Fundamentals: Frameworks for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices

There are only 3 types of users you need to impress to make your SEO indomitable. 

  • Website Visitors
  • Google’s Crawler (Googlebot)
  • Awareness Users

I promise you, if you use this framework to inform every single one of your SEO decisions, you will be following SEO best practices without knowing it. 

A lot of marketers see Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a magical black box that only the oracles known as SEO practitioners can communicate with. Although there is a bit of technicality to it, SEO is fairly straightforward. 

There are three major categorizations of SEO tactics:

  • On-Page
  • Technical
  • Off-Page

Each of these types focuses on a different type of user with different needs. Addressing their needs consistently will build you a powerful SEO foundation. 

search engine optimization (SEO) user framework
Search Engine Optmization Key Users & Categories

But first we need to understand who these users are, how they tie into your SEO strategy and what their needs are.


Website Visitors

There’s an old SEO adage that says “you have two seconds to capture a user’s attention before they leave your website”. The insight from this is that people who visit your site want to have a good user experience. 

We need to understand that these visitors had a specific question, searched a particular query, and landed on your website. To convey that you’re the answer to their search, you need to signal that your page is relevant to their search and will satisfy their search intent.

On-page SEO is the optimization of all elements on an individual web page with the goal of satisfying a user’s intent. This will naturally cause keyword rankings to rise and your users to be engaged with your website. 

User Need: Satisfy their user-intent while providing a great user-experience.

But where exactly do you start?

At the beginning of their search journey. 

Users that are looking for a specific answer will type in queries into the search engine in particular ways. Without getting too nitty-gritty, these search queries trigger search engines to pull up listings it deems as relevant. To influence this process need to understand the anatomy of a search engine result listing. 

search engine results page anatomy
Parts of a Search Engine Results Listing

URL: The URL displays what site you’re going to be visiting. A recent update has removed the actual URL the page is on but instead shows you a “breadcrumb” trail of what section of the domain you will be navigating to. To influence this, our website will need to have structured data. We will be diving in structured data later. 

Title: The Title is influenced by the “Title Tag” on your website. This is a special HTML tag in the code of your website that is reserved for identifying the title of the page. Depending on your website, optimizing this tag would require development knowledge or be as simple as installing a website plug-in and typing in your desired tag.

Snippet: The snippet is dynamically generated by Google but also takes into consideration what is in your “Meta-description” tag. Similar to the title tag, this HTML tag tells Google what the page is going to be about. 

Now that you understand what these tags are, optimizing them is simple. 

  • Make sure their search query is in these tags 
  • Make sure the title/snippet is engaging
  • Follow character limits for each section 

From here the user is on our website. How do we make sure they know they’re on the right page? 

Include their query on the page to create consistency and make their user experience amazing. 

Headers: Headers of the page should include the query or keyword that they typed in to reach your site in the first place to avoid confusion. 

Images: All images on the website should have an “alt-tag” associated with it. This alt tag displays when the image cannot be loaded and also allows screen-readers to understand what is being displayed in an image. 

Accessibility: The internet was built for a variety of users, therefore general accessibility standards must be met. You can find a full list of best practices here.

Semantic Structure: Organize content in a way that makes sense semantically. Imagine the webpage you are trying to build is a table of contents of a book. Organizing your headers (H1,H2,H3) and content on a webpage in a hierarchical manner allows users to quickly navigate to what they need in an intuitive way. 

E.g. 

H1: Top 10 Vacation Destinations in Orange County

H2: Disneyland, Anaheim CA

H3: Things to Try in Disneyland

Linking: Providing links both internally and externally allows users to find out more information related to what they are searching for. Linking internally to other pages in your website creates a great user experience which allows website visitors to explore topics related to the topic they are looking for and to explore more of your website. Linking externally allows users to explore more useful resources that you linked to. 

User Intent: All of these best practices are listed to create consistency and a great user experience. But at the end of the day, the user is on your website to find an answer. No matter how well your website is designed, if their answer is not answered, the user will not have completed their journey. 

Provide the resources, answer, or value that the user is looking for to create a truly great on-page experience. 


