Effective digital advertising in the age of privacy

Even though you post regularly and have creative social endeavors, it has become difficult to cut the noise and get noticed by consumers. Spending repeatedly on ads but not getting your ROI is the definition of insanity.

What should businesses do?

Better advertising is the answer, but it’s getting harder and harder to find your audience now that Google is phasing out cookies and Apple is imposing new privacy protections. There are services to help you bypass the barriers to tracking and attribution, but these tools only work if you already have a consumer base flocking to your site.

Getting people to your site is the only way to acquire the coveted first party data.

If you are a certain type of brand, you can find your way to capture and own your consumption data through content marketing. But before you consider content marketing and whether it is right for you, you will need to have covered the following basics:

• Clean and efficient UX website with a Shopify back-end
• Implementation of email marketing
• Establishment of social networks
• Budget for advertising
• Paid ads served so you can test quickly

Once you have these essentials, you can consider content marketing. Content can mean a lot of things, but I’m talking specifically about thought leadership content.

The first thing to ask yourself is “Do I have something good to say?” It’s not enough to reach consumers, you have to engage with them and ultimately drive them to your site. Then, if you can position yourself as an authority with a targeted audience that cares about what you have to say, you will be able to influence their buying decisions.

This is the classic top-of-the-funnel marketing technique, and it works.

I’m not talking about posting a blog post every now and then. I’m talking about posting long articles, weekly or bimonthly at least, that are optimized for research, and investing advertising funds in them.

Why do this?

It is becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to advertise to consumers as Big Tech’s consumer privacy protections have taken effect. Data sharing is no longer a reliable mechanism for targeting new potential users. You’ve felt it if your posts didn’t perform as expected on Facebook properties (excuse me, Meta).

Is Long Content Right For You?

If you’re eager to tell people something they’ve never heard before, correct a misconception, or help solve a problem, then content is for you. The idea here is not to immediately sell anyone about your product. The idea is to create an informed space – which answers a question, enriches, educates and entertains an audience – so that you become a source of trust.

Some brands are doing an incredible job in this regard.

Four Sigmatic, maker of mushroom coffee, has positioned itself as an authority on the health benefits of mushrooms. Not only does the company educate consumers about the usefulness and taste of different mushrooms such as chaga and reishi, it also delivers relevant content with deep empathy for its readers. Articles like “Why Am I So Tired: 5 Ways To Stop Getting Sleepy” have great ranking keywords. All Four Sigmatic articles are hosted in a Magazine tab on the brand’s website.

The healthy ramen brand Immi is aimed at a very niche group – young first-generation Asian Americans as well as lovers of the healthier ramen. Its content is uniquely suited to the culture and the community. One Piece focuses on all types of Asian candy company employees and their beloved friends when they were kids – it has nothing to do with ramen! Some content is reserved for a private community; Immi has created a significant number of followers on his Facebook group and loaded it with authentic and improvised content as a pre-launch campaign.

This top-of-the-funnel approach has special requirements to be effective, and none is really concerned with the content itself. It’s all about getting your content to show up on the first page of Google search, so focus on:

1. Keywords
2. Link building
3. Publication

It’s a crazy statistic: 95% of all search queries in the US get less than 10 searches per month.

Keywords are popular search term queries. You want to do your research here to include keywords that get a decent number of searches, but with a reasonable difficulty score for any chance of getting a top spot on Google. These will be long tail keywords and you want them because they get a higher conversion rate.

Link building is all about building links and backlinks from other websites to you to build authority and higher rank. A natural way to do this is to post an article on a related post or link to a podcast interview with you.

Where you host your blog is important and the post should be consistent and frequent. For CPG brands that have many product pages, it is best to blog on a subdomain to keep the two sites separate and more manageable.

Optimal word count

Long articles perform better, but more words in favor of more words is not the point. The point is more opportunities for keywords and long tail backlinks while maintaining the reader. The sweet spot is 1,000 to 2,000 words because after that people stop reading.

Below is an interesting graph on the correlation between word count and backlinks.

The hardest part is writing

Everything I have mentioned in the last two posts so far is not the hard part. The hardest part is writing. I can tell you from personal experience that you are not as good a writer as you might think. But even though you’re amazing, posting content on a regular basis – once a week is best – is like dieting in the New Year: really, really hard.

Hire subject matter experts to write your content for you

It’s a lot of work to post content that is worth the reader’s time. I know it firsthand. If I had someone else to write it for me, it would be a huge workload.

Brands are not inauthentic in hiring copywriters. The key is to find and manage experts in the field and subject in which you are playing, and there are agencies that can help you with this research.

For example, I recently heard about Growth Machine, a company that can take care of all parts of SEO, content creation and management for brands.

Here is what its full range of services offers:

1. Find and manage expert writers in the field
2. Create a content topic strategy
3. Editorial review
4. Link building
5. Keyword research
6. Publication

Jennifer Barney is an advisor and consultant to agribusiness companies at 3rd & Broadway. She previously founded the almond butter brand Barney Butter.

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