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How Long Does SEO Take and Is It Worth It?

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How Long Does SEO Take Clock - Eminent SEO
As Google, Facebook and the other popular platforms continue to change the terms of their advertising services, many who have previously overlooked organic marketing are now asking, “Can I use SEO instead? How long does SEO take, and is it worth it?”

Let’s start by talking about what SEO is – and also, what it’s not.

What Is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing your content (website, social platforms and ads) for the search engines. We consider SEO an umbrella term for a number of different services and tactics. Primarily SEO is considered:

Keyword Research and Competitive Analysis

Before any target keywords are selected, research must be performed. If you are going to optimize your website and outrank your competition, you must understand them first. In-depth competitive and market analysis should drive the SEO strategy.

On-page SEO and Content Optimization

Each buyer type and stage of the buyer’s journey should be considered first when developing the website and content strategy. Keywords should then be incorporated into well-written content and metadata. That’s not all, though: On-page SEO is highly technical and includes everything from fast load times to internal linking.

Off-site SEO and Link Building

Link building or link earning, call it what you will, means SEO isn’t just limited to what you can control on your website. Off-site SEO is equally, if not more, important. The process of link building is very in-depth, but in a nutshell, the goal is to get other relevant and reputable websites to link to yours. Links act like votes, and how many, where and whom they come from matters.

Testing, Reporting and Analyzing

Because Google is always changing, so too is SEO. The fundamentals are the same, but the specific tactics, tools and applications are always changing.

Luckily, SEO is a data-driven marketing method, and almost every component can be tracked, tested and reported on. By analyzing the data, you can make changes based on user behavior as well as the search engines.

What Is NOT SEO?

Although SEO is a lot of things, it’s also NOT a substitute for:

  • High-quality website designs
  • Branded videos and images
  • Interesting content for the users
  • Products consumers want
  • Great customer service
  • A positive brand reputation
  • Trained sales professionals

All of these are needed to have a successful SEO campaign. It’s all connected.

How Long Does SEO Take to Start Working?

CEO Jenny Stradling Long-Term SEO Quote - Eminent SEOThis is maybe the No. 1 question we have received over the last 13 years or so of doing SEO. And, the answer is always the same: It depends.

Not what you wanted to hear, right?

But, it does depend on a number of different factors, including:

  • Age of domain and website
  • Number of current pages indexed by Google
  • Current rankings
  • Existing website content and digital assets
  • Information architecture and blog categories
  • Indexed website backlinks
  • Social media channel following
  • Existing competition and their websites and digital marketing strategies
  • Budget

If you come to us with a new website, hardly any content indexed, very few rankings, an outdated design, no digital assets, a sloppy navigation, no blog optimization, low social channel followers and heavy competition, depending on your budget, I will tell you it’s going to take at least six months – maybe a year. SEO is a long-term strategy, and you have to put in the work. It takes time to gain authority with Google. You can’t fake that.

However, if you come to us with a decent website and some of the foundational work done, we can speed up the process and rank a site in as little as two to three months.

It all depends.

If you have very little competition, if your keywords are under-marketed, if your competition isn’t spending a lot on SEO – all of these variables work in your favor.

Real SEO Case Studies

Since it all depends, it’s best to look at some real-world examples to see what is possible.

SEO Case Study #1: Transitioning from Google Ads to an Organic SEO Strategy

In October of last year, an addiction treatment center came to us with a huge Google PPC ad budget and a cost per admit that was higher than the price of treatment. We switched them to an SEO strategy right before the big Google AdWords smackdown, and now look at the data.

This SEO traffic would have cost $200K. We saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on paid ads, and their ongoing SEO campaign is a fraction of the cost with a higher conversion rate.

Transitioning From Google Ads To Organic SEO Strategy Data - Eminent SEO

SEO Case Study #2: Big Gains in a Competitive Niche

This client has been with us for a few years now. He also had a Google ad budget running and wanted to slowly transition from paid ads to organic SEO. He knew SEO would take time, so he continued to run Google ads while our team worked on the website SEO.

By staying true to the course, his website now dominates for all of the top terms in his niche and he no longer has to spend any money on paid ads. His organic traffic is estimated to cost almost $100,000 dollars a month if he were still bidding on paid ads. The cost of SEO is a small fraction of what the paid ads would cost.

Big Traffic Gains In A Competitive Niche - ESEO

SEO Case Study #3: New Domain and Website and Small Budget

This client came to us as a new brand. Their goal was to get online and start producing results through digital marketing. They were open to paid ads, but their industry is very limited on what they can advertise on, driving up the cost of the terms you can bid on. Due to their budget constraints, we started with SEO only.

In only three short months of a small-scale SEO campaign, we have climbed to more than 1,000 ranking keywords, showing it is possible to get organic rankings on Google in a short period of time. Of course, the site is also beautifully designed, and we’ve implemented expert SEO.

New Domain Website And Small Budget Traffic Data - Eminent SEO

Is SEO Worth Investing Into?

Let’s talk financial investment. All marketing costs money. The key to success is to be smart about the long-term strategy. If you simply throw all of your marketing dollars at short-term gains, you’ll miss out on an awesome opportunity to develop a marketing channel that will provide a substantially higher return on your investment in the long run.

For example, let’s say you have a set marketing budget. Over the first three to six months, you may see little monthly ROI. However, over the course of the full year, when you take your total sales and total marketing expenses, SEO generally produces anywhere from a 300 to 3,000 percent return on investment. That’s HUGE! Any investor’s dream!

Being Patient

The problem is, many new businesses didn’t plan for this, and when SEO doesn’t produce an immediate ROI, they become uneasy and turn to Google or Facebook for paid ads.

Google has been a powerful ad platform for many simply because it’s a search engine and buyers are asking for specific products or services – placing them much further along in the buyer’s journey. Problem is, some people can’t afford to pay the high cost per click, and some industries are even blocked from bidding on relevant terms unless they pass a difficult certification process.

Facebook, on the other hand, is at a higher point of the sales funnel. Prospects are simply scrolling through their social feed and minding their own business when an ad pops up. It doesn’t take an expert to guess that Facebook ads are harder to convert. They are definitely more affordable than Google ads, but unless you sell a product that has a social message, the click-to-website conversion rate can be less than desirable.

Then, there’s SEO. Just like with Google ads, the buyer is already searching for the product or service. But, unlike paid ads, when a user clicks your listing in the organic search results, it doesn’t cost you any more or less. Just one click on a paid ad can cost between $3 and $5, all the way up to $300 to $500, depending on what industry you are in. If that visitor doesn’t convert, you may have just wasted hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars!

The Long Play

SEO isn’t just about saving money on ads though. SEO is the foundation for years and years of brand visibility and website traffic. It’s the gift that keeps giving. Once you achieve a certain age and trust with Google, you can add new content to your site and rank it almost instantly.

And, another benefit? The leads are better. Just ask anyone who has run both SEO and paid campaigns which leads convert better, and they will tell you that SEO leads, every time.

Conclusion

When you really take the time to weigh the pros and cons, it’s pretty clear that SEO is a marketing channel worth investing into. Yes, it takes time…but honestly, all ad channels take time.

What sounds more strategic to you? Dumping thousands of dollars into paid ads that provide short-term gains with no residual return? Or, investing into SEO, which has proven to provide long-term value for companies through residual gains for years on end?

I know my answer.

See How We Do SEO

Avatar for Jenny Stradling

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Examples of Neuromarketing Done Well to Help Inspire Your Marketing Strategy

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Examples Of Neuromarketing Marketing Strategy - Eminent SEO
There’s an intuitiveness to digital marketing that if your campaigns aren’t geared toward each platform uniquely, your advertising and social spends may miss your proposed target audience. Why?

Whether we, as consumers, like it or not, Facebook, Google and other social channels and search engines respond to our behaviors online. It’s the way we receive direct and indirect promotional messaging based on our interests.

Yes, “big brother” is watching our every move. But, there’s another way that marketers can learn about consumer interests and it has everything to do with how we think, feel and react – subconsciously. If you’re thinking, “This sounds complicated,” it is – yet, it isn’t.

