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tracking marketing kpis

SEO, CTA, KPI … The list of terms you need to know for your marketing strategy seems to go on and on. We’re here to help break it down and make it easy for you to understand. Keep reading for our full guide to marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).

What is a KPI?

KPI stands for key performance indicator. They are a way to measure performance over time. Following certain metrics over time can help your business reach milestones, gauge processes, and provide insight to make better business decisions. 

What Marketing KPIs Should You Track?

Tracking the right key performance indicators can provide a holistic view of how  your business is performing. 

We, like Semrush, believe that these are some of the best KPIs you should be tracking:SEO KPIs

  1. Conversions: How many of your site visitors are qualified leads? How many of them convert to closed sales? 
  2. ROI: Return on investment is a metric that tells you how profitable an investment is/was, in this case, likely how profitable your marketing investment was.
  3. Organic Visibility: How are people finding your site? Are you showing up through organic search?
  4. Organic Sessions: How many users are finding your site through an organic search? 
  5. Bounce Rate: How quickly are users leaving your site after visiting? If your site is not user-friendly, loads slowly, or doesn’t provide the information your users are looking for, they might exit the site after viewing only a single page. 
  6. Average Time on Page: How long are your users spending on your site pages? Pages with more content, such as blogs or videos, typically tend to drive longer time on-page.
  7. Organic CTR (click-through rate): Does your site have clear calls to action (CTAs)? How often are users clicking buttons or links on your site? Which buttons/links are you driving them to click?
  8. Backlinks: Sites with higher authority are more likely to see increased backlinks. If your site provides valuable, authoritative information that users find helpful, and useful, they may be more likely to link to it from their own sites. This helps drive referral traffic to your site and continues to support authority improvements. 
  9. Keyword rankings: Keyword rankings are the primary driver of organic search traffic. Targeting specific keywords relevant to what your business does is critical to increasing organic search traffic. It’s important to track keywords in two ways: total ranking keywords, and keyword ranking positions. 
  10. Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic: Branded keywords are directly related to your unique business. For our brand, this would include keywords such as “Digital Storyteller,” “Digital Storyteller marketing agency,” “Andrew Marr,” etc. Non-branded keywords are those that your site ranks for that are not specific to you, such as “digital marketing,” “social media management,” and “search engine optimization.”
  11. Page Speed: Page speed is a huge determinant of how your site performs. According to backlinko, the average page loading speed is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile. If your site takes longer than this to load, chances are your user won’t wait and will instead visit a competitor’s site instead. Safe to say we’ve become a pretty impatient society … 
  12. Coverage Issues: Performing site audits can ensure that your site is functioning properly and that Google is indexing and reading your site as it should be. Google Search Console is a critical tool in identifying coverage issues and can help you solve any issues that you find.  

How to Develop your Marketing KPI Strategy

Your business’ marketing KPI strategy should be unique to your business needs. Sure, you can glean ideas from other similar business models, but tailor yours to help guide you where you want to go. 

Here are a few tips on how to develop your marketing KPI strategy.

  1. Define your KPIs- Which specific KPIs will your business track? How will you collect the data and how often will you track shifts? 
  2. Use the SMART Method- KPIs should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. For example, “Onboard 7 new clients in the next 12 months.”
  3. Keep your KPIs clear- Your team should understand your KPIs and how to act on them to make decisions that ultimately lead to reaching your goals.
  4. Revisit your plan- Sometimes plans need to change. Revisit your KPI strategy to make sure the strategy is still working for you. Maybe you need to adjust a few action items based to keep propelling forward in the right direction. 
  5. Don’t overdo it with KPIs- Try to avoid doing too much, too quickly. With access to a plethora of data, it can be easy to try to measure every little thing. We recommend using the information to stay on track with your most important targets- however you define them. This will help you avoid KPI overload. 

See an example below of how we at Digital Storyteller keep track of the important KPIs to our business strategy.

Top Seven Categories of Digital Marketing

How They Work Together

The world of digital marketing is constantly evolving. (We know you know this because we remind you of this in nearly every piece of content we push out!) There are, however, a handful of tried and true marketing efforts under the larger umbrella term of ‘digital marketing.’

