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How To Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win (or Keep) Buy-In

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How To Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win (or Keep) Buy-In

Updated March 15, 2022

Many key figures for buy-in and implementation of content marketing still don’t even know what content marketing is or why it’s a worthy investment.

That could well affect why only 26% of B2B and 29% of B2C marketers rate their content marketing as extremely or very successful in the latest CMI research. If you can’t get initial buy-in, if you don’t get enough support behind your content efforts, how can you be successful?

Explaining the nitty-gritty inner workings and ROI of both content marketing and content strategy to bosses or clients is difficult for everybody. This difficulty multiplies, especially when you want to get your content strategy off the ground. And if you can’t find the right way to explain ROI, you may never move past “go.”

If you can’t explain #ContentMarketing, #ContentStrategy, and ROI to executives, you may never move past go, says @JuliaEMcoy via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Being able to explain content marketing’s worth and rewards can make all the difference in this situation. How do you explain content marketing and its ROI? How can you phrase this explanation in a way that’s persuasive, urgent, and incredibly convincing?

Fear not. There ARE ways to make it happen.

1. Explain content marketing and strategy in understandable terms

Start with the basics in your explanation of content marketing and strategy. Metaphors are always a great way to relate new concepts to something people already know. Here’s an apt one for the content duo:

If content marketing is a vehicle, content strategy is its engine. The vehicle can transport you to your destination (i.e., goals), but it needs an engine to get you there.

Perhaps the goal is to increase organic traffic to your brand website – your destination.

  • The vehicle to get there is content marketing.
  • The engine that powers content marketing is your content strategy. In this example, the strategy might be to blog three times a month, targeting keywords your desired audience uses in its searches.
  • The ROI for your engine-powered vehicle is measured by the increase in average monthly visitors to the site over a predetermined time in your content strategy.

Simply and succinctly breaking down content marketing and content strategy with this analogy gives your bosses or clients a ground-floor understanding of how it all works.

#ContentMarketing is the vehicle. #ContentStrategy is the engine that powers the vehicle. Your goal is the destination, says @JuliaEMcoy via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

After you lay it out, though, you need to dig in and really show them why it works and why they should care.

2. Use these methods to demystify content marketing ROI

All the metaphors in the world won’t help you explain content marketing and its worth if you aren’t using language your boss, clients, or higher-ups understand. Here are some other approaches that help show how content marketing works and make them care.

Gather evidence (case studies, examples, stats, and more)

To drive home the impact and potential of content marketing for whoever needs convincing, show them the numbers, don’t talk about the potential.

Gather examples of other businesses and individuals who have used content marketing to bolster their brand success. These are easy enough to find online. Search for case studies that show the true gains from content in terms of hard data.

For example, this CMI article looks at four companies that shared the results from their content marketing campaigns. The article shares concrete examples of the content each company created, plus the major results each campaign netted. For example, software development agency Coding Sans shared that its 2019 State of Software Development report attracted 5,000 downloads, 291 backlinks, and an estimated $300,000 in new projects.

Phrase your argument in terms of what your boss or client will gain

For your content argument to win, you need to emphasize what your boss/client/stakeholder will gain from it.

To win the argument for #content, emphasize what your boss will gain from it, says @JuliaEMcCoy via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

As Gary Williams and Robert Miller write Harvard Business Review: “All too often, people make the mistake of focusing too much on the content of their argument and not enough on how they deliver that message.”

The right delivery is key for achieving content marketing buy-in. Don’t just gather all the examples and throw them like a pitcher throwing fastballs. Think about the key person you’re trying to convince and tailor your argument for them.

Present examples that will appeal to their interests and knowledge. Then, describe how a tailored content strategy for the brand will drive traffic, build relationships with an audience, create leads, and ultimately pull in new customers. Emphasize whichever of these results that person will deem most important.

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3. Predict the ROI on implementing (or continuing to invest in) content marketing

If the higher-ups want to know how you’ll show the ROI of content marketing in hard numbers, don’t despair. You can estimate the eventual payoff for the brand depending on what they invest in content marketing at the outset.

