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Episode Overview: Successfully executing marketing campaigns that target your total addressable market requires understanding the “Who,” factor, namely the companies that comprise it. Join host Ben as he speaks with Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, about how to identify specific companies of your TAM using firmographic data.
- Firmographic data is an essential aspect of TAM and provides insights into a company’s structure and needs.
- Firmographic data can consist of knowing a company’s revenue, employee size, headcount, technologies they use, etc.
- Standing in the shoes of the customer and experiencing what they see and how they view content can help SEOs create content that directly addresses consumer needs.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
Ben: Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. Today we’re going to discuss thinking about SEO strategy from a general marketing strategy perspective. Joining us today is Garrett Mehrguth, who is the CEO of Directive Consulting, which is a B2B and enterprise search marketing agency that companies trust to scale their business. Directive supports customers with SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media driven by powerful analytics and a dedicated team of specialists. Yesterday Garrett and I talked about how to determine your totally addressable market for an SEO campaign, and today we’re going to talk about mastering the who with those SEO campaigns. Okay, on with the show. Here’s the second part of my conversation with Garrett Mehrguth, founder of Directive Consulting.
Ben: Garrett, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
Garrett: Thanks Ben. Glad to be here.
Ben: Great to have you back on the show. Yesterday we talked about setting up a marketing campaign, first by understanding what you’re trying to accomplish. And my takeaway from that conversation was, the first thing you need to figure out is what your totally addressable market is. How many people are you trying to reach with a marketing campaign? And that’s important for SEOs, because a lot of the times we just think about, “Well here’s how much traffic we can generate,” and not necessarily thinking about whether it’s targeted or not. When you start to think about evaluating the traffic that you are generating to figure out whether you’re reaching people that are in or outside of your addressable market. How do you think about evaluating who is actually coming to your web properties through SEO?
Garrett: Oh, that’s a great question Ben. Yeah, I think ego, pride, all the things that SEO just feeds, right? If you go and you do your keyword research and you’re like, “Oh man, how many people are searching that.” And unless you offer a low friction, self onboarding, high volume type product … So at Directive we have a product called Institute. I want to talk about this because I think it’s really important. So we have a product at Directive, a SAS product. We want to kind of practice what we preach, so we have our own SAS product that let’s us I think frankly be better consultants to our SAS clients, because we’ve got skin in the game. And that is a $39 a month product. What that means is that essentially we can market to everyone. See, we had to do this because our retainer fee is more expensive, obviously.
Garrett: Our minimums are $7,000 a month to do SEO or PPC for somebody. So you have high minimums on your retainer, so you really don’t have a huge market, but then you’re still driving traffic like we were talking about. So how do you monetize that traffic if the majority of the people visiting your site don’t fit? So we offered a $39 a month product. And the reason that’s so important is we have two different strategies for content between our services blog and our Institute blog, and we chose to separate and build two separate blogs on the same domain so that we could have two separate categories.
Ben: Okay, so you’ve got this SAS product that helps you understand who is actually being driven by your traffic. Obviously the KPIs for most SEOs are, what’s your visibility? How many impressions are you getting? Are you getting clicks? Are those clicks converting? And what we’re not thinking about is, who are the actual people and are they in your addressable market? Talk to me about some of the tactics and signals that you’re looking for to understand who are the people? What can you learn about them? Let’s talk a little bit about evaluating some of the demographic data that comes in through SEO.
Garrett: Yeah, that’s great. I mean you have some native tools like Google Analytics that allows you to do that, but you also then have really special tools like Clearbit where you can use reveal and you can start to see the accounts that are coming in. And what accounts is your website driving? I think what’s happened is a lot of us have got really married to this idea of psychographic data, individual data, but we don’t have any firmographic data. And so it’s hard to say, “Oh this is good traffic because it’s a 35 year old who lives in New Hampshire.” But you don’t know where they work, so how do you know that that was essentially a good visitor? And so layering that firmographic data is big.
Ben: Before you go on, talk to me about the difference between demographic, psychographic and firmographic data.
Garrett: Yeah, so I don’t necessarily know, demographic to me is like a overarching idea. Firmographic is essentially employee size, revenue, headcount, technologies used. This is more for at an account level. So this is company data.
Ben: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Garrett: And so then psychographic data comes through maybe income, title, age, gender, and this other kind of individual data. So you have individual data and then you have this company data, and you want to essentially blend those two so you know essentially who the people are and if they work for an organization that could theoretically pay you. So you marry those two, and now you have a really good understanding of your audience. And that’s kind of the way I’ve always done about it, is first map out how many accounts exist and then figure out essentially, within the function you’re targeting, engineering, accounting, sales, marketing, finance, whatever that is, how many people exist in that function, that department at those accounts? And now you have your total addressable market.
Garrett: So now when you get into tactics and strategy, this is how it differs, right? So Institute is our SAS product. It teaches you how to do SEO and PPC. It’s $39 a month. Self onboarding, free trial. We have this kind of low friction product. So in March where do we 40 pieces of content for our blog for the Institute, okay? Really great website. Every lesson has a page so we can rank at the bottom of the funnel. So our content strategy for the institute is we’re creating five pieces of content that have essentially the five biggest questions people have around all 40 of our lessons. And so that gets us to essentially our total amount of content we want. We essentially want five pieces of content, all internally linking to one of our 40 lessons. And we got to do that for all 40, okay? So that’s our content strategy for Institute.
