Why You Should Stop Keyword Stuffing in SEO Now

Keyword stuffing is like Michael Myers in “Halloween” — it refuses to die. It’s also very dangerous for your business, because it will kill your search engine rankings.

Keyword stuffing is one of those things left over from the earliest days of digital marketing that refuses to go away.

You have already seen in it in action if you have come across blogs full of phrases like “best seafood near me” or “women dress store Atlanta.”

It is awkward, unnatural, and still one of the go-to techniques for many content creators. Why?

Why Keyword Stuffing Became So Popular

As digital marketing and search engines evolved, it became clear that people tended to use specific phrases when doing an Internet search. Marketers figured out that they could get high rankings for their clients by filling content with these phrases. That led to lots of ads and other content filled with popular search phrases.

As the practice spread, so did the number of keywords crammed into the content. It got to the point where popular keyword phrases were making their way into landing pages and blogs, even if they didn’t fulfill the user’s intent. That meant lots of annoyed users who didn’t end up finding “red sandals Dallas” when they clicked on an ad or link.

How Keyword Stuffing Hurts You Today

Connecting audiences to their desired result is the primary goal of search engines. Having tons of users annoyed by low-quality results does not allow them to do that. Search engines now reward content written for actual human consumption, not to game their algorithms in pursuit of higher search rankings. Spammy content that does not satisfy user intent now gets driven down in SERPs.

One of the things search engines judge when determining whether the content is useful is the keyword density throughout a piece of content. You may be using keywords that tie into your client’s product, but the sheer volume used could have it penalized.

That also applies to your hidden web content. Some content creators attempt to circumvent search engine penalties by stuffing multiple keywords into the alt tags in images or the meta tags in their HTML. Search engines are aware of these tactics, and will penalize your pages in response.

Better SEO Techniques for Your Keywords

Keywords still help improve page rankings, when used correctly. Working the following techniques into your content will earn better rankings by Google and other search engines.

User-Friendly Phrasing

One thing you can let go of is the idea that you must use common search phrases in a specific order.

Let’s go back to our “red shoes Dallas” example from before. You could easily rewrite the phrase to read, “We have many red high-heeled shoes in stock at our Dallas location.” and get the desired result.

Google, for example, understands how to match that directly to the keyword phrase in question and pull back the proper result. The content itself is richer and much more comfortable for a visitor to consume. Using keywords this way also helps when users issue voice searches through IoT or mobile devices.

Lower Keyword Density

Make sure the body of your blogs and articles contain at least 300 words. The longer and more useful you make them, the easier it will be to naturally work in keyword phrases, while maintaining a keyword density of around 2 percent.

You should also use secondary keywords and other long-tailed keywords that tie back to your content. Search engines will continue to give you better rankings, if you maintain a proper balance.

Summing It All Up

Keyword stuffing is an outdated methodology that unfortunately still gets widely used. Search engines penalize pages that use keyword stuffing techniques.

Instead of unnaturally adding keywords to your pages, use natural phrasing and long-tailed variations in rich content to help content rank better in SERPs.  Ultimately, letting go of outdated keyword stuffing benefits content creators, search engines and, most importantly, your prospective customers.

Want more tips to improve your SEO?  Click here to grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

 

 

Using Marketing to Decrease Risk, Without Devaluing Your Solutions

Using introductory offers in your marketing can reduce perceived risk and help your prospects get to know you. Done poorly, they can also damage your brand and destroy your differentiation.

If you’re asking your prospects to make a buying decision that involves a significant budget or any other form of risk, it’s wise to create a low-risk way for your prospects to get to know you. Increasing comfort decreases perceived risk. And that’s essentially the goal of all marketing today: to decrease risk and make a purchase easier to defend emotionally and logically.

Introductory Offers as Marketing Tools

Often, the path marketers take is with introductory offers. There’s danger, though, in creating inexpensive teasers if they’re done wrong. You can cheapen your brand, acclimate your audience to lower pricing and lower value, or all of the above.

