Any marketing that uses electronic devices and can be used by marketing specialists to convey promotional messaging and measure its impact through your customer journey. In practice, digital marketing typically refers to marketing campaigns that appear on a computer, phone, tablet, or other device.
It can take many forms, including online video, display ads, search engine marketing, paid social ads and social media posts. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” such as magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail. Oddly, television is usually lumped in with traditional marketing.
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Did you know that more than 3 quarters of Americans go online on a daily basis? Not only that, but 43% go on more than once a day and 26% are online “almost constantly.”
These figures are even higher among mobile internet users. 89% of Americans go online at least daily, and 31% are online almost constantly. As a marketer, it’s important to take advantage of the digital world with an online advertising presence, by building a brand, providing a great customer experience that also brings more potential customers and more, with a digital strategy.
A digital marketing strategy allows you to leverage different digital channels–such as social media, pay-per-click, search engine optimization, and email marketing–to connect with existing customers and individuals interested in your products or services. As a result, you can build a brand, provide a great customer experience, bring in potential customers, and more.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, also called online marketing, is the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other forms of digital communication. This includes not only email, social media, and web-based advertising, but also text and multimedia messages as a marketing channel.
Essentially, if a marketing campaign involves digital communication, it's digital marketing.
Inbound marketing versus digital marketingDigital marketing and inbound marketing are easily confused, and for good reason. Digital marketing uses many of the same tools as inbound marketing—email and online content, to name a few. Both exist to capture the attention of prospects through the buyer’s journey and turn them into customers. But the 2 approaches take different views of the relationship between the tool and the goal.
Digital marketing considers how individual tools or digital channels can convert prospects. A brand's digital marketing strategy may use multiple platforms or focus all of its efforts on 1 platform. For example, a company may primarily create content for social media platforms and email marketing campaigns while ignoring other digital marketing avenues.
On the other hand, inbound marketing is a holistic concept. It considers the goal first, then looks at the available tools to determine which will effectively reach target customers, and then at which stage of the sales funnel that should happen.
As an example, say you want to boost website traffic to generate more prospects and leads. You can focus on search engine optimization when developing your content marketing strategy, resulting in more optimized content, including blogs, landing pages, and more.
The most important thing to remember about digital marketing and inbound marketing is that as a marketing professional, you don’t have to choose between the 2. In fact, they work best together. Inbound marketing provides structure and purpose for effective digital marketing to digital marketing efforts, making sure that each digital marketing channel works toward a goal.
Why is digital marketing important?
Any type of marketing can help your business thrive. However, digital marketing has become increasingly important because of how accessible digital channels are. In fact, there were 5 billion internet users globally in April 2022 alone.
From social media to text messages, there are many ways to use digital marketing tactics in order to communicate with your target audience. Additionally, digital marketing has minimal upfront costs, making it a cost-effective marketing technique for small businesses.
B2B versus B2C digital marketing
Digital marketing strategies work for B2B (business to business) as well as B2C (business to consumer) companies, but best practices differ significantly between the 2. Here's a closer look at how digital marketing is used in B2B and B2C marketing strategies.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. A B2C company with a high-ticket product, such as a car or computer, might offer more informative and serious content. As a result, your digital marketing strategy always needs to be geared toward your own customer base, whether you're B2B or B2C.
Take a look at your current audience to create well-informed and targeted online marketing campaigns. Doing so ensures your marketing efforts are effective and you can capture the attention of potential customers.
Types of digital marketingThere are as many specializations within digital marketing as there are ways of interacting using digital media. Here are a few key examples of types of digital marketing tactics.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is technically a marketing tool rather than a form of marketing in itself. The Balance defines it as “the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines.”
The "art and science" part of SEO is what’s most important. SEO is a science because it requires you to research and weigh different contributing factors to achieve the highest possible ranking on a serch engine results page (SERP).
Today, the most important elements to consider when optimizing a web page for search engines include:
In addition to the elements above, you need to optimize technical SEO, which is all the back-end components of your site. This includes URL structure, loading times, and broken links. Improving your technical SEO can help search engines better navigate and crawl your site.
The strategic use of these factors makes search engine optimization a science, but the unpredictability involved makes it an art.
Ultimately, the goal is to rank on the first page of a search engine’s result page. This ensures that those searching for a specific query related to your brand can easily find your products or services. While there are many search engines, digital marketers often focus on Google since it's a global leader in the search engine market.
In SEO, there's no quantifiable rubric or consistent rule for ranking highly on search engines. Google and other search engines change their algorithm almost constantly, so it's impossible to make exact predictions. What you can do is closely monitor your page's performance and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly.
As mentioned, the quality of your content is a key component of an optimized page. As a result, SEO is a major factor in content marketing, a strategy based on the distribution of relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
As in any marketing strategy, the goal of content marketing is to attract leads that ultimately convert into customers. But it does so differently than traditional advertising. Instead of enticing prospects with potential value from a product or service, it offers value for free in the form of written material, such as:
Content marketing matters, and there are plenty of stats to prove it:
As effective as content marketing is, it can be tricky. Content marketing writers need to be able to rank highly in search engine results while also engaging people who will read the material, share it, and interact further with the brand. When the content is relevant, it can establish strong relationships throughout the pipeline.
To create effective content that’s highly relevant and engaging, it’s important to identify your audience. Who are you ultimately trying to reach with your content marketing efforts? Once you have a better grasp of your audience, you can determine the type of content you'll create. You can use many formats of content in your content marketing, including videos, blog posts, printable worksheets, and more.
Regardless of which content you create, it’s a good idea to follow content marketing best practices. This means making content that’s grammatically correct, free of errors, easy to understand, relevant, and interesting. Your content should also funnel readers to the next stage in the pipeline, whether that’s a free consultation with a sales representative or a signup page.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing means driving traffic and brand awareness by engaging people in discussion online. You can use social media marketing to highlight your brand, products, services, culture, and more. With billions of people spending their time engaging on social media platforms, focusing on social media marketing can be worthwhile.
The most popular digital platforms for social media marketing are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with LinkedIn and YouTube not far behind. Ultimately, which social media platforms you use for your business depends on your goals and audience.
For example, if you want to find new leads for your FinTech startup, targeting your audience on LinkedIn is a good idea since industry professionals are active on the platform. On the other hand, running social media ads on Instagram may be better for your brand if you run a B2C focused on younger consumers.
Because social media marketing involves active audience participation, it has become a popular way of getting attention. It's the most popular content medium for B2C digital marketers at 96%, and it's gaining ground in the B2B sphere as well. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B content marketers increased their use of social media this year.
Social media marketing offers built-in engagement metrics, which are extremely useful in helping you to understand how well you're reaching your audience. You get to decide which types of interactions mean the most to you, whether that means the number of shares, comments, or total clicks to your website.
Direct purchase may not even be a goal of your social media marketing strategy. Many brands use social media marketing to start dialogues with audiences rather than encourage them to spend money right away.
This is especially common in brands that target older audiences or offer products and services not appropriate for impulse buys. It all depends on your company's social media marketing goals.
To create an effective social media marketing strategy, it’s crucial to follow best practices. Here are a few of the most important social media marketing best practices:
To learn more about how Swift can help with your social media strategy, check out the comparison of our social media management tools versus others.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of digital marketing in which you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your digital ads. So, instead of paying a set amount to constantly run targeted ads on online channels, you only pay for the ads individuals interact with. How and when people see your ad is a bit more complicated.
One of the most common types of PPC is search engine advertising, and because Google is the most popular search engine, many businesses use Google Ads for this purpose. When a spot is available on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP, the engine fills the spot with what is essentially an instant auction. An algorithm prioritizes each available ad based on a number of factors, including:
PPC ads are then placed at the top of search engine result pages based on the factors above whenever a person searches for a specific query.
Each PPC campaign has 1 or more target actions that viewers are meant to complete after clicking an ad. These actions are known as conversions, and they can be transactional or non-transactional. Making a purchase is a conversion, but so is a newsletter signup or a call made to your home office.
Whatever you choose as your target conversions, you can track them via your chosen digital marketing channels to see how your campaign is doing.
Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing tactic that lets someone make money by promoting another person's business. You could be either the promoter or the business who works with the promoter, but the process is the same in either case.
It works using a revenue sharing model. If you're the affiliate, you get a commission every time someone purchases the item that you promote. If you're the merchant, you pay the affiliate for every sale they help you make.
Some affiliate marketers choose to review the products of just 1 company, perhaps on a blog or other third-party site. Others have relationships with multiple merchants.
Whether you want to be an affiliate or find one, the first step is to make a connection with the other party. You can use digital channels designed to connect affiliates with retailers, or you can start or join a single-retailer program.
If you're a retailer and you choose to work directly with affiliates, there are many things you can do to make your program appealing to potential promoters. You'll need to provide those affiliates with the tools that they need to succeed. That includes incentives for great results as well as marketing tools and pre-made materials.
Native advertising is digital marketing in disguise. Its goal is to blend in with its surrounding content so that it’s less blatantly obvious as advertising.
Native advertising was created in reaction to the cynicism of today's consumers toward ads. Knowing that the creator of an ad pays to run it, many consumers will conclude that the ad is biased and consequently ignore it.
A native ad gets around this bias by offering information or entertainment before it gets to anything promotional, downplaying the "ad" aspect.
It’s important to always label your native ads clearly. Use words like “promoted” or “sponsored.” If those indicators are concealed, readers might end up spending significant time engaging with the content before they realize that it's advertising.
When your consumers know exactly what they're getting, they'll feel better about your content and your brand. Native ads are meant to be less obtrusive than traditional ads, but they’re not meant to be deceptive.
Like affiliate marketing, influencer marketing relies on working with an influencer–an individual with a large following, such as a celebrity, industry expert, or content creator–in exchange for exposure. In many cases, these influencers will endorse your products or services to their followers on several social media channels.
Influencer marketing works well for B2B and B2C companies who want to reach new audiences. However, it’s important to partner with reputable influencers since they’re essentially representing your brand. The wrong influencer can tarnish the trust consumers have with your business.
Mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to engage with your target audience on their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This can be via SMS and MMS messages, social media notifications, mobile app alerts, and more.
It’s crucial to ensure that all content is optimized for mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, so your marketing efforts can go a long way when you create content for computer and mobile screens.
The benefits of digital marketing.
Digital marketing has become prominent largely because it reaches such a wide audience of people. However, it also offers a number of other advantages that can boost your marketing efforts. These are a few of the benefits of digital marketing.
A broad geographic reach
When you post an ad online, people can see it no matter where they are (provided you haven’t limited your ad geographically). This makes it easy to grow your business's market reach and connect with a larger audience across different digital channels.
Digital marketing not only reaches a broader audience than traditional marketing but also carries a lower cost. Overhead costs for newspaper ads, television spots, and other traditional marketing opportunities can be high. They also give you less control over whether your target audiences will see those messages in the first place.
With digital marketing, you can create just 1 content piece that draws visitors to your blog as long as it's active. You can create an email marketing campaign that delivers messages to targeted customer lists on a schedule, and it's easy to change that schedule or the content if you need to do so.
When you add it all up, digital marketing gives you much more flexibility and customer contact for your ad spend.
To know whether your marketing strategy works, you have to find out how many customers it attracts and how much revenue it ultimately drives. But how do you do that with a non-digital marketing strategy?
There's always the traditional option of asking each customer, “How did you find us?"
Unfortunately, that doesn't work in all industries. Many companies don't get to have one-on-one conversations with their customers, and surveys don't always get complete results.
With digital marketing, results monitoring is simple. Digital marketing software and platforms automatically track the number of desired conversions that you get, whether that means email open rates, visits to your home page, or direct purchases.
Easier personalizationDigital marketing allows you to gather customer data in a way that offline marketing can't. Data collected digitally tends to be much more precise and specific.
Imagine you offer financial services and want to send out special offers to internet users people who have looked at your products. You know you'll get better results if you target the offer to the person's interest, so you decide to prepare 2 campaigns. One is for young families who have looked at your life insurance products, and the other is for millennial entrepreneurs who have considered your retirement plans.
How do you gather all of that data without automated tracking? How many phone records would you have to go through? How many customer profiles? And how do you know who has or hasn't read the brochure you sent out?
With digital marketing, all of this information is already at your fingertips.
More connection with customersDigital marketing lets you communicate with your customers in real-time. More importantly, it lets them communicate with you.
Think about your social media strategy. It's great when your target audience sees your latest post, but it's even better when they comment on it or share it. It means more buzz surrounding your product or service, as well as increased visibility every time someone joins the conversation.
Interactivity benefits your customers as well. Their level of engagement increases as they become active participants in your brand's story. That sense of ownership can create a strong sense of brand loyalty.
Easy and convenient conversionsDigital marketing lets your customers take action immediately after viewing your ad or content. With traditional advertisements, the most immediate result you can hope for is a phone call shortly after someone views your ad. But how often does someone have the time to reach out to a company while they're doing the dishes, driving down the highway, or updating records at work?
With digital marketing, they can click a link or save a blog post and move along the sales funnel right away. They might not make a purchase immediately, but they’ll stay connected with you and give you a chance to interact with them further.
How to create a digital marketing strategyFor many small businesses and beginner digital marketers, getting started with digital marketing can be difficult. However, you can create an effective digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, engagement, and sales by using the following steps as your starting point.
Set SMART goals. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals is crucial for any marketing strategy. While there are many goals you may want to achieve, try to focus on the ones that will propel your strategy forward instead of causing it to remain stagnant.
Identify your audience. Before starting any marketing campaign, it’s best to identify your target audience. Your target audience is the group of people you want your campaign to reach based on similar attributes, such as age, gender, demographic, or purchasing behavior. Having a good understanding of your target audience can help you determine which digital marketing channels to use and the information to include in your campaigns.
Create a budget. A budget ensures you’re spending your money effectively towards your goals instead of overspending on digital marketing channels that may not provide the desired results. Consider your SMART goals and the digital channel you’re planning to use to create a budget.
Select your digital marketing channels
From content marketing to PPC campaigns and more, there are many digital marketing channels you can use to your advantage. Which digital marketing channels you use often depends on your goals, audience, and budget.
Refine your marketing effortsMake sure to analyze your campaign's data to identify what was done well and areas for improvement once the campaign is over. This allows you to create even better campaigns in the future. With the help of digital technologies and software, you can obtain this data in an easy-to-view dashboard. Swift's digital marketing analytics reports will help you keep track of all your marketing campaigns in one centralized location.
Digital marketing creates growth
Digital marketing should be one of the primary focuses of almost any business’s overall marketing strategy. Never before has there been a way to stay in such consistent contact with your customers, and nothing else offers the level of personalization that digital data can provide. The more you embrace the possibilities of digital marketing, the more you'll be able to realize your company's growth potential.
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Web design is unique because it takes both a designer and a user to make it work. After all, the whole purpose of putting a design on an interactive medium like a computer is so that users can, well, use it. Interaction is also a good measure for how engaged a site visitor is because if they’re interacting, they’re paying attention. Good interactive web design will compel the user to engage with a website, scroll down and consume more content, to navigate to other pages, to share with a friend and, of course, to click that call-to-action button.
One of the challenges interactive web designs face is that there are so many ways a user can interact with a page, and even more ways that the page can respond. Some interactive designs will create a seamless user experience, giving the user feedback and directing them on what to do next. Some will be less obvious, the responses mismatched to the user’s action, or worse, nonexistent.
In order to learn how to tell a good interactive website experience from a bad one, we’re going to take our lessons from the pros. Here, we’ve compiled useful tips for interactive web design by rounding up some of our favorite examples and discussing what makes them work.
1. Take advantage of loading screen time
Loading can be one of the biggest obstacles to the web browsing experience. A business can put so much money and effort into building an outstanding, beautiful website, but if it takes more than two seconds to load, research has shown that the visitor becomes exponentially more likely to leave before seeing any of it. It’s fair to assume that users experience loading as a negative experience.
But loading screens can also be an opportunity. If you have the user’s attention, why not make the most of it? These moments provide an unexpected and, therefore, extra special opportunity to impress users through animations. They’re a novelty chance to show off brand personality and engage and excite users. Often, these animations actually give the user a sense of progress with a loading bar (or something similar) to demonstrate how much time remains before the user accesses the next page.
Ideally, these loading screens offer users something to do, such as a game to play while they wait, which creates a fun, interactive experience.
The point is that loading doesn’t necessarily mean a negative experience for the user. They don’t even have to only be quick and painless—sometimes, they’re the most exciting part of a website.
2. Organize information through animated scrolling
Scrolling is one of the simplest and most intuitive interactions that a user can make. But just because the user might not think about scrolling, doesn’t mean the web designer shouldn’t be! There are plenty of ways that designers have capitalized on scrolling animations to give the user a sense of dynamic movement throughout a website. Let’s go over some common ones.
A popular technique has been to trigger specific animations to activate as the user scrolls through the website. It’s pretty magical in bringing visuals to life and it creates the illusion that the page the user is accessing is actually being built up, in real time, in response to their interaction.
Parallax scrolling (aka asymmetrical scrolling)
A similar technique that has been gaining traction is parallax scrolling. This type of movement involves say two objects on a screen moving at two different speeds, as the user scrolls down the page. The result is a simulation of 3D depth of movement, as foreground objects usually move faster than background objects.
Scrolling page transitions
And finally, designers can use full page transitions, in which the traditional smooth scroll is replaced with either a jump to the next screen or a wholesale page change. This can create a dramatic effect, introducing not only new page elements but sometimes an entirely different color scheme, making the website feel brand new with every scroll.
Overall, these scrolling animations give users important feedback on their interaction—letting them know that they’ve just entered a new section of the website and should expect a change in the type of information being delivered. In short, they provide clear hierarchy and organization in an impressive, interactive package.
3. Breakup vertical movement with sliders and carousels
Carousels are so-called because they condense website content into rotating sections that the user can cycle through, much like the turnstile motion of a real-life carnival counterpart.
They are becoming more common on websites due to the increasing popularity of swiping interactions in mobile apps. Because they are essentially a form of horizontal scrolling, they provide the user a much needed break from the endless monotony of vertical scrolling.
But this is not the only reason why you might want to break up vertical movement. As we mentioned earlier, users tend to associate downward scrolling with progressing to a new part of the website. Carousels and sliders, on the other hand, allow web designers to incorporate more context to each section, since the user isn’t technically leaving them.
This means rather than cluttering the page with all the necessary information at once, carousels collapse site elements into more bitesize segments, allowing the user to cycle through them bit by bit.
This works best when the content is similar in format, so group together either product images, profiles or customer testimonials etc. They’re also useful for showcasing variations, such as products that come in different colors. In terms of animating these carousels, styles range from straightforward left-to-right transitions, to card shuffling, to a rotating wheel animation that’s reminiscent of retro viewmaster slides.
4. Blow up the navigation menu
Like swiping, hamburger menus are another common trend of mobile/app design that has made its way onto desktop websites. Even if the hamburger icon itself is not present, users are generally familiar with the idea that the navigation does not need to be displayed at all times. Users know that it’s there and that they can interact with it when needed. Hiding the menu can give the rest of the web page space to breathe and at the same time, the menu’s reveal is yet another interactive web design opportunity.
Since users are now choosing to pull up the menu, many designers are answering that call with navigation that takes over the entire screen. This allows for big typography, descriptive images and snazzy hover animations.
Going big with menu interaction makes sense: navigation is all about control. The user is effectively steering the ship and emphasizing the menu helps the user visualize the weight of their power over the page. All in all, menu designs are staying hidden until needed, at which point they become larger than life. If you ask me, it’s a nice change from the grey top-of-the-screen, nested lists of yore.
5. Replace forms with user questionnaires
One of the most onerous parts of interacting with a website is entering information. Users are generally wary of giving out their information on a website. The best way to mitigate this is by making the process less like filling out a form at the doctor’s office and more like a get-to-know-you question-and-answer session.
In fact, a prime example of this technique in action has come from tax services like some tax preparation companies who break down tax forms into simple, easy-to-understand questions. This is especially helpful for services that have multiple potential products to sell to a site visitor and need to help narrow down their choices by understanding their needs, tastes, budget, and more.
When it comes to animation in interactive web design, the small movements are what really sell it. And when you consider that the purpose of a website’s animation is often feedback (like letting the user know what they can and can’t interact with or whether they’ve done the right thing), it makes sense that this feedback works best on a subconscious level.
Animations that draw too much attention to themselves can be distracting to the user, overshadowing whatever feedback they were meant to impart in order to show off the animator’s skill. This is where micro-interactions come in.
Micro-interactions are a broad category that describe all of the little ways that a user might interact with a page. Some examples of micro-interactions include hovering over something, closing out of a window, pulling to refresh, and clicking icons such as star ratings, bookmarks, notification bells or add to cart.
In terms of animating micro-interactions, some popular styles include turning a button green, transforming an icon into a checkmark, or an outgoing circle that accompanies a click like an adorable, baby shockwave. The goal is to let the user know that they’ve made a successful change to the page and the design of micro-interactions should be simple and satisfying to this end.
Interactive web design is good web design
At the end of the day, interactive web design is what the internet was made for. Out of the many reasons a visitor might have to check out a website, they are ultimately there to interact, not just to find the information they need but to experience it. This is why a website that fails to capitalize on these interactions can easily get lost in competition. The tips we’ve provided here are a great place to start to make sure this doesn’t happen.
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If your website is outdated, doesn’t attract traffic, doesn’t convert visitors into leads, or simply isn’t up to your satisfaction, you need professional construction website design services.
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Want more construction contracts and booked projects? It all depends on having a great construction website.
Your website is not an online brochure—it’s your 24/7 virtual sales rep, capable of generating a massive amount of leads and sales. Regardless if you’re in commercial or residential construction, your target audience expects a seamless, engaging website experience--75% of consumers have judged a company’s credibility based on its website design.
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Our web design services aren’t one size fits all—there are no cookie-cutter solutions, at least not from the best companies. A good website design agency will help you figure out the best type of website for your business. What’s important is that your website is beautiful, thoughtfully laid out, and lead-focused.
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Choosing between a template and a custom-designed construction site will depend on your needs and your budget. Most small businesses will do just fine with a proven template, but if you have a large company, have specific needs, or want a website that doesn’t look like any of your competitors’ you should go for a custom website.
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Your website is not a set-it-and-forget-it marketing asset. You need to continually update it to keep up with the modern customer’s expectations. When you’re building construction websites you always need to keep in mind that the average website has a life expectancy of 2-5 years, so be sure to pick a design and platform that won’t be too difficult to update.
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What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the act of promoting and selling products and services by leveraging online marketing tactics such as social media marketing, search marketing, and email marketing.
When you get down to it, digital marketing is simply marketing.
It's how today's businesses are getting their message in front of their best prospects and customers.
Rule #1 in marketing is to make the right offer at the right time and in the right place. Today, your customers are online: hanging out in social media, staying updated on news sites and blogs, and searching online when they have a need.
Digital marketing puts you in those same channels, so your best prospects can see you, learn more about you, and even ask questions to learn more about you and your products or services.
If you're new to digital marketing, it may feel overwhelming to think about mastering all the online marketing tactics used in digital marketing.
We get that...
And yes, there are different tactics you'll need to learn. But they all work together to create a foundation for your business: attracting prospects, nurturing relationships, and making offers your audience will appreciate and respond to.
Let's take a closer look at how that happens.
How Does Digital Marketing Work?
In many ways, digital marketing is no different than traditional marketing. In both, smart organizations seek to develop mutually beneficial relationships with prospects, leads, and customers.
But digital marketing has replaced most traditional marketing tactics because it's designed to reach today's consumers.
As an example...
Think about the last important purchase you made. Perhaps you purchased a home, hired someone to fix your roof, or changed paper suppliers at your office.
Regardless of what it was, you probably began by searching the Internet to learn more about available solutions, who provided them, and what your best options were. Your ultimate buying decision was then based on the reviews you read, the friends and family you consulted, and the solutions, features, and pricing you researched.
Most purchasing decisions begin online.
That being the case, an online presence is absolutely necessary—regardless of what you sell.
The key is to develop a digital marketing strategy that puts you in all the places your followers are already hanging out, then using a variety of digital channels to connect with them in a multitude of ways...
...Content to keep them updated with industry news, the problems they're facing, and how you solve those problems...
...Social media to share that content and then engage with them as friends and followers...
...Search engine optimization (SEO) to optimize your content, so it will show up when someone is searching for the information you've written about...
...Advertising to drive paid traffic to your website, where people can see your offers...
...And email marketing to follow up with your audience to be sure they continue to get the solutions they're looking for.
When you put all these pieces together, you'll end up with an efficient, easy-to-operate digital marketing machine. And while it looks intimidating to build that machine from scratch, it's as simple as learning and integrating one digital marketing tactic at a time.
Which is why we've put together this guide: To help you build or refine your own digital marketing plan without the false starts and missteps that come with doing it alone.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?
Having a strong digital presence will help you in multiple ways:
Learn the Strategies That Get Real Results
Be aware, the digital marketing scene is ever changing. Gurus, podcasts, and bloggers declare a tool or tactic hot one week and dead the next.
The truth is, digital marketing is less about "digital" and more about "marketing," largely because digital marketing has come of age. Its fundamentals have already been established.
At Swift, our objective is to clear the confusion about the tactics that work and how to use them to grow your business. We stand firmly against the so-called "gurus" who promote the next "shiny object" or "quick fix" that will reportedly kill email marketing, digital advertising, or search engine optimization.
Here, we're all about the fundamentals.
As you'll see in this guide, these 8 core disciplines of digital marketing will be critical to your business growth today, tomorrow, and for years to come. Each of these disciplines will be covered in depth in a chapter of this Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing as shown below.
About The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing
Digital marketing isn't magic, and you don't need to be a computer whiz to be good at it. If you offer a product or service that the market desires, you can successfully market them in digital channels using the strategies taught in this guide.
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing doesn't present hype about the latest flashy tactics in marketing—digital or otherwise. Instead, this resource covers foundational disciplines such as content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, always in the context of the goals that businesses care about.
These goals include acquiring new leads and customers, monetizing the leads and customers you already have, and creating communities of brand advocates and promoters.
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What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas?
What about when you decide it’s time to change the way you keep the books finally? Or even notice a flat tire in the car?
My guess: you turn to Google. But did you know that 89% of B2B buyers and 81% of online shoppers do the same? Faced with a problem, challenge or even a choice, they google it. Simply.
And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence in Google, your business is unlikely to survive long.
In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build this presence — Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)
You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.
But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.
So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, focus on advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.
I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.
In the following pages, I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends.
Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
What is SEO?
At its core, SEO focuses on nothing else but expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results. It helps businesses rank more pages higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages.) And in turn, drive more visitors to the site, increasing chances for more conversions.
When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone googles your product or service category, they find your website.
But this simplifies the discipline a bit. It doesn’t take elements like different customer information needs into consideration. However, it does reveal its essence.
In short, SEO drives two things — rankings and visibility.
This is a process that search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in SERPs.
This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in search engine results. With high visibility, your domain is prominent in SERPs. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries.
Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and conversions.
There is one more reason why you should be using SEO. The discipline helps you position your brand throughout almost the entire buying journey.
In turn, it can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior. Because, as Google admitted themselves — customer behavior has changed forever.
Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel. 18% more shoppers choose Google over Amazon. 136% more prefer the search engine to other retail websites. And B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches, on average, before engaging with a brand.
What's more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own. 77% people research a brand before engaging with it.
Forrester revealed that 60% of customers do not want any interaction with salespeople. Further, 68% prefer to research on their own. And 62% have developed their own criteria to select the right vendor.
What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.
Finally, Demand Gen’s 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search. In comparison, only 56% go directly to a vendor’s website.
But how do they use search engines during the process?
Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.
Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.
And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.
How does Google know how to rank a page?
Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.
Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.
To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:
And to analyze all this information they use complex equations calledsearch algorithms.
Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.
As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.
Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.
1. Technical Setup
For your website to rank, three things must happen:
First, a search engine needs find your pages on the Web.
Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?
Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.
To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.
As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.
Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.
Notice some things about it:
That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:
Website navigation and links
Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.
Simple URL structureSearch engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.
Page speedSearch engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions how to improve your pages.
Dead links or broken redirectsA dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.
Duplicate contentPages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it near impossible to determine what content they should display in search results. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor. And upon finding it, can penalize a website by not displaying any of those pages at all.
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content— information on a particular issue or problem, for example.
True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.
It’s all content.
And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
Here are two reasons why:
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.
However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.
That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.
The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.
We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.
With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.
On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.
Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.
You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.
Note: Since blog content prevails on mostwebsites,when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.
a) Keyword Optimization
First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:
The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.
Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.
Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?
Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?
That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.
b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization FactorsOn-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:
From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.
In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.
The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevancy (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)
Links, however, are responsible for popularity.
But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.
What is a backlink?
Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.
For example, this article in Entrepreneur.com mentions our marketing statistics page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.
Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.
But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.
Links Quality FactorsLow quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.
That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on buildinganylinks. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.
Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:
Link BuildingIn SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.
Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.
Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.
Here are some strategies to do it:
Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.
The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.
How to Monitor & Track SEO ResultsTechnical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.
And it’s well worth it.
97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.
What’s more, they act on this information: 75% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.
But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?
Yes and no.
Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.
Local search results look different too:
For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”
Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:
Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.
All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.
Local Search Ranking Factors
When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.
Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.
Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.
Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.
Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.
What is black hat SEO?
The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.
Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.
Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.
So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.
Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.
But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.
And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.
SEO Resources & Training
This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.
Here are online training resources to try next:
You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:
By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is incredibly important for marketers. When you optimize your web pages — including your blog posts — you're making your website more visible to people who are using search engines (like Google) to find your product or service.But does your blog content really help your business organically rank on search engines?
In this article, you’ll find the answer to this question and more. Get ready for an in-depth exploration into the world of blog SEO, the factors that affect it, and tips to start optimizing your blog site for the search engines.
Does blogging help with SEO?
Blogging helps boost SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers' questions. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors.
Although it's clear blog content does contribute to your SEO, Google's many algorithm updates can make publishing the right kind of blog content tricky if you don’t know where to start. Some blog ranking factors have stood the test of time while others are considered "old-school." Here are a few of the top-ranking factors that can, directly and indirectly, affect blog SEO.
Pro tip: As a rule of thumb, take time to understand what each of these factors does, but don’t try to implement them all at once. They each serve a specific purpose and should be used to meet a specific SEO goal for your blog.
Factors That Affect Blog SEO1.
Although dwell time is an indirect ranking factor for Google, it's a critical factor in the user experience — and we know that user experience is king when it comes to SEO. Dwell time is the length of a time a reader spends on a page on your blog site.
From the moment a visitor clicks on your site in the SERP, to the moment they exit the page is considered dwell time. This metric indirectly tells search engines like Google how valuable your content is to the reader. It makes sense that the longer they spend on the page, the more relevant it is to them.
However, there’s a reason this metric is an indirect indicator for SEO — it’s completely subjective. The search engine algorithms don’t know your content strategy. Your blog could be focused on short-form content that takes just a minute or two to read.
You might also include pertinent information at the beginning of your blog posts to give the best reader experience, which means less time spent on the page. So yes, dwell time can affect SEO, but don’t manipulate your content to change this metric if it doesn’t make sense for your content strategy.
2. Page Speed
We mentioned earlier that visual elements on your blog can affect page speed, but that isn’t the only thing that can move this needle. Unnecessary code and overuse of plugins can also contribute to a sluggish blog site. Removing junk code can help your pages load faster, thus improving page speed.
If you’re not sure how to find and remove junk code, check out HTML-Cleaner. It’s an easy-to-use tool that doesn't require coding knowledge. It simply shows you the unnecessary code and lets you remove it with the click of a button.
I also recommend taking an inventory of your blog site plugins. Decide which ones you need to keep your blog running day-to-day and which ones were installed as a fix for a temporary issue.
Plugins that affect the front-end of your site are a threat to page speed, and odds are, you can uninstall more of these plugins than you think to increase your overall site speed.
3. Mobile Responsiveness
More than half of Google’s search traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. On an individual level, your blog site might follow that same trend. There’s no way around it — optimizing your blog site for mobile is a factor that will affect your SEO metrics. But what exactly does it mean to optimize a website for mobile?
The industry rule-of-thumb is to keep things simple. Most pre-made site themes these days are already mobile-friendly, so all you’ll need to do is tweak a CTA button here and enlarge a font size there.
Then, keep an eye on how your site is performing on mobile by taking a look at your Google Analytics dashboard and running a mobile site speed test regularly.