Google’s Crawler (Googlebot)

Technical SEO is really about making it as quick and easy as possible for Google’s Crawler to access and process your website. 

Google’s crawler literally has to process and keep track of every change on the internet. This is a huge job and the more efficiently your website can load and deliver what it is about, the easier the crawler’s job is. 

User Need: As quickly and efficiently crawl your website as possible

How quickly your website loads has to do with countless amounts of variables, some that are very technical but here are few that can provide the most results with the least amount of work.

CDN (Content Delivery Network): A CDN serves as a checkpoint for your user’s browsers. When you visit a website, your browser is tasked to retrieve the website from a server. Depending on where the website is hosted, this may take a little longer. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers placed around the world that all have a copy of the website in their servers. 

How this works is when a browser is tasked to retrieve a website rather than being forced to pull from wherever the original server is, the CDN service determines the server closest to the origin in its network, and pulls the copy of the website from there. This saves time and allows the page to load quicker. In the case of the crawler, the page is retrieved much quicker. 

Minify JS/CSS: Many times code is written with humans in mind. It is formatted in a way that allows a developer to quickly browse and understand what they are looking at. Unfortunately this formating has a lot of extra spacing or padding that computers do not need to process the code. The removal of spacing and reformatting of the code is known as “Minifying”. Reducing the size and time to process helps save Google’s crawler time in understanding your code. 

Image Size Optimization: Although images can create a better user experience, using images that are unnecessarily large can do the opposite. Waiting for images to load takes a decent amount of time. The effect is multiplied by how many images you have on your page. With many modern websites built with images scaling your images down before uploading can help with page load speeds, therefore helping Google’s crawler. 

Lazy-Loading: In a similar vein, lazy-loading (asynchronous loading) also tackles the problem of long page load times. This optimization technique loads the content on a page only when it is visible to the user, otherwise it will not load. This is in contrast to loading the entire web page every time. Doing this allows for a quicker first interaction with the page which benefits both the user and the crawler. 

Sitemaps & Robots.txt: Although generally you would like the pages on your website to be crawled and indexed by Google, there are instances where you may not want to. 

Identifying and letting Googlebot know what these pages are will help save it time. Sitemaps are essentially a table of contents of your website. They highlight what pages are on your website and how they’re categorized. Most often they are dynamically generated but SEOs who want more control can manually create them.

Robots.txt is a set of instructions for Googlebot and other crawlers about what to crawl and what not to crawl. An example when this may be useful is when you don’t want Google indexing member-only content on your website, or different filter pages of your e-commerce website. Saving the crawler time by giving instructions on what needs to be crawled and what doesn’t need to be crawled helps save Google time. 

Awareness Users

Off-page SEO consists of all the activities you do outside of your website to increase your traffic and rankings. This type of SEO encourages you to find new, qualified users outside of your website. From there it is your job to make sure that when they do find you, they get a good first impression. 

A lot of these activities fall under brand building and content ideation which makes sense based on where these users are in the marketing funnel (Awareness & Interest). 

User Need: Find your brand, trust it, and find a reason to interact with you.

Many of these tactics require a base knowledge of understanding linking and how Google uses these links to determine relevance. In essence backlinks can be seen as votes of approval for your website. When another website links to yours, an association is made in Google eyes regarding your domain and theirs. 

Not every link is considered equal. Backlinks from high authority websites such as .GOV, .EDU, or CNN who have a lot of backlinks websites are worth more. Each domain has “link juice” that it is able to give or receive by linking to or from other domains. The more backlinks from high authority websites you have the higher your theoretical “domain authority”.  

Backlink Audit: A backlink audit is a review of all of the sites that have linked to your website. There is such a thing as a bad backlink. Websites that are spammy or engage in shady marketing tactics have bad domain authority. Sites like this that link to your site may reflect poorly on your domain. Auditing regularly what your backlinks are gives you a good idea where your site is being linked from, where your users are associating your site, and whether you need to remove any associations. The removal of association from a domain is called disavowing. If you notice domains you don’t want to be associated with you are able to submit a list to Google and they will take this into consideration. Creating trust is important for users who first come into contact with your brand. If they notice an unsavory website linking to yours this may damage your brand image. 