The worst cases we see are what we call the “transmissions and tax returns” problem. Chances are, you wouldn’t bring your car in for service at Ted’s Transmission Repair and Tax Prep Services — and you definitely wouldn’t have Ted prepare your corporate returns!

But the disconnect doesn’t have to be that obvious. I still question the wisdom of Porsche’s need to add an SUV to its line-up. Or Mercedes Benz and BMW’s addition of the A-Class and 1 series, respectively.

Don’t Lose Your Differentiation

Instead of being all things to all people, do what you do and do it better than anyone else. (There’s only one “Utimate Driving Machine” and it doesn’t have to be priced for the masses.)

If you need to expand beyond what your brand means to the market, perhaps take the Honda/Acura or Toyota/Lexus route and create a family of brands. If that’s not possible, reconsider whether the proposed new product/service is a good long-term fit.

This possibility of brand dilution is particularly deadly for small- and mid-size B2B businesses, where the kind of brand equity we see for Fortune 500 companies is unlikely to exist. In other words, losing your differentiation can be deadline.

Relative Pricing Matters

That’s not to say that you can’t make a lower-priced service line work. For example, if you offering market research to consumer brands and typically charge five figures for an engagement, you may want to offer executive summaries with much narrower scopes for, say, $400 or $500.

The executive summaries offer a relatively inexpensive way for prospects to see if your approach and style fits their needs. It’s very little risk, in terms of opportunity costs, and palatable financial risk.

Who Are You Marketing To?

The price point for your get-to-know-us product is important and bears some research. A $49 price tag would absolutely tarnish the value of your big-ticket consulting. More importantly, it would likely attract the kinds of customers that you aren’t interested in. (i.e. Those unwilling or unable to pay your consulting rates.)

Be careful in trying to serve multiple markets. You can create different content and marketing materials to serve, say, corporate bookkeepers and CFOs — who will naturally have very different concerns, but may be interested in the same service.

But don’t try to serve CFOs and lang-haul truckers. There’s just no overlap there. (With the possible exception of something that saves money/fuel/time and improves the driving experience.)

A price that balances the value of your services with the desire for a prospect to get to know your work a bit better before committing tens of thousands of dollars can be a valuable marketing tool.

What Are You Marketing?

Finally, be clear on what you are marketing. Your strategy should be different, depending on whether you are marketing a new service meant to appeal to a new market, or using a new service as a way to reach the same market for your existing services.

Critically, you must identify your primary product line and most important audience segments, and serve them first.

Imagine This: Better Visuals for Better Digital Marketing

Great imagery can bring your digital marketing to life. Clichéd visuals will do the opposite, and may even drive your audience away from otherwise great content. Here’s how to get better visuals.

“Stock photography” is not a four-letter word. (Though “clip art” probably is.) It’s possible to bring your digital marketing and collateral materials to life without spending a fortune — or looking like you’ve spent nothing at all. Here are some tips for better visuals.

Writers Are Not Designers

At least, most writers aren’t. Some writers do have a good visual sense. But even if you’re blessed with a writing team full of museum-level illustrators or photographers, you’re better off having a visual pro on your team, as well. Not only is that person likely to produce better visuals, but a second set of eyes naturally provides a different perspective.

That additional perspective can be valuable. If your designer comes back and says, “I’m not really sure where to go with this, visually,” it’s a good sign that perhaps the content isn’t as clear as it could be. (Which might also point to the need for writing and editing roles to be handled differently.)

Give Designers a Seat at the Table

Taking this one step further, you’ll want to involve designers early and let them shape the finished product. Design will obviously be central to an infographic, a video, or any other inherently visual medium. But even for case studies and other copy-centric content, the design team should be given the opportunity to help shape the finished product. In other words, don’t bring them at the end with instructions to “do the best you can with this.” Let them help you make it better from the start.

Stock Imagery Isn’t Either/Or

When it comes to fine clothing, your choices aren’t just right of the rack vs. full custom. You can also have a ready-made suit tailored to fit you better. The same is true of graphic elements.

Your design team can combine multiple images to get the effect you need. Or even simply process an image to create a cohesive similarity across a series of blog posts, case studies, or brochures.

