Traffic Mastery


Move Over SEO: How Developers Can Generate You More Traffic

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I’m a marketer. I know more about traffic generation than most others, and I surely know more about marketing than developers.

But what if I told you that developers can generate you more traffic than an SEO or any other type of marketer?

And no, it’s not because the developer implements changes to your site… they are just able to produce more traffic.

What’s crazy about this is that it’s cheaper in the long run than paying marketers.

Most of you know that I have an ad agency, Neil Patel Digital. And although I always want more big companies to pay us, typically a developer can generate you more traf… Read More


How to Transform Cold Leads into Sales Conversations Using LinkedIn

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If you’re not active on LinkedIn, you could be missing out on 80% of your leads.

I know that’s a bold statement, but I wanted to get your attention.

If you’re a B2B marketer or salesperson, LinkedIn is your Pacific Ocean. It’s the biggest body of water there is—the one with the most fish, and the biggest fish.

80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

Think about that statistic another way.

If LinkedIn accounts for 80% of all B2B leads, and you’re not using it right now… that means you’re only getting 20% of the results you could be getting.

So if you start leveraging LinkedIn to effectively generate new business, then you should be able to 5x your lead flow—from 20% up to 100%.

Sound like a good idea to you?

Great. And I’ve got even more good news for you: in this post, I’m going to show you how to do exactly that.

I’m going to walk you through the 7 steps of creating an all-star LinkedIn profile, and then I’m going to show you how to leverage this awesome platform to make valuable connections that result in new leads and sales conversations.

Why You Need to Use LinkedIn

Let’s look at why LinkedIn is such a critical network. For one thing, it’s huge. It recently passed the half-a-billion user mark (546 million, to be exact), and continues to sprint toward its goal of having 3.3 billion members (one for every person in the workforce worldwide).

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t one of those 546 million, what are you waiting for?

It’s the only big social network that is 100% professional in nature. This is not a place where you’ll find cat videos and vacation pictures. LinkedIn is a network that’s designed to help you find a new job, connect with prospects, and host your professional footprint online.

Those 2 things put together—LinkedIn’s professional nature and its huge size—make it an essential tool for any B2B marketer or salesperson. There’s simply no other place online where you can connect with professionals so effectively and on such a massive scale.

And like I said before: 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

That stat pretty much says it all.

7 Steps to Creating an All-Star LinkedIn Profile

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to use LinkedIn to generate new leads, it’s a good idea to take some time to clean up your profile. After all, your profile is the first thing people are going to see when you connect with them.

(RELATED: The DigitalMarketer Podcast Episode 7: Why You Should be Using LinkedIn to Boost Sales and Brand Image)

So let’s start things off by making sure you have an all-star LinkedIn profile. To do it, follow these 7 steps:

1. Do Not, I Repeat, Do NOT be Unprofessional

Considering LinkedIn is a professional network, you might assume that most people would realize that means you have to display yourself in a professional manner.

Your profile is the first thing people are going to see when you connect with them.

You’d be wrong.

So let’s start things off by just making sure you aren’t doing anything really, really stupid. This is what we call picking the low-hanging fruit.

Double-check your LinkedIn profile and remove all of the following:

Unprofessional profile pictures…

Unprofessional descriptions…

References to being a ninja (Can we stop being Ninja’s, y’all? Aren’t we past this?)…

More unprofessional profile pictures (Seriously, save your college frat party pictures for Facebook)…

Unprofessional summaries that you copied from Tinder…

And whatever this is…

Feel free to chuckle—some of these were pretty funny—but don’t ignore the lesson here. These are serious mistakes that will completely undermine your authority on LinkedIn. So don’t do them.

Be professional!

2. Get a Decent-Looking Headshot and Banner Image

So first things first: get a recent headshot (no catfishing). And keep in mind, pictures in LinkedIn are small, so it should not be a group shot. You should be the only one in the picture (taking up about 60% of the frame), and you should dress appropriately to the audience you serve.

Another thing you really ought to do—most people miss out on this opportunity—is customize your banner image at the top. Most people are still using the generic banner that comes standard on all LinkedIn profiles:

But I highly recommend updating that and using a customized image that stands out and helps build your credibility. Here’s mine:

The cool thing about a banner photo like this is that it’s also a conversation starter! When people see this photo they’ll often ask about it, where was I, what kind of event was it, and so on. And that leads very naturally into a sales conversation (since the photo is of me at one of our T&C events).

These 2 pictures are the first thing people will see when they click on your profile, so make sure they look good.

3. Remember Your Headline is Not Just Your Job Title

Here’s another thing that a lot of people miss when filling out their profile:

Your headline is not just your job title.

Yes, you should probably mention your job title. But this is one of the most visible parts of your profile. Take advantage of the space you have to call out who you’re looking to connect with.

Here’s how I do it:

I do include my job title, but before that I say, “Executive Sales Leader”—because that’s who I’m looking to connect with.

You could put anything here. If your prospect is agency owners, put “Agency Expert.” If your prospect is small local businesses, put “Consultant for Small Local Businesses.”

You get the idea.

(NOTE: Want to make extra sure that your LinkedIn profile is the best representation of you and is helping you generate the most leads possible? Download your FREE 10-Point LinkedIn Audit for a detailed checklist for turning your profile into a lead-generating machine. Learn more here!)

4. Tell a Story with Your Summary

The summary is yet another part of your LinkedIn profile that’s commonly a missed opportunity.

Most people’s summaries are very bland and boring: “Developer with a demonstrated history of providing valuable contributions to a variety of…”


Nobody wants or needs you to rehash your qualifications, or even list out your greatest qualities. After all, you’ve got a line-by-line account of your job history further down the page, and those great qualities would be much better demonstrated in your endorsements and recommendations. PLUS, these summaries are searchable, so you will be more likely to come up in someone’s search with a good summary.

The point of your summary should be to put all that other stuff into context. You have 2000 characters (and you should use it all) to tell a story about your life and career. Why do you do what you do? Why is it important? Why does it get you fired up?

Here’s my summary for an example:

See how I’m telling a story?

This kind of summary goes a long way in building some rapport with the people who come to your profile. They start to see you as a human being, and not just a bulleted list of generic adjectives. I have 20 people every week who reach out to connect just because they read my summary and feel connected to my mission.

5. Add Media to Build Credibility

You also have the opportunity to add some media to your profile. This is something you don’t see on most profiles, but trust me—adding visual resources like this can go a long way in helping you to show people what you’re all about.

They show up at the bottom of your summary in thumbnails, like this:

Pictures like this help to paint a better picture of what it is you do. Bonus points if your media also helps to build credibility, like a photo of you presenting something onstage.

6. Post Relevant Content and See Who’s Engaging With it

LinkedIn is a great place to post content that’s relevant to your ideal prospects. When you do, it will show up under the “Articles & activity” section of your profile.

Content is a HUGE part of making LinkedIn work for lead generation. I’m going to dig into that topic in greater detail in just a bit, so for right now I’m just going to say that you should be posting relevant content to engage with your ideal prospects.

7. Get Endorsements and Recommendations

If you’re a regular visitor here at DM, you’re probably familiar with social proof—the idea that the best way to build credibility is not to brag about yourself, but to get other people to do it for you. Third-party endorsements and recommendations are always more believable and compelling than anything you say about yourself.

And fortunately, LinkedIn makes it really easy to get those kinds of third-party testimonials.

In the “Skills & Endorsements” section, LinkedIn will display your most relevant skills (which you get to choose) along with the number of people who have endorsed you for that skill. Your goal with endorsements should be to reach 99+, like I have here:

The endorsements section is probably the easiest to spruce up. The best tactic is to go out and endorse other people for the skills they excel at. Most people will return your endorsements in kind.

The second place where you can leverage third-party credibility is in the “Recommendations” section. Here is where you can display positive comments made by other LinkedIn members about their experience working with you:

A few glowing recommendations can go a long way in improving your LinkedIn profile. Especially if your recommendations come from well-known people in your industry, that stamp of approval is going to build a lot of credibility for anyone looking at your profile.

So how do you get recommendations on LinkedIn? Simple: just go out and ask for them.

Talk to people you’ve worked with, people you have a good relationship with, people who are leaders in your industry that you’ve done good work for, and ask them to write you a quick recommendation. You might be surprised by how many will respond.

How LinkedIn Fits in With the Sales Process

Earlier in this post, I wrote that if you do any sort of B2B marketing or selling, you have to use LinkedIn.

Notice the wording I used there. I said, “You have to USE LinkedIn.”

I didn’t say, “You have to be on LinkedIn.” Everybody is “on” LinkedIn.

But only a small fraction of savvy marketers and salespeople actually USE it effectively.

It’s a small distinction, but a critical one.

And that’s why, if you want to be one of the small percentages of people who extract the overwhelming majority of new business out of LinkedIn, you have to change the way you think about this network altogether. You have to stop thinking of it as your online resume and start thinking of it as an online channel to do these 2 things:

Everybody is “on” LinkedIn. But only a small fraction of savvy marketers and salespeople actually USE it effectively.

Post content that is relevant to your ideal prospects
Connect with the right people in the right industries and positions

If you do these 2 things on LinkedIn on a regular basis, it will help you to keep your sales pipeline full at all times.

(And the best salespeople will tell you that THAT—keeping their pipeline full at all times—is the real key to sales success.)

So let’s unpack those 2 things and how to accomplish them.

Step 1: Post Relevant Content

The best way I’ve found of reaching potential leads and starting sales conversations with them is to consistently post content.

If you post high-quality, targeted content that speaks to your ideal prospect, that content is going to naturally find its way into the activity feeds of the people you want to talk to the most. And it’s going to make it much easier for you to get a conversation started with those people and direct that conversation in the direction you want it to go.

This is a process that you can refine over time. Start by posting content, and then view the stats for that content to see if you’re reaching the right people.

For example, this post of mine did really well in terms of reach. It generated over 42,000 views, 3,100 likes, 350 comments, and 800 shares:

So, that’s pretty cool. But who are those 42,000 people who read the article? Are they the kind of people I’m trying to connect with?

You can find that out by clicking “View stats.” Do that, and LinkedIn will show you a detailed breakdown of who viewed and shared your content:

So you can see this particular article generated engagement all over the place: from recruiters, strategists, CEOS, marketing specialists, and more.

If those are the kinds of people I’m trying to reach—then that’s good news! This article is working well, and I should post more just like it.

If those aren’t the kinds of people I’m trying to reach—that’s OK. It’s a data point. And it’s incredibly valuable data because it tells me whether or not my content is resonating with the right kind of person. If you’re trying to reach decision-makers, for example, then they should be the ones reading your content (Partners, Owners, VPs, C-level executives, etc.).

There are several ways I can rework the piece to reach the right people. Maybe I should try repositioning the article or rewriting the headline to speak more to my desired audience and see if that helps me.

And when someone reads a post of yours on LinkedIn, it becomes a lot easier for you to connect and start a conversation with that person. Which brings us to…

Step 2: Connect With The Right People

Ultimately you want to use LinkedIn to connect with potential leads and open up sales conversations with them.

So how do you do that?

Well, it becomes a lot easier if you follow my advice and post relevant content that reaches your ideal prospects.

For one thing, it can lead to profile views if someone reads your article and wants to learn more about the person who wrote it. When that happens, they’ll show up under “Who viewed your profile.”

And if you’re posting content regularly, this section of LinkedIn should give you a never-ending list of people you can reach out to.

Another way to connect with people is to jump to the “Notifications” section. To get there, just click the bell at the top of the screen.

Here you’ll see a list of everyone who has interacted with your posts on LinkedIn.

This is another great list of people to connect with because they’ve already read and engaged with something you’ve put out there. You have a common interest and a conversation starter.

OK, so now we’ve talked about some of the places you can go to find people to connect with. Your next question might be: How do you actually connect with people? Should you just send them a connection request and launch straight into your sales pitch?

In a word, no.

Keep in mind, people are used to getting spammy pitches these days and they won’t hesitate to close your message and ignore you forever if they think that’s what you’re doing.

A much better strategy is to reach out to people with a personalized message. You can do this with mutual connections (you can find this right on the person’s profile)…

…or you can reach out to new connections directly through their profile.

But make sure you use and personalize the 300-character message when requesting a connection.

This will set you apart and give the person some context to who they are, so they will be more likely to accept.

This is a much better way of starting a conversation.

(RELATED: The 5-Message Sequence: A LinkedIn Marketing Strategy that Generated $101k+ in 9 Months)

And you can make this even MORE effective by leveraging “Active Status” to start conversations with people only when you know they’re online and available right now. Active Status shows up as a green dot in the in the lower-right part of your profile picture.

Those are some of the basics of using LinkedIn to find and connect with good prospects. But once you get the hang of those basics, I highly recommend upgrading to something called LinkedIn Sales Navigator to really get the most out of this network.

(NOTE: Want to make extra sure that your LinkedIn profile is the best representation of you and is helping you generate the most leads possible? Download your FREE 10-Point LinkedIn Audit for a detailed checklist for turning your profile into a lead-generating machine. Learn more here!)

How to Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Connect with Your Ideal Prospects

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has probably been the best investment that I’ve made personally and for my team. So yes, it does cost some money. But if you use it to its full potential, it’s well worth every penny.

When you log into Sales Navigator, you’ll see a feed. This feed will be empty at first until you start saving leads. Here’s mine:

So how do you find leads? Basically, just search for them—click “Advanced” in the search bar and click on “Search for leads”:

A window will pop up showing you all kinds of ways to search for people based on their location, industry, title, seniority level, and so on.

And the great thing about this tool is that because LinkedIn has so many users, you can get really dialed-in with your targeting and still reach a lot of people. For example, here I’m searched for “marketing agency” in Texas and still got 69,008 results.

Now, 69,000 is still too big, so I’m going to narrow this further by targeting the people I really want to be talking to—the decision makers. And if I filter for Partners, Owners, VPs, and Directors, I still get 14,520 results.

So now I can see a list of all these results—people who would be really great leads. To save them as a lead in Sales Navigator, just click “Save as lead” on the right.

When you save someone as a lead, they’ll show up on your dashboard—and you’ll see all their activity in your feed.

There’s another useful tool in the panel at the very top of the search results.

Using this panel, you can even filter for profiles of people who have changed jobs, been mentioned in the news, or those who are connected with your team in some way (meaning you can get an easy introduction).

And you can use this information to help start a conversation. For example, say I click to filter for all the profiles that have been mentioned in the news in the past 30 days.

Now you have a really easy conversation starter for 90+ high-quality leads. Just mention that you saw them in the news and wanted to connect.

And while I’m on the topic of starting conversations, remember this:

These days, starting a sales conversation is just starting a regular conversation.

