In a recent white paper we created about health care data, we borrowed from Dr. Seuss: “Data here, data there, data going everywhere. Near and far, far or near, data going out my ear.” It’s pretty safe to say that statement is true for all industries today, especially marketing.
The burning question is: “How are we using our data?” Or, from a more proactive standpoint: “How do we use our data to drive us, not drown us?”
When it comes to creating great content, we’ve all heard the golden rule: Provide content not about what you think your target audience should know about, but about what they want to know about. Often that is much easier said than done because we tend to assume we know what our audience wants. But have we ever taken the time to confirm those assumptions?
Last year, my team noticed a decline in blog views, downloads and website visits. We analyzed the reasons why this was occurring. Most likely, it was a combination of factors, but there were a couple of things that really seemed to stand out to us.
As we dove into our service offerings and the content we provided around those, in addition to topics our target audience cared about, there were some things we discovered. It led us to dig into what consumers’ online activity could tell us about our content. We decided to truly take a look at things from the “voice of the customer.”
Search Queries Versus Keywords
As we researched keywords and search terms, it quickly became crystal clear that many consumers were calling our services something different than what we were calling our services. For example, we had referred to our main service as “data abstraction” for what seems like eons. However, our customers are searching for help with “chart abstraction.” This adjustment has been a game-changer for us.
Our keyword analysis also showcased which of our services were searched for most often. Wow, the power of something as simple as a word or two! We compiled all our current keywords, as well as other terms that are commonly used in our industry, and we ranked them by average monthly search volume. Just by tweaking certain terms on our website pages and keywords in our Google Ads, we quickly saw an improvement in analytics — and in our search engine optimization (SEO).
Use what you learn through search term reviews and keyword research to produce more detailed content that is relevant to what consumers are searching for. Use the queries and terms your audience and prospects are entering to drill down into the weeds, rather than producing content that is broad and generic. This allows you to write about exactly what their pain points and questions are.
Google Ads Analysis
After comparing keywords to actual search queries and applying that valuable discovery, we took a look at our Google Ads. We uncovered a similar situation. The Google Ads we assumed most important to our target audience were actually some of our lowest-performing ads.
This led us to a test to start creating content around search terms and keywords that were resulting in our highest click-through rates (CTRs). It wasn’t long before we saw an uptick in activity. The takeaway here is to truly monitor which topics are generating the most engagement and customize your ads around those.
Just as with all marketing efforts, it is critical to have a clear goal. Do the services and/or products you want to emphasize align with search query results? If not, how can you use the right keywords to bring them value and attract the audience you are targeting?
Once you determine which keywords you should be developing your ads around, ensure that all parts work together. Do your ad, the URL, the description, the landing page and any other content associated with that ad all align?
Another thing to keep in mind (which I mentioned briefly above) is to target keywords with decent search volumes. While your content won’t be found if no one is searching the keyword, it can go the other way, too — high-search-volume keywords are often difficult to compete with. This is why it is so important to continually test to determine what is right for your company.
The next step is to constantly monitor and refine. This is done by watching search queries to see how people are finding your site and by adding keywords as needed. You can also add negative keywords from those searches until you’re confident you are in front of the correct audience for your organization.
Once you have enough data — after about six months — you will be able to measure what is working and what isn’t so that you can create new ads based on that information or edit existing ads for better performance.
That is not to say you won’t see a difference sooner in some cases. When we made those minor, but crucial, changes to our content, we saw a considerable increase in activity across the board. Not only did these realizations and changes lead us to produce stronger content, but it also positively affected our organic ranking and resulted in higher CTRs on our digital ads. It’s astonishing to see how what one consumer types in a search bar can affect what words we use in our blogs, our ads and our social media posts — well, quite frankly, all of our content.
Never assume you know best. No matter how much of a subject matter expert you are, truly take the time to listen to your customers and understand how they are looking for the information they need. From the beginning to the end, data should not only lead your digital strategy, but it should also be the driver in your content strategy. This can lead you to greater results in all your marketing efforts.
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