Practical Ways to Implement A/B Testing on Conversion Funnels

A conversion funnel is what we call the path a user follows to convert on a landing page. You can read more about the basics here, but the parts that make up a conversion funnel are the CTA, Landing Page, Thank You Page, and the Thank You Email. As marketers and business people, we want people to convert, but sometimes our marketing underperforms or our guts say that good performance could be better. So then we test. Here are practical ways to implement A/B testing on conversion funnels and improve their performance. 

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing CTAs

CTA testing in HubSpot could not be any easier. By creating two versions of your CTAs- A and B- HubSpot will naturally serve the CTAs equally. When running multivariate CTA testing, we’re focusing the majority of our attention on the Click Rates because clicks are the main goal of a CTA. Submission rates are a secondary factor because they are mostly an indication of your landing page performance. The caveat here is relevance, though. High clicks and low submission rates can be an indication that the promise of your CTA is incongruent with that of your landing page. The messaging of one or the other may need to be adjusted. 

Not all leads are created equal! Download our Lead Scoring Guide to learn how to automate your lead qualification.

In this example, version A and B were created at the same time. After a few months of testing, both have nearly identical views, but the clicks on version B are a full percentage point higher. At this point, since we have a decent amount of data, it might be time to create a new version “A” to see if we can beat or at least match version B.

Implement A/B Testing

A/B Testing Landing Pages

HubSpot also makes implementing A/B testing on landing pages super easy. What you’re looking at when testing landing pages are submissions. WordStream tells us we want 10% or higher to be considered among the best. Some of the things you could vary are your headlines and copy. You can even try testing the medium of your offer- guide vs eBook vs infographic etc.- to see what your audience is more compelled to utilize.

One of the biggest advantages to A/B testing a landing page is to see how the length of a form affects your submissions. As marketers, we of course want as much data as we can get, but we also know that there’s a breaking point in what we request. High-value offers have a higher threshold for longer forms. To test, create two variants of your landing page- one with a shorter form and one with a more complex form- to find out where your persona’s threshold is. If you can get away with having a longer form and requesting more information without your submissions rates suffering, go for it.

If you’re not sure where to start with your landing page testing, you can try setting up heat mapping to see exactly how your users are interacting with your page. You might find people are leaving right away (a better headline or more appealing design, perhaps?) or abandoning the form (shorten that sucker up!). Bounce rates can also indicate where to start.

Bonus: are your landing pages optimized for SEO? Learn more about it here.

A/B Testing Thank You Pages

You create Thank You Pages (TYPs) variants the same way you do Landing Pages in HubSpot. So what are you looking for here? Engagement. You want people to access their offer (via a link or a button) and then go on to engage with the site. This is where you have the opportunity to move them through the funnel or charm them with delight. You can create full variants of your TYP or try testing a CTA within your TYP as we discussed above. 

A/B Testing Thank You Emails (Kind of)

Thank You Emails are the automated emails that send after a user submits a form. They can be set up directly on the landing page form or via a workflow. Unfortunately, you cannot implement A/B testing of automated emails in HubSpot. But, there are a few ways to get around it. What you want to measure by testing thank you emails are your open rates and click rates.

Lead Scoring Guide

Open rates are correlated to the strength of your subject line. To test, benchmark your current views and opens then manually make and publish your updates to the same email. Allow your updates to gather data and then measure performance against your benchmarked data. Rinse and repeat.

You can test the click rates in your thank you emails by creating multivariate CTAs as discussed in the CTA section above. You can also manually update the copy and hyperlinks to your “next step” offer (whatever action you’ve included in your TYE that you want your user to take next such as downloading a different offer or contacting you for a consult). Benchmark your stats and revisit often to check the efficacy of your updates. 

Content Optimization: How to Optimize Existing Content

Wouldn’t it be nice if your content was set it and forget it? Technically, I guess it could be, but you’d be remiss not to optimize old content. Why? Because everything changes- SEO rankings and trends, competitors coming in and out and all up in your space, your own products and strategies… 

So, here is a step-by-step process on how to optimize existing content. Don’t go about this all willy-nilly. I promise that if you put a little thought and strategy into a plan, your optimization process will go much smoother with better results.

Optimize existing content

Start with Strategy

Before you begin, think about how (or if) your marketing strategy has changed. Have your personas changed or do you know more about them since you first published? Have you honed in on a specific niche or decided that your niche was actually too small? If you know your objectives well, this step will be easy. You may need to do a little research into your strategy docs, but you won’t otherwise need to do anything concrete here.

Now you need to plan out what content you will be optimizing and how you will be optimizing it. What’s the goal of the content? Conversions? Traffic? Let’s look at CTAs, landing pages, and blogs specifically.

Turn your website into a lead machine. Get our free guide. 

Optimizing Existing CTAs

The goal of a CTA is a click. Therefore, look at your all-time click rates for all of your CTAs. According to Niel Patel, a good click-through rate of a CTA is about 3%. You can either optimize all of your CTAs below 3% or you can start with a chunk of the lower performing ones. How to proceed with your optimization plan will depend on the answers to the following questions:

Questions to Ask on CTA Performance:

  • Location:
    Where is the CTA located? Do I need to add it to more places? Is it getting exposure on those pages or is it buried in the noise of other content? Is it still relevant to those pages?
  • Design:
    How’s the creative? Is it similar to other CTAs? Are those CTAs performing?
  • Root Cause:
    Continuing off the previous bullet, do I think it’s the CTA design or is it what I’m offering that’s ineffective? Do I need to rephrase? Ie- Schedule Your Free Consult vs Contact Us & Start for free.
  • A/B Testing:
    Do I already have A/B testing setup? If so, consider replacing the lower performing of the two and leaving the other as is. If you don’t have A/B testing set up, decide whether you want to replace the CTA entirely or add an option B. (Hint: we think A/B testing is the bee’s knees!) Know that A/B testing will take longer to get meaningful results for smaller audiences.

