Creating a brand in saturated markets is an increasingly difficult task. While adtech is making it easier to target potential customers, producing unique, human-centered content that differentiates the brand remains a challenge for most companies. I deal with this on a daily basis, and constantly work to improve my own brand through updating my website, making sure my content aligns with my audience and connecting through social channels with my followers and customers.
The branding challenge is compounded by the fact that the number of places a brand can be criticized has risen as well. Every person a brand interacts with represents not only a potential customer but also a potential detractor.
Why is it so difficult to connect with customers these days? The following are some of the top reasons.
1. Creating Authentic Content Takes Time
People can spot advertising jargon from a mile away, and the average consumer is practically allergic to inauthentic ads. That means marketers are expected to create unique and timely content to help to connect with real customers.
2. Increased Importance of Visual Branding
Design thinking is becoming a major driver of competitive advantage in today’s digital marketing environment. Research shows that 81 percent of consumers research online before engaging with a brand, which means more and more people experience a brand for the first time online. As a result, the way that brand appears visually matters more than ever.
3. Social Media is Shortening Consumer Attention Spans
Most consumers look at an ad for only two seconds, hardly long enough to process any words. That’s why it’s incredibly important that companies create visually engaging content that makes a connection quickly.
4. Millennials Expect Authentic Branding
Millennials are the largest consumer group ever, everyone knows it. As the first demographic group populated by digital natives, Millennials are driving higher expectations when it comes to authentic brands, and are highly engaged with those that successfully gain their trust.
Marketers that tackle these challenges head-on have a better chance of connecting with their customers in order to build lasting and profitable relationships. Companies that make products that are both beautiful and authentic stand a better chance of cutting through the noise and reaching more customers.
While authenticity is a frequently mentioned priority, the newer, better-defined trend of human-centered design is becoming a popular approach to making a brand more appealing to new customers while retaining existing ones. There are even several free courses that aim to help advance human-centered design in more industries.
In the past, all a company had to worry about was its product or service, but today’s brands have to consider the experience they are creating for consumers, and whether that experience is different enough from their competition.
1. Create More Engaging Visual Content
“Photos are the primary driver of people’s initial experience with a brand. Brands that recognize this can leverage visual storytelling as a powerful tool to help them create enduring relationships with their audience.” In doing so, companies will be able to create stronger buy-in and affinity for the brand.
2. Focus on the Customer at Every Stage of the Design Process
Tim Brown, CEO of human-centered design firm Ideo, shared in a recent blog, “This is a moment of rich opportunity for design thinkers, and we now have evidence that the world at large is taking notice.” As you implement design thinking in your company, keep the customer at the center of every decision.
3. Close the Loop with Engaging Content to Create Customer Buy-In
Don’t just settle for traditional advertising content, focus on generating authentic, meaningful copy to incorporate in all your communications to help your customers feel like they are engaging with an authentic company.
Brands that effectively leverage these tactics will create visually appealing experiences at a fraction of previous costs, avoid costly customer churn and turn customers into more vocal brand ambassadors that will drive continued business.
When you say SEO, you automatically think of keywords. Almost every client that contacts my agency, Idunn, to help them with SEO content writing has a huge list of keywords that they want to rank for.
But there are two big problems with such lists: they are usually both useless and nearly impossible to rank for.
Allow me to explain.
I strongly believe that organic traffic is not a goal in itself. It’s a vanity metric. The actual goal is to generate sales. Organic traffic may boost your ego, but it won’t pay the bills.
However, when you choose the right keywords, you can generate sales through SEO.
Let’s say that you have a bakery. You bake the most amazing chocolate cake. Of course, you want as many people to learn about it, to visit your website and to buy it.
What should you optimize your content for? If you said “chocolate cake”, read on.
User intent – the cornerstone of any successful SEO endeavor
Ask yourself this: what does a user who searches for “chocolate cake” really need? Do they want a recipe? Do they want to buy one? Do they want to simply look at what their diet doesn’t allow them to eat?
And there is your problem with broad, generic keywords.
They are not rooted in user intent.
The rise of mobile search and voice-assisted search has taught users that specific queries bring specific results. So, if they want to bake a chocolate cake, they will search for “how to make a chocolate cake from scratch” or “chocolate cake recipe”.
