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Bruce Clay on Leveraging AI, SEO, PPC, and Top Talent in Your Digital Marketing Plan

Guest: Bruce Clay, founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc. (BCI), a leading search marketing company providing search engine optimization (SEO) services and consulting, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising management, content development, and social media marketing services.

Overview: Is your digital marketing plan stuck in “The Before Times?”

Post-pandemic, CEOs need to understand how to get maximum effort, creativity, and service from their marketing teams.

And as we head into the next iteration of the AI era, CEOs need to understand that tech is never a solution — it’s a tool that needs to be placed in the right hands, in service of clear objectives.

On today’s show, Bruce Clay discusses how COVID and AI have accelerated digital marketing’s evolution and how to tweak your marketing attack to keep Making BIG Happen.

Bruce Clay on two BIG challenges of WFH digital marketing:

“When people started working at home, they left the discipline at the office. And I think that there’s been a diminishing tail on productivity, not so much because I don’t accomplish things and not because I don’t answer my emails and not because I don’t care, but because I’m not as attentive. I think that the impact of working at home on sales has been that the people who would normally reach the decision makers at the client side, unless they are really trying to solve a problem, they’re not motivated to solve the problem. That has elongated the sales closing cycle.

“The second part is actually the decision process. When you’re in an office, you can talk to people, or you might actually speak to a vendor in a conference room on speakerphone. When you’re at home and you’re doing a Zoom call, and you’re the only one in the room, suddenly the decision falls squarely on your shoulders. And what I’m seeing is that a lot of people go into analysis paralysis. They don’t want to make a decision. They don’t want to be responsible if it’s wrong. So they overanalyze, and therefore, that adds even more time to the decision-making process in the closing process. The delay factor adds up to a diminished number of conversions for sales. And I think that’s a big deal.”

Bruce Clay on changes to PPC and SEO:

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘I know that half of my marketing dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.’ People are blindly putting money into pay-per-click. The converting traffic is only 20 percent of what you’re spending money on. The rest of it is, I’m getting all these clicks and none of them convert.

“So, one, you have to understand the return on your investment, the value of the keyword. The second thing is, SEO used to be all about ‘the keyword.’ And on the page it was ‘the keyword,’ and in the search it was ‘the keyword.’ I’m finding, after a thousand hours in AI chat, that I almost can’t use Google, because I want to ask questions, and my questions are complex. ‘Who does this and does that and does this and does that?’ I can ask chat and I’ll get an answer. I can’t do that in Google.

“So people are learning to ask questions, not use keywords. And as soon as that happens, the architecture of your entire website has to change. And SEO has changed as a result because it isn’t keywords, it’s questions. And if you don’t adapt your site to being able to answer questions, you’re going to lose.”

Bruce Clay on AI’s role in digital marketing:

“You need to understand AI is a tool, not a solution. It is not, I put in a keyword, or I put in a question, and I get back a page and it’s done. It has no voice. You can tell it to use a voice of an expert, or, technically, train it on your voice. But the biggest thing that I would advise is, no company should use AI for a finished product. It has to be reviewed by humans. Just make that the rule.

“But understand you don’t say, ‘Well, if I’m going to have to have a human do it, I might as well just have them do it.’ Because the issue is it’s going to take four hours versus one hour. That is a competitive move. It is a cost move, a value statement.

“So I would say AI is a content move first. In the area of SEO, I think that usability and content will be half of SEO next year. I think SEO is going to become more technical. There’s going to be a layered SEO, which are content gaps and analysis and audits, but it in general it’s going to be a technical process and therefore you need more experts. I think that there are an awful lot of SEO companies in the world that don’t know anything about anything. If somebody comes to you and the number one thing on their list is ‘I buy links,’ run.

“AI, on the other hand, is very useful because I can say, ‘Check for all these things, recommend a solution, then implement it in the article.’ And you still get to apply your own voice, throw in your own jokes, include your own images and videos. And that is the future. Pay-per-click is important, but it’s overspent. SEO is important, but you don’t focus on keywords as much as questions and you make sure you answer them. And content is vital and growing as a component, as a piece of what the SEO gets to do.”

How to Use AI to Accelerate Your Business Growth – Only 50% of companies who responded to a survey by McKinsey & Company said that they have adopted AI in at least one business function. Use this three-step process to make sure that your company falls on the right side of that dividing line.

Aligning Sales and Marketing to the Company’s BIG Goals – Mike Morris, a Principal at Kettle Hole Partners, discusses structural and analytical strategies CEOs can use to keep sales and marketing focused on reaching your target customers and Making BIG Happen.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.

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