Stay on the Right Side of the Rules

I hope I’m not pointing out something new by telling you that most stock imagery requires a license. Tools for tracking down unauthorized usage has become much more sophisticated, so don’t think nobody will notice an unlicensed image, just because it’s not font-and-center on your home page.

One often overlooked detail: making sure that the license allows you to use it as you plan to. And if you plan to alter the image, that makes a difference. Not all licenses allow alteration, nor do all licenses permit any kind of usage.

And please don’t even think of doing a basic Google search and using any old image that shows up. That doesn’t mean it is a public domain image. You’re far better off using a tool like the Google Advanced Image Search, which allows you to filter results by usage rights, along with many other useful parameters.

Conclusion

In the end, there’s no substitute for a talented and experienced graphics pro. But if budget or other constraints make adding one to your team unrealistic, consider at least bringing in a designer as a one-time or occasional consultant who can create guidelines that help you avoid cliches, overly literal imagery, and those shiny happy people who all but scream “clip art.”

Are Boomers Really Underserved by Digital Marketers?

Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Digital marketers see future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Did you hear the one about the entitled calling out the entitled?

I’m entitled. I was born during the peak year of the Baby Boom — and one thing I never had to think about was being ignored by marketers. Even digital marketers today.

Riding the “age wave” as a consumer, I was courted by brands from a tender young age. I was taught young how to be a good American consumer, and I was duly paid attention to by marketers.

And though the peak year of the Baby Boom presented challenges growing up — we all competed fiercely for college placements, job placements, housing, and status — it also prepared us well for the Reagan era’s rugged individualism, a concept and social structure that seems to have gone far, far away in our “it takes a Village” reality today. At least in the ’80s, I could afford to move to New York — though barely.

Witness a new generation — the children of Baby Boomers, Millennials — who are rising to dominate the workforce, and asserting new social values (built on inclusiveness, sustainability, fairness, and tolerance) and, gee, are brands paying attention to them! No, I’m not jealous — I’m thrilled. No, really!

Transparency, Authenticity, Sustainability, Diversity, On Demand — Brand Attributes That Appeal

According to a newly updated Deloitte Insights study, there are nearly as many Millennials as Boomers in the United States. These two generations are both forces for economic growth — as consumer spending drives two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Boomers certainly have more disposable income — and Millennials have more debt relative to income. But where digital strategy drives the marketing, Deloitte reports, Boomers may matter less, at least in practice. My guess: Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Also, Millennials live, work, and play online. Boomers consume digitally, too. But when you tune into the nightly television news, you know the audience is comprised of Boomers and the Silent Generation before them. (Granted, when I watch TV news, I’m also skimming my smartphone.) Just watch the ads for prescription drugs, incontinence products, memory care, nutraceuticals, and other products for an aging audience — and you know there’s hardly a soul under 40 (or 50) watching scheduled newscasts anymore. The cord-cutting is rampant when “triple-play” packages cost hundreds per month, and Millennial-led households and individuals don’t see any need or logic to pay like their parents do, even if they can afford it.

They consume media completely differently, and always can steam any live events, news included, from their own trusted sources fairly easily. Media consumption, disrupted.

Brand attributes are changing, too. Many direct-to-consumer brands, popular among Millennials, have arisen not just because of perceived convenience and superior product, if that is indeed true — but because they connect using data flows that recognize the consumer from device to device, and learn in the process (that matters). They also connect because of what the brand represents, by establishing emotional and identity connection. Does the brand speak to the individual with respect and display a social aptitude? If the answer is yes, you have a better chance of gaining business and loyalty. It helps, too, that marketing is personalized at mass scale – and product personalization is booming. As “social” a cohort as Millennials are, they still demand “rugged individualism” when tailoring the product or service to their own wants, needs, and interests. For any of us at any age, we love such personalized connections, too.