Those who want to buy a cake will search for “best bakery near me” or “best chocolate cake in Tampa Bay”.
Simple queries may bring traffic. However, in competitive industries, this traffic will cost you an arm and a leg.
But more importantly, they will not bring business in through the door. If users in Minnesota see the website of a bakery in Tampa Bay among the top results, will they buy? Of course not! Irrespective of how delicious their products are and how well they are marketed.
When you start your keyword research, always consider user intent.
This is the first step of every successful marketing tactic, SEO included. Learn how your users search and what they search for. Don’t be tricked into optimizing for short keywords that bring you nothing but brand awareness and that cost a fortune.
Optimize for what really matters for your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools that can help you do that.
Top tools to refine your keyword research
I cannot stress this enough: tools are there to support you, not to do the thinking for you. In fact, I have noticed that marketers seem to forget that they need to optimize their content for humans, not for Google bots.
Use the tools below, but filter all their results to match what you know about your buyer persona. This is where marketing expertise comes into play. And this is why, at Idunn, we prefer to hire SEO copywriters with marketing background. Anyone can learn how to insert and look for keywords. But only writers who understand marketing know how to make them work for a business.
These are some of the tools we use at Idunn, both for our in-house SEO content and for our clients’ content:
1. Good old Google search
Yes, a plain Google search can make a world of difference. It’s free and it’s very relevant (as long as you do it in a private/incognito window).
Take a look at the first results that pop up when you type in your keyword. Can you write better content than what currently ranks in the top results?
If so, you’re on the right path. If not, you need to find another keyword.
Next, take a look at the “related searches” section at the bottom of the results page. This will show you a few similar searches to your own. You can use those queries as additional keywords in your content.
SEMrush is a paid tool, but even a free account can give you some useful information. Type in your keyword to find related keywords, create a free blog template or check the progress of your website or a certain page.
SEMrush is a very complex tool, so it will take some time to learn how to use it to its full potential. But it’s worth it.
3. LSI Graph
A free tool, LSI Graph helps you find LSI keywords that boost your content’s optimization. Simply input your keyword in the search bar and you will receive a list of more LSI keywords than you can use.
A word of caution: you don’t have to use them all. As I said before, think about your user’s intent. Not all those keywords match your goals and your buyer persona’s needs, so filter them wisely.
4. Google Suite
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are excellent (and free!) tools to monitor your progress.
Here’s a pro tip: go to Google Search Console and find those pages that don’t rank high enough yet. Then use the tools above to come up with additional keywords and information to update those pages or blog posts.
It can take you less than a day to change the ranking of a page.
No tools can substitute a good marketing strategy. At best, you will find yourself with hundreds of thousands of views per day, but no purchases or no leads. And this should never be the goal of SEO. Every marketing tactic should always be aligned with your business goals.
Are you considering building a multilingual website or are you thinking about expanding your existing site into additional languages? I don’t blame you! After all, a lot fewer people speak English than we might think. Only 1.5 billion people speak English. That’s about 20% of the world. If we just look at native speakers, in the meantime, it’s only 360 million, which is less than five percent.
And as most of us prefer to listen, read and search in our native language, that means if you only stick with an English website, you’re only going to be able to access a small slice of the world’s population.
But before you embrace a multilingual website you need to weigh up the pros and the cons. So let’s weigh up the big ones.
Con: It’s a lot more work
On the flipside, translating is a big job. Everything that you do suddenly becomes double. And though translating is perhaps not as much work as thinking it all up to begin with, it still means sitting there and going over every text twice if you’re using two languages (And obviously more if you’re going to use even more).
It isn’t just that you need to create every new text twice over, either. Whenever you’re going to edit or change anything on your website, then you’re going to do that change in all the languages that you’re site is in.
Pro: You’ll expand into new markets
Making your content available in another language means that you get to access that other 80% of the pie that all those English websites leave lying. That’s very enticing – particularly as many of these other languages haven’t yet been as saturated by websites as the English speaking world has. It’s a big difference too, with Wikipedia stating that 51% of the internet is English.
