digital marketing relevance

Why RELEVANCE is Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

An excerpt from Ann Mills’ presentation on digital marketing at Swap The Biz, Short Hills, NJ.


Imagine –

You’ve just been invited to a party, and you have the perfect outfit but need a matching pair of shoes. You head to the local shopping mall and come across a store advertising DRESS SHOES for any occasion. You wander in, and to your dismay, you see rows and rows of sneakers in every style and size. After looking around, you see there are a few dress shoes over in one corner, but certainly not many, and so you leave.

Your experience in the shoe store is a problem digital marketers see played out over and over again in the digital advertising space. People search for a product or service on the Internet and land on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, an ad the advertiser only pays for when the person clicks. Potential customers click on the ad, and they land on a website which does not offer what they are looking for and if it does, it’s pretty hard to find.

In an attempt to prevent this scenario from happening, search platforms and social networks rigorously evaluate advertising campaigns using many different metrics, the most important of which is RELEVANCE.

What is RELEVANCE and why does it matter?

In digital marketing, relevance is exactly what you might imagine–it’s a score that serves as a barometer of whether your messaging truly appeals to the audience you are targeting. It is measured using a combination of variables as a person moves from search query to ad to website. So, for example, if a person types in a search query using certain keywords and sees your business’ Google ad, she will decide whether to click on the ad. If she doesn’t, chances are she did not find the ad relevant to the original query, and over time, that ad will be shown less and cost more for your business to run.

There’s no doubt that marketing your business in the digital space is challenging to execute and when it’s off track, tough to recalibrate. Marketing can be expensive too, so understanding its relevance and your Return on Investment (ROI) are essential. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that businesses with under 5 million in sales spend approximately 7 to 8% of gross revenue on marketing. For start-ups in a competitive industry, the percentage can be more like 20% which means advertising can get costly as a business gears up.

Facebook Relevance Score

In Facebook, relevance has historically been defined by an ad’s Relevance Score. Measured on a scale of 1 to 10, highly relevant ads are awarded a higher number. Just one example, if there are positive reactions to a boosted post, it will help the relevance score and not surprisingly, negative reactions will do the opposite. In Facebook, an ad must have 500+ impressions for the Relevance Score to show in the metrics, but marketers have found that a high Facebook Relevance Score does not always correlate to whether the ad works for the business.

In a recent development, Facebook announced that as of April 30, 2019, Relevance Score will be replaced by three more granular relevancy metrics which will measure ad quality, engagement rate, and conversion rate. More importantly, the scores will be relative to similar ads that are competing for the same target audience. Therefore, if these relevancy metrics are not strong for one of your ads, your competitors are doing a better job with similar ads.

Google Quality Score

Similarly, Google defines relevance as, “How closely the elements of your ad campaign match what a person seems to be looking for.” Therefore, optimized ad campaigns have keywords that trigger ads which take the visitor to a user-friendly website page. Ads can also direct people to stand-alone landing pages–single web pages designed to encourage a specific action. A relevant landing page will prompt high click-through rates and Google will reward the business for this positive user experience by prompting more ad impressions at a lower cost. If the ad is truly relevant to the audience it is targeting, it has a measurable marketing advantage over comparable ads in the same space.

Similar to the relevancy metrics recently announced by Facebook, Google has multiple data points which combine to determine an ad’s overall Quality Score. These data points include a Quality Score for the keywords, an assessment of the landing page experience, ad relevance, and the expected click-through rate.

How your website design impacts relevance

It’s important to remember that ad views are impressions, but behind every click is a person. When people who have viewed your ad decide to click the ad to learn more, that click-through takes them to your website or landing page. The construction and organization of your website are critically important to delivering and optimizing the visitor experience once they click.

Look at college and university websites. Often, they divide their navigation into Students, Faculty and Staff, and Alumni when they organize the information for their audience groups. What is relevant to a student or even a prospective student is completely different than what is relevant to an alumnus. Similarly, hotels often organize information by Rooms, Dining, and Events. This type of logical organization structure is essential to relevance. A digital marketer that maps an ad back to a general website page with broadly written content will never be able to impact the business revenue in the same way as if he can direct an ad back to specific, well-written content. Relevant content directly speaks to the audience it is meant to target, and it answers their queries. In the context of the dress shoe example, a store that advertises DRESS SHOES should have rows and rows of dress shoes, not sneakers. If the shoes are organized into sections for men, women, and teens, even better because consumers can easily find what they need.

