In six months, Thanyapura has doubled its web traffic and engagement with our audience. But how did we do this? Is it possible for anyone to do? These are all questions we were asking several months ago when we turned a corner in our marketing efforts and began to look at different strategies to make sure we grew even in low season.
It was only after we introduced and applied these five key content marketing strategies that we really began to see the compound effect that can come from delivering quality content.
Understanding the needs of our customers, both online and offline, was essential to our level of growth in the past six months.
In the past, our focus was purely on promoting what we were doing, which was good for keeping our audience but it didn’t help us build a sustainable growth or include that connective element with our audience.
So we applied a number of techniques to our content strategy, of which we will outline the top five most effective methods we used to increase awareness and engagement with our customers at Thanyapura.
We began making these changes at the beginning of May when we saw an average of 2,869 weekly sessions. Today, we are averaging 7,802 weekly sessions. The shift in strategy came directly from the Chief Technology Officer Aaron Franklin who was able to add 2 key hires to his team in March of 2015:
#1 – Technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist Isaac Congdon who helped with the more technical aspects such as site maps, fix broken links/pages and do keyword research and apply this.
#2 – Dedicated Content Writer and producer Lauren Kiddle who focused on publishing quality content that helps solve peoples problems rather than selling or advertising.
This helped contribute to the websites success in increased traffic and business. Aaron, being a qualified and experienced Internet Marketing specialist understood the importance of capitalizing on effective content marketing techniques.
He said ‘I’m always amazed by how many businesses in Thailand are still marketing like it’s 2012, things have changed drastically in the last few years, people don’t want to be sold and they trust people more than brands so how we’ve delivered content has changed drastically’.
We used these five methods to helps us double Thanyapura’s web traffic in six months:
1: Building a better experience online
2: Understanding search verticals and submitting to them
3: Creating quality content
4: Becoming more social
5: Geotargeting for local success
“When creating content, be empathetic above all else. Try to live the lives of your audience.”
~ Rand Fishkin, Founder at Moz
#1 – BUILDING A BETTER EXPERIENCE ONLINE
Building a better experience for your audience is vital for gaining a loyal readership.
But how is a better experience online defined? And how can we change our current strategies to build on the current online experience? These are all the questions that our team had to ask when we were building our content marketing strategy several months ago and this is where we started.
Firstly, when working on building a better experience online it is important that a potential customer can not only find you online but can also easily navigate through your website. This is why one of Thanyapura’s main priorities was running a full audit on the website. We addressed this in a number of ways. Some of which were:
Improving site speed – By reducing image sizes and getting rid of unnecessary plugins we were able to significantly improve the quality of the website load speed from a mid-grade on Google Developer Apps.
Removing 404 errors – Nothing can result in a more frustrating user experience than to navigate through a site only to arrive at a dead end – usually, it will send the user a message similar to ‘page not found’. This can happen for any number of reasons. As a site matures it is natural to restructure and move things around. Making sure all previous efforts in generating traffic are not wasted by redirecting that traffic to where the appropriate content has moved to is key.
Interlinking – Saving the user time by connecting them to related content they might be interested in is important. It also aids as a useful SEO tool and can be rewarded in your overall score with search engines such as Google. Optimisation specialist Isaac believes there are no compromises when it comes to creating a strong presence online. He acknowledges that …
The SEO of the today is built on ethical methods of which is an ongoing investment. There is no short cut to replace a steady pace of content and structure
Being Mobile Friendly – Google recently updated their search algorithm to favour sites that are mobile friendly. If you haven’t done this it’s a must, especially with over 50 percent of our audience now accessing us and most sites via mobile devices.
#2 – UNDERSTANDING SEARCH VERTICALS AND SUBMITTING TO THEM.
Another way to ensure that Thanyapura was FINDABLE online was to create a quality sitemap for the search engines to index, as well as submitting to many of the directories, aggregators and listing sites available on the internet.
This can be a mixed bag in terms of results. But make no mistake, the long term strategy for this is key for growth.
Many websites only tailor their efforts to Google. But Google recognizes authority with these links as signals to improve results in its own rankings of your website. Submitting to websites like Yandex may only yield 20-30 clicks a month but if you add up enough of these sites then factor in how these links can build and grow through aggregators it can become an impressive number over time.
One year ago, between Google and direct traffic, our numbers were:
We should note that even though we have relied more on diversifying our traffic sources we have not let up on the growth of Google. Over the year, we have increased Google monthly search from 6,000 monthly searches to over 10,000. We are not just relying on Google anymore and our numbers show that we have managed to even out our Google and direct search traffic.
To visualize that growth we took an image of ONLY our direct traffic.
Notice that that direct traffic growth built over time? A worthwhile investment.
This is not only the result of indexing and submitting. A lot of the result ties into understand that searches are evolving. People were finding Thanyapura through the web, image, news, video, social and many other verticals. Having the right meta-description for our web pages ensured that they would also be enticed to click on that source to come to our website, which brings us to our next method – creating quality content.