That means that if you offer your website in other languages as well, you’re going to find it easier to get the traffic of that language, as the competition is almost by definition less fierce.
Con: You have to speak the additional language
And you can’t just speak it a little bit. You have to speak it well. Otherwise you’re going to find it very difficult to translate your material over. Even if you don’t want to do the translation service yourself – and that’s a real option today, as there are a lot of localization services to help you out – you should still speak the language.
After all, translators might make mistakes (accidentally or otherwise) and if you can’t read what they’re putting up, then you’re going to be in a situation where you look ridiculous for the longest time while being none the wiser.
Pro: You’ll be able to compete for a wider range of keywords
As you probably know, if you want to do well on Google, then you need to rank well for certain keywords. That’s the basis of SEO. The advantage of having a site in multiple languages is that you can try to rank versions of the same page for keywords in different languages.
That can be a huge advantage – particularly as the competition in these other languages will often be far less fierce than it is in English. In that way, you can draw a lot of extra traffic to your site. Even better, it is possible that your success at drawing traffic in one language will actually contribute to you climbing the rankings in English as well.
This is down to the fact that Google most certainly looks at the success of other pages you’ve got to determine if the new page should have a shot. Therefore, the better your pages are doing in one language, the more of a boost they’re going to get elsewhere.
Con: Keywords aren’t direct translations
Of course, that does bring a problem with it and that is that you can’t just translate a search term across from one language to another and hope for the best. People don’t search for the same things in the same ways. They use idiosyncrasies of their language, euphemisms and ways of speaking that mean that if you don’t do your research, you might well not get any traffic from Google for your newly translated page.
And that is obviously not the point.
So, if you want to use a multilingual website, you’ll have to do twice the keyword research and then apply what you’ve learned to the different pages in order to get them to actually draw in traffic. Note that applying these different keyword phrases will also make things more complicated for building up pages, as it means that you can’t just translate directly across and will instead have to doctor each headline and page to fit the keyword strategy you’re trying to apply.
Pro: You’ll be part of the shift
The world’s economic center is shifting. It’s moving away from the west and more towards the east. That means it’s moving away from the English speaking world and towards a range of other languages, including Chinese as well as Spanish as these economies catch up and possibly even surpass the west.
Now, that might make some people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t change that it will happen. That again has to do with the fact that most people don’t speak English and aren’t westerners. And so, as they get a more equal share of the economic pie, the balance will shift in their favor.
By making your website multilingual, you’re preparing for that. You’re making sure that you’re there to catch the spending of these growing economies, so that as the economic center keeps shifting your situation doesn’t worsen.
And sure, you might say, I’ve got time. The thing is, that translating your website across isn’t something you can do one two three. You’ll have growing pains. You’ll have unforeseen problems to overcome. So, wouldn’t it be better to do that gradually? Then, when the east is the place to be, you’ll already be in place.
Today’s marketers (especially the social media kind) have to be data geeks.
With the amount of information we have to filter, categorize and organize every day, there’s no way to have any kind of success without tools that turn big data into relevant bits of knowledge. So we rely on automation, analytics, listening tools and more.
At the digital marketing agency I run, we use at least three research and SEO tools for every blog post we write and at least five tools to help us create, implement and monitor social media strategies.
I have personally tested dozens if not hundreds of said tools and I keep on doing that. I know that every day new tools are being developed and new features appear in older tools. So I need to make sure that we use the best tools available in order to generate the best results for our clients.
This is what our social media marketing tool deck looks like. In other words, these are the tools that help us make sure we keep our clients ahead of their competitors:
7 social media marketing tools we use on a daily basis
You’ll notice that some of these tools are completely free. Others have free trials or limited options in their free mode.
I’ll be honest: some are definitely worth paying for. For others, the free version is enough if you have a single brand to manage or if you’re up against moderate competition.
Since we offer professional social media marketing and management services, we use (and pay for) the vast majority of these tools.
1. Sendible Along with Buffer, Agora Pulse, HootSuite and others, Sendible is one of the top social media management platforms out there. It may be less known than its competitors, but I personally believe that’s not fair.
We’ve been using Sendible for more than two years in house. For some of our clients, we use other tools, so I have done my fair share of comparing between them.
