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- Take advantage of Google’s search market domination with two spots on the first page of Google – Local pack and localized organic search results.
- Optimize for high converting local keywords, establish a local content schedule, and more.
- Founder of Digital Ducats Inc. shares a thorough guide on everything you need for a successful local SEO strategy.
For many companies, an effective SEO strategy for local business is the key factor for increasing revenue from high converting traffic. Local SEO can mean the difference in outranking authority websites for vital keywords within your city.
Along with the overall benefits of SEO, optimizing to compete locally improves your search visibility for keyword searches made from your location.
Many aspects of local SEO have remained the same over the last few years however, the weight of local ranking factors has shifted creating new priorities for local businesses.
One aspect that remains the prime focus for every local business is the significance of Google My Business.
1. Gain instant visibility with GMB
Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business. Considering the search engine market share that Google holds, you’re literally losing money by not having a GMB listing.
As of June 2020, Google tops the charts for search engine market share boasting 86% of desktop and 95% of total mobile searches.
It should be clear that failing to prioritize your presence in GMB can cost your company thousands of dollars.
One of the many advantages that Google My Busines allows is instant search visibility for a business operating in a locality. Rather than going through the process of ranking your own domain, your website receives instant search visibility from local searches within close proximity.
The Possum update made proximity a primary ranking factor for achieving a top position in the Local Pack. Your company can appear on the first page of results based on the distance between your location and the location of a user.
In 2020, according to the State Of Local SEO Industry Report, proximity has fallen to the third most influential ranking factor behind on-page optimization and reviews. The general consensus among those surveyed is that optimizing your listing is the top priority for ranking in the Local Pack.
2. Optimize your GMB profile
Optimize your GMB listing just as you would your website in terms of providing as much information to search engines as possible. The more detail you can provide in your profile, the more information search engines have to reference your business for keyword related searches.
Fill in every option available to maximize your opportunities to appear in the Local Pack. Name, address, and phone number (NAP details) are extremely important to have spelled correctly.
Obviously, this is important for users to receive the correct information. Search engines will also verify your business details with third party citations.
Explore all category options
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is failing to include the correct categories. There has been a countless number of clients that have been able to rank in the Local Pack by simply adding the correct category for their business.
Google updates the list of eligible categories your business can fall under. It’s advisable to check periodically for new categories that would enhance the accuracy of your listing.
One way to explore any options you may have missed is to search Google for the local keywords you’re targeting. Check the Local Finder for the categories that your competition is using to rank in the top positions.
It should be noted that on-page optimization is proving to be the strongest ranking factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This can be a source of frustration for those who operate under Google guidelines since Google has allowed keyword stuffing to trump other ranking factors.
If you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines, the name of your business should be the only thing in your GMB listing. What should be happening and what is actually working are two different things that have created somewhat of a loophole and a grey area for SEO.
The fact is that using the keyword in the name of your business will get you results. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re starting a business that operates in a specific city it’s highly effective to incorporate your main keyword in the name of your business. It’s been so effective that it’s led to keyword stuffing-which, in theory, should be penalized-but seems to be left unregulated.
Here is an example of successful keyword manipulation for the phrase “bespoke suits Toronto”. Each of these sites outranks other sites based on the name used in the GMB profile.
It’s hard to say what will prevail in the long run because the evidence points to the fact that this is working to rank sites. After monitoring this listing for over 6 months, it continues to rank and undoubtedly reaps the benefits of local traffic from a prime placement in the local pack.
3. Build your local presence with citations
Structured citations an essential element in local SEO despite the reduced effectiveness they once had as a ranking factor. Their purpose serves two functions; to validate your business information for search engines; to provide additional targeted traffic.
List your business in well-known directories
List your business in the largest and most relevant directories for your city or region to get the most coverage from relevant citations. Some of the most obvious are Bing and Yahoo since they both have local business listings.
Major directories will typically serve as a source of information for much smaller, but relevant websites. Your business information is essentially distributed to dozens of other directories that will help to establish the validity and credibility of your business.
The major directories from each country and region can vary so it’s important to establish which sites will have the most impact with the least effort.
In Canada, posting your business on Yellow Pages results in a wide distribution of sites that are relevant to Canada. Moz provides an excellent visual as an example of the distribution network Yellow Pages provides.
Here’s an example of the U.S. local ecosystem provided by Moz (keep in mind these images are now a few years old). According to this illustration below, there are many major directories that can have a large impact on your search visibility in the U.S.
