Brad Mattick is VP, Marketing at SEO technology company BrightEdge.
We've been asking Brad about the SEO technology market, the evolution of search, and the role of the agency...
What do you think is driving growth in the SEO enterprise technology market?
The biggest single driver for growth is the ability to measure the current business impact of SEO and forecast future returns. The market has transitioned from a technology and feature conversation to an ROI conversation.
One of the early innovations at BrightEdge was to integrate with site analytics technology (such as SiteCatalyst, Webtrends, Google Analytics ) to track and measure the economic value of SEO-driven sales.
We then built in the ability to forecast the value of potential SEO campaigns. This was the essential next step: once brands could measure current returns and justify further investment, they wanted to know where to invest next.
Both of these platform capabilities were built based on our experience at salesforce.com, where we became very familiar with revenue tracking, pipeline management and forecasting. The SEO dialogue is transitioning to the language of the CMO.
Within client businesses, is there a specific person (e.g. job role) you are most typically selling to or engaging with?
Absolutely. In fact there are three people that we engage with at every customer on a regular basis.
First is the SEO practitioner. At many of our customers this is a group of people who are doing the work of SEO every day. With these professionals we are sharing best practices, tips for getting the most out of BrightEdge S3, and talking about search algorithm changes.
The second person is the SEO manager/director, who often drives other channels such as paid search. This is the person who leads the team activity to drive the highest return and economic value from organic search. We engage regularly to advise and ensure the customer is achieving the business goals that they set out to achieve.
The third person is the head of digital marketing/CMO. This is the executive sponsor who is focused on top line metrics for their company. We engage with these executives regularly to review performance, market trends and discuss roadmap for their organization.
How do you help companies make the business case for this type of technology? What challenges are they typically trying to overcome?
One of the first things we do when we engage with a potential customer is understand their business goals. This can vary widely, for example in retail it may be about revenue from a particular product category, in hospitality it may be driving bookings for a hotel property, and in technology it may be out-ranking a specific competitor as part of a product launch.
Our entire pre-sales process is tailored to the needs of the customer, including building a business case formally if required. With over 2,500 brands using BrightEdge we have evolved our and proven our model to the point that many customers use it as the basis of their business case internally.
In addition, BrightEdge has published case studies proving the benefits of treating organic search as a channel and managing SEO to business metrics.
Do you see this type of platform eventually being swallowed up by broader digital marketing platforms?
At BrightEdge we are focused on making each and every customer successful and achieving their digital marketing goals. That is the foundation of our business and is how we are building our brand and developing the market.
If more companies are managing SEO in-house, what is the role of the agency?
The agency model continues to add value to customers. For example Microsoft uses BrightEdge, and their agency also uses us. The best analogy I can offer is if you have a direct sales and a channel sales team, they both use the same CRM system.
We are very agency friendly in our business, as major market segments (e.g. auto) rely on agencies. Eight of the top 10 digital agencies use BrightEdge today to manage their clients’ SEO efforts, and that provides tremendous value for clients.
How is the evolution of SEO impacting on growth? Is SEO becoming less technical and more about content marketing?
SEO is becoming less technical and more focused on business results! Content is the focus of the latest algorithm updates from search engines, and that is good for established brands that typically have great content to share.
At BrightEdge we see a positive impact in the business results our customers are seeking with the focus on content marketing, but that is a technique change rather than a market shift.
What is the relationship between SEO enterprise tech and social marketing (and related technology such as social media management platforms)?
These two channels are directly linked, and the impact can be measured.
This clear correlation has driven our company and product strategy, today we are a Preferred Marketing Developer Partner with Facebook and we have developed technology with them to help marketers measure and manage the impact of social on search and vice versa. We published a whitepaper with Facebook that illustrates best practices for search and social.
In addition we have done research and published case studies with Twitter, showing the impact of social signals on both search performance and on site traffic.
What should buyers be looking out for when they are assessing you and other vendors in this space?
First off, companies should be very careful to assess the companies they are evaluating as partners. Company leadership, partnerships, financials and track record are a must when evaluating any technology provider.
Be sure to validate statements with reference checks- from major brands. Some other players in this market have seen significant instability and executive attrition as the market has grown and brands should be aware of that.
Secondly, companies should look for a company that has great technology that is innovating ahead of the market. Search algorithms change over 500 times a year and that can affect brands' business performance.
Buyers should select a partner who keeps them ahead of the changes in search and has a proven and public track record of innovation and leading partnerships. At BrightEdge we have driven the pace of innovation in SEO, see http://www.brightedge.com/seo-innovation.
Third, companies should select a provider who is committed to their success. Be sure to evaluate the resumes and experience of the post-sales staff to be assigned, and dig deeply into the scale and capabilities of this team.