Why SEO + Traffic Doesn't Always Mean More Sales

Why aren't I getting more website leads

 

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Podcast Transcript

Kevin:
Aloha, Matt, how are you doing today?
Matt:
Good, Uncle Kevin, how you doing today?
Kevin:
Doing good. Doing good. So I'm excited to be back recording another podcast here this morning with you. I think we've got a really interesting topic lined up. Might be a little controversial, could lead to some finger-pointing if you'd try to discuss this amongst your own internal teams. But I think it's something that-
Matt:
So many hot takes.
Kevin:
Hot takes. Hot take. Hotcakes. I haven't had breakfast yet. Anyhow, so what I'm thinking we should talk about today is why, on occasion, not all the time, but we often see a disconnect between marketing numbers and sales numbers. And let me start off by telling you a little story about a call I was on recently, which kind of sparked the idea for this, and then I'll let you weigh in with your two cents. Does that sound good? Can you be quiet for a couple of minutes and let me talk?
Matt:
That sounds great, Kevin. Please tell us the story.
Kevin:
All right. So, yeah, I was on a call recently and one of the questions that kept coming up from the customer was, okay, if we do this SEO work to drive more traffic to our website, how many more sales are you going to get us?
Matt:
Your story is so boring already.
Kevin:
I know. Sorry, once upon a time I was on a call. And so it came up a number of times and what I had to do was just kind of pump the brakes with them and kind of have a bit of a heart to heart with them, just saying that right now, because you're a new customer, I'm not overly familiar with your market, we're just talking about this as early stages, that we can do these SEO activities and it will definitely drive more traffic to your website, more visitors, eyeballs, whatever you want to call it. But I can't necessarily guarantee you that you're going to result in more sales. And they kind of didn't like that response. I think they were expecting someone to tell them... I know. This is where it starts to get a little scary. They were expecting, I think, someone to say, "Well, hey, you should be able to get X amount of new customers, your average deal size is this, and blah blah blah."
Kevin:
But here's the issue. Obviously, yeah, we can drive more traffic, but if that traffic gets there and finds that, A, you're overpriced for your market space, B, they don't like the color of the product that you're selling, if it's not the right size, if they don't have the right colors, whatever. And I said colors twice because I think it's really important. Actually I'm lying. I just said colors twice because I wasn't paying attention. But-
Matt: No one is.
Kevin:
No, by this point I'm sure everyone's tuned out. But the point is is that there is, especially with an eCommerce or even with large enterprises and complex B to B sales, that there's going to be a bit of a disconnect there sometimes. Right? We can bring people to the site. We can't make them buy if you're overpriced, if you're not located where they want to stop in and buy something, if you're online only and they want to go in and try something on. There's a whole bunch of reasons why they can't, right? Now our job is to make sure that we're doing our best to draw in the right types of people. But if sales is incompatible with that, if your product isn't compatible with what they're looking at, we can't guarantee those sales. And it's something that I've run into a few times now. It was fresh in my mind based on a recent call that we had, and I thought it was important to talk about. Matt, I know you've run into this a few times, too, so do you have something to add?
Matt:
Yeah, so it's interesting, too, all those different things that you mentioned specifically, but another one being what's the website look like? What's the purchase experience from an eCommerce perspective or conversion, like optimization, on a site to get the actual lead? If the website stinks, we've probably given our two cents, we've probably explained that to the people that we're working with or the web developer, but if nothing changes there and people still aren't going to be able to buy, that's not marketing's responsibility. We have a responsibility, I think, to all the people that we work with to give our two cents, maybe not give two cents, and not put our foot down, but I can't think of anything in between to articulate myself, but we need to make it clear, if someone comes to this website and it's a lousy experience, you're not going to get the sales. Because not only are we trying to help the people that we're working with, but also we need to protect ourselves because that's going to give us a bad reputation realistically as well.
Kevin:
Yeah. And just to clarify, yeah, I mean, in this example that I was thinking of, and the reason I didn't bring up the user experience of the site is because for most of the engagements we have with customers, we take ownership over the site and the UX and the conversion path and things like that. So we want to make sure that we're going to take ownership and we're going to identify those areas where people are dropping off, and hopefully we can work towards improving them. But yeah, it's a good point you bring up. Depending on the scope of the services or if you're doing this type of work in house, how much control you have over your website without doing a complete overhaul, yeah, those can definitely play into it.
Matt:
Yeah, and I just reminded of a company I was working with in the summer, and they sold baby clothing and toddler clothing? Baby clothing, for sure. They were a pretty well-known company in the industry, to be honest, and by all accounts we were driving really good traffic to them, but they had a couple different issues. One of which was the website, so nowhere on the site did they mention how much shipping was, and shipping actually cost the consumer money. Huge issue because most people now expect free shipping. I don't know the stat specifically, but it's like the most important thing for an eCommerce site to offer and tell people about because people are actively looking for free shipping. And another thing that they didn't really mention because, not that they were hiding it, but their shipping times were almost like two weeks, which is a huge issue because people also now, thanks to Amazon, thanks, Bezos, is like two-day shipping, three-day shipping, four days. I notice it all the time when I buy tea online where it wants me to pay extra for rush shipping, and I never do, and it still gets my door in two days, at your basic shipping rate. I was like, "Why would I pay for extra shipping?" Anyways, those were two of the big concerns.