The term is called neuromarketing. In short, neuromarketing is based on the head games we play with ourselves, unknowingly.

NEUROMARKETING = 1 PART BRAIN + 1 PART EMOTION + 1 PART RESPONSIVENESS

Chances are you’ve already seen examples of neuromarketing in your day-to-day but weren’t aware of it. That’s the beauty of it – when neuromarketing is executed correctly.

Playing off the way humans react to stimuli (products/services messaging), neuromarketing provides mechanisms to measure:

  • What we respond to,
  • When we respond,
  • Why we respond, and
  • How to tailor branding and sales initiatives to increase conversion rates.

I’ve found some great examples of successful neuromarketing campaigns to share, but before that, let’s dive a little deeper into the way market researchers use technology in neuroscience to get a better understanding of what drives human behavior in the sales funnel.

The Before and After of Neuromarketing

One of the more challenging aspects of predicting how your target audience is going to react to your brand or promotional messaging is that you can’t predict it. People are fickle. Emotional. Transient. Impulsive.

There is no magic trick or special sauce (except for McDonald’s’) that will draw prospects and existing customers to your business. However, neuromarketing can test the waters, so to speak, and provide a consensus of what to expect.

Focus Groups Represent Consciousness

Many marketing agencies will set up focus groups to gauge consumer interest and opinions before a hard launch of a new product or update to a brand. What neuromarketers can do to enhance a focus group session is to bring the science of the subconscious to meet head on with consciousness. This is where it gets interesting – in fact, humorous.

How Often Do We Mean What We Say and Say What We Mean?

Ask your friend if they like Sriracha sauce and you’ll get a roll of the eyes with a screeching, “Well duh, who doesn’t?” Then you ask if she wants to head to Burger King for a Sriracha-infused fish sandwich and the response is, “GROSS!”

Maybe she doesn’t like fish? Perhaps she has an aversion to anything Burger King. But she said she liked Sriracha sauce.

This is part of the challenge in neuromarketing: the many variables of human nature that make what we say not always an accurate assessment of what we mean or how we feel.

The Nitty Gritty of Neuromarketing

Neuroscience Human Responses Consumer Behavior Neuromarketing Quote - ESEOResearchers will monitor how a person sees an online ad, for example, by using an fMRI scan that will provide details of brain activity. In addition, this is a great way to A/B test a promotional message for a marketing campaign.

The “A” ad might show the same copy with a different design or image than the “B” ad. The viewers’ brain activity can give an indication of their subconscious response to each.

EEG images are also used to show how a person emotionally responds to a product or service, depicted on the web, print or broadcast. For online-specific campaigns, neuromarketers track where a person’s eyes move about a webpage, usually going to the most prominent areas of the ad first.

Once noted, marketers can then use the information when choosing color palates for their brand. This also indicates where the primary messages should be placed (layout-wise) for maximum traction, increasing the click-through rate.

There are numerous ways that neuromarketing has come to light and can assist in the go-to-market, prelaunch process. Now, let’s put some sizzle to the science.

Neuromarketing Puts the Snap, Crackle and Pop Back in your Advertising

Perhaps the golden ticket in an advertiser’s ability to successfully tap into the mind of a consumer is by making the experience memorable. The most powerful part of the prior sentence is the word experience.

If you can create an experience for the user, it will be more memorable, will evoke emotion, decrease bounce rates, increase time spent viewing, build more relationships and convert more sales – even if you’ve only got their attention for three to five seconds. How?

  • Poke their curiosity.
  • Challenge their intellect.
  • Ask their participation.
  • Reach their comfort zone.

Not every marketing campaign will hit all four goals noted in this list, but it’s something to keep in mind when considering how neuromarketing can go to work for your business.

5 Examples of Neuromarketing by Household Brands

Neuromarketing invokes the subconscious, allowing advertisers to sway behavior based on emotion without thought…stirring the deeper recesses of our brains. Through neuromarketing, marketers hope to engage our internal chemistry, and that may not come with specific reasoning, but more from responsiveness based on memory or deep-rooted cognition from another time that provides appeal in the present moment.

Apple

While many businesses will pull out all the stops to try to win your attention and, ultimately, loyalty, some companies have a distinct brand presence – so much so, that there is no other brand like them. Their brand is their calling card. Apple defines this strength.

Neuromarketing in this instance showcases the power of simplicity because Apple’s positioning is always about its singularity. In a sea of competitors, Apple is always at the forefront of the industry wave.

When introducing the iPhone, Apple used imagination and how consumers feel separate yet connected by their mobile device, allowing them to enter and exist in their own world – just by turning them on. Apple pokes at the viewer’s curiosity.

Trivago

The online travel booking company Trivago uses the anchoring or comparison approach in its market positioning. Trivago’s brand ambassador presents a specific destination and then lists options for hotels and other accommodations that the consumer may not readily find if they use another booking company.

Through a no-nonsense, sometimes whimsical portrayal, the spokesman here is trying to make the consumer feel silly for using anything other than Trivago. This campaign indirectly challenges the intellect.

M&M’s

Other examples of neuromarketing focus on the brain’s reward center, the same area of the mind that responds to all things pleasurable: sugar, alcohol, drugs and sex. Yes, these are substances that have addictions associated with them. But there’s a reason for that.

Human beings respond to people, places and things that excite the senses, sending messages to the brain that spur desire, anticipation, expectation and reward. Once experienced, the body will then respond in the same way to sight, sound, scent and touch that relates to the first experience. M&M’s draws from this aspect of neuromarketing.

For the last several years, milk chocolate and peanut M&M’s have been depicted as human-size products. Oh, what would it be like to have a 66-inch M&M to nosh on? Fantastic!

Lay’s

This next neuromarketing example is my favorite of 2018 so far: the Lay’s Potato Chip “Operation Smile” bags campaign. I think this one is brilliant! A product packaging rebrand that brings experiential marketing to a multi-layered level. Each potato chip flavor has its own redesign, with the very top of the bag portraying a different smile. After all, smiling is contagious.

The consumer can then take the bag, hold the top of it in front of their own mouth and convey a smile. Just the act of doing it makes the consumer smile, laugh and invite them to share it with their friends or family.

In addition, because each flavor has its own design, consumers may want to buy more than one flavor to experience all the smiles. And when the chips are gone, they will be hard pressed to find another potato chip brand experience to equal what Lay’s offers. Remember, you can’t eat just one.

Clever Turns of Phrases

For targeted audiences by age or geographic area, a marketer might want to tease their memory by tugging at something familiar but with a twist. Known as hippocampus headlines, these clever phrases of copy often use an American adage and change just a word or two near the end.

This draws the audience to what they know, holds their attention and then keeps them considering the message because of the shift. I don’t know of a campaign that uses the following phrase, but it would be ideal for a water-flavoring product:

You can lead a horse to water but you CAN make him drink.

Now You Need a Neuromarketing Marketing Strategy to Understand How Your Customer Ticks

See Our 4-Step Inbound Marketing Approach

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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New Addiction Treatment Certification Allows Rehabs to Bid on AdWords Again

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Several of our addiction treatment center clients here at Eminent SEO, and those of our partner Addiction-Rep.com, have asked us about this news: “Exclusive: Google unveils vetting process for drug rehab ads.”

So far, there have been several direct questions that stem from this article, so here I will attempt to answer all of these questions. In addition, I will give some suggestions and professional insight, being that Eminent SEO is an agency that works with several addiction treatment centers and behavioral health care consultants.

Question 1: Does this mean we can bid on Google AdWords again?

Yes, kind of. Google did announce it will allow treatment centers to run ads after they have been vetted by Portland, Oregon firm LegitScript.

However, don’t expect this to happen overnight. In a new article posted this week, “LegitScript’s New Certification Program for Addiction Treatment Providers Will Help Those Most Vulnerable,” LegitScript included an important note:

“During the first three months, we’re going to intentionally take it slow. Irrespective of how many applications we receive, we’ll probably only certify about 20 to 30, simply so that we can make sure and get the process right. After that, we’ll ramp up the speed. (This goes into the “lessons learned” bucket from our existing healthcare merchant certification program.) This also works well with Google’s timeline, since they have indicated they will actually begin allowing these advertisers in July.”

