Tag Archive for: Organic marketing

Social Media for Financial Services Companies

The use of social media in financial services is often disputed. Some believe that social media does not hold the same value for business-to-business (B2B) brands as it does in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market.

This, however, is not the case.

While it may be true that B2C companies are often more successful on social media than B2B companies, there are still a multitude of various reasons why building a social media presence benefits a financial services company.

Take it from our Social Media Team at Digital Storyteller: “A marketing strategy without social media is like a margarita without tequila. No one wants that!”

In this article, we’re detailing the key benefits of using social media marketing for financial services companies.

1. Strengthen Existing Relationships

One of the greatest benefits for all businesses to developing a social media presence is to strengthen their existing client relationships.

This may refer to:

  • Engaging with existing or past clients, or
  • Nurturing relationships with contacts that have yet to become clients

Either way, social media networks provide a platform to maintain relationships.

Email marketing and consistent calls are of course another option to nurture relationships! These methods, however, have the potential to get irritating rather quickly.

While blasting your clients’ inboxes with emails may lead them to the dreaded unsubscribe button, they may not feel the need to take such drastic measures when their level of engagement is the casual viewing of sporadic Instagram posts.

Social media provides a relaxed addition to your existing client nurturing process while additionally providing a platform to develop new relationships.

2. Build Trust 

In the same way that Google evaluates content for SEO purposes, viewers evaluate clients based on their authority and expertise. Developing a depth of content on social platforms provides potential clients an opportunity to review your level of expertise within your field.

Over time, existing clientele and prospective clients will likely begin to follow your accounts and engage with your content. Engagement with your content shows that you have a proven following and support system that trusts your business.

Read on to learn more about Instagram engagement.

3. Provide Customer Support 

Social media has turned into an easy, new line of communication.

It has become common for consumers to utilize social media to gain support and answers from companies rather than going through their traditional customer service channels. Various social media platforms provide space where clients are comfortable and familiar.

It is easier for a client to tag, tweet, or comment on a company’s latest post than it is to sit on hold with the customer service line for hours trying to solicit help… No, thanks!

Companies love to see their favorite clients and prospects engaging with them on a personal level through social media. Brands that engage and respond to their clients on social media have overall higher customer satisfaction ratings. 

It’s 2022, your clients are on social media—and your competitors are, too.

The truth of the matter is: Brands are expected to have a social presence.

Giving your clients an additional outlet to contact you offers them the support and guidance they’re looking for.

After all, your product or service already serves to solve a problem that they’re facing. Why not fix another one by making yourself more accessible?

4. Humanize Your Brand 

In a sense, this goes along with the previously mentioned need for customer support. Making your brand available on social media is like positioning yourself as their friend. Social media platforms were created to connect friends and share experiences, so why can’t the same be the case with brands?!

Social platforms allow your brand to share a behind-the-scenes look at the people that make your brand what it is. For example, our co-founders, Andrew Marr and Amanda Rogers, each have their series of relevant videos that we share weekly.

Not only do these videos “share the secret sauce” behind our brand, but they also give our viewers insight into the faces behind the brand! Plus, who doesn’t love a chardonnay review!?

The same may also be the case with your brand. Finding a way to interact with your clients on an informal basis allows them to consider you a friend or peer. It creates a relationship of trust and mutual respect: Two things you definitely want in your client relationships.

5. Gain Insight

Lastly, being engaged on social media allows your brand to gain insight. Be it consumer or competitive insights, social media functions as a reporting platform. 

The way that consumers engage with your social media account can tell you about their buying behavior, likes, dislikes, and needs.

Instagram, for example, has transitioned its functionality to operate similarly to a search engine for users. Tracking the views of your page, accounts reached, post likes, comments, shares, and saves can provide significant insight into how your brand is performing.

Read on for our article “What is Going on With the Instagram Algorithm!?

Similar claims can be said about your competitors. One of the benefits of public social media accounts is that you can track insight into your competitors’ content. As they provide content for their followers, you have a front-row seat to see what they’re doing!

A Final Word

If your brand is already on social media, there are additional ways to ensure that you are optimizing your channels. This is particularly the case for financial services companies interacting on social media.

Check out this article for additional tips on the use of social media for financial services companies!

two employess on a computer building brand awareness

Amazon, Apple, and Google. We’re assuming you, like pretty much everyone else, know about each of the aforementioned companies. They have some of the highest global brand awareness. 

Everyone wants more brand awareness. Why? The more people who know about your brand, the more likely they are to engage with you and ultimately purchase your services or product(s). Let’s discuss more on how you can use an organic social strategy to build your brand awareness. 

What is Brand Awareness? 

Brand awareness is how consumers recognize or remember your business. The more brand awareness you have, the more people are familiar with your logo, who you are, what you do, and most importantly- your products and services. 

Why is Brand Awareness Important?

Brand awareness is a vital part of your overall marketing plan. The goal with bringing awareness to your brand is to increase the number of people who are familiar with your business. This familiarity breeds trust, which, in turn, creates deals. 