So let’s congratulate Millennials, their digital prowess, and the brands’ love affair they are experiencing on their devices — and that I’ve enjoyed for decades elsewhere everywhere. It’s not as if I’m ignored online, I know I’m still coveted. But let’s not talk about sex.

digital marketers
Photo: Chet Dalzell, Photo inside JFK – Alitalia Lounge, 2019. I’ve enjoyed the attention. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

How Brands Can Align Content Marketing With Sales

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

It’s not news that sales teams and marketers think differently and, uh, occasionally disagree. Your chances of completely eliminating those clashes are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the two teams to work together more effectively. One way to do this is to encourage your sales team to invite their marketing counterparts out on sales calls with them. Here’s what they might learn.

What Do Prospects Really Care About?

One of the key data points for marketers is the critical questions that prospects ask about the sales team about your solution and how it relates to their problem. Marketers who are developing content marketing programs need to be absolutely certain that their material makes clear how you answer those critical questions. Hearing those questions straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, is likely to provide insights that hearing the same information filtered through the sales team’s own lens won’t.

Pain Points

Pain points are the next step as you drill down from the big picture critical questions to the nitty-gritty issues that your prospects feel every day. Your sales team can undoubtedly recite the top 10 pain points in their sleep. But, as above, familiarity may create missed opportunities. Marketers, hearing the information directly rather than through the sales team (and coming at the situation with content in mind, rather than closing), can find inspiration for new ways to connect the dots between prospects’ concerns and the solutions you offer.

Positioning

Marketing may also gain insights into how the sales team is positioning the firm’s products and services. Again, this is critical to the content they develop, as well as calls to action lead magnets. Any disconnect between what the prospect has learned from the marketing materials they’ve consumed and the message they get from the sales team can doom chances of conversion.

It’s also important for marketers to hear prospects at different points in their buying journey. Those who are ready to make a final decision will have much different concerns than prospects who are in touch with the sales team for the first time.

Ultimately these  “ride-alongs” are one more way that sales and marketing teams can communicate better, provide one another with the information to make everyone’s job easier, and get better results.

In Content Marketing, It’s Not What You Know — It’s What You Know About Your Audience

Marketers need to know something about their target audience and they need to know how to paint an accurate picture of their ideal customers.

Our crazy upside-down world offers plenty of evidence that, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But while that might get you $26 million worth of Instagram endorsement deals, in content marketing, you have to know something — as well as someone.

In fact, you need to know something about someone — specifically, your target audience. With that in mind, it’s worth considering the tools and techniques we use to paint an accurate picture of our ideal customers.

Established Client Interviews

Though you’ll hear many an expert talk about prospect personas as the ideal starting point, for most of us, it’s easier to establish a baseline by interviewing our existing clients to find out what motivated them to seek out a solution. You’ll also want to understand what differentiated you in their minds from your competitors — and from other possible solutions.

That information should form the backbone of your content marketing efforts, your broader marketing efforts, and even your sales team’s approach.

Interviewing Prospects and New Clients

Naturally, you’re going to want to start your interviews with your best clients. That makes sense on one level, because an established and long-standing relationship will make the ask easier and a positive response more likely. But low-hanging fruit has its limitations, including faded memories of long-ago meetings not necessarily being as useful as we’d like. It’s worthwhile to look deeper into your client pool.

As you talk to newer clients, the goal of each interview should be to determine

  • What pain the client is experiencing
  • The (negative) impact that pain point is causing their business
  • The risks posed by trying something new
  • How they perceived you vs. your competitors

These are also great questions for prospects who you have lost, assuming you forged enough of a relationship during the courtship to gain a few more minutes of their time. In fact, you should encourage your sales team to ask lost prospects  questions around, “Why not us?”

Prospect Personas for Content Marketing

All of this interview information can be combined with basic knowledge you have about your clients, prospects and targets to create the outlines of your prospect personas. This will include things like target industries and typical roles for your prospects. The rest of the persona-building process is a topic for a separate article, but you’ll certainly want to flesh out your ideal prospects in as much detail as possible. Which brings us to our next critical layer: the human element.

The Human Element in B2B Content Marketing

The human element is, arguably, more important than any other consideration. We’re not talking here about the smarmy tendency of some salespeople to research individual prospects’ alma maters and open a meeting with something along the lines of, “How ‘bout them Huskies!”

