and, increasingly, data-driven digital marketing offerings. My opinion is that, as everyone knows, digital marketing is now so diverse and complex that it is very important to focus again on the basics; Awareness, thinking, sharing, conversion and selling. It’s obvious (but all too easy to lose sight of) that there is no single channel that will meet all of your marketing needs. This means that it is now more necessary than ever for us and others to be able to speak a common language that enables marketers to manage their marketing mix to achieve the best overall results.

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When it comes to search and SEO techniques, in what ways do you feel today’s digital marketers need to enhance their focus and processes and why?

First, they need to understand that SEO is no longer a ‘dark art’ that relies on technical tricks to deal with where your brand or content appears in search results – Google’s many algorithm updates and the use of artificial intelligence and other, more complex techniques, mean So tactics no longer work. Instead, achieving a high ranking is now about better understanding the researcher’s needs and then providing the content that best meets them.

The point is that when people search, they’re providing an expression of demand – whether it’s a product they eventually hope to buy or just finding information about something they want to know more about. Clear interaction of that content with the right content can improve your rankings, but query analysis like this one has the potential to deliver even more. Basically, I think marketers need to look earlier and more strategically at SEO if they want to make an incremental change in ROI. For example, analysis of searches can help marketers to better understand their market, how it is evolving and capture trends in consumer behavior and seasonality much earlier.

Delivering this business intelligence is something I think research data is uniquely good at. For example, people tend to use research to research the type of products and product features they’re interested in – often long before those trends are marketed. This means that a savvy marketer can be ahead of the game and have the right product, the right offer, and the right messaging to take advantage of the next wave, rather than trying to catch up. To take an example from the pandemic, searches for 2,000 adult jigsaws have skyrocketed because bored adults have been trying to find ways to take their time away during lockdown. If your company sells puzzles, discovering and acting on this type of intelligence can dramatically increase sales and revenue.

How can marketers today use research data to drive overall business intelligence?

Billions of searches are made daily via search engines like Google, social media like Facebook, and e-commerce sites like Amazon. Also, searches are getting more and more complex, moving from single keywords to exact phrases that reveal more details about the searchers’ intent. So this is a massive and constantly updated source of strategic market information, providing insights into market size, trends, seasonality, competition and customer behavior.

It is rarely exploited properly, because it is difficult to collect and make usable. With billions of keywords involved, the key thing is to be able to aggregate this mass of search data into key metrics that represent market segments, product rankings, and geographies. Then you can ask questions such as “What is the seasonality of buying ski clothing?” or “When do people buy new cars by country and is it different from used cars?” Or, basically, “Where am I in the total market?”. By making it usable, research professionals and data scientists can extract a wealth of insights from a large, accessible and constantly updated set of data that avoids the unconscious bias that comes with other research techniques such as consumer surveys.

In your view, why should CMOs be aware of how SEO and search operations work while using these methods on a more strategic level?

What they need to come to terms with is what they are going to get and where, when it comes to the different elements of the marketing mix they use. To do this, I think they need to consider the unique attributes of each channel. So, for example, paid search is great for getting results quickly. Organic research provides a better return on investment and lasts longer but takes time to work. Social networks are a great source of upcoming trends but they turn out to be a bad sell in themselves. Knowing these key attributes will allow you to manage on a strategic level as a CMO. I would say though, that one thing I really would like all marketing managers to be aware of is the strategic value of understanding customer demand, the market and how it is evolving – something that research can shed as much light on as I do already explained. Having this level of business intelligence enables you to analyze the searches within your market to take a long-term proactive look – you can identify opportunities that competitors won’t, and plan campaigns that truly meet customer needs.

Some expectations you would like to talk about when it comes to the future of search and SEO marketing?

I think we’ll have a skilled resource crisis fairly soon. As marketers begin to appreciate the value that SEO and search brings, there will not necessarily be enough people with the in-depth knowledge and SEO skills required. This means that brands will not have the human resources they need to fully exploit all opportunities.

They can obviously invest in people training and skills development, but most of all I think we’ll see a transition to more comprehensive and user-friendly offerings by platform and service companies to bridge the gap. We, the platform providers, will focus on building more and more intelligence into the platforms so that instead of just providing data that then requires a lot of human resources to implement, we can to some extent automate results and actions. In other words, technology providers will need to make it easier and simpler for those with less specialized skills to access and gain value from research insights. I think we’ll see uni-channel marketing providers have to become multi-channel – enabling their performance to be comparable across channels using the same key metrics.

Few of the best associated techniques and tools that you feel marketing teams need to use to strengthen their SEOs?

Tools need to balance strength with matching the needs and skill level of users – who may not be specialized in certain areas, such as search engine optimization (SEO). My personal view is also that what is absolutely essential is that marketing teams now have one, unified and consistent set of metrics by which they can measure and manage all digital marketing channels. I wouldn’t recommend specific tools, since we work with all major suppliers, and in fact, since we’re API’s first, it’s easy to connect to even the most discreet ones. However, for me, the holy grail of marketing now are the tools that allow you to manage your entire digital marketing mix at a convenient level from one place. Marketers increasingly do not want to log into different tools that provide different ways to calculate and present performance metrics and insights for individual channels. And they want to be able to make comparisons like reciprocity across channels.

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Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital marketing, self defense tips and best practices before we wrap up!

How much time do I have? There’s a lot I’d like to cover but I think the main takeaway for marketers is to say, ‘Don’t get lost in the weeds’. There are so many providers, channels, and means to reach your target audience these days that it’s easy to dive into great depths and miss out on the big moves. A good CMO should know what each digital marketing channel can do for them in terms of their relative strengths and weaknesses, and ideally, how they interact with each other (for example, fix your technical site SEO issues and this will also improve conversion Paid (traffic).

When it comes to scaling across channels, be tough; Don’t accept anyone saying, “But you can’t compare x with y” for different channels and ask them to find a way to compare “x with x”. There is a saying; “Measure what is important, don’t make what you can measure matter.” I think a lot of people have benefited by pushing different metrics to different channels, thus preventing meaningful comparisons. In the long run, however, for the health of digital marketing, we have to go back to basic marketing metrics and force everyone to work with it across all channels.

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