Question 2: What does it take to get the addiction treatment certification?

The LegitScript website says the company is now accepting applications and that the evaluation includes criminal background checks as well as license and insurance verification. Rehabs will also have to provide “written policies and procedures demonstrating a commitment to best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement.”

They will charge $995 up front and then $1,995 annually for the vetting.

You can see the full LegitScript Addiction Treatment Provider Certification Standards here. They are not messing around. If you want to get approved, better read this first.

Question 3: What does this change for rehabs?

Up until recently, treatment centers could buy Google ads without a certification. However, over the last few years, Google has been rolling out a new vetting process for certain industries that will only allow entities to bid once they get the certification.

Before this announcement, the certification process only applied to garage-door repair techs, locksmiths, pharmacies and prescription drug providers. Now you can add addiction treatment centers to that list. From the LegitScript article, it sounds like Google will also be asking for more documentation from political advertisers soon this year as well (thank God).

Question 4: Does this LegitScript company manage the ads?

No. This is a qualification process, but the company will not be managing the ads. What LegitScript does is verify you meet the criteria and then provide a legal certificate to Google as proof. You would still need to have a professional Google PPC expert run your ads.

So, this cost is in addition to the ad management, and apparently required if you want to do Google ads in the future.

Question 5: How much will Google ads cost now?

This is still yet to be determined. Before the Google rehab keyword crackdown, the ad rates were out of control. Keywords were going for $50 to $150 a click sometimes. It was crazy!

Since the rollout doesn’t come until July, all we can do is speculate. And since LegitScript is only certifying up to 30 applicants, I can’t imagine there will be a bunch of competition driving up the bid rates.

Anyone care to speculate? Please add your thoughts to the comments.

Question 6: Can my treatment center get certified?

If you are a treatment facility with a valid company website, physical address, qualified staff and think can meet all of their certification qualifications, you can definitely apply!

However, it looks like the early bird gets the worm in this case. With only 30 applicants being accepted for a trial run and more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the U.S., it may be tough to become one of the first.

You can start the process here if you’re interested and ready to begin AdWords as soon as Google permits: LegitScript’s Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Certification Application.

Maybe the bigger question here is really: Should I get certified?

A successful Google AdWords campaign now requires a significant financial investment each month:

  • A LegitScript fee of $995 up front, and then $1,995 annually.
  • A professional setup and management fee, which could run you $500 to $5000 per month, depending on who you hire and their level of skill.
  • Expertly written ad messages and optimized landing pages, which could run another few thousand dollars.
  • Google AdWords and Display ad fees, which historically have run companies anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 per month. That’s right, I said $500 THOUSAND. These people were not messing around. I don’t know what ads will run for these 30 or so accepted applicants, but I am guessing they will need a few thousand dollars, just the same.

What Does That Total?

Conservatively speaking, you’re looking at $5,000 for the setup costs and at least $10,000 per month including ad fees, landing pages and management costs. I guess you could do it for cheaper, but if you think your ads will perform without expert management and optimized landing pages, you’re probably wasting marketing dollars.

Ads need the right strategy to get results. It’s easy to blow tons of money fast if you don’t have your campaigns set up right.

Final Take

My advice? If you’re not prepared to spend thousands of dollars, don’t bother. There are so many other channels of marketing that you can utilize to generate qualified leads without breaking the bank. I would strongly suggest you really think through all of your options and talk with a strategist before making a decision on investing into Google AdWords again. It’s a commitment.

On the other hand, if you DO have the money, this could be an opportunity for your rehab organization to come out ahead of the insanely high pre-ban bid rates.

What do you think? Worth it or naw? Weigh in below.

Avatar for Jenny Stradling

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Vol. 76: Find Your Way to Sales and Marketing Success

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Find Your Way To Sales And Marketing Success - Eminent SEO Newsletter Vol 76

Synergy Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Whether you have an in-house marketing team or you use an agency, your sales and marketing teams must work in tandem. Yes, there will be some crossover as far as which team handles which duties. But ultimately, the two teams need to serve distinct (yet interrelated) roles.

Your marketing agency or in-house team is essentially responsible for delivering business leads, and then it’s up to your sales team to close those leads and produce revenue for your company.

This sequence is futile if the two sides don’t communicate well. The sales team must continually report and provide feedback on the quality of the leads. If the leads are mostly calling about general info or asking off-the-wall questions, then it’s up to the marketing team to refine its tactics and target a more specific potential buyer.

At Eminent SEO, it’s our goal to not only increase the number of your leads through digital channels, but to deliver highly qualified leads in the process. We strive to build positive rapport with your sales team to open up a constant dialog about the quality of your leads. It makes all of our jobs easier – and ends up with a better ROI for your sales and marketing dollars.

See Whom We Work With

Inspirational Quote

“The objective of all advertising is to buy new customers at a profit. Learn what your customers cost and what they buy … Spend all of your ammunition where it counts.”

– Claude C. Hopkins, “Scientific Advertising” (1923)

Website Highlights: Is Your Business Aligned for Sales and Marketing Success?

Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

In her latest blog entry, Eminent SEO cofounder and CEO Jenny Stradling gets into the specifics on the roles that your marketing and sales teams play in achieving the overall goals of your business.

“What is the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead?”

“How do I track sales back to their originating source?”

“Do I need to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool for my business?

“What do I need to track in a CRM?”

See the answers to these and other relevant questions, along with insight into how to align your sales and marketing strategy, in the full article:

Sales & Marketing Alignment Advice

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Answer FAQ

At Eminent SEO, we love to educate our clients, fellow small business owners and the wider public on the basics of SEO, marketing and business needs. In talking among ourselves and to our clients, there are dozens of unique terms, abbreviations and slang we use quite often. Without a knowledge and understanding of the terms, how can you – as a business owner – understand how they affect your bottom line?

What is a website landing page?

Landing Page – A landing page can be any page on a website that is accessible to search engines or that can be linked to directly. Most times, a landing page suggests a specific page on a website that is meant to attract new website visitors through both organic marketing and paid marketing efforts.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-Tail Keywords (Long-Tail Keyword Phrases) – Keywords grouped in three or more words that are more specific and generally less competitive. These are used in the SEO industry with the intent of getting better conversions since the terms are usually more targeted than higher search volume keywords that are overly broad.

Example: “Find an Internet Marketing Company in Arizona” is a long-tail keyword versus “Internet Marketing,” which is general and likely overly competitive.

 

Use Our Free SEO Slang Resource to Get a Stronger Understanding of SEO

SEO & Marketing Terms to Know

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

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Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

In this post, I want to explore how and why sales and marketing strategies must align. I also want to share some tools that will help you build, monitor and track your campaigns and marketing ROI.

Who Does Sales and Who Does Marketing?

Generally, a business that doesn’t have an in-house marketing team will look for an agency, such as ours, to partner with. In this scenario, they are the sales team and we are the marketing team. Seems simple enough, right? Sadly, no.

Little Girl Suspicious Look - ESEOYears of working with sales teams both internally and those responsible on the client side has taught me that the roles and responsibilities aren’t always as clear as you’d like them to be.

There’s one more thing: The sales and marketing goals aren’t always aligned.

When misalignment exists, leads slip through the cracks and become lost. While it’s impossible to create THE end-all perfect lead generation pipeline with a 100 percent closing rate, maximizing the full potential of ALL marketing and sales efforts means you’re getting as close to perfect as possible.

The key is through effective communication between both sides.

The Need for an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

The sales team needs to know AND fully understand what kind of performance data the marketing team relies onto measure success, and vice versa.

The marketing team needs to make sure every lead they’ve generated has the capability to seamlessly transition into becoming the sales team’s responsibility to close.

If the teams are using any automated tools, both need to understand how the other side reads the data – and how to use it to maximize efficiency.

According to The Aberdeen Group’s report: [clickToTweet tweet=”In 2017, 92% of organizations reported below-average lead conversion rates because of misalignment between their marketing and sales teams. @eminentseo https://www.eminentseo.com/blog/build-aligned-sales-and-marketing-strategy/” quote=”In 2017, 92 percent of organizations reported below-average lead conversion rates because of misalignment between their marketing and sales teams. “]Similarly, the sales teams who were top performers in their field were 76 percent more likely to report a “complete or strong alignment” with their marketing team.

