A Digital Marketing Love Story

Heart-bullseye

How We Combined Data, SEO, Paid, and Social for Client Success

These days, it is vital to look at all digital channels when planning and executing a campaign for a client. For me, this has been a fun journey—I have had to set my SEO tendencies aside to look at data in a fresh way, and then figure out how to turn that information into effective results for my clients.

It has not always been easy, but neither is true love, right?

So here is how we started with a large dataset and, in the words of the immortal Nina Simone, turned it into “something wonderful.”

But before I start gushing . . .

What Matters to an SEO

In case you are reading this and SEO is something new to you or you are not familiar with the metrics we care most about, here is a quick rundown of what occupies most of our time. We want to make sure page-load speed is as fast as possible and that all important pages can be found on the site. It is also important that Googlebot be able to access and index all of those pages. When Google cannot see our webpages, that is ranking potential our site may not have.

Further, we want to ensure that our page content is on par with what our competitors are showing because page content has a great deal to do with rankings. If we are lacking in certain areas, we try to remedy that problem with better content to help improve our positions for a particular set of keywords.

Then, the offsite stuff comes in (not necessarily last in importance, just the final item on SEO). Years ago, we needed a large number of links to boost our site’s authority above the competition. We wanted our content to be compelling enough to attract attention without a lot of outreach, but we also wanted to have content compelling enough to take to journalists and bloggers so that they would talk about us to their readers.

That is an incredibly truncated walk-through of what matters in SEO, but because other digital channels are the focus here, we will leave SEO for now.

Datasets and Romance (Because Both Are Juicy)

If you have not asked your clients to give you a full export of their customer databases, do it. Now. No, really—stop reading this article and send them all e-mails with your request.

Analyzing a customer’s database is probably the best way (that’s also free) to get insights into your client’s target demographic. Every time I get to tear apart a customer’s database is like reading the latest celebrity romance gossip: it can get a bit tawdry at times, but it always leaves you wanting more.

Anyway, enough about tabloid love. How about some data?

The first real dataset I sank my teeth into was fourteen years of booking data from a high-end health and wellness resort in the southwest. The data within each record was:

  • Zip code
  • Length of stay
  • Booking date
  • Stay date
  • Room revenue
  • Overall stay revenue (such as additional amenities purchased, food and beverages)

If your clients are worried you will misuse their customer data, just tell them it can be anonymous. However, if they do not say anything about making it anonymous, do not suggest it.

From the dataset, we replicated Facebook’s look-alike audience concept and created our own look-alike audiences from the data. Let me explain that: There were several zip codes that produced a great deal of revenue for us over those fourteen years, so we took census data information about those zip codes and used some Excel wizardry to identify “look-alike” zip codes that had similar population sizes and annual income levels.

Then we used that data to do . . .

Paid Search Like a Boss

I will be the first to admit that I do not know much about paid search. You don’t believe me? Okay, here is the truth: I do not know jack about paid search.

There, I said it. But, you should still read on to see what we did with all of that juicy data. Once we identified zip codes that were demographically similar to our top revenue-producing zip codes but that we barely got any business from, we segmented our paid search campaigns to heavily target those zip codes.

Almost immediately, our CTR surged. It went up 40 percent over the next several weeks.

Now, because the resort purchases averaged $5,000 per stay and most of the conversion took place over the phone, we unfortunately could not tie revenue to clicks. But our client was extremely happy with the increase in performance, and that is all that mattered to us.

The Day SEO and Social Media Got Married

Paid search and direct response marketing were in on the action too. Marketing is not monogamous, but I do not think we were breaking any laws by arranging this marriage.

Our client’s Facebook presence is substantial, so I started digging into the geographic areas that were getting the most traction. There were some similarities to the booking data, but there were also some new cities in that list that received many likes.

I figured if our brand is getting likes in a specific region, there is a good chance that brand is being talked about offline in casual conversations.

With that in mind, I put my SEO cap back on and started prospecting for influencers in the health and wellness communities in those cities, and I came up with a surprisingly large list of nutritionists, yoga instructors, and other wellness-type professionals who had websites and physical addresses.

By combining our digital marketing outreach with the in-house marketing team’s direct response mailers, we attacked every possible marketing angle (except radio and TV, but who advertises there anymore? Just kidding.).

Although the outreach did not net much success in the traditional SEO sense (aka backlinks), this marketing mash-up sharply increased our brand exposure and started the journey toward solidifying relationships with local influencers in the markets where we were strongest.

I am convinced that digital marketing has to begin working this way—there is no silver bullet anymore (maybe there never really was), but by combining efforts across channels, we not only broaden our clients’ brands but also grow their revenues and profits.