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Content Development: Improve your Content Strategy for SEO

What are internet users looking for when they use a search engine? Whether they want expert information, an in-depth analysis, a detailed product review, or a quick answer, they are ultimately on the hunt for good content. When they come across a piece of web content that they find valuable, they usually browse, scroll, click, share, and sometimes even link to it. If your company wants to grow it’s online presence, there’s no better way to do so then through content development — or simply providing great content to the millions of internet users who are constantly searching for it.

Lots of content gif

With 40,000 searches happening on Google every second, the search for content is not going away anytime soon. There is so much information and content available on the internet, but most of it is low-quality and doesn’t even get organic traffic from Google. The primary reason why is because Google’s algorithms prioritize content that is high-quality and will only show users the best of the best on the internet.

So if you’re a site owner that creates high-quality content, you have endless opportunities to grow your online presence, earn new customers, and reach your business goals. Content is an extremely powerful tool, but it’s hard work, and getting the most out of content extends far beyond simply doing keyword research. 

Web content development is a strategic process that your business can deploy again and again. Even better, developing a solid content marketing strategy is more cost-effective than paid media, and when done well, can result in just as many clicks and conversions.

What is Content Development | Content Development and SEO | Content Development Basics | Content Development Process | Content Optimization | 11 Types of Content | Tips for Scaling Content Development

If you have a strong content creation strategy already in place but need help with optimizing that content to rank better in search results, look to our on-page optimization resources to learn how to improve keyword rankings for your best content assets.

What is Content Development?

content development process image

Content development is the process of creating content from start to finish. It may sound simple, but a successful content strategy is informed by data analytics and executed with clear purposes and performance-based goals. A great piece of content will not only provide users value, it will rank for relevant keywords, generate engagement on social media sites, and most importantly, guide your website visitors toward conversion. 

With its unmatched indexing power, Google dominates the search engine market share, meaning the majority of internet users go to Google first when searching for new content. Creating content then, is not only about appealing to users, but also appealing to the search engine bots that determine those top-ranking results. Google indexes every web page you create for your site, and its powerful algorithms equip those bots to not only understand what your content is about, but whether it’s high quality and relevant to what users enter into their search bar.

There are many ways to establish a content development process, but it will likely depend on the size of your team and the resources available to your brand. A single content writer or strategist will only be able to implement a modest content strategy in comparison to an SEO or digital marketing agency that has hundreds of content creators. 

But regardless, it’s important for your business, whether small or enterprise-level, to have a content development plan. Thinking more strategically about content development and optimizing each step of the process can result in thousands of new keyword rankings for your website, meaning thousands of impressions that can bring more organic traffic, more conversions, and more revenue.

Content Development and SEO

One of the primary benefits of great web content development is that content can rank for multiple keywords in search engines, which can expand your market by driving new visitors to your website. However, Google’s algorithms are constantly being updated and refined, meaning SERP results fluctuate. You may have already earned a top-ranking spot for a high-value keyword, but a competitor could soon publish a more comprehensive piece of content on the same topic that Google finds higher-quality, and thus starts ranking above yours. 

Google’s crawlers are advanced enough to understand not only what your content is about, but whether it is accurate, well-written, how much information and comprehensiveness it provides, and how it visibly looks and technically functions for the user in the internet browser or the type of device they are using. Site owners that want to consistently earn traffic from search have to be creating new content and updating their old content so it remains relevant to users. Google only wants to show its users the most valuable, relevant information, meaning a “set it and let it,” approach to content may work in the short-term, but not if you want to drive traffic to your website for years to come.

Creating quality content goes hand-in-hand with SEO engine optimization. There are so many SEO benefits that come from content marketing efforts. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Keyword Rankings: Every piece of content you create has the potential to rank for multiple keyword phrases in Google.
  • Backlinks: If you create a great piece of content, other webmasters will want to link to it. More backlinks increases your overall site authority, meaning Google will be more inclined to rank content from your domain.
  • Conversions: High-quality content can help you drive users to perform a specific conversion action on your website. According to a Hubspot report, websites with more than 40 landing pages increased conversions by over 500%.
  • E.A.T.: Google looks for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Great pieces of content help display E.A.T. for users and search engine crawlers.
  • Site Traffic: If you develop great content on a consistent basis, Google will continue to rank your content and users will continue to come back to your site again and again
  • Brand Awareness: Although more difficult to measure, content that includes your branding, logo, company name, or executive bylines showing up all across the internet helps improve brand recognition and reputation

Content and SEO go hand-in-hand in that there’s no point in creating a piece of content without optimizing it for search. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so if you want a share of that 93%, your content has to rank. Having more pieces of content on your site — as long as they are high-quality — gives more reasons for Google to rank your website and for all of the above benefits to start flooding in.

Content Development Basics

Don’t just create a piece of content without thinking about who will read it, what goals it can accomplish for your business, or what value it brings to users and learners. As stated at the outset, content development is all about clear, concrete goals. So for every piece of content you create, you should be asking some basic content questions. 

Who am I Creating this Content for?