You have a lot of data on these people—you know where they’re located, what kind of work they do, what connections you have in common, where they’ve been mentioned in the media. You can filter profiles that are active (have posted on LinkedIn in the last 30 days), that have shared experiences with you, or that follow your company on LinkedIn.

These are all really great data points you can use to strike up a conversation.

Striking up a conversation on LinkedIn doesn’t have to be complicated. I send a lot of really simple, thoughtful messages like this:

Notice that I’m not being annoying or asking them to buy something right away—I’m just dropping a nice little note that people are much more likely to appreciate and respond to.

These days, starting a sales conversation is just starting a regular conversation.

(On average I get a ~90% response rate to messages like this.)

Another thing that I love about Sales Navigator is that you don’t have to be connected to these people to send them a message. You can send Sales Navigator InMail messages without connecting first.

So to sum it up—LinkedIn Navigator. Yeah. You gotta get it. It’s awesome, it lets you find and connect with your ideal prospects much, much better than you could without it. I highly recommend it.

Other LinkedIn Tools I Recommend

Let’s assume you’re using LinkedIn Navigator, and you want to kick up your results even further. What can you do?

Here are a few additional tools that I find useful for prospecting:

Tool #1: Sales Navigator Plugin

If you’re a Chrome user, it’s a no-brainer to start using the Sales Navigator plugin. This will pull information from LinkedIn right into your browser.

Here’s an example. I got an email from Parker, and the Sales Navigator plugin automatically displayed his information right there beside the email—so I could instantly see his title, location, shared connections, and more.

Using this tool, you can save someone as a lead or add them as a connection right from your browser. Super fast and convenient.

Tool #2: Native QR Codes

QR Codes may seem pretty useless and feel like you took a step back in the tech time bubble… unless that QR code is native to the BIGGEST professional networks in the world.

Do you still use business cards? Me either… and I’m not saying you “shouldn’t” have business cards; I’m just saying they are old and out of date.

Meet your new business card.

Now, instead of rummaging around in your wallet or purse for a bent, boring card, you just use your phone’s camera to connect instantly to the person’s profile and see all their info (much more than you can fit on a 3.5 x 2’ piece of paper).

It’s as easy as that.

Tool #3: PointDrive

If you’re using Sales Navigator, you’ll also get access to a tool called PointDrive.

PointDrive gives you a much easier and more professional way to share slides, presentations, and any other sales collateral. Instead of having to email a half-dozen attachments a hundred times a day, just use PointDrive to create a great-looking presentation like this:

This makes it really easy for people to view your documents and resources. And PointDrive also tracks your visitors’ activity—so you’ll get deeper insights into how they’re interacting with these materials. AND, it can also connect you with the coworkers of who you send things to, so it is one more way to grow your network.

If you send this presentation to the owner of a company, for example, you’ll be able to see who they shared it with. Did they forward it to a VP or a Partner? This gives you a better idea of who’s involved in the buying process, so you can tailor your approach to include the right people.

The Secret to More Effective Prospecting on LinkedIn

You’re almost there guys. We’ve covered a lot in this post, I know, but before I send you on your way, I want to take a little time to go deeper.

And always remember that in today’s world, it’s the strategic, helpful, and empathetic salesperson who wins.

We’ve talked about the tools and the tactics. But what about the mindsets?

I think it’s essential for any salesperson to realize what prospecting on LinkedIn really is at the end of the day:

Prospecting on LinkedIn is a series of failures that results in a YES.

It’s not a quick process, and it doesn’t generate instantaneous sales. In order for this to work you have to be consistent in your follow-up. People need to get to know you are your brand before they are willing to fork over any money.

A lot of people forget that, and it causes them to miss out on sales.

The message here, I hope, is obvious: be persistent in your follow-up, and consistent in your prospecting. Follow the ABCs (Always Be Connecting) to keep your pipeline full at all times. I recommend blocking out 30 minutes, twice a day, to do your LinkedIn prospecting.

And always remember that in today’s world, it’s the strategic, helpful, and empathetic salesperson who wins.

(NOTE: Want to make extra sure that your LinkedIn profile is the best representation of you and is helping you generate the most leads possible? Download your FREE 10-Point LinkedIn Audit for a detailed checklist for turning your profile into a lead-generating machine. Learn more here!)

The post How to Transform Cold Leads into Sales Conversations Using LinkedIn appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


A Blog Isn’t a Blog, It’s a Business

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I wrote my very first blog post on July 24, 2005. That blog post is no longer live because it was terrible.

The post was called, “Winning the Search Engine Marketing War.”

It was 412 words long, contained no images, no external links, and it didn’t provide much value because it didn’t teach you anything.

But you know what, back in 2005, the blog post was pretty darn good.

See, I wasn’t competing with a lot of blogs back then. Currently, there are well over 440 million blogs and back in 2011, that number was 173 million. And in 2005, the web was still so small that there were only 64 million websites (with only a small portion of them being blogs).

In other words, my first blog post was pretty darn good because something is better than nothing. People were just happy to get some information, even though it wasn’t great.

But over the years, blogging has changed. What it used to be in 2005, isn’t what it is today.

What blogging used to be

A blog used to just be a blog.

It was a place where you would share your personal experiences with the world. From photos of the places you traveled to and blogging about the food you ate to even sharing personal information about your family life…

In 2005, social networks weren’t popular. Facebook launched in 2004, but it wasn’t what it is now. And sites like MySpace focused heavily on music.

As social networks evolved, people realized it was easier to share personal stories on Facebook and Instagram than it was to write a whole blog post.

Over 250 million people share what they are doing in their personal life each day just on Instagram. All you have to do is talk (or look) into your phone for just a few seconds. It’s really that simple.

And that’s why more of you use social networks on a daily basis than a blog.

Just think of it this way… if you wanted to update your friends on your life, is it easier for you to just upload some pictures to Facebook or is it easier for you to write a blog post?

Of course, it’s easier to just upload some photos to Facebook. It’s why Facebook is so popular.

For that reason, people started to focus their attention on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat over blogging.

So why do people continually create more blogs?

There are many reasons why blogs have grown in popularity. As I mentioned above, there are well over 400 million blogs today.

The biggest reason why blogs have grown in popularity is that you are an end user and continue consuming the content that blogs put out.

Just in the United States alone, 42.23% of people from the ages of 18 to 49 read blogs.

And because people want to read blogs, Google has no choice but to rank them. The average page that is listed on page one of Google has 1,890 words:

There are many reasons you may want to create a blog, but from someone who blogs on a weekly basis and has been for 13 years, here are the main reasons to have a blog:

You control your own destiny – social networks have restricted how many of your friends actually see your content. With a blog, you have more control over your destiny. You can collect emails to get people back to your site, you can build a push notification subscriber list, you can rank your content on Google… overall, it’s just easier to get a consistent stream of traffic from a blog than it is from a social profile because you aren’t relying on 1 traffic source. This is more important than ever because the top referring sites on the web are starting to send less traffic out to other sites.
Paid ads are expensive – Google generate 6 billion dollars in ad revenue in 2005 and that number shot up to 95 billion in 2017. With ad costs continually rising, you have no choice as a business but to find other traffic channels. A blog is an obvious question as Google loves ranking text-based content. Just look at Wikipedia, they rank for everything and generate 5.4 billion visits a month.
Marketing has moved to an omnichannel approach – there are currently 1,766,926,408 websites on the web. In 2005 that number was only 64,780,617. That’s a 2,627% increase. That means you as a business have more competition online, which gives consumers more choices. Why should someone choose you over the competition? Well, branding plays a huge part, if you can get a consumer to see or hear about your brand 7 times they are much more likely to be a customer. A blog creates another additional touchpoint.

A blog isn’t a blog, it’s a business

As more sites have come online, SEO has become more competitive. Yes, more people are using Google, but they are searching for the same popular terms.

With Ubersuggest, we have a database of 646,777,704 keywords.

And out of those keywords, only 15,301,405 keywords generate a search volume of an excess of 10,000 searches per month.

As more people come online, it doesn’t mean that they search for brand new keywords. It just means that the popular terms get even more popular.

That’s why it is harder to get people to come to your site over the competition because you are competing with more companies to get those eyeballs.

See, as SEO has become more competitive, you have no choice but to treat it as a business. It takes time and money to produce content. It takes time and money to promote your content. And then once you have those visitors, it takes more time and money to convert those visitors into paying customers.

In other words, because it is so competitive, you won’t do that well unless you put in tons of time or money (or ideally both).

Just look at Quick Sprout, the marketing blog I don’t put much money into it. Even though it’s older than, it generates a lot less traffic. blog generates 693% more traffic because I put over 6 figures into the blog each month (mainly in developing free tools and creating audio and video content), and I treat it like a business.


Look, I am not trying to persuade you into building a blog. But I believe most companies should have a blog. And if you don’t have one, just follow this guide to get up and running.

A blog is the only way you are going to rank well on Google and generate traffic without directly paying for it by using Google AdWords or Facebook Ads.

But if you want to do well, you can’t treat your blog like a “blog”… you have to treat it like a business. If you don’t, then you won’t do well.

Here are the 3 important steps you need to take if you want to do well:

Focus on writing amazing content consistently – it’s not about writing one or two amazing posts… you have to be consistently awesome. The market is so competitive, you can’t write 400-word blog posts as I did in 2005. Sure, if you are in a new niche with no competition, by all means, write 400-word posts, but the chances are you are going to eventually have some competition. And if you don’t have the time, you should just hire a writer to help you out.
Promote your content – after you have content, you’ll have to promote it. Promotion isn’t easy but I’ve broken it down into 4 steps for you. Just follow them and you’ll do well.
Focus on monetization last – most bloggers who get this far face one big problem… as their traffic increases their revenue typically stays flat. Just because you have more visitors, it doesn’t guarantee an increase in revenue. Towards the end of this blog post, I teach you how to convert those visitors into leads and customers. Follow them.
Don’t forget about voice – I know I said you only have to follow 3 steps, but if you’ve followed all of them successfully, you’ll need to start thinking about voice. 40% of adults use voice search daily, so don’t take it for granted. Follow this guide to ensure that you capture the voice search market share before your competition.

What do you think about blogging? Are you going to start taking it seriously?

The post A Blog Isn’t a Blog, It’s a Business appeared first on Neil Patel.


Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature: Everything You Need to Know

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Facebook Messenger ads are all the craze right now.

They’re the most PERSONAL ad type on the market.

Our culture has bred an expectation of instantaneous communication. Whether through text, chat, or social media… when someone sends you a message, you FEEL the need to respond in a timely manner (or at least most of us do ☺).

Think about it—this is what makes Facebook Messenger marketing so powerful. It taps into a channel that 1+ billion people are already using… and also facilitates communication in a way that people now expect.

As messenger becomes a more and more common communication channel for companies, the brands that utilize messenger to communicate with their prospects and customers will win.

In a separate post I explained the ins-and-outs of Facebook Messenger Ads, and now I’m going to expand on that information by highlighting one of the most popular messenger marketing features out there: the comment-to-messenger tool.

The way this tool works is pretty simple, really cool, and ultra-effective. Basically, you just sync a Facebook post (or ad) with your favorite messenger marketing tool (mine is definitely ManyChat)…

…and it will automatically message anyone who comments on that post!

And as always, if they interact with your bot then they will be added to your subscriber list and you can continue to follow up with them via messenger.

This is really exciting stuff, guys.

Today, I’ll be explaining the details of this tool:

What it’s good for
When to use it
And tips to get the best results possible from your comment-to-messenger campaigns

But before we talk about the “how,” let’s talk about…

Why Does Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature Matter?

It’s an easy way to build messenger subscribers

Facebook allows you to build a “list” of messenger subscribers that you can later send broadcasts to (similar to email, but we’re seeing 80%+ open rates). If you read this post, you know why this is so important.

To become a messenger subscriber, someone simply has to have messaged your page in the past. If you use the feature the way I outline below, you can build a subscriber list using the same comment-to-message strategy we are… without even buying ads.

Increases relevance score

If you are using the comment-to-message strategy and then turning that post into an ad, this is going to significantly increase relevance score.

Relevance score is a number out of 10 that Facebook uses to tell advertisers how relevant their ad is to the audience in which they’re targeting.

The higher the relevance score, the more reach your ad gets and the lower the cost.

Social proof weighs heavily on your relevance score, so the more positive comments, shares, and reactions that your post gets, the higher the score.

By accumulating a ton of comments on your post using this strategy, you are in turn increasing your relevance score—and encouraging Facebook to show your post to even more people.

It’s a great strategy to generate leads and sales (isn’t that what we REALLY want?)

This strategy isn’t just about “talking” or “building a list.” You can use it to generate leads and sales for your business, too.

The key is to make sure your post leads to an ideal sales conversation for your business.

Asking people to comment with their favorite color just to build your messenger list isn’t the best way to use this feature (unless you’re selling something that has to do with coloring ).

You can use ManyChat to set up an automated follow-up sequence that eventually leads someone to a sale. You can also use ManyChat’s tagging system to segment audiences so that you can make them an offer that’s most relevant to them.

How Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature Works

So, how does it work?

I’m glad you asked!

First I’m going to explain the big picture, to help give you some context. Then I’ll walk you through an example just to make sure everything is 100% clear. And finally, I’ll dive into the specifics of exactly how to get started using this tool in your own business.

In a nutshell, the comment-to-messenger feature works like this:

Create a Facebook post. I recommend asking a polarizing question and letting people know that when they leave a comment they will automatically receive a message on messenger.
Set up the comment-to-messenger growth tool inside of ManyChat and sync it with the post you created in Step 1. Part of this will include deciding on what message(s) people will receive when they comment on your post.
If you want to promote your post as an ad, you can set that up inside the Ads Manager. Just be sure to choose “Engagement” as your objective.

Here’s an example of what this looks like from the user’s perspective.

First, you’ll see a post in your newsfeed (it could be a paid ad or an organic post). Like this one:

Notice how the post sets your expectation—it tells you that if you leave a comment, you’ll get a response via messenger.

After you post a comment, you’ll automatically get this message:

Scroll down and you’ll see the offer being promoted—a free container of protein:

And finally, see how easy it is to respond—just tap “Heck Yes!” or “No, thanks”:

Pretty simple, right? As the user, all you have to do is comment on a post, read a short message inside of messenger, and click “Yes” to claim the offer.

If you interact with the bot in any way—even if it’s to say “No, thanks”—you will be automatically subscribed to this advertiser’s messenger list. Then over the next few days, you’ll continue to receive follow-up messages from them.

And as you can see here, those follow-up sequences can be extremely effective:

Open rates of 88.4%-98.5%, and click-through rates of 18.8%-80.7%?