A campaign where both halves understand each other’s differences in roles, responsibilities, goals and overall strategy – and have successfully aligned their efforts in a cohesive manner – will be losing fewer leads overall. That’s a win for both sides.

Tracking Every Customer

I get it, we all want MORE SALES! It’s true, but not all businesses have the ability to track their sales to the source. It’s easy if you’re an eCommerce business and the entire sales transaction happens online.

But, what about the brick-and-mortar stores who are using digital marketing to get people into their shops? I guess you could have the cashier ask them how they heard about you, but in the end, is a handful of responses indicating “Google” as the lead source really going to empower you to make better marketing decisions?

I doubt it.

As marketers, how do we even begin to work toward getting “more sales” if we don’t even know which key performance indicators (KPIs) to focus on?

Marketing Key Performance Indicators

Marketers need DATA! The only way any of us are ever going to provide a client with an accurate lead generation report is to have the proper tools and processes in place.

Typical campaign KPIs we track and report on include:

  • Organic marketing keyword impressions and rankings
  • Website traffic data, per source type (direct, organic, referral, social, paid, etc.)
  • Website traffic trends and user behavior
  • Conversion rates, per type (phone calls, form fills, eBook downloads, chats, subscribers)
  • Off-site marketing conversion rates, per type (email opens, social followers, fan submissions)
  • Marketing platform insights, such as increased page likes and followers
  • Marketing return on investment (ROI)

In order to track these metrics, we use:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Keyword tracking tools
  • Call tracking tools
  • Website and social platform chat tools
  • Platform insights
  • Other paid reporting tools

Sales Key Performance Indicators

These KPIs and reports are certainly useful and important to the sales team. But, among those responsible for conversions, you will hear this time and time again: “We only care about sales”.

Sales can be nearly impossible to track for some businesses without the sales team entering data into the tools. How can your marketing team track sales if they only happen offline?

If you are an addiction treatment center, for example, and you take phone calls as a primary lead source, what happens after the call? Do you make notes in a call tracking system? Then what? Does the “lead” get manually placed into a CRM? Do you have a CRM?

If you are a call-centric business or if your sales cycle isn’t completed entirely online, then you MUST have a CRM.

What is a CRM?

A CRM is a customer relationship management tool. This is where you can house your contacts and manage your leads.

Do I still need to notate my call tracking tool if I have a CRM?

YES! Your CRM will help you manage your leads.

If a lead closes and it came in from a phone call, you should always go back to your call tracking system and enter in the conversion information. This allows the marketing team to export the calls and determine which ones converted into sales…and which ones didn’t.

And not just calls, but the source of the call. Don’t you want to know where your conversions are coming from? Was it the Facebook ad campaign or the email marketing?

By scoring the calls and entering in conversion data, the sales AND marketing teams will know what is and isn’t working.

Website Leads Website Sessions Comparison Report Chart - Eminent SEO

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads

Now that we all agree the marketing team can’t perform its job without the sales data and input from the sales team, how do we know who is responsible for what?

Marketers generate leads.

Sometimes, however, lead generation focuses on different stages of the buyer’s journey. This means not everyone is ready to BUY NOW.

So, we develop various funnels and lead capture opportunities to catch the various buyers at every stage in the journey.

We then group the leads into two types:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales Qualified Leads

Marketing qualified leads are typically website visitors who downloaded a gated asset, such as an eBook or brochure, in exchange for their email info. They can also be newsletter subscribers, quiz participants, event attendees or webinar signups.

Really, an MQL can be anyone who connected with us and provided contact information, but has not yet requested a call or more information from the sales team.

Sales qualified leads can start as a marketing lead and turn into a sales qualified lead when they explicitly express interest in purchasing.

Similarly, they can start as a sales qualified lead if they:

  • Call
  • Initiate a chat
  • Request more information
  • Fill out a sales form (such as insurance verification, intake form or consultation request)

As marketers, we need a system and the right tools to generate and nurture the marketing qualified leads. We can then convert them into sales leads through a manual process, or we can work with the sales team to align the systems and tools to automate the lead-management process for reduced human error and better lead management overall.

Generally, this system is a CRM.

Marketing and Sales Automation Tools

It might sound complicated, but it’s really not that difficult to manage the tools once you set them up properly and the teams are both trained on how to use them.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one singe tool that will provide the sales and marketing teams with everything they need.

As outlined above, your marketing may rely on several tools to track and report on your multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Today, most of the paid tools open up their API so developers can code integrations. Still, this does require an expert who understands the technical side of things if you want to automate the process.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

You can automate most of the marketing and sales funnel, but there will always be some pros and cons when doing so. Automation tools are pricey and require a professional team to setup and manage.

On the other hand, you can manually manage your leads and save costs on automation tools and supporting marketing materials – but at what cost to your bottom line? How many leads get forgotten when there is no CRM to store and manage them? How much time is wasted manually emailing leads that aren’t qualified for the sales team?

Automation costs more on the front end to set up and manage. But in the long run, you’ll save on:

  • Avoiding human error
  • Automating lead capture
  • Paying an employee to follow up with the unqualified leads
  • Automating lead nurturing
  • Reusing emails and assets in automation campaigns
  • Leveraging the tool data in the marketing strategy development

Even if you decide not to automate, you still need to manage and track your leads. And unless your business gets less than a handful of leads a month and you can manage them in a shared Google document or other free tool, you should consider getting a CRM.

There are free CRMs, such as the HubSpot CRM FREE, that allow you to test using a tool to manage your sales pipeline without making a huge investment into customization and integrations. It’s literally free, forever. We like that.

Free Hubspot CRM Landing Page - ESEO

Creating an Aligned Marketing and Sales Strategy

We begin by outlining all of the marketing channels. This should include both digital and direct marketing sources:

Multi-Channel Marketing Venn Diagram - Eminent SEO

We then like to think through the possible conversion actions, per source. This includes:

  • Calls
  • Chats
  • Downloads
  • Subscribes
  • Likes
  • Messages
  • Submissions
  • Form fills

All of these user actions or conversions are trackable with:

  • Call tracking
  • Chat tracking
  • Website form capture
  • CRM lead capture
  • Social insights
  • Email tools
  • Reporting tools

The sales team is responsible for:

  • Scoring calls
  • Scoring chats
  • Managing sales leads
  • Entering in sales conversion data
  • Providing feedback to the marketing team

The Marketing Team’s Responsibilities

The marketing team is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the tools are set up and integrated properly
  • Monitoring social messages
  • Generating leads
  • Nurturing marketing qualified leads
  • Reporting on marketing and sales KPIs
  • Using sales data in developing the marketing strategies

Marketing keeps the channels up to date with branded assets, such as:

  • Content pages
  • Images and graphics
  • Videos
  • eBooks and white papers
  • Blog posts
  • New landing pages
  • Infographics
  • Quizzes

Marketing also performs ongoing strategy development and campaign management tasks, such as:

  • Organic outreach
  • Guest blogging
  • Email campaigns
  • Paid ads
  • Social engagement
  • Media buys
  • Keyword research
  • Technical SEO
  • Editorial calendar development
  • Competitive analysis

When both sales and marketing agree to the strategy, we upload it into a shared Google doc and privately share it to the various members of the teams. This way, we all have an open, shared document to reference that outlines the marketing channels.

Using a Google doc also makes it easy to add columns for identifying who is responsible for which leads, the tool used, steps in the lead workflow management, and final “house” for the lead once it’s converted (or dead).

Lead And Sales Lifecycle Strategy Google Spreadsheet - Eminent SEO

Defining and Measuring Your Marketing and Sales Goals

Each business is unique. Your service offering, your product, your marketplace, your competition, your history, your mission – these are all defining variables. It’s important for your sales and marketing teams to review all of the data, put the data in context and create a shared short- and long-term set of goals.

