Once you’ve validated your personas’ value propositions and your own company USPs, you can get to work developing keywords. This is the third and final principle of developing effective messaging. When you think of keywords, the first thing that comes to mind is likely Google or another search engine. This comes as no surprise. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the hot topic in digital marketing. But as important as SEO is, it’s not the only consideration when it comes to keywords.
Why Develop Keywords?
Content is king! Regardless of which channel you will eventually use to deploy your messaging, your marketing success depends on the quality of your content. If it doesn’t resonate with your audience, you’re sunk. When you develop keywords, you are identifying terms to highlight in your content that will make the content valuable to prospects. Keywords also allow you to speak to prospects in their language.
Keywords come into play throughout the buyer’s journey, but particularly in the Awareness and Consideration stages. During those stages, the prospect realizes a problem or opportunity and looks into possible solutions. If your company uses the right keywords, you can grab their attention, which in turn will increase your chances of making a sale.
Keywords should be developed as part of your original messaging strategy and should be consistent across all channels, even if they aren’t digital. Remember the persona-specific messaging guidelines from our value propositions article? The keywords for your future messaging need to be included in that document. This is so your creative team knows what words to really highlight when designing content. It doesn’t work to develop keywords at the same time as your creative team is creating content. At that point, it’s too late, and you’ve wasted a bunch of time and resources for nothing. Find your keywords first!
How to Develop Keywords
The process to develop keywords is much like the processes we’ve detailed in previous posts. It’s once again a matter of applying the scientific method. First, meet with your marketing and sales teams and develop some hypotheses of what keywords you believe are important to prospective customers. Remember, get out of your own head and think like your personas. This likely means eliminating many of the technical terms and industry jargon as potential keywords because those aren’t the kinds of words your personas know or use often.
Next, ask for outside opinions about possible keywords. You could utilize surveys or contact your current customers, especially ones who have made recent purchases. If your company does customer satisfaction follow-ups, it’s easy to implement keyword discovery into the process. Simply have your salesperson or customer service representative ask the buyer which search methods and terms they used to find your business.
The final step before you can greenlight message creation is validating keywords. You have to confirm that the keywords you believe are important to your personas actually come into play when they are searching for a solution. The validation process is fairly simple. If you see commonalities from multiple surveys or current customers, then those are probably the keywords you should include in your messaging. If multiple sources are using the same terms, those are the terms you can use to have a conversation with those sources and similar audiences.
Google also can help validate keywords with its AdWords feature. It’s free to create an account, and it’s a helpful resource in content creation. When you sign in, click Tools > Keyword Planner. From there, you have three options:
- Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category – Suggests keywords based on the nature of your business and your targets
- Get search volume data and trends – Lists the number of average monthly searches for a keyword and the level of competition for that keyword
- Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords – Combines keywords from multiple lists to create new keywords and provides web traffic forecasts for them
With AdWords, it’s easy to learn which keywords are being searched often. Just remember to consider the competition for those words. Broad, general terms can have huge search volume, but that also means a ton of web content contains that word. If a keyword is being searched a lot, you need to use it, but you also need to discover some more specific, less competitive keywords where your business can stand out.
Introduction to SEO
Speaking of Google, in the digital realm, SEO is commonly thought of as the “holy grail.” It’s a game-changer for your business to have top organic ranking in a search. Not many people go beyond page 2 or 3 in the search results, so if you aren’t there, you won’t be found. We will provide a more in-depth article about SEO in the future, but for now, here’s a quick overview:
In the past, search engines focused on the meta tags, image tags and keywords embedded in the code of websites. It took a while for all companies to catch on, but most websites now include the proper coding, making it a commoditized arena. Today, search engines are focused on the content — quality content to be exact. An old tactic to win the SEO war was to “keyword stuff” which involved cramming the top keywords into content over and over so that the search engines would find them and give the site top ranking. It resulted in poorly written content that was difficult to read. Now, you can’t fake it, and you can even be penalized for keyword stuffing. The new key to success is to provide quality content that flows well and includes a variety of different keywords sprinkled throughout.
Discovering the right keywords can be the difference between striking up a conversation with a prospect and striking out. Even though Google and SEO factor heavily in the keyword realm, at the end of the day, your findings when speaking with actual people (especially your customers) should carry more weight than what Google tells you. Just because Google or an SEO company think it’s a keyword, it doesn’t mean a potential customer will agree.
Whenever you go about creating your message, you need to have a number of validated keywords. You’ve spent a lot of time discovering and breaking down the thought process of prospects, and you don’t want to miss out on sales simply because you can’t properly communicate with them. When you “speak their language,” you can get the lightbulb in their heads to turn on and help them realize the content you are providing is valuable. That will get them excited about doing business with your company.
Ok, now that you know how the three principles of developing effective messaging work, your team can create great content that will draw in prospective customers. But what channels work best to spread your message? Check back for our next post to learn the keys to proper channel selection…