5 tactics for a successful email program

This year’s Hitting the Mark showcased the email and customer experience tactics of 100 global ecommerce brands. The report revealed both the triumphs and pitfalls of marketers as they bid to foster everlasting relationships from the inbox to the shop counter.

We’ve dissected the report and drawn 5 key tactics to help you optimize your email program ahead of the holiday season.

1. Focus on best practice

If you’re to wow the 3.82 billion email users worldwide, you’ve at least got to nail the basics.

Many brands in this year’s report consistently fell down on best practice. Even those who exhibited the strongest data-driven tactics and most compelling content missed the mark.

5 tips to make the grade in best practice:

Don’t overlook the ‘view in browser’ link

Why? Email clients such as Gmail and Hotmail won’t always render emails correctly – a common challenge for marketers. Continuous system updates can compromise the HTML code, corrupting the look and feel of emails as they land in the inbox.

A VIB link mitigates the effect of a broken email (a poor experience) as it incentivizes contacts to view a version optimized for URL. This maximizes click-throughs from those readers who would otherwise ignore a messy looking email with no VIB link.

Rather than the basic ‘View in browser’, why not try something more conversational:Having trouble viewing this email? See it here.

Populate the preheader space

Neglecting to use the preview text is a missed opportunity. It’s a useful space for inspirational copy and acts as a bridge between the subject line and email content.

When not used, the preheader space is populated by the next readable bit of text. This tends to be markup code; it means nothing to the reader and looks plain messy.

A blunder like this can cause confusion in the inbox, damage the credibility of your emails, and weaken your open rates.

To avoid this, add some commentary in the preheader space that:

  • supports the subject line
  • entices the reader to open
  • adds context to the email

Optimize the unsubscribe

The unsubscribe belongs in the footer of the email. Yes, the link should be visible, but it shouldn’t be blatantly obvious.

It’s much more important what you do after someone clicks through; shout about what they’re going to miss out on and ask for feedback on how to improve the email experience.

Balance imagery and copy

Not every email client (Outlook is one) will automatically download your email’s images. A sexy looking email that’s a full-length image, with copy placed on top, will lose its context if imagery is switched off. The message will be lost.

This runs the risk of:

  • subscribers closing the email automatically
  • the email looking like spam
  • recipients being unable to identify information quickly enough

To lock in engagement, you need to pair imagery with content so that relevance is always communicated.

Become mobile-first

The age of being mobile-friendly is waning. Doing the bare minimum is no longer good enough for consumers who interact with brands exclusively on a handheld device.

60% of ecommerce site visits will start on mobile. Plus, by 2019, consumers will spend over 2 hours per day on their smartphones. So, brands need to start their design concepts on mobile first, and then scale up to other devices such as tablets and desktops.

For tips on how to design email for mobile, grab our guide here.

2. Unlock the inbox using preferences

If you’d like to forge meaningful long-term relationships with your subscribers, then getting to know them should be top on the agenda. They won’t buy from you if you don’t serve up relevant content – so ask for preferences.

  • Think about what data your brand needs
  • Ask for the right amount information (too much can put people off)
  • Offer an incentive in exchange for details

Explicit data like location, date of birth and product preferences allow you to quickly build a profile of who your subscribers are. This information empowers you to tailor your newsletters so that they’re super-relevant.

You can do this in dotmailer through the use of dynamic content in our EasyEditor tool, which is populated based on individual contact data.

Bulk Powders preference center

 

Bulk Powders, winner of Hitting the Mark 2018, uses its preference center to customize email content.

3. Use insight to contextualize your message

The top performers in Hitting the Mark combined their implicit and explicit customer data to build powerful segments and create personalized messages.

Implicit data communicates context:

  • Browse behavior
  • Order history
  • Email activity

Explicit information conveys relevance:

  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Product preferences

Combining both enables you to devise a pretty compelling message. This is because content is conceptualized on the basis of the individual, maximizing their propensity to act. Positive actions might be clicks, downloads or purchases.

