For some, navigating the world of marketing is no easy feat, especially if you’re new. When traversing within this realm you’re bound to encounter a multitude of acronyms for key concepts that must be understood before crafting digital marketing strategies. Like with architecture, ensuring that your foundation is sturdy is vital before you begin building upon it. There are many ways to optimize your site’s ranking, but some techniques involve risks. Before embarking on your journey into the world of digital marketing, we’ll begin with an understanding of SEO.
What is SEO?
If you want to hide something, place it on the second page of the Google search results. People begin their research with Google, but only the first five search results receive 67% of all clicks. With this information in mind, you might be wondering, how do we make it into the coveted top five results? One way to make this happen is through search engine optimization.
SEO is defined as the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. It’s important to drive traffic to your site, but not all traffic is created equal. We want searchers who will find your content useful. Once you’ve sifted out the searchers who won’t find your content relevant, that’s when you’ll start focusing on the numbers, or in this case, the quantity of traffic. Unpaid traffic that is generated from SERPs (search engine results pages) is known as organic traffic.
When faced with a perplexing question, it is not uncommon for us to immediately take to our keyboards or awaken our devices from their slumber (Siri, Alexa, I’m looking at you) to help us find the answers we seek. Each second, Google processes over 40,000 search queries on average which equates to 3.5 billion searches a day. Within mere seconds, billions of results appear and are arranged in an order that the engine deems most fitting for our query. The order in which results appear is determined through three main processes: ranking, crawling, and indexing processes.
Crawling – These aren’t your average creepy crawlies! During this process, search engines send out bots to search the web for new and updated content which is later stored in an index.
Indexing – After a bit of search and reconnaissance, the bots store the information that was discovered while crawling. Once stored in the engine’s index, the webpage will be displayed as a result of relevant searches.
Ranking – Answering the searcher’s question is the priority. Based on the query, the results will be arranged from most to least relevant.
Since these functions are carried out by search engines, it may seem like you have little to no control over the crawling, indexing, and ranking processes. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can improve them! We’ve put together a free guide to help you improve your site’s crawlability, indexability, and rankability. Submit your information above and receive your free checklist right into your inbox in a matter of seconds!
Now back to business. When it comes to SEO, there are many hats you can wear. But there are also consequences that come with the hat you choose to don.
Black Hat SEO
You want results and you want them fast. These “short-cut” tactics are often referred to as black hat SEO. People who participate in black hat SEO often regret taking this route. Of the three methods, this one is the least ethical as it goes against search engine guidelines and is often given a penalty. There are many characteristics of black hat SEO. Not sure about which practices are deemed shady by most search engines? Here are a few examples of black hat tactics:
Keyword stuffing – This is the overuse of certain keywords in an attempt to improve visibility and increase organic traffic. In the case of keyword usage, less is more. Maintaining relevance when using keywords in your online content is vital. If determining whether a word is connected to the topic or not feels like a stretch, it’s probably best not to use it.
Cloaking – Trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a web crawler? Some webpages are able to show a different version of their site to crawler/bots that decide to pay them a visit.
Invisible text – This method is dated, but it is still loved by some. This involves hiding text containing keywords in the webpage’s background by matching its color or placing it offscreen using CSS. Doing this only makes the words visible to search engines.
Creating and operating a business requires a substantial amount of time and money. If you started one, chances are that you’re in it for the long haul. Websites flagged for these practices run the risk of being permanently banned from search engines, so it’s best to avoid using black hat techniques.
Grey Hat SEO
If there is a fine line between ethical and unethical SEO practices, a grey hat tactic is it! This method involves practices that aren’t illegal, but they aren’t entirely honest either. Here are a few ways grey hat SEO is done:
Keyword association manipulation – One of the things is not like the other. This technique is similar to keyword stuffing, but it involves trying to make unrelated words functions as synonyms in an attempt to trick bots.
Sneaky redirects – Using redirects on your site isn’t a crime, but when they’re used to show two different versions of your site, it becomes a problem. Refrain from showing one version of your site to desktop users and redirecting mobile users to a spam domain.
Duplicated content – Getting a sense of deja vu? Uploading the same content to multiple websites might seem like a great way to get more eyes on it, but it could run the risk of being deemed as spam by Google or other search engines.
