Stop Gambling with Your Marketing and Go Pro with Tips from Ten Pubcon Pro Speakers

Pubcon Pro

In the fast paced world of search and digital marketing, what separates amateurs from professionals often comes down one simple distinction: marketing as a gamble or marketing as a planned, measured and iteratively optimized discipline.

There are far too many marketing campaigns being implemented simply because “that’s how we’ve always done it”, as a reaction to the competition and as a limitation of the in-house team tasked with execution. Professional marketers go beyond wishful thinking and hopes of “better luck next time”.

So, what does it mean to be a “professional”?

Being a professional in any industry represents a combination of characteristics including:

  • Specialized knowledge
  • Competency
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • AccountabilitySelf-Regulation

Marketing professionals represent these things and more:

  • Creativity
  • Analytical Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills

If you want more marketing success, it takes a shift in perspective, an effort to expand your knowledge and awareness of what’s possible.

There are few “sure things” in marketing, but one thing you can count on is the value of the expertise and advice from the group of 10 expert marketers contributing to the Marketers Go Pro ebook we developed for the Pubcon Pro conference in Las Vegas happening in a few weeks. We polled the keynote and main stage speakers for their best advice based on the presentations they will be giving at the conference. I’m one of those main stage speakers, so I contributed as well.

Here’s a list of the marketing experts who contributed and a taste of the insights you’ll find inside the ebook:

Joe Pulizzi
The formula for building a loyal audience looks like this:
– Identify your sweet spot
– Find your content tilt
– Build your base
– Harvest your audience
– Diversify
– Monetize (Tweet this)
Joe Pulizzi, @JoePulizzi
Founder, Content Marketing Institute, Co-Founder, The Orange Effect Foundation

Debra Jasper
“Today’s clients and colleagues have an eight second attention span. Eight seconds. To break through the noise, you must communicate with more power, clarity and impact.” (Tweet this)
Debra Jasper @DebraJasper
Founder & CEO, Mindset Digital

Aleyda Solis
“Expand your Web reach and diversify your business by targeting an international audience, but avoid launching in too many markets, choosing the wrong web structure or not effectively localizing.”  (Tweet this)
Aleyda Solis
@aleyda
International SEO Consultant & Founder, Orainti

Lee Odden
“By building internal credibility, activating customers, creating a content collaboration ecosystem and working with influencers, Marketing can improve credibility, influence and trust.” (Tweet this)
Lee Odden @leeodden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

Purna Virji
“When it comes to optimizing the customer experience, design for conversation from the start. Remember, the most important thing for the user is convenience.” (Tweet this)
Purna Virji
@purnavirji
Sr. Manager, Global Engagement at Microsoft

Roger Dooley
“Want a higher conversion rate and customer loyalty? Make it easier to do business with you. Reducing friction in every interaction is the path to getting and keeping more customers.” (Tweet this)
Roger Dooley
@rogerdooley
Founder, Dooley Direct

Bill Hunt
“To be successful in SEO we must adapt to and embrace the evolving search engine landscape in both the SERPS and in our organizations.” (Tweet this)
Bill Hunt
@BillHunt
President, Back Azimuth Consulting

Eric Enge
“Is SEO dead? Whole new worlds of challenges and opportunities exist for SEO because of Google’s 2018 algorithm changes, mobile dominance, speed, and voice.” (Tweet this)
Eric Enge
@stonetemple
General Manager, Perficient Digital

Joe Laratro
“To stay at the top of the SERPs you need an SEO diet of analytics for crucial data, structure fixes, content optimization, link building and tools to gauge results.” (Tweet this)
Joe Laratro
@jlaratro
President, Tandem Interactive

Scott Monty
“Customers want experiences that are more about them and their needs. To increase customer retention, marketers can use date to deliver on more personal experiences.”  (Tweet this)
Scott Monty
@scottmonty
Principal, Scott Monty Strategies

To see the full text of our experts’ advice, check out the full ebook below. You’ll also find the details of when, where and what their keynote and main stage presentations will be about.

Besides me, TopRank Marketing will have several team members attending and liveblogging at the Pubcon Pro conference including our agency social content manager, Lane Ellis and senior account manager, Tiffani Allen. You can follow them at @lanerellis and @tiffani_allen as well as our agency tweets during the event at @toprank.

We hope to see you there!

Digital Marketing News: Adobe’s $4.75B Marketo Buy, Google’s 20th Anniversary Neural Matching, & Facebook Lets Pages Join Groups

2018 September 28 News Word of Mouth Image

Adobe’s $4.75 Billion Purchase of Marketo Will Boost Its Ability to Compete With Salesforce
In its biggest purchase ever, Adobe has acquired Marketo, shoring up its B2B footprint and giving a vote of confidence to the marketing technology industry. AdWeek

[embedded content]

Google Begins Using Neural Matching to Understand Synonyms, Impacting 30% of Queries
For its twentieth anniversary, Google has rolled out an array of new features, including neural matching artificial intelligence, mobile updates, and search changes including Activity Cards, announced at the company’s two-decade celebratory event. Search Engine Journal

Facebook Will Now Allow Pages to Join Facebook Groups
Facebook has allowed certain Pages to join, comment on, and otherwise interact with Groups, a new test that could lead to filling a need expressed by some digital marketers. Social Media Today

Report: Digital now makes up 51% of US ad spending
Led by search, video, and social, digital has for the first time topped the overall ad spend market, according to data from a new study by Magna. Marketing Land

5 Key Benefits of Word of Mouth [Infographic]
A look at the staying power of word-of-mouth recommendations in digital advertising, spurred by the release of a new book by noted marketers Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin. Social Media Today

Most B2B Marketers Report Positive ROI… If They Know What It Is.
44 percent of some 400 B2B marketers surveyed for Bizible’s new State of Pipeline Marketing report noted they’re unsure of what their average marketing return on investment (ROI) is, among several other study findings. MarketingCharts

2018 September 28 News Statistics Image

Instagram co-founders resign in latest Facebook executive exit
Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned on Monday, the firm announced. The moves follow other recent big-name departures from Facebook-owned services including WhatsApp. How will the departures of its co-founders change Instagram, and what will the two do next? Reuters

What’s driving B2B buyers to e-commerce
A look at shifting e-commerce patterns in the B2B landscape, and how they are affecting what is a $900 billion market in the U.S. alone, as B2B buyers do more total online purchasing. DigitalCommerce360

Google’s Data Studio is now generally available
Google Data Studio, the firm’s data visualization and reporting tool grouped within its Google Marketing Platform, has graduated from beta status and become available to all. Google Marketing Platform

How Marketers Can Be Strategic Influencers, and Why Their Input Is Key for Companies [Infographic]
An infographic look at some of the benefits of making sure that marketing is included at the highest levels of strategic planning. MarketingProfs

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2018 September 28 Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at 360-Degree Customer View by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Here are all of Google’s 20th anniversary Easter eggs — TechCrunch

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Content Marketing World 2018 – Conference Report — Peter Krmpotic
  • Lee Odden — Influencer Marketing: It has changed, have you? — Marcy Massura
  • Lee Odden — Tune in October 3 to catch Lee Odden speaking at the AMA Digital Marketing Virtual Conference — AMA

What are some of your top content marketing news items this week?

