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Chris Sherman
09-28-2005, 12:31 AM
iProspect and Jupiter Research have released a series of reports that show problems with the search marketing industry. Specifically, most search marketing firms don't tie employee performance to the ROI of campaigns; most can't tell whether organic SEO or paid search campaigns have greater ROI, and nearly two-thirds of all clients who engage the services of an organic SEO firm run into obstacles in their own organizations that prevent them from implementing the recommended SEO strategies.

Today's SearchDay article, How are Search Marketers Performing? (http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3551921), has more on the studies and the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

Comments? Did anyone participate in this study?

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
09-28-2005, 11:59 AM
I hope I am not the only one that recognise this for what it is: A piece of BS promotional crap with onle goal: To promote and sell iProspects way of doing things. I am sorry, but this is SO American that I can't say how much I dislike it without breaking the forum TOS - "either you are with us or against" us attitude.

The only good thing is that only few Europeans take this sort of crap serious and if they do, we are many that will tell them whyy they should just laugh at it and move on.

To iProspect - wake up, the world is much bigger than you think it is and NOT everything in a creative business can be put into your stupid little boxes. We are a lot of very good businesses that live way out of your narrow boxes and do very very well.

conschtorbos
09-28-2005, 01:12 PM
Sorry, bit long but feel some basic points about our industry and how we should be solving online marketing problems needs addressing here as the lack of understanding in the questionnaire sample seems shocking.

The "report of the report" does indeed feel like a lame PR/press release piece of product/market placement.

However, if the figures are even halfway right the SEM/SEO industry has a hell of a lot of BS artists out-there clinging to the jobs by their fingertips

Any credible SEO/SEM asked if they would recommend PPC would ask two things:

- What's the margin of the item/product/service you're selling?
- Why don't you want an organic solution?

Why? Because unless there margin has fat in it you're willing to loose in ROI then you cannot afford to undertake a PPC campaign/strategy. And why wouldn't you want the long-term cheap solution?

Another surprise was that 35% said that algorithmic search engine optimization produces higher ROI than search ads.

The only surprise here is the obvious lack of knowledge of the sample respondent who are supposedly responsible for SEM. The thought that there may be a body of people out there who consider themselves online marketeers and don't instantly know that an organic solution outstrips PPC and affiliate schemes hands down for ROI is quite shocking.

More so is the thought that one can develop/build/maintain a website in isolation from the organic SEO solution as is implied with references to outsourcing this area. It's a is flaccid concept that only mugs would adopt.

You don't outsource SEO after you've built a website - you get the SEO team in during the build to consult and advise or you hire a web development company with in-house SEO expertise and commercial savvy to build you an "optimised" solution.

If it is not integral to the website development [architecture, templates, coding and page structure] and content management process what is the point?

Recent Example of Client Position
PPC Strategy
Large e-commerce website PPC £150,000 - £300,000 year to turnover £1.5M - £2M
Traffic generation requires proportional outlay in PPC cost -therefore 10% of turnover is a constant whether it be £30 or £30M.
Converted to Organic Solution
Development cost £75K
On-going SEO work £20K PA
Turnover £2M and growing
Cost over 3 Years [lifespan before next probabale upgrade] £135K
Annual cost £45K for same turnover as £150K - £300K using PPC/Affiliates

The idea of an organic solution is to build SEO friendly websites from the ground up as part of the development - Content can be added by the client using SEO friendly CMS and copy/SEO guideline. As for links strategies and development - that again does not require vast resource in time and effort after the initial development cycle, but a constant effort by the webmaster/SEM responsible for the website, which they should be doing anyway whatever SEM strategy is adopted. A client serious about linking and market competitiveness can indeed retain the services or and SEO/development firm as shown above in the £20K SEO retainer fee - but in the scales an serious online retailer is thinking about this is a saving rather than a cost.

andrewgoodman
09-28-2005, 01:33 PM
This last, tired SEO-vs.-PPC argument overlooks the fact that an organic "solution" is often not required to achieve excellent ROI from organic listings. People know organic listings are good. They really do. They've heard it so many times, you don't have to convince them.

For many clients I've talked to, the "solution" -- engaging a fast-talking SEM vendor who then doesn't achieve the expected revenue improvement -- was worse than the "problem."

