6 lessons on growing digital audience from the team behind Traffic Think Tank - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 11, 2019 1:19 pm

6 lessons on growing digital audience from the team behind Traffic Think Tank

A step-by-step guide to help companies integrate their digital strategies, build editorial plans to own topics within their niches and more to bring more eyes to their websites.

(Photo via Facebook)

It’s 2019 and you have a website because you have to.

It no longer sets you apart from your competitors. You have one because it’s now a requirement to exist as a company. But based on what we know about the web, there’s a good chance probably don’t have enough traffic coming to your website.

Within Traffic Think Tank, our private-membership marketing community, we’ve been speaking with employees at major brands like Uber, Typeform, HubSpot and Condé Nast to help solve this problem. Believe it or not, they have this problem, too.

It doesn’t matter what industry or niche you’re in, your customers are using Google to find answers and inform their purchasing decisions.

In an effort to bring this conversation to life, we hosting a new event in Philadelphia called Traffic Think Tank LIVE on Jan. 26. This one-day, single-track event will bring together a collection of the world’s leading marketing experts. Traffic Think Tank LIVE will focus on delivering tactical sessions on search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, conversion optimization and analytics. You can RSVP here.

Leading up to the event, we were excited to work with Technical.ly to share some of the critical lessons we’ve learned over the years, which we wanted to share with others facing these challenges.

This is a list of critical skills you need to optimize online. And we’ve included useful resources and the related sessions happening at Traffic Think Tank that you might be interested in.

We hope to see you there.

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1. Integrate digital strategy across all relevant channels.

One of the first mistakes that many marketers make is to try and optimize for every online channel possible. You may have done this yourself in the past and felt yourself questioning the value of the content you’re producing. The reality is that while your audience may be present on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., it doesn’t mean you need to build fully fledged campaigns to target users in all of these places.

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Creating a successful digital strategy requires more than simply being everywhere. It requires you to balance the resources you have against the opportunity within each channel and creating a strategy that works for both of these factors.

If you have minimal marketing resources, both in terms of marketing budget and people to support with the execution of the work, it’s far more efficient to double down on one or two of your most important channels vs. spread those few resources thinly across a wide range of channels. Even when you do have large amounts of resources to throw at marketing, you can very quickly drain through that seven-figure paid marketing budget with a shotgun approach to targeting.

This all sounds logical, right? Well, now you’ll need to move on and do some quick analysis to find out which channels you should be focused on. Here’s are a couple of ways that I go through this process:

  1. Go through Google Analytics and take a look at the Channels report (click on Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels) and you’ll be able to see which channels are contributing the largest volumes of traffic to your website right now.
  2. Use competitive analysis tools like SimilarWeb, Ahrefs, and SEMrush to look at the estimated traffic from different channels to each of your competitors. If organic search is your biggest channel, looking at how much organic traffic your competitors are getting is a great way to quickly scope out the potential opportunity ahead.

Useful resources:

2. Set up your funnel effectively.

If you’re going to double-down on driving traffic to your website, you’ll want to make sure it’s being utilized to actually create business for you. Every piece of content that you create should have a purpose. That purpose should be that it influences a conversion at some stage in your marketing funnel.

Generally speaking, it’s important to have content that will support each stage in the sales process. From the top of the funnel, with more informational/educational content, through to the bottom of the funnel with more sales enablement content (for example, case studies). Whether you’re in ecommerce, lead generation, SaaS or any other variant of business type, all of your content should have a goal and that goal must be measured.

We had a fantastic webinar with Jeff Sauer, an expert in analytics, within our online community, Traffic Think Tank, that was focused quite heavily on this. One of the tools that Jeff advocates for is Google Data Studio (and we agree!), and he put together a great tutorial on building out reports that help track your funnel in Data Studio.