Matt:
The other really, really, really big concern was that when this company launched, they got famous pretty quickly. I can't remember why, but they were pretty well-known. But, and they knew this, the products were not that great. Their distributor was like, "They're purchasing it somewhere in China. I think they're a drop shipping company." The products weren't always up to par. The products that they were selling specifically out of the states were great, but the ones that they were getting overseas were very poor. And the mummy blogs, because it became so popular, were like praising them in one sense, but in the other sense when it came to a lot of the products, they were getting terrible reviews, bad, bad, bad reviews.
Matt:
So we got into a situation where we're trying to help them fix that. It was so bad that they couldn't even do ads on Facebook anymore because Facebook has this rule that if your reviews online are below a certain number, you can't even advertise on their platform. I forget the name of it, also, but all their Facebook reviews were below like three stars or two stars or something. So they weren't even allowed to use the Facebook platform for ads anymore. So in one sense we were getting kind of criticism from the people we were working with saying like, "Hey, you're not getting us enough sales. You're not doing this. Not doing that." I'm like, "What more can we do here?" I always say to people our job as marketers is to lead the horse to the water. We can't convince them to drink the water. But in this case it's like, I don't want to convince a horse to drink poisonous water. Can't do that.
Kevin:
Well, you do hate horses, so I mean... But no, that makes a lot of sense as well. You bring up some good points. Like we have expectations that things are instant these days, right? Wasn't that long ago that if you wanted to put a check into your bank account, you'd have to go in, fill out the deposit slips, talk with a teller, wait in line, do all that kind of stuff, and now you just pull out your phone, snap a picture of the front and back of the check, and it's in your account.
Kevin:
And that kind of brings up another user experience standpoint where it can really impact your ability to make sales. And that's more on the kind of the complex sales cycle where it's not e-commerce. A salesperson does need to get involved. And things like somebody fills out a form, but the sales rep doesn't get back to them for two or three days. I mean, that's a lost opportunity at that point, in my opinion, right?
Matt:
Yeah, or a poor follow-up. And not to get too much into finger-pointing because we don't want to do that, but that's a great point. Maybe your sales team or your salesperson might not be up to snuff. And maybe that's a bit of an issue as well.
Kevin:
Yeah. And I think you're exactly right. This isn't about finger-pointing. It's not to say that your website's garbage and your salespeople should be replaced. It's all about breaking down the silos that most companies have built up around different departments, right? I've even seen it in small companies where one person owns marketing, sales, and customer service, and somehow they treat all these different areas as different silos, and they're not interconnected. But to your point, they absolutely are. And I think it's about, and the example of a salesperson takes two or three days to get back, I think it's important to work with the salespeople to understand why it's important to get back to people quickly. Wouldn't they want to be followed up with quickly themselves if they were reaching out to somebody? Again, that's a spot where we can use some automation and tools like that because people might be busy. I might not be able to get back to you within 15, 30 minutes, whatever it is. But if I've got some automation built into my site, I can at least get an email touch point out to you with an invite to connect and book a time to talk, right?
Matt:
Yeah, for sure. And I think a challenge, too, with the prospect that you're talking about was the concern about, well, we were doing SEO already for three months and it didn't work. There's a couple things that come to mind, one of which the immediate one is like, okay, be patient. SEO takes longer than that. In some cases, that's true. It's very accurate, depending on how competitive it is, depending on the location, all that kind of stuff. I think sometimes we, as marketers, I'll say as a whole, but I know I'm not like this and I'm sure not the same way, I try not to fall back on the patience thing with SEO too much because I've had experiences, like we can rank websites in a couple months. However, I think it's a crux that marketers will fall back on to buy themselves time, which I don't think is fair and gives us all a bad name. But there is some reality to that. We're not going to correct course online and have ranking your website in the first month. And assuming your website's working perfectly and your sales team is excellent, you're not going to increase sales in month one. It's going to take time.
Matt:
The other concern also, in my opinion, is with SEO. That's only one channel that they're looking at. There's, what... Google says people interact with your brand 12 times before they reach out to you, so you're just hitting SEO. What if people are finding you all the time on Facebook, or not finding you all the time on Facebook, they're not finding you on Instagram, and they're not finding you with Google ads? This is one channel that you were trying to affect.
Kevin:
