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Q&A: Avaya's Attal on search strategy

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Jocelyn Attal, CMO at Avaya Technologies, has been working on transforming the manufacturer of enterprise telephony and call center technology from a hardware company into a software and services company—not an easy task. Attal recently spoke with BtoB about the importance of search in the company’s advertising and marketing strategy.

BtoB: What are the trends in your businesses right now?

Attal: There is a lot of activity in our industry right now around mobility and unified communications. These are top of mind for CIOs and for C-level executives. If you look at some research from CIO Magazine and the Conference Board and so forth, the biggest pain points are around customer service, customer loyalty and the mobile workforce.

BtoB: How do you optimize your Web site?

Attal: We use search terms that touch on the customer story. We want to make sure all the content we make available on the Web has the “magic” keywords in it. It’s a completely different way of looking at the content. When you do SEO, you have to make sure your content is linked to it.

Putting money in search and not redesigning your content to use keywords is a waste of money. [For example], you need to use keywords in press releases. When we post on PR Newswire and someone is searching on a keyword, then [that] press release comes up.

BtoB: What is your keyword strategy?

Attal: It’s almost a weekly decision at this point, because we see new words being adopted [by our prospects and customers]. The words are changing. Microsoft is very important … because they are getting into the [communications] industry. They are pushing some keywords and phrases that we have to consider, like “click for call” and “definition of unified communication,” and also words like “PBX.”

You have new entrants in the IT space. Five or six years ago, we were the only ones talking to telecommunications people. Today, we talk to people writing applications, to the developers. … Everyone talks about “unified” communications. Nobody really understands what it is. People started using that term instead of “mobile.” We have to push our investment on that word.

You have some keywords that don’t change, like “IT telephony,” but other words are changing as the trends change.

BtoB: When it comes to marketing, is most of your focus on search right now?

Attal: I don’t believe search is sufficient. It’s a combination of things. It has to be coupled with other ways of doing marketing, including print, and classic online banners and even out-of-home.

Online is really dominating my spending right now, but we learned with pain that you need some balance between the traditional and the new. We put everything online for one quarter, and we saw it directly in the numbers. [Awareness and consideration numbers] went down.

If someone has the right balance, I’d like to meet them. We’re still very much working on finding that. We don’t have the secret recipe. I’m always harassing my team to see what more we can do, what we can do better, where we can improve.

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