There is value in connecting on that very individual level. But first, we simply want to remember that our prospects, even though we are B2B marketers, are human. They have human concerns in the office, just as they do at home and on weekends. Getting too personal can be creepy, but I’m not sure there is such a thing as too human. Strive to make that human element a part of your marketing.

Don’t Forget the Data

It might seem a hard shift from the human element to data, but quite the opposite is true. Data is what gives us the ability to focus our marketing much more tightly than our B2C brethren often can. And that focus is another way we can humanize our message. We’re not trying to be all things to all people. Let the data guide you toward the areas where you can be more human and connect more completely with your audience’s needs and their (perhaps unexpressed) concerns surrounding risk and reward.

Data can take the form of general quantitative data, like how popular was a particular piece of content we’ve created. And it can take a more personalized form in basing upcoming touchpoints with prospects based on the content they’ve interacted with most recently. You’ll want to combine as many data sources as possible to fill in both the foreground and background of the picture you’re painting.

3 Ways to Combine Direct Mail With Digital Marketing

When you combine your direct mail with digital marketing, you enhance it and drive better results. There are many ways to add digital to your direct mail campaigns in a cost-effective way so that you can test to see how it works for you.

Direct mail has been around for a very long time and it is easy to continue to send mail the same way it was done 20 years ago, but this is much less effective now. Direct mail marketing in 2019 is so much more targeted and personalized, which makes it more effective. However, many marketers continue to silo their direct mail. This is a mistake. When you combine your direct mail with digital marketing, you enhance it and drive better results. There are many ways to add digital to your direct mail campaigns in a cost-effective way so that you can test to see how it works for you.

Let’s check out some winning digital and direct mail combinations.

  • Display Ads — You can use display ads in conjunction with your mail. You can match your direct mail data file to an IP address file to target specific people on your mail list. This is cookie-free marketing that displays banner ads on web pages as your customers and prospects are browsing. It gives you more opportunities to persuade your prospects and customers to make a purchase. Keep in mind that display advertising can affect people at every stage of the marketing funnel from awareness, education and evaluation to purchase. You can see real-time click rates to monitor progress.
  • Facebook Ads — You can use Facebook ads in conjunction with your mail. You can match your direct mail data file to Facebook. This will allow you to send targeted ads to your customers and prospects. They will see an ad in their News Feed. There are several ad options you can choose the one that is right for you. Your prospects and customers spend a lot of time on Facebook, so using these ads helps keep you top-of-mind. As with display ads, you can monitor click rates to make sure you are getting the results you need.
  • Email — Surprisingly, most marketers are using email, but are not combining it with their mail campaigns. The great thing about adding email to direct mail is that you can use it both before you mail to help build curiosity about your mail piece and after they receive it to keep your offer fresh and remind them to respond. This also gives you a chance to make an additional special offer to get them to buy now.

You can choose to use all three with a mail campaign or pick and choose what is best for your customers. If you don’t have enough people on your mail list, you can create a list of people who look like your current customers to send them mail, as well as display and Facebook ads. Email address append is also an option, but it usually only has about a 40% match rate. So if your list is small, it may not be worth it.

Increasing your exposure with customers and prospects increases your response rates, so by adding a digital component, you can increase sales. The best part about digital marketing is that it has a relatively low cost and can be tracked in real time. Plus, you will have additional metrics about your prospects and customers when they interact with you across channels. Are you ready to get started?

Helping Your Website Bridge the Sales and Marketing Divide

If you think about sales and marketing as separate activities, you’re probably not thinking about the customer experience from the prospect’s perspective. That’s a potentially fatal mistake that can sap the strength of your marketing efforts and your sales team.

If you think about sales and marketing as separate activities, you’re probably not thinking about the customer experience from the prospect’s perspective. That’s a potentially fatal mistake that can sap the strength of your marketing efforts and your sales team.

There is a (probably) long path that your prospects follow from having never heard of you to deciding you’re the answer to their needs. The path differs slightly for different audience segments or industries and, of course, some prospects step off before they’ve made it to “the end.”