Brand Mention: Noticing brand mentions on other websites can help you find linking opportunities if they aren’t already linking to you. Most of the time because you are being mentioned you are able to contact the webmaster of the domain and ask them to change the anchor text (text that appears as a hyperlink) that is being displayed to change how you’re portrayed to new users.

Local Directory/Social Media: Being present on these platforms is very important from a brand perspective. Millions of people use social media and not being there and not having a presence says a lot about how much you brand. If you do not establish yourself on these directories/social media platforms, potential customers will take it into their own hands and convey your brand how they see fit. 

Content Gap Analysis: Finding out what competitors are doing is a great way to start your initial content building. Chances are they’ve done the research to target keywords that work. Worse case scenario you rank for the same relevant terms then build on top of their work. After providing valuable content, other sites that cite your work are likely to link back to yours. From there users with the context of the anchor text click through and are now in on your website and in your funnel. 

Fast, Useful, Known

There are lists that contain hundreds of SEO best practices that are ever growing and changing. The ones listed above are only a few that can be utilized. What does not change is that people will always look for answers for their questions. All of these tactics will not work if you look at them as a checklist. 

Take the time to understand each of these types of users and run your tactic through them. If they do not benefit any of these users, chances are the tactic will no longer be an SEO best practice for long. 

At the end of the day if your website provides users with what they need, as quickly, easy as possible, you will be following SEO best practices.  

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Foundations

You can increase your conversion rate by following a free online checklist. 

But this isn’t CRO.

If you’ve follow any digital marketing blogs or are familiar with the digital marketing space, you are bound to have stumbled across the term Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). 

Unfortunately because many marketers (including myself) use CRO best practice checklists as a freebie, the initial impression of CRO is that that is all there is to it. But this is because the rest of the discipline cannot be summarized in a 5-page PDF. 

It takes time, an audience, analysis, patience, and more importantly it is unique to every business.

To clear up the misconception that CRO is just a checklist here is an overview of the different parts of CRO, how to implement the testing process, and what to test so you can effectively use it for your business. 

Overview

* Here’s some preliminary jargon definitions if you’re starting out: 

  • CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Conversion: A desired action you would like a user to take on your page/website
  • Conversion rate: Conversions/Page Interactions (typically users or page clicks

Conversion Rate Optimization: The iterative process of tailoring your website or landing page based on user data, with the objective of increasing a conversion action. 

Phases of CRO

A basic CRO process is broken into several phases:

  1. Audit (Assuming you already have a page/website)
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Hypothesis Formulation
  4. Prioritization
  5. Testing 
  6. Insight Gathering 
  7. Implement
  8. Iterate

Although these are typically broken down into timelined phases, CRO is iterative. I believe a better visualization would look something like this: 

conversion rate optimization process

Now we know the different parts of a typical CRO process. How do we start these different steps?

Auditing 

Although CRO is an iterative process that is unique to each business, there are still general best practices that could be applied to build a starting foundation. 

It is not necessary to start completely from scratch.

We can utilize an altered version of Aarron Walter’s Hierarchy of User Needs. 

The hierarchy breaks down the foundations of a great webpage. The questions to consider are:

  • Does the page function as it should?
  • Is the page accessible to all types of users?
  • Are there any usability issues?
  • Is the user experience intuitive?
  • Is the page persuasive?

The functionality & accessibility portions can be accomplished by relying on conventional items that are expected from a website. 

The question of does the website function, should be answered by your developer and be part of the initial webpage building process and is not something that should be tested by users. 

A typical checklist for accessibility can be done using the WAVE tool. 

As for the levels of usability, intuitiveness, and persuasiveness each of these are subjective to your websites user needs. 

Data Analysis/Insight Gathering

Use existing data from your analytics sources to start determining your initial hypotheses. Are there any areas that are suffering? Are there any particular areas that are doing extra well? Dig into your current data set to help save time. 

If you’re having trouble analyzing your data check out this blog that highlights a framework on how to interpret data

Hypothesis Formulation

Determining what you’re testing is just as important as determining why you’re testing. By gathering your insights from current data, you have a starting point to craft your hypotheses. 