The bottom line is that these types of hyper-targeted messages are proven to drive lead generation, boost ecommerce and lift ROI.

4. Curate quality content

The best copywriters can’t inspire readers if their content draws no relevance to the audience. Winning content should inspire readers to do something. Always ask yourself: why am I writing this copy, and what’s the point of it?

A little inspiration goes a long way; at dotmailer we like to say ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ – i.e. focus on the benefits rather than the tangible product.

Make sure:

  • your tone of voice reflects your brand’s personality
  • content is personable, conversational and not ‘hard-selling’

IKEA content

In this year’s Hitting the Mark, many brands showcased exceptional copywriting skills. A great example was IKEA, whose tone of voice was warm and inviting – like the home. Skillfully crafting content that comforts the reader enables the brand to position itself as the home-lover’s choice: there’s no place like IKEA…right?

5. Be customer-obsessed

Welcome new customers with open arms

14% of brands still fail to meet subscribers’ expectations: to receive a welcome message in real time. Making the right first impression is what counts, so brands need to step up to the plate.

Introduce yourself and get to know your subscribers. They won’t buy from you if you don’t. The welcome series is the most important time to get the messaging right – Bulk Powders stated (when we interviewed the brand) that it all boils down to the welcome program.

Nurture – and then nurture some more

The age of anonymity is over. As customers, we expect personalized experiences. Successful brands will use personalization as a nurture tactic to turn indifferent consumers into loyal customers.

When creating your newsletters and nurture programs, think about:

  • what subscribers actually want to receive over the products you want to sell
  • how you can use data to underscore your offering and garner real interest

Say thanks to customers for their purchase

A simple thank you is bound to make customers smile. An aftersales program that delivers how-to tips and advice transforms the shopping experience from a mere transaction into a personal conversation.

In our customer-centric world, asking for a review after purchase is a must; yet 53% of brands fail to do so. By taking an active interest in feedback, you’re showing your online shoppers that you care about customer satisfaction and product improvement. It’s a win-win.

Re-engage at-risk customers

Make it clear that a customer lapsing is a big deal – a real loss for your brand. This makes the customer feel valued. Go on a charm offensive to win them back.

Your re-engagement program could include:

  • a special offer that tempts a repeat purchase
  • a survey to find out more about the subscriber
  • some inspirational content to incentivize a browse

Optimize your emails to lift ROI

Below is a tidy summary of key takeaways that’ll help you drive up returns from email:

  • Following best practice helps you deliver an optimized email experience and facilitates a seamless customer journey from inbox to store.
  • Preferences and insight will help you maximize conversions; if your brand wants to stand out in the crowd, your messaging needs to be driven from data.
  • Content is how you transform data into relevant and contextual communication.

The last piece of the puzzle is embracing a customer-first philosophy. Translate everything you’ve built up into lifecycle automation programs; bring something meaningful to the table that inspires customers to act.

For our favorite automation examples from Hitting the Mark, download our bitesize guide here.

The post 5 tactics for a successful email program appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Platform onboarding: a smoother start to a successful journey

In the world of marketing, this journey is often ‘replatforming’ and it can feel like a daunting prospect, especially as you’re putting your trust in a new supplier to get you up to speed with minimal disruption.

Wouldn’t it be great if your onboarding process could be upgraded from economy to business class, providing peace of mind that’ll boost your customer experience? That’s the kind of service you get when you introduce dotmailer to your business – and I’m going to tell you all about it here.

The first step through the door

Finally, you got the sign-off and you’re joining dotmailer; exciting times!

Some people begin to panic at this point – after all, it can feel a bit like buying and moving into a new home – but there’s really no need to worry. There’s a checklist of things to do and one of our dedicated Digital Program Managers will orchestrate the process for you, pulling the right strings at the right time and involving the right experts exactly when required, until everything’s checked off and you’re fully onboarded.

Types of onboarding

We offer seven different onboarding packages, depending on your requirements and budget. Our dotmailer consultants will point you in the right direction to make sure you get the right level of cover.