Compared to traditional email marketing engagement metrics, those numbers are INSANE. (In a good way.)

(NOTE: Ready to get started with your own Messenger bot? Check out our BRAND NEW 6-Step Facebook Messenger Bot Builder to get our exclusive strategy that makes running your Messenger Bots easy for any business. And if you act now, you can get this Execution Plan for 85% OFF! Learn more here.)

Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature in Action

This is still a relatively new feature, so we’re still testing and finding ways to use it ourselves.

But, we’ve already seen some other marketers do cool things on their own pages.

Our good friend, Derek Halpern, recently published a post in which he asked a question: “What is a good (and realistic) sales page conversion rate?”

Once you comment on this post with your guess, Derek sends you a message with the answer. He also takes advantage of your attention to make a relevant offer and send interested visitors to a webinar registration page:

Derek then broadcasted to his messenger list a few days later…

Cole from Sherpa Metrics also used this functionality to generate 500+ messenger subscribers and to segment his audience in efforts to make relevant offers…

Then he followed up to further segment the audience…

Within 36 hours, Cole was already seeing insane open and click-through rates…

How to Set Up Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature

It may seem complicated, but this feature is actually pretty easy to put into action.

Step 1 is to create the post that you’ll use. And to do this, you have 2 options:

You can use a normal post that anyone can see on your wall
Or you can create a post in the Business Manager that won’t be front-facing on your Facebook page. To do that, just make your way to the Page Posts area here:

The only difference is whether the post will be shown on your Facebook page or not. If it’s not, you’ll need to promote the post through an ad in order to generate impressions.

Step 2 is to set up your growth tool. To do that, just log into your ManyChat account and click on “Growth Tools” and then “+ New Growth Tool”:

Then choose “Facebook Comments”:

You then have the option to select the post you’d like to use based on its URL, post ID, or a dropdown list of recent posts to your page:

Notice that you can choose to send messages after a certain period of time, to exclude certain keywords, and to only trigger comments for certain keywords…

For the best results, here are the settings I typically recommend:

Track first-level comments only: Turn this ON
When user leaves a comment, send message after: Immediately
Exclude comments with these keywords: Leave this blank
Only trigger for comments with these keywords: Leave this blank

Next, you’ll click the “Auto-response” button:

This is where you’ll craft the automatic response that people will receive in their inbox after they comment on your post. This response should deliver on the promise you made in the post, and prompt the user to engage with you (so they’ll become a subscriber).

Notice the sentence in parentheses at the bottom of our welcome message:

Facebook automatically adds a link back to the original post, so we always put a line of text here telling people to ignore that link so it doesn’t cause confusion.

Then, you’ll hit “Back” and then “Save.”

Next, How Do We Trigger Specific Follow-Up Messages for Certain Keywords?

You need to set up automation for the keyword you’re asking them to type into messenger. For example, in one of our campaigns, we set up an automation that delivers a free report to anyone who types the word “guide.”

As you can see above, we clicked the “Keywords” button under “Automation.”

We then created a new rule that when people typed “guide,” we responded with…

We also told ManyChat that we wanted to tag them as having downloaded this report…

The tagging is important because now we can visit the “audience” tab and see how many people have messaged from that particular post, AND we can subscribe everyone with that tag to a particular follow-up sequence…

Using this feature we’re able to generate lots of high-quality leads and customers while helping us to learn more about our audience at the same time.

Comment-to-messenger is definitely not the best growth tool for every possible situation. But it works great for generating a discussion on Facebook that transitions to messenger.

And it gives you a lot of freedom to get creative with how you engage with your customers. So definitely brainstorm new and creative ways to use this tool.

(NOTE: Ready to get started with your own Messenger bot? Check out our BRAND NEW 6-Step Facebook Messenger Bot Builder to get our exclusive strategy that makes running your Messenger Bots easy for any business. And if you act now, you can get this Execution Plan for 85% OFF! Learn more here.)

In the meantime, here are a few best practices that I’ve picked up from my experience using it:

5 Tips to Get the Most Out of the Comment-to-Message Growth Tool
1) Ask a polarizing question

Your goal should be to generate is what Facebook calls “authentic engagement.”

In any comment-to-messenger post, your goal is to generate engagement and discussion around a topic that is relevant to your audience. And the best way I’ve found to do that is to ask a polarizing question that sparks some curiosity and debate. Something that will compel people to share their own feelings, while making them wonder what your brand thinks on the topic.

For example, if you were in the typewriter-selling business, your audience would consist of writers. Here’s an example of a polarizing question post that might appeal to writers:

2) Set the proper expectation

Take a look at that picture again, and re-read the last sentence. See how I specify, very clearly, what will happen after you leave a comment?

You want to do this on all your comment-to-messenger posts. This is a new feature and most people won’t expect a message to pop up after they leave a comment, so make sure to set that expectation so people know what’s coming.

3) Track first-level comments only

When setting up your growth tool, I recommend tracking first-level comments only. Here’s where you can change this setting:

Switch that setting to “on.” Basically it just means that if somebody tags a friend in their comment, and that friend replies to the original comment, the friend will not receive your automatic message.

Here’s how this would work:

Since anyone replying to a comment is probably more interested in responding to their friend than getting your auto-message, this generally results in a nicer experience for everybody.

4) When using comment-to-messenger in combination with Facebook ads, make sure to use “Engagement” as your objective

This makes sense when you think about it. What you really want is for people to comment on your post so you can transition them to messenger.

And because you’re asking people to comment, you’ll want to stick with just the Facebook feed as your placement:

5) Watch out for “engagement bait”

One thing you’ll need to be careful of when using this tool is posting what Facebook now calls “engagement bait.” And this is such an important point that I’m going to give it a subhead so all the people who are just scanning this article will notice it.

Warning: Avoid Posting “Engagement Bait”

In the past, many marketers (myself included) wrote posts that urged people into interacting with a specific post. Here are a few examples from Facebook:

The problem with engagement bait is that it can feel kinda spammy, and in many cases, it leads to low-quality engagement rather than real discussion.

You need to watch out for this when you’re using comment-to-messenger because it can be easy to create an engagement bait post without even meaning to. Here’s an example of a post we created here at DigitalMarketer over a year ago. At the time it was fine, but today it might fall under the category of “engagement bait”:

Here’s another example:

Keep in mind, back in early 2017, this was a perfectly acceptable use of this tool.

Today, however, things are different. If you publish a post like this now, Facebook will punish you with a lower reach. And if you repeatedly share engagement bait posts, you “will see more significant drops in reach.” (Facebook’s words.)

So the take-home message is, don’t do that.

Instead, your goal should be to generate what Facebook calls “authentic engagement.”

And that’s what this tool is really all about. Having real conversations with your audience, about the things that matter to them. You have so much to gain when you hear your audience’s real voices and real opinions.

Not only can it lead to a lot of warm sales conversations, it can also help you to learn more about the people you’re serving in your business, what their biggest challenges are, and how you can help them even more.

(NOTE: Ready to get started with your own Messenger bot? Check out our BRAND NEW 6-Step Facebook Messenger Bot Builder to get our exclusive strategy that makes running your Messenger Bots easy for any business. And if you act now, you can get this Execution Plan for 85% OFF! Learn more here.)

The post Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


Mixpanel vs. Google Analytics: The 2018 Guide

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This post is not a dry feature-by-feature comparison, nor does it include a winner-take-all verdict. Your business won’t benefit from either of those things.

Instead, we’re comparing Mixpanel and Google Analytics in the terms that drive business growth—identifying the core use cases for each tool and the business problems they solve, while highlighting the features that make it possible.

Anything else is merely a list of data points. That’s as useful as analytics without analysts: troves of data but no actionable insights.

The core use cases

Google Analytics is the standard for measuring acquisition—identifying the sources of traffic to your website or app. Google Analytics also tracks on-site behavior through events and goals. It does not, however, de-anonymize data. User ID tracking allows you to track the behavior of individual users, but their identities remain unknown.
Mixpanel, in many ways, picks up where Google Analytics leaves off. It has robust, user-centered tracking that connects company CRMs to the online behaviors of real people—and enables you to send targeted messages to them, at a group or individual level. Mixpanel’s event-based tracking is fundamentally different than the Google Analytics pageview model.

Google Analytics switched its default metric from “sessions” to “users” in 2018, mirroring Mixpanel’s emphasis on users over pageviews.

Most businesses, even Mixpanel’s paying customers, retain Google Analytics. It’s free, after all, and, at the very least, offers the chance to corroborate data across two platforms.

When Google Analytics makes the most sense: If your business relies on its website solely for marketing purposes—to attract visitors and generate leads—Google Analytics provides most of your actionable data. You’ll be able to see which channels (paid, organic, social, etc.) have the highest conversion rate and identify the content that earns the most interest from your target audience.
When Mixpanel makes the most sense: If your website or app is your product, however, Mixpanel offers the granular detail that’s essential for monitoring user behavior. You’ll be able to see which acquisition channels are best for long-term retention or lifetime value, not simply those that drive initial conversions.
When it could go either way: Other companies—like ecommerce sites selling physical products—may straddle the use-case gap. The size of their business, the number of products, the length of the buying cycle, and other variables may determine whether Mixpanel can deliver a strong ROI.

In the end, the more user data you have to push into Mixpanel—and the more that data shapes your business decisions—the more value you’ll extract from it.

The business problems that Google Analytics and Mixpanel solve
Hundreds of user reviews of both platforms on G2 Crowd reveal the key benefits—and shortcomings—of each. (Image source)
1. “We don’t know where our traffic is coming from.”

G2 Crowd, a business technology review site, has almost 3,000 reviews of Google Analytics. When we analyzed all of them, the patterns were easy to spot, one phrase above all others: “…traffic is coming from.”

That phrase alone—there were other, similar ones, too—appeared 53 times. Google Analytics excels at revealing your traffic sources. In the words of hundreds of reviewers, Google Analytics was essential to “identify channels,” “track campaigns,” and monitor “traffic flow.”

“Google Analytics is definitely better at measuring traffic,” noted Dan McGaw, the founder and CMO of Effin Amazing. Other digital marketing experts I asked seconded his opinion. Google’s dominance of the ad market has bolstered its primacy for acquisition metrics—integrations with Google Ads (search and display) are comprehensive and seamless.

Mixpanel also tracks acquisition sources but, in its tracking and reporting, emphasizes what those users do, not the raw visibility of web pages. As Mixpanel’s Aaron Krivitzky explained:

[Cost per Acquisition] and [Cost per Click] are important, but they tell you nothing about user retention, they tell you nothing about lifetime value, and they tell you nothing about the actual end-user sentiment, behaviors, or experience.

For high-traffic sites or short-lived apps, the need to understand real-time acquisition paths and performance offers a point of separation between the two tools.

2. “We need to know how our site (or app) is performing right now.”

A small subset of businesses may have unique acquisition strategies that depend on real-time adjustments to copy, design, or resource allocation. All Mixpanel reporting is real-time; Google Analytics has real-time reports that, after a few hours, filter into core reports.

Fully integrated, real-time access to data has potential benefits for large media sites:

The Huffington Post tests multiple headlines for articles. After a few minutes of data—a meaningful amount, given the site’s traffic volume—they discard the less-popular headline.
Real-time analytics help streaming video services shift resources based on demand. If, say, a season finale or critical moment in a sporting event risks overwhelming servers, real-time analytics can tip off technical teams to the need before issues affect users.

Real-time reporting can also help large ecommerce companies manage their products. “Mainly it’s an inventory issue,” according to Steve Kurniawan of Nine Peaks Media, “although it can also help other things like tracking product deliveries and negative reviews.”

There are other use cases, too, such as app developers seeking to maximize the value of users for a viral game with a lifespan of days or weeks. Real-time data can validate near-constant changes to keep users engaged.

Still, the use-cases for real-time reporting are limited. For most Mixpanel users, the platform’s most meaningful feature is its ability to tie actual prospect and customer data to online behavior, providing greater insight into the experiences that affect engagement, conversion, and retention.

Engagement, conversion, and retention
3. “We can’t connect analytics data to our real-life customers.”

“Mixpanel is a great tool for tracking user behavior and acting on it,” affirmed McGaw. Realizing those core benefits—tracking and acting—requires stitching together online actions at two levels:

From device to device. Google Analytics has cross-device tracking. However, its system relies on cookies and User IDs, and includes only those “who have opted in to personalized advertising.” For companies with a SaaS platform or app, that system may not be enough. In McGaw’s experience, “If you have a web app and mobile app, Google Analytics is pretty shitty at tying those users together.”
From user to human. Google Analytics’ User ID policy prevents this second connection, providing the sharpest break between its capabilities and those of Mixpanel. By connecting companies’ user data to its analytics, Mixpanel can build analytics cohorts based on CRM data and push messages to high-value segments.

What do these differences look like in the real world? Saas consultant Sid Bharath gave an example:

Let’s say Google Analytics shows that paid search has the highest conversion rate. With this data alone, it seems like you should double down on paid search.

However, if you had Mixpanel in there, you could see how those converters interacted with your software. So you could filter by paid traffic, and it may show that these customers actually churn at a much higher rate, or they’re not as engaged as organic customers.

At Mixpanel, Krivitzky has seen potential clients come to him with similar business needs: “How do my end-users use my app? Which features are sticky? How common is X use case versus Y?”

In addition to identifying high-value cohorts, Mixpanel also lets businesses send targeted messages to those same users—a benefit noted regularly across more than 200 product reviews from G2 Crowd. “With Mixpanel’s cross-device marketing automation suite,” noted McGaw, “You can email, text, push, and pop up across devices to provide a pretty amazing experience.”

Mixpanel allows businesses to send messages to real people based on online behaviors.
4. “We don’t understand our customer journey well.”

Both Google Analytics and Mixpanel offer conversion funnels. Mixpanel funnels—based on feedback from experts and hundreds of reviews—are more user-friendly to create and more granular in their segmentation. (Notably, Mixpanel funnels also apply retroactively to data.)

Google Analytics funnels and Behavior Flow visualizations lack the customization of Mixpanel funnels, which allow segmentation by user characteristics.

Creating segmented user groups based on broad demographic data is possible in Google Analytics; however, it requires applying a segment to the Funnel Visualization, rather than embedding that segment in the funnel itself.

Mixpanel users can set up custom funnels by selecting any series of user behaviors.

The customization and comparative intuitiveness of Mixpanel funnels—which can be set up simply by defining a series of steps—were a common highlight in user reviews:

“Easy ability to create funnels”

“Easy to set up events and funnels”

“Easy to set up powerful user funnels”

“Easy to understand user interface for funneling”

In contrast, Funnel Visualizations and Behavior Flows in Google Analytics were a frequent frustration: “Trying to set up goal funnels is an exercise in mania.”