What I like about Sendible is its user-friendliness, the in-depth reports you can generate with it and the stellar customer service. I chose it and passed on others because at that time it was the only one to support Pinterest. Now, there are, of course, other tools that do that, but Sendible is still among the first to introduce new features and new platforms.
Pro tip: If you have a single set of social media channels to manage (for a single brand), Buffer is a free option, while Sendible is not.
2. SEMrushSEMrush is our go-to competitor analyzer. We use it for both social media (for instance, to check our growth compared to that of our competitors) and for copywriting (mainly for keyword research).
You can get quite a lot from SEMrush’s free version, but if you’re serious about in-depth analytics, I strongly recommend the paid version.
3. Social QuantI have used Social Quant on more than a dozen Twitter accounts to boost their growth. Here’s how it works: you link your Twitter account to Social Quant, add a few hashtags that are relevant to you and SQ will follow those accounts on your behalf. Briefly put, it’s a great way to automate Twitter growth.
What you can expect: the free trial lasts 14 days. Depending on your industry, you can get 100-700 new followers during that time. For the paid version, you can expect 1,000+ followers every month.
4. BuzzSumoThis is a great tool for both copywriting and social media. Search for a topic on BuzzSumo and you’ll learn which articles covering it were the most shared on social media. You can also search for social mentions and monitor your profiles.
For us, it’s a good place to start our research and get a sense of what we’re up against. The paid version gives you access to more in-depth reports and more results on a query.
5. TweetReachThis is one of the tools that can give you a lot of insight even in its free version. Simply search for a hashtag, a username or a keyword and you’ll get a thorough report on it.
We use this to see how well our Twitter accounts perform over a given period of time. Along with other similar tools and reports, it helps us make more sense of data and transform vanity metrics into actionable items.
6. Google AlertsThis one is pretty simple and completely free to use. Add a brand or a name and receive e-mail alerts whenever it’s mentioned anywhere on the Web.
You can use it to monitor your own brand, your competitors, certain keywords or even yourself.
7. CanvaThis is a tool that will turn even the most graphics-challenged person (I do believe I am reigning queen here) into a superb designer. It’s easy to use, mostly free and perfect for social media images, especially the motivational ones.
What about you? What are your favorite social media tools? What have I left out?
What is Google Cache? Google Cache is all of the pages that have been stored and remembered by Google and, thus, show in the search engine rank positions. Google will take a snapshot of every page it crawls and then cache it.
How will this help you?
By looking through Google Cache, you can easily find out all the pages that Google remembers from your site, by simply typing:
Example – site:yourwebsite.com
Once you do this, Google will bring up every page that has been cached from this domain and you can find out everything it remembers from your site. This will include all of the pages that you expect to be there, and also some that you may not expect.
This means that you can go through the whole list of cached pages, and there may be pages that you do not want to be cached in Google’s rankings. If you have a WordPress site, it is often the case that pages will be indexed in Google’s cache that have automatically been created (like singular team pages) that you may not want to show in search engine rank positions.
Another reason for you needing to clean your website may be because there has been a large change on your site, which involved the removal of pages, and now Google has cached pages that are out-dated or irrelevant.
How do I solve this?
After studying what Google has cached from your website, you may be keen to clean it up and ensure that Google is only finding things that are relevant and beneficial to your site. There are a number of ways you may choose to get rid of the pages that you do not want to be cached by Google.
If you have a page that you cannot remove from your website, but it is appearing on the Google Cache unnecessarily, then you may want to make this a no-index page. This means Google will no longer cache the page and it will not appear in search engine rank positions.
To make a page no-index you will need to apply the following line of code in the <head> section of your page: <meta name="robots" content="noindex">
This is showing the robots that are crawling your site to cache your pages that you do not want indexed, and the robots will ignore them. The pages will then no longer appear on search engines.
Submit to Google to remove
If you come across dead pages (404 pages) when you are searching the Google Cache, then you must act to get rid of them from the search engine rankings. This may happen for two reasons:
When you are searching through Google Cache, it is likely that you may come across pages that you do not want to be on your website at all. They may be outdated or maybe you were unaware of them. In this case, you should delete the unwanted pages from your site.
