The 3 most common questions asked at IRCE 2012 in Chicago last week…
Last week I had the pleasure of being part of a team of 8 that traveled to Chicago for IRCE 2012. This year’s group of visitors to our booth was different in many ways from the years before – partly because of this blog. One individual told me that he reads every blog entry as if it were medicine. Another gave me details of how he trains his team on marketing through our blog and that a manager makes sure employees are reading the blog on a frequent basis.
We’re really proud to have made such a difference.
As a result of more awareness, conversations were more qualified this year – and more diverse than former years. Instead of nearly 100% of our conversations being focused on SEO, we were able to step out of the shadow of our 16 year reputation in SEO and start discussing, at a much more frequent pace, our catalogue of experience and offerings – but most importantly the reasons behind why we do what we do.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to reiterate the 3 most commonly answered questions that I answered last week about Exclusive Concepts. They will not only give some insight into us, but they will give you a sense of our belief system – how we have taken faith in a unique methodology and applied it almost universally to a broad client base and have found a statistically sound approach to growing e-commerce stores.
Question #1: Can you tell me a little about Exclusive Concepts?
Nik Responds: Absolutely. We’ve been around for 16 years, starting off building some of the first search engines and directories on the net – and we soon became efficient in the science of SEO. We have always stayed focused on the e-commerce space. At some point along the way, our clients, impressed by our knowledge of consumer behavior and our dedication to utilizing data for smart decision-making, asked us to try doing more for them.
To the challenge, we presented a solution; a vision. We called it the Perpetual Growth Strategy and it was a simple vision of how we could help any e-commerce store create non-stop growth.
We simply asserted: “Relinquish to us management over the channels that attract visitors to your site, the mechanisms by which those visitors convert into customers, and finally the marketing vehicles through which you retain those customers as loyalists. If we can have this control, make improvement to all the parts of this funnel (attract-convert-retain), and move these metrics on an on-going basis, we will not only be able to achieve more growth, but we’ll make your marketing dollars become worth more and more with each passing year, giving your business an indelible competitive advantage.”
That vision has sprouted 5 unique services under 3 umbrellas:
- Attract: Advanced SEO and Profitable PPC
- Convert: Conversion Booster and Site (Speed) Optimizer
- Retain: Optimized Email Marketing
Question #2: So how can we grow our revenue?
Part 1: Not through SEO (answered with purposeful brevity.) This is not your silver bullet of growth, and it’s not a risk-free way to grow your business quickly. It takes a long time to build strength in SEO, and it can all theoretically be taken away overnight. SEO cannot be the core of your business growth model.
At the same time, when the rest of your business is healthy, well-controlled and optimized, SEO will not only play the role as the cherry on top, it can strategically be seen as the aggressive higher-risk move that may have a glorious run, but may also go away at any time – for an unknown period of time, while you adjust your strategy to any number of major algorithm changes.
When it’s hot, SEO can fuel enormous growth at a fraction of the cost of PPC – and create a major distance of available funds between you and your competitors. Just be prepared. Your strategy may be using a loophole that Google will close one day – that’s the risk of SEO. So prepare yourself both mentally and strategically (Contingency Strategies 101) to pivot strongly.
In a conversion with Chris Charczuk (Sr. Conversion Specialist, Exclusive Concepts) yesterday, he compared this to Sun Tzu’s war strategy. While your other marketing channels are your defenses, SEO is your offense. And you never risk striking without having your defenses strong, rested and well-fed first. Then the aggressive risk can pay off without fear of losing the battle.
So if you’re engaging in SEO, do what you can to not take too many risks. Focus on building content that is naturally written to engage users based on a few select search terms per page – make sure those search terms have historical relevance (and value, in the form of value/visit) to your site. These activities will have a direct correlation to your revenue growth, while building a better experience for users and keeping you in line with the spirit of Google’s guidelines.
Also – start planning for tomorrow’s SEO, today. The future strategies (some would say the current) that will have the highest payout revolve around Google’s evolution towards being able to really understand what constitutes a quality experience. Google’s evolution is not only happening in regards to the experience at the algorithm level, but also at the SERP level – less space for stores trying to rank for informational search terms, for example.
A major component of what is currently being rewarded – and will be rewarded even more down the line – is disruptive content. This is creating a new marketplace for SEO-focused content curating. It starts with understanding marketplace values, market gaps and the ever-changing zeitgeist of the times – and it transfers this knowledge into building stronger, more disruptive content into a website and its promotional vehicle.
Part 2: If SEO isn’t the silver bullet, then what? The most controllable complete channel of revenue in your arsenal is the trifecta of: PPC, conversion optimization and email marketing. Through email marketing, you should set a goal of doubling the lifetime value of your customer (total historical revenue through your store/total number of customers) over the course of 12-18 months. Through conversion optimization, you should set a goal of doubling your value/visit within 12-18 months as well – this metric is a combination of improving AOV and conversion rates. By doing these 2 things, you have made the actual value of a new visitor worth 4x what you had before. Just like that, the ROAS of your PPC efforts will quadruple – as will your acceptable CPA.
Note: With the changes to Google shopping, the higher-than-ever relevance of PLAs, and new uses of the content network, PPC offers a scalable funnel of traffic that is consistently changing for the better!
Since you control all these three vehicles:
- They can all be improved upon in the future, and past experience always has merit
- You don’t have to worry about waking up one day and find that an outside force has changed the game completely and you have lost a significant portion of your business
- Everything you learn from one part of the funnel can impact your approach in other parts of the funnel
Question #3: Why should I hire Exclusive Concepts?
Nik Responds: That’s up to you. What I can speak to is why clients choose not to leave us once we’ve started working together.
Our clients have a lot of people in their lives that help them – their in-house team, management, outsourced teams, family, friends, etc. Of all those people, there’s only a small group that is always focused on the revenue growth of their business, and we’re part of those elite few. We’ve not only built our services to live up against the KPIs of revenue, but it’s how we form our methodologies, strategies and opinions. We have many resources at our disposal so getting clients to make pivotal shifts towards something that will make more revenue is always a win-win. For example, if SEO is stagnant for a client, we can help them shift budget towards email – the client’s still on board, we don’t mind the shift, and we can get moving towards growth.
Of similar importance is the fact that we share our knowledge with clients. Over the past 3 years we’ve made it onto the Inc 5000 list – not by adding many new clients, but because clients have opted to do more service with us over time. That has added to the intimacy of our knowledge in regards to each client’s strategies, challenges, tactics, etc. We channel that deep aggregate knowledge into each client’s strategy. We are neither too big nor too small to add immense value in this regard. Most importantly, it is part of our 3 main commitments we make to every client.
Those 3 commitments live on. We will focus on growing your revenue. We will be your team that you can count on when times are good or bad. We will share our knowledge with you to strengthen your program through experience, logic and good communication.
Grow your revenue. Grow your team. Grow your knowledge. That’s Exclusive Concepts.