"Google is making a lot of big changes, and these will leave the SEO of a lot of large players in the dust."
Michael Bergen is Director of Operations for Riverbed Marketing. This west coast Canadian firm specializes in technology, real estate and the financial industry. In this interview Bergen describes the marketing challenges of small and medium-sized businesses, why SEO is coming to an end and the growing importance of inbound marketing.
What’s your role in the company and what does your firm do?
I’ve just changed to Director of Operations, so now I’m overseeing the growth of our team and client strategy. Riverbed Marketing is a small agency based out of Vancouver, Canada with about a 15 to 20 client load. We’ve been in business going on eight years. We’ve transitioned over the last two years to focus on B2B specializing in technology, real estate and finance. Previously we were a blend of both B2C and B2B.
What products and services does Riverbed Marketing offer?
The backbone of everything we do is inbound marketing services. We’re primarily focused on strategy and execution of multi-channel marketing, but we also dabble in more traditional aspects such as SEO and paid advertising as well as content marketing. Those are the core three services we usually offer in a mixed variety depending on the needs of the client.
Who do you help and what are their challenges?
We’re a pretty good fit for companies with anywhere from five to 10 employees and an annual revenue of about two to five million. That’s our starting point and we work with retainers as high as the 15 to 20 thousand per month. So, we’re focusing on small and medium size firms with a growing team and an active marketing coordinator. But they don’t quite have enough resources in-house to accelerate some of their marketing needs.
We work with different solutions such as automation to complement their existing marketing initiatives. A lot of the time we have clients we’ve been with for five to six years, and they continue to grow with our help. Then occasionally there’s clients who prefer to build up their marketing teams up in-house. So, we’ve played a dual role in helping with transitions for each of those client types over time.
Typically, they’re struggling to report on performance or properly utilizing their marketing team, if they have one. Sometimes they’ve got a lot of bodies in the room but they’re not necessarily getting the exact performance they want. That’s where our strategy services will end up playing a bigger role, tying all those pieces together in a meaningful way.
Can you share a success story?
One of the clients I’ve been working with now for going on the four-year mark is a company called ProBed Medical. They’re a medical bed provider with a unique specialization of helping individuals deal with bedsores and medical complications as a result of being disabled or immobilized. They have a highly technical rotation bed which is different from medical beds on the market priced at 35 to 40 thousand dollars.
They had started with a website that still was in its early stages and wasn’t really generating any traffic. And they were surviving on referrals. The challenge was their bed was only covered by select insurance providers, and they had a long buying cycle where prospects needed to be educated.
We helped them create a full stack marketing approach using SEO, social media and paid advertising to start generating leads. Two years later we’ve help them reach all North America, and now we’re now focusing on ventures in Australia and UK. So, they started generating leads, then expanded to other continents and overseas distribution partners. It’s a good blend of B2C and B2B.
Now that they don’t have use resources on in-house marketing, they can focus on reaching sales goals and building up their sales team. They’re at the point now where a lot of the company owners are going overseas and playing an active role in building partnerships. And we’re also playing a role in that with event marketing.
What are your thoughts on B2B marketing trends for 2020?
Google is making a lot of big changes, and these will leave the SEO of a lot of large players in the dust. So, what we’re going to start focusing on is high quality content and inbound marketing. And that means understanding your audience to and generating the content they need.
We’ve kind of hit a saturation point of creating content for the sake of rankings, or generic content marketing. It’s going to take something quite exceptional to rock the boat than what we’ve seen in the past. I think we’re going to see a lot more tactics being adapted like we’ve been seeing with video over the past couple of years. So, content with a specific focus.
As opposed to just talking about the top 10 ways to improve traffic and leads, you must dive into the pain points and challenges of individual users. And it takes quite a bit of time to weed out what those are. Inbound marketing forces you to understand the audience and what the messages should be. Generating that content is quite a lengthy process but it’s ultimately what it takes to cut through the noise and make appreciable gains.
And I know everyone’s always saying you should generate more content. But I think it’s going to be exceptionally more important in 2020 as we hit that saturation point to create high-quality content. That’s what we’re seeing with video.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what other mediums people adopt in the near future just to get the message out in an profound and interesting way that sounds great.