The Science of "SmART" Marketing

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 17, 2013, 2:52 PM

In school, I loved numbers. Despite tenth grade trigonometry (the teacher had an inexplicable vendetta against me), every math or science class I took was better than the last. I even did Math Olympiad in sixth grade, which was probably a contributing factor to my inability to associate with girls until high school.

Growing up, I also had a passion for art. My father is a commercial artist turned children's book author and illustrator, so I was subject to much creativity during my early years. Having a deep, mysterious artistic side negated out the nerd-factor of math, contributing to me getting a girl friend in high school. Ying and yang, blog reader. Ying and yang.ying-yang So what do I bring this up? Not only will the two above points tie into this particular Marketing Challenge, they both reflect on my passion for marketing. You see, I'm a firm believer that great marketing is a balance between art and science. My love for both topics individually is further enhanced when they're combined-- and I believe marketing is the representation of that.

We'll investigate my "balancing art and science" idea while simultaneously tackling today's Marketing Challenge blog post. I'll strike a fine balance between problem solving and personal ideology. There's a lot of balancing going on here.

Today's topic comes from Michael, creative marketing guru from Means of Production.

He asks: "I struggle with finding great keywords that drive the right type of traffic to my website. Its easy for me to come up with brilliant, funny, engaging key messaging but that sort of copywriting talent does not equate to great keywords and more organic visits. Help, I'm a victim of my own brillance."

This is a difficult nut to crack any way you look at it. Let's break down the problem into a couple pieces so we can better understand it:

  1. You're struggling to find keywords that are being sought after by your target audience.
  2. I've read your writing and it's great stuff, so I don't doubt your ability to write useful, interesting content.
  3. Your main goal is to bolster qualified, organic traffic to your website through content development.
  4. Being a victim of your own brilliance is a good problem to have. The alternative (being a criminal to your own ignorance) is much worse.

There's a lot of art and science peppered into the question, and many of opportunities to craft a solution based on both schools of thought. So, let's look at this problem from two different perspectives (the Marketing Scientist and the Marketing Artist) and combine the ideas to devise a solution. First, let's do our best Einstein impression:

Marketing Scientist

From a scientific, numbers-based perspective, I always recommend thoroughly developing your target personas and researching keywords before giving up hope. If you've definitely exhausted the keyword search, don't sweat it. There are still plenty of opportunities to get found by the right audience out there--even if the volume of search is rather small for the time being.

Here's my recommendation from the numbers side of marketing:

Keep at it: Continue to produce blog content that your target audience would be searching for, even if there's little to no recorded traffic volume. While it may be discouraging to see no immediate return on your efforts, continuing to publish content has its benefits. If you've identified that there's a need for your service or product and that the keywords your focusing on are aligned with your target persona(s), continuing to produce content will do two things:

1.) Bolster up your website's authority, regardless if the keywords have significant search volume. Another blog post is essentially another web page, telling search engines that you're producing fresh content. When the spiders come (sounds like a Stephen King short story) they'll notice your habit of producing fresh content and then come back more often. This is a rare case in life when spiders "coming back more often" is actually a good thing.

2.) Ensure that you develop a foothold on these keywords, regardless if they're currently being searched for at the moment. This is especially useful if you're writing about topics that could become popular the near future. While you have no way of predicting this, it's still comforting to know that you'll be at a competitive advantage if one of your niche keywords takes off. For instance, I'm still waiting for "Innovational" to become an actual word. I'm going to OWN that sucker.

Look at the numbers: Pay attention to your website analytics. How are you getting found? What are people doing when they get to your site? What's your most popular content? If you can start to draw conclusions on what your most viewed content is, think of ways you can serve up more pieces like that to drive more traffic to the site. Chances are people are finding it for a reason, so uncover what that reason is and devise a way to repeat it. Taking a deep dive into analytics can also shed some light on keywords that you can add to your repertoire.

Marketing Artist

Alright, put on that beret and start mixing those acrylic paints on the palette. We're taking an aesthetic approach to this challenge. After working with many different types of marketers, I think this is the place where individuals struggle the most. You can learn numbers. You can become an analytics genius. But I think art and creativity is a gift. It's not something learned, it's inherent--and I think it's the element of marketing that separates the good marketers from the great ones.


I see the digital marketing space becoming very saturated in the near future with marketing professionals doing very similar things. There's going to be so much content that people with need to sift through the noise to find what they're looking for. Because of this, I think the ones that will rise to the top are the ones that can stand out based on their own creative merits. Okay, I deviated a bit from the marketing challenge, but stay with me (if you still are). This all comes together, I promise.

Michael, I think you'll need to play to your strengths and opportunities in this case and lean more heavily on the artistic side of things with your content development. There's some really great stuff that you're writing about, so I wouldn't get discouraged that the numbers aren't giving you insight into where your opportunities are. Here's what I recommend:

Leverage more than just keywords: Sure, it's comforting to know that there are 1000 searches a month for a keyword that is relatively easy to rank for, but there's so much more you could (and should) be tapping into the drive site traffic. If you've truly identified a need for your services and the target audience, I would focus less time on keyword research and more time on identifying the online communities where you can join in on the discussion. Research LinkedIn groups, blogs, Twitter chats and forums. Don't just seek out places where your target audience will be lurking--find places where people like you collaborate and start a conversation with them. Search is great, but online communities hold plenty of opportunity, so it's up to you to find them and figure out how you'll enter and engage in the conversations to aid your marketing efforts.

Create Useful Content: I think you've got this covered, but just remember that Google's mission is to provide useful content. Sure, the search engine uses an algorithm to index content, but it's being honed and refined to recognize content based on relevance, authority and overall usefulness. Keep building stuff that's valuable and they will come. Just don't lose faith.

So overall, I think your strengths lie in producing the great content you always have and finding opportunities (online communities, in this case) to help you grow in the short term. You'll build up equity over time while staying true to Google's mission. Always keep an eye out for keywords and the numbers behind them, but focus a bit more on the artistic side of Marketing here.

Besides, as a I mentioned before, the chicks dig it.

What do you think is more important in marketing--art, science, or both?  

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