How to Make a Scalable SMS Chatbot Using Twilio, Python, and Google Sheets (with Free Code)

SEO & Online Marketing tutorials and tips.

This article was previously posted on this site: https://feedpress.me/link/9375/13779574/sms-chatbot-free-code.

Many of us are helping businesses that are facing hard times, or we’re facing hard times ourselves. If you’re working for a company (or client) that’s in trouble, the use of SMS chatbots could be a way for you to look outside your normal list of solutions and help them succeed in a completely different way. If you’re a marketer looking for work, adding this to your list of skills could mean you keep things ticking along while many of the usual doors are closed — or that you open new doors.

What you’ll get

In this post, I give you instructions and code to produce not just one, but a series of text-based chatbots that can be managed by Google Sheets.

The example here is set up to work with restaurants, but could be adapted to work with any business that needs to receive orders, check them against inventory/menus, and note them down to be fulfilled.

Once the system is set up, there will be no coding necessary to create a new SMS-based chatbot for a new business. Plus, that business will be able to manage key details (like incoming orders and a menu) by simply updating a Google Sheet, making all of this far more accessible than most other options.

But first, some context.

Some context

In September 2017, as one of my first big passion projects at Distilled, I wrote a Moz blog post telling people how to make a chatbot and giving away some example code.

This April, I got an email from a man named Alexandre Silvestre. Alex had launched “a non-profit effort to help the local small business owners navigate these challenging times, save as many jobs as possible, and continue to serve our community while helping to flatten the curve.”

This effort began by focusing on restaurants. Alex had found my 2017 post (holy moly, content marketing works!) and asked if I could help his team build a chatbot. We agreed on some basic requirements for the bot:

It had to work entirely within text message (and if the order was super complicated it had to be able to set up a call directly with the restaurant).

Running it had to be as close to free as possible.

Restaurants had to be able to check on orders, update menus, etc., without setting up special accounts.

The solution we agreed on had three parts:

Twilio (paid): supplies the phone number and handles most of the conversational back-and-forth.

Google Cloud Functions (semi-free): when a URL is called it runs code (including updating our database for the restaurant) and returns a response.

Google Sheets (free): our database platform. We have a sheet which lists all of the businesses using our chatbot, and linking off to the individual Google Sheets for each business.

I’ll take you through each of these components in turn and tell you how to work with them.

If you’re coming back to this post, or just need help with one area, feel free to jump to the specific part you’re interested in:

—Pricing
—Twilio
—Google Sheets
—Google Cloud Functions
—Test the bot
—Break things and have fun
—Postscript — weird hacks

Pricing

This should all run pretty cheaply — I’m talking like four cents an order.

Even so, always make sure that any pricing alerts are coming through to an email address you actively monitor.

When you’re just starting on this, or when you’ve made a change (like adding new functionality or new businesses), make sure you check back in on your credits over the next few weeks so you know what’s going on.

Twilio

Local Twilio phone numbers cost about $1.00 per month. It’ll cost about $0.0075 to send and receive texts, and Twilio Studio — which we use to do a lot of the “conversation” — costs $0.01 every time it’s activated (the first 1,000 every month are free).

So, assuming you have 2,500 text orders a month and each order takes about five text messages, it’s coming to about $100 a month in total.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is free, and great. Long live Google Sheets.

Google Cloud Functions

Google shares full pricing details here, but the important things to know about are:

1. Promotional credits

You get a free trial which lasts up to a year, and it includes $300 of promotional credits, so it’ll spend that before it spends your money. We’d spent $0.00 (including promotional credits) at the end of a month of testing. That’s because there’s also a monthly free allowance.

2. Free allowance and pricing structure

Even aside from the free credits, Google gives a free allowance every month. If we assume that each order requires about 5 activations of our code and our code takes up to five seconds to run each time (which is a while but sometimes Google Sheets is sluggish), we could be getting up to over 400,000 orders per month before we dip into the promotional credits.

Twilio

Twilio is a paid platform that lets you buy a phone number and have that number automatically send certain responses based on input.

If you don’t want to read more about Twilio and just want the free Twilio chatbot flow, here it is.

Step 1: Buy a Twilio phone number

Once you’ve bought a phone number, you can receive texts to that number and they’ll be processed in your Twilio account. You can also send texts from that number.

Step 2: Find your phone number

You can see your list of purchased phone numbers by clicking the Twilio menu in the top left hand corner and then clicking “Phone Numbers”. Or, you can just go to phone-numbers/incoming.

Once you see your phone number listed, make a note of it.

Step 3: Create your Studio Flow

Studio is Twilio’s drag-and-drop editor that lets you create the structure of your conversation. A studio “flow” is just the name of a specific conversation you’ve constructed.