Toobla Blog says it best, “If you can build brand awareness among your target demographic, you can help your brand become top-of-mind when these consumers are ready to research and make a purchase.”

Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they are familiar with than a brand they have never heard of. 

For more secret sauce tips on brand awareness, watch our Chief Creative officer speak more about it in the video series here

Now, that you’re a brand awareness expert, let’s discuss how an organic social strategy is one of the best ways to build it. 

What is an Organic Marketing Strategy?

An organic marketing strategy is essentially the opposite of paid advertising and with more benefits (woohoo!) Learn more about the difference between paid and organic social media marketing here. 

Examples of organic marketing include:

  • Blog posts optimized for SEO
  • Website (optimized) 
  • Landing Pages
  • Email campaigns
  • Eye-catching social posts
  • Articles you write for other publications or industry blogs
  • Videos you post on YouTube 
  • Instagram Reels or TikToks

All of these items combined help increase your business’ visibility digitally. When you share your organic content to social media and your website, it will be seen by the following consumers: 

  • Existing followers/clients 
  • Followers of your followers 
  • People following the hashtags or locations you mention

It’s not enough to show up online a few times, you need consistent content to help create a consistent brand message and build an engaged community. 

Inconsistent messaging confuses your audience. It makes it harder for them to understand who you are and what your business does. This inconsistency leads to a lack of trust among your audience and therefore fewer leads. 

Best practice is to choose your brand archetype and stick with it. Your audience will thank you for it.

Content that is consistent and aligned with your brand voice performs. Every time. Keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight. Be patient with the timeline because the rewards are worth it.

When working with our clients, here’s a typical timeline of what we see and when.

Read on for more information on how each media platform and what each should be used for your business.

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.

man using a phone

Frequently, our clients ask us, “Should I ask for testimonials?” or, “Do people even read testimonials?” and, “Should we do video testimonials?”

The short answer to all of these questions is… YES!

The bottom line is that we receive a lot of questions around the idea of other people (past or current clients!) talking about what you do as a business and how you help people.

So, how do you request a client testimonial? Listen to our CEO, Andrew Marr, speak more about how to ask for a video testimonial.

Why Are Testimonials Important? 

Don’t lie, you’ve spent time on Yelp or scoured Google reviews… The truth is, as we all know it, a review can make or break someone’s decision to partner with your business.

Use this fact to your advantage. This means you should showcase clients you’ve helped and those you’ve created great partnerships with (because your business is awesome!)

Collecting and displaying testimonials for the world to see helps prospects know how great it is to work with you. After all, Boast found that 72% of consumers say positive testimonials help increase their trust in a business.

Testimonials are powerful, and video testimonials are especially imperative to tell the story of how you helped people.

Many of us grew up in a culture of not asking for help and not talking about ourselves. Video testimonials, however, go against the grain.

When you ask a client to contribute a testimonial for your business, what you’re essentially asking is, “Please, will you talk about us? Will you talk about how we helped you?”

(Hint: These questions are super consequential to those reading—or watching—your testimonial!)

Different questions you can ask your clients to help guide the testimonial are:

  • How did we solve a problem for you?
  • How did we help you save money?  
  • What was working with us like?
  • Why do you like working with us?
  • How can others benefit from partnering with us?

If you ask your client for a video testimonial, remind them that it doesn’t need to be very long at all. Ideally, the video should be very short, 30 seconds to one minute. Keep it straight to the point.

The clients might need some coaching, but it’s very easily done.

Lucky for you, we have an entire article that you can send to your clients to prep them titled, “How to Record a Great Zoom Testimonial.” Check it out!

Once you have the video, put it everywhere. We recommend testimonials live on your website, in blog posts, on LinkedIn, and more. Tell the world how you help people. Hell, shout it from the rooftops!

We’re sure that the clients that you did help will be more than happy to do this for you. 

The Right Way to Ask for Client Testimonials

Don’t make things complicated. It’s just five simple steps.

  1. You have to ask for a testimonial to get one. Think about it… When was the last time you gave a testimonial unprompted? You can ask clients whom you’ve partnered with for years, a new client who is excited to partner with you, the list goes on!
  1. Create an easy form fill for your clients to fill out their experience with you. Strike while the iron’s hot and ask for the testimonial during or right after the conclusion of your partnership (these days you can also ask for a testimonial through a short text message).
  1. Offer an incentive. Think outside of the box of gifts! An incentive can be more brand recognition on your website.
  1. Post the testimonial (with a nice headshot) on your website. 
  1. Check out our testimonials page on our website for more inspiration. 
Digital Marketing Team optimizing marketing for business

How do you know if you need a digital marketing agency? The simple answer is: if you’re ready to focus on your business and do what you do best. Then, you can let a marketing agency do what they do best- help market your business. 

There are, however, more signs that your business is ready to partner with an outsourced marketing agency. 

1. You have a Reactive, Not a Proactive Marketing Plan 

Yes, there is a time and a place for a reactive strategy, but that time and place is not with your marketing. Why? Because reactive marketing doesn’t work. It’s a band-aid for a long-term problem. 

