A lack of expert integration is the biggest oversight made when delivering search engine marketing (SEM) today.

By nature, many digital specialists are self-sufficient geeks, who enjoy being immersed in their area of expertise with little – if any – distraction. This needs to change, and I’m going to explain why.

A bit of background

I’ve worked in the SEO industry for over a decade, so the pitch of this post is very much from the view of an insider looking out at integrated roles.

I have lots of experience of this topic, however, ranging from the impact of not having the right people in place, to the direct benefits of the roles working cohesively.

I want to focus on the latter, and this post will clarify how the end result of integrated SEO, CX and UX inevitably leads to customer wins.

Defining digital roles

If you have experienced the steep learning curve of introducing collaborated working between these positions (SEO, CX, UX), you will understand why I am focusing on defining roles first.

First of all, let me clarify what each of these abbreviations means.

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization
  2. User experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. Source: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user-experience/
  3. Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase (and use) of a service. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_experience

Through integrated specialist working you have a team of people who understand your business objectives, working cohesively towards aligned end results.

You also have a website that is being seen by the right people. More of the key audiences identified are now landing on your site, and they are enjoying the online experience you provide (supporting purchases and other end goals).

You are also revisiting initial goals and objectives set, monitoring progress made towards attaining them and continuously refining your user journey based on the latest data available to you.

This process should never stop.

What does integrated working look like?

This picture will always change and it’s certainly not limited to SEO, CX and UX, either.

Below we can see an integrated working model from Vertical Leap.

In this example, we are looking at the interaction between distinct digital and offline marketing channels to achieve gains throughout the information-seeking and buying funnel:

Integrated working model - Vertical Leap

Effective integrated working

My most productive days at work, almost without exception, are based on creative working with people whose company I genuinely enjoy.

These can be anything from peer reviews targeting challenges and specific barriers to success, through to cross-team chats (ideally cake and coffee sessions) where a mixed set of ‘T-shaped’ experts get together to make things better.

Regardless of the application of integrated working, the end result is, ultimately, a happy customer.

A customer who sees and receives direct gains from the multiplier effect of more services delivering enhanced value, compared to that of individual services working in isolation, will always be a happier one.

In the image below we can see one example (‘one’ being important as there are many approaches to successful integration) of integrated team work being driven by the data:

Integrated team work fueled by data - Vertical Leap

Why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) matters

SEO covers every potential earned visit to your website. This is from the ability to be seen in the first place, right through to the provision of the right content types to the right people, as well as providing a healthy website and speedy access to information.

A website without SEO is a sad thing to behold.

Why Customer Experience (CX) matters

Understanding business wants, needs and goals is imperative for effective working.

If you have ever told a customer how happy you are with a recent online win, only to be told by the same customer that they no longer place any importance on that product/service/keyword area, you will have seen a world without CX.

Why User Experience (UX) matters

Getting the right people on your website is a massive achievement. Getting those same people to act in a way that fuels your business success (buying, sharing, engaging, communicating, and more) is imperative.

Most decisions to stop a marketing channel are a direct result of unsuccessful or missing UX within the mix.

Think about having a shop on the high street receiving lots of footfall but failing to sell anything – that store is unlikely to last the quarter.

A case study of SEO, CX and UX working together

A new customer starts an SEO contract. Their first interaction with the agency, after sales, is with a Customer Experience expert. The CX person chats to the customer about them, their wider business goals and their unique objectives. CX clarifies that the agency has the right people in place to support the company’s goals; reinforcing how they’re here to help.

From the moment a new customer starts they have an impartial face/person/voice to represent them internally (i.e. an internal voice within the agency), building confidence that they are not just a number, but have real representation and understanding in place – even at this early stage of the relationship.

Then, a team of experts get together with CX, (in this example SEO and UX specialists). They chat about the customer, collectively agree some immediate priority areas, before getting excited about the project in hand and how they are going to deliver on objectives.

Expert time is applied to expert outputs, with frequent reports and meetings (often driven by CX, but it can be taken on by any member of the customers digital team).

Sometimes, the meetings are solving problems, sometimes they are looking at next steps, and other times they are simply to reinforce what has (or hasn’t) changed. Then, focus can turn to what needs to be done in order to reflect any change and work more effectively.

SEO and UX experts deliver cumulative and service-specific value; a multiplier effect is visible and CX is keen to chat this through with the customer.

From frequent chats with the customer, CX has a level of trust that exceeds the service provision only. This trust supports proactive customer feedback.

The team goes through everything with the customer, making sure everyone is equally excited about the project, new objectives have been set and the services being provided are over-achieving, thanks to their position as an effective and collaborative group.

What’s next with SEO, CX and UX?

The above is only one example of integrated value. The most important next step is to create your own integrated success stories. I’d love to hear them so if you’d like to share your own stories, connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.