podcast image

Listen Now

6 Simple Steps to Implement an Effective SEO Approach

June 24, 202246:43

These days, we have access to endless data. But how do we make sense of it all? On this week’s episode, digital Marketing Strategist and Professor, Mary Owusu, shows us how. Listen as Mary explains her “MAGNET Framework,” a 6-step process to taking control of your data and leveraging it to help you grow and connect with your audience.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

AW:

Hey, it’s April Williams, your host from Hello to Yes. Today’s guest is officially called, The Queen of Analytics, and I couldn’t agree more. Mary Owusu is a digital marketing strategist and professor with a passion for measurements and analytics. She’s a board director for the Digital Analytics Association, but her favorite title she says is mom, and I can certainly relate to that. This conversation around SEO goes way beyond keywords and focuses on business impact and success. I know every business leader is going to love Mary’s five SEO metrics with company objectives at the very top. Mary has a way of taking the complex and simplifying it, especially when it comes to SEO. She says the goal of SEO is to drive the business forward and not about individual keywords. I couldn’t agree more with her results and revenue minded approach. Here’s my conversation with Mary.

Mary, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you today?

MO:

I’m doing so well. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to dive in.

AW:

Me too. Let’s start with one of the things we focus on from Hello to Yes is the importance of learning and figuring out this ever-changing world of marketing and sales together. We often say, none of us is as smart as all of us. We hope to be a place where marketing and sales folks will come out, but also the next generation. You are one busy woman as we look at, not only are you a digital marketing strategist that leads campaigns for some of the world’s largest brands, you’re a college professor teaching both digital marketing and digital analytics courses. You, also, are on the board of directors for the digital analytics association. You are in the forefront of what is happening in digital marketing and analytics. My first question today, for you, is what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in the world of digital marketing and analytics in the past few years?

MO:

Wow. That is a spectacular question. Just like all other facets of marketing, the field of analytics has completely transformed over the last few years. I remember even when I started in analytics, it was purely accidental. I blew a client’s budget over a weekend. I had to come in and demonstrate to the client on Monday after spending all their paid search budget to demonstrate if that money was worth it, if they acquired enough customers over the weekend, what was my saving grace. I had to dig into the numbers to demonstrate what happened. I was self-taught. I feel a lot of analysts that you speak to today who started back then will tell you that they are also self-taught, but one of the biggest shifts that’s happened in the analytics world now is, there are a lot of courses that teach you about analytics, digital analytics, data science and all the other parts of this world of data that we are in today.

One of the biggest shifts is that there are actually courses and programs that will teach you how to do analytics, the way that it could be done or some would say, should be done but some of us OGs will say, the way that we do it is also the way that it should be done because there’s a lot that comes with experience. That’s one of the biggest things is just the transformation in the education part of it. The second piece, I’ll also say, is the tools that are now available that just simply did not exist. In the world of analytics, when you’re trying to understand what happened, really, analytics is the curiosity of what happened. That’s how I define it. I’m a very curious person. Sometimes you just didn’t have the tools to help you make those dots connect, but now, in the world that we live in today, there are myriad tools out there that will tell you every piece of information that you want to know.

Everything from the attribution touchpoints that happened along the way, all the way through to, perhaps, even the influences that also affected that person in their decision making process and everything in between. These tools are abundant right now. I think the problem, now, with marketing and sales professionals who are trying to make sense of data is, there’s too much of it now because the tools exist and the processes exist and everybody is an expert and everybody’s tool is the best. Really, discernment comes in and that’s where I think folks that have those skills that are just more around discernment and really getting at the heart of the problem, the people that have the heart to really apply to the science of data, those are the people that are really going to help us make it through to the next data 3.0 or whatever it is, where we actually look at not just numbers, but we actually look at what is the intention behind what we expect people to do? How does that align with the goals of the organization? What does the data tell us about those two endpoints?

AW:

I love that you said, analytics is the curiosity about what happened. What a beautiful definition for a term that isn’t often described that way. I also loved the phrasing of discernment, because that’s the going to be the critical part as we step in here. I think you captured some of what we’re all feeling in the world of digital marketing analytics right now. That’s a little bit overwhelming. Mary, one of the things I enjoy most about you is how you take the complicated and make it easier to understand. Talk to us about the MAGNET method that you said is an approach for SEO and how it makes it easy for everyone to do.

