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[New Guide] Avoiding Lumps of Coal: Marketing Strategy for Profitable Retail Holidays

By | September 30, 2014

Holiday Shopping Guide 2014Much like 2013, planning in 2014 is more critical than usual because the holiday shopping season is shorter. With Thanksgiving falling at the end of November, this season has relatively few shopping days, making each single one more valuable. By knowing and preparing ahead of time, retailer marketers can set realistic expectations with their bosses and budget accordingly.

Start by downloading our free 20-pg. guide for tips on how to survive the season, including an in-depth look at 5 winning approaches in Santa’s holiday marketing bag. You will learn about:

  • Using SEO to sell more.
  • Incorporating mobile, automating PPC ads, boosting Google Shopping.
  • Adding important dates/tasks to your email and conversion testing calendars.
  • Enhancing email subscriptions, loyalty and sales with holiday-specific approaches.
  • Increasing overall conversions with testing and clean data.

Holiday marketing need not be madness. Marketers who plan all the way to the end are sure to enjoy the power of strategic foresight and emerge victorious by the new year.

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Using Google Site Search Analytics to Develop Quality Content Topics

By | August 19, 2014

Content is the very fabric that makes a website useful, drives visitors, and ideally results in conversions. According to Dr. Pete Meyers in the 2014 Moz Industry Survey, content marketing had the highest year-over-year demand increase in 2014, with 71% of respondents reporting increased demand. Given how important content is towards generating traffic, growing links, and providing a positive user experience, it’s no wonder organizations are more focused on content marketing than ever.

Choosing the Right Content Topics

Creating high quality content is only half of the battle when it comes to driving inbound traffic via content. You can spend countless hours creating the perfect piece of content, but if the topic isn’t right, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

There are two primary factors to consider when researching content topics.GA Site Search 1

  • Is there a high demand for this content?
  • How high is the competition for this content niche?

For most content marketers and SEO’s, performing competitive keyword research is the primary way to learn which topics are optimal when it comes to content curation. Ideally, content that has a high demand and low level of competition is preferred as it provides the easiest route towards conversions.

While keyword research will likely remain the most relevant way to determine what to write about, there are other tools content marketers have at their fingertips that can be extremely useful when it comes to determining new topics.

Using Google Site Search to Find Content Gaps on Your Website

GA Site Search 2Google Analytics offers an extremely useful tool for websites that feature a site-search bar. This feature can be found in the behavior section of your Google Analytics dashboard (see image to the right).

Site search provides all the terms that visitors have searched for once they’ve arrived to your website. These search terms are extremely useful since they provide direct insight into what your site visitors are looking for. For the most part, a site search term represents:

  • Content that users can’t find on your website
  • Content that does not exist on your website.

For both of these instances, any term showing up provides an opportunity to improve your website. If content related to a popular site search term is already available, this may signify a need to improve the overall visibility of said content. Excessive site searches for important keywords can be a symptom of a poor website navigation structure, or a poor link structure.

For instances where relevant content doesn’t exist on your website, this is a direct opportunity to curate new content. The best thing about finding high volume content gaps based off Google Analytics site search terms is that the new content is almost guaranteed to be successful since site visitors are already looking for that content on your website.

Using Search Terms to Find Valuable Long-Tail Keyword Terms

An additional benefit of using Google site search terms is that you often will see an extremely diverse array of search keywords, which will include a variety of valuable long-tail search terms that you may not otherwise find. This is especially true for healthcare websites, where there are hundreds of niche terms and keywords that receive zero attention.

As an example, one of Fathom’s healthcare clients revealed a relatively high volume of site searches (81 searches) during a one month period for the term “Otolaryngology”. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of Otalaryngology, but that means that the competition for a term that has a high possibility to convert is extremely low. Finding content opportunities like these are the crux of a sustainable, long term content plan that aims for steady traffic growth.

Setting up Site Search in Google Analytics

In order to make use of site search, you need to set up your analytics profile properly.

  1. Click on “admin” on the top bar.
  2. From the admin section, click on “view settings” in the upper right corner.
  3. Once in the settings page, scroll down until you see the site search settings section.
  4. Click “on” Site search Tracking.

GA Site Search 3

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Google Analytics Launches Bot and Spider Filtering

By | August 1, 2014

It has been a long-established (yet misunderstood) given that Google Analytics filters out all of the bot and spider traffic from tracking into our precious reports. In fact, there’s a “Traffic from search engine robots” page in the GA help section that flat out says “robot traffic is not counted in Analytics when using a JavaScript tracking method”. So most users have gone on convinced that GA was excluding all bot and spider traffic, despite the fact that very page features text that states “If the search engine that crawls your site does activate JavaScript… you will receive search engine robot data in your reports.”

As of yesterday, Google is introducing a new option to enable bot and spider filtering more in line with what users already thought was happening!

For the longest time, since very little noticeable bot traffic was getting tracked, it went unnoticed by the majority of GA users. But over the last year or so, it seems like we’ve been catching unexpected bot traffic spikes in our clients’ accounts more and more often. And when those spikes occur, it’s often multiple client sites that are getting hit at the same time.

Those of us obsessed with data cleanliness have been fighting an endless filter-driven battle with bot tracking, digging through reports to find traffic spikes with 100% bounce rates from single browser versions in specific locations, so we could add them to our epic bot filtering list. But many Google Analytics users wouldn’t even know where to go to find the signs of bot traffic in their reports, and finding a trustworthy, comprehensive, up-to-date filter list online isn’t easy.

