By Aleks Shklyar

H2H_295x175In a place where all marketing work can often become siloed, it is important to broaden one’s horizons and try to see things from new points of view. I have been in SEO for a few years now, and staying on top of all the news in the world of digital marketing has been my priority. This past week, I made it out to the Intrigue Summit in New York City organized by Salesgasm. A big focus was on helping marketing and sales professionals learn about how they can nurture skills that may not fall directly under their responsibilities (including SEO). Seeing the other side’s perspective was reassuring in the sense that marketers are finally realizing that basic understanding of SEO is a requirement. However, a takeaway that rang true for all digital marketers, regardless of the specific role they held, was the concept of marketing “human-to-human” and understanding user intent.

        Keynote speaker, Terrence Richardson, Head of Investment Bank Marketing for HSBC Americas, pointed out that keeping the customer at the center of your attention is key. In his presentation, we were taken through the 6-step process he relies on for his marketing initiatives. Soon, we began to realize that valuable insight can be gained by turning directly to customers and asking them what they think. That insight should be leveraged when creating new ideas and content. In doing so, you can keep user intent and the buyer journey in mind. While this applies to marketing across the board, it is especially important to remember for all of us in the realm of SEO. Although keywords will undoubtedly always provide a good preview of the next big opportunity, understanding the searcher’s needs should ultimately define your strategy and content.

        The deep understanding of the buyer journey resurfaced throughout many other panels. When discussing social media marketing, Irina Rivers, Director of Social Media at GroupM, explains that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ are not the greatest metric to focus on when assessing the impact of your social efforts on the bottom line. As the rest of the social panel agreed, the takeaway was that getting social likes at an astonishing rate is not something that would necessarily lead to conversions. In fact, social interactions are a good barometer for consumer reactions to branded content and relationship building—not making sales. Attribution metrics, including conversions online or off-site or via mobile, can help marketers better understand what actions consumers are taking after being exposed to their advertising. These conversions can be direct sales for B2C marketers or high-value actions demonstrating intent for B2B marketing. As social media is a consumer touchpoint at different stages of the consumer journey, social media marketing is an integral component of overall marketing strategy.

Unlike social media, SEO strategy can fall virtually anywhere within buyer journey. While many will focus on the bottom line, nurturing potential customers by using content, can later turn them into actual customers. Neglecting that market, or failing to realize it exists, can leave many SEO’s puzzled about their conversion rates. As with social engagements, sometimes just being there is important, and those visits and page views that seemingly amount to nothing can do wonders for your brand image and build the trust that will pay dividends down the line.

Coming back full circle, Intrigue Summit was an important confirmation that humans are at the end of every engagement whether you’re in SEO, social media, B2C, B2B, or any other form of marketing. As digital marketers, we need to constantly be reminded that human interaction with our brands will ultimately define our success. Of course, an assessment of ROI can provide guidance into what works and what doesn’t. Certainly, wasting time on campaigns that generate no exposure or traffic cannot be sustained for long. But, understating the user journey, their intent, and how you can provide value at each step is crucial in SEO and all of today’s marketing.


*Special thanks to Irina Rivers for help editing and Terrence Richardson for reviewing this column.

Do you agree that Human-to-Human Marketing is the next frontier? Or is it merely a buzzword of the year? [email protected] or comment below. And let’s be friendly humans and follow each other on Twitter and LinkedIn!


The hero image is not attention-grabbing enough. The color and imagery is a bit dull. Could we have something more dynamic? Either something that reads “digital marketing” or a workplace image with people in a creative meeting?