Increase your content marketing ROI without spending more money

Intent data and micro-target segmentation can drive actionable results for your content marketing program

CIO Magazine recently put out an article about the use of intent data on content marketing.  While the article does a good job of introducing the concept of intent data for content marketing, in my opinion, I don’t think the article went far enough in providing actionable insights for CMOs and heads of content marketing.
Unlike even two years ago, content marketing has become much more saturated.  Nearly every business is, at least, attempting to implement some form of content marketing.  Most start with regularly posting to their blog.  As they begin to see initial results, the next question that comes into their minds is, “OK, now how do I get even more and better results?”.
A knee jerk reaction may be to increase blog posting frequency.  While this is likely to generate some scale, it is not the most efficient and ROI-maximizing approach available.
This is why I was excited to see the CIO Magazine’s article on applying intent data to content marketing programs.  I have always believed that if you get the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, marketing magic can happen.  Intent data can do a great job of defining the right audience.
Here are some techniques most B2B businesses can use to gather some intent data from their Google Analytics accounts.

Adding custom segments

Google provides a robust audience segmentation tool that allows user to tightly define an audience.  You can choose from a myriad of segmentation options including: demographic, behavioral, visitor origination location and much more.
Custom Reports Google Analytics for Content Marketing

Patterns before custom segments

While many companies have a pretty good understanding of their main target audience, what most don’t have a firm grasp of are the micro-target audiences, which lie hidden within the main target audience.  It is these micro-target audiences that you need to identify and observe.
This is where custom segmentation, within Google Analytics, comes into play.  For example, let’s say that my main target audience consists of females, between the ages of 25 and 45, residing in the United States, and who frequently eat dinner out of the home.
If I had entered all those data inputs first and created by custom segment, it would be difficult for me to uncover those potential micro-targets.  Instead, I should identify patterns using my conversion goals.  Here’s how:

  • Login to your Google Analytics account and select “Conversions”. Create a segment that just contains all “sessions with conversions”.  Don’t add anything else to this segment.
  • Go to “Behavior” and click on “Behavior Flow”.
  • Highlight behavior flow by selecting your segment called “sessions with conversions”. Now, you will be able to see how your converters entered your website and the path they took to ultimately converting.

Patterns and Conversions Google Analytics Content Marketing
This information can be used to determine what the converter’s intent was before they raised their hand and converted.  In the screenshot above, clearly the audience was interested in better understanding the company’s solution and wanted to receive samples.
As a marketer, I would want to use the information gleaned from this report and focus my A/B testing not on the landing pages that users are initially directed to, but to the samples and solutions pages.  It’s those that have arrived here have moved from the awareness stage to the interest stage of the purchase funnel, but have not yet taken action (conversion).
These are the people we want to focus on converting.  It’s also at this stage that actions you take can have a major impact on your bottom funnel conversion rates, without spending another dollar on media.
For content marketing purposes, we want to better understand these two pages and understand where those who abandoned here went.  Where they immediately went will help inform us on what deficiencies these pages have and what additional content and content marketing education we need to do to them.

Where micro-targets emerge

While the information that we have uncovered so far has strong value, in and of itself, what we’re after is micro-target audiences AND their intent.
We still have not broken down our converters further into micro-target audiences.  To do so, start by segmenting by the visitor’s source.  You can do that by clicking on the drop-down menu located in the top left-hand corner of your Behavior Flow.
Select either “Source” or “Source/Medium”.  Then, pick a source that you are interested in exploring further and highlight all traffic through that source.  Doing so will quickly help you identify which audiences are coming by source.
In the example below, I highlighted traffic that originated from Google.  Here, we can see that an interesting trend emerges.  Visitors who originated from Google were lower in the purchase decision funnel than other visitors.  This is apparent by seeing the high proportion of visitors, who went straight to the pricing page.
Micro Targets Google Analytics Content Marketing

Intent data + micro-target segmentation = content marketing success

Clearly, the messaging and/or medium used are driving prospective lower funnel visitors.  This is important because we have not only identified a micro-target audience, but we have determined intent.  You are now halfway to winning the conversion battle!
Having intent data at the micro-target audience level now gives you actionable data that you can implement in both your content marketing and demand generation programs.
CIO Review:
Google Analytics:

9 ways to reduce your bounce rate and increase page views with content marketing

Investing in content marketing should have a dramatic impact on your bounce rate (if your bounce rate is still high, there is likely an issue you’ll need to address).
Bounce rate is an important measure of your page’s ability to attract readers.
Bounce rate is the number of single-page visits to your site. The term essentially explains itself. Imagine a fly landing on your website, and leaving instantly after touching the ground – these are the types of visits you are looking to avoid.
Any internet browser will easily cite low-quality content as the simplest reason why a person will leave or “bounce.”
The good news is that bounce rate is not a very complicated concept. Better news than that is that decreased bounce rate will mean an increase in page views. Wow – you can fix two problems at once!
So how can you work on your page views and your bounce rate at the same time? Here are a few simple solutions:

Increase the quality of your content

No technique or superior analysis can beat great content. Quality content is the primary assurance that a browser will stay on to read your page and click your links. Choose the right language according to your target audience. The right words can best explain difficult or confusing concepts and give your readers the information they require.
Write articles that actually provide value to the reader, not just regurgitated nonsense. People are busy, and busy people don’t have time to read about concepts they already know.

