How I Built a Marketing Plan and Increased Search Traffic by 2638% While Doubling the Inbound Leads

Batuhan Apaydin
Jun 14, 2020 · 31 min read

You’ve probably seen a growth story similar to this if you’re a content or growth marketing professional who has been around for the last 5–10 years.

Some things have changed since then.

Things that haven’t changed: You still have to do your keyword research, publish content and optimize your marketing efforts to increase organic traffic and earn inbound leads.

Things that have changed: You cannot just stuff a bunch of keywords into an article, publish it on social channels and expect to be ranked on the first page to get organic traffic and convert them into leads.

Competition is WAY higher nowadays since there are WAY more people who create WAY more quality content consistently — both on the professional and personal level.

The story is similar but you need to find more creative ways in a more strategic manner to be more visible on search engines.

If you’re a marketing professional who is looking for ways to increase organic search traffic and attract more inbound leads (or subscribers, sales, brand awareness) for your company in 2020, you’re in the right place.

In just 6 months, I’ve managed to increase our company blog’s organic search traffic by 738%.

In the 7th month, the increase was 1061%.

In the 8th month, it was 2638%.

And inbound leads for the same period more than doubled.

Traffic performance of Dor’s Blog

Let me show you how I did it.

Before starting…

It doesn’t really matter if your blog is an individual effort or a company blog.

And it doesn’t matter if your goal by getting more organic traffic is to increase inbound leads, email signups, direct sales or build brand awareness.

You should be aware of this basic math for a successful content marketing strategy:

  • 25% researching and planning for the content
  • 25% creating the content
  • 25% distributing the content
  • 25% analyzing the content

Early in my career, I used to think that it’s all about (1) creating content and (2) publishing it. I used to think that I had a good understanding of my audience. I also used to think that my editorial team and I could do an amazing job creating content so I didn’t need to do anything extra.

I started a cooking website full of recipes, food-related content and videos — which became a SimilarWeb Worldwide Top 20 juggernaut with 20 million sessions and 40 million video views per month.

To be honest, I thought it was all about “traffic”, “views”, “reach” and “engagement”.

Then I started working with startups from different markets as both a full-time employee and a consultant. At one point, I realized that what I used to do was a pure “this is a great idea and it’s super exciting, let’s do it” approach — which worked quite well for a publisher at the time.

If you’re a young marketing professional, you’re probably doing the same: Finding an exciting idea and running after it without thinking strategically.

As the Senior Marketing Manager at Dor, a retail analytics startup from San Francisco, I’ve taught myself that it’s more than just creating content and publishing it.

So…

Here. We. Go.

Note: You can easily click and jump to the section you’re interested from the table of contents. You can also click the ˄ icon at the end of each section to come back here. Easy peasy.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The first 25%: Researching and planning for the content

The second 25%: Creating the content

The third 25%: Distributing the content

The fourth 25%: Analyzing your content

➤ The first 25%: Researching and planning for the content

It’s critical to know that it’s not just about what you create and publish.

You have to first:

  • Understand what your product’s real value is
  • Listen to your audience and understand their needs
  • Explore your competitors and see what they’re doing
  • Understand the market
  • Define your goals

You should almost approach it as a “product manager” to set the stage for the following steps.

Know your product

You have to ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my product do?
  • What’s my product’s value proposition?
  • Which problems does my product solve?

In our case, Dor is a people counter that counts the number of people in a given space.

Dor helps retailers understand their store performance by calculating conversion rates so that retailers can make more profitable business decisions. Dor helps retailers figure out their stores’ peak hours so that they can do more cost-efficient staff-scheduling. Dor helps retailers explore their marketing effectiveness by showing the impact of their marketing spend on store traffic.

Now I have relevant topics and important keywords that are related to my business.

You can only build a marketing plan if you thoroughly know your business and how your business can help your customers.

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Know your audience

Let’s look at our audience next:

  • Who are my potential customers?
  • What are their pain-points?
  • On which channels are they spending most of their time to find solutions to their problems?
  • What are the words, phrases and stories they use when they explain their needs?
  • If it’s a B2B market — who are the decision-makers and who are the ones that help the decision-makers make a decision?