Search for niche and local directories
Enhance the profile of your citations and improve your sources of traffic by searching for directories that are niche-specific and location-specific.
Getting a few links from directories that are in your niche and location will improve the relevance of your site in both areas. Look for relevant directories by using the following in a search:
[Your niche] + directories
[Your location] + directories
Qualify each directory
Make sure the sites you choose to place your business have a decent amount of traffic and authority. Even if a directory is unique in your city, if it has a high spam score (use Mozbar to filter these sites), or has extremely low domain authority it may do more harm than good.
SEMRush is also a good tool to use for a quick reference on the amount of traffic a website receives. If the organic search traffic is a bust, don’t list your company website on it.
You don’t need a lot of these sites to complete an effective citation profile. Google won’t give a whole lot of credit for acquiring easy links. The goal of this endeavor is to create significant ties to your city and industry and position your company on sites that get relevant traffic.
4. Establish your content strategy
Your website is only as good as the content you publish. Create content to serve as a resource for clients. Educational content produces three times as many leads as paid ads. Keep in mind you will need to publish both educational content as well as local SEO content for more localized search result appearances.
The initial stages of your content strategy should be to create the most important pages with local service areas in mind. Is your business focused on one location only, or will you service multiple areas? This determines whether you will be publishing location pages for multiple cities or have a central location.
Single location businesses
If your business is focused on one location, you can incorporate geo-modifiers in your URLs and titles. Optimize your service/product pages to appear in city-specific searches using your location as part of your keywords.
Businesses with multiple service areas
For multiple service areas, you will need to publish location pages to target the areas you want your business to appear for in city-specific searches. Location pages should have unique content for each city and include the NAP details of each location.
Publish content for each level of the marketing funnel
The most important pages of your site are the bottom of the funnel pages that urge visitors to make a purchase. Focus your initial content strategy on publishing mid-funnel content that targets long-tail keywords.
The sweet spot for identifying target keywords is low competition, high volume keywords. What determines “high volume” can vary depending on the industry. Aim to beat your competition with long-tail keywords that convert at a higher rate.
Publish local content
Your local SEO content strategy can include a variety of options to increase the relevance to your location. Your content can include city-specific events that you’re company is involved in, or events that are related to your industry.
Your local content strategy should include regular posts on Google My Business. Approximately 17% of businesses post to GMB on a weekly basis. Create a competitive advantage by sticking to a bi-weekly posting schedule.
The posts don’t need to be extensive, persuasive essays to get the job done. They can even be excerpts from blog posts to lead users to the actual article on your site. Posting to GMB creates more entry poPosting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.ints to your website and promotes more user engagement through your business’s knowledge card.
GMB has a category to post special offers, updates, and important information about your company. Capitalize on the areas that other companies are not doing well by including GMB posts in your local content strategy.
Posting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.
5. Local link building
The majority of local businesses have a backlink profile that is primarily made up of directory links and profile links. An effective link building strategy for a local business is one that appears natural and above all, demonstrates evidence of relevance to your industry and city.
Build domain authority with linkable assets
The blog of every local business can be used to build authority in your industry. Publish linkable assets and insightful resources for both clients and amplifiers.
Amplifiers, as explained by Rand Fishkin, have a significant impact on the backlinks you acquire since they are the people most likely to link to your site. Creating content for amplifiers gives your site more reasons to acquire links and increase the domain authority of your site.
Linkable, shareable content makes link building much easier. You can publish guest posts, submit press releases, and reach out to authority sites in your niche to link to the inner pages of your website to increase domain authority.
Increase local ranking power with local links
Local links are considered the most powerful when it comes to localized search results as well as appearing in the Local Pack. Local links are also considered unstructured citations. Local links can come from local businesses, local newspapers, local chambers of commerce, and local event sites.
Form a local business alliance
Finding businesses within your industry is ideal for creating a local alliance and boosting your ranking ability. For example, if you’re a hot tub retailer some of your best links would come from local businesses that sell swimming pools.
As long as you don’t compete for the same products, a local business in your industry or a close vertical is the most ideal source of links.
Resource link building targeting vendors and client sites
You can improve the likelihood of obtaining local links by using your own network of resources. Companies you already do business with make for ideal link prospects.
For example, a restaurant can ask the baker who supplies their bread rolls to link from their site.
A plumber can ask his equipment suppliers and vice versa.
Ideally, you want to target business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship.
6. Review management
The reviews your business receives have the power to influence a user’s decision on whether or not to choose your company. Review management remains a top priority for local businesses to improve search visibility and maintain a good reputation.
