Using Web Marketing Data Effectively Part 3: Making Decisions and Taking Action

Guest writing for us this week is Gary Barnes. He is a Principal in Blue Horseradish, a full service SEO and web marketing consultancy, and has over fifteen years of experience in helping companies maximize the performance of their web presence and develop successful web marketing strategies.

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In the previous two parts of this series, we’ve learned to perform keyword research to optimize our web content targeting and to measure the performance of those efforts to see what does and does not work. The next step is to leverage that knowledge to make informed marketing decisions that can grow the business.
This step is again unique for each business and dependent on what marketing information was researched and measured, but below are several areas where impactful actions can normally be implemented:

1. Sales:

Every business has a finite amount of sales resources they can allocate. How the business decides to allocate those resources is important to success and the relevant marketing data should be factored into those decisions.

For example, let’s say the business tracks data on three main aspects:

• Top ten customers by order revenue
• Top ten customers by order volume
• Top ten customers by order frequency

First, if there are customers that fit all three aspects, those represent your core customer base. The business could allocate sales resources to find ways to grow the engagement with these customers and also work to expand this group within their current customer base and prospects. Second, if a customer does not currently fit any of the three aspects, the business could allocate sales resources to find ways to grow the engagement with these customers. Third, understanding customer and prospect behavior is vital: why do certain customers only order once a year? Why do certain customers order every month? Why are some orders very large and some very small? These patterns are signals the sales team could use to help address customer’s needs and enhance the relationship.

2. Content Marketing:

If the business is tracking relevant metrics on how well their content is performing, leveraging that data to take actions on the content development side should be straight forward.

For example, let’s focus on website traffic and conversions which are two common elements effective optimized content can enhance.

Content, whether it is a web page or blog post or video etc., can rank in the search engines and also be linked to by external sources. That exposure usually helps to increase traffic to the website since the engines and/or external sources believe it is valuable. If the business knows which content performs best i.e. generates the highest ranking in the search engines and/or the most inbound links from external sources, they can develop more of it and improve their overall effectiveness.

In a similar vein, if the business knows what content leads to more conversions i.e. lead generation or orders etc., they can focus on creating more of that effective content and thus enhance the growth of the business.

On the other hand, performance can also be enhanced by knowing what does not work well and thus not wasting more time/resources on that content. Be aware of small sample errors and impatience – make sure the business has enough of a sample to make solid conclusions and is not overlooking ways to tweak the nonperforming content that may improve its effectiveness.

3. Business Intelligence:

A commonly overlooked area for actionable data is business intelligence. There are numerous software offerings that go beyond normal website analytics and provide more detailed traffic information including the companies who visit the site.

If a business knows more about who is visiting their site and therefore showing interest in their services or products, they could allocate sales resources to follow up with those leads while they are still warm. That quicker action could increase the conversion rate of those leads into customers.

The business can also utilize data to develop content that could attract more of various types of visitors that are beneficial to the business. For example, if the business knows their sales team recently followed up on a particular visitor to the site and discovered they were looking for a solution to a specific problem, targeted content could be developed showing how the company’s services or products addressed that problem. That content could be provided to the particular lead, but also shared to other prospects or customers that fit similar profiles.

4. Email Marketing:

Email is one channel that incorporates many of the above aspects in one. Email marketing is another good way to drive traffic to the website and generate conversions. It also can be an effective way to deliver valuable content potential prospects should be interested in.

Segmenting an email marketing list is important so the targeted content can be sent to the most relevant prospects. Finally, anyone who clicks through or visits the site via an email marketing content piece should be followed up with by the sales team as a lead. If they convert on the website after clicking through, that is all the better for the business.

In a nutshell, using data to make decisions and drive actions removes guesswork and increases the chances of success if done correctly. It provides an advantage for businesses that can make them stand out from their competition and outperform them too. A continuous improvement process based on data can help a business grow, compete better and provide better offerings to their marketplace.
About Blue Horseradishwww.bluehorseradish.com
Blue Horseradish is a full service web marketing consultancy that provides search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media optimization (SMO), local search engine optimization and a variety of other web marketing services along with web design and development.

