Content Marketing as Teaching Instead of Selling at Root and Branch
AMA Pittsburgh’s Guest Author series asks a simple question: how do you or your organization use marketing to create success with your business?
October’s Featured Author:
Root & Branch Group
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.