If you don’t know who your audience is, how can you really write any type of content that will resonate with them?

Don’t forget that if you write for everyone, you write for no one.

Host user interviews and do qualitative and quantitative surveys to learn more about them. You should also do your best to find the forums, platforms, channels they spend time on and listen to what they say, what they ask, what they look for.

In our case, Dor’s goal is to help independent and enterprise retailers become more profitable and efficient businesses. They need their store data to make better business decisions.

To have a marketing plan that is bringing traffic and leads, you’ll have to find the right angle to reach out to your customers. That can only be possible by thoroughly understanding them.

To learn more about this topic in detail:

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Know your goals

Our goal is to increase our SALES, of course, but how?

In our case, Dor has to increase its number of qualified LEADS to increase its sales numbers.

Dor has to increase its REACH to its audience to convert them into leads.

Dor has to either pay for that TRAFFIC on paid channels like Google or Facebook or begin an inbound marketing plan to increase its organic traffic with the blog, email and social channels.

The first one is scalable but not sustainable. You cannot only invest in paid traffic and expect a profitable business in the long run. A business cannot be 100% independent if you depend on paid marketing performance for success.

The second one is time-consuming but very sustainable. If you manage to increase your organic traffic, you’ll have a good chance of increasing your sales without continuously and incrementally paying for advertising channels.

So, knowing your goals will help you from the beginning; doing targeted research, deciding on the right type of content, finding the proper channels to distribute and thus building the proven roadmap for success.

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Know your strengths and weaknesses

Every business has resources. Most of the time they are limited but still, they are there if you want to leverage them.

Let’s start counting what we MIGHT have as a business:

  • An email list of people that we can reach and convert into sales
  • A group of social media followers or network of influencers that we can work with to increase our brand awareness and sales
  • A website/blog that’s already reaching out to people organically which we can optimize for increased sales
  • A marketing & advertising budget to boost our campaigns and ideas

As a startup, you probably have none of those. No worries, that’s pretty normal.

At Dor, I had…

  • An email list with a few thousand people.
  • A couple of hundred Facebook followers that cannot be reached without paying Facebook.
  • Just above a thousand Twitter followers who are mostly “sleeping”.
  • A once-an-active blog with only 3–4 daily clicks of organic search traffic on average.
  • And finally, a small amount of marketing budget that can only be increased if sales are going well.

Nobody said it was easy, huh?

In this case, one thing I really had to understand was exploring what type of blog content was published before me and which ones were getting traffic.

The previous marketing team did an amazing job creating engaging content but those posts weren’t really focusing on search engine traffic. Our blog had only a couple of clicks daily despite the fact that there were dozens of articles published in the past.

Blog audit example

My goal here was to understand which funnel stage was the focus, which audience group was primarily targeted, how many words were the articles on average, what were the content types and which ones were getting search traffic — even if it wasn’t huge.

You have to discover your strengths and weaknesses — resources you have and don’t have — to set up your marketing plan.

Whether it’s an email list, a blog or social channels with active followers — find those and dive deep to see if there is anything you can capitalize on.

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Know your market — and your “keywords”

In this context, you have two ways of creating content:

  • Create content that you think can represent your brand and resonate with your audience — without knowing which keywords your potential customers are searching for. You don’t need search engine traffic to grow your audience, thus you don’t need to do any kind of keyword research.
  • Create content that is based on data and keyword research — that both the real users and the search engines would love. You want to reach out to more people via search engines — people who are looking for solutions — like Dor — to fix their problems. You need to do your research and understand which keywords are commonly used by your potential customers. If you rank high in those keywords, you’ll have a better chance of increasing your sales and brand awareness.

I knew that “people counting” and “foot traffic” were two of the most common search terms our potential customers were looking for. But what else?

There should be others, right?

It cannot be only about “people counting” or “foot traffic”. Our potential customers should be having other business problems that are related to our product.

As I mentioned above in the “know your product” section, Dor can help retailers with their sales and marketing effectiveness. So, what if we start creating content not only about “people counting” and “foot traffic” but also about “retail marketing”, “retail sales” and “retail analytics”.

keywordtool.io is where I always start for my keyword researches. Start typing a couple of search terms you have in my mind and see all the related search terms.