Garrett: Simultaneously we have a completely different content strategy. We then have a completely different audience for services. See services needs to be about why our approach to SEO is better than other agencies. Why how we think is better, the proof behind it, the data, while our Institute, it needs to be about how to do link building, how to think about what tools you need for link building, the best resources for link building. And so that’s practitioner how to content, and then we have a consultative approach, theory driven content for our services. You see what I’m saying? That’s why the who matters.
Ben: I understand the idea that you have two different products. You’re targeting two different user bases. You have two different addressable markets. When you’re launching an SEO campaign, how you figure out what your content is, you’re trying to optimize that content for specific keywords. How often are you going back and saying, “Okay, here’s the traffic that were driven from those campaigns.” How are you looking back at your SEO campaigns trying to figure out what traffic came from it and evaluating whether the right traffic is actually coming through?
Garrett: No, no, no. So I go back a step and I do something that none of us do and I never did well enough now. And then it’s something I really try to do now. I read the content first and I ask myself, is it good enough that if my audience read this they would be inspired to take some type of action? Whether it’s a low friction action like joining our newsletter or a high friction action like getting a proposal. And as simple as that sounds, it’s like the most critical piece. The SEOs, we focus so much on ranking for things that frankly a lot of times we haven’t even read through the eyes of our customer to know if it could work. So I want to start there, because I think it’s so critical. If all the SEOs out here never looked at another keyword research tool again and simply interviewed their customers and then wrote content that solved their pain, and that was good enough that if their audience read it they’d want to work with them, they’d make a billion dollars.
Ben: A billion dollars is a lot of money. I think the takeaway here is there’s a piece that SEOs are missing when they’re thinking about the effectiveness of their campaigns. You can understand, “Hey, there’s 10,000 people in my addressable market. I’m driving 50,000 impressions and I’m getting 10,000 sessions. I must be reaching the whole addressable market.” If you don’t understand who is actually driving those sessions, you don’t really have a percentage of what percentage of the market you’re reaching. And to me the important thing is, if you take your firmographic data, and your ethnographic data, let’s group that and call it demographic data together. You take that demographic data and you’re saying, “I’m reaching 10,000 men aged 35 to 46 who work at these type of firms with these pieces of technology installed,” you have a better understanding of whether those campaigns are actually working.
Ben: You could really filter out whether that traffic is reaching the right people, and then you know how to adjust your strategy. When you’re looking at your demographic data, when you’re actually figuring out the who with your SEO campaigns. Talk to me about what you think of from a next step perspective. We’re reaching 8,000 out of 10,000 people that we want to reach in our totally addressable market. We’re starting to drive a nice conversion rate. Are there strategies that you run into where you can take the demographic data and help drive conversion rates?
Garrett: Yeah, I mean I don’t know if I use the demographic data so much as I start to do clustering. So what I mean by that is I’ll take these pages on my site that I know are driving my ideal customer persona, just because of the keyword, right? So what I mean by that is demand generation is a keyword that’s synonymous with SAS. If your title is like you do demand generation, you are in the SAS space. It’s not like manufacturing has people who do demand gen. It’s very like a title to that industry. So I was trying to find these cues, these triggers, right? So then what I do then is I’ll ask myself, “Cool. If someone’s searching for demand generation and I don’t have the access to a keyword research tool, I’ll put into Google demand generation and then I’ll put an underscore.” This is called the wildcard.
Garrett: And then what that’s going to do is it’s going to show me, based on Google’s actual data, what are the top searched things related to demand generation. And now I’m going to use those to create a content cluster at every stage of the funnel around the keywords that are psychographically correlated to my title. And so now that I know that and some pain I solved, right? So let’s say I have my SEO agency page, I’ve been ranking well for that. I’ll put underscore, and then I’ll understand the intent. Oh wow. Hey, a lot of people are localizing their SEO agency query. Cool. I have five locations across the US. I don’t have an SEO page that’s hyperlinked from my Austin page. So right now in Q2 me and my SEO team are building an SEO agency, Austin and PPC agency, Austin page that hyperlinks from our Austin location page because we know that essentially the search intent for what we offer is localized.
Garrett: And so essentially what I try to always do is stay in the surf and not try to get more data than I can. So what I’m trying to say is like, I don’t know if you can use, Ben, perfect demographic data unless you enrich it out of Google analytics to know that you’re reaching your audience right now. But if you’re enriching it, right? So you’re using an ABM platform, and you can see how many hits from your target accounts in Salesforce are also matching essentially cookies on your website, now you can start doing that. If you use a product like Reveal from Clearbit, now you can start doing that. So it’s kind of like, if you’re not enriching your data, you’re stuck here on a lot of the firmographics. But if you could enrich your data, now you can essentially get, at the account level, if you’re targeting the right accounts, and then you can understand the effectiveness of your content strategy.
Ben: And I think that that’s the big takeaway for SEOs, that just driving traffic is not enough, right? Understanding who that traffic is and understanding whether they’re converting will help you to continue to optimize your campaigns. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about understanding whether you have the right set of tools and technologies in our next episode. And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Garrett Mehrguth, founder of Directive Consulting. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Garrett, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is GMehrguth, that’s G-M-E-H-R-G-U-T-H or you could visit his company’s website, which is directiveconsulting.com. D-I-R-E-C-T-I-V-E consulting.com.
Ben: Just one more link in our show notes that I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions, or you can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed in addition to the last part of my conversation with Garrett Mehrguth when discussing how to determine if your search marketing tech stack works, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.