SEO Vs. Conversion Improvement: Where Marketers’ Spend Lies

Digital marketers around the globe continue to face the same problem: turning their site “browsers” into buyers. So, in order to understand the strategies and focus that digital marketers are using to combat these problems as web technologies evolve, my company conducted a survey of 300 senior-level marketing professionals:

Traffic Barriers

When asked the primary website challenges they faced, over 40% of the respondents indicated that converting their visitors into paying customers was number one—a distant second (26%) was “driving traffic to their site”. Yet, over half of those surveyed have a majority of their budget focused on search and traffic. So why doesn’t the solution match the problem?

Another interesting tidbit: despite 39% of the respondents thinking that converting leads is more important than SEO/search, over 50% still plan to invest in search, while only 37% plan to allocate dollars to conversion management strategies. Budget constraints are indicated to be the major barrier here, but why hold back from tools that can directly generate revenue? It seems as though most marketers believe driving traffic to improved landing pages is the key to converting visitors, rather than employing tools that can dynamically improve the site as a whole.

Going Beyond Website Analytics

As it turns out, very few marketers are actually testing their website on a daily basis (only 13% in this group), if at all—37% admitted to never having run any [multivariate] testing on their website, or only analyzing results after a major redesign.

How are they keeping tabs? In our survey, almost 60% of respondents solely use basic web analytics to drive content changes and design decisions. But oddly enough, the majority (80%) think content testing and results are critical for making objective decisions to major site changes and realize even the smallest tweaks based on real data can significantly improve revenues. However, only 28% of those survey correctly guessed the website page design that produced the highest conversion rate. So, the question rises again: why aren’t they budgeting for tools to manage and improve conversion?

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: Content, SEO and Landing Pages

Even though most marketers understand what needs to be done to improve their conversion rates, they haven’t demonstrated a willingness to budget for and test their site effectively. Perhaps the real value of testing, targeting and personalizing a customer’s web experience isn’t yet obvious, or because SEO and paid search has been such a tried and true method, the shift can be scary.

But, purchasing keywords to drive traffic to an inefficient landing page or website is like putting the cart before the horse. Content optimization is a powerful way to augment SEO and SEM efforts, while improving the overall customer experience and directly generating marketing ROI. When a website uses the most effective content and design elements throughout the site (including landing pages), the cost of acquisition through search marketing is reduced, making it easier to translate clicks into lasting consumers.

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A career long evangelist in online, Mark Simpson is the founder of Maxymiser where he is focused on increasing conversions and Web site engagement for clients through all verticals including Asda, Santander, Virgin and Cancer Research. Prior to Maxymiser Mark headed up online marketing and business development for Travelport and focussed in particular on the acquisition of ebookers, Octopus Travel, Hotel Club and RatesToGo. Prior to Travelport Mark was part of the team taking Hitwise to market at on its start-up in the UK.