You’ll need to review:

  • What your unique value propositions are: What sets you apart from your competition? Why are you special?
  • Who your audience is: Are they searching for your brand or products? Where do they “live” online? Is there a demand for your services?
  • Who your competition is: What are they doing with their website and marketing? What do you have to do in order to compete?
  • Your existing website and digital assets: Are they optimized for the engines and your audience? Do you need a new design as well as marketing materials?
  • What your brand says to the world: Who are you and what is your mission? Does your brand and reputation say “work with me”?

Depending on your overall existing digital footprint, you may need to factor in a bigger budget or a longer amount of time to reach your goals.

Aim for a Mix of Short-Term and Long-Term Victories

It’s possible to speed up the process of lead generation with paid ads and low-hanging-fruit opportunities. The only time these shortcuts wouldn’t apply is with your organic marketing, because there is no amount of money you can spend to speed up the process of building trust within your niche. Trust comes with age, and age comes with time.

With a multi-channel marketing campaign, your goals should be aimed at short-term wins and long-term gains. Even paid ad campaigns take time to mature and gain better quality scores for improved ad placement and click-through rates.

You should aim for month-over-month increases in the important marketing KPIs, but you should estimate marketing ROI for a full campaign on a quarterly or yearly basis.

Goals vs. Objectives

Your goals may be specific desired business results, such as:

  • Adding more sales funnels
  • Automating the sales cycle
  • Gaining a specific percentage of repeat customers
  • Generating a specific number of leads

Whereas, the overall marketing objectives may be broader, such as:

  • Brand awareness
  • Product awareness
  • Fan and social follower growth
  • Marketing lead generation
  • Lowering the cost per acquisition
  • Growing market share
  • Reputation management

Although it may seem like a good idea to target all of these objectives in your strategies, you may want to focus on one or two at a time and create a plan to expand into additional areas as you go.

Setting SMART Goals

Once you’ve developed a strategy and have a clear plan on which marketing objectives you want to focus on, it’s time to create the SMART goals.

SMART marketing objectives are:

  • Specific: The goals are clearly defined and prioritized.
  • Measurable: The goal KPIs are established and tracked.
  • Achievable: The team agrees these goals are within their abilities.
  • Relevant: The goals relate to the overall brand purpose and mission.
  • Time-Bound: The goals have a timeline, milestones and deliverables.

SMART Acronym For Marketing - Eminent SEO

Final Tip: Assign a Leader

We’ve found the sales and marketing teams work best as a functional unit when there is one primary decision maker. Ultimately, the person who makes decisions on budgets, marketing KPI’s, business objectives and sales goals should understand the strategy and be empowered with the correct data to make an informed decision.

Once you’ve established your short- and long-term goals and have a strategy and a team in place, stick with it! The leader should give the team the freedom to work on its individual expertise, but always regroup and share strategy updates with both sales and marketing in order to ensure a continued, cohesive strategy.

Main Takeaways for Building an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

An alignment between your sales and marketing strategies is crucial for generating high-quality leads and better conversions. When there is a failure in alignment, leads get lost in the pipeline; they slip through the cracks and never reach the closing stage.

To ensure alignment:

  • Build a solid line of communication between the teams.
  • Develop and manage one strategy plan with clear processes.
  • Use tools to monitor and track your progress.

If you are just getting started or your sales and marketing teams have already learned how to work independently of each other’s goals, this may sound like an arduous task. However, once the plan is developed, the tools are set up and the teams are communicating well, you will be thankful you took the time to align your marketing and sales strategies. And, better yet, your bottom line will benefit.

Anchorman Jumping Hooray Meme - ESEO

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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The Power of Online Video for SEO and Brand Trust

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Power Of Online Video For SEO Brand Trust - Eminent SEO
There is some truth to the phrase “seeing is believing.” And in today’s world, skepticism isn’t just for the paranoid. Business owners and clients believe they aren’t as gullible as they used to be, thanks to Snopes.com, E-Verify and a social culture that’s never heard of doing business on a handshake.

To provide a visual of what the initial interaction with a potential customer looks like, picture a stone-faced man or woman seated with arms crossed on the chest, void of emotion, waiting for the next round of B.S. to present itself.

Think about most of the marketing pitches you get online, whether through organic search or pay per click. Expecting a bait and switch? How often is that delivered? Right. No wonder we’re so distrustful.

Marketing Without Video Is as Reliable as Online Dating

YouTube Second Largest Search Engine Behind Google - Eminent SEOWith much of our business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships made across local, regional and national borders, any opportunity to engage in face-to-face communication is essential to building trust.

Remember when the idea of having your photo on your email signature was introduced? The reason behind it is the same. But it’s anticlimactic to have a conversation with a photo.

If you’ve ever engaged in the online dating process, it’s easy to get the message about why marketing with online video is such a powerful tool. You begin by conversing online with photos being the visual that entices.

You have no idea what these people sound like, how their mannerisms dictate the way they move, how they react to the unexpected or what drives them as human beings. And yes, you really can’t authenticate whether that photo is really him (or her).

Apply this to your business. If your online presence only includes the use of static imagery, there is no dimension to your brand and you’re missing a key opportunity to increase the reach of your SEO.

Every Business Is in the Business of Telling Stories

Now that social media has superseded print and physical collateral for marketing agency and business owner spends, as well as footing heavy competition for the television space, how your company represents itself is dictated by the stories it tells.

Breaking Down the Art of Storytelling

Whether you are a brick-and-mortar operation or solely online, the moment customers enter your facility or website, they are expecting a story. The visuals need to speak to them. The words need to engage emotion so that they stay long enough to purchase or at least remember who you are and why they should come back and/or share the experience with the people they know.

This is relationship marketing; it’s based on the ability to create a story that has dimension and depth. Nothing does that for you better than online video.

Salespeople Are the Biggest Storytellers of All

Business Video Marketing Spend 2018 Statistic - Eminent SEOThere remains an ongoing, friendly feud between creative marketers and salespeople. Salespeople generally have a disdain for marketers and believe that marketing content is nothing but fluff.

On the other hand, marketers know that a good story is needed before a salesperson ever gets the chance to tell their own story.

Marketers and salespeople aren’t that different. Here’s why:

  • Marketers – Devise a story, direct or indirect, meant to get the attention of a prospect and lead them to the sales department or immediately convert a sale.
  • Salespeople – Listen to the prospect and, based on what they hear, create a story that will resonate to convert a sale.

Online video supports marketing and sales initiatives because the story can be retold over and over again. Just hit play.

Video: The Next Best Thing to Being There

Marketing in motion (that’s what video is) provides a unique layering of flexibility to your creative campaigns. You can adjust the tone, the language, the lighting and effects on the fly. If it’s realism you want to convey to your audience, this is how it’s done.

For a more polished look, high-end equipment and professional videographers are the way to go as they better understand the mechanics behind the machinery and how to maximize the production to get better results. Make sure to create your own YouTube channel to post the videos, and incorporate keywords to help boost views and increase organic rankings.

Remember that Google sometimes chooses to show videos on page one of a user’s search, and that YouTube itself is the second-largest search engine on the web. Leverage your videos accordingly.

Why Video Is Business Marketing Royalty

According to a 2017 video marketing survey by Wyzowl,

  • On average, 90 minutes per day are spent watching online video.
  • 15% of those who watch online video do so for three hours or more daily.
  • 99% of businesses who already use video will continue this year.
  • 82% of businesses plan to increase their marketing spend on video in 2018.
  • Two out of three businesses that do not have an online video presence will start in 2018.

Where does your business stand? How are you capturing audience, brand awareness, SEO and conversions? If you’re not doing video (or creating the right kind of video), you virtually don’t exist.

What Does Online Video for SEO Do for Your Business?

Nothing creates a sense of believability and credibility to online users like video. It allows you to craft a message and deliver it in a way that keeps you in control.

If you like the response it generates, you can build other videos around it for a full-bodied campaign. If the response is not what you’d hoped for, you can repurpose some of the content, add new footage to shift direction and monitor audience reception from there.

Remember these numbers when it comes to video marketing:

  • 57% of online viewers feel more confident about purchasing a product or service after watching a video.
  • 74% purchased a product after seeing a tutorial video.
  • 78% of businesses who use online video realized positive ROI.