Keywords unlock content performance

Swiping fingers will automatically pause when there is an interesting topic. It is your job as a content creator to figure out how to best formulate that topic into keywords. These couple of words when used in the title and headings will maximize SEO. Be sure to include your chosen keyword in the title and the first sentence.
Google places more emphasis on the beginning of the article as typically that tells the reader what they are about to read.

Ensure readability throughout your articles

Great content is even better when combined with essential keywords. However, the truly enjoyable read for browsers also comes in a consistent professional-looking format. You should also be mindful of general concerns. Make sure your site loads quickly and that it remains readable when accessed via smartphone. A great overall experience will make a reader stick to your page – and not bounce. Thus, readability should be the primary goal of any content creator.

Pace yourself by with blog series

For longer content or keywords that need room for optimum discussion, it would be wiser to create a series of articles. Don’t jam all the concepts at once. A series gives you the chance to decisively untangle complicated ideas. It gives readers the time to digest. This also gives you a better chance of convincing readers to click on for the next article in the series and other related links.

Use meta titles and meta descriptions for optimized content

Meta titles and meta descriptions should be given special focus because they appear on the search results page. Choose your keywords carefully and include them in your meta title and meta description. This will increase the chances of your page being found by anybody searching about the topic of your article.

Provide relevant links for SEO

There are two easy-to-follow rules when it comes to creating links. The first is that the phrase associated with the links be appropriate or related to the content. The second is that the links work.
There is no limit to the number of links you can include in your blog article as long as it adds value to your topic. Use both internal and external links and place your links in multiple spaces in your page.

  • Internal links should appear first to establish your site’s authority and broad content.
  • Post related and relevant blog articles at the bottom of your website pages.
  • Post featured blog articles or resources as a sidebar.

Use SEO plugins

Aside from using links, take advantage of SEO plugins. These help to expand the range of your source software using special functions for SEO, marketing, analyzing key performance indicators and many more.

Make your website secure: http vs. https

After the recent issues with data security, readers are very concerned with how their personal information is used. Make sure your website includes discussions that will placate their anxieties, which is especially true for pages that ask for these details.
The easiest way to secure your website is by making sure that you are linking to secure sources within your content. The same goes for internal links as well – make sure any internal links within the content or your website page are secure https website addresses.

Revitalize old blogs

Be it songs or movies, many old versions are still viable with just a few tweaks. This can also be said for your old blog articles. Check which ones are still generating traffic and make a few adjustments to keep them germane to your business. Start with updated information and examples, especially those that deal with technology. Add, remove or change links. Also, make sure the format is consistent with your new blog articles.
If you strive to work on all these aspects of your content, your page views will soar and your bounce rates will drop. You can also partner with a company that can expertly do all the heavy lifting. Tempesta Media has thousands of writers who can expertly work on your chosen keywords and ensure the optimum readability of your content.

A mobile-friendly website is the way to go

The benefits of a mobile-friendly website in an increasingly mobile world cannot be overstated. In 2014, a study by comScore revealed that Americans spend the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications, accounting for 7 of every 8 minutes of overall media consumption. Additional findings by Pew Research in 2015 showed nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. Seven percent of those smartphone owners are “smartphone-dependent” because they do not have home broadband service and have limited options for going online other than their mobile device.
Smartphones are the go-to device for Internet access. Clearly, there’s no longer a question of whether mobile marketing is important; statistics indicate it is important. Further, it must be. While mobile usability was a factor in Google’s search algorithm for years, as of April 21, 2015, Google required websites to be optimized for mobile users or fail to be found in a search. As Google stated, “If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But have no fear, once your site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.”
Being found during an online search is vital and a tremendous benefit for any company’s website. However, there are other benefits of a mobile-friendly site. Here are more:

Improved user experience

When a user accesses your site on a mobile device and he or she does not have to enlarge text or shift the screen to see content, you immediately engage that user. In common terms, the mobile site is “user friendly.” When a site is “user friendly” on a mobile device, the customer can just move forward with their actions in a way that meets their expectations and not spend any time thinking of about the nuts and bolts of the site. Thus, it is important to note that when converting or building a mobile-friendly site, load time, formatting and function should receive proper attention. Sites that are too difficult to read, load too slowly, freeze, crash or function in a way the user does not expect causes abandonment.
Research by KISSmetrics found 60 percent of mobile Internet users encountered at least one problem while browsing on a mobile device. The biggest issue (73%) was that the site was too slow to load. Abandonment increases in seconds. By four seconds, 25 percent of users leave. By six seconds, it jumps to 30 percent abandonment. To help speed up load time, use CSS instead of image files. CSS data is smaller in size than image file data. If you do use images, reduce the dimensions.
Because every phone and every screen is not the same, use a fluid layout. This allows the website to expand or stretch. Ditch Flash; use HTML and/or javascript instead. Consider the data URI scheme to embed data into HTML or CSS. This way you do not use any external files, thus reducing the number of HTTP requests. Use image sprites. These are collections of images within a single image. If, for example, you combine three images into one image, you reduce the number of server requests from three to one.