It usually sounds like this… “Oh s**t, we don’t have any holiday posts scheduled for tomorrow!” and/or “We need more leads, ASAP!” Last-minute posts made hastily are more prone to contain errors or be off-brand. 

At Digital Storyteller, we help create a proactive marketing plan for our clients through our content calendar that details an entire month’s worth of content.  This accessible and downloadable template can be customized to fit each client’s needs. It also helps our team stay aligned with deliverables. 

Need a Thanksgiving post? Boom added to the calendar. Celebrating an employee’s birthday? Bam! Added to the calendar. 

Trust us, this content calendar is the best thing since sliced bread. 

2. You’re Not Focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Are you focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? If not, how are people supposed to find you in the black hole of Google?


Amazing blog posts paired with a stunning website can only get you so far without SEO. SEO is how you can tailor your content to rank for search engines like Google. For an in-depth review of SEO, read our article here.  

When you use SEO consistently and throughout your content and social media, you’ll see organic growth, keyword ranking, and a higher authority score. Hint- it’s what we see with our clients when we apply these same methods. 

3. Your Content Isn’t Consistent 

Be honest with yourself: Is your business posting content consistently? That could look like weekly blog posts, and at least 3 social posts a week. It won’t cut it anymore to post on social media when you feel like it. In today’s market, your audience is looking at how active you are. 

Posting consistent content helps build a better experience for your customers by building credibility and trust. You are seen as an authority in your field as well as a resource for people to go to. 

The audience we’ve built at our digital marketing agency knows to expect to see a new article a week along with social posts on our different social media platforms.

4. You’re Not Posting on Your Social Media Platforms 

Now that you know you need to post consistent content, let’s discuss where you should be posting this regular content. 

As an organic digital marketing agency, we believe in the value of blog posts on your business’ website. Each week, we announce our new blog post on social media platforms that work best for us: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. To find out which social media platforms your business should be on, read here.

We also use these social platforms to post relevant content that add value to our audience. Sometimes, we like to have a little fun with our social posts (okay maybe most of the time we do!)  

You’re Not Optimizing for Mobile

It’s 2022, everyone uses their phones for everything- unless somehow you managed to survive this long with just a flip phone. 

Everything you do, from emails, blog posts, website builds and social posts should be optimized for mobile. Think about it, we all live on our phones. According to research from Oberlo, 63% of Google’s United States organic search traffic came from a mobile device. 

It’s time to get with the times and be as mobile-friendly as possible. If not, you may lose customers who are frustrated with navigating something that is non-mobile friendly. 

A Final Note

If you find yourself committing one or more of these marketing no-nos, it’s a sign that it’s time for you to partner with a digital marketing agency. An outsourced partner has the resources to help your business grow, rank, find leads, and establish yourself as an authority in your field. 


Read on to learn about more benefits of outsourced marketing.

How to attract the right client

So, you’re a business owner looking to get more clients? (Trust us, you’re not the only one!)

Every business owner ever:

But hold on – before you go all Heidi Klum on us and start looking to get MORE clients… Have you taken a minute to consider how to attract the right clients? Yes, the right clients. After all, you don’t want to be marketing your products and/or services to every person you walk by…

Not sure where to start? Lucky for you, we’ve got Andrew Marr, CEO and Owner of Digital Storyteller on camera to chat about how to attract the right clients.

Let’s see what he has to say.

Who is Your Ideal Client?

Clients, for any business owner, are obviously extremely important. Without clients, you’d have no business! (But you already knew that).

This considered, building a successful business and getting more clients is most likely one of your primary goals as a business owner.

Before we jump the gun and talk about getting more clients, however, it’s important to first discuss who the right clients are for you. How can you attract the right clients to your business?

Identifying the Perfect Client

The question isn’t, “Do you want more clients?” Of course, you do! The number one thing is, have you identified your perfect client?

Then, after you’ve identified your ideal client, think: Are you willing to create strategies around that particular client?

Our Perfect Client at Digital Storyteller

At Digital Storyteller, we focus on marketing for financial services companies. The realm of financial services ranges from commercial insurance to wealth advisories, commercial real estate firms, the list goes on.

While we love whisky, chardonnay, puppies, and tacos, we don’t market for companies that have anything to do with these elements. Why not? Because we’ve identified our perfect client (financial services clients) and unfortunately, whisky, chardonnay, puppies, and tacos have nothing to do with this industry (a little sad, right?)

We know it’s difficult not to accept whatever business walks through the door. It’s important, however, to hone in on who your ideal client is and not accept anyone else apart from this target audience.

So, to attract more clients, you have to first, figure out who your perfect client is. Put your energy and resources into that.

Interested in meeting one of our ideal clients? Check out this spotlight we did on our client Frank Crivello, founder and CEO of SBMA Benefits.

Marketing for Financial Services Companies

“At Digital Storyteller, we focus exclusively on [marketing for] financial services companies in the B to B space.”

Above is the text you’re faced with when you first visit DigitalStoryteller.io. Some of you might be thinking, “Great!… But what the heck is a financial services company?”