4. Index Date
Search engines aim to provide the most relevant and accurate information available. A factor search engines use when determining what’s relevant and accurate is the date a search engine indexes the content.
Indexing means a search engine finds content and adds it to its index. Later, the page can be retrieved and displayed in the SERP when a user searches for keywords related to the indexed page.
You might be wondering: Is the date the content was indexed the same as the date it was published?
The answer: yes and no. If a blog post is published for the first time, it’s likely that say, a Google crawler, will index that post the same day you publish it. But content can be backdated for several legitimate reasons, too, like archiving information or updating a sentence or two.
One way to positively affect this SEO factor is to implement a historical optimization strategy. This strategy works well on blogs that have been established for a few years and have a fair amount of content already.
By updating these older posts with new perspectives and data, you’ll be able to significantly impact your blog SEO without creating a lot of net new content. Site crawlers will reindex the page — taking into account the updated content — and give it another opportunity to compete in the SERP. It’s truly a win-win.
5. Recent Data
Recent data, another indirect ranking factor of SEO, should be included in blog posts. Recent data gives visitors relevant and accurate information which makes for a positive reader experience.
When you include a link to a credible site that has original, up-to-date data, you’re telling the search engine that this site is helpful and relevant to your readers (which is a plus for that other site). You’re also telling the search engine that this type of data is in some way related to the content you publish.
Over time, your readers will come to appreciate the content which can be confirmed using other metrics like increased time on page or lower bounce rate.
How to Optimize Blog Content for Search Engines
1. Identify the target audience for your blog.
No matter what industry your blog targets, you’ll want to identify and speak to the primary audience that will be reading your content. Understanding who your audience is and what you want them to do when they click on your article will help guide your blog strategy.
Buyer personas are an effective way to target readers using their buying behaviors, demographics, and psychographics. Without this insight, you could be producing grammatically correct and accurate content that few people will click on because it doesn’t speak to them on a personal level.
2. Conduct keyword research.
Now that you’ve selected your target audience and prepared a buyer persona, it’s time to find out what content your readers want to consume. Keyword research can be a heavy task to take on if you don’t begin with a strategy.
Therefore, I recommend starting with the topics your blog will cover, then expand or contract your scope from there. For an in-depth tutorial, check out our how-to guide on keyword research.
3. Add visuals.
Search engines like Google value visuals for certain keywords. Images and videos are among the most common visual elements that appear on the search engine results page. In order to achieve a coveted spot in an image pack or a video snippet, you’ll want to design creative graphics, use original photos and videos, and add descriptive alt text to every visual element within your blog post.
Alt text is a major factor that determines whether or not your image or video appears in the SERP and how highly it appears. Alt text is also important for screen readers so that visually impaired individuals have a positive experience consuming content on your blog site.
4. Write a catchy title.
The title of your blog post is the first element a reader will see when they come across your article, and it heavily influences whether they’ll click or keep scrolling. A catchy title uses data, asks a question, or leads with curiosity to pique the reader’s interest.
According to Coscheduler’s Headline Analyzer, the elements of a catchy title include power, emotional, uncommon, and common words. In the right proportions, these types of words in a blog title will grab your readers’ attention and keep them on the page.
Here’s an example of a catchy title with a Coschedule Headline Analyzer Score of 87:
The Perfect Dress Has 3 Elements According to This Popular Fashion Expert
5. Include an enticing CTA.
What’s a blog post without a call to action? The purpose of a CTA is to lead your reader to the next step in their journey through your blog. The key to a great CTA is that it’s relevant to the topic of your existing blog post and flows naturally with the rest of the content. Whether you’re selling a product, offering a newsletter subscription, or wanting the reader to consume more of your content, you’ll need an enticing CTA on every blog post you publish.
CTAs come in all types of formats, so get creative and experiment with them. Buttons, hyperlinks, and widgets are some of the most common CTAs, and they all have different purposes. For instance, you should add a bold, visible CTA like a button if you want the reader to make a purchase. On the other hand, you can easily get a reader to check out another blog post by providing a hyperlink to it in the conclusion of the current article.
6. Focus on the reader's experience.
Any great writer or SEO will tell you that the reader experience is the most important part of a blog post. The reader experience includes several factors like readability, formatting, and page speed. That means you’ll want to write content that’s clear, comprehensive of your topic, and accurate according to the latest data and trends.
Organizing the content using headings and subheadings is important as well because it helps the reader scan the content quickly to find the information they need. Finally, on-page elements like images and videos have an impact on page speed.
Keep image file sizes low (250 KB is a good starting point) and limit the number of videos you embed on a single page. By focusing on what the reader wants to know and organizing the post to achieve that goal, you’ll be on your way to publishing an article optimized for the search engine.
Now, let's take a look at these blog SEO tips that you can take advantage of to enhance your content's searchability.
Blog SEO Tips
Note: This list doesn't cover every SEO rule under the sun. Rather, the following tips are the on-page factors to get you started with an SEO strategy for your blog.
1. Use 1–2 long-tail keywords.
Optimizing your blog posts for keywords is not about incorporating as many keywords into your posts as possible. Nowadays, this actually hurts your SEO because search engines consider this keyword stuffing (i.e., including keywords as much as possible with the sole purpose of ranking highly in organic search).
It also doesn't make for a good reader experience — a ranking factor that search engines now prioritize to ensure you're answering the intent of your visitors. Therefore, you should use keywords in your content in a way that doesn't feel unnatural or forced.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on one or two long-tail keywords per blog post. While you can use more than one keyword in a single post, keep the focus of the post narrow enough to allow you to spend time optimizing for just one or two keywords.
You may be wondering: Why long-tail keywords?
These longer, often question-based keywords keep your post focused on the specific goals of your audience. For example, the long-tail keyword "how to write a blog post" is much more impactful in terms of SEO than the short keyword "blog post".
Website visitors searching long-tail keywords are more likely to read the whole post and then seek more information from you. In other words, they'll help you generate the right type of traffic — visitors who convert.
2. Use keywords strategically throughout the blog post.Now that you've got one or two keywords, it's time to incorporate them in your blog post. But where is the best place to include these terms so you rank high in search results?
There are four essential places where you should try to include your keywords: title tag, headers & body, URL, and meta description.
Title TagThe title (i.e., headline) of your blog post will be a search engine's and reader's first step in determining the relevancy of your content. So, including a keyword here is vital. Google calls this the "title tag" in a search result.
Be sure to include your keyword within the first 60 characters of your title, which is just about where Google cuts titles off on the SERP.
Technically, Google measures by pixel width, not character count, and it recently increased the pixel width for organic search results from approximately 500 pixels to 600 pixels, which translates to around 60 characters.
Long title tag? When you have a lengthy headline, it's a good idea to get your keyword in the beginning since it might get cut off in SERPs toward the end, which can take a toll on your post's perceived relevance.
In the example below, we had a long title that went over 65 characters, so we placed the keyword near the front.
Headers & BodyMention your keyword at a normal cadence throughout the body of your post and in the headers. That means including your keywords in your copy, but only in a natural, reader-friendly way. Don't go overboard at the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing.
Before you start writing a new blog post, you'll probably think about how to incorporate your keywords into your post. That's a smart idea, but it shouldn't be your only focus, nor even your primary focus.
Whenever you create content, your primary focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content.
Focus on being helpful and answering whatever question your customer might've asked to arrive on your post. Do that, and you'll naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway.
URLSearch engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, and it's one of the first things it'll crawl on a page.
You have a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its unique URL — so make sure you include your one to two keywords in it.
In the example below, we created the URL using the long-tail keyword for which we were trying to rank: "email marketing examples."
Meta DescriptionYour meta description is meant to give search engines and readers information about your blog post's content. Meaning, you must use your long-tail term so Google and your audience are clear on your post's content.
At the same time, keep in mind the copy matters a great deal for click-through rates because it satisfies certain readers' intent — the more engaging, the better.
3. Optimize for mobile devices.
We learned earlier that more people use search engines from their mobile phones than from a computer.
And for all those valuable queries being searched on mobile devices, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first. This is yet another example of Google heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites — which has been true ever since the company updated its Penguin algorithm in April 2015.
So, how do you make your blog mobile-friendly? By using responsive design. Websites that are responsive to mobile allow blog pages to have just one URL instead of two — one for desktop and one for mobile, respectively. This helps your post's SEO because any inbound links that come back to your site won't be divided between the separate URLs.
As a result, you'll centralize the SEO power you gain from these links, helping Google more easily recognize your post's value and rank it accordingly.
Pro tip: What search engines value is constantly changing. Be sure you're keeping on top of these changes by subscribing to Google's official blog.
4. Optimize the meta description.To review, a meta description is additional text that appears in SERPs that lets readers know what the link is about. The meta description gives searchers the information they need to determine whether or not your content is what they're looking for and ultimately helps them decide if they'll click or not.
The maximum length of this meta description is greater than it once was — now around 300 characters — suggesting it wants to give readers more insight into what each result will give them.
So, in addition to being reader-friendly (compelling and relevant), your meta description should include the long-tail keyword for which you are trying to rank.
In the following example, I searched for "email newsletter examples."
The term is bolded in the meta description, helping readers make the connection between the intent of their search term and this result. You'll also see the term "E-Newsletter" bolded, indicating that Google knows there's a semantic connection between "email newsletter" and "E-Newsletter."
Note: Nowadays, it's not guaranteed that your meta description is always pulled into SERPs as it once was. As you can see in the above image, Google pulls in other parts of your blog post that includes the keywords searched, presumably to give searchers optimal context around how the result matches their specific query.
Let me show you another example. Below are two different search queries delivering two different snippets of text on Google SERPs. The first is a result of the query "no index no follow," and pulls in the original meta description:
The second is a result of the query "noindex nofollow," and pulls in the first instance of these specific keywords coming up in the body of the blog post:
While there's not much you can do to influence what text gets pulled in, you should continue to optimize this metadata, as well as your post, so search engines display the best content from the article. By creating reader-friendly content with natural keyword inclusion, you'll make it easier for Google to prove your post's relevancy in SERPs for you.
5. Include image alt text.Blog posts shouldn't only contain text — they should also include images that help explain and support your content. However, search engines don't simply look for images. Rather, they look for images with image alt text.
You may be wondering why this is. Since search engines can't "see" images the same way humans can, an image's alt text tells the search engine what an image is about. This ultimately helps those images rank in the search engine's images results page.
Image alt text also makes for a better user experience (UX). It displays inside the image container when an image can't be found or displayed. Technically, alt text is an attribute that can be added to an image tag in HTML.
Here's what a complete image tag might look like:
<img class="wt-blog__normal-image" src="image.jpg" alt="image-description" title="image tooltip">
When you incorporate image alt text, an image's name in your blog may go from something like, "IMG23940" to something accurate and descriptive such as "puppies playing in a basket."
Image alt text should be descriptive in a helpful way — meaning, it should provide the search engine with context to index the image if it's in a blog article related to a similar topic.
To provide more context, here's a list of things to be sure you keep in mind when creating alt text for your blog's images:
6. Limit topic tags.
Topic tags can help organize your blog content, but if you overuse them, they can actually be harmful. If you have too many similar tags, you may get penalized by search engines for having duplicate content.
Think of it this way, when you create a topic tag you also create a new site page where the content from those topic tags will appear. If you use too many similar tags for the same content, it appears to search engines as if you're showing the content multiple times throughout your website.
For example, topic tags like "blogging," "blog," and "blog posts" are too similar to one another to be used on the same post.
If you're worried that your current blog posts have too many similar tags, take some time to clean them up. Choose about 15–25 topic tags that you think are important to your blog and that aren't too similar to one another. Then only tag your posts with those keywords. That way, you won't have to worry about duplicate content.
Here at Swift, we use a Search Insights Report to map specific MSV-driven keyword ideas to a content topic each quarter. The process helps us target a handful of posts in a set number of topics throughout the year for a systematic approach to SEO and content creation.
7. Include user-friendly URL structures.
Before you publish your blog post, take a careful look at its URL structure. Is it long, filled with stop-words, or unrelated to the post’s topic? If so, you might want to rewrite it before it goes live.
The URL structure of your web pages (which are different from the specific URLs of your posts) should make it easy for your visitors to understand the structure of your website and the content they're about to see. Search engines favor web page URLs that make it easier for them and website visitors to understand the content on the page.
In this way, URL structure acts as a categorization system for readers, letting them know where they are on the website and how to access new site pages. Search engines appreciate this, as it makes it easier for them to identify exactly what information searchers will access on different parts of your blog or website.
Pro tip: Don’t change your blog post URL after it's been published — that’s the easiest way to press the metaphorical “reset” button on your SEO efforts for that post. If your URL is less descriptive than you’d like or it no longer follows your brand or style guidelines, your best bet is to leave it as is. Instead, change the title of the post using the guidelines we covered earlier.
8. Link to related blog posts.You may have heard that backlinks influence how high your blog site can rank in the SERP, and that’s true — backlinks show how trustworthy your site is based on how many other relevant sites link back to yours. But backlinks aren’t the end-all-be-all to link building. Linking to and from your own blog posts can have a positive impact on how well your blog site ranks, too.
Inbound links to your content help show search engines the validity or relevancy of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you've written about a topic that's mentioned in your blog post on another blog post, ebook, or web page, it's a best practice to link to that page.
(You might've noticed that I've been doing that from time to time throughout this blog post when I think it's helpful for our readers.) Not only will internal linking help keep visitors on your website, but it also surfaces your other relevant and authoritative pages to search engines.
For example, if your blog is about fashion, you might cover fabrics as a topic. Adding a hyperlink from a blog post about cotton to a post about the proper way to mix fabrics can help both of those posts become more visible to readers who search these keywords.
The search engines will also have one more entry point to the post about cotton when you hyperlink it in the post about mixing fabrics. This means the post about cotton fabric, and any updates you make to it will be recognized by site crawlers faster. It could even see a boost in the SERP as a result.
You can think of this as solving for your SEO while also helping your visitors get more information from your content.
9. Review metrics regularly.Google's free Search Console contains a section called the Search Analytics Report. This report helps you analyze clicks from Google Search — it's useful to determine which keywords people are using to find your blog content. You can also learn how to use Google Search Console by reading it
If you're interested in optimizing your best-performing older blog posts for traffic and leads like we've been doing since 2015, this tool can help identify low-hanging fruit.
Remember, many content marketers struggle with optimizing their blog posts for search. The truth is, your blog posts won't start ranking immediately. It takes time to build up search authority.
But, when you publish blog posts frequently and consistently optimize them for search while maintaining an intent-based reader experience, you'll reap the rewards in the form of traffic and leads long-term.
10. Organize by topic cluster.
The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords.
This makes things unorganized and difficult for blog visitors to find the exact information they need. It also results in your URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.
Here's what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:
Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is the topic cluster model.
For this model to work, choose the broad topics for which you want to rank. Then, create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other to establish broader search engine authority.
This is what our blog infrastructure looks like now, with the topic cluster model. Specific topics are surrounded by blog posts related to the greater topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:
This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:
We know this is a fairly new concept, so for more details, check out our research on the topic, take our SEO training or watch the video below.
11. Publish evergreen content.
When planning and writing your blog articles, ensure it's evergreen content. Meaning, the content is about topics that will remain relevant and valuable over a long period of time (with only minor changes or updates). Let's look at a few reasons why evergreen content is so important:
All blog content — whether it's a long-form article, how-to guide, FAQ, tutorial, and so on — should be evergreen. Even the images you use in these posts should be evergreen. Check out this blog post for some examples of and ideas for evergreen content on your blog.
12. Update existing content.
To improve your SEO, you may assume you need to create new blog content. Although that's partially true, you should also focus a great deal of your time and energy on your existing blog content. Specifically, repurposing and updating your current content, as well as removing your outdated content.
This is because it takes a lot longer for a completely new piece of content to settle on the search engine results page (SERP) and gain authority, whereas you could update a piece of content and reap the benefits fairly immediately in comparison.
Not only will your updated content rank on the SERP faster, improving your number of visitors and leads, it also takes a lot less time and fewer resources to update an existing piece of content rather than create a brand new article.
Additionally, updating and repurposing some of your most successful pieces of content extends its lifespan so you can achieve the best results over a longer period of time (especially if it's evergreen content).
The final step entails removing your outdated content that's no longer relevant to your audience. Although your goal is to ensure your content is evergreen, some of it is bound to become outdated over time. This includes statistics, product information (if you have any listed in your blogs — as your products and business evolve), or information that changes across your industry over time.
Create Blog Content Your Readers (and Search Engines) Will Love
We don't expect you to incorporate each of these SEO best practices into your content strategy right away. But, as your website grows, so should your goals on search engines. Once you identify the goals and intent of your ideal readers, you'll be on track to deliver relevant content that will climb the ranks of the SERP.
SEO allows customers to find your company easily in search engines, which means more website traffic, more conversions, and more revenue for your company.
Unlike traditional advertising campaigns that target large audiences over a set period of time, SEO empowers your business to reach potential customers while they're actively searching for you, year after year.
For example, when you decide to target a keyword with your content, that content is always available for users to read — essentially meaning they can convert at any time around the clock.
For this reason, SEO online marketing is also a great strategy if you have clients around the world. Time zone doesn't affect the results of SEO since it's strategies are virtually always in place, and always working to bring your business more customers.
That's the ultimate advantage of SEO — you can reach your customer base any time, any day. The customers and leads can keep coming in, even when you're not actively running an ad campaign. Even on holidays!
But that's a pretty big overview. How can you achieve this kind of online growth for yourself?
Swift Marketing Agency is here to help! Our team of experts knows what it takes to create successful SEO strategies. You can call 216-339-6041 or contact us online for help getting started today!
If you'd like to learn more about SEO strategies, you can keep reading below! On this page, we'll take a look at the three most impactful SEO strategies you can use to get more traffic, earn more customers, and close more sales than ever before.
No matter your industry, these SEO strategies can work for you.
How do SEO strategies help your business?If you're not sold on the idea of SEO, let's first talk about how the SEO strategies we talk about can help your business succeed.
One huge benefit from SEO is that you'll be able to improve the ranking of your website's pages in search engine results pages like Google. If you don't rank well in results pages, it's highly unlikely that your target customers will find your website, let alone buy your products and services.
SEO can help get you to the top of search results which means more potential customers will see your website pages, visit your website, and purchase your products.
However, these results don't happen overnight, and in order to see results, it's recommended that you implement more than just one of the strategies mentioned below. In fact, some strategies go hand-in-hand, which means it's difficult to have one without the other.
For example, if you implement multimedia on your website, you'll also need to implement alt tags so that Google is able to read your multimedia. Another example would be if you implement an extensive content plan, you should also be sure to implement multimedia so that your content is engaging and interesting.
When you pair more than one SEO strategy together, you're bound to see results for your business!
How many SEO strategies should I use?
There is no hard-and-fast number for how many SEO strategies you should use for success. And in fact, every industry is different and every specific business needs a different campaign.
That being said, if you're already ranking highly for some of your target keywords, but are looking to rank even higher, your campaign might require fewer strategies to succeed.
The number of SEO strategies your business requires depends completely on your business goals, where your campaign currently stands, and your budget.
1. Content production
Content marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies today. That's because content is essential to SEO success.
Want to learn about our content marketing services? Watch the quick video below!
The term "content" refers to any text, image, video, or interactive that you publish on your website.
Infographics are collections of visualized data that tell a story.
The idea behind an infographic is that statistics can be broken down into visual, manageable chunks.
Then, you can reorganize those chunks into sections that tell a compelling story.
Most infographics follow a simple template that helps them succeed:
By answering these five questions, you can create an infographic for any industry.
Infographics are ideal for earning links back to your site from credible sources. This boosts your site's overall SEO power since links are a major ranking factor in search engine results.
This content also works well on social media, where users can easily share it with their friends and followers. And once they do, you stand to earn even more links, and you gain a huge amount of brand awareness.
The only downside to infographics is that many companies are already creating them, which makes it difficult to stand out.
But you can stand out by creating a high-quality graphic that uses data, design, and storytelling to form a cohesive product.
Many of the infographics online don't follow these rules, and that's why they don't get great results.
But if you can show your target audience that you're dedicated to quality, you'll earn some form of reward for your work.
But if you can show your target audience that you're dedicated to quality, you'll earn some form of reward for your work.
Downloadable content is one of the best forms of lead generation you can use to earn more from your website.
Like infographics, downloads follow a formula to provide the best value to your target audience.
This process requires a lot more work than an infographic because you have to write extensively about a topic.
Downloads also require visual aids and links to other sources to validate their legitimacy. This takes people away from your download, but it also provides them with supplemental information that helps them get a good grasp on the subject.
You can create downloadable content by exporting information from programs like Microsoft Word or Publisher into PDFs.
That places everything in one simple package so you can post the PDF to your website and gate it.
"Gating" your PDF means placing it behind a few form fields that users need to fill out before getting your download.
The most common form fields used for gating are: Name and Email Address.
Once you have this information, you can add it to your email marketing platform. Then, you can include these users in your campaigns and send them more information based on the download they got from you.
That keeps them in your sales funnel, which lets you help them move towards eventually becoming a customer.
With blog posts, infographics, and downloads, you have a high-quality content strategy that'll help your business grow year after year.
Still, they can't succeed on their own. Your content needs another ingredient to thrive in the SEO world.
2. Keyword optimization
Keyword optimization is essential for ranking well in search engines.
Without it, your content can't rank for search terms related for your business.
Fortunately, a lot of keyword optimization is common sense. When you write with the goal of helping a reader, you'll naturally use the keywords that describe the topic of the page.
Using keywords naturally is crucial, though. If you intentionally use keywords as many times as possible on a page, even where they don't make sense, you'll actually lose SEO power with that page.
At the same time, you don't want to get completely sidetracked by another idea and avoid using your keyword altogether. This can also provide a poor user experience if you go off on a tangent instead of sticking to the matter at hand.
You can prevent both of these scenarios by carefully editing your pages before you post them on your site.
We recommend editing once per piece of content. That's just enough time to find any serious flaws in a piece without overthinking the tiny details.
This way, you can keep the ball rolling, and keep producing more content.
Look for grammar mix-ups, spelling errors, complicated sentences, jargon-heavy paragraphs, and keyword usage.
If anything feels off, change the content so that it's up to your business's quality standards.
This helps your pages rank in search results for the terms that matter to your business.
Keywords aren't only meant for body text, though. By using them on key areas of your pages, you can really help your pages climb in search engine results.
Title tags are the names of your site's pages. They're also the first part of your page that Google reads, meaning they're the first bit of context Google can understand.
This means title tags need keywords. Otherwise, Google won't know when or how to rank your page when someone searches for the corresponding keyword.
This is also helpful for drawing clicks to your site.
After all, if you have a title tag saying "Women's Running Shoes for Sale" and someone just searched "buy women's running shoes," then they know they should click to your site.
Title tags provide opportunities for more ideas than just keywords, though.
Numbers, lists, dates, prices, brand names, power words, and other strategies all contribute to getting more clicks from search engines.
So instead of "Women's Running Shoes for Sale," you could try "33% Off Women's Running Shoes," "Women's Nike & Adidas from $20," and other ideas to get visitors to your site with as few words as possible.
But the title tag isn't the only opportunity you have to get clicks. Fortunately, you also have meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are one- or two-sentence accounts of what someone can find on your page.
They don't play a direct role in SEO, but they can improve your click-through rate (CTR) by encouraging search engine users to click.
As a result, meta descriptions work as quick sales pitches for each page.
They can cover ideas like:
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a great jumping-off point if you're learning about SEO for the first time.
After you have your meta description up and running, you can tweak it occasionally to test what gives you the best CTR.
Maybe it works best for you to start a meta description with a question.
Maybe it's better to lead with your keyword.
Maybe you can get more clicks by using fewer words.
You can supply definite answers to those ideas by creating, tracking, and changing the meta descriptions on your pages.
With your title tags and meta descriptions in place, you're effectively using keywords to promote your pages.
But there's still another SEO strategy you can use to improve your site.
Multimedia is one of the most important parts of SEO.
It makes pages easier to read, engages readers more effectively than text, and keeps people on your site longer.
But there's a catch to multimedia — Google's algorithm can't actually "see" it.
To fix that, you should include alt descriptions for all of your multimedia. These are brief text descriptions of an image, video, or audio clip that Google uses to better understand the page.
Those alt descriptions let you use multimedia effectively for both users and search engines.
With that in mind, most multimedia breaks down into a few different categories.
We'll talk about each of those categories in detail. Images are the most common form of multimedia.
You can use them to break up text to keep people engaged and provide captivating visualizations for readers.
As the header image for this section shows, your images don't always have to pertain 100% to your topic. You can use images for humor just as well as you can use them to make points or add emphasis.
Regardless of how you choose to use images, you're helping your readers with them.
The biggest advantage of images is that they break up walls of text so your site visitors can scan and read more easily.
In fact, this has become crucial since most Internet users don't read much anymore. Instead, they scan a page to find what they want.
If they can't find what they want, they leave.
This makes images all the more important.
By using them at key points on your pages — like the beginning or at major points in the middle — you make it easier for someone to find what they want at a glance.
At the very least, you can make a page more entertaining so visitors can enjoy themselves on your site.
But images are just the beginning. They do a great job keeping your readers engaged — but other formats take engagement a step further.
VideosToday, every Internet-savvy company wants to jump on video as a marketing medium.
Those are huge improvements over text-only content. They're even advancements past text-and-image content.
So why is video so effective?
The biggest advantage is that you can condense entire pages of text into a few minutes of engaging, visualized explanations. All you need is a decent camera, a willing speaker, and editing software.
A lot of companies who experiment with video marketing start by using the cameras on their phones.
This is a great way to get basic product demonstration videos, office walkthroughs, employee interviews, and other videos to use on your site.
It's always a plus to have at least one person at your company who's comfortable speaking to a camera, too. That adds a face to your business that makes it more relatable, and viewers can come to "know" who's speaking.
If you want to add production value to your final video, you can also use editing software.
Editing software can be pricey, but free options exist.
iMovie is probably the most robust free software, and Adobe Premiere is the gold standard of paid products. It's hard to justify spending on video marketing if you've never used it before. But like other marketing strategies, video is an investment.
The more time and money you invest into it, the better your results will be.
Better results mean lots of advantages for your company's website, including more traffic, more conversions, and better brand association. At the end of the day, you can recoup the investment of video marketing by converting viewers into customers.
You'll likely earn your cost of investment back within a year, although your timeframe may vary depending on your company, industry, and other marketing initiatives.
With our team, you'll earn the results you need to grow.
Search trafficRanking is a valuable SEO metric, but measuring your site’s organic performance can’t stop there. The goal of showing up in search is to be chosen by searchers as the answer to their query. If you’re ranking but not getting any traffic, you have a problem.
But how do you even determine how much traffic your site is getting from search? One of the most precise ways to do this is with Google Analytics.
Are you ready to launch your company's SEO strategy?
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While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin' out, one thing has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.
Well, the need to do keyword research has stayed the same. How you actually do it hasn't.
What Is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose, often for search engine optimization (SEO) or general marketing. Keyword research can uncover queries to target, the popularity of theses queries, their ranking difficulty, and more.
Why Is Keyword Research Important?
Keyword research provides valuable insight into the queries that your target audience is actually searching on Google. The insight that you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy as well as your larger marketing strategy. However, keywords themselves may not be as important to SEO as you may think.
More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.
And to some extent, this is true; using keywords that exactly match a person's search is no longer the most important ranking factor in the eyes of an SEO professional. Rather, it's the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we'll talk more about intent in just a minute).
But that doesn't mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:
Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics -- by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.
For an inside look into how Ahrefs can aid you in your SEO keyword research, check out our case study and exclusive interview here.
By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that the most people in your audience want answers to.
How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy
I'm going to lay out a keyword research process you can follow to help you come up with a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you'll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that helps you get found for the search terms you actually care about.
Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You'll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you'll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.
If you're a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they're the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas -- what types of topics would your target audience search that you'd want your business to get found for? If you were a company like for example -- selling marketing software you might have general topic buckets like:
See those numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword? That's their monthly search volume. This data allows you to gauge how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to create content on to be successful with that keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move onto step 2 ...
Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it's time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets. These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is probably conducting searches for those specific terms.
For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company -- "marketing automation" -- I'd brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type in related to that topic. Those might include:
And so on and so on. The point of this step isn't to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We'll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don't have something too unwieldy.
Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you'll need website analytics software like Google Analytics. Drill down into your website's traffic sources, and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.
Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you're having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your customer-facing colleagues -- those who are in Sales or Service -- and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.
Step 3: Understand How Intent Affects Keyword Research and Analyze Accordingly.
Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it's more important that your web page addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?
It's easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful how you interpret the keywords you target.
Let's say, for example, you're researching the keyword "how to start a blog" for an article you want to create. "Blog" can mean a blog post or the blog website itself, and what a searcher's intent is behind that keyword will influence the direction of your article. Does the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or do they want to know how to actually launch a website domain for the purposes of blogging? If your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the latter, you'll need to make sure of the keyword's intent before committing to it.
To verify what a user's intent is in a keyword, it's a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of results come up. Make sure the type of content Google is closely related to what you'd intend to create for the keyword.
Step 4: Research related search terms.
This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it's a great way to fill out those lists.
If you're struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword into Google. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google's results, you'll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.
Want a bonus? Type in some of those related search terms and look at their related search terms.
Step 5: Use keyword research tools to your advantage. Keyword research and SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest can help you come up with more keyword ideas based on exact match keywords and phrase match keywords based on the ideas you've generated up to this point. This exercise might give you alternatives that you might not have considered.
How to Find and Choose Keywords for Your Website
Once you have an idea of the keywords that you want to rank for, now it's time to refine your list based on the best ones for your strategy. Here's how:
Step 1. Understand the three main factors for choosing good keywords.Before choosing keywords and expecting your content to rank for them, you must curate keywords for three things:
Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers' needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?
Google will provide more weight to sources it deems authoritative. That means you must do all you can to become an authoritative source by enriching your site with helpful, information content and promoting that content to earn social signals and backlinks. If you're not seen as authoritative in the space, or if a keyword's SERPs are loaded with heavy sources you can't compete with (like Forbes or The Mayo Clinic), you have a lower chance of ranking unless your content is exceptional.
You may end up ranking on the first page for a specific keyword, but if no one ever searches for it, it will not result in traffic to your site.
Volume is measured by MSV (monthly search volume), which means the number of times the keyword is searched per month across all audiences.
Step 2: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.
If you don't know the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain. Head terms are keywords phrases that are generally shorter and more generic -- they're typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.
It's important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it'll give you a keyword strategy that's well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That's because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?
If you answered #2, you're absolutely right. But don't get discouraged. While head terms generally boast the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you'll get from the term "how to write a great blog post" is usually more desirable.
Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you're in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it's usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term "blogging," on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.
So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want some quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to chip away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.
Step 3: See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.
Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is important to your competitor, doesn’t mean it's important to you. However, understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.
If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those. However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.
Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.
How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, Ahrefs allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.
Step 4: Use Google's Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.
Now that you've got the right mix of keywords, it's time to narrow down your lists with some more quantitative data. You have a lot of tools at your disposal to do this, but let me share my favorite methodology.
I like to use a mix of the Google's Keyword Planner (you'll need to set up an Ads account for this, but you can turn your example ad off before you pay any money), and Google Trends.
In Keyword Planner, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you're considering. Then, take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don't help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now -- and reap the benefits for later.
Or perhaps you're just looking at a list of terms that is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down somehow ... Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are thus worth more of your focus.
Best Keywords for SEOUnderstand that there's no "best" keywords, just those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it's up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages and drive traffic.
The best keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on:
And ... You're done! Congratulations! You've now got a list of keywords that'll help you focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short-term and long-term gains.
Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months -- once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you'll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.
Keyword Research Don't forget to share this post!
Let's get right down to it: The key to successful SEO is concentrating on long-tail keywords.
Although these keywords get less traffic than more generic terms, they're associated with more qualified traffic and users that are typically further down their path of intent.
The good news is that choosing the right long-tail keywords for your website pages is actually a fairly simple process -- one that's made all the more simple and quick when you use the right tools to perform your keyword research.
In this post, we'll cover the nine best tools out there for performing keyword research for your website content. Before we get started though, let's briefly go over two important things to consider as you do your research: relevance and (if applicable) location.
Relevance is the most important factor to consider when choosing the right keywords for SEO. Why? Because the more specific you are, the better.