Google Analytics funnels are notoriously difficult to set up and interpret.

The difference between technical capacity and ease of implementation is not trivial. It speaks to the importance of actually using analytics tools—not just having access to the data within them—and hints at some of the data-centric problems the C-suite often looks to solve.

C-suite level
5. “We don’t know the impact of each marketing channel.”

Cross-channel attribution extends beyond first and last clicks. For large organizations, stronger attribution can help demonstrate the ROI—or lack thereof—for multi-million-dollar television campaigns or in-store promotions.

The Google Analytics 360 Suite offers extensive attribution tracking. “Some clients ask us to design and implement marketing attribution models for them,” recounted Kurniawan. “In these cases, we use Google Analytics 360 Suite, which offers an amazing custom marketing attribution feature.”

In contrast to standard Google Analytics, which uses a last non-direct click attribution—thereby attributing 100% of the conversion to some online source—Google Analytics 360 accounts for television ads’ impact on online behavior and also folds in-store purchases into conversion data (crediting online sources for offline purchases).

That benefit comes at a cost—starting at $150,000 per year. For many organizations, no matter how accurate the insights, the ROI simply isn’t there. (Mixpanel, whose paid version starts at $999 per year, charges by the number of data points tracked; costs can quickly scale into a four-figure monthly fee, especially for SaaS or app companies that offer freemium models.)

6. “We need to make data collection more efficient.”

In some cases, the technical capacities of Google Analytics and Mixpanel are similar. The value of one tool over the other depends on the technical abilities of those using the platform.

Several Mixpanel users—in in-house and agency settings—viewed the user-friendly components of its analysis as true cost savings because they reduced the amount of human labor necessary to create and interpret reports.

Nishank Khanna, the CMO of Clarify Capital, explained why they added Mixpanel to their analytics suite:

We were using Google Analytics for years, until it became a chore to track custom event-driven data. As our business needs for analytics grew more sophisticated, we needed to easily define events to track, ensuring a flexibility that promotes focused and meaningful analytics.

We found that in Mixpanel, and the time saved was day and night.

Khanna’s experience wasn’t unique. As Kurniawan confirmed, the ease of implementation is, at times, more important than the technical differences:

Technically, for event tracking versus pageview tracking, both Mixpanel and Google Analytics can do them very well given enough effort. So it’s a matter of ease of use: Setting up event tracking is significantly easier on Mixpanel opposed to Google Analytics.

In our case, since we set up marketing systems including analytics for clients, some (well, most) of them are not tech savvy. Ease of implementation is very important so we don’t have to go back and forth often.

Throughout user reviews for both products, definitions of “easy” and “hard” varied. Complicating matters, an “easy” setup often meant easy data collection—not easy interpretation.

The paradox was clear. Some Mixpanel reviewers lauded its easy setup; others lamented its challenges. Google Analytics was “great if you have no experience” but also only useful “if you have experience.” Just because you can gather data quickly doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do with it.

No product feature or technical capability can replace human interpretation, at least not yet. Both Google Analytics and Mixpanel have rolled out systems to automatically push alerts or pull insights from their platforms.

Mixpanel (left) and Google Analytics (right) have both rolled out automated alerts to make data more accessible.

“Mixpanel is most valuable for companies who need to track revenue over a long period of time, or really know how their users use their product,” summarized McGaw.

In other words, What percentage of your business decisions are driven by things that happen after a website visit or form fill?

If the stopping point in Google Analytics is only the midpoint (or less) for your customers’ online experience, Mixpanel can extend and deepen the analytics portrait—tracing individual users or cohorts all the way back to their initial interaction.

Still, the question of which analytics platform to use doesn’t hinge on these two alone. Others, like Amplitude, Kissmetrics, and Heap, also gather and aggregate user and product data.

All require an investment beyond the tool itself—one in human capital—to translate data into the product improvements and user satisfaction that make analytics meaningful.

The post Mixpanel vs. Google Analytics: The 2018 Guide appeared first on CXL.


How to Curate Sitelinks to Increase Conversions

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If you rely on search engine traffic, conversion optimization starts before visitors get to your site. Why? Sitelinks.

For most sites, a brand query (e.g. “king arthur flour”) generates sitelinks—links from other pages on your site that appear below the main link, typically the homepage. For mobile searches, those sitelinks may be expandable, allowing users to browse multiple levels of your site, all before clicking a link.

These potential shortcuts can streamline the user experience and get visitors to the places they want to go—and the places you want them to go—faster. After all, how many users accomplish their goal on your homepage?

Yet few know:

which sitelinks show up for their site;
how their sitelinks have changed over time;
why they may have changed; or
how they can influence the sitelinks that appear.

If you want answers, keep reading.

Why sitelinks matter for conversions

Google’s own research has shown that, compared to non-branded keywords, brand keywords have a 2x higher conversion rate. Supporting research also shows that brand queries consistently deliver higher conversion rates.

That conclusion aligns with intuition—searchers using brand keywords already have brand awareness and, presumably, brand affinity—and also underscores the importance of a great user experience for those visitors.

When a brand search generates sitelinks, some of your most qualified users are choosing their next step based on those options. Taking good care of them can have a disproportionate impact on your leads and sales compared to optimizations that target non-branded queries.

Neglecting those visitors, on the other hand, may cost you easy sales.

How do search engines choose sitelinks?

Sitelinks appear below the main link for a “navigational” query, or “one in which the user is looking for a specific web site, rather than information from a web page.” About 18% of all queries qualify as navigational queries. Most navigational queries are explicit brand queries.

The main link (1) and its (2) sitelinks. (Image source)

According to Google, sitelinks are “shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.” Bing refers to sitelinks as “popular destinations,” or pages where users typically end up after entering a website.

Importantly, sitelinks are not merely a cache of popular pages: “The destinations may not be among the topranked results, may not contain the queried terms, or may not even be indexed by the search engine.”

So how are they chosen? Sitelinks are generated algorithmically. Bill Slawski, who monitors search engine patents, summarizes the likely factors:

How many times the page has been accessed
How long visitors stayed upon the page
If a visitor scrolled down the page, or clicked on a link, without scrolling down
Information retrieval scores for the page, along with an indication of how good a match the page may be for the query that was used in the search
The likelihood that someone might make a purchase on that page
Other information that might indicate that someone would be interested in the page

Until 2016, site owners could use Google Search Console (GSC) to “demote” sitelinks—blocking irrelevant pages from appearing as sitelinks for 90 days. Bing still allows site owners to block “deep links” in its Webmaster Tools.

How are sitelink labels chosen?

Even if the ideal sitelinks are chosen, the labels for those sitelinks may be uninformative or misaligned with the content of the page.

Confusingly, Major League Soccer’s website has three sitelinks with a “news” label, including their RSS feed.

As Yahoo confirms, accurate, informative labels are vital to earning clicks:

Eye-tracking studies have shown that search engine users focus a lot of their attention on the link title of the results, paying even more attention to the link title than to the summary provided along with the result.

Ultimately, sitelink labels are chosen based on several factors. Again, Bill Slawski summarizes potential factors based on patent filings:

Anchor text pointing to the page from internal or external links
Search queries for which the page was returned as a result, especially if it was the first result or among the top ten
Search queries for which the page was clicked upon from search results
Key phrases extracted from social bookmarking tags

The ongoing rise of mobile search has made sitelinks and their labels increasingly important.

Why sitelinks are critical for mobile conversions

Google introduced sitelinks in 2006. Initially, they appeared for only the first result of a navigational query and only underneath a site’s homepage.

Over the past decade, Google has rolled out a number changes, such as one-line sitelinks below multiple results and sitelinks for pages other than the homepage. Yet for conversions, the most important change—expandable sitelinks—has happened on mobile.

Expandable sitelinks—initially tested in 2017 and later rolled out on a larger scale—allow users to browse a website directly from search results, potentially navigating through multiple levels before clicking a link:

Getting expandable mobile sitelinks hinges, in large part, on a consistent site structure.

For ecommerce sites, a clear, consistent hierarchy is vital. REI, which gets 1.9 million monthly brand queries according to Ahrefs data, reveals what can happen if you don’t get it right:


First, if you’re looking for women’s clothes, there’s no sitelink. Second, if you’re shopping for men’s goods, there’s no expandable sitelink menu to refine your choice. And it’s not as though REI doesn’t have pages for various types of menswear:



However, those pages are part of a flat site architecture rather than a nested, hierarchical structure:

Men’s clothing sitelink URL:

Sample product category URLs:

The lack of a hierarchy weakens search engine connections between the top-level page and product categories, preventing that section from earning expandable sitelinks.

In contrast, the Classes & Events page includes individual locations behind the main URL:

Classes & Events sitelink URL:

Individual location URLs:

Sure enough, the top-level category receives expandable sitelinks:


For REI, an inconsistent site structure puts unnecessary clicks between mobile shoppers and a sale. (Those looking for women’s gear have no choice but the homepage.)

Of course, you won’t be able to diagnose or resolve these issues unless you know which sitelinks appear for your brand.

How to identify sitelinks for your brand

Beyond the anecdotal (and “personalized”) evidence you may uncover in a self-search, how much do you know about which sitelinks appear for your site?

GSC provides an easy way to see which sitelinks show up. First, filter queries to include only brand queries:

Depending on your brand name, you may need to use “Queries containing” rather than “Query is exactly” (especially if your brand name has multiple words, is frequently misspelled, or includes geographic modifiers). It’s impossible to capture every brand query, but filtering for most is sufficient.

GSC provides up to 16 months of data. Choose whichever time period you’re most interested in (and compare results over time, something covered in the next section).

From there, navigate below to the “Pages” tab and filter “Position” by “Smaller than 1.5.” This limits the data to instances when pages rank first for brand queries. (GSC reports an appearance as a sitelink as a ranking of 1.)

The resulting list allows you to see your sitelinks for the given time period ordered by impressions (the number of times they appeared) or clicks (the number of times they earned user clicks):

You can also run the same analysis with the Device category set to desktop, mobile, or tablet to determine whether different sitelinks appear for mobile users.

This static portrait, however, is just the beginning.

How to measure changes to sitelinks

Exporting month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter data from GSC—using the same parameters identified in the previous section—can show how sitelink visibility has changed over time. This is particularly useful to determine how changes to your site affect changes to your sitelinks.

Divide the number of impressions for each page by the number of impressions to the homepage. The resulting percentage shows how often each page shows up as a sitelink. For example, if a services page has 20,000 impressions and the homepage 40,000, the services page shows up as sitelink 50% of the time.

For CXL, the Agency, Institute, and Blog pages have appeared as sitelinks nearly 100% of the time over the last year, with the About page trailing just behind. The remaining sitelinks have appeared more recently:

(Certainly, other pages have appeared—and disappeared—over time. To create a cleaner chart, I’ve included only the seven pages that currently appear most often as sitelinks.)

Similarly, you can chart the percentage of clicks that have gone to each sitelink. Simply divide the number of clicks to a given page by the total number of clicks to any page on the site:

These charts reveal where brand-query users go first on our site. If 4–8% of users searching for “conversionxl” enter through the blog, the blog landing page—a de-facto homepage for some of our highest-value users—needs enough information to engage those visitors.

While the above sitelinks make sense for CXL, what happens if your sitelinks fail to include key pages or list irrelevant ones?

A sitelink for Dell’s New Zealand site is a wasted opportunity to streamline a user experience. (I’m more than 10,000 miles away.)

Jobs pages are a regular offender. If you’re not desperate to hire and you syndicate your job listings through other sites, there’s no reason to take up valuable real estate with a page whose presence relies on signals from non-customers:

Jobs pages have tons of user signals—but low ROI—for brand queries.

If your sitelinks aren’t tailored for key visitors—for any reason—there are things you can do.

How to improve sitelinks for your site

Many search signals affect which sitelinks appear and which labels identify them. As Google noted in 2011:

From a ranking perspective, there’s really no separation between “regular” results and sitelinks anymore.

Existing best practices for the link structure of your site are still relevant today, both for generating good quality sitelinks and to make it easier for your visitors.

Thus, no single optimization can guarantee changes to sitelinks. But you’re not helpless, either.

Google’s advice to improve sitelinks highlights a few standard SEO best practices:

Provide a clear structure for your website, using relevant internal links and anchor text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition.
Allow Google to crawl and index important pages within your site. Use Fetch and Render to check that they can be rendered properly.
If you need to remove a page from search completely, use a “noindex” robots meta tag on that page.

Another post from Google harps on the importance of site and page structure, going so far as to advocate a table of contents to generate “in-snippet” sitelinks that take users directly to sections of multi-topic pages:

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a “table of contents” which links to the individual anchors.

Those recommendations about the importance of page structure apply beyond in-snippet links—just as pages contain sections, subdirectories contain pages, and websites contain subdirectories.

Given the rise of expandable sitelinks for mobile search, the importance of a clear, hierarchical site structure will only increase—users may navigate through multiple subdirectories on a search results page before they click a link. (Or, if they don’t find what they need, not click at all.)

In addition to a clear, hierarchical site structure, there are other options for improvement.

Additional ways to influence the sitelinks for your site:

Own your brand name. Obviously, this recommendation isn’t feasible for established brands, but those choosing a new brand name should avoid direct competition with other sites. If search engines don’t identify a query for your brand as a navigational query, they’re unlikely to return sitelinks.
Set irrelevant pages to “noindex.” Use a “noindex” tag to keep low- or no-value pages (such as a privacy policy or jobs page) from appearing as sitelinks. Do so cautiously: Some pages that are poor sitelinks may still have valuable search signals—such as backlinks—that a “noindex” tag casts aside.
Develop a robust internal linking structure. Internal links should reinforce your site structure—parent pages link to child pages, child pages link back to parent pages, and so on.
Choose informative, semantically varied anchor text. Anchor text is an opportunity to include descriptive text that helps search engines understand the content of a linked page. Those anchors, when consistent but not identical (i.e. synonyms), may also help search engines determine which text to include for a sitelink label.
Earn backlinks to deep pages. Most sites are “top heavy” with links from other sites pointing primarily to the homepage. Deep links that point to interior pages help build the authority of those pages, making it more likely that search engines will include them as sitelinks.

Ways to increase user engagement and conversions from sitelink clicks:

Ensure that sitelinks that are “de-facto homepages” engage visitors. Treat your most common sitelinks as de-facto homepages: They should make a good first impression and include relevant internal links to move visitors through your site. Avoid dead-end “About Us” pages that don’t encourage visitors to explore product or service pages after learning about your organization.
Make sure you have a coupon or sale page. Coupon, discount, and sale queries usually include a brand name (e.g. “aftershokz coupons”), qualifying them as a navigational search. Even if you don’t offer coupons, a targeted page explaining your policy may show up as a sitelink underneath the homepage for generic brand queries. That sitelink may bring more ready-to-buy clicks to your domain versus the third-party coupon sites below it.


