There have been numerous predictions on what changes will be seen in 2012 for SEO. We are predicting that more companies in highly regulated industries such as Credit Unions, Banks, Pharmaceutical Companies, and Independent Insurance providers will start to proactively engage in SEO, Social Media Marketing and measurement of internet marketing tactics. Major factors determining marketers’ budget allocations to these initiatives will be the economic conditions and the marketing managers’ abilities to demonstrate the positive influences on ROI.

SEO & Social Media in 2012

As many have predicted in 2012, the days of implementing SEO campaigns without a thought or allocating resources to Social Media are over. This should be the catalyst needed to encourage Banks & Pharmaceutical companies to consider their presence online. Last year, SEOmoz and other industry internet marketing blogs displayed a correlation between high ranking companies and social media metrics. We assume the launch of Google + as well as the modifications to Facebook and Twitter promotions will be more relevant to the equation in the future. Metrics from these platforms have even been added to SEO software as a result.

Figure 1: SEOmoz Facebook Metrics Report

Internet Marketing Challenges for Regulated Industries

One of the biggest challenges for these industries is the interpretation of the financial services laws or the lack of a specific guide by organizations such as the FDA. There currently is a list a specific list of dos and don’t for online marketing provided by the governing organizations. In addition, privacy of customers’ or prospective customers’ information will continue to be a challenge. It is highly recommended that you have someone with marketing experience within the industry overseeing the marketing efforts who understands internet marketing tactics, and has a history of ethical practices. Otherwise, you will increase the probability of experiencing issues and public scrutiny.

Measurement & Privacy go Hand-in-Hand

The measurement of internet marketing is a cause of concern within these industries as well. All of the backlash from retargeting campaigns, the collection of personal information and the use of 3rd party cookies is understandable. But it is critical that all of the internet marketing tactics be measured and aligned to the organization’s goals and objectives. Otherwise budgets and personnel will be cut, because without measuring the marketing efforts there is no way to show how they impacted ROI.

In the case of Banks and Credit Unions, many of these organizations have websites with two different sections that included a secure domain for applications and an unsecure domain for product/service offerings. Many financial service companies do not track the secure domain due to privacy concerns. Generally speaking, as long as you are not collecting personal information within the analytical solution, you legally can measure if visitors completed a specific task (i.e. loan application submission). Since you can accomplish this, you will be able to measure the impact on ROI and demonstrate to senior leadership the value of your internet marketing tactics.

Figure 2: Even Google Analytics has the able to track secure pages.

Remember that SEO results go beyond keyword ranking. Consider the impact that SEO has on new visitors, on-site metrics, landing pages, and other marketing tactics such as PPC cost. Part of the process of SEO for regulated industries is to educate those that are less informed. As marketers, we do not just deliver reports; we must deliver the message and insights, as well as show ROI in a form that senior management can understand.

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