The DoubleTree by Hilton cookie–a lesson in relevance

If you ever check in at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, you are given a warm chocolate chip cookie, a tradition since the 1980s. Aligned with that practice, when you are searching for family-friendly hotels and come across DoubleTree in your search results, you see the following ad:

There’s also a page on the DoubleTree by Hilton website that tells website visitors all about the history of the cookie and that to DoubleTree, “…the cookie means so much more. It represents our constant dedication to our guests and thoughtful touches that ensure you feel special and cared for throughout your stay.”

DoubleTree by Hilton keeps their advertising relevant to customers by associating warm cookies with a welcoming atmosphere and pulls this theme through in their ads and website. Digital marketers have analyzed DoubleTree tweets, and at times, more than 60% of the tweets they are tagged in are about the cookie.  

Two takeaways on relevance

Like the DoubleTree by Hilton marketing campaigns, keywords, ads and websites have to work together seamlessly to create powerful, relevant messaging. As you think about your businesses, here are two takeaways on relevance for you to consider:

  1. Figure out your DoubleTree cookie. What makes you different, and by different, I don’t mean just identifying a particular product or service. What really makes your business different from your competitors, and why should someone call you? The answer to these questions is the foundation for an impactful, relevant digital marketing campaign.
  2. Look at your website. On average, when people land on your website homepage, they take 3 seconds to determine if they can find what they need. If they can’t figure out where to go quickly to answer their query, they will leave–it’s the dress shoe example.

Relevance is by far the most important metric in digital marketing, and by the same token, it can be one of the most difficult to pin down. Each brand has a digital footprint which includes all of its assets in the digital space–website, logos, marketing campaigns, social media platforms. If you think your marketing strategy is not engaging potential customers, the culprit could be low relevance. Contact Resourceful Business to learn more.

content strategy

Content Strategy: 4 One-Liners That Made Me Want To Read On

Content creation is a tough game for sure. Not only is there too much content, but the quality can be pretty tenuous. Just think of your email inbox and the daily task of combing through mounds of messages in an attempt to find the ones you actually need to read.

According to a recent article, email users send 204 million messages each minute, and there’s even a new expression to describe the onslaught – content clutter. Alongside the steady stream of emails, there are email notifications from social media platforms and calendar pings. There are email advertisements and drip campaigns, automated emails written by salespeople. If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time deleting emails and just skimming others.

Over the last few months, I decided to collect a few one-liners that actually made me stop and read the content. I managed to come up with only four. It’s confirmation just how difficult it is to write compelling content, and I thought I would share these 4 one-liners that made me want to read on.

1. “Had to share”

I am a member of a group that has a closed email listserv, and this subject line pertained to an email by one of the subscribers. She wanted to share an excellent article she had read in a national newspaper about the challenges of the college process for high school students and their families. In her email, she shared the article link and a few other helpful resources she had found as well. The subject line invites the reader – here’s something I really liked which I am giving to you, and I don’t want anything in return. Of course, I jumped right in and read it.

“Gratitude is both rare and impactful

in today’s digital conversations.”

 

2. “We’re passionate about feedback – and I’ll respond to every message.”

This one-liner was part of an autoresponder message. After signing up for the premium version of this product, I received a confirmation email from the co-founder which included this line. With the proliferation of chat boxes, knowledge libraries and email support, it was a pleasant surprise to read a message from a management team that tells me my feedback is valued, read and answered. I took the time to read the entire email, and it convinced me that the company has a strong set of core values. My team remains committed to this product because of it.

thank you note

3. “One of the real benefits of social media is the ability to meet people we would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet – grateful for the connection.”

I received this message from a Chief Experience Officer with whom I had connected on LinkedIn. I had sent him an invitation to join a new LinkedIn Group and was touched by his gracious response. It prompted me to click his website link and read all about him and his company. His note is a reminder of how rare and impactful gratitude is in today’s digital conversations.

4. “Thanks for considering, even if you can’t.”

This subject line accompanied a message from a friend who was in need of a favor. What I love about this line is that it conveys her appreciation to me for just taking the time to read and consider her request. She words her sentence in a way that tells me – it’s just fine if you can’t. It made me want to do my best to help, and not surprisingly, I did.

In a digital world that surrounds us with Buzzfeed quizzes, snapchats, tweets, automated emails, and emojis, there is still a content strategy that trumps all. It’s sincerity. Sort of like the handwritten thank you card, it works because it’s a bit of a rarity. Requiring time, effort and mindfulness, content infused with sincerity is powerful and magical at making us want to read on.