Let’s get into the formula you need to follow for confidently making this prediction. This is where you literally show them the money.

Hit them with a tested formula for predicting ROI

Here’s the foundation of the content marketing ROI formula: conversions.

Conversions are a basic metric to determine the success of a content marketing strategy.  You can use content marketing to:

  • Attract or increase traffic to a site.
  • Convert that traffic into high-quality leads.
  • Convert those leads into sales.

1647339243 553 How To Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win or Keep

If you can quantify conversions in terms of their potential sales, you can estimate the eventual ROI from investment in a content marketing strategy.

Benchmarks

Benchmark numbers help you determine conversion potential. For this formula, use data that quantifies two big parts of the conversion process:

  • Your industry’s average conversion rate to high-quality leads (the ones most likely to become sales)
  • Your company’s average rate of high-quality leads that convert to sales

Use these numbers, plus monthly traffic numbers from your brand, to predict content marketing ROI in the form of projected leads and sales.

Formula

To estimate earned leads per month:

  • Number of monthly visitors multiplied by (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) = X leads per month

To estimate sales per month from those leads:

  • Number of monthly leads multiplied by (average lead-to-sale conversion rate) = X sales per month

4. Use numbers to encourage investment in content marketing

Sure, showing the ROI potential of content marketing is great, but it won’t hit home unless you also show why it’s better than other types of marketing investments. Here’s how to do that:

Estimate the investment

Up-front investment is necessary for content marketing. Show what that investment will look like.

For example, if you pay about $375 on average for one authority content piece every week, the total yearly investment for content creation is $19,500. (I’m using this single cost to simplify the example. You should consider all related costs for publishing, promotion, etc.)

Explain what the investment will produce

Now, outline what the company will get from that investment.

For example, show that your content creation will focus on high-performing keywords (low competition, high search volume). Assume you’ll hit at least the third position in Google rankings within a year for at least two-thirds of those targeted keywords (34 out of 52, give or take a few).

If each of those higher-ranking keywords has a search volume of 1,500 a month, you could expect a CTR (click-through rate) of 11%, according to Sistrix data.

That would net a total search volume of 51,000 (34 keywords multiplied by 1,500 searches per month) and an average of 5,610 monthly visitors (51,000 total search volume x 11% CTR).

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Show why that investment is better and how it translates to ROI

Now, find out how much it would cost to reach that number of website monthly visitors through paid search.

For example, Semrush shows (with a Pro subscription) organic traffic and how much that amount of traffic would cost in paid search each month. Here’s an example from my website that shows I’d have to pay $2,400 a month for the 841 monthly organic visitors the site currently attracts. Find that number for your own organic traffic and compare it to your content costs.

1647339243 364 How To Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win or Keep

To make the deal sweeter, let’s look at the ROI potential of those 5,610 monthly visitors from content marketing using the earlier conversion benchmark formulas:

  • 5,610 monthly visitors x 10% (benchmark traffic-to-leads conversion rate) = 561 monthly leads
  • 561 monthly leads x 15% (benchmark leads-to-sales conversion rate) = 84 monthly closed sales

(I used numbers to make the calculation easy to understand. You’ll use the numbers you gathered on relevant industry benchmarks and your own company’s lead-to-sale close rate.)

Pulling it all together

It’s time to pull it all together and create the most convincing argument possible for content marketing and strategy.

Use each facet to build your case and make it irresistible, and always phrase your argument in terms of how content will benefit your boss/clients/higher-ups/stakeholders:

  1. Lay out a ground-floor explanation of how content marketing and strategy work. Use relatable metaphors.
  2. Present examples of content from various companies AND the results netted from these campaigns. (Use hard data and stats – case studies are excellent for this.)
  3. Use the formulas above to predict the brand’s potential for ROI-based traffic and lead conversions. Compare those numbers to investments for other marketing tactics to get the same results.
  4. Accept handshakes and pats on the back for your marketing genius.

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Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Top 3 Strategies for Success

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Top 3 Strategies for Success

With the advent of e-commerce, manufacturers have unprecedented opportunities to expand their reach, streamline their operations, and enhance profitability. Amidst this digital revolution, adopting Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) is pivotal in optimizing production processes, quality control, and resource management.

