Applying the 80/20 Rule to Search Keywords

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Whether we are talking about paid search or organic SEO efforts, not all keywords should be treated equally.

If we apply the 80/20 Rule, which states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, to your search keywords, we assume that 80% of all traffic to your website will come from just 20% of your keywords.

In truth, if your company is like the majority of others, the ratio is a bit more dramatic – closer to 90/10.

Prove It

At this point, some of you will not believe me. Others will have already heard this before.

Regardless of how you feel about the numbers provided above, it is important that you find out the truth for your business. And there are a number of tools available to help you do just that.

First, you can go to the person responsible for your SEO and PPC. Those may be two different people. They may be people outside of your company. Regardless, the tools that they use to track and optimize their efforts will have all the information necessary to judge what percentage of all the keywords they’re targeting bring in the majority of search traffic.

For those of you who are doing this for yourself, you can use Google Ads or Google Analytics reports to find the true ratio for your company. Look at the last 30 or 90 days and export a full list of the keywords that brought in traffic. Sort it from highest to lowest and then simply do the math.

How many keywords, out of all the ones searched, does it take to get to 80% of all traffic?

Why Does it Matter?

Now that you have proved to yourself, and your boss, that the majority of search traffic is coming in to your website on a limited number of total keywords, it’s time to let that inform your decision making.

A lot of efforts are focused on keyword expansion. And while this strategy is not misguided unto itself, the numbers above should suggest to us that this is not always the wisest initial option. The much bigger impact can be made by focusing your efforts on the keywords with the highest traffic.

You can capture even more traffic from those keywords – or acquire the traffic more efficiently – in a number of different ways.

  1. Why pay for the traffic if you can get it for free? If you know which keywords you’re spending the most money on in paid search, you should start targeting those keywords in your SEO efforts. If you can turn paid traffic into organic traffic, you save money that you can put toward other uses.
     
  2. Find out who is outbidding you. It’s likely your competitors are driving traffic from those very same keywords. But if you know who they are and what they are doing, you can compete and win a higher percentage of total search traffic.
     
  3. Rise up the first page. You may already be getting organic clicks to your site from high volume keywords if you are on page one. But that doesn’t mean your work is done. With each position you rise toward the coveted top spot, the percentage of total search traffic goes up almost exponentially. So don’t settle for page one, aim for position one.

What if Traffic isn’t the Point?

Traffic isn’t always the point. In fact, unless you are a publisher that derives their income from ad impressions, traffic is rarely ever the point.

Your aim is something else. Conversions.

Whether conversions mean leads, sales, donations, contacts, or anything else, you want traffic that takes action. And so instead of measuring which keywords lead to the most traffic, simply measure which keywords lead to the most conversions, using the same tools discussed earlier.

By gaining a deeper understanding of where your best traffic is coming from, you can refine your search efforts and spend your time on those activities that truly move the needle.

Is Your Brand Making the Right First Impression?

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As marketers, we have to care about the way potential customers experience our company. These are the consumers in the marketplace who are not necessarily aware yet of our brand, so they don’t know what we do, or how good our products are.

Just like in our daily lives as human beings, where we only get one chance to make a first impression, so it is with our brands. Potential customers only ever become aware of you once. And once they form an impression, it is going to be expensive to get them to change it. So it’s critical that the first impression is the best one.

But what do most first impressions look like?

There are two big ways that consumers come into contact with brands for the first time.

  1. Advertising – consumers see an ad. It could be a billboard or an only banner, a newspaper or magazine ad, a radio or tv spot, or one of a thousand other advertising channels. But before they ever visit your website or walk into your store, they are responding to that advertisement.
     
  2. Word of Mouth – consumers hear about your company from someone in their lives, friends, family, coworkers, relatives. They might be customers of yours or just familiar with your products. They might have good things to say or bad, and they’re in complete control of the first impression your brand makes on this new consumer.

People may argue that there are a million other ways consumers encounter brands for the first time. However, most are variations of the two above. 99.999% of consumers are not visiting your website or walking into your store if they’ve never heard of you before.

So what does this tell marketers?

If you care about the impression that your brand is making, these are the areas you need to focus. You need to devote the time and energy required to making sure all of your advertising creative meets your high expectations. Nothing goes out that does not send the right signal. We should never be half-hearted about our advertising.

Second, you need to devote just as much time and energy to ensuring that your company lives up to the promises it makes to customers. Why? Because that’s how you control word of mouth.

Your customers are talking about you. What are they going to say?

One Final Consideration

The second half of any first impression may be as important as the first, and so deserves a mention here. If the first half of the first impression is any good, the second half is a visit (to your store or to your website).