A review strategy should include a way to get more Google reviews as well as reviews on review sites that get search visibility for related keywords. If customers are reviewing your business on sites that are niche-specific it will impact search visibility as well as promote positive ranking signals.
Identify the most important review sites in your industry
There is a major review site for every industry. It’s important to identify what review sites get a lot of traffic and reviews to position your site to receive quality prospective clients.
For example, people use Yelp or Trip Advisor to find a good restaurant in a city they’re no familiar with. People read the reviews and experiences of previous customers before making a final decision.
If you’re in the home goods business Homestars would be important sites to ask a few clients to write you a review. Here’s a 10/10 review left for Canadian Home Leisure, a hot tub retailer in Whitby, ON.
Look at the domain metrics for a site like Homestars. Not only can you get a quality backlink, but there is a ton of traffic that goes through their site.
If you’re not sure which review sites play an impact on search visibility, search for:
best + [your keyword] + [your city]
The intent of most searches that use best at the start indicates that users are looking for options, which trigger the major reviews and directory sites in your niche. Here’s a search for best suits in Toronto:
Each of these sites could be an additional way for customers to find you. Yelp looks like it’s the only review site that you can manage for free.
In fact, Yelp ranks #3 and #4. If you’re in the business of selling suits in Toronto, Yelp is definitely a site to put effort into building a detailed profile and customer reviews.
In many cases, keywords that you’re targeting will display a few directory and review sites in the search result. These are indications that those sites are not only relevant to enhance your optimization, but they will drive traffic to your site as well.
Establish your review acquisition strategy
This doesn’t need to be a major operation but you should have a plan in place that consistently gets you reviews. Avoid mass emails or anything that would look spammy such as a review station at your location. Too many reviews from the same IP could cause red flags and result in your reviews being ignored and discounted.
You can influence five-star reviews on the major review sites for your business by asking customers that you’re sure has had a good experience with your company. You can do this in a few ways:
- Train employees to ask for a review after the completion of a sale.
- Email satisfied customers thanking them for their business with links to a few different review sites.
- Hand out instructions on how to review your business along with a receipt.
Respond to as many reviews as possible
Make it a point to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Approach each response as a form of advertising for your company and a chance to showcase your customer service.
Customers will appreciate a thank you when they’ve taken the time to give you a good review.
Negative reviews demand immediate responses in order to neutralize the damage that is being done to your reputation. Show every reader how you deal with a disgruntled customer by offering to fix the problem.
People will understand when mistakes are made and offering a free service, free product or free meal can be the best form of advertising for your company.
A local SEO strategy is worth the investment
Small businesses can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that a local SEO strategy has to offer. Following these guidelines and best practices, you can outrank authority sites (who aren’t local) and capitalize on high converting traffic.
As competition intensifies so does the need to specialize in your area of expertise. Use your location to leverage more opportunities and promote long-term growth in your industry.
Christian Carere is an SEO consultant in Toronto and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in traffic and lead generation. He can be found on Twitter @digitalducats.
The post Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction between you and your customers. Proper customer journey mapping can make a huge difference in conversions and help you create a more customer-centric marketing strategy.
- Customer journey mapping starts with identifying your user personas. This way, you’ll know exactly which customer segment to market.
- Next, you identify and map out every touchpoint or experience along the customer journey. This will help you learn and later predict customer behavior and buying decisions.
- Chief content writer, Connie Benton guides you through the customer journey mapping process outline with some great examples and tools to help you.
When it comes to building a robust marketing strategy, most beginner entrepreneurs have nothing to start off with except expert advice they find on digital marketing blogs, let alone the idea of customer journey mapping. While this alone will last you a long way, ultimately, you’re borrowing experiences from somebody else’s business, not building on your own. This is why large corporations spend so much on big data and analytics.
But it’s not just the corporations that do that. According to OnePath, 67% of SMEs spend over $ 10,000 a year on analytics. Why do they pay this huge price?
The answer is simple. You can only go this far using somebody else’s analytics. At some point, you should start gathering and interpreting data yourself. Without this, you can’t possibly expect to understand your thousands of clients.
If you’re looking for a point where you can start, you can postpone getting into behavioral segmentation and other advanced analytics, and follow a strategy that can yield great results on a shoestring budget. Create a customer journey map. Here’s all the information and tools you’ll need to create one.
How to create a customer journey map
A customer journey map (CJM) is exactly what it sounds to be. A map of the path that a customer makes from their decision to make a purchase or any other action, to successfully making it. Here’s an example of what it looks like from the NNGroup.
