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5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

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Content marketing works.

But – what if it’s not working for you?

What if you’re not seeing the ROI you expected?

This is a frustrating scenario, especially if you read the case studies and follow the success of top content marketers.

What are you doing wrong?

Take a deep breath.

Maybe you just need a few creative tweaks to your content strategy to boost your ROI.

1. Create High-Quality, Evergreen Blog Content

Investing, time, effort, and money in poor content that doesn’t perform is like throwing all three of those resources in the trashcan.

Instead, ensure your budget is going toward evergreen content pieces that will stay relevant long after you publish them.

Not only that, make doubly sure these blogs are the highest quality you can manage.

Evergreen content is not tied to any one season, news cycle, trend, or fad.

Instead, this content type contains information that will remain true, relevant, and useful for the long term.

If you add quality to the mix, evergreen content will continue to draw in traffic and leads for months after the fact – or even years.

According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, high-quality content has these features:

  • Highly useful – Useful content serves a purpose for the reader. It should DO something for them. That can be as simple as providing information on a topic they want to know about, or as complex as solving a specific problem for them.
  • Highly relevant – Relevance in content is key. If your content isn’t relevant to the reader’s search intent for the keyword you’re targeting, you won’t rank. Period.
  • Strong E-A-T – Google wants vetted experts who know their stuff populating the search results – not know-nothing non-experts who just want to rank. Proving your E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is non-negotiable in high-quality content.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

Think of this strategy (evergreen + high-quality content) as putting some of your content on auto-pilot. It can perform in the background while you focus on more pressing matters, which might be exactly what you need to boost your content marketing ROI.

A truly meta example of evergreen content is Aaron Orendorff’s guide to evergreen content types on Copyblogger. It’s useful and relevant to content creators any time, any place, and the information won’t date itself quickly. It also goes without saying that this is high-quality content.

2. Find Useful, Relevant Topics Your Audience Wants to Read

Once you decide to publish high-quality evergreen content, what should you write about?

Random topics won’t do. Neither will ones tied to high-volume, highly competitive keywords.

Instead, for the best ROI, you should focus on topics that are:

  • Useful and highly relevant to your audience’s needs and interests.
  • Tied to low-competition keywords with SERPs you can edge into.

For this to work, it goes without saying you need to know and understand your target audience before you can dive into finding topics they’ll respond to.

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal customer in your mind, you can do further research to find those useful, relevant topics tied to keywords:

  • Start with broad keywords or topic areas related to your industry, products, or services. Since this is just a starting point, you can brainstorm these off the top of your head. (For example, “SEO” is a good broad topic area.)
  • Think about what your audience needs/wants to know from your chosen topic/keyword. Remember, this knowledge should help them or improve their lives in some way.
    • Example: Maybe I’m a technical SEO expert who helps clients optimize their websites. These clients could benefit from learning about SEO basics to help them nail the fundamentals. Just like that, I’ve come up with a keyword to research: “SEO basics.”
  • Use keyword research tools to find out how competitive this term is and whether you can possibly rank for it.
  • Poke around where your audience lives online to discover if this is the language they’re using to ask Google about this topic.
    • Using Answer the Public, I find lots of relevant questions users are asking surrounding the example keyword. I can enter the most relevant of them into my keyword research tool to check them out.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

  • With my keyword tool of choice, KWFinder, I discover the keyword “SEO basics” is too competitive. However, there are related options to target, like “what is SEO.”

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

  • On Twitter, I search the hashtag #seobasics and find a few variations and related keywords within what people are posting. I can research and potentially use these, too!

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

This is just one method to find relevant keywords on useful topics. The main point to remember, though, is to think like your target reader.

What topics in your wheelhouse would be both useful and relevant to their lives? Start there, then branch out.

3. Bank on Consistency

After you start publishing quality content on high-ROI topics, you need to start getting consistent. The more consistently you produce stellar, evergreen, useful, relevant content, the better the returns you’ll see.

That’s because Google’s algorithm notices consistency. So do readers.

Think about it. Which brand is more trustworthy and authoritative: The one publishing amazing content every few weeks, or the one pushing out mediocre blogs left and right?

Don’t forget this little fact: The more ranking blogs you have, the more qualified traffic chances you have. The more qualified traffic coming in, the more potential conversions.

That’s why publishing high-quality content regularly is just one of the secrets to boosting your content marketing ROI.

4. Tweak Your Website UX

For better content marketing ROI, absolutely do focus on improving your content strategy, but don’t forget about another important foundational element: Your website.

