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Ecom, Locom, or Informational: Google Tracks Locally and so Should You



Ecom, Locom, or Informational: Google Tracks Locally and so Should You

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

 The majority of surveyed consumers say that about half of their searches have a local intent, while the other half of queries can be satisfied with remote solutions. On either side of the chess board are businesses hoping Google will surface them fairly for appropriate keywords. 

SEOs and marketers hear both sides of what can sometimes sound like a battle, with clients of multiple models rarely satisfied with the SERPs.  

Meanwhile, the last two years have so blurred the lines of intent and fulfillment that it can start to feel rather vague at the agency level where a client falls within all of these possible identity categories: 

  • Local and independent/small

  • Local and part of a chain

  • Brick-and-mortar with in-store transactions only

  • Brick-and-mortar with digital shopping/delivery

  • SAB with or without online transactions

  • Solely virtual and independent/small

  • Solely virtual national brand

  • National brand that was virtual but is now showrooming or opening physical stores

  • B2B or B2C

  • Informational with unique income streams not from traditional sales

Defining the client’s model properly should be the first step in any campaign. What and where the business is has long defined a major portion of its opportunities for visibility in Google results. But the SEO game is changing. Whether a particular client is best served by focusing more on the guidelines for representing your business on Google or the QRG, SEOs need to be able to effectively track local SERPs, because they are either the main goal or the main competitor, and without a doubt, because Google is so local-aware. 

Local SERP tracking has historically been seen as challenging for any business type, but today, we’ll take a look at the lay of the competitive landscape and offer some helpful solutions.

Rooks: businesses for which physical locations are the stronghold

Whether a brand is little-known or a household name, if physical locations are its castle, then it will have become accustomed to eyeing virtual competitors warily.  

Local businesses are understandably frustrated when page one organic SERPs are gobbled up by virtual competitors, regardless of what is shown above them in the local packs:

 And SMBs are not pleased by national brands being given the spotlight in features like this one documented by Mike Blumenthal, in which Google is weirdly populating the People Also Search segment with big brand chains that don’t even have locations in his town:

 Meanwhile, Google’s increasingly powerful shopping environment largely defaults to massive and frequently virtual sellers unless the searcher filters results down with the “available nearby” or “smaller stores” option:  

Knights: business without physical locations that ship everywhere 

Fully virtual brands that don’t have a public physical home base but can gallop deliveries to customers everywhere have two main sources of concern. The first is the mere existence of local packs, which eat up so much mobile and desktop screen space that formerly belonged to organic results only: 

The second is the sheer volume of searches for which Google shows local packs and localized organic results. We’re fortunate to have some original data today from Moz’s own Dr. Peter J. Meyers. Pete ran 10,000 keywords through MozCast, half of which were localized to specific cities and half of which weren’t, and found that about one-third returned local pack results:


When a search is explicitly local, because the searcher has included a city name or a similar refinement in their language, we call this a “geo-modified” query, and it’s hard to complain when Google responds with nearby results. But Google almost always knows where a device is located, and virtual business owners find it hard that these “geo-located” searches frequently yield localized results as well, even though the searcher hasn’t specified a town, zip code, or similar modification. Google is quite convinced of the implicit local intent of countless keyword phrases. 

Clients running remote-only companies can find it hard to compete when Google places such emphasis on searcher locality and the localization of results. In order to vye for visibility, these entities have to be equipped to track local SERPs. 

Bishops: businesses based on information with complex revenue streams

The owners of directories, affiliate sites, enterprises that make their money from Google Adsense and other intricately woven indirect revenue streams are used to having to look at one another across a board cluttered with pieces owned by competitive virtual and physical commercial brands. They may have so much wisdom and learning to share, but it can be very hard to be seen.

Often, these informational entities will have invested even more in the quality of their content than their more sales-y competitors. Look at a site like TripAdvisor, which has devoted itself to both UGC and original travel writing in an effort to be of use, but which is also running Adsense in quest of profits:

When an informational entity isn’t set up to track local SERPs, they will miss out on fully comprehending both user intent and neglected gaps they could potentially fill within the localized results.