Love it or hate it, Google runs the online SEO show. Might as well make friends with the virtual giant. By the way, Google adores video. If your website doesn’t have an embedded video on it, you’re missing out on a 53 times greater chance of showing up on the first page of search results, according to Moovly.

Optimize Your Optimization

If you already have a strong online video presence, your business no doubt is already receiving the benefits it brings. But if the back end isn’t working just as hard, your videos aren’t reigning in what you justly deserve. The right long-tail keyword phrases, headlines and descriptions also add value to your SEO positioning.

If you want (no, you need) to learn more about how the right online video marketing strategy can bring big changes to your business, ask the experts in digital marketing and brand strategy: Eminent SEO.

Read More About Refining Your Content Marketing Strategy for 2018

Keep Your Content Marketing Fresh

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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How Businesses Are Wasting Money on Marketing That Doesn’t Work

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Businesses Are Wasting Their Money Marketing That Doesn't Work - Eminent SEO

This is probably the conversation I have the most frequently with marketing industry peers and clients. It is just a repetitive chat; the subject gets people animated, agitated, confused and eyes-bulging, vein-popping frustrated. Why? Because nobody listens.

Here’s one note of caution for starters: If you think you know marketing because of a Google search or two, you don’t know squat!

Marketing and Sales People Are the Biggest Suckers on the Planet

We’re in this conundrum together – because there isn’t one answer on how to do marketing. Instead, it’s essential that you understand the options and how they work together (or fail).

Even with the best industry gurus on your side, watching the SEO analysis month over month and staying current with the latest Google and Facebook algorithm shifts, there are no guarantees that your creative campaigns or media placements are going to work. Depressed yet?

Here’s what I can tell you. Marketing, just like people, shifts. What works today can be gone with the wind of tomorrow’s latest and greatest trend. Yaaass. This business is not for the emotionally thin-skinned. In other words, grow a pair, do some due diligence and have fun.

Beware of Snake Oil Yes Men (and Women) That Guarantee Anything

Recently, I had a client call me on the phone (old school, I know) to share his excitement. He’s got a handful of websites and just got a call from this guy in Chicago who swears he can deliver a branded TV commercial and media placement on 30 some odd stations. Wait for it… all for 1,000 bucks.

You’re laughing, right? It gets better. This guy also says he will guarantee 300 leads, calls that will go directly to my client’s call center.

Remember what I said earlier about there being no guarantees? Yeah. It applies here. So I called the guy in Chicago. I told him that if he wanted to swear to God that 300 leads are guaranteed, it was on him. I wouldn’t bet on that and I don’t think the Lord would appreciate being the brunt of a wager in futility.

How did I call him out? With one easy question: “Can you send me the list of media channels where the commercial will run?” I asked with a snarky smile. He replied, “No.”

This was a sketchy operation with phony leads that would undoubtedly go nowhere. Trust (sort of), then verify. Works like a charm.[clickToTweet tweet=”Businesses are wasting money on #marketing that doesn’t work because they do not think QUALITY over QUANTITY. They are also thinking about the past instead of evolving.” quote=”Businesses are wasting money on #marketing because they do not think QUALITY over QUANTITY.”]

Secret Keywords Are Like a Losing Game of Hide and Seek

Ever since Google has been cracking down on those who try to outsmart it (some do so successfully, but it’s temporary) one such solution appears as a “miracle grow” for SEO rankings. Watch out for the companies that say they will boost your presence by using targeted keywords strategically placed and hidden within your fine print of terms and conditions or right-hand-side testimonial content, for example.

Do really you think this is smarter than the peeps and tech that crawl websites for Google? Naw, probably not.

Marketing That Doesn’t Work: More Isn’t Mo’ Better

Marketing Tactics To Use In 2018 Keywords Video Content - Eminent SEOOverconsumption comes by us honestly. We’re Americans. It’s what we do. While some people have an issue with taking in excessive amounts of food, alcohol, drugs, toxic relationships or shoes (yes, shoes), many business owners believe that a handful of websites to represent their product offerings are better than just one.

Moreover, these duplicate (basically that’s what they are) sites house essentially the same content as one another. Not only is this so passé and ineffective; it’s naughty.

Why the marketing tactics mentioned so far don’t work isn’t just about cheesing up our industry standards. Our core audience detests it. Millennials are now the largest group of consumers. If your business doesn’t understand this audience, you might as well hang it up right now.

If you’d rather get a clue as to what you should be doing to get their appeal and more accolades for your product or service, keep reading.

Pander (I Mean Cater) to Your Audience

Millennials can be cruel. Maybe not cruel, but brutally honest. They don’t understand the merits of privacy (thank you MySpace, and now Twitter and Facebook) and believe that everything is subject to discussion, rant and opinion on the web. If your product or service doesn’t cut it, you’ll know, quickly. Here’s what to do to angle it all in your favor.

Invite the Criticism

Take a deep breath. Swallow that lump of insecurity in your throat. Be bold enough on social media to have a unique presence and put posts out there that speak to who you are and what you stand for. Take the heat that comes.

Pay attention; it’s the most inexpensive way to get an understanding of what’s working or not…and it’s ideal for discovering gaping holes of opportunity. Although, social media is not the place for ongoing product pitches. It’s about having a personality and building a following.

Make Millennials Matter

Leveraging the right social media platforms is essential to owning the millennial market. How you position your profiles is even more important. Make sure your content doesn’t talk down to them, as it needs to include them.

Position this audience as instrumental in your success. They must be part of your conversation. If your brand strategy allows them to lead the conversation, that’s golden.

Create the Experience

Product and services aren’t flat surfaces (though many smart devices are pretty close). The world isn’t flat either; it’s full of dimension. Enter marketing and editorial content.

What resonates with people today is a full-bodied experience with your product, service or brand. It taps on the emotion, the most powerful place your marketing can target. People may not remember what you said or did, but it’s how you made them feel that matters.

Provide Information That’s Unique and Individually Topical

The definition of an information junkie = millennial. From their childhood, web surfing was the only way to get the answers they needed. Ask a question of their parents, and “Google it” was the go-to response. As such, the information you put out must be accurate, relevant and thought-provoking, which gives them a reason to investigate further (they will) and respond.

Build Your Brand with Integrity That Is Globally Relevant

Long gone are the days where providing a free product offering would win over potential customers. Today’s consumers are cynical, and for good reason. With the onslaught of cyber theft and security breaches, people understand that if it says it’s free, there’s probably a cost.

If your product or service doesn’t provide global impact by its very existence, then your company brand should. If it doesn’t – to a millennial – you don’t exist.

Top 6 Marketing Angles Worth the Expense

Sales, web development and marketing firms will try to entice you into needing what they offer. With all the choices, it’s difficult to discern between necessity and fluff. Use this list of must-haves to position the marketing of your business well.

2018 marketing angles that work:

  • Quality content – original copywriting and optimized alt tags for imagery should rank organically
  • Video often – boosts viewership and experiential marketing
  • Cause marketing – brands your business with emotional substance
  • Niche campaigns – all media outlets, segment your audiences
  • Embrace the screens – use cross-channel marketing to increase impressions
  • Long-phrase keywords – catches the low-hanging fruit of search engines

Final Thought on Marketing to Your Audience

Not every business can claim millennials as its target audience. True. However, early adapters of web use and the culture of instant gratification aren’t merely for the young. This is how every generation under 65 years of age consumes.

Today, we are all millennials. Your marketing efforts need to align with our new, collective behavior.

See How to Appeal to Generation Z Online

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Passing the Torch: Updating Your Website’s Backlink Strategy for 2018

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Backlink Building To Link Earning - ESEO

As long as Google has acted as our de facto gateway to the rest of the Internet, so too have brands and marketers developed strategies for optimizing their content according to Google’s algorithm.

This has created a bit of tug-of-war between the tech giant and advertisers. The sequence goes:

  • Google introduces a new algorithm update to better optimize search engine results.
  • Marketers then update their best practices to help their brands gain or maintain as much online visibility as possible.
  • Within a year or two, Google significantly updates its algorithm and starts the cycle all over again.

