When I first started at Campaign Monitor about a year and half ago (maybe more, I lose track of time) we were going through a transition of focus and audience. For the past 10 years, the company had been focused on attracting designers, developers and agencies who needed easy to use and beautiful email marketing software. But it was time for a change. We slowly started transitioning our homepage, our blog, our advertising campaigns, and really the entire way we positioned ourselves to get in front of the digital marketer, rather than designers, developers and agencies. Don’t get me wrong, we love designers, developer and agencies, but there was an audience that we weren’t fully tapping into that our product worked incredibly well for and we knew we had to shift our focus to reach them.
In ~March of 2015 we started going into what we refer to as our chapter 2, a shift to focusing on the marketer. Shortly after this time, I started to manage our organic strategy. The bulk of traffic at that point was being driven through terms like “email design”, “html email templates”, “css for email” and other design and developer terms. We were ranking on very few marketing terms, and our ranking for the keyword “email marketing” was down in the 50s and 60s. Wowza. We’re an email marketing software company and there are 50+ sites ranking ahead of us on that key term. We needed to change that.
(BTW the product is killer, so it deserves to be on page one, IMHO.)
Of course our #1 goal was to grow organic impressions, clicks, sign-ups, customers and revenue, so we needed a diversified keyword approach (long tail and high traffic terms) but along with that came the goal of ranking on page one for email marketing. Our journey to page one was not an easy one. Email marketing is an extremely competitive term, on most scales of 1-100 (1 being easiest to rank for), the term showed up with a competitive rank of 100 in most SEO tools. Here’s what I think propelled us to the top.
- Before 2015 we simply did not use the term “email marketing” nearly enough on the site. There was no way for Google to know that we were a player in the space, so the first step was on-site optimization. Email marketing here, email marketing there, email marketing everywhere. After all, that was our product offering. Along with optimizing content on the site, we also optimized our meta descriptions, title tags, etc.
- Our content was almost completely fixated around designers and developers, so we needed to change that. Our blog moved from topics such as “using webfonts in email” to topics like “25 email marketing influencers you need to follow“. We formed a great partnership between our Director of Content, Kim Stiglitz and myself to make sure we were pumping out content that was relevant to our audience, focused on terms that had volume, and was well written and shareable.
- The company and our PR superstar, Allie Cefalo, started pumping up the PR drumbeat. Big media sites with a lot of authority started writing about us and recognizing us as a player in the space. We started getting a lot of media attention through releases, office openings, customer growth and other topics. You can see all of the articles we’ve been featured in here.
- We started building links around our marketing content. It wasn’t enough to just churn out content and say that we were email marketing. We needed other people to link to us and also see us an authoritative figure in email marketing. We built links through a variety of methods – link reclamation, guest posting, partner webinars, campaigns focused around certain pages on the site, giving external writers info and stats that they could link to that would help make their content more valuable, etc. We started building relationships with others in the marketing space who wanted to link to us, because our content was good.
- We fixed all of our technical issues on the site. Before 2015, we had never done a technical audit of the site. There were issues everywhere. We needed to clean it up. One year later, and 8000 fixes later, our site map is clean and easily navigable. A huge shout out to Ash Durham for all of his work here.
- Our teams came together to rally around ranking for email marketing and other terms. It’s not just one person on one team who should be focused on rankings and google. Every person on our marketing team from PMM to Designer became knowledgeable about SEO. We built SEO recommendations into every project we did, every page we created, and every piece of content that we pushed out. SEO recommendations is now a full section on our creative briefs and work orders.
- We built new pages on the site around topics that were relevant to our audience. We created a page specifically on the value of email marketing, pages that showcased how to use email marketing for different industries, and pages that focused on the different types of emails and how to be successful when sending newsletters, survey emails, event emails, etc. We started giving our audience more information!
- We propelled ourselves into becoming a thought leader on the subject of email marketing. Not only were we pumping out blog posts on email marketing, but we got ahead of the game by building big, beautiful, meaty resources that were chalked full of predictions, tips and tricks and timely information to help marketers become better at their jobs and better at email marketing. Some of these thought leadership guides: The New Rules of Email Marketing, 10 Epic Email Email Marketing Predictions and more!
- We made our site clean, easily navigable, and full of meaningful information for our prospects and customers. We made changes to our nav, to groups of pages on the site, overhauled the design of our blog and more site changes that were all aimed at a better user experience. Happy visitors to your site = happy google. A huge shoutout to our PMM team for the site organization and clean-up.
So to recap:
All in all, there are multiple things a company and site needs to do to rank well. It takes a full team, an awesome product that customers love, a well optimized site, great & authoritative content and lots of relationship building to get to page one.
We currently sit at position 9, so now the trick is to stay on page one and to continue climbing further up the page. Wish us luck!