Most marketing agencies work with brands (think: restaurants, fitness centers, influencers, beauty companies, the list goes on). At Digital Storyteller, we’re a bit different… Here’s why.

Why Do We Focus on the Financial Services Industry?

So, why do we focus on financial services at Digital Storyteller? Well, aside from the fact that our team thinks financial services are wildly sexy (kidding… kind of?), we recognized a need and a gap in industry offerings.

But first, before we go into more detail, what is the financial services industry?

What the Heck is Financial Services?

We’re glad you asked.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the financial services sector “covers many different types of transactions in such areas as real estate, consumer finance, banking, and insurance.”

At Digital Storyteller, we have clients ranging from law firms to HR consulting firms, commercial real estate firms to wealth advisories, and commercial insurance. (Geez, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?)

Anyway, when we say financial services, that’s really the realm we’re talking about.

Marketing for Financial Services Companies

So, back to why we market for financial services, at Digital Storyteller, we feel like that level of business, and that community of businesses, are underserved from a marketing perspective.

There are plenty of agencies out there who spend their time on biotech, startups, and influencer marketing—but not a lot who spend their time with financial services.

A Quick Aside

How did all of this come to be? In 1997, Amanda Rogers, Chief Creative Officer and Founder of Digital Storyteller taught herself how to code from a book when the actors union was on strike. 

She taught herself to write HTML, CSS, and Javascript before WordPress, Squarespace, and WIX existed. Although Amanda believes a lot has changed in the “how” of creating online presences for people and their businesses, the why is still the same… Tell the world what you do better than anyone else and the right people will be able to find you.

Why is Marketing Important for Financial Services Specifically

The financial services industry is a competitive and unique industry to market for. We know that those in the financial services industry navigate the difficult terrain of regulatory and compliance hurdles while seeking to successfully market their products and services.

Moreover, when it comes to financial services, you must build trust and authority through consistent content that is:

  • Reliable
  • Informational
  • Educational
  • Engaging

This considered—its difficulty—it’s essential that financial services companies seek out the right marketing for their businesses. Interested in learning more? Read on in the importance of digital marketing for financial services companies.

Outsourced Marketing

Outsourcing isn’t as complicated as it sounds. When you outsource your digital marketing services, you save time, energy, and money. Here are six benefits of outsourcing marketing.

Outsourced Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a lot of options available to you. Not all marketing efforts, however, are created equal.

Do you know what outsourced digital marketing is? How much does it cost to outsource marketing? How exactly does it work? Here’s what to expect working with an outsourced digital marketing agency.

What Does It Mean to Outsource Your Marketing?

The word ‘outsource,’ by definition, means to “obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source,” according to Google.

Therefore, as Precision Marketing Group puts it, outsourced marketing is “the engagement of a professional marketing firm to serve as your own firm’s marketing department.” Simply put, outsourced marketing means letting a third party take care of your marketing efforts. You then have more time to do what you do best—which is run your business.

Who Can You Expect on an Outsourced Marketing Team?

Well, depending on the outsourced marketing agency’s specialties, you could work in close contact with a variety of different marketers. At Digital Storyteller, for example, our team is made up of:

  • A Creative Director
  • Social Media Manager
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Social Media Specialist
  • A Client Success Manager
  • SEO Manager
  • Graphic & Web Design Manager
  • Junior Graphic Designer
  • And numerous content specialists!

Why Would You Hire an Outsourced Marketing Team?

By hiring an outsourced marketing team, you allow your team to place focus on running your business.

An outsourced digital marketing agency covers every aspect of marketing so you don’t have to worry about:

  • Posting creative, consistent content
  • SEO optimization
  • Managing your online reputation
  • Website design and branding
  • Staying up to date with social media updates and algorithms 

The list goes on…

As we mentioned previously, by hiring an outsourced digital marketing team, you gain access to creative directors, social media experts, content specialists, and more, at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire an in-house team.

All the support you need is wrapped up into one flat monthly rate.

How Much Does It Cost to Outsource My Marketing?

Now, as a business owner, one of the first things you’re wondering when you hear about the benefits of outsourced marketing is: How much is this going to cost me? The short answer? It’s cheaper than doing it yourself. 

Let’s talk numbers. Our most popular package at Digital Storyteller sits at $5K a month, which totals $60k for the year. Sound like a lot? Let’s consider the cost breakdown of hiring a team of four marketers in-house instead:

Hiring four marketing experts in-house, after salaries and benefits will cost your company $260,000 annually, plus some $16,000 for new hire costs. In just one year, your company has racked up $276,000. That’s only with four experts. The cost grows as you continue building your own team. 

We know it’s not spooky season anymore, but for more frightening math, visit this blog post where we break down the cost-benefit of outsourced digital marketing.

At Digital Storyteller, we try to make things less frightening, which is why our most popular digital marketing package is $60K annually as opposed to $276,000.

Our rate gives you access to an entire team that’s also dedicated to building your business. Outsourced marketing is a great, cost-effective way to invest in your company’s marketing efforts.