You can create a customer journey map for most processes that involve customer decisions and use this map for different purposes. A detailed map of going from the latest stage of the sales funnel to making a purchase can be used to improve conversions. A map of making purchases after the initial conversion will help you increase customers’ lifetime value.
For now, we’ll concentrate on the basics and look at how to create a general customer journey map that covers a customer’s path from being interested in your product to making a purchase. It will help you improve your overall marketing strategy.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to set the frame of the customer map, where it should start and where it should end. Since we’re making a general map that covers the whole funnel, let’s set the start at being interested in the market, and the end at making the first purchase.
The most important thing, though, is to find the right path to trace. Most businesses have different types of clients that have different journeys. Let’s start by defining your user personas.
1. Define user personas
Needless to say that a user looking for online shopping websites will differ from someone in search of the best online business ideas. That’s why defining user personas is so important for successful customer journey mapping.
Before you trace the customer’s journey, you need to have an idea of who’s making that journey. To do this, you need to know at least these four core data sets about your customer:
- Demographic information (for example, age, gender, country)
- What problems do they solve with your product
- What do they value from the product
- Where do they get information
With these points, you’ll be able to learn more about the customers themselves and their journey. Here’s how you can gather this information.
Tools to use
- Sign-up forms
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Analytics
- Pop-up surveys (Hotjar or similar)
- Email surveys (MailChimp or similar)
You can easily gather the most basic demographic information on your leads with the sign-up form. When they’re registering on the website or grabbing a freebie, ask them to fill a bit more than their email address, and you already have a decent database. While you’re at it, you can also gather employment information, which is extremely helpful if you run a B2B company.
If that’s not an option, gather that data with Google or Facebook analytical tools. You can also get an insight into what your users are interested in by looking up Affinity Categories in Google Analytics.
Most likely, you have not one but several main demographics. Look for the largest age and sex groups and run Affinity Category reports on them. You may find that say, men and women in their 30s that buy from you have different interests on average.
The answers to why people buy from you and what do they value the most can only be inferred from user surveys. Do it via pop-ups or send surveys to your newsletter subscribers.
That said, these are just the basic tools that will cover most needs. Feel free to use any advanced analytics tools at your disposal.
2. Identify touchpoints
Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to begin tracing their path towards the purchase. You’ll need to track the touchpoints they have with your brand as they go through every step of the sales funnel.
Asking them how they ended up on your website may not be the perfect idea as a lot of touchpoints will be forgotten before the purchase. Here’s how you can do it more efficiently.
Tools to use
- Google Analytics
- Lead scoring software (HubSpot or similar)
- Sign-up forms
Let’s start by looking at the off-website touchpoints. These are the touchpoints that lead a customer to your website: social media, ads, blog articles in Google search, and other similar online portals. You can gauge these easily by looking at where the traffic comes from in the Google Analytics panel.
Don’t forget to add UTM markers to different links you leave around the web to make sure you’re getting the full picture.
You can also get an approximate picture by including a question like “How did you find us” in your sign-up forms. However, this only shows the bottom of the funnel, and won’t provide the full picture.
The idea behind it is to award more points to actions that lead to conversion. You can use this system to first track what actions do lead to a conversion.
This way, you’ll know what set of actions a potential buyer performs on the website. The other method to learn is to use the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ in Google Analytics.
This tab lets you take a goal from your campaign and see what actions did a person who ended up converting did on the website. This shows you the majority of the on-site customer journey.
3. Draw the map
Now you know who your customers are and what set of actions do they perform before making a purchase. All you have left to do is to actually draw the customer journey map.
You can do it whatever way you want, just make sure it will always be handy for future use.
Tools to use
- Drawing tool of choice: A piece of paper, an online mindmap, Photoshop, or any such platform that you’re comfortable using
Start with defining the user persona for the map you’re drawing. Since different user personas may have different journeys, you may need to draw several maps.
For now, let’s assume your customer is a 25 to 35-year-old male or female who owns an online store and is looking for SaaS software to help run it. Let’s call them Jessie since it’s a good gender-neutral name.
Start with what drives Jessie to make the purchase. Point out their motivation in this search. Then, track their behavior off-site. Maybe they search for the product reviews online or see several ads before they finally click on one of them.
Follow their path on your website based on the data you received from website analytics, and end the journey on their first purchase. Make sure to state how many users leave at a certain touchpoint and do not covert further.
In the end, you’ll have something like this.
