Aligning Your Demand Gen with the SEO Team in 2021 and Beyond
Anyone in the SEO game knows that the rules change often and that strategies have to be constantly updated for the brand to be able to rank effectively in search engine results. Complicating matters is that while SEO drives your brand performance in search engines, there also has to be alignment with the expectations and pain points of your target audience to maximize lead generation. This disparity can often lead to these two contingents of your marketing team operating seemingly at odds with one another.
In this article, we will outline the different concerns and responsibilities your demand generation team has versus that of your SEO team, and how to find common ground between the two so that both can achieve their team-based goals, but also through the synergy of cohesive SMART goals achieve more overall for the organization.
What are the Marketers on Your Demand Generation Team Trying to Accomplish?
At a high level, your demand generation team manager oversees the entirety of your organization’s strategy for establishing, managing, and maintaining long-term customer relationships. Under these managers, a number of roles exist that extend across the marketing and sales funnels that make up your organization’s inbound marketing infrastructure:
Top of Funnel (TOFU)
At the top of your sales funnel marketing infrastructure, your employees will be working with your website’s content marketing and advertising efforts and social media platforms. The goal at this level is to improve and expand brand awareness and to set the stage for your brand’s customer journey. Marketers at this level will be responsible for establishing your PPC campaigns; purchasing media; setting up social media ads; creating landing pages for inbound traffic that act as the first touchpoint with the lead and set the subsequent paths on the buyer’s journey, and creating top-level pieces of content for use on blogs, social sites, and guest posts in order to support the SEO team efforts. We’ll cover this last item of supporting the SEO team later in the discussion.
Middle of Funnel (MOFU)
Once potential customers are more qualified through the advertising and content your organization has in place at the top level, they transition into the middle funnel. At this level, employees are working with and gradually providing clients with additional exposure to the brand in order to build brand recognition and brand exposure. This additional interaction with your branding helps to optimize your conversion rates and facilitates conversational marketing with clients.
Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)
To bring it home, your bottom-of-the-funnel employees are focused on outreach and digital marketing messaging that helps in the lead scoring process and convert leads into product qualified leads (PQLs) or Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), depending on your company’s approach and strategy.
These interactions become extremely personalized and tailored to the lead, depending on their behavior to this point throughout your inbound marketing stack. Tools leveraged by the bottom of the funnel include email marketing campaigns, educational and informational marketing content like webinars, extremely targeted landing pages that will ensure qualified leads interact with the sales team directly, and direct contact with leads during trade shows or targeted account-based marketing activities.
Business Development Representatives and Sales Team Associates
From the bottom of the funnel, leads that are finally converted into PQLs/MQLs are passed along to the sales team, who focus strictly on converting leads into business. If your sales funnel is calibrated to your business needs and your customer persona properly, then the lead conversion rate at this level should be relatively high.
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What are the Marketers on Your SEO Team Trying to Accomplish?
Search engine optimization is a fairly broad marketing function that encompasses multiple aspects of your overall marketing strategy. In a broad sense, the ultimate goal of your SEO team is to ensure a strong ranking in search engine results pages for your business’s websites and overall digital real estate, including blogs, social media sites, directory listings, and any other digital media asset that you directly control that can be crawled and ranked by a search engine. Increasing SERP results will in turn boost website traffic and support demand generation efforts.
Much of SEO revolves around the use of targeted keywords relevant to your brand throughout your content. SEO also entails the technical formatting of your site and social media’s metadata that impacts how your website is found. SEO teams work hard to properly leverage the right keywords and continually focus on improving your search engine ranking results over time, depending on the algorithms being used and trends in your industry by consumers.
Natural Synergy Between Your Demand Generation Team and Your SEO Team
Perhaps the best way that these two teams can support one another through their everyday tasks is by structuring your digital marketing team in such a way that these two groups are sharing and utilizing data from each other to maximize their own performance.
Demand Generation teams can work in conjunction with the SEO team to gather and correlate data to optimize effective keyword strategies for use throughout the content creation process. How new customers potentially interact with the resulting content can reveal the intent and interests or pain points of the leads, allowing your demand generation team to adjust customer persona models and SEO teams to drill down on certain keywords and perhaps abandon other keywords that aren’t getting results.
To this point, in the course of attracting high-quality leads to pass down through the sales funnel, the demand generation team is also gathering very detailed demographic data on leads regarding their interests and behaviors, as well the pain points that are driving their browsing behavior on your platforms. All of this data becomes useful insight for the SEO team to build out targeted keyword strategies for different demographic groups, and in the process could reveal buyer persona that the brand hadn’t even considered to be a target audience for products and services.
When Your Teams Aren’t In Sync, There Can Be No Synergy
We talked in the previous section about structuring your demand generation and SEO content teams to work in conjunction with one another. We started with this because allowing them to work out of step with one another can lead to wasted efforts on the part of both departments, due to mismatched goals and a content strategy that doesn’t support the overall business goal of generating more qualified leads that are easier for your sales team to convert into bottom line profits.
- Top-of-funnel content can be cool and exciting, but flashy content doesn’t always work further down the funnel, so it’s important for these two teams to work closely in order to create targeted content that is sure to draw the lead further through the qualification process according to the demand generation campaigns in place towards the pass-off to the sales team from the bottom of the funnel.
- All content should be written with a specific purpose and to a very specific audience that these two departments work out during the strategic planning phase before a single word is posted online.
- In order to find this common ground, data points and key performance indicators (KPIs) collected by both teams should be mapped out and matched to existing key buyer personas in order to ensure these ideal customers are accurate and relevant to current goals and future lead nurturing strategies.
- The best way to set the stage for synergy between Demand Generation and SEO is for the marketing team as a whole to identify the brand’s overall messaging style and tone, and then to create a style guide that will inform and direct content creators at all levels.
- Content management and content generation should be driven by the benchmarks and metrics that make up the overall Demand Generation strategy. If the demand generation’s middle of the funnel needs webinars and educational content created, and the SEO department’s content generation team is focused on inbound leads, then the business overall isn’t being supported. Put the efforts where the strategy says they should be put.
- Finally, the content log calendar needs to align with the overall marketing department’s strategies and initiatives. It doesn’t do any good for the demand generation team to introduce multiple new campaigns for new products and services if the content and SEO team is still focusing efforts on creating a great bottom-of-the-funnel email campaign for a previously launched service.
Collaboration is the Key to Success in 2021 and Beyond
With the technologies that we have in place for customer relationship management and content management, there’s no reason that our Demand Generation and SEO teams shouldn’t be able to collaborate and coordinate to cohesively execute upon a structured and targeted lead generation strategy.
In fact, your marketing team must be able to achieve this synergy this year and in the years to come, as much of your marketing and lead gen will be sourced through your website, social media channels, and other sources across your online digital real estate.
Rather than allowing your teams to work in silos, content must become a central driving force to all of your marketing efforts and activities, so that leads can be properly vetted and qualified down through your sales funnel and along to the sales team.