As the lines between traditional brick-and-mortar sales and online commerce continue to blur, manufacturers increasingly realize the need to adapt and thrive in this new digital landscape. This article explores the top 3 strategies manufacturers can employ to succeed in e-commerce.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is specialized application software designed to solve the tasks of synchronization, coordination, analysis, and optimization of production output within any production. MES systems belong to the class of shop floor-level management systems but can also be used for integrated production management at the enterprise as a whole.

MES collects and analyzes production processes, product demand, and inventory data. This allows manufacturers to adapt more quickly to changes in the market, reconfigure production to meet current requirements, and closely monitor trends. As a result, manufacturers can more easily predict and meet customer needs, which helps increase online sales.

MES helps in maintaining accurate inventory records and managing inventory turnover. This avoids overstock or shortages, which can affect a company’s ability to meet online demand and maintain customer service levels.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) enhance transparency and automate operations, reducing human errors and operational costs. Integrating Manufacturing CRM streamlines customer data, allowing manufacturers to tailor products, respond to market changes, and offer competitive prices in online stores. The synergy between MES and CRM creates an agile manufacturing environment, optimizing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Content Marketing

Kapost’s research shows that companies in the B2B segment that blog get 67% more leads on average than companies that don’t. However, it’s worth remembering that content marketing requires a lot of resources to prepare and regularity in publishing it. This content can be, for example, brand identity and E-commerce logo, articles and videos, webinars, research, and interviews.

The content should help solve a specific problem to create the image of an expert and thus influence the decisions of potential customers. The topics discussed should not be chosen randomly. A little research in Google Trends will help select the main topic, discussion areas in the video, phrases, and words that should be included in the article. Publishing content based on such a prepared analysis allows you to achieve high positions in search engines. It provides a good user experience for customers looking for answers to product/service questions, comprehensively covering the subject matter.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are free traffic, increased user confidence, and the creation of an expert image.

Content marketing is a form of promotion that requires patience and time. Its effects will also depend on the quality of thecontent itself, its optimization, and promotion methods. No specific terms can be specified here.

YouTube channels as a form of content marketing

You can discuss your production process and show and test products on your YouTube channel. If someone is looking for information about a product and is unsure which brand to choose, they will likely find your video and maybe make a purchase. Remember to choose a title that matches the search query and prepare a video description with product links. You can send out an email to announce when new videos are released. Whenever you have particularly compelling videos, you could also promote them via texting notifications to drive even more traffic.

Utilize user-generated content and social media

Not utilizing the content that your users generate is a huge issue. This is because it’s not easy to refresh an e-commerce website and keep it alive. But photos and videos taken by real customers are great for this purpose.

Adding a “widget” that connects your online store’s website to its official social media accounts brings significant benefits. These include revitalizing your social media accounts, increasing your credibility as a manufacturer, inspiring other customers to buy, and encouraging repeat purchases.

Snapchat Planets

Snapchat’s “Planets” feature provides a unique and interactive way to engage with your e-commerce store’s audience. Here are some creative ideas on how to leverage Snapchat Planets to create engaging content:

  • Virtual Store Tours: Use the AR feature to create a virtual tour of your store. Each planet can represent different sections or categories of your store. For instance, one planet could showcase your latest collection, another could highlight bestsellers, and another could offer exclusive deals.
  • Product Launches: Announce new product launches by creating a cosmic journey. Users can travel from one planet to another, each unveiling a new product with engaging visuals and detailed descriptions. This creates a sense of excitement and discovery around new arrivals.
  • Interactive Shopping Experience: Create interactive shopping experiences where users can explore products in a fun and engaging way. For example, users can navigate through different planets to find hidden discounts or special offers, making shopping more interactive and rewarding.
  • Customer Rewards and Loyalty Programs: Develop a loyalty program where users earn points or rewards by exploring different planets. Each planet can offer unique rewards, such as discounts, free samples, or exclusive access to new collections. This gamifies the shopping experience and encourages repeat visits.
  • Themed Campaigns: Align your marketing campaigns with planetary themes. For instance, during holiday seasons, you can create a holiday-themed planet where users can find special holiday deals, gift ideas, and festive content.

