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The Campaign Comeback: What to Do When Content Fails — Best of Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by Shannon-McGuirk

We’ve all been there: you plan, launch, and eagerly await the many returns on a content campaign, only to be disappointed when it falls flat. But all is not lost: there are clever ways to give your failed campaigns a second chance at life and an opportunity to earn the links you missed out on the first time. In this popular Whiteboard Friday from 2018, MozCon speaker Shannon McGuirk graciously gives us a five-step plan for breathing new life into a dead content campaign.

What to do when content fails.

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Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. Welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Shannon McGuirk. I’m the Head of PR and Content at a UK-based digital marketing agency called Aira.

Now, throughout my time, I’ve launched a number of creative content and digital PR campaigns, too many to mention. But the ones that really stick into my head are the campaign fails, the ones that got away from the link numbers that I wanted to achieve and the ones that were quite painful from the client-side and stakeholder-side.

Now, over the last couple of years, I’ve built up a couple of steps and tactics that essentially will help me get campaigns back on track, and I wanted to take you through them today. So, today, I’m going to be talking to you about content campaign comebacks and what to do if your content campaign fails.

Step one: Reevaluate your outreach efforts

Now, take it right back to when you first launched the campaign.

  • Have you contacted the right journalists?
  • Have you gone to the right publications?
  • Be realistic. Now, at this point, remember to be realistic. It might not be a good idea to start going for the likes of ABC News and The Daily Telegraph. Bring it down a level, go to industry blogs, more niche publications, the ones that you’re more likely to get traction with.
  • Do your research. Essentially, is what I’m saying.
  • Less is always more in my eyes. I’ve seen prospecting and media lists that have up to 500 contacts on there that have fired out blank, cold outreach emails. For me, that’s a boo-boo. I would rather have 50 people on that media list that I know their first name, I know the last three articles that they’ve written, and on top of that, I can tell you which publications they’ve been at, so I know what they’re interested in. It’s going to really increase your chances of success when you relaunch.

Step two: Stories vs. statements

So this is when you need to start thinking about stories versus statements. Strip it right back and start to think about that hook or that angle that your whole campaign is all about. Can you say this in one sentence? If you can get it in one sentence, amazing because that’s the core thing that you are going to be communicating to journalists.

Now, to make this really tangible so that you can understand what I’m saying, I’ve got an example of a statement versus a story for a recent campaign that we did for an automotive client of ours. So here’s my example of a statement. “Client X found that the most dangerous roads in the UK are X, Y, Z.” That’s the statement. Now, for the story, let’s spice it up a little bit. “New data reveals that 8 out of 10 of the most dangerous roads in the UK are in London as cyclist deaths reach an all-time high.”

Can you see the difference between a story and a statement? I’m latching it into something in society that’s really important at the moment, because cyclist deaths are reaching an all-time high. On top of that, I’m giving it a punchy stat straightaway and then tying it into the city of London.

Step three: Create a package

So this seems like a bit of a no-brainer and a really obvious one, but it’s so incredibly important when you’re trying to bring your content campaign back from the dead. Think about creating a package. We all know that journalists are up against tight deadlines. They have KPIs in terms of the articles that they need to churn out on a daily basis. So give them absolutely everything that they need to cover your campaign.

I’ve put together a checklist for you, and you can tick them off as you go down.

  • Third-party expert or opinion. If you’re doing something around health and nutrition, why don’t you go out and find a doctor or a nutritionist that can give you comment for free — because remember, you’ll be doing the hard work for their PR team — to include within any press releases that you’re going to be writing.
  • Make sure that your data and your methodology is watertight. Prepare a methodology statement and also get all of your data and research into a Google sheet that you can share with journalists in a really open and transparent way.
  • Press release. It seems really simple, but get a well-written press release or piece of supporting copy written out well ahead of the relaunch timing so that you’ve got assets to be able to give a journalist. They can take snippets of that copy, mold it, adapt it, and then create their own article off the back of it.
  • New designs & images. If you’ve been working on any new designs and images, pop them on a Google shared drive and share that with the press. They can dip into this guide as and when they need it and ensure that they’ve got a visual element for their potential article.
  • Exclusive options. One final thing here that can occasionally get overlooked is you want to be holding something back. Whether that’s some really important stats, a comment from the MD or the CEO, or just some extra designs or images for graphics, I would keep them in your back pocket, because you may get the odd journalist at a really high DA/authority publication, such as the Mail Online or The Telegraph, ask for something exclusive on behalf of their editor.