  • Guided setup
  • Managed onboarding
  • Enterprise onboarding
  • Add data management ramp-up
  • Add template/s creation
  • Add ecommerce or CRM connectors/integrations, such as Magento or Dynamics CRM
  • Add marketing automation programs

The kick-off process

Once the agreement is signed and you’ve chosen the type of onboarding service you’d like, the process can begin.

You’ll be assigned a Digital Program Manager (DPM) who’ll manage the onboarding process, along with an Account Manager who’ll be your day-to-day go-to person once your onboarding has been completed. Your DPM will organise a kick-off call to go through your order form and any additional items purchased, together with clarifying roles and timelines. And, of course, you’ll have the opportunity to ask any burning questions.

What goes on behind the scenes

I may have made the process sound quite simple, so I thought it’d be helpful to give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes and why the onboarding process can be lengthy at times.

First things first, we create a detailed, dynamic project schedule in our project management tool and then assign tasks to the relevant parties. The plan includes all your account details and a breakdown of all activated features/timelines.

The DPM team is here to support, supervise and guide the activities of your account setup, from new template creation, the custom from address (CFA) and data management to creating and testing your first campaign. Some of this involves liaising with internal teams to ensure relevant experts are involved at the right time. Here are some of the people we’ll often be working with:

  • Training Team
  • Deliverability Team
  • Creative Team
  • Technical Support
  • Account Management
  • Connector/Integration Engineers
  • Custom Technical Solutions

We’ll share regular updates throughout the onboarding process via calls and alerts sent through our project management tool.

Once onboarding is complete, your Account Manager will be your direct line for advice and strategic guidance. They’ll proactively suggest improvements and add-ons that’ll drive up your return on investment, booking in regular catch-up calls to see how things are progressing.

Who have you recently onboarded?

We work with more than 3,500 brands globally. Here are just a couple of companies that have recently joined the fold…

The Prince’s Trust

“dotmailer were incredibly helpful in supporting The Prince’s Trust to get onboarded, answering questions big and small along the way and even screen sharing so we knew exactly what to do. They’ve designed templates, assisted with forms and were there for our first send out. We now have so much more confidence with our emails – and look forward to the future.” Donna White, Head of Digital Marketing

Virgin Active

“All your team made this relatively big project as easy as anything. From right at the start to now, it has all been seamless. You all know your product like the back of your hand and you’ve caught the interest of every man, woman and their dog at Virgin Active. You also managed to do it all in less than a month and we all love you for it!” Virgin Active Team

The post Platform onboarding: a smoother start to a successful journey appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 10 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Be a mad scientist to be more successful in local SEO

The debate rages on over the authoritative set of local ranking factors, but columnist Greg Gifford believes that local SEOs on both sides of the fence may be missing the point.

The post Be a mad scientist to be more successful in local SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Why Effective, Modern SEO Requires Technical, Creative, and Strategic Thinking – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

There’s no doubt that quite a bit has changed about SEO, and that the field is far more integrated with other aspects of online marketing than it once was. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand pushes back against the idea that effective modern SEO doesn’t require any technical expertise, outlining a fantastic list of technical elements that today’s SEOs need to know about in order to be truly effective.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to do something unusual. I don’t usually point out these inconsistencies or sort of take issue with other folks’ content on the web, because I generally find that that’s not all that valuable and useful. But I’m going to make an exception here.

There is an article by Jayson DeMers, who I think might actually be here in Seattle — maybe he and I can hang out at some point — called “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise.” It was an article that got a shocking amount of traction and attention. On Facebook, it has thousands of shares. On LinkedIn, it did really well. On Twitter, it got a bunch of attention.

Some folks in the SEO world have already pointed out some issues around this. But because of the increasing popularity of this article, and because I think there’s, like, this hopefulness from worlds outside of kind of the hardcore SEO world that are looking to this piece and going, “Look, this is great. We don’t have to be technical. We don’t have to worry about technical things in order to do SEO.”