Optimizing Existing Landing Page Content 

Traffic to your landing pages (LPs) will mostly be addressed in your CTA optimization with the exception of any LPs you have linked in your site’s navigation- like contact us. So, let’s focus on optimizing landing pages for conversion, as that is their main goal. Pull analytics on your landing page views, conversions, and conversion rates. According to WordSteam, the average landing page converts at around 2.35%, but your conversion targets should be 10% or higher. 

Optimizing your landing pages is going to focus on your content and the form + CTA. 

Questions to Ask When Optimizing Landing Page Content:

  • Copy:
    Are you clearly describing your offer? Try rephrasing and/or rewriting your headlines and bullet points. Don’t forget about keywords.
  • Relevance:
    Is your offer still relevant? Optimizing won’t fix the problem, but you might be able to get away with reframing the offer until you’re able to replace it.
  • Image:
    Do you have an image? Is it generic or does it depict what you’re offering? Check your alt tags while you’re at it.

Questions to Ask When Optimizing a Landing Page Form:

  • Form Length:
    Are you asking too much? The amount of requested information should be an equal ask to the value of your offer. A super valuable piece of content will have a higher tolerance for a longer form. Conversely, an overly long form will turn people away if your offer isn’t uber valuable.
  • Form Button:
    Does your button match the offer? Consider making buttons like ‘submit’ into something more specific.

Additionally, heat mapping can be a valuable tool for landing page optimization.  There are several free tools available on the market. With heat mapping, you can see how actual users are engaging with your landing pages. These can give you direct insights into what’s preventing conversion from occurring. Here are some more tips on building a landing page that converts.

Optimizing Existing Blog Content

For blog optimization, we’re going to look at a few different things in combination: internal links, keywords, traffic, and conversions. 

Blog Internal Link Optimization:

Pull out your handy-dandy content audit workbook for this section. The content audit is a document that lists the title, description, type, and URL for each piece of inbound content you have. Having this document will be an easy way to reference all of your blogs and offers in one place. If you don’t have one, pull up your blog listing page and CTA dashboard within your CRM. 

Read through your old blogs and add hyperlinks to your new content where relevant. Same with your CTAs.

Questions to Ask on Optimizing Blog Content:

  • Offers/CTAs:
    Do I have a new, more relevant offer to add to this blog? Before you replace an existing CTA, check if it’s working first. Is a smart CTA a good option where CTAs are working?
  • Blog Links:
    Do I have new, relevant blogs to hyperlink?
  • Bonus:
    Are my external links all working?

Blog Traffic and Conversion Optimization:

One of the main goals of blogging is to draw in organic traffic and the other is for your blogs to lead to engagement and conversion. Break out your analytics again to look at those stats. 

  1. Pull a list of the top converting blogs and plan to optimize for better traffic. 
  2. Take the top trafficked blogs and plan to optimize for conversion.

Questions to Ask When Optimizing Blog Traffic:

  • Quantity:
    How much traffic are my blogs getting? Where is it coming from? Has traffic increased over time? This is a sign that it’s starting to pick up steam with SEO. Give it a little push. Has traffic decreased over time? This might be a sign your content is outdated or that your persona’s keywords have shifted to other topics.
  • Keywords:
    How was this blog optimized for SEO initially? Could the keywords use a heavier hand? Sprinkle them in. But also consider if your keywords or phrases changed since this was published. If so, make the appropriate updates to match your new strategy. Here are some tips on finding keywords.

Questions to Ask When Optimizing Blog Conversions: 

  • Opportunities for Conversion:
    Where are your conversion opportunities placed within your blogs? Make sure you have one within the top ⅓ of the blog and then about every 300 words after.
  • Relevance:
    Are the CTAs in your blogs performing on other pages? Use this as an indication of relevance and placement. Switch CTAs out if indicated (reference your content audit workbook again!).

Monitor Your Content Optimization Strategy

After you’ve optimized your existing content, keep an eye on it. With any luck, your updates will pay off. However, it is possible they could have a reserve effect. If you set up A/B testing or smart CTAs anywhere, you’ll want to monitor those and potentially make additional optimizations based on your results.

inbound campaign checklist

Key Takeaways on Optimizing Existing Content

  • Make a plan before you start. Consider your keywords, persona, and goals for each content type.
  • Add new content into the old: find places in blogs to hyperlink to new content and replace old CTAs with more relevant offers if they exist.
  • Consider your keyword strategy and search rankings- add key terms into your content to generate more traffic. 

5 Types of Digital Marketing Audits: Must-ask questions to get your audit underway

When it comes to your digital marketing program (or at times, lack thereof) conducting a digital audit can be both eye-opening and exciting. Yes, we said exciting! From your website to your content to your tech stack, audits examine it all. The digital marketing audit is your ticket to finding out the state of the state and where the opportunity is for you to make a quick splash on your modern marketing and sales program. 