Rise in engagement

The research by KISSmetrics indicates “a mobile-optimized site is able to generate almost twice the average traffic per user than sites without mobile optimization.” For online-only retailers, they note that a mobile site can “increase consumer engagement by as much as 85 percent.”
Having a mobile-optimized site is also a way to target an audience, one that is mobile. Take advantage of this targeted group to facilitate business and generate greater returns and profits.
Create content that is specifically tailored for mobile devices. This improves the user experience and increases conversion rates. Testing and monitoring metrics helps determine what is and is not successful.
To reduce bounce rates, make the mobile site as “sticky” as possible so users stay. With touch-based mobile navigation in mind, make sure all important information and links are visible (30 to 40 pixels in size) and easy to click. A single column layout and mobile-friendly dropdowns make for best navigation. Keep the content precise, make the user experience seamless and offer mobile-exclusive features where appropriate such as direct call numbers.

Better conversion rates

Getting mobile traffic is one thing, but converting the user is into a customer is another. A study by Millward Brown, the world’s second largest market research organization after Nielsen Company, found that on average, consumers use 2.6 devices online to convert. That is because the way people use a desktop computer is different than a tablet or their phone. To get a better conversion rate from mobile device, research and understand what the customer is seeking on each device. What are the different things they expect from a desktop view? What can you then deliver on a mobile?
Having a mobile-friendly website puts a business ahead of the competition. Having a mobile-friendly website that works well, keeps the user engaged and converts them into a customer helps a business consistently beat the competition.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

Key web analytics to strengthen your content marketing

Content marketing programs need strong analytics to measure and maintain their effectiveness. In an era where there are countless things to measure, it is important to hone in on the right metric for your client. Leave the Facebook likes, Instagram followers and other kudos that add nothing to the bottom line to the Kardashians. A business needs to focus on web traffic and behavior that draws and sustains clients and sales.

What types of web analytics help zero in on strengths and weaknesses of a marketing campaign to refine it and make it even stronger? It may be fun to look at how many people visited a site, length of visit or the clicks on a piece of content. But that information does not tell a marketer what drove visitors to take action. More importantly, it does not tell what drove visitors to NOT take action.

Here are key metrics to focus on when analyzing and using data to measure and strengthen content marketing efforts:

Inbound traffic sources

How potential customers or clients get to the information presented – particularly content that generates more business – is one of the most important metrics to monitor. It shows both where the traffic came from and whether the traffic is the right kind.

A lot of visitors does not equate to bottom line boosts if the visitors are not really potential customers. A content marketing effort for a company striving to attract customers in the Northeast U.S. would be inefficient if a lot of the traffic and content readers came from outside the area.

Look at the types of web sites, types of social media platforms, and search tools that generated the most traffic as well as geographic data to determine if the content is resonating with the target audience. This should be done via a variety of means. If customers or clients click on the site to buy something or complete an online form, it is easier to track how they got there. But phone and foot traffic is trickier to capture. Depending on the type of business, it may be more important, so develop a mechanism to capture the information.

Also, keep an eye on what traffic is coming from mobile sources. If that is driving traffic, it is time to present content with mobile in mind.

The path taken

Content marketing analytics also need to focus on what readers did once they reached the article or post. This is an area that varies by type of industry and whether the site leads directly to sales, generates phone calls or is just trying to build awareness. However, an effective campaign will always look deeper into behavior on a site to help guide visitors to a desired action.

If online sales or completion of a form is the intended reader result, it is important to know where people abandon the process and determine why. Is there a requirement to create an account or a tedious form or other impediment driving them away? Or does most of the traffic flow smoothly once they start the transaction process?

Likewise, if a blog posting typically generates visits to other blog postings on your site, what content is most relevant to highlight and ensure links are there?

Conversely, content that gets lots of page views and has a high bounce rate is not bad if the area they bounce from contains the phone number and caller data indicates they saw an item online before calling. Likewise, unique visitors versus total visitors might be telling over time if potential customers typically visit the site several times before initiating a transaction.

User engagement that matters

Content marketing is an important tool in reaching, educating and engaging an audience. But, it is a continually evolving field. To be effective, a campaign requires a great strategy, great copy and great analytics. Metrics are an important part of the equation. But an effective content marketing effort takes time to resonate with an audience.

As noted in a recent Forbes article, “likes and tweets are great for distribution.” Real reader engagement is impact – whether immediate sales, word of mouth (retweets), reviews and, depending on the business, people in the door. In the end, the key analytic for a content marketing campaign is user engagement that adds to the bottom line.

If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

 Looking for help with your content marketing efforts? Tempesta Media is a managed services provider of custom content for digital agencies, website developers and PR firms. We can help you and your clients put content marketing to work on your clients’ sites. Contact us to learn more about our services.

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