For instance, if you own a company that installs swimming pools, it's likely that you'd attract more qualified prospects by targeting a keyword such as "fiberglass in-ground pool installation," rather than "swimming pools." That's because there's a good chance that someone searching for "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" is looking for information on installation or someone to perform the installation ... and that could be you!
Sure, optimizing for "swimming pools" has its place. But there's no doubt that this keyword will attract a much more generic audience that may not be looking for what you have to offer. Go for the relevant, long-tail keywords instead.
Another major factor to consider when optimizing for the right keywords is location-based searches. When looking for contractors and services in their specific area, search engine users will usually include their location in the search. So, "fiberglass in-ground pool installation" becomes "fiberglass in-ground pool installation in Cleveland, OH."
If you operate in one geo-location, you may want to consider adding location-based keywords to all of your pages, since traffic from other locations isn't going to be very much help to you. If your business operates in several geo-locations, it is also a wise choice to create a separate web page dedicated to each location so you can make sure your brand is present when people are searching for individual locations.
Now, how do you choose the right keywords for your business? We certainly don't recommend guessing, for obvious reasons. Instead, there are many ways to research and find long-tail keywords that are right for your business.
Here are nine awesome free and paid keyword research tools you can use to quickly and easily identify strong long-tail keywords for your SEO campaign.
Free Keyword Research Tools
Free Keyword Research Tools
1. Google Keyword Planner
Google has a few tools that make it easy to conduct keyword research, and their free AdWords tool called Keyword Planner is a great place to start -- especially if you use AdWords for some of your campaigns. (Note: You'll need to set up an AdWords account to use Keyword Planner, but that doesn't mean you have to create an ad.)
When you input one keyword, multiple keywords, or even your website address into Keyword Planner, Google will spit out a list of related keywords along with simple metrics to gauge how fierce the competition is around each one and how many searches it gets on both a global and local search level.
It'll also show you historical statistics and information on how a list of keywords might perform -- and it'll create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together. Since it's a free AdWords tool, it can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your AdWords campaigns.
Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality -- but you can make up for it somewhat if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.
Which brings me to the next tool ...
2. Google Trends
Google Trends is another free tool from Google. It lets you enter multiple keywords and filter by location, search history, and category. Once you enter that information in, it'll give you results that show how much web interest there is around a particular keyword, what caused the interest (e.g., press coverage), and where the traffic is coming from -- along with similar keywords.
The best part about Google Trends is that it doesn't just give you static keyword volume numbers like most keyword research tools. Instead, it generates colorful, interactive graphs that you can play with, download, and even embed on your website. It'll also give you more dynamic insight into a keyword with information like relative popularity of a search term over time.
Interestingly, its data doesn't include in repeated queries from a single user over a short period of time, which makes results cleaner. It also groups together searches that it infers to mean the same thing, like misspellings.
One way to use Google Trends? If you're trying to decide between two keyword variations for your latest blog post title. Simply perform a quick comparison search in Google Trends to see which one is getting searched more often.
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When you have a business online, it’s safe to say that a lot is riding on your ecommerce store.
Here is a list of ecommerce SEO best practices to help you best optimize your online website to rank highly in search engines. Follow our guidelines to ensure that your ecommerce website has a shot at doing its best in organic search.
If you want to speak to a strategist about implementing these SEO best practices for your ecommerce site, feel free to give our ecommerce company a call at 216-339-6041.
See how we can help you grow your business.
What is ecommerce SEO?
If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization, or SEO, you should be! Ecommerce SEO refers to the process of optimizing a website according to the guidelines of major search engines (like Google, Bing, and Yahoo) so that it appears more frequently, and ranks higher, in search results.
Although that sounds difficult, SEO really isn’t all that challenging as long as you know what you’re doing. In fact, many webmasters and store owners have been utilizing SEO best practices for ecommerce for years without even realizing it. But competition online is fierce, and the number of ecommerce stores online grows every day. So it’s now more important than ever to get your site up to par.
SEO involves a number of tactics to improve your search engine performance, including creating keyword-rich content, designing a user-friendly website, and optimizing site elements like page titles and URLs. You may already be doing some of these things naturally, but others may be things you never even thought of.
About our list of ecommerce SEO best practices
We recommend the following best practices for ecommerce SEO so that business owners can increase their rankings and conversions, and to also help them avoid being penalized in search. By following this guide, you’ll learn about our best SEO practices for ecommerce sites, and how to implement them on your website.
8 Best Practices For Ecommerce SEO1
Use important keywords. To make your product information friendly to both shoppers and search engines, make sure your sizes, measurements, colors, prices, and other details are easy to find, read, and understand. If you have website visitors from multiple regions, think about whether or not you should include measurements in standard, metric, or both. Check product images or photography against physical items to ensure they’re accurate to color and size.
Some retailers keep their product prices from displaying until a user adds it to their cart. This can be due to a special sale, or because the retail is attempting to get around a manufacturer’s minimum advertised pricing policy. Although hiding prices may not have a direct impact on SEO, if a shopper does not see the pricing information on a product page, they are likely to leave right away. This can result in a higher bounce rate, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
Finally, try to keep your product information as up to date as possible. If a manufacturer makes new information available to you, you should do your best to include it! It’s not only valuable for shoppers, but it can help get more keywords on your page and improve your rankings.
2. Design with shoppers in mind
Your website and product page design should add, not detract, from the shopping experience. Even if you sell the coolest, most desirable products in your industry at the best prices available, a shopper will probably get frustrated and leave your website if they find it hard to navigate or impossible to search.
Design is an important part of SEO, too. If a search engine detects that your website has a very high bounce rate – that is, visitors leaving very quickly after they first access a page – you may see your rankings start to slip. A well-designed website can help cut back on bounce rates, and can at least encourage visitors to browse a few more pages, even if they don’t find what they want right away.
Your ecommerce website should be easy to navigate, with sensible menus or navigation options that clearly tell visitors what they will see when they click a link. You should also use images sparingly, since a long load time could lead to more impatient shoppers hitting the back button. And load time is – you guessed it – a ranking factor as well. So it’s in your best interest to keep your pages loading as fast as possible.
If you’re designing a new website and you’re not sure where to start, browse a few of your favorite (or least favorite!) websites and take notes. What do you like about their design and navigation? What don’t you like? From this, you can probably get a good idea of what your shoppers might prefer to see on your store.
3. Avoid cluttered, complicated URLs
The address by which a website visitor accesses a page on your ecommerce store is called a URL. URLs can contain a fairly big amount of information in a small space. They can contain categories names, product names, file types, or even actions (like “_blank” to open a new link in a new window).
SEO standards suggest that URLs should be as clear as possible, and that they should contain keywords relevant to what appears on the resulting page.
Avoid URLs like this:
http://www.websiteurl.com/cat?=328/product?=237828/main.htmlA search engine isn’t going to be able to pick up any kind of information from that URL! Instead, lean toward URLs like this:
Not only can a search engine glean several pieces of information from that URL – you sell lawnmowers, you offer a green gas-powered variety, etc. – but a person can also tell at a glance what that URL leads to. If they send the link to someone else, the recipient is probably going to say “oh, a lawnmower!” and click to see the product. The first example URL, well… that could lead to just about anything, couldn’t it?
4. Use alt text in imagesI
f you’ve ever added an image to a website, whether through a CMS or by hand in HTML, you probably know about alt text. Alt text is a line of “alternate” text that is used in a variety of ways. It can be displayed in lieu of an image (if the link is broken, for example), or in some browsers, might be displayed when the user’s cursor hovers over the image.
Alt text is another way to get your important keywords on your site. When a search engine crawls a website, it has no way of knowing what your images are, or why they are on a specific page. However, the alt text can tell search engines that your image is of a lawnmower. This helps give further context to the page, as well – that is, a page with the image of a lawnmower on it probably contains some content about lawnmowers.
Avoid instances where alt text may not be displayed, such as displaying a product image in Flash. Even if you already have important keywords on your product or category page, alt text helps give search engines context to the images on the page, and can help get them included in image searches for those keywords.
Alt text is also very important for users who are legally blind or have a hard time seeing webpages. Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act requires websites to be equally accessible to those with disabilities. If you have a very image-heavy site and don’t use alt text, a visually impaired person’s browser won’t be able “read” anything for them. In the past, some websites have found themselves in hot water for not abiding by this best practice. So ensure that all images on your site – even the smallest buttons or thumbnails – have alt text assigned to them.
5. Allow customer reviews
Reviews can help boost conversions on your product pages. It’s actually proven: somewhere around 90% of consumers say they are more likely to buy products that have reviews, even if they’re not completely positive. So it’s in your best interest to let customers speak their mind after they buy something!
Surprisingly, allowing reviews may also help with SEO, which makes review management a common ecommerce SEO tip. Customers are very likely to naturally use important keywords in their reviews. Although duplicating the same keywords that already appear on your page isn’t likely to have any impact, they might use synonyms or long-tail keywords that can help with your ranking (or at least send the right kind of signal to search engines).
6. Avoid duplicate content
If you are a retailer instead of a manufacturer, and you sell products produced by other companies online, you probably received product descriptions directly from the manufacturer. While it’s a best practice to include as much information about your products as possible, you should do what you can to avoid duplicating any product descriptions or product copy that has been provided to you.
Duplicate content that is spread out between a few pages probably will not hurt anyone. However, due to changes in search engine algorithms, more and more websites are being penalized for duplicating their product copy. To avoid hurting your rankings, your goal should be to create new, unique descriptions for each item you carry. Although this can be difficult and time-consuming – especially if you carry a lot of items – it can help set you apart from the competition.
Readers like clear, interesting, and easy-to-understand product descriptions. But humor helps, too, and anything else that you can do to put a new “spin” on your subject will probably be appreciated. Aim for 3-5 concise sentences describing your product, being sure to use the appropriate keywords or phrases that you think the item in question should rank for.
7. Create unique content
If your ecommerce website doesn’t have a lot of original content, or doesn’t have many products to speak of, you may find it very difficult to rank for your selected keywords or phrases. One way to combat this – and to give your shoppers a reason to buy from you – is to create some unique, interesting content.
Many retailers have a company blog where they talk about news, trends, or new developments in their industry. This is a great way to add more content to your website and give search engines something new to look through for ranking criteria. If you repeatedly blog about one subject, a search engine is pretty likely to consider you a leader in knowledge about that subject. And your readers will love it, too, as long as the posts are detailed and accurate.
There are a ton of content marketing strategies out there that can be used to help boost your rankings and improve your SEO. From guides to whitepapers to long-form blog posts or articles, there are many ways that you can draw in readers and optimize your website with “meaty” content that search engines will love.
8. Write for humans – not for search engines
Although we’ve stressed optimizing your ecommerce store for search engines, everything you do to your online store should ultimately be for the benefit of your shoppers. Your customers are not robots, after all! A paragraph of keyword-stuffed, nonsensical content might help your ranking a little, but it certainly won’t help your conversion rate.
Need help using these ecommerce SEO tips?
Whether you’re building a new online store or need to improve your current one, we’re here to help you with all your ecommerce SEO needs and use these ecommerce SEO tips to grow your business.
Contact us today for a free proposal to call us at 216-339-6041 to learn more about our ecommerce SEO services.
Inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts (versus interrupts like outbound marketing) users with experiences personalized to their wants, challenges, and interests. Strategies like email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing all work as inbound marketing strategies.
Table of Contents
What is inbound marketing, though?
How did it start? Why does it work? How can businesses use it?
These are all excellent questions, and this inbound marketing guide answers them all. Keep reading to learn all about inbound marketing and get actionable advice for launching your inbound marketing strategy.
If you need professional help with inbound marketing, contact us online or call us at 216-339-6041. You can also browse our inbound marketing services to see how our team can build a successful plan for your business.
The definition of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing refers to any marketing activities that bring people in, as opposed to marketers having to reach out to them. It can also be summed up as any kind of activity that earns attention, as opposed to an activity that pays for it.
Inbound marketing is usually something that was desired by the person consuming it, as opposed to something that was offered or exposed to someone without their permissions or desire for it. This is why you may also sometimes hear inbound marketing called “permission marketing” (a term coined by author Seth Godin).
Examples of inbound marketing
A few examples of inbound marketing are blog posts, podcasts, emails, social media posts, and videos. In contrast, a few examples of marketing that would not be considered inbound—also known as outbound marketing—are commercials, direct mail, and calls.
Do you see the difference?
Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing. Inbound marketing methods are sought out and consumed by those who have a desire for them, or who are looking for them in their time of need. On the other hand, outbound marketing methods tend to be intrusive, unwanted, or even spammy.
As time goes on, consumers are learning to tune out outbound marketing methods, or are even finding ways to avoid them. For example, when a television commercial comes on, a consumer may simply change the channel. A spam email may automatically be filtered to the “spam” folder, or deleted without being read. Those who rely solely on these methods are finding that they are not as effective as they once were…nor do they provide the desired return on investment.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, gives marketers benefits, builds more trust than commercial.
As mentioned, inbound marketing brings people in, as opposed to requiring marketers to reach out. This is the crucial difference between the two.
How did inbound marketing start?
Along with asking “What is inbound marketing?” you may be wondering how this new form of marketing came to be. Truthfully, inbound marketing has been around for many years, and many companies have been using it—but the term “inbound marketing” was not coined until 2005.
Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, a marketing software company, came up with the term to describe this type of marketing. In 2009, Halligan and fellow HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah, released a book on the topic titled Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs.
In addition to creating the term and methodology, HubSpot also developed a flywheel to demonstrate the inbound marketing process. This flywheel grew to encompass not only marketing but also sales and customer service.
The flywheel features three components:
Why is inbound marketing important?Inbound marketing matters to businesses for a few reasons, and the Internet is the biggest one.
We Form Long Term Partnerships
Thanks to the World Wide Web, people across the world can research companies, products, and services in an instant. They can compare your business with competitors in minutes. Not to mention, who they find depends on search algorithms, social media, paid ads, and more.
If your company doesn’t use inbound marketing, you won’t have the chance to reach your audience.
Inbound marketing helps you attract users, as well as earn visibility on the Internet.
That makes inbound marketing an immensely powerful marketing approach. Companies can’t afford to ignore inbound marketing, even if they provide the best product or service because people won’t know that they do because consumers can’t find them online.
Use inbound marketing and you can start growing your business.
How does inbound marketing work?
Inbound marketing does not consist of one single marketing method that draws potential customers to your website. In fact, it consists of multiple marketing methods, all of which are considered inbound.
Each of these methods works a little differently. Some of them may rely on producing content that, like our example above, exists for a consumer’s time of need. Others involve creating a presence on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And others focus on the optimization of your website to make your content and business easier to find, increasing it in popularity.
Let’s explore the methods that make up inbound marketing in a little more detail.
How you can use inbound marketingYour business can use inbound marketing to accomplish a range of goals, including:
Essentially, you can use inbound marketing to grow your business. In addition to attracting new customers, you can also take advantage of inbound marketing to retain current ones.
Inbound marketing strategies
You have choices when it comes to inbound marketing strategies. Companies can personalize their tactics to their audience, which makes inbound marketing highly customizable.
Five of the most popular strategies include:
1. Content marketing
If you are creating articles, how-to pages, whitepapers, or other content, this is also a form of inbound marketing. Not only do these content pieces make it more likely that someone will find your company when they are searching for you, they also help those who have already located your site feel an affinity toward it. If you regularly product helpful content, you may be seen as a better, more valuable business than one that does not.
There are many types of content that you can produce, from whitepapers to videos to long-form guides. Not every type of content will work for every business. Experiment with your offerings to see what works best for your leads—you might be surprised!
2. Social media
Social media is also another component of inbound marketing. While it can be used to reach new customers or potential leads, it can also be used to grow relationships with existing ones by offering helpful content or great service at the right times.
Blogging for your business is a fantastic way to increase awareness, produce great content for your site, and attract links that have the potential to help your site rank better in search engines. Blogging is also a crucial part of many inbound marketing strategies, since it focuses on the creation of content that people will want to consume.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing may not seem like a form of inbound marketing, but because you must get permission before emailing anyone—you do ask for permission, right?—it appears solidly on the inbound list. Like social media, email is typically used to grow existing relationships by offering something desirable at the right time.
You can use email marketing as an inbound marketing method by offering more than sales or deals in your emails. Why not send out how-tos, content, links to your blog posts, or highlights from social media? Or even highlight a fan or customer of the week?
5. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Yes, SEO — or search engine optimization — is a crucial part of inbound marketing. After all, where would these other marketing methods get you if they weren’t properly optimized, or your site wasn’t up to today’s SEO standards?
If you’re not already familiar with SEO, it’s an important part of online marketing by which your website is optimized to appear more often in search results, or rank higher than your competitors. SEO is the difference between ranking #1 and ranking #10, and what determines which websites take the top spots for any specific search query. You can learn more about SEO on this page.
Without SEO, which ensures your content is as search engine-friendly as possible.
These are just a few examples of marketing methods that are considered inbound instead of outbound.
How to get started with inbound marketing
If you’re looking to get started with an inbound marketing strategy, our advice to you is this: start small. You don’t have to do everything at once, or use every single method we listed on this page. In fact, that would probably be counter-productive.
To get started, choose one marketing method you’re not already doing, and work with your team to set a strategy for it.
Ask the following questions:
Then, launch your method.
Monitor the results carefully for a set period of time. It’s also important to realize that inbound marketing does not often have immediate results: many blogs have to work for months or even years before they see regular readers. However, if you do not meet your goals, you may want to re-evaluate your approach and try again, or even phase that method out entirely.
If you want to add additional inbound marketing methods, be sure that they are added one-by-one, and that you are asking questions like the ones listed above, and measuring your response carefully, each time. By doing this, you’ll be able to have a better idea of what is working for you and what isn’t—and how happy you’re making the people visiting your website!
We hope this page helped answer the question “What is inbound marketing?” for you...and then some! Now that you know more about what inbound marketing is and how it works, we wish you luck in using it on your own website!
Inbound marketing explained
Need help developing an inbound marketing strategy?
As a leading inbound marketing agency, Swift Marketing Service can create a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy for your business. While other firms may simply provide a few services and call it a day, Swift Marketing is a full-service agency that works with its clients.
When you’re ready to experience our web design, SEO, and inbound marketing, we’d love to hear from you! Simply email us or give us a call to discuss what you’d like to accomplish with an inbound marketing plan, and we would be excited to talk to you.
1. Provide valuable information
This should go without saying, but you should only publish posts if they have real value for your readers. It can be tempting to sit down at your keyboard and write whatever comes to mind, but unless you have information or a viewpoint that hasn’t been shared before, the chances of it being beneficial to your company or your readers are slim.
This can be extremely challenging, depending on how many bloggers already cover your industry. But if you just reiterate everyone else has already said, readers have no reason to read your content or visit your site.
Make sure that each of your posts stands out from the “noise” by publishing original research, being the first to cover a new trend, or even just offering a unique opinion on a well-known topic within your industry.
Essentially, your goal should to be to provide value to your readers – and the best way to do that is to stand out from the rest.
2. Include visuals
Visualcontent is much more effective at holding readers’ interest than text alone. It captures their attention, breaks up large chunks of text, and can help better explain certain points.
There are many types of visuals you can use on your blog, including images, screenshots, graphics, and even videos. The best choices for your company depend on your industry and the topic you’re covering, but as long as your visuals are relevant and high in quality, they can improve your chances of keeping readers on the page until the end of your posts.
3. Promote them on social media
After you’ve published a post, you need to make sure that people actually read it. And unless you’re already a well-known blogger in your industry, chances are slim that people will check your site on their own for new content.
One of the easiest ways to attract readers is by sharing new posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social platforms your company uses. You can also re-share your posts on Twitter in the following weeks and months, as long as the content is still accurate and up-to-date.
4. Encourage your readers to subscribe
If you don’t already have a subscription option in place for your readers, you should create one as soon as possible.
When people subscribe to your blog, you can automatically send them an email every time you publish a new post. This means that those who are most interested in your content will know almost immediately when there is something new to read.
This not only helps keep your readers in the loop, but helps your blog build a steady flow of traffic.
5. Update your postsYour blog posts can continue to attract readers and customers for years to come, but only if they’re still accurate and useful. This means it’s worth your time to keep an eye on older posts and update them with new research, information, and trends over time.
You don’t need to update old posts every time there’s a news update related to the topic, but make time every few months to go through and make sure that all of the information is correct, the links still work, and you aren’t giving outdated advice to your readers.
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What's better than acquiring one new customer?
It sounds like a trick question, but the answer isn't "acquiring two customers." It's actually retaining an existing customer.
While there's a certain allure that comes with capturing new customers, keeping customers coming back will continually result in a greater ROI — and it costs 5-25X less.
But how do you create a customer retention strategy that keeps your current customers engaged and happy?
We've broken down some of the most applicable customer retention strategies that the biggest brands are currently using to inspire loyalty. From leveraging convenience to prioritizing personalization, we’ll cover all the must-haves that any customer success or marketing team can test out today.
How to Retain Customers
1. Track and analyze churn metrics. You can't fix what you don't understand. Companies should be diligently tracking and analyzing the number of customers who churn, alongside the reasons that they may decide to churn.
2. Implement a customer feedback loop.
It's hard to improve your business if you don't know how your customers feel about it. To start retaining customers, you need a process for obtaining customer feedback and sharing that information with the rest of your organization. This is where a customer feedback loop comes in. It provides a system for collecting, analyzing, and distributing customer reviews and surveys.
There are a few ways to collect customer feedback. You can ask customers to participate in user testing and focus groups. Using a few of these methods regularly should provide your team with ample and relevant customer feedback.
Once you’ve gathered them, you should analyze your survey results by looking for trends in customer behavior and other areas to enhance user experience. Then, share this information with teams that will benefit from it most.
For example, product reviews should be distributed to engineers and development teams so they can address flaws in your product's design. By using this system to collect and share customer reviews, your business can efficiently address criticism and improve the customer experience.
3. Maintain a customer communication calendar.
Even if your customers aren't reaching out with feedback, your team should be proactive in communicating with them. If customers haven't interacted with your brand for a while, you should reach out and re-establish your relationship. Consider adopting a communication calendar to manage customer engagements and create opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
A communication calendar is a chart that keeps track of customer communication. It tells you the last time that a customer has reached out and alerts you when existing customers haven't interacted with your brand. This makes it easy to launch promotional offers and proactive customer service features that remove roadblocks before customers know they're there. For example, if a customer's subscription is set to expire, you can send out an email letting them know they need to renew their account.
4. Send a company newsletter.
A company newsletter is a simple and cost-effective way of retaining customers. You can use email automation to send updates or offers to all of your customers at once. And, you can send the email using an RSS feed on a designated frequency, so you don't have to manually update the content or remember to click "send." Even though it's simple, newsletters can remind customers of your brand every time they open their inbox.
5. Start a customer education program.
A customer education program demonstrates a long-term investment in your customer base. Under this initiative, your business creates a variety of customer self-service tools like a knowledge base and a community forum. Then, customers use these features to locate solutions to service problems before reaching out to your support team.
This program can extend beyond your products and services as well. For example, Swift Digital Marketing courses cover generic marketing, sales, and customer service topics. That way, Swift customers know how to use tools in their everyday workflow. We'll discuss Swift Marketing Academy later on, but this approach has become a proven strategy for optimizing customer success.
6. Build trust with your customers.
Two things are true when it comes to building trust between your company and your customers:
When deciding to make a purchase, 81% of customers say that trust is an important factor in their decision. Building trust isn’t a one-size-fits-all tactic that any business can implement overnight. After all, the definition of trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Reliability is a key factor in building trust, so your company should be consistent in delivering value to customers.
Consistently following through on your brand promise and doing what you say you’ll do over time will have an impact on whether or not your customers perceive your brand as trustworthy.
7. Offer unique services.
Offering a product or service that’s superior to your competitors' in the eyes of your customers is no easy feat, but the reward is worth it in the long run. If you’ve developed a niche for your business that solves a critical customer pain point, you’re on the right track to retaining customers.
People ultimately buy what holds value to them.
Eliminating a bottleneck, removing a kink in a workflow, or automating a process in a way that no other company can is a strong reason for a customer to commit to your brand.
8. Start a customer retention program.
A customer retention program is an amalgamation of several types of tactics. There’s a program for just about every business case. Below, we define customer retention programs, explain the most common types, and show you examples of how to implement them within your organization.
Customer Retention Program
A customer retention program is a specific initiative designed to encourage customer loyalty. Customer retention programs can be company-led, such as instituting a customer onboarding process, or customer-led, such as downloading and using a mobile app to make purchases.
Client Retention Program Ideas
There are several types of customer retention programs you can start for your business. If you're not sure which is right for your company, here's a list of client retention programs you can implement to delight your existing customers.
1. Onboarding Program
Onboarding is a customer success function that teaches new customers how to use your product or service. Rather than learning by themselves, customers are taught by a company representative who personalizes the training according to their needs. This way, customers not only save time but also understand how the product can help them achieve goals.
Onboarding is an effective customer retention tool because it prevents churn with new customers. When users are first working with your product, they may get frustrated if they don't understand how to use it. Customers have deadlines and they can't afford to spend time learning how to master your product. Onboarding ensures customers know how to utilize your products or services so they can complete their goals on time.
2. Customer Loyalty Program
While it's important to focus on customers who are at risk of churn, you shouldn’t forget about your loyal customers in the process. After all, what will these customers think if they see you putting all this effort in for users who don't love your brand yet? It doesn't seem too fair, does it?
A customer loyalty program should reward customers for their continued commitment. The more they shop and interact with your business, the more they're rewarded. This keeps customers happy because they're getting more from the experience than just your product or service. And, since the top percentile of your customers spend much more than the rest of your customer base, you'll want to make sure these users are more than satisfied.
3. Customer Advisory Board
As we mentioned above, your most loyal customers are also your most valuable ones. Not just because of the money they spend, but also for the information they provide. They tell you why they love your brand so much and make suggestions as to where you can improve it.
Creating a panel of these customers can help you fine-tune products and services at your business. Additionally, you can increase customer advocacy by encouraging participants to publicly share their reviews. Customer testimonials are an effective method for building rapport when attracting and engaging potential leads.
4. Corporate Social Responsibility Program
Your company is more than just a product or service. Customers look at everything your business buys, sells, and advertises to its target audience. If they sense any inconsistency between your brand's messaging and its actions, they'll be quick to recognize the ingenuity.
Instead, it's important to get involved with your customers beyond product and services. Think about their values and create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program that pursues a moral goal. While your initiative doesn't have to be as ambitious, getting involved with your customers' communities and personal goals is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to their needs.
5. Beta Testing Group
Similar to the feedback loop, customer beta testing groups serve a dual purpose — they provide your business with specific, actionable observations from the customer’s POV and they keep customers invested in the new feature your company is beta testing.
Beta testers are usually an exclusive group since every customer isn’t asked to give their feedback on a new feature due to bandwidth limitations. The exclusivity alone is usually enough to entice customers to commit to the process for a few weeks or months, but incentives like swag and gift cards can sweeten the deal.
Ideally, different customer retention programs work hand-in-hand to create a customer experience that cultivates loyalty, positive sentiment and makes customers more willing to continue purchasing.
By retaining customers, companies can help them derive more value from a product, encourage them to share feedback to influence potential new customers, and start to build a community of like-minded customers or users they can connect with. Below is a list of strategies you can start executing this week.
22 Excellent Customer Retention Strategies that Work
1. Adopt customer service tools.
Santa Cruz BicyclesIf you're an SMB, your support team may only consist of a few people. However, as you grow your customer base, service demand might spike and force you to expand the bandwidth of your support team. Hiring is expensive which is why many businesses turn to technology to supplement their customer service needs.
Santa Cruz Bicycles did exactly this when it realized its current approach to customer support wasn't sustainable. While the company was committed to providing excellent customer service, that standard became harder and harder to meet as more customers purchased their bikes. Rider Support Lead, Kyle Harder, notes this challenge in the graphic below.
Instead of hiring more reps, Santa Cruz Bicycles turned to customer service tools. It started with a CRM, using the software to record customer interactions and create support tickets.
As the company grew, the support team needed a more refined tool for its daily workflow. So, the organization decided to centralize customer service operations. What this meant was that all support inquiries were funneled into a shared inbox where reps could collaborate on complex service tickets. This made it easier for the team to streamline urgent or sensitive issues, improving their likelihood of preventing churn.
2. Apologize when you make mistakes.
Mistakes happen in business. Whether that mistake is a data breach, an outage, a billing error, or something else, a mistake can put you at risk of losing your valued customers — depending on how you handle it.
In nay cases of company error, 96% of survey respondents would continue buying from a company they regularly purchased from if they apologized and rectified the situation. So what that means is, you need to develop a plan for the inevitability of a mistake — and a plan for how to solve it promptly, apologize honestly, and move forward to retain your loyal customers.
3. Inspire with a mission.
Sometimes a brand inspires loyalty not through tactics and systems, but through what it stands for.
If you've ever watched Simon Sinek's TED talk "Start with Why," you probably already know a thing or two about the importance of having a mission, or "reason why."
TOMS has built its entire business model around making the world a better place.
The way it does this is in its "One for One" policy. For every pair of shoes that are purchased, it gives a pair to people in need, thus far donating over 60 million pairs of new shoes.
As consumers, we're focused on the altruistic and environmental effects that our buying habits have beyond consumption. Doing good is becoming more and more important to us.
This doesn't mean you should build your marketing around an altruistic message just to do it. The lesson is in finding something that people care about and positioning your brand around it.
4. Empower customers with convenience.
Starbucks. The coffee goliath Starbucks has always been innovative with its marketing, especially in the customer acquisition department.
In the early days, Starbucks founders Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker focused on the sounds and the smells inside their shops in order to provide a delightful customer experience.
But to grow, they had to get innovative. One of their most innovative customer retention moves is the Mobile Order & Pay feature within the app. Thanks to the feature, customers can order their coffee before they even arrive at the shop.
The simplest takeaway here is this: Make your products and services as accessible as possible. Identify the desires and behaviors of your customers and create tools and systems that empower them. Whether that be an app or other traditional methods, it's up to you.
5. Leverage personalization.
TescoThis supermarket giant has a strong presence in the UK, with nearly 4,000 stores nationwide.
For huge brands like these, coming across as authentic and human can be a challenge. Online grocery shopping and self-service scanners are convenient, but people still like dealing with other people.
Customer service is still necessary, and the folks at Tesco have chosen to use Twitter as a way of executing this with a human touch. They show they care by adding personality to their interactions with customers. Check out this recent interaction:
To get started with an approach like this, identify your audience personas and communicate with them on their preferred channels. It doesn't matter if it's email or Snapchat, as long as it's where their attention is.
From here you should encourage customers to speak directly with you through that channel. Make it part of your messaging and remind them during and after the buying experience.
And, always add personality to every message. Nobody likes a canned response, so make sure whatever you're communicating sounds like it's coming from a human.
6. Speak to your customers.
R&G Technologies. We've taken a look at several B2C examples, but what about the B2B world? R&G Technologies is an Australian IT support firm that has developed strong, long-term relationships with its clients.
It solidifies these relationships with rapid response times and strict service-level agreements (SLAs). They get back to their clients quickly, and their employees have been bought in on this by tying these KPIs to how much they earn.
However, the biggest lesson is in its customer satisfaction surveys. R&G Technologies clients have an opportunity to express what’s doing well and what isn’t. This allows the company to identify unhappy customers before they churn.
R&G focuses heavily on asking the right questions in order to gain insights it can execute on. This information is used to make better business decisions and retain customers.
Most importantly, these discussions identify the challenges of R&G's audience. This can help inform both the overall marketing as well as the retention strategy.
Don't underestimate the power of one-on-one conversations with your clients (especially if you're running an online business).
7. Use gamification and referral programs.MeUndiesTouted as the most comfortable pair of underwear in the world, MeUndies drives great retention through two elements. The first, which we've already covered, is in its"reason why."
The folks at Me
Undies were tired of the struggle that comes with finding a great, comfortable pair of underwear. To back this up, they've fostered a strong culture and are very transparent with the production process. They have an entire page dedicated to their factory (it's beautiful by the way).
Although this makes for great retention, our focus is on their clever referral program. Customers are encouraged from the moment they purchase to refer a friend, and the rewards are worth it: For every friend you refer, you get $20 and they get 20% off their first purchase.
There's a gamification element that shows how far through the buying experience your friend is, too, including a "nudge" button. If a friend adds a product to the cart but hasn't completed checkout, you can use this to send an email reminder about it. In other words, MeUndies has found a way to use their current customers to reduce cart abandonment, while providing social proof in the process.