So, if you think you could be squeezing more results out of your current marketing plan or are feeling a little in the dark about your tech stack, then this one’s for you. Here are the 5 types of digital marketing audits Lake One utilizes, along with some of the top probing questions we ask to kick off the process.

digital marketing audits

1. Google Analytics Audit

The primary purpose of a Google Analytics Audit is to walk-through your site’s tracking implementation and setup. It goes beyond just paid media although that does play a part. From conversion to clicks to time spent on your site, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get you started in the direction.

Questions to ask:

  1. What are you currently tracking? Are you tracking everything you need to be?
  2. Is the data you are collecting valid? Can you trust it and make decisions off of it?
  3. What are the holes? What would you like to be tracking that you aren’t?
  4. Does anything need to be fixed? Is tracking broken?
  5. Can reporting and/or tracking be consolidated to make the process cleaner?

Is your marketing geared toward the modern buyer? Download our guide and learn more.

2. Website Audit

The fact that you are reading this blog post is a strong indicator that you realize how important your website is, but in case you don’t, we’ll say it: your company’s website is uber important. A website should attract your potential customers and empower them with information, aide in their buyer’s journey, and most importantly, provide opportunities for conversion. Design is critical as well, but great sites contain more substance beyond aesthetics. 

At Lake One, we like to review websites for four main areas.

Performance

Performance can mean can quite a few things but in a nutshell, this section means, “Does your website pass the blink test?” Not familiar with the blink test? Simply put, are you able to determine within five seconds the purpose of the site, digest some content, and know what steps to take next as a user. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Is the main value proposition clear? 
  2. Is the main navigation menu clear and accessible?
  3. Is there a clear conversion path? Do the conversion paths flow through the buyer’s journey from awareness through to decision?
  4. Are there relevant resources for web visitors? Are they accessible?
  5. Do users know what steps to take next?

Content & SEO Audit

Now we start getting into the nitty-gritty, the ‘substance’ that I was referencing earlier. 

Content

When reviewing a website for content, it should be two-fold with both online and offline content. Online content encompasses all of the posts, downloadables, etc. that are accessible by web visitors; offline encompasses all of the sales assets, one-pagers, etc. that may be archived internally.

Questions to ask:

  1. Does the site contain relevant keywords that align with a clear content & digital strategy?
  2. Is the content keyword-rich?
  3. Does the content appeal to different buyer personas?
digital marketing audits

SEO

We create content for people first and foremost. But content needs SEO love to fully reap the benefits of your hard work. SEO is an ever-present tactic we weave throughout all of our digital practices; however, at its most basic, we review from both the content and website construction itself. (Click here for info on finding the SEO keywords that will be the hardest work for you.)

Questions to ask:

  1. Do the relevant page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, etc use relevant keywords?
  2. Do the above elements follow SEO best practices for character count, structure, etc.?
  3. Are the images optimized for SEO as well?

Conversion

Websites must provide visitors with an opportunity to convert. A website that’s fully optimized for conversion goes beyond a learn more button and a contact us form. You can have all the website traffic in the world, but if the website isn’t converting, you’ve got a problem.

Questions to ask: 

  1. Are there conversion pages at various stages of the funnel?
  2. Are there any CTA opportunities being missed?
  3. Is it clear what steps a user needs to take to get that information they need to convert?

3. Technical

A site audit wouldn’t be complete without reviewing the technical implementation and output of the website. Have you ever sat and waited for images to load or content to render and given up? Sure, it might have been a slow glitch in your wifi, but it might not have been. Here’s what to look for when it comes to tech.

Questions to ask:

  1. What is the site speed?
  2. Is the design responsive?
  3. Does the design render well on mobile?
  4. Are there any crawl issues?
  5. Is there a sitemap?

4. HubSpot Audit

HubSpot offers a full platform of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software. It’s a powerful tool that when fully utilized, can propel your sales and marketing results forward. With all that being said, we love to look under the hood and look for ways to get more out of your HubSpot subscription. We look at the following and more:

  • Landing Pages
  • Forms/Form Fields
  • Thank You Pages
  • Personas 
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Nurture Sequences

When reviewing, first check if those functionalities are in use and then check performance. 

Questions to ask:

  1. How are the above elements performing? (conversion rates, submission rates, etc.)
  2. Are the nurture sequence emails targeted? What’s the enrollment criteria? Is it useful? Is someone checking those emails?

By the way, did we mention we are HubSpot Gold Partner? We just so happen to be experts in utilizing HubSpot and making it go the distance for your digital marketing program. Let’s chat.

5. Sales & Marketing Alignment Audit

We have written several pieces on the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment to achieve harmony among client-facing teams. When teams are aligned, it’s dynamite. However, when conducting the audit, think less along the lines of quick wins and more along the lines of building a strong foundation for long-term success. 

Questions to ask:

  1. Do teams have a common definition and understanding of key terms? (i.e. marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, etc.)
  2. Are teams targeting the same buyers?
  3. Are teams working towards the same goals?
  4. Are teams promoting the same products/services?
  5. Are teams creating content together?
  6. What is the lead handoff procedure?
  7. How does sales provide feedback on lead quality?
  8. Do teams have regular meetings?

For an in-depth look at the questions above, check out our B2B Smarketing Team Assessment.

Conclusion

The best way to move forward and to grow is to gain a complete understanding of where your company is at digitally. Even if you’re not looking to grow (but who isn’t?) no matter where you are at with your marketing, everyone can benefit from a digital marketing audit.