Thanks for joining us, and we hope you’ll check in again next week for a new selection of the most relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Surprising SEO A/B Test Results – Whiteboard Friday

You can make all the tweaks and changes in the world, but how do you know they’re the best choice for the site you’re working on? Without data to support your hypotheses, it’s hard to say. In this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Will Critchlow explains a bit about what A/B testing for SEO entails and describes some of the surprising results he’s seen that prove you can’t always trust your instinct in our industry.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another British Whiteboard Friday. My name is Will Critchlow. I’m the founder and CEO at Distilled. At Distilled, one of the things that we’ve been working on recently is building an SEO A/B testing platform. It’s called the ODN, the Optimization Delivery Network. We’re now deployed on a bunch of big sites, and we’ve been running these SEO A/B tests for a little while. I want to tell you about some of the surprising results that we’ve seen.

What is SEO A/B testing?

We’re going to link to some resources that will show you more about what SEO A/B testing is. But very quickly, the general principle is that you take a site section, so a bunch of pages that have a similar structure and layout and template and so forth, and you split those pages into control and variant, so a group of A pages and a group of B pages.

Then you make the change that you’re hypothesizing is going to make a difference just to one of those groups of pages, and you leave the other set unchanged. Then, using your analytics data, you build a forecast of what would have happened to the variant pages if you hadn’t made any changes to them, and you compare what actually happens to the forecast. Out of that you get some statistical confidence intervals, and you get to say, yes, this is an uplift, or there was no difference, or no, this hurt the performance of your site.

This is data that we’ve never really had in SEO before, because this is very different to running a controlled experiment in a kind of lab environment or on a test domain. This is in the wild, on real, actual, live websites. So let’s get to the material. The first surprising result I want to talk about is based off some of the most basic advice that you’ve ever seen.

Result #1: Targeting higher-volume keywords can actually result in traffic drops

I’ve stood on stage and given this advice. I have recommended this stuff to clients. Probably you have too. You know that process where you do some keyword research and you find that there’s one particular way of searching for whatever it is that you offer that has more search volume than the way that you’re talking about it on your website right now, so higher search volume for a particular way of phrasing?

You make the recommendation, “Let’s talk about this stuff on our website the way that people are searching for it. Let’s put this kind of phrasing in our title and elsewhere on our pages.” I’ve made those recommendations. You’ve probably made those recommendations. They don’t always work. We’ve seen a few times now actually of testing this kind of process and seeing what are actually dramatic drops.

We saw up to 20-plus-percent drops in organic traffic after updating meta information in titles and so forth to target the more commonly-searched-for variant. Various different reasons for this. Maybe you end up with a worse click-through rate from the search results. So maybe you rank where you used to, but get a worse click-through rate. Maybe you improve your ranking for the higher volume target term and you move up a little bit, but you move down for the other one and the new one is more competitive.

So yes, you’ve moved up a little bit, but you’re still out of the running, and so it’s a net loss. Or maybe you end up ranking for fewer variations of key phrases on these pages. However it happens, you can’t be certain that just putting the higher-volume keyword phrasing on your pages is going to perform better. So that’s surprising result number one. Surprising result number two is possibly not that surprising, but pretty important I think.

Result #2: 30–40% of common tech audit recommendations make no difference

So this is that we see as many as 30% or 40% of the common recommendations in a classic tech audit make no difference. You do all of this work auditing the website. You follow SEO best practices. You find a thing that, in theory, makes the website better. You go and make the change. You test it.

Nothing, flatlines. You get the same performance as the forecast, as if you had made no change. This is a big deal because it’s making these kinds of recommendations that damages trust with engineers and product teams. You’re constantly asking them to do stuff. They feel like it’s pointless. They do all this stuff, and there’s no difference. That is what burns authority with engineering teams too often.

This is one of the reasons why we built the platform is that we can then take our 20 recommendations and hypotheses, test them all, find the 5 or 6 that move the needle, only go to the engineering team to build those ones, and that builds so much trust and relationship over time, and they get to work on stuff that moves the needle on the product side.

So the big deal there is really be a bit skeptical about some of this stuff. The best practices, at the limit, probably make a difference. If everything else is equal and you make that one tiny, little tweak to the alt attribute or a particular image somewhere deep on the page, if everything else had been equal, maybe that would have made the difference.

But is it going to move you up in a competitive ranking environment? That’s what we need to be skeptical about.

Result #3: Many lessons don’t generalize

So surprising result number three is: How many lessons do not generalize? We’ve seen this broadly across different sections on the same website, even different industries. Some of this is about the competitive dynamics of the industry.

Some of it is probably just the complexity of the ranking algorithm these days. But we see this in particular with things like this. Who’s seen SEO text on a category page? Those kind of you’ve got all of your products, and then somebody says, “You know what? We need 200 or 250 words that mention our key phrase a bunch of times down at the bottom of the page.” Sometimes, helpfully, your engineers will even put this in an SEO-text div for you.

So we see this pretty often, and we’ve tested removing it. We said, “You know what? No users are looking at this. We know that overstuffing the keyword on the page can be a negative ranking signal. I wonder if we’ll do better if we just cut that div.” So we remove it, and the first time we did it, plus 6% result. This was a good thing.

The pages are better without it. They’re now ranking better. We’re getting better performance. So we say, “You know what? We’ve learnt this lesson. You should remove this really low-quality text from the bottom of your category pages.” But then we tested it on another site, and we see there’s a drop, a small one admittedly, but it was helping on these particular pages.

So I think what that’s just telling us is we need to be testing these recommendations every time. We need to be trying to build testing into our core methodologies, and I think this trend is only going to increase and continue, because the more complex the ranking algorithms get, the more machine learning is baked into it and it’s not as deterministic as it used to be, and the more competitive the markets get, so the narrower the gap between you and your competitors, the less stable all this stuff is, the smaller differences there will be, and the bigger opportunity there will be for something that works in one place to be null or negative in another.

So I hope I have inspired you to check out some SEO A/B testing. We’re going to link to some of the resources that describe how you do it, how you can do it yourself, and how you can build a program around this as well as some other of our case studies and lessons that we’ve learnt. But I hope you enjoyed this journey on surprising results from SEO A/B tests.

Resources:

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Power Pages and Best Answer Content: Should You Go Long or Short Form?

Long vs short form content

Buyers have questions and sellers better have answers that are easy to find, informative and inspiring. This is the cornerstone behind “Best Answer” content marketing strategy. But what qualifies as best answer content? How deep or wide do you need to go on a topic?