With the introduction of Penguin in 2012 and its subsequent updates, Google has become incredibly sophisticated at differentiating between backlinks that are earned organically and those that are established using industry-wide content marketing strategies. Now Google plans to use that information to prioritize sites that predominantly host organic backlinks and, in some cases, penalize sites that do not.

Want to make sure your link strategy is up to date and penalty free? The following tips outline ways that you can update your approach, introduce new solutions and leverage your link-building experience in a link-earning world.

The Rise of Link Earning

Evaluate Content By Leads Conversions Bounce Rate - Eminent SEOIt wouldn’t be fair to describe link earning as a completely new concept for two major reasons: First and foremost, link earning was basically the only way that individuals and businesses gained exposure for their website back before search engines were ubiquitous. Those who produced interesting content that filled a need had their website linked to by other websites. In the most straightforward way possible, great content earned you links.

Second, it’s important to point out that the strategies used to “earn” links are not considerably different than those used to “build” links. Both require businesses to make intentional decisions about their content, stay disciplined in producing brand-supported content and find ways to consistently engage with customers and other businesses.

The shift is less about strategy as it is about execution. If you were already link building at a high level and producing content that naturally attracted visitors to your site, then you may have already been link earning for years.

If your link-building strategy was minimal or depended on questionable tactics like purchasing links, your website is now a greater risk for penalties than ever before.

Chances are that Google’s standards will only become even stricter in the future. The time to get your content marketing approach up to date is right now.

Backlink Strategy Advice on Shifting from Link Building to Earning

Sometimes the differences between link building and link earning are as subtle. Convincing another business to link to your site might qualify as “link building” if you don’t have much of a history with the other website.

Conversely, you may have had an established relationship with another professional and they share your content because it is a good fit for their own customers. That would certainly qualify as “link earning.”

In a sense, link earning is merely link building being done at a consistently high level. Here are a few ways to streamline your content marketing strategy and generate organic interest in your site:

Stick to Your Schedule

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is that your brand delivers high-quality content on a consistent, predictable schedule. This is one of the most effective ways to get repeat engagement from online users.

Provide them with valuable information then let them know how, when and where to get more. If you follow up with even more useful content, you’ve got yourself some fresh, organic engagement.

Not keeping to a content release schedule, regardless of what difficulties your business had in producing on time, will quickly erode your audience. Even worse, other websites are less inclined to promote your content if they think your company is unprofessional about meeting deadlines.

Share, Share, Share

Posting links to your brand’s content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? That’s not enough. The companies that are earning organic links consistently are also engaging customers over a broad spectrum of social media channels every day. Sites like Medium, LinkedIn and Google+ feature feeds that can be used to share content. More niche social media platforms like Pinterest can be used to share eye-catching graphics and other visual materials.

Regardless of what kind of high-quality content your company is generating, it is critical that you share that content to a wide variety of places. Casting a wide net when it comes to social engagement is one of the most effective ways to draw new and routine traffic alike to your website.

Review and Revise

If your brand hasn’t developed a strategy for evaluating the impact of your content, then that needs to change right away. If you do have an evaluation strategy and you aren’t getting the results you want, it may be because your performance evaluations aren’t providing you with the right information.

You need to identify effective metrics for analyzing the performance of your content, including, but not limited to:

  • Lead generation
  • Sales
  • Bounce rates

Once these evaluation tools and benchmarks are set in place, it’s important that your brand commit itself to constant self-improvement. Your competitors are always going to be strategizing to push their content to the next level. Equal amounts of diligence are required on your end to stay relevant. When all else fails, look at your competitors for ideas and strategies that you can turn into your own.

Preparing for Transition

Updating a business strategy isn’t easy, especially when your brand has been doing things a certain way for a long time. That being said, refusing to stay current with the times spells disaster for your brand’s long-term success.

There are plenty of ways to make the transition from link building to link earning with minimal stress and hassle. As mentioned before, these strategies are not so far apart. Your task is less to reinvent the wheel when it comes to content marketing, and more identifying the special niche that only your brand can fill.

Research will be a major factor in your company reaching its goal. You’ll need to fully understand the types of customers who might be interested in your brand and tailor your content strategy to reflect their tastes.

Talent acquisition will also play a major role in your ability to consistently earn links. Earning links and developing content that people want to share are both full-time jobs. Expecting a professional to wear both of these hats is far from setting that person up for success. Hiring the right people to produce the right content is a much more reliable investment.

Get Support If Necessary

Without sufficient expertise, turning your link-building strategies into link-earning solutions can be time consuming and costly to implement. That’s why it makes sense to work with experts and expand your education. This type of online and offline networking can help you earn more links in the long term as well. Check out the rest of this helpful blog or reach out to us if your site needs more traffic.

See Our Many Link Earning Services

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Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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Did Google Crush Your Addiction Treatment AdWords Campaign?

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Eminent SEO - Google Crushes Addiction Treatment AdWords CampaignsAround September of this year, Google placed new restrictions on advertising keywords related to searches for addiction treatment. This had a tremendous impact on addiction treatment centers around the country that relied on Google AdWords campaigns as their primary digital ad source.

In fact, word on the street is certain centers have been hit so hard they are cutting staff, selling their facilities and even going bankrupt.

Why Did Google Crack Down on Addiction Treatment Ads?

As a long-time addiction treatment marker myself, I have watched the recovery industry evolve over the last 12 years. Over that period of time, I have seen a lot of shady marketing practices in general. I mean, a ton.

However, what has become even more alarming over the last few years has been shady (sometimes even illegal) addiction treatment center business practices. I even recently wrote a blog post directed to addiction treatment centers as an open letter on what NOT to do: Dear Addiction Rehab Owners.

Those of us who preach ethical marketing saw this coming and said it would happen. Overnight, Google decided to stop selling ads for a giant number of “addiction treatment” related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment” and thousands of others.

Imagine the SHOCK around the country as the $35 billion addiction treatment industry discovered its primary lead generation source was practically shut off overnight.

Google told The Verge in a statement:

“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

Isn’t This a Loss for Google?

Uh, yes. Some of the top-searched rehab terms were going for $100-plus per click! We know addiction treatment centers that were spending millions of dollars a year on Google ads alone.

But, you know what a bigger loss is? The 570,000 people who die annually from drug and alcohol use every year in the United States. According to National Institutes of Health drug facts, that number breaks down to more than 480,000 deaths related to tobacco, about 31,000 due to alcohol, nearly 22,000 due to overdose on illicit (illegal) drugs, and close to 23,000 due to overdose on prescription pain relievers.

If those deaths don’t shock you, let me give you something to compare that too. This is the list of the top 10 causes of death in the United States every year:

  • Heart issues: about 630,000 people die of heart disease annually
  • Cancer: a source of roughly 596,000 deaths annually
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease (a collection of lung diseases): 147,000 deaths
  • Accidents and unintentional injuries: 136,053 deaths
  • Stroke: 140,323
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561
  • Diabetes: 79,535
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 57,062
  • Nephritis and nephrosis (kidney issues): 49,959
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193

If you combine alcohol and drug related deaths, we are talking about 90,000 annually. Doesn’t that place substance abuse and addiction number 7 on the list?

People are dying! And, the saddest part? They are dying because they aren’t getting the help they need.

Although this stat is outdated (real-time stats on this stuff are hard to find!), the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found only 10.9 percent of the individuals who needed professional substance abuse actually received it.

We can do better. We MUST do better.

How Can Addiction Treatment Centers and Marketers Do Better?

Jenny Stradling - Quote on Ethical MarketingUnfortunately, this crackdown wasn’t rolled out based on the legitimacy of the facility or its advertising agency, like the organic rankings have been. This change impacted all treatment centers and their marketing agencies, legitimate or not.

It’s not fair, but Google never claimed to be fair. One bad apple might have not ruined it for the rest of us, but a LOT of bad apples did. And you know what? Good.

You heard me.

I’m tired of shady business practices. I am tired of seeing the greed in this industry. I am tired of getting calls for “grey hat” marketing practices from treatment centers who still think they have to trick Google in order to win.

I am tired of finding misinformation on legitimate sites (yes, I see you spammy rehab marketers and your regurgitated, ill-researched content). I am tired of seeing zero value being placed on quality and ethics. I am tired of auditing digital brands only to find crap.