Luckily for all of us, Google is rolling out a new feature that will handle much of this problem. The new “Bot and Spider Filtering,” announced June 30th on Google Analytics’ Google+ page, promises to “exclude all hits that come from bots and spiders on the IAB know[n] bots and spiders list.” According to Google, the filtering feature will detect all hits that match the User Agents named in the list in the same way a profile filter would. The new feature will help users keep their traffic reporting nice and clean by only including the real number of visits to your site.

Google Analytics Bot Filtering SettingsThe best part about this new feature is how easy it is to implement. In the Admin section under “View Settings” for your current view, just scroll down and look for the “Bot Filtering” section and check the box next to “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”. That’s it! You can see the new option in the fascinating and exciting screenshot below.

It’s worth noting that the filtering isn’t retroactive. It won’t change any of your old data. But once you check that box, your data will be bot- and spider-free from here on out.

More than likely this option is already available in your account, as Google has promised the rollout will be complete by the end of the day on 7/31.

It’s not entirely clear exactly what kind of impact bots are having on tracked traffic for most sites, so I’m going to be stress-testing the new feature across a sample of our clients and comparing the numbers so we can get a sense of the average change across the accounts. Stay tuned for the results of those tests in a future blog post.

Happy reporting, everyone!

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Marketing: The Best Inside Salesperson You’ll Ever Hire

By | August 1, 2014

As my career before Fathom was that of a B2B salesperson, I’d like to share the biggest marketing lessons I’ve learned so far from working here as they relate to industrial sales.

Marketing always had a bit of a stigma tied to it in my previous job selling industrial equipment.  This is something I noticed in my own business as well as the customers and vendors I called on.  Sales was in charge of bringing in revenue, and marketing was less a department than it was a budget for the salespeople to dip into for print collateral and trade shows.  Here are just a few things that I didn’t know marketing could do:

  • Generate targeted, focused inbound leads.
  • Create reconnaissance information for sales as to what buyers are reading, clicking and commenting about online.
  • Engage leads with relevant information automatically and scoring it so that sales can know exactly where a prospect is at in the buying cycle.
  • Assist post-salesperson engagement with content to help close the deal.
  • Work with post sale customers to monitor online behavior and provide nurturing collateral to stoke future referral business.

Digital Marketing 101 for Manufacturers The best part about all of this is that everything is measurable.  Every dollar of digital marketing spend can be tracked from first engagement all the way to the close of the sale, and compared to other forms of traditional spend.  If your business has an e-commerce platform, it can sometimes even take a customer all the way to the close.

In short, marketing is the best inside salesperson I’ve ever had.  Don’t ignore the potential of this discipline or group of people.  Make it part of your sales team.

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3 Tips for Hospitals To Fuel Content Marketing with SEM Data

By | June 23, 2014

As many of us know, SEM/PPC is an established source of patient acquisition for health systems and hospitals. Fathom has certainly seen great results with structured campaigns promoting specific service lines that send users to relevant landing pages with prominent calls-to-action.

For this specific post, however, I want to focus on how paid search can help address common online challenges health systems face:

  • SEO keyword strategy without access to organic keyword data
  • Writing engaging and compelling content that your audience wants (AKA, content marketing)
  • Dealing with negative PR (AKA, reputation management)

Specifically, I want to discuss 3 ways to use PPC search queries to help support these common marketing challenges.

1. Share PPC Keyword Data to Guide SEO

It’s not news to any of us that Google Analytics no longer shows organic search keyword data. This change was a major one that makes the lives of SEOs a bit more difficult.

We encourage the sharing of data between SEO and PPC analytics, especially because the keyword performance visibility exists within AdWords.

From the PPC side, sharing keyword data with the SEO team enables it to see which keywords are not only driving traffic, but also converting most frequently.

lap band 

2. Use Search Queries to Identify Topics for SEO and Content Marketing

In addition, looking at the search query reports shows what users are searching for in relation to the keywords we’re bidding on. For example, let’s say the content team is looking for a new blog idea for the maternity service line. You can quickly go into the women’s health maternity campaign to identify search queries that have a lot of interest.

pregnancy calculator

You can then suggest to the content team writing a blog post around calculating a pregnancy due date or even adding a new page to the hospital website to provide relevant and helpful information.

Also, in order to prove the validity of the suggestion or find additional ideas, check Google Trends to see if the search query is a ‘rising search’ (and in this case, it is).

stroke symptoms

Another example of using search queries to help fuel a content marketing strategy is to consider how users are searching. Users often look for information specific to gender or age; it’s important you write content geared toward these users, especially if you are seeing significant search via the search query report:

stroke symptoms II

3. Use PPC Search Queries/Google Suggest to Identify PR Challenges

One very important threat that health systems and hospitals face consistently is reputation damage. Fathom uses search queries of brand keywords to inform clients of negative PR that can potentially be addressed by driving traffic to a positive page—either via PPC or organic/SEO. Challenges come in the form of nurse strikes, hospital acquisitions/mergers (see our guide to hospital rebranding), and even hospital closings. The best stance is to be proactive when dealing with these challenges.

hospital closing

hospital closing II

Bottom line: SEM is much more valuable to health systems than simply being a vehicle for generating appointments, guide downloads, and phone calls. You are already investing part of your marketing budget in paid advertising (and if you are not, you should), so you might as well make full use of the data you already have to create a more integrated marketing strategy for your organization.

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Check out the marketer’s guide to hospital acquisition to take the headache out of rebranding:

The Art of Rebranding

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