Who is the audience engaging with your content? A user who discovers your content in a search engine will have different needs than a previous client who clicks on a content resource shared in an email marketing campaign. It’s impossible to create your content to appeal to every single audience member, but you should have a central idea of the target audience that you’re creating the content for, and try to create value based on that audience’s needs or preferences.

What is my Goal of Writing the Content?

Your content needs to have some type of purpose so you can ultimately measure its value to your brand. Do you want to drive subscribers? Rank for a specific keyword? Get published on a certain website? Having clear, performance-based goals helps you quantify the value of your investment.

content development goals gif

For those content marketers trying to prove the worth of their efforts to executive leadership or other members of their marketing teams, having concrete, performance-based benchmarks can really help you show the return on investment for your content efforts. You can use tools like Google Analytics to understand how much traffic your content is driving to your website from search.

What Type of Content am I Creating?

The way that you choose to develop content for an infographic versus a long-form article will differ based on the accepted rules of the content type. Nothing is worse than an article that doesn’t answer the question set out by the title, or an infographic that doesn’t deliver on the visual expectations people and learners have for that medium. Every content creator needs to understand the expectations their audience will have for each piece of content type and follow those rules accordingly.

How Can I Make this Content More Valuable for the User?

We have all seen bad pieces of content. Nothing turns off a user more than a poorly written article, a badly designed infographic, or a video tutorial that doesn’t deliver on the promise laid out in the video description. Just publishing content is not enough — it needs to be high-quality. 

Google’s webmaster guidelines are very clear about what they considered to be high-quality content. Review them and ask yourself whether or not your existing content assets meet the quality standards set by search engines. If not, you can’t expect that your content will magically start ranking. But if you use their guidelines as benchmarks for what every piece of content on your website should look like, there’s a better chance that your content will rank well and often.

The Content Development Process

In reality, the content development process can be as short or long as you make it. If you simply want to publish a blog post on your site and never revisit it, that’s fine, but you will miss out on so many opportunities to drive website traffic and conversions. 

A good piece of content is a gift that keeps on giving, but only if you’re willing to follow a thorough process that maximizes the value of each piece of content you create. At LinkGraph, we break down the content cycle into eight essential steps.

Content Development Process
  1. Ideate: Determine your topic, subtopics, audience, content type, and the specific purposes or goals for the content, whether ranking for a particular keyword, generating email addresses or subscribers, getting video views and shares, or some other performance-based goal.
  2. Research: Gather the sources and information you need to produce a quality piece of content. As you create, include outbound links to the external sources that you reference and internal links to the relevant content that already exists on your own website.
  3. Create: Transform that research into an informative, structured, readable, engaging, and valuable piece of written, visual, audio, or interactive content. Make sure the content includes solid information architecture and interactive elements like jump links, rich media, or expandable content modules. 
  4. Optimize: Optimize your content for the keyword target you want the content to rank for. Use a tool like the LinkGraph landing page optimizer to identify relevant Focus terms or Latent-Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms that Google will see as relevant to certain keyword phrases. Make sure the content is optimized on the front-end and also on the back-end with HTML tags and technicals like heading tags and meta descriptions. 


  5. Publish: Publish the content on your website or pitch your content to a reputable, authoritative website in your industry niche.
  6. Promote: Promote the content through social media channels, email marketing, and link building campaigns. If your budget allows, you can also use social media advertising or paid media to drive traffic to your content.
  7. Repurpose: Find ways to repurpose the content into other pieces of content, whether expanding a blog post into an ebook, creating an infographic from a section of a long-form article, or using clips from your webinar to share as social media posts.
  8. Repeat: After time has passed, promote your content again to users who may have missed it the first time or now have new reasons to find the content valuable. After 6 months, make sure you update the piece of content with any necessary numbers, figures, or information so it can stay evergreen and meet Google’s content quality-signals.

Content Development and On-Page Optimization

When it comes to optimizing your content for search engines, you can reference our ebook for a more detailed guide. Optimization is a crucial step in the content development process if you want your content to rank and accomplish your strategic goals. We don’t cover optimization in-detail in this post, but here are a few key highlights to keep in mind when thinking about how to improve your overall content development strategy for SEO.

Keyword Targets vs. Topic Clusters

For years, general SEO wisdom has stated that every piece of content on your website should target the specific keywords or search phrases that you want to rank for. This has guided content strategy across industries, and most SEO writers still optimize the pieces of content they create for a single keyword target.

This is still an appropriate strategy for sites who want to rank and can prove successful, but keywords continue to grow more competitive and difficult to rank for. Also, Google crawlers no longer just see the keyword target located in your page titles and heading tags, but they are advanced enough to really understand your content semantically. Google also understands the various subtopics and long-tail keyword phrases users enter into the search bar that have a close relationship to those primary keywords. 

For this reason, topic clusters — or content clusters — are a better way to frame your overall content development process. Think about the primary services that your business offers and has expertise in — those will form the “pillar pages,” of your website (most likely a home page, your service pages, category pages, etc). To form the content cluster, create multiple pieces of content that explore subtopics of those primary categories with detail, nuance, and a lot of topical depth. Then, make sure you link back to your primary pillar pages with every new piece of content your create in a cluster.