But what is a hypothesis? A hypothesis in CRO consists of an insight, a theory why a user is not taking the action you expect them to, a proposed solution, and the expected effect. An example of this could be:

84% of users are immediately bouncing from the landing page rather than further exploring down the page. This could be due to our copy not being visible above the fold. We should test the placement of headlines to determine whether this has an effect on scroll activity.

Having a solid hypothesis will set the foundation for actionable insights later on. Generate as many hypotheses relevant to your business objectives as possible. 

Prioritization

Which one of these hypotheses, if you answered would propel you closest to your goal? Although there are countless items you could test on your website, make sure you are first testing the hypotheses most likely to provide you the biggest boost. An easy way to look at this is to use the Pareto Principle

“What are the 20% of the things I can accomplish that will result in 80% of the results?”

Make a list and sort your hypothesis in order of importance and what you expect to result from each of them. This will help you organize and prioritize your list. 

Testing

Testing is a core foundation of CRO. Although it may be tempting to jump in and immediately start testing there’s a series of questions you need to answer first to determine what type of test you should run.

  • How much insight do I want to pull from this?
  • How many variables do I want to test?
  • How quickly do I need these results? 

The answer to these questions will inform you what type of testing you will conduct. The primary methods of testing are A/B Testing and Multivariate testing. 

A/B testing focuses on testing a single variable with two variations. This type of test is quick and does not require many users until you reach a statistically significant result. Although because there is only one variable tested, the amount of insight gleaned from the test is less than its counterpart. 

Multivariate testing focuses on testing variations rather than specific variables. This can be a page with multiple variables that have been modified. This test takes a bit longer due to the fact that there can be so many combinations of variations depending on the number of variables being tested. This type of test takes longer but yields more insights. 

Phew! That’s a lot of information. Here’s a chart to help you quickly decide what type of testing works best for you based on your needs:


Number of Variables TestedHow Much InsightHow Quickly Results Received
A/B TestOne at a TimeLessFast
Multivariate2 or MoreMoreSlower

Now that you know what type of test you’d like to run, what are you testing?

The simple answer is typically design, copy, imagery, and structure. The matter of how you test them depends on again on which method of testing you chose and what is important to you. 

Implement

CRO is a multi-disciplinary process. It touches aspects of design, development, and user experience. With this in mind, implementing the insights you found should involve all aspects of your team. Make sure everyone is in the loop. Maybe there is a reason things are formatted the way they are. 

As a marketer and CRO it is our job to communicate the benefits and find a compromise that works across the board.  

Iterate

Collect the data from your tests and document the conclusion you’ve reached and what you learned from the test. This allows the results to be utilized for future use cases. Are the results what you expected? If not, draw another hypothesis and test again. 

After you’ve finished testing your variable move on to the next variable you’re trying to test or re-analyze your data for further insights. At this point you’ve once again reached the Data Analysis and Insights phase. 

Although it may seem tedious there is always room for improvement. Markets are ever changing and so are the needs of your users. This is why it is essential to always be testing and iterating versions of your webpages to keep up to date with customers expectations and needs. 

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark

How to Interpret Marketing Analytics

Data without context is dangerous.

Why?

Because business owners are willing to pay for these vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are data that makes you look good but does not actually provide any valuable insights. The last thing a business owner wants to do is to spend their marketing budget on vanity metrics and the last thing a marketer wants to do is to just report numbers. Unfortunately, many fresh digital marketers or DIY Marketing business owners get overwhelmed by the amount of data available in marketing platforms and get stuck in a sort of data paralysis. The data is there but is never synthesized into something actionable. 

The sheer volume of data provided can be intimidating but knowing how to read, interpret, and pull actionable insights from data is a skill that anyone managing marketing campaigns should be familiar with.

I’m going to show you how to read, understand and create actionable insights from data in Google Analytics, AdWords, and any other platform that requires data analysis. Using a popular information science framework, DIKW. 

dikw-pyramid

Although the origin of the framework isn’t exactly known, it’s attributed to T.S. Eliot’s 1934 play The Rock. Since then it was adopted by the information science community to help describe the relationship between Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. 

