Marketing Q&A with Alex Bruner.
Q: What specific things does Intellitonic work on for an account? Are there general things covered on all accounts, or is each digital marketing plan custom-tailored based on the client’s goals?
A: This question is great. Though we get asked what we do often, we know that all digital marketing agencies have their own style and different specializations, tactics and tools. We’ve spent the last eight years growing our service team and dialing in our processes, so we’re excited to share the specifics of our digital marketing services. Here’s a short answer and a long answer.
The Short Answer:
Yes, we create customized digital marketing plans for each client.
On the whole, we take a multipronged approach to our strategy—search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) such as paid ads on Google, and social media advertising are our main pillars, though content writing, organic social and web development are also in our digital marketing service mix. Our teams are experts in their fields and work closely with our account managers to discover wins, pain points and gaps embedded in the data to paint the picture for our clients of where they can improve, and offer our suggestions to help them get the job done.
Foremost, our account managers learn about the client and their KPIs during a discovery call. From there, we match their unique needs with our capabilities to offer them a customized proposal including the digital marketing services we can implement to assist them. For example, if a client sells handcrafted slingshots, paid advertising via Google Ads could be a great way to ensure visibility in search engine ranking and drive customers to their website. Or, if a client hosts an annual Dave Matthews cover band festival, paid social media would be the best channel to drive engagement and ticket sales.
Audit & Insights
In any case, though, before coming up with a comprehensive digital marketing plan, we’ll run an initial SEO audit to gain insights into the client’s keyword ranking. Keyword ranking informs us of the landscape that is a client’s web presence, including their current SEO targeting and results. For each client, we craft an SEO audit that essentially serves as the customized “Long Answer.” This process can either be a paid deliverable or part of the onboarding for new clients. Typically we give a presentation to our clients and teach them about what we’re doing and what we’ve found and make a digital marketing plan together. If a client wants to save time and dollars, we can also conduct this process internally and skip the presentation, in which case the client misses out on receiving insights or giving feedback. Our team uses the SEO audit to craft a work plan that will move the needle on high-priority SEO elements.
So, short answer recap: For all clients we run an initial SEO audit and get to know the client through their web and social media presence. Then, we match our digital marketing service capabilities with the goals of our clients and come up with a digital marketing plan to move the needle toward achieving those goals.
To answer the second “Q” in this Q&A: Yes and yes.
The Long Answer:
Yes, we build custom digital marketing plans. But how? Discovery, discovery, discovery.
As previously mentioned, we start out all client discovery processes with a digital presence audit. The nitty-gritty of our process:
The SEO Audit
To kick off each client relationship, we start by performing an audit, with a particular focus on the three elements of search engine optimization: site performance, site authority and site content.
Simply put, search engines like websites that perform well. A while ago, Google implemented an algorithm page-speed update, which essentially throws how quickly your website loads into the criteria mix for SERP rankings. While adding another layer of vigilance to the proverbial SEO clash, it makes sense since sites that load slower are likely to have a higher bounce rate. It’s also crucial to ensure that the pages on your site are crawlable and secure.
Site authority is an indicator of how trustworthy your website is to users and search engines alike. If people can bet their lives on what you publish, so much so that they choose to share it on their own sites (a practice called backlinking), it tells Google that the content you’re sharing is relevant, engaging and valuable. We often see strong site authorities on news-publishing websites and industry blogs, though if you are an expert in some niche area of interest, there’s likely an opportunity to grow your site authority too.
It may go without saying for obvious reasons, but without website content optimized for keywords you wish to rank for, you’re significantly less likely to rank for those keywords. Bots crawl every nook and cranny of your website to collect information and see if the elements on your site are relevant to what folks are searching for. However, bots aren’t the only visitors to your website. Your content must also be engaging, readable and informative to earn credibility with the humans who visit, who will, in turn, share it on their own websites, earning you valuable organic backlinks.
Custom Digital Marketing Plan Development
Once we have reviewed the above, we begin to flesh out the digital marketing plan, from highest to lowest priority. Typical digital marketing tactics might include quickly tackling crucial technical SEO fixes in the first days or weeks of our work together, then shifting toward ongoing site authority development and a holistic approach to content enrichment.