Because let’s be honest, not all marketing efforts are created equal. Here we will discuss the top seven categories of digital marketing and how they work together. These seven categories of digital marketing are fundamental to the success of your business’s content marketing strategy.

So, let’s get started.

Content Marketing

First, what is content marketing? Content marketing is the bread and butter of what we do at Digital Storyteller.

Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” as put by the Content Marketing Institute.

Today, the traditional sales pitch style of marketing is decreasing in value every day. Instead, content marketing approaches prospective clients by providing useful, relevant content to help solve problems or answer questions. Furthermore, content marketing aims to build trust with your prospective clients rather than simply complete a sale. 

Effective content marketing utilizes the “creating and sharing [of] relevant articles, videos, podcasts, and other media.”

This type of marketing helps to establish expertise and increase brand awareness. The goal is to make sure your business is at the top of your prospect’s mind when the time to purchase a product or service comes.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is another crucial pillar in terms of your digital marketing strategy. SEO, in simple terms, is what allows your content to be found.

For our friends who love definitions, SEO, according to Moz, is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” SEO is how marketers tailor their content to appeal to search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

For example, you might search ‘affordable chardonnay near me’ on Google. The way that Google then provides results based on your search is determined by SEO. SEO is the tool that tells Google, “Hey! This is what information my website has, this is what I’m talking about, and these are the types of people that would find my website interesting!”

One of our favorite SEO tools to use at Digital Storyteller is Semrush. Semrush is an online tool that collects research on your business’s SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), content, and social media efforts. It can also help you identify keywords you are currently ranking for or targeting.

If you didn’t know, information about ranking keywords is critical to making your way up the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

For more on all things SEO, check out this article for 10 tips to maximize your SEO efforts, this article we wrote on why SEO is important, or one of our more recent articles on how to effectively combine SEO and content marketing!

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Parallel to SEO, we have SEM. You guessed it, another crucial piece of digital marketing.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, which is, according to Optimizely, “a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs).”

In the past, SEM typically encompassed both organic and paid search. Today, however, it almost exclusively refers to paid search advertising.

SEM is “the act of using paid strategies to increase search visibility.” Every day, businesses pay big money for their ads to rank first on search engine results pages. Hint: You can tell when businesses are using SEM by the bold “Ad” text that accompanies a search result.

SEO, SEM, why so many acronyms?! While these two may seem like the same thing, they are actually quite different. Learn more about the difference between the two in this article.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not dead. It has, however, become increasingly difficult to grab the attention of clients and prospects through their inboxes.

Email marketing, as defined by MailChimp, is “a form of direct marketing as well as digital marketing, that uses email to promote your business’s products or services.”

Email marketing can be used to promote your latest items and offers, or it can assist with lead generation, brand awareness, relationship building, and customer engagement. 

The biggest challenge with email marketing is breaking through the noise. The best email marketing experts:

  • Craft compelling campaigns
  • Understand optimal audience outreach
  • And analyze customer interactions and data

Email marketing software companies, including HubSpot, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and more, help perfect your email marketing campaigns by providing automated email workflow options as well as in-depth email marketing data (i.e. open rates and click-through rates).

Data Analytics

Marketing without data is merely speculation—a guessing game of what you hope will land with your prospects and clients.

At Digital Storyteller, we recognize that data is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy. When it comes to our analyses, we use Google Analytics (primarily for website data), Semrush (for keyword analytics), and additionally Metricool (to look at social media performance).

Design and Website

As far as design goes, making sure your brand is consistent across all digital and print platforms helps clients and prospects recognize your brand immediately. 

Contrary to popular belief, design—whether for marketing collateral, social media, or a website—is more than just pictures and drawings. Venture and Grow state, “Graphic design is the art of communication that requires creativity and a systematic plan to solve a problem or achieve specific objectives.”

So, what makes effective design in digital marketing?

Effective graphic design “highlight plans to discover what makes [content] genuinely stand out and get shared.”

Additionally, top-notch design helps:

  • Build trust
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Influence the customer decision-making process

Don’t underestimate this component’s power in your digital marketing strategy. After all, you could have amazing content that gets swept under the rug because of poor presentation.