Then you can copy and paste all those keywords to your Google Keyword Planner and learn about their monthly search volumes. Eliminate the ones that are not related to your business and voila! You have a list of keywords you can start with for your blog.

Keyword volume research example

Let’s say you’re not feeling super comfortable doing this kind of research and/or you don’t have resources to work with an SEO professional to do the work for you.

You can still have an idea for what your potential customers are searching for related to your business and market.

Start with a couple of searches you have in mind and see what Google is suggesting in the “People also ask” section. Here, I can see four content ideas that Google is giving me for free.

People Also Ask section from Google

Again, Google can help you with its “auto-correction” feature. Just try searching for different terms and see what people are looking for related to that term.

Auto-correction from Google

So…

If we know that people are looking for “retail foot traffic statistics”, then what do we do?

Here is a blog post from Dor that is about retail statistics and industry benchmarks.

And finally, you can also check the end of the page and see related searches people are doing.

Let’s say you’ve learned that they’re also searching for “traffic counter”. Now you can use “traffic counter” as a starting point for your keyword research on Keyword.io and Google Keyword Planner tool, or casual research on Google to see the auto-corrections and “people also ask” sections.

Related searches section from Google

If you want to learn more about keyword research, you can check Backlinko’s guide and better understand what your audience wants to find.

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Know your competitors

One very underrated but crucial thing about researching competitors is exploring what they’ve done successfully so that you can repeat them — but repeat even better.

If you’re able to use an SEO tool or know an SEO professional to help you, you can find the keywords your competitors are ranking high. You can also see the pages they’re ranking for those keywords.

Here’s a table I had where I compared Dor’s ranking power compared to its competitors. You can see the ranking of our competitors and Dor in comparison for each related keyword/phrase.

Competitors’ ranking comparison example from the previous year — now things have changed.

You don’t actually need to have any kind of SEO tool to start researching.

Pick your keywords, start typing them on Google and click on EVERY result you can.

You’ll find yourself exploring your competitors, the pages that are ranking high, the pages that are really weak that you can beat in the near future and all the related keywords that you didn’t think of until that time.

Curiosity kills the cat but also helps you better understand your market.

One last thing before creating content…

Since you did your research and preparation about your product, audience, competitors and the market… Do you think you can explain your content strategy in one sentence?

Here is Dor’s content strategy:

Dor helps retailers increase their store performance by sharing retail analytics, marketing and sales tactics and ideas.

Your content strategy should be simple enough to summarize in a sentence.

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➤ The second 25%: Creating the content

Let’s see what we’ve got so far:

We know more about our product, our audience, our strengths and weaknesses, our popular and related keywords and finally our competitors.

The only thing left to do is start creating content.

Decide on the topics to cover

When it comes to creating content for a product or service, the possibilities are endless — at least for a creative person. You can get inspired by anything and everything.

But the secret to creating successful content in the long-run is to stay structured and focused.

And if you can figure out the topics you’ll cover — the topics that resonate with your business, audience and market — you’ll stay structured and focused.

Remember when we studied our product, audience and the popular keywords and search phrases? Now that information will show us the path to glory.

Let’s go back to our example: Dor.

Below, you’ll see the topics that Dor is covering in bold.

Dor is a people counting solution in the retail analytics space. Dor helps retailers increase their sales by helping them understand their store performance. Dor also shows merchants if their retail marketing efforts succeed or fail.

Here are the topics Dor is covering in its content marketing efforts to reach out to more people via search engines:

  • People counting
  • Retail analytics
  • Retail sales
  • Retail marketing

And here are the content examples that I created for each topic:

  • People counting:

8 Essential Benefits of People Counters for Retail Stores

Pros and Cons of 5 Different People Counting Sensors

  • Retail analytics:

The Ultimate Guide to Retail Analytics and The Future of Retail

15 Key Metrics (KPIs) to Measure Retail Store Performance

  • Retail sales:

How to Calculate (and Increase) Retail Conversion Rate

15 In-Store Promotion Tactics to Increase Retail Sales

  • Retail marketing:

Digital Marketing for Retailers: Every Tactic and Channel You Must Know

15 Email Marketing Tips for Retailers to Increase Sales

First, pick your relevant topics.