B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts

B2B SEO is important if you want your site to be found through organic search. We can all agree on that. The “how” of it can be kind of fuzzy, though. Thousands of experts all say different things. While we let the big dogs in the marketing space duke it out over whose theory is the best, our experience and success have led to these B2B SEO do’s and don’ts.

B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts

On the Topic of Your Audience…

DO: Write for your Persona

Your persona is the fictional representation of your target audience. In B2B, it’s important to write for and support the persona who you know is likely to do the research. While the CEO might execute a buying decision, the human resources manager might be the one researching your company. If that’s true, gear your content and SEO strategy to their needs. Find the keywords the HR person is likely to use to find you.

Once your SEO starts bringing in leads, are you ready to handle them? Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned. Download the guide.

DO NOT: Write Only for Google

If you’re just writing for Google, you’re not writing for your persona. Google is a means to end; it is how your customer will find you- not your persona and not your buyer. So, how is your persona trying to find you? Leverage Google in that way. Use it to understand your personas and what problems they are actively seeking solutions to solve. By structuring your SEO around answering those questions, you’re naturally appeasing both your audience and the search powers that be.

On the Topic of Strategy…

DO: Have a Strategy

As with most things, having a strategy will typically lead to better outcomes than not. A B2B SEO strategy will help you formulate the structure of your content, allow you to be precise and measured, and direct you toward a specific end goal. How do you create a strategy? We’re glad you asked.

DO: Your Research

There are so many (free) SEO research tools out there that you’d be pretty remiss not to do research to create a strategy. By digging into the search volume for certain terms/phrases, you can find niche areas for quick wins. These wins are usually lower volume but have less competition. For example, while something like “Marketing tips” has thousands of searches every month, unless your HubSpot or Forbes, you’re probably not going to start ranking for that search volume. By researching, you can probably find a niche to fit into your strategy. Something like, “Marketing tips for the construction industry” might turn up as low volume, low competition and is, therefore, a much more attainable goal to try and rank for on page one.

Let research guide your strategy and build your SEO content plan around it. Here are some tips on how to find your B2B SEO keywords.

DO NOT: Toss Around Keywords For the Sake of Having Them

If you have a strategy, fully vetted by research, use it wisely. Those keywords are precious. Sprinkling them over every piece of content like a three-year-old with a shaker bottle of glitter can actually hurt your case. Google is onto that game these days. And they don’t like it. Google will actually lower your rating for the unethical treatment of keywords. Let your keywords build the content that your personas want, and write for humans. Nobody wants to read a blog when obvious keywords are literally in every sentence.

B2B SEO Do's and Don'ts

On the Topic of Relevancy…

DO: Build Links

Link-building is one of the best ways to build relevancy to your site. Having links in and out of your website (known as backlinks) tells Google that you’re legitimate. In general, the larger and more credible your backlink source is, the more beneficial it is to you. For instance, a backlink from Neil Patel is going to help your site’s ranking a great deal more than BillyBobsMarketingBarginShop.com who gets 10 site visits a month (mostly from his mom). This is simply because Neil’s site has more authority- Google ‘knows’ the site. Google does not know Billy Bob yet.

So how do you generate backlinks? Reach out to sites to do guest blogs, list your site in related indexes and registries, ask your partners/vendors to include a link to your site somewhere on theirs, etc. Feel free to get creative and put your brand out there. Here are some additional ideas for building a backlink strategy.

DO: Make Sure Your Content is a Match

Another thing that gives your website authority is how relevant users (and Google) find it. Google wants to know that your content is what it says it is. They favor sites that answer the question the user was looking for initially. They look at bounce rates, entrances, time on page, etc. to determine this. This holds true for landing pages, ads, and backlinks, so make sure that if you’re trying to rank for “B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts” that your content is actually going to answer the question of things to do and not to do when it comes to B2B SEO. If your content doesn’t match or answer the question the user was searching for, they are likely going to bounce off your site immediately. That behavior will ultimately hurt your ranking.  

DO NOT: Generalize Everything

Continuing off those last two points, don’t keep your SEO at a generalized, high level if you can help it. It takes time and effort to write the content that carries out your SEO strategy, so high-level, most important keywords/phrases are the best place to start. But once that has legs, get into the nitty-gritty and what your persona wants. Enter: the pillar page. Pillar pages are long-form pieces of content that dive into the details of specific content verticals. These pages answer several frequently searched questions on related topics in one keyword-packed, helpful place. These pages are an opportunity to not only be an authority on a subject to your persona but to also culminate your strategy.

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Key Takeaways for B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Write for your persona: the person likely doing research to find you
  • Have a strategy and let research dictate it
  • Your strategy should include answering the questions your persona is searching 
  • Build relevancy and authority on your site through backlinks and related content

How to Raise Your SEO from the Dead

If SEO isn’t constantly a part of your ongoing marketing strategy, it’s easy to fall behind. It’s a little like grades or credit scores. It takes some time to build up to where you’d like to be, but it sure is easy to lose ground quickly when you aren’t focused.

If you find yourself coming back to your SEO and realizing that it has died a swift death while the rest of the internet moved on, don’t worry. There are ways to bring it back to life without starting over completely. Here are our tips on how to do an SEO refresh.