Is it better to use short form or long form content for content marketing?

From informal observations like ours on video and social media to formal studies in the marketing industry, much has been said about the topic of content length with some pretty compelling arguments in favor of long form content.

For example, BuzzSumo’s 2018 Content Trends Report says long form content consistently gains backlinks which is great for referral traffic and SEO. Another study from BuzzSumo and AppSumo reported in their analysis of 100 million articles that the longer the content, the more shares it gets. In Backlinko’s own research of 1 million Google search results, comprehensive content significantly outperformed shallow content. In that same study, the average word count of a Google first page result was found to be 1,890 words.

Does this mean you should always write 1,890 word blog posts? Do customers always want to binge on content?

Savvy marketers understand that statistical generalizations can be useful for making persuasive arguments but not always so useful in practice. As a long time B2B content marketing practitioner, here’s what I’ve found to be true when it comes to long form content.

Engagement and reach are intertwined when it comes to digital content. Search continues to be an important connector of brand solutions content with buyers at the very moment they need it. A number of analysis identifying the content types that fare best in search have superficially associated length with “better”.

“The idea that long form content is best can be misleading. Content depth and utility trump length for search engines and buyers.” @leeodden

The reality is that depth is better than length. It just happens that much of the content that covers a topic thoroughly also has length. But it is not the number of words that has merit. It’s the words used, structure, usefulness, citations and associated entities that matter most for search engines trying to understand and rank “best answer” content and people looking for solutions.

Google is essentially an answer engine and if companies want to be the “best answer” for what their potential customers are looking for, they’ll want to invest in content that is comprehensive and engaging on the topic.

For powerful content, publish powerful pages. One of the tactics to become the best answer for topics that are and important to customers and that represent the solutions from the brand are what we at TopRank Marketing call, “Power Pages”.

Best Answer Content works in tandem with the idea of Power Pages, which are encyclopedic treatments of a specific topic and will often serve as the hub of an idea with spokes to tangential and related ideas in the form of other pages or posts. Insights about customer interests, goals, pain points and questions about the topic all inform the creation of relevant Power Pages that meet the demands of customer intent.

Power Page Layout

The information architecture with Power Pages is very logical with attention to be both search and buyer friendly. Exploration of an issue from what it is, to how it can be solved, to evidence of credibility and triggers to take action can all be found within a single Power Page and it’s ecosystem of subordinate or related content.

For example, the Power Page below from Click Software on the topic of Field Service Engagement has performed incredibly well in search, on social and with customers.

Field Service Engagement

Powerful content drives search traffic. While Power Pages play an important part of a Best Answer Content Marketing Strategy irregardless of how that content is promoted, successful marketers are paying special attention to their ability to attract customers at the moment of need. Of course I’m talking about Search Engine Optimization.

Optimization should be part of your ongoing content process. There are many ways companies are making it easier and more effective for Google to crawl, index and rank brand content. From ensuring pages are fast and mobile friendly with useful, logical content to optimizing for clickthrough in SERPs and adding signals of credibility / authority to content through attracted links from credible sources, influencer quotes and credible content like statistics and cited excerpts, the list of search performance optimization tactics is always evolving.

Optimize for people and search engines. Here is a list of 9 potential places where you can decide to put your target keyword phrase in your (long or short) power page. as long as it flows well and satisfies your brand standards:

  1. Title tag – this is also what is often used to pre-populate social shares and used for bookmark text
  2. On page title using the H1 tag
  3. Body copy of your page – of course
  4. URL of the page with words separated by hyphens: firstword-secondword-thirdword.html
  5. Image alt attribute – good for usability
  6. Meta description to inspire clicks when displayed in search results
  7. As synonyms or concepts related to the focus phrase (a must if you cover a topic deeply)
  8. In the form of questions that customers might ask – then you can answer them in your content
  9. Anchor text to related pages on your site

Remember, these are just options for optimizing your power page – you don’t need to use them all. The first priority should be to use the target keyword phrase with the frequency that will be useful to the reader.

So, is long form content really better than short form content? The answer is that your content should be whatever length and depth that will satisfy customer efforts to discover resources, understand solutions and to take action towards a solution. As questions these criteria are important to answer with every blog post or article:

  • What is it?
  • How does it work?
  • What do I do next?

For some topics, audiences and situations, the best approach might be content answers that go deep on a topic, but are not necessarily long on words. In other situations a topic might require a lengthy treatment in order to satisfy the buyers need to understand, consider and decide. The key is to create and optimize content that fulfills the customer’s effort at discovering, learning and deciding on a solution.

When it comes to long vs. short form content, the lesson to learn is to avoid just checking off boxes that say you need to write 2,000 (or 1,890) words to satisfy Google. Know your customers well enough through data to create a best answer content strategy and content mix that is relevant, optimized for discovery, useful and actionable. Make the length of your content more about the depth of topic necessary to satisfy customers and their search intent and less about fulfilling a generalization about content that might not even represent what your customers care about.

This post was inspired by an article that I was interviewed for on Marcom Insights

The E-Commerce Benchmark KPI Study: The Most Valuable Online Consumer Trend of 2018 Revealed [Video]

The latest Wolfgang E-Commerce Report is now live. This study gives a comprehensive view of the state of digital marketing in retail and travel, allowing digital marketers to benchmark their 2018 performance and plan their 2019 strategy.

The study analyzes over 250 million website sessions and more than €500 million in online revenue. Google Analytics, new Facebook Analytics reports, and online surveys are used to glean insights.

Revenue volume correlations

One of the unique features of the study is its conversion correlation. All website metrics featured in the study are correlated with conversion success to reveal what the most successful websites do differently.

This year we’ve uncovered our strongest success correlation ever at 0.67! Just to give that figure context: normally, 0.2 is worth talking about and 0.3 is noteworthy. Not only is this correlation with success very strong, the insight itself is highly actionable and can become a pillar of your digital marketing strategy.

And the stand out metric is (drumroll, please!)…

Number of sessions per user.

To put it plainly, the websites that generate the most online revenue have the highest number of sessions per user over 12 months. Check out the video below to get a detailed explanation of this phenomenon:

Video transcript available below

These are the top factors that correlated with revenue volume. You can see the other correlations in the full study.

Click to see a bigger version

  • Average pages per session (.37)
  • Average session length (.49)
  • Conversion rate by users (.41)
  • Number of sessions per user (.67)
  • Percentage of sessions from paid search (.25)

Average website engagement metrics

Number of sessions per user Average pages per session Average session duration Bounce rate Average page load time Average server response time
Retail 1.58 6 3min 18sec 38.04% 6.84 1.02
Multi-channel 1.51 6 3min 17sec 35.27% 6.83 1.08
Online-only 1.52 5 3min 14sec 43.80% 6.84 0.89
Travel 1.57 3 2min 34sec 44.14% 6.76 0.94
Overall 1.58 5 3min 1sec 41.26% 6.80 0.97

Above are the average website engagement metrics. You can see the average number of sessions per user is very low at 1.5 over 12 months. Anything a digital marketer can do to get this to 2, to 3, and to 4 makes for about the best digital marketing they can do.