Speaking of design, let’s take a moment to chat about your website. Your business’s site isn’t just an opportunity to showcase your branding and design. Whether or not your site is easy to navigate and structured properly has a huge influence on how (and IF) clients and prospects will interact with your brand.

So, take a minute to ask yourself these questions: Is my website easy to navigate? Is it nice to look at? Does it lead people on a journey to find out more about my business?

Social Media Marketing

Of course, social media is a huge pillar in your digital marketing strategy. The platforms that you use (and that are essential to your digital marketing strategy) depend heavily on your target audience. Ask yourself where your prospects spend the most time, and where they are most likely to be influenced to trust a brand.

To learn which social platforms your business should be on, read our article “Financial Services Companies: Which Social Media Platforms Should You Be On?

Social media marketing includes any content that is released via a business’s social media channels. When it comes to a business, however, it’s not all fun and games. Crafting the perfect social media marketing strategy to fit into your larger digital marketing strategy is more complicated than posting on your own Instagram or LinkedIn.

Social media marketing is integrated and strategic. It takes hard work. Everything that pushes to social media must mirror the messages that are used throughout your business.

Social Media Analytics

Analytics are also crucial to your social media marketing.

This data can help you discover what types of posts do or don’t do well and why. With this data, social media marketers can better tailor their strategies for their business’s benefit.

Digital Storyteller is Here to Help

We know, there is a lot that goes into a successful digital marketing strategy. At Digital Storyteller, we like to think of your digital marketing strategy as a giant system of gears working together. Content is at the heart of this system and drives all of the marketing components like SEO, SEM, social media marketing, and so on.

The system would fail without each gear in place. So, how does your digital marketing strategy measure up? Read on to learn how to measure the success of your digital marketing strategy. You might be surprised by how your business is really doing.

Cornerstone Content

Let’s talk about cornerstone content: what is it and how can it support your SEO strategy? 

For those of you who don’t nerd out at the thought of search engine optimization, SEO can feel like a black hole of confusion. (And let’s be honest, that’s probably all but one or two of us *cough cough* our SEO manager…), but don’t stress. We’re here to help! Let’s dive in.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content, sometimes referred to as evergreen content, includes the most important articles and pages on your website (not including your homepage). Cornerstone content is typically:

  • Long-form (longer than your average blog post)
  • Informative
  • Very well written

According to Rank Movers, the purpose of cornerstone content is to “perfectly explain your business or the purpose of your website.”

Most websites’ cornerstone content is made up of three to five elements. These can be pages or posts, but regardless, it is important that they are frequently updated. Keep ‘em fresh!

As a final note, Yoast tells us that the pages that make up your business’s cornerstone content should consist of “the best, most important articles on your site; the pages or posts you want to rank highest in the search engines.”

So, don’t get lazy with these pages and/or articles. Your cornerstone content is your time to shine!

An Example of Cornerstone Content

Here’s an example of great cornerstone content (better yet, it comes from one of our clients!).

Our client, Milikowsky Tax Law specializes in IRS, EDD, and State Attorney law. This considered, some of Milikowsky’s cornerstone content includes:

  • What to Expect from a California EDD Audit and Investigation
  • What Triggers on IRS Audit
  • The Difference Between EDD and CSLB Audits

Remember, cornerstone content is the core of your website. It must be relevant and hold a prominent, easy-to-access spot on your website.

Why is Cornerstone Content Important?

So, why the heck is cornerstone content so important for SEO? Well, when you first launch your website, chances are it will be small and nearly impossible to find unless someone is directly searching for it. *insert sad face emoji* It takes time to build up your site’s organic search traffic and organic keywords. 

We hear it all the time from clients who are just beginning their digital marketing strategy with us. “How can I rank for XYZ?” “I want to show up on the first page of Google!” Awesome, we want that for you, too! Cornerstone content is an amazing, effective way to achieve this.

But remember, “sites don’t rank: individual pages rank. If you want to rank for a particular keyword, you’ll need to determine which specific page you want to rank for that keyword,” Yoast reminds us.

Unfortunately, ranking #1 on Google is not a magic overnight process. Like all things SEO and digital marketing, it takes time. (As your mother used to always say, ‘good things take time.’ She’s not wrong…) With a consistent effort, you’re sure to reap results. 