Look, I completely get the appeal of that. I did want to point out some of the reasons why this is not so accurate. At the same time, I don’t want to rain on Jayson, because I think that it’s very possible he’s writing an article for Entrepreneur, maybe he has sort of a commitment to them. Maybe he had no idea that this article was going to spark so much attention and investment. He does make some good points. I think it’s just really the title and then some of the messages inside there that I take strong issue with, and so I wanted to bring those up.

First off, some of the good points he did bring up.

One, he wisely says, “You don’t need to know how to code or to write and read algorithms in order to do SEO.” I totally agree with that. If today you’re looking at SEO and you’re thinking, “Well, am I going to get more into this subject? Am I going to try investing in SEO? But I don’t even know HTML and CSS yet.”

Those are good skills to have, and they will help you in SEO, but you don’t need them. Jayson’s totally right. You don’t have to have them, and you can learn and pick up some of these things, and do searches, watch some Whiteboard Fridays, check out some guides, and pick up a lot of that stuff later on as you need it in your career. SEO doesn’t have that hard requirement.

And secondly, he makes an intelligent point that we’ve made many times here at Moz, which is that, broadly speaking, a better user experience is well correlated with better rankings.

You make a great website that delivers great user experience, that provides the answers to searchers’ questions and gives them extraordinarily good content, way better than what’s out there already in the search results, generally speaking you’re going to see happy searchers, and that’s going to lead to higher rankings.

But not entirely. There are a lot of other elements that go in here. So I’ll bring up some frustrating points around the piece as well.

First off, there’s no acknowledgment — and I find this a little disturbing — that the ability to read and write code, or even HTML and CSS, which I think are the basic place to start, is helpful or can take your SEO efforts to the next level. I think both of those things are true.

So being able to look at a web page, view source on it, or pull up Firebug in Firefox or something and diagnose what’s going on and then go, “Oh, that’s why Google is not able to see this content. That’s why we’re not ranking for this keyword or term, or why even when I enter this exact sentence in quotes into Google, which is on our page, this is why it’s not bringing it up. It’s because it’s loading it after the page from a remote file that Google can’t access.” These are technical things, and being able to see how that code is built, how it’s structured, and what’s going on there, very, very helpful.

Some coding knowledge also can take your SEO efforts even further. I mean, so many times, SEOs are stymied by the conversations that we have with our programmers and our developers and the technical staff on our teams. When we can have those conversations intelligently, because at least we understand the principles of how an if-then statement works, or what software engineering best practices are being used, or they can upload something into a GitHub repository, and we can take a look at it there, that kind of stuff is really helpful.

Secondly, I don’t like that the article overly reduces all of this information that we have about what we’ve learned about Google. So he mentions two sources. One is things that Google tells us, and others are SEO experiments. I think both of those are true. Although I’d add that there’s sort of a sixth sense of knowledge that we gain over time from looking at many, many search results and kind of having this feel for why things rank, and what might be wrong with a site, and getting really good at that using tools and data as well. There are people who can look at Open Site Explorer and then go, “Aha, I bet this is going to happen.” They can look, and 90% of the time they’re right.

So he boils this down to, one, write quality content, and two, reduce your bounce rate. Neither of those things are wrong. You should write quality content, although I’d argue there are lots of other forms of quality content that aren’t necessarily written — video, images and graphics, podcasts, lots of other stuff.

And secondly, that just doing those two things is not always enough. So you can see, like many, many folks look and go, “I have quality content. It has a low bounce rate. How come I don’t rank better?” Well, your competitors, they’re also going to have quality content with a low bounce rate. That’s not a very high bar.

Also, frustratingly, this really gets in my craw. I don’t think “write quality content” means anything. You tell me. When you hear that, to me that is a totally non-actionable, non-useful phrase that’s a piece of advice that is so generic as to be discardable. So I really wish that there was more substance behind that.

