Managing Multiple Stakeholders in Paid Search
One of the challenges I mentioned before with respect to running a paid search program for a large organization with multiple departments is that each stakeholder oftentimes has different incentives, and their individual or department goals may not align with the company goal. As an example, when an organization deploys a keyword governance strategy across multiple departments, there are generally stakeholders that benefit and others that do not. If you spend your time understanding how a keyword governance strategy impacts each stakeholder, you can determine the appropriate steps to ensure that you get everyone on board.
The goal of creating and enforcing governance strategies for companies with multiple departments and multiple stakeholders is to maximize business value. In doing so, leaders also will need to get as many stakeholders as excited as possible while minimizing frustration to achieve this goal. There are a number of challenges leaders need to think about to execute a governance strategy successfully, all of which center around employee engagement and alignment:
1. Department-Level Incentives: If search generates a substantial portion of a department’s sales and revenue, forcing that team to not be able to bid on certain high-value keywords, or be limited to a lower position, could impact their bonus or overall compensation.
2. Perception of Autonomy: Leaders of business groups often like to run autonomously without having a parent company or organization dictating how to execute against marketing objectives. Creating a structured program that provides limitations on how each stakeholder can operate can create frustration. Individuals that are not aligned may go rogue and not follow the governance rules, undoing the cost savings and revenue maximization companies are looking to achieve.
3. Employee Pride: Even if properly compensated, a keyword governance strategy can impact the business results for a specific group. This could cause embarrassment and the perception of limited promotions and lack of upward mobility down the road.
There are a few ways businesses can maximize value through governance while combating some of the adverse side effects:
The compensation structure in place before implementing keyword governance could be based on the performance of individuals or the performance of their department. If a new governance strategy is going to make it difficult for an individual to hit their goals, then leaders need to realign individuals’ compensation to incentivize the desired activities. I recommend restructuring incentive-based compensation, like bonuses, to be based on meeting larger business objectives, rather than the individual performance of each group.
Communication Strategy and Support
Shifting from evaluating performance at a department-level to company-wide also requires change management for how department-level performance is perceived. If certain groups start to see declines in revenue while others are increasing, leaders need to have a strong alignment and communication plan that shifts the perception of success from individual groups to the company as a whole. Leadership should meet with department leads one-on-one to explain the reasoning for the new governance strategy, get stakeholders excited about their contributions to the overall business objectives, and provide support for communicating changes down to each team. Understanding the personalities of your stakeholders and tailoring communication appropriately is key to getting them on board with the new approach.
Partnering with department leads to identify other potential marketing opportunities is another great way to maximize potential value. If a certain department does not achieve strong margins via search, leadership can partner with them to develop plans to pursue other tactics such as affiliate marketing, email, etc.
Monitoring and Enforcement
I have seen stakeholders refuse to listen to the agreed upon keyword governance strategy. To truly ensure that this is done properly, companies will most likely need to create a monitoring and enforcement system. This requires reporting to monitor that each department is only bidding on approved terms and that they are staying within the agreed upon rank. With the right data infrastructure, drilling into keyword spend and bids at the department level can quickly surface any governance violations. Enforcement could range from notifications to individuals not following policy, to integrating compliance as part of individuals’ performance management reviews.
Companies that embrace cross-departmental marketing governance strategies, and execute and monitor them appropriately, can achieve a strong competitive edge and achieve company-wide business goals, faster. To learn more about creating the right strategy for the complexity in your company, fill out the form today.
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