Site Performance: High-Priority Crucial Fixes
As we conduct our site audit, we flag high-priority site health issues, including
- Review of site speed and mobile usability
- Sitewide no-index
- Canonicalization issues
- Site security breaches
- Google penalties
- Large quantities of 404s
We slate these technical site performance issues as red flags for resolution ASAP by our team. If a client prefers not to work with us, these tasks are easily visible in the site audit for the client to follow up on independently. For clients who join us for ongoing monthly search engine optimization, these urgent issues are tackled before shifting toward other search engine optimization work.
Site Authority: Your Digital Reputation
Another way to think of site authority—it’s your digital reputation. It’s basically the relationship between who knows about you and how they talk about you.
Imagine this: You’re mingling at a party and you recognize someone in your industry that you really admire. They’ve got a great reputation and people trust them as an expert in your field and you’re feeling excited (and a bit shy!) about introducing yourself. As you slowly make your way over to them, you get caught up in a conversation nearby. During a lull in the conversation, you overhear the industry expert that you were going to shyly introduce yourself to name drop you and refer to the white paper you authored on the latest industry breakthrough. That individual bolstered your reputation by referring to you.
Your website’s authority works in a similar way in the digital landscape. To establish your site authority (aka trust flow), we will:
- Review existing backlinks
- Research to find additional backlink opportunities
- Review current traffic and channel/medium breakdown
To enhance a client’s backlink portfolio, we can either develop new links on relevant directories or advise about websites they can reach out to themselves. We base our recommendations on the client’s existing traffic referral network, target audience, business goals and keyword research.
Site Content: Content is King (or Queen?) of the Digital Landscape
As we continue to flesh out the digital marketing plan, we shift our lens from technical SEO to focus on the human element—the content strategy. As a standard digital marketing tactic, we review top pages of the site first, then supporting subpages during subsequent months’ work.
During our SEO audit, we review site content for:
- Metadata: titles and page descriptions
- Review of current keyword rankings
- Review of overall content strategy
As part of the SEO content strategy work, we start with detailed keyword research and client feedback, then we progress to crafting recommendations for:
- Changes to metadata titles and descriptions based on the client’s goals as well as the findings of the SEO audit
- Creation of additional page content to augment existing pages and target untapped keywords
- Creation of blog posts, news articles, event calendar listings, or additional landing pages to build keyword depth
- Creation of local SEO strategy with the goal of appearing in location-based regional search results
A note on metadata: We typically manage the metadata updates on a batch-by-batch basis. This allows us to track the efficacy of previous months’ targeting and make adjustments for future strategies. On a huge website, this can take a few months to complete as we do chunks at a time. Typically we research and recommend updates for five to 10 pages per month.
An upside of this digital marketing tactic is that it allows us to tackle the three facets of SEO (performance, authority and content) on an ongoing basis. For example, in the first month of a digital marketing plan (depending on your needs, of course) we may be able to:
- Make site speed improvements (site performance)
- Acquire a high-value listing on a site with high trust flow (site authority)
- Draft and implement metadata titles and descriptions for your top five pages (site content)
Ongoing SEO Work Plan
After establishing site performance by taking care of any urgent technical fixes, ongoing authority-building via backlink development, and content targeting, we will begin improving the website in a more specific manner based on client goals and findings of the audit. At this point in our digital marketing plan (typically around the three-month mark), we hope to find ourselves in a natural rhythm based on the client’s specific wants and needs.
Clients utilize our SEO research and copywriting team for:
- Creation of new pages
- Creation of blog content
- Keyword research to guide ongoing content creation by internal teams
- Review generation
- Enhanced localization efforts
- Trend analysis
Social Media and Google Ads
Where Do PPC and Paid Social Fit Into the Digital Marketing Plan?
Paid advertising work plans are also developed on a case-by-case basis depending on the client’s strategic goals and business needs. Each pay-per-click platform has its target audience niche. We can recommend platforms, spend and campaign types depending on the industry you’re in, the audience you’re trying to reach, and the action you’d like them to take. As we begin work together on any paid advertising effort, we’ll identify the key performance indicators that matter to you and include them in our monthly reporting.
On a monthly basis, we generate comprehensible campaign reports, informed by data pertaining to the client’s SEO and website performance. We meet with the client to discuss the results from the month prior as well as to discuss the digital marketing plan for the upcoming month. As we work together, we fine-tune digital marketing tactics to fulfill dynamic strategy needs.