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5 Common Digital Marketing Data & Analytics Challenges and How to Start Solving Them

The volume and velocity of the data at our fingertips today has the power to transform the way we do marketing. Armed with the right data about our target audience, we can reach them at the right time, in the right place, with the best tailored messages. Given the deluge of marketing messages inundating consumers and B2B buyers at every moment, it’s critical that your marketing messages be the most relevant in order to break through the clutter. However, many of us still aren’t using data to its full potential. Only 30% of B2B marketers use data to inform decision-making. That’s because harnessing data is hard. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, across so many different people, channels, devices, and technologies. And nearly 50% of marketers say they don’t have the the right people, processes, and technologies in place to make use all of that data to make an impact. To continue to thrive in a crowded market place, and to truly show the impact of marketing as a revenue generator, it will be critical to get the people, process, and technology in place to make your data work for you. Of course, it won’t happen overnight. But regardless of where you are in your journey to data sophistication, you can start solving your challenges now. Below, we dive into five frequent data challenges and how you can put yourself on a path to overcome them.

Challenge #1 – The data you need doesn’t exist.

Despite all of that data being generated and captured, you could still be experiencing gaps in your data reporting. Typical data holes, include:

  • Lack of attribution
  • Incomplete contact records
  • Not all marketing and buying activities are being tracked

These data holes are usually caused by a lack (or non-adherence) of process by both sales and marketing teams. The result is an incomplete picture, which can lead to inaccurate data analysis. Unsurprisingly, if your marketing activities aren’t properly tracked, you’re not able to truly measure the result of one marketing activity over another. But the good news is that this is one of the easiest challenges to overcome.

Start Solving The Data Gap Challenge

First, examine the process and governance around your tracking and database. If you don’t have one, create a policy around data governance focusing on getting top-down buy-in on the importance of collecting and maintaining accurate data. For your database:

  • Ensure new records are complete by reviewing data input requirements with the sales team, ensuring all know how and why complete data records are critical. And ensure your CRM and website forms are set up properly to ensure mandatory data is collected and entered.
  • Consider a major scrub if you have a lot of bad data. There are a variety of CRM services or add-on tools to help clean up inaccurate or duplicate records. Manually fixing thousands of records will be nearly impossible in most cases, so consider bringing in outside help.

For marketing activities:

  • Create and enforce a process within your marketing team so tracking is in place on every activity possible.
  • If you you’re already using Google Analytics, make the most out of it by:
    • Ensuring goals and events are setup to track major conversions (like a contact form completion) and micro-conversions (like a video play).
    • Use Google URL builder for improved campaign tracking. Unique URLs can help you pinpoint which marketing activities are driving the most activity.
  • Identify other key data points that you’re not currently able to track with your existing set of tools. From there, research free tools to help you fill in gaps or set aside budget to make an investment in new technology.

Challenge #2 – You have data silos.

Many of you are dealing with multiple legacy systems, perhaps put in place by different teams, that don’t necessarily work together. Between your CRM, analytics platform, marketing automation, and social listening tools, data and platform integration may not be happening—and it’s holding you back. Finding a solution to this challenge will enable your data to become incredibly powerful. Integrating data across systems gives you the opportunity to create a more complete view of a customer or prospect, connecting activity throughout the buying journey and enabling you to reach them with the most relevant messages.

Start Solving the Data Silo Challenge

Start breaking down data silos by creating a list of data collection processes and tools across departments. Once you have the list, you can start to identify if any systems can be merged together. Many stand alone CRM, marketing automation, and analytics tools offer integration capabilities with other common platforms. Or you may already have a tool in place you are using for one function, that can be used for other jobs. If merging isn’t possible, then consider an alternative tool that can integrate with your other systems or do multiple things. This is also a good time to evaluate communication and processes across departments. Opening up silos between teams will help minimize new silos from forming and open up communication and access to data, which can improve the effectiveness of marketing activities. Read: How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer

Challenge #3 – The data is tough to analyze.

Anyone who has ever attempted to analyze thousands of rows of marketing data within an Excel spreadsheet can attest that it can be cumbersome and time consuming. For many of us, data volumes have accelerated much more quickly than our tools and abilities to analyze that data. Even if you have the most accurate, complete data, if you don’t have the right skills and strategies in place to analyze it, you can’t make an impact.

Start Solving the Data Analyzation Challenge

First, ask yourself if you have the right people in place to solve this problem. Data and technology has likely opened up the need for new positions within your team. An experienced analyst (or team of analysts) can manipulate large volumes of data and serve up insights to help your content marketing, social, advertising, and other teams make more informed decisions and show the impact of your work. Data scientist is another in demand title within marketing. The right person in this role can help you evaluate tools, manage data sources, and create process and strategies to turn formless data into a powerhouse of insight to change how your team uses data. From there, assess your technology stack to determine if you have the right tools in place to enable your current or future analysts understand and visualize the data.

Challenge #4 – You don’t trust your data.

It’s safe to say that you and your organization believe data and analytics are critical. In fact, a survey of some of the world’s leading businesses showed that 97% were making big investments in data and analytics this year. However, despite the need and the investment, the degree of confidence in data could be low. According to a recent survey by KPMG and Forrester Consulting, just 38% of respondents said they have a high level of confidence in their customer insights. Furthermore, only a third seem to trust the analytics they generate from their business operations. This gap in trust can be a result of lack of transparency or governance around data sourcing and analysis. And present a significant opportunity for organizations to create, refine and circulate policies for data and analytics management.

Start Solving the Data Trust Challenge

If you’ve already head nodded to one of the first three challenges presented, you likely need to start there. A legacy of incomplete and inaccurate data and analytics has driven the current lack of trust. KPMG recommends taking a systematic approach to building trust within data and analytics, by examining trust in data across four pillars:

  1. Quality (Are your tools and data quality?)
  2. Effectiveness (Is the data analysis useful and accurate?)
  3. Integrity (Are data and analytics being used in an acceptable and ethical way?)
  4. Resilience (Are long-term operations optimized?)

Challenge #5 – You can’t make the predictive leap.

If you have the right people, processes, and tools in place to effectively report on and analyze data across channels, that’s fantastic. You’re likely leveraging your historical data along with human insight to create more effective messaging and showcase the ROI of your marketing activities. But the question is: Are you in a position to get ahead of your audience’s needs? More than likely, you’re “guessing” at what your audience needs and wants based on what’s already happened, and you haven’t made the predictive leap to uncover deeper trends that will require changes in your mix.

Start Solving the Guessing Game Challenge

Start thinking about how machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be implemented to help you predict future outcomes. ML and AI technologies not only have the ability to automate data crunching, but they can also create models using your multi-channel data to determine what is likely to happen if you stop or start using a tactic. For many marketers, AI and ML are daunting solutions to implement, as they are new and can require a significant investment. But the good news is that you can dip your toe in the waters by outsourcing to an established vendor. If you want to get something going in-house, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon all have machine learning solutions you can research, consider, and test. Read: This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

Overcome Your Data & Analytics Challenges in 2019

Without a doubt, the importance of data and analytics will continue to increase as we go forward. Start now to identify what challenges are holding your marketing team back from making the most out of your data. With the right people, process, and tools and technologies in place, you can solve current challenges and evolve a powerful data and analytics operation—ultimately setting you up for more success now and into the future. What are some of the specific strategies and tactics for optimizing performance with data? Our CEO Lee Odden dives into three ways content marketers can leverage data right now.

The post 5 Common Digital Marketing Data & Analytics Challenges and How to Start Solving Them appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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