Three top digital PR tips from our Head of Digital PR, Olivia Wiltshire
You may think that gaining coverage and landing links would be harder than ever right now, but you’d be surprised. The reality we’ve seen is that many publications are in story- and content-deficit and need new stories stat! There’s still a great opportunity for brands to get their name out there, and the good news is that as a brand you don’t need to put a tonne of resource into satisfying that publication demand.
1. Assess if your existing content is fulfilling its full potential…now!
You don’t need me to tell you that the world’s having to power through another wave of considerable uncertainty, and that as a result budget holders are being asked to get more bang for their buck and so on. While on the surface this may seem a little insurmountable, especially with the backdrop of the core “Covid-years”, the good news is you can embrace this challenge head-on by simply auditing your existing content to establish if there’s more it could be doing. Every brand will have existing content, so start with what you’ve got, and go from there.
You may have an existing Digital PR campaign that could benefit from further optimisation to begin ranking for integral keywords. Or, you may have an opportunity to actively outreach an existing on-site resource or tool (think guides, calculators, ultimately any genuinely helpful content) to relevant media outlets and get it in front of more relevant eyeballs, and secure important links in the process. This doesn’t have to be a big job, but rather a few informed tweaks here and there to drive value. I talk more about this topic and the importance of content distribution in my Stretch your marketing budget further with Content Strategy and Digital PR collaboration blog post.
2. Pay attention to your consumer with your Digital PR
Being audience-first could not be more important than in today’s world. The time for flash-in-the-pan headlines that don’t hold up is over; consumers want and deserve stories and content that serve a genuine purpose. Whether that be content designed to ease pain points, give direction to a query or provide something meaningful, let’s prioritise only sharing Digital PR campaigns that will stand the test of time and contain useful or memorable information, rather than burn and churn after a few minutes from publication.
With misinformation continuing to gain prevalence, as we can see in the below Google trend, it is absolutely paramount that anything you’re pushing out is based on credible, authentic, data.
More than that, brands have a duty to ensure any story shared with the public plays its part to be kind, and encourages positive narratives. We need to see more of this from brands, and the industry alike; now is not a time to become complacent about this point, but rather go to town about it.
3. Don’t rest on your laurels when it comes to creative formats and remember accessibility
If you have the opportunity and budget, I recommend keeping the creative wheel turning when it comes to assets and formats for your Digital PR content. Although it may seem easier to press ahead with an idea without creative support, this is not how your brand will be remembered by consumers in the future.
Consider this scenario: You have two brands pushing out a similar story. Brand A opts to go for a data and copy led approach, and brand B decides to incorporate a selection of strong visuals to support and energise the story. Which approach would you remember? I think we know the answer.
At a time when things could be perceived as all doom and gloom, people want to be entertained, and if it’s your brand showing off some dynamic, future-facing creative assets alongside credible stories, people will come back for more, and remember your name.
Moreover, creative assets don’t have to cost the earth. There are plenty of free tools out there to support your creative endeavours such as: Data Wrapper, Flourish, and NightCafe Creator to name but a few of my team’s favourites. It’s time to get curious and bring your brand stories to life. One final word, if you’re choosing to include assets, don’t forget to pay attention to accessibility to ensure you’re not limiting your audience in any way.
Three top SEO tips from our Senior SEO Consultant, Maria Camanes
1. Understand how consumer demand can be influenced by external factors and how to react to these changes
User demand is heavily influenced by a multitude of elements that are entirely outside of our control as digital marketers and we are forever at the mercy of our industry environment, with factors such as algorithm updates, shifts in search demand, or changes to the competitor landscape, search engine guidelines or the SERPs.
To top it all off, we are also exposed to other macro-environmental elements which can influence our performance heavily (also known as PESTLE). A good example of this is the COVID pandemic, with effects still being felt today. We are also currently facing the big impact of geopolitical conflicts on consumer behavior with the Ukrainian war, the cost of living crisis and the inflation and interest rates.
Awareness of the factors that could influence your organic performance is the first step if you want to minimise risks and maximise growth during turbulent times, but you should also understand how these influence consumer demand so that you can remain agile to these changes.
For this purpose, you can retrieve historical search volumes at scale for the last decade using Mangools; then, categorise these into groups and explore trends to analyse and scale the impact of these factors more effectively. Adding real-time data from Google Trends will then help you increase your speed of reactivity to changes in demand which, during this period of global uncertainty, can be critical for getting ahead of the competition.
2. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects: the SEO foundations still matter most
There is no doubt that these times of turbulence will come with tighter budgets and limited resources; therefore, it’s more important than ever that you put all of your energy and effort where it matters.
We are constantly seeing the appearance of new shiny objects, such as the recent launch of ChatGPT – a natural language processing (NLP) chatbot created by OpenAI that’s capable of generating human-like text and interacting with users in a conversational manner.
It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of what these can offer and how they could impact the future of SEO. However, it’s now more important than ever not to lose sight and understand that focusing on the SEO fundamentals will provide a better ROI. Making sure your site is optimised for mobile performance, ensuring you are providing a meaningful experience to your users through high-quality content that’s fulfilling the user’s intent and making sure this is accessible for both users and search engines are key to success. All of these will also help you have your site optimised for E-A-T.
