Why are you doing search engine optimization (SEO) or your search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns? To increase traffic? To increase the number of leads? Yes, all true, but the answer should really be that you want to increase sales. And, if you are talking about increasing sales, you have to seriously think about the integration of your SEO and SEM initiatives into a seamless sales process.
The following is a client case study that demonstrate how effective an integrated SEO/Sales process can be:
A large orthopaedic practice with 7 locations across 2 states
The company wanted to increase the number of new patients coming from the web. They had done SEM for over three years and had a good ROI. However, they didn’t have an SEO strategy and their business development team was not part of any other online related marketing activities.
Instead of just increasing the budget for SEM or SEO, the company decided to take a more strategic approach:
- The first step was focused on defining the top 5 service areas the practice wanted to sell, which included the involvement of their accounting and finance departments.
- Based on the first step conclusions, the team focused in step 2 on utilizing Google Analytics, Google AdWords statistics and a detailed analysis of the patient catch basin.* The catch basin analysis findings were compared with the Google analytics findings and an overall SEO/SEM strategy including a spending plan was developed.
- Next, the business development team and practice operations team developed a strategy for the offline business development, referral development, geographic target plan and identified operational weaknesses.
- Step 4 was a crucial step in implementing a completely seamless process. The company implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System. The use of a system for CRM had numerous reasons:
- All incoming online inquiries and leads from new patients were automatically forwarded into the CRM system. The company tracked them in the system, and with some basic workflow automation, the processing of new patient inquiries were handled more effectively, quicker, with close to zero mistakes, and with the same reliability regardless of vacation time and staff turnover.
- For the referral marketing, it allowed the practice executives to manage the business developers and their activities.
- The business development team received regular update reports from the SEO/SEM team with findings as to what geographic areas produce more patient interest. The business development team incorporated this information in their ongoing referral marketing activities.
- The system was used to track and measure the entire “sales” pipeline and make adjustments. It allowed the practice to determine which channels (SEM, SEO, referral marketing, advertisement etc.) created how many leads and which channels had the best conversion rate. That last point is ultimately the most important one. If you don’t convert, your SEO/SEM lead generation activities mean nothing.
- Step 5 included a comprehensive training program for the employees. Rather then just training a few employees only on their respective part of the process, almost the entire company (including the doctors) was trained on the new process. In addition, those staff members that were directly impacted were trained on the details of the new processes.
- The last step was the implementation of a process that allowed the company to continuously measure, monitor and adjust based on the ongoing reports, findings and analytics. A monthly meeting was established that included the business development team, operations, the practice management and the SEO/SEM team.
The practice grew by double digits in the first year after the implementation of the newly integrated SEO/SEM sales process and feels it has the potential to grow more based on the business intelligence it gains and the ability to react agilely to changing market circumstances.
Do not look at SEO or SEM as a stand-alone lead generation process. Understand how it has to be integrated into your ongoing business growth activities. Look at SEO and SEM as an extension of your sales and conversion process and implement processes that ensure the continuous measurement and improvement of the new patient, referral base and overall sales process. If you do so, you are most likely way ahead of your competition.