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How To Get More From Existing Content With Historical Optimization

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How To Get More From Existing Content With Historical Optimization

Considering all the ways to draw attention to your content, one underutilized tactic could help you get even more from your creation efforts: historical optimization.

Historical optimization involves updating published content to give it new life and longevity. This powerful tactic taps into everything you’ve already done. All the content painstakingly created for your website can be used again and again to engage readers with up-to-date information, improve search visibility, generate organic traffic, and boost the return on your content marketing investment.

Historical optimization gives published #content a new life and longevity, says Tony Patrick of @InfluenceandCo via @CMIContent @Aprimo. Click To Tweet

Successful historical optimization example

Let’s take a blog post I published in 2014, How to Pitch Your Content to Editors. By 2021, the content was ranking lower in search results, which naturally led to a decrease in organic traffic to the article. People had stopped engaging, and the embedded calls to action were essentially dormant.

We did an overall content audit and realized the site included that 2014 article and two similar blog posts on the topic. (The latter two articles combined netted fewer than 1,000 views, 1 new contact form completed, and no new customers.) Instead of continuing to split traffic across three pages, we consolidated the content into one updated in-depth blog post. We redirected the original URLs for the two similar articles to the updated in-depth blog post URL. We added hyperlinks to other relevant on-site content, infused the piece with updated keywords, optimized our calls to action to be more visible and direct, and added fresh information.

The results? After five months, the updated blog post brought in 7,600 page views and 26 new contacts. It started ranking for highly relevant keywords; moreover, it influenced a sale. We had taken the old content, added minimum new effort, and earned a fresh boost in our most impactful performance indicators.

A historical optimization led to combining three old posts into an in-depth new version that brought big #ContentMarketing results, says Tony Patrick of @InfluenceandCo via @CMIContent @Aprimo. Click To Tweet


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How to implement historical optimization

Here are a few basic steps to practice historical optimization in your content marketing and squeeze every last drop of ROI from your site’s content:

1. Perform a content audit

You won’t know where to start with historical optimization if you don’t know how your content is already performing. You need to perform a content audit to identify the pockets of potential.

List existing content. Next to each item, note the corresponding engagement data, such as search rankings, CTA click-through rate, organic traffic, bounce rate, etc. You can see which pieces perform well, gaps in topic coverage, and opportunities to cultivate your articles into a content hub.

But don’t just look at your own content. Dive into the top-ranking pages for the keywords you want to rank for. Use these as a guide to what type of information should be in your updated content versions.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

2. Select a few pieces to update first

In your content audit, you probably discovered many pieces that could use some optimizing. But try to update everything at once, and you’ll get confused and overwhelmed, and it will be difficult to see which incremental changes move the needle. Start slow and small.

Select one or two articles to jump-start your efforts and your ultimate goals for the content. You could choose a post still gaining traffic and update its language, so readers don’t encounter outdated information. Or you could choose a post ranking in search results that isn’t leading to sustained engagement on your site. Trying to focus on conversion? Choose to update the content that encourages users to download a resource or submit a form and jolt them into taking action.

Select 1 or 2 articles to jump-start your historical optimization efforts. Pick ones that relate to a business goal, says Tony Patrick of @InfluenceandCo via @CMIContent @Aprimo. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

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3. Measure pre- and post-update performance

Just like you need to perform an audit to see how your content is doing, you also need to measure the impact of the updates to see whether they’re valuable. Think of it as a scientific experiment. You have a hypothesis about optimizing existing content, but until you see the data difference between old posts and new, you won’t be able to prove your hypothesis.

What happened when you updated the content on the page? Did conversions increase? Did the piece’s level of engagement begin to match its search engine rankings? Be patient. Seeing better results won’t happen overnight.

Set yourself reminders to analyze performance over time so you can understand which tactics are making the biggest impact. For example, you might check incremental progress after one, three, six, and 12 months.

In the graphic below, you can see how we measure the progress of our updated posts based on our results tracked through HubSpot, such as new form submissions, new contacts, page views, etc., and Moz, such as page authority, linking domains, and inbound links. Documenting the metrics on a spreadsheet allows us to monitor the results over time easily. We highlight improved metrics in green and diminished metrics in red.

Spreadsheet that shows the progress of updated posts based on results tracked through HubSpot and Moz: new form submissions, new contacts, page views, page authority, linking domains, and inbound links.

Historical optimization is a bold but repeatable way to boost your content marketing ROI. Tap into that wealth of content just sitting on your website and take action to engineer more engagement, up your conversions and CTRs, and see tangible progress of your content contributing to your business goals.

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Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit this March in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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