Blue Horseradish specializes in B2B web marketing with a large customer base of manufacturing, industrial, engineering and technology companies with a proven track record of customer successes and enthusiastic references.

Using Web Marketing Data Effectively Part 2: Measurement and Tracking Results

Guest writing for us this week is Gary Barnes. He is a Principal in Blue Horseradish, a full service SEO and web marketing consultancy, and has over fifteen years of experience in helping companies maximize the performance of their web presence and develop successful web marketing strategies.

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A common saying is if you can measure something, you can improve it. Measurement provides the data and context critical to defining both problems and opportunities. Defining problems and opportunities leads to formulating plans to address them and, if done well, can result in improvements for a business.
In search engine optimization, measurement is vital to success. New innovations and rule changes occur constantly in the search engine optimization world. Searcher and site visitor behavior patterns vary in many ways, ranging from industry to location to time period. Each business also faces unique challenges and dynamics that need to be recognized and understood.
Far too often, businesses cannot or do not measure if what they are doing is working. Marketing is no different; questions like how much search engine traffic the website gets per month or how many website leads or orders they get per month or how much revenue the website generated last quarter are routinely met with blank stares and awkward silences. A business invested in measurement would know the answers and, more accurately, understand how their business is actually performing.
Understanding what is truly working and not working helps facilitate smarter decision making about marketing budget allocations and resources and allows a business to be more agile in their marketplace. Inversely, if a business does not measure how they are doing or ignores the data in their decision making, they are likely to be less innovative, adaptable and successful. A normal refrain can be paraphrased as the “well, it’s worked so far, why change it” approach. They do not seem to realize that they are running their business on untested assumptions rather than the quantifiable facts that are available to them. For instance, how do they know the website has “worked so far” if they are not tracking anything?
What are common SEO metrics or key performance indicators that should be tracked? They are unique for each business, but below are some nearly universal ones:

1. Traffic Sources:

Each month, track the amount of traffic the website gets according to their particular channel: search engines, direct, referral, social, email, paid advertising etc. Understanding the amounts and percentages for each channel shows where your site traffic comes from and the value each channel delivers.

This will also help identify weaknesses to bolster and strengths to leverage. For example, if one or two channels are generating significantly lower numbers than others, then those are ones that need help. Investigate what could be holding those sources back from driving traffic and implement solutions to address the issues you find. If one channel is generating significantly higher or lower numbers than normal, those are other signs to pay attention to and address.

2. Search Engine Referrals:

The most important channel for search engine optimization is obviously the organic search engine referrals. In the U.S., roughly 96% of all search engine traffic comes from the three biggest engines: Google and the Bing-Yahoo alliance. Understanding what amounts and percentages of site traffic are coming from those specific engines is critical.

Look for trends that stick out; either large drops or increases and tie them back to what web marketing activities were implemented during those time periods. If a significant drop occurs in Google, but the others stay consistent, then check into how your site pages and other content is ranking in Google and if any evidence exists your site was penalized or a corresponding drop happened in the amount of pages Google has indexed. On the other hand, if the business just launched a new campaign and submitted new content for the engines to index and you see a sizable increase in search engine traffic soon afterwards, check to see if they are related and if the improvements stick. If so, you have evidence of a campaign that worked well and could be re-deployed for another product or service.

3. Referrals via Specific Search Engine Phrases

Identifying the target phrases to build around is very important as discussed in Part 1 (link to Part 1 blog post) of this series. Tracking the performance of those phrases is equally vital. Knowing that the target phrases are delivering a good flow of traffic to the site and to what pages highlights the effectiveness of the SEO work and usually correlates to which phrases the business has achieved rankings for in the engines.

For example, say “New York offices for sale” was one of the target phrases selected and content pages were developed on that topic for the site. If the business sees strong amounts of traffic coming to the site on that phrase and landing on the relevant content pages, then the SEO work is on track. Checking the search engine rankings on Google/Bing for that phrase is another way to test that improvement trend.