Queens: emergent hybrids that can rule the board

“What we’re seeing is that the more brick-and-mortar businesses that we’re creating, the more the digital is happening in those particular ZIP codes,” says Macy’s CEO, Jeff Gennette.

By the dawn of 2020, we’d had nearly two decades of rooks, knights and bishops — each rigidly limited by the maneuvers available to their business model — battling one another for maximum control of the Google board. But:

What is happening now is critical for every SEO and marketer to understand:

  1. The pieces on the board can now move in every direction. Whether a brand used to be solely physical, virtual, or informational, being all three is likely going to be the strongest strategy going forward for most companies. This means serious entities will invest in real-world locations, digital conveniences, and excellent, optimized content that generates income.

  2. Nevertheless, Google remains deeply tied to the physical location of the searcher. Because of this, whether you stick to your swim lane in the coming decade or reinvent the brands you market as powerful hybrids, you will always have to think locally, because Google does.

Ready to start strategizing for this new contest of possibilities? Download this free guide to tracking local SERPs so that you can read the board and beginning making data-based moves in new directions: 

This guide will coach you in:

  • Local search essentials
  • How mobile and local interact (and how to handle it)
  • The difference between geo-location and geo-modification
  • Searcher intent and all its nuances
  • Seven local SERP tracking strategies that you can tailor to your specific industry

In this developing environment, it’s exciting to think that a family-owned country store can have digital sales and lucrative content, national brands can localize themselves and prove their commitment to localism by contributing to community tax bases, and informational enterprises can consider how developing a local footprint and developing product lines that fill gaps in the supply chain uncovered by their deep study of a market.

Creativity is more welcome and more essential than ever before, and your study of Google’s obvious local leanings could stand the brands you market in good stead for many years to come.

Image credits: Wayne S. Grazio, Tom Page, Joshua Alan Eckert. Will C. Fry, and Bob Whitehead

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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Cycle Planning



Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Cycle Planning

We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop

Now we’re going to dive into our second stop on your agile marketing journey—the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components—Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. Last week we shared how to build an effective Marketing Backlog. Today we’re going to take a deeper look at Cycle Planning.

Cycle planning

During Cycle Planning, the team collaborates and plans for the work they intend to launch during a 5 or 10 day cycle. The goal is for everyone on the team to commit to what work they plan to launch and to discuss how they’re going to work together to achieve that goal. The team synchronizes timing around their work and understands everything involved to deliver customer value in this launch. 

To prepare for Cycle Planning, the Marketing Backlog should be ready for the team. Things to look for here are:

  • Is the work in priority order?
  • Is the work sized by effort?
  • Do we understand any dependencies?
  • Do we know what success looks like for each backlog item?
  • How will we test, learn & measure our results?

The Marketing Owner should come to Cycle Planning with a Cycle Goal in mind that ladders up to the Guidepoint. This is meant to give the team guidance on what a good outcome of the cycle will look like, but not specific tasks that they will complete.

A Cycle goal may read something like this:

The above shares what the Marketing Owner hopes the team accomplishes, but the team decides what work they can do in the cycle to get there and may also have other work as well.

The team doing the work attends Cycle Planning. This may include part-time team members, or Supporting Cast people that have work in the upcoming Cycle. Stakeholders and Practice Leads shouldn’t attend unless they are contributing to the work.

The team is self-organizing in Cycle Planning. The team decides which marketing backlog items they can tackle during the cycle, and how they will accomplish the work by breaking out tasks.

At the end of Cycle Planning, all team members should know what work the team has committed to and how they all plan to approach getting it done. The Cycle Planning eliminates siloed planning and people only focusing on their tasks and brings to light collective team ownership.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One



What It Is & How to Build an Effective One

In the business world, professionals are obsessed with tactics because they can help them meet their short-term goals. But if all you do is focus on the short-term, you won’t spend enough time or energy figuring out how you can succeed in the long-term.


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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders



the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 

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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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