As we look forward to 2013, there’s no shortage of predictions (as always) about what’s next in the world of digital marketing, and specifically search engine optimization. While I appreciate the effort that goes into these posts, I wanted to bring a twist through a challenge that calls out a key point in a recent post from George Michie and Adam Audette - 2013 Strategic Imperative: Marketing as Applied Science. If you accept the challenge, and are successful in meeting it, I believe it will open new doors for you and your company. Most importantly, I believe it will generate new levels of success for both your marketing and business. The Challenge: In 2013, identify one silo in your company’s marketing department - then bust it. It doesn’t matter how big or small the separation is, find the opportunity and begin to create unity. 2013 is Filled with Opportunity In search marketing, we’re hurdling toward a new age at lightning speed – pushed forward at accelerating rates by the technology that dominates our field and the companies that need to continue to increase their profits. For some, the stench of death is in the air, for others, the sweet smell of opportunity has them chomping at the bit ready to go. We’re going to find out who can truly drive value through an integrated approach to digital marketing and who can't, and who understands the new layers of SEO and who doesn’t. We’re going to see if some companies can break down their silos. It’s going to be increasingly challenging to win in a single channel without help from sister channels. I believe this will be most obvious in SEO (yes, to some degree we are there, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what real integration and resulting success can look like). Our marketing needs to be cohesive, tight, powerful and triumphant. It needs to be strategic and insightful – designed to bring what a brand truly has to offer to light in ways that will cause it’s customers to pass on other opportunities in order to be involved in something more enticing. An age old problem, but one that is going to see new thought devoted to it in the SEO world as trickery continues its decline. The value proposition needs to be strong, the messaging right, and the distribution dead on. Insights will need to be gathered and the marketing machine will need to be fed and adjusted. Otherwise, it’s going to lose some parts. Again, these are age-old desires, but the pressure is going to continue to build and destroy some that cannot tackle these problems successfully. This is why we must start busting silos within our organizations that are limiting our ability to successfully tell the world what we do, why we’re great, and why they should spend time investing in us as we invest in them (by the way, telling the world is also telling Google…). In the last few years we’ve watched Google attack bad content, poor link building, and invest heavily in understanding people, who they are, and how they interact with other people, places and things, not strings. Manipulation is becoming harder and harder to do, while those who have invested in brand, legitimate content, and sought to grow their presence across multiple online channels continue being rewarded. The prize at stake isn’t small either, and losing will likely signal the death of many. Capitalizing on the Future by Smashing Silos One of the greatest challenges (and a perfect example of why integration is key) we as SEO’s face is getting our clients’ to implement recommendations. A good (agency) SEO is in a very unique position that often has them working (in larger organizations) with a point of contact that is responsible for the SEO channel, while they themselves need to connect with a variety of marketing channel owners in order to truly get their job done well. This is no easy task, and it’s been limiting enough in the past when it simply meant connecting with a development team or a social team once in awhile, let alone as the need grows to more complete integration. As the landscape changes and successful SEO begins to require cohesion between these different groups in order to produce results, this limited interaction is going to grow and a new level of strategic vision and thinking is going to be required. The faster we can start modeling how our digital marketing divisions need to think and integrate with SEO the better off we’ll be. Those that can grasp the thinking behind using content to drive inbound marketing (which includes the SEO discipline in my book) will begin to see how collaboration is a requirement to success, and true cohesion will be a competitive advantage. Imagine the insights available to those who successfully bring together PR, social, email, PPC, SEO, and other channels! Each one can feed the next, providing ever-deepening levels of data and connections that will drive data-driven strategic marketing decisions. SEO will be a cog in this machine and it will need the machine to work well in order to functional optimally. Start small and with an actionable item. Start thinking about how you can add benefit to what your sister channels are doing, and how you can begin to break down silos that exist within your business. Here’s to a cohesive 2013!
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