Without a good website serving as your content hub and brand headquarters, you won’t rank nearly as high with both Google and readers.

For one, readers/users (or whatever term you prefer to call them) need to be able to seamlessly access your content to consume it, engage with it, and gain something useful from it.

If your site takes 10 minutes to load, or has a confusing design, or too many ads or pop-ups…

Those are roadblocks to your content. The user will be too annoyed or lost to stick around to read your amazing article and start to trust you.

Google picks up on these signals and takes them into account when determining your page’s ranking, especially if your UX lags far behind the competition.

Good UX, or user experience, is a baseline necessity.

A few things you can tweak to improve UX, and thus convince users to at least stay on your page long enough to read your blog headline:

  • Improve your site speed and page load times.
  • Reduce annoying distractions like interstitials and ads. Only include them when they make sense, have relevance to the user experience, or will help the user in some way.
  • Revamp your page navigation so it’s clear, easy to find, and logical.

5 Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

5. Renovate Your Internal & Outbound Links

Did you know one way to improve your site’s E-A-T is to use internal and outbound links strategically?

Yes, you should link to your other relevant content pieces inside the new ones you publish.

At the same time, you should also link out to other authoritative sources of information inside your content.

Now, a lot of site owners are resistant to this practice, because they think any link going to another site is a distraction that will lead the reader away from their page.

However, that’s just not true.

As long as you’re not linking to direct competitors, linking out to other high-quality information sources to prove points, back up research, or add strength to your argument or topic analysis strengthens your E-A-T.

According to a Reboot study, linking out to other sites shows you associate with them.

If you thus link out to topically relevant pages with authority, that counts positively for you.

Why?

Because you’re showing the user (and Google) pages related to yours that may expand and improve their experience.

In other words, you’re contributing to a useful, connected web, which is exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Take the Holistic View When Boosting Content Marketing ROI

No single tactic is going to help you win more ROI from content.

Instead, you need to think of each piece of your content strategy as parts of an interconnected machine.

No one part will do all the heavy lifting.

Each piece needs to pull its own weight for the whole strategy to work.

So, tweak and tinker with all of the above suggestions, but remember you aren’t working in a vacuum.

If you pour all your focus into one part of content marketing, you’ll lose the big picture.

Zoom out from each piece of the strategy from time to time, see how everything connects, then refocus. With hard work and patience, the ROI will come.


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, October 2019
In-Post Image: Usability.gov

Searchenginejournal.com

MARKETING

How to optimize your online forms and checkouts

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How to optimize your online forms and checkouts



Forms are probably the most important part of your customer journey. They are the final step where the user entrusts you with their precious personal information in exchange for the goods or services you’ve promised.

And yet, too many companies spend minimal time on making sure their form experience is a good one for their users. They don’t use data to establish where the UX problems are on their forms, and they don’t run form-specific experiments to determine how to improve their conversion rate. As a result, too many forms are unnecessarily driving potential customers away, burning potential revenue and leads that could have been converted if they had only spent a little time and effort on optimization. Two-thirds of people who start a form don’t go on to complete it, meaning that a lot of money is being left on the table.

This article contains some of our top tips to help optimize your forms + checkouts with the goal of improving their conversion rate and delivering more customers and leads.

Use data to identify your problem fields

While user testing and session replay tools are useful in identifying possible form issues, you should also be using a specialist form analytics tool, as this will allow you to quantify the scale of the problem – where are most people dropping out – and prioritize improvements accordingly. A good form analytics tool will have advanced insights that will help work out what the problem is as well, giving you a head start on creating hypotheses for testing.

A/B test your forms

We’ve already mentioned how important it is to nurture your forms like any other part of your website. This also applies to experimentation. Your A/B testing tool such as Optimizely should allow you to easily put together a test to see if your hypothesis will improve your conversion rate. If there is also an integration with your form analytics tool you should then be able to push the test variants into it for further analysis.

Your analytics data and user testing should guide your test hypothesis, but some aspects you may want to look at are:

  • Changing the error validation timing (to trigger upon input rather than submission)
  • Breaking the form into multiple steps rather than a single page
  • Removing or simplifying problem fields
  • Manage user expectations by adding a progress bar and telling them how long the form will take upfront
  • Removing links to external sites so they are not distracted
  • Re-wording your error messages to make them more helpful

Focus on user behavior after a failed submission

Potential customers who work their way through their form, inputting their personal information, before clicking on the final ‘Submit’ button are your most valuable. They’ve committed time and effort to your form; they want what you are offering. If they click that button but can’t successfully complete the form, something has gone wrong, and you will be losing conversions that you could have made.