MO:

Digital marketing is such a vast field. As you progress as a marketer, it’s important for you to find, maybe, some aspects of digital marketing that align best with your passions. For me, that was always SEO and CRO. CRO being conversion rate optimization and SEO being search engine optimization. The things that you do to get a website ranked in Google and other search engines. The MAGNET method is my answer to helping folks that feel that SEO is this complex marketing skill to really understand that it’s really not. It’s not. It can be compartmentalized. It can be broken down. It can be worked on task by task. It can also be done on a sprint method as opposed to this marathon method that a lot of people who think about SEO, search engine optimization, often associate it with.

The MAGNET method is this unique and proprietary approach to doing SEO well and without overwhelm. Here’s the thing, MAGNET is an acronym. A lot of people know, if you’ve done SEO at all, you know that there are, really, three things that any business can do to get ranked in the search engines. Those three things are that you make sure that your site is healthy. It has a healthy score. It doesn’t have technical issues. It doesn’t have broken links, broken pages. The things that would upset a user would also upset the search engines. This whole idea of your site being healthy and auditing for your site to have those elements taken care of, that’s the first thing.

The second thing is making sure that your site actually has all the elements that apply to having words that people would actually search for. Actually, having relevance on your site. If somebody is going to search for cookies and your site is about cookies, well, then Google is more likely to rank your site than if your site was about tires and somebody searched cookies. There needs to be relevance there. That’s the piece that I call the things that you do to grow your business. The other piece is, really, the linking. Really, the more people talk about you and link to your site, the better your site is to rank. Knowing that those are the three pieces that make up a bulk of what helps websites rank being the website health, the relevance and then the linking, this is how the MAGNET method encompasses that.

MAGNET, like I said, is an acronym. The M stands for manage. It’s all the things that before you start implementing your links and your relevancy and fixing your auditing issues, you’ve got to have a dashboard or some reporting metric that says, “This is our starting point and this is how we’re going to measure how we do over time.” M is all about managing and putting a process in place for saying, “These are my numbers to start. This is my M. This is my measurement plan.” This is where you would get your Google analytics account set up if you don’t have one or your Google search console account set up, if you don’t have one, getting the technical tools in place. The A is audit. It’s the technical piece. Because now that you’ve got the tools set up, now, you can audit your site and see what those technical issues are and improve your health score.

Now, we’ve covered M and A. Now, G, grow. I call it grow. Grow is all the things that you do on your website in order to improve your relevance scores. This is, maybe you need to write a new page on your site that actually addresses chocolate chip cookies because you rank for cookies, but you don’t rank for chocolate chip cookies but you make them and your site is all about them. This is a very silly example, but I’m trying to make it very, very applicable. You’re not relevant for a term that you don’t talk about. The growth stage is all about really dissecting your site to see, what is your audience searching for that your site should be ranking for but it doesn’t or it ranks but not well, right? It’s all the relevant stuff.

The N. Now, N is all about nurture. N is taking your growth stage and turning it up a notch. With the nurture stage, we really get into the CRO component, really understanding, okay, we’re driving people into the site, but we’re not just driving them in just to get them there. We need to really get people to be nurtured into paying customers or into leads if we’re lead gen organization. The nurture piece says, “All right, so we’re going to bring people in because we’re going to rank really well,” but what is the immediate action that those folks that are ready to buy from us, what’s the action they’re going to take? Maybe it’s buy now or maybe it’s fill out this form, but we realize that marketing is a funnel, right? Not everybody is ready to make that ultimate purchase.

What else? What is the next item for someone who’s more in the slow laner lane and is not ready to make a purchase? Perhaps, it’s a downloadable of some sort. It’s a white paper of some sort. It’s a trial of some sort. Those are the things that you want to think about, the ways to drive up your conversion rate in a smart way, not overly statistical, not overly data or analytics oriented, but it’s really like understanding user behavior and the data comes second, but you’ve got to think about conversions in a very, very smart way when you’re doing any kind of marketing, especially SEO. The E is echo. Echo, as we all know, when you echo, things bounce back to you. Echo is the stage in the MAGNET method where we say, now that we’ve done all the things to really get more customers and more traffic, there’ll be some pages and some terms that we still don’t rank for. That’s where we’re going to do the link building.