For example, if you provide financial planning services, you’re topics of expertise may include stock trading, retirement planning, or family trusts. Content you may create for each cluster could include, “Best ETFs of 2021,” “How to maintain your standard of living in retirement,” or “How to set up a Nevada Asset Protection Trust.”

With multiple high-quality content clusters linking back to your pillar pages, Google crawlers will associate your entire website as an authority on those key parent topics. Here’s a visual example of what topic clustering looks like:

topic clusters

And here’s an example of what those pieces of content may look like in a specific industry:

Topic clusters

Topic clusters are a way to think about your content development process for the long-term. Google’s algorithms have changed and grown more complex over the years, but Google’s desire to rank high-quality, authoritative content from experts hasn’t. Topic clusters are a way to establish your authority and expertise, and therefore get Google associating your brand name not just with a single keyword, but with the thousands of keyword phrases that have relevance to your related field.

Technical SEO

In order for your content to rank in search engines, you need to make sure that it is optimized on both the frontend and backend. This is why good website developers are so important. When it comes down to it, Google is a robot, and making sure the HTML side of your website clearly communicates what your content is about is a way to help Google help you. 

Uploading an XML sitemap in Google Search Console is also very important as you scale up your content development. The more landing pages and content assets that you add to your site, the more important a site map becomes so Google crawlers understand which web pages of your domain are the most important. 

It’s also necessary to think about what users see in search engines before they click and engage with your content. Title tags, meta descriptions, and even features like schema.org markup will change how your SERP results visually appear on the page in comparison to your competitors. Remember, users won’t really get a grasp of the quality of your content until after they have already clicked on the SERP result, so make sure that you optimize the title tag and meta description so users are encouraged to click.

11 Types of Content your Brand Should be Creating

There are so many types of content your business can create to use for digital marketing and SEO purposes. Most likely, the types of content you choose will be limited by the resources of your team. Infographics will require a skilled illustrator or graphic designer. Video tutorials will require quality A/V equipment and video editing software. In general, the ideal content development team will include content writers, UI/UX designers, graphic designers, videographers, illustrators, web developers, software developers, and a skilled digital PR team.

If your business doesn’t have the ability to employ all of these people right away, that is okay. If your business only consists of one core product, you may not need to be developing all 11 types of the below content. However, because users have so many options when it comes to content on the internet, it’s easy to lose their interest quickly. Thinking creatively about the content you create, and producing a variety of content types, is more likely to produce the clicks, page views, sessions, and conversions it takes to reach your business goals.

Here are 11 different types of content that your brand can create in your content development process.

Blog Posts

Adding a blog to your website is one of the simplest and best ways to start implementing a content marketing strategy. Most content management systems make regularly publishing a blog post simple, and have the features to help you add rich media, jump links, or design elements that elevate the overall page experience for users. If you don’t have a content writer or strategist on your team, a digital marketing agency like LinkGraph can provide blog writing services.

Ebooks

example of an ebook

In some ways, you can think of an ebook as a really long blog post, but ebooks are more technical and often include design elements that encourage a user to engage with the content for a longer period of time. Ebooks are meant to be instructional in nature and provide the audience extensive information on a topic in a specific industry niche. Ebooks can also serve as reference sources that other writers want to cite or link to in their content, and therefore can be easily used for link building campaigns.

Webinars

When your content team needs a break from all of the writing, you can offer live webinars to your existing leads. Holding a live webinar provides an opportunity to offer a more personalized experience with question and answer sessions, demos, or other features. Recording those webinars and putting them on YouTube or a video page on your site means those previous live events become permanent content assets that can drive future organic traffic and conversions.

Tutorials

Like webinars, tutorials are video assets that provide instructional value and are more often than not connected to a specific product or service that you offer. For B2B and SaaS companies in particular, tutorial videos can help highlight the unique features and the multiple applications of your products. If you provide a software or business intelligence product, tutorials are a crucial way to also establish your expertise and authority in your vertical and to make sure customers are getting the most from your services. Tutorial videos are a great way to build customer loyalty and encourage email and YouTube subscribers.

Infographics

example of an infographic

Another engaging visual asset that is great for content marketing purposes is an infographic. Infographics can exist on their own or be paired with blog posts and long-form articles, but they provide engaging data visualizations and usually include custom graphic design or illustrations. Google also loves visual representations of data, and informative, optimized infographics often rank for multiple keywords in Google image searches.

Case Studies

Case studies are detailed, data-driven documents that examine how your products or services have produced concrete results for a customer or client. Case studies often follow a “Problem/Solution,” structure, and show improvements based on metrics and industry-specific KPIs like sales, website traffic, customer-acquisition costs, and more.

LinkGraph Case Study
Example of a LinkGraph Case Study

White Papers/Reports

White papers are similar to ebooks in that they are authoritative, comprehensive explorations of topics, but they are usually more tied to specific moments in time, current events, or present day issues (e.g. “Digital Marketing in the time of Coronavirus”). White papers most often include original research or methodology, executive summaries, charts and graphs, and are organized with a top-level structure that makes for easy scanning.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Consistently reaching out to your existing customers, leads, and subscribers is a great way to show the value of your products, services, and brand. Emails that are too sales-focused often go unopened, ignored, or unsubscribed to. However, using email marketing to make your contact list aware of your content resources–also called information marketing–helps emails feel less annoying and more valuable to the user.

