Every business can use a viral marketing campaign to get more traffic and business.
These are “marketing assets” that you invest in once, and they appreciate in value over time.
But they don’t always succeed.
People create a campaign, launch it, and it fails to get attention.
Because they usually skip a step…
Why Every Marketing Campaign Plan Needs a Solid “Foundation”
Most marketing campaigns fail in the long run.
They get traffic and attention for a few days, and then it fades away – never to be heard from again.
The reason is because people are too focused on the short-term. They’re in such a rush to meet a deadline or come under budget that they sacrifice the “less important” elements (because it may not have an immediate payoff).
But these small elements are what make your campaigns timeless. And you’ll receive value from them in the weeks, months and years to come.
Here are 5 small elements that will give your marketing campaign a “foundation” for success.
1. Create a Flat Site Architecture
“Site architecture” is a fancy way to describe how your website is organized.
For maximum SEO value, you want to organize the individual pages in a flat hierarchy. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site. And it’s also easier for users to navigate.
A good rule of thumb is to keep important pages within 3 clicks from the homepage.
But it’s easy to forget about this, and unintentionally bury important pages or posts. For example, a typical website architecture looks like this:
This common tree-like hierarchy has “parent” pages (like About, Services, Blog, Contact), and “child” pages (like individual blog posts).
You can avoid burying your “linkable asset” by putting in a page, not a blog post. And place it just off the homepage as it’s own “parent”, not as a “child” under any others.
Finally, you should also link to it directly from the homepage to make sure both people – and search engines – can easily find it. It doesn’t have to be from the main navigation. But you can use sidebars, body copy and footers to link directly out.
2. Use a Relevant, Long-Tail Keyphrase with Clean URL
Now you need to target keyphrases that (a) people are searching for, and (b) are relevant to your site.
But you need to find the sweet spot that will bring you traffic, but also aren’t too competitive. (Most small or new sites can’t compete for the most popular keyphrases.)
The easiest, free tool to use is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You simply enter in some phrases that describe the page, and it will recommend other ones to choose from.
Note: Please understand that these numbers aren’t very accurate. So you’re looking for relative positions, not absolute data. And make sure you switch from “Broad Match” to [Exact Match] so it’s more accurate.
Look at the “Local Monthly Search Volume” column to find long-tail keyphrases that are longer and more descriptive phrases. These less competitive keyphrases will be easier to rank, but you’ll also get more targeted traffic because these people are searching for that exact phrase.
Here are some good rules of thumb I’ve found, depending on the size of your website or blog. These are just rough estimates, but they should provide a good range of possible keyphrases to choose from.
- New/Unestablished: You should look for keyphrases with around 0 – 500 local monthly searches.
- Established/Growing: You can look for the 500 – 2,000.
- Big/Popular: You can target even keyphrases 2,000+
3. Optimize the Page with Your New Keyword
Optimizing a page or post refers to strategically placing the keyphrase in specific places. Here are 7 areas you should start with:
1. Title: When crafting your headline for search engine purposes, try to fit the keyphrase in towards the beginning. You need to balance the best headline with being as descriptive as possible.
2. Meta Description: The meta description is the brief intro to your article, just below the headline, in the search engine results. Keyphrases in the meta description don’t help you rank higher. But when people use that keyphrase, it’s given extra emphasis. You should also use good copywriting in the description to try and increase your click-through-rate (CTR).
3. URL: Use the keyphrase in your URL to give a clean, informative URL structure for both people and search engines. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and avoid unnecessary words or number strings.
4. Sub-Header Tags: Use sub-headers to break up the text or differentiating other sections. So you would write it as: < h2 >Keyphrase… < /h2 >
5. Internal anchor text linking: You should always internally link to other posts/pages on your site. When doing this, it is “best practice” to use the specific keyword phrase as your link.
6. Tags: Tags are what your users are searching for within your website. So it’s smart to put the keyphrase there as well. You can also include any other related words that may be appropriate for your user’s searches within your site.
7. Image ALT attribute: Always use images in your posts. When inserting an image, you should put the specific keyphrase in the “ALT Attribute” section.
If you’re using WordPress, then here’s a cheat sheet I created for more information (click to enlarge):
4. Write “Attention-Grabbing” Headlines
It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one reads it.
Your headline or title is one of the most important aspects of your content. It may sound simple. But it can make-or-break you. The difference between a post that goes viral, and one that falls flat on its face.
And in a few months from now, when people scan the search engine results, your headline needs to grab their attention and get them to click through.
The best headlines need to emotionally connect with your audience.
Here are some amazing examples from Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow.
- Threat – i.e. The Shocking Truth about (blank), How Safe is Your (valuable person/object) from (threat)?)
- Zen – i.e. The Minimalist Guide to (Aggravation), Can’t Keep Up? 11 Ways to Simplify Your (blank))
- Piggyback – i.e. The (world class example) Guide to (blank), What (world class example) Can Teach Us about (blank))
- How-To – i.e. How to (blank) without (objectionable action), How to (blank) — The Ultimate Guide)
- Mistake – i.e. Do You Make These 9 (blank) Mistakes?, Don’t Do These 12 Things When You (blank))
- List – i.e. 7 Ways to (do something), The 5 Laws for (blank))
5. Use a CTA to Get People to Take Action
Finally, the Call-To-Action is what you want someone to do. It’s the “next step” you want them to take.
Why are you doing this campaign in the first place?
- If you want awareness, then maybe you want people to share it with their friends, or embed the content on their own site.
- If you want leads, then you should include opt-in forms and talk about the benefits or incentive to join.
You should always emphasize one primary call-to-action for the best response rates.
You can more, but don’t overwhelm people with too many calls-to-action because it actually backfires. Studies have shown that too many choices turns people off.
Here’s an example from software company HubSpot, and their Marketing Grader. Notice that they actually have three CTAs, but they use sizing, placement, and emphasis to prioritize your choices.
In the first edition, we discussed how to create a viral marketing campaign that will appeal to a wide audience and get you more traffic, links and leads.
And now you know the 5 small elements that will cement your long-term success. So your campaign will actually gain value over time and your marketing ROI will soar.
The final edition will discuss how to distribute your campaign and promote it to reach the widest audience possible.