4. Conversions and Conversion Rate:

Conversions are the most important metrics to track and they can be tracked in various ways. The business needs to set the types of conversions they want visitors to perform as part of their planning process. Once the website is running, the business wants to understand the number of conversions their website generates, but also several metrics that relate to the conversion rate. Common website conversion metrics include:

• Online Orders
• Membership Registrations
• Online Form Submissions
• Targeted Content Downloads
• Conversions per Target Phrase

Once the business knows the number of conversions the website generated each month, the various conversion rates for their channels can be calculated. For example, say the business received 100 conversions from the website in a month. The business can compare that number to previous months and analyze current trends.

Furthermore, let’s say they also know 20 of those web conversions were orders, 40 were contact form submissions and the remaining 40 were downloads of a particular content piece developed for their audience. The business now can calculate conversion rates for each channel and again compare those to previous months.
The final step for the non-order conversions would be to track their progress internally and verifying how many result in revenue generation and, if so, how much revenue. If the business, for instance, gets at least 40 contact form submissions each month, but on average only 5 of them generate revenue there should be analysis done to find out why and what can be done to increase the ROI from that channel.

Besides the various channels the business receives conversions through, another important element to track are conversions per target phrase. If particular phrases are not driving conversions consistently, that can be a signal the targeting for your audience is off-base or the search engine rankings for that phrase have dropped or the relevant content page that phrase drives traffic to is not working well enough to convert visitors. This works for both organic and paid search engine traffic and, if certain phrases are used in both programs, they should be tracked separately so comparisons can be made.

Overall, your website is likely the best marketing tool for the business and measuring what is happening, what works and what does not work and what revenue is being generated by the website are all critical data points for a business. A continuous improvement process based on data can help a business grow, compete better and provide better offerings to their marketplace.
About Blue Horseradishwww.bluehorseradish.com
Blue Horseradish is a full service web marketing consultancy that provides search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media optimization (SMO), local search engine optimization and a variety of other web marketing services along with web design and development.

Blue Horseradish specializes in B2B web marketing with a large customer base of manufacturing, industrial, engineering and technology companies with a proven track record of customer successes and enthusiastic references.

Using Web Marketing Data Effectively Part 1: Keyword Research

Guest writing for us this week is Gary Barnes. He is a Principal in Blue Horseradish, a full service SEO and web marketing consultancy, and has over fifteen years of experience in helping companies maximize the performance of their web presence and develop successful web marketing strategies.

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Tim Duncan, one of the premier power forwards in NBA history, recently retired after 19 very successful seasons. His nickname was the “Big Fundamental” since routinely he made the best possible “percentage play” for whatever situation he was in.

Duncan was famous for studying his opponents, understanding the rules of the game, knowing how his teammates played and the odds a certain play would work in a particular context.

How does one know what the best “percentage plays” are for various situations? By researching and analyzing relevant data. In the search engine optimization and web marketing world, that relevant data starts with its own “Big Fundamental” otherwise known as keyword research.

Search starts with entering a group of keywords or phrases into a search box and requesting a set of relevant results. This is true for any type of search engine: Google, Bing, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Amazon are some of the most popular options. Understanding which keyphrases your target audience is searching for and thus what phrases you want your business to be found for on any of those engines is critical to making the best “percentage play”.

Keyword research is one of the most vital and high return activities in web marketing. At the core, it facilitates getting visitors to your website, but, more importantly, it allows you to drive the right visitors to your website: the visitors who are interested in your products or services and would be inclined to buy them.

The value of this marketing intelligence is fantastic. Using keyword research, one can react to market conditions quicker, anticipate shifts in demand better and develop the content, products, and services that web searchers are actively seeking. For marketing purposes, the barrier to understanding the motivations of customers in almost any business sector has never been lower.

How does one start the keyword research process? Good question. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. 1.  Always Test Assumptions:

Be skeptical of what is believed to be true regarding keywords or site visitor search behavior within a business or organization. In nearly every case, once the keyword research was done, what was believed to be true was not supported by the data and the valuable phrases included ones not previously known or considered valuable by the business or organization.

