Years ago I wrote a blog post about keyword research for SEO. The basic point is that you don’t want to be optimizing for content that people aren’t searching for. My favorite example is that people search for “car” and not “automobile”, it simply puts why keyword research is important. It’s why, in my opinion, it sets the tone for every thing you do in search marketing because you need to understand what your audience is looking for. It will set the the tone for your content, technical implementations and link building.
It’s been a long time since I wrote the last post, so I wanted to put a “refresher” out there and also update a few things that I’ve learned over the years. The one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve become a more mature marketer, is that every campaign needs to be holistic. I’ve always talked about SEO being holistic, but, it should reflect all of your online marketing efforts. Making SEO your only source of traffic or customer acquisition is a huge mistake. As a matter of fact, relying on a single channel of traffic is a huge mistake. For that reason, I ensure that every traffic source we use ties into each other. The research from search marketing helps both SEO and PPC, which also helps us understand categories of traffic in other paid media, and things to be looking for in social media. This helps us determine the content we write, create and deliver for direct response campaigns we are working on, which ties into email marketing. As you can see, in one way, shape or form, the marketing efforts all rely on each other to be successful. And, when you ensure that they benefit each other, they create that much greater impact.
What is your audience looking for?
That’s what this post was about right?! There is the traditional thought process of “What are they searching for?” But, let’s expand on that for a minute and think through things from a multi-channel perspective. Once you find out someone is searching for things like “corporate event space” OR “company holiday party location” you can determine that this person might be looking for content on “corporate event planning” or “planning corporate events”, which would lead to secondary keyword research. Now you’ve started developing keyword research geared towards a target customer. This lets you really understand who is searching for your content and lets you build out the types of personas. Simply put, who is visiting your site daily and why?
What are audience personas?
An audience persona is specific type of person that you are targeting when building out a marketing program. This helps you not only find out where to acquire traffic from, whether paid or earned media, but, allows you to also really understand how to speak to these customers.
I’ll use an example I know best right now, Eventup. We haven’t developed full on personas like “Sally Homemaker” or “Oprah Mom” like other companies I’ve worked for. (yes, these are actually names used by companies to talk about the people using their sites). I feel like that’s almost a waste of time, esp for a company of our size. Let’s face it, we need to be scrappy and I feel like just getting a small subset of data is fine. Knowing this, I want to understand who visits our site daily. I do this by looking at the type of people writing in:
- Event Planner
- Individual responsible for events at a company (e.g. HR Profession, Exec admin, PR)
- Event Organizers
- Parents planning childrens events
- Individuals throwing parties
- Producer for filming industry
- Location Scouts
The thing that you’ll notice if you dive into the research is that we’re not only speaking to various types of people, but, also our marketing efforts have to span both the B2C and B2B realms. The good thing is that we’ve learned company events are the most effective for us, so we target those customers most. The bad thing, it’s not like an HR person hangs out in specific places like coolhrblog.com like a soon to be bride would be researching DIY tips on sites like theknot or Style Me Pretty.
So you might be saying to yourself, “um, okay, so you basically are lost!?” Well, I was hoping you’d think that. This is where trying to understand what people are searching for and the content they want to consume is important. But, even more important is that we know that the persona related to people planning company events isn’t really an exact job function or role. It’s the 2nd or 3rd role added to an HR professional or an Executive Admins already busy schedule. We know these people don’t fully understand how to plan events or where to start, so they key is to build content tailored to them. I’ll keep you in suspense and get back to this in a minute.
What we discovered above lets us write copy in specific ways, build content tailored to these types of personas, and, allows us to really market to them in a way we couldn’t if we didn’t build this into our marketing efforts overall. It even goes further because when we develop this persona, we can build messaging that will not only help marketing efforts that generate inbound traffic and repeat traffic, but, we can also use this in the sales cycle. Again, just like marketing programs can intertwine and help each other out, the sales side is benefited greatly by determining audiences and the personas within them.
This will ultimately help you build out a clearer user experience that speaks to the right person and converts at higher rates. You can do this because you understand the most important thing in marketing, user intent.
Okay, I’ve made you wait long enough. Remember, that HR pro or Admin that hasn’t planned an event before? I eluded to how this all comes together. Well, like I mentioned, these people aren’t professional event planners, it’s a task already added to a fairly busy gaily workload. You have to think about the fact that they are going to look for help and will do this by searching for things like ”how to plan a company holiday party” or “company holiday party tips”. This is where we will (currently in progress) build campaigns that are holistic and drive them to our site via search marketing (SEO/SEM) and Social Media efforts. We collect email addresses in order to let them download our guides on corporate event planning, which will ask them to subscribe to our mailing list, which then turns into a lead for our sales team.
Hubspot actually does a great job of this with their B2B marketing efforts. Kudos to them for constantly pushing their ebooks via twitter, because they know it works for lead generation efforts.
Again, we’ve not only generated a one time visitor, we’ve developed a customer that might not be in the need for immediate purchase, but, needs tips in the interim. When they are ready, Eventup will be top of mind for their venue booking needs.
Building a holistic marketing program
I’ve beat you over the head by telling you how important it is to be holistic. I know because I’ve spent many years working on SEO and Social Media efforts as a means for driving organic and viral traffic channels to build audiences. It’s easy to get trapped into just thinking about how to optimize keywords and drive traffic against people intended to either read content and bounce or try to buy something immediately. But, at the end of the day, thinking about target audiences helps you truly understand your customer.
We determined our purchase cycle might not be immediate, unlike many other companies. This is crucial, because we know to grow a list and create lifecycle marketing programs so when they are ready to book, we are top of mind.
Putting it all together to deliver the most impact possible
It’s not just about driving one source of traffic or another. It’s about creating a sustainable marketing cycle that is going to win over the long haul. I could spam Facebook or search engines all day trying to drive traffic, but, if my audience isn’t there and it doesn’t help my holistic marketing plan, it will be short lived traffic that will flame out.
Start by thinking about what content you can create that is then shared in order to increase your SEO traffic for this audience. Then, thinking about how to leverage that SEO traffic or a sweepstakes to drive traffic to lead gen programs that then keeps them engaged via email marketing. Then closing the loop and using the whole program to drive lead generation for your product or service. For you, that might be instant sign ups for free trials, SaaS software, or purchases via e-commerce. For us, it’s leads that our sales team can then turn into bookings of event space.
Overall, if you’ve learned anything, it’s that you need to understand the persona of who to market to and let this be the backbone for a holistic marketing strategy at your organization.