At Wolfgang Digital, we’ve been witnessing this phenomenon at a micro-level for some time now. Many of our most successful campaigns of late have been focused on presenting the user with an evolving message which matures with each interaction across multiple media touchpoints.

Click through to the Wolfgang E-Commerce KPI Report in full to uncover dozens more insights, including:

  • Is a social media engagement more valuable than a website visit?
  • What’s the true value of a share?
  • What’s the average conversion rate for online-only vs multi-channel retailers?
  • What’s the average order value for a hotel vs. tour operator?

Video Transcript

Today I want to talk to you about the most important online consumer trend in 2018. The story starts in a client meeting about four years ago, and we were meeting with a travel client. We got into a discussion about bounce rate and its implication on conversion rate. The client was asking us, “could we optimize our search and social campaigns to reduce bounce rate?”, which is a perfectly valid question.

But we were wondering: Will we lower the rate of conversions? Are all bounces bad? As a result of this meeting, we said, “You know, we need a really scientific answer to that question about any of the website engagement metrics or any of the website channels and their influence on conversion.” Out of that conversation, our E-Commerce KPI Report was born. We’re now four years into it. (See previous years on the Moz Blog: 2015, 2016, 2017.)

The metric with the strongest correlation to conversions: Number of sessions per user

We’ve just released the 2019 E-Commerce KPI Report, and we have a standout finding, probably the strongest correlation we’ve ever seen between a website engagement metric and a website conversion metric. This is beautiful because we’re all always optimizing for conversion metrics. But if you can isolate the engagement metrics which deliver, which are the money-making metrics, then you can be much more intelligent about how you create digital marketing campaigns.

The strongest correlation we’ve ever seen in this study is number of sessions per user, and the metric simply tells us on average how many times did your users visit your website. What we’re learning here is any digital marketing you can do which makes that number increase is going to dramatically increase your conversions, your revenue success.

Change the focus of your campaigns

It’s a beautiful metric to plan campaigns with because it changes the focus. We’re not looking for a campaign that’s a one-click wonder campaign. We’re not looking for a campaign that it’s one message delivered multiple times to the same user. Much more so, we’re trying to create a journey, multiple touchpoints which deliver a user from their initial interaction through the purchase funnel, right through to conversion.

Create an itinerary of touchpoints along the searcher’s journey

1. Research via Google

Let me give you an example. We started this with a story about a travel company. I’m just back from a swimming holiday in the west of Ireland. So let’s say I have a fictional travel company. We’ll call them Wolfgang Wild Swimming. I’m going to be a person who’s researching a swimming holiday. So I’m going to go to Google first, and I’m going to search for swimming holidays in Ireland.

2. E-book download via remarketing

I’m going to go to the Wolfgang Wild Swimming web page, where I’m going to read a little bit about their offering. In doing that, I’m going to enter their Facebook audience. The next time I go to Facebook, they’re now remarketing to me, and they’ll be encouraging me to download their e-book, which is a guide to the best swimming spots in the wild west of Ireland. I’m going to volunteer my email to them to get access to the book. Then I’m going to spend a bit more time consuming their content and reading their book.

3. Email about a local offline event

A week later, I get an email from them, and they’re having an event in my area. They’re going for a swim in Dublin, one of my local spots in The Forty Foot, for example. I’m saying, “Well, I was going to go for a swim this weekend anyway. I might as well go with this group.” I go to the swim where I can meet the tour guides. I can meet people who have been on it before. I’m now really close to making a purchase.

4. YouTube video content consumed via remarketing

Again, a week later, they have my email address, so they’re targeting me on YouTube with videos of previous holidays. Now I’m watching video content. All of a sudden, Wolfgang Wild Swimming comes up. I’m now watching a video of a previous holiday, and I’m recognizing the instructors and the participants in the previous holidays. I’m really, really close to pressing Purchase on a holiday here. I’m on the phone to my friend saying, “I found the one. Let’s book this.”

Each interaction moves the consumer closer to purchase

I hope what you’re seeing there is with each interaction, the Google search, the Facebook ad which led to an e-book download, the offline event, back online to the YouTube video, with each interaction I’m getting closer to the purchase.

You can imagine the conversion rate and the return on ad spend on each interaction increasing as we go. This is a really powerful message for us as digital marketers. When we’re planning a campaign, we think about ourselves as though we’re in the travel business too, and we’re actually creating an itinerary. We’re simply trying to create an itinerary of touchpoints that guide a searcher through awareness, interest, right through to action and making that purchase.

I think it’s not just our study that tells us this is the truth. A lot of the best-performing campaigns we’ve been running we’ve seen this anecdotally, that every extra touchpoint increases the conversion rate. Really powerful insight, really useful for digital marketers when planning campaigns. This is just one of the many insights from our E-Commerce KPI Report. If you found that interesting, I’d urge you to go read the full report today.

Is Anybody Out There? How to Get More Eyes On Your Blog Content

Tips for Better Blog Content Promotion

What’s more important than creating great blog content? What’s more important than writing with empathy, storytelling, and research? What’s more important than even knowing your audience better than they know themselves?

Amplification.

Stay with me. If you’re a content marketing writer like me, amplification is the less sexy part of the job. The rewarding part, the part that matters, is writing that amazing, useful content. I’d much rather build glittering cathedrals of words that compel people to read by the sheer power of my prose.

The trouble is, there are thousands of people out there writing amazing blogs. There is a ton of wonderful, beautiful pieces of content out there. And the only way people will find your blog is if you bring them to it. Without amplification built into your content marketing strategy, your blog is a diamond buried five miles beneath the surface of the earth. It’s pretty! It’s valuable! But it’s not doing anyone any good.

So, how are we content marketers doing with blog amplification? Are we using every channel? Getting the most mileage out of every paid service? Bringing in beaucoup eyeballs for the content we spend so much time creating?

Well, no. According to a recent report from Outreach Plus, we all have some room for improvement. Of the 500 business they surveyed, at least half are leaving money on the table.

Here’s how to amp up your blog amplification.

How to Unleash the Potential of Your Blog Content

#1: Put Your Social Promotion on Repeat. Also, Put Your Social Promotion on Repeat.

Repetition on social media is key, but it looks like the majority of marketers are holding back. Less than half of those surveyed posted the same blog post link more than twice on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest. Most marketers are posting to Twitter more than twice, but that platform is the outlier.

How Often Marketers Promote Blog Content on Social

Photo Credit: Outreach Plus

It’s important to remember two key points about every social media site:

  1. Your post’s organic amplification is heavily throttled.
  2. Your audience’s feeds are full and move fast.

So, don’t be shy about posting your content more than once. You’re not going to overload your audience. Odds are they didn’t see the first one, for either of the reasons mentioned above.