Social Media Posts

Having a consistent social media presence is beneficial for brands of all sizes. Although it’s not as easy to build an organic following on social media sites as it once was, social media provides another platform through which to share the content that you create and drive traffic to your website. If you run paid media campaigns on social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, your advertisements can promote or link to content on your site that provides value to your target audience.

example of social media content

Slideshares

Slideshares are visual presentations that can be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Like infographics and webinars, slideshares provide a visual experience for internet users who respond well to visually engaging experiences. Slideshares can focus on many topics, but turning your reports, white papers, webinars, and tutorials into Slideshare presentations can be a great way to maximize the value of that previous content and present it through a new medium.

​Podcasts

Another increasingly popular type of content that more brands are creating are podcasts. For B2B and B2C brands in particular, podcasts are a great way to display expertise, highlight the applications of your products, as well as create value-for-value exchanges by featuring other industry experts through interviews or guest speaker opportunities. You should offer your podcast on the Apple podcasts platform and have a dedicated page on your site for your recent podcast episodes.

Off-site Content you should also be Creating

On-site content is important to bring traffic to your website and help guide users toward conversion, but creating content for off-site purposes like reputation management, public relations, and link building is equally important in your content development process. Off-site content provides you the opportunity to link back to the content assets that live permanently on your site while also elevating your site authority in the eyes of Google.

Guest Posts

Many online publications accept guest posts submissions from experts in their same industry or field. Guest posts provide the opportunity to reach a new audience, to earn backlinks, and to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other webmasters. Site owners are always looking for great content, and if you can provide them with a high-quality piece of content, it’s considered a win-win for both parties.

Opinion Pieces

Most content marketers prioritize evergreen content because it ranks well in Google for the long-term, but the news cycle often brings opportunities for experts to weigh in. Opinion pieces are a great way to get published in high-domain authority sites like online newspapers that would otherwise be hard backlinks to acquire. Pay attention to the major breakthroughs, stories, and newsworthy events that happen in your industry so you can find the perfect time to weigh in.

Long-form Articles/Original Research/Reports

Like guest posts, long-form articles provide you the opportunity to provide a piece of content to another site owner. Although long-form articles are great for your own site as well, sharing that research with other members of your industry is a great way to build your expertise and reputation as an authority in your vertical.

Tips for Scaling your Content Development Strategy

The ability to grow your content development will ultimately be limited by the scope of your resources and/or team members. Creating high-quality content is a lot of work, which is why many businesses outsource their content creation to digital marketing or SEO agencies like LinkGraph who have the infrastructure and resources to produce content at scale. Here are a few tips for scaling up your content development.

#1. Hire Content Writers and Strategists

If you are just starting to improve on your content development process, adding a full-time content writer or strategist should be one of the first steps. If you cannot bring someone on full-time, there are freelance writers who can create blogs and on-site content on a part-time or contract basis. Ultimately, you will want a writer who is a skilled researcher and has familiarity with your industry, audience, and knows how to optimize for SEO.

#2: Think Bigger About your Content Strategy

Every single piece of content that you create isn’t just one piece of content — it’s multiple pieces of content. A blog post about one topic can be expanded into an in-depth ebook. A single concept covered in an ebook can be visualized in an infographic. An infographic can be shared on Instagram, LinkedIn, or can be pitched to other publications in a digital PR campaign.

Having duplicate content on your website can result in Google penalties, which is why step 7 in our content development process is called “Repurpose.” Once you create a high-quality piece of content, you can use it as a foundation to create other new types of content that provide similar information or topics, but in a different medium or content type. 

Thinking about each piece of content you create as multiple pieces of content is a great way to scale up your content development process so you can be a brand that is not only known for your products and services, but known for creating tons of great content and resources.

#3. Develop an Editorial Calendar

Getting on a schedule and setting deadlines is essential to scaling your content development process. Editorial calendars are publishing schedules that include topics, deadlines, and target keywords, and guide the process of creating content across multiple channels.

editorial calendar

Whether you want to publish new content once a week or twice a month, an editorial calendar can help you plan out the topic clusters that will elevate your keyword rankings and brand expertise. Think about the goals you want your content to accomplish, and then set performance benchmarks with rankings, traffic, links, or social shares alongside your content deadlines.

#4. Outsource your Content Development to a Digital Marketing Agency

If you don’t have the resources in-house to operate content development at scale, that’s where an SEO and digital marketing agency like LinkGraph comes in. With over 1000+ pieces of original content per month, our 50+ editorial team knows what it takes to create content that ranks and to do so on a tight schedule. Brand new websites that want to grow quickly can benefit from outsourcing the content development process, as well as corporations or enterprise-level organizations that need optimized on-site or off-site content at scale.

Closing Thoughts on Improving your Content Development

When done right, improving your content development process can have so many positive results for your brand. It’s possible that your business has mastered certain stages of the process like research and content creation, but could benefit from streamlining or revamping other parts of the process like promotion or repurposing. Maybe you’re at the stage where you need to hire your first full-time writer or maybe your brand has grown large enough where you need more content than you can realistically create in-house.