Wake up, addiction treatment providers and marketers! This is not why we do business. We MUST find a way to do better.

Start by putting your clients first. Start by laying out a clear goal and mission. Start by agreeing to do things ethically. Start by working with other industry professionals that care about getting results AND are passionate about making a difference.

The only way your brand stands a chance in the long run is to do things the right way. Otherwise, it will catch up with you. It always does.

What Should You Replace Your Addiction Treatment AdWords Campaign With?

As a multi-channel marketing agency, we have always suggested a custom brand and marketing strategy for our addiction treatment center clients. There is no single marketing channel that will ever supply any business with all of its leads indefinitely, especially when you consider the ever-changing digital landscape.

Typically, our addiction treatment center clients will have a campaign that includes several tactics and digital channels of marketing:

  • Quality Website Design and Images
  • Professional Landing Page Optimization
  • Technical Website SEO
  • Optimized Content and Meta Data
  • Website Blogging
  • Brand Asset Development
  • Organic Search Engine Marketing
  • Local and Geo-targeted Marketing
  • Social Channel Management
  • Paid Social Ad Campaigns
  • Newsletter and Email Marketing
  • Testing, Tracking and Custom Reporting

We may also supplement with Google or Bing paid ads, but we have never relied on them. Why? Too expensive, higher cost per admit and lower conversion rate than the organic channels.

However, if you have recently been hit hard by the Google AdWords “rehab” related keyword restrictions, here are some channels you can explore:

Social Paid Ads

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat can generate addiction treatment leads when done properly. Facebook and Instagram ads are killing it for our clients right now.

Inbound Marketing

It’s not a quick fix, but utilizing custom landing pages, gated assets and email campaigns with smart, automated workflows can have a big long-term impact on your brand reach.

Geo-targeting

It’s not just “local marketing” anymore. Google gets to decide what search queries are considered local and which ones are not. You must optimize your website and ad strategies for the geo-targets you want to rank for. (Looking for more? Ask us about geo-fencing.)

Video Marketing

We can talk about video for days, but I’ll just say this: videos are valuable assets for your brand. But, not all videos are created equally. A well-researched video strategy can drive the entire marketing campaign. 2018 is the year to invest into video.

Website and Social Chat

A surprising number of treatment centers think online chat won’t work for them. Well, I am here to tell you something: it does work, and I know because I see the conversions from our client chat campaigns. If it isn’t working for you, you’re doing it wrong.

Conclusion

When you are in an industry that is known for false advertising, illegal patient brokering and bidding wars, it’s imperative you take the time to A) put ethical business practices into place, and B) hire a company who can guarantee they are doing the same.

If you need an agency that understands the addiction treatment industry and cares about quality, ethics AND the bottom line, give us a call. Let’s make something special together.

Contact Us to Get Started

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Beware Boredom: Keeping Your Content Marketing Strategy Fresh in 2018

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Keep Content Marketing Strategy Fresh For 2018 - Eminent SEO

For years you’ve been hearing about the importance of developing higher quality content and making that content a central part of your overall marketing strategy.

Don’t count on that thinking to go away anytime soon. That’s because long-term content marketing strategies across every industry are bearing fruit and helping brands to significantly expand their reach.

Revealing Study

A study performed by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs revealed that 2017 was a big year for content marketing. The survey of more than 1,000 American companies representing a vast range of industries – ranging from technology and consulting to health care and publishing – found that investments in content marketing have produced promising returns.

Here are some of the most notable takeaways from the study:

  • 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing in 2017.
  • 63% of respondents are “very committed” to content marketing.
  • 85% of companies said that improving content quality had considerable benefits.
  • 88% of respondents agreed that content marketing was the most important part of their marketing strategy.

It’s clear that content marketing has been just as effective as promised, and that means more and more companies are going to be jumping onto the trend in 2018. The pressure is even higher on individual brands to develop fresh, relevant copy that drives sales and social media engagement.

So how do you plan to stand out next year now that thousands of companies are dedicating serious resources to content?

Fine-Tune Your Content Marketing Strategy

The following strategies outline a few ways to keep your content marketing strategy as unique and engaging as possible:

1. Next Level Content Marketing: Going Beyond the Blog

Content Marketing Straining To Reach Next Level - Eminent SEOToday, blogging is the go-to strategy when it comes to content generation. This straightforward medium can become quite dynamic in the right hands.

As studies have shown, more brands are becoming adept at developing blog posts that communicate the right message to their customers. That means your company will need to start thinking about new options for content generation beyond the traditional methods as you head into 2018.

Yes, you’ve put a lot of time and resources into mastering social media, blogging, newsletters and whitepapers. Taking your content to the next level does not mean abandoning these efforts; you’ll still want to keep generating dynamic blog and social content.

However, it’s equally important that your company start devising new ways to leverage these skills to stand out from your competition.

For example, some companies have elevated their blog and email newsletters into something more akin to a full-blown publication. Food Processing and Food 52 are two instances of publishers that have transformed their newsletters to have the look and feel of a magazine, rather than just another disposable email message.

By leveraging subject matter experts in your network, dedicating time to developing regular featured content and your knowledge of customer pain points, your brand could create consistent resources that provide audiences with in-depth information about your industry and your business.

These are just a few of the many ways your company can elevate its content creation strategy in 2018. The sooner your team starts brainstorming a new approach, the better.

2. Leverage Transparency: Kill Two Birds with One Stone

Max Breaking The Fourth Wall Shattering Glass - Eminent SEOWith data breaches and digital scams in the news on a regular basis, today’s clients want to feel like they can trust the brands they work with. One of the easiest ways to establish a connection with potential customers is to let them peek behind the curtain.

Transparency is more important to customers than ever. The companies that are able to provide the inside look that clients are looking for will be more effective in building important, long-term connections with those same customers.

Now, what does that have to with your content strategy for 2018? If you’re willing to think outside the box, the push for transparency could very well be the solution your brand needs.

First, develop a long-term strategy for increasing transparency across the company, both between the brand and customers and between leadership and the rest of the employees.

Next, start documenting the progress of these transparency efforts. Not only does this approach help your staff stay accountable, it also generates a bevy of material that can be turned into eye-catching content.

Here are a few more ways your transparency implementation can double as trust-building content for your customers:

  • Host digital Q&A sessions that answer customer questions and address any ethical concerns.
  • Develop a series of blog posts that track, describe and discuss the results of new transparency initiatives.
  • Develop a case study that analyzes and reviews company-wide transparency efforts.

3. Copy and Video: Hire a Specialist Who Does Both

Copy Writer And Video Specialist Who Can Do Both - Eminent SEOIn 2018, everyone will looking for ways to implement video into their content marketing strategy. Few, however, will find an effective way to integrate video into their content strategy.

The difference? Consider the advantage of posting video content that relates to or even directly refers to the written content on the same page.

YouTube personalities have become adept at breaking the fourth wall on the Internet, physically gesturing in their videos toward buttons and special offers that exist on the page. They also dedicate time to verbal calls to action that encourage viewers to follow certain links once the video has ended. Why can’t you pull off the same tricks with your content?

The most efficient way to get this type of project off the ground would be to have the same writer develop copy and related scripts. This way, there should be cohesive tone and messaging from one medium to another.

Placing irrelevant videos on content pages can just end up distracting your viewers, after all.

The possibilities for leveraging video and content together are endless. Ultimately, your goal is to provide visitors with content and engagement they’ve never seen before. If you can execute uniquely exciting video, visual and written content, you put yourself at a major advantage going into next year.

Think Bigger than Your Competition

2018 is all about thinking outside the box and utilizing the content marketing strategies you’ve learned to subvert expectations. The longer the content marketing game plays out, the better everyone is going to get at it. So keep mastering new moves!

Enjoy what you just read and want to keep learning? Check out a few more of the entertaining and insightful content marketing blog articles that Eminent SEO has to offer. Remember, the quickest way to innovate is to continue absorbing solutions and strategic tips like these.

Feel Free to Comment Below:
What Are Your New Plans for Content Marketing in 2018?

Avatar for Remy Albillar

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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