You can still lose them at the visit stage if you don’t live up to their expectations. Whether it was an advertisement or word of mouth that this person is responding to, they will come with a sense of the promises your company makes. Again, it becomes critical to keep them.

Wow people once, and you will win their business. Wow them again and again, and you will win their loyalty.

Make Your Calls to Action Active

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What is a call to action?

A call to action in the marketing context is a piece of content (graphic or text) intended to get a prospect to perform a specific act. This can be in the form of calling, clicking, submitting a form, etc. to get more information or make a purchase.

Every advertisement, web page, and email should have a call to action. This is the “ask”. It’s the thing you want people to do.

What makes a good call to action?

We measure the effectiveness of a call to action by looking at what percentage of people actually take the necessary next step. If your call to action is intended to get people to call, how many people actually did? If your call to action is intended to get people to visit your website, how many people actually did?

A good call to action is:

  1. Clear – it should be obvious what you want me to do next.
  2. Concise – keep it short and sweet.
  3. Captivating – it should grab my attention and get me to act.

A good call to action is active. What I mean by that is that it makes the prospect the subject of the action, and it suggests doing something. Let’s look at a few examples to better understand active calls to action:

  • Free Trial (this might sound like an enticing offer, but as a call to action is not active)
  • Sign Up for Your Free Trial (see how much better that is?)
  • Learn More (this is active, but “learn” is not an activity that is easy to measure or quantify)
  • Click Here to Learn More (this is active, and includes a direct activity in “click”)
  • Next (not active)
  • Continue or Submit (this is technically active, but it’s dull)
  • Get Started (much better)

You can see from the examples above, and the thousands of other examples all over the web, that there are a variety of different calls to action companies use – both good and bad. But when you make your call to action active, you entice a person to take that next step. You put them in control, and add a level of engagement that non-active calls to action do not match.

Will Amazon Take Market Share from Google and Facebook?

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Last week, we posted about the growing importance of Google and Facebook in the online advertising space. Today, let us consider another giant of the new economy that – though many might not think of them in this way – has a chance to eat into the market share dominance of the other two.

Amazon as Advertising Platform

When we think of Amazon, we probably don’t think of them in terms of digital advertising. We think of them as an ecommerce store where one can buy everything from books to clothes to furniture. We think of them as a technology company – responsible for a line of smart devices (Echos, Fires, TV). Businesses might even think of them as a provider of cheap cloud services.

But the truth is, Amazon has the potential to be an important player in online advertising. The reason why is because they have the three big things that any great platform needs to have:

  1. A large, engaged community
  2. Loads of consumer behavior data
  3. A place to display ads

Recently, Amazon has been courting advertisers for several new advertising programs run by the Amazon Media Group, the department responsible for turning Amazon into an advertising powerhouse.

Brands can display product ads in category searches, on product pages, across Amazon’s network of third-party sites, on Amazon’s shopping app, and more. Shoppers are targeted based on their prior purchases and browsing habits – all of which Amazon has been collecting and storing for years to offer better product recommendations and offers.

With so many people now turning to Amazon for their shopping, it is no wonder they are looking to capitalize not just through sales of their own goods. Advertising has the potential to turn into a serious new revenue source for the company that long ago launched as an online bookstore.

While it may be difficult to imagine any company taking market share away from Google and Facebook when it comes to online advertising, Amazon has the right combination of factors going for it to do just that. Could the big two become the big three?

The Growing Importance of Google and Facebook

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If you are in the marketing world, you probably already know what I am about to say. You probably think that I’m a few years late with this post…

But here’s why it’s still timely – the problem (if you consider it a problem) is getting worse.

I’m talking of course about the growing importance of Google and Facebook. These two behemoths are collectively responsible for over 60% of digital advertising revenue in the United States. No other company accounts for more than 5%.

Google and Facebook are not just Google and Facebook. They are Instagram, Whatsapp, YouTube, Gmail, DoubleClick, and more. And they continue to gobble up smaller companies for their technology and platforms all the time.

It would not come as a surprise to see the market share of these two companies continue to grow in coming years, based on existing trends. Could they own 70% of the online ad marketing? 80%? 90%?

What are the implications of two companies controlling such a large percentage of the advertising market?

We are already seeing the publishing industry suffer for it. Every other company/website that relies on advertising dollars to survive is going to struggle to compete for those dollars when more and more of them are going to these giants.

And for advertisers themselves, it could mean higher prices and increased competition. With fewer options to go to for prospecting, you will find that you are competing not just within your own industry but against all companies aiming to make the most out of those two largest channels.

If you are not feeling the squeeze now, you will soon. So make sure you know how to optimize and get the most out of these critical sources of new customers.