Regardless of where your content development process currently stands, a site audit can help you pinpoint the areas where your process needs the most improvement. Content creation is such an essential part of your marketing and SEO strategy, and it’s worth taking the time to measure your current progress so you can direct your efforts to those areas that need the most attention.

Remember that content development is one of the most cost-effective ways you can grow your business or brand. If you start investing more time in your content development strategy, you will begin to see the rewards at every level of your organization. And if you’re ready to start scaling up your content strategy, talk to one of our experts.

Targeted Email Marketing 101: A Beginner’s Guide

With each day, it seems as though a new digital marketing platform promises to revolutionize the way you reach consumers. From chatbots and paid ads to social media and influencers, there are plenty of ways to reach your customers; however, with such a wealth of options, the question becomes which method (or methods) are actually effective.

The latest outreach methods certainly have their pros; however, we often forget one of the oldest yet most effective marketing channels: email. When used correctly, targeted email marketing can be an easy and accessible digital marketing approach for anyone trying to grow their business.

Not sure how to get started with targeted email marketing? Keep reading to learn more about this tried-and-true marketing strategy and the best way to make it work for your brand.

What is Targeted Email Marketing?

Consider this: there are 3.9 billion daily email users worldwide. That’s a lot of accounts and emails ripe for the picking. However, as consumers, we all know the annoyance of waking up to an inbox full of messages that we have no plans to read. As a business owner, how can you ensure your email messaging stands out? How can you craft content that resonates with your consumers, demanding to be read, rather than flagged as spam?

This is where targeted email marketing can help. The idea of targeted email marketing automation is simple. All you have to do is send a specialized email to a group of interested subscribers. This can be done using list segmentation, the act of splitting up your subscribers into different “pools” based on their demographic, interests, location, and website behavior.

Think of it this way––when you send targeted email marketing, you’ll be sending the right message to the right email subscribers at the right time, which increases the likelihood of the customer opening the email, clicking, and making a purchase. When done correctly, your customer will feel catered to, leading to increases in retention and conversions.

Targeted Email Marketing Vs. Traditional Email Campaigns

Think back to the last time you checked your inbox. How many emails did you get throughout the day? Chances are, you’ve put your name on some merchants’ email lists and now receive dozens of emails per week offering sales and general store updates. This type of email comes from a traditional email campaign, one set up by a company to promote brand awareness and grab impulse buyers.

Sure, there are benefits to traditional email campaigns, but these may not be appropriate for your business’s audience and may require you to spend too much time and money for a proper ROI. 

Traditional email campaigns reach a mass audience with more generic content that does not speak to the individual consumer. This choice can be great for larger brands that may not need to reach specific customers; however, even these brands utilize targeted emails. For example, if you subscribe to a clothing store’s email list, they’ll likely only email you about sales and updates for the fashion of your gender.

Targeted email marketing reaches your customers with a more individualized approach. Naturally, there are many approaches to targeted emails; however, the most effective ones share these qualities:

  • Urgency: Instead of sending the same content to millions of subscribers, you send a specific newsletter or promotion to a targeted set of consumers that have already expressed interest in your product or service. After all, a vegan will likely have little interest in your new line of leather home furnishings.
  • Call to Action: The goal of these targeted emails is for your clients to respond in some way; whether it be making a purchase, completing a survey, signing up for an email newsletter, or calling your store. Be sure that, in addition to information, you’re also providing your readers with a way to convert. 
  • Human Touch: In a world where everything is primarily done online, it is more important than ever that your customers feel like they are talking to an actual human behind the screen. It’s always a good idea to write and sign the email from the perspective of an actual team member.

So you’ve drafted your emails, fine-tuned them with a personalized flair, and sent them to the appropriate consumers. With all that said, how will you know if your strategy works? 

What to Know About Targeted Email Campaigns: Open Rates, Clicks, and Conversions

The most important thing to know about targeted email marketing is that you constantly need to experiment, examine your data, and adapt based on your findings. You never know exactly how readers will react to your messaging. Think about it. If a company’s email doesn’t interest you, are you going to take the time to draft them a response explaining why? 

Luckily, there are a few metrics that can help monitor your targeted email marketing campaign. If you read them carefully, you can figure out how to hone your strategy. 

Open Rate

An email’s open rate tracks how many subscribers opened the email you sent. This is the most important metric to check; after all, if no one is opening your email, how will your message get out? 

In a world of digital distractions, there’s a need to make your email’s subject line really pop and get attention. For example, studies show that email subject lines using the subscriber’s first name are 26% more likely to be opened. In a world where the average open rate of an email is about 16%, an increase of a few percentage points can mean hundreds of additional eyes on your brand. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate (CTR) measures how many consumers clicked links in your email. So if your email included a link to your website’s homepage, it measures the number of people directed there via your message. At just above 7%, the average CTR for a targeted email marketing campaign may seem low, but when you translate that percentage into number of views, the figure can be impressive.

There are some easy ways to increase your email’s click-through rate;

  • Putting a link within the first sentence of the email’s copy.
  • Add links to specific product pages under pictures of the product itself.
  • Including an eye-catching and unique call to action (CTA) at the end of the email with a prominent link to your optimized website

Remember, you’ll want to be strategic with your links. More than a few will likely either confuse or overwhelm your reader. We’d recommend placing one key link near the beginning and another towards the end, likely where you’ll bring up your call to action.