3. Strategy is important but execution is everything
Regardless of the environment and what the future holds, there is still one thing which you can control: your marketing strategy and its execution. Whilst in channels like PPC you can effectively pause and resume activities almost immediately according to budget or resources, organic is all about consistency and momentum. Reducing your SEO activity might not have an immediate impact but if you stop investing in SEO while competitors continue to do so, you will be at a big risk of falling behind. Focusing on executing your SEO strategy and getting your recommendations implemented is the first step to ensure you build that momentum required to see success in organic channels.
Make sure you check in with your development team to establish what resource may or may not be available and review prior audits/checklists to identify outstanding tasks that could be completed within the next couple of months. The impact of technical changes is not always immediately reflected within rankings, so the sooner these are completed, the better.
Three top content marketing tips from our senior content team
1. Leverage AI tools, but don’t rely on them
‘’The industry is evolving thanks to the development of AI tools such as ChatGPT and Copy AI. Never before have we been in a position where we have access to tools that can produce near perfect content at lightning fast speeds. While many might believe this means the death of the copywriter, we beg to differ.
Google has and always will reward original work, which means earning the right to those coveted page one positions. The nature of these tools is to scour the internet for existing content and replicate it. But ‘new’ is not always better and it definitely does not offer a fresh perspective on an existing topic. There are already AI plagiarism tools designed to detect whether text has been created using one of these tools, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Google follows suit.
So, what is the use case for these tools? They are great for gathering information at lightning fast speeds and saving writers hours of research. From there, it is still up to a copywriter to ensure business objectives, SEO considerations, tone of voice and original thought has been accounted for.’’
– Lauren Noakes, Senior Content Strategy Consultant
2. Think keyword intent, not keyword volume
“When it comes to keyword research, the days of stuffing as many keyword variants onto a page as possible are long-gone. Effective keyword research starts with understanding your target audience and their intentions. The better you know that, the better you can refine your keyword list to select only those that your audiences would actually use.
And, if you’re starting keyword research before you’ve built audience personas, think again. Defining your audiences’ goals, motivations, interests and needs will mean you’ll select the keywords that are most likely to encourage action or inspire brand affiliation. Afterall, what good is it getting traffic if it doesn’t convert?”
– Abbey Grocott, Senior Content Strategy Consultant
3. Maintain consistency in your messaging
“One of the most important things you can do to make your brand and indeed your product stand out, is to ensure consistency in your messaging and consistency in your tone of voice.
Your tone of voice provides a window into the heart and soul of your brand – who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re going to deliver for customers. It can flex depending on the scenario, but the core values underpinning it remain the same. A consistent tone of voice enables you to build connection and trust with your audience, while also ensuring new customers understand what to expect from your brand and decide if it resonates and aligns with them and their needs. No less importantly – it’s also your biggest differentiator, allowing you to stand out from your competitors and really show off your USPs. All of this can result in new sales, repeat sales, greater brand awareness and loyalty. All good stuff, right?
So, when it comes to copy, my biggest tip for you in 2023 is to evaluate your current messaging and tone of voice, check that you have thorough documentation on it, and ensure that everyone writing content for you, no matter the medium, is up to speed.”
– Emily Cater, Senior Copy Consultant
Three top data tips from our Head of Data, Gary Stubbenhagen
1. Review your data strategy…again
The last few years have been turbulent for all kinds of industries but there is one thing that we can all agree on: it’s no longer business as usual. Demand may have surged in your industry, or you might have to be creating more with less. You might even have seen both with the rise and fall of the pandemic, in which case you’ve probably had to review your strategy a few times already!
With a world in flux, it’s clear that there will continue to be significant disruption for a long time yet. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to revise that strategy and make sure you’re focused on what really matters right now.
Some businesses have shifted their business models starkly, moving away from growth to efficiency or profit-driving initiatives. In these cases, there’s a clear need for a different set of KPIs and reporting aligned to them. This may also be needed where sales have dried up and marketing efforts have shifted towards engagement and maintaining brand recall. For those in retail, reducing waste and minimising returns will be all-important as belts tighten.
Make sure your data strategy is catering for your business objectives and adjust if needed.
2. Do more with your first party data – quantitative and qualitative
Whether it’s product reviews, inbound emails, or site search records, we all have a wealth of qualitative data at our disposal, but we often neglect it in favour of cold, hard quants.
This is understandable, qualitative data can be messy and the task of preparing it for analysis can be laborious, but there’s a wealth of insight in there which is really crucial for identifying emerging trends.
Are your customers looking for different products or information? Has a new frustration emerged? What is your sales team saying?
If you’re lucky enough to have a particularly large qualitative data set, as well as the tried and tested UX methodology you could get the Data Science toys out and try your hand at some Natural Language Processing to earn your Machine Learning badge.
3. Get your GA4 sorted now
If you work within the Google tech stack, you should have heard about GA4 by now. Love it or hate it, doing nothing isn’t an option and if you haven’t migrated from Universal Analytics to GA4 the clock is ticking…
Unless you are a 360 customer, you have until 30th June 2023 to get your act together or risk losing crucial data integrity, hampering your marketing ability at a time when consistency is key.
GA4 is very different to Universal Analytics, and could supercharge your previous data strategy if done right. If you’re starting from scratch, our data checklist is the best place to begin, but the sooner you can get this up and running the better for your business.
So, there you have it from our experts! Hopefully this is a useful checklist of items you can address as soon as you leave this blog post.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. We’re a friendly bunch who are always keen to help where we can, but particularly passionate about getting companies through this crisis we’ve all found ourselves in, one step at a time and together.