When done well, referral systems can be really effective for retention. The key is to focus on strong incentives and gamification to get people invested. Most importantly, don't forget to empower and encourage your customers to become advocates for your brand in the process.
8. Create a divide between you and your competitors. Apple. Want your customers to see you as the obvious choice over your competitors? Make note of Apple's strategy, demonstrated by their "Mac vs. PC" ad campaign.
The campaign starred John Hodgman as the inept PC and Justin Long as the cool, collected Mac. The two would quip humorously over what made the Mac a better choice than a PC in a really entertaining manner.
The "Mac vs. PC" campaign was a very tongue-in-cheek — and it generated a lot of dispute. Not only that, but it divided the market and set Apple apart from their competitors by identifying the kind of consumers who should buy Apple products.
Sticking true to who you are as a brand shows integrity and makes it easier to attract customers that just might become your strongest brand advocates.
Can you find a cause to fight for (or against)? If your brand is more friendly than this, you can still put some fire behind your story and create a rally effect. Don't be afraid to be a little bold in your marketing to get the best results from this approach.
9. Use subscriptions to bolster the experience. AmazonIt's unusual for a commodity-based organization to implement a subscription service into their business model.
Which is exactly what Amazon created in the form of Prime. The subscription was originally created to bring customers faster delivery. It generated a lot of controversy, but quickly became popular with regular shoppers on the platform.
How can you use subscriptions to achieve growth goals and increase customer retention?
You don't need to charge a fee for your subscription model in order to gain customer loyalty. Providing benefits in the form of exclusive content and events is another way to leverage this approach without spending a ton.
If you're going to take a page directly from Amazon's playbook, then make sure you're offering something people want. This goes back to customer development and understanding your audience's desires and challenges.
10. Use experiences to elicit positive feelings.
Coca-ColaExperiential marketing has long been used as a way for brands to create positive sentiments with their customers.
Coca-Cola had a 70-day campaign around the 2012 Summer Olympics, and part of this was their "Coca-Cola Beat Generator" app. This experience brought together music, sports, and the Coca-Cola brand.
They showcased it during their roadshow around the Olympics, using samples and sounds from the games themselves. Users could then take the MP3 recording with them and share it via social media. The results? 16,500 visits to the web version and 1.78 million Facebook impressions.
Even though Coca-Cola produces beverages, they figured out a way to tap into the positive hype around an event by providing delightful customer experiences that reached beyond the point-of-sale.
Look for ways to create positive feelings in the form of new experiences outside of your main products, services, and value propositions.
11. Capitalize on social proof.
Codeacademy. Sometimes, the greatest form of advertising isn't your own. In fact, customers are more likely to trust opinions from family, friends, and other consumers more than branded content and ads.
And that's where social proof comes in. Using the power of testimonials and customer stories, Codeacademy uses social proof to show prospective customers the value of its products — with stories straight from the horse's mouth about how it helped them:
More than 97% of customers report that online reviews influence their buying decisions, and seeing that lots of other brands and individuals like you use a product actually makes you want to do it, too — FOMO is a powerful marketing and retention tactic.
Use customer testimonials and information to attract new customers, and to convince existing ones to stick around or upgrade their products. Highlight loyal customers — and their stories — on your website or your social media networks and share their successes to help you grow your own.
12. Educate your customers. Just because your customer has made a purchase from you doesn't mean you should stop trying to close the deal.
Your customers have more options available to them than ever before, and if they find a competitor of yours with a similar offering and price that seems more exciting, you could lose them.
Education is one of the most valuable things you can offer your customers (or even just your site visitors). Swift Digital Marketing offers free marketing, sales, and customer service training videos and certifications that anyone can use to learn and grow their skills — and some are only available to Swift Marketing customers and partners. These unique, exclusive offerings help make the Swift community more engaged and interested in staying in the loop with our educational programs.
13. Surprise and delight.People are passionate about how much they love their pets. (Just ask my cat Leela, who I recently purchased a condo for. It's only four feet tall, but still.)
Pet supply ecommerce company Chewy knows its customers love their pets. It also knows they can buy pet food and supplies from a variety of companies — including Amazon — for similar prices.
So it uses the principle of surprise reciprocity to delight its customers with spur-of-the-moment gifts and cards for their pets. These surprises don't need to be big or expensive, but they're memorable to their customers by demonstrating care for their fur-children. The example below is a painting Chewy had commissioned of a customer's pet — other ideas could be hand-written thank you letters or free samples of new products.
14. Offer support on the right platforms.SlackPart of knowing and understanding your customers is knowing where they spend their days using your product, and how they most want to get customer support when needed.
For the most part, Slack functions perfectly as a workplace communication tool. But like all technologies, it experiences the occasional outage that impacts its users -- many of whom immediately start asking their coworkers around them and the Twittersphere if their Slack is downtoo (or, they make jokes that maybe they were fired and had their Slack deactivated).
Luckily, Slack is there to help when things go wrong. They know their users are active on Twitter, and they keep updates frequent on Twitter in cases of outage or other customer issues.
Spending time in your customers' shoes to get to know how they look for help and information when they do encounter issues will prevent them from feeling like they're in the dark -- and will make you dependable and reliable in their eyes, even when things go wrong.
15. Thank your customers.ZapposTo the point above, taking the time to say thank you to your customers — outside of an email campaign or a customer purchase — goes a long way toward building a brand that's lovable and memorable.
Clothing and shoe ecommerce site Zappos is well-known for its excellent customer service — including its efforts to show customers how much they care by saying thank you and sending gifts.
In fact, Zappos even has an office-wide tally of how many gifts and surprises have been sent to customers during the previous month to make sure the whole team is doing their part to show customers how much they're appreciated.
Saying thank you is a simple customer retention technique, but an effective one that distinguishes faceless websites from beloved brands.
16. Provide incentives before a customer can terminate their membership.
AdobeWe’ve all been there before. Your free trial, one-year subscription, or introductory pricing is set to expire in a few days. You’ve set an alarm to cancel it before you’re charged again. Companies like Adobe recognize this all-too-common churning technique and put steps in place to mitigate it before it happens.
Adobe offers Creative Cloud Apps on a monthly subscription that locks customers into the service for one year at a time. If they choose to cancel early, they have an option to receive up to two months without payments in order to keep their Creative Cloud service.
The company is purposefully attempting to retain customers with two months of a free subscription, and they’re offering it at a time where customers are attempting to make a decision about their long-term relationship with the company. By stepping in at this stage, Adobe is giving customers a reason to stay a little longer so the brand can prove its value to them.
Your business can take this technique one step further by giving extra care to these customers. Follow up with them on a phone call or with a personalized email to understand how you can make their experience better over the next two months.
17. Build trust with your customers.
Classy Curlies Classy Curlies builds trust extremely well by doing something most business owners might scratch their heads at — they show their customers how to accomplish the company’s mission on their own.
On the website, customers will find DIY kits and tutorials on how to care for their hair and skin with everyday products they can find at home or in the grocery store. And by the way, Classy Curlies also sells these DIY kits if customers want a more specialized regimen.
By putting the customer first and offering these solutions free of cost, Classy Curlies has been able to build trust with customers and retain them. Whether they opt for the latest DIY kit or they’re a faithful reader of the DIY blog, odds are a new customer will find something at Classy Curlies that’ll keep them coming back for more.
18. Form a community around your product or service.FloFor people who want to manage their reproductive health, Flo offers a world-class platform that predicts, analyzes, and tracks individual health data. The app offers a calendar to easily view when their cycles begin and end and delivers daily health insights to make sense of all those predictions. All of these features and more are integral to managing individual health trends, but there are plenty of apps on the internet that do this.
What sets Flo apart from its competitors and helps them retain customers is the community within the app. Flo provides prompts for the users to discuss, pairs each user with a virtual health assistant, and even holds space for anonymous chat rooms where users can discuss their health concerns privately.
While none of the offers Flo provides to its users are meant to take the place of professional medical advice, the community within this app bridges the isolation gap that some people might feel while they wait for medical results, when they seek a medical professional, or when they want recommendations for the best products to use. A robust community like this isn’t easy to find, so Flo is able to retain customers with this unique value-add.
19. Become part of the customer's lifestyle. Cash App.
Repaying a friend for a round of appetizers. Collecting funds for a surprise gift to a coworker. Tipping your barber when you’re short on cash. There are virtually endless uses for a finance app like Cash App that makes money sharing simple and quick.
Their business model is simple — they make money off of a small fee that users pay when depositing money into their bank accounts. But how exactly do they retain these customers so that they’ll send and receive money through Cash App next time?
The secret to their customer retention strategy isn’t really a secret at all. The magic lies in the lifestyle that is attached to the app. It takes at least two people to use Cash App — someone to send money and another to receive it. If you have at least one friend, acquaintance, or coworker who uses the app, you’ll probably find yourself using it at some point to pay them back for grabbing your morning coffee.
So long as the app is conveniently available on our phones and at least one other person we know uses it, we’re likely to be a customer for much longer than we ever anticipated.
20. Establish loyalty with a one-of-a-kind product. Bath & Body WorksIf you’re anything like me, you’re obsessed with wallflowers from Bath & Body Works. They smell amazing, they’re usually on sale, and they last much longer than traditional candles do. But I’m willing to bet that the scents, price, and longevity are secondary to the reason the company has kept you as a brand loyal customer for so long.
Their retention strategy? The wallflower fragrance plug.
Only Bath and Body Works wallflower fragrances will work in the corresponding plug-in and that’s not on accident. AirWick, Glade, and other fragrance plug-ins are designed this way, too. If you decide to purchase one brand over the other, you’re committing to the scents that come with it. Once you’ve made the one-time purchase for the plug-ins, it’ll be a lot harder to switch brands and make that one-time investment again. So, you stay loyal to the brand and try out new scents and products as they’re released.
21. Offer a product or service that solves a problem, but not every problem.
Canva. When Canva first stepped into the graphic design market, they were competing with some of the most established brands in the industry. They were the little fish in a big pond. Now, they’ve become a household name (at least in every tech and marketing household).
This company has successfully acquired new customers and retained existing ones over the last few years by solving one problem: access to easy-to-use professional design tools for non-designers.
Long gone are the days of watching an Adobe Illustrator tutorial to whip up a great-looking social media post. Canva offers ready-to-use templates, icons, elements, images, and fonts that just about anyone can pick up and create a masterpiece with.
The company has listened to its customer feedback and developed even more features like animations and enterprise-level accounts so that non-designers can work faster and produce high-quality work. Canva recognizes that it can’t replace Adobe Creative Suite, and it doesn’t have to in order to retain its customers. It simply solves a major problem to the best of its ability.
22. Keep things interesting.
Five Below. A common shopping place for teenagers to spend their allowances, Five Below is teaching those of us in the business world some valuable lessons about customer retention.
The brick-and-mortar store sells inexpensive products which is a commonality among businesses with high customer retention rates. However, Five Below makes shopping for their inexpensive products an experience for every customer who visits a store. Every few weeks, Five Below switches up a large portion of their inventory. On average, estimates show that a customer visits a Five Below store every 99 days, so they’re bound to see something new and exciting every time they shop.
This novel, FOMO experience is a simple reason to keep people interested in visiting your store or website.
Which customer retention strategy is right for your business?
Preventing customer churn starts with understanding why they churn. Every strategy won’t work for every business. A loyalty program works well for established companies with a steady customer following while building trust is a strategy that can be started on the first day your business launches. As long as you’re keeping the customer’s needs in mind, they’ll be happy to purchase from you every chance they get.
To learn more about preventing customer churn, you’ll want to run an analysis on your current operations. .
Customer Retention Don't forget to share this post!
There's truly nothing worse than an automated, lifeless email from a company. That feeling of sheer disappointment when you read the robotic text is almost heart-wrenching. You expected so much more.
You never want your customers to feel that way about you. After cultivating a relationship with them, the last thing you want is for them to be offended by an impersonal email.
Though it'd be ideal to hand-craft each and every email you send, it can also be time-consuming and inefficient.
Don't fret, we've got you covered. Below, we'll go over a list of best practices for writing customer service emails, a guide for responding to angry messages, and a collection of the best customer service email templates for a variety of scenarios.
Best Practices for Writing Customer Service Emails Though using a customer service email template will make your job much easier, you should still follow a few best practices.
In fact, the following tips apply especially when you use a pre-written email. They can help you personalize your response so that it doesn't seem canned and strengthens your company's customer retention strategy.
1. Use the customer's name.
This is the first step when reaching out or responding to customers. Using their name in the greeting will make your response feel genuine and targeted specifically to them.
2. Have the customer's conversation history handy.
When responding to a customer complaint or email, it's key to know when and why they've reached out to your company. Have they had this same issue in the past? Or have they only been a customer with you for a short time? This information can help you choose the appropriate tone for your email — whether profusely apologetic or cheery and helpful.
Additionally, if you have the customer's conversation history, you can personalize any template you use by including background information and context.
3. Brush up on key facts about their business or buyer persona.
In a similar vein, skim through the information you have on their business and buyer persona to understand why they reached out. Are they users of your product? Or are they top-level stakeholders at their organization? Do you know why they chose to do business with you? We recommend collecting this information using CRM software.
4. Try to understand their problem inside and out.
When reading over the email, try to understand the problem they're encountering before crafting a response. If you still need clarity, your response would be the place to ask questions.
No matter what, ensure that every email you send is filled with empathy and understanding — even when the customer is angry.
Empathy can help you deal with frustrated customers and decrease the chances that they'll leave you for a competitor. We understand that this is hard, so below, we'll take you through a step-by-step guide on how to respond to an angry customer email.
How to Respond to an Angry Customer Email
1. Respond as soon as possible.
The longer you wait to respond to a customer complaint, the more likely it is that they will take that complaint to a public platform where other consumers can form opinions about your company. It's best to tackle the problem within an hour as this will likely keep the conversation going over email and will reduce the chance of a follow-up call.
2. Apologize for their negative experience.
The first line in your response should be a genuine apology.
No matter how hurtful or unfair their email may seem, it's important to recognize that they took the time to craft a complaint because they had such a negative experience with your company. As a customer service professional, your goal is for none of your customers to have such a terrible experience, and it's the responsibility of your company to apologize for that.
It's also important to acknowledge your mistakes, taking some responsibility for what your company may have done wrong. It's less about proving a point and more about salvaging the relationship with that customer.
In this step, try to choose a tone that's both empathetic and apologetic, but make it clear that you're also eager to help.
3. Explain what may have gone wrong.
Customers really care about getting clear explanations and complete solutions for their problems — not just for their own well-being but for other customers as well.
They care about not letting the same issue happen to others. Offering the customer an explanation for the situation can help them understand that there were unexpected factors in play.
If you explain to them that the situation was a one-time event or rare occurrence — like their package getting lost in the mail or if they're left on hold for an hour — it will help ease the tension and potentially get them to empathize with your company.
4. Provide context for what happened.
Like we discussed above, it's important to understand where the customer is coming from. By looking at their history with your company, you're starting out on the same page in the conversation.
Show that you understand the context for the situation so the customer knows that you're aware of the issues they've faced before. You could say something like, "I see that you've had this problem before, a few months ago." This can help you provide genuine empathy (and not the fake empathy that some customer service scripts can have).
5. Reassure the customer that this won't happen again.
Even if the problem wasn't your fault — say, your logistics partnered failed to deliver the package on time — it's important to reassure the customer that you're doing everything possible to prevent this from happening again.
Whether you're checking in with your product team, retraining your sales team, or revisiting the relationship with your logistics partner, you should indicate to the customer that their angry email has resulted in company-wide action.
This will reassure them that they won't have this experience again and thus make it less likely that they'll leave you for a competitor.
6. Offer an incentive, refund, or discount.
Offering an incentive is a great option when a customer's complaint is so extreme that you fear worse repercussions — or when they specifically demand a refund or free item.
Alternatively, if a customer complaint is reasonable and polite, offer an incentive as thanks for remaining calm and patient with your team.
If a customer's complaint is the result of an error on your end, do as much as you can to offer them a reasonable discount or refund when appropriate. If the customer is completely unable to use the purchase as a result of the error, it's only fair to offer a full refund.
If an error resulted in an order delay or another type of minor inconvenience that doesn't impact the customer's ability to use the product or service, a small discount can buy goodwill with the customer.
If the complaints are the result of a company-wide outage or error that impacted hundreds of thousands of customers, you may not be able to offer them all a discount or refund. Instead, own your mistake, apologize sincerely, and take steps to prevent the problem from happening again.
7. Allow them to respond with further questions, comments, or concerns.
At the end of the email, before closing, always ask them to let you know if they have any more questions, comments, or concerns. You want to show that you're still open to further feedback and it's on them to end the conversation.
The more opportunities you give them to interact with you, the higher the chance that their temper will subside and they will come to respect your company again.
8. Follow up with the customer.
After leaving the path open for more questions, it's critical to follow up with the customer and give them a final status on the resolution of their issue.
Whether it was a delayed package, a product outage, or a bad experience with the website, you want to reassure the customer that you've finished taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn't happen again.
For example, if the issue was that the package was delayed in the mail, follow up with them in three days to tell them they should've received the product they ordered. Alternatively, you can check the tracking number and notify them that the package should have been left in their mailbox or on their front step.
If the customer experienced a technical malfunction, touch base with them to let them know that your team has finished working on the issue and that the malfunction is resolved.
Best Sample Email for Responding to an Angry Customer
Using the tips above, we've written a sample email that you can use to respond to an angry email from a customer.
I'm so sorry that you had a negative experience with [product, service, or company department]. I've looked into the issue, and it seems that [briefly explain the reason for their bad experience, if applicable].
I've forwarded this issue to [head of the appropriate department], our [person's job title].
In the meantime, I'd like to offer a [discount/refund] for the inconvenience and will be checking in with you in a few days to update you on the status of [issue].
Once more, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please let me know if I can answer any questions, and I'd be happy to help!
Don't stop here. Below, we've curated a list of the best customer service email templates for every support situation.
50 Customer Service Email TemplatesTell us about yourself to access the templates.
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The Best Customer Service Email TemplatesLet's take a look at some of the best customer service email templates you can lean on when in a variety of situations with customers.
Customer Refund Letter Templates
1. Thank You Email Template
Once in a while, it's nice to send your customers a little thank you. After all, your company would be nowhere without the loyalty of your customers. This can be sent in several instances: right after they make a purchase, when you notice it's their anniversary with your company, or when they refer another customer.
In a thank you email, you should never try to sell them something. It's simply an opportunity to show your appreciation.
Thank you so much for referring your friend [Friend's name] to us. I've enjoyed getting to know them and doing business with them. I'm so happy that you've stuck around with us for this long and brought your friend to share the experience with you.
We're lucky to have you. Thanks again for being such a fantastic customer! As a token of our appreciation, here's a [coupon/discount] for you to enjoy.
2. Questionnaire Email Template
There are several kinds of questionnaires you may send your customers. From customer satisfaction surveys to demographics to Customer Effort Score (CES), each questionnaire offers valuable data to your company. Conducting a survey can help you get into the minds of your customers and make effective changes to your service experience.
However, it's easy for customers to see a link to a questionnaire and immediately close the tab. Entice them into taking the questionnaire by mentioning its briefness or perhaps offering an incentive.Pro tip: Consider using one of these "thank you in advance" alternatives for a more polite approach.
Thanks for your recent purchase with us! I hope you're enjoying your [product/service].
I'd love to hear more about your experience working with our team. Please fill out the following survey and give us your honest feedback. I promise it's short, and it'll help improve customers' experiences in the future.
I know your time is valuable, and I appreciate your attention.
<< Attach questionnaire >>
3. Angry Customer Response Email Template
Uh oh. You've got an angry customer, and they want to leave your business. This could have happened for a range of reasons. They might even be angry about external factors and not necessarily your business. Remain calm and think rationally. The worst possible thing you could do is fight fire with fire.
It's okay to take some time to cool down before typing a response. Don't take their email to heart. Sometimes, a customer is so upset that there isn't much damage control you can do. The best move is to wave the white flag and move forward.
This template is best used when the customer has indicated that they're taking their business elsewhere. If the customer is complaining but will remain with your business, you should use template #4.
I am so sorry to hear that you have had such a poor experience that you no longer want to work with us.
Customer satisfaction is always a number one priority for us. I'm deeply sorry that that wasn't clearly demonstrated to you.
As much as I hate to see you go, I completely understand how upset you must feel. I apologize again for any trouble we may have caused you. Good luck with your business, and I wish you all the best.
Let me know if you have any more questions, comments, or concerns.
4. Customer Complaint Response Email Template
Similar to an angry customer, a complaining customer is not exactly a ray of sunshine on your workday. They can be almost worse, it seems, than an angry customer.
Anger can often be displaced or without reason, whereas a complaint is typically well-crafted and based on truth. Incidentally, there's often a greater opportunity of turning a complaining customer into a satisfied one.
Just as they have probably put a good amount of time into writing their email, you, too, should do the same. It's important to remain eloquent and polite, even if the complaint frustrates you.
I am so sorry to hear that [provide a brief summary of their bad experience]. That should never have happened, and I completely understand how frustrating this must be for you. I will relay this message to the appropriate department.
We are prioritizing resolving [the issue they faced with your product, company, or service]. Our team is jumping on that problem right away, and I will let you know as soon as it's fixed.
I appreciate you letting me know about your negative experience. We strive to ensure every customer is satisfied with our business, and I apologize for any way in which we may have inconvenienced you.
Let me know if you have any more questions, comments, or concerns.
5. Customer Service Follow-up Email Template
When a customer reaches out to you for support, that shouldn't be the beginning and end of your interaction. A customer might not be expecting a follow-up, but that's what will make them appreciate it even more.
Plus, it also indicates that your company is dedicated to not merely sales, but also fostering positive customer relationships.
I hope you're enjoying your brand new product. I remember that you were torn between two versions, but I firmly believe you went with the perfect choice for you.
If you're interested, I'd love to hear more about how you're liking the product. Let me know some pros and cons and if there's any way I can be of assistance to guide you through this process. I'm here for whatever you need and look forward to hearing from you soon.
6. Technical Support Email Template
While it's more common for customer support engineers to provide technical support over live chat, phone, or another quicker form of communication, they'll sometimes handle support inquiries over email. Since email is not meant to be an immediate channel for communication, customers may use this method when addressing an issue that isn't urgent.
Email also allows you to get a lot more information about the situation because customers can take their time to write out thorough responses to your questions. Take advantage of this and ask several in-depth questions in a single email to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Thanks for reaching out! I'd be more than happy to help you.
Before we dive in, can you give me a little more context on the situation? When did this issue begin happening? Has it been occurring consistently, or does it happen on and off? Have you tried any solutions on your own?
These questions will help me find a more personalized solution to your problem.
7. Keep in Touch Email Template
It's sad to see a customer go — especially one who has been loyal to your company for a while. Once you've built a real relationship with a customer, the last thing you want to do is break off ties as soon as they decide to take a different path.
You want to show them that, no matter what, you still care about them and want what's best for them. And maybe, just maybe, they'll come back to you in the future.
I'm sorry to see you go. Doing business with you in the past [amount of years they've been with you] has been great. I've learned so much from you and have made several updates to our products based on your thorough, thoughtful feedback. I appreciate everything you've done to make our company the best it can be.
As you set onto a new path, don't forget about us! I'd love to hear about your successes in the future and the exciting growth your company inevitably will have.
Please keep in touch. Good luck with everything!
8. Welcome Email Template
Congratulations! You've got a new customer or subscriber. There's truly nothing more exhilarating for a business. However, as your company's customer base grows larger, be sure not to overlook newcomers.
That's why it's important to send welcome emails. This will help them get acquainted with your company and also show them that each and every individual customer matters to you. Also, this is a good opportunity to shower them with helpful content.
Welcome to [Your company]! I'm so excited to have you join us. We're feeling pretty lucky that you chose us, and I just wanna say thank you on behalf of our whole company.
To get you settled, I wanted to share with you some of our best resources so you can make the most out of your experience with us. Subscribe to our blog [add link] for some great tips and knowledge to be successful in your industry. Check out our Instagram [add link], Facebook [add link], and Twitter [add link] for your daily dose of industry news, advice, and behind-the-scenes looks.
If you're interested in learning more about your product, feel free to contact me or anyone else on our support team at any time. We're always here to help you in any way we can.
9. Account Manager Introduction Email Template
It can be tricky to send out that first email as an account manager. Your new client has probably been speaking with one or more other employees at your company and has gotten relatively acquainted with them.
As you will be working directly with them from now on, it's important to develop an even stronger relationship with them that will continue into the foreseeable future.
Make it clear that you will be their direct contact from now on. You can take on a friendly, more comfortable tone. You want them to know that you're someone they can trust.
I'm [Your name], and I'm very excited to be your new Account Manager at [Your company]! I've heard great things about you from my teammates, and I'm hoping they've said some good things about me, too.
My role will be to guide you through anything you need. If you ever have questions, run into problems, consider an upgrade, or anything at all, I'm the one for the job. We will be working closely together, and I'll be helping you navigate your new product.
I'm looking forward to meeting you. Do you have a few minutes this week to chat?
10. Account Manager Transition Email Template
As much as you might love your company, you may get to the point where it's time to move on. Once you get a job offer that you can't refuse, it can be difficult to relay it to your employer, but even harder to tell your loyal customers.
It's essential that you keep your clients in the loop about this change. Since you have been an integral part of their professional lives, they should be notified of your leave. This will help them prepare for the shift, as this change will affect them, too.
After eight incredible years at [Your company], I'm excited to inform you that I have just accepted an offer to move on to [New company]. This new role will be an important player in advancing my career, and I couldn't feel more grateful for the opportunity.
However, that means that I will no longer be your Account Manager here. I have enjoyed watching you grow and cheering on your successes. Working with you has taught me so much, and I will carry this knowledge on to this next chapter in my life.
Luckily, I have an incredible replacement for you. [Replacement's name] is an outstanding Account Manager and a dear friend of mine. [She/he/they] has been working here for [amount of years] and has a lot to show for it. I genuinely believe you two will get along well and that [she/he/they] will be a huge support for you.
They will be emailing you in the next couple days with a warm greeting and plans for you to meet. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.
Thank you again for being a great client for [amount of years]. I wish you all the best!
11. Free Trial Email Template
If you notice a prospect who seems interested in your products but fails to make a purchase, don't sweep them under the rug. This is a perfect opportunity to mention a free trial.
Prospects might be curious to learn more about your products but nervous to show their cards when they haven't gotten a chance to fully interact with your company. By offering a free trial, you're gaining the prospect's trust. Additionally, once a customer gets acquainted with a product during a free trial, it's harder to turn it down.
I noticed that you seemed interested in [product name] on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. I'd be happy to guide you through the different options.
If you're interested, I want to extend an offer for a free trial, as it can be tough to commit to a product from a mere description. Our free trial lasts 30 days and lets you navigate all premium features. It's a great chance to see which product is right for you and how much it can benefit you and your clients.
If you're interested, email me back or give me a call. I can talk you through all the details and get you set up.
12. Renewal Reminder Email Template
So, your customer purchased an annual subscription to your product? Great.
However, it's hitting 350 days, and they haven't mentioned any interest in renewing their subscription. Yikes.
That's the perfect opportunity to send a renewal reminder email. There's a high possibility they simply forgot. Or, it could be that they're on the fence about it. Either way, a gentle reminder could steer them in the right direction.
I hope everything is going well with you and that you've had a great year navigating your product.
I noticed that your annual subscription is expiring on [date of expiration]. Are you interested in renewing your subscription? If you're weighing your options, I'd love to chat further with you to help you come to a decision. If you'd like to upgrade to a new product, we can discuss that, as well.
I look forward to hearing from you.
13. Customer Referral Email Template
Now that you've built a solid relationship with a customer, it's about time to ask them (nicely) for a referral. If they've had a very positive experience with your company, it's natural that they'll want the same for their family, friends, and colleagues in similar fields.
I'm so happy to hear that you're having a great experience with [product/service/company department]. Helping our customers help their customers has always been our goal.
Since I've loved getting to work with you these past few months, I was wondering if there was anyone you know who might benefit in a similar way? It would be a pleasure to help them achieve their goals.
I'm looking forward to it!
14. Customer Review Request Email Template
If you've worked with a customer for a while and helped them achieve results with your product or service, you may want to ask them to review your product, service, business, or you personally.
Reviews help increase ratings on review sites, which are one of the most trustworthy ways prospects research companies or products before making a purchase.
Timing-wise, it might make sense for you to send this email within a chain you've already started with the customer about the good results or a successful project you collaborated with them on. You can either copy this template directly into a chain, or use the exact wording to start a new thread from scratch.
If you sell a physical product that your customer personally uses, you might reach out 10-15 days after the product is delivered to ask them how it's going.
I hope you're having a great week so far! I saw you've started [details about how they're using your product] — it looks like you've achieved some impressive [details of the results they've achieved]. How are you enjoying working with the tool?
If you have any feedback or questions, don't hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email, and I'll help you out!
If you'd like to share your experience using [Your company's tool], here are our pages on [review site] and [review site], where you can give us a rating and share your feedback to help other customers like you.
Thanks for your time, and give me a call if you have any questions!
Customer Refund Letter Templates
Here are a few useful customer service email templates that you can use for refunds.
15. Refund to Customer Email Template
Sadly, some customers are going to return your products.
Don't worry, it's not you. But it's also not them. They aren't upset or frustrated like the customers above. They simply don't enjoy the product or find a good use for it.
For instances like this, it's good to respond to a refund with an email expressing that there are no hard feelings and that you hope to do business with them again in the future.
I've processed your refund, and you should expect to see the amount appear in your bank account in the next couple of business days.
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't love your new product. I completely understand that it isn't for everyone.
If you're still on the search for the right choice for you, let me know. I'd be happy to talk you through some of our other options and see if any of them feel like a good fit. Thank you for your time and for giving us a try.
I hope to connect with you again in the near future.
16. Product Exchange Email Template
Fortunately, not every unhappy customer will ask for a refund. Some may regularly purchase your product, so they know that one poor experience doesn't represent your brand.
However, that also means they know what to expect from your product and will still be upset that it didn't perform up to their standards. They won't be angry enough to churn, but they will expect you to make things right. This is where this letter comes in handy.
Thanks for letting us know about this faulty product. We'll do our best to assess the problem and determine exactly what went wrong with your [product name].
In the meantime, please accept this replacement product that I've personally assessed for performance.
We'd like to offer our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. We hope you continue to enjoy using our product and we are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Please feel welcome to contact our support team at [phone number], or reply to this message and we'd be more than happy to help.
17. Product Discount Email Template
When it comes to refunds, not every company has the same policy. Some may not offer product exchanges or full compensation for specific products or services. Others may require proof of purchase to issue a refund and can only provide store credit without it.
For these cases, your business may offer a small promotion so the customer will have a discount the next time they shop at your store. It's not the refund the customer is looking for, but it's better than leaving them empty-handed.
Thanks for reaching out.
Unfortunately, we can't offer a refund at this time. According to our policy, [policy description + explanation of why the policy is in place].
I've checked with my manager to confirm this policy, and while we can't offer a full refund, we can provide you with a discount of [discount amount] for the next time you shop in our stores.
We sincerely appreciate your understanding in this matter. Please feel welcome to reach out to me with any questions you may have and I would be more than happy to help.
18. Customer Apology Email Template
In some cases, your customer service team won't be able to provide any type of refund or discount. This can lead to an awkward or stressful situation with the customer, especially if they feel like your company is in the wrong.
While you should personalize every apology, this message can be a baseline to work from when you need to take responsibility for your company's work.
Thank you for providing us this feedback.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and we appreciate your understanding in the matter. We know that [problem] has prevented you from achieving [customer's goal], and that we have fallen short of your expectations.
I have relayed this feedback to the rest of my team and can assure you that this mistake won't happen in the future. That said, if there's anything else that I can help you with at the moment, please feel welcome to reach out and I would be more than happy to help.
19. Return of Overpayment Email Template
Depending on your business model, customers may have to pay for a product or service upfront and are reimbursed later if they paid more than they needed to. This either requires you to send them a check or wire the money via a direct deposit.
Regardless of how it's transferred, customers will want to know where this money is coming from. While they'll be happy to accept the return, they'll be dubious of its origin if you don't notify them ahead of time. You'll also want to take credit for this refund as it shows your intention to provide an honest transaction.