Each of these levels of understanding provides an additional level of context that allows more and more valuable insights to be extrapolated from them. Although the actual model has been under scrutiny from data scientists it still serves as a good starting point to understanding how to navigate data.

Data

Data is the fundamental building blocks that allow us to synthesize insights and information from. Data itself does not tell you anything rather it’s a signal of fact or symbol of something. Many times data in digital marketing is a metric (Users, Bounce rate, Session Duration, Conversions, etc). 

For example 722 users is a metric and is data we know. 

Information

Information is organized data with meaning to it. This phase is understanding what the data is. Information itself has a bit more clarity to it but is not valuable by itself. Continuing with our previous example, knowing that the 722 users are from the Display channel answers the “what” but does not provide us any insight or actionable items. 

This is typically where vanity metrics are reported. Campaign managers may simply look at the amount of Users and assume that 43,000~ users visiting their website is a fantastic number but how did we get those users? Is that actually a good number compared to previous date ranges? These are the questions that the next step of the model helps us understand. 

Knowledge

The knowledge phase allows us to start pulling insights from the data. Knowledge in this framework is defined as answering the “how”. By synthesizing multiple pieces of information we can come to a conclusion and create frameworks/theories that allow us to run our data through them to test. It can be interpreted as understanding and being able to explain something. 

To illustrate this in our example we can extract this information from the analytics view:

  • The display channel makes up 722 users or 1.63% of traffic.
  • The display channel has the highest bounce rate compared to other channels. 
  • The display channel has a 0% conversion rate which is low based on the average conversion rate.

These pieces of information start to illustrate the insight that the display channel may not be a good channel for us to invest our marketing budget into. 

Wisdom

The final stage of the DIKW model is Wisdom. This is the most esoteric phase and focuses on answering the question of  “why”. It uses knowledge and integrates it with experience and takes into consideration the other parts of the data ecosystem. This phase requires a holistic view of the data you interpreting and having the context to answer why is the way it is. To anchor this into a more concrete concept, we have the knowledge that the display channel isn’t performing too well for us relative to the other channels, but why is that happening?

We cannot answer this question by just looking just at the data, we need to identify the different variables of the display campaign, holistically, to see if there are any discrepancies that could answer why this campaign is performing relatively poorly. This could be anywhere from the ad copy of the display ad, the imagery, or the targeting settings. After we identify why we believe this is happening, we take action to modify the variable then wait for the data to come in to repeat the analysis. 

Understanding Data

Data analysis is an essential job function for most modern day jobs. Being able to read and understand data is especially important for anyone managing campaigns who use these insights to inform strategy decisions. Although this may seem tedious to go through every time you analyze a report, it is a trainable skill. After analyzing enough data and experience in your field, the different phases become second-nature. 

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark

3 Tips To Improve Your Email Campaigns

People love receiving emails.

What people don’t love are unsolicited emails that don’t benefit them.

Many businesses spend thousands of dollars on lists of cold leads they can blast ads to while their email campaigns look like this.

Understand that people who have voluntarily provided with you their contact information are already in your marketing funnel. These people are giving you a chance to prove to them your value.

Unfortunately, businesses send out horrible emails that make potential leads unsubscribe to their mailing list, leaving these qualified users unhappy with their brand interactions. Many businesses even run ad campaigns that provide them these emails with no follow up. Imagine how much ad budget is wasted from an un-optimized email campaign.

I am going to show you three ways to tune up your email campaign and avoid common pitfalls that beginners make when starting their first email campaigns.

1. Pace Yourself

First off, have you ever had an ex that was just way too clingy? How about too distant?

Digital Marketing is all about relationship building and if you’re classified as a stage five clinger or never respond to their texts, your users aren’t really going to want to date your you or your brand.

This is why finding the right frequency and quantity to email customers is essential.

The frequency of your emails determines how engaged or disengaged your users will be. Depending on what type of email campaign you’re running you should be also be considerate where you stand in your customer’s journey.