How Do You Know if You’re a Good Fit to Outsource Your Marketing?

There are many reasons why outsourcing your marketing is a great option. Here are some signs you’re a good fit.

  • Your current marketing efforts are not consistent
  • The world of digital marketing is overwhelming to you — so many changes are constantly taking place!
  • You want to focus on what’s most important: running your business
  • You don’t have a marketing “strategy”
  • You want to take your marketing to the next level, but aren’t sure how to
  • The idea of hiring someone in-house worries you — how could a single person have all of the marketing skills I need?
  • You are ready to trust an agency to get to know your business and market for you

How Effective Marketing Can Be When You Let Your Outsourced Agency Do Their Job

The last bullet above is SO important: “You are ready to trust an agency to get to know your business and market for you.”

When companies bring in outsourced digital marketing agencies but don’t let them do their job (i.e. hold off on pushing content, stay inside their comfort zone), the results of outsourced marketing are poor. 

Part of our job is to challenge you! We get that it can be hard to let someone take the reins and run a big piece of your company. But that’s what we know and do best. You’re juggling a million things when running your own business, let us take a large chunk off of your plate so you can focus on what you love to do.

Here’s an example of a client who lets us do just that, take the reins.

SBMA is an Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) benefits provider that provides affordable coverage for thousands of employers. We’ve been working with SBMA for nearly two years. Here’s what we’ve done for them during our partnership.

When we first started working with SBMA, they had very few keywords. What are keywords, you might ask? Check out this article for everything you need to know. 

Anyway, all of the keywords that SBMA was ranking for on Google were branded keywords (think names of specific employees and the literal name of their company ‘SBMA).

Long story short, if you only rank for branded keywords, you won’t come up on Google very often, unless someone is searching that exact, specific keyword. You really want to rank for more than just branded keywords.  

SBMA, as a benefits provider, would also want to rank for things like ‘MEC plan,’ ‘Health Plan Administrators,’ and ‘Worksite Benefits,’ to name a few.

With our ongoing content marketing strategy, we’ve been able to work wonders for them. Here are some numbers to prove it.

Currently, 80% of SBMA’s site traffic comes from organic search. Last October 2020, SBMA had 2,155 site users in a month. This October, in 2021, SBMA had 3,566.

Additionally, they had a 60% increase in their authority score. Last October, they had a domain authority score of 16 whereas this October they have grown to 23.

Authority score is based on a number of various factors including site health, organic keyword growth, backlinks, and more. It takes time, research, and consistent effort to grow an authority score, so a seven-figure jump in authority score is incredible.

When we first began working with SBMA, they let us know that they wanted to rank for ‘MEC.’ Now, SBMA dominates the organic search engine results page (SERP) when it comes to the ‘MEC’ space.

Lastly, SBMA currently ranks for 965 keywords whereas last October they ranked for 408. The graph below shows SBMA’s organic keyword growth over time.

SBMA Organic Keywords

Marketing: It’s What We Do Best

The goal of an outsourced digital marketing agency is to understand your business and your brand voice to then let the world know how awesome you are.

We start every engagement with a Brand Storytelling Session where we identify your unique brand voice. Then, our team uses bi-weekly client calls, Monday emails, and content calendars to make sure you know what’s happening, always.

We have monthly reporting where we let you know what the return on investment that you’re getting is from your relationship with us.

Of course, there’s always a team member available to you just a call, email, or even text away. Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve been told on multiple occasions that our bi-weekly calls are their favorite calls!

Happy with the direction we’re headed in? We’ll keep running that way. Want to tweak something? More than happy to adjust.

We’ll bring you fresh ideas from our kick*** creative team from a relationship built on trust. Because that’s the beauty of digital marketing.

For those who are interested in learning more about the difference between outsourced marketing and in-house marketing, read on here.

Brand Voice

Author Robert McKee once said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” And he was right!

At Digital Storyteller, we begin all of our partnerships with a strong foundation—your very own ‘brand storytelling session’ (BSTS). After all, we’re an outsourced digital marketing agency, which means we will be creating content as if we were you. This BSTS is crucial in order to be able to do what we do best (…marketing!).

If a ‘brand storytelling session’ sounds a bit like another language, we’re sorry! We’ll explain. Better yet, Amanda Rogers, Owner and Chief Creative Officer at Digital Storyteller can give you the lowdown and answer all of your juicy questions, like why is your brand storytelling session important? And what the heck is it anyway!?

Let’s get into it.

What is Brand Storytelling?

Brand storytelling has become kind of a buzzword. People use it to mean all kinds of things. They use it to mean:

  • Branding that means something to you
  • Storytelling for individuals

What Do You Do During a Brand Storytelling Session?

In our Brand Storytelling Sessions, we do things a bit differently. We block out two hours on our calendar to zoom with you and get to know your brand at its core.

We know it sounds intense, but don’t worry. Our favorite description that a client gave us at the end of a Brand Storytelling Session was, “I was expecting a root canal and I got a massage.” Yay for free massages! 