Part of this is human nature; people are normally reticent to admit they do not know something or that they could be wrong. Other factors can be indifference or resistance to data. Keyword research will only work effectively if people are engaged and invested in discovering what is really happening and how to leverage that to their advantage.

  1. 2.  Align Keyword Research with Business Goals

Most importantly, make sure your keyword research is aligned with the business goals of the company or organization. If there is a particular service or product that needs promotion or new offerings to be introduced to the marketplace, include keyphrases in the research that pertain to them. That will facilitate site pages and content being developed on those topics that will help achieve the relevant business goals.

  1. 3.  Cast a Wide Net and Then Narrow the Focus:

Identifying the keyphrases to research is very important. There are a wide range of data sources that should be utilized. The concept is to cast as wide a net as possible to capture as many potentially valuable keyphrases as possible. The key is realizing that whatever keyphrases are not included on the list will not get researched. This sounds elementary, but you cannot imagine how many times other keyphrase options have been provided AFTER we already completed the research. Work hard to include everything that has potential so work does not need to be repeated unnecessarily. Once the list has been researched, an evaluation process takes place to eliminate all but the most valuable and relevant keyphrases. Those phrases will be the targets the site architecture and content are built around.

  1. 4.  Include all Relevant Data Sources:

 In the spirit of casting as wide a net as possible, definitely consider all the relevant data sources for keyphrases. These include:

Tools such as Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools – keyphrase data directly from the engines on what keyphrases includes your website in the result set.

  • Current rankings – check who is currently well ranked for the target keyphrases and what other related phrases they are using.
  • Other tools including Google Keyword Planner and Bing Keyword Research – discover search activity information on specific keyphrases or keyphrase options.
  • Organizational brainstorming – gather keyphrase options from company personnel
  • Competitive research – see what keyphrases your competition has optimized around and is ranked for currently.

 

  1. 5. Elements for Evaluation:

 Elements to consider as part of evaluating the keyword research data and selecting the target phrases include word order, singular vs. plural, specific vs. general, amount of search activity and relevancy.

Word Order – compare the keyphrases “commercial real estate” and “real estate commercial”. They both use the same three words in the phrase yet have completely different meanings. In the research, all these variations should be considered, but when evaluating the data it will become clear which ones belong and which ones should be eliminated.

Singular vs. Plural – products or services are normally searched for both as a singular phrase i.e. “office building for sale” and a plural one “office buildings for sale”. Both versions may turn out to be equally relevant, but, especially with products or properties, usually they are purchased either one at a time or in groups of more than one. That purchase behavior is what dictates which version of the phrase to use.

Specific vs. General – the rule here is the more specific the keyphrase, the more qualified the site traffic and leads will result from it. For general phrases, obviously the opposite is true; the traffic and leads will be less qualified. The trade off is the amount of search activity a specific phrase has compared to the general phrase. If we are comparing “sales comps” with “Dallas office sales comps”, the general phrase should have a huge amount of search activity and the specific one much less. The key is to find the most specific phrase one can that has enough search activity to make investing in marketing that phrase worth it.

Amount of Search Activity – Do not get too hung up on the specific numbers of search activity. The tools provide monthly averages for the search activity and they only provide data for their platform: Google for Google and Bing for Bing. Therefore, it is better to look at the relevancy of the phrases and then focus more on the number of average searches. The keyphrases that are chosen as targets must be highly relevant to the products or services being marketed. If one phrase has 50 searches per month and a similar one has 70 does not matter as much. Whichever one is more relevant should be selected.

 

About Blue Horseradish www.bluehorseradish.com

Blue Horseradish is a full service web marketing consultancy that provides search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media optimization (SMO), local search engine optimization and a variety of other web marketing services along with web design and development.

Blue Horseradish specializes in B2B web marketing with a large customer base of manufacturing, industrial, engineering and technology companies with a proven track record of customer successes and enthusiastic references.

 

Photo Credit: http://kiatex.com/seo/