But all have this in common: They don’t care if or when they’ve graduated from prospect to lead to marketing-qualified lead to sales-qualified lead. Only you care about that. Any breaks in continuity you create based on those classifications are entirely artificial to your prospects. And those breaks can derail any momentum you may have gained with your prospects.

sales and marketing
Credit: Pixabay by Anemone123

Sales/Marketing Coordination

Perhaps the most critical hand-off point is the one between your marketing and sales teams. Making that hand-off seamless from the prospect’s perspective requires tight coordination between the two teams. Your website can help facilitate that cooperation.

Start by involving both the sales and marketing team in the development of your website. Neither team needs to get involved with the technical details, but both should have a say in the following:

  • How the site is organized
  • What content hubs are created around key client issues
  • Where lead magnets are offered
  • How leads are nurtured
  • When prospects are provided to the sales team

Who Else Can Help

Ideally, other departments or roles within your organization will provide input on these critical marketing questions, as well. Customer support and product teams will have entirely different perspectives on client motivation, and their knowledge should be leveraged.

Sales and Marketing Cooperation and Digital Marketing

Sales and marketing departments should both be involved in the ongoing maintenance of the information and materials being presented to prospects, not just on your website, but on social media, via email and in any thought leadership efforts you’ve undertaken.

And just as your website can’t effectively shoulder the load on its own, neither side of the sales and marketing equation is going to be as effective as it could be without the support of the other. If you can get your team leaders pointed in the same direction, your digital marketing will be much more effective.

Our Digital Selves: Living Without the ‘Big 5’ — And 7,000 Others

There, once again, is the age-old privacy paradox, which predates our digital selves. Do we — individually, as a society, as a matter of policy — understand the data-for-value exchange that is inherent not just on the commercial Internet, but in practically every business arrangement we have?

our digital selves
Chet Dalzell snapped this photo with his smartphone’s camera. (Curses!) | Credit: Chet Dalzell

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve been enjoying a thorough attempt by one Gizmodo editor, Kashmir Hill, to live life one week at a time without the titled “Big 5” — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — and then to do so all at once.

“It was hell,” she reported.

Well, that statement alone could be interpreted as “unpleasant” or “impossible” or “really inconvenient” or “unenjoyable, or maybe all of the above. Hill’s attempts to quit cold turkey appeared to be very earnest and objectively pursued, though her editorial approach is not without a point of view: “The tech giants, while troubling in their accumulation of data, power and societal control, do offer services that make our lives a hell of a lot easier.”

Do I feel powerless with no control? I do not, but that’s a personal choice.

There, once again, is the age-old privacy paradox, which predates our digital selves. Do we — individually, as a society, as a matter of policy — understand the data-for-value exchange that is inherent not just on the commercial Internet, but in practically every business arrangement we have?

To shut off all data flows might be thought of as an exercise of a Luddite. Every individual can choose to live life this way, at least in some measure. Or perhaps it’s an exercise of being jaded: Among us, there are those who believe social media’s popular “10-year challenge” is a not-so-secret plot to update everyone’s likeness for facial recognition software.

Take a Regular Digital Break, Please

I, too, pursue and relish a weekend where I put my devices away, and go off the digital grid for hours or even one day at a time. A walk in the woods, or park, or beach, with no device in reach — and with just my thoughts – is an empowering and recharging experience (for me). It can drive my friends and family nuts, wondering where I am — but they’re used to it by this time.

Mom:

“You didn’t play ‘Words with Friends’ with me yesterday. Is everything OK?”

On the other hand, every day, I observe fellow citizens who seem unable to navigate a sidewalk, or ride an elevator, or even sit at a bar or restaurant, without having their heads down in smartphones. Kudos to them for processing digital information constantly … I think. I certainly can’t do that.

Yet to have a bias — either in practice or in policy — that blocks responsible data flows, truly is an exercise in masochism. As participants in the marketing data supply chain, we have ethical and some legal obligations to be capable stewards of data. We have associations, self-regulatory codes, and regulators that teach and tell us what to do.