Search engine users typing in a brand query are some of the most valuable users for a site. Yet they’re often ignored—relegated to the homepage or offered a selection of algorithmically curated pages that fail to differentiate between a job seeker and a paying customer. Mobile searchers may even browse sections of a website directly in search results.

Google Search Console provides the data that site owners need to identify sitelinks and monitor changes over time. Those insights can help measure the impact of efforts to put the most relevant, high-value sitelinks in front of brand searchers.

That, in turn, gets more users to their destination pages faster, making conversions quicker and easier—and making websites more profitable.


The post How to Curate Sitelinks to Increase Conversions appeared first on CXL.


Facebook Messenger Ads: How to Use Them in Your Business

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It’s been a little over a year since I first wrote this post, and a LOT has changed since then. Messenger marketing has come a long way, and today there are more ways than ever to engage your customers using Facebook Messenger ads.

In the updated version of this post I’m explaining the ins and outs of Facebook Messenger ads and how to strategically deploy them in your business.

But before you can put them to work, you need to know the why—why this ad type matters to ANY and EVERY business…

I know it’s easy to assume that this ad type (or channel as a whole) would only work for “high-tech” audiences, or “big” companies that have the resources to man a customer communication channel… but, stay with me.

That’s not the case.

After doing a bit of thinking and research, I realized that assuming Messenger only works for highly technical markets is like saying that Facebook as a marketing channel only works for highly technical markets…

This chart from Business Insider is mind-blowing.

At the beginning of 2015, monthly usage of the top 4 messaging apps surpassed usage of the top 4 social networks… and it continues to grow.

And, over ONE BILLION people use Facebook Messenger as a whole. Even my great-grandmother (she’s in her 90’s) uses Facebook Messenger…

My point is that we must not only enter the conversation that’s already taking place in our customer’s head, we must BE in the places where our customers are having their conversations.

Aside from even advertising through Messenger, being reactive and responsive to your people throughout the entire Customer Value Journey via Messenger is essential.

I recently experienced this as a consumer.

I was driving down the road and saw a new apartment complex. I reached out via Messenger from their Facebook page to inquire about the property.

Every step of my Customer Journey, from scheduling a tour to negotiating the lease, was done through Facebook Messenger. It’s very likely that if they weren’t as responsive on Messenger as they were, I would’ve ended up living somewhere else.

If you get nothing else out of this article remember this… Messenger is an essential communication channel for businesses (and it’s still experiencing rapid growth).

Facebook reported that more than 1 in 2 people say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message, and 67% of people expect to message businesses more in the next 2 years.

It’s how people are communicating with family and friends. A large portion of our society prefers to communicate via a messenger with quick responses.

Adapt… or lose business to your competition. 

Now, we, as marketers, have the opportunity to tap into this tremendous channel to grow our business and better serve our customers.

Here’s How It Works…

There are 3 different “types” of Facebook Messenger ads.

Click-to-Messenger ads: These drive traffic and conversations, using Messenger as a destination
Sponsored Messages: These allow you to send promotional messages even after the 24-hour rule has passed
Messenger Home Placement: This is a placement for ads that can appear on your Messenger home screen (and they can take people either to a Messenger conversation or to a landing page)

Let’s start with…

Messenger Ad Type #1: Click-to-Messenger Ads

Purpose: To build your subscriber list and start conversations with new people.

These are the most popular and commonly used Messenger ads, and it’s easy to see why. They provide you with an extremely versatile way to start new Messenger conversations with people, using all of the normal ad & targeting options available inside Facebook.

Destination ads appear in the newsfeed, and when clicked on, open inside of a Facebook message (instead of sending traffic to a URL):

You can find this destination option at the ad level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor.

Click-to-messenger ads look and feel like a normal Facebook ad, with the option to include an image, video, carousel, slideshow, etc. The only real difference in their appearance is the call to action button, which will say “Send Message” or “Get Started”:

A few things to note about destination ads…

You can target ANYONE(this is important—you can target interests, behaviors, custom audiences, etc.)
They can show up in the newsfeed for Facebook and Instagram (desktop and mobile)
They’re available for campaigns with the objectives “Traffic,” “Messages,” or “Conversions” (So, don’t panic if you chose another objective and don’t see Messenger as an option)

Ways to use this ad type…


What’s the biggest “hang-up” in your Customer Journey?

Use destination ads to give people an extra touch point with your brand. Help them overcome any barriers to purchase.

For example, we use Messenger ads to retarget people who visit our sales pages but don’t purchase the product. If you visit the sales page for DigitalMarketer Lab but don’t buy, you’ll see this ad:

There’s usually a reason people don’t buy, and if you give people a platform to ask questions and help overcome doubt, it works wonders. For example, people want to know if the product will actually work for their business, if there is a contract or commitment, if they can add team members, etc.

Once their questions are answered, most are ready to purchase the product. This entire conversation is happening via Facebook Messenger.

Cold traffic

We have the option to run destination ads to cold traffic (people who have never heard of our brand).

This can be used to raise awareness and acquire customers, but—it must be done right.

The key here is to make sure the ad prompts an ideal sales conversation. For example, if your ad asks people to respond with their favorite color, it’s probably going to be a waste of time and money.

But, if you can prompt a conversation that leads to your ideal sales conversation… you’re golden.

Imagine you own a home improvement company that provides a slew of services: plumbing, landscaping, painting, etc.

You could run an ad in your local area that says: “If you could ‘fix’ one aspect of your home, what would it be?” People will respond with answers like “landscaping” or “I’d paint my home.” You now know each person’s pain point, and you can cater your conversation with them around this topic. As a result, your odds of making a sale will be much higher.

Again, I wouldn’t recommend starting here as I don’t believe this is the most highly leveraged activity within Facebook Messenger ads, but, it’s worth a shot when you’re ready for scale.

2 Quick Tips for Your Click-to-Messenger Ads

For the best results, I highly recommend following these best practices when creating click-to-messenger ads inside Facebook:

Always set the right expectation.

Even though these ads have been around a while, many people are still unfamiliar with them and may be surprised when they click on the ad and Messenger opens. So make it clear, in your ad copy, that clicking on the call to action button will open a Messenger conversation.

You don’t want to surprise people, because they may get confused. So make sure they understand exactly what’s going to happen.

For your marketing objective, use “Traffic” or “Messages” instead of “Conversions.”

I know, I know—we all want more conversions (more leads and sales). But the problem with using “Conversions” for these ads as your objective is that Facebook won’t get enough data to really optimize your campaign.

So until pixels are implemented inside Messenger in some way, I recommend optimizing your click-to-messenger ads for Traffic or Messages.

Messenger Ad Type #2: Sponsored Messages

Purpose: To re-engage with and send promotional messages to people who are already subscribers.

Sponsored messages appear inside the Facebook Messenger inbox of your Messenger subscribers (in other words, anyone who has messaged you in the past and has not unsubscribed).

It’s an identical experience to receiving a Facebook message from a friend, these just come from a brand.

If you’re using a Messenger marketing tool like ManyChat (and I hope you are), then you already have the ability to send broadcasts and promotional messages to the people on your list. But when sending messages through a tool like ManyChat, you’re only allowed to send promotional messages within a 24-hour window after that person has interacted with your chatbot.

What makes Sponsored Messages so powerful is that you can send a promotional message anytime you want—even if it’s outside of that 24-hour window.

You can find this option at the ad set level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor. First, set your marketing objective as “Messages”:

Then choose “Sponsored Messages” from the drop-down:

By default, your message will be sent to everyone who has an existing conversation with you in Messenger. If you want to narrow down that targeting further, you can do so by clicking on “Advanced Options” under Audience. There you can narrow your focus to target subscribers based on their location, demographics, interests, etc.

In terms of placements, there’s only 1 option available: Sponsored messages. So you don’t have to change anything there.

For Sponsored Messages, Facebook recommends choosing a lifetime budget over a week. And right now, the cost is about $30 per 1,000 impressions. So a little napkin math should make it easy to figure out what your budget needs to be in order to reach all of your Messenger subscribers.

When creating an actual message, you can include links and images—like we do in this one:

Here’s where you can customize that stuff inside the Ads Manager:

You can also customize customer actions (such as providing suggested quick replies). But if you’re using ManyChat, you don’t have to worry about that—just use Facebook to send the initial message, and then let ManyChat take over from there.

A few things to note about sponsored messages…

You can ONLY target people who have previously messaged your page in the past. (As long as they haven’t unsubscribed.)
It’s available for campaigns with the “Messages” objective.
Keep in mind that your messages won’t necessarily be delivered immediately. In Facebook’s words: “You should expect the majority of your sponsored messages to deliver in the 3–5 days after your campaign starts. If you want to manually schedule a start and end date for your campaign, it’s recommended to set your campaign length for at least 1 week, to ensure full delivery.”
Only 1 sponsored message will be delivered per person, per ad set. If you want to send multiple sponsored messages to each person, you’ll need to create multiple ad sets.
Facebook charges advertisers by impressions, which means you are charged whether the end user opens the message or not. That is, unless you use a tool like…

ManyChat is much more than a “bot” (in my opinion, the bot is the least sexy feature).

ManyChat builds a list of subscribers that you can send sponsored messages to; people who have previously messaged your page:

Although Facebook is building this list, too, the benefit is ManyChat allows you to broadcast sponsored messages to your subscriber list for just $10/month (instead of paying Facebook on a CPM basis):

We’ve sent sponsored messages to our subscriber list, and the open rates have been INSANE (especially compared to email open rates)!!

As I mentioned above, the only limitation to ManyChat broadcasts is that you can only send promotional messages in the first 24 hours after someone has interacted with your bot. That’s Facebook’s rule, not ManyChat’s, and it’s there to help keep spam low and engagement high inside Messenger.

So that you, as an advertiser, can continue to use this channel effectively for years to come!

(RELATED: Episode 72: How DigitalMarketer Generated 500% ROI in 3 Days Using Facebook Messenger)

Messenger Ad Type #3: Messenger Home Placement

Purpose: A new placement where you can display your Facebook ads.

This isn’t really a type of ad, so much as a new placement. And the difference here is that your ad shows up inside Messenger home (as opposed to showing up inside of a specific conversation).

Here’s an example of what that looks like. Notice that the ad is sandwiched in between 2 different conversations:

Here’s another example:

And here’s where you can choose the Messenger Home placement:

Depending on your campaign, you could choose to have this ad open inside of Messenger… or you could have it take the person to a landing page. Feel free to experiment with these options, but keep in mind that because people are already inside of Messenger, there will be less friction if you keep them on Messenger rather than try to take them somewhere else (like your website).

OK, next I want to touch really briefly on…

How to Monitor Your Messenger Ad Performance

Obviously you’ll want to monitor the performance of your Messenger ad campaigns to see how they’re performing. And to see all the engagement metrics from your Messenger ads, just head over to the Ads Manager and choose “Messenger engagement” from the drop-down on the right:

Facebook will organize the columns to show your Messenger stats, including your total replies, link clicks, new messaging conversations, etc.

Just wanted to make sure you know that these metrics are available to you!

So, ready to put Facebook Messenger ads to work in your business? Let’s talk about…

(NOTE: With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

How to Build Your Subscriber List

Sponsored messages are so powerful, and—this is really important—the fact that you can only send them to people who have previously messaged your page will keep this from becoming a spam-fest.

But, there does need to be list building strategies, similar to email.

For one thing, you can use destination ads to build your Messenger subscriber list.

ManyChat also provides a unique URL that when clicked, opens a Facebook message with your brand page.

For example, we sent an email and used the link to drive messages:

Not only did this provide an extra line of communication for people who would prefer to use Messenger, it sold tickets! As you can see from this Facebook Messenger conversation between a customer and one of our sales reps…

If you’re using a software like Shopify, you can integrate with Facebook and build your subscriber list as people purchase your product:

You can also send follow-up messages to confirm the order and send shipping information:

…Which is a great way to improve user experience.

And, don’t forget—even people who message your page (for customer service related questions, for example) are added to your subscriber list!

You may be wondering, Wow… this sounds awesome, but it requires a lot of human resources to answer messages!

And, you’re right. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it AND it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from this ad type even if you’re a 1-person show. Here are a few tips:

Start super small, down the funnel. Use destination ads to retarget people who are toward the bottom of your funnel. This will ensure you’re having fewer, but more highly-leveraged conversations.
Get help from a bot. Use ManyChat’s bot feature to welcome people who message your page, you could essentially automate the sales process with this tool.
Use the tagging system inside of Facebook Messenger to stay organized. Our team created tags to help systemize the process:

I also recommend integrating your customer service and sales platforms with Facebook Messenger so that your team can leverage Messenger while still having access to customer information.

Using Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger Feature to Grow Your Subscriber Base

If you’re using ManyChat (or similar tools), you have the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger feature. This feature allows you to auto-message any person that comments on a specific Facebook post.

And if they respond to your message, they’ll automatically be added to your subscriber list.

Here’s an example…

Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to set up and deploy this strategy… along with examples of different business types.

Take advantage of Facebook Messenger ads to connect with your audience in a more interactive and meaningful way. Using the tools I’ve described in this post, you can build systems in your business that leverage this channel so that you can build a subscriber list, similar to email. Then…

Test, test, test, and as always… let us know how these strategies are working in your business!

(NOTE: With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

The post Facebook Messenger Ads: How to Use Them in Your Business appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


3 Google Analytics Reports Every Business Should Monitor

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “Knowledge is power.”

Well, that is absolutely true when it comes to your website.

Without in-depth knowledge of what’s happening on your website, you’re basically flying blind. You don’t know how people are finding your site. You don’t know what they’re doing once they get there. And you don’t know which visitors are buying which products.

In other words, you’re powerless to actually improve your website’s performance… because you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.

That’s where Google Analytics comes in.

When you know how to use it, Google Analytics can tell you SO MUCH about your website and the people on it. Who are your users? Where are they coming from? What actions are they taking?

This is the kind of information (power) you need to make smart, informed decisions to grow your profits and your business.

But for many people, Google Analytics can seem overwhelming. Confusing. Complicated.

And that’s especially true if you’re a beginner and you don’t know where to start.

That’s why I’m writing this post.

You’re about to learn the 3 Google Analytics reports that give you the most bang for your buck—so you can gain the most valuable insight into what people are doing on your site, in the least amount of time and effort possible.

By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to use these 3 reports to get a quick snapshot of your overall website performance. You’ll also have a few tricks you can use to drill down and get more focused data that you can use to bring in more sales and revenue from your website visitors.