Echoing is when people mention you and link to you, I call that the echo stage, because you’re essentially creating a reverberation of yourself out on the internet. Usually, when you do the relevant stage well and the nurture stage well, people will just create a groundswell around your brand. “Oh, they have the best chocolate chip cookies” or “they make the best widgets.” Next thing you know, people are actually talking about you and linking to you or mentioning you on the internet, which actually also helps your rankings. I love traction. Traction is my T. Traction is an often forgotten piece of marketing, especially when it comes to SEO. Traction is making this whole thing systemized. It’s saying, “Okay, when do I know I need to go back and do on audit again? When do I know I need to go back and rework an article?”

That’s where we look at the four key SEO metrics that we were already tracking in the M stage. We already set up these metrics to be tracked, but now, with the traction, we’re really speeding things ahead and saying, when this number reaches this percent? Look at that page again. When this page drops from position seven to position five, that’s our trigger, to go and do what? To do more auditing, to do more relevance things, to do more links. I put in levers of where these milestones are and where these thresholds are for when to go back and do things, so that, really, SEO becomes a system and a predictable system at that, as opposed to being this really daunting, overwhelming task that marketing teams have to deal with. I’ve seen a lot of success especially with marketing teams, which often have people that have expertise in one thing or the other, but with this kind of method, they can all come together.

The creative people know what to write. The graphic people know what creative assets to make for that written piece. The analysts know what they’re measuring, the marketers know what they’re doing. The business is happy because sales and traffic and conversions are all rolling in.

AW:

Well, Mary, I just loved that answer. You said something which will probably be my phrase that I think about every time I think about this podcast. As you said, “Most people see SEO as a marathon, but it can be a sprint.” I don’t think many people believe that. I love that. I loved the step by step that you put together. You once again shine at explaining the difficult, easy, in a much easier way. You also talk about when you talk about the metrics, you talk about four metrics that you recommend that are really critically important. Can you talk to us about those?

MO:

Absolutely. This is a story I hear often. Maybe it’s happened in your life. Whoever is the most important person or the loudest person at the organization comes to you and says, “Every time I’d go to Google and I type in X, Y, Z term, our competitors rank and we don’t. What’s going on?” It’s always this person’s perspective that then causes the marketing team to rush off and pigeonhole themselves and trying to figure out this thing to appease this person. I think when we have those kinds of perspectives driving our actions, we end up missing the bigger point. SEO, just like all other types of marketing lives and exists for a bigger goal. It’s not about ranking for any individual keyword. SEO exists to drive the business forward. It exists to help your organization make a bigger impact with the message, with the ideas, with the cause that you stand for. The more people you can reach, the more impact you can have, period. That is the goal of SEO.

When you get hung up on individual keyword rankings, you miss the bigger point, which is to create impact in the world through your business and its mission, right? I look at SEO the same way I look at all other types of digital marketing. I look at it through the lens of what matters for the business to be viable and to make an impact. At the very beginning, we set these goals. These goals always include my first SEO metric is business impact. The business impact ties back to the goals of the organization. If the business, in order to make an impact, in order to grow, in order to be viable, aims to grow market share, aims to sell X number of widgets, aims to deliver X number of leads, then that better be one of your SEO goals as well.

One of the goals of SEO is always, what is the business trying to do in the next six months, 12 months? I can go as far as 18 months, what is it that we’re trying to do? What is the website’s role in that? If the business wants to acquire market share, okay, that means we need to reach more customers, sell more things. How does that translate to the website? Is it the number of people who, what, just come to the site or is it the number of people who come to the site and do X, and purchase a product if you’re E-commerce. Complete a form if you’re lead gen and subscribe to your idea and donate. Those metrics, SEO is responsible for those as well. We always want to track how many of the people coming in from a search engine are performing those actions. What percentage is that of total traffic? That’s the first thing.