SEO Refresh

Resuscitate Your Old Pages & Articles

Chances are, if you’ve had a blog for a few years, you’ve written about some similar topics quite a few times. When a recycled topic starts trending again, take a look back through your blog to find relevant articles.

[Wondering why SEO is important in the first place? Here’s the answer.]

Instead of dedicating the time to writing a fresh, new article, go back through a couple of the older ones and bring them up to date.

  • Add some current keywords
  • Update your headlines
  • Replace any broken links
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect
  • Update any statistics
  • Republish as new

Google likes fresh content, and people are more likely to click on articles with recent publication dates.

If you want to get more specific with this strategy, you can find the blogs that were high converting but haven’t seen much traffic lately. Aim to refresh those from an SEO standpoint first. Also, take a look at which of your blogs are receiving the most traffic, but have low conversion rates, and build them up with fresh, new conversion opportunities.

This strategy can also work for your older website pages, especially landing pages. Keep in mind that SEO is about the long game, too.

Revive Your Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top factors that Google considers in ranking. If it’s been a while since anyone has considered your site an authority on a topic, there are ways to remind them. [Don’t have a backlink strategy? Try these easy to tackles tips.

seo refresh

Do some guest blogging

Guest blogging may take a little time as you’ll need to create your outreach targets, pitch to those people, and the write the accompanying articles should you get a bite on your pitch. In addition to the SEO-boosting backlinks, you’ll get with guest posting, you’ll also be creating relationships and building brand recognition.

If you’re not sure where to start, a quick Google search with your keyword plus “guest posts” or “submit an article” should give you a few options. You can also look at some of the most popular blogs in your niche, see the thought leaders that are contributing there, and locate their profiles to see all of the sites to which they’ve contributed.

Create a timely infographic

Part of your job as a marketer is to understand what issues or topics are trending within your industry. A great way to get noticed quickly is to create an eye-catching infographic about a popular topic.

You’ll need to make sure it is relevant and valuable, including accurate and up-to-date statistics. It will also need to be visually attractive so make sure you have a good designer put it all together with an appealing color scheme and graphics.

Next, you’ll need to get it out into the world. Of course, get it up on your website and share it on all of your social media channels. Also, submit it to infographic directories and do some outreach to sites that have shared similar infographics before or sites that are considered authorities in your niche (they’ll definitely want to share content that is relevant to currently trending topics). Follow these tips on identifying your keywords and topics.

Repurpose Your Existing Content

Get creative about how many different ways you can utilize a single piece of content. For example, a great blog article or white paper can also be turned into a podcast simply by reading the article. You could make the podcast even more interesting by pulling out snippets of the article and interviewing an expert on the topic.

An article could also be turned into a slideshow presentation and uploaded onto LinkedIn or Slideshare. You could turn an infographic into an article or vice versa. Another idea is to grab some of your best-trafficked articles or content, do some keyword research, and create easily-shareable social media graphics with high-performing keywords, informative snippets, and eye-catching creative.

With blog series or long-form articles on a specific topic, consider compiling the information together to create a webinar series. Generate buzz, present live, and record it. Then, turn that recording into a downloadable lead magnet to generate even more contacts.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Repurposing options are pretty limitless and can be fun and allow your team to test their creativity and innovation. If you already have great content, repurposing it can save you a ton of time while also allowing you to quickly build up your pool of updated, fresh content.

 

Tips for Identifying B2B SEO Keywords

If ‘Content is king’, SEO is most definitely queen.

The SEO landscape is ever changing; however, the need for traffic and for your company to rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is not.

According to MOZ, SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. And do you know what goes hand-in-hand with SEO? Keywords. Keywords are at the very core of SEO. They are defined as words and phrases that people type into search engines in order to find the answers to their questions.

Keywords are a critical component for SEO strategy because they play a significant role in helping your website rank on SERPs. Higher rankings equal more traffic to your website and ultimately, more conversions. Here are tips for identifying B2B SEO keywords.

Identifying B2B SEO Keywords

The Long and Short of It

There are several variations of keywords combinations, and not all keywords are created equal. The type of keyword you select depends solely on your goals, the buyer you want to attract, and the results you want to achieve.

[Wondering why B2B SEO is important in the first place? Click here.]

There are two main types of keywords:

Short/Header Keywords: Short keywords are just that, short words that typically describe a category. For example, SEO. Short keywords can be flashy and shiny from a volume perspective, but they tend to be lofty goals and often requires deep pockets to make any headway against the competition.

Long Tail Keywords: Long tail keywords are longer searches and can often contain more intent. Long tail keywords typically have lower volume than some of the short keywords, but they can pack a powerful punch when it comes to competition. Space is less crowded.

Short Keyword: SEO

Long Tail Keyword: How do I identify keywords for B2B SEO?

Think About Your Buyer Personas

Before we get too in the weeds on types of keywords, volume, and difficulty, we need to take a step back and think, “Who are my buyers and how are they searching?. Buyer personas are at the heart of inbound and should be a driving force in your B2B SEO strategy. Buyer personas, according to HubSpot, are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

[For a refresher on Inbound marketing, here are the basics]

Part of defining your buyer personas are thinking about their pain points, how they are searching, what they are searching for, and when. The buyer’s journey, is the process buyers go through to become aware of their problem or pain, consider and evaluate solutions, and decide to purchase a new product or service.

Meeting your buyers where they are at in the buyer’s journey with keywords that align to how they search is the ultimate goal. In order to do that, break it down by stage.