Do some testing to figure out the right cadence for reposting on each channel. In addition, vary your text and creative each time. But definitely start thinking beyond a one-and-done. Repetition on social media is key.

When it comes to promoting your blog content on #socialmedia, repetition is key. Also, repetition is key. – @NiteWrites #ContentPromotion Click To Tweet

#2: Explore More Paid Channels

The survey also shows that marketers could stand to explore more paid promotion options. Sixty-three percent said they promote some posts on Facebook, while only 29% said they used Google Ads. Less than 2% said they used promoted tweets or LinkedIn ads.

Our experience as an agency has shown it’s wise to at least test on every channel. The results might surprise you. For B2B, LinkedIn* is one to bring to the top of the testing list, both through paid ads and as a spot for native-published content. The CPC on LinkedIn can be higher than other channels, but the quality of leads tend to be higher. It’s worth experimenting to see if your most valued audience is there; if you’re B2B, they likely are.

But remember, the success of your paid efforts is rooted in your content. The blog content that you promote has to be good, it has to be relevant, and it has to resonate.

Remember, any blog content that you pay to promote has to be good, it has to be relevant, and it has to resonate. #ContentPromotion Click To Tweet

#3: Invest in Email

Some 39% of marketers surveyed promote every blog post to their email list. A whopping 22% either don’t have a list or don’t ever use it to promote content, while 39% promote sometimes.

In other words, the majority of marketers are missing out.

Email marketing is the Helen Mirren of marketing tactics. Yes, it’s older than most of our other tactics, but it’s somehow better than it was even a decade ago.

via GIPHY

Every marketer with blog content to promote should be building a subscriber list and serving it great, preferably personalized, content. As social media gets more and more stingy about letting you talk to your audience, that subscriber list is crucial. Focus on converting your traffic to subscribers; get them opted-in, invested, and onto your blog.

#4: Get Proactive with Outreach

Nineteen percent of marketers said they never reach out to people or websites mentioned in a post.

Repetition is key, so let me type that again, bold it, and italicize it. I’m in awe of the fact that one-fifth of marketers are missing so big of an opportunity.

Nineteen percent of marketers said they NEVER reach out to people or websites mentioned in a post.

In addition, 41% said they only outreach sometimes. That leaves only 41% who are doing their due diligence with outreach.

First, you need to mention people and websites in your post. Use them for third-party verification, credibility, and to highlight the contributions they’re making in your industry. Use inspiring quotes you’ve curated from thought leaders. Maybe, I don’t know, write a blog post about an insightful industry report someone did. ?

Once your content goes live, let those people know. You’re paying them a compliment, helping promote their work, and showcasing their expertise. Of course they’ll want to know about your content. Not only might they help promote the post, you might also be starting a relationship that leads to an opportunity to co-create content with an influencer.

#5: Measure & Optimize

Here’s another statistic that should give you a stomachache: 10% of marketers are not tracking their promotion efforts at all. Not even the most cursory glance at Google Analytics. That’s right, one in 10 marketers has no idea how their content is doing.

The majority of marketers are only looking at top-level metrics like traffic and social media shares to determine effectiveness.

How Marketers Track Content

Photo Credit: Outreach Plus

There is some value in these so-called “vanity metrics,” especially compared to not tracking at all. But there’s far more value to be had from measuring against meaningful KPIs and optimizing over time.

Measure your influencer shares. Use tracking URLs to measure how each influencer’s shares perform. Measure shares from different platforms. Compare paid versus organic. Go deeper than traffic and measure the signals that affect your search engine ranking, like time on page and bounce rate.

Measure and report, but don’t stop there. Optimize your blog content that’s not meeting your KPIs. Is the bounce rate high? Adjust your title and meta description to more accurately describe the post. Time on page low? Front-load your content with the good stuff, add a mid-piece CTA, and make sure it’s optimized to pull readers through to the end.

Measurement and optimization are not optional. For our team, they’re one of the most critical parts of the process. We want to continually sharpen our marketing, honing in on the combination of tactics, channels, content and audience that gets the best results. Without measurement — and measuring the right things — that kind of improvement is impossible.

Measure and report, but don’t stop there. Optimize your blog content that’s not meeting your KPIs. – @NiteWrites #ContentPromotion #Blogging Click To Tweet

Maximize the Potential of Your Blog Content

Despite the content crunch, your organization’s blog is still a valuable place to engage potential customers. But it’s not enough to write great stuff and call it a day.

If you’re doing it right, you will likely spend more time amplifying a post than you did writing it. That’s as it should be. With the right promotion, one piece of content can do the work of 10 unamplified posts, educating your audience, building thought leadership, and nurturing prospects throughout their buying journey.

Need more ways to make sure your content gets seen? Check out these 50 content promotion tactics from a content marketing master.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead

Collective Wisdom Series Part 1 Planning Ahead Chess Image

They say two heads are better than one, but we say the more the merrier — especially when it comes to bringing you actionable tips and insights to fuel your digital marketing efforts.

That’s why we’re proud to announce our “Collective Wisdom” series. Throughout the series, we’ll be bringing you insights, tips, and perspectives from some of the top marketing minds to help guide your content marketing strategy. With each entry, you’ll quickly learn proven methods, taking you from the very beginning of the content planning cycle to post-publication amplification and optimization.

Where should we start? At the beginning, of course.

In this piece, we explore the crucial planning stage that essential for content marketing success.

Planning Your Content — Get A Jump Ahead By Stepping Back

Having a solid plan in place is the foundation of any successful content marketing journey. There are several considerations you’ll want to consider before jumping into creation, helping ensure that you have a well-thought-out and meaningful plan from beginning to end already in place.

via GIPHY

Tactic 1: Commit to Having a Plan

As the old saying goes, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” For marketers, that single, first step is committing to developing and documenting your content editorial plan, even if it’s not super sophisticated to begin with.

Unfortunately, some digital marketers often skip this step entirely. And with 32% of marketers staying organized is a top content planning challenge. Documenting a content plan that you can consistently refer back to will most certainly help.

If you don’t know where to start, start with reading the DivvyHQ and TopRank Marketing report, which features marketers Michael Brenner, Tamsen Webster, Carla Johnson, Robert Rose, and others sharing methods for creating proper content calendars and involving team members in the content planning process.

DivvyHQ 2018 Content Planning Report Image

Tactic 2: Build and Ask a List of Sharers Before Publication

You know that once you release your content into the wild, you need to promote it. But do you spend time upfront locking down who could help you spread the word? If not, the upfront effort is worth it. You’ll have a key next step built in your process, rather than scrambling last minute.

Building a list of target sharers is a two-step process:

1) Reviewing your known contacts

2) Researching and qualifying others who would find your content relevant and share-worthy.