Conversions

A conversion measures when a potential customer becomes a consumer. While your CTR measures how many people clicked on a link, the conversion rate measures how many consumers actually completed something. What you consider a conversion can vary depending on your business goals. A conversion can be making a phone call, signing up for a workshop, or participating in a certain sale by entering a promo code.

At the end of the day, no matter what your specific conversion is, this metric will give you a unique insight into your ROI. When you figure out how many people are buying from you, compared to how much you are spending to acquire them, you will be in a better place to see whether or not your targeted email campaign is successful.

Collect Customer Data to Create Targeted Email Lists

If collecting all of this data sounds like a daunting task, then fear not! Assuming your company has existing customers, you likely already have a ton of unused consumer data at your fingertips. But before you can do anything with it, you need to proceed strategically to help you measure your success and get the best results. You will want to:

  • Set Specific Goals: Similar to the conversion metric, your goal can be anything you want it to be, from having a customer make a phone call and completing a purchase to promoting a new product, free plan, or collecting email signup forms.
  • Choose Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Depending on the goal you come up with, your key performance metrics could be batch, open rate, downloads, signups, and/or sales. Be sure that the KPIs you privilege correspond with an increased conversion.
  • Analyze Your Data: Testing your data is exceptionally important, so make sure to frequently check your results to understand if they align with your original goals. The easiest way to do this is by using customer relationship management software (CRM) and email services, which can track everything for you.

Not all data is created equally when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Now that you have a process to manage the success of your targeted email marketing campaign, you’ll want to start segmenting your data.

How to Segment Audiences for Email Campaigns

Here is the type of data you should segment when tracking the success of your data-driven email campaign.

Demographics

You’ll want to start off with some basic demographic information like age, sex, and geographic location. This information is easily collected during a sign-up or time of purchase. Use it to your advantage when you want to send personalized emails to your target audiences such as millennials, parents, or those who live on the East Coast, for example.

Customer Type

Different customers have different sensibilities, and you’ll likely have a wide array of customers that visit your site through its tenure. You will have returning customers who are loyal to your brand, new consumers who are considering products or services like yours, or those that just need something on the fly without requiring brand loyalty.

Understanding these customer types and their user behavior can help you determine how to accurately target them; whether it is via a retargeting campaign to get already converted consumers to buy, offering a new customer discount, or even sending a thank you note.

Website Behavior

It is incredibly important to track behavioral data because it tells you what about your website piques user interest. It will show you not only product trends but also how many customers are filling up a cart and then leaving the site mid-purchase.

This “bouncing” is incredibly common, and understanding the data behind it can give you insight into your next steps. For example, if a specific group of consumers is leaving the site right before they put in their credit card, you can consider adding a one-step payment system like PayPal to your site. Or, if you are noticing that your consumers rarely press “check out,” you can email them a coupon code or some other special offers enticing them to return to your site and hopefully convert.

Best CRM &  Email Marketing Softwares for Targeted Email Campaigns

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software simplifies life for business owners, as it tracks dozens of data metrics and presents them in one dashboard. Plus, these CRMs seamlessly integrate email marketing platforms to help you manage, store, and track your data.

There are plenty of CRMs available depending on your needs and goals. Here are some of our favorites. Each of them simplifies the work of targeted email campaigns.

HubSpot CRM

The HubSpot CRM is great for a beginner as it has everything you may need in a CRM, email marketing service, and email service provider––all in one place. With HubSpot, you can draft emails from a series of templates or make your own from scratch. You can even send emails and track analytics through this platform. They’ll provide you with information such as open rate, click-through rate, and they’ll even tell you which links were clicked.

Salesforce Essentials

Salesforce is a great CRM for small business owners. For beginners, it’s a simple way to approach targeted email marketing due to its intuitive interface. Salesforce also offers advanced reporting of website visitors  and lead assignment routing, as well as the ability to track new and inactive subscribers

Keap

If you have an e-commerce business, Keap is the way to go. It is an all-in-one software tool that generates leads, develops, and sends out automated email campaigns throughout the United States. It also allows you to sell your goods in an online store.

Successful Email Marketing Campaigns and the Power of Personalization

In order to conceptualize how targeted email marketing works when done correctly, it’s important to look at some successful national email marketing campaigns with brands you may know.

Chatbooks

Chatbooks is a photo book service that offers custom prints and binding at the click of a button. They go the extra mile in their email marketing by sending emails that evoke powerful emotions such as love or nostalgia. For example, they have been able to target new mothers, suggesting that they commemorate this sentimental time with a photo book chronicling their new baby’s first year. Ultimately, this strategy proved highly successful for them.

David’s Tea

To retain customers, this tea company sends thank you letters following every purchase. By sending these emails with a personalized message about the consumer’s purchasing history (i.e how many cups of tea the consumer bought from them), the user starts to feel important and remembered, ultimately leading to further purchases down the line.