NOTE: Throughout this post, I’m going to be showing you a lot of screenshots. These screenshots come from the Google Test Account, which is a publicly available analytics account you can use to play around and learn more.

If you don’t yet have a Google Analytics account—or if you don’t have much data yet—feel free to open the test account in a separate tab or on a second monitor. If you do have a Google Analytics account, open your own dashboard instead.

Either way, you’ll get the most benefit from this post if you follow along at home as you read. So let’s get started.

Google Analytics Report #1: Source/Medium Report

In my opinion, this is the most important report in Google Analytics.

It gives you an actionable, high-level overview of your website’s performance broken down by traffic source.

You’ll find it under the “Acquisitions” tab, which contains all the reports that tell you about how people are getting to your website (How you are “acquiring” your traffic).

To find it, first click “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” then “Source/Medium”:

For the moment, you can ignore the graph at the top of the page. Instead, you’ll want to scroll down to the table—this is where you’ll find the real meat of the report:

This table shows you all the different traffic sources for your website along with the performance details for each source. So you can see things like…

The identity of each traffic source and how many users they are sending you
How engaged those users are on your site
What bottom line results are each of those traffic sources producing (measured by purchases and/or goal conversions)

You want to look for anomalies. Things that stand out.

So what should you be looking for here?

In general, you want to look for anomalies. Things that stand out.

We have a saying at our company, “The truth is in the trend, the power is in the pattern.”

For example…

Knowing that your site has a 46% bounce rate is not particularly helpful. But if you know that YouTube traffic has a 58% bounce rate and email traffic has a 13% bounce rate—that is, almost 5x higher… well, that could be a useful thing to know.

This tells you that people coming from email are much more likely to engage with your site and visit more than 1 page. Once you know that, you can go about making changes to improve your website’s performance—perhaps by prioritizing email over YouTube. Or perhaps by creating a new landing page made specifically for your YouTube visitors.

Another thing I love about this report is that it shows you the big picture. You can see your overall results in terms of sales and revenue from each traffic source:

This reveals that even though YouTube is your second-highest source of traffic, it doesn’t bring you any sales. On the other hand, deal sites are your #1 source of revenue—despite the fact that they bring you far less traffic.

The Importance of Tagging Your Traffic

In order to get the most insight from this report, it’s essential to tag your traffic.

Here’s why:

See that “(direct) / (none)” traffic source?

Anytime someone comes to your website and Google Analytics can’t figure out how they found you, that’s where Google puts them. Inside the “(direct) / (none)” source. Basically, Google doesn’t know if those visitors typed your URL directly into their browser, or if they clicked on an untagged link. And if they did click on a link, there’s no way to know which link they came from.

Basically, (direct) / (none) is like a black box. And as you might imagine, having a black box in your analytics is not very useful…

Fortunately, you can reduce the amount of (direct) / (none) traffic in your Analytics account by tagging your links.

By tagging your links, you’re letting Google know where your traffic is coming from. This gives you better insight into ALL your traffic sources and generally makes it easier to organize your analytics reports.

To tag your traffic, you simply add a bit of code after your website URL anytime you link back to your site. Here’s what it looks like:

If you tag your links like this, then the traffic that comes from that link will no longer show up as (direct) / (none). Now, it will show up in Google Analytics with a source of “newsletter” and a medium of “email.”

You definitely want to get in the habit of tagging your traffic at all times. It’s not hard to do once you get the hang of it. One easy way is to use Google’s Campaign URL Builder.

Now some people don’t like using tagged URLs because it makes the link itself look longer and uglier. After all, is a lot simpler and nicer-looking than:

But here’s a trick for getting around that: use a link shortener (like to effectively hide the UTM parameters.

To do this, just create your tagged URL. For example:

Then use a link shortener to create a new URL that redirects visitors to that longer, tagged URL. For example:

Try clicking that link and then looking at the URL at the top of the page. You’ll see the UTM parameters are there, even though you can’t see them in the shortened version of the link.

(RELATED: Get back to the basics of Google Analytics with The Complete Guide to Google Analytics Campaign Tracking)

Google Analytics Report #2: Landing Pages Report

The next report you’ll want to monitor on a regular basis is the Landing Pages report.

Now when people talk about landing pages here at DigitalMarketer, they’re often talking about a specific type of page—like an opt-in page that’s designed to generate a new email subscriber.

But Google Analytics defines a landing page a bit differently. To Google Analytics, a “landing page” is the first page that someone sees when they visit your website.

So if someone’s visit goes like this:

Homepage → Category Page → Product Page → Exit

Then the homepage was the “landing page” for that session. Another visit might go like this:

Blog Post → Homepage → About Us Page → Exit

In this case, the blog post was the landing page—because that’s the page they first landed on when they reached your site.

When you start combining the insights from these different reports, that’s when you start to glimpse the really awesome power of Google Analytics.

Make sense?


And what’s really cool about this report is that it breaks out all the sessions people had on your website into the landing pages that initiated those sessions. In other words: it shows you which pages people are seeing FIRST. Then it allows you to compare the performance of those pages to see which landing pages are doing the best job of engaging your visitors.

It’s located in the “Behavior” tab, which contains a bunch of reports that give you better insight into the behaviors people are taking on your website.

To find it, first click “Behavior,” then “Site Content,” then “Landing Pages”:

And once again, the meat of this report lies in the table farther down on the page.

The leftmost column in that table lists all the different landing pages on your website:

Remember, these are the pages that people arrive on FIRST when they visit your site.

And when you start to look at the engagement metrics of these landing pages, you can learn some really interesting things.

For example, if you look at the bounce rate, you’ll find that some landing pages do a much better job of engaging your visitors than others:

The sixth landing page in this table has a much higher bounce rate than your other landing pages; it’s more than double the bounce rate of the fourth landing page.

You’ll probably want to take a look at that page with the high bounce rate and see if you can figure out why people are bouncing when they come to it. Maybe it’s missing a menu, or maybe the content doesn’t do a good job of addressing what the visitor is looking for.

2 other metrics you’ll want to look at are Pages / Session and Avg. Session Duration. These can also reveal insights into how well your landing pages are performing.

For example, the fourth page in this table does a much better job of engaging visitors than the second:

This is another example where you’ll want to take a look at the high- and low-performing pages to see what you can learn (And more importantly, what you can do to leverage the high-performers and improve the low-performers).

Now that’s all really cool, useful stuff you can uncover in this report.

But when you start combining the insights from these different reports, that’s when you start to glimpse the really awesome power of Google Analytics.

(NOTE: With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses—including the Analytics & Data Mastery Course that will teach you how to interpret your data so you can make informed business decisions—PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

How to Segment Your Report by a Secondary Dimension

Remember that in report #1, you learned how to analyze your website by looking at each traffic source individually.

We’re in a different report right now, but you can still apply Source/Medium to this report using a secondary dimension.

In simple terms, what this does is allow you to analyze all your landing pages, broken out by traffic source.

That might be kind of hard to conceptualize, so let’s just go through an example to make this a little easier to understand.

To apply a secondary dimension, just click “Secondary dimension” above the table. Then click in the search bar and type “source.” Finally, click on “Source / Medium” to apply that segment to the table.

You’ll notice that this has added another column to the table: the “Source / Medium” row:

Now you can see the performance of each landing page, broken down by traffic source. For example:

In the table below, row 1 shows all the data from sessions starting on /home and coming from organic Google traffic. Row 6 shows all the data from sessions starting on /home and coming from Adwords (Google CPC):

And if you want to dig down and focus on 1 particular landing page, you can click on it in the table:

Doing this will show you only that particular landing page, so you can compare all the traffic sources going to that page. Like so:

I LOVE doing deep-dives like this because this is where you can learn some really useful information. For example, if you take a look at that table you’ll see that even though organic traffic accounts for the most visits to your homepage… it does NOT result in the most revenue.

Instead, the traffic sources linking to your homepage that create the most revenue are rows 3 and 4 (email and deal sites):

Knowing this, you might realize you want to do things a little differently. For instance, you might decide to change your homepage so that it speaks more directly to people coming from emails and deal sites.

One Last Thing to Keep in Mind

There’s one thing I want to make sure you realize: this report shows you the data from your users’ ENTIRE session.

To understand what that means, first you have to know what Google Analytics means by a “session.” A session is essentially a “visit.”

If you visit a website and browse around for a few minutes, then leave, that was 1 session. If you come back the next day and browse around some more, that’s another session.

And the Landing Pages report shows you what happens during the entire session—NOT just what happens on the landing page itself.

For an example of what that means, take a look at this column of data:

This section shows 243 transactions with /home as the landing page.

But those transactions didn’t occur ON the homepage itself. Instead, they most likely occurred AFTER the person landed on the homepage and then navigated to a different page (Probably a product page, then a checkout page, then a confirmation page).

For example, 1 session might have gone like this:

Homepage → Product Page → Shopping Cart → Order Confirmation Page

Another session might have gone like this:

Homepage → Features Page → Product Page → Shopping Cart → Order Confirmation Page

The point is that those 243 transactions didn’t necessarily occur ON the homepage. But they did occur during sessions that BEGAN on the homepage.

(RELATED: Want to shape up your landing pages to get better engagement? Check out our 15-Point Landing Page Audit that you can download for FREE!)

Google Analytics Report #3: Product Performance Report

The last report you’re going to want to keep a close eye on is the Product Performance report. And this one gives you a detailed view into your ecommerce sales broken out by product.

It’s located under the “Conversions” tab, which contains all the reports that dig into the goal conversions happening on your website.

To find it, first click on “Conversions,” then “Ecommerce,” and finally “Product Performance.”

You’ll notice that this table is broken down by product, allowing you to view sales performance for all the different products for sale on your site.

Here you can see, at a glance, how much revenue you generated from each product. You’ll also see your sales broken down by quantity, average price, refunds, and more.

This is another high-level report that can reveal some important insights if you simply look for the things that stand out.

Another thing you can do is to compare “Unique Purchases” and “Quantity” to get an idea of how many people are purchasing multiple copies of a product. In this table, you’ll see that in row #2, everyone purchased exactly 1 copy of the product (8 sales, 8 units sold). But 2 rows lower, you had 7 purchases resulting in 21 total units sold—which means people are buying more than 1 at a time.

This gives you even more insight into the buying habits of your website visitors, which you can use to better optimize your site for more purchases and revenue.

You Can Segment This Report, Too

And once again, you can segment this report by a secondary dimension to get even more focused data.

You can segment by source/medium to find out which traffic sources are resulting in the most sales of each product:

Digging down into the data, you might notice that your top-selling product brings in 10x more revenue from deal sites than it does from organic traffic:

In this case, you might want to spend less time on SEO and more time on getting featured on more deal sites.

You can also segment by landing page to find out which landing pages are resulting in the most sales of each product:

You may notice, for instance, that your buy-to-detail rate is highest when the landing page is /basket.html:

And that makes sense when you think about it. If someone’s session begins on /basket.html, they’re probably coming from a shopping cart abandonment campaign of some kind. So you would expect to see a high conversion rate from those visitors.

Applying these secondary dimensions can reveal some really useful insights. For instance, which traffic sources or blog posts are leading to the most sales of your best-selling products? Do people coming from YouTube buy the same products as people coming from PPC? What products do people usually end up buying when they arrive on a certain category page?

When you know the answers to questions like that, you can start to drive more traffic through your best sources—and to your best landing pages—to increase your sales even more.

Start with ONE Thing

Google Analytics can be really overwhelming at first.

(Don’t feel bad. It was the same way for me and everyone else I’ve ever known.)

But there’s something you can do to minimize or even avoid feeling overwhelmed:

Start with just ONE thing.

Part of the reason why Google Analytics seems so complex is because people start clicking around and looking at a dozen different reports at once.

That’s a sure-fire road to confusion, frustration, and overwhelm.

But if you look at ONE report at a time, and just focus on making sense of what that one report is telling you…

…then you can start to learn useful information right away.

Then, AFTER you’ve mastered that first report, you can move on to another.

Then another. Then another.

And the cool thing about Google Analytics is that each time you learn how to use a new report, you’ll also understand how to use that dimension as a “secondary dimension” to segment other reports.

So… Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t try to figure it all out at once.

Just start with one of the reports in this post (personally, I’d suggest the Source / Medium report), and take your time figuring it out. Then move on when you’re ready.

(NOTE:With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses—including the Analytics & Data Mastery Course that will teach you how to interpret your data so you can make informed business decisions—PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

The post 3 Google Analytics Reports Every Business Should Monitor appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


3 Simple Steps to Creating A “Pillar Blog Post” That Generates Organic Traffic for Years to Come

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You know content is important… right?

I hope so.

After all, back in 2014, when DigitalMarketer was a young company that nobody had ever heard of, it was content that helped cement our authority and launch us into the international brand we are today.

And do you know how many pieces of content it took to begin that dramatic transformation?


That’s what it took to launch the DM brand.

Just 10 amazing pieces of content.

And if you don’t believe me, check out this recent post from Ryan:

Now when we say all you need is 10 pieces of content, these aren’t just any old blog posts you can put together in 45 minutes. These are big, meaty, strategically positioned pieces of content that we call “pillar posts.”

And in this article I’m going to show you how to create your own pillar content so you, too, can build your authority, your brand, and your business through better content marketing.

When you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a simple 3-step system you can follow to create a pillar blog post that continues to bring new website traffic and leads to your website—and pre-sells them on the value of your product or service—for years to come.

But before we get started, there’s one question you need to ask yourself.

Are You a Publisher?

Many people have the mistaken belief that in order to succeed with content marketing, they have to post a new piece of content every single day.

Luckily, that’s not true. At least… not for most of us.

Most companies out there do NOT need to create a ton of new content on a hyper-regular basis. The only exception is publishing companies.

Publishers are companies whose business model is “publishing.” These companies make their money by serving ads on their content. And in order to maximize their revenue, they also have to maximize the amount of content they produce each day.

Classic examples include The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

That said, this post isn’t for publishers.

Now if you’re a publisher, volume is the name of the game… which means you DO need to publish a lot of content. Because that’s how you make your revenue.

Gizmodo, for instance, publishes 6-8 pieces of content per day. theCHIVE produces 40 a day!

That said, this post isn’t for publishers.

Because the strategy I’m about to teach you doesn’t really apply to companies like Gizmodo or The New York Times. If you are a publisher, you may find our “Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas” helpful.

But if you’re a company that sells a product or service—whether it’s a physical product, a service, a SaaS product, whatever—then this process of creating pillar blog posts WILL work for you.

At this point you might be wondering…

What the Heck is a Pillar Blog Post, Anyway?