Measure the business impact as it ties to website goals from your SEO traffic. The second one is your actual website traffic itself. Because if you’re doing SEO well, what’s going to happen is, you should see an increase in not just traffic but the right kind of traffic, right? What happens every time I do SEO, whether I’m doing it for a small business, a nonprofit or a large corporation, working with fortune 500 marketing teams. Any mix of that. No matter what, the traffic will increase. We want this traffic increase to happen because that means you’re doing SEO well. If your pages are ranking more, if you’re ranking for new keywords and you’re showing up more on the search engines, then traffic should increase. That’s a natural given SEO metric number two.

The third one is your actual rankings. This is where the person that came up to you and said, “Why aren’t we ranking for X keyword?” This is where their concerns actually play in, but it’s not my first metric. It’s my third metric. All right. I look at that to say, if our traffic is increasing, the second metric, what terms are driving that traffic increase? Are we increasing rankings for product A, which has high profit or product C, which we haven’t sold in years? That is what get in traffic, but the wrong kind of traffic. We need to look at our keywords in order to identify if we’re really going after the audience, what the audience wants and what we can provide or if there’s a mismatch there. That’s where the individual keyword rankings come in.

The other metric that also matters, and sometimes I actually put this above the individual keyword rankings, is your site health. I mentioned the audit when I talked about the MAGNET method. It’s not a small thing for your site to be functionally strong, to be technically strong. The fact that your website has broken links or takes a long time to load or has a poor mobile experience, these are all the things that, we, humans experience and causes us to have a bad experience enough that we are willing to hit our back button and go back to the search engine and choose the second listing because the first listing, which was us, was a terrible experience. These user experience issues affect people. When the search engine see that pogo stick in behavior, where somebody go clicks and comes back, clicks and comes back, over time, they use their smart algorithms to determine that your website doesn’t deserve that number one position.

Your site health is a critical metric that we look at and it’s always critical. That’s why, when I mentioned the MAGNET method, I said, we set your baseline. We get them the tools in place and then we quickly go to audit and we look at the technical issues because sometimes what happens is, your site actually doesn’t have a relevance problem. It actually doesn’t have a problem with links. Just it’s got such bad technical issues that once you fix those, you see your whole website improve in traffic, in rankings and business impact just because you fixed your site health issues. Those are the metrics I measure. I measure business impact of search traffic. I measure overall percentage of search traffic as it relates to overall traffic. I measure your website health. I’m going to go ahead and put rankings as the last one because that’s important, but really, those first three are the key and then your rankings for individual keywords are also important.

AW:

I can’t help, but think there have to be others like myself right now that are thinking, can we just bring Mary to every one of our metrics meetings from now on? This would be fantastic. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Well done. Really good.

Speaker 3:

Are you done with leads and getting lost in the funnel? So are we, but there’s so often a gap between attracting leads and closing deals, especially if you have a long sales cycle. We found the solution, combine marketing and sales into one department, our content development, digital strategists and prospecting experts working as an integrated extension of your team. Let’s work together to actually close the gap between hello and yes to position your sales team, to focus on what they do best, closing more deals. Ready to learn more? Go to salesamp.com to start this conversation.

AW:

I’m going to shift and go back a few years. You did a presentation at women in analytics that was called, Change Your View on Analytics: Think Success Planning. I found it, still, to be incredibly relevant. You spoke about a marketing success plan you came up with. You called it the one sheet marketing measurement plan that CFOs love. You had me there. I’m like, if CFOs love this, I want to know what Mary is talking about. You share what makes this a critical part of the defining success and what is that one sheet marketing measurement plan that CFOs love?

MO:

All right. Let me tell you something about me, all right? I don’t like operating in the gray. I don’t like gray areas, okay? I think that has served me well over the course of my life. My siblings, there are five of us and all four call me for the most… they call me for any life decision. They’re like, “We know you’re going to give us the black and white.” Because I can’t operate in the gray. This applies because this, I think, is what drives me to analytics and to data and to this curiosity, because I like to distill the fluff. I just want to know. Is it a yes or is it a no? I just need to know, are we meeting the goal or are we not? I don’t like beating around the bush. I think it’s a cultural thing too, having come from a culture that’s pretty direct. I just struggle with this gray stuff and this beating around the bush.