How to improve marketing strategy with CJM
There you have it, you’ve successfully created your first customer journey map. Now, let’s dig into how you can use it to improve your marketing efforts.
1. Search for insights
No customer journey map is complete without the insights, or potential opportunities for improvement, as noted in the map above. Gather your team if you haven’t already, and brainstorm the opportunities for improvement that you can infer from the map.
There’s no single way to go about it and it all depends on the situation you have on the map. For instance, if you see that a particular touchpoint has a conversion rate far below the rest, it’s probably something you should address.
Do more research on it, come up with a hypothesis as to why it underperforms, and try to improve it.
2. Improve messaging
Your customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a huge factor in how they decide what company to stick with. If you find that what your customers are looking for is not what you advertise, it’s a clear sign you should improve it.
3. Focus tangential interests
If you’re doing content marketing, your findings from the ‘Affinity Categories’ could be of good use. Some users can discover your product while reading articles on topics connected to it. For instance, Jessie’s journey to discovering a SaaS tool they need may have begun from reading an article on SMM.
Look up the data on affinity categories, and you can add a few more topics to your content marketing arsenal.
4. Focus on high-converting channels
While we’re on the topic of content marketing, customer journey mapping also allows for figuring out what marketing channels work best. Look at what channels are the most prevalent in the first half of the customer journey and figure out why they work best.
From then on, you have two options. You can either try to fix the channels that do not bring you enough customers or double down on the ones that already bring you the best ROI.
5. Improve on-site conversion
CJM provides some of the best analytics on the on-site actions of your customers. This gives you an opportunity to see what exactly are your customers doing on the website before they convert and improve the whole process.
This goes far beyond just improving the touchpoints you have. You can also change your on-site conversion strategy and add new touchpoints.
For instance, you may notice that people who grab freebies or attend webinars convert much more than regular visitors. You may start including these converting assets in pop-ups, or on the bottom of your blog posts.
If the issue is that your sales reps can’t keep up with the number of customers, you may need a sales funnel software to automate some of the tasks and work with bigger loads.
Improve every business aspect with customer journey mapping
A customer journey map is a tool that helps you visualize so much data about your customers and their path to conversion. Create a map that reflects how customers really do, not what you think they’re doing, and you can see all the mistakes your business does in attracting them further to conversion. Gather the data continuously and update the map to see how customer behavior changes, especially during unusual situations like a pandemic.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can improve most business processes that involve customers taking a set of actions towards a goal with a customer journey map. All you have to do is to set another frame and go through every process in this guide again.
This way, you can improve anything from increasing viewership on your blog to reducing customer churn.
The post Guide: How to effectively incorporate customer journey mapping into your marketing strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
It’s only human nature to try things that other people are doing because it feels like a good idea and/or the right thing to do. In many instances, the outcome is either neutral or positive. However, in today’s online marketing world, just because someone is doing it, doesn’t make the outcome “good”. In contrast, it could actually backfire (both financially and reputation-wise). Let me explain.
When Facebook rolled out their advertising platform, everyone wanted to get in on the action. After a few years of “trial and error” trying to figure out the algorithm, it became clear that this was a potential money-making machine for advertisers. However, it didn’t take long for these same advertisers to see that their Ad dollars increasing while their Cost/Conversion skyrocket. It was this outcome, that started everyone to second-guess the benefit of this new PPC alternative to Google Adwords (now Google Ads)
Personally, many of my clients over the years wanted to try Facebook ads and frankly who wouldn’t? It was an amazing feeling where an advertiser could target pretty much anything they wanted. (Men 55+, Divorced, like Fine Scotch, NY Yankees and watches CNN). However, that honeymoon didn’t last very long. It was not based on strategy or setting inaccurate expectations, it was simply not cost effective and actually started to hurt their reputation. Clients would take a hit based simply on comments given by competitors and/or disgruntled people. It was this experience that quickly changed the minds of not only myself, but also the client. It was this combination of poor performance along with reputation issues that made them feel even more skeptical this new platform. However, over the years there’s been (1) one silver-lining and that is identifying which clients could benefit the most from this hyper-targeting platform.
In conclusion, as an Agency or Freelancer it is entirely OK to say to a client NO to Facebook Ads or at the very least say we should do a “test” to evaluate it’s potential. In candor, it all depends on the advertiser’s audience along with sensible strategies and agreed upon success metrics.
- The best social media strategy should not focus on lead generation but on building brand loyalty. How can you utilize social media platforms to make your brand talk of the town?
- A good social media strategy should have a measurable end goal in mind. Find out how SMART goals eliminate the influence of vanity social media metrics.