Can't we all agree that it varies case by case, and that professionalism involves a core of performance and communications values that may vary by project? As long as the client is informed, is aware of the risks and benefits, and signs off on it, then they are perfectly within their rights to chase after goals that some expert might not recommend -- be they aggressive customer acquisition, ranking without measurable ROI, or in fact an aggressive direct-marketing strategy via a mix of paid and organic listings that actually does have a good chance of paying the investment back many times over. In the rest of the advertising world, advertisers will often go after exposure that is not very measurable because they quite simply want to go for it and believe in the power of advertising, from long experience. They'll haggle about the details of performance as they go, or next year.

As great as organic listings are, not all clients or prospective clients need all the many SEM "solutions" being thrown at them. It's a long-term process and no SEM firm that I know of can magically unlock secrets that clients themselves can't unlock in-house, if they allow enough time and put enough resources into the hire, research, & strategy. It's a question of timing, learning curve, fit, and the cost vs. benefit of outsourcing. You don't hire a full-time plumber to be around to fix your plumbing at home, so of course outsourcing makes sense. Then again, you don't always need a plumber. You might not even need "regular plumbing maintenance," if Dran-O is getting it done for you.

If you're building a new house, on the other hand, better make sure all the best contractors are available, incentivized, and on your side.

orion
09-28-2005, 03:06 PM
Chris, you have offered a good advice:

"take it with a grain of salt".

I always do this when a member of an industry, any industry, pulses (surveys, examines, etc) its competitors to present recommendations or try to shape that industry. Often such in-breed exercises are questionable.

Reading between lines I see a subliminal message and promo: "Hey, Little, outsource Bigger".

A true independent study can do better. My honest opinion.

Orion

Nacho
09-29-2005, 12:55 AM
I've always thought about it as real estate space on the search results. The more listings you have, the better. Including at the top to the left, to the right, below or above the fold.

One listing is never enough!

orion
09-29-2005, 05:00 AM
To iProspect - wake up, the world is much bigger than you think it is and NOT everything in a creative business can be put into your stupid little boxes. We are a lot of very good businesses that live way out of your narrow boxes and do very very well.

Adding to this observation,

1. It would be interesting to know how IProspect employees performed.

2. From those that responded, was a representative sample used or an undiscernible sample (a free-for-all composite)? That is, let say 3 out of 2 in the industry (hyphothetical numbers and figuratively speaking) do more SEO than SEM; then, was a sample that scale in the same proportion used from the respondent set?

3. I would like to see some correlations, confidence tests and tests for significance in future, truly independent studies.


Orion

seobook
09-29-2005, 05:40 AM
To iProspect - wake up, the world is much bigger than you think it is and NOT everything in a creative business can be put into your stupid little boxes. We are a lot of very good businesses that live way out of your narrow boxes and do very very well.
yeah... there have got to be better ways to get clients than a survey that says iProspect is the only SEM solution.

I find the idea of measuring ROI per employee on an employee level at SEO companies a bit appalling, and not without reason. I used to work for an inventory company...and in that business sometimes you could be tired and lazy and have great productivity because you were counting expensive items, while at other times you could count clothes that were knotted together or stuff of low value and have miserable productivity even if you work hard.

Most SEO employees are going to work on a limited number of accounts at any one time if they are selling services worth buying. And then some businesses that hire you may not fully and honestly disclose their profits.

One good way to add competitors to your field is to show partners who are good at marketing exactly how much money you make and how you do it.

dannysullivan
09-29-2005, 06:04 AM
I hope I am not the only one that recognise this for what it is: A piece of BS promotional crap with onle goal: To promote and sell iProspects way of doing things. I am sorry, but this is SO American that I can't say how much I dislike it without breaking the forum TOS - "either you are with us or against" us attitude.

The only good thing is that only few Europeans take this sort of crap serious and if they do, we are many that will tell them whyy they should just laugh at it and move on.
I'm always dubious about any report I get. Who funds the report, and what goals might they have in mind. Those are questions that you always want to ask. It doesn't mean that the reports are necessarily wrong, but it's something to ask and keep in mind.

When this report came out, I already knew that iProspect sees measuring things on ROI as a key component of how they want to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. So it wouldn't suprise me that they want to measure that nor spin the elements of the report that show most people don't do this. Then again, I think it's fair to say lots of people are still stuck in the rut of looking too much at ranking and traffic and not conversion. The report largely just confirms the obvious to me.