This whole idea of having a measurement plan was born out of that. I realized when I started doing more analytics oriented work that people were coming up with whatever measurement felt good. It’s like, if I’m doing this type of marketing, then I’m going to measure impressions because that’s the biggest number, but if I’m doing this type of marketing, then I’m going to measure open rates because that’s the biggest number. All this stuff is all over the place and I could not deal with it. My brain couldn’t handle it. My brain said, “Listen, I need everybody to agree on what the metrics are.” This idea of having a one page measurement plan is really about starting off with the business goals.

Again, with the impact goals, right? What does the business exist to do? What is the impact we’re looking to create? What are the metrics that the business, if the CFO was in this room, if the CFO crashed one of our marketing meetings and they came out and they said, “Listen, marketing, this is what we need. What would matter to them?” They wouldn’t care about impressions. They would care about some higher order organizational goal, whether it was revenue or attrition or something. That’s where we’ve got to start, what matters to the business. At the very top of any marketing sales oriented campaign that you’re going to run, you need to start with, what is the business trying to do to be viable? What do we have to do in order to maintain our impact in this world? Because if we don’t meet these things, we literally will go out of existence or we won’t reach enough people. I promise you won’t say impressions. I promise you won’t say website traffic. I promise you won’t say any of those other things, but that’s where you’ve got to start.

Once you identify what these blocks are that the organization is looking to achieve, you’ll inevitably realize that some of them are within the realm of marketing’s responsibility. Some of them just aren’t. For example, developing a new product that adheres to a new audience, that’s an R&D problem maybe. Maybe it’s part marketing, but part, really, the research and development team. You might even find some things that really deal more with customer service and maybe don’t touch marketing and sales as much, but it’s okay. The job of marketers and sales people is, then to say, well, which of these goals that the business has can marketing and sales influence? What does our influence look like? What are our metrics toward influencing that goal?

If the business says, wants to grow market share or wants to enter a new market, whatever those goals are, high order goals or wants to get more donations, what can we do? Well, marketing can, what, increase probably awareness of the brand within those markets? What else can we do? We can reach customers that are currently with our competitors. Maybe we can do outreach to them and again, build awareness and maybe consideration, right? What else can we do? Trying to make sure that we are really having critical conversations about what we can do for each of those business goals that are clearly within the realm of a marketing or salesperson’s job. Then we can put metrics to those.

Very often, what happens when you’re doing these exercises, you end up finding yourself doing the thing you did in school when you learned about marketing or maybe you weren’t in school, but you took a course or you heard somebody talk about the funnel. You see yourself doing, okay, what is our acquisition strategy, our awareness strategy? What is our consideration strategy? What is our lower funnel conversion strategy? You kind of find yourself playing in that, in that funnel mindset because you see, “Okay, we can do awareness metrics. We can do consideration or interest bearing metrics. We can also do conversion metrics. We can do evangelistic metrics too down the funnel with folks that actually convert.” You find yourself figuring out which of those aspects of the marketer’s job apply most to each of those business goals. Do we have an awareness problem, a consideration problem, a conversion problem. You say, “Okay, marketing could help with the conversion problem for goal one, but with goal two, really, it’s an awareness problem. We can help with that, right?

Then you give yourself metrics. You say, “Okay, to measure awareness for goal one, how do we measure awareness?” This is where we can get caught in. Well, awareness, well, how many people see our message? That’s impressions or that’s traffic or that’s whatever, but I always advised my marketing friends and my people who deal with data that there are absolutes when it comes to metrics. It’s not what you feel or what you think. There are books written on marketing metrics that tell you what the metrics are that you can use in the field of marketing. It’s not this free for all. I love a book called, Marketing Metrics. I’ll have to think of the author’s name in the edit. I love several books about marketing metrics that really get at the core of anytime you’re measuring awareness, here are a dozen awareness metrics you should consider. Measuring consideration, here are two dozen metrics you can consider.

