#exclusive MoneySupermarket: “we expect to save consumers £1bn in 2012”

A few weeks ago I came across a piece of Stickyeyes research on Econsultancy – it found MoneySupermarket to outperform major high-street banks in search visibility for a whole host of consumer financial products.

There’s two reasons why I found it fascinating – a) I’ve worked on a few financial clients in my time and b) 70% of all e-commerce transactions involve some degree of pre-purchase search.

As David Moth points out, price comparison sites provide traditional FS brands with a place to advertise, but then end up competing with each other for search visibility. However, the interesting thing here is that sites such as MoneySupermarket, Money Saving Expert et al, have huge, huge consumer followings because of a focus on impartial advice and frugal tips n’ tricks.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

I sat down recently with Ben McKay, MoneySupermarket’s Head of Organic Performance to learn a little bit about how they approach organic search from a strategic content perspective.

This is the first time MoneySupermarket has ever shared anything on its search strategy*, so enjoy…

Can you tell us a bit about who you are, and your role at MoneySupermarket (MSM)?

I’m Ben McKay – Head of Organic Performance – responsible for SEO, social media, video and blogger relations for MoneySupermarket. I joined MSM as Head of SEO, so this gives you a clue as to my heritage in marketing, but having started my career in offline, I have always carried a huge respect for wider marketing disciplines.

What’s MSM’s top line SEO strategy?

MSM’s SEO strategy is to put the customer at the center of our the process of creating content. To many of us, SEO used to be as simple as thinking about keywords, links and technical development. Now however, achieving sustainable organic visibility is dependent on the evolution of ‘traditional SEO’ by engaging consumers, helping people to share great content, personalising content and respecting the collaborative process with digital and non-digital marketing disciplines. Simply put, we want to engage consumers in content that they care about.

The Organic Performance team now employs designers, developers, video, social media, digital PR, and SEO professionals. I want MSM to be the most agile content marketing team in the UK as I believe MoneySupermarket can play a really important role in saving consumers money – at a time when it has never been more important to do so.

How closely do you work with social media/forum moderators/content team?

We have dissolved the SEO and social media teams in their traditional form, and remoulded them to be more consumer value and campaign-centric – the team is now called Organic Performance. This means that the energy and talent of a wide variety of digital marketing professionals is integrated under shared KPIs.

The Content team act as the glue for all that we do as a business. The role of content is beyond just putting words on a page, but in adding value to consumers via fun, interesting and helpful content – in a range of media formats. Like with many of our marketing teams, the Content, PR and Organic Performance teams, through an integrated planning process, work together daily – so closely in fact that we would not see the same success without the value that comes from people like our Head of Content, Clare Francis and Head of PR, Susannah Clark.

Were you surprised at the Econ results? It must be to your commercial advantage?

The SEO success of the business stems from the vision of its founder, Simon Nixon, investing assertively in this area from the earliest opportunity. Although the SEO strategy has taken many forms, it is very pleasing to see that the latest2012 H1 results have surpassed expectation, seeing SEO support the business with 29% growth in revenue.

With success draws the attention of people in the industry that want to be part of something growing and great, so needless to say, with such a highly talented and ambitious team that I am so very fortunate to work with, comes a whole lot of fun for the team along the way too!

In your opinion, what can banks learn about approaching online content from this?

Having previously supported a number of high street banks in their SEO strategy in a former role, I believe they have a huge opportunity in promoting trust, building authority and value for customers using their content. Where MSM has been most successful (from its core employees to its board) is by being very ambitious and progressive in removing organisational barriers, and thus helping consumers save money – we expect to save consumers £1bn in 2012. Removing barriers can take many forms, but MSM approached it by identifying where there is shared marketing interest (e.g. social media and content strategies) and build organisational structures around these shared themes. In the time that this has been emerging, MSM has, in my mind become one of the best places to work in the UK – something that I hear from people in my team and from around the business.

Our teams’ belief in what we can do to help consumers is going from strength-to-strength, and that only comes from continually seeing great results from a whole lot of learning and practice!

Thanks to Ben for his time.

*Also published on the Wolstar blog

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