Then…

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Create a content pool

A content pool is a list of content ideas that could be used for our content marketing purposes. It can be a pool for our blog, social media accounts, or email marketing efforts.

The goal is to have as many ideas as possible so that we don’t have to brainstorm about a new idea every time we need to create content.

Remember I thoroughly understood our product and audience, checked our competitors’ blogs, took a deep dive into keywords and investigated our own blog posts from the past?

Now I have a content pool full of ideas that I got from understanding our product and audience, our competitors and the market.

Content pool example

Every content idea is marked with a topic, sub-topic, potential impact, audience and funnel stage. My goal is to be able to filter them out easily in the future when I have dozens, maybe hundreds of ideas in the same spreadsheet.

Start a spreadsheet for your content ideas. Now.

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Decide on the funnel stages to cover

If anyone tells you that “all content is created equal”, they are lying.

Some content is created more equal than others.

Do you know how to use the fundamentals of the “marketing funnel” for your content marketing strategy?

A simplified marketing funnel

Every content you create, in fact, belongs to a stage.

Your buyer can be on top of the funnel where he doesn’t really know how to solve his problems.

Your buyer can be on the middle of the funnel where he’s aware of his problems and solutions but considering his options.

Your buyer can be on the bottom of the funnel and ready to decide on the product or service he’ll purchase.

We can use the same funnel principles when we create content.

Top of the funnel means covering anything retail-related — all about awareness: Retailers’ Must-Have Guide to the Holiday Season (2019)

Middle of the funnel means covering topics that are retail and people counting related: 40 Ideas to Boost Retail Foot Traffic and Increase Sales

Bottom of the funnel means covering the issues right before a decision-maker makes a purchase: 17 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a People Counter

It’s not creating “any content”. It’s creating content that is focused, with a purpose.

Determine your stages, put yourself in your audience’s shoes for every stage and think of content ideas to address each stage for your customers.

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Brief the freelancers or content teams

If you’re creating the content yourself, you may jump to the next section. You already know what to write, how to write. You know your business, audience, competitors and market.

If you’re briefing your content team or freelancers to create content, then you’ll have to do your best to write the most self-explanatory and to-the-point brief possible.

Sometimes you will feel like “I could have written a blog content at the same time I wrote this super detailed 500-word brief”.

But you also — hopefully — know that writing content for a topic that you don’t know in detail can take hours.

The goal for writing a detailed brief is to make sure that the content writer doesn’t have to assume anything about what you really expect. This is the only way if you don’t want to send the content back to the writer with 500 more words in revision notes.

Here are the things I always cover when I brief the content writer:

  • Content length (min or max values)
  • Keywords (primary and secondary KWs and phrases to use)
  • Purpose of the content
  • The audience for the content
  • Questions to answer in the content (ex: sub-topics)
  • Content language/tone (ex: educational, entertaining, friendly, professional etc)
  • Branding (words we use and don’t use for call-to-actions or anything brand-related)
  • Good examples (at least 2–3 content examples from the same topic that ranks high and/or hits the spot)
  • Poor examples (at least 2–3 poor content examples from the same topic that is written lazily and/or difficult to read for some reason)

Briefing the content writer is half of the “creating content” step.

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Create and publish the content

The last step: Publishing (finally!)

Let’s remember the main goal here again: We are aiming to attract organic search traffic to our blog.

So we’ll have to understand why and how Google ranks some pages higher and other pages lower. There are — at least — 200 ranking factors that Google uses to decide our fates.

I won’t go over all of them but I’ll talk more about the two essential ones that you can work on. The ones that you can control. The ones that you can optimize quickly without relying on anyone else within your business (ex: developers, designers etc) or outside of it (ex: social shares, backlinks etc).

But before any algorithm and/or ranking factor…

Remember this: Google’s first priority is its users’ satisfaction. You, as a business, not a priority for Google.