The first step is to identify what keywords you want to rank for, and then to create a “hub” for that topic; a page that is the center of that topic.

With consistency and hard work, cornerstone content will help you increase the visibility of your site. And we all know site traffic leads to prospects and ultimately conversions—yay!

How Can Cornerstone Content Support SEO?

As previously mentioned, it can be difficult to rank for certain topics and keywords—especially broad or popular keywords with high volume or keyword difficulty. By implementing a cornerstone content approach, you can chip away at the difficult search terms that your business wants to rank for.

For our clients who have lots of content on the same topic or keyword (*cough cough* all of them), cornerstone content helps tell Google which pages are the most important. (Yes, even the algorithm needs a bit of help sometimes…)

Become an SEO Pro

If your head is still spinning at the thought of cornerstone content, contact our team today. Our awesome SEO manager is the best at breaking down SEO so you can understand it all, no problem.

Read on to learn more about why SEO is important for your company. We promise you’re not giving it as much attention as it deserves.

Digital Marketing Trends for the New Year

And just like that, it’s 2022! We hope your New Year is going wonderfully. 

In celebration of the New Year, we’d like to address some digital marketing trends for the new year. We know… Digital marketing trends are always changing. It can be hard to keep up! But it’s crucial to identify current trends and strategies for your businesses, and we’re here to help. 

Let’s get into it.

Video Marketing

We’ve written about it time and time again. Video marketing is, and will continue to be, an absolutely critical part of your digital marketing strategy in 2022.

Not convinced? Research according to Hubspot shows that video will account for nearly 82% of consumer internet traffic. Wowza!

For those of you who flinch at the word ‘video’ or the idea of crafting one yourself, don’t worry. We promise it’s not as scary (or expensive) as you think. All you need is a quality camera and a microphone. (Even a smartphone can work in most cases!)

To increase search traffic to your website, HubSpot recommends you:

  • Make sure your video contains useful information to solve your ideal customer’s problem
  • Optimize your video on YouTube using relevant keywords

The title of your video is also important. For example, someone would be more likely to click on “how to cook the perfect scrambled eggs” over “how to cook eggs.”

The bottom line about video marketing is: Video is the preferred form of content by all social platforms right now: Instagram, TikTok, YouTube (of course), you name it.

Don’t be discouraged if there is already content out there that is similar to your video (in fact, we guarantee that there will be). The most important thing is finding a way to make your content stand out, says HubSpot.

Honestly, we could talk your ear off about video (and we probably have…) We’ve written about how Instagram reels support your social media marketing strategy and how to connect with your prospects using video. What’s that? You haven’t read those articles yet? Finish this one and then get to it!

SEO

It’s time to brush up on your SEO skills. Search Engine Optimization is still as important as ever. Quality, thought-out SEO is the bread and butter of increasing traffic to your site.

Search engine algorithms, however, are always changing. In fact, a really awesome feature that Google’s algorithm has now adopted is the ability to differentiate between search and intent.

What does this mean? (Aside from a very happy SEO manager on our team…) Google search intent, according to Yoast, is “the term used to describe the purpose of an online search. Google wants to rank pages that best fit the search term someone is using, as well as the search intent behind the search query.”

Because of this new feature, it is crucial that you “segment queries that you want to rank for and make competitor analysis a big part of your SEO strategy,” according to HubSpot.

It’s crazy to think that Google is now smart enough to interpret why you are searching for what you’re searching for.

This is a trend we mentioned back in November in our top five digital marketing trends you can’t ignore article. And guess what? It’s still relevant.

Thanks to AI-powered voice assistants (like Siri, Google, Alexa, and Cortana), millions of people every day search for things online without even touching or being near their phone or computer. User experience and web accessibility today are so important.

This considered, it has become all the more important to optimize your content for voice search. Start 2022 off with a bang by doing so. Not sure where to start? Contact our team today.

