How to Ward Off Pesky (SEO) Sales People Who Want Your Business and The Boring, Cold Truth About Winning Online

This post was inspired by my colleague Dane Shakespear - he and I have been working together for over a year now and he sent a note my way that was forwarded to him by a client we work on together.  The note the client got was an email from a sales person at another agency which said:

"Thank you for your time earlier.  Just wanted to get in touch with you and reiterate what I mentioned regarding the Google Search Partners Network. (Client Name)’s Google AdWords account has a setting enabled which allows the ads to run on as well as on their Google’s Search Partner Network.  This network encompasses a wide variety of websites from to  Typically, these engines do not have the same performance that Google does which is why I got in touch with you all.

Here's the link to our site – I would encourage you to check us out. We have a great reputation:
(Links Removed)
As I mentioned, I conduct complimentary reviews with companies to help them understand the different facets of AdWords – including Search Partners. I’d be happy to get together with you all sometime later this week or next, let me know what works for you.  Thanks again!  Hope you have a great rest of the day gentlemen."
So the client was a little intrigued and passed it to Dane to see what he thought - I then wrote up a response which we sent back to the client.  Here are the take aways for you dear reader who may also be doing Adwords in house, or hiring it out.
For starters anytime you run an ad you - the public can see it and some members of the public may be people employed at an agency - print - digital etc.  Agencies like any other business want more business and if they see a company already spending money on say Adwords that company may also invest in Organic Search since the 2 kind of go hand in hand.  So by running ads with Google don't be surprised if people contact you about SEO.  It just kind of comes with the territory.  Just by having a business you get all sorts of other advertisements and solicitations.  No surprise there.
Here's the thing though.  These solicitations offering tips and free reviews are nothing more than sales gimmicks.  They may come across as helpful and so forth but at the end of the day it's an attempt to win your business.

Going back to this canned sales email and why it's weak.

To be successful online which is really no different than any other kind of advertising you have to make more than you spend on ads.  You must generate a Return on Ad Spend that is greater than your click spend and other costs associated with doing business.
Online this means you have to pay for clicks and generate leads or sales at an acceptable cost per lead.  Sure there are many more metrics to be talked about when it comes to Google but this is really the main part of it.

The Boring Truth About Being a Successful Advertiser

If you buy clicks on Google the important things to concern yourself with are:
Am I buying clicks from the right words?*
Is my ad showing in the right geography?*
Are my ads running at appropriate times per day.
Have I set a reasonable click cost?
Am I getting a good number of clicks when Google shows my ad (aka click thru rate)
Are these clicks turning into conversions, in this case phone calls and web form requests since it's lead generation, well above industry averages.  If you're hiring Adwords out you should MOST DEFINITELY be concerned with the response rates or conversion rates from your ads.
This is really the gist of it and this is boring un-sexy, non whiz-bang stuff.  Notice the metrics discussed are NOT, number of "hits" levels of engagement, social shares, time on site, bounce rate, keyword rankings, integrated marketing, or mobile responsive websites.
Now, some of those those things might be important but they don't pay bills.  Rankings on page might make you feel superior but they are worthless unless you can quantify that having the ranking also brings in a steady stream of new business.  Believe it or not, but sometimes you can rank for keywords YOU feel are important but they are very lowly searched by actual consumers of your product or service.
So going back to Google's Search Network Partners and the sales email that went out to this client.  First off Google is a multi billion dollar company that is publicly traded.  They routinely ban advertisers who don't play by the rules and they actually do this rather recklessly.  In other words they are VERY concerned with the quality of their program be it advertisers who run ads directly on search as well as partner websites who are allowed to run Google ads on their sites - mostly this is the display network - but other search engines show Google Ads including AOL.
Notice the sales person is sort of insinuating that you're running ads on crappy sites when he says "Typically, these engines do not have the same performance that Google does which is why I got in touch with you.."
Basically search traffic from Google's partner search engines is a puny amount of traffic, and second, I've seen advertisers do quite well on  Don't people go there looking for ways to solve problems?  Good ads talk about solving problems or offer benefits of solving a problem so that could be a completely valid approach to getting new leads in the door.
Here's a screen shot from a different client's campaign who has done well with showing ads on ehow.
placement on adwords display network
Traffic from Google's Search Partners Is Typically Very LOW and Yes it Can Perform Differently
These are things Dane and I know.  What the sales person doesn't realize is that clicks from search partners totaled $353 and brought conversions and the total monthly spend was just around $15,000.  So search partners is a VERY small part of the equation.
Again the real important things are metrics ONLY you and your agency should know which are things like click thru rates, conversion rates, costs per lead.
If you don't realize these are the important things to look at then sure, what any one says about some small nuance of online advertising may aways get your attention which can lead to you going down many different roads doing everything but STAYING THE COURSE.  Winning the game means not just monitoring these numbers but doing things to actively improve them - particularly conversion rates.
You and your competition compete on the same words with perhaps the same budget.  You can't change the fact that your keywords cost what they do however you can write ads that get clicked on more and you can work on your website so that more people call or request info from you than your competition.
One last note, anyone who contacts you and in the same email says "look at our excellent reputation" probably has a shit reputation.  If you look at what employees of an agency say and see that the reviews are all glowing 5 stars it probably means the company is crap.
Sure they could be quickly growing, but they are growing because they churn and burn their employees and hire young inexperienced kids who don't know better and train them with sales gimmicks that prey upon business owners lack of digital savvy.
When you focus on the metrics listed above THEN you can have more intelligent conversations with your agency or in-house team and you can both works towards a common goal of increasing profits.
Typically people who don't focus on the important things are ones who at worst get ripped off or continue to hire bad marketing talent or maybe at best tread water never maximizing the money they do spend - never getting a great result and never leveraging wins from paid search into other advertising channels.
I never ask clients to become Ninjas at this nor do I expect them to.  It is good that they understand what the important things listed here as this in turn makes them better consumers of both my services and Googles.

**Many business owners and managers tend to be overly optimistic and out of touch with how potential clients/customers find their business.  At best they may ask clients how they found the business thinking they did a job asking only what people report is very different than what actually happens.  The best keywords are selected 50/50 between business owner and agency/consultant.  Rarely does a business owner or manager have advertising data to support their conclusions.  This is a good read.  Running an ad campaign can bring very useful data into sales and marketing conversations.**

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