Google mostly cares about (1) if the user can find the information he is looking for as fast as possible and (2) if the user is satisfied with the answer he’s found.

Those two factors result as “a happy” and most probably “a returning” user for Google.

If you understand this reality, you’ll start playing the game by Google’s rules.

Increase your click-through-rates on search results

Let’s say you are, as a user, searching for “differences between people counter sensors” and you’re looking to find a content that compares different counter technologies.

You see the related ads first on the search result page. Then you start looking at the related results.

You see two titles back to back. Which one would you click first?

Probably the second title, right? The title that promises to give us what we’re looking for in a more direct and concise way.

The one that is not stale. The one that is not lazy.

Every click you get will increase your ranking. Why? Google wants to give its users the best option possible and comparing click-through-rates is a great way to understand user behaviour.

Work on your titles and descriptions. Remember what your audience is looking for, what their pain points are and the keywords and phrases they use every day.

Check all the high-ranking pages’ titles and descriptions and try to understand what’s working and what’s not.

Copy them but make them even better.

Increase user’s visit duration on your page

Let’s do the same experiment again.

Let’s say you, as a user, are looking for ideas to “increase foot traffic and sales” for your retail store and find these two articles on Google.

Which one would you spend more time at?

Content A: 5 Ways for Retailers to Increase Foot Traffic

  • Less than 1,000 words
  • Non-practical and general ideas
  • Minimum styling throughout the content

Content B: 40 Ideas to Boost Retail Foot Traffic and Increase Sales

  • Almost 5,000 words long
  • 40 inspiring ideas with detailed explanations
  • Real-life examples and images from brands
  • Styled with links, bold & italic texts, quote boxes, sub-headers, bullet points, short paragraphs

Every second and minute the users spend on a page is another ranking factor for Google. Remember that they want their users satisfied with every time they use Google?

If you can find ways to keep users stay longer on your page, then you’ll get higher rankings.

There are two simple rules for that:

  • Make it easy for the user to read and/or skim the article so he stays longer (sub-headings, shorter paragraphs, bold & italic & underline styling etc)
  • Give the user a strong and satisfying content so he doesn’t leave early (detailed but easy-to-understand explanations in addition to images and videos to support the content, real-life examples, statistics etc)

Long-form content is a great way to include direct and indirect keywords and phrases in your content. Covering different aspects of your main topic in long-form content also lets your content rank for long-tail searches — which is the key to reach to your real audience who can convert to leads, subscribers or sales.

Now, stop for a second and look at the article you’ve been reading for the last 10+ minutes. I’m trying to give as much information as possible to keep you on the page.

The other most important factors — IMHO — are backlinks, site speed and mobile usability.

Don’t worry about all those ranking factors.

You, as a marketer, should focus on the things that you can quickly change to create an impact.

You can ask for backlinks from other website owners to increase page authority or set up meetings with developers to increase site speed and usability. These are the necessary tasks to rank higher and you’ll have to do them at some point.

But the results will never be as quick as optimizing your title and description to increase click-through-rates or improving your content to increase dwell time.

For those who are not comfortable with some of the search engine optimization fundamentals, this article will give you a good understanding of what-to-do and what-not-to-do while publishing your search-engine-optimized content.

Also, please don’t forget that it’s not only about Google — or any search engine — but it’s about user-intent and if the users become satisfied with our content or not.

Here are the most important questions to ask before hitting the “publish” button:

  • Is my title catchy and clear at the same time?
  • Does my content have an “idea” that the reader can get inspired by?
  • Does my content have an intro that makes the reader curious about the rest of it?
  • Is my content visually captivating with relevant images, videos and quotes?
  • Does my content have short paragraphs and relevant sub-headings to make it easy to read?
  • Did I check my spelling, punctuation, grammar and typos?
  • What’s my call-to-action?

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Bonus: Add lead and email subscription forms

Earning organic search traffic to our blog is one thing; converting them into leads or email subscribers is another.

In the end, our ultimate goal is to increase the number of qualified leads so that we can have more revenue.

The question is how and where should we place the lead or email subscription forms?

The one thing you’ll have to do first is to understand how your users are navigating through the page. Use a free version of Hotjar to see what percentage of your visitors scroll down your blog posts and watch live records of your users to see how they navigate on your website.