The article also makes, in my opinion, the totally inaccurate claim that modern SEO really is reduced to “the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.”

Wow. Okay. Again, I think broadly these things are correlated. User happiness and rank is broadly correlated, but it’s not a one to one. This is not like a, “Oh, well, that’s a 1.0 correlation.”

I would guess that the correlation is probably closer to like the page authority range. I bet it’s like 0.35 or something correlation. If you were to actually measure this broadly across the web and say like, “Hey, were you happier with result one, two, three, four, or five,” the ordering would not be perfect at all. It probably wouldn’t even be close.

There’s a ton of reasons why sometimes someone who ranks on Page 2 or Page 3 or doesn’t rank at all for a query is doing a better piece of content than the person who does rank well or ranks on Page 1, Position 1.

Then the article suggests five and sort of a half steps to successful modern SEO, which I think is a really incomplete list. So Jayson gives us;

  • Good on-site experience
  • Writing good content
  • Getting others to acknowledge you as an authority
  • Rising in social popularity
  • Earning local relevance
  • Dealing with modern CMS systems (which he notes most modern CMS systems are SEO-friendly)

The thing is there’s nothing actually wrong with any of these. They’re all, generally speaking, correct, either directly or indirectly related to SEO. The one about local relevance, I have some issue with, because he doesn’t note that there’s a separate algorithm for sort of how local SEO is done and how Google ranks local sites in maps and in their local search results. Also not noted is that rising in social popularity won’t necessarily directly help your SEO, although it can have indirect and positive benefits.

I feel like this list is super incomplete. Okay, I brainstormed just off the top of my head in the 10 minutes before we filmed this video a list. The list was so long that, as you can see, I filled up the whole whiteboard and then didn’t have any more room. I’m not going to bother to erase and go try and be absolutely complete.

But there’s a huge, huge number of things that are important, critically important for technical SEO. If you don’t know how to do these things, you are sunk in many cases. You can’t be an effective SEO analyst, or consultant, or in-house team member, because you simply can’t diagnose the potential problems, rectify those potential problems, identify strategies that your competitors are using, be able to diagnose a traffic gain or loss. You have to have these skills in order to do that.

I’ll run through these quickly, but really the idea is just that this list is so huge and so long that I think it’s very, very, very wrong to say technical SEO is behind us. I almost feel like the opposite is true.

We have to be able to understand things like;

  • Content rendering and indexability
  • Crawl structure, internal links, JavaScript, Ajax. If something’s post-loading after the page and Google’s not able to index it, or there are links that are accessible via JavaScript or Ajax, maybe Google can’t necessarily see those or isn’t crawling them as effectively, or is crawling them, but isn’t assigning them as much link weight as they might be assigning other stuff, and you’ve made it tough to link to them externally, and so they can’t crawl it.
  • Disabling crawling and/or indexing of thin or incomplete or non-search-targeted content. We have a bunch of search results pages. Should we use rel=prev/next? Should we robots.txt those out? Should we disallow from crawling with meta robots? Should we rel=canonical them to other pages? Should we exclude them via the protocols inside Google Webmaster Tools, which is now Google Search Console?
  • Managing redirects, domain migrations, content updates. A new piece of content comes out, replacing an old piece of content, what do we do with that old piece of content? What’s the best practice? It varies by different things. We have a whole Whiteboard Friday about the different things that you could do with that. What about a big redirect or a domain migration? You buy another company and you’re redirecting their site to your site. You have to understand things about subdomain structures versus subfolders, which, again, we’ve done another Whiteboard Friday about that.
  • Proper error codes, downtime procedures, and not found pages. If your 404 pages turn out to all be 200 pages, well, now you’ve made a big error there, and Google could be crawling tons of 404 pages that they think are real pages, because you’ve made it a status code 200, or you’ve used a 404 code when you should have used a 410, which is a permanently removed, to be able to get it completely out of the indexes, as opposed to having Google revisit it and keep it in the index.