Fortunately, there are ways to use your form data to determine what has gone wrong so you can improve the issue.

Firstly, you should look at your error message data for this particular audience. Which messages are shown when they click ‘Submit? What do they do then? Do they immediately abandon, or do they try to fix the issue?

If you don’t have error message tracking (or even if you do), it is worth looking at a Sankey behavior flow for your user’s path after a failed submission. This audience will click the button then generally jump back to the field they are having a problem with. They’ll try to fix it, unsuccessfully, then perhaps bounce back and forth between the problem field a couple of times before abandoning in frustration. By looking at the flow data, you can determine the most problematic fields and focus your attention there.

Microcopy can make the checkout experience less stressful

If a user is confused, it makes their form/checkout experience much less smooth than it otherwise could be. Using microcopy – small pieces of explanatory information – can help reduce anxiety and make it more likely that they will complete the form.

Some good uses of microcopy on your forms could be:

  • Managing user expectations. Explain what information they need to enter in the form so they can have it on hand. For example, if they are going to need their driver’s licence, then tell them so.
  • Explain fields. Checkouts often ask for multiple addresses. Think “Current Address”, “Home Address” and “Delivery Address”. It’s always useful to make it clear exactly what you mean by these so there is no confusion.
  • Field conditions. If you have strict stipulations on password creation, make sure you tell the user. Don’t wait until they have submitted to tell them you need special characters, capital letters, etc.
  • You can often nudge the user in a certain direction with a well-placed line of copy.
  • Users are reluctant to give you personal information, so explaining why you need it and what you are going to do with it is a good idea.

A good example of reassuring microcopy

Be careful with discount codes

What is the first thing a customer does if they are presented with a discount code box on an ecommerce checkout? That’s right, they open a new browser tab and go searching for vouchers. Some of them never come back. If you are using discount codes, you could be driving customers away instead of converting them. Some studies show that users without a code are put off purchasing when they see the discount code box.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can continue to offer discount codes while mitigating the FOMO that users without one feel:

  • Use pre-discounted links. If you are offering a user a specific discount, email a link rather than giving them a code, which will only end up on a discount aggregator site.
  • Hide the coupon field. Make the user actively open the coupon box rather than presenting them with it smack in the middle of the flow.
  • Host your own offers. Let every user see all the offers that are live so they can be sure that they are not missing out.
  • Change the language. Follow Amazon’s lead and combine the Gift Card & Promotional Codes together to make it less obvious.

An example from Amazon on how to make the discount code field less prominent

Get error messages right

Error messages don’t have to be bad UX. If done right, they can help guide users through your form and get them to commit.

How do you make your error messages useful?

  • Be clear that they are errors. Make the messages standout from the form – there is a reason they are always in red.
  • Be helpful. Explain exactly what the issue is and tell the user how to fix it. Don’t be ambiguous.

Don’t do this!

  • Display the error next to the offending field. Don’t make the user have to jump back to the top of the form to find out what is wrong.
  • Use microcopy. As noted before, if you explain what they need to do early, they users are less likely to make mistakes.

Segment your data by user groups

Once you’ve identified an issue, you’ll want to check whether it affects all your users or just a specific group. Use your analytics tools to break down the audience and analyze this. Some of the segmentations you might want to look at are:

  • Device type. Do desktop and mobile users behave differently?
  • Operating system. Is there a problem with how a particular OS renders your form?
  • New vs. returning. Are returning users more or less likely to convert than first timers?
  • Do different product buyers have contrasting expectations of the checkout?
  • Traffic source. Do organic sources deliver users with higher intent than paid ones?

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About the author

Alun Lucas is the Managing Director of Zuko Analytics. Zuko is an Optimizely partner that provides form optimization software that can identify when, where and why users are abandoning webforms and help get more customers successfully completing your forms.


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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

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3 Smart Bidding Strategies To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Google Ads

Now that we’ve officially settled into the new year, it’s important to reiterate that among the most effective ways to promote your business are Google Ads. Not only do Google Ads increase your brand visibility, but they also make it easier for you to sell your services and products while generating more traffic to your website.

