My client is a software development company that provides software development outsourcing services for customers from the USA. During our cooperation (since 2016 with a 1.5-year break clause), the company has grown more than twice in size (from 150+ to 350+). This is the story behind my results.
Digital Marketing Focused on SEO
When I joined the company the first time there wasn’t any marketing team. I just replaced the previous specialist who served as an SEO specialist/copywriter/Google Ads manager.
When I first applied for this position, my CEO was not sure I was a great fit. Because I did not have any experience promoting IT companies and getting clients for them from English-speaking countries. The only thing he, probably, was sure about me was my high motivation to work with this company and also my readiness to start with a junior position and appropriate compensation. By the way, before this application, I had a managerial position in another company and the salary was double.
So the CEO decided to give me a chance to demonstrate myself during the probation period.
At that time the CEO was unhappy with the number of leads (no more than 10 per month), inconsistency of the number of leads (sometimes 1, sometimes 9), and their quality (it was hard to close deals).
Luckily, the CEO still believed that the SEO was worth the further investment. It just should be done the proper way.
I didn’t have any KPIs, just had the following goals:
- To grow the number of leads from the targeted regions (USA).
- To make the number of leads consistent.
- To increase the quality of leads.
Taking into account that I held my 3-months probation period during which I was required to show meaningful results, I started to discover whether there are paths to quick wins.
Digital Marketing Strategy for the First Three Months
I thought this way: If we get the most leads from Google and the CEO believes that this is a great channel, I need to try to find insights in this direction.
All available options, when you’re trying to increase the number of leads from Google, are always limited to the following:
- To increase the amount of traffic from the targeted regions.
- To increase the quality of the traffic.
- To increase the conversion rate to be sure that we’ve done all we could to convert as much available traffic as possible. The conversion rate of your website grows when more visitors during the month become your leads without increasing the amount of traffic. For example, if you had 100 visitors in January and only 1 of them sent you the request for proposal your conversion rate is 0.01%. If you are able to increase the conversion rate by just 0.09 percent, the number of your leads will increase 10x from the same amount of traffic.
The best practice is to focus on things that you have the most control over.
- Was increasing the amount of traffic the best available option? Probably not, because there is a risk of getting this traffic but not converting it and thus losing money. To eliminate this risk, we need to be sure that our conversion rates are as high as possible.
- Was increasing the quality of the traffic a better option? Probably not, because there is a risk of getting this traffic but not converting it and thus losing even more money, because the quality traffic might be very expensive. To eliminate this risk, we need to be sure that our conversion rates are as high as possible.
- The only option left was to increase the conversion rate of existing traffic. And then scaling this approach by getting more quality traffic. You can scale only what already works. Conversely, you need to focus on finding things that work or configure the things that you believe should work.
Prepare website for Search Engine Optimization
Marketing teams need someone with technical skills to help them with updating the website. In many companies, this is done by borrowing an engineer from the product team on a one-off basis. Marketing teams that include a marketing engineer are able to be more agile
To do this, assigning the task to a programmer was required.
Sounds easy but in fact, there was no dedicated programmer for that.
It’s funny: I didn’t have a developer in a software development company!
But it’s not a surprise because a healthy IT company usually doesn’t have programmers “on the bench” which can be used for inner projects. It’s not cost-effective.
Furthermore, programmers on average hate to work with non-mainstream technologies, while the website’s Content Management System (CMS) was built using the not very popular MODX. It meant that even if I could find available in-house programmers, I was required to motivate them to work with something uninteresting.
Of course, I had the option to hire a freelancer but it also was associated with three challenges:
- Additional costs;
- Additional time for managerial issues. The company didn’t have an organized workflow to find freelancer developers for tasks related to our corporate website. It should have been organized from scratch.
- Finding arguments to address the objection from the CEO of whether this step was the high priority.
I had to think strategically.
- Would it be necessary to make changes constantly within the website? Yes
- Would it be necessary to ask programmers to help me with that? Yes
- Would I get the results fast using this strategy? NO
- Could I take some extra steps to make changes fast without the help of programmers? Yes
Luckily, I had a sitebuilding experience. I knew pretty well a quite popular content management system Drupal 7 and HTML coding. The level of knowledge was enough to switch the website from MODX to Drupal 7 remaining the same design and HTML code and without involving programmers whose cost per hour was higher than mine at that time.
Using the new CMS I was able to make all major changes on my own, including such tasks as placing the webform on every page.
There were some additional business benefits of using exactly Drupal 7 compared with MODX:
- Our company had in-house Drupal developers, but didn’t have MODx developers and was not going to grow in this direction;
- It was easier and cheaper to find freelance developers who prefer to work with Dripal than with Modx.
Of course, my CEO was not very excited about this idea.
- He was not very convinced that we should start with UX;
- He believed that everybody should do their work: programmers to program, and marketers to market.
Improving Conversion Rate
What types of tasks should be done in order to increase the conversion rate?
There are two categories of tasks: content related, and UX related.
Usually, if you start to improve your conversion rate by focusing on content, it takes a significant amount of time. You need to spend much more time preparing and test hypotheses compared with time dedicated to implementing some UX-related staff following best practices.
One of the UX best-practices is reducing the time required to fill the contact form.
At that time the version of the corporate website was designed such that a visitor didn’t have an ability to leave their contact details on the same page where they read the content. The requirement was to open a new “Contact us” page. Taking into account that people are “fast and furious” browsing websites, it’s not a good idea to choose a chance to convert them as soon as possible and force them to take extra steps.
Moreover, if we don’t have a lead generation webform on each page, it’s harder to create the list of the most and the least convertible articles on the website.
So what I needed was to implement the contact form on each page of the website.