Here we can see around 40% of our visitors leave the page after the first 4–5 paragraphs of space.

Quick heatmap analysis from Hotjar

This means that I should have the newsletter subscription box and the lead form section in the first part. Not the middle or the end of the page.

How to position lead forms on a blog post

You can also try different methods such as exit popups or sticky forms on the empty spaces. It depends on how aggressive you want to be with capturing leads.

Just remember: users are coming to your website because they want to read your content and find a solution to their problems.

And then maybe — MAYBE — they will be interested in your product.

So, not forcing a lead or an email form down their throat might be a good approach.

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➤ The third 25%: Distributing the content

This is the part where most content creators fail.

Most people believe that if they create good content, it will be discovered on its own, organically.

Which is not the case.

Remember how much competition is going on right now in the “attention economy”. Not only brands but every person alive is a broadcaster now. It can be a podcast, an email, a blog post or an Instagram story. They are all fighting to catch our attention.

So what should we do?

We have to find content and channels that our audience is spending time with. Email, social media, forums, groups… Wherever they are, we should be publishing our content there.

This is called outreach.

Remember when you did your research about your audience and their problems, who they are, where they spend time etc.

Now we really know who we are looking for and where we are looking for instead of targeting random audiences in random venues. All those impressive traffic numbers mean nothing if you can’t reach your real goal — increasing leads, sales, subscribers etc.

In the end, you don’t want any traffic, you want relevant traffic that can turn into success.

And if we increase our traffic through different targeted channels, not only will we increase our chances of turning visitors into leads, but we’ll also increase our chances of getting more search traffic through cookies that Google uses to show more related search results to their users.

Utilize Linkedin Groups

After coming up with the content marketing plan for Dor, one of the first things I did was join 18 different retail-focused groups on Linkedin.

18.

And what was the goal?

  1. Listen to what retailers in those groups were talking about. What do they share? How do they react to content that’s shared?
  2. Share Dor’s educational and helpful content. A great way to reach out to retail decision-makers that might be interested in Dor’s services.

People who I’m trying to reach out to are already there in those Linkedin groups. Wasn’t that the goal from the beginning?

Know your audience, their pain points and find ways to reach out to them while promising that you can fix their problems.

Linkedin Groups outreach example

Always be aware that some of the Linkedin Groups will be more active than others. More activity means more attention, more engagement and more clicks.

You can try using specific UTM links on your blog posts to see which Linkedin Groups are “actually” sending clicks to your blog. That way you can focus more on those active groups and leave the ones that are dead silent.

Linkedin Groups post example

One thing not to forget is you shouldn’t just publish your latest blog post and be a spammer.

Engage with the group, start conversations with other members, always leave your two-cents and then publish your content; hoping that it will add value to the group.

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Utilize your email lists

You may have 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 email subscribers. Numbers don’t really matter.

What matters is their attention.

How many of them are willing to open/click your emails? How many of them are looking forward to your new emails? How many of them would forward your email to others?

How many of them are really interested in your content?

I would prefer 100 people who are interested in my content over 1000 people who don’t know what my product is.

You’re not a publisher whose main KPI is to increase traffic or views. Your main KPI is to bring marketing qualified leads to your business that can turn into sales. Your goal is to reach out to decision-makers and show them that you understand their problems and you have the tools to fix them.

Send them weekly newsletters with your blog posts and tell them how that blog post about “sales promotion tactics for retail businesses” can help their business.

Use a captivating image that tells the story of your blog post so the reader can focus his attention on the email without reading every word you’d used.

Be short, brief and easy-to-understand in your email copy. Your goal is to bring the reader to your blog. Make sure that you’re giving enough information to make the reader more interested and curious about your content.

Just remember: When you send an email — or do any marketing activity — it’s not about your product. It’s about their problems, their pain-points, their issues.

It’s about them.

If you show your interest to fix them, then you have their attention and then, MAYBE, they open and click your email and read your content and be interested in your offer.

Email marketing example

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Utilize your social media pages

Just like what happens with email subscribers, some marketers also feel like a social media account with only a few followers doesn’t really have the power to make a change for the business.