Social Media

Truth be told, it feels a little silly to even have to mention social media on this list of digital marketing trends. You’re ten steps behind your competitors if your business is not:

  • Active on social media
  • Providing engaging and informative content on a consistent basis
  • Interacting with prospects and clients

We recommend our clients have profiles on at least:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

The platform that you place the greatest amount of attention on will depend on your business’s unique goals and target audience. For example, if you’re selling branded hoodies to Gen Z, Instagram is likely your best bet. If you are an insurance broker, however, you might opt for the more professional nature that LinkedIn offers.

Still don’t believe in the power of social media? According to DigitalMarketing.org, “3.96 billion people use social media today, which accounts for roughly half (51%) of the global population.” Wow!

Think: This is a huge loss for businesses who opt out of a well crafted social media marketing strategy. If they want to stay relevant, the more traditional companies (who are fearful or overwhelmed by social media) need to learn how to adapt.

Rentech Digital recommends that businesses use social media to not only attract prospects but also to retain them. Remember, the more frequently a prospect sees your brand, the greater opportunity to build a trusting relationship with them—and ultimately to convert them into a client.

For those of you who are interested, read on to learn which social media platforms your business should be on and why.

What Is YOUR New Year Resolution? (Marketing Edition!)

Will you outsource your marketing this year? Get your team on a weekly Instagram reel to boost social engagement? Take a course on SEO? Let us know your 2022 New Year Resolution, and if there’s room for our team to help!
Read on to hear our team’s 2022 New Year Resolutions. Cheers!

Algorithms

If you have social media of any kind, chances are you’ve heard people talk about “algorithms” pretty regularly. When someone posts content and it performs poorly, whether they be a business, an influencer, or your Average Joe, you might hear them blame it on the algorithm.

“Oh, the algorithm hates me… I can’t figure out the algorithm… The algorithm is always changing, I can’t keep up!” And so on and so forth.

At Digital Storyteller, we recognize that there is some truth in these statements. Algorithms are always changing. But first, what are algorithms—and how do they work?

What is an Algorithm?

While the word “algorithm” is thrown around a lot today, it can be hard to fully grasp what this term even means.

Kristien Matelski at Vizion puts it perfectly. An algorithm “is a pattern or set of rules that problem-solving operations (especially computers) use to make calculations.”

Let’s dive into what this definition means for Google and social media specifically.

The Google Algorithm

The Google algorithm is “a complex system that allows Google to find, rank and return the most relevant pages for a certain search query.”

Like we mentioned, algorithms are constantly changing. In fact, Marketing Whiz Neil Patel shares on his blog that Google makes minor changes to its algorithm daily!

Google “might even release multiple updates in 24 hours,” says Patel. “These changes are usually small, and you probably won’t notice a drop in search page rankings due to these updates alone.”

However, knowing that the algorithm can literally change overnight (and multiple times at that!), it can feel impossible to keep up. (We know our social team at Digital Storyteller works hard every day to stay fresh with new updates and trends you can’t ignore.)

Google holds over 70% of the search market share and therefore, is the most popular search engine, according to Hubspot. This considered, how can you use the algorithm to your advantage? What does the algorithm take into account when ranking content?

Well, you’re in luck! According to an explainer video posted by Google titled “How Google Search Works,” there are hundreds of factors that go into determining what pops up on a search engine. Here are a few.

  • Keywords: Keywords play a significant role in the optimization of your content. You want to ensure you’re paying close attention to the keywords you choose to use. For example, if you own a smoothie bar in downtown San Diego, you probably want to rank for “good smoothies San Diego” or “downtown San Diego smoothies,” as opposed to keywords like “pizza” and “tacos!” For more on keywords, visit our article on how to optimize your content for search.
  • Meta Descriptions: Keywords aren’t the only thing Google looks for when curating a search engine results page (SERP). Meta descriptions, sometimes called a meta description attribute or tag, “is an HTML element that describes and summarizes the contents of your page for the benefit of users and search engines,” according to WordStream. Write meta descriptions carefully, as you only get about 155 words to show off what your content is about!
  • Images and Alt Text: Google LOVES images, and so do humans! Think, if you’re looking up a recipe on how to make the ‘World’s Best Lasagna,’ would you be more likely to click on the recipe with or without photos? Alt Text, or alternative text, is also important. It’s a short written description of the image that Google can read to help rank your page.
  • Title: Your title needs to be well thought out and something people would actually search for. Your title should summarize your content and include your target keywords.
  • Meta Tags: Meta tags are invisible tags that provide data about your page to search engines and website visitors.”
  • Backlinks: The Google algorithm also looks for backlinks. Backlinking is the action of linking back to another external site on your own and is an extremely valuable tactic to use in sharing your site content. Backlinking helps position you as a trustworthy, authoritative source. For more on backlinking, visit our blog titled “PR vs Backlinking Strategies: What’s the Difference?
  • Site Health: A site with a score of 80% or above is typically considered “good” site health. Site health is determined by the number of errors and warnings found when your site is crawled.
  • Site Authority: Google also cares about your site authority score. Authority is built slowly over time but is determined by your site’s backlinks and organic keywords. For more on how to build your domain authority, visit our article to get the secret sauce behind improving organic search rankings.