Step four: Ask an expert

Start to think about working with journalists and influencers in a different way than just asking them to cover your creative content campaigns and generate links. Establish a solid network of freelance journalists that you can ask directly for feedback on any ideas. Now, it can be any aspect of the idea that you’re asking for their feedback on. You can go for data, pitch angles, launch timings, design and images. It doesn’t really matter. But they know what that killer angle and hook needs to be to write an article and essentially get you a link. So tap into it and ask them what they think about your content campaign before you relaunch.

Step five: Re-launch timings

This is the one thing that you need to consider just before the relaunch, but it’s the relaunch timings. Did you actually pay enough attention to this when you did your first initial launch? Chances are you may not have, and something has slipped through the net here.

  • Awareness days. So be sure to check awareness days. Now, this can be anything from National Proposal Day for a wedding client, or it can be the Internet of Things Day for a bigger electrical firm or something like that. It doesn’t really matter. But if you can hook it onto an awareness day, it means that there’s already going to be that interest in the media, journalists will be writing about the topic, and there’s a way in for your content.
  • World events. Again, keep in mind anything to do with elections or perhaps world disasters, such as tornadoes and bad weather, because it means that the press is going to be heavily oversaturated with anything to do with them, and therefore you might want to hold back on your relaunch until the dust is settled and giving your content campaign the best chance of success in round two.
  • Seasonality. Now, this isn’t just Christmas. It’s also Easter, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day. Think about the time of year you’re launching and whether your content campaign is actually relevant at that time of year. For example, back home in the UK, we don’t tend to launch content campaigns in the run-up to Christmas if it’s not Christmas content, because it’s not relevant and the press are already interested in that one seasonal thing.
  • Holidays. Holidays in the sense of half-term and summer holidays, because it means that journalists won’t be in the office, and therefore you’re reducing your chances of success when you’re calling them or when you’re writing out your emails to pitch them.

So there are my five steps for your content campaign comebacks. I know you’ve all been there too, guys, and I would love to hear how you got over some of these hurdles in bringing your content campaigns back to life. Feel free to comment below. I hope you guys join me soon for another Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Audit Your PPC Campaign & Identify Metrics for Success

This may be of some interest.

If you manage a Google AdWords account to supplement your organic SEO efforts, you know there are a plenty of metrics available to track and analyze.

Sometimes it can be confusing and overwhelming.

Since we all have limited bandwidth, it’s a good idea to narrow down the key metrics that really give you meaningful insight into what’s working — and what isn’t — in your paid search campaigns.

Before we dive into the key metrics to track, let’s review a checklist to look over when you’re auditing your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

1. Check your location and target settings.

When you’re auditing your PPC campaigns, the first step should be to check your location targeting settings.

To do this, ensure that you’ve properly set up the regions that your business serves. Keep in mind that you can also exclude locations where your company doesn’t have stores or can’t deliver to.

Additionally, you can review geo-reports to see what locations perform best. By doing this, you can prioritize your ad budget by location.

2. Evaluate your ad compared to your landing page.

After reviewing your analytics, you might realize that your PPC ads aren’t converting.

When this happens, it’s time to look at your ads and see if your landing page follows through on expectations.

For example, if an ad markets a “Free CMS,” but your landing page is focused on an inbound marketing certification, there’s going to be a disconnect.

To avoid this, ensure that your headlines and ad copy match the landing page you’re linking to.

3.Use ad extensions.