As with black hat SEO, there are risks involved with practicing these techniques. With the ever-increasing advancements in technology, trying to outsmart algorithms is quite the gamble. If having your company’s reputation take a nosedive doesn’t sound like something you’d like to put on the line, it might be best to try your luck elsewhere.
White Hat SEO
If you’re looking to improve your ranking without running the risk of facing penalties, then white hat SEO is the way to go! Essentially, white hat SEO is the avoidance of grey and black hat practices. However, it also requires the optimization of certain components of your webpage. White hat practices include:
Quality content – It’s important to remember the purpose of your content. The user has a problem and your site holds the answer/solution. Through the use of SEO keyword research tools, you’ll be able to find and attach the appropriate keywords that match the purpose of your content.
Meta tags – Always be sure to include these and they not only provide a snippet of your web page in SERPs but are also read by search engines and crawlers to learn additional information about your site. This information can be used to determine rankability.
Information Architecture – The structure of your information plays a pivotal role in usability and findability. Finely structured Information that is easy to navigate will provide users with an optimal experience during their quest to find the answer to their query.
Mobile-friendly – Having a version of your site that is fully capable of being viewed on mobile devices is quite important. According to Google, failure to do so could result in your SERP ranking taking a hit. This is because they prioritize mobile-friendly websites. If you’re unsure about your site’s mobile compatibility status, Google provides a mobility test that can help bring awareness to the components of your site that might require further action.
Implementing most of these practices will begin with the construction of your site. Simplistic yet functional navigation for both users and crawlers alike is ideal. It should be taken into consideration when designing your webpage. Adhering to these guidelines will have you well on your way to improving your ranking. All of this without running the risk of being flagged by search engines.
Improving your ranking is of great importance, but it shouldn’t involve putting your business on the line. It is best to participate in honest practices that won’t result in the loss of your website and ultimately a decline in business. The world of digital marketing is a competitive field. Therefore, you might feel tempted to engage in practices that’ll help you quickly rise above the masses. But it’s important to be aware of the repercussions that are bound to follow.
If you’re still looking for an alternative way to increase your views, you might want to consider SEM or search engine marketing. Learn the basics of SEM and how to implement its practices into your strategy in the second part of this blog. Stay tuned!
You’ve done it! After deploying numerous campaigns your email list is finally looking extensive. You exhale a sigh of relief, but suddenly realize that you’ve applauded yourself too soon. You’re losing engagement, or worse yet, your email list is filled with inactive subscribers. Studies show that 70% of email lists are inactive. This number might seem tremendously discouraging, but before you abandon all hope, keep reading.
Losing engagement is inevitable, but it isn’t irreversible. According to Loren McDonald, Marketing Evangelist at IBM, 10% to 20% of subscribers completely disengage from a brand’s email list annually (mailer lite).
Initially, you may think the best resolution is to contact your audience more. Maybe if you are able to say the right thing, they’ll re-engage? While that is partially true, there are a few steps to consider before pushing more content out. Here are a few ways you can revamp your content to drive engagement.
Segment inactive subscribers
Before building your re-engagement strategy, you’ll first need to identify your inactive subscribers. Who has engaged with your campaigns within the last 6-12 months? Research shows that 39% of marketers who segment their email lists generate better open rates. You’ll often find subscribers at one of these stages in your marketing funnel: hibernation, limbo, and graveyard.
- Hibernation – Hello? Is anyone home? Subscribers who’ve recently stopped engaging with your campaigns will be placed into this category. With the right message, you can rattle them awake!
- Limbo – This is where you’ll place subscribers who’ve been inactive for a substantial amount of time. The fire is still burning, but it’s shrunken over time. With a solid re-engagement campaign, it’ll be rekindled to its former ferocity.
- Graveyard – Here lie the subscribers who most likely signed up to partake in your discounts or promotions. They’ve never interacted with your campaigns and engaging with them seems next to impossible. Before you vanquish them from your list, try to find an effective way to reconnect. Studies have shown that inactive subscribers are 26 percent more likely to make a follow-up purchase than non-subscribers, and active subscribers were actually 38 percent more likely to come back.
Cleaning out your email list will not only give you a clear view of who is truly engaging with your content, but it will also improve your email deliverability rate. Your sender score can plummet if you have a low engagement rate, and then mark your emails as spam. You’ll also be saving money! The longer the email list, the more you’ll be paying your email service providers. So, do yourself a favor and tidy up! This can be done at least once per year.