Wrong.

Even if you have only a bunch of followers — as most of the startups — you still have to utilize your pages.

Remember: It’s not about the numbers. It’s about who you reach out to and whether you can contribute to his decision-making process or not.

And also, your social media profiles are your “About Us” pages. People, nowadays, look for products and services on social media platforms as much as they do on search engines.

The key is to have an active, engaging and helpful page that gives the user enough reason to be interested in your business.

Depending on your business and the market around it, you MUST share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and even Pinterest if it fits.

Find the tone that suits the platform (ex: more professional on Linkedin and more casual on Instagram) and make sure you have a good call-to-action with a proper image that gives an idea about what the post is about.

Publishing content on social and motivating your followers to reshare it will bring new users to your website and it will be a “social sign” for Google when it comes to ranking similar pages.

Facebook post example

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Utilize forums

I don’t know where your audience is asking questions and looking for answers to their problems.

But you should know.

Whether it’s Quora, Reddit, Indiehackers or a niche forum focusing on your industry…

Your outreach tactics on those venues should have a plan with a clear set of goals. If it’s working, continue investing your time and resources. If not, find another venue.

I chose Quora to focus on small business owners and enterprise retailers as it’s a great platform (1) where anyone can ask a question and get an answer quickly and (2) which ranks high on Google in so many topics and categories.

Here is a sheet as an example that I’d created to determine the Quora pages that rank high for the relevant keywords in our retail analytics industry.

Highest ranking related Quora pages

A spreadsheet like this makes things easier as you can focus on the most popular pages that are relevant to your business. In the end, you’d prefer to answer questions that are seen by other people, right?

To be honest, you don’t need an SEO tool to find the most popular Quora pages with questions that might benefit your business.

It’s all about doing proper research and finding the topics and questions that are relevant to your business.

Start searching Quora with your industry (in our case, it’s either “foot traffic” or “retail analytics”). Then check the questions in that category and find the ones that are popular. You can visit the “view stats and log” from the menu and see how many people visited that page.

Quora question example

Also, check the related questions section to find other questions that your potential customers might be asking. Check the number of answers those questions received. Read all the answers to see if they’re giving all the necessary information in a well-structured and easy-to-read way.

If it’s a question with low-quality answers… Then it’s your turn to give a high-quality answer.

Above, you’ll see a retail analytics-related question which Dor’s potential customers might end up reading. Aubtin, my former colleague, and I invested some of our time in Quora to answer questions like these.

Here is the weak answer we found on that question that pushed us to write a proper one.

Now every person who finds that page from Google or Quora itself will see our answer and it’s a good chance that that person might be a potential customer.

It means potential traffic to our blog and a new lead to our sales pipeline.

˄

Utilize retargeting and “similar audience” campaigns

This was one of the most helpful tactics that I used to reach out to not only just more people but also to more people who might be interested in our product.

Retargeting is a type of paid advertising to bring back your website visitors to your page again thanks to the cookies that are placed on their browsers.

And Facebook is a great channel for our purposes as you can also reach out to similar people while you’re setting your retargeting campaigns.

Did you notice that I’ve been constantly saying “it’s not about numbers, it’s about reaching out to people who might be interested in your product” throughout the article?

Through our email campaigns, social media posts and Linkedin Groups, we, at Dor, had the goal of reaching out to decision-makers from the retail industry.

Now we can utilize this with our retargeting campaigns to reach out to them again with new blog content or product/service offerings.

I can also target similar audiences (“Lookalike Audience”) on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to reach out to other retail professionals that have similar usage patterns on those social channels.

It’s not about the total number of clicks or the reach. It’s about who you reach out to.

It’s about getting their attention.

˄

Utilize influencers and new outreach opportunities

Let me confess.

One thing I could have focused on more is increasing the extent of our outreach.

I tried reaching out to retail influencers via Twitter and email and letting them know about our marketing efforts. I tried posting our content on relevant questions on Quora to reach out to more relevant people. I tried being active in relevant forums and blogs to increase our reach.