Think of a pillar blog post like the columns in the ancient Greek temples. The pillar is what holds up the building. It supports the weight.

A pillar post does the same thing. It’s the foundation that supports the rest of your content marketing.

Pillar posts are big, meaty posts. They’re useful, actionable, well-written, and engaging. They’re filled with relevant images and audio/video files to support the points you’re making in the text.

As a result, pillar posts have something that 99% of other blog posts don’t have: longevity.

The average blog post gets a spike of traffic when it’s first posted… then it quickly dies down. After 48 hours, most blog posts are basically dead. They never again bring in more than a trickle of traffic.

Pillar posts, on the other hand, provide long-lasting ROI. They’ll continue generating new visitors to your website day after day, week after week, even year after year.

Some of our pillar posts at DigitalMarketer are still generating massive organic traffic, even 5 years after they were initially published, like our “101 Best Email Subject Lines.”

Finally, the last thing that separates a pillar post is that they pre-sell your product or service.

It’s not enough to simply publish a blog post that’s somewhat relevant to your product or service. Your content should actively pre-sell your audience on the value of whatever it is you offer by providing them with the education they need to fully understand why your product or service is so incredibly valuable.

It might sound complicated, but I promise it’s really not. In fact the whole process can be boiled down into 3 simple steps…

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

The first and most important step is to simply decide what you’re going to talk about.

Don’t rush this step. In order for this process to work, you need to spend a little time here and really come up with a topic that is going to resonate with your audience.

A pillar post is designed to help pre-sell your product or service to the reader.

Remember, I said that a pillar post is designed to help pre-sell your product or service to the reader. Well, in order for that to happen you need to really think about your audience, what their problem is, what they want, and what kind of content would be most helpful to them.

Here are the 3 questions you should ask yourself about your ideal customer to help come up with great topics for your content. Trust me—the topic for your pillar post is hiding in those answers.

1) What does your prospect need to believe in order to buy the product or service you’re selling?

For example, if you’re selling a marathon training course, maybe your prospect needs to believe that they can run a marathon—even if they work full-time and can only train on nights and weekends.

Or maybe they need to believe that they can run a marathon, even if they’re over 40 or 50 or even if they’re currently overweight.

Because if your prospect doesn’t believe they can run a marathon because of their job, weight, age, etc., then they aren’t going to buy your marathon training course.

So it’s your job to educate them and answer their most common objections with a post like:

“How to Run a Marathon, Even if You Work 40 Hours a Week”

Here’s another example of an article that does a good job of this. It’s called, “5 Reasons why Small Businesses Should use A CRM”:

Clearly this company has identified some of the beliefs that their customers have (particularly the small business owners) need to be overcome. Then they turned that into a blog post that helps to overcome those common objections.

2) What do your prospects research before they buy your product or service?

So our marathon company that we mentioned earlier needs to figure out the kind of things that marathon runners research before they run a marathon, and thus, buy your product.

Are they searching for marathon training tips?

Best marathon shoes?

Marathon motivation?

Here’s another example from REI. They’ve put together a checklist of mountain biking equipment:

This is a great post for new mountain bikers who are researching what kind of gear they need to get started. And, of course, the list has plenty of hyperlinks to products you can buy right on the REI website.

3) What conversations are going on in the mind of your customer before they buy your product or service?

Now you have to really dig deep into the minds of your customers.

When people are thinking about running a marathon, what kinds of things are they thinking about?

Maybe they’re wondering if marathons are good for you or not.

Maybe they’re wondering if running long-distance will hurt their knees, or cause muscle wasting, or 100 other similar questions.

Here’s a great example from Glassdoor. Clearly they’ve identified some of the doubts that tend to run through people’s minds right before an interview:

Here’s another from Charles Schwab. It’s a timely topic for parents (like myself) who are just starting to think about paying for their kid’s college and so on.

Become the Answer to These Questions

These questions are super important because they help you to identify all the hot-button topics that are on your customers’ minds during the buying process.

And once you know the questions your prospects are asking, you can start being the answer to those questions. This will be the foundation for your pillar blog post.

Once you know the questions your prospects are asking, you can start being the answer to those questions.

Are you having trouble figuring out what kinds of questions your prospects have? If so, here’s a little hint.

Get out there and ask them!

Check out forums dedicated to your niche. Attend a local meetup. Or just see if you can interview some of your company’s previous customers to find out what sort of things they researched and thought about before they purchased your product.

HINT: Think About the Way Your Audience Self-Identifies

People often go through a process where they suddenly decide to self-identify a certain way.

As as guitar player. A chef. A photographer. Someone who’s fit. Etc.

For instance, maybe you have been mountain biking off and on for a while. But one day, you find yourself biking more and more often, and you realize you really enjoy it. And then you stop thinking of yourself as a guy who goes mountain biking… and start thinking of yourself as an actual mountain biker.

And just like that, the way you identify yourself in your mind has changed.

People do this all the time, and when they do, it’s a great thing for savvy marketers who know how to take advantage of it.


Because anytime a person decides to self-identify as something, they have a tendency to buy a lot of stuff.

When you start to think of yourself as a mountain biker, you’re going to want to own all the things that mountain bikers generally have—like a hardcore mountain bike, protective gear, mountain biking shoes, and so on.

Those possessions are a way of reinforcing your new self-image.

And the trick, when you’re coming up with a topic for your pillar blog post, is to figure out what is going to speak to that person who has just now started to self-identify as a customer who uses the same type of product or service that you provide.

Now this isn’t necessarily an exact science. There’s always a little guesswork involved. Which is why 1 blog topic idea isn’t enough. Instead, I recommend coming up with a list of at least 10.

Create a List of 10 Content Ideas

When you find the perfect topic for a blog post—I mean that 1 blog post topic that absolutely hits your target prospect right where they live and makes them hungry to read more—that 1 piece of content might be all you need to connect with your audience and launch your content marketing success.

That’s what you’re looking for: that 1 idea that will truly resonate with your audience.

And if you take a closer look at Ryan’s post, he says the same thing:

For DigitalMarketer, it was a post called “Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business.”

The bad news is that you probably won’t pick the perfect topic right off the bat (ask me how I know). It will probably take a few tries until you hit on a content topic that really works for you.

So, start with a list of at least 10 great content topic ideas.

Then follow the rest of this process for each of those 10 ideas, one at a time, until you hit that home-run.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use to it create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

Step 2: Pick a Type of Post

Now that you know what your content is going to be about, the next step is to choose how you’re going to present it.

And there are 2 post types that I recommend you start with here. These aren’t the only way to format a pillar blog post, certainly, but in most cases these are the 2 best formats to use if you’re writing a pillar post.

And the 2 perfect pillar post types are…

1) The “How To” Post: Describe how to execute a process, and use images, video, or audio to enrich the post

This type of article teaches the reader how to do something—whether it’s how to lose weight, how to change a flat tire, or even how to create a pillar blog post. (Woah, meta.)

If you choose to write a how-to post, make sure to go into detail on every step so that the process you’re explaining is super clear to the reader.

The awesome thing about how-to articles is that they have the natural side-effect of positioning you as an authority in your niche.

As a company that offers training programs, DigitalMarketer would want their prospects to view them as an authority in the digital marketing niche. So creating how-to posts is a natural fit for them, which is why DigitalMarketer writes a lot of them.

An example would be DM’s pillar post on customer value optimization:

This post goes into great detail in explaining how to nurture leads into customers and then how to maximize the value of those customers using a marketing funnel that runs largely on autopilot.

2) The Listicle: Create a list of books, tools, resources, or literally anything else your audience will find useful

The other type of post I recommend is a listicle. This is a big old honkin’ list of things that will be useful for your reader. It’s a good choice when there are many different ways to accomplish whatever it is your reader is trying to do.

It’s also a great choice for a lot of B2C companies who want to give their customers new ideas about different ways to use their product. For example, here’s a listicle post from an essential oil company showing people all the different ways they can use essential oils:

If Those 2 Post Types Don’t Fit…

Chances are pretty good that your pillar post idea will work best as a how-to article or a listicle. So try those 2 post types first.

But if those don’t seem to fit, then check out our blog post called The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas. And appropriately enough, this is actually a listicle that contains over 50 (and counting) types of blog posts you can use to deliver your content online.

Then, the last thing you’ll need to do is…

Step 3: Find Your Angle

At this point you have your topic, and you know what format you’re going to present it in. So now you just need to start writing… right?


I can almost guarantee that your post is going to need some kind of angle. Some way of presenting your topic that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them want to click and read that post.

Because here’s the thing. Just about every topic under the sun has been covered before. So it’s not enough to simply write about your topic in a straightforward way.

Instead you first have to find a way to differentiate your post by adding an angle to it. Something that makes it more interesting, more attention-grabbing. Something that makes it stand out from the pack.

Don’t Skip This Step!

Choosing an angle for your post is the step that most people skip.

And that’s a shame because there are a lot of really great posts out there—super helpful posts written about topics people are interested in—that never got the traction they deserved…

All because the creator didn’t write the post in a way that made it stand out from the competition and grab people’s attention.

Here are the 5 main post angles that I recommend for your pillar post:

1) Benefit: A direct angle that speaks to the reader’s self-interest

In this angle, you present your topic as something that will benefit the reader. And everything about that post—from the title to the way you lay out and write the text itself—needs to focus on that benefit.

Because this angle is pretty straightforward, it needs to make a big, bold promise. It needs to tell the reader what they’ll gain or learn.

Here’s an example of a “benefit” angle…

…which promises to show the reader how to be a good leader.

2) New: Use this angle when you are revealing something novel or previously unknown to the reader

People love things that are new and exciting.

New developments, new technology, new announcements—if there’s anything about your topic that you can portray as being new and exciting… something people haven’t seen before… then this is probably the angle you’ll want to use.

The great thing about this angle is that it will appeal to people who are already well-read in your niche.

Take this example from our friends at Social Media Examiner:

If someone has already read 100 articles on how to monetize blogs, they probably won’t want to read a blog that looks like it covers the same thing they’ve already read 100 times.

But you just might grab their attention when you mention “New Research” in your headline, promising them something NEW that they’ve never read before.

3) Threat: A form of the “benefit” angle, this post speaks to the avoidance of pain

This is basically the inverse of Angle #1. Only this time, instead of focusing on how taking action can benefit the reader… you’re focusing on the ways in which NOT taking action could harm them.

Here’s an example of a post with a “threat” angle:

4) Piggyback: Leverages the authority or popularity of someone or something outside of your company

A piggyback is when you leverage something else that’s well-known to lend extra interest and credibility to your topic.

Here’s an example from that piggybacks off of the authority, credibility, and success of Richard Branson:

Richard Branson didn’t write this article. But the author can take advantage of his popularity by writing a post that talks about some of the principles that Richard Branson has talked about or written about in some of his books.

5) Curiosity: Piques interest without providing direct information

The last angle, curiosity, is when you write a post that makes people curious to read more.

You’re not necessarily promising a benefit, or something new, or piggybacking on something else… you’re just piquing the reader’s interest as a way to draw as many people into your content as possible.

Here’s a great example of a “curiosity” post:

This was a super shocking headline, but it made perfect sense for this post because most people (including myself) didn’t know that James Chartrand is actually a woman.

Note: You have to be a little careful with curiosity angles. Don’t try to get too cute or too clever with your angles until you know what you’re doing. Otherwise you’ll end up writing a post headline that doesn’t really speak to anyone.

You Can Combine These Angles Together

Now that you know the 5 most common angles for pillar posts, keep in mind you can also Frankenstein these things together to create an even more enticing post angle.

For example, you might combine a benefit angle with a new angle to create a post like:

“Research Shows This New Face Cream Reduces Wrinkles by 90%…”

Or you could combine a threat angle with a piggyback angle to make this post:

“Warren Buffet Warns Investors: Do NOT Invest in the Stock Market Unless You Do This First!”

3 Tips to Help Extend the Lifespan of Your Post

Remember, the goal of this process is to create a post that will live for a long time, bringing you more and more organic traffic even months or years after you publish it.

If you follow the 3-step process I outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that goal.

But just to make sure you’re armed with all the content firepower available, I’m also sharing these 3 tips to help make sure your posts live a long and healthy life.

1) Update Them Regularly

If you want your posts to continue bringing in traffic year after year, you need to update them and add to them on a regular basis. (Once a year is a good goal.)

This does a couple things.

First, it lets Google know that your post is still up-to-date, still relevant. Google rewards pages that are updated more often with better organic rankings, so this is a way to let them know your post hasn’t fallen behind the times.

“Hoping” isn’t a strategy.

It also makes the post itself more relevant, interesting, and useful for the end reader. Because no matter what topic you’re writing about, there’s bound to be some new information on that topic every year.

And by keeping your post up-to-date, you’re making sure that it continues to be the go-to resource for people who are researching that topic.

2) Create Something 10x Better Than Anything Else Out There

Before you write your post, it’s a good idea to find some of the other pieces of content out there on the topic. Read through that content and see what your competitors have already done.

Then do 10x better than that.

If you aren’t willing to go way above and beyond what’s already out there, then this process isn’t worth your time.

If you want people to choose your blog post over someone else’s (especially a blog post that’s already out there and getting organic traffic), then you have to give them a good reason to do so—and you have to make sure that your content is the best, most helpful resource out there on your topic.

3) Buy Some Website Traffic

Once you publish your blog post, don’t be afraid to pay to send some web traffic to it.

There’s a lot of competition out there for people’s attention, and you can’t always just publish content and hope that people will notice it.

“Hoping” isn’t a strategy.

Instead, it’s your job to make sure that people notice you. And one way you can do that is by spending some money to get your content in front of the right kind of people.

How Many Pillar Posts Do You Need?

The last thing I’m going to talk about in this post is: how many times should you go through this process?

In step #1, I recommended coming up with 10 pillar post topics.

And that’s a good number to start with. When I first started at DM, that’s what I did: I started by creating 10 awesome pieces of content.

And that was enough.

Those 10 blog posts were enough to grab the attention of our market and really launch us into the brand we are today.

So come up with 10 post topic ideas. Then complete the rest of this process for each of those ideas, 1 at a time, until you have 10 amazing pieces of content.

But don’t stop there!

Once you’re finished with your first 10 pieces of content, do it again. And again.

And again.

And watch your audience, your brand, and your business grow to new heights.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use to it create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

The post 3 Simple Steps to Creating A “Pillar Blog Post” That Generates Organic Traffic for Years to Come appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


Making Marketing Training Work: Closing Skills Gaps, Proving Value

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Does investing in employees’ marketing skills pay off? Or is it just a waste?

Businesses spent nearly $94 billion on corporate training in 2017—a 33% increase over 2016.  Per employee, expenditures ranged from $399 at large companies to $1,886 at smaller organizations, according to the same report from Training magazine.