If you’re running a welcome email campaign, sending out an email two or three days later feels lazy and can diminish the immediate intent that the user had when signing up for your emailing list initially. This will result in higher un-subscribe rates and a lower open rate simply because they might have forgotten about you.

How about if you’re running a cart-abandonment email campaign?

Sending out a follow up emails repeatedly after a user leaves your website without checking out can seem kind of stalker-y. Not to mention there’s a reason why they may have abandoned their cart. Leaving a bit of space for users to ruminate and consider their options can allow them to research and eventually determine that your product/service is the right one for them. The user journey is never linear so give your users a bit of breathing room.

The exact number and frequency of your emails will vary from campaign to campaign and should be something you test. To get the ideal configuration for your campaigns making sure you follow the data is an important next step.

2. Become Data-Driven

How would you feel if you ordered a coffee and got a plate of tacos instead?

Well that’s a bad example. That’s a great deal. But the point is that you asked

for one thing but received another. This is how users who receive emails that are not targeted to them experience.

Personalization is the cornerstone of Digital Marketing and is an expectation that users now have when interacting with brands. This is why segmenting your initial users and putting them into specific email campaigns is important. Without your users being segmented there is no way to personalize your emails to the needs of your users especially if your business has a variety of service/product offerings.

Not having audiences segmented also affects your ability to gather accurate data. In 2020 there is no excuse to not be A/B testing headlines and copy in your email campaign. Being aware of what resonates better with your audience guide your future email campaign’s direction and promise your better results.

3. Driving & Delivering

Speaking of direction, what’s worse than an indecisive email?

A marketer that doesn’t keep their promise!

Having a clear call-to-action to drive action, should be mandatory for any copy you’re testing. If customers want to move to the next part of your marketing funnel, let them. An email without a purpose is just spam. If your customers start to see your emails as spam, the reputation and trust you’ve built with them will immediately fall apart.

Building trust with your customers is a key factor of any marketing effort. If your call-to-action promises a blog post that is going to change their life, link to one. If your call-to-action is a part of a cart-abandonment campaign, link to the item they were viewing. Deliver what you promised and make sure it’s customized to their experience.

Provide Value. Build Trust.

In the age of digital marketing, users are equipped with the ability to provide feedback and have their voice magnified by the internet. Making a poor initial impression can cost you your brand image and even your marketing segment. A well-built email campaign provides benefit to the receiver every single time they interact. What value you can provide will be up to you, and how well you know your audience.

Make your emails something that users look forward to receiving and you will be well on your way to building a strong email marketing foundation.

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark

Traditional Marketing is Dead

What would you do with $8,000 a month? How about $32,000 a month?

This is how much it costs to run billboard ads and radio ads respectively.

These are all very expensive and wide-reaching channels that many businesses rely on to generate awareness and leads for them.

But who is seeing those ads? Do you have any control over who sees it? Can you directly attribute that the person on the 405S at 6am was the same person who left you a 5-star review?

It is almost impossible to undoubtedly say so.

Thankfully we now live in the golden age of Digital Marketing. The amount of value that different avenues of Digital marketing provides users is incredible compared to how much control was possible just a few decades ago.

Many marketers still swear by the traditional channels but today I am going to show you how you can accomplish everything you do on Traditional marketing channels using Digital Marketing channels.

But first off, what made traditional marketing so attractive?

  • Local targeting
  • Expansive reach
  • Familiarity with traditional platforms

1. Local Targeting

Firstly being able to target a specific location is a huge benefit to businesses who operate only within a certain radius. This could be a local plumber or a restaurant that only offers their services within a certain area.

This, however is has become an integrated part of Digital Marketing strategies.

Many social media advertising platforms and search engine marketing platforms allow for an incredible amount of location targeting. Google AdWords allow for country, state, city, and even zip code targeting. This level of granularity and variance in scale makes it possible to create highly customized and structured campaigns. Many AdWords power users even use these targeting tools to discover which locations perform better.

Another upside to being able to vary the scale of your location targeting is that digital marketing platforms allow you to target users who show interest in services/products while being outside of your targeted area.

An example of this is people who are looking for the best museums to visit in Los Angeles from Paris. Digital marketing platforms allows you to advertise to these users who are interested but are not physically in your local area.