Awareness

In the awareness stage, the buyer knows they have a problem, but they may not be able to put a name to their pain yet so search terms in the awareness stage are often questions.

Keyword Example: How do I get my company to rank on Google? How do I get more visitors to my website?

B2B SEO Keywords

Consideration

In the consideration stage, the buyer is aware they have a problem and has begun to consider solutions to the problem.

Keyword Example: SEO Solutions, Options for improving SEO, How to build a B2B SEO strategy

Decision

In the decision stage, the buyer is looking for a solution and likely ready to buy. Here they are comparing solutions, reading reviews, and making the decision of who to buy from.

Keyword Example: B2B SEO agencies near me, Best B2B SEO agency

Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes, familiarize yourself with your persona stories. From there, let the research begin. For more information on aligning keywords with your buyer’s journey, check out this article.

[SEO results won’t happen overnight. Here’s why.]

Keyword Tools

Third-party keyword research tools are essential when it comes to selecting keywords. The tools can help us learn about keyword volume, keyword difficulty, and help us to discover new keyword opportunities.

There are several keyword research tools in the marketplace, but here are a few favorites.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a tool widely known for backlinks and SEO analysis. Their Keywords Explorer provides relevant keyword ideas and traffic estimations and in particular. The tool also provides estimates on how many backlinks you need to obtain in order to rank for a given term.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is one of Ryan’s favorites. It’s a free browser add-on that shows search volume, cost-per-click, and competition data when you visit a SERP. Plus, unlike Ahrefs, it’s free! Can’t beat that.

Moz

It’s hard to talk about SEO and not mention MOZ. MOZ is a widely popular SEO tool that allows you to do in-depth keyword research and SERP analysis through researching volume, quality, and competitive analysis. In addition to the tool, they offer training and great tips for leveraging local search.

[Check out some more of our favorite tools!]

Keyword Inspiration

Okay, so you’re in tune with your buyers, you are thinking about tools, but what’s next? You need to generate a B2B SEO keyword list before you can start honing in on your targets. Here are a few of our recommendations for keyword inspiration outside of running searches in the tools mentioned above.

Current Rankings

Especially if you are embarking on a new B2B SEO effort, do a temperature check and see where you are at with your current rankings. What terms are you ranking for? Are they relevant? Are there terms that you would like to rank higher for? If so, add them to your list and do a deep dive on the stats to understand what it will take to move the needle.

Competitors

Check out what the competition is doing. What are they writing about? What phrases are they using? As we mentioned above, keyword research can help you do some digging to see what’s happening behind the scenes but don’t discount paying your competitors site a visit and seeing what you can gleam yourself. There’s something to be said for a little digital sleuthing.

B2B SEO Keywords

Google Searches

One of the most obvious, but most likely to be missed suggestion with all of the tools and data at our disposal, is literally a Google search. Try googling a keyword you are interested in and review the suggested search terms at the bottom of the SERP page for ideas.

Also, see who comes up in the SERPs. What topics are they writing about? It can give you an idea of what content is already ranking towards the top in answer to your buyers’ queries.

Keyword Selection

Keyword selection is both an art and a science and involves choosing quality keywords. Keyword quality is often talked about by describing both the search volume and the difficulty of the keyword.

Keyword Search Volume: Search volume is the number of people searching for the keyword for a given set of time. Most platforms aggregate the volume number monthly.

Keyword Difficulty: Keyword difficulty is a numerical score which indicates how hard it would be to rank in the top position on the SERPS for the keyword term or phrase.

As a rule of thumb, you should select higher volume, lower difficulty keywords that still align with your buyer personas and content strategy.

Looking for help with your B2B SEO Strategy? Request a consult.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Bring it back to the personas – as with all things inbound, they should be at the heart of your strategy.
  • Do your research and leverage third-party tools to help you aggregate data around volume, difficulty, and opportunity.
  • Look outside the keyword research tools for keyword inspiration from your current rankings, competitors and real-time Google searches.

Lead Scoring 2.0- A Deeper Dive

Lead scoring is a great way to use real data to understand what kind of lead is going to be the most likely to turn into a sale or customer for your products or solutions (click here to go back to the basics). Is this person potentially a good fit for your product or solution based on their similarities or differences to your current customers? Are they a decision maker? Do they have a need or interest in your product or solution? Have they viewed a webinar, spent some time on your pricing page, started a free trial?

Lead scoring helps you understand and compile all of this information and presents you with a score for any given lead. You decide which demographics (age, location, role) and possible actions (visited landing page, viewed webinar, requested demo) are most important and you give them a positive points value, there can also be negative points for things that make a person less likely to purchase. The score can and will change as the lead continues to take different actions. So, what kinds of things can you do with a lead scoring system? Follow along.

Lead Scoring Deep Dive

Take a deep dive into your data

You’ve used a CRM system for a couple of years now but have never done anything with all of the records, do you know you are actually sitting on a gold mine worth of data points?

Want more info on lead scoring? Download Lake One’s guide!

Maybe you haven’t gotten around to diving into all of that data quite yet, but now is the time because you could be missing out on great leads while your salespeople spin the wheels on long-shot, cold leads. Here are a few things we recommend taking a look at as part of your deep dive:

  • Look at your leads that ended up in purchases and what kind of journey they took to get to that point. Do you see any trends in their visits? The number of times they came back before speaking with a salesperson? How many times they were contacted before a connection was made?
  • Get a handle on all of the forms on your site and decide which are most important to the customer journey. Rank your website pages specifically for lead scoring; perhaps your demo and pricing pages are quite high values with case studies, features, and customer reviews falling in next.
  • Check out the purchasing contacts and see if there are trends in their demographics. Are they all C-level executives? You can even take a closer look to see if the demographics of these contacts match those of your current ideal customer personas.
  • Consider the account level demographics: industry, company size/employee count, total revenue. You can provide both account and contact level scores for each lead.