- Strive to understand who your target audience is. Are your social media followers a mirror image of your potential customer?
- Should your social media strategy stick by the rules of the trade and only use tried and proven platforms? Should you innovate and use unconventional platforms?
- This article broaches all these questions and presents you with examples of real-life brands that have excelled at their social media approach, by playing by the rules and at times, going into uncharted social media waters.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos once said that a major determinant of your brand’s potency is what people say about it when you are out of the room. Unfortunately, many business owners only equate their brand to its visual identity, its tagline, and its logo. The only reason, however, why you should go to great lengths to create a cool logo or place promotional advertisements is to strengthen or grow a loyal customer base.
You need your clients to be so fascinated with your brand that they should not just buy your goods or services but identify with your business’s ethos. Social media is a formidable channel for building brand loyalty. A humor laden 140 characters or less tweet can lead to massive exposure on Twitter, an achievement that would take other forms of advertising, very large budgets to achieve.
Data shows that product information on social media platforms influences the shopping habits of at least 75% of American consumers. These platforms are also very critical to the discovery of new services, goods, or brands because 33% of all buyers unearth novel items from social media. This is the reason why, over 72% of all savvy marketers, use these internet mediums to access and build the most loyal of fan bases.
92% of businesses that have robust social forums following can attest that these online podiums have increased their brand’s online visibility. Consequently, every business should not only have a social media presence but a strategy as well. Your social media strategy is a blueprint that takes into consideration, all the details, and processes that govern brand social media activity.
A good social platform game plan should answer questions regarding the when, who, what, and why your brand should interact with the internet community. A well thought out social media strategy can:
- Build brand awareness
- Improve brand authority and loyalty
- Revamp customer service
- Increase your customer engagement rates
- Enhance your conversion rates
- Grow your web traffic rates via content distribution
How to design a brilliant social media strategy
1. Get SMART and precise with your goals
Like many businesses, you might have a social media presence but have no defined goals that help measure your strategy’s success. The first key element of a successful social media strategy is a realistic and relevant marketing goal. Why do you want to market on these forums? What is the end-product of your efforts? Do you plan to increase website traffic, promote a product, or contact customers?
Choose social media goals that enhance your business’ strategic goals. Make these goals SMART meaning they should not just be distinct, but measurable, within reach, relevant, and time-bound. SMART goals ensure that your marketers look beyond vanity metrics such as the number of likes or followers. They for instance will use useful statistics such as post reach to measure a brand awareness objective.
As an illustration, most luggage brands’ marketing content is chock-full of product features. AwayTravel.com has chosen to sell their suitcases differently. On Instagram, they have a following that talks more about the experiences that Away luggage can enable.
On the brand’s page, you will find exquisite user-generated travel images from all parts of the world, inspiring its potential and loyal customers. The brand’s strategy is to portray itself not as a suitcase seller but as a travel brand. Their strategy has paid off so well that in less than three years of activity on social media, they have over 547K followers on Instagram. They have also amassed a useful, massive celebrity following.
Because Away’s goal is to attract and engage with travelers, they will not waste money buying fake Instagram followers. They need active travelers that will engage with the brand, which in the end creates revenue. Since engagement is one of the most critical goals for this brand, its marketers will actively monitor metrics such as brand awareness, applause, average engagement, amplification, and virality rates.
2. Choose a target audience that reflects your customer persona
Once you have your “why” in the bag, you need to figure out who your target audience is. When you have a well-defined target audience in mind, you will find it easier to create appropriate content. Creating content on the platforms that are more inundated by your audience of choice will also be less of a challenge.
As an illustration, on a typical day, Lauren Dix’s 73.6k Instagram followers will be actively listening to her hushed tones as she dons outfits inside one of Madewell’s dressing room. Lauren’s massive fans will giggle at her attempts to communicate with them without spooking her neighbor in the next dressing room. She will try on the brand’s tasteful denim collection and decide whether her jeans ensemble is worth its $ 30 tag or not, then move on to her next story. The fashion influencer only displays clothing items from affordable brands like Madewell.
J.Crew, a clothing retailer and Madewell’s parent company is over seven decades old. J.Crew has been reporting losses for the last few years, but Madewell has seen its revenue increase in the same period. The brand’s chic universal basic and denim lines have a small brick and mortar footprint than its mother brand making 40% of its sales online.
Madewell’s social media strategy is so successful that it has over 1.4 million Instagram followers and is one of the best examples out there of a master plan that precisely answers the “who” element of internet community marketing. Madewell’s focus is on increasing its social media engagement amongst millennials.
