Channel-Specific Growth Skills: Technical SEO, Influencer Marketing, and Account-Based Marketing (Review)

CXL Growth Marketing Minidegree: Week 9

Week 9 of CXL Institute’s Growth Marketing Minidegree wrapped up the channel-specific growth skills module with courses on technical SEO, data-driven influencer marketing, and account-based marketing (ABM).

Technical SEO

A technical SEO audit involves identifying all the tech issues of a site which could hurt its performance in organic search. The content optimization portions of SEO (authority & relevance) sit on top of the technical aspects of how search engines crawl websites. The course made a good case for marketers understanding the technical components on which content marketing is built on so they can find and address the issues themselves when something goes wrong. Beyond functional links allowing search engines to crawl and index your website, technical SEO involves proper HTML structure, META tags, META robots, HREFLang, URL structures, crawlability, structured data markups, and sitemaps.

Data-Driven Influencer Marketing

Social media changes quickly, and there’s a lot of noise and guesswork on what works. During my social & digital media marketing class last semester, we briefly covered influencer marketing (takeaway: it exists, it works, but lots of money gets lost due to influencer fraud). During my internship at an ad and PR agency, I reached out to influencers for different clients, but there was no process or best practices. This class really hit the nail on the head for how to meld general marketing best practices with the influencer channel via a value-based approach.

The main value proposition of influencer marketing is to tell a relatable, distinct, and entertaining brand story that cuts through the advertising noise.

Influencers build influence by:

  1. Consistency (same story, different flavors)
  2. Social proof (authenticity and content quality)
  3. Liking
  4. Authority
  5. Kindness
  6. Entertainment value

Influencers add a human touch and authentic story to brands that resonate with their audiences, driving up to 11x ROI.

But it’s not always a good fit. Influencer marketing should not be used when:

The overall marketing objective is reaching awareness

  • Social media marketing is still cheaper than longer-standing marketing channels (eg. TV ads), but influencer marketing can get expensive. Influencer marketing focuses on quality of audience rather than quantity, so if you’re trying to reach as many people as possible, PPC is cheaper and more effective for awareness-level goals.

The content isn’t a good match

  • The message needs to be hyper-relevant to the influencer’s audience

A brand can’t give creative freedom to influencer

  • Influencers have a following because they have a certain content niche, style, and tone. If you impose rigid guidelines for your sponsored content, then the post comes off as inauthentic and loses the value of the message.

If you’ve decided influencer marketing is a good fit, then plan your campaign around your goals and your influencer partners’ goals. The top 5 influencer frustrations with brand collaborations are:

  1. No creative freedom — only 29% of influencers are asked for their opinion on the content direction
  2. Late payments
  3. Short deadlines
  4. Last minute changes to campaign requirements
  5. Unclear briefs

Ensure you outline your objectives, audience, timeline, product magic (why should people care), key messages, influencer target list, budget, influencer objectives, and terms and conditions before you finalize any partnerships.

Once you have a campaign outline, you can use tools like HyperAuditor to build a list 3–4x as long as your desired number of influencers — the list is a rough draft, and as you determine fit, the list will reduce to the ¼ you’ve budgeted for.

5 guiding questions to help prioritize the first list are:

  1. What is the role of social for my brand? What is the goal of this social campaign?
  2. How creative is the influencers content?
  3. Has the influencer worked with competitors?
  4. Does the tone, voice, and style of influencer match that of my brand?
  5. What type of content will my campaign require?

As with all of marketing (and business), relationships are key. The more value brands and influencers can provide each other, the more long-term and successful the partnership will be.

Brands want:

  1. Access to relevant audience
  2. Engagement
  3. Reach/traffic/sales
  4. Product feedback
  5. Authenticity & trust
  6. Testimonials
  7. Commitment

And influencers want:

  1. Audience growth
  2. Monetary compensation
  3. Great content
  4. Access (eg. pre-launch products, brand trips)
  5. Exclusivity (eg. custom product line, workflow, or campaign)
  6. Recognition
  7. Commitment

The lists go from easiest to hardest to achieve, both ending with commitment. Commitment comes from planning for (and delivering) value.

Guiding questions to plan for value exchange include:

  • How do we let influencers experience the best of our products?
  • How do we incentivize and let our influencers create as freely as possible?
  • How do we as a brand co-create with our influencers?
  • Why should their audiences care, participate, and share?

There are of course more technical components of working with influencers, but I haven’t heard many marketers talk about what makes for a successful influencer/brand relationship — you can get all the technical pieces right, but if the value isn’t there for either party, then for next campaign, you’ll have to start over from 0 with someone else, wasting effort and resources.

Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a sustained, coordinated, strategic approach to identifying, engaging, closing, and growing the accounts that a brand knows they should win. It takes a very sales-oriented approach to close the gap between sales and marketing.

The 3 types of ABM are:

  1. Strategic ABM: one-to-one accounts, where prospects for $250k+ deal sizes are given individual marketing attention. The campaigns are highly specialized, customized, complex, and strategic.
  2. ABM Lite: one-to-few accounts where marketing programs are lightly customized for clusters of similar accounts.
  3. Programmatic ABM : a one-to-many accounts approach that leverages technology to customize marketing programs at scale.

The top ABM performers use all three types of ABM programs but allocate the budget based on: deal size, strategic importance of particular clients, current perception of the firm, competitive environment, internal factors, product complexity, and customer/prospect org size and complexity.

Channel Section Overview

In total, section 5 out of 8 of the growth marketing Minidegree covered email marketing, PR, Facebook and Google Ads, content strategy, retention, PPC, SEO content, LinkedIn and YouTube ads, technical SEO, influencer marketing, and ABM. The courses were comprehensive but not excessively long, and the information was up to date. Some of the principles of marketing that underlie all channels got a little repetitive, but no so much that I wish certain courses hadn’t been included.

All the courses balanced the high-level overview of how each channel fits into a marketing strategy with specific channel skills. As an entry-level marketer, I will mostly be applying the specific skills from the channel section, and I appreciated all the actionable resources.

P.S. :)

Recent undergrad business graduate with a passion for personal growth, professional development, and tech marketing.

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