RB is a digital marketing agency that is passionate about content marketing strategy. Have you come across any compelling one-liners lately that made you want to read on? Please share them in the comments!

search-friendly blog

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

It’s no wonder almost everyone seems to be blogging these days. WordPress.com estimates that there are 56 million new blog posts and almost 47 million new comments on those posts hosted on its network every month. The numbers would be larger if they included blogs outside the WordPress.com network. Even more staggering – these blogs are reaching 409 million people every month.

As if writing compelling blog content wasn’t difficult enough, the sheer number of blogs being written have created a monumental challenge – writing a blog people can actually find. In the midst of 56 million other blogs posted each month, businesses are struggling to position their blog so it can reach more people. Luckily, there are a few search marketing tips that can help.

Here are 10 ways to make a blog more search-friendly:

1. Create a blog title that “speaks” to your audience

Bloggers know to craft blog titles which incorporate keywords used in the content. However, voice search is starting to change the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) and may impact the way blog titles are written. A recent Google blog reported, “…mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year,” and when people use voice search, they typically ask questions as if they are having a conversation. So, keywords are still important in a blog title, but the title should also be conducive to how someone might ask a question and use key prompts such as what, when, where, why and who.

2. Ask a question in the blog title

In the title, if you can capture a question your audience is asking, natural next steps for them are to want the answer to that question and read the blog. For this reason, blog titles with questions get a higher click-through rate than titles without questions. This format also gives the blog practical utility; in other words, it fills an information void for the reader and becomes a must-read blog, not just a nice to read one.

blogs with a number in the title

3. Put a number in your blog title

People are more inclined to click on a blog title with a number. Why? Hubspot suggests three reasons:

  • Readers perceive the content to be more actionable because it has a list of steps, actions, lessons, or tips.
  • The blog is more easily scanned, and readers know they can jump in and read just part of the piece.
  • Numbers in the title also give the reader a clue as to the length of the blog.

4. Keep the blog title length within guidelines

Although it may be tempting to write whatever title suits the blog, ultimately a lengthy title will be truncated in the Google search snippet. When the title is too long, Google algorithms will cut off some of the text and put ellipses, the three dots at the end. Write a short, punchy title that includes your keyword(s), and when possible, leave room for the business name which WordPress will add in for you. Edit your title in your content management system and use a handy tool to help, such as the one offered by Moz. I have amended the title tag for this blog, for example, to show:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

Left unedited, it would appear:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly? | R…

5. Segment the blog using subheads

Segmenting a blog is essential. It is visually easier to read a blog that is broken into smaller, more consumable pieces. Most people are short on time, so they scan a blog and read the subheads first to see if anything piques their interest. They provide different points that may entice the reader to jump in partway through the blog.

Subheads are also key elements of the blog hierarchy and are searchable. They provide another opportunity to use keywords. So, well-written subheads allow readers and search engines more chances to find essential aspects of your content.

6. Use tags to give the blog content hierarchy

Some content in a blog is more important than others. The blog title is more important than the subhead titles; the subhead titles are more important than the paragraph text below them. Hierarchy is a slightly technical aspect of blogging, but both essential to understand and easily accomplished! Tag the blog title as Heading 1 or H1 if your platform does not automatically do so, and tag subhead titles Heading 2 or H2 in the content management system to denote their importance in the blog. You can find the Heading 1, Heading 2 tags in the Paragraph drop-down menu in WordPress.

7. Add alternative text to your images

Images are an excellent way to break up longform content like a blog. They can also help make the blog search-friendly and optimize SEO. Content management systems have an image field labeled “alt text,” which stands for alternative text, and it allows you to write a few words that describe the image. Alt text is shown if someone viewing the blog utilizes a device which cannot show the image. It is also picked up in search and provides another opportunity to use relevant keywords that bring people back to your blog.

tags and categories in a blog

8. Label a blog with carefully considered categories and tags

Blogs should be assigned relevant categories and tags. Both are organizing systems, or taxonomies, which allow the reader to search for blogs by topic. My favorite explanation of the difference is by Morten Rand-Hendriksen. He describes categories as the broad system that allows the grouping of similar types of content, and there can be hierarchical relationships between categories. Tags, on the other hand, have no relationship to other tags but rather can help identify content areas covered in the blog. An example he uses is a person’s closet. Jackets, pants and skirts are the equivalent of categories. You probably group your clothes in this way in the closet. Information such as dry clean only, 100% cotton, or made in the USA would be tags. People wouldn’t organize their closet by the tags, but tags represent useful information nevertheless.

9. Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style

By some estimates, the average reading level in the United States is equivalent to that of a 7th or 8th grader, and it’s a statistic worth keeping in mind when writing a blog. In an interesting article that looked at the effect of complex writing on readership, Shane Snow found that simpler blogs get more reach and argued, “…we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible…. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.”

Some SEO plugins include a reading ease score for exactly this reason. Readability is a ranking factor in search, but it is unclear that simplicity just for simplicity’s sake has distinct advantages, especially if the content really is about a complex topic. Therefore, align the writing complexity to the content and err on the side of simplicity for more widespread reach.

10. Use bullet points in your blog

In 2015, Google confirmed that for the first time in the US, more Google searches were done on mobile devices than computers. The shift means that more content will be consumed on mobile devices as well, and that content includes blogs. Bullet points are an important construct in the new mobile paradigm because they:

  • break content into easily consumable bits
  • can be formatted to highlight keywords or concepts
  • are viewed favorably in search algorithms
  • can be easily scanned by the reader
  • are mobile-friendly
  • visually break up paragraph style longform blogs

So, in addition to creating well-written content, take the time to learn how to structure your blog in a way that can be more easily picked up in search. There are beginner’s guides to get you started, and as the WordPress.com statistics show, blogging is well worth the effort and a viable way to reach your audience. Follow our 10 tips for a more search-friendly blog and one that can stand apart in a very crowded field.

If you’re struggling to write a monthly post or have no idea how to optimize it, we can assist you! Contact us at (973) 218-6558 or email team@resourcefulbusiness.com. We can help you with your blogging and make it search-friendly too!

crowded digital marketing space

Stand Out in a Crowded Digital Marketing Space: 3 Ways To Rise Above the Noise of Your Competition

By Chris R. Benjamin, Guest Blogger

Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated about digital marketing and the need for high-quality communications in the digital space. That means more competition than ever before, in just about every industry.

With your target audience already being reached through sharp content marketing and carefully-cultivated relationships, how can you make room for your messages to be heard? The answer is to make your marketing messages stand out.

Here are 3 strategies that you can employ in order to be heard “above the noise,” even when you can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.

1. Get the timing right

There’s a lot to be said for delivering your marketing messages at the right time. By paying close attention to your target market’s habits—that is, how they use social media, what they do online, and when they search for the solutions you can provide—you can learn the best times to hit “publish” on your blog, or make snappy posts and announcements on social outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

 Some solid research exists on the right time of day to execute content on various platforms:

Belle Beth Cooper of social automation app Buffer reports that the average blog receives the most traffic on Mondays (out of all other days of the week) and at 11am (out of all other times of day. Most comments on blogs are made on Saturdays, and around 9am regardless of day.

Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, reports some interesting data from Shareaholic: Social sharing happens more on Thursday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays. 27% of content sharing happens between 8am and 12pm.

If you’re just starting to form your content strategy, you might start out by making your blog and social media posts around the times suggested above. Later on, once you have a dedicated following, you can look at your own data to discern the optimal times for content publication.

How to stand out: Using the broad statistical data or your own metrics, construct a content schedule you will stick to, testing and refining as you go along. If you get your content out to your audience when they’re most likely to be looking for, engaging with, and sharing it, you will catch many more eyes than your less time-conscious competitors.

2. Segment your market

One of the defining characteristics of successful companies is that they know their market intimately. The more deeply you understand your customers’ specific wishes, fears, and needs, the better you’ll be able to convince them that your solution is the right one.

First, compose a sketch of your audience. Things to consider include age, sex, location, beliefs, education, and personality. With those factors in mind, visit the forums your ideal users frequent and take note of popular discussion topics. Use tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how often relevant words and phrases come up. You’ll then be able to write blogs and social media posts that instantly arouse interest.

Need some more insight? Conduct a survey. Send out an email to your subscribers asking them what their greatest hurdles are, and then construct content around the answers you get.

How to stand out: Get to know your audience and speak to them directly through your content. Answer their questions. Ask them to share their experiences and stories with you. Become intimately familiar with what drives your followers and respond to their deepest needs, and you’ll gain the coveted access to their trust.