Loft

Loft is an apparel brand that approaches their email marketing with transparency. They promote the fact that users can manage their email preferences in order to receive content that truly resonates with them. This self-selecting strategy boosts their click-through rate, as their emails only go to the consumers who have chosen to get them.

As you can see from these three brands, the power of personalization can really go far when it comes to connecting with your customers and encouraging them to convert.

Best Practices for Email Marketing Campaigns

While no two businesses are the same, there are some best practices anyone can implement to get the ROI when it comes to their email marketing strategy. Here are the best tips to try out before pressing “send.”

  • Optimize the email’s preview text. You’ll want to put the most important information in this sentence to really capture the user’s attention. Marketing emails are a dime a dozen, so make it a goal to create snappy, effective emails for your active subscribers.
  • Experiment with what time you send your emails. Try different times during the day so you can be sure to capture your audience when they are engaged on their mobile devices and computers.
  • Personalize the email greeting with a first name. For consumers, this is an important part of grabbing their attention. It also lends a human touch to each piece of correspondence.
  • Add incentives in the subject line and the copy’s headline to increase click-through rates and potential conversions.
  • Be personal with your email copy. Include your company’s logo, your contact information, and even a personalized email signature.
  • Send an auto-responding follow-up email to those consumers who choose to sign up or subscribe to a newsletter, if applicable. A relevant email as a followup is better than no email at all.
  • Be consistent. Once you figure out the best time to send out an email, stick to this schedule. This way, your customers will become accustomed to your schedule. That being said, only choose to send one or two emails per week, as constant contact can be a bad thing. Consumers are more likely to unsubscribe from your emails if you’re constantly filling up their inbox.

Targeted email marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool for your large or small business, as long as you stay dedicated to your end goal. Just as boosting your page ranking takes time, so does building an email campaign that continually delivers.  

Remember, your digital marketing effort is something that should be folded into your overall outreach strategy. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was any successful targeted email marketing campaign. However, with careful planning, implementation, and data tracking, you can develop a targeted email campaign that will convert consumers and take your business to the next level.

SEO 101: Understanding the SEO Environment

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is about creating content that provides value to your audience and then making that content easy to find. CONTENT doesn’t have to mean written content, content can be rich media (images, GIFs, video, audio, etc), products, tools, services, forms, anything a person might be looking for and which would provide the searcher value. VALUE can be entertainment value, informational value, functional value, perceived value, emotional value, and more. Remember: there’s just as much of a market for Instagram as there is for WSJ.com – so don’t make the mistake of dismissing types of content that may not feel “substantive” when thinking about content marketing.

The SEO Environment

There are two major spheres to consider when approaching SEO:

  • Elements that you have full control over (your web properties); and
  • Elements that you only have influential control over (everything on the internet that is not directly one of your web properties).

In SEO you’ll commonly hear these two spheres referred to as Onsite SEO and Offsite SEO, these are both parts of any complete content marketing strategy Pro-Tip: If you come from a more traditional marketing background you can think of Onsite SEO as referring to your owned media and Offsite SEO as your earned media, with both coming together as part of an inbound marketing strategy.

Onsite SEO

Onsite SEO refers to your onsite content and the onsite technicals for your website.

ONSITE CONTENT is pretty simple, it’s the content you’ve created to be viewed/used by the people who visit your site.

Rule #1 – make good content that’s useful to people.

ONSITE TECHNICALS are structural elements you’ve added to your site or site code to make your content easy to find and access (by people and robots). /p>

Rule #2 – make your content as accessible as possible.

Offsite SEO

OFFSITE SEO refers to content that references your business and lives online, but NOT on your own website. Offsite SEO includes reviews of your business, social signals, structured citations, and link signals.

  • Reviews:
    Tooltip: Reviews can be found on sites like Yelp, Zocdoc, and through platforms like Trustpilot or Google Business.

    users of your products/services discussing the quality of what your business produces.

  • Social Signals:
    Tooltip: Examples include: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.

    social signals refer to mentions of your business on social platforms, as well as engagement users have with you via your own social media accounts.

  • Structured Citations:
    Tooltip: Examples of structured citations include: Google My Business (GMB) listings, Yelp listings, Yellow Page listings, etc.

    commonly referred to as business listings structured citations can be found on sites that provide users information about your business’s hours, services, and location. Structured citations have a significant impact on local search results.

  • Link Signals:
    Tooltip: These signals tend to come from a variety of sources including PR pieces, blog posts, online articles, links in social media posts, etc.

    these are other sites linking to you – users referencing you, your site, your products, and/or your business.

SEO Symbiosis

These two spheres (offsite SEO and onsite SEO) work together. Offsite SEO helps people find your site, onsite SEO helps them navigate the content, find value in your site, and convert for your business.

Questions? Ask a Search Specialist

How To Set Up Your Google My Business Listing

Many websites don’t realize that a Google My Business listing can help all businesses rank better, not just local brick and mortar shops. If you’re a local business, a GMB listing is essential. If you’re not a local business, a GMB listing and setting a national or international service area can help you scoop up additional long-tail keyword searches.

For businesses that are local, GMB is the most critical item you can setup for your business — and you don’t even need a website first (although it helps). If you don’t have a website yet, Google can provide a basic one for you, free of charge! So there’s no excuse not to get started TODAY.