Data shows that over 59% of the millennial women between the ages of 18 to 29 spend most of their time on Instagram. The brand has a consistent free-spirited, artsy, and non-maximalist brand identity that appeals to this segment. Consequently, while Madewell is active on other platforms it is so particular about its Instagram presence, that it has a website page dedicated to Instagram customer posts. In 2018, Madewell won an overall best brand presence Webby Award.
Most B2B brands often avoid snazzy social media platforms like Snapchat or Instagram. You will find them on platforms for professionals like LinkedIn because 80% of B2B leads come from this network of professionals. This is the reason why 94% of B2B marketers turn to LinkedIn for content distribution.
The platform’s acquisition by Microsoft has expanded its business features and functionality, making it a stand up and authoritative tool for business sales teams. Cisco’s social media strategists have however put a new spin on the B2B Snapchat social media experience. After identifying a need to engage Gen Z, a large portion of the business’s young technophile hires, Cisco turned to Snapchat and has enjoyed a lot of success at it.
Snapchat has 46 million active users each month in the US. Over 53% of US Gen Z between the ages of 15 and 25 years use Snapchat and are the largest demographic on the platform. The technology firm’s need to create a robust talent pipeline has actualized via their massive Snapchat success, connecting them to new graduates and university students from all parts of the globe.
Your social media followers should be similar to your potential customer persona. Some of the metrics that you should use when determining your target audience includes;
- The income, age, location, education, or title of your audience
- Your potential audience’s interests such as educative, informational, or entertainment
- Time when your brand’s following is online, weekends, lunch hour, evening and morning commutes
- Knowing what their motivations are, could range in anything between fitness and travel to high-level skills
- The type of content that they prefer; is it video, blog posts or infographics
3. Use the right platform
You need to gauge different social media forums and choose which particular one(s) you should focus more on. The metric that Facebook attracts 2.3 billion active users each month is very attractive. Nevertheless, if your brand needs younger people, you will not find this demographic well-represented on Facebook. This target audience frequents Instagram and Snapchat.
Nevertheless, do not put your strategy at the mercy of popular social media data. As an illustration, data shows that 63% of all B2B marketers rate LinkedIn as the most effective social media-marketing forum. This metric tends to keep B2B brands captive on this professional platform for its lead generation opportunities. Your social media strategy’s purpose however is not a lead generation but a brand enhancement strategy.
B2B brands that want to generate leads should go to social media not to sell, but to tell stories that spark conversations and that appeal to human emotions. A brand that has its strategy down pat will have multiple possibilities open to it. Novartis for instance has a 2.2 million following on LinkedIn and 268 thousand followers on Twitter.
You will also find the pharmaceutical company on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. On Instagram, the brand tells stories of nature and medicine, pushing traffic to its site Beautiful Medicine. On YouTube, you will find financial, scientific, and patient views videos.
GoPro is one of those rare B2C brands that seem to utilize all the major platforms to its advantage. The versatile camera brand has a close to 11 million Facebook followers and 17 million Instagram fans. It also has 2.3 million Twitter followers. So how does GoPro create value, promote products, and interact with a wide customer demographic on various platforms?Source
The genius social media strategists at GoPro use each network distinctly. They use Facebook to stimulate brand awareness, engage with their existing customers, and access new clients. They will also create Instagram stories to foster user-generated content and display the quality of their merchandise. On Twitter, you will find GoPro product announcements while their YouTube channel has video tutorials and tips.
If you are going to use different platforms, then you need to optimize content and post them strategically. So, first, perform thorough research to determine where it is that your target audience is. It is beneficial not to waste time and resources on internet communities that do not have any interest in your brand on products.
4. Audit your brand’s and your competitor’s social media approach
Businesses do not function in isolation. You do have competitors that keep you on your toes with their social media game plan. To optimize your social media blueprint, you need to be aware of what their tactics are. Whom do they target? What are their goals? Where do they meet most potential clients? Which platforms and keywords have they dominated?
Conduct competitor research via tools like BuzzSumo to bring to the light what your rival’s weakness and strengths are. Such information will help you to construct better policies for social media audiences. Exploit the gaps where possible.
Audit your performance too to improve on your tactics. Your appraisal will help direct you on the best times to post the most engaging content type and form and what your limitations are.
An optimized social media strategy will infuse your marketing efforts with purpose and help you to meet your business’s objectives. Use the steps above to create a robust social media presence then audit and tweak it to perfection.