#3 – CREATING QUALITY CONTENT
Quality content should answer the needs of the customer. It should be USEFUL, VALUABLE, and CREDIBLE in the hopes that the customer will find it DESIRABLE to further engage with your audience and brand.
There are well over 200 algorithms that we know of, or suspect with Google, but it is not known for sure how many exist outside of that. However, one thing that has always remained true is that you need to create quality content and you can’t cheat Google over the long term.
As we mentioned Thanyapura is a sports facility with an emphasis on triathlon, swimming and cycling. However, when we began to broaden our content to include fitness, wellness and weight loss we saw an overwhelming response.
This was the content our users really felt engaged with. They not only wanted to know how to compete in a triathlon, they wanted to learn about how to balance other areas of their lives as well. For example, nutrition, weight management, wellness, and mindfulness.
As Lauren, Thanyapura’s key writer, said ..
Content is King but context is Queen, we always try to leverage great content that help solve peoples problems. Our goal is to be the best problem solvers and go-to resource for help with all things sports, health and wellness here in Phuket
It became important to us to reach out to our audience with the content they found DESIRABLE. It was content they could USE in their lives and therefore, became a VALUABLE asset to them.
The more content we produced the more opportunity we had to promote additional content and build relationships with our customers. By forging relationships with our audience on CREDIBILITY, it became a natural process for our customers to funnel their interests into our many sports programmes.
The content that was DESIRABLE to them was the content that helped them to make informed decisions.
Once we began building up content, it was time to go social.
#4 – BECOMING MORE SOCIAL
The landscape of social media is always changing and evolving. At Thanyapura, our main focus was to capture audiences across a range of social media platforms, which included Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+. In doing this, we had to focus on our storytelling skills and create unique and relatable content for each platform.
By building a following and loyal fan base, we became increasingly accessible to new customers as well as managing to retain our existing audience who have become ambassadors for our brand. They do this by freely sharing, commenting and liking pictures and stories we publish on our platforms, which builds our audience even more.
Social media is a wonderful tool to connect B2C and we expect this to grow over the next few months. With the growing reach, Thanyapura has experienced we expect to continue to engage with our customers increasingly using social media.
#5 – GEOTARGETING FOR LOCAL SUCCESS
It is very easy to target a very broad audience when building a content marketing strategy and neglect your local target market. The very first thing we did to address this issue was to search for Thanyapura on a local level i.e. Phuket, Thailand. Was Thanyapura FINDABLE?
Thanyapura offers a variety of sports resort activities, from cycling, triathlon, swimming, fitness and wellness.
We made sure that Thanyapura could be found when someone was searching for Asia, Southeast Asia or Phuket for any of the above activities. This did not happen overnight. It meant editing a range of content we already had and including alt tags on images, H2 headers, keyword placement and other tricks of the SEO trade.
By geotargeting our primary pages for services offered in the local area, we were able to build awareness in the local community.
The next 6 months >>
Our core focus for the next six months will be these five things:
#1 – Partnership and content exchange ambassadors/teams – Along with building ambassadors from our core audience we want to find the top influencers. For Thanyapura, our target influencers are the athletes who really shine above the rest and the leaders of the pack. We will be building teams with these influencers to compete in events around the world. But also we will be expanding the content available on our site with the addition of new contributors and fellow health and wellness enthusiasts. We want to empower them by allowing them to reach out to our audience with their insights about health, fitness and wellness.
#2 – Monetization/Conversions – It’s not all about traffic. There is no sense in sending a bunch of people to a website if there is nothing to monetize. The natural progression of any sales funnel includes: awareness (we have doubled that in last six months), consideration (our audience has become fans naturally from coming to our site, but naturally we want to help these fans become customers), conversion (this is where the monetization factors in), loyalty (we want to then reward our customers for continuing to choose our service), referral (and then lastly we want our customers to love our brand so much that they become ambassadors).
#3 – Video blogging – Visual content is on the rise. As digital gurus, we have all been guilty of scrolling through videos to try find a short but engaging video to watch. Well we want to offer those videos for everything from yoga poses, running tips, fitness, wellness and everything else Thanyapura offers.
#4 – Improved Engagement – We want to improve engagement by focusing more on going deep rather than wide. Building our social media audience was the first phase but to dig deeper we plan to really engage with our core audience. By doing this, we will interact with them and ask them what they find interesting about our content. The greatest insight we can gain into the minds and hearts of our customers is awaiting us right on social media. We are going to pick up that line of communication and learn about what makes our customers passionate about our brand and what we can do to better serve them.
#5 – Graphics/Visuals – We want to grab YOUR attention! This can be done in a number of ways, but one of our focuses will be to design better graphics and visual media. We have all seen how visual images merged with text have become attention grabbers through many platforms. We plan to use this method to increase our click through for content, especially on social media. For example, we will be creating Facebook albums that will use our graphics to catch the attention of the audience. We will then put a click through link to a piece of content that relates to this graphic. This is to reduce the natural feed decay found through most social media platforms.