For Digital Storyteller, the Brand Storytelling Session grew naturally out of questions we had to ask clients over and over again and the research we did to better craft clients’ websites, content, and content marketing strategies.

A brand storytelling session focuses primarily on finding out what your ‘brand voice’ is. In other words, what your brand archetype is. 

Brand Archetypes

What’s a brand archetype? We’re glad you asked. Brand archetypes are as old as Greek tragedy (sadly, we can’t take credit for making them up…) The 12 brand archetypes that we use at Digital Storyteller are:

  • The Innocent
  • Everyman
  • Hero
  • Outlaw
  • Explorer
  • Creator
  • Ruler
  • Magician
  • Lover
  • Caregiver
  • Jester
  • Sage

Don’t worry, we cover what all of these archetypes mean during your Brand Storytelling Session!

What Happens After Your Brand Storytelling Session?

We’re all for transparency. After your two-hour block, we have a comprehensive overview of:

  • How you talk about what you do
  • How you feel about your company name
  • What your brand archetype is

From there, we can start to build the kind of marketing strategy that is unique to your company.

The Timeline

A week after a Brand Storytelling Session, you will receive a well-designed deliverable.

A few days after that, we get on the phone and set a kickoff call, if you decide we’re the right fit for you!

After our one-hour kickoff call, we set weekly one-hour meetings for the first month of our partnership, followed by bi-weekly meetings following. 

Why Is a Brand Storytelling Session Important?

As we say at Digital Storyteller, marketing without a brand voice is like a margarita without tequila… Useless!

Defining your brand voice through a Brand Storytelling Session shortens your sales cycle because having a clear brand voice makes people feel like they already know you when they walk into a room with you.

It helps build trust, and it makes prospects feel at ease as they’ve heard your brand voice consistently across your website, content, and social posts.

When you pick a brand voice and choose a brand archetype, it’s about the way in which you speak, not what you’re talking about. 

Conducting a Brand Storytelling Session helps us to truly understand a client’s brand voice, their brand archetype, and helps us to be able to write in their voice.

Amanda, Founder and Creative Director at Digital Storyteller, put it best. “I can talk about something that’s highly consequential in a number of different brand voices. The way you speak about what you do is what sets you apart from your competitors… A Brand Storytelling Session is the uncovering of the way in which you tell your own unique story.”

If you couldn’t tell by Amanda’s spiel, a BSTS isn’t anything to be afraid of. Don’t believe us? Check out what one of our clients, Todd Regan, said about his BSTS. (P.S. He wasn’t excited!)

“Looking at the [brand storytelling session] appointment on my calendar, I thought this is going be so painful – it was the opposite, so insightful, valuable, and fun.” —Todd Regan Chief Operating Officer at Payroll Hub

A brand storytelling session is crucial for all of you out there who struggle to explain to your drunk aunt what business you’re in every Thanksgiving. If you’re not clear on what you do, how can your prospects and clients be?

Plus, we can’t—or any outsourced marketing agency, for that matter—accurately represent your brand until we truly understand who you are, your audience, and your goals. Our brand storytelling sessions answer all of these questions.

We’re so confident in our ability to surprise and delight you that your initial BSTS session and deliverable are free.

Interested in learning more about the importance of brand storytelling? Check out this article.

Digital Marketing

At Digital Storyteller, we know well that digital marketing is an ever-changing field. Sometimes, it can feel like a full-time job just keeping up with all of the algorithms and constant updates!

(C’mon, Zuckerberg! Give us a break!) Just kidding…

In all seriousness, the best thing you can do for your business—whether you do it yourself or hire an outsourced agency like us to save you time and money—is do your best to stay current with the top digital marketing trends.

Don’t worry, we’ll give you a hand! Here are the top five digital marketing trends you can’t ignore today!

Video Content

If you’re not currently living under a rock, chances are you know that video is the number one media that social channels are pushing right now.

The statistics say it all. Did you know that in June 2021, TikTok reached 3 BILLION downloads? In the five short years that the video-sharing app has existed, it managed to snag the 7th most downloaded app for the 2010s, according to App Annie.

Even Instagram has jumped on the video bandwagon. In June 2021, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in a video that Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app. Instead, Instagram will prioritize video content, leaning into the high level of success that they are observing competitors like TikTok and YouTube achieve.

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.

Value-Driven Content

Although our digital marketing agency lives by the phrase “content is king,” we’d like to make an important modification to this term coined by marketing whiz Neil Patel.

“QUALITY content is king.”

Just think: Any person, at any given moment, has an enormous surplus of content that they could decide to consume. It’s almost overwhelming. So, consider this: Why should someone click on your page rather than your competitor? What are you offering them that your competitor is not?

Sure, you may be handing out eBooks, but is the information different? Or is it generic? Your best bet at gaining clients’ trust is by offering content that drives value.

This means no carelessly written articles with typos just for the sake of posting something. You want to shoot for quality, long-form content.