It’s the job of the marketer to then say, “Okay, if I’m measuring awareness and I’m looking at the list of options for metrics I could use for awareness, I know I could go this way or that way, but based on the tactics I’m going to deploy, whether it’s going to be an email campaign or it’s going to be social media or it’s going to be what have you, there are literal books that will tell you what the right metric is or the channel that you’re using to measure.” To take a lot of that emotional guess work out of it, right? If your campaign is mostly email-based, because you thought that it was a consideration opportunity to help the organization meet the goal, then maybe you are inclined to measure how many people you acquire to join your email list, but if you were more conversion oriented, then maybe you would look at how many people who see your emails actually go to the landing page and convert. Same channel, different metrics.

Right now, you’re now at three levels in business goals, marketing goals, marketing metrics. Now, it gets easy, I think. Now, the question is, how are you going to measure that? What tools? What do you have to tag? Do you have to tag that button? Do you have to tag that phone number? What do you have to do on the website in order for the metrics to be reportable? This is where the plan would really pull in all of those technical folks that are great with tagging elements and really getting into the weeds and saying, “We have to have HubSpot to do this” or “We have to have Pardot do this” or “We have to have any other set of tools.” Salesforce needs to be integrated to do this. You get the technical pieces in to say, “To measure that, this data gets pulled from this, so therefore, we need to make our website tagged this way or that way.”

It really allowed the conversation to happen. It flowed from the top with the senior most concerns and senior most people and got to the technical folks that had to do the execution and also allowed room in the plan for you to say, “This can’t be done because we don’t have a CRM in place.” We know we have to measure this metric. We’d love to, because it’s the absolute metric to measure for this that we’re doing, but we don’t have any tool to do this so even in the plan, there were places where you’d say, “Can’t do it. Would love to, but for now, we’re just going to just handwrite these in or just throw an Excel sheet together.” It opened leadership’s eyes because this plan was very, very transparent because it was born out of discussions and not somebody sitting down and filling out a form. It was, let’s have a meeting with the CFO and the leadership and talk about the business goals. Now, let’s have a meeting with the marketing team and talk about what aspects they think they can own. Now let’s talk to technical folks.

By the time the plan was complete, everybody was bought in. It was like, “We can’t measure that? Okay. Okay, so that means we’re going to launch and we won’t have that.” It just got everybody aware of where the investments needed to be from a measurement perspective on an ongoing basis. It was just the biggest eye opener, the biggest conversation starter, but most importantly, it was the biggest measurement plan to ensure that there was success for any campaign that the organization was running because everybody got to be invested.

AW:

So smart on so many fronts. Getting everyone at the table, getting everyone bought in, getting everyone to see the gaps, just brilliant. You used a term that I read about that caught my attention as I owned an agency for 21 years called, North Star. You mentioned the North Star metrics. What are those?

MO:

North Star metrics are this… it can feel very hard to wrap your mind around, but these are the ultimate goals of the business is, it’s looking toward. This is what keeps us viable, what keeps us making an impact on the world. That’s all it is. What matters most to the organization, and there’s more than one. There can be more than one. If you’re a nonprofit, perhaps, it’s getting as many donors as possible, but I would push you to say, so that what? So that you can do what? Okay, so that we can make more money? Okay. So what? So we can fund more programs? So what? So we can leave the world better than we thought. Okay. Good. How do you know you’ve left the world better than you thought? Let’s put a metric on that.

Your North Star metric is identifying your reason for being and then saying what’s the best way, the most unapologetic way that we can actually know that we have met that goal. That’s what I call a North Star metric. I think that’s what most folks in the analytics world would agree as a North Star metric. It’s the thing that we’re all driving toward, but it better have a measurable metric or element to it. Not just what we want to do. It’s how you know it worked. You need the metric as well.

AW:

Again, really, really good and crystal clear. As we’re coming to an end, you just have so much depth of experience and knowledge. I want to ask you, is there anything we didn’t talk about today that you think would be important to speak about on this episode?