The thing about Google Ads, though, is that setting up (and running) a Google Ads campaign isn’t easy – in fact, it’s pretty beginner-unfriendly and time-consuming. And yet, statistically speaking, no platform does what Google Ads can do when it comes to audience engagement and outreach. Therefore, it will be beneficial to learn about and adopt some smart bidding strategies that can help you get the most out of your Google Ads.

To that end, let’s check out a few different bidding strategies you can put behind your Google Ads campaigns, how these strategies can maximize the results of your Google Ads, and the biggest benefits of each strategy.

Smart bidding in Google Ads: what does it mean, anyway?

Before we cover the bidding strategies that can get the most out of your Google Ads, let’s define what smart bidding means. Basically, it lets Google Ads optimize your bids for you. That doesn’t mean that Google replaces you when you leverage smart bidding, but it does let you free up time otherwise spent on keeping track of the when, how, and how much when bidding on keywords.

The bidding market is simply too big – and changing too rapidly – for any one person to keep constant tabs on it. There are more than 5.5 billion searches that Google handles every day, and most of those searches are subject to behind-the-scenes auctions that determine which ads display based on certain searches, all in a particular order.

That’s where smart bidding strategies come in: they’re a type of automated bidding strategy to generate more conversions and bring in more money, increasing your profits and cash flow. Smart bidding is your way of letting Google Ads know what your goals are (a greater number of conversions, a goal cost per conversion, more revenue, or a better ROAS), after which Google checks what it’s got on file for your current conversion data and then applies that data to the signals it gets from its auctions.

Types of smart bidding strategies

Now that you know what smart bidding in Google Ads is and why it’s important, let’s cover the best smart bidding strategies you can use to your advantage.

Maximize your conversions

The goal of this strategy is pretty straightforward: maximize your conversions and get the most out of your budget’s allocation toward said conversions. Your conversions, be they a form submission, a customer transaction, or a simple phone call, are something valuable that you want to track and, of course, maximize.

The bottom line here is simply generating the greatest possible number of conversions for your budget. This strategy can potentially become costly, so remember to keep an eye on your cost-per-click and how well your spending is staying inside your budget.

If you want to be extra vigilant about keeping conversion costs in a comfy range, you can define a CPA goal for your maximize conversions strategy (assuming you’ve got this feature available).

Target cost per acquisition

The purpose behind this strategy is to meet or surpass your cost-per-acquisition objective that’s tied to your daily budget. When it comes to this strategy, it’s important to determine what your cost-per-acquisition goal is for the strategy you’re pursuing.

In most cases, your target cost per acquisition goal will be similar to the 30-day average you’ve set for your Google Ads campaign. Even if this isn’t going to be your end-all-be-all CPA goal, you’ll want to use this as a starting point.

You’ll have lots of success by simply leveraging target cost per acquisition on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but you can take this one step further by creating a single tCPA bid strategy that you share between every single one of your campaigns. This makes the most sense when running campaigns with identical CPA objectives. That’s because you’ll be engaging with a bidding strategy that’s fortified with a lot of aggregate data from which Google’s algorithm can draw, subsequently endowing all of your campaigns with some much-needed experience.

Maximize clicks

As its name implies, this strategy centers around ad optimization to gain as many clicks as possible based on your budget. We recommend using the maximize clicks strategy if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website. The best part? Getting this strategy off the ground is about as easy as it gets.

All you need to do to get started with maximizing clicks is settle on a maximum cost-per-click that you then earmark. Once that’s done, you can decide how much money you want to shell out every time you pay for a bid. You don’t actually even need to specify an amount per bid since Google will modify your bids for you to maximize your clicks automatically.

Picture this: you’ve got a website you’re running and want to drive more traffic to it. You decide to set your maximum bid per click at $2.5. Google looks at your ad, adjusts it to $3, and automatically starts driving more clicks per ad (and more traffic to your site), all without ever going over the budget you set for your Google Ads campaign.

Conclusion

If you’ve been using manual bidding until now, you probably can’t help but admit that you spend way too much time wrangling with it. There are plenty of other things you’d rather be – and should be – spending your time on. Plus, bids change so quickly that trying to keep up with them manually isn’t even worth it anymore.

Thankfully, you’ve now got a better grasp on automated and smart bidding after having read through this article, and you’re aware of some important options you have when it comes to strategies for automated bidding. Now’s a good time to explore even more Google Ads bidding strategies and see which ones make the most sense when it comes to your unique and long-term business objectives. Settle on a strategy and then give it a whirl – you’ll only know whether a strategy is right for you after you’ve tested it time and time again. Good luck!

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (social media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

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

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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