As you understand more and more which specific data points make a purchase more likely, you can start to rank and assign them points by order of importance or relevance. Lead scoring isn’t a perfect science and you should be open to changing things both as you get it set up initially and as your company, products, and customers evolve. It’s not something you should set and leave forever.

Lead Scoring Deep Dive

Define lead “buckets” and assign next steps

There are many different types of leads and stages in a customer journey. Lead buckets are filled around the defining points in that journey. Lead buckets make it easy to understand which leads are high, medium, or low priority, as well as who should own next steps with the lead. This can allow you to target users with content or action relevant to their current position along the buying process, which according to Aberdeen Market Intelligence yields 72% higher conversion rates.

You can have a couple of buckets for marketing nurtured leads, one for marketing qualified ready to be passed over to sales, a couple for the different urgency levels for sales, and another bucket for those that were sent to sales and then rejected or lost. This entire process can really be as simple or complex as you want including as many or few buckets as necessary for your unique customer journey.

Build the relationship between your sales and marketing teams

It’s no secret that when sales and marketing teams are aligned and work well together, everyone is happier and the results go up. Involving both teams in the lead scoring process can bring them closer together. Allow them to figure out which data points are important and work together to define and score both MQLs and a SQLs. [This process is called creating an SLA. Read about it, here.]

Understanding these important parts within the funnel first-hand will allow for clearer handoff points and better cross-team responsibility understanding. This cooperative approach provides a single source of truth so there won’t be any finger pointing or blame, the numbers will tell an accurate story of lead quality and customer journeys.

4. Bonus points

There are countless creative ways to utilize lead scoring to better understand and serve your prospects and customers.

Lead score for specific products or solutions

If you have a wide range of offerings, serve multiple industries, or have widely varying price points, you can use lead scoring to define which types of leads would be the best fit for specific products or solutions.

A/B Testing

If you have a lot of data points, it can be difficult to know which ones have more of an effect over others. You can run different iterations of your lead scoring program. Keep all but one or two points the same so you can see which results in more closed leads to create more accurate scoring moving forward. There is no limit to how many times you can do this, so it should be something you do fairly often on an ongoing basis.

Lead Scoring Guide

Use scoring for your existing customers

One buying journey ending in a purchase is just the beginning of your customer’s overall experience with your company and product/s. Your current customers most likely don’t immediately purchase everything you have to offer meaning there may be opportunities to expand their portfolio. Lead scoring for account managers can help raise renewal rates and increase sales of additional products or solutions.

6 Simple Ways to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

With more than 500 Million users, nearly half of which use it daily – LinkedIn offers a unique reach for B2B marketers and salespeople. Because of its emphasis on career, LinkedIn attracts often hard to reach buyers. If you’re looking for a niche channel and considering adding LinkedIn Marketing to your mix, you might be wondering specifically about LinkedIn lead generation tactics. Here are 6 easy to implement LinkedIn lead generation activities to boost your B2B sales and marketing on the business social network.

How to use Use Linkedin for Lead Generation

Continue reading “6 Simple Ways to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation”

Lake One’s Guide to LinkedIn Marketing

LinkedIn marketing holds a key place in a modern marketing strategy, especially for B2B marketers.  With more than 500 Million users, nearly half of which use it daily – LinkedIn offers a unique reach that other social networks struggle to compete against. Because of it’s emphasis on work, LinkedIn attracts often hard to reach buyers. Whether in niche industries or by titles – or high net-worth (41% of millionaires, have a presence on LinkedIn!).  

It’s no wonder that marketers flock to LinkedIn as an acquisition source. In 2017, Social Media Examiner found 81% of B2B Marketers and 44% of B2C marketers are leveraging the network in their marketing programs.

So with all this opportunity, you’re chomping at the bit to get a piece of the pie for your business. We get it. That’s why we created Lake One’s guide to marketing on LinkedIn.

Linkedin Marketing Guide

In a hurry? Email yourself a copy to read later.

Creating your page / Types of Posts / Grow your Following / Using Hashtags / LinkedIn Advertising / Measuring Success

Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Marketing Goals

Goal setting. The words either strike terror into every fiber of your being, or you tingle with excitement. All drama aside, like it or love it – goal setting is a critical component of modern, measurable marketing. But how do you even get started setting marketing goals? What do you track? What should your goals be? Especially if you’re starting from zero.

We’re going to explore all this and more in this guide to setting SMART marketing goals. 

Download this marketing goal worksheet to fill out as you follow along. 

SMART Marketing Goals Template - Lake One

Getting acquainted with SMART goal methodology

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page here. When I’m talking about goals, I mean SMART goals. Our friends at Hubspot define SMART goals as Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant and Timely.

Let’s see what this means by looking at an example.  Let’s say you’re a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that sells to a variety of industries. You have a goal to get more clients for your business. Noble. But the goal is lacking. It leaves a lot to the imagination. Following the SMART methodology we can refine this marketing goal as follows.