For these cases, you can use this letter to alert your customers of an overpayment.
Thank you for your recent payment of [payment amount].
Upon review of your transaction, we've determined that the amount you have paid is more than what was required for this product or service. The actual amount that was due was [payment amount], thus leaving you with a credit of [credit amount]. Please find a [check amount or notice of deposit] enclosed in this letter.
We strongly believe in providing an honest experience for our customers and can assure you that we are working constantly to prevent potential fraud. We hope this message resolves any concerns you may have about this transaction and are more than happy to answer any additional questions.
20. Refund Notification Email Template
There are times where customers are eligible for a refund, but just don't know it. While you shouldn't be eager for them to return products, it'd be dishonest not to notify customers when they qualify to do so.
This type of proactive customer service builds trust with your customer base and creates a delightful support experience.
We hope this message finds you well.
We are reaching because you qualify for a refund for your purchase of [product name]. This refund is eligible for [period of time] and can be initiated by calling or messaging our customer service team.
Please feel welcome to reply to this email with any questions you may have and I would be more than happy to help.
21. Refund Status Email Template
To avoid any hiccups in the refund process, it'd be helpful to let your customer know the status of their refund once it's en route to their account.
If you'd prefer to refer to your company in the plural form, simply swap the "I" for "We."
I'm reaching out about the refund you initiated on [date].
Your refund has been deposited into your card ending in [last four digits of card]. You should see the amount credited to your account in about 3 to 5 business days.
If you don't see the refund in your account, respond to this email, and I'll look into it for you. In the meantime, please let me know if I can answer any additional questions — I'd be happy to help!
22. Refund Not Received Email Template
If your customer hasn't received a refund and reached out to you about it, you should act as if you're responding to a customer complaint: with empathy, sincerity, and clear intentions to resolve the problem.
Most of the time, the delay is on the bank's end. In this instance, gently remind the customer that a few more business days may pass before the refund is processed.
I'm so sorry to hear that a refund hasn't been deposited into your card ending in [last four digits of card].
I've contacted our accounting department to look into this issue for you. A refund has been issued, but it may take a few days for your bank to process the funds.
While we work on the delay on our end, I've created a ticket in our system to keep you updated on your refund status. We'll try to resolve the problem as soon as possible.
I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused. In the meantime, feel free to reply to this email with any questions or concerns, and I'd be happy to help.
23. Out-of-Policy Refund Email Template
Sometimes, customers reach out for a refund when they're past the date of eligibility.
You have the option of offering store credit or giving them personalized support for getting the most out of their new product.
Thanks so much for reaching out about order #[number]. I'm so sorry the product hasn't worked out for you.
Because more than [number of days] days have passed since the date of purchase, you're no longer eligible for a refund.
However, I can give you store credit for your purchase. Alternatively, I can set up a meeting with our customer success department so that you can get the most out of your product.
Let me know which option you'd prefer. If you have any questions or concerns, I'd be happy to help.
Create a Strong Customer Experience Using Customer Service Email TemplatesUsing email templates will help you effortlessly master every email conversation and promote strong relationships with your customers. Provide personalized solutions, connect with your customers, and retain their business without needing to write every email from scratch.
The email templates above will help you create a winning customer service strategy — all while saving time and effort for your team.
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Many businesses find social media overwhelming — there are so many networks available, and they’re always adding new features for you to learn and integrate into your plan.
If you don’t have a full-time team of social media experts at your disposal, your success depends on creating a simple and sensible strategy that fits your resources and goals.
By the end of this guide, you'll know how to develop a social media strategy that'll not only drive traffic but will also quell that overwhelming feeling you get anytime you open Instagram or Twitter.
What is a social media strategy?
Your social media strategy is your master plan for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content.
It encompasses your social content guidelines, posting cadence, social media marketing campaigns, creative plans, and engagement strategy.
Why You Need a Social Media Strategy
The top three challenges that social media marketers face include reaching their audience, measuring ROI, and reaching business goals.
Crafting a social media strategy can help tackle these challenges and more. Social media strategies also equip you to set goals and guardrails, track their performance, and tweak your benchmarks over time. Without a starting point, you can't measure what's working and how to shift your activity to hit your goals.
A social media strategy also helps you set expectations for broader team involvement and get everyone aligned on what they should (and shouldn't) do on your social networks.
How to Create a Social Media Strategy
Let's unpack how to start building a social media strategy from scratch.
1. Define your target audience. If you haven’t already identified and documented your buyer personas, start by defining the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach — age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.
Consider their challenges and what problems they're solving daily. Focus on no more than four types of people that represent the majority of your buyers. Don’t get hung up on the exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started!
2. Start blogging
Fresh content is the linchpin of a successful social strategy, so commit to creating new, quality content on a consistent basis. Compile a list of common questions from prospects and commit to addressing these questions with at least one new blog post per week.
3. Create educational content.
Create downloadable content like ebooks, checklists, videos, and infographics that address your buyer’s pains. If your content is truly helpful, people will likely share it on social media and extend your reach.
4. Focus on a few key social channels.
Most startups and small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to establish and sustain a quality social media presence on every single channel. It's also overwhelming to learn the rules of engagement on a bunch of different networks at one time.
So, start small. Research key networks to learn where your target audience is spending time and focus your effort on building, nurturing, and sustaining a community there before moving on to another channel.
5. Develop a recipe card to guide you.Social media isn’t an exact science (and doesn't work the same for every business or industry). To see results for your business, establish a consistent posting and engagement schedule.
Develop a reasonable recipe card — one you can actually stick to and get your team to follow. Set goals for your posting and engagement frequency and hold yourself accountable to following your recipe.
6. Measure your results.
There are countless things to track on your social media channels. Start by looking at how much traffic your social accounts are driving to your website or blog.
Watch your posts to see what people are responding to, and look for trends related to particular topics or keywords that generate more interest than others. Once you get an idea of your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics and keep a scorecard to measure your progress.
Be sure to choose metrics that are easy to gather - if it's too time-consuming to track, you'll fall off the wagon! Examples of simple metrics (to start with) include net new fans and followers, number of interactions, and visits to your website from social.
7. Adjust your tactics.Social media won't start working overnight. It takes time to build a following, establish your brand, and start seeing results. Experiment a bit to find the right combination of channels, content, and messaging that works for your audience.
Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information you’re gathering — which will help you fine tune your strategy and generate more consistent results.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media is a multipurpose business asset. It connects you with your audience, and it also promotes your products, services, and brand. Both functions are equally important.
Building a social media strategy for marketing is a bit different than the process we discussed above. How so? For example, your benchmarks and goals may be more specific to metrics you track for other marketing efforts.
When using social media to market your business, ensure the experience on your social networks is a positive, consistent one. All imagery and content on your social media accounts should be consistent with those on your website, blog, and other digital real estate.
Pay close attention to any questions or comments your audience posts, and be quick to address those (as that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase).
Lastly, align the content you post and how you post it with marketing campaigns you're running on other channels (e.g., email or ads). This brings us to our next section ...
Social Media Content Strategy
Content is the crux of any social media strategy. Without content, you can't engage with your audience, promote your products, or measure performance.
The somewhat fleeting (and brief) nature of social media may lead you to believe that you don't have to plan its content as much as you do for, say, your emails or blogs. That's untrue. Social media content may not be as static as your landing pages or blog content, but it's still equally important for engaging your audience and representing your brand as a whole.
For that reason, you should also have a social media content strategy. This should include:
For more on creating a content strategy for social media, here's a helpful video by HubSpot's Aja Frost.
Social Media Strategy TemplatesSocial media is overwhelming; I get it. Starting your strategy from scratch is even more overwhelming, which is why we developed 10 free social media templates to help.
In the free download, you'll receive:
Time to Get SocialStill feel like social media is overwhelming? That's OK; I'm not sure that feeling every fully fades. You can certainly diminish it, though, by leveraging the tips in this guide and the free templates above. Remember: Tackle one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus the content that works. You'll see results and traffic in no time.
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Let's say you're tracking the performance of your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns. After all that hard work and PPC strategizing you put toward improving your performance grade, how's the traffic looking? Is it a steep climb, or are you unimpressed with the result?
Some of us come off as natural all-star rock climbers, while others are left frigid, timid, and stuck to the crevices of the wall.
What's the secret? As with most things: proper training. And if you don't have any, don't worry -- there's still hope.
Below, you'll learn how to run a PPC campaign on a few of the most common platforms, followed by five tips for how to maximize your campaign's performance.
How to Run a PPC Campaign
1. Choose a platform for your PPC campaign.Your first step in running a new PPC campaign is to decide on which platform to run it. Google Ads are perhaps the most popular PPC campaign among today's marketers, but did you know social networks like Facebook and Twitter also offer pay-per-click advertisements?
Here's how each of these common ad platforms work.
Facebook Ads allow you to place "sponsored" posts on the newsfeeds of users who identify with specific audience characteristics set by you, the advertiser. Using this platform, you can choose your ad's objective -- including brand awareness, website traffic, and store visits -- your target audience, budget, and ad format. Facebook will then place your ad on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Twitter Ads work similarly to Facebook Ads. Using Twitter's PPC ad platform, advertisers can choose between eight different advertising objectives -- including app installs, new followers, tweet engagements, and website traffic -- as well as their target audience for the ads they run. Twitter will then "promote" your post on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Google Ads allow you to pay for high-ranking real estate on Google's various web properties -- including search engine results pages (SERPs). Your campaign can take the form of a Display Ad, a Search Ad, an App Ad, or a Video Ad -- the latter of which places your video on YouTube.
These PPC campaigns allow you to set your ad budget, customize your audience, and/or commit to groups of search terms on which you want your search result to appear. Google then charges you each time this search result is clicked.
For the purposes of explaining how to run a PPC campaign, we'll focus on Google Ads in the steps below.
2. Choose a type of ad to invest in.Each platform described above will give you options for the type of ad you want to pay for clicks on. On Facebook, for example, you can choose between a single image, a single video, or a slideshow to be your ad's main asset. On Google, your ad options are:
Banner ads can appear anywhere in the Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, YouTube, and similar domains within Google's "Display Network."
This ad type is what you most likely associate with PPC. A method of search engine marketing, Google's Search Ads show your chosen landing page in the form of a hyperlinked search result when users enter specific search terms. You can choose these search terms when setting up your Google Ads campaign.
Ads help to promote an app you've developed for sale on Google Play, the company's app marketplace. Using this ad type, Google automatically synthesizes each ad's artwork using the contents of your app's download page. Google then runs these ads in your chosen languages and locations. App Ads can appear across the Google ecosystem, including Google Search, Google Play, and YouTube.
Google's Video Ads appear across YouTube and certain Google partner platforms. Advertisers can run their video ads before, during, or at the end of various videos that share a similar audience with the advertiser.
3. Determine your ad budget and bidding strategy.
Your PPC campaign budget will dictate how much you're willing to pay for the clicks you get on your ad placements. On Google Ads, you'll set a daily budget, whereas platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have you select the increments you want your payments to be in.
So, for example, if your marketing team is allotted $1,000 for PPC, you'll first want to find out how many campaigns you're running. Let's say that number is eight, which would theoretically make each campaign worth $125. Having determined how much of that budget is available to each campaign, you'll then divide this number by the number of days you want this campaign to run. If you want it to run for 14 days, your daily budget would be roughly $8.93/day.
However, there is another element of budget-setting in the world of PPC: Not all topics and audiences are equal in value. This means certain interests, audience segments, and especially search terms will cost different amounts per click.
Most PPC platforms have "auction" systems that help you decide how much your audience criteria will cost you. In turn, you have several bidding strategies available to you to help you make the most cost-effective purchases for your campaign. On Google Ads, these bidding strategies include:
4. Customize your target audience, interests, location, and search terms.In any PPC platform you choose, you have ability to choose who you want your ads to reach. The "who," in the context of Google Ads, includes your audience's location, interests, apps they use, and of course the searches they perform. You can also create custom audiences each with their own "custom affinities" and "custom intents" to help you further tailor your PPC campaign to the right people.
Once you've established your target audience, you'll top it all off with specific search terms, whose SERPs you want your ads to appear on (this is assuming you're creating Google Search Ads). Be careful how many keywords you choose for each ad. Contrary to what Google Ads might suggest, the more keywords you choose to place an ad on, the higher the chance you'll wind up in front of the wrong audience.
Start with just one or two keywords that are high in search volume and match the intent of your target visitor (we'll talk more about intent in step 6, below).
5. Organize your campaign into "ad groups."Assuming you're creating Google Search Ads, you'll take the keywords you selected in step 4, above, and put them into "ad groups." If you're creating PPC ads on Twitter, you'll use a similar campaign framework.
In each ad group, you can further customize the search terms associated with that ad to be sure your ads are appearing in front of the people who are most interested in your content. For example, instead of simply selecting two keywords that both sound alike and have high monthly search volume, you can parse the specific words within your search terms and set your ad to appear in any search engine query that contains those words. Here's an example of both scenarios:
A Bad Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with the search term "ice skates." Then you discover the search term, "ice skating," and decide to add it to your PPC ad. The second search term, "ice skating," weakens the ad group. Why?
While "ice skates" appeals to those who are looking for ice skates to buy, "ice skating" stretches your audience to include those who might be looking for ice skates, ice rinks in their area, or even instructions on how to start ice skating -- searches that don't apply to your target audience and therefore limit the chances you'll find interested customers among the people who click on your ad.
A Good Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with this search term and decide to branch out into other search terms that include this term, but carry different or additional wording.
For example, using Google Ads features like Modified Broad Match, you can also pick up searches like "skates for ice rinks." Using Phrase Match, you can pick up searches like "ice skates for hockey." This way, you can diversify your ad with more search terms without sacrificing the interests of your audience.
6. Identify and design landing pages that match the intent of each search term.It's not a good idea to make the destination of your PPC ad your website's homepage. This only serves to confuse your visitors and, ultimately, scare them off. Whether you choose from an existing webpage on your domain, or design a new one, make sure you're sending your visitors to a destination that helps them find what they're looking for. This is known as "intent match," and search engines like Google take it very seriously.
Let's go back to our "ice skates" example from step 5, above. If someone searches for "ice skates," clicks on your ad, and they're taken to a page on your website offering ice skating lessons, you haven't matched the intent of their search -- even if this page is set up to convert visitors using a signup form for paid skating lessons. These people are looking to purchase ice skates, not lessons. Therefore, a better destination page for this ad would be a product browsing page with all of your available ice skates listed and optimized for purchasing.
7. Track your PPC campaign's performance in context of your larger marketing initiatives.The platform on which you're running your PPC campaign will have an analytics dashboard where you can track how your ads are performing. Take full advantage of it -- here, you get to see the fruits of your labor. This includes the traffic you're receiving to your ad's landing page, how much you're spending, and even how well this traffic is converting into leads or revenue.
With this data, you can find out if you're getting the bang for your buck. But don't be afraid to consider a more holistic view of your PPC ads' performance, as well. By integrating your Google, Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn ad campaigns into your company's marketing software, you can associate these PPC campaigns with the rest of your marketing initiatives -- helping you determine how the business is performing as a result of your paid efforts.
1. Include "negative keywords" in your PPC campaign.Just as there are keywords and search terms that dictate where each PPC ad you run will appear, there are keywords that you can specifically omit from your campaign. These are called "negative keywords," and they prompt your ad platform to avoid placing ads on results pages that are produced when a user enters these search terms.
In the example group of search terms, above, an advertiser on Google Ads has elected to place their ad on the SERPs of the search terms, "blue tennis shoes" and "running gear" -- but not "blue running shoes," "shoes running," and "running shoes." This allows the advertiser to avoid audiences who are searching for these products, since they're looking for something similar but that the advertiser doesn't actually sell.
Learn more about how to select negative keywords here.
2. Use the "Iceberg Effect" to gain more control over your PPC campaign.The search terms that you end up paying for and the keywords that you're actually targeting don't always line up the way you want.
Too often we see the "Iceberg Effect" in action, where miscellaneous search terms below the surface are tacked onto keywords that we think are working properly in our ad campaigns. It gives us an unhealthy search-to-keyword ratio that might look something like this:
Not being in control of all those search terms? Not ideal. With a search term to keyword discrepancy ratio of 132:1, it can be challenging to continually improve your clickthrough rates and lower your cost-per-click averages.
How do you gain control of this icy situation? We use something called Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) to shoot for a 1:1 ratio of search terms to keywords, allowing for more control over the entire ad group.
Here's what a non-SKAGs search term report might look like:
It's not that any of these search terms are bad, it's that each search term has a different conversion and sales rate. And by keeping them as search terms and not turning them into keywords, you will never be able to control them to take your PPC campaigns to the next level.
So what does a search term report look like if we use this granular PPC tactic and use SKAGs?
Everything in the search term column matches the keyword column. With the SKAGs tactic, you can get super granular and isolate one variable at a time, which means you have more control over your entire PPC account.
And with the ability to lower your search term to keyword ratio to 1:1, you can take it one step further and do the same from keyword to ad. When this happens, you're able to increase your clickthrough rate, which in turn:
3. Keep tabs on conversions vs. sales.
With your PPC tactics now upgraded, your PPC campaigns should be driving up conversion volumes and making you more money. But do you know which keywords, audiences, or placements are actually making you money?
If you don't track the components of your campaign and attribute them to your sales, you might be missing out on where to focus your efforts. By implementing Google's ValueTrack parameters you can automatically track data within URLs when your visitors convert.
When you tie your hidden field sales tracking back to your CRM, you can find out specific details about which leads are making you the revenue (doesn't apply to ecommerce). Hidden form fields can reveal to you things that happen during a conversion, like which landing page URL your conversion came from, where the visitor is located, or what keyword they typed in.
You can also do this with manual UTM parameters. Here's an example of how on the surface, you would think Keyword #1 is converting better:
Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion.
Here's an example of what hidden field sales tracking can reveal to you on a deeper level:
Now Keyword #2 looks better, right?
Although Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion, Keyword #2 has a much higher sales rate, which is making you more money. See the benefits of tracking the sale vs. the conversion?
Knowing these types of details can help you understand where you should be crediting your sales success, so you can be more aggressive in bidding on those keywords, audiences, or placements. With this PPC tactic, you can ease up your budget on the areas that aren't contributing to sales, and allocate to the areas that are.
4. Gauge your visitors' intent on the CTA temperature scale.Not all PPC visitors come through to your landing pages with the same conversion intent.
Typically, those that come through from display tend to be colder, while visitors that come in from search tend to be warmer. Here's a visual we've learned works well across the multitude of client verticals we service:
There's a temperature scale that varies depending on visitor origin. Knowing where your visitors come from can help you immensely when it comes to matching your call-to-action with their temperature in the conversion funnel. We recommend testing out various CTAs to match the intent temperature of your visitors -- after all, a small CTA tweak could've made all the difference.
Here are some ideas to make your offer more relevant to your visitors:
In short: the warmer your visitor's intent the warmer the CTA can be. Traffic that comes in from the display network will likely respond to colder CTAs, since those visitors are in the awareness stage.
5. Use micro PPC conversions to break down the larger conversion into smaller pieces.As you know, the more granular and detail-oriented you can get with you PPC campaigns, the more control you can have over the success of them.
When it comes to conversions, you can break down your larger macro conversion into micro conversions to figure out where your issues are.
An effective way to figure out which part of your PPC campaign is causing the conversion bottleneck is to analyze the micro conversions. Let's say that you're running some new Facebook campaigns but for some reason, no one is converting. If you knew, however, that visitors spend an average of four seconds on your site/landing page, then you know that your Facebook ad targeting may be off. Instead of thinking it's the ad or landing page that needs some tweaking, it could be your targeting instead.
Here are some common types of micro conversions we use to analyze the path towards a conversion:
What can each of these common micro conversions tell you about your landing page? Let's break it down:
By isolating micro conversions you can zero in on where exactly the conversion friction is located, which can help you alleviate the issues quickly and reach your larger conversion goal.
Whether it's addressing the Iceberg Effect, tracking your sales vs. conversions, testing CTA temperatures, or analyzing your micro PPC conversions, each of these PPC tactics can have a significantly positive impact on the performance of your campaigns.
And the best part, there's a good chance your competitors don't even know about them.
Now it's your turn to up your PPC performance game. With these useful PPC tactics, you'll be climbing your performance incline to the top with utmost ease.
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Social media management is a core part of digital marketing. Leveraging social media allows brands to engage with audiences, create and publish relevant content, and access a whole world of potential new customers.
With the right tools and knowledge, you can unlock the audiences—and huge marketing potential—of each social media platform.
What is social media management?
Social media management is the process of creating, publishing, and analyzing organic (unpaid) and paid content on social media profiles to support business objectives.
Business objectives can include earning sales, growing an audience, or increasing customer engagement.
Managing social media includes engaging with audiences and influencers on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It can also include tracking your social media performance against competitors.
While some companies were initially slow to include social media in their marketing strategies, the ability to reach enormous audiences on networks like Facebook (which has over 2.32 billion active monthly users) makes it impossible to ignore the platforms’ commercial potential.
Businesses now use social media to manage and nurture relationships with customers by responding to reviews, and informing and entertaining their audience with tailor-made content.
Why is social media management important? In the United States alone, as many as 295 million people use social media; that’s around three-quarters of the total population.
Companies that effectively leverage social networks in their marketing plans can be rewarded with a growing audience and strong customer engagement. One of the most effective ways to manage social media is to run a mixture of paid and organic marketing campaigns.
Paid social media (think ads) is a great way to get your brand message in front of new audiences. The algorithms deployed by social networks can make it difficult to reach new profiles with unpaid content. Paid ads can also be used to amplify your organic content such as videos or blog posts, or promote an offer that is converting well for you on other marketing channels.
Organic social media campaigns may not be as potent as paid social for reaching new customers, but it’s an excellent method for maintaining strong customer relationships and nurturing your audience. Organic social can be especially effective when content is published regularly.
Studies suggest that, in many cases, posting once or twice per day is optimal for an organic social posting cadence, depending on the platform.
If your content is high quality and published regularly, your audience is likely to stay engaged and rely on your content as a source of updates, information, and entertainment.
Content can also help build trust and position your brand as an authority.
A busy social media schedule with multiple profiles on multiple platforms invites complexity. It’s important to work efficiently across a variety of social tasks, and accurately measure the ROI of your social media campaigns to ensure your budget is not going to waste.
As managing social media for business can be a time-intensive process, many companies choose to automate their tasks with social media tools.
Social media tools can be an affordable and effective way to manage your profiles. Tools facilitate more efficient workflows by automating or reducing time-consuming tasks, like scheduling your content. They can also provide valuable insights that help you execute better campaigns, analyze ROI, track audience engagement, or check on your competitors’ social media performance.
What social media management tools are available?
There are a wealth of social media management tools available for social media scheduling, tracking, and more. However, you’ll benefit by working with a toolkit that tackles each part of your workflow.
There are many social media tools that can help you manage your social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Google My Business, and LinkedIn.
You can plan, deploy, and measure the performance of your entire social media strategy, all in one place. The toolkit is designed to manage multiple profiles for multiple businesses with an easy-to-read dashboard.
Tool 1: Social Media Ads
If you’re looking to market to new audiences and break through the barriers presented by social media algorithms, then a great way to start is with some ads. The Social Media Ads tool helps you build and launch ad campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook Audience Network.
The intuitive interface makes creating a new campaign easy. Select your objective (reach, traffic, or conversions), set your budget, schedule, bidding strategy, then choose your placements, and you’re ready to launch your campaign.
The Quick UTM option makes accurately tracking your campaigns a breeze. Simply generate UTM codes with the name, source, medium, content, and term parameters of your ads with the click of a button.
With Performance Report, you can check 46 different metrics for your published ad campaigns. Review each of your ad’s strengths and weaknesses to quickly discover optimization opportunities. Scale your good ads or fix those that need a bit of extra tweaking.
Create & Manage Ad Campaigns with the Social Media Ad Manager
Tool 2: Social Media Poster
Social Media Poster benefits content creators and others managing a busy content schedule. Draft and schedule content or post directly to Facebook (business pages), LinkedIn, Instagram, Google My Business, Pinterest, and Twitter from the tool:
The friendly calendar interface provides a clear view of your content schedule and easily creates an automated queue.
You can find out the most effective times to post, or set up RSS feeds to get a stream of inspiration and ideas for your own content.
Scheduling large batches of content is also easy. You can bulk upload your existing content calendar from a CSV. To save time, edit images, or add UTM codes to any hyperlinks in your posts directly in the editor without having to switch in and out of the interface.
Tool 3: Social Media Tracker
The Social Media Tracker lets you dive into your competitors’ performance metrics so you can quickly see where you’re winning, and where opportunities for improvement lie in your social strategy.
Compare your engagement and growth rates to those of your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Business, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, then quickly generate PDF reports to share with clients or managers.
Social Media Tracker also lets you see which hashtags your competitors are using in their campaigns. Use the Twitter Mentioners report to monitor customer interactions and see how often your brand is being mentioned versus your competitors.
With this report, not only can you see which brands and topics are hot, but you can also be ready to react quickly when you need to manage potentially difficult situations, such as concerns or complaints.
Track Your Competitors’ Social Media with the Social Media Tracker
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring is the process of listening to what your existing and potential customers are saying about your brand and your competitors online.
When you understand your audience, it allows you to create and publish content that’s strongly aligned to their needs and desires—and this content is likely to perform well.
With our social media toolkit, taking a comprehensive approach to social media becomes easier.
Manage profiles across multiple platforms, keep your audience engaged with a regular schedule of relevant content, and compare your competitors’ performance to ensure that you’re not falling behind—or missing an opportunity to outdo them.
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If your ecommerce business isn't offering your customers multiple ways to make payments online, you're leaving money on the table.
While there's no way to escape some transaction fees and currency fees, there are ways to reduce payment processing costs and receive payments online for free.
In this post, we'll talk about the software options available today for accepting free online payments as well as details about how to actually go about accepting those payments.
But first, let's review some additional reasons you'd want to use a payment processing software.
Why should you use payment processing software? Here's a look at some of the advantages payment processing software will bring to your business.
Convenience is one of the main factors that influence conversion rate. The more steps a customer has to take to make a payment, the more likely they are to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere.
Payment processors can transfer most payments between shoppers and sellers instantly. On the other hand, transfers to and from bank accounts can sometimes take 24 hours or more.
Many payment processors are brands that are globally recognized. If a customer already uses payment software, they're more likely to trust your payment system.
Payment processing companies add an extra layer of protection to online transactions. You can set limits, flags for activity on your account, and sometimes even a time frame to recall payments.
With payment processors, you'll have access to your account online and can manage your contacts, recurring payments, and other account activity via desktop or mobile.
Top Online Payment Processing Providers
Once you've developed a strategy for accepting payments online, you'll need to decide which payment processing provider to use. Here are seven of the most popular options:
Price: 3.49% plus $0.49 per transaction (as of August, 2021).
PayPal is one of the most trusted and widely recognized payment processing companies. It's free to join and they provide all the tools you'll need to integrate PayPal payments into your website and set up a secure payment gateway for visitors. Additionally, comprehensive coverage makes the platform a good choice for international companies.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Stripe offers a wide range of options for online businesses such as customizable checkouts as well as subscription management and recurring payment features. Stripe supports all major credit cards, mobile paying apps, wallets, and more.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Square entered the payment processing space by introducing a dongle that sellers could insert into a mobile phone to accept credit card transactions.
They've since expanded their software to cover all the major payment processing options and have included some useful tools for online businesses as well as high-street stores.
You can even create a basic website for free and integrate all of their point-of-sale (POS) solutions at the same time. They also have paid options for a custom website.
4. Google Pay
Price: Google Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Google Pay has a payment tool for businesses, websites, and apps. Google Pay's APIs work to create a delightful checkout and payment experience for your customers.
If you use Google Pay on your website, you'll gain secure and easy access to hundreds of millions of cards saved to Google Accounts worldwide so customers can pay for your products safely and at the touch of a button.
5. Apple Pay
Price: Apple Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Apple Pay can be used on websites, in stores, by app, and via Business Chat or iMessage. It allows Apple users to quickly and safely input contact, payment, and shipping information during checkout.
Rather than having your ecommerce customers look around for their credit cards, Apple Pay allows them to checkout at the click of a button within apps and websites. On a website, an Apple users will simply click "Apple Pay" as their payment option, confirm the payment with one tap (via their iPhone, Apple Watch, etc.), and they're good to go.
6. Venmo For Business
Price: 1.9% plus $0.10 of the payment.
Venmo For Business is a mobile payment software and app owned by PayPal. You can choose to allow users to pay via your mobile app or your website.
You can set up a business profile on Venmo so users can quickly find your profile on the app. And if you add Venmo to your website, it'll appear as a payment option right next to where it'll give customers the option to pay with PayPal.
Once a customer selects the Venmo option at checkout, they'll be directed to their Venmo app to complete the transaction. The Venmo payment option can be added to any of the pages of your ecommerce site that would also show the option to pay with PayPal, including your product pages, shopping cart page, and checkout page.
Price: 2.38% plus $0.25.
Helcim is an online payment solution for ecommerce businesses — you can choose to start an online store from scratch or add a payment solution to your current website.
The easy-to-use and secure online payment system integrates on your website, shopping cart, billing system, and/or app, thanks to Helcim's API. In addition to in-app and via website, Helcim works over the phone, in person, and by invoice, and it integrates with your accounting tools to save you time when it comes to bookkeeping.
Next, let's cover the steps involved in receiving payments online for free.
How to Accept Payments Online for Free
1. Create a secure online payment gateway.
There are a couple of ways you can approach creating a secure online payment gateway. You can hire an outside developer or use your website development team to create a bespoke gateway. Or, you can use third-party software.
Setting up a secure gateway is essential. You're also putting automated processes in place, which will save time on manual processing, especially as you scale your business and handle more transactions.
The more payment methods you make available within your payment portal, the wider the audience, and the easier it'll be for your customers to send you money.
2. Facilitate credit and debit card payments.
Although it may change as mobile payments become more prevalent, using debit/ credit cards is still the most popular way people pay for products and services online. You can easily facilitate accepting card payments through established payment providers such as PayPal or Stripe. These will accept the most-used credit cards worldwide -- Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
3. Set up recurring billing.
If you offer subscription plans or ongoing monthly services, the most efficient and reliable way to invoice and receive payments is via recurring billing. Most of the major payment processing software also includes recurring billing features. For example, Growth Marketing Pro built an SEO tool that charges subscribers on a monthly basis and they used Stripe to set this up.
Sites like Paysimple also offer a suite of tools to set up custom, automated recurring billing if you already have a payment processing system in place.
Using automation is essential. It removes most human error and the stress of keeping track of invoicing and payments.
Your customers can commit to recurring payments with just a few clicks, and you won't have to worry about manually managing your customer base.
4. Accept mobile payments.
These days, people are often more likely to have their phones on hand than debit cards — plus, mobile payment apps are more convenient than ever.
For instance, Apple Pay has quickly become one of the most popular mobile payment systems in the United States. With an estimated 43.9 million users, you'd miss out if you didn't accept Apple Pay.
Google Pay, Venmo, and PayPal also have mobile apps with a decent market share.
5. Accept cryptocurrency payments.
If you're okay with handling cryptocurrencies, it's a way you can extend your reach to a broader online audience. Sites like Bitpay provide all the tools you need to accept crypto payments online, send invoices, request payments, and receive money on the go-through apps.
Because they're a decentralized exchange, cryptocurrencies offer some unique benefits for businesses. You can accept payments from anywhere in the world without incurring currency exchange fees or bank handling fees. There's also a reduced risk of fraud.
6. Use email invoicing.
Email invoicing is a proactive way to request payments. You can share a payment form through email or add a link redirecting the recipient to a payment portal. However, there are a couple of issues with this method: Email isn't the most reliable form of communication, and customers can have trust issues making payments via email.
Expect a failure rate, but it's a vital part of payment processing for a lot of businesses.
7. Accept electronic checks (eChecks).
To accept eChecks for payment, you need a form where the user can input their information, which you can see using payment processing software. It's basically a way to pay by check online. It's a quicker and more reliable way than sending a paper check through the post, so offering this to your customers will make the process run smoother.
Start Accepting Payments Online For Free
No matter which payment processing software you choose, the most important part is making it easy for the customer to pay. And the more ways they can pay, the more likely your customers will follow through on a purchase.
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Marketers, can we be honest with each other for a second? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you really understand the world of paid advertising?
Although 45% of small businesses do some form of online advertising, pay-per-click is still a concept that eludes many of us.
