In the first Signature Speaker Series of 2021, AMA Madison hosted a virtual presentation from  Vince Rose, Director of Digital Marketing and CRM Solutions at Earthling Interactive, who walked us through how to get started with SEO, digital marketing and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, using free and paid tools.

Vince leads a group that provides development and management of SEO, HubSpot, SharpSpring, Salesforce and Pardot for clients like Trimble, Filene, and the Concourse Hotel. Prior to Earthling Interactive he was Technical Team Manager at the Division of Information Technology at UW-Madison for 10 years, and over the past 25 years he has been involved with the technical aspects of marketing communications for clients like Spectrum Brands, American Girl, New Balance, Land Rover North America, and many higher education customers.

Getting Started

Before you level up your SEO and digital marketing, you have to assess your current state and where you want to be.  Vince outlined three questions that may have brought people to this point, and to his presentation:

  1. Why aren’t we on the first page of Google’s search results?
  2. Why aren’t people checking out or filling out our contact form?
  3. After someone has bought something, how can we continue to engage with them?

As with any project, it’s best to start with the basics.

The Basics: Your Website

To publish your web content, Vince suggests using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal or Magento, to name a few.  The advantages to these systems are:

Content Publishing – A CMS allows you to publish content on your own, without an outside developer.

Ease of Use – You can select from themes that automatically provide proper HTML markup.

  • Proper headers and coding make your site more readable for search engines, which can help with your SEO.
  • These are also important to accessibility – screen readers use headers and coding to navigate your web pages.

Responsive Design / Mobile Compatibility – Google is switching to “mobile-first indexing” in March, meaning that the mobile versions of websites will be used for indexing and ranking.  If you’re using a CMS theme, it’s likely that your site is already mobile-friendly.

Level 1: See how you’re doing

Once you have your website set up in your chosen CMS, you’ll want to track whether people are actually visiting!  Vince advises setting up a Google Analytics account and the Google Search Console.  Between the two tools, you’ll be able to track site visitors, where they’re going, and whether there are any errors in how Google “sees” your site, among other things.

Level 2: Work on your SEO

After establishing that baseline tracking through the Google tools, you can move a step further to optimize your site and improve your search position.  There are several options for SEO feedback tools, most of which can take you pretty far even in the free versions!

Vince highlighted a few SEO research tool options.  The best one for you will depend on which CMS you’re using and the specific research that you’re looking to do.

ScreamingFrog – allows you to spider a whole site, up to 500 URLs in the free version or SEMrush – keyword research, with a free trial available

Google PageSpeed Insights – offers tips on how to optimize, and will tell you how fast your page is on desktop and mobile

CMS Plugins, Extensions and Modules

  • Yoast SEO for WordPress – the free version will work for most sites
  • Drupal – offers several different modules
  • Magento and Mageworx Magento 2 SEO Suite Ultimate


Level 3: Leverage a CRM with your website

CRM systems are a great way to manage your client accounts and contacts, but nowadays most of them offer much more than that.  CRMs build efficiencies into how you connect with customers, improve conversions, and save you time.  By utilizing the marketing automation tools included in a CRM system like Hubspot, Salesforce (and Pardot), SharpSpring, or Active Campaign, you can start with the basics like forms and email, and work your way up to building workflows and drip campaigns to keep your customers engaged and increase visibility into marketing ROI company-wide.

Make sure to do your research to figure out which CRM system is right for your company.  Talk to your team about what your needs are before making a selection and keep these questions in mind:

  • Do we need all of the marketing automation tools?  Or just a few?  
  • How many users will we have on the system?  Some CRMs charge per license.
  • How many contacts will we be entering in the CRM?  Other CRMs charge by volume.
  • What’s our budget for a CRM?  Hubspot offers a free tier and SharpSpring and Active Campaign have inexpensive options, whereas Salesforce may be more appropriate for a larger company in need of all the CRM features.


Level 4: Put it all together in sophisticated ways

Bringing all the pieces together, Vince offered examples of client projects that demonstrate the power of integrated digital marketing tools.

Higher Education Example:

A local college promoting specific degree programs worked with Earthling Interactive to create a comprehensive digital marketing campaign that both speeds up the conversion process and offers prospective students a personalized experience.  From the initial click of a banner ad, each potential enrollee initiates a journey through these steps:

  1. The prospective student sees a landing page with targeted program content.
  2. They fill out a form that creates a record of their information in the college’s CRM and offers them additional information.
  3. The form starts a workflow that triggers personalized email messages from an Enrollment Coach.
  4. The process of moving from enrollee to student begins.

Non-Profit Example:

A non-profit that works with organizations in a specific industry gathers proprietary research and data that is provided only to members.  In order to control access to their content, the non-profit has set up Salesforce for data authentication and Pardot for event tracking.  These tools allow the non-profit to see clicks, download data, and client engagement all in one source.

There will always be challenges to incorporating new tools and practices into your existing processes, but Vince Rose provided a great outline of how to get started with SEO, digital marketing tools, and CRMs, and why they’re important tools for marketers and companies to accurately track whether their marketing efforts are working.

See You Online for February’s Signature Speaker Series

AMA Madison invites you to its next virtual event at 12:00 p.m. on February 9, 2021. Jay Schwedelson of Worldata will present ‘Email Tips You Need to Know to Get Ahead in 2021’, where you’ll learn about how to tell if your email marketing strategies are driving success.

Register here for this virtual event.

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