Make marketing goals specific

Goals need to be clearly articulated and easily understood. Nebulous goals that are lost in translation make it very difficult to get large teams aligned around a common cause.

In our example, a SaaS company selling to multiple industries, we can be more specific by clarifying what type of clients, do we want trial clients, enterprise, and specifically – what personas or industries are we pursuing?  

We can get specific with something like: Get more enterprise hospitality clients for our business.

Better. Let’s continue building this goal.

Make marketing goals measurable

When we build our goals we want to make sure we can measure progress against it. So far, we’re just saying what we want – more clients, but how many do we want? 1, 1000?

A measurable marketing goal looks like: Gain 3 more enterprise hospitality clients for our business.

Better!

But how are we going to do this? Magic? Our goal needs to outline our plan to gain these clients. Something like:

Something like: Gain 3 more enterprise hospitality clients for our business by growing organic traffic and inbound leads through new content strategy like blogs and placing thought leadership articles.

Much better!

Make goals attainable

Okay, reality check! Is this metric realistic? How many new hospitality clients are we getting right now? Turns out we’re only getting 4 new clients a year, 1/quarter. Okay. So we have a gut check. We can gauge the rest of the goal setting process against attainability.

Make goals relevant

 Does getting more hospitality clients matter? Is it important to our mission or reflect our values?

Make goals time-bound

 Final check to pull it all together. Goals need to be time bound. When are these 3 new customers coming in. Knowing our current performance, we’re only gaining .33 customers/ month. Unless we’re investing a lot, a 10x increase isn’t attainable. But a 3x increase could be. Knowing we’re getting 1 new customer a quarter, we decide to set our goal on a quarter timetable.

Our final SMART  marketing goal would look like: Gain 3 new enterprise hospitality clients for our business quarterly, by growing organic traffic and inbound leads through new content strategy like blogs and placing thought leadership articles.

Now that we’re on the same page about the type of goals we’re setting, let’s look a bit more at some other ways to choose what to measure.

ultimate guide to setting SMART marketing goals

Choosing what to measure in our marketing goals

The question I get asked the most often is what should my marketing goals measure? The simple answer is to follow your funnel. Your goals, when defined need to be aligned to your business objectives. But from a marketing perspective – the what and how comes from looking at your funnel. Sure, we can say we’re going to grow sales but our goals get more specific, attainable and relevant when we break down the funnel. I’m going to do this backward.

Follow the funnel to set your metrics

Sales – Assuming you know what your traditional sales benchmarks are, you can set goals around your current sales numbers. First, make sure to set something that’s attainable, moving the needle from 5 – 10 a month for example. Once we set our sales goal, we move up the funnel to see how marketing is going to help make that happen. 

Leads – What is your lead to customer conversion rate?  5%, 10 %, 50%? Don’t know? To answer this, answer the question – how many of the trials or lead gen forms that get filled out – end up buying from you? With this number,  you can back into the number of leads marketing needs to drive to support the business need of more sales.

 Let’s say you have a 33%  lead to customer conversion rate. Knowing this, we take our target customer (10) divide by our lead to customer conversion rate (.33) and get a goal for leads of 30.

10/.33 = 30

But we can get even more specific. How much traffic will marketing need to generate to support this lead volume to achieve these sales goals?

Traffic – You already can probably tell where I am going with this – but do we know our top level conversion metric/ Traffic to Lead? Let’s say its 5%. Same math.

We have a goal of 30 Leads / Conversion rate (.05) we need 600 visits a month.

30/.05 = 600

So to achieve our corporate goal of 10 new customers – marketing goals need to align around driving the commensurate amount of leads and traffic – and now we know how much: 600 visits a month and nurture and convert traffic to drive 30 leads a month. 

But what do we do if we have no numbers to start with?

Setting marketing goals when you have no benchmarks

Sometimes businesses find themselves in situations where they have no benchmarks to start setting marketing goals. Either they are brand new or they’ve never been tracking performance. That’s okay – no one freak out. Setting measurable goals is still possible. Just be comfortable with the fact that you may need to revise goals down or up based on how hard or easy you find achieving them.

Using industry benchmarks

conversion rate benchmark report
conversion rate benchmark report from Unbounce

One of the best ways to get started is to look at industry benchmarks. It’s also a good way to see how well you’re performing against peers. The key is to pick goals that relevant to your business at this stage. Are we looking to drive bottom of the funnel metrics like sales and leads? Check out this benchmark report from Unbounce. Are we more interested in building awareness and growing traffic at the top of the funnel? This data from WordStream helps to start getting ourselves situated with what to expect.

Who should be part of the marketing goal setting process

When setting you SMART marketing goals you want to make sure you bring together everyone who has skin in the game. In other words, who has an opinion about revenue? At a minimum that’s going to be sales, your marketing team, finance and executive leadership.

This group can ensure that all five components of the SMART methodology are being considered and aligned to business needs during planning.

How frequently should we set goals

The frequency you set you marketing goals really depends on a couple of things. The timeline of your goals and your budget/planning cycle.

  • In the example above we set a quarterly sales goal, in this example, you’d set this goal annually and check it quarterly on performance.
  • At a minimum, you want to set goals annually – however, if your budget and plan on a semi-annual basis – goal setting more frequently can be beneficial.

Smart Goals Worksheet Template

Last word

How often are you setting goals? What questions do you have about the goal setting process? What lessons have you learned that you’d like to share? Leave a comment here.