As for it being "so American" and "few Europeans" taking this sort of crap seriously, sorry, Mikkel -- I think you're wrong here. I've seen Europeans gobble up reports and put them out just as much as Americans. I don't think this is a country/region specific thing and probably best not to walk down that road.

BKCB
09-29-2005, 09:39 AM
When I first saw a ClickZ ariticle on this study on 9/8/05, I was tempted to do a "Feedback", but didn't. So here goes Chris:

For many years my reps and I tried hard to get manufacturing companies to track all their leads to ROI. Even the accounts that wanted to do it found it very hard to be successful.

The reason was that with industrial B2B sales there were usually dealers, distributors, or manufacturer rep firms involved in the sale. These middlemen were hard to get feedback from even when given a "carrot" and a "stick" as motivation. Some middlemen even claimed credit for the sale, since after many months the buyer couldn't remember how the whole thing started.

As much as I respect this iProspect Study (even though it is "posturing"), and I agree with most of what they say, I wish they had divided the study into B2B and B2C. The reason is B2B usually has a much longer buying cycle. While B2C can have middlemen like wholesalers, the buying cycle usually is shorter. This makes it easier to get quality feedback. Web Analytics provides quality feedback for online sales and actions, but not for offline sales.

So, besides separating B2B from B2C markets, the other constructive comment that I have involves how the "Differences in Cost Models" (on Page 5) describe SEO costs for advertisers. It says: "In the case of natural SEO, however, marketers typically pay a flat fee for an engagement." It then says "With every successive dollar generated, therefore, the SEO campaign incurs no additional cost (as a paid search campaign does), and so with every dollar produced, the ROI - by definition - increases."

Even if the year's contract, which included months of maintenance was up, the marketer should extend the maintenance of the SEO! Extended maintenance costs should reflect only the actual amount of work that is needed to tweak for algorithm changes, additional inbound links, etc.. But, SEO is NOT a "do it once, and it's done forever proposition! This is misleading, in my opinion.

andrewgoodman
09-29-2005, 06:25 PM
Adding to this observation,

1. It would be interesting to know how IProspect employees performed.

2. From those that responded, was a representative sample used or an undiscernible sample (a free-for-all composite)? That is, let say 3 out of 2 in the industry (hyphothetical numbers and figuratively speaking) do more SEO than SEM; then, was a sample that scale in the same proportion used from the respondent set?

3. I would like to see some correlations, confidence tests and tests for significance in future, truly independent studies.


Orion

Come on now Orion, now you're starting to ask really pesky questions. ;)

I mean what's next, asking whether a survey of MarketingSherpa readers about their average aggregate CPC, or average conversion rates, will give you accurate, reliable info.

Or asking them whether they had positive ROI from PPC or SEO in the past year, and breaking that down by whether they "used an agency" or "did it in house." Why, what if the answer came back that "using an agency" gave you double the ROI achieved from SEO as against doing it in-house. Would that be true? Scientific? I wish I knew!

orion
09-29-2005, 08:18 PM
Pesky = Troublesome; annoying

This is not about IProspect. I would ask the very same questions if a member of this industry comes with a similar study.

I believe those are fair questions when studies are not independently done within an industry. It is easy to survey your competitors way of doing business, but how about the source? If A throw at B, C, D, things about this or that, well, how about A?

Regarding raising questions about the methodology used or asking about what one would like to see in future true independent studies, those are fair questions as well.


Orion

andrewgoodman
10-02-2005, 08:48 PM
So as not to be misunderstood, I believe pesky=good, especially when it comes to study methodology, which I consider important. There are a lot of statistics reported in any industry; not all are useful or even accurate.

orion
10-03-2005, 12:38 AM
There are a lot of statistics reported in any industry; not all are useful or even accurate.

Agreed. This often happen with faulty methodology and procedures or external factors (data sampling, who and why collect/exclude data, how the data is interpreted, etc). All this biases the end result. When all this is not done independently, other things may enhance the outcome.


Orion

Mike Grehan
10-08-2005, 06:36 AM
Don't be fooled guys.

If there's nothing to caw about in the industry so that you can ride on the back of it, then create your own news.

Simple!

Whether anybody likes, approves, cares a damn or not about the study/report, the iProspect brand is right back in view again.

It's almost text book.

Like I say… Classic!