MO:

I think, oftentimes, we marketers, we sales professionals, we people who deal with converting strangers into paying customers who actually value our services, we find ourselves settling for some of these numbers that we’ve just become okay with. One of my biggest holdups is when we say, “Our website has a 5% conversion rate or 2% conversion rate or even a 10% conversion rate.” I like to take those things and invert them and say, “So that tells me 90% of people that came to our site or engaged with us or that we made a phone call to did not convert at all at any level. They just left?” That, to me, I think is one of the biggest issues that we have settled for. We’ve settled for low conversion rates. We’ve settled for so, so numbers. I think it goes back to the fact that we need to be more embracing of the fact that not everybody is going to be ready to convert at the highest level.

Not everybody is going to be what I call our fast laners, right? They’re ready to buy with money in hand. Give me that thing. That’s where you get your 2%, your 3%, your five, 10%. Sure, but we have to do a harder job of converting people who are in the slow lane. These are folks that are aware of their problems. Maybe they’re not convinced that they should buy your product, but what can you offer these people who are in that stage? Because believe me, there are a lot more of those people than there are people that are ready to buy. Think of a simple example. This is not going to apply to a lot of us, but I think it applies in our personal lives, right? Let’s say, you want to order pizza tonight for dinner and you know where you want to go. You want to order pizza from X pizza, pizza by Mary because she’s down the street and she’s great.

You know you’re in the fast lane. You’re searching for Mary, X Mary pizza and you know that’s what you want, all right? We want those kinds of customers all the time, but only 2% of people come into our site are going to be those people. We forget that there are people out there that are searching for what to make for dinner tonight. What to order for dinner tonight, homemade pizza recipes, gluten free pizza options. There are mountains more of these people than there ever will be of people searching for X Mary pizza. How could we meet those people where they are? Now, take that and apply to your business because we’re not talking pizza with your business probably. Your business probably solves pretty complex problems. What are those problems that people have? Like I said, people know their problems.

We are trying to sell them a solution, an ultimate solution, but what are those intermediary solutions we could offer as well? I’m not asking any of us to go create brand new products. I’m asking us to create digital assets. Perhaps, it’s a checklist. These are the top 10 things you should look for before you hire your next corporate lawyer. Perhaps, these are the top 15 things you should consider before you go and buy widget X. Perhaps, it’s your comparison of this product versus that product because that’s where the person is. You are really thinking through, what are the questions people have before they are fast laners and creating assets along the way? Whether it’s a webinar, a checklist, like I just said. It could be a white paper. It could be all these other things.

Those should be just as important and having a nurture stream behind those, so that the folks that do go ahead and give you their email address in order to get that asset from you, having a way to nurture those people into a customer, paying more attention to that multitude of people than 90% and saying, “Here’s what we’re going to offer them. If they download that, here’s the follow up that they get first. Here’s the second follow up they get. If they don’t buy, then here’s the segment that we put them in next. Here’s the new nurture stream.” Really thinking through that, I think, is lost on some of us because we just want to get the conversion on the first visit, and that just doesn’t happen. That’s why I have such a passion for CRO, conversion rate optimization. It’s really all about really looking at audience behaviors and not just looking at what happened, which is what the tools like the analytics tools will tell you all day, “What happened?” It tells you how it happened.

These CRO tools tell you, well before you got 100 people on that page, which is what a tool like Google analytics will tell you, I got 100 people that visited X page or 100 people that downloaded X thing, how did that happen? You can watch these recordings of people’s behaviors on your website through a CRO tool and really see their frustrations as they clicked and reclicked and came back and went back and left and came. You can see what’s going on. You can also see some of the heat maps, where they dropped off or you thought the big button was going to get the clicks, but really, the little button that just said, “Talk to a salesperson today.” That’s what got clicked on. It wasn’t even a button. It was just text, but both led it on the same page.

In analytics, you’d see, I got 100 people that did this action, but you won’t know how it happened. A large part of my career now is really focused on CRO, what I call user experience analytics, conversion rate optimization, really understanding the behaviors of people by watching the behaviors in a GDPR compliant way, in a CCPA compliant way as well and just really looking at anonymous behaviors on your site and looking to understand deeper. Do you have visibility problems with people seeing elements on your site or do you have action problems with people seeing the things but not taking the action because they’re turned off by something else? Using those to develop other conversion touchpoints for audiences so you can get more people to see the value and the impact that you provide and that you could provide to them, if only they would go ahead and engage with you.