Yeah, and I want to go back to your first point on the timing because you're absolutely right. Google indexes things a lot faster than what it used to. The old days of, oh, you've got to be patient. It's going to take 18 to 24 months before you see any results, is garbage. That's non-existent now. As an example, you and I worked on a project together where it was a very niche application, very localized market, and we were able to move up their core keywords to the first page within a month, right? Because it wasn't overly competitive. And I think going back to the timing thing, is that, yeah, if you have really competitive keywords, it's going to take some time, but that's not an excuse. You should still be seeing incremental changes in where you're ranking, some additional volume to your site and things like that along the way. It's not like there's this magic switch that 10 months from now you flip it and you go from 50 people a month to a thousand people a month.
Matt:
Yeah, of course. And I've been pretty fortunate by seeing success ranking websites where I'm from. It's a big country town, but it is still in the country, and I'm able to rank websites really quickly, like one to two months, maybe three. But I do have experience in Toronto. I do have experience in Chicago. And you don't see those websites ranking on page one in the first month or two, but you're seeing major changes. You're taking them from page 10 to page six, or page three within the first month just by some tactics. And then from there you're in the game and you can keep pushing that forward. So it is a patience thing. It doesn't need to be as long as a lot of people say, but yeah.
Kevin:
Very cool. Any other thoughts on kind of where this disconnect comes from, ways that we can help people address it, or is it just understanding that you need to look at everything as a bigger picture, you need to analyze where things are bottlenecking or where people are dropping off on the process and just slowly chip away at those?
Matt:
Yeah, with SEO your main concern right out of the gate should be getting you rank. So finding those handful of priority keywords and using SEO tactics, like on page recommendations, content link building's a huge one. And then your first goal should be making sure that you're increasing the ranking of those keywords, improving ranking, I should say. So getting those onto page one somewhere, that's step one. From there you get more visibility. More visibility will lead to more clicks. More clicks will lead to more people on your site, which will eventually lead to more sales. It's a numbers game. You need to sort of take your time and get there. It's just like step one of SEO is not okay, get the stuff ranking, and then it will lead to sales. It's a longer process, and it's more than just one thing.
Kevin:
Yeah, and I think the last point I'll throw on to here as well is that one thing that some companies don't take into consideration as well is what the total market cap for your search volume is, right? Some people will come in and they'll be like, "Well, we get a thousand people on our site, but I want to get 10,000 people on our site every month." And when you start running the keywords for their geography, you find out that, no, you're capturing 90% of the search volume already. There's not a lot of room to grow. And when you start running into that, any traffic we're driving past your main keywords and related keywords, they're not going to be relevant so you're going to notice your conversion numbers drop and things like that. At that point when you're near that cap, that's when I like to work on conversion optimization for the site itself, right? So that if we're getting a thousand people a month, but we're only converting 5%, how do we move that number to 10% instead?
Matt:
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, great point. It reminded me of the point I wanted to make, so thank you.
Kevin: Sure it did.
Matt:
I've dealt with a lot of like niche companies before. And I, personally, have a belief that most businesses are a niche, unless it's food because everybody needs food. Even men's sweaters are technically niche. Anyways. There's always a concern. You see people like, "Okay, the SEO is working. Our keywords are ranking. We're in top three, but we're not getting a time traffic" or traffic is increasing, but it's like a hundred people a month type thing, which might be great for some people, might be terrible. But like you said, there's a cap on that. You can't convince more people to search for you, from an SEO perspective. There's ways to do that. That's a different conversation, but with SEO we can't convince more people to search for us. It's very much reactive. We need to be in front of people when they search for those type of keywords. That's what SEO is all about, is making sure we're in front of people when they're actually searching for keywords that are important to us.
Kevin:
Yeah. Well said. So I guess in closing it's just about kind of managing expectations, looking at things in that bigger picture, and just being kind of straight-forward with it all. Matt, do you have any smart-ass comments to make before we leave and wrap this one up?
Matt:
No, no, I'm fine.
Kevin: You sure?
Matt:
I'll plead the fifth.
Kevin:
All right. There's a first time for everything. So anyhow, I want to thank everyone for listening to Digital Fuel today with Kevin and Matt. If you want to learn more about topics like SEO and inbound marketing and content marketing, all that great jazz, you can visit our websites. Matt is MattyGdigital.com. And mine is thinkfuel.ca. So appreciate your time again, Matt, and I look forward to a lot more sessions like this together.
Matt: Arrivederci.
About Author
Kevin D'Arcy

As our Chief Marketing Enthusiast, Kevin strives to provide clarity, honesty, and unique insights into every one of our engagements. Kevin helps companies improve their lead generation, enhance customer acquisition, and increase revenue. With over 18 years of inbound and content marketing experience with B2B technology companies, Kevin brings a straightforward approach to marketing with results that can be measured. He also has the most adorable hound dog that frequently comes to work with him.