Google may have cached pages that you no longer have on your website. These will appear as 404 errors and, of course, this means you do not want them to appear in the search engine results because you would not want users being directed to a dead page.
If either of these two issues become apparent when you are looking through your Google Cache, then you need to make Google aware that these pages are no longer in use, so they will not be cached anymore. To do this you must;
After you have done this for all the desired pages, you should ‘fetch as Google’ in Webmaster Tools, and this will crawl your site again. Once finished, all the pages that you wished to be removed, should no longer show in Google’s cache.
What do I gain from this?
You may actually gain direct SEO benefits from carrying out this exercise, because it may lead to you removing pages that are lower quality which, may lead to Google to better view your high quality pages.
A buyer persona, as most of us know, is very important for a company when it comes to narrowing down the target audience and getting a deeper understanding of what your audience is looking for.
A buyer persona will help you connect with your customers. Your company USPs matter the most when it comes to sales and a little less when it comes to inbound marketing. Now, to create content and write articles, infographics, newsletters etc. you would need to have a buyer persona in hand.
When you create a detailed buyer persona, you get to know a buyer inside out right from his preferences to his challenges. The next thing that you should be doing after creating a buyer persona is strategizing your content marketing plan in a way that your content reflects your understanding about the pain points of the audience you are targeting.
And for any type of company, there won’t be just one person you would be targeting as a buyer – a single industry caters to more than one type of buyer. A web development company, for example, would target different buyers like creative directors, designers, account managers, project managers, CEOs of the design company etc.
Are you targeting a group or are you targeting a person?
As obvious as it is, we all know that each and every customer has a preference that is both unique and different from the preferences of other customers. And when it comes to owning a huge amount of data, it is impossible to figure out a marketing strategy for every customer individually.
Hence, it is mandatory that you do customer segmentation after extracting meaningful insights from the customer data that you have collected. And customer segmentation should be based on this:
The psychographics include activities, attitude, personality and values of an individual user.
User behavior is detected by benefits, usage rate, preferences of a user and this can be detected through various user behavior tracking tools.
The geographics of an individual user comprises of his location locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
The mandatory steps that you need to take before creating a buyer persona:
Suppose you own a Web development outsourcing firm that caters to design and digital agencies. In such a case, you would be targeting creative directors, account managers, project managers and CEOs. So what you ought to do is create a separate buyer persona for each of them – Creative Director: Jason, Project Manager: Harry, Account Manager: Alice and CEO: Kate.
Now if you intend to get projects from the agency Jason works for, this is how his buyer persona i.e. the buyer persona of a creative director should look like:
Build an empathetic relationship with your customers by analyzing their behavior on your website and getting to know their preferences by thoroughly analyzing the collected customer data.
Creating a detailed buyer persona would eventually boost your ROI through clear marketing strategies and sales pitches that are targeted towards the needs of the audience. However, a buyer persona won’t remain the same as time passes by and new technologies and trends come up. And that is why it is necessary to stay updated with the latest trends.
For decades, long before data driven marketing became a concept, marketing relied on such technical concepts as educated guesses and gut instinct when it came to decision-making. Spreadsheets came along with Excel and similar software helping to improve decision-making and optimize spending. However, in recent years, analytical tools have improved.
Marketing personnel has been provided tools and concepts that have significantly improved forecasting and decision making. One of the most significant of these is data driven marketing.
What is Data Driven Marketing
Insight and data are important aspects of business marketing. Data driven marketing relates to the use of the analysis of data about consumers – or data obtained from consumers. Such consumer data provides insights that can be used to make marketing decisions.
There are fundamentally two types of such data:
• Primary Data: Obtained directly from consumers by asking questions or carrying out surveys, and
• Secondary Data: Obtained by analyzing consumer behavior, such as web browsing behavior, use of social media, internet search behavior and so on.
Surveys are easily set up using tools such as SurveyMonkey, Typeform and Google Forms. It is easy to collect data from large numbers of consumers in a short time. Apart from Google Forms, which is completely free, many of these tools offer a free version with a limited number of questions, and also offer an unlimited paid version.