You can get to Twilio Studio by clicking on the Twilio menu again and clicking on “Studio” under “Runtime”.

Create a new flow by clicking “Create a flow”.

When you create a new flow, you’ll be given the option to start from scratch or use one of the built-in options to build your flow for you (although they won’t be as in-depth as the template I’m sharing here).

If you want to use a version of the flow which Alex and I built, select “Import from JSON” and click “Next”. Then, download this file and copy the contents into the box that comes up.

Make sure that it starts with a single { brace, and ends with a single } brace. The box that comes up will automatically have {} in it and if you don’t delete them before you paste, you’ll double-up and it won’t accept your input.

If all goes well, you’ll be presented with a flow that looks like this:

You might be asking: What in the name of all that is holy is that tangle of colored spaghetti?

That’s the Twilio Studio flow we created and, don’t worry, it basically splits up into a series of multiple-choice questions where the answer to each determines where you go next in the flow.

Everything on the canvas that you can see is a widget from the Twilio Studio widget library connected together with “if this, then that” type conditions.

The Studio Flow process

Before we go into specific blocks in the process, here’s an overview of what happens:

A customer messages one of our Twilio numbers
Based on the specific number messaged, we look up the restaurant associated with it. We then use the name and saved menu of the restaurant to message the customer.
If the customer tries to order off-menu, we connect a call to the restaurant
If the customer chooses something from our menu, we ask their name, then record their order in the sheet for that restaurant and tell them when to arrive to pick up their order
As/when the user messages to tell us they are outside the restaurant, we ask whether they are on-foot/a description of their vehicle. We record the vehicle description in the same restaurant sheet.

Let’s look at some example building blocks shall we?

Initial Trigger

The initial trigger appears right at the start of every flow, and splits the incoming contact based on whether it’s a text message, a phone call, or if code is accessing it.

“Incoming Message” means the contact was via text message. We only need to worry about that one for now, so let’s focus on the left-hand line.

Record the fact that we’re starting a new interaction

Next, we use a “Set Variables” block, which you can grab from the widget library.

The “Set Variables” block lets us save record information that we want to refer to later. For example, we start by just setting the “stage” of our interaction. We say that the stage is “start” as in, we are at the start of the interaction. Later on we’ll check what the value of stage is, both in Studio and in our external code, so that we know what to do, when.

Get our menu

We assume that if someone messaged us, triggering the chatbot, they are looking to order so the next stage is to work out what the applicable menu is.

Now, we could just write the menu out directly into Studio and say that whenever someone sends us a message, we respond with the same list of options. But that has a couple problems.

First, it would mean that if we want to set this up for multiple restaurants, we’d have to create a new flow for each.

The bigger issue is that restaurants often change their menus. If we want this to be something we can offer to lots of different restaurants, we don’t want to spend all our time manually updating Twilio every time a restaurant runs out of an ingredient.

So what we really need is for the restaurants to be able to list their own menus. This is where Google Sheets comes in, but we’ll get to that later. In Twilio, we just need to be able to ask for external information and forward that external information to the user. To do that we use a Webhook widget:

This widget makes a request to a URL, gets the response, and then lets us use the content of the response in our messages and flow.

If the request to the URL is successful, Twilio will automatically continue to our success step, otherwise we can set it to send an “Oops, something went wrong” response with the Fail option.

In this case, our Webhook will make a request to the Google Cloud functions URL (more on that later). The request we send will include some information about the user and what we need the code to do. The information will be in JSON format (the same format that we used to import the Twilio flow I shared above).

Our JSON will include the specific Twilio phone number that’s been messaged, and we’ll use that number to differentiate between restaurants, as well as the phone number that contacted us. It’ll also include the content of the text message we received and the “stage” we set earlier, so the code knows what the user is looking for.

Then the code will do some stuff (we’ll get to that later) and return information of its own. We can then tell Twilio to use parts of the response in messages.

Send a message in response

Next we can use the information we received to construct and send a message to the user. Twilio will remember the number you’re in a conversation with and it’ll send your messages to that number.

This is the “Send & Wait For Reply” widget, meaning that once this message is sent, Twilio will assume the conversation is still going rather than ending it there.

In this case, we’re writing our welcome message. We could write out just plain content, but we want to use some of the variables we got from our Webhook widget. We called that specific Webhook widget “get_options”, so we access the content we got from it by writing:

{{widgets.get_options

The response comes back in JSON, and fortunately Twilio automatically breaks that up for us.

We can access individual parts of the response by writing “parsed” and then the label we gave that information in our response. As it is, the response from the code looked something like this:

{“name”: restaurant_name,

“dishes_string”: “You can choose from Margherita Pizza, Hawaiian Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza”

“additions”: “large, medium, small”}

We get the available menu by writing “{{widgets.get_options.parsed.dishes_string}}”, and then we write the message below which will be sent to people who contact the bot:

Make a decision based on a message

We can’t assume everyone is going to use the bot in exactly the same way so we need to be able to change what we do based on certain conditions. The “Split Based On…” widget is how we select certain conditions and set what to do if they are met.