Useful resources:

Related sessions @ Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019:

3. Understand the organic search opportunity.

When it comes to organic search, and more specifically SEO, keyword research is possibly one of the most important skills to develop. Having strong keyword research skills will arm you with the ability to execute on a whole host of content analysis. This is something that is probably one of the most popular discussion topics within Traffic Think Tank, and if you’re curious as to some of the more advanced aspects related to keyword research, check out Traffic Think Tank cofounder Nick Eubanks’ video that he shot talking through a template that we created for members to do quite advanced analysis.

Calculating the total potential traffic that you can go after within your niche is, in my opinion, one of the most important starting points of any SEO campaign. Give this video from fellow Traffic Think Tank member, Ryan Stewart, a watch to see how you can do just that:

Useful resources:

Related sessions @ Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019:

4. Build an editorial plan to own topics within your niche.

Once you have a good understanding of which keywords you’re prioritizing to rank for, you’ll need to build content that can actually rank for them. The intent behind each keyword — that is, the expectation that the searcher has from content they click on after performing a search — is incredibly important to factor in here. It doesn’t matter how “good” your content is; if it doesn’t actually match what the user is after, it’ll never rank well.

For example, let’s take a search like “best marketing tools.” If you’ve built a marketing tool, you’d probably be thinking that this is a perfect query for one of your product pages to rank for. The answer is yes and no. The fact that the searcher is looking for the “best” marketing tools implies that they’re in the early staging of comparing products, so want to see a selection vs. just pages with individual vendors.

This is why when you search for “best marketing tools” in Google, it’s primarily listicles showing the “top 10” or “top 50” tools that rank. Nick wrote a great article that touched on some of the things my team at HubSpot have been doing to tackle this.

This is just one example of how you need to be thinking about context when creating content.

Useful resources:

Related sessions @ Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019: 

5. Use all available data sources to create your own business intelligence.

There is so much information available online that, with the right skills, you can extract and put to work in order to arm you with more information to boost the success of your online campaigns.

One of our recent big talking points within Traffic Think Tank was around data scraping, a technique used for extracting large sets of data from web pages in next to no time at all.

You can use data scraping for things like:

  • Creating a competitive price tracker to pull in the prices of all of your competitors’ products every day (or more frequently if you like)
  • Extracting social and email data on influencers
  • Extracting the word count and publish date of your content so you can do deeper content analysis

I wrote a tutorial a couple of years ago that walked through how to create a competitive price tracker using data scraping that could be a useful introduction to the topic.

Alongside data scraping, you can use a plethora of free (and some paid) APIs to pull in extra data to help you do better competitor analysis, come up with new content ideas and even automate large processes that were once very time-consuming (and cost you a lot of money).

This talk from Paul Shapiro, a Traffic Think Tank member and speaker at Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019, is a more advanced run-through of some of the things that automation via APIs can achieve…

Useful resources:

Related sessions @ Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019:

6. Effectively promote your content.

Building out complex keyword research documents, turning those into fully fledged editorial campaigns and then developing that plan into actual content is just the beginning: From the moment you hit the “publish” button, the hard work begins.

You now need to get people to see it.

I could write an entire article dedicated to this one section, but if we were to focus on the most important things for content to perform well (i.e. rank highly) in the search engines, it would boil down to this:

  • It matches the intent of the query
  • It loads quickly and can be accessed on a range of devices
  • It gets shared by those that consume it
  • It earns backlinks

These last two are incredibly important for ranking well in the search engines, but in particular, backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO. If your website doesn’t have links from other websites, it will not rank highly in the search engines. Anyone that owns a website and has tried to rank for a competitive keyword will have learned this lesson pretty quickly.

Along with keyword research, link building is one of the most popular discussion points inside Traffic Think Tank.  Just check out our list of the most popular discussion topicsOne skill that some of the best link builders in SEO have is the ability to engineer PR to earn links, and one of the best in the business for this is Dmitry Dragilev, founder of JustReachOut and a Traffic Think Tank member. Watch this recent interview with Dmitry where he touches on this topic:

Useful resources:

Related sessions @ Traffic Think Tank LIVE 2019:

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