As a marketer, PPC is a skill that you should have in your tool belt — or at least have a basic understanding of.
This guide will help you grasp pay-per-click marketing in its entirety. To start, we’ll begin with the benefits of paid advertising and then get into some key definitions that you’ll need to know.
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of advertising that allows you to pay a fee to have your website on the search engine result page (SERP) when someone types in specific keywords or phrases to the search engine. The SERP will display the ads you create to direct visitors to your site, and the fee you pay is based on whether people click your ad.
When done right, PPC can earn you quality leads. If you can create a seamless user journey (which you’ll learn how to do later in this piece), it could mean a massive ROI for your PPC efforts.
Pay-per-click advertising is most common in search engine results pages, like Google or Bing, but is also used on social channels (although CPM is more common).
If you’re wondering where you can find pay-per-click ads, they’re the results you see before and to the right of the organic search results. For instance, check out the ad that came up in my search for "cards.”
PPC Terms and Definitions
What’s a marketing channel without a few acronyms and a little jargon? If you’re going to enter the paid advertising space, there are a few terms you should know. Below, we review the main elements of a PPC campaign, ranging from broad to the more specific.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The objective of all forms of digital advertising is to rank for a target keyword, which you can do in several ways. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to any digital marketing (paid or unpaid) done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses both paid advertising and search engine optimization, that is, ranking organically for keywords. It’s important to note that not all PPC occurs on search engines — social media has PPC ads, too (think: Facebook Ads).
CPCCost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed. As you can imagine, a higher bid equates to better ad placement.
You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad. What you actually pay is determined by the following formula:
This value determines the position of an ad on a search engine results page. It’s equal to Maximum Bid and Quality Score. Quality ScoreThis is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate (CTR) — measured against the average CTR of ads in that position — the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP.
Maximum Bid. This is the maximum you're willing to pay per click on your ad. You can set your CPC to manual, where you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or enhanced, which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of these enhanced options involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on either clicks or conversions.
CPM (Cost per Mille)CPM, also known as cost per thousand, is the cost per one thousand impressions. It’s most commonly used for paid social and display ads. There are other types of cost-pers… like cost-per-engagement, cost-per-acquisition (CPA), but for the sake of preserving your mental space, we’re going to stick with clicks, a.k.a. CPC.
CampaignThe first step in setting up your PPC ads is determining your ad campaign. You can think of your campaign as the key message or theme you want to get across with your advertisements.
Ad GroupOne size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you’ll create a series of ads within your campaign based on a set of highly related keywords. You can set a CPC for each ad group that you create.
KeywordsEach ad within your ad group will target a set of relevant keywords or key terms. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries you want your ad to be displayed alongside in SERPs. Once you determine which keywords perform best, you can set a micro CPC specifically for keywords within your ads.
Ad TextYour keywords should inform your ad text. Remember, your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is; therefore, the text in your ad (and landing page, for that matter) should match the keyword terms you’re targeting.
landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. The landing page is where users will end up once they click your PPC ad. Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage, or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.
Best PPC PlatformsNow that you understand the PPC basics, I’m guessing your next question is: Where should I advertise? There are dozens of online spaces where you can spend your coveted ad money, and the best way to vet them is by taking a close look at your potential ROI on each platform.
The most popular advertising platforms are effective because they’re easy to use and, most importantly, highly trafficked. But for a smaller budget, you might consider a lesser-known alternative to these key players.
When choosing a platform, some other things to consider are the availability of keyword terms, where your target audience spends their time, and your advertising budget.
Here a non-exhaustive list of some of the top PPC platforms. Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords)
How many times a day do you hear the phrase “Let me Google that?” Probably more than you can count … hence why Google Ads is the king of paid advertising.
On average, Google processes over 90,000 search queries every second, giving you plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get your intended audience to click. The downside is that keywords are highly competitive on this platform, meaning a larger ad spend.
The perks of using Bing Ads over Google Ads is a slightly lower CPC at the expense of a larger audience, of course.
Facebook AdsFacebook Ads blend in with other posts on the platform.
Facebook Ads is a popular and effective platform for paid ads (more commonly used as CPM than CPC), mainly due to its specific targeting options. Facebook allows you to target users based on interests, demographics, location, and behaviors.
Also, Facebook allows for native ads, which means ads are introduced and blend into the social feed. Not to mention, you can use Facebook Ads to advertise on Instagram as well.
AdRoll is a retargeting platform that advertises to people who have already visited your website. For instance, say someone read your article on cheese making. You can retarget them on other sites they visit with display ads that advertise your online cooking classes.
While retargeting is possible with Google Ads, the benefit of using AdRoll is that it can display ads on Google and social media sites, which gives you more opportunities to capture clicks or impressions, depending on your goal.
RevContent focuses specifically on promoting content through PPC. It has the same impact as a guest post, where your content is displayed on an external site, except it’s in the form of an ad. You still bid on keywords, and your advertisement is displayed next to content relevant to those keywords. With this platform, you’ll reap the benefits of a low CPC and highly engaged traffic.
How does PPC work?
Pay-per-click, PPC, is a paid advertising model that falls under search engine marketing (SEM). With PPC, the advertiser only pays when people interact with their ad through impressions or clicks. With that explanation out of the way, now let's look at some benefits of PPC ads.
Benefits of PPC
1. PPC ads are cost-effective.With PPC ad campaigns, you have complete control over how much you’re willing to spend. Since you only pay when visitors click the link leading to your website or landing page — with a high chance of conversion — you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
2. PPC ads produce fast results.Although organic ranking is great, it sometimes takes months or even years to get on the first page on SERPs. If you’re a startup or small business, you likely don’t have the time to wait for the effect of organic, social, or direct traffic to kick in. That’s where PPC ads come in. With optimized PPC ads, you can shoot yourself to the top of the SERP within hours of launching your campaign.
3. You can easily control and test PPC ads.It’s easy to control the keywords you’re targeting, ad placement, or budget with PPC ads. You can also run A/B split tests with different ads to identify the one that produces the highest return on investment. You can then scale the ads that do well until it no longer produces desirable results.
4. PPC ads allow you to target your ideal customers.With PPC ads, you can skip right past cold audiences to target a warm audience that’s ready to buy your products and services. You can bid on keywords that solution-aware personas would search for online. Aside from keywords, PPC ads also offer targeting options like past online activity or demographics.
Another excellent use of PPC ads is to create retargeting campaigns targeting visitors who didn’t purchase after landing on your site.
5. Algorithm changes have little effect on PPC ads.Between the numerous Google algorithm changes and the 200 ranking factors, trying to get free traffic from search engines is a bit unstable compared to PPC advertising.
With PPC ads, you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes but instead focus on how well your campaigns perform.
6. PPC ads help you rank even with low domain ratings.Keywords have become increasingly competitive. This makes it more difficult for a business with a low domain authority to get into the top rankings on a search engine or in front of its target audience on a social platform.
With PPC advertising, you can quickly rank for keywords your audience is searching, irrespective of your domain ratings.
7. Data from PPC ads can improve your SEO strategy.You shouldn’t ditch all your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts altogether — your paid advertising should complement your SEO strategy instead of replacing it.
When people search for your keywords, you know their search intent and can display the most relevant ad to your audience. This means more clicks and a greater chance of conversion.
SEO vs. PPC
SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website to rank high and gain free traffic from search engines. On the other hand, you’ll have to pay for clicks with PPC. Although different, businesses see the best results when they align SEO and PPC in their marketing.
PPC vs. CPC
PPC and CPC are not technically the same thing. PPC refers to a style of marketing that includes paying for advertisements. CPC, or cost-per-click, refers to the amount of money you spend on a single click on your ad.
How to Build a PPC Campaign
Now that you understand the benefits of PPC and have your key terms, let’s dive into crafting a quality PPC campaign using Google AdWords or some other platform.
You don’t need to tackle these items step-by-step, but you will need to work through each of them to ensure that you create an effective marketing campaign.
I know I said that you don’t need to do these things in order, but you should do this step first. Without parameters, you risk your ad being untargeted and ineffective.
You want to put your ad campaigns into the context of your ultimate business goals. Consider how your paid campaigns will contribute to those goals. Then, think about what you want to accomplish with your ads — whether that be visits, sales, brand awareness, or something else — and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve that goal.
Your ads should encompass a few things:
Create Goals and Goal MetricsYour campaign goals will give you something to show for your ad spend as long as you determine how you will measure those goals. Your goal metrics should not be confused with your campaign metrics, which we’ll discuss below.
Let’s touch on some common PPC goals and how to measure them.
Brand awareness is how familiar your target audience is with your company. It might be a good idea to look into display ads for this goal so you can supplement your copy with engaging imagery. You can measure brand awareness through social engagement, surveys, and direct traffic.
Lead generation is the direct result of having a relevant and engaging landing page to follow your paid ad. Since you will create a separate landing page for each ad group, you should be able to easily track lead conversions either in the Google Ads interface via a tracking pixel, or through UTM parameters.
Offer promotion is great if you’re running a limited-time offer, product or service discount, or contest. You should create a dedicated sign-up page or a unique discount code so you know which users came from your ad.
Site traffic is a great goal if you have high-quality content throughout your website. If you’re going to spend money getting people to visit your site, you want to have some level of confidence that you can keep them there and eventually convert them into leads.
Choose Your Campaign Type
You don’t only need to know where you’ll advertise but also how. There are many different types of paid advertising campaigns, and the one you choose depends on where you can reach your audience. That isn’t to say that you can’t advertise through various means; you can also try a combination of campaign types as long as you’re consistently testing and revising.
Search Ads are the most common type of PPC and refer to the text ads that show up on search engine results pages.
Display Ads allow you to place ads (usually image-based) on external websites, including social. There are several ways to buy display ads, including Google Display Network (GDN) and other ad networks.
Social refers to any ads that you see on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can pay to show up in your target audience’s social feed or somewhere else within their profile, depending on the platform.
Remarketing can use either cookies or a list of contacts that you upload to target people who have previously engaged with your company through some action. That action could be filling out a form, reading a blog, or simply visiting a page on your website.
Google Shopping is most effective for ecommerce sites. Your ad — including image, price, and a short product description — will show on a carousel on a search page based on your target keywords.
Perform Keyword ResearchEach ad group you create needs to be assigned a set of keywords to target — that’s how search engines know when and where to display your ad. The general rule of thumb is to select between one to five keywords per ad group, and those keywords should be extremely relevant — your Quality Score depends on it.
Select keywords that are closely aligned with the specific theme of your ad group. If you find keywords you want to target that fall outside of one theme, you should create a separate ad group for them.
It’s important to note that you’re not stuck with the keywords you start with. In fact, you should closely monitor your keyword list throughout your campaign — eliminating those that don’t bring in the types of visitors that you’re looking for and increasing your bids on those that do. Do your best to select the most relevant keywords, but don’t feel pressured to get it 100% right the first time around.
Set Up Google Analytics and Tracking
Google Analytics is free to use, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install it on your website. The tool provides insights into how your website is performing, how users interact with your pages, and what content is attractive to visitors. The information gathered from Google Analytics can be used for PPC and beyond.
Best Practices for a Quality PPC StrategyYou didn’t think we’d let you spend your hard-earned money on advertisements without providing some best practices to follow, did you? Of course not. We want to make sure you succeed with your next PPC campaign. So, let’s get into some PPC strategies that will help you maximize your efforts and your budget.
As a note, we’re going to dive specifically into paid search ads (those little guys you see in search engines) here.
PPC Ad Copy
Bidding on targeted keywords will get your ad in front of the right people; good ad copy will get those people to click on your ad. Like your keywords, your ad needs to solve for the intent of the searcher — you need to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for and make sure that is clear through the words you use.
Search ads are comprised of a headline, a URL, and a short description, and each of these has limited character requirements to follow. To make the most of this space, make sure your ad copy does the following:
Landing Page Best Practices
Arguably the most important element of PPC (after your ad copy) is the page that you send leads to after they click on your ad. This page needs to be highly targeted, relevant to your ad, deliver what was promised, and present a seamless experience.
Why? Because the point of your landing page is to convert your new visitor into a lead or customer. Not only that, but a high-converting landing page will improve your Quality Score, leading to better ad placements. There’s nothing that will diminish PPC profits like a poorly crafted landing page.
What should a PPC landing page include to increase conversions? Glad you asked.
A/B Testing Your PPC Ads
As a marketer, you’ll rarely throw something out to your audience that works without testing it. PPC campaigns are no different. A/B testing is as critical to your paid ad campaign as is every other element. The goal of testing your ad is to increase both your clickthrough rate and your conversion rate.
The good news is that ads comprise just four parts that you’ll need to test: headline, description, landing page, and target keywords. Minor tweaks to just one of these elements can significantly alter your results, so you want to make changes one at a time so you can keep track of where improvements come from.
Since there are many variations that you could test one at a time, it’s a good idea to list out all the potential tests you can run and prioritize them by most significant impact. Finally, you should allow your ads to run long enough to gather the data you need and test them early enough, so you don’t waste budget on a poor-performing ad.
Maximizing Your ROI
At a high level, maximizing ROI on your ad campaigns means considering customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs, which will help you determine how much is worth spending on a new lead and how much of that spend can come from paid advertising.
To get more granular, we need to talk inputs and outputs, that is 1) lowering your input (cost per lead [CPL]) and 2) increasing your return (revenue).
There are a few factors to keep an eye on that will affect both, so let’s break it down.
Ways to Decrease Inputs
Ways to Increase Revenue
Google allows you to tailor your audience so you save marketing dollars and get in front of the right people. You can upload a customer list so that you don’t waste money on people who have already bought from you.
Google also has options for prospecting audiences. For instance, In-Market Audiences employs user behavior tracking to put you in front of prospects who are in the market for a product or service like yours.
You can also increase your bid for more relevant subgroups within your target audience — a practice called layering audiences.
Bid Adjustments. Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids based on performance. You can even make these adjustments based on different categories, like device, demographics, language, and more.
For example, if a keyword isn’t performing as well on mobile as on desktop, you can add a negative bid adjustment so that when someone searches your keyword on mobile, you’ll bid X% lower than your normal bid.
Custom Ad SchedulingYou can set up ad scheduling in Google Ads to display your ad only during specific days and times. This can cut down on ad spend and improve relevance for your target audience.
Sitelink Extensions. Sitelink extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information. For instance, if you’re running an ad for a seasonal promotion at a local store, you can add a sitelink extension to display your store hours and location. These extensions take up more real estate on SERPs and, therefore, stand out. Not only that, but they play a role in improving your Ad Rank.
Conversion tracking monitors how your landing page is performing via a tracking code that you place on the page where people land after completing your form (usually a “Thank You” page). By enabling this feature, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments that can improve your conversions.
Keyword Monitoring. Don’t let too much time pass before you check how your keywords are performing. You can place higher bids on the keywords that are creating the best results for your campaign, and “defund” or eliminate others.
Match Types. Match Types in Google Ads allows you to choose how closely related you want your ad group to be associated with a search team. There are four match types: broad, modified broad, phrase, and exact match. Google will display your ad in results according to your selection.
For example, if your keyword phrase is “how to catch geese” and you select “broad match,” then Google will display your ad for queries that include any word in your key phrase in any order, including “geese catch” and “geese catch how.”
Negative KeywordsA negative keyword list tells search engines what you don’t want to rank for, which is equally as important as what you do. You might know some of these upfront, but likely you’ll determine these keywords by what isn’t performing so well within your campaign.
Social Media Ads
Although CPM is more common on social platforms, social media sites do offer PPC that works similarly to search engine ads in that you set a budget and bid on ad placements.
The difference is social media ads can show up directly in your news feed on most platforms, decreasing the effectiveness of ad blockers. Social platforms, like Facebook, let you set targeted demographics and target people based on interests. While paid search is more keyword-focused, paid social broadens into a demographic focus, leading to more ways to target your persona.
Social media has two paid ad functions that are critical to ad success — retargeting and Lookalike Audiences. Retargeting is remarketing to people based on site visits or manually uploaded contact lists. Lookalike Audiences reviews the people on your marketing list and creates an audience that parallels your list, expanding your potential target. Paid social also allows for a wider variety of ad types, like images, videos, text, and more.
PPC Management and TrackingPaid advertising is not “set it and forget it.” You need to manage and constantly monitor your ads to ensure that you’re reaching optimal results. Management, analysis, and tracking are crucial to a PPC campaign because they provide you with valuable insights and help you create a more effective campaign.
What is PPC management?
PPC management covers a wide range of techniques, including creating and adjusting goals, split testing, introducing new keywords, optimizing conversion paths, and shifting plans to reach goals.
Managing your PPC means looking at your strategy and ad spend. On the one hand, it means iterating on your plan to optimize keyword effectiveness. On the other hand, it means thinking about how to allocate resources to specific keywords and how to adjust those resources to maximize ROI.
A good management strategy also pays attention to providers — like search engines, social platforms, and ad networks — to monitor changes and updates that could affect paid campaigns.
Overall, PPC management is a hefty undertaking, which is why investing in solid PPC management tools could be a great idea.
PPC Tools and Software
With all of the variables that you need to track, PPC management tools should make things easier. You can opt to monitor your ads within the platform, but if you’re looking for additional assistance and organization, a robust, easy-to-read spreadsheet or sophisticated software that gives you insight into your ad performance is vital.
If you plan to go the software route, there are some features that you want to look for: multi-user support, cross-platform management, A/B testing, scheduling, reporting, and ad grading.
Here’s a list of some popular, highly-rated PPC software and resources. PPC Metrics to TrackMetrics are everything (but you already knew that). Here are some key metrics to track within your PPC campaign.
Clicks refer to the total number of clicks you receive on an ad. This metric is affected by your keyword selection and the relevance of your ad copy.
Cost per click (CPC) measures the price you pay for each click on your ad.
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of ad views that result in clicks. This metric determines how much you pay (CPC). CTR benchmarks vary by industry.
Impressions are the number of times an ad is viewed. Cost per mille (CPM) is determined for every thousand impressions. Impressions are most relevant for brand awareness campaigns.
Ad spend is the amount you are spending on your ads. You can optimize this by improving your Quality Score.
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the ROI of your ad campaign. This metric calculates the revenue received for every dollar spent on ads.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that complete the call-to-action on your landing page and become a lead or customer.
Cost per conversion refers to the cost to generate a lead. This is calculated as the total cost of an ad divided by the number of conversions.
Quality Score (QS) determines ad positioning, so it’s an important metric to keep an eye on.
By paying close attention to each of these metrics, you can increase the ROI of your paid campaign and spend less for better results.
Go Paid! Whether you just started your business yesterday or have been around for decades, PPC just might be the boost you need to get an edge on your competition — or at least ahead of them in the SERPs.
Applying the lessons found in this guide about building a PPC campaign and the best practices for a quality PPC strategy would set you well on your way to improving your website’s traffic and conversions.
Have you ever double-tapped an image on Instagram, reacted to a video on Facebook, or clicked a search result in Google, only to realize afterward that it was actually an ad?
Maybe you never realized it was an ad at all — you just thought it was a cute picture of a dog.
More than ever, ads can be contextual, relevant, targeted, and helpful in ways they never could before. In short, ads today are content.
But the online advertising landscape is changing.
New platforms, ad types, and targeting capabilities are popping up all the time.
Let's dig into everything you need to know about online advertising across ad platforms for social media, paid search, display, and native advertising.
If you're only interested in learning about a certain type of online advertising, you can use the table of contents below to navigate to each section.
How to Advertise Online
93% of all online interactions start with a search engine, and with those odds, you can catch the attention of the audience you want through online advertising.
There’s plenty of ways to advertise your business strategically. Think about who you’re trying to reach when you start. Ask yourself “What target demographic am I advertising to?” and “How can I place my product or service offering in front of my target?”.
The answer is to see where your target demographic spends the most time online. Research their most frequented social media channels and most searched keywords. You can take this information and translate it to organic and paid marketing.
Not all online advertising has to cost money, people can find your business organically through social media marketing. Making a business page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even TikTok can capture people’s interest through engaging posts and content.
Now if you want to use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, most social media offers business pages the ability to pay a fee to promote posts/ads within the interface. Or if you are looking to advertise on a search engine for targeted keywords, Google Ads or sixads can guide you through the process of payment and execution.
There are three key ways that digital advertising can help you improve the performance of your organic marketing efforts.
With digital ads, organic performance can benefit from:
The goal of any ads strategy should be to get a positive return on your investment, which comes down to whether you're getting more revenue out of the ad campaign than the cost you're putting in.
How can you determine what your ad spend should be to get the most return on your investment? To start answering that question, we'll need to understand the bidding system used by the ad networks.
A bid is the maximum amount of money you're willing to pay for the desired action on your ad. If it sounds like an auction, that's because it is an auction. Ad networks have a limited amount of ad space, and to determine whether or not your ads are shown to your target audience, they run an auction to see how much each advertiser is willing to pay for ad space.
Just like in an auction, the highest bidder wins. Let's say you bid $10 for a click on your ad, and the next highest bidder only pays $5 for a click.
Each ad network will only make you pay the lowest amount possible to win the bid. In this example, you might be willing to pay $10, but in reality, you'll only have to pay $5.01 to win the bid. Winning this "auction," in addition to the overall quality of your ads, will determine how your ads are displayed on the different ad networks.
At this point, you might be thinking, "Okay, I get how the auction system works. But how do I figure out how much I should actually spend to see a return on my investment?"
My advice is to work backward from your revenue to determine what your maximum bid should be.
Use this equation:
Lifetime Value (LTV) x Average Lead-to-Customer Rate x Average Conversion Rate
Your LTV is how much a customer is worth to you throughout their relationship with your business. The average lead-to-customer rate is the rate at which your leads become paying customers. And your conversion rate is the rate at which new contacts convert on your content offers by filling out a form.
Combined, these metrics show you how much you should spend on your paid ads to break even.
Let's say that you want to use digital ads to promote your new content offer. You're going to need to know what your maximum ad spend should be to see a positive return on your investment. Assume that you know the following about your business:
Types of Online AdvertisingNow that we know more about how to advertise online, let's dive into the various types of online advertising.
Social Media Advertising
Every month, there are nearly 2.5 billion active users on Facebook, 1 billion on Instagram, and 330 million on Twitter worldwide.
Whether it's to chat with friends, stay connected to people across the globe, or for business and networking purposes, consumers are on social media for a multitude of reasons — and marketers know it. Because of the sheer number of active users on these platforms, advertising spend invested in social media channels is at an all-time high. Social media advertising across the world is projected to exceed $8.5 billion this year.
Advertising on social media comes with many advantages. You can:
Let's take a look at eight popular social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. We'll cover the audiences and ad types available on each one.
1. FacebookFacebook is the most widely used social media network. Almost 2.5 billion people around the world use Facebook. That's more than 30% of the world's population.
With so many people using Facebook, you're almost guaranteed to be able to reach an audience that's relevant to any type of business. That's where one of the most powerful features of advertising on Facebook comes in: audience targeting. The targeting capabilities on Facebook are unmatched by any other social media network.
There are three types of audiences that you can target on Facebook:
Facebook's advanced targeting can be used to target your ads to the most relevant audience — and even tap into new audiences you'd otherwise never reach with organic content alone.
Advertising on Facebook includes a range of ad types, including:
Photo ads are great for sharing collections of image content. Video ads are great for product explainer videos and branding. Story ads allow you to use a combination of photo and short-form video content.
Personally, my favorite way to advertise on Facebook is with lead ads because they give you the best of both worlds: sharing visual content and generating leads all at the same time. Facebook Lead Ads allow you to capture lead information without directing people out of the Facebook platform.
No matter your business' size or industry, you can use lead ads to find potential customers who are likely interested in your products or services. With lead ads, you provide a helpful piece of content that encourages viewers to sign up for a newsletter, receive a price estimate, or request additional business information. In return, when the viewer fills out the form, the business receives a new lead.
Another way to advertise on Facebook is through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger is a separate messaging app that comes with its own advertising opportunities. Facebook Messenger is the go-to messaging app in countries including the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are the more popular choice in countries throughout South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Across the world, 20 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses every month on Facebook Messenger. Ads play a big part in initiating conversations on Facebook Messenger.
There are a few different ways you can use Facebook Messenger as part of your advertising strategy.
All of these ad types come together to encourage your audience to kick off conversations with your business. They can be used to get in contact with a sales team, request more information on a product, or even share other content like blog posts or ebooks.
My favorite way to advertise on Facebook Messenger is retargeting. Retargeting ads in Facebook Messenger are a great way to start targeted conversations and send personalized offers and content.
Sponsored messages allow you to advertise to people who have already interacted with your business in Messenger. This is a great way to re-engage your audience in a personalized way.
You can also advertise on Instagram through the Facebook Ads Manager. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly users globally. That's a little less than half of the number of users on Facebook. The majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
There are three ways that you can advertise on Instagram:
I recommend taking the third option and creating custom campaigns for your audience on Instagram.
Instagram has similar ad types to Facebook, including:
By far, the most interesting ad types right now are ads in the Explore Tab and Shopping Post ads. People using Instagram Explore are exploring their interests and discovering new content creators. Ads in Instagram Explore are a great opportunity to put your brand in front of a new audience.
Shopping Post ads allow you to include a tag that shows the product's name and price within your image. Clicking on the tag takes your prospects directly to a product page where they can purchase the item — all without leaving the Instagram app.
3. LinkedInThe LinkedIn platform has over 660 million monthly active members worldwide. Users on the platform are largely made up of working professionals which makes LinkedIn a great place for B2B (business-to-business) advertising. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for working professionals, which provides B2B advertisers a large audience pool to reach.
Plus, the advantage of advertising on LinkedIn is its unique targeting capabilities. On LinkedIn, you'll have access to unique targeting criteria that isn't available on other platforms.
You can target users on LinkedIn by unique demographics, including job title, job function, and industry. Maybe you only want to advertise to potential customers at the director level who work in customer service within the recruiting industry. LinkedIn's targeting capabilities make that possible.
Plus, with the option to include lead gen forms in your LinkedIn ads, LinkedIn can be a lead generation machine. This will allow you to not only reach a very specific audience but drive leads without directing them outside of the LinkedIn platform.
The most interesting ad type of LinkedIn is Message Ads. Message Ads allow you to send direct messages to your prospects to spark immediate action.
How to use LinkedIn Message Ads:
But a word of warning: Don't send too many Message Ads to the same people or it will come off like spam. And, make sure the messages sound authentic – if you were writing a LinkedIn message to a friend, what would you write in it?
If your Message Ads are too stiff, they'll come off as spammy, too. Remember: This channel is a one-to-one conversation. Direct messages are sacred spaces – if you're going to advertise there, you need to be extra careful about taking the time to make your Message Ads feel personal and relevant to your end-users. Make sure you're delivering value to them in a way that feels authentic.
Digital advertising is less common on Twitter because organic reach is still a significant driver of a brand's performance on Twitter. This is very unique to Twitter – but even so, ads can still deliver strong results depending on what your goals are. Twitter has over 330 million monthly users globally. The majority of users are between 35–65 years old.
Advertisers have discovered a few niches that have high engagement on Twitter: B2B and e-commerce. Many B2B companies are using Twitter as a digital marketing tool, and Twitter users are known to spend a lot of money online. This makes advertising specifically to these audiences a great strategy.
Twitter breaks down its ads into five goals:
All of these can work together to help you grow your audience on the platform and convert users into customers.
Pinterest is a unique social media platform with 300 million users who are highly engaged and predominantly female. Some people say that Pinterest is the only platform where users actually want to see ads from brands they love because Pinterest is all about visuals.
How to advertise on Pinterest in four steps:
Pinterest is great for businesses relying on photography to sell their products and who have a female target buyer persona.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, second only to Google, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Ads on YouTube appear before and during other YouTube videos or as a stand-alone promoted video that's displayed after performing a search.
Since you can target demographic information and interests, you can serve your videos to specific relevant audiences already watching videos from similar brands or on related topics.
Snapchat's 218 million users are predominantly made up of people between the ages of 18–24.
Snapchat offers a few ad types, including story ads, sponsored tiles in Snapchat Discover, and augmented reality (AR) lenses.
Snapchat's ad types feel pretty similar to the advertising options on Instagram. What really makes Snapchat unique is the augmented reality lenses. AR lenses are sponsored by a business to create interactive moments that users can use and share with their friends. It might be hard to believe, but in this example from Dominos that pizza isn't really there — that's the AR lens at work.
One of the newer — and most popular — players in the social media advertising world is TikTok. TikTok is all about creating short, creative, and oftentimes funny videos. TikTok has exploded in the past few years and has reached 500 million monthly users.
Advertising options are still limited; they are mainly geared towards driving awareness. TikTok doesn't hyperlink posts to websites and only recently started allowing advertising, so businesses advertising on TikTok focus on boosting brand awareness rather than leads or traffic.
Promoting TikTok videos allow brands to build awareness with a young target audience. Most of the posts you'll see on TikTok are aimed at getting laughs. From a brand perspective, you'll want to create videos that are funny and align with other content on the platform. Think of things like dance challenges and memes. This type of content is the most effective.
Paid Search AdvertisingPeople searching online are looking for something specific and will click on the first result they believe is going to be the most helpful to them.
You might be thinking: "I already appear in organic results on search engines. Why should I pay to advertise too?"
Well, there are three key reasons:
Paid search advertising allows advertisers to capture the attention of their audience in a more targeted way than with organic search alone.
Search ads allow you to anticipate the wants, needs, and desires of your potential customers and serve ads to them that are highly contextual. Over time, the analytics of your search ads can help you analyze and improve those ads to reach even more people.
But how does Google know how to deliver the right ad to the right person? That's where keywords come into play. A keyword is one word or phrase that someone uses to describe what they need in search. Advertising on search platforms takes the targeting capabilities available on social media platforms, like demographics and location, and layers it with the addition of keywords.
When a Google user types a query into the search field, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher's intent. Keywords align with what a searcher wants and will satisfy their query. You select keywords based on which queries you want to display your ad alongside.
Keyword research is just as important for paid ads as it is for organic search. That's because Google matches your ad with search queries based on the keywords you selected. Each ad group you create within your campaign will target a small set of keywords and Google will display your ad based on those selections.
Let's say Mary is moving to a different house and is looking for a home mover. So she goes into Google and types "who are the best movers." By searching "best home movers," she's going to see results for advertisers that targeted keywords like "moving companies" and "top-rated movers."
Search engines also consider your intent when choosing the types of ads to display.
In the example above, search ads were the most helpful resource. But what if you're looking for a location-based business, like a coffee shop? In Google maps, you might see “Promoted Pins” like these, shown in purple on the map and in the search results on the left. Promoted Pins are a great way for businesses to attract customers to their business based on location.
What if you're looking to make a purchase? Well, Google might show you a different kind of post to match your intent, such as Shopping Post Ads.
In this example below, Google shows you shopping post ads for the keyword "buy snowboard." Since my query includes the word "buy," Google knows that I'm interested in making a purchase, so I am shown ads for products I might be interested in.
So how do you select your keywords?
Keywords typically fall under two categories: brand and non-brand.
Brand and non-brand keywords play a role in your digital advertising strategy. Brand keywords help you protect your brand from your competitor's ads.
If you don't run ad campaigns for brand keywords, you'll leave your business vulnerable to losing website traffic to the competition who is bidding on your brand keywords. Non-brand keywords still have a role to play, too. Non-brand keywords allow you to reach new audiences unfamiliar with your brand.
When it comes to when your ad is displayed, you don't just want to pick a certain group of keywords and have the ad shown only when those keywords are entered into the search engine.
This is where match type comes in. Since there’s an infinite number of ways that people can actually search for one term, Google gives you three match types to choose from: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. You can even use a broad match modifier and exclude negative keywords to optimize where your ads are delivered.
Let's take a look at each match type:
Google vs. Bing vs. Yahoo
There are a few advertising platforms out there for search, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But Google is by far the most used search engine out there. With 3.5 billion search queries a day, over 71% of the total searches made daily around the world are done on Google. Google brings in six times more searches every day than Bing and Yahoo, combined.
But this doesn't mean you should entirely rule out advertising on these other platforms. In some cases, you can achieve impressive results with a smaller ad spend on Bing and Yahoo than you could on Google since there is less competition from advertisers.
My recommendation is to dig into your organic traffic to identify if Bing or Yahoo make up a significant amount of traffic for any given keywords or topics. This might indicate that advertising for those keywords on Bing or Yahoo could be profitable.