Ad extensions are one of the only ways to set your ad apart from the rest.

Essentially, ad Extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information at no additional cost. The information could be your phone number, additional site links, or even ratings.

If you don’t have these set up for your PPC campaigns, it might be time to see how they can enhance your ads.

4. Assess your keywords.

When you choose keywords for your PPC campaign, you should consider the search volume, match type, and negative keywords.

Usually, the keywords you’re targeting should have high search volume.

Then, you should consider the match type on your keywords. For example, if you use broad match, then you’ll want to add negative keywords.

If you use exact and phrase match, you’re more likely to get clicks and conversions, but you might miss out on other opportunities.

Generally, it’s a good idea to target keywords with a high search volume and use broad match. Then, you should modify your campaign with negative keywords so you can increase your conversion rate.

5. Measure your success with analytics.

When you want to audit your PPC campaigns, you have to take a look at your analytics.

These analytics will let you know what campaigns have been successful and what hasn’t. When a campaign hasn’t been successful, then you can troubleshoot and figure out why.

Now, you might be wondering, “What PPC metrics should I be looking at?”

Below, let’s review five metrics that will give you the most bang for your buck.

PPC Metrics

If you have limited time, these five metrics will give you a great overview of your performance. I’m not saying you should ignore all the other available metrics, but tracking these five over time will provide a solid measure of your success.

1. Quality Score

Quality Score is Google’s measure of the relevance of your keywords, used to ensure that searchers see relevant ads and have a positive experience. The factors that determine your Quality Score include:

  • The click-through rate (CTR) of the keyword and its corresponding ad
  • The relevance of the keyword and ad to the search query
  • The relevance of the keyword to its ad group
  • The CTR of the display URLs in the ad group
  • The quality of your landing page

It’s important to maintain good Quality Scores because Google uses them to determine your ad rankings as well as how much you pay per click.

Even if you think you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s when it comes to keyword research, campaign structure, and ad text optimization, low average Quality Scores are an indication that you’re missing some piece of the puzzle.

2. Click-Through Rate

Recently, I asked 17 PPC experts to tell me the top three PPC metrics they pay the most attention to when analyzing their AdWords accounts. Click-through rate was the #1 most common answer. CTR is important for several reasons, among them:

  • It’s one of the most important factors in determining your Quality Scores
  • It tells you whether or not your ads are relevant to searchers

Low click-through rates are a sign that either your keywords or your ad creative (or both) need improvement.

3. Conversion Rate

Another very popular answer in our PPC metrics interview, conversion rate tells you how many people who clicked your ad went on to complete the desired action on your landing page.

Conversion rate is just as important as click-through rate -– you don’t want to pay for tons of clicks and traffic if none of that traffic ends up taking a meaningful action.

Strong conversion rates mean that the money you spend per click is coming back to you in profits (that’s what we call return on investment, folks).

4. Cost Per Conversion

As Joe Vivolo of KoMarketing Associates put it, “This obviously is the number that makes or breaks a campaign from a success/failure standpoint.”

In other words, if you have to pay more to gain a new customer than that customer is actually worth to your business, then your campaign is failing; you haven’t attained a return on investment.

5. Wasted Spend

Wasted spend is a measure of how much money you’re essentially pouring down the toilet by paying for clicks that don’t convert. In other words, it’s an ROI killer.

The best way to reduce your wasted spend is through smart use of negative keywords. Negative keywords allow you to filter out traffic that is irrelevant to your business and unlikely to convert.

By creating a negative keyword, you’re preventing your ads from displaying for search queries that contain that keyword. Bidding on non-converting keywords is a waste of your marketing budget.

Want a quick way to check your performance for key metrics like these?

The AdWords Performance Grader is a free tool that performs an instant PPC audit on your AdWords account, comparing your performance in areas like Quality Score and wasteful spending to other advertisers in the same budget range.

It’s an easy way to see how you measure up to competitors and to benchmark your campaigns so you can track changes (hopefully improvements) in your results over time.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Thank you for reading.