It’s equally important to do so in a way that doesn’t come off as too salesy either. We know, it’s a difficult line to straddle…

To provide an example of quality content, picture this. You’re at your local mall and you see an electric wine bottle opener. (Oooh!) What would make you more prone to purchasing said wine opener?

A bland instruction manual about what the product is and how it works, or a beautifully designed pamphlet showing how the wine opener will save you time and frustration for years to come? We think you know your answer. Say goodbye to stubborn synthetic corks!

But anyway, the point is long-form, value-driven content is key in your digital marketing strategy.

Hyper-Personalized Content

It has happened to all of us. You’re on a website viewing a product; it could be shoes, decor, food, doesn’t matter. Then, you leave the page without making a purchase.

A few hours later you receive an item with the subject line “Get it before it sells out!” or “You forgot something…” You click into the email… It’s the exact product you’d been looking at just hours before.

Weird, right? Well, not really in the world of digital marketing. Welcome to hyper-personalized content!

Hyper-personalized content is the third digital marketing trend you can’t ignore. Personalized content is no new feat, and as you can tell, we’re not talking about adding a simple first name personalization in your email marketing. (That might have been impressive five years ago, but times have changed).

For businesses looking to generate more traffic and increase conversion rates, you have to get really nitty-gritty about who your target audience is and more importantly, what they’re looking for and at. By using artificial intelligence (AI), you can collect information about individuals who are engaging with your business and track their behavior to target them more effectively.

There are many third-party software companies that can help you obtain data to create this hyper-personalized content. Some of our favorites include:

“Hey Siri, search ‘content marketing’ on Google!” Thanks to AI-powered voice assistants, 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. With the rise of voice search, including Siri, Google, Alexa, and Cortana, it has become all the more important to make sure your content is optimized for voice search. Keep your eyes out for a full article on how to optimize your content for voice search soon!

Easy to Contact

Today, we live in a world where delayed gratification is not our friend. At least not when we have a question about a product, service, or business! Whether you’re messaging your favorite clothing company, your hairstylist, or a restaurant, chances are you value a quick response on a user-friendly platform.

Your prospects are no different. If you’re not available 24/7, using AI to ensure your prospects get timely responses is a no-brainer!

Hiring an Outsourced Digital Marketing Agency

Top Five Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore

We know, there are a lot of bases to cover. The best thing you can do is focus on what’s hot now and tailor your content marketing strategy as such. Recognize current trends and use them to your advantage in your digital marketing efforts.

Still sounds a bit scary? Check out this article on the Top 10 Resources for Digital Marketers!

At Digital Storyteller, we’re your go-to for your outsourced digital marketing needs. As our client, our team will keep you up to date on all the latest digital marketing trends.

Get in touch today to schedule your free Brand Storytelling session. What is Brand Storytelling you might ask? Don’t worry, we’ve got an article for that, too!

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.

Content Marketing Mistakes

Hungry for some truth? Today’s your lucky day!

“Content marketing may be a relatively simple strategy,” says CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. “That doesn’t mean it’s easy.” These are the wise words of Michael Brenner. (Psst… For those who don’t know Brenner, he’s a content marketing pro!)

Brenner’s words considered, it’s likely that your business is making some mistakes when it comes to content and your marketing strategy. Here are the top five mistakes you’re making with your content!

Not Using Keywords

Keywords? SEO? What does it all mean!? Don’t worry. Let’s start at the beginning.

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is a way that marketers tailor their content to appeal to search engines. Popular examples of search engines include Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Search. In today’s world, search engines rule the scene!

SEO keywords, also known as keywords or keyphrases, are “terms added to online content in order to improve search engine rankings,” according to Backlinko. Having a set of target keywords for your business is crucial because they are the bridge between what people search for and the services or products you provide.

To build this list, you must complete thorough and frequent keyword research. Keyword research is “the process by which you research popular search terms people type into search engines like Google.” Then, using said research, you strategize how to include these keywords in your content. Thus, placing you higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

A higher ranking can improve your chances at business, deem you as an authority in the market, and increase a client’s likelihood of trusting or choosing to do business with you. 

Consider this: If you were searching for a new veterinarian for your dog, would you scroll to the fifth page of results on Google to the vet with a bleak social presence? Or, would you be more likely to trust a business that popped up on page one with hundreds of positive reviews and photos?

For this reason, it’s important that all of your content is optimized with relevant, targeted keywords. You want to rank higher on Google, don’t you!?

For more on why SEO is important for a financial services company (or any company for that matter!), visit this article. We promise you’ll walk away having learned something new.

An additional mistake to be wary of, (and often a byproduct of having a list of relevant keywords that you’re using on a consistent basis!), however, is keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing, as defined by Google, is “the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.” In short, you’ve gone too far! You know… there is such a thing as over-optimizing, and keyword stuffing is exactly that.

It’s a fine line to walk for sure. Our SEO team at Digital Storyteller can help you there.

Failing to Cater to Your Audience

Hooray! You’ve launched your business. Now, who should you market to? Some people might think, “If we market to everyone, we’ll

The truth of the matter is that your business, product, or services might not appeal to everyone. As Chris Do, Emmy award-winning designer, director, and CEO and founder of The Futur, once said, “If we cater to everyone, we’ll stand for no one.”