Improve Subject Lines
We’ve all heard it. Time is money. Your subscribers are human; they have lives and their time is limited. So how can we grab a few seconds of their time? According to Connectio, people are naturally drawn to numbers. Including them in the subject lines of your emails can generate interest. A great way to do this is by implementing the R-O-T ( results, objection, time) formula which simply states the results, objections they might have and a specified time-frame in which the results can be achieved. Sign-up for our content upgrade for an in-depth break down of the formula and more!
It’s important that your subject lines are free of spelling and grammatical errors. Be mindful of how many exclamation marks are used and try to refrain from stating your subject line in all caps. Incorporating these elements can make you appear aggressive.
I know, I know. You might think that incorporating them into your subject lines will do more harm than good, but these little guys can help your emails pack a punch. In a vast sea of emails, emojis can be the lighthouse that helps your message stand out in an inbox. Studies show that incorporating emojis in subject lines can lead to higher response rates than traditional email.
Here are a few ways they can benefit your emails:
- Personality – Throwing an emoji in your subject line can help it convey what words can’t. They can also be useful in solidifying your brand’s voice and improving the overall tone of your message.
- Space saver – Maximize space by replacing certain words with its emoji equivalent.
- Engagement boost – Push notifications with emojis saw 85% increase in open rates and 9% bump in conversions
Unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. It’s important to find balance when using emojis in your emails. Use too many, they become a distraction or convey a sense of unprofessionalism. Try limiting emoji use to one or two maximum per subject line.
Do you remember how you felt the last time you received a birthday card or a package addressed directly to you? It felt good, right? Studies show that the open rate for emails with a personalized message is 17.6%, compared to 11.4% for emails that don’t contain a personalized message. Sending a personalized message to your subscribers makes them feel like an individual rather than just another number. Making them feel like they matter can encourage them to resume engagement with your content.
Here are a few ways personalized messages can be incorporated into your re-engagement campaign:
- Incentivize Your Subscribers
Who doesn’t love saving money? Depending on your profit margins, extending a special discount toward inactive subscribers might be enough to get them to return. Special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, can be useful with this approach.
- Remind them of why they signed-up
Reinforce your value by reminding them of the benefits that come with being with your company. What makes you stand out from other businesses in your field?
- Show them what they’re missing
Reminding your subscribers of what they’ve accomplished while using your services could encourage them to return, especially if the data is significant. Use this opportunity to share any new information. Accompany this message with a call-to-action in the form of a “learn more” button.
Sometimes, you just need to hear it straight from the source. Conducting a poll or survey gives your subscribers an opportunity to engage with you and openly share their thoughts. Try to keep your survey short. AWeber recommends covering between 1-10 questions during a timeframe of 1-5 minutes. The survey can include open-ended questions or take the form of an opinion poll with premade answers. Of the two, most recommend taking the opinion poll approach, as it could save the recipient time.
Your word is your bond. A huge part of relationship-building is honesty. When building your re-engagement campaign it’s important to state information that you’ll be able back up. Dishonest subject lines or copy might increase your open rates momentarily, but they’ll put your business at risk. The CAN-SPAM Act explicitly states that the use of deceptive subject lines and misleading header information in commercial messages can be subject to penalties for such violations. When it comes to successfully re-engaging your subscribers, honesty truly is the best policy.
Saying goodbye doesn’t have to be hard. Remember to follow the CAN-SPAM Act rules by honoring opt-out requests promptly. The Can-Spam Act prohibits you from charging a fee, selling email addresses, and requires you to honor this request within 10 business days. Try not to take their departure personally and ensure that the unsubscribing process is hassle-free.
There could be numerous reasons as to why you’re seeing a drop in engagement. Take a step back. Clean up your email list and re-evaluate your strategy. Your subscribers signed up for a reason. With a few tweaks to your campaign, you might be able to remind them of that reason. But it’s important to remember that just like the seasons, people also change. Don’t get hung up on those who still insist on opting out after launching your re-engagement campaign. There are only lessons, not failures. Use this as an opportunity to dial in your personas and create curated information.
Clearing away inactive accounts will not only save you money, but it will also decrease the chances of your data becoming skewed. With a clear view of your data, you’ll be able to make accurate decisions that’ll spark engagement.
As you can see, just as there are complexities and details that can’t be neglected when creating an email list, there are precautions you must take when trying to re-engage readers.