Downtime procedures. So there’s specifically a… I can’t even remember. It’s a 5xx code that you can use. Maybe it was a 503 or something that you can use that’s like, “Revisit later. We’re having some downtime right now.” Google urges you to use that specific code rather than using a 404, which tells them, “This page is now an error.”

Disney had that problem a while ago, if you guys remember, where they 404ed all their pages during an hour of downtime, and then their homepage, when you searched for Disney World, was, like, “Not found.” Oh, jeez, Disney World, not so good.

  • International and multi-language targeting issues. I won’t go into that. But you have to know the protocols there. Duplicate content, syndication, scrapers. How do we handle all that? Somebody else wants to take our content, put it on their site, what should we do? Someone’s scraping our content. What can we do? We have duplicate content on our own site. What should we do?
  • Diagnosing traffic drops via analytics and metrics. Being able to look at a rankings report, being able to look at analytics connecting those up and trying to see: Why did we go up or down? Did we have less pages being indexed, more pages being indexed, more pages getting traffic less, more keywords less?
  • Understanding advanced search parameters. Today, just today, I was checking out the related parameter in Google, which is fascinating for most sites. Well, for Moz, weirdly, related:oursite.com shows nothing. But for virtually every other sit, well, most other sites on the web, it does show some really interesting data, and you can see how Google is connecting up, essentially, intentions and topics from different sites and pages, which can be fascinating, could expose opportunities for links, could expose understanding of how they view your site versus your competition or who they think your competition is.

Then there are tons of parameters, like in URL and in anchor, and da, da, da, da. In anchor doesn’t work anymore, never mind about that one.

I have to go faster, because we’re just going to run out of these. Like, come on. Interpreting and leveraging data in Google Search Console. If you don’t know how to use that, Google could be telling you, you have all sorts of errors, and you don’t know what they are.

  • Leveraging topic modeling and extraction. Using all these cool tools that are coming out for better keyword research and better on-page targeting. I talked about a couple of those at MozCon, like MonkeyLearn. There’s the new Moz Context API, which will be coming out soon, around that. There’s the Alchemy API, which a lot of folks really like and use.
  • Identifying and extracting opportunities based on site crawls. You run a Screaming Frog crawl on your site and you’re going, “Oh, here’s all these problems and issues.” If you don’t have these technical skills, you can’t diagnose that. You can’t figure out what’s wrong. You can’t figure out what needs fixing, what needs addressing.
  • Using rich snippet format to stand out in the SERPs. This is just getting a better click-through rate, which can seriously help your site and obviously your traffic.
  • Applying Google-supported protocols like rel=canonical, meta description, rel=prev/next, hreflang, robots.txt, meta robots, x robots, NOODP, XML sitemaps, rel=nofollow. The list goes on and on and on. If you’re not technical, you don’t know what those are, you think you just need to write good content and lower your bounce rate, it’s not going to work.
  • Using APIs from services like AdWords or MozScape, or hrefs from Majestic, or SEM refs from SearchScape or Alchemy API. Those APIs can have powerful things that they can do for your site. There are some powerful problems they could help you solve if you know how to use them. It’s actually not that hard to write something, even inside a Google Doc or Excel, to pull from an API and get some data in there. There’s a bunch of good tutorials out there. Richard Baxter has one, Annie Cushing has one, I think Distilled has some. So really cool stuff there.
  • Diagnosing page load speed issues, which goes right to what Jayson was talking about. You need that fast-loading page. Well, if you don’t have any technical skills, you can’t figure out why your page might not be loading quickly.
  • Diagnosing mobile friendliness issues
  • Advising app developers on the new protocols around App deep linking, so that you can get the content from your mobile apps into the web search results on mobile devices. Awesome. Super powerful. Potentially crazy powerful, as mobile search is becoming bigger than desktop.

Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath and relax. I don’t know Jayson’s intention, and in fact, if he were in this room, he’d be like, “No, I totally agree with all those things. I wrote the article in a rush. I had no idea it was going to be big. I was just trying to make the broader points around you don’t have to be a coder in order to do SEO.” That’s completely fine.