Amazon Mechanical Turk can also be used to carry out surveys. For example, you can survey 1,000 people for anything from $100 to $1,000. You pay each responder to your survey – 10 cents or $1 or whatever you state. You can set up a survey on a hypothetical product presented with a number of different options: color options, stick shift, paddle shift or automatic, click or swipe, dimensions and other potential variants. The survey result can significantly assist you in designing and marketing your products.
Online Search Behavior Analysis in Marketing
Online search behavior is a useful parameter in data driven marketing. Analyzing what people are searching for in your niche can provide useful information. Google Trends can be used to find how many people use specific search terms or keywords over time. The data can be analyzed by country or region, and also by related topics or queries.
In Google Trends, the search term ‘big data’ is sub-sectioned in ‘data analytics,’ ‘big data analytics,’ Hadoop and so on. By applying Google Trends to your service or product, you can establish what data is important to you and what is not.
Their use of social media can also provide marketers with information about potential customer browsing habits. Is it worthwhile advertising on Facebook? Is Twitter worth the bother if you can get past Donald Trump? Would a YouTube video work? How about LinkedIn or social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious. Pinterest is another that many use. What data can you get from such social sites?
Function of Hadoop
Hadoop is analytical software that operates in the cloud. It is used by data scientists to carry out certain operations on ‘big data.’ Without becoming too technical, it is a complex method of analyzing big data in a parallelized way. If you have big data — a lot of data to process — you can parallelize that data by splitting it up between multiple processors. This speeds up the data processing task.
Apache Hadoop assists you in this. To put it very simply, it can help you speed up data-driven marketing by speeding up the processing of that data.
What is Big Data?
A major issue with big data is that not many people know how to use it effectively. In fact, many have no idea what the term means. So what is ‘big data?’ Simply put, it is no more than large amounts of different types of data obtained from multiple sources. Such data can reveal patterns and trends that can be used in marketing. It can be structured and unstructured data: ordered such as in databases, or unordered such as in social media pages, videos, forum comments and e-mails.
It should be understood that no data is of use if it is not used correctly and profitably. Big data can be an amazing marketing resource if used correctly. If you have enough of the correct data, then you can use that to generate marketing processes that are both repeatable and scalable when applied to your business. This should involve less human intervention, leaving managers to focus on testing and improving their product.
Benefits of Data Collection and Analysi
For your data to be worthwhile collecting, it must be useful in meeting one or both of two different objectives. First, proactive information you can use to assess marketing opportunities:
• Provide information on how people access your niche.
• Give data on which social media sites are visited by your prospective customer base.
• What forums do they use (you can use this data to register and help solve problems.)
• Popular blogging sites in your niche.
• Keywords or search terms use by people to seek information about your niche.
You can use this data to:
• Make potential customers or clients aware of your business .
• Connect people to your product or service.
• Make people aware of your business and you personally.
• Generate brand equity.
• Generate revenue.
• Connect to any other critical objective.
These are just a few of the more important objectives of data collection. You can achieve a lot if you understand the concept of big data and data driven marketing. Insight and data relating to your market is extremely valuable — if you know how to use them. The second objective is to use big data effectively.
Effective Use of Big Data
It is one thing to know what it is, but quite another to know how to make effective use of big data. Marketing specialists Econsultancy carried out a survey on how marketers used data effectively. It found that 64 percent of those surveyed made business and marketing decisions based upon data driven marketing insight. However, while 77 percent of the marketers involved in the survey believe that digital analytics are important, fewer than 20 percent considered that digital reporting has a ‘very influential role’ in businesses decision-making.
It has been accepted by many companies that data driven marketing will be increasingly used this year, and will be the norm in 2018 onwards. Consumer behavior is critical in understanding the best marketing techniques. It will enable you to make decisions on the best content to deliver to them, and the best means of doing that: blogging, website, e-mail or mobile techniques.
Data Driven Marketing: Conclusion
For decades, long before data driven marketing became a concept, marketing organizations relied on educated guesses and gut instincts to make decisions, along with spreadsheets to determine performance and optimize spend. But in the last 10 years, the rise of advanced analytical tools has provided marketers with far better decision-making and forecasting capabilities: Data driven marketing! It allows you to be alert with the insight and data needed for success.
Roland G. Cardoza