So, get eerily specific about who your audience is.

Learn who they are, what makes them tick, what they need and want. Who is benefitting from your business? What motivates them? Who holds influence over them?

Then, use this information to inform your branding, brand voice, and brand archetypes. These three elements are what help your brand become uniquely recognizable.

Narrowing down a specific target audience and catering to them specifically makes what you offer more memorable. Plus, when you cater to your audience and consider what they might want first, your chances of winning over their trust are higher. It’s a win-win!

As a business owner, when you only write content that you want to write, instead of what your prospects are searching for or need, you set yourself up for failure in an instant. (Just think how different your target audience is from you!)

Instead of writing whatever the heck you want, we’d recommend writing what’s trending. And no… we don’t mean “trending” in the sense of what’s currently trending on TikTok or Instagram. When we say “what’s trending,” we’re talking about what your prospects or target audience is currently searching for.

In other words, there’s a difference between what you want to talk about and what your prospects want to talk about. As Regina George from Mean Girls would say, “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s never going to happen.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the 2004 American teen comedy film, stop trying to make prospects interested in what you are interested in. You’re there to serve them.

Content Marketing Mistakes

At Digital Storyteller, we use SEMRush—an all-in-one tool suite that helps improve our clients’ online visibility. We use tools like SEMRush to conduct topic research. (Yes, you should be researching what to write about! Not just writing anything and everything you find interesting.)

SEMRush provides a ton of information on keywords and topic research including keyword difficulty % and search volume. 

Keyword difficulty shows you how hard it is “to rank in Google’s organic search results for a specific term” whereas search volume measures how many people are searching for a particular topic, keyword, or question.

Simply put, to be on top of your content marketing game, you need to answer relevant questions that are being asked frequently. After all, you don’t want to write content that no one is searching for in the first place!

Writing Too Much or Not Enough Content

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re writing too much, your content will get swept under the rug. Longer doesn’t always mean better! Remember, it’s not the 1800s anymore, aka you’re not the author who is getting paid per page that they write.

Moreover, attention spans are shrinking. In fact, a recent study by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has shrunk nearly 25% in just a few years. Search engines are getting smarter every day.

Even if you write the longest article ever, filled to the brim with what you think is juicy information, Google will not rank you well if your content fails to meet the needs of that target audience we chatted about earlier on in this article.

Finding the sweet spot between too much content or not enough is a tightrope, but with our help, we know you can do it! Think Goldilocks…

And of course, it’s equally important that prospects and existing clients are engaging with your brand. This might look like likes, comments, clicks, shares, and so on. When you have high levels of engagement in today’s day and age, algorithms reward you by pushing your content to more people (which leads to brand awareness aka exactly what you want!)

Your Content is a Walking Sales Pitch

Let’s face it. You’re not Jordan Belfort. Today, people look for more than just a sales pitch. People are drawn to stories.

Consider: how do you feel receiving constant ads or pitches? At Digital Storyteller, we think it’s pretty annoying, and would recommend that instead, you try your hand at telling a story.

Why? “Storytelling enables marketers to develop a deeper connection with the audience,” according to Forbes. “[It] is a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger, deeper connections.” (Well, duh! Storytelling even goes back as far as the cavemen days.)

National Geographic is a top-notch example of a brand that implements great storytelling.

Their awe-inspiring images paired with their captivating stories keep people coming back for more. Check out this example from their Instagram!

National Geographic

By crafting a story, you provide value.

It can be used to educate, share, communicate, and connect.

Instead of overselling your content, focus on a call to action (CTA) instead. CTAs with strong action words that evoke emotion.Feeling overwhelmed? Here is all you need to know about crafting organic content creation to grab your prospects’ attention plus four tips on how to organize content!

SEO SEM

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

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 (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, 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.

Take it from our Team:

“A lot of people consider SEM as part of an overall umbrella of SEO, but they’re actually pretty different. Most generally, SEM features the paid side of search engines.”

“SEM includes anytime that you’re doing paid search, display ads, etc. SEM is a really great opportunity if you know you want to rank for a very specific keyword. You can pay the search engines to rank your content first.”

It’s also important to note that paid search is short-term. As soon as you stop paying for the paid search ad, your traffic is going to stop too.

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! Example below.

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.
  • As 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.
SEO SEM

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 the competition as far as search goes. 

What is Your Ultimate Goal?

It’s important to remind yourself of what your ultimate goal is.

At Digital Storyteller, we focus on organic search overall as a whole. Why? We want to ensure that our clients’ content ranks and persists over time.

This considered, at Digital Storyteller, we believe that the focus on SEO is a lot more important than the overall focus on SEM specifically. If you want to run paid ads, it’s a really great addition to your overall marketing strategy (but we believe it’s a slice of the pie, not the whole pie!)

Still not clear on which is best for you? Learn more about how to optimize your content for search. After all, investing time and resources into content development is in a sense useless if not properly optimized.