The traditional buyer journey is gone

Published on 6 December 2022, updated on 15 December 2022

Charlie Clark is the founder of Minty Digital, an SEO and Digital PR Agency based in Barcelona.

How do you usually approach pitching to eCommerce clients? 

We start by looking at the current rankings and positionings of things such as their category pages for the bottom of the funnel, targeting the transactional keywords. The second part involves the top-of-the-funnel content that they have. 

To break that down, we first take a look at the category pages and their product pages and take into consideration what’s ranking from positions eight to 100 as quick wins, for example. 

Then we calculate projections. We’re always clear that they’re just projections and that if we can move these keywords into the top three positions, we can then calculate, based on the average conversion rate of their website and their average order value, the potential to earn more if they get into the top three positions with these keywords. 

If we get to work together, we’ll then do a full keyword analysis and look at new opportunities, including keywords the client is not currently ranking on, but the competitors do. 

For example, when pitching for an eyewear company, we’ll look at the blog content: how the clean glasses, where to get your eyes tested, etc., and consider building up more informational content around that as well. We also work with digital PR, so our link-building campaigns are all delivered through PR campaigns. 

We’d also take a look at their competitors, and at what keywords they’re ranking for that the client is not. What we’ll do from there is pitch them two to three pretty cool creative content marketing ideas that we can use to generate backlinks through PR. 

Do you also use forecasting for your pitching or upselling purposes? 

Yes, but we are trying to make it clear that we don’t research new keywords. We’re looking at the top ten keywords and further detail which ones could be immediate opportunities that we spotted from a quick glance at the website. 

What we usually do is propose the KPIs for the clients and discuss that with them on the proposal. Before we agree to a contract, we have one more meeting, and we discuss the KPIs in full detail, just so everyone’s crystal clear on what’s expected.

Which are the main challenges you have noticed with your eCommerce clients? 

One of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen with websites that are mid-range is that they are competing against big companies such as Amazon. We have noticed this with many eCommerce products and brands when analyzing the top three results—unless they’re really specific websites. For example, the eyewear brand: one cannot find their products on Amazon. But many companies we work with are competing against some really big competitors, whether that’s Amazon or a big department store.

It’s a challenge, as you’re never going to be able to build as many backlinks as Amazon. There are ways around it, like targeting longer-term keywords and driving traffic through other methods, such as PR, but it is still difficult. 

Now, there are also recession challenges. We have one client with all the financial issues at the moment. They are in the home and garden industry. During the lockdown, they had immense growth as everyone was renovating their houses and doing their gardens. Now, as the country is going into recession, no one is improving their houses anymore. You can have the best keyword rankings in the world if no one’s buying the product. 

That’s something you have to explain to your customers. We have to do our own research there and explain that sales are down overall for home and garden supplies year-on-year. You need to look at what’s going on in the wider economy as well as at the general buying trends. 

Another challenge we have noticed is with customers who are trying to go into new markets. We’re able to operate in English and all Spanish-speaking markets as we’re based in Barcelona, and we have native speakers of both. This one of our USPs, that we help companies expand into all Spanish-speaking markets. 

If, after a short time, they want to also expand to countries like France, Germany, Italy, or Poland, we say no because it’s not something we can control in-house, and we would prefer to refer them to a trusted partner they can deal with directly and eliminate us being the bottleneck. Although we can potentially miss out on additional revenue, it also avoids the headaches that can come into play when you are the middle person.

I think that, as the world becomes a more globalized economy, people who are trying to expand to these markets are coming across obstacles and potentially missing out on a lot of opportunities as well. Because whenever we provide SEO services in Spanish and English, the Spanish-speaking markets are less competitive in a lot of areas. It’s just so much faster to get results. There are things that you can do in other languages that ten years ago you could do in English markets, but not anymore. 

I think companies are going to continue to expand into places outside of their native country where they sell their services. In order to do that, agencies are going to have to adapt and find ways around this. Unless you’re an absolutely giant agency, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be able to run effective SEO services in 15 different languages. Companies that specialize in other languages will also know and operate in English, where it won’t be the same case and vice versa. 

For us, the Spanish side of our business is great because it really helps us both as we can expand to new markets, which are gigantic as Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. I think moving into other markets is definitely an opportunity for clients who will double their revenue or their sales potential if it’s done right. 

Can you give me an example of a successful SEO campaign for an eCommerce client? Which were the main tactics and challenges? 

A recent campaign we launched was about the best cities to live in around the world. 

We built an index by looking at 5 core happiness factors. These were the cost of living, the friendliest locals, sunshine hours, working hours, and life expectancy. 

We gathered numerical data on each of these categories and used it to rank each of the 50 chosen cities from the highest (happiest) to the lowest (unhappiest).

Post-launch we secured 116 pieces of coverage across 8 countries, 96 links secured with an average of DR48, and over 2.5 million views across the world.

The campaign was a huge success across English and Spanish-speaking countries and even got featured on CNN evening news. 

What have you noticed in terms of search behavior trends within your 2022 campaigns? 

I’ve noticed that the traditional buying journey is nonexistent anymore in terms of attribution methods. A lot of companies waste their time sometimes when they’re going too far into attribution. If you’re trying to find out where every single click comes from, you’re going to really struggle nowadays, especially if you’re an SMB and you can’t afford that enterprise-level tracking. 

The traditional path is dead, or it has changed and evolved. What you really need to be doing rather than just focusing on direct conversion is to be focusing on building a brand through that content marketing engine. I’m not talking about just the blog posts but more about brand building.

Getting yourself positioned as an industry leader because people’s attention spans also are shorter than ever, and you need to be always at the forefront of the consumer’s mind.

Have you noticed any differences between different industries under the eCommerce sector, in terms of search behavior trends? 

It’s hard to say. For example, our travel clients have seen year-on-year growth, as no one was traveling last year. Also, a client selling luggage had a massive increase in sales, as everyone was buying luggage suitcases, which caused a stock issue. I’ve noticed that supply chain issues are also common. 

People are trying to source things more locally now in terms of supplies, even though it can cost more. I think the whole last few years have really been a bit of a wake-up call for many eCommerce store owners and just consumers in general, in terms of how much we rely on imports everywhere around the world.

Have your eCommerce clients’ needs or requests changed in any way during the past year? 

They are usually focused on the same things. I noticed more clients are looking to build their brand through digital PR, and we build their brand name rather than just focus on sales. Some of the bigger companies we work with used to allocate a separate budget to SEO, and that used to be the entire thing.

Now they’re allocating separate budgets within their departments, one for SEO and one for PR. They’ll have their traditional PR, the standard press releases, but then they’ll also be tying in the digital aspect to that as well, which is something that’s been quite interesting to know.

How do you approach SEO budgets in the context of 2023?

Internally, we estimate how many hours the project will cost, month per month. If it’s a brand-new project, the first six months are always more expensive. I’m sure it’s the pretty standard stuff of SEO, but we break down the budgets first by the SEO side of things and content marketing.

That’ll be the first six months worth of work. Usually, what will happen is that the retainer will drop slightly and we’ll try and get them onto a monthly retainer from there.

The digital PR side of things will be a completely separate budget of a fixed fee per month, depending on how many campaigns they want, how much work they want on, and what their link targets are. 


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