By leveraging Snapchat Planets, you can transform your e-commerce store’s content into a captivating and interactive experience that keeps your audience engaged, entertained, and coming back for more.

Use newsletters to captivate your target audience

Newsletters can strengthen the connection with the consumer and demonstrate that shopping with you is safe and profitable. Remember that the more personalized the message, the more effective it will be. It should contain a call to action (CTA), such as a button that redirects to products.

Don’t forget to put a box to check for consent to process personal data when subscribing to the newsletter. Also, add an option to unsubscribe from the newsletter in each email.

A regular email account is not adapted for the newsletter, so do not use your everyday email address. This way, you risk being blacklisted by spam filters. The benefits of newsletters are optimizing advertising costs, increasing loyal audiences from different channels, and building mutually beneficial relationships with partners.

Print and PDF Channel

1716522964 432 Top 3 Strategies for Success

In the digital landscape, the significance of Print and PDF channels cannot be underestimated for manufacturers engaging in e- commerce. The tactile experience of print offers unique psychological advantages, enhancing comprehension and retention, which are vital for technical manuals and complex product details. PDFs merge this benefit with digital accessibility, ensuring wide reach while maintaining format integrity. This dual-channel approach not only caters to diverse consumer preferences but also bolsters marketing efforts, making technical content more engaging and understandable. Utilizing catalog software further streamlines the integration of Print and PDF channels into e-commerce strategies, enhancing product presentation and distribution efficiency.

Contextual advertising: Google Ads

1716522964 713 Top 3 Strategies for Success

If you want the advertising you invest in to have an immediate effect, it’s worth turning to Google Ads. Google displays paid ads in search results and on Google’s network of partners (on-site ads in the form of banners).

You bid when you search for a keyword for which advertisers have set up a campaign. The search engine determines who will appear in the search results and at what position. When assigning bids, the quality of the landing page, the quality of the ads, and the stated maximum bid per click are all considered.

To start setting up your campaign, simply login to your Google Ads account. Using the service is free, and you’ll find plenty of online tutorials on creating a campaign. However, you may find that it won’t generate valuable traffic if you don’t set it up optimally. Your budget will be wasted on clicks that won’t lead to conversions. This is why most companies resort to the help of agencies, including specialized agencies.

There is probably no industry in which Google Ads campaigns cannot be used. However, advertising can be moderately profitable if there is a lot of competition in the industry and margins are low.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are large audience reach, the ability to get the target audience as accurately as possible, and very detailed statistics on results.

The effect of launching a campaign should appear almost immediately. A properly set up campaign will increase traffic to the website. By systematically optimizing the campaign, you can achieve much better results.

You also can use paid Facebook Ads post promotion. It is important to pinpoint your target group, but how do you do it? A popular way is to draw up a customer portrait, that is, to make a collective image of your customer.

This considers age, gender, income level, location, interests and hobbies, and online behavior. Such a person will display a group interested in your services or goods.

Implement personalized product selections

Recommended product block and cross-selling are very powerful internet marketing strategies. In addition to the recommended product block, which shows the analogs of the product being viewed, it is worth paying attention to the website’s functionality.

As a rule, the products in the “You may also like” block are selected based on the pages previously viewed by the customer, his previous purchases on the website, as well as what was purchased by other customers with similar tastes. If this functionality is implemented technically sound, it can lead to additional items added to the shopping cart. “You may also like” block partly acts as an alternative to the advice of a specialist or consultant.

With blocks for cross-selling related products is a similar situation. Usually, in them are placed products from the same product line, collection, or simply those that perfectly match the product being viewed. You can use AI-powered live chats to proactively engage in customer conversations and suggest products based on their behavior.

Conclusion

E-commerce for manufacturers is a vast field, and in this article, we have presented the most popular and most effective forms of selling online. Remember, no effective e-commerce strategy exists. Each industry and business will have specifics. Try combining the above mentioned e-commerce strategies to maximize your chances of success and increase your profits.

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”

“Exactly!”

“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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