Sign Into Google My Business

Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in. You’ll need a Google Account.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an Account – signing up is very simple. Press the blue “manage now” button on the Google My Business landing page and then click create account.

The create account button is in the bottom left hand corner of the sign in box.

When you click the create account button, you’ll be prompted to select personal or business.

If you select business, you’ll be taken to this form to complete.

Check If A Listing Already Exists

Once you’re logged in, check to see if your business is already listed with Google using the search function. Try a couple variations and spellings if it’s not showing up right away – you want to avoid creating a duplicate listing if one already exists.

Claim or Create Your Business

If you find your business – claim it!

If your business is not listed yet at all – create it!

Confirm or Adjust Your Business Name

The next step lets you confirm/adjust your business name:

Select Your GMB Business Category

Now select a category for your business. You can change this later, or add additional categories. — so don’t stress too much about this choice.

Start typing in potential categories to surface options, or view a full list of categories here.

Each category has a GCLID (a specific technical ID) that may be able to help you pick between categories that may seem similar.

Take these two categories for example Commercial Photographer vs. Photography Service. You might feel unsure which category to select as a professional photographer.

The GCLIDS in this instance may help clarify your choice – Commercial Photographer has the GCLID advertising_photographer and Photography Service has the GCLID photography_service.

Most GCLIDs will be roughly the same as the category name.

Set Address or Service Areas

Select whether or not you have a physical location for users to visit.

Option 1: Select Yes and Add Your Physical Address

If you select Yes then Google will prompt you to add an address (this should be your primary location, you can add more locations later).

Option 2: Select No and Add Your Service Areas

If you select No then Google will prompt you to add your service areas – the areas where you will provide services in person, via mail, or digitally.

You can answer with specific cities or neighborhoods like this:

Or you can target broader regions by adding states or even countries:

Add Contact Information for Your Business

Next you’ll add your contact information for your business, if you don’t have a website Google can even give you a free one at this stage to help you get setup.

Verify Your Business

Once you’ve entered your contact information, Google will either tell you that your business has been verified, or that they need to send a verification postcard to your physical address to verify the listing:

Once you enter a physical address or confirm your physical address (if needed) you’ll get a confirmation screen:

When you press continue, you should be taken to your GMB dashboard.

Create Your First Post

Within your GMB dashboard you have a number of additional ways to capture users, starting with creating posts.

You can create posts highlighting updates, offers, upcoming events, or even use them to promote recent blog posts.

They will display under your GMB listing.

Add Your Products/Services

You can also add your products and services to make it easier for users to find them from search.

They will also display below your GMB listing.

And if users click in to explore a category they will be able to see a full listing of your products and services.

Take Advantage of Your GMB Listing’s Q&A

You can also use your GMB listing to interact with potential customers through Questions & Answers.

As a business you can answer questions submitted by customers, but you can also ask questions yourself and THEN answer them. You can use this space to write your own FAQ that customers can access before ever clicking into your site.

Answering questions that users and potential customers ask will help clarify information about your business, services, and/or products.

Set Up GMB on Your Phone to Access Customer Chat

Your GMB listing also allows you to setup direct chat with customers through the GMB App.

Collect Reviews!!!

Finally, use the link provided in your GMB console to collect reviews for your business. Reviews are one of the most significant ranking factors for local businesses. You can use your GMB link to invite people to leave you reviews.

Respond to Reviews

Once you have reviews coming in, you should review them regularly. Respond (kindly & helpfully) to any negative reviews. Responding well to customer complaints will help your SEO and help other customers take bad reviews less negatively.

Some pointers for responding to negative reviews:

Check the Review is Real

First, check that it’s a legitimate review. Sometimes people can get confused about where they were, or other businesses may leave negative reviews for competitors. If this is the case, don’t engage – simply flag the review to Google for removal.

Types of reviews you can flag for removal:

  • Spam and fake content
  • Off-topic
  • Restricted content
  • Illegal content
  • Terrorist content
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Offensive content
  • Dangerous & Derogatory Content
  • Impersonation
  • Conflict of Interest

How to flag a review for removal:

  • Go to the review
  • Tap or click “More”
  • Select either “Flag Review” (from your GMB account) or “Report Review” (from Google Maps).

Pro-tip: The more people who report a review for removal, the more likely that review will be removed.

Appologize

Apologize, even if the business did nothing wrong – if nothing else you can apologize that your business wasn’t able to make their experience better or more positive.

Take It Offline

Take the conversation out of the reviews – invite them to reach out to you directly via phone and email.

Include Light Promotion

Insert a small marketing line. If they complained about service something like “We apologize that we didn’t live up to our normally excellent standard of service…”

BE BRIEF!!

Keep it short! Three to four sentence responses to negative reviews are your best bet, in these situations less is more. Getting into details or blaming the customer can seem defensive and make other customers think less of the business, and being too long winded can come across as defensive. Be brief, courteous, and positive.

Offer to fix the situation (if possible).

Invite the person back with a discount, or for free to rectify the problem. Or find another way to make it right.

Step 14: Rank Higher

Now just engage users regularly through your GMB account, and see your rankings improve!