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Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.

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A Semi-New Name for a Centuries-Old Marketing Practice

Because, in the last several months, I’ve had various fellow marketers talk to me about or take jobs in “content marketing,” or seen them post about it on social media, I thought the time was right to explain this term and marketing strategy in a blog post. Even though I’ve been aware of the term for quite some time because much of my work falls under the content marketing umbrella (particularly SEO, blog writing, social media voice, and Google Analytics data reviews), I haven’t tended to use that term with clients and prospective clients, thinking it might not resonate with them. But, perhaps, the time has come for me to do so. 2019 was called the “year of SEO” by some marketers. 2020 may be the “year of content marketing.”

While the term “content marketing” has only been in use for the last decade or so, and some individuals employ it solely related to digital/online/electronic distribution of information, one of its key premises has been around since at least the early 1700’s — when individuals began promoting products and services via the written word vs. the spoken word. And, that premise is that creating informational, helpful, desired content — which can be used across many marketing vehicles and tactics — will garner customers’ and prospective customers’ favor and loyalty.

Even though the focus wasn’t primarily or solely “online” usage at the time (the internet and social media were still somewhat in their infancy), during my tenure as a marketing leader at BMC HealthNet Plan (2008 – 2014), I wrote wellness-related copy that was able to be employed in print ads/advertorials as well as in hard-copy handouts used at events or for other purposes by BMC HealthNet Plan community outreach reps. PDFs of those handouts were then shared on the organization’s wellness section of its website.

The above is a glowing example of content marketing’s basic tenet of sharing information, that target audiences value, across numerous vehicles/tactics in order to retain or acquire audience members as customers. In this case, the target audiences were members or prospective members of the health plan, as well as community organizations or healthcare providers, who might refer them to the health plan.

Integrated Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Related to my initial comment at the top of this post that the key premises and intentions behind content marketing are not new at all, I want and need to speak to the synergies between content marketing and integrated marketing. Both aim to employ similar/the same content across numerous marketing tactics/vehicles to repeatedly expose target audiences to the same, consistent message. But, a key difference to me between the two is that content marketing isn’t just about promoting and creating awareness of a product or services through true “marketing/sales/promotional” messages. It’s about being helpful and creating good will by sharing desirable information that may or may not be directly related to an organization’s products or services (see our discussion of tangential topic blogging).

Loyalty is Priceless

Online/Digital/Electronic Content Marketing Vehicles/Tactics

Since most people who use the term “content marketing” to refer to online/digital/electronic distribution of beneficial content to create brand awareness and loyalty — and ultimately sales or some other desired conversion activity (such as signing up for an e-newsletter, making a donation, or submitting an inquiry about an organization’s products and services) — what are some of the online/digital/electronic vehicles/tactics in which content created for the above purposes can be employed? E-newsletters, downloadable white papers, podcasts, website page content, blog content, social media post content, downloadable e-books, infographics (images that contain helpful, detailed info.) and videos.

Love — Back at You!

The Love-Love Equation

The above list is not exhaustive, but provides a sense of the many primary ways organizations are sharing content electronically/digitally that they believe meets the needs of their various target audiences and demonstrates understanding of those audiences’ challenges and opportunities — all in the hopes of creating a loyal following who will show their “love” back by talking up the organization, purchasing its products, etc.

I, individuals I employ, and my expert connections have extensive experience related to both the creation and distribution of content to support an effective content marketing strategy. I hope you’ll reach out, when and if, you need our help.

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Why You Should Revisit 2019 Marketing Results to Inform 2020 Activities

I’ve repeatedly shared in this blog and on social media that my firm’s tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I will never encourage a client to start or keep doing something on the marketing front that doesn’t make sense for them, based on available data. Data on which to make decisions can be primary, i.e., a client’s data, or secondary data, i.e., data found online about others’ experiences related to particular marketing tactics or vehicles. On a related note, the end of any budget year — and for many this is the end of the calendar year — is the perfect time to look back at which of your organization’s, if any, marketing activities have worked well for you. That should inform where your marketing $$ would be best spent in 2020. Sounds like I’m stating the obvious. That it’s a “no brainer”, right?

You’d be surprised at how many organizations continue to spend money on marketing activities that either aren’t working for them or regarding which they have no idea if leads, sales, inquiries, or other desired prospective customer or customer behavior — known as “conversions” are being generated. In fact, I was prompted to write this post because I’ve witnessed both the aforementioned scenarios numerous times with prospective clients.

Now more than ever, there are so many (actually too many for this marketer’s taste) diverse marketing activities and vehicles a marketer can invest time and $ in (we’ll be discussing this further in our next blog post). A fresh, new year is the ideal time to figure out which of these have worked in the past and/or might work in the future. Because each organization employs their own specific traditional and digital marketing tactics, we can’t address each & every piece of marketing results data you should look at in this post; however, we will provide some examples below to get you thinking about the types of analyses you should be completing and why.

Even if you can’t tackle this until the new year gets underway, to maximize your 2020 marketing budget, you or your team should:

  1. Conduct a detailed review and analysis of your Google Analytics data to get a good handle on visitor activity and behavior:
    • how/why are visitors getting to your site?
    • what are they doing once they get there?
    • which marketing activities are driving traffic to your site — this particular data set is critical to figuring out where to employ marketing $$ in 2020 — using reports under the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you can see not only if visitors are coming to your site directly vs. thru organic search (finding you thru a search engine), but you can also see if they landed on your site due to your social media post or profile website links, via e-newsletter links, etc.
  2. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account attached to your website — make it an early 2020 goal to get one set up — you can use visitor data available thru your content management system (CMS)/website platform to look at some of the data above, but don’t expect the data to be as detailed or “rich” as Google Analytics data.
  3. If you’ve been running any kind of online advertising campaigns — whether they be social media, Google Ads, or banner ads — you should be able to employ reporting capabilities within the online advertising tool(s) to slice ‘n dice results.  Or, if you don’t have access to reporting capabilities yourself, ask whomever set up up or from whom you purchased the ads to provide you with detailed reports on 2019 advertising results.
    photo of planner and writing materials

    Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

  4. And, related to the above, even if you did achieve what you consider to be a significant # of ad click-thrus at a reasonable cost-per-click (this varies by the nature of the advertising, industry, whether advertising is business-to-business, or business-to-consumer, etc.) if you didn’t cause enough new inquiries/leads or sales in 2019 to achieve a positive ROI related to your online advertising, then you should revisit your online strategy for 2020.
  5. Using information available in Google Analytics Acquisition Reports or using data available within social media accounts themselves, look at likes/shares/comments of your posts. If you’re not getting any of the aforementioned engagement, on one or several networks, you need to revisit the nature of the posts you’re sharing, and if you’ve already done that a few times, maybe you shouldn’t invest so much time in those non-engaging forms of social media this coming year!
  6. If you send out e-newsletters or e-blasts via Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, use available data in those e-mail service tools to look at results like “open rate” and “click-thru” rate to determine if your efforts on the e-communications front are worth the time and associated dollars.

Need help analyzing available marketing data, want to make sure you have the right tracking tools in place for 2020, or need help figuring out what are the appropriate tactics and vehicles to be included in your 2020 integrated marketing plan? We’re data geeks, and would love to help, so please reach out!