For our friends who are interested in watching Google’s quick explainer video for more information on how Google search works, here it is.

Social Media Algorithms

So, what’s a social media algorithm? “A social media algorithm is the mathematical calculation that sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and [Snapchat] use to understand user habits and to customize the social experience,” says Matelski.

“Social media algorithms work seamlessly behind the scenes, optimizing the user experience without them knowing the system is at work.”

No two algorithms are identical but they all use similar structures to determine what content you see, to organize the way you see it, and when you see it. Here are a few elements to consider.

  • Social Signals: Social shares, likes, tweets, and pins on search engine rankings have been shown to increase SEO through several case studies. Social sharing helps boost your SEO ranking significantly if you stay consistent with organic content and ask people to share your content. For two more content marketing SEO tips, read on here.
  • Hashtags: Hashtags help categorize your content and will help users discover your business. Using hashtags in your social posts can also place your content higher in SERPs.
  • Captions: While it may be trendy to keep your captions simple (*cough cough* influencers who write one-word captions or only use emojis!), this is not the best practice for SEO and algorithm purposes. Great captions are engaging, SEO friendly, and memorable. Great captions take time and effort. Don’t underestimate the power of a great caption!
  • Video Content: We all know that video content is the number one media being pushed right now. So, get your business ready to push out some awesome video content if you haven’t already—Instagram reels, TikToks, explainer videos, testimonials, culture videos, the list goes on. Bonus tip? Use trending music in your videos to rank higher!

For those of you whose business is ready to take advantage of the benefits of video content, check out our article on Instagram Reels to learn how video content supports your social strategy.

SEO SEM

When it comes to digital marketing, the number of three-letter acronyms is so high, sometimes we find our heads spinning! But don’t worry.

At Digital Storyteller, we’re here to help you identify the difference between two who share many similarities and differences. Enter SEO and SEM. So, let’s get started with SEO vs. SEM: What’s the Difference?

What is SEO?

First things first, let’s individually define the two. At Digital Storyteller, we talk a lot about Search Engine Optimization or SEO. For those just now getting on the SEO train, let’s start with the basics!

According to Moz, SEO is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” SEO is how marketers tailor their content to appeal to search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

For example, you might search ‘coffee shop near me’ or ‘coffee shop open late’ on Google. The way that Google then provides results based on your search is determined by SEO. SEO is the tool that tells Google, “Hey! This is what information my website has, this is what I’m talking about, and these are the types of people that would find my website interesting!”

For more on SEO, meta descriptions, title tags, SEO strategy, link building, ranking factors, and so on, check out this article for 10 tips to maximize your SEO efforts this year, this article we wrote on why SEO is important, or one of our newest articles on how to effectively combine SEO and content marketing!

What is SEM?

Now let’s talk SEM. We promise, it’s not as scary as it sounds, and definitely not as scary as STEM!

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. And what’s search engine marketing, you might ask? SEM, according to Optimizely, is “a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs).”

In the past, SEM typically encompassed both organic and paid search. Today, however, it almost exclusively refers to paid search advertising.

If you’ve begun to put the puzzle pieces together, you might be thinking to yourself, “Huh… That sounds a lot like pay per click, or PPC.” Well, if so, congrats! SEM, paid search, and PPC are all used interchangeably.