Beyond the Big 5, we also have thousands of companies in the adtech/martech ecosystem — at last count, nearly 7,000. Any could be the next “big thing,” as investment flows seem to indicate.

Image of Ad Tech - Mar Tech Breadth

Slide Source: “Outlook For Data Driven Marketing: First Look 2019,” The Winterberry Group, 2019.

On top of these, we have brands and agencies using information, responsibly, to attract (discover), create (convert) and retain (serve) customers. This is not evil. This is innovation — and we shouldn’t fault a data-flow framework that facilitates commerce, consumer choice and diversity of content. We should scrutinize it for harmful data usage — and regulate the harm.

In short, every information use should be vetted. Wisdom, rather than fear, must be our starting point in such examination, with a healthy dose of data reverence. In advertising, we can (and must) have both consumer privacy protection and digital innovation. Achieving such dual, laudable outcomes, however, cannot be achieved if we are required to just shut down.

 

 

Lead Generation Metrics — The Basics and Beyond

Lead generation metrics should help you understand not only what parts of your digital marketing are working, but what parts are generating the highest quality leads.

There are basic lead generation metrics that you must to be tracking in order to evaluate the success of your lead gen efforts. You’ll likely have to go beyond the basics to mine truly valuable insights about your efforts.

Here’s a list, that’s by no means comprehensive, of my favorite basic and more advanced metrics.

First, the basics.

Impressions

How many people are seeing your ad, your content or whatever it is you’re using to attract that audience? This is, to use another term, your reach. Your tracking and evaluation here should be on a per-channel basis, with an eye toward finding the channels that you are able to grow most cost-effectively.

Clickthrough Rate

CTR is the number of people who interact with your content. Typically, that means they click the ad or the link in your social media post, etc. (You might also want to track other types of engagement, like subscriptions.) The critical element of this metric is breaking it down to individual ads or content, including individual issues of your newsletter campaign. You want to know what is resonating with your audience and what is driving them to take action.

Conversions

A conversion can be many different things, depending on the goal you have for your lead generation campaign. (e.g. marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, etc.) Whatever action you deem to be a conversion, it’s generally a “state change” along the buyer’s journey. That can be a move from a member of the target audience who’s never heard of you to a website visitor to a prospect to a MQL to an SQL and finally to becoming a client. Each of those state changes is a conversion that should be tracked separately.

Conversion Rate

This calculated metric is a function of conversions divided by impressions. It’s worth tracking on its own, of course, but should also be evaluated with some latitude. That is, as you expand your reach and your impressions rise, you may have a less tightly targeted audience. Of course, you’d like your conversion rate to always rise. But if it falls while the total number of conversions rise, that’s not necessarily a bad trade-off.

With these data points solidly represented in our dashboard, we can move on to additional (and increasingly useful) measurements.

Cost per Lead

What does it take to move a prospect through a stage in the funnel? How does the cost compare with other methods? (Direct mail, trade shows, etc.) How do costs compare across the various digital channels you’re using? These are the metrics that will guide your spend going forward.

Leads per Channel

Another calculated metric worth adding to your dashboard. Here, you compare how many leads a channel is generating against all other channels. It’s an analog to conversion rate in that a channel with more leads generated from a smaller audience (impressions) might be a channel worth exploring more deeply.

Time to Conversion

This metric typically takes some aggregating of data across platforms, as you’ll want to note when each state change occurs. It’s valuable to know how long it takes a typical prospect to proceed through each stage. It’s even more valuable to know this on a per-channel basis. And more valuable still to know average time-per-conversion for those prospects that become clients. You can then tailor your programs to pay more attention to those prospects who appear to be on that “golden path.”

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

CLV should be calculated across the board and broken down by channel. A channel with a slightly higher cost per lead but a 10-time increase in CLV is a great channel!

Conclusion

You may find the able list of metrics daunting to consider, especially if you’re not gathering and reviewing any of them now. If so, there’s no reason not to start small. As you become more comfortable with the data, you can expand your dashboard to include a broader range of data points and a broader possibility of action points.