Unfortunately, I had to lead all marketing operations and channels at Dor on my own so I had to prioritize my marketing tasks. So I decided to sacrifice a more widespread outreach in favor of planning and executing other marketing tasks.

If I had the time or a marketing team, the first thing I would have done is to be more active on Quora and answer all the related retail and people counting questions. The second thing would be creating 1-to-1 relationships with retail professionals and build a group of brand ambassadors or influencers where both the business and the professionals can find benefits of this specific connection.

Every persona or audience has

  • a different problem to fix
  • a different platform or channel to spend time at
  • a different process of decision-making.

Think about these carefully and find your best outreach channels and tactics.

˄

➤ The fourth 25%: Analyzing your content

There are two folds in this phase:

  1. Analyzing your content to understand if your search engine rankings are getting higher (or lower)
  2. Analyzing your content to understand which types of content and channels of distribution are bringing more inbound leads

Analyze your ranking performance

You’ll have access to search engine optimization tools to see your rankings for specific keywords and phrases if you have a search engine professional helping you with your marketing efforts.

You can also purchase one of the SEO tools (Ahrefs and SEMrush are the best ones) to see your rankings, visibility, average position, click-through-rates etc on your own.

If you don’t have access to one of those tools, then you should focus your attention on Google Search Console to view the organic traffic performance of your pages.

Impressions and clicks performance — Google Search Console

Google Search Console will give you the keywords and phrases you’re getting search traffic from. You can also pick specific pages and see their performances.

The most important thing you have to check is the impressions (how many times it was shown as a search page result) and clicks (how many times it was clicked by a user) performances of relevant keywords and your pages as a result.

If you see that you’re getting organic traffic from irrelevant search terms that don’t result in a marketing qualified lead or sales for the business, then you probably didn’t understand your audience and the market which resulted in the wrong set of keywords — which means going back to the first 25%.

If you think that you’re not getting enough organic traffic for your pages, you’ll have to write better content (better structure, more paragraphs, more relevant keywords or phrases, more helpful content in general, more images, videos, statistics, quotes etc) on those pages — which means going back to the second 25%.

Search queries from Google Search Console

And finally: What are the similarities and shared patterns between high-ranking and high-traffic pages that you’ve published?

Are they mostly long-form content?

Which marketing funnel stage do they belong to?

Are they focusing on a specific use-case for your product (i.e: “how enterprise companies can use foot traffic data”) or a more general topic (i.e: “15 email marketing tactics for retailers”)?

Find and learn those proven success formulas so you can repeat them.

˄

Analyze your lead conversion performance

If your business depends on sales (thus number of qualified leads) you generate, then increasing organic traffic is only the beginning.

Here are the questions you’ll need to answer:

  • Which content types are bringing more leads? Are they more product-specific or more general topics?
  • Are there any similarities or shared patterns between those content types that you can learn from? It can be a more casual or professional writing style that can increase or decrease the lead performance. Is content length a factor to think?
  • What is the performance difference between a top of the funnel and a bottom of the funnel content in terms of increasing inbound leads?
  • Which keywords are bringing more leads? Can you create more content around those keywords?

Find and learn those proven success formulas so you can repeat them.

˄

Conclusion

Did you notice that I didn’t say anything about the number of posts you have to publish each week or the ideal length of high-ranking posts?

After 7,500 words in this article, I still didn’t give you the magic formula for increasing Dor’s organic search traffic by more than 2600%. I still didn’t tell you the exact things to do.

Because there are none.

Every market, every industry, every business and every audience has its own unique magic formula. I gave you the fundamentals so you can find your own magic formula.

I know it looks like a lot of work.

Isn’t it easier just to create the content you love, publish it the way you want and wait for the results?

It is easier but is it the “right way” to do if your goal is more than just “publishing content”?

I promise you that once you start getting the results you’re looking for after doing your research, having a plan and creating a content strategy with a purpose, you’ll never go back.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or additional tips and tactics to increase organic search traffic and inbound leads.

May the organic traffic be with you!

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Batuhan Apaydin

Written by

A product & marketing professional from San Francisco.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

Batuhan Apaydin

Written by

A product & marketing professional from San Francisco.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +793K followers.

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