In a final attempt to provide clarity for you, SEM is “the act of using paid strategies to increase search visibility.” Every day, businesses pay big money for their ads to rank first on search engine results pages. Hint: You can tell when businesses are using SEM by the bold “Ad” text that accompanies a search result.

SEO SEM

Similarities vs. Differences

Let’s first start with a bullet list of similarities. Both SEO and SEM:

  • Use keyword research
  • Help your business appear in search results
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Only work if you have a specific target audience and keywords
  • Require ongoing effort (i.e. optimization, monitoring)

Here are some differences between SEO and SEM:

  • SEO search results include featured snippets whereas SEM search results might include phone numbers, additional links, or callouts.
  • SEO takes time, but once you reach a high ranking on a search engine, you typically stay there. SEM, on the other hand, is rather immediate, which also means that your ranking is not permanent.
  • More people are likely to click through organic SEO results in comparison to SEM.
  • Like previously mentioned, SEM includes the bold “Ad” text in a search result.
  • Every time someone clicks your SEM result, you are charged. Hence the term, “pay per click.”
  • SEM is easier to experiment with.

So, What’s Best for Your Business?

We know, we just dumped a lot of information on you! (But it’s golden, so you’re welcome!) Now that you have a grasp on SEO and SEM, their similarities and differences, it’s time that you explore making an informed decision about which to use for your business.

Consider the following:

  • Do you know your industry yet?
  • Typical cost per click in your industry
  • Is your business relatively new? What is the overall health of your website?
  • Your client buying cycles
  • Who is your competition?

These questions can help inform how you compare to competition as far as search goes. 

As a quick and final word as far as definitions go, as put simply by our fantastic SEO Manager here at Digital Storyteller, “When comparing SEO and SEM, SEM is considered broader. You could even consider SEO as a type of SEM in a sense.”Still not clear on which is best for you? Learn more about how to optimize your content for search here. After all, investing time and resources into content development is in a sense useless if not properly optimized.

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If you’re looking for instant gratification and immediate marketing results, content marketing likely isn’t going to get you where you want to be. Well, we take that back. It’ll definitely get you results… But it’s likely to take months of consistent effort.

If you’re curious about whether or not content marketing is the right fit for your business and what the process should look like, read on.

In this article, we’re sharing the secret sauce for how to get started and what you can expect out of content marketing.

Did you know traditional marketing costs 62% more than content marketing?

How Long Does It Take for Content Marketing to Work?

Content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy.

We’re talking at least six to nine months of consistent effort.

While this is not a definite timeline for every business, this period serves as an approximation based on general industry averages.

Your business’s personal results timeline may depend on the following factors, including your:

  • Business model
  • Industry and market
  • Unique goals
  • Marketing strategies 
  • Definition of success

Did you know over 90% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing?

Now that you know how long content marketing takes on average, let’s chat about the secret sauce for how to get started and what you can expect out of content marketing.

Define What “Success” Means to Your Business

One of the first steps your business should take when pursuing content marketing is to determine how your business defines success. Consider the following questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • What steps can you achieve that will help you reach those goals?
  • Is your success based on the number of qualified leads you develop? Or, perhaps success is based on traffic to your site? Or the number of followers you have on your social media accounts?

However you decide to define the success of your content marketing efforts, it’s important to do so before jumping headfirst into a full marketing strategy. It will help you measure your efforts as you go along and adjust your strategy if need be.

Remember, success looks different for every business.

Know What Metrics to Use 

Similarly to defining your success, it’s helpful to identify which metrics you’d most like to see improvements in. Be it lead generation, site traffic, follower growth, etc., different metrics require different strategies and focus.

Some that we may suggest are the following:

Site Traffic

Driving website traffic is often at the forefront of content marketing. The goal here is to get more eyes on your site.

Within your site traffic, there are additional metrics that hold relevance, such as bounce rate and time on page. Looking at overall site traffic, however, is a good determination of ongoing growth and views of your site.

Qualified Leads

At the end of the day, the reason you want to drive traffic to your site is to identify qualified leads. Whether through calls to action (CTAs), form fills on your site, or email outreach, the number of qualified leads developed from your marketing efforts may be the most reasonable metric to maintain.