3. Infuse Your Messages with Creativity and Novelty

It’s a fact. Humans are fascinated by items that are “out of the ordinary.” Capturing their attention and redirecting it towards a practical solution is exactly how you’ll make a lasting impression.

First, think about your brand. A strong Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is one way you can set yourself apart the moment a new prospective customer encounters it. Consider what your brand says that’s different from anything else out there. What remarkable results can you alone (or, your company alone) deliver? Define your USP succinctly, and then build content around it.

Creativity can also involve providing a new perspective. It can mean:

  • Bringing up a hot-button issue in your industry and offering a unique take on how to solve the problem.
  • Being humorous in a way that’s not too abstract, but that connects your brand with a new sense of how your product can enhance lives.
  • Hosting contests on social media to create excitement and buzz surrounding your brand.

How to stand out: Identify the one (or two) things that your company is in a unique position to accomplish for your target market, and develop or refine your USP around those points. With that as a launching pad, think outside of the box to get your audience to see you, and the rest of their own world, in a new light.

Put all of the above together, and you’ll create a complete experience for your target audience—one in which they see you as a thought-leader who’s immediately responsive to their needs, wherever they happen to be in your sales cycle. Engage with your customers at the right times, in their language, and with interactions that intrigue them, and you’ll have no problem rising above the competition—both today and for the foreseeable future.


Chris R. Benjamin is a New York City-based freelance writer who specializes in the topics of digital marketing, small business development, and applied psychology, among others. See more of his work at BennyTheWriter.com.

Leverage the Inbound Marketing Traffic from your Blog

Motivating companies to organize a blog for their website can be challenging. Often the management of the company do not see the value of it, there is no one who really wants to write it, and the cost of an outside blogger can be expensive. It’s hard. The true marketing power of blogging begins with creative, original content. A great blog can drive visitor traffic back to your website, especially if you understand a little about on-page search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is the ideation, creation and sharing of content with the goal of increasing traffic to your website. Both the content and the target audience should be strategically planned. Inbound marketing only works when you figure out the right content and get it to the right people. There is no better vehicle than a great blog. You wonder whether traditional marketing campaigns can achieve the same results? Not if you know how to leverage the inbound marketing traffic from your blog. Here’s how.

social media

1. Send your blog link out with social media

Use social media to get the word out about your blog. Keep the headline short, around 60 characters. Link the headline to your blog so that people can click-through to your website blog page. If you are using WordPress, make sure to choose a Featured Image for the blog and upload it so that the social media networks populate the picture along with your blog. See our recent blog on the importance of imagery, Why You Must Fix Your Company’s Social Media Imagery and How.

email

2. Add a link to your email signature with your blog

Each time you send an email, take the opportunity to share your blog. Throw in your company name as well and then link it back to the blog on your website. You can place the blog link right below your regular signature.

Name
Title at ABC Company
Contact Details at ABC Company
ABC Company is blogging about Really Neat Topic

 

long tail keywords

3. Include keywords and long tail keywords in your blog

In the main copy of the blog, include keywords or tags, which best describe the important concepts in your blog. Think search. What themes are you talking about and what words might someone use to search for these topic areas? Find long tail keywords, or longer phrases that are specific to your topic, and include those as well as they can attract a more targeted audience. There are several free keyword suggest applications like Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool, which you can use to research the best keywords and long tail keywords.

4. Use image tags

Images are a powerful tool that can drive engagement for your website. Website pictures have image tags. After choosing great photos for your blog, ensure that you have written alternative text or “Alt Text” for each image used. Alt Text is read by text bots, and image tags identify your picture, which increases the chances of it being displayed in search. The effective use of Alt Text is often overlooked, and it can drive traffic back to your website by optimizing images in search.

5. Segment with Subheadings

Partition the blog into core points or themes and use subheads. Each of those subheads can include keywords and phrases that explain the main points of your blog. The phrases should be identified as Heading 3 or Heading 4, a technical attribute which gives the headline more weight in search. When your blog is shared in social media, the subheadings can be used as talking points and sent out as separate headlines on social media with links back to the blog.

Hopefully, you have been persuaded that a blog is not just a digital platform to put your thoughts in writing. Rather, it is a powerful inbound marketing tool that can leverage traffic back to your website where you can share your expertise. You can educate potential customers on common questions and showcase the services of your business. In the call to action, you can encourage a dialogue and hopefully gain a new customer!

If you are ready to leverage the inbound marketing traffic of your blog but feel you could still use some assistance, email us, or call (973) 218-6558 today.