In this case, we use the content of the response to our previous message which we access using {{options_follow_up.inbound.Body}}. “Options_follow_up” is the name of the Send & Wait widget we just spoke about, “inbound” means the response and, “Body” means the text within it.

Then we set a condition. If the user responds with anything along the lines of “other”, “no”, “help”, etc., they’ll get sent off on another track to have a phone call. If they respond with anything not on that list, they might be trying to order, so we take their order and check it with our code:


Set up a call

If the user says they want something off-menu, we’ll need to set up a call with the restaurant. We do that by first calling the user:

Then, when they pick up, connecting that call to the restaurant number which we’ve already looked up in our sheets:

Step 4: Select your studio flow for this phone number

Follow the instructions in step two to get back to the specific listing for the phone number you bought. Then scroll to the bottom and select the Studio Flow you created.

Google Sheets

This chatbot uses two Google Sheets.

Free lookup sheet

The lookup sheet holds a list of Twilio phone numbers, the restaurant they have been assigned to, and the URL of the Google Sheet which holds the details for that restaurant, so that we know where to look for each.

You’ll need to create a copy of the sheet to use it. I’ve included a row in the sheet I shared, explaining each of the columns. Feel free to delete that when you know what you’re doing.

Free example restaurant sheet

The restaurant-specific sheet is where we include all of our information about the restaurant in a series of tabs. You’ll need to create a copy of the sheet to use it.

Orders

The orders tab is mainly used by our code. It will automatically write in the order time, customer name, customer phone number, and details of the order. By default it’ll write FALSE in the “PAID/READY?” column, which the restaurant will then need to update.

In the final stage, the script will add TRUE to the “CUSTOMER HERE?” column and give the car description in the “PICK UP INFO” column.

Wait time

This is a fairly simple tab, as it contains one cell where the restaurant writes in how long it’ll be before orders are ready. Our code will extract that and give it to Twilio to let customers know how long they’ll likely be waiting.

Available dishes and additions tabs

The restaurant lists the dishes that are available now along with simple adaptations to those dishes, then these menus are sent to customers when they contact the restaurant. When the code receives an order, it’ll also check that order against the list of dishes it sent to see if the customer is selecting one of the choices.

Script using sheet tab

You don’t need to touch this one at all — it’s just a precaution to avoid our code accidentally overwriting itself.

Imagine a situation where our code gets an order, finds the first empty row in the orders sheet, and writes that order down there. However, at the same time, someone else makes an order for the same restaurant, another instance of our code also looks for the first empty row, selects the same one, and they both write in it at the same time. We’d lose at least one order even though the code thinks everything is fine.

To try to avoid that, when our code starts to use the sheet, the first thing it does is change the “Script using sheet” value to TRUE and writes down when it starts using it. Then, when it’s done, it changes the value back to FALSE.

If our script goes to use the sheet and sees that “Script using sheet” is set to TRUE, it’ll wait until that value becomes FALSE and then write down the order.

How do I use the sheets?

Example restaurant sheet:

Make a copy of the example restaurant sheet. Fill out all the details for your test restaurant. Copy the URL of the sheet.

Lookup sheet:

Make a copy of the lookup sheet (you’ll only need to create one). Don’t delete anything in the “extracted id” column but replace everything else.Put your Twilio number in the first column.Paste the URL of your test restaurant in the Business Sheet URL column.Add your business’ phone number in the final column.

Sharing:

Find the “Service Account” email address (which I’ll direct you to in the Cloud Functions section).Make sure that both sheets are shared with that email address having edit access.

Creating a new restaurant:

Any time you need to create a new restaurant, just make a copy of the restaurant sheet.Make sure you tick “share with the same people” when you’re copying it.Clear out the current details.Paste the new Google Sheet URL in a new line of your lookup sheet.

When the code runs, it’ll open up the lookup sheet, use the Twilio phone number to find the specific sheet ID for that restaurant, go to that sheet, and return the menu.

Google Cloud Functions

Google Cloud Functions is a simple way to automatically run code online without having to set up servers or install a whole bunch of special programs somewhere to make sure your code is transferable.

If you don’t want to learn more about Google Cloud and just want code to run — here’s the free chatbot Python code.

What is the code doing?

Our code doesn’t try to handle any of the actual conversations, it just gets requests from Twilio — including details about the user and what stage they are at — and performs some simple functions.

Stage 1: “Start”

The code receives a message from Twilio including the Twilio number that was activated and the stage the user is at (start). Based on it being the “start” stage, the code activates the start function.