Within marketing departments, an estimated 4.2% of the total marketing budget now goes to training programs, up from 2.7% in 2014. The Association of National Advertisers’ CMO Talent Challenge Playbook highlights success stories from marketing training investments:

After Unilever rolled out a training program to 5,000 marketers in 2016, it reported a “35% uplift in knowledge” and “96% uplift in confidence.”
Graduates of IBM’s E.School now produce marketing content that “performs better on average than content previously produced.”
Fifteen months after implementing their “New Modern Marketing Curriculum,” Johnson & Johnson’s team showed a “statistically significant increase” in prioritized skill areas.

What about your team? Are you spending too much? Too little? Are you training the right skill sets? Is training a good investment? A wasteful expense? Do you even know?

The State of Marketing Training

Some 23% of marketers surveyed by HubSpot identified “training our team” as a top challenge. “Hiring top talent” was immediately below, at 22%.

Companies trying to hire their way out of a skills gap face a competitive marketplace. LinkedIn’s May 2018 Workforce Report revealed a 230,000-person shortage in the United States for marketing skills, with demand highest in major cities.

That tight talent market has pushed training to the forefront, especially training to develop new marketing capabilities. The biannual CMO Survey anticipated a 6.5% increase in investment for “how to do marketing.” No other increase in marketing knowledge development—such as the transfer of internal knowledge or honing of market research skills—topped 3.9%.

As a segment of the training market, however, marketing lags behind the stalwarts of the industry—sales and leadership training:

Search volume for “marketing training” has consistently trailed other disciplines. Source: Google Trends.

Still, marketing’s share of the corporate training budget is significant: $17 million annually for large companies (10,000+ employees), per Training magazine. Mid-size companies (1,000–9,999) spend an average of $1.5 million per year; small companies (100–999) invest around $375,000.

Those figures are supported by similar findings from a 2016 Brandon Hall Group Benchmarking Study, which surveyed training spending for equivalent tiers: $13 million (10,000+ employees), $3.7 million (1,000–9,999), and $290,000 (100–999).

In recent years, most of that money has tried to close a single marketing skills gap: digital.

A Skills Gap Marketers Don’t Know They Have

The Digital Marketing Institute’s 2016 report “Missing the Mark: The Digital Marketing Skills Gap in the USA, UK & Ireland” lays bare marketers’ shortcomings. Only 8% of those tested achieved entry-level digital marketing skills, and the perception of skill exceeded performance: 51% of U.S. marketers perceived a skill level that only 38% demonstrated via testing.

A 2018 analysis of client data by General Assembly—which has benchmarked more than 25,000 marketers with its “Digital Marketing Level 1” skills assessment—found no correlation between seniority and expertise (among those below the vice-presidential level), and cited “data and measurement” as the biggest skills gap.

“It’s not uncommon for us to hear, ‘We don’t know what we don’t know,’” noted Alison Kashin, an Education Product Manager at General Assembly who focuses on digital marketing training. Kashin elaborated:

Most corporate marketers have outsourced digital execution to agencies, and clients now realize they’re too far removed to be effective. It’s hard to give direction, ask the right questions, or make confident decisions if you don’t know how something works.

Marketers’ Self-Inflicted Wound

The yawning skills gap is, in part, self-inflicted. As the Digital Marketing Institute’s report notes, “The general consensus among employees is that the pace of technological and digital change within their organizations is too slow, and that factors such as a fear of loss of control, especially among employees aged 35–49 years, is hindering its adoption.”

The push to close the skills gap also has the potential to create tension with agency partners, who at times transfer knowledge that reduces the need for their services. As Rhea Drysdale, CEO of Outspoken Media, explained:

Companies want to train their team so they can handle more internally, and that makes sense. They see our work as a means to an end. More often than not, that end is team growth.

“This exact scenario happened last year with an enterprise-level professional services company,” Drysdale continued. “Our advocate went from managing one person to a dedicated team that included a data person, an SEO, an editor, and developers. We’re still working with them but as a consultant on project scopes.”

Digital marketing isn’t the only skills gap disrupting the industry—in-house and agency—either.

Further Fronts in Marketing Training

Niches like account-based marketing (ABM) have seen rapid growth in recent years as well.

“The top question we get around education and training development is account-based marketing,” stated Rob Leavitt, Senior Vice President of the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA). “There is a hunger and demand for ABM, and it’s far beyond us.”

Search volume for “account based marketing” began a dramatic rise in 2016. Source: Google Trends.

Leavitt believes ABM training has been a reaction to the digital wave, which can confuse interested individuals with interested accounts:

If I download four whitepapers to understand something relevant to my client, I look really interested—but I’m not a relevant account for you. So how do we take what we’ve learned in digital and overlay an account-based strategy and approach?

At times, the skills gap comes full circle. Just as experienced marketers may hesitate to invest themselves in digital, newer marketers, Leavitt cautioned, risk undervaluing traditional skill sets: “More experienced people feel more comfortable with soft skills—collaboration, leadership, teamwork, etc.”

For every marketer, there’s need. For every facet of marketing, there’s training. But can training close the skills gap?

Does Marketing Training Work?

Few executives know.

In Learning Analytics: Measurement Innovations to Support Employee Development, authors John Maddox, Jean Martin, and Mark Van Buren reveal that, when it comes to training, some 96% of CEOs want to measure one aspect more than any other: impact.

How often is it being measured? Just 8% of the time. Another 74% of CEOs want to connect money spent on training to money earned—the return on investment (ROI). It’s measured just 4% of the time.

Measuring the business impact of training is possible. But individual knowledge gains don’t guarantee company-wide improvements.

Recognizing the Limits of Training

On August, 8, 1963, a band of 15 robbers stole £2.6 million in cash from a mail train traveling between Glasgow and London. Media outlets dubbed the heist “The Great Train Robbery.”

In 2016, Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor Michael Beer and TruePoint researchers Magnus Finnstrom and Derek Schrader reappropriated the moniker to allege a similarly monumental fraud: “The Great Training Robbery.”

Despite the ominous title, the authors are less critical of training programs per se than the “fallacy of programmatic change,” which mistakenly focuses on individual behavior change as a way to shape institutions. Their findings suggest the inverse is true:

The organizational and management system—the pattern of roles, responsibilities and relationships shaped by the organization’s design and leadership that motivates and sustains attitude and behavior—is far more powerful in shaping individual behavior.

Evaluating the Corporate Climate
Professor Amy Edmondson uses the metaphor of “fertile soil” to describe a corporate environment in which individual training can thrive.

Additional work by another HBS professor, Amy Edmondson, distills the prerequisites for effective training programs down to a single metaphor: the need for a corporate climate to provide “fertile soil”—a psychologically safe environment in which subordinates can voice opinions freely. Only fertile soil, in turn, can allow the “seeds” of individual training to germinate.

Beer et al.’s work found that just 10% of training programs surveyed had the fertile soil necessary to derive value from training. Too often, they lament, the rush to invest in individual training protects obdurate executives—or the HR representatives who would need to confront them—rather than addressing core organizational or leadership issues.

Those findings align with Kashin’s experience working with clients at General Assembly:

There are layers of team structures, technology, planning processes, etc., that need to be re-examined to be successful in digital. Most corporate programs have an element of change management. The most success occurs when we support a larger change-management effort that has been set in motion with strong internal leadership.

Measuring the Success of Marketing Training

Even with strong organizational support, how do you know if a marketing training program works?

“It usually looks like ‘program success,’” according to ITSMA’s Leavitt. “Clients look at basic satisfaction with the education training: Did it seem like a good use of time? Have we been able to develop the program and succeed? Are we hitting our targets?”

For Kashin, numbers are only part of the picture: “At the core of every one of our success stories are individuals who were motivated to learn and change, and highlighting their stories is one of our most powerful and rewarding ways of showing value.”

“The reality of a lot of these programs,” Leavitt summarized, is that “education training is hard to measure. A lot of it is qualitative, informal. We know it when we see it. We’ve not cracked code.”

Jack Phillips believes he has. Phillips, an expert on determining the value of training programs with a doctorate in Human Resource Management, is chairman of the ROI Institute:

We don’t like ‘estimates,’ but our choices are to do nothing or claim it all. Neither one is any good. Quantitative data is more believable. Executives understand it quite clearly. Our challenge is to make and defend credible estimates if quantitative data isn’t available.

That combined measurement—exhausting quantitative data sources while communicating qualitative ones persuasively—begins with the identification of KPIs.

Identifying KPIs for Marketing Training

“Sales and marketing tend to have the same metrics,” explained Phillips. “Increase existing customers, acquire new customers, increase client quality, etc.”

(A scan of marketing-specific KPIs highlighted by training firms also reveals a list of familiar metrics: number of qualified leads generated, cost per qualified lead, marketing staff turnover rate, and marketing staff productivity.)

When attempting to identify KPIs, a common mistake is not translating a problem into its underlying metric. For example, “poor copywriting” may be a marketing problem, but improvement can’t be measured unless marketing executives identify an underlying business metric—like conversion rate—that can show the effects of successful training.

According to Phillips, identifying KPIs is far easier than parsing the influence of factors that may affect them: What if an improvement to an ad campaign drives more qualified visitors to a landing page? Or a recent website redesign increases site speed?

Isolating the impact of marketing training, Phillips asserted, is the key to unlocking assessment methods that can demonstrate ROI. Still, the math can quickly become complex. So can the cost of measurement. On average, companies spend just 4% of the total training budget on measurement; most spend less than 1%.

Many models, Phillips’ included, outline progressive levels of measurement to help companies scale accountability based on resources.

The Phillips Measurement Model
The methodology behind the Phillips Measurement Model. Source: Phillips, Jack. Measuring the Success of Sales Training.

Phillips uses a five-level model (an optional sixth level assesses intangible values—job satisfaction, organizational commitment, teamwork, etc.):

Reaction: Did participants like it?
Learning: Did they learn from it?
Application: Did they apply their new knowledge on the job?
Impact: Did the training have a business impact?
ROI: What was the value of that impact, and was it a good investment?

While authoritative, Phillips’ model is not the only one. Models by Donald Kirkpatrick and Josh Bersin are also widely used. (General Assembly uses a version of the Kirkpatrick model.) The Kirkpatrick model allows for immediate post-training measurement, while the Bersin model folds values such as efficiency and utility into Phillips’ approach.

Levels 1–3: Generating a Baseline Measurement

The initial levels of measurement include assessments such as post-training surveys to measure trainee satisfaction as well as tests or instructor evaluations to measure knowledge transfer.

Phillips believes the first two levels are sufficient for a baseline measurement of knowledge transfer. Additional levels of measurement connect training outcomes more closely with business metrics and monetary returns, but those insights come at a cost.

Kashin concurred: “Measuring behavior change and business impact is something we always encourage, but it requires a fair bit of investment on the client side.”

Measuring behavior change (“Application” in the Phillips model) also requires a time lapse—Phillips suggests three months—but can be a simple retest of training knowledge or follow-up survey about trainees’ perception of its enduring value.

Levels 4–5: Bridging the Gap between Training Costs and ROI

To complete a five-level measurement with “Impact” and “ROI,” companies must identify a business outcome (e.g. web leads), assign it an accurate monetary value (e.g. dollar value of a web lead), and isolate the impact of training from other factors.

Phillips offers quantitative and qualitative options to isolate the impact of training:


A/B Testing. Find two similar groups of marketers within your organization (e.g. teams in roughly equivalent markets located in different cities or countries). Offer training to one and not the other. Measure the difference in performance between the two based on a key metric (e.g. increase of sales-qualified leads the three months before and after training).
Trend analysis. Use past performance to project expected progress of a given metric. Measure the actual outcome after training. The impact of training is the difference in performance between the two lines.
Modeling/forecasting. If training aligns with changes to other variables (e.g. advertising campaigns), subtract the known impact of that variable from the total change; the remaining change is the impact of marketing training.

To identify outside variables that affect progress toward business metrics, Phillips leans on experts within the organization, asking questions like:

Would this trend have continued if we had done nothing?
Is it market growth?
Did anything else happen in the environment around the marketing share?
Were there other marketing promotions?
Did prices changes?
Were there added incentives for related groups, like sales staff?
Did competitors shift strategies or enter/exit the marketplace?


Estimates. Conduct surveys of clients or marketing staff. Ask clients to identify the channels or efforts that made them aware of a product or influenced their purchase. Survey marketing staff about the degree to which various marketing efforts (training included) influenced results.

If, say, a digital marketing training program, an online advertising campaign, and a website redesign all launched in the past three months, ask marketing staff to weight the effect of each, multiplying by their confidence:

As Phillips argued:

When you combine these estimates from a group of people, they become powerful. Our effort is always to go to the most credible process first. If we can’t use a mathematical approach, we’ll use estimates—and we’ll defend them.

Time and again, Phillips has seen the “confidence” adjustment account for human error effectively. (Phillips cited Jack Treynor’s jelly bean experiment as corroborating evidence.)

Expert opinions. When collective estimates by customers or staff aren’t available, use internal experts or key managers to make individual estimates.

“The key is to ask the right person and collect it the right way,” Phillips explained. Finding the “right” person or conducting a survey the “right” way is open to interpretation. But, Phillips is adamant, no less necessary:

You have to do it. You can’t just say, ‘We’ll take full credit for it,’ and life is good. Executives will require you to sort it.

Translating the business impact into ROI requires two additional steps:

Converting the business impact to a monetary value (e.g. the dollar value of a whitepaper download)
Determining how many dollars are returned above and beyond the initial investment in marketing training

Importantly, an ROI calculation differs from a benefit-cost ratio in format (percentage versus ratio) and formula (subtracting program costs from benefits):

How ROI differs from a benefit-cost ratio. Source: Phillips, Jack. Measuring the Success of Sales Training.

Even without a complete ROI calculation, assessing the “business impact” of training—when supplemented with a list of intangible benefits—can be a powerful defense at multiple levels within an organization, c-suite included.


Need alone—digital marketing skills today, account-based marketing skills tomorrow—may continue to fill training budgets and grow training programs. Measurement challenges will not fix or excuse skills gaps in marketing departments.

“To some extent,” Leavitt concluded, ruminating again on the question of ROI, “When your clients come back for more, they’re happy with what they got the first time.” It’s a purely qualitative measurement.

Still, robust, quantitative ROI models, though more persuasive in the c-suite, lean on qualitative components, too. All measurements can be defended; all surpass a failure to measure anything at all.

Nor can any assessment answer other, broader questions: Is training currently the best use of marketing resources? Does the commitment to change extend to the highest levels of the organization?

In short, is it the right season? Is the soil fertile? If yes, then plant the seed. And grow.

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