Statistical Process Control for Search Engine Marketing | Using Common Language Across the Organization
As the Search Engine Marketing industry continues to grow out of its infancy into a viable and increasingly important part of the overall marketing process, the way those on the front-line manage, measure and analyze has become much more complex and integrated with other marketing channels as well as with other departments within an organization. Using Statistical Process Control is one way to enhance the data analysis function of a search engine marketer and integrate reporting and process improvement methods across the organization (and externally with the customer or vendor) in a standardized way.
In its most basic of definitions, SPC is a tool to help solve problems and enhance customer satisfaction, not just a tool used to cut waste and inefficiency. If you have never heard of SPC before do not be confused or intimidated by the term ‘statistical’. The fact is that there is very little use of statistics in SPC. In his book “SPC for Right-Brain Thinkers; Process Control for Non-Statisticians” Lon Roberts writes:
Not that I have been asked to do so, but if I were given the task of assigning a label to what is referred to as ‘statistical process control’, I would reorder the terms to ensure the emphasis would be given where it belongs. Though less succinct that statistical process control, something on the order of “process control aided by statistical techniques” would put the emphasis where it belongs – on the intent (process control) rather than the tool (statistical techniques).
When it comes to Search Engine Marketing there has been some discussion (the Eisenberg’s & Avinash Kaushik) about using quality methodologies such as Six Sigma and SPC to support the a ‘common language of quality’ initiative, but as I have stated in a previously, I think a true Six Sigma approach is too vast and complicated for use in a Search Engine Marketing setting at this time. However, I do believe that tools within the Six Sigma toolbox such as SPC can be used to help identify and solve problems in Paid Search and other related marketing functions.
With that in mind, if you take a step back and think about it, Paid Search is a process that needs to be in constant control in order to maximize ROI and enhance customer satisfaction. It makes complete sense to use SPC as a preventative measure as well as using SPC control charts like the one above to visually identify variation in Paid Search data and map process trends sooner rather than later. Using SPC in your marketing department also helps to build a culture of problem solving across organizational boundaries by keeping the language and methods of quality and customer satisfaction between service and manufacturing consistent.
There are also benefits of incorporating SPC and other quality tools into an agency setting. There is (and has been) a common language of quality (SPC, Six Sigma, lean) in use at companies that have (or will have) the need for Search Engine Marketing services. In most cases these companies already use a standard language of quality and should, at a minimum, expect their vendor to do the same. Chances are good that you or the agency you work for also uses SPC or similar quality control tools and methods but call them something different. Aligning yourself with quality tools and using a consistent naming convention helps to eliminate confusion for all parties involved.
If you work in a setting that promotes building quality into its work and where quality is a large part of company culture then chances are you would have an easier chance, from a quality alignment perspective, to work with any of the B2B & B2C Six Sigma companies on this list.
Ellis R. Ott – Educator of a generation of quality control professionals