It looks up the specific restaurant sheet based on the Twilio number, then returns the menu for that restaurant.

It also sends Twilio things like the specific restaurant’s number and a condensed version of the menu and additions for us to check orders against.

Stage 2: “Chosen”

The code receives the stage the user is at (chosen) as well as their order message, the sheet ID for the restaurant, and the condensed menu (which it sent to Twilio before), so we don’t have to look those things up again.

Based on it being the “chosen” stage, the code activates the chosen function. It checks if the order matches our condensed menu. If they didn’t, it tells Twilio that the message doesn’t look like an order.

If the order does match our menu, it writes the order down in the first blank line. It also creates an order ID, which is a combination of the time and a portion of the user’s phone number.

It sends Twilio a message back saying if the order matched our menu and, if it did match our menu, what the order number is.

Stage 3: “Arrived”

The code receives the stage the user is at (arrived) and activates the arrived function. It also receives the message describing the user’s vehicle, the restaurant-specific sheet ID, and the order number, all of which it previously told Twilio.

It looks up the restaurant sheet, and finds the order ID that matches the one it was sent, then updates that row to show the user has arrived and the description of their car.

Twilio handles all the context

It might seem weird to you that every time the code finds some information (for instance, the sheet ID to look up) it sends that information to Twilio and requests it afresh later on. That’s because our code doesn’t know what’s going on at all, except for what Twilio tells it. Every time we activate our code, it starts exactly the same way so it has no way of knowing which user is texting Twilio, what stage they’re at, or even what restaurant we’re talking about.

Twilio remembers these things for the course of the interaction, so we use it to handle all of that stuff. Our code is a very simple “do-er” — it doesn’t “know” anything for more than about five seconds at a time.

How do I set up the code?

I don’t have time to describe how to use Google Cloud Functions in-depth, or how to code in Python, but the code I’ve shared above includes a fair number of notes explaining what’s going on, and I’ll talk you through the steps specific to this process.

Step 1: Set up

Make sure you:

Have a Google accountGo to Google Cloud ConsoleSet up billing for your account (until you do, it won’t let you create functions)Copy the Python code from the location I linked to above

Step 2: Create a new function

Go here and click “create a new function”. If you haven’t created a project before, you might need to do that first, and you can give the project whatever name you like.

Step 3: Set out the details for your function

The screen shot below gives you a lot of the details you need. I’d recommend you choose 256MB for memory — it should be enough. If you find you run into problems (or if you want to be more cautious from the start), then increase it to 512MB.

Make sure you select HTTP as the trigger and note down the URL it gives you (if you forget, you can always find the URL by going to the “Trigger” tab of the function).

Also make sure you tick the option to allow Unauthenticated Access (that way Twilio will be able to start the function).

Select “Inline editor” and paste in the Gist code I gave you (it’s heavily commented, I recommend giving it a read to make sure you’re happy with what it’s doing).

Click “REQUIREMENTS.TXT” and paste in the following lines of libraries you’ll need to use:

flasktwiliopytz

Make sure “function to execute” is SMS, then click the “Environment Variables” dropdown.

Just like I’ve done above, click “+ ADD VARIABLE”, write “spreadsheet_id” in the “Name” column, and in the “Value” column, paste in the ID of your lookup sheet. You get the ID by looking at the URL of the lookup sheet, and copying everything between the last two slashes (outlined in red below).

Click on the “Service account” drop down. It should come up with just “App Engine default service account” and give you an email address (as below) — that’s the email address you need all of your Google Sheets to be shared with. Write it down somewhere and add it as an edit user for both your lookup and restaurant-specific sheets.

Once you’ve done all of that, click “Deploy”.

Once you deploy, you should land back on the main screen for your Cloud Function. The green tick in the top left hand corner tells you everything is working.

Step 4: Turn on Sheets API

The first time your code tries to access Google Sheets, it might not be able to because you need to switch on the Google Sheets API for your account. Go here, select the project you’re working on with the dropdown menu in the top left corner, then click the big blue “ENABLE” button.

Step 5: Go back to Twilio and paste in the HTTP trigger for your code

Remember the trigger URL we noted down from when we were creating our function? Go back to your Twilio Studio and find all of the blocks with the </> sign in the top left corner:

Click on each in turn and paste your Google Cloud URL into the REQUEST URL box that comes up on the right side of the screen:

Test the bot

By now you should have your Cloud Function set up. You should also have both of your Google Sheets set up and shared with your Cloud Function service account.

The next step is to test the bot. Start by texting your Twilio number the word “order” to get it going. It should respond with a menu that your code pulls from your restaurant-specific Google Sheet. Follow the steps it sends you through to the end and check your Google