So I’m not going to try and rain criticism down on him. But I think if you’re reading that article, or you’re seeing it in your feed, or your clients are, or your boss is, or other folks are in your world, maybe you can point them to this Whiteboard Friday and let them know, no, that’s not quite right. There’s a ton of technical SEO that is required in 2015 and will be for years to come, I think, that SEOs have to have in order to be effective at their jobs.

All right, everyone. Look forward to some great comments, and we’ll see you again next time for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Pinpoint vs. Floodlight Content and Keyword Research Strategies – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When we’re doing keyword research and targeting, we have a choice to make: Are we targeting broader keywords with multiple potential searcher intents, or are we targeting very narrow keywords where it’s pretty clear what the searchers were looking for? Those different approaches, it turns out, apply to content creation and site architecture, as well. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand illustrates that connection.

Pinpoint vs Floodlight Content and Keyword Research Strategy Whiteboard

For reference, here are stills of this week’s whiteboards. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about pinpoint versus floodlight tactics for content targeting, content strategy, and keyword research, keyword targeting strategy. This is also called the shotgun versus sniper approach, but I’m not a big gun fan. So I’m going to stick with my floodlight versus pinpoint, plus, you know, for the opening shot we don’t have a whole lot of weaponry here at Moz, but we do have lighting.

So let’s talk through this at first. You’re going through and doing some keyword research. You’re trying to figure out which terms and phrases to target. You might look down a list like this.

Well, maybe, I’m using an example here around antique science equipment. So you see these various terms and phrases. You’ve got your volume numbers. You probably have lots of other columns. Hopefully, you’ve watched the Whiteboard Friday on how to do keyword research like it’s 2015 and not 2010.

So you know you have all these other columns to choose from, but I’m simplifying here for the purpose of this experiment. So you might choose some of these different terms. Now, they’re going to have different kinds of tactics and a different strategic approach, depending on the breadth and depth of the topic that you’re targeting. That’s going to determine what types of content you want to create and where you place it in your information architecture. So I’ll show you what I mean.

The floodlight approach

For antique science equipment, this is a relatively broad phrase. I’m going to do my floodlight analysis on this, and floodlight analysis is basically saying like, “Okay, are there multiple potential searcher intents?” Yeah, absolutely. That’s a fairly broad phase. People could be looking to transact around it. They might be looking for research information, historical information, different types of scientific equipment that they’re looking for.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b15fc96679b8.73854740.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Are there four or more approximately unique keyword terms and phrases to target? Well, absolutely, in fact, there’s probably more than that. So antique science equipment, antique scientific equipment, 18th century scientific equipment, all these different terms and phrases that you might explore there.

Is this a broad content topic with many potential subtopics? Again, yes is the answer to this. Are we talking about generally larger search volume? Again, yes, this is going to have a much larger search volume than some of the narrower terms and phrases. That’s not always the case, but it is here.

The pinpoint approach

For pinpoint analysis, we kind of go the opposite direction. So we might look at a term like antique test tubes, which is a very specific kind of search, and that has a clear single searcher intent or maybe two. Someone might be looking for actually purchasing one of those, or they might be looking to research them and see what kinds there are. Not a ton of additional intents behind that. One to three unique keywords, yeah, probably. It’s pretty specific. Antique test tubes, maybe 19th century test tubes, maybe old science test tubes, but you’re talking about a limited set of keywords that you’re targeting. It’s a narrow content topic, typically smaller search volume.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b160069eb6b1.12473448.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Now, these are going to feed into your IA, your information architecture, and your site structure in this way. So floodlight content generally sits higher up. It’s the category or the subcategory, those broad topic terms and phrases. Those are going to turn into those broad topic category pages. Then you might have multiple, narrower subtopics. So we could go into lab equipment versus astronomical equipment versus chemistry equipment, and then we’d get into those individual pinpoints from the pinpoint analysis.

How do I decide which approach is best for my keywords?