Regardless of where you advertise, the good news is that advertising on all of these platforms more or less work and look the same. So knowing how to advertise on one will make advertising on the others easier.
Publishers like BuzzFeed and The Dodo produce content that snowballs in popularity on social media almost every day. And they make money by helping other brands do it, too. Brands will pay these publishers to craft posts and videos that follow the publishers' formula for virality. They also pay publishers to distribute this sponsored content to their massive audience through social media and their website.
When you pay for a publisher's native advertising services, you'll be able to leverage their editorial expertise and audience reach to help your brand tell captivating stories to a bigger and better viewership. And each publisher is going to support different ad formats and creative types.
During the creative process, you'll collaborate with publishers to craft sponsored content that covers one of their main topics and looks like a regular piece of content on the publisher's website.
This way, even though your post is technically promotional, it won't disrupt their audience's browsing experience. They'll enjoy reading your post and won't feel like you or the publisher are advertising to them. This exposes your work to a huge, engaged viewership and attracts new followers to your brand.
Native advertising creates a symbiotic relationship between publishers and brands. Publishers who do sponsored content right reap the benefits of another revenue stream and gain more audience trust if they promote a native ad from a trustworthy brand.
For brands, collaborating with prominent publishers can unleash unprecedented amounts of creativity to help them win over the publishers' audience and boost engagement — as the click-through rate on native ads far exceeds traditional. For example, T Brand Studio, the New York Times native ad business, crafted sponsored posts that captured as much engagement as some of nytimes.com's highest-performing articles.
To find the optimal native advertising opportunities for your brand, try using StackAdapt or Nativo.
Display ads are a controversial topic in the digital marketing community. For almost 25 years, advertisers have abused them by tricking internet users into clicking misleading ads — some malicious display ads have even infected people's computers with viruses. It's easy to see why people have developed banner blindness and can't stop downloading ad blockers: display ads have the reputation of being intrusive, distracting, and irrelevant.
On the other side of the spectrum, though, display advertising technology has advanced to the point where ad networks can leverage data and machine learning to offer advertisers more effective targeting strategies and consumers more relevant ads.
Ad networks like Google Display Network and Facebook's Audience Network are the leaders in the banner ad renaissance. They can display your ads to the right target audience at the right place and time. And if you want more control of your advertising, they'll let you decide where to place your ads. Below, we'll cover each ad networks' features and targeting capabilities:
1. Google Display Network
When you use Google's Display Network, you can design visually appealing ads and place them on over two million websites and apps, YouTube, and Gmail.
You can also build new audiences by targeting people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service and remarket website visitors just by importing a list of their contact information.
If you don't want to build out your ideal audience or deal with bidding, you can let Google Ads do it for you. Its automated targeting and bidding features can identify your highest-converting audience for the best return on investment.
Display ads can be most effective when retargeting an audience that's already familiar with your brand.
2. Facebook's Audience Network
With Facebook's Audience Network, brands can expand their Facebook ad campaigns and use the same targeting data they use on the platform to advertise on a huge collection of websites and apps.
Brands can place native ads, banner ads, full-screen ads, in-stream video ads, and rewarded video ads (for example, "Watch this video ad to get more tokens!") on the network's websites and apps that their Facebook audience frequently visits.
This type of advertising can be particularly effective for mobile games, like in the example below from 5agame who was able to attribute 80% of their revenue through their rewarded video.
Now that you know about all of the digital ad types that are available, the next step is to learn how to leverage the right ads for your business to achieve your goals.
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If you’re anything like me, you may have grown a bit tired of hearing the word “pivot” this past year. As much as I’ve grown weary of the term itself, I still get excited about the pivot toward integrating SEO with PR trends. Here are a few of the trends I’ve noticed, along with my thoughts on where I think we’re going.
All of a sudden, publications have fallen in love with SEO
About 10 years ago, when I started writing for major media outlets, I’d get some quizzical looks. “Are you link building?” was one of the more frequent questions I was asked. Comments such as “We want to stay focused on creating great content” or “We can’t be too concerned about SEO tactics” were also common.
Nowadays, I’ll get at least one inquiry a month from a major publication seeking help optimizing search traffic. These outlets not only seek to better understand SEO, but they highly prize contributors and journalists willing to adjust their writing style to accommodate traffic optimization. In addition to scoring initial viewer hits, publishers are increasingly looking for their content to serve long-term readership needs, months and years after publication.
One of the main reasons I invested in Relevance was because the company combined the strategies of thought leadership with SEO and PR. To hit the sweet spot where all three overlap, you have to publish consistent source content that offers helpful thought leadership. And that content will need to be written in a way that it is optimized for SEO.
Journalists increasingly rely on search to get their job doneIn the past, journalists were typically given more time to conduct research and hit deadlines than is the norm today. Writers often used that time to research an industry in-depth, deciding along the way which pieces of information to keep and which to discard.
Showing up on third-party lists and having your own content chart high are obvious wins for anyone hoping to achieve industry leadership. In addition to potential clients, though, you’ll also come to the attention of journalists writing about your industry. While they will be expected to cover the major players in any space, they won’t have time to evaluate all of the options. That means being featured on these “top x players” lists is key.
When we implemented a search strategy for my company Calendar, we focused on charting in the top 3 for searches that included the phrase “top calendar apps.” Not only did this article chart in the top 5, but results at that time also included list pages from other companies.
In 2020, our company received more than 100 free mentions simply because someone sourced an article where we also received a mention. This boils down to free PR. Your company can benefit as well by incorporating the idea of “influence by search term” into your thinking and strategies.
New SEO strategies require patient and thorough testingAs any new PR strategy takes off, you’ll want to make sure the technical aspects of your SEO are all in a good place. Any reliable SEO expert will tell you straight up that you can’t know everything about how Google manages its algorithm, but do the best you can to test effectively to see what changes drive better search results.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to test out different approaches to make sure you are doing all you can to optimize for SEO. You’ll want to conduct split testing to figure things out, just as you would with any other paid strategy.
Many marketing strategies will conduct split testing but without including search, typically because an SEO expert has been blinded by the one way they engage in best practices. Intent-based strategizing, along with split testing, can help confirm that the steps you’re taking are yielding the results you were hoping for.
In addition to making sure you have conducted a full technical audit to make sure your house is in order, remember to review your site thoroughly. You’ll want to make sure it, too, has been optimized for targeted search terms.
Limitations on in-person events will increase digital strategy budgets
Much as we all might wish otherwise, the Covid-19 pandemic still presents a huge challenge to holding in-person events. The money is moving toward anything digital that looks like a reasonably viable alternative.
Prior to the pandemic, event companies were more or less obligated to split their budget between a lot of different marketing and sales strategies. With attention swinging more and more to the digital realm, there has been a commensurate interest in aligning PR with SEO strategy. No one wants to host an online event that doesn’t show up in search.
As they do so, these brands are simultaneously seeding their industry with quality content that points to these sources. When everything aligns as it should, the results can surpass all expectations.
As I’ve implemented these strategies, I’ve routinely been amazed at how fast a company can show up in search results for competitive terms and begin to own them.
A combination of natural link-building and surgical methods will be best
Recently, the head of communications at one of my favorite payroll companies told me he’d spent a certain number of dollars creating some whitepapers. All the publications contained solid data, and others had begun linking to them.
I love seeing brands implement inbound techniques, but my friend’s company needed more than just this start. It had to apply a layer of SEO surgery on top. Google needed not only to index the credible links pointed in his company’s direction, but it also needed to see an area of placements that provided a consistent pattern of offering expertise in that field.
Combining organic links with what you say about yourself yields the best results. When what you say about yourself matches up with what others say about you, the content on your site will seem that much more credible.
PR tools will soon be used the same way we use search
Many companies have already implemented something similar, but not nearly as many have a PR strategy that plays nicely with these tools.
In 2021, brands that are adept at both PR and SEO are going to see their rankings increase significantly.
In the wake of all that happened last year, I’m hesitant to make many predictions. One I will hazard is that, even after in-person events resume, audiences will hold fast to their digital lives. Companies that intentionally integrate SEO with their PR will reap huge rewards.
Credibility will be critical in a landscape marked by a heightened lack of trust. When your online footprint mirrors the messages being put out by your PR team, you’ll score points for integrity. Your existing clients will be reassured, and prospective clients will get an extra nudge to sign on.
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For your reference, we compiled a list of the 100 top trending Google searches and most Googled questions from our database of 20 billion keywords.
This list of top trending searches is being regularly updated every quarter for the most up-to-date information.
If you want to try your own Google searches, our Keyword Magic Tool or Google's Keyword Planner will help you to find keywords for your strategy and campaigns.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms Globally Keyword
Average Apr – Jun 2021
Search volume is the average number of times a specific search query is entered on a search engine per month. In this study by search volume we mean an average number of monthly searches for the last 12 months.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021
Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. facebook 151.0M 151.0M
2. youtube 151.0M 151.0M
3. amazon 124.0M 124.0M
4. weather 101.0M 101.0M
5. nba 33.0M 68.0M
6. home depot 64.3M 55.6M
7. gmail 61.8M 55.6M
8. walmart 43.0M. 55.6M
9. google translate 45.5M 37.2M
10. yahoo mail 45.5M 37.2M
11. yahoo 37.2M 37.2M
12. target 40.3M 30.4M
13. restaurants 33.0M. 30.4M
14. ebay 30.4M 30.4M
15. fox news 30.4M 30.4M
16. food near me 30.4M 30.4M
17. restaurants near me 27.7M 30.4M
18. google maps 24.9M 30.4M
19. hotels 23.5M. 30.4M
20. nba scores 19.3M 30.4M
21. amc stock 9.3M 30.4M
22. instagram 30.4M 24.9M
23. translate 30.4M 24.9M
24. amazon prime 24.9M 24.9M
25. weather tomorrow 24.9 M24.9M
26. starbucks 34.6M 20.4M
27. mcdonalds 29.6M 20.4M
28. costco 26.9M 20.4M
29. best buy 25.4M 20.4M
30. lowes 24.9M 20.4M
31. usps tracking 22.7M 20.4M
32. craigslist 20.4M 20.4M
33. espn 20.4M 20.4M
34. zillow 20.4M 20.4M
35. you tube18.5M 20.4M
36. spanish to english 20.4M 16.6M
37. cnn 18.5M 16.6M
38. news 16.6M 16.6M
39. traductor 16.6M 16.6M
40. food 20.8M 13.6M
41. walgreens 20.8M 13.6M
42. calculator 20.4M 13.6M
43. bank of america 17.0M 13.6M
44. twitter 15.1M 13.6M
45. wells fargo 15.1M 13.6M
46. dominos 13.6M 13.6M
47. facebook log in 13.6M 13.6M
48. macys 13.6M 13.6M
49. netflix 13.6M 13.6M
50. maps 13.6M 13.6M
51. indeed 12.4M 13.6M
52. trump 11.4M 13.6M
53. covid vaccine near me 18.0M 11.1M
54. cvs 13.9M 11.1M
55. etsy 13.6M 11.1M
56. hotmail 13.6M 11.1M
57. autozone 12.9M 11.1M
58. fedex tracking 12.4M 11.1M
59. kohls 12.4M 11.1M
60. msn 12.4M 11.1M
61. aol mail 11.1M 11.1M
62. shein 11.1M 11.1M
63. speed test 11.1M 11.1M
64. ups tracking 11.1M 11.1M
65. dogecoin 10.1M 11.1M
66. gas 9.3M 11.1M
67. google flights 9.1M 11.1M
68. southwest airlines 9.1M 11.1M
69. dr. wu lien-teh 5.6 M11.1M
70. walmart near me 5.0M 11.1M
71. gas station 22.7M 9.1M
72. google docs 17.0M 9.1M
73. taco bell 12.0M 9.1M
74. dollar tree 11.4M 9.1M
75. pizza hut 11.1M 9.1M
76. roblox 11.1M 9.1M
77. sam's club 10.5M 9.1M
78. old navy 10.1M 9.1M
79. usps 10.1M 9.1M
80. grocery store 9.9M 9.1M
81. airbnb 9.1M 9.1M
82. capital one 9.1M 9.1M
83. linkedin 9.1M 9.1M
84. omegle 9.1M 9.1M
85. paypal 9.1M 9.1M
86. american airlines 8.3M 9.1M
87. donald trump 7.6M 9.1M
88. lakers 12.9M 7.5M
89. irs 11.4M 7.5M
90. burger king 9.3M 7.5M
91. fedex 9.3M 7.5M
92. ikea 9.3M 7.5M
93. hentai 9.1M 7.5M
94. pinterest 9.1M 7.5M
95. credit karma 8.3M 7.5M
96. chipotle 8.3M 7.5M
97. discord 8.3M 7.5M
98. dow jones 7.5M 7.5M
99. facebook marketplace 7.5M 7.5M
100. mlb 7.5M 7.5M
Find keywords for your business
1. what to watch 9.1M
2. when is mothers day 3.8M
3. when is fathers day 3.4M
4. what is my ip 3.4M
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 3.2M
6. how to delete instagram account 3.1M
7. where does vanilla flavoring come from 2.3M
8. what time is it 1.8M
9. how to screenshot on mac 1.7M
10. when is father's day 202 11.7M
11. where am i 1.5M
12. how many ounces in a cup1 .3M
13. when is mother's day 202 11.3M
14. how many weeks in a year 1.2M
15. what song is this 1.2M
16. what the font 1.0M
17. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M
18. how to lose weight fast 882.0K
19. how are you 823.0K
20. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K
21. when is memorial day 2021 740.8K
22. what time is it in california 673.0K
23. how many liters in a gallon 673.0K
24. how many ounces in a pound 673.0K
25. what is love 673.0K
26. how to delete facebook account 673.0K
27. when is mothers day 2021 647.5K
28. what is the factorial of hundred 637.8K
29. where does vanilla flavouring come from 637.4K
30. what lies below 634.0K
31. what is the meaning of 632.0K
32. is ariana grande married 611.4K
33. what is critical race theory 601.7K
34. when is the next full moon 591.0K
35. is today a holiday 591.0K
36. how to tie a tie 591.0K
37. how many grams in an ounce 591.0K
38. how to download youtube videos 591.0K
39. what is 100 factorial 578.8K
40. when are taxes due 2021 566.7K
41. how long to boil eggs 557.7K
42. how old is queen elizabeth 555.7K
43. how many countries in the world 550.0K
44. what is the weather today 550.0K
45. how to solve a rubik's cube 550.0K
46. how to draw 550.0K
47. how old is bernie sanders 528.0K
48. who called me 516.7K
49. when calls the heart 489.7K
50. how old is donald trump 486.3K
51. how to pronounce 483.3K
52. what day is it today 483.3K
53. what is today 483.3K
54. how to earn money online 483.3K
55. who won yesterday ipl match 481.1K
56. what is mean in math 456.0K
57. how many people are in the world 450.0K
58. what is the 450.0K
59. how many 450.0K
60. how to deactivate facebook 450.0K
61. what does 450.0K
62. what is cryptocurrency 447.3K
63. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K
64. is reddit down 441.3K
65. when is eid 2021 435.5K
66. when will senate vote on stimulus4 28.1K
67. what is the meaning 422.7K
68. how to screenshot on windows 422.7K
69. how many cups in a quart 422.7K
70. how to delete snapchat account 422.7K
71. why are flags at half mast today 411.3K
72. when is ramadan 2021 407.7K
73. when is mother's day in 2021 403.3K
74. where i can find happiness 400.3K
75. how many quarts in a gallon 395.3K
76. who is the richest person in the world 395.3K
77. what is a verb 395.3K
78. what is the time 395.3K
79. how many oz in a gallon 395.3K
80. what time is it in the uk 395.3K
81. how many seconds in a day 388.0K
82. when does summer start 382.0K
83. when is easter 380.0K
84. what if 373.0K
85. what time is it in hawaii 373.0K
86. what is computer 373.0K
87. how many days in a year 368.0K
88. what we do in the shadows 368.0K
89. what is an adjective 368.0K
90. how to make money online 368.0K
91. how to lose belly fat 368.0K
92. what is a noun 368.0K
93. how many centimeters in an inch 368.0K
94. how much 368.0K
95. how to lose weight 368.0K
96. when is eid 366.0K
97. how old is the queen 366.0K
98. how to register for covid vaccine 364.0K
99. what to mine 354.7K
100. how to take a screenshot on a mac 345.7K
The Top 100 Most Googled Questions in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. what time is it 5.0M 3.7M
2. what to watch 4.5M 4.4M
3. when is mothers day 3.7M 2.5M
4. when is mother's day 202 11.3M 891.7K
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 1.1 M 1.3M
6. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M 1.0M
7. when is memorial day 2021 946.5K 647.5K
8. how to screenshot on mac 911.5K 882.0K
9. where am i 911.5K 882.0K
10. when is memorial day 900.5K 620.5K
11. when is fathers day 873.0K 2.2M
12. when are taxes due 2021 836.5K 566.7K
13. how many weeks in a year 823.0K 823.0K
14. how many ounces in a cup 823.0K 823.0K
15. where does vanilla flavoring come from 817.5K 565.2K
16. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K 509.9K
17. when is father's day 2021 710.5K 1.2M
18. how to delete instagram account 673.0K 673.0K
19. what is my ip 673.0K 673.0K
20. why are flags at half mast today 562.0K 404.8K
21. how many ounces in a pound 550.0K 550.0K
22. what time is it in california 550.0K 550.0K
23. what song is this 550.0K 591.0K
24. when is mothers day 2021 550.0K 372.7K
25. what lies below 545.3K 383.7K
26. how old is bernie sanders 500.0K 483.3K
27. what time is it in australia 500.0K 415.3K
28. what time is it in arizona 500.0K 415.3K
29. how old is queen elizabeth 479.0K 374.3K
30. how to lose weight fast 450.0K 450.0K
31. how many grams in an ounce 450.0K 450.0K
32. is today a holiday 450.0K 450.0K
33. when is the next full moon 450.0K 450.0K
34. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K 441.8K
35. when will senate vote on stimulus 428.1K 296.4K
36. is ariana grande married 416.5K 332.6K
37. how long to boil eggs 409.0K 395.3K
38. how many cups in a quart 409.0K 395.3K
39. how old is donald trump 409.0K 422.7K
40. how many quarts in a gallon 409.0K 395.3K
41. how to tie a tie 409.0K 395.3K
42. how many oz in a gallon 368.0K 368.0K
43. how many liters in a gallon 368.0K 395.3K
44. what is the weather today 368.0K 368.0K
45. when is easter 366.8K 255.5K
46. how did dmx die 356.8K 246.9K
47. when does the senate vote on stimulus 343.9K 234.2K
48. what day is mother's day 334.5K 227.0K
49. what is mean in math 334.5K 259.7K
50. what time is it in hawaii 334.5K 345.7K
51. how many seconds in a day 307.0K 249.7K
52. how many cups in a gallon 301.0K 301.0K
53. how many tablespoons in a cup 301.0K 301.0K
54. how many teaspoons in a tablespoon 301.0K 282.7K
55. how many feet in a mile 301.0K 301.0K
56. when calls the heart 301.0K 225.3K
57. when are taxes due 301.0K 203.4K
58. why are flags at half mast 292.5K 208.5K
59. what is memorial day 288.6K 203.4K
60. is jennifer love hewitt on 911 really pregnant 281.1K 281.1K
61. what is critical race theory 280.0K 593.3K
62. where is sugar bowl 2021 280.0K 186.7K
63. did dmx die 277.7K 186.1K
64. what is april 24277.7K 185.8K
65. how many square feet in an acre 273.5K 249.3K
66. how much house can i afford 273.5K 264.3K
67. what time is the super bowl 2021 270.3K 180.2K
68. how old is joe biden 266.5K 300.3K
69. when does summer start 266.5K 300.3K
70. when is easter 2021 262.0K 188.2K
71. what time is the kentucky derby 2021249.8K 166.7K
72. how many steps in a mile 246.0K 246.0K
73. how many people are in the world 246.0K 231.0K
74. how many ounces in a quart 246.0K 246.0K
75. how many oz in a cup 246.0K 246.0K
76. how to screenshot on windows 246.0K 231.0K
77. how to write a check 246.0K 246.0K
78. what time does walmart close 246.0K 264.3K
79. what time is it in the uk 246.0K 246.0K
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Think of your social media content strategy as your blueprint for your business's success across social platforms. If you don't take the time to put together a solid strategy, you will find that your social efforts lack direction and don't deliver the results you expect to see.
You need to dedicate the time and resources to plan your approach, map out exactly what you want to achieve, how you will get there, and how you will measure the impact that your efforts have on your goals.
But it isn't always easy to know where to start, especially if you have never put one together before.
In this guide, we will walk you through a proven 7-step process to developing a social content strategy from scratch, specifically looking at:
Continue reading, and you will learn a simple but effective process that you can use to plan your social content and take your growth from your chosen platforms to the next level.
Why You Need a Social Media Content Strategy? Strategy is underrated.
Sure, you might get away with posting something every day on your social channels without ever giving much thought to what you are posting, or more importantly, why.
But this isn't going to drive growth or real, impactful results.
You will not acquire new fans and followers or convince these individuals to visit your website or convert into a customer or client by blindly posting whatever you feel like pushing out that day. That is just not how it works.
You need to know what you want to achieve to figure out how you will get there. And this is what a strategy is.
When you can craft a strategy that maps out the route you need to take to meet your goals, your chance of achieving these massively increases. It also helps everyone involved to focus their efforts, something that, in itself, can help to improve performance and returns.
Social media should be a channel that drives sales and inquiries; it is not just a vanity channel. But for this to happen, you need to have a strategy that everyone on your marketing team works towards.
How to Develop a Social Content Strategy in 7 Simple Steps
The reality is that developing a social content strategy is easier than you probably think.
And following a proven process can help you define your goals, create and publish content to a schedule that is right for your audience, and measure your efforts' impact.
Keep reading to learn how you can do this in just 7 simple steps, including a look at the tools you should be using to make the whole process that little bit easier.
1. Setting Goals for Your ContentHave you ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?
It is important that you start creating every strategy by knowing what you want to achieve, as this will help shape the path you take to make this happen. Otherwise, you are working blindly. And that is not very strategic at all.
Without goals and KPIs, you will also not be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Setting goals is all about having an indicator of success that allows you to determine your social strategy's ROI.
If you are not familiar with S.M.A.R.T goals, these are goals that are:
Your social content strategy should start with goal-setting, as this is something that will help to shape the following steps in the process.
Having clearly defined goals means that you can align every piece of content, and every post that you publish, with these.
2. Know The Profile of Your Audience and When You Should Post
Knowing your audience's profile means that you can tailor your content to talk directly to these people.
After all, taking a targeted approach is almost always more effective than trying to engage too wide of an audience with a single strategy.
Knowing the times when your audience is the most active on each channel can also help you to generate an increased level of engagement by sharing your content at the right time. And the great news is that you can gain these insights from your main social channels.
Facebook Insights provides an absolutely phenomenal amount of data on your audience, and if you are not already using this to inform your social efforts, then you need to dive deep into the tool.
Head to your Facebook Business Page, and you will see an 'Insights' tab on the left-hand menu:
From here, you can gain a wealth of data around the performance of your page. But, for the purpose of putting together a solid strategy, you need to head to the 'people' tab where you can see information around who your key audience is:
Next, head then to the 'posts' tab to gain an understanding of the times and days when your audience is most likely to be online:
Unfortunately, Twitter deprecated its powerful audience insights dashboard earlier this year. However, you can still use the Analytics tool to gain some insights into your own Tweets' performance.
Head to Twitter Analytics and hit the 'Tweets' button at the top of the page:
On this page, you can see the days when your recent Tweets have performed the best:
While this isn't as useful as Facebook Insights, it can help you to spot patterns of the days when your Tweets are the most likely to perform to the best of their potential. We will have some upcoming tips on how to get more insights on each of the social platforms.
If you are a B2B marketer, LinkedIn can give you a phenomenal amount of insights about your audience and those who follow your company page.
Head to the 'analytics' tab on your company page dashboard and navigate to 'Followers.'
From here, you can access insights on:
However, when it comes to understanding your audience, the 'follower demographics' section is insanely valuable, helping you to understand the exact profile of those who follow your page.
You can also gain insights into your audience on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. However, the most powerful insights are those that we have walked through above.
3. Choose the Right Social Platform(s)You don't have to use every available social platform.
Let's repeat that — you don't have to use every available social platform.
In most instances, it makes sense to focus your efforts on the platforms where your audience is active and likely to engage with your business, rather than spreading your time and content too thinly across every available platform.
You will no doubt already have a good idea, by this stage, as to the platforms where your audience is the most active, but we recommend choosing a couple of these and executing a really solid strategy.
Trust us when we say that you will see far better results doing this than trying to be present everywhere.
As a general rule of thumb:
Facebook is effective for both B2B and B2C businesses, with support for a whole load of different content formats, ad targeting options, and users. There are very few businesses that should not include Facebook as one of their core channels.
Twitter isn't for every business, due to the platform's fast-moving nature and the fact that it is still very much based around a simple Tweet format. However, it is the perfect customer service platform for businesses that deal with high volumes of support and service queries.
LinkedIn is perfect for B2B service businesses and is the perfect place to position individuals and companies as experts through a content strategy based on thought leadership and a strong focus on editorial content.
Pinterest is a favorite amongst eCommerce retailers and owners of businesses that are easily promoted visually.
YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine, and pretty much all sectors can benefit from the platform. However, you need to be prepared to consistently publish engaging video content, something that not all businesses are set up to do.
Instagram is often the first or second-choice platform for B2C businesses that have access to (or can take) engaging photos and images and engage their audience. It is usually of lesser-importance to B2B businesses.
TikTok is the newcomer to the social scene, and there are plenty of examples of brands winning big on the platform, but the format and nature of the content isn't for everyone. It is perfect for lifestyle-focused B2C brands.
4. Plan Social Content and Choose Formats
Once you have chosen the main social platforms that you are going to focus your efforts upon, you need to plan out your content and the formats that you are going to create.
And our guide on 15 Social Media Content Types (with examples for ideas and inspiration) is a great starting point to inspire you to create awesome content that resonates with your audience.
A great starting point is to map out the key messages that you want to share with your audience (ideally mixing sales-focused product or service posts with educational, information, or inspirational content), alongside the formats that you can create content around.
You need to balance different formats to ensure you are getting your key message across effectively, and some of the more popular ones that we recommend include:
Don't rely on a single content format if you truly want to drive engagement from your audience, but be sure to balance the time needed to produce each different piece with the importance of maintaining a consistent publishing schedule.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have started planning out your content, you need to set up a content calendar that your team can use for organizational purposes.
And this is important for a simple reason; it keeps you accountable.
Once you have set a publishing schedule and mapped it out on a content calendar, you have made a commitment. And this is often what is needed to keep your efforts focused and on track. It also helps you work with other teams to complete goals.
For example, if you know in 2 weeks, you are launching a new campaign and need graphics, your content team and graphics teams can both view the calendar and ensure tasks are done on time.
And creating a content calendar couldn't be easier to assign your social content with your wider digital marketing campaign:
Just make sure to keep your calendar updated so your whole team can use it as a reference point.
Get into the habit of adding in your planned social content and sticking to it; this is often the motivation that most marketers need to keep on track.
And let's not forget that committing to regular social publishing is one of the main drivers of success. It is hard to stick to, and very few do. But this means that those who keep on track are typically the ones who gain a competitive advantage.
In terms of how frequently you should be posting on each platform, we recommend a baseline schedule that looks like this (depending on the platforms you are using):
6. Publishing Your Content
Publishing your content on social media can be a time-consuming task.
And that's why many marketers choose to schedule their content in advance, making it easier to block out time each week to create your content and have it automatically post across your platforms at the time that you deem to be the most impactful.
Start by connecting your chosen social networks:
Once you have connected your channels, you will be able to schedule posts across each of these to have shares go out at your chosen time.
We recommend setting aside a regular time in your calendar each week to schedule your social content for the coming days. Again, this keeps you focused and on track to consistent publishing.
7. Analyze and Measure Your Content's PerformanceRemember the goals you set when mapping out your strategy?
You need to track your content's performance against those goals; otherwise, you won't know how successful your efforts are. But how you track this very much depends upon the goals that you set.
We talked about ensuring that each goal is measurable, and this is where you should have identified what you will measure success as and how you will do it.
If you have set a benchmark for your performance, you can easily identify which posts are exceeding this.
We recommend analyzing the performance of your social efforts on a weekly basis and measuring these against the goals and KPIs that you set.
If you are on your way to achieving your goals, great. If not, a weekly check-in on progress means you are able to make adjustments and improvements to your strategy to get things back on track.
Don't underestimate the power of putting together a solid social content strategy.
It is your roadmap to success, and having a clear plan of action that can be communicated across your team and key stakeholders and time invested in putting this together is time well spent.
Just be sure to follow a clear process, know your goals and checkpoints, and maintain a consistent approach to publishing great content!
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Brands need a video marketing strategy — this idea isn't new. What has changed is how important video has become on every platform and channel.
Video is no longer just one piece of your overall marketing plan. It's central to your outreach and campaign efforts … especially your social strategy.
Video has absolutely dominated social. Swift Digital Marketing Research shows that four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels.
Why is this important? If you aren't creating video, you're likely falling behind. But don't fret. For most videos, the more simple and raw it is, the more authentic the content seems … and that's what really matters to your audience.
Better yet, video production is more cost-effective than ever — you can shoot in high-quality, 4K video with your smartphone.
Regardless, between camera equipment to lighting to editing software, the topic of video marketing can still seem pretty complicated. That's why we compiled this guide.
Continue reading learn everything you need to know about video marketing strategy, or use the links below to jump to a specific section.
Video marketing is using videos to promote and market your product or service, increase engagement on your digital and social channels, educate your consumers and customers, and reach your audience with a new medium.
Why should you focus on video marketing today?
The last handful of years saw a surge in the popularity of video as a content marketing format.
Specifically, in 2017, video rise to the top of your marketing tactic list. Video as a tactic was likely streamlined by your creative team as a one-to-many awareness play, with lots of focus on expensive production and little analysis to show for it.
2018 and 2019 transformed video from a singular marketing tactic to an entire business strategy.
Today, video is a holistic business approach, meaning video content should be produced by all teams in a conversational, actionable, and measurable way.
More than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands … more than any other type of content.
Video on landing pages is capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%. 90% of customers also say videos help them make buying decisions.
But video hasn't only transformed how businesses market and consumers shop; it's also revolutionized how salespeople connect with and convert prospects and how service teams support and delight customers. In short, video is incredibly useful throughout the entire flywheel — not just to heighten brand awareness.
Video can be a versatile tool for salespeople throughout the entire customer buying journey, and it can do much more than increase engagement. Backend analytics also help salespeople qualify and prioritize cold or unresponsive leads.
According to Gary Stevens, head of research at HostingCanada.org, "retargeting our website visitors on social media has led to a 47% increase in visitor value site-wide." The granularity of video analytics on platforms like Facebook is one reason why, in 2018, 93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media thanks to video.
The options are also endless for service teams — onboarding videos, knowledge-based videos, meet the team videos, support video calls, and customer stories are just a few ways that video can create a more thorough, personalized customer support experience.
Lastly, according to Swift Research, consumers and customers actually prefer lower quality, “authentic” video over high-quality video that seems artificial and inauthentic.
Video is within reach for businesses of virtually any size — team and budget alike. 45% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year. Will you join them?
The 12 Types of Marketing Videos
Before you begin filming, you first need to determine the type of video(s) you want to create. Check out this list to better understand your options.
1. Demo Videos
Demo videos showcase how your product works — whether that's taking viewers on a tour of your software and how it can be used or unboxing and putting a physical product to the test.
2. Brand Videos
Brand videos are typically created as a part of a larger advertising campaign, showcasing the company's high-level vision, mission, or products and services.
The goal of brand videos is to build awareness around your company and to intrigue and attract your target audience.
3. Event Videos
Is your business hosting a conference, round table discussion, fundraiser, or another type of event? Produce a highlight reel or release interesting interviews and presentations from the gathering.
4. Expert Interviews
Capturing interviews with internal experts or thought leaders in your industry is a great way to build trust and authority with your target audience. Find the influencers in your industry — whether they share your point-of-view or not — get these discussions in front of your audience.
The video above is more than just a surface-level interview, it's a deep-dive with an industry expert offering concrete takeaways for viewers interested in creating viral content. Don't be afraid to get tactical with your interviews — your audience will grow from your hard work.
