Stakeholder Communication is the Key to Search Marketing Success

When you are responsible for managing a search marketing campaign it's absolutely essential that you establish regular, effective communication with your key stakeholders.  It keeps everyone apprised of your work, shares the impact of your efforts and allows you to establish expectations. 

Identify Who's Who

The first step is to identify your key stakeholders.  These are the people who will be impacted the most by the site's performance.  The director of sales and senior leadership are almost always a safe bet as key stakeholders.  Other stakeholders can be product managers, human resource directors (who are always looking to promote job openings), or almost anyone in your company that lists items on website. 

Apprise People of Your Work

Search marketing tactics are often done behind the scenes.  Revising title tags, adjusting PPC bids, building links or analyzing keywords are tasks that when completed are almost invisible...except to those who have competed the work. 

That's why it's important to keep your stakeholders updated.  This doesn't mean that you have to let them know about every change.  Rather, establish a regular communication schedule that allows you to provide high-level updates on completed work and how you anticipate it will impact the website. 

For example, say that you tweak the content of a certain section of your website.  As part of your regular meeting, you can let your stakeholders know what content was changed and you are hoping that these changes will improve the rankings of a set of targeted keywords. 

Another important aspect of good communication is to know how well your stakeholders speak your language.  If your stakeholders aren't well versed in techno-speak, then you may want to tailor your messages that way.  For instance, instead of saying 'my goal is to get visibility on search engines,' try saying something like 'my goal is to make sure our customers can find us on Google'. 

Share the Impact of Your Work

Many times people are hesitant to share information because if the results are good, it looks like they are tooting your own horn.  If the results are bad, they may look ineffective.  Therefore, many people feel that saying nothing is the safest bet. 

I would argue that it is not.  Let's take the bad results first.

No one likes to share bad news, especially if it reflects upon their work.  However, it is important to realize two things: One, everyone will find out eventually, so it looks better if you communicate proactively.  Two, it gives you an opportunity to properly position the setback and outline what you are doing to make things better.  By being proactive and outlining a good strategy, you can build confidence with your stakeholders.

Now let's talk about sharing good news.  One method for doing it without appearing like your bragging, is to show how your work benefits others in the company.   By doing this, you are telling the stakeholder that you care as much about their success as you do your own. 

Establish Expectations

When you are in charge of a search marketing program, you will eventually be confronted with a variety of expectations.  Can our company to rank number 1 for XYZ? How can we appear higher on Google than Company X? Why doesn't our company appear when I search for XYZ product?

The first thing to realize is that these types of expectations are normal and fairly common with search marketing.  After all, we all believe that our company deserves to be seen as the best. 

When stakeholders confront you with these types of expectations, it gives you an opportunity to educate.  Provide people with an understanding of what is and isn't realistic, but more importantly, help them understand why.  For example, say one of your stakeholders expects your website to rank number 1 for world-wide sales of widgets instead of ranking 33.  You can provide the stakeholder with details about why your site isn't ranking as well as your competitor, what rank you believe is realistic for your site and how you can move forward to achieve this result. 

Another tactic to manage expectations is hold a meeting with all of your stakeholders where you discuss what they believe should be accomplished through search marketing.  This will give you a chance to not only better form your strategy, but to further educate on what is and is not realistic. 

A Team Effort

Putting together and implementing an effective search marketing strategy for your website takes a variety of people and covers many factors.  Implementing a sound communication strategy takes just as much work and dedication.  But if you invest in it, regular communication it will make your efforts that much better.  

If you would like to leave a comment sign in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Disqus account and submit your comment below: