Downsizing business? Here's how to succeed with decreased budgets and higher marketing goals

In these uncertain times, marketers are figuring out what to do in order to survive and grow, while businesses downsize and decrease their marketing budget.

In this guide, I will explain the 5-step cycle to SEO content marketing that focuses on agility, execution and measuring meaningful data to maximize your efforts on these low-cost channels and build on them.

Why are businesses downsizing?

In 2008, companies were forced to downsize, trim the fat, and make their processes leaner to survive.

Today, the downturn has already begun and is being exacerbated by the pandemic.

Millions of people around the world have been laid off, and have much less purchasing power than before. Most non-essential services and stores have been closed, reducing overall movement.

While this is only temporary, businesses are being negatively affected by this downturn, especially those that have dedicated much of their marketing to offline advertising. Even online ads are getting fewer clicks because no one is simply in the mood to buy.

In this new reality, companies will have to adapt to survive. Those who can take advantage of compounding marketing channels will be able to reap the benefits.

The impact of COVID-19 on marketing goals

Conductor key takeaways covid-19

Conductor, a content marketing platform, recently published a study on the impact of COVID-19 on marketing processes. Some of the key takeaways include:

  1. Decreased marketing budget
  2. Downsizing marketing teams
  3. More importance towards SEO

Decreased budget but higher investment in low-cost channels

Companies are decreasing their marketing budgets and in worse-case scenarios, they are firing their marketing employees.

Kayak, a popular travel app, has fired its brand marketing teams in London and Berlin.

Under these circumstances, the budget for high-spend, paid marketing activities has understandably decreased, including for all types of advertising.

SEO budget increase

But the inverse is true for SEO and other low-cost channels, as marketing teams now seek to invest in channels with compounding results. In fact, 63% of the marketers surveyed will increase their SEO spend.

Paid marketing channels are not as scalable as people consider them to be.

Paid ads and other marketing channels have decreasing returns over time. In Adstage’s Q4 2019 Paid Media Benchmark Report, the report indicated that cost to get one thousand of views on ads would go up and down based on ad competition.

In other words, when it comes to getting customers, too many companies using ads will lead to fewer clicks over time, as people get more grow tired of them. More competing ads also lead to increasing ad-spend for the same amount of impressions.

Unless ads have been giving you a direct return on investment, focusing on compounding channels may be the best bet to see long-term results.

While getting clicks and impressions help companies reach new clients immediately, low-cost channels like SEO and content marketing two allow you to scale up your processes over time and take ownership of your marketing channels.

When you’re downsizing and focusing on getting results, you don’t want to rely on ad platforms that can increase your costs for the same results over time.

The 5-step process to seize marketing opportunities in SEO and content marketing

When it comes to SEO and other low-cost channels where results compound over time, it is very important to identify untapped areas that you can exploit.

It is by looking through the data available and seeing the blind spots that you will find market opportunities that your competitors — especially the bigger ones — might fail to identify.

But how do you correctly recognize them and create momentum within these low-cost channels to keep on growing while your business downsizes?

Well, through a very lean and agile five-step cycle of research, creation, distribution, analysis, and repurposing SEO content that ranks on Google.

Content marketing

Through these 5 steps, you’ll be able to identify SEO and content marketing opportunities and act on them swiftly,

SEO trick: steal your competitors’ keywords

When you have an SEO tool like Ahrefs, you can spy on your competitors’ SEO marketing efforts and optimize for keywords that they’re not ranking well in.

Stealing keywords

As you can see here, this company is ranking for keywords that gets thousands of results every month, but are otherwise very easy to rank in. Create better content to steal your competitors’ keywords.

Here are the steps on how I managed to find these keywords:

  1. On Ahrefs, under Dashboard, enter the name of your competitor.
  2. On the left side of the screen, there’s a menu. Go to Organic search > Organic keywords.
  3. To steal their low-hanging keywords, filter Keyword Difficulty to a maximum of 10.
  4. Filter the volume to 1000 or beyond.
  5. Identify the ones you can rank in.
  6. Enjoy.

WARNING:If you don’t know how to use SEO tools like Ahrefs, make sure that you learn basic SEO first before investing in these relatively expensive products, or you’ll just end up wasting your money.

Otherwise, please hire an SEO service to do the grunt work for you on keyword analysis.
SEO is quite a powerful channel for businesses everywhere. if you are more local, an additional measure that you can do is to build your local SEO strategy through citations and local business directories.

This will boost your rankings in your specific region and help you target more clients in your vicinity. Win-win.

Create great content

Of course, building great content is your next step to start your SEO campaign. After all, there are actually only two main ways to rank on Google:

  1. Create great SEO content through landing pages and blog posts.
  2. Getting backlinks (this is the way that Google measures the buzz on your website).

Of course, there are nuances behind them, as well as many tactics that you can do to rank better, but stripped to its core, every SEO strategy boils down to these two things.

And how do you create great SEO content? Here are some ways:

  1. Make sure that your content targets both single-word and long-tail keywords.
  2. Consistently produce on the same topics. Over time, Google will see you as an authority on the subject.
  3. Include current, relevant research, but make the overall topic evergreen (ie it should stand the test of time).
  4. Make it more informative than any of the first 10 articles ranking in the keywords you want to target.
  5. Make sure that it has more words than any of the articles on the first page.

I’ll be posting a benchmarking guide that helps you measure the quality of your content soon, so subscribe if you want to get notified.

Build your (email) list

This is pretty self-explanatory. Building your list will help you create and nurture your community of readers and customers that like what you offer and want you to succeed.

Bear in mind that getting a new customer is at least 5 times more expensive than retaining current ones.

While many of your newsletter subscribers may not be paying customers yet, you can build authority and trust by constantly producing amazing content, which will then will them convert.

It is very important to note that most of content marketing is based on capturing your readers’ attention.

Anything related to sales should occur later on when they’ve warmed up to your brand and see the value that you offer.

As such, when you’re doing content marketing, you always need to supplement it with other marketing activities in order to be effective.

The ROI of content marketing surfaces when paired up with other marketing channels, like email, SEO, and community-building.

Online, content is essentially a method of communication, a way to relay your expertise to the people who are ready to listen to you.

For example, SAP is an enterprise software company in Germany that began their content marketing efforts in 2012.

While their content marketing efforts enabled them to reach a new type of audience that only learned them via Google Search, they realized that while they were subscribing to the company newsletter, they weren’t purchasing any of their products.

It was only until they nurtured these email subscribers through great content and webinars that they began seriously looking into SAP as a possible solution.

By the end of the year, the $100k they spent on content marketing resulted in $750k revenue, or almost 7x in ROI.

Content is the gateway to bigger returns.

Measure your SEO content marketing efforts

Anything that gets measured gets done.

This is the most crucial step in making sure that you really maximize the ROI on low-cost channels.

In content marketing, you always need to measure your content marketing efforts. Down below is an easy template that you can use to measure your results. Subscribe to get it to your inbox.

Some notes on the most important metrics:

1/ The Month # columns depend on how fast your content pieces on average begin to rank on Google, so the first one should refer to the number of the month when your article start to rank on Google, and the second one is when the traction becomes apparent.

For example, if your content begins ranking after 2 months, then the first one can be Month 3 and the second one can be Month 5. Include the date at which you’re measuring.

The traction is based on a multitude of other factors, too, including the quality of the content you produce and the difficulty of the keywords you want to rank in.

But generally, if you have a sound SEO strategy, these factors will already be taken into consideration.

The more authoritative your site gets, the easier it should be to rank over time. In other words, Month 3 can turn into Month 2 after months or years of SEO growth.

The key here is to standardize your SEO efforts and to make sure that you consistently get results from them.

2/ Bounce rate refers to the rate at which people leave your site after visiting this page.

The lower it is, the better, because this indicates that your content is so relevant to what your service that people feel compelled to visit the other pages on your website.

The more readers you get, the higher your bounce rate will be because you’re catering to wider interests, but it’s always a good practice to keep this number below a certain threshold (say, 60%).

Also, a lower bounce rate can help you rank higher on Google because it might indicate that your content is great.

3/ Time on page measures how long visitors spend on your page. High numbers indicate that your visitors are actually spending time to read your content.

If your article has over 2000 words and visitors leave after 20 seconds, this can mean that what you’re producing isn’t relevant or high-quality enough.

4/ If you’ve used ads to generate views on your content, please include that in your measuring process. This will show whether ad views boost or rankings or not (it may in some cases).

Repurpose and republish

If your content hasn’t ranked for a year, deindex it, or republish a better version of it. If it’s ranking but not high enough, republish it with more words and more relevant research.

You really need to be both methodical and draconian when it comes to getting the ROI for your SEO content marketing results, or your content will remain mediocre and subpar, and will never rank.

As for repurposing, do note that your SEO blog posts can be repurposed into other great pieces of content for other channels. Maybe turn that blog into an Instagram or LinkedIn slider.

Here are some advantages of repurposing existing content:

1. It is cost-effective. Do more with less. Repurposing existing content means that you won’t need to do extensive research anymore on a topic.

2. It helps you experiment with other marketing channels. For example, if you can turn those posts into Quora answers, then you just answered someone’s question and saved time on doing the research for that answer yourself.

3. It helps you improve on old content. If you see some knowledge gaps, this can be the perfect opportunity to make the old content even better in the future.

SEO and content marketing is a process

Once you have perfected this system, then you have a perfect process of maximizing the ROI of low-cost channels like SEO and content marketing.

It is by doing this process that you will be able to achieve your marketing goals and even surpass them while your company is downsizing.

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