In the age of the internet, where consumers communicate directly with companies through social media and reviews can determine if someone buys your product or solution, the customer experience is more important than ever. In fact, a report from Walker shows that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Think about that for a second – being the best at what you do is no longer enough. Customers want the whole experience.
What is the customer experience?
For businesses, it’s important to note that customer experience isn’t just customer support. Customer experience encompasses all the interactions a person has with your business. From visiting your website to speaking to sales, reading online reviews or downloading a case study, each touchpoint in the buyer journey is a part of the experience.
So how do we create the best experience for our customers? While there is no one answer, there are a few things that must occur – the customer experience must be consistent across channels, personalized, meet expectations, and most importantly, it must be positive.
Easy enough, right?
The challenge with creating the perfect experience is that very rarely are businesses unified. Different departments have different goals, not all customers have the same expectations, and to be completely frank, not all companies have caught up to the technology available.
The good news is that while we may not be able to do everything at once, we can tackle these things one step at a time, starting with SEO.
SEO and the Customer Experience
While the topic isn’t new, the issue lies in the fact most people don’t necessarily associate SEO to customer experience. They associate SEO with Google and the singular goal of helping customers find us on the web.
Great! But what happens when they do?
- Do they see your brand?
- Do they see a positive message?
- Do they see the right message?
- Does the landing page match their search intent?
- Are they given enough information?
- Can they access the information quickly?
These are just some of the things we need to consider and some of the ways SEO can help improve the overall B2B customer experience. Let’s jump in.
One of the biggest challenges in search is understanding not only what B2B buyers are using to search but what they are looking for when they do.
Take for example the term “marketing automation.” If you’re a marketing automation solution, of course you want to rank for this term, but let’s be real, the person searching marketing automation likely isn’t the person ready to buy. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the search results show:
This is a very informational query and if you want to be here, you need to make sure that you are giving users that informational content. They don’t want your product brochure.
As an SEO agency, we are constantly working to show clients and potential clients the importance of search intent in keyword selection. We need to first understand what people actually want for our target queries and then present them with the right type of content.
By giving customers the content they want and expect, you can create a better experience for them.
Brand Messaging & Consistency
In marketing, things can move quickly. Messaging can change, logos can change, websites can definitely change, and unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, all departments may not be on the change train.
The problem is customers want a consistent experience. According to the Salesforce 2016 State of the Connected Customer Report, 75 percent consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage (e.g., website, social media, mobile, in person).
While the SEO team can’t necessarily ensure your emails are personalized and match the messaging the consumer already saw, they can help with what’s on the site and what’s on the web.
One of the easiest things to do is ensure your brand is consistent across your title tags. Why? Because title tags are what show up in search results.
Start by ensuring all title tags end with your brand (with the exception of the home page in some cases). This can usually be done in the template or through plugins like Yoast.
Brand Mention Audit
When we begin an SEO program, we do what I like to call a brand mention audit. Essentially, we search for your brand and fix inconsistencies.
- Is the logo updated?
- Is the URL correct?
- Is there a URL?
- Is the site using the right tagline?
The goal is that when someone finds your brand, whether on your own site or on a third-party site, it’s the same.
According to the BrightLocal Customer Review Strategy, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and, if you’ve spent any time of the web recently, you know that review sites are more prominent than ever, especially in the software space. Companies like Capterra, G2Crowd, and ProductHunt are making a push, and at least when it comes to having a presence in search results, they are currently succeeding.
In line with the brand mention audit, we evaluate review sites and provide clients with next steps. This includes but is not limited to:
- Adding a profile
- Gaining reviews
- Responding to existing reviews
- Utilizing positive reviews
While no business can ensure that everything said about them is positive, they can ensure they have a presence on these sites.
PPC & SEO Alignment
At a conference a few years ago, one of the speakers called out Geico. They noted that while the Geico TV ads were hilarious and familiar, the PPC and organic results didn’t reflect those same values at all. Why wouldn’t the messages align?
We see the same thing when looking at SEO and PPC strategies. While the SEO team might be using one message, the PPC team might be using another.
Ensure your teams are working together to create cohesive and complementary messages in search results.
If you’ve worked with KoMarketing, you know the first thing we do for any project is a technical audit. We scour the site to ensure it’s clean, easy for search engines to navigate, and is performing at optimal capacity.
Because not only is site performance important to the search engines, it’s extremely important to users:
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. – KISSMetrics
- A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. –KISSMetrics
- 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. – Animoto
An SEO team can help ensure your site is faster, errors are adjusted, and when a consumer lands on your site, they aren’t going to leave due to a bad experience.
While there are a number of other ways B2B organizations can create a better customer experience through SEO, these are a few areas to start with.
Think about how you can utilize your SEO team to ensure your site performance is top notch, your brand is consistent in search results, and you are creating content in line with customer expectations.
Each of these items may be small in and of themselves but together can create that consistent, positive experience our customers deserve and expect.