When it comes to researching newbies to add to your list, EmailField’s Aman Thakur likes to use BuzzSumo to discover people who have a history of sharing content similar to what you plan to publish, by searching for keywords related to your piece.

Thakur then recommends looking for relevant BuzzSumo articles that have over 200 or so Twitter shares, filtering the list by people, and exporting them to your sharer-contact spreadsheet or document, a technique he outlined for CMI.

BuzzSumo Sharer List Image

Moz contributor Isla McKetta is a fan of using Followerwonk to search through Twitter profile biographies to help build a list of influencers in your niche who may be well-suited to sharing your content, as she details in the Moz guide to content marketing.

Followerwork Twitter Bio Search Image

Tactic 3: Plan Post Reuse In Advance

Actionable Marketing Guide’s Chief Content Officer Heidi Cohen takes the time to plan out content reuse and even the creation of ancillary works. She suggests:

When you write your post, craft related, tailored pieces at the same time. Present a different aspect of the same topic with each piece. Write two complete posts rather than having a single post in two parts.

Consider where your content will be most likely to fill the needs of those viewing it, and how that will best work when it comes time to reuse and rework your initial messaging. Doing this in the planning stage can both save time in the long run, and ensure that content reuse is done in a well-thought-out manner, instead of possibly being forgotten altogether.

Cohen and others recommend fashioning a measured pace for doling out new versions of your initial content over time, each incorporating a new element or perspective on your original content, or perhaps using updated statistical data, all the while considering where new audiences for your work may exist.

Our own Caitlin Burgess also explores the advantages of experimentation and the role of creativity when planning content reuse, in her helpful “A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’.”

“If there’s one thing that every content marketer has in spades, it’s a fully stocked content pantry,” she says. “From white papers and eBooks to blog posts and original or third-party research, all of that robust and niche content has the potential to be sliced, diced, and repurposed into something new and fresh.”

Tactic 4: Use Target Audience Personas to Supercharge Your Content Calendar

Understanding the pain points, needs, and attitudes of your target audience is critical if you want to develop a content strategy that wholly resonates. After all, how can you be the best answer for your audience if you don’t understand what questions they’re asking or what problems they’re trying to solve.

Social Media Today Community Manager Emma Wiltshire knows how important it is to create marketing personas well before launching content. Knowing the search queries you want to show up for and how they align with the needs of your target audience should be fully understood before you begin creating new content.

Audience Personas Image

Tactic 5: Find Your Best Distribution Options

Savvy marketers understand that the job has scarcely begun once they’ve hit publish on a piece of content, and recognize that amplification is crucial. Those who don’t build distribution and sharing into the planning process risk losing out on a key element in the planning cycle.

As Cathy McPhillips, Vice President of Marketing at Content Marketing Institute (CMI), said:

“You spend so much time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion? It can be a down and dirty spreadsheet — fill in dates, audience, messaging, and what you’re trying to achieve.”

But where should you plan to share your content?

Heidi Cohen also recognizes the advantages of finding the best distribution options for your content, and the time to make these decisions is before content has been completed.

Owned, social, and third-party media all have specific uses, and finding out whether your campaign is best suited to using just one or all three is an important step in the content planning process, outlined nicely by Cohen in her “60+ Ways To Maximize Your Content Distribution” guide.

Distribution Network Image

Weigh the value of each publishing platform and channel, and when you’ve chosen those best-suited to your content, it’s helpful to document the plan and share it with all your team-members, so everyone knows what’s expected, including which key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics will be used throughout the lifetime of the campaign to reach your goals.

Don’t Just Wish — Gain A Major Advantage By Planning Ahead

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Take her famous advice to heart, and focus your wishes and goals into creating an actionable content plan.

By taking the time to follow these steps — documenting your plan, building a sharer list, incorporating reuse ahead of time, using audience personas, and finding your best distribution options — you’ll gain a major advantage over those who skip over some or all of the planning stage.

When you’re confident in your content planning process, you can move on to the crafting and creation portion of your campaign, and we’ll take a closer look at that stage in the next part of our Collective Wisdom series. Stay tuned!

Ready to learn more? See Lee Odden present the latest best-answer marketing strategies at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018 on October 16 – 18, and MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum in San Francisco on November 13 – 16, where Ashley Zeckman will also be sharing her digital marketing insight.

Enterprise B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Dr Konstanze Alex, Dell

Konstanze Alex

Within the world of B2B influencer marketing, there are a handful of brand experts who have been charting a course within large enterprise organizations for the rest of us to follow. One of those pathfinders is Dr. Konstanze Alex (@konstanze), Head of Corporate Influencer Relations at Dell.

My first experience with Konnie was several years ago when TopRank Marketing was working with Dell to develop relationships with IT influencers as part of an online publication initiative. Since then, we’ve worked with Dell to help develop an influencer marketing playbook, support influencer engagement at events and through content, but her relationship focus on working with influencers has stuck with me through it all.

In this interview, we’ll learn about the uniqueness of B2B influencer marketing, practical tips, a few of Konnie’s favorite influencer programs and where influencer marketing for the enterprise is headed.

What brought you to the world of Influencer Marketing?

Konstanze AlexAbout 5 years ago I stepped into a new role in Social Media Marketing and one of my first projects had me investigate social selling experts for who understood the social media from a social business and sales perspective, specifically for a large global organization like Dell. One important aspect for us at the time was to educate our marketing leadership on social analytics and insights to help build programs for our marketing teams that would in turn lay the foundation for successful social selling programs and campaigns.

How is influencer marketing different for B2B than B2C?

In my experience B2B and B2C influencer marketing are not even siblings in the same family. They might be distant cousins at best.

B2B influencer marketing has a much slower and longer lifecycle. It is truly a long-term relationship business in which trust and mutual value creation are built over a long time via ongoing engagements and constant knowledge sharing.

B2C influencer marketing, in general, is focused on capturing the attention of large online consumer audiences which makes sense given the more transactional nature of the business.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements by the influencers with their highly targeted, smaller business and IT decision maker audiences. The understanding of the off-line aspects of B2B influencer marketing is evolving as long-term relationships mature, trust grows and an alignment of values has been clearly established.

For example, strategic partnerships with influencers can lead to the very natural incorporation of brand content into the influencer’s event and conference keynotes, personal and professional conversations, strategic writings, etc. At that point a B2B influencer relationship resembles traditional relationships with industry analysts.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters, especially when it comes to high value purchase decisions and long-term commitments a customer makes with a brand. For a brand, the stakes lie in constantly briefing and engaging the influencer on a strategic vision and technical level.

What are 2-3 of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers for B2B companies?

Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.

How is influencer marketing positioned within your company? Ex: independent department that serves the brand and departments / business unites or is it more decentralized? What are the advantages of that structure?