AW:

Brilliant. Again, just broken down in a way, Mary, that just makes so much sense. I love those moments when you’re just like, yes, exactly what Mary said is exactly it. Thank you. Our hope from Hello to Yes final question, what has you stumped today and who, what and where are you going for answers?

MO:

Oh my gosh. That is a tough one. What has me stumped today? Wow. This is a very interesting question. I’m going to have to get a little emotional with this one because what has me stumped today is the same thing that had me stumped at the beginning of my career, which is just the lack of diversity in the field of marketing, especially digital marketing that we have today. It’s a big part of why I’m a professor. I don’t have to teach young people, but I want to teach young people. I want them to see me. I want them to know that you can do this woman. You can do this black person. You can do this immigrant. You can do this person of color. I live for that. I think that’s just so critical.

Every time I encounter people who have been struck by someone telling them you can’t because of what you look like or where you came from, that drives me even more. I’m stumped by the amount of, still, closed doors that exist in this field. At the same time, I am encouraged by the number of people that continue to open doors for other people. I’m not talking about myself. I’m talking about the people all around us. I’m sure some of you might even be thinking about people in your life who felt so distant, so far away, but once you have a conversation with them, you realize, you could bring them in. They are making influences in their lives and in their ways as well. They’re not as big as they look like on the stage. They are actually humans just like us. These people are out there reaching people in their own way as well.

I’m really encouraged by the amount of people who have opened up to this world of acknowledging that there is not equity in this field and are willing to put their neck out to make it a possibility for everyone and to play a true role in making an impact in diversifying this field. I’m most stumped and encouraged by the lack of diversity, but also, the promise that there will be more diversity in the years to come. I’m glad to just play a small role in it.

AW:

Well, I think one of the things I would say to you is, I remember reading that about you as your passion to really overcome this lack of diversity in the world of marketing and analytics, but Mary, you’re an inspiration because you don’t just write about it. You’re doing something about it. I think that’s the part for us all to understand as we live in a world where we all can have our heart broken by things, but we have choices, especially those of us in marketing of how to reach people and teach people. As I close and thank you so much for joining us today, I also want to ask you, where can our listeners find you, follow you, connect with you as they may have the same heart’s desire as how do we get more diversity into this space? How can people reach you and find you, Mary?

MO:

Well, I am always accessible. You can find me on my website, gurubound.com, GuruBound. It’s the business that I’ve created to just get more and more people to be gurus in this field of marketing. I’m helping you become a guru. GuruBound, don’t forget it. It’s unforgettable. Gurubound.com. Go there. Connect with me there. If you happen to be a Twitter person or a LinkedIn person, on LinkedIn, you can find me Mary Owusu. I’m easy to find. On Twitter, I am @AnalyticsMary.

AW:

Fabulous. On behalf of all of us from Hello to Yes, Mary, thank you, again, for joining us today.

MO:

It was my pleasure. This was fun.

AW:

Wouldn’t you just love to bring Mary to all your metrics meetings? Creating a success plan before ever laying out an SEO strategy is brilliant. If you’re looking to get your leadership to invest in SEO and see the value in digital marketing, take Mary’s advice and start with business impact. You’re welcome. I won’t forget her MAGNET method, a six-step framework on how to approach SEO and make it easy for anyone to do, but mostly, listening to Mary’s passion for creating diversity within the digital marketing space and then actually taking action to do so was inspiring. You must follow Mary on LinkedIn, Twitter and her website, gurubound.com, G-U-R-U bound.com to continue learning and growing from the best in the industry. That’s a wrap. Remember in this fast paced world of marketing and sales, we are better together. Thanks for joining us today from Hello to Yes. Hope you’ll join us again soon. Until next time. Have a good one.

Show More +

Subscribe to Our Podcast

Join us as we talk successes, failures, and where top sales and marketing professionals see the industry going next.

Listen Now