Make friends with branded traffic

August 20, 2021
📗 Field Note

Branded traffic can feel like the enemy sometimes.(Speaking from experience here.)

After all, content marketers are trying to boost non-branded traffic – traffic from people who don’t know about us already.

But branded traffic is great! It speaks to your brand’s offline activities. If someone searches your name, they’ve already heard about you elsewhere: news, word of mouth, social platforms and the like.

Plus, it directs people to your homepage or product pages. And this can be an opportunity for content marketers.

🏄 What you can do

The next time you’re pulling the usual data, spend a little longer with the branded search numbers.

  • Identify the pages that branded visitors are landing on. You can optimize them for content and lead capture forms.

  • If branded traffic is on the upswing, go congratulate your peers in the PR and social media departments. They’re the ones making this happen!

These are both opportunities to place better content, and get yourself in on more marketing conversations.

You belong in more conversations!

Paid search from scratch

August 20, 2021
📗 Field Note

We write this blog for content people. But some of you – especially if you’re at a smaller company – may end up contributing to paid campaigns, too.

And so Vincent Barr, the mastermind behind Operator, stopped by Ercule office hours to talk about the relationship between paid and organic search.

He provided us with tips for small startups who feel ready to try a paid search campaign.

🏄 What you can do

First off: Pick one platform to start.

When choosing it, make sure of a few factors:

  • The initial costs aren’t too high – aim to start with a few thousand dollars a month
  • You can actually find your audience
  • There isn’t too much expertise required to manage a campaign there

Once you choose the platforms you want for search, begin educating yourself. Google and Facebook, for example, have really substantial documentation.

Content quality really matters for paid search

July 15, 2021
📓 Article

Paid search is organic search plus one additional ranking factor: money.

Literally. The ranking algorithm for ads takes into account very similar factors to those used for organic rankings, like

  • Readability
  • Relevance
  • Landing page UX


  • How much you’re willing to bid for a certain keyword

That means that useful, engaging content can dramatically lower acquisition costs. And the inverse is also true: poor content requires higher bids.

Google will tell you when content is limiting you.

This metric is called Lost Impression Share. There are some related metrics you can look at, like Quality Score, which can give you some information about how Google views your site experience.

This is all good news. It means that you, as a content marketer, have a lot to contribute to paid acquisition programs.

🏄 What you can do

You might not want to pull paid search reports yourself. But you can talk to the person who is in charge of your team’s paid search. Say something like…

  • Do you know how Google Ads is rating the quality of our landing pages? I’d love to see where there’s an opportunity to rank better.

  • I’ve heard Google Ads uses content quality as a factor for how often our ads show up. Do you have a sense as to if we’re having to pay more because of content quality? And is there anything I can do to help with that?

The nurture tracks need you

June 28, 2021
📓 Article

A lot of companies send nurture tracks to new users or new leads (or both). These email campaigns are sent automatically by machines on a pre-defined timeline, and often include tips on how to use a product, what content resources are available, why you’d want to talk to a sales rep, and so on.

It’s like living in the future!

Except that, in our experience, most nurture tracks are lovingly crafted and then ignored for months or years on end.

Which is a shame because, depending on your company, this might be thousands (or even millions!) of users who you could be seeing all your brand new content. And it doesn’t take all that long to take a red pen to those email tracks and make sure you’ve got the latest stuff in there.

🏄 What you can do

Talk to your demand gen team. Graciously. Ask them about the nurture tracks. You might say:

When was the last time we looked at the nurture track? If it was a while ago, I’d love to take a look at it.

Let them know what you have to offer:

  • Update content links in the emails
  • Add additional emails with more resources
  • Refine the email copy
  • Remove the lowest-performing emails and replace them with better ones

You might even add “nurture track” as one of your distribution channels. Every time something new gets published, see if you can include it in an onboarding or nurture flow.

(Too many nurture track emails? Start segmenting them, by persona, by company size, by buyer stage, and so on.)

Great marketing is about creating shared value

June 28, 2021
📗 Field Note

We recently read a LinkedIn post that inspired a lot of great conversations on our team.

Last week, Sarah Colley wrote about one overlooked benefit of adding expert quotes to her content: When you quote someone for a piece, they’ll probably share that piece with the world.

How does this benefit your content distribution?

It’s social proof, which every content distribution channel (and its almighty algorithms) depends on.

  • Google loves backlinks
  • LinkedIn loves content that’s shared by more people
  • Good old fashioned word-of-mouth increases when interesting people join in

More importantly, great marketing is about creating shared value.

Sarah’s tactic is a great example. Expert quotes benefit everyone involved with the content:

  • Customers get more thorough content
  • Experts expand their reach and esteem
  • Marketers have an easier time writing

🧨 So here’s a challenge for you

Ask yourself: how can you make current content projects more valuable by including others? Extra credit question: How can you do this with your product?

Thanks, Sarah, for inspiring us with your post.

Clean up your Javascript

June 28, 2021
📓 Article

Have you ever gone to a website, and suddenly everything on your computer slows down? And the fan on your computer gets really loud? And your Zoom interlocutors ask, “Should you really be talking to us while flying a vintage prop plane?”

That’s JavaScript, baby!

Websites use JavaScript to do pretty much anything that involves any kind of processing – animations, various widgets, some types of form submissions, and, best of all, tracking your every move.

Some JavaScript can be useful. But too much JavaScript will slow down your site, frustrate your visitors, and hurt your rankings and conversions.

🏄 What you can do

If your company uses Google Tag Manager, it should be fairly easy to take a look through and pause tags that aren’t needed. (Without GTM, you might enlist the help of your web dev.)

Remove outdated or unnecessary trackers from third-party services:

  • That analytics service you tried out 3 years ago
  • A/B testing tools that only need to run on the pages you’re conducting A/B tests on
  • Advertising pixels for channels you’re not using anymore

Or ask your analytics manager to add “triggers” for just the correct set of pages where appropriate.