Why are we doing this? Well, generally speaking, if you can take your terms and phrases and categorize them like this and then target them differently, you’re going to provide a better, more logical user experience. Someone who searches for antique scientific equipment, they’re going to really expect to see that category and then to be able to drill down into things. So you’re providing them the experience they predict, the one that they want, the one that they expect.

It’s better for topic modeling analysis and for all of the algorithms around things like Hummingbird, where Google looks at: Are you using the types of terms and phrases, do you have the type of architecture that we expect to find for this keyword?

It’s better for search intent targeting, because the searcher intent is going to be fulfilled if you provide the multiple paths versus the narrow focus. It’s easier keyword targeting for you. You’re going to be able to know, “Hey, I need to target a lot of different terms and phrases and variations in floodlight and one very specific one in pinpoint.”

There’s usually higher searcher satisfaction, which means you get lower bounce rate. You get more engagement. You usually get a higher conversion rate. So it’s good for all those things.

For example…

I’ll actually create pages for each of antique scientific equipment and antique test tubes to illustrate this. So I’ve got two different types of pages here. One is my antique scientific equipment page.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b161fa871e32.54731215.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

This is that floodlight, shotgun approach, and what we’re doing here is going to be very different from a pinpoint approach. It’s looking at like, okay, you’ve landed on antique scientific equipment. Now, where do you want to go? What do you want to specifically explore? So we’re going to have a little bit of content specifically about this topic, and how robust that is depends on the type of topic and the type of site you are.

If this is an e-commerce site or a site that’s showing information about various antiques, well maybe we don’t need very much content here. You can see the filtration that we’ve got is going to be pretty broad. So I can go into different centuries. I can go into chemistry, astronomy, physics. Maybe I have a safe for kids type of stuff if you want to buy your kids antique lab equipment, which you might be. Who knows? Maybe you’re awesome and your kids are too. Then different types of stuff at a very broad level. So I can go to microscopes or test tubes, lab searches.

This is great because it’s got broad intent foci, serving many different kinds of searchers with the same page because we don’t know exactly what they want. It’s got multiple keyword targets so that we can go after broad phrases like antique or old or historical or 13th, 14th, whatever century, science and scientific equipment ,materials, labs, etc., etc., etc. This is a broad page that could reach any and all of those. Then there’s lots of navigational and refinement options once you get there.

Total opposite of pinpoint content.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b1622740f0b5.73477500.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Pinpoint content, like this antique test tubes page, we’re still going to have some filtration options, but one of the important things to note is note how these are links that take you deeper. Depending on how deep the search volume goes in terms of the types of queries that people are performing, you might want to make a specific page for 17th century antique test tubes. You might not, and if you don’t want to do that, you can have these be filters that are simply clickable and change the content of the page here, narrowing the options rather than creating completely separate pages.

So if there’s no search volume for these different things and you don’t think you need to separately target them, go ahead and just make them filters on the data that already appears on this page or the results that are already in here as opposed to links that are going to take you deeper into specific content and create a new page, a new experience.

You can also see I’ve got my individual content here. I probably would go ahead and add some content specifically to this page that is just unique here and that describes antique test tubes and the things that your searchers need. They might want to know things about price. They might want to know things about make and model. They might want to know things about what they were used for. Great. You can have that information broadly, and then individual pieces of content that someone might dig into.

This is narrower intent foci obviously, serving maybe one or two searcher intents. This is really talking about targeting maybe one to two separate keywords. So antique test tubes, maybe lab tubes or test tube sets, but not much beyond that.

Ten we’re going to have fewer navigational paths, fewer distractions. We want to keep the searcher. Because we know their intent, we want to guide them along the path that we know they probably want to take and that we want them to take.

So when you’re considering your content, choose wisely between shotgun/floodlight approach or sniper/pinpoint approach. Your searchers will be better served. You’ll probably rank better. You’ll be more likely to earn links and amplification. You’re going to be more successful.

Looking forward to the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it