At Dell, relationship building and maintenance with influencers, media, press and analysts is housed in corporate communications. We firmly believe that relationships based on trust, aligned values, independence of opinion and mutual value creation are key to successful collaboration between brands and influencers.

What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification and recruitment?

You have to invest time and due diligence to the identification process. A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process of to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer but rather develops a scorecard that gets constantly reviewed and, most importantly, evolves as this emerging field matures. At this point, we review strategy, methods, tactics and measurement on an ongoing basis.

Are there specific B2B influencers that you keep going back to because they are so amazing?

Yes, of course, we have a number of strategic partners who never stop evolving or expanding their expertise. We value them highly and feel that they represent a reflection of our brand’s values and long term vision.

Do you have a favorite B2B influencer marketing campaign that you can share? What made it successful?

There are numerous, but a couple stand out for me: A year and a half ago we started an influencer hosted business podcast called Luminaries – talking to the brightest minds in tech where we focus on technology visionaries and the very human face of innovation. Our hosts are phenomenal digital storytellers and bring the outside-in view into every episode, every conversation with every guest with a deep commitment to and appreciation of our combined audiences.

We built successful long term influencer engagement around our Realizing 2030 research reports that explore and examine the impact of new technologies on life and work in the year 2030. In strategic partnerships we are able to illuminate the report results from a number of distinct perspectives to make them accessible and relevant to our diverse audiences.

Successful (influencer marketing) programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?

We will leverage new technologies such as AI for increasingly nuanced influencer identification, especially for micro targeting of audiences. We will use intelligent tools to find new ways of measuring results and new roles will have been defined within an influencer marketing team. But successful programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

B2B Forum 2018

If you would like to learn more about B2B influencer marketing from a panel of brand experts, be sure to check out our sesssion at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th featuring Konstanze Brown from Dell, Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba and Lucianna Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.

Here are the details:

The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP, Dell and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results.  You’ll learn:

  • The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
  • How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
  • About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success

We hope to see you there!

Digital Marketing News: Haptic Marketing, Twitter’s Ranked Feeds, B2B’s ABM Challenges, & YouTube’s Vertical Video Ads

2018 September 21 News Image

The Power of Micro-Influencers [Infographic]
A look at the benefits of working with highly-targeted audiences, and how micro-influencers can work to build brand awareness and drive sales. MarketingProfs

[embedded content]

Twitter will soon let you switch between chronological and ranked feeds
Twitter announced that it will change how its feed works, with a forthcoming update allowing users to switch between ranked and chronological settings, offering a new layer of control. The Verge

Despite buzz, only one-third of B2B businesses are committed to ABM, report says
A newly-rleased Dun & Bradstreet B2B marketing data report shows limited account-based marketing implementation, and a few other surprises. Marketing Land

Four Effective Techniques for Working With B2B Influencers
Finding the right influencers and getting their attention can be a challenge. MarketingProfs Tom Whatley examines the situation and how to overcome many obstacles. MarketingProfs

Twitter gives video ads a subtle lift, puts livestreams atop the timeline
Twitter has rolled out changes which will boost video ads on the platform, and put live-streaming content in the spotlight, but will marketers benefit from the more prominent app placement? Marketing Land

What the 2018 Forbes Cloud 100 List Has to Say About the Current Trends in B2B Technology
An examination of Forbes recently-published report and list of private cloud companies and what it says about B2B technology trends. G2 Crowd

2018 September 21 Statistics Image

Vertical video ads are coming to YouTube
YouTube announced new vertical video ads in a mobile-friendly format, and ability to tailor ads to its users’ personalized feeds, among several featured rolled out recently. The Drum

Amazon’s B2B Marketplace Could Surpass $10 Billion
Amazon announced that its B2B Marketplace may top the $10 billion mark, and that it is on track for a tenfold sales increase from 2016 when it began. ASICentral

The Next Marketing Skill You Need To Master: Touch
Forbes takes a fascinating look at haptic marketing and why digital marketers are taking notice. Forbes

How marketers are seeing value in a proven standard: The Drum and GumGum release a report on contextual advertising
A new report looks into how marketers are finding benefit in contextual advertising. A semantics analysis and various computer vision findings are among insights the study reveals. The Drum

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2018 September 21 Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at marketing automation by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Dos Toros Created a Burrito-Themed Meme Account to Boost Its Own Following – AdWeek

Cash-Strapped Zuckerberg Forced To Sell 11 Million Facebook Users — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — 5 Actionable Tips from Content Marketing World Speakers to Improve Your Marketing Now — Austin Copywriter
  • Lee Odden — Lend an EAR to understand Lee Odden’s approach to B2B influencer marketing — B2B News Network
  • Jane Bartel and Ashley Zeckman — What’s Trending: Mastering Marketing’s Many Vocations — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — 43 Most Influential Social Media Marketers You Should Be Following — Animatron

What are some of your own top marketing news items this week?

Thanks for joining us, and we hope you’ll check in again next week for a new array of the most relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Spectator to Partner: Turn Your Clients into SEO Allies – Whiteboard Friday

Are your clients your allies in SEO, or are they passive spectators? Could they even be inadvertently working against you? A better understanding of expectations, goals, and strategy by everyone involved can improve your client relations, provide extra clarity, and reduce the number of times you’re asked to “just SEO a site.” In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins outlines tactics you should know for getting clients and bosses excited about the SEO journey, as well as the risks involved in passivity.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. I am Kameron Jenkins, and I’m the SEO Wordsmith here at Moz. Today I’m going to be talking with you about how to turn your clients from spectators, passive spectators to someone who is proactively interested and an ally in your SEO journey.

So if you’ve ever heard someone come to you, maybe it’s a client or maybe you’re in-house and this is your boss saying this, and they say, “Just SEO my site,” then this is definitely for you. A lot of times it can be really hard as an SEO to work on a site if you really aren’t familiar with the business, what that client is doing, what they’re all about, what their goals are. So I’m going to share with you some tactics for getting your clients and your boss excited about SEO and excited about the work that you’re doing and some risks that can happen when you don’t do that.

Tactics

So let’s dive right in. All right, first we’re going to talk about tactics.

1. Share news

The first tactic is to share news. In the SEO industry, things are changing all the time, so it’s actually a really great tactic to keep yourself informed, but also to share that news with the client. So here’s an example. Google My Business is now experimenting with a new video format for their post feature. So one thing that you can do is say, “Hey, client, I hear that Google is experimenting with this new format. They’re using videos now. Would you like to try it?”

So that’s really cool because it shows them that you’re on top of things. It shows them that you’re the expert and you’re keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry. It also tells them that they’re going to be a part of this new, cutting-edge technology, and that can get them really, really excited about the SEO work you’re doing. So make sure to share news. I think that can be really, really valuable.

2. Outline your work

The next tip is to outline your work. This one seems really simple, but there is so much to say for telling a client what you’re going to do, doing it, and then telling them that you did it. It’s amazing what can happen when you just communicate with a client more. There have been plenty of situations where maybe I did less tangible work for a client one week, but because I talk to them more, they were more inclined to be happy with me and excited about the work I was doing.

