Hi there! I’m Zack Duncan. As the owner and sole full-time employee of a small digital marketing company, I have no excuse not to market my business.
But I’ve generally been terrible at it for the majority of the 5 years that I’ve had Root and Branch Group.
It’s only been over the past year or so that I’ve actually gotten serious about our marketing. There always seemed to be more pressing priorities with client work, and it was hard to carve out the time. Plus, it didn’t sound really fun to me.
So, what changed?
My mindset changed.
I don’t like “selling” but I do enjoy teaching. I’ve been an instructor at Pitt for several years, and it’s been an amazing gift to get to teach students who are interested in learning. I’ve borrowed that same approach to marketing for Root and Branch. So now, instead of thinking about marketing as pitching consulting and training services for things like SEO, Google Analytics, and digital strategy, I create instructional content and share it online.
What were the results?
As you can see in the screenshot below from Google Analytics, traffic to the Root and Branch website from organic search (SEO) began to increase in late 2020 after I started getting serious about training content.
In August of 2021 compared to 2020, organic search traffic is up over 1,000% from about 7 – 8 visits a day to over 100 visits a day. These visitors are almost all finding Root and Branch because they are looking for a specific marketing problem that I’ve created (SEO-optimized) content to help answer. Some of these people will be fine figuring it out on their own after reading the article, but some others will want to connect for a paid training or consulting arrangement to learn more.
What do I do specifically for this content marketing?
I create blog content on the Root and Branch website once or twice a month. Each blog provides answers to questions my audience is looking to address and links to other related content. How do I know what people are looking for? That’s part of the SEO “keyword research” process and there are tools available like Moz, Ahrefs, Google Trends, and more to help. So, if I identity “how much does Local SEO cost in 2021?” as a high opportunity keyword, I’ll create content that answers the question. The same thing goes for more exploratory topics like the similarities and differences between the legacy version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) compared to the new Google Analytics 4.
Once a month I will also review the performance of preexisting content and see if there are new search trends that I can borrow to refresh the content. Google Search Console is the perfect tool for this job. Refreshing older content makes it more useful to readers and also improves the value (and the rank!) in the eyes of Google.
Depending on the topic, I might also create a short instructional video to explain a concept like on-page SEO optimization or to provide a walkthrough of how to set up a platform like Google Analytics. As the second biggest search engine in the world, this YouTube content will also be found by people looking to get their questions answered.
It’s been slower to grow on YouTube, but the channel is up to ~900 or so views per month and 25 – 30 hours of watch time.
Mostly, it’s just been fun and I’m looking forward to seeing where it might go.
Zack is the Digital Marketing Executive in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh and the President of Root and Branch Group. He provides SEO and analytics coaching for companies and directly manages monthly retainer clients in paid search, SEO, and analytics.
He’s a big fan of the local Pittsburgh beer scene and would be equally happy to talk about Dancing Gnome vs. Grist House as he would be to chat about on-page SEO vs. National SEO. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
And if you’re interested in digital marketing tips and perspectives, you can follow Root and Branch on Linked In or subscribe to the Root and Branch YouTube channel.
Graduate Students Team Up to Combat Homelessness in the Pittsburgh Community
A new opportunity for Pitt students to be catalysts for change is underway in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
Recognizing the importance of leveraging business skills to positively impact critical social issues, the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business developed and launched its first-ever Super Analytics Challenge, a new community-based initiative. The 2021 challenge addresses the complex issue of homelessness in the Pittsburgh community and formally ran from March 5-26, 2021.
“Our team at Pitt Business worked alongside the University and Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) to examine scenarios that either led people and families into becoming homeless or factors which may prevent homelessness,” says Christopher Barlow, Director of Corporate Engagement and Career Services. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, homelessness was selected as our focus because of its increasing prevalence as a global issue.”
The many contributing factors of homelessness, such as physical and mental health, the affordable housing supply, economic conditions, and the intersection of the judicial system, as well as the wide availability of published data and research, present an urgent opportunity for Pitt graduate students to provide meaningful insights and proposals for targeted mitigation efforts.
The Super Analytics Challenge served as a one-week hackathon-style competition where graduate students from across the University teamed up to frame a problem, create a data methodology, and generate an operable solution. Twenty-five students were appointed to five teams.
“The goal was for all student teams to generate innovative solutions that Allegheny County DHS may implement,” says Andrew Hannah, Adjunct Professor and Executive in Residence for Pitt Business. “Solutions were judged not only on the depth of their analytical thinking but also the pragmatism of the solution proposed.”
Pitt Business organized an advisory committee consisting of representatives from corporate partners at UPMC, Highmark, Accenture, SAP, the National Association of Counties, and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Executives from these organizations not only helped shape the challenge, but served as executive coaches, analytical methods experts, and subject matter specialists who worked alongside the graduate students to share experience and knowledge and provide guidance on the proposed solutions.
“The Super Analytics Challenge is an example of Pitt Business reinventing business education,” says Sara Moeller, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs. “Our strategic goals include doing more to partner with our community as a catalyst for change, and to combine classroom concepts with integrated learning opportunities.”
The Super Analytics Challenge is designed to provide impact for all participants, so graduate students may leverage their business skills to work with local experts to combat homelessness. In addition, they will have the opportunity to hone their understanding of real-world concepts by working with experts on a critical issue.
The winning team from the Challenge was awarded a Katz Bridge Program fellowship to continue to implement their solution as a team. This is enabling students to drive even more impact related to this year’s Challenge topic of homelessness.
“At the end of this challenge, we hope that these collective efforts not only enrich our students’ learning experience but leave a positive impact on the wider Pittsburgh community,” says Moeller. To learn more about how you can get involved in a program like the Super Analytics Challenge here at Pitt Business, please contact our career management team at email@example.com.
“We’re using our skills learned at Katz to dig deep into the data and draw some useful and applicable solutions. It’s helped me realize what we can do to better support homeless people in need.”
– Cara Chun Zhang, student in the Management Information Systems program
Hear more about the inaugural challenge…
…from Sara Moeller, associate dean for graduate programs and executive education in the Katz school, in this conversation with the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Jonathan Kersting.
Listen further to learn more on the results.
“The Super Analytics Challenge is an example of Pitt Business reinventing business education. Our strategic goals include doing more to partner with our community as a catalyst for change, and to combine classroom concepts with integrated learning opportunities.
Events like the Super Analytics Challenge showcase our students’ ability to use their leadership knowledge for good. We hope that these collective efforts not only enrich our students’ learning experience, but leave a positive impact on the wider Pittsburgh community.”
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Executive Education,Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
Create Your Own #KatzImpact
Prepare to be a catalyst for change with your Katz MBA degree. Here at Katz we prepare leaders to shape organizations that embrace and impact humanity.