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- Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for ecommerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
- The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving.
- Some things the search trends have shown is that consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for.
- leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
- Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
- As a “topic”, interest in instrument playing tutorials has increased by 72%.
- Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
- Director of SEO at Stella Rising, John Morabito shares lots of insights and shines a light on how businesses can use these trends in their content creation.
With the coronavirus pandemic now nearing its peak in many parts of the U.S., search trends are rapidly evolving in ways many search marketers have never seen before. Changes are happening almost daily, and traditional search volume as a monthly average metric has become practically useless. Google Trends, however, offers useful, daily analysis of what’s trending in search. At present, Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for e-commerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
In this post, we’ll cover ways that search marketers can use Google Trends and other tools to discover opportunities in today’s fast-moving landscape, and review how the team at Stella Rising has been using Google Trends to inform our strategy during the pandemic.
The obvious Google Trends
Medical suppliers will be aware that, amidst the overall demand for masks, behaviours have shifted from favouring N95 masks to surgical masks. The CDC recently revised their recommendation. In this case, we see that search demand for masks is already starting to decrease.
Surgical Masks (7 Day View) – Down 68% (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)
Full Year View
The less obvious: Search evolution in unexpected places
The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving. For example, at first glance, one might not think that the beauty segment would find success in a pandemic. However, social distancers are turning to self-care. “Peel masks” are seeing a huge increase in interest with a 58% increase in over the last few weeks.
Searches for skincare are skyrocketing, as are those for foot care. Consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for. Note the following trends from Spate:
Hand moisturizer has similarly seen an even larger increase, jumping up 156% since February (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22).
Leveraging the trend
When it comes to the growth in demand for skincare products, skincare brands have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to their content efforts. Make sure your product pages are being listed in Google shopping’s new free listings, and ensure that you have robust on-page content for each of your skincare product or category pages. Lastly, in a time where making returns is not an easy task, and consumers want to minimize contact with the outside world, content that helps guide users to the right product selections can be extremely valuable.
For example, this article from Bucklers Remedy, a skincare brand ranks top three for “choosing the right hand lotion”. In another example, we see a Vaseline article about how to deal with dry cracked hands ranking for a total of 1,100 keywords.
For apparel companies
Apparel companies should shift their messaging as consumers browse for clothing on their devices. Right now, leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
Leveraging the trend
Everyone from publishers to apparel and beauty brands can get in on the need for Zoom/video conferencing related content. If you fall into one of those categories, consider producing looks and tutorials for your captive audience.
For instrument makers
For instrument makers like Fender and Les Paul, there has never been more interest than now in learning how to play the guitar.
Leveraging the trend
Fender and Les Paul both offer instructional content, but now is the perfect time for them to ramp-up efforts and even consider partnering with musicians who are out of work and can easily produce tutorial content on their behalf.
People are also interested in learning about all sorts of topics. As a “topic”, interest in tutorials has increased by 72%.
Leveraging the trend
If you’re a brand with a product that has any sort of instructions or bares any type of explanation in how to use it, I would recommend using this time to produce tutorial content for each of your products or for the things your products help people to do. For example, makeup brands can not only product tutorials on how to use a specific product which can help them to rank for both nonbrand and branded terms, but they can also target things like “zoom makeup looks” which can help them to rank for an even broader set of nonbrand terms.
Sometimes, search trends are influenced by necessity. We’ve seen more interest in “how to cut your hair” than ever before.
The not so fun part
While there are search trends dealing with keeping consumers busy, there are also new trends around more serious subjects. Some of our clients at Stella Rising are writing about these. One of our clients in the small business formation space is writing about how their customers can get loans and stay in good corporate standing. Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
Estate lawyers may want to consider online-only services as “get a will online” has seen a steep rise.
How to get started
Now that you’ve seen some of the ways that search trends are evolving—and how to check—start by inspecting your website’s most valuable target keywords and see how searches are moving for those items. You may be surprised by what you find. Finding interesting trends can be tough, so think carefully about how behaviour will evolve in the future, not simply how it has changed today.
Bonus tool tip
Explodingtopics.com is a tool that shows exploding topics using Google Trends data and provides two key metrics: gradient and exponent. Essentially, the exponent is a mathematical expression that defines how much like a “hockey-stick” a curve is. The tool breaks up Google Trend data by category and presents which topics are “exploding” versus which have peaked in interest. This analysis is useful when wishing to stay relevant with content writing.
John Morabito is Director of SEO at Stella Rising. John has over nine years of experience in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing channels.
The post Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.