It’s also cool because when you tell a client ahead of time what you’re going to do, it gives them time to get excited about, “Ooh, I can’t wait to see what he or she is going to do next.” So that’s a really good tip for getting your clients excited about SEO.

3. Report results

Another thing is to report on your results. So, as SEOs, it can be really easy to say, hey, I added this page or I fixed these things or I updated this.

But if we detach it from the actual results, it doesn’t really matter how much a client likes you or how much your boss likes you, there’s always a risk that they could pull the plug on SEO because they just don’t see the value that’s coming from it. So that’s an unfortunate reality, but there are tons of ways that you can show the value of SEO. One example is, “Hey, client, remember that page that we identified that was ranking on page two. We improved it. We made all of those updates we talked about, and now it’s ranking on page one. So that’s really exciting. We’re seeing a lot of new traffic come from it.I’m wondering, are you seeing new calls, new leads, an uptick in any of those things as a result of that?”

So that’s really good because it shows them what you did, the results from that, and then it kind of connects it to, “Hey, are you seeing any revenue, are you seeing new clients, new customers,” things like that. So they’re more inclined to see that what you’re doing is making a real, tangible impact on actual revenue and their actual business goals.

4. Acknowledge and guide their ideas

This one is really, really important. It can be hard sometimes to marry best practices and customer service. So what I mean by that is there’s one end of the pendulum where you are really focused on best practices. This is right. This is wrong. I know my SEO stuff. So when a client comes to you and they say, “Hey, can we try this?” and you go, “No, that’s not best practices,”it can kind of shut them down. It doesn’t get them involved in the SEO process. In fact, it just kind of makes them recoil and maybe they don’t want to talk to you, and that’s the exact opposite of what we want here. On the other end of that spectrum though, you have clients who say, “Hey, I really want to try this.I saw this article. I’m interested in this thing. Can you do it for my website?”

Maybe it’s not the greatest idea SEO-wise. You’re the SEO expert, and you see that and you go, “Mm, that’s actually kind of scary. I don’t think I want to do that.” But because you’re so focused on pleasing your client, you maybe do it anyway. So that’s the opposite of what we want as well. We want to have a “no, but” mentality. So an example of that could be your client emails in and says, “Hey, I want to try this new thing.”

You go, “Hey, I really like where your head is at. I like that you’re thinking about things this way. I’m so glad you shared this with me. I tried this related thing before, and I think that would be actually a really good idea to employ on your website.” So kind of shifting the conversation, but still bringing them along with you for that journey and guiding them to the correct conclusions. So that’s another way to get them invested without shying them away from the SEO process.

Risks

So now that we’ve talked about those tactics, we’re going to move on to the risks. These are things that could happen if you don’t get your clients excited and invested in the SEO journey.

1. SEO becomes a checklist

When you don’t know your client well enough to know what they’re doing in the real world, what they’re all about, the risk becomes you have to kind of just do site health stuff, so fiddling with meta tags, maybe you’re changing some paragraphs around, maybe you’re changing H1s, fixing 404s, things like that, things that are just objectively, “I can make this change, and I know it’s good for site health.”

But it’s not proactive. It’s not actually doing any SEO strategies. It’s just cleanup work. If you just focus on cleanup work, that’s really not an SEO strategy. That’s just making sure your site isn’t broken. As we all know, you need so much more than that to make sure that your client’s site is ranking. So that’s a risk.

If you don’t know your clients, if they’re not talking to you, or they’re not excited about SEO, then really all you’re left to do is fiddle with kind of technical stuff. As good as that can be to do, our jobs are way more fun than that. So communicate with your clients. Get them on board so that you can do proactive stuff and not just fiddling with little stuff.

2. SEO conflicts with business goals

So another risk is that SEO can conflict with business goals.

So say that you’re an SEO. Your client is not talking to you. They’re not really excited about stuff that you’re doing. But you decide to move forward with proactive strategies anyway. So say I’m an SEO, and I identify this keyword. My client has this keyword. This is a related keyword. It can bring in a lot of good traffic. I’ve identified this good opportunity. All of the pages that are ranking on page one, they’re not even that good. I could totally do better. So I’m going to proactively go, I’m going to build this page of content and put it on my client’s site. Then what happens when they see that page of content and they go, “We don’t even do that. We don’t offer that product. We don’t offer that service.”

Oops. So that’s really bad. What can happen is that, yes, you’re being proactive, and that’s great. But if you don’t actually know what your client is doing, because they’re not communicating with you, they’re not really excited, you risk misaligning with their business goals and misrepresenting them. So that’s a definite risk.

3. You miss out on PR opportunities

Another thing, you miss out on PR opportunities. So again, if your client is not talking to you, they’re not excited enough to share what they’re doing in the real world with you, you miss out on news like, “Hey, we’re sponsoring this event,”or, “Hey, I was the featured expert on last night’s news.”

Those are all really, really good things that SEOs look for. We crave that information. We can totally use that to capitalize on it for SEO value. If we’re not getting that from our clients, then we miss out on all those really, really cool PR opportunities. So a definite risk. We want those PR opportunities. We want to be able to use them.

4. Client controls the conversation

Next up, client controls the conversation. That’s a definite risk that can happen. So if a client is not talking to you, a reason could be they don’t really trust you yet. When they don’t trust you, they tend to start to dictate. So maybe our client emails in.

A good example of this is, “Hey, add these 10 backlinks to my website.” Or, “Hey, I need these five pages, and I need them now.” Maybe they’re not even actually bad suggestions. It’s just the fact that the client is asking you to do that. So this is kind of tricky, because you want to communicate with your client. It’s good that they’re emailing in, but they’re the ones at that point that are dictating the strategy. Whereas they should be communicating their vision, so hey, as a business owner, as a website owner, “This is my vision. This is my goal, and this is what I want.”

As the SEO professional, you’re receiving that information and taking it and making it into an SEO strategy that can actually be really, really beneficial for the client. So there’s a huge difference between just being a task monkey and kind of transforming their vision into an SEO strategy that can really, really work for them. So that’s a definite risk that can happen.

Excitement + partnership = better SEO campaigns

There’s a lot of different things that can happen. These are just some examples of tactics that you can use and risks. If you have any examples of things that have worked for you in the past, I would love to hear about them. It’s really good to information share. Success stories where maybe you got your client or your boss really bought into SEO, more so than just, “Hey, I’m spending money on it.”

But, “Hey, I’m your partner in this. I’m your ally, and I’m going to give you all the information because I know that it’s going to be mutually beneficial for us.” So at the end here, excitement, partner, better SEO campaigns. This is going to be I believe a recipe for success to get your clients and your boss on board. Thanks again so much for watching this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and come back next week for another one.

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