5. Educational or How-To Videos
Instructional videos can be used to teach your audience something new or build the foundational knowledge they'll need to better understand your business and solutions. These videos can also be used by your sales and service teams as they work with customers.
6. Explainer Videos
This type of video is used to help your audience better understand why they need your product or service. Many explainer videos focus on a fictional journey of the company's core buyer persona who is struggling with a problem. This person overcomes the issue by adopting or buying the business's solution.
7. Animated Videos
Animated videos can be a great format for hard-to-grasp concepts that need strong visuals or to explain an abstract service or product.
8. Case Study and Customer Testimonial
Your prospects want to know that your product can (and will) solve their specific problem. One of the best ways to prove this is by creating case study videos that feature your satisfied, loyal customers. These folks are your best advocates. Get them on-camera describing their challenges and how your company helped solve them.
9. Live Videos
Live video gives your viewers a special, behind-the-scenes look at your company. It also draws longer streams and higher engagement rates — viewers spend up to 8.1x longer with live video than with video-on-demand. Live-stream interviews, presentations, and events, and encourage viewers to comment with questions.
10. 360° & Virtual Reality Videos
With 360° videos, viewers “scroll” around to see content from every angle — as if they were physically standing within the content. This spherical video style allows viewers to experience a location or event, such as exploring Antarctica or meeting a hammerhead shark. Virtual reality (VR) allows viewers to navigate and control their experience. These videos are usually viewed through devices such as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.
11. Augmented Reality (AR) VideosIn this style video, a digital layer is added to what you are currently viewing in the world. For example, you can point your phone's camera at your living room and AR would allow you to see how a couch would look in the space. The IKEA Place app is a great example of this.
12. Personalized Messages
Video can be a creative way to continue a conversation or respond to someone via email or text. Use videos to record yourself recapping an important meeting or giving personalized recommendations. These videos create a delightful, unique moment for your prospects and can drive them further down the purchase journey.
How to Make a Video for Your Business
There's a lot that goes into making a video. This section will walk you through the detailed process of creating and publishing a video for your business. Grab your camera and follow along.
1. Plan your video.
Before you set up, record, or edit anything, start with a conversation about the purpose of your video. Why? Every decision made during the video creation process will point back to your video's purpose and what action you'd like your audience to complete after watching it.
And, of course, without a clear purpose agreed upon by your team, you'll find yourself in a whirlwind of re-shooting, re-framing, editing … and wasting a lot of precious time.
There are typically a lot of players when making a video. How can you ensure they're all aligned?
Create a questionnaire using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and pass it along to the stakeholders of the project. This way, you can ask the same questions of everyone and aggregate your answers in one place.
Who's your target audience?
What buyer persona are you targeting? This may be a segment of your company's typical buyer persona.
What's the goal?
Is it to increase brand awareness? Sell more event tickets? Launch a new product? Ultimately, what do you want your audience to do after watching the video?
Where's the video going to live?
On Facebook? Behind a landing page form? You should begin with one target location — where you know your audience will discover the video — before repurposing it for other channels.
What are the creative requirements?
With your budget, skills, and resources in mind, think about the creative roadblocks that might arise. Do you need a designer to create lower third graphics? Are you going to create an animated video or a live-action video?
What will constitute success for the video?
Choose several key performance indicators that correspond with your video goals — or hop down to the chapter in this guide on measuring and analyzing video.
2. Script your video.
There's a time and place for videos to be off-the-cuff and completely unscripted. You have tear-jerking documentaries, vlogging rants, and, of course, the holy grail: cat videos.
That being said, most business videos need a script.
If you skip this step, you'll find yourself editing more than you need to, releasing a video longer than it should be, and probably losing your audience along the way.
Start writing your script the way you would begin a blog post — with an outline. List out your key points and order them logically.
Do all of your drafting in Google Docs to promote collaboration and real-time commenting. Use the “Insert > Table” function to adopt one of television's traditional script-writing practices: the two-column script. Write your audio (script) in the left column and insert matching visual ideas in the right column.
Don't make the viewer wait until the final seconds to understand the purpose of your video … we promise they won't stick around. Similar to a piece of journalistic writing, include a hook near the beginning that states the purpose of the video, especially for educational and explainer videos.
Notice, in our example below, that we don't let the audience get past the second sentence without understanding what the video will be about.
As you begin creating videos, you'll notice a key difference between video scripts and your typical business blog post — the language. Video language should be relaxed, clear, and conversational. Avoid using complex sentence structures and eloquent clauses. Instead, connect with your audience by writing in first person and using visual language. Keep the language concise, but avoid jargon and buzzwords.
Following the “Little-Known Instagram Hacks” example, note how a section from the original blog post could be transformed for video by using fewer words and relying on visuals.
Most video scripts are short … probably shorter than you think. Keep a script timer handy to check your script length as you write and edit. For example, a 350-word script equates to a video that is nearly 2 minutes long.
Words on paper sound a lot different than they do when read out loud. That's why we encourage organizing a table read of your script before you start filming. The point of a table read is to smooth out the kinks of the script and nail down inflection points.
Have a few people (writer and talent included) gather around a table with their laptops and read the script multiple times through. If you accidentally say a line different than what the script prescribes, think about why and consider changing the language to make it sound more natural.
3. Understand your camera(s).Too often the fear and uncertainty of equipment keep businesses from trying out video marketing. But learning to shoot video doesn't have to be overwhelming.
It's likely you have a great, easy-to-use camera right in your pocket: your iPhone.
Shooting with Your iPhoneBefore filming with your iPhone, ensure your device has enough storage. Also, don't forget to enable your iPhone's Do Not Disturb feature to avoid distracting notifications while filming.
Once you open the iPhone's camera, flip your phone horizontally to create the best possible viewing experience. Then, move close enough to your subject so you don't have to use the zoom feature — it often makes the final video look pixelated and blurry.
Shooting with Prosumer and Professional Cameras
While iPhones are great for filming on the fly or becoming acclimated with video, at some point you may feel ready to graduate up to the next model. With all the digital cameras on the market, there are a ton of choices to pick from. Below we've identified a few options to simplify your search.
The first choice you make will be between purchasing a “prosumer” camera and a professional camera.
Prosumer cameras are considered the bridge between basic compact cameras and more advanced cameras. They're perfect for someone interested in creating more video but want the option to just press record. Most have a fixed lens to keep things simple.
Professional cameras, like DSLRs, give you fine control over the manual settings of shooting video and allow you to achieve the shallow depth of field (background out of focus) that people rave about. While they're primarily used for photography, DSLRs are incredibly small, work great in low light situations, and pair with a wide range of lenses — making them perfect for video. However, DSLRs do require some training (and additional purchases) of lenses.
ApertureAperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens. Like a human eye, a lens opens and closes to control the amount of light reaching the sensor. Aperture is measured in what's called an f-stop. The smaller the f-stop number, the more open the lens is, while a larger number means the lens is more closed.
This is where you can begin to see how the three factors of the Exposure Triangle work together. When you have a low-lit situation, for example, you may choose a lens that can shoot with a low f-stop to let more light into the camera and avoid making the shot too noisy with a high ISO.
If you're just starting out with manual video settings, don't be overwhelmed. Understanding the ins and outs of the Exposure Triangle takes time and a lot of practice. Here are two tips to beat the learning curve:
While aperture, shutter speed, and ISO may be the three main pillars of manual photography and videography, there is a fourth piece of the puzzle that's just as important: white balance.
White balance tells your camera the color temperature of the environment you're shooting in. Different types of light have different colors. For example, incandescent bulbs (like what many people put in a lamp) have a very warm color. The fluorescent lights (if you're reading this in an office, look up) are a little bit cooler. Daylight is cooler yet. Before you begin shooting, you have to adjust your camera's white balance according to your setup.
To help you understand the importance of setting your white balance, consider the difference between these two photos. The environment is lit with yellow fluorescent lights. You can see how the appropriate setting looks natural, while the daylight setting adds a blue tint to the scene.
Focus isn't one of the key settings of shooting, but it's definitely important to keep in mind. With a DSLR, you have the option to shoot with autofocus or manual focus. It depends on the camera and lens you have, but typically autofocus is not the most accurate.
4. Set up your studio.
When you begin building your in-office studio, the purchases can add up quickly. Not only do you need a camera, but the more you read, the more you realize you need tripods, lights, microphones, and more.
Take a breath. With a little bit of know-how, building your studio doesn't have to be overwhelming. There are plenty of cost-effective choices and DIY hacks to make sure your videos look top-of-the-line.
Always shoot with a tripod. It should go without saying, but the handheld method you use for your Snapchat story isn't going to cut it. Tripods will ensure you maintain a steady shot and not break any expensive equipment in the process.
Along with the tripod, stock up on camera batteries and SD cards. Recording video will cause you to run through both much quicker than taking photos.
If you've begun testing out your camera's video capabilities, you've probably noticed that it has an internal microphone to record audio … don't use it.
If you set up your camera at a reasonable distance from your subject, you'll quickly learn that the internal microphone isn't powerful enough to adequately record audio. Instead, you should begin investing in a few pieces of quality sound equipment.
When you're shooting with your iPhone, there are a ton of microphone options that are all easy to use and decently cheap. For example, the Movo MA200 Omni-Directional iPhone microphone will give you a plug-and-play solution for capturing audio on the fly.
Opinions vary greatly among sound engineers on the best method and equipment for recording audio with a DSLR. You've likely seen many videos that use a lavalier microphone — the small piece that clips below the collar of the talent's shirt.
Lavaliers come in both wired and wireless options. However, lavaliers can be a bit obtrusive both for the talent (who has to have a wire threaded down his or her shirt) and for the viewer (who has to see a microphone for the whole video).
Instead, if you know you're recording in a controlled environment (like a conference room in your office) we suggest recording with a shotgun mic. They're reliable, remain out of the shot, and record background noise in a natural-sounding way.
The Zoom recorder will allow you to record audio separately on an SD card and adjust the gain for the environment you're shooting in.
5. Prepare your talent.
If you have experienced, confident actors in your company, you're lucky. Video talent is a rare resource. But with a little bit of coaching (and a fair share of nervous laughter), you can help your teammates thrive in front of the camera.
No matter if it's your first video or your fiftieth, remember that getting in front of the camera is scary. Schedule plenty of time and give your talent the script early — but make it clear they don't need to memorize it.
Instead, place a laptop below the eye-line of the camera. Break the script into short paragraphs and record it section by section until you capture a great take of each. If you plan in advance when the final video will show b-roll (supplementary footage or screenshots), you can have your talent read those lines directly off the laptop like a voice over.
During the shoot, your job goes beyond pressing record. First and foremost, you need to be a coach. Balance critical feedback with support and be quick to give encouragement after each take. This is why conducting a table read during the scripting process is so important: It's easier to give feedback when there's not a camera in the room. Remember, be a little silly during the shoot or your talent will be on edge and uncomfortable — and it will show in the footage.
But while you're maintaining the fun level on set, remain vigilant. It's your job to pay attention to the little things, like making sure all of the mics are on or noticing if the lighting changes. Record each section many times and have your talent play with inflections. When you think they've nailed the shot … get just one more. At this point, your talent is already on a roll, and options will help tremendously during editing.
Finally, circle back to the beginning of the script at the end of your recording. Chances are your subject got more comfortable throughout the shoot. Since the beginning is often the most crucial part of the video, record that section again when they're feeling the most confident.
There are some films that are simply beautiful. It's not the story or even the picturesque setting. In fact, the scene might take place in the dingiest of sets, but somehow each shot just feels right.
That's the power of composition. When objects appear where they should in the frame, the quality of your video increases exponentially.
For video, the rules of composition are similar to what you may have learned in a photography or art class. First, consider the rule of thirds — the idea that you can create a sense of balance by imagining the canvas with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Key elements should occur at the intersection of these lines.
For example, if you are shooting an interview or a how-to video, the subject's eyes should align with the top horizontal line around one of the two intersections. For this “talking head” shot, you can also improve your composition by leaving enough (but not too much) headroom. This is the empty space above the person's head.
One of the best ways to improve the look of your video is to include b-roll. B-roll is the supplementary footage included as a cutaway. This might include shots of a customer service rep talking on a phone, a designer editing your website, visuals of your office, or even screenshots of your product. The key with b-roll is to make sure each and every piece enhances the story.
When you're collecting b-roll, include a mix of shots from varying angles and distances. In fact, film professionals use different names to describe these variations.
As practice, try telling a story with your b-roll and planning out a shot sequence. For example, your subject might open a door from the hallway, walk into their office space, sit down at their desk, open their laptop, and begin typing. Seems simple, right? But a shot sequence showing this 10-second scenario might consist of six or more different b-roll clips.
Here's where the final lesson of composition comes in: continuity.
Continuity is the process of combining shots into a sequence so that they appear to have happened at the same time and place. A key part of continuity is making sure any ancillary objects in the scene — for example, a cup of water on a desk — stay in the same place (and have the same amount of water) throughout all of the shots.
The other part of learning continuity is match on action. For the scene described above, you'd want to record the subject opening the door and walking in from both inside and outside the room. In post-production, you could then flip between the clips at the exact right time to make the cut seamless.
6. Shoot for the edit.
When it comes to video, some are better at shooting while others are better at editing. Whatever side you claim, you should understand the process and pain points of each.
For instance, as the person behind the camera, you may believe you collect ample footage and ask all the right interview questions. But to the editor, you may actually be shooting too much of one type of shot and missing out on some that would make their job easier.
Filmmakers teach a valuable lesson here: shoot for the edit. By remembering that the footage you record will be edited later, you can make smarter decisions and save countless hours in the editing room.
The first step in adopting a shoot-for-the-edit mindset is remembering to leave a buffer at the beginning and the end of each clip. There are called handles and can save editors from the headache of cutting too close to an important shot.
In the section on preparing talent, we discussed how to record your script in short sections. If the editor were to stitch these sections together side-by-side, the subject's face and hands might abruptly switch between clips. This is called a jump cut, and for editors, it poses an interesting challenge. Thankfully, this is where b-roll comes in handy, to mask these jump cuts.
Example of a jump cut
As a producer, your job is to capture plenty of b-roll to make sure your editor never runs out. Create a shot list of more b-roll ideas than you think you'll need and mark them off as you record them.
To mask jump cuts, you can also shoot with two cameras, especially if you're recording an interview without a script. Camera A would be the traditional, straight-on shot. Camera B should be angled 30 to 45-degrees to the side and capture a distinctly different shot. The editor could then flip between these two views to make the cut appear natural.
A note about shooting with two cameras: Your editor will need to sync the footage between the different views. To help them do this, clap your hands loudly in the view of both cameras right before you ask the first interview question … yes, just like an old fashion clapboard. Modern editing software has auto-sync features, but this loud clap will help you initially line up the clips.
Finally, mark your good clips. Even if you're recording a scripted video, you might have to record each section 10 or more times. Once your subject nails the take, wave your hand in front of the lens. That way, the editor can scrub directly to this visual cue and save time on footage review.
7. Organize your footage.
Yes, file organization is boring. But when video editing, it just might save your project.
On your external hard drive, you should create a separate top-level folder for each project. Within this folder, there should be a prescribed set of “buckets” to store your video footage, audio, design assets, and more. Create a template project folder that you can copy and paste for each project using the image below as a guide.
When you import your footage from your camera, place it in the “footage” folder on your hard drive.
Even with a perfectly organized external hard drive, you're not yet out of the weeds. You need to back up your files (and maybe even back up your backup files). It's not uncommon to have an external hard drive for everyday work, another external for backups, and a third set of backups in the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive.
8. Edit your video.
Okay, you've filmed your video footage. Congrats — you're halfway there!
Now it's time to talk about editing. We get it, video editing can be confusing. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, especially when you see software price tags! Luckily, there are many options for video editing based on your skill level, operating system, and budget. There are even free programs and mobile apps! Let's go over a few options.
Intermediate: Apple iMovie
iMovie is Apple's video editing software. Compatible with Macs and other iOS devices, iMovie is simple, user-friendly, and free on all Apple products. iMovie allows you to create and edit your videos by cutting together clips, adding titles, music, sound effects, basic color correction, filters, and special effects.
The program even provides helpful templates that simplify the editing process. The platform supports high-quality clips like 4K video footage and makes it easy to share your work directly to a video hosting platform. Limited access to advanced color correction and editing features mean it isn't commonly used by professionals, but iMovie is still a great option if you're just starting out.
Advanced: Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is a leading video editing software program used by amateurs and professionals alike. With a customizable interface and numerous advanced editing tools, the platform is often called the industry standard for video editing and has been used to edit major Hollywood movies like Gone Girl and Deadpool.
Premiere makes it easy to collaborate with other editors, organize your material, and sync with other programs in the Adobe suite like After Effects and Photoshop. The platform supports high-quality footage (4K and higher) and includes advanced, built-in color correction and grading tools that set it apart from cheaper or free options like iMovie.
The only downside to Premiere is the cost. A year-long subscription to the latest Premiere Pro CC comes in around $240. If you're new to video editing, you may want to experiment with a cheaper option like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements before investing in the Premiere Pro. On the fence? Check out some Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials here.
9. Choose your music.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about video? I'm guessing the actual video footage. While it's important to concentrate on your video footage, don't forget to factor music into your overall plan and budget.
Music is a powerful tool that can alter your video's mood and tone — just watch the videos above! Choosing the right music often makes the difference between an amateur project and a professional piece of content. When used properly, it can help keep your viewer's attention, evoke emotions, and define your overall editing style.
Next, consider your audience and the overall mood for your production. Are you targeting a small audience that will appreciate the newest, underground hip-hop track, or do you need something that will appeal to many demographics? Are you creating a practical product tutorial or an upbeat event recap? Be sure to choose music that enhances the overall tone of your video.
In addition to considering your audience, be sure to contemplate the purpose of the music. Do you need background music or something with real impact? Will you be narrating or speaking in the video? If so, don't let the music get in the way of your content. Sometimes the best music is the music you don't remember at all.
After you've determined the type of music you need, it's time to start analyzing potential songs. Consider the song's pacing. Songs with a steady rhythm are easy to change to suit your video style. Hoping to include your favorite, Top 40 hit?
Try to choose simple songs that are easy to loop. If you're looking for an instrumental song, be sure to find something that was recorded with real instruments. Songs made with digital samples can make your video feel unprofessional and out of date.
Finally, consider adding intro and outro music. Intro and outro music, or bookends, can serve as a theme for your content. These are a great choice if you don't need music throughout your entire video. Bookend music can help set the tone for your video, naturally split your content into chapters, and leave your viewers feeling they had a complete experience.
While some videos feel unfinished without background music, others just need a few tunes to tie the project together. Pay attention to videos that have a similar style to see how others utilize music.
10. Record your voice over.
You have your video footage and music — now it's time to chat about voice overs. A voice over is the separate video narration that's not spoken by the speaker on-camera. Voice overs are an effective tool that can help make your content more relatable, emotional, and fluid.
It's important to remember that video audio is just as important as video visuals. The good news is that you don't have to be the next Don LaFontaine or hire a professional to record a great voice over. Below are a few tips to capture audio on a budget.
You're ready to publish your video. You shot the footage, edited it together, added music and a voice over, and exported it for the web. Now it's time to get your video online so your audience can start viewing, sharing, and engaging with it.
You have several options for hosting videos online, and in this section, we'll talk about some of the best ones.
YouTubeWhen you ask your friends which online video platform they use, the answer you probably hear the most is YouTube.
YouTube is the largest video hosting platform and the second largest search platform and second most visited website — both after Google.
Every single day, people watch over five billion videos on YouTube. It's also free to upload your videos to YouTube and optimize them for search.
In addition to its massive audience, YouTube offers several other features that make the platform a good option for hosting your video. Because YouTube videos are hosted on individual channels, the platform allows you to build a dedicated audience of subscribers. Users who follow your channel are more likely to see additional videos you upload.
Within your channel itself, you can also organize videos into playlists, making it easy for your audience to search within your content.
As a social platform, viewers can engage with your videos by liking and commenting on them, providing you another chance to interact with your audience. YouTube also offers a variety of advertising options for more sophisticated targeting.
Although YouTube offers the benefit of reaching a large audience with no cost to upload and host videos, there are several downsides to the platform. While video ads can be a great tool for promoting your own content, the number of ads on the platform from other advertisers can detract from your viewer's experience.
YouTube is also (surprise, surprise!) highly addicting. 83% of viewers prefer YouTube over any other video platform. Once viewers are on the platform, they usually stick around to watch another video … or 20. This can make it difficult to drive traffic back to your site from the platform. Despite these barriers, YouTube is a great platform for hosting videos and growing your audience.
VimeoIf your friends didn't answer your earlier question with “YouTube” then they most likely responded with Vimeo, the second largest video hosting platform.
Vimeo's audience is significantly smaller (715 million monthly views) than YouTube's, but there are still many benefits that make it a favorite for content creators and viewers alike.
Among these is a simpler, cleaner, user interface that makes it easier to navigate the platform. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo has very limited ads and commercials that would otherwise detract from your viewers' experience. Videos on Vimeo also tend to be higher quality than on YouTube, and the audience on the platform is likely to be more professional.
Vimeo offers several different premium account options to better suit businesses. The premium accounts provide additional storage, advanced analytics, customer support, player customization, access to lead generation tools, and much more. In addition to premium accounts, Vimeo also partners with businesses to produce quality marketing content.
If you're looking to showcase high quality, artistic content, Vimeo might be the platform for you. Its engaged audience and beautiful aesthetic make it a great place to host creative videos. However, if you're focused on quantity over quality and increasing your reach, you may want to explore other platform options.
Vidyard is a video hosting platform built specifically for businesses. It's not just another option to store and manage your videos; instead, it allows you to become a fully video-enabled business. Here's what we mean.
These days, we know posting your video to YouTube isn't enough. You need channel-specific video content for Facebook and Instagram, not to mention for your website. Enter: Vidyard. The platform allows you to publish and update to all of these places from a central location.
From this portal, you'll find all sorts of viewer insights. Discover what types of video content your audience likes and how they watch their videos. Then, channel those insights directly into your marketing automation software or CRM. For example, if that prospect you've been monitoring views your latest case study video, you'll be notified straight away.
One of the coolest features of Vidyard is the ability to personalize videos with the viewer's name or company directly in the video design. This is a creative addition as you begin working video into your marketing and sales strategies.
How to Create a Video Social Media StrategyWe've learned how to create high-quality videos for your business. Now, let's make sure those videos fit within each social network's best practices.
Creating and posting videos on social media should always help you drive toward your existing marketing goals.
For example, if your goal is to get more people to download an ebook, you could create a short teaser or how-to video and post the full link to the ebook's landing page in the copy of your social post.
Let's drill down into best practices for each social network.
Promote a new blog post, engage with your audience, or even drive viewers to a landing page with Twitter videos. When teasing a blog post or piece of content on Twitter, always keep your video short and sweet – brevity is a core factor on this channel.
Short clips that are easy to consume tend to perform the best. Try pinning your video to the top of your profile for some added exposure.
If you want to get a little more experimental with using video on Twitter, you can try making short, custom videos to engage with your audience. These highly personal, one-to-one response videos are an awesome way to make your brand more human while building personal connections with your engaged followers.
Facebook and Instagram
When you walk onto a bus or train for your morning commute, how many people are scrolling through their smartphones to see the news and content they've missed overnight? Pretty much everyone – but not everyone is wearing headphones.
For this reason, make sure your video works with or without sound. BuzzFeed is the master of silent auto-play — just take a look at their Facebook page. The reason their silent auto-play strategy works so well is because of this rise in mobile video views and the way people scroll through and consume content on social media. They often post quick recipes or quick how-to’s, often with easy-to-follow imagery or helpful text to describe what is happening.
Facebook also favors longer videos in their newsfeed algorithm. The goal with this shift is to better surface videos that are most relevant to the viewer.
So what does this mean for you? Don't panic; this just confirms what we already know is true. Creating the "right" content for your audience is more important than churning out it out for the sake of it.
Secondly, upload videos directly to Facebook. Facebook continues to make a compelling case for uploading your videos natively to the platform — the primary reason being that your content will be seen by more eyes.
Brand awareness videos that are light-hearted and entertaining tend to perform well on Facebook for this very reason – their algorithm takes into account a user's previous video-related actions when determining what videos to show them on subsequent visits. Make a video that's super relevant to your audience, share it on Facebook, and see what type of engagement you can drum up!
Lastly, grab attention instantly... and keep it. Did you know that Instagram was the first social channel to initiate silent, auto-playing videos? It's true! Shortly after, Facebook followed suit, so it's safe to say that catering to this type of video when creating content for social media is the way to go. It might seem daunting to try and grab someone's attention so fast and without sound, but here are a few best practices you can use to make things easier:
On YouTube, post with a specific strategy in mind. Think of YouTube as a giant library of video content where people go to either educate themselves or to be entertained. YouTube reports over 1 billion unique users per month – sounds like a social media gold-mine, right? Well, sometimes, yes.
There are, however, a few questions you should ask yourself before going forth with posting every video you've ever made to your YouTube account:
Establish and grow a dedicated channel of subscribers by creating informative, educational content that is in high demand, and you'll start to see some real success!
Live Video: Facebook & Instagram
While Instagram's traditional features let users record short video clips and post them online afterward, new live features on Facebook and Instagram take a different approach, allowing users to post live video streams of what they're doing at that very moment.
When you’re setting up videos for Facebook Live or Instagram Live, make sure you’re following the steps in the first section of this guide. If you do this, you’ll have much higher quality live videos, which will set you apart from other live videos being shown. In addition to these steps, we have a few more things to keep in mind.
Keep in mind that your live video will be broadcast from the platform (Facebook or Instagram) itself, so that's where you'll be promoting your broadcasts primarily. Do some research on your Facebook/Instagram audiences to find out when they're most engaged with your posts.
Even if some of your followers miss out, the app will save your videos to the app by default (although you can delete them manually if you want to), and they'll be available for viewing by your followers after the fact.
As for the length of your video broadcasts, remember that most people's attention spans are fairly short — especially on mobile. If your broadcasts aren't captivating from the get-go, users will likely stop viewing your stream.
Spend time coming up with a compelling title.It's vital that your title describes what your video is and why people should either tune in now or replay your stream later (up to 24 hours). Here are a few styles that make effective titles:
Respond to comments live.
One of the coolest features on Facebook is that people who are watching your stream in real time can comment and "like" the broadcast (which show up as hearts, like on Instagram). Other viewers are able to see these comments and the number of hearts your video has. Acknowledge or even respond to these comments out loud on the live broadcast to encourage engagement and make the experience feel like more of a two-way conversation.
Experiment with use cases.
Since Facebook and Instagram Live features are still relatively new, there aren't solidly defined ways to use it, especially for brands. This is a unique opportunity for you to experiment with different ways of using it and what type of content your audience likes most.
Facebook Live lets you analyze a few key stats you'll want to keep track of while you're figuring out what works. Once your video ends, the app lets you see how many live viewers you had, how many viewers replayed your video, and how many hearts your video received (this number updates automatically as users continue "liking" your video from the time it ends until it expires).
Considering the time, money, and resources involved, video marketing can't be an impulsive guessing game. Instead, you need to create a comprehensive video marketing strategy that applies to every facet of your flywheel. This means thinking in the context of the inbound methodology.
The inbound methodology is the marketing and sales approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. Each video you create should acknowledge your audience's challenges and provide a solution. Looking at the big picture, this content guides consumers through the journey of becoming aware of, evaluating, and purchasing your product or service.
In the following sections, we'll cover the types of videos you should create for each stage in the image above. To start, plan to create at least two videos for each. Don't forget to include call-to-actions to help lead your audience through their purchase journey and into the role of "promoter." Over time, you can improve based on conversion rates and the content gaps you discover.
Attract The first step of the inbound methodology is to attract — or turn strangers into visitors. Consumers at this stage are identifying their challenges and deciding whether or not they should seek out a solution. Therefore, the videos you create should empathize with their problems and introduce a possible solution in your product or service.
Ultimately, the goal of this kind of video is to expand reach and build trust. Because you are looking to garner shares for your video, it'll likely be more entertaining and emotion-evoking than educational. But, you should still provide enough information to associate yourself as an authority on the topic.
Examples of videos in the “attract” stage include snackable social videos that show off your brand's personality, thought leadership videos that establish you as a source of industry news and insight, brand films the share your values and mission, or explainers and how-to videos that provide relevant tips for solving your audience's pain point.
Let your brand values and personality be your north star(s). Finally, because these videos can live on a variety of channels, keep in mind the strategies of each platform. For example, a Facebook video might have a square aspect ratio and text animations for soundless viewers.
Now that you've attracted video viewers and website visitors, the next step is to convert these visitors into leads. With most inbound marketing content, this means collecting some sort of contact information via a form. Video can aid this process by visualizing a solution to the buyer's problem, whether that's before the form on a landing page or as the offer itself. Overall, the goal of this kind of video is to educate and excite.
"Convert" videos may include a webinar filled with tactical advice, product demos sent via email, landing page promotional videos, case studies, or more in-depth explainer and how-to videos. For example, while an "attract" video might provide a quick tip for nailing a sales pitch, a "convert" video could be an animated explainer video that breaks down the inbound sales methodology.
You've attracted a new audience with your videos and converted the right visitors into leads. Now's the time to close these leads into customers. Yet, as important as this stage is, "close" videos are often the most overlooked by marketers and salespeople.
At this point, the consumer is weighing their options and deciding on the purchase. Therefore, the goal of this kind of video is to make your audience visualize themselves using your product or service — and thriving. There's a reason 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Videos are able to display functionality and leverage emotions in ways a product description never could.
Great "close" videos include testimonials of customers with relatable stories, in-depth product demos, culture videos that sell viewers on your quality of service, or even personalized videos that explain exactly how your product could help their business
A purchase may have been made, but there's still a lot of video can do to leverage the post-conversion stage of your flywheel. During the "delight stage" of the inbound methodology, your goal is to continue providing remarkable content to users that makes their interaction with your product or service as incredible as possible.
It's also in hopes that they'll tell their connections about their experience or up-sell themselves. Therefore, the goal of this type of video is to encourage your customers to embrace your brand and become brand evangelists.
Your first opportunity to delight comes directly after the purchase. Consider sending a thank you video to welcome them into the community or an onboarding video to get them rolling with their new purchase. Then, build out a library of educational courses or product training videos to cater to consumers who prefer self-service or simply want to expand their expertise.
Defining Your Goals and Analyzing Results
At this point, you know how to create a video and where to host it. You're ready to get started, right? Not quite. Before you dive in, you need to define your video goals and identify the best metrics for determining whether you've accomplished those goals.
Before launching any marketing campaign, it's important to determine your primary video goal. This could be to increase brand awareness, engagement, or even conversions for a free trial. It's crucial to pick out just one or two goals for each video. When you define more than that, your video will seem unfocused, making it difficult for viewers to determine what they should do next.
When thinking of your goals, be sure to keep your buyer persona and target audience in mind. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? How do they typically consume media? What stage of the buyer's journey are they in?
All of these questions can help determine what type of video you should make and where you should post it. For example, if your target audience is not familiar with your company, you probably want to make a video that focuses on brand awareness before producing an in-depth, product video. You'll also want to host your video on a site that already has a large reach, like YouTube.
Next, let's talk about metrics. Understanding these will equip you to define and measure your success and set your goals. When you post a video, it's easy to get obsessed with one metric — view count. While view count can be an important metric, there are many others that may be more relevant to your campaign.
Finally, what about your video social media marketing strategy? How do you measure that?
Measuring performance on each social media platform provides valuable information, especially to determine whether video really is the right content type for your audience on each platform.
Across all platforms, in addition to the metrics above, be sure to measure views over time to determine the life of your videos. You may find that videos need to be refreshed every few weeks, or months, in order to stay relevant with your audience. You also want to always be tracking and comparing engagement of your videos. This will help you determine which topics encourage the most sharing, and therefore will have a higher and longer lifetime value.
Ready, Set, Action!I'm guessing you're feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Don't worry, you're not alone. Video editing and marketing can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice and patience, you can easily produce high-quality content that is unique to your brand.
With 71% of consumers watching more video online than they were a year ago, brands can no longer ignore their growing popularity. Thankfully, creating great content has never been easier!
Try turning a written blog into a video or create a product tutorial. Using video to showcase information in a new, interesting way is sure to interest and delight your audience. Pick up a camera, start filming, and watch your engagement levels increase. It's time to make video a key part of your marketing strategy!
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