Social Following

If you’re a business startup working on building growth while still finalizing the nitty-gritty of your business, building your social media following may be a great metric to start with.

Developing a relevant following not only helps drive traffic (see above) but also helps establish your business as an expert in your field.

Think about it: If you’re a consumer searching LinkedIn for a credible lending partner and your options are a new profile with only six followers or a similar competitor with thousands of followers, you’re likely to assume the business with a larger following is more credible.

Email Subscribers

You may decide that email subscribers are your most important metric to track. After all, email is one of the most direct ways to get in contact with your target audience. Perhaps investing time in research and outreach to develop email lists will be your best bet to reach your identified definition of success.

This metric is strongest tied to businesses that intend on performing significant email marketing down the road.

Identify Your Target Audience 

There’s not much use in doing much of anything until you determine who you’re doing it for. Let’s say that again…

There’s no use in doing anything until you determine who you’re doing it for.

OK, so you’re a team of loan officers partnering with banks and private investors. Are you willing to work with any client? Student loans? Mortgage loans? Business loans? You’re best suited to be as specific as possible.

While the specifics will be most helpful as you solidify your marketing strategy, keep in mind that your target market may consist of a couple of different personas. We find it most effective to identify them as exactly that: Different personas.

Think about WHO the people are that you’re marketing to. Give them a name and occupation, and ask yourself what they like to do for fun, who they hang out with, and what social platforms they’re on most often. Do they read? Who do they look up to?

Read on to find out how to attract the right client (and determine your target audience!)

Once you’ve created any number of buyer personas associated with your potential customers, you’re ready to build out your marketing strategy. Your brand voice should be identified as the correct way that you’d speak to the people that you’ve identified.

Think about it this way, you’re probably not going to talk to your 85-year-old grandmother the same way that you talk to your long-time best friend. The same goes for your marketing strategy.

Your voice should appeal to the people that you’re talking to. Read on for more information on the importance of brand voice.

Make SMART Goals

OK, we’re jumping back a couple of steps here in a sense… Bear with us.

So, you’ve identified your definition of success, but how are you going to get there? This is where SMART goals come into play.

Gone are the days of goals as vague as “I want to boost social media followers!” SMART is an acronym used to create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

A SMART goal for wanting to boost your social media following might look something like this:

“My goal is to gain 100 new Instagram followers per month over the next five months to accumulate at least 500 new followers at the end of the five months.”

Creating SMART goals isn’t always easy, but if you do the heavy lifting at the beginning and set standards for yourself and your business, it’ll be easier to maintain accountability in the long run.

Perform Analysis Regularly

Marketing is a flexible, adaptable field. If something isn’t working, you have the luxury of being able to change it. Adjust your content marketing efforts to meet your business’s needs and suit the demands of your market and audience.

But how do you know if something isn’t working out for you? After all, your boyfriend isn’t going to sit you down to explain that ‘it’s not you, it’s him.’ 

All you need to do is pay close attention to your stats and perform regular analysis. 

No different than watching the ebbs and flows of the stock market, watch how your business metrics react to different things that you change. For example:

Does your traffic spike on days that you publish new blog posts? Does traffic fall on weekends? When are your social media followers most active? Did you get significantly more responses from one email than another?

These questions can all be answered easily by looking at the data easily available to you. Try new things and adjust based on what you’re seeing. That being said…

Be Patient and Consistent

Like we said at the beginning (yep, wayyyy back up there), content marketing takes time. It isn’t going to happen overnight. While you want to pay close attention to your metrics and analyze performance, don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

You need a base layer of knowledge to be able to compare changes. If you start trying to make changes and adjustments to your strategy without allowing it to grow and develop fully, you might never recognize its true potential.

Should You Invest in Content Marketing for Your Business?

Content marketing may not necessarily be the right fit for every business. But for some, it may be exactly the saving grace you’ve been searching for.

If you’re willing to have the patience for a payoff, we’re here to help. If you don’t believe us, how about believing this stat: businesses that blog produce 67% more leads than those that don’t (psst… blogging is a form of content marketing!)

If you think that content marketing might be a good fit for your business, we know some people that can help. Get started today! Reach out to us directly to schedule your FREE brand storytelling session.

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