2. Large Reach

How many radio ads, TV ads and billboard do we drive past a day?

How many of us actually have stopped to visit/check out these brands?

A major benefit of traditional marketing channels is its ability to reach incredible amounts of people through one channel, however if we actually do the numbers, Digital marketing awareness campaigns have a significantly larger reach and cost much less.

A click for a display banner campaign is on average $0.58.

This means that someone who has seen your ad and has shown intent only cost you $0.58. Digital awareness campaigns also typically allow you to pay by the click or by thousands of impressions (the number of times your ad was served).

These campaigns exist across social media platforms, search engines, and even video streaming platforms. The reach of Digital Marketing platforms is so vast that it is almost too broad of an audience to be marketing too. With over 2.37 Billion active users on Facebook and over 1.2 trillion searches on Google a day, reach is no longer a problem.  

3. Channel Familiarity

Many argue that consumers are more familiar and comfortable with TV, radio, and billboard ads. However recent studies show that Netflix has both surpassed cable & TV viewership. Traditional radio listenership has fallen flat over that past decade. Adoption of technology by older generations has slowly increased over the past few years. With the rise of user bases and people connected by the internet greatly outweighs the amount of people actively tuned into traditional marketing channels.

The largest appeal here may be if you’re targeting an older audience, even so, the additional cost and the amount of control sacrificed from targeting would not be worth it.

Futureproof your marketing strategy. Facebook users, YouTube viewership, and the amount of people connected by smart phones is on the rise and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Although traditional marketing channels still occupy a large portion of large corporations’ budgets, the future of marketing is digital. All of the benefits that made traditional marketing channels so popular are now also available in digital marketing platforms; many of which offer even more advanced versions of targeting. That isn’t to say these traditional marketing platforms are obsolete at generating leads, they just aren’t the most cost-effective way of reaching potential customers anymore.

If you have not already invested in creating a digital presence, now is the best time to get started.

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark

The Marketing Funnel

I am going to infuriate or at least slightly annoy 8/10 readers

“Do you want to build a snowman?”

This iconic line perfectly encapsulates bad marketing.

In this pivotal scene in Frozen, Anna inquires whether Elsa would like to build a snowman. Based on the fact that she could literally kill her sister at the touch, I would guess that no, Anna, Elsa would not like to build a snowman with you.

Despite Anna’s constant efforts, Elsa does not want to build a snowman and will not build a snowman no matter how many times Anna asks.

This how many businesses who do not know about the marketing funnel target their customers. A blind sweep of different marketing techniques targeting every which way.

Understanding your marketing funnel is one of the most important things you can do for your marketing campaigns. Marketing without this knowledge will leave you wasting money and destroying your brand reputation.

Alright enough free Disney promotion, let’s get to the meat of this.

What are the different parts of the marketing funnel?

Knowing these 5 stages of the marketing funnel will help you build a healthy foundation for your brand.

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action
  5. Retention/Satisfaction

Here is what each of these stages mean and how your business should interact with potential customers at this point.

Awareness

The first thing you should be focused on getting as many eyeballs onto your business as possible.

Actual conversions are not the focus at this stage, but builds the foundation for your brand. By now you should know exactly who your target audience is (If you don’t shame on you, your family and your cow).

Where are these people? Do the research to understand where the largest group of your target demographic will be. For example if you want to market your brand-new Pokemon Go fanny pack, where do you think you should go?

  1. A Tony Robbins convention
  2. That bakery on your Yelp bookmarks
  3. A Pokemon Go Facebook group

If you picked C congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming a fantastic marketer.

Remember, getting eyeballs is not enough. You need to be getting qualified eyeballs. This is why knowing who your audience is so important.

Understand who your audience is and what their pain points are. This could be as simple as standing where your target demographic frequents with a megaphone. Or can be as technical as running a display campaign on Google AdWords that shows your banner to millions of people a day.

Key Points:

  • Know who your target audience is
  • Know what problem of theirs you’re going to solve
  • Have fun and be creative with how you get people’s attention

Interest

People know about your existence! Great. So what?

This is the question you need to answer in the second stage. Create interest around your brand. Communicate to these customers how you’re going to help them. What about your Pokemon Go fanny pack is going to make their lives better or easier?

Customers are in research mode here. Is the pain point that you think you’re solving really a problem for these people? The interest phase is where you’ll find out.

List how your product or service is solving a problem. Remember, people buy products to make themselves feel better. How do you service that need?

The interest phase greatly varies in length depending on how complex your sale is. If the stakes are high you’ll need to really be comprehensive about how you’re providing value to these customers if the stakes aren’t as high, being clear and concise can go a long way.

Key Points:

  • Describe how you’re going to provide value/solve a problem
  • People buy to make themselves feel good
  • Consider how much of a commitment your product/service is

Desire

“Why me???”

Usually an exclamation of despair, is the question you should be asking yourself at the Desire phase of the marketing funnel.

How do you differ from the hundreds of other alternatives out there? The third phase is where businesses usually have a problem because this really tests how well you know your target audience.

What makes you different? What makes you stand out?

Highlighting your unique selling points about your specific product/service comes in here. Show the world how great you are! This can simply be another pain point that alternatives fail to address or some way your offering is superior to other brands.

This is also a great place to highlight awards or accolades that your company has received. A delicious acronym I personally use is the EAT framework.

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

By differentiating yourself you start to show the customer why you’re the right alternative for them. A match made in heaven. Their knight in shining fanny pack.

Key Points:

  • Establish ahead of time what makes you different from your competitors
  • Go the extra mile and provide another layer of value or explain how you’re superior
  • Use the EAT framework to establish quality around your brand

Action

Image result for fry money meme

This is it. The moment you’ve been waiting for…

Let’s get some sales!

This is the prime place to push all of your selling messaging. Customers at this stage are ready to buy from you. They’ve gone through the entire journey of finding out about you, understanding the value you provide, and why you’re the obvious choice. So now get out of their way and…

 Let. Them. Buy.

Unfortunately, at this stage many people get in their own way by creating landing pages that don’t work. Just because customers are in this stage doesn’t mean you can’t mess things up from here.

This is where you should pay the most attention because this is where you can lose the most valuable customers.

Be sure you have a clear call-to-action. This is clear directions about how the customer can purchase/sign up for your product. If you’re selling on a website, make your check-out experience as easy and simple to find as possible. If you’re selling at a farmer’s market, hang a neon flashing sign that says “BUY HERE” above your cash register (trust me this is always a good idea).

The key here is to reduce cognitive friction. Meaning you need to make it as easy as possible for someone to get your product/service.

Key Points:

  • Have a clear call-to-action
  • Reduce cognitive friction
  • Sell, sell, sell

Retention/Satisfaction

“What? I thought it was AIDA?”

You’re right! But since you’re a marketing superstar you know that ensuring that customers are satisfied with what your product/service is just as important getting the sale. Because to create a sale all you need to do is make the sell, but to create a brand you need to create an experience.

The retention stage is where addressing any questions or pain points customers have after purchasing your product or service comes into play.

Monitor reviews, send survey, get feedback and constantly improve your product/services.

If you create an experience as compelling as your sell, you’ll have no problem creating a powerful, self-sustaining brand.

Continue to show value and improve your products so that people become returning customers.

Key Points:

  • Address common post-conversion pain points
  • Monitor and collect feedback
  • Constantly reiterate and improve based on feedback

Congratulations! If you’ve followed all of these steps for your business, you’ll be ahead of 70% of other businesses and be creating a marketing strategy that scales, provides value, and effective use of your marketing budget.

Remember, people are in different mindsets at different parts of the funnel. This isn’t to say you can’t show people in the Action phase unique selling points, it just isn’t as effective at moving customers down the funnel.

There is no single magic solution to marketing to people throughout these different parts of the funnel effectively.

Take your customers on a journey and tell them a story as to why your product/service is the one for them.

Tired of flashy numbers and useless reports? Make sure your AdWords and SEO campaigns aren’t wasting you money. Take this step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing budget.

SEO & PPC Checklist

Cheers,

Mark