There were a lot of things that changed in 2020 – and many of them directly affect marketers. According to some reports, e-commerce spending grew 44% in 2020, with much of that growth due to drastically altered consumer behavior. Unlike in prior years, we couldn’t just go to the store and pick something up. As a result, users spent over $861 billion online last year. For any company, that’s a sizable amount of potential revenue occurring on the internet, no matter what sector your company is in.
This changing consumer trend isn’t just for e-commerce. The software-as-a-service industry is expected to be over $157 billion by the end of 2021. Additionally, SaaS organizations have a greater reliance on marketing, with 65% of median CAC coming from marketing budgets. With some reporting that up to 70% of online revenue for B2B and other verticals comes from organic search, now is the time for digital.
No matter the industry, it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on the value of your website, making it work harder for your business. Botify’s Director of Product Marketing, Nate Sullivan, notes that because of the sizeable amount of opportunity on the internet, organic search is becoming much more prominent as a performance marketing channel and needs to be measured as such: “The importance of organic search as a customer acquisition channel continues to grow, along with the technical complexity of SEO for the largest, more lucrative sites, measurable ROI is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s table stakes for modern digital marketing, and leaders need to start demanding better – it’s the new Future of SEO.”
Core Web Vitals, launching in June 2021, are a set of metrics from Google. CWV’s will provide web admins with benchmarks for three elements of a user’s experience: how quickly critical content loads, how stable the overall experience is, and how easy it is to navigate.
It’s pretty clear to most how Google’s Core Web Algorithm update will impact SEO. It will likely become the first set of KPIs that attempt to measure the subjective nature of “page experience” in a quantifiable, reportable way. However, this update affects the whole marketing team as we move to an increasingly online world. While Core Web Vitals will be one of the first ways of measuring customer page experience, it won’t be the last, and there are takeaways across all marketing functions to leverage.
While the Core Web Vitals KPIs measure only a tiny portion of what page experience is, it is still one of the first trackable metrics Marketing Operations teams can use to report on website performance. This will allow a new benchmark to optimize website performance in partnership with development teams and server providers.
The update will also allow a new level of complexity when evaluating campaign success and performance. Did a landing page convert well because users had a good experience on the page, or was the content exceptionally strong? Did a page known to lag in site speed perform poorly in conversions because of that lag, or was it something else? With changes in cookies from Google and other search engines, MOPS teams will now have to answer tough questions across new variables. It’s likely that in some organizations, MOPS professionals and SEOs alike will be asked often, “How are our Core Web Vitals performing?” and together building a better understanding of what CWV’s actually measure.
In a shifting digital world, performance marketing teams may find themselves more regularly tasked with a new function: SEO. While some enterprise organizations dedicate the function to a specific team, other organizations shift SEO to align closer to SEM. After all, many organic and paid marketers work closely together to ensure maximum share of voice in many examples. The most common strategy is to “pay” for branded search terms with PPC advertising or choose to only rank for these terms organically. Because of the increased competition in 2020, paid search became more costly for many organizations. Many of these orgs were already seeing declining budgets during a pandemic, with many – like L’Oreal – shifting paid budgets to organic search efforts.
At the same time, third-party tracking is under an increasing amount of pressure from consumers and regulators, and platforms like Apple can cut off the effectiveness of a given paid digital channel overnight. New paid channels will always appear, but their volatile nature makes a comprehensive organic search strategy more important than ever, either as a more efficient, scalable growth channel or simply a reliable hedge against sudden changes to paid channels.
Core Web Vitals can impact performance marketing teams not only by driving closer alignment with SEO teams and altered budgets but by providing more data. When a landing page is created for paid search campaigns, Core Web Vitals can provide baseline insights on potential issues. Is the page likely to decrease mobile conversions due to a bad user experience? Is there a shifting element used for personalization that’s blocking some users from submitting the form? CWV stats can help to illuminate potential experience issues before the page goes live, providing better performance AND budget savings in lost conversions.
Product marketers and market researchers have in common a passion for data that better illuminates opportunities in the customer journey. With so much of that journey happening on the internet, Core Web Vitals offers another option for teams to collect data. Working in combination with Marketing Operations teams, PMM’s can see if there are specifics in the digital journey across the prospect-facing website that might also be happening on the customer side.
Core Web Vitals, for the time being, are just a set of metrics to measure one part of the experience someone can have on your website. While this data can be helpful to your whole marketing team, it’s important to remember that there’s much more to page experience than these stats. The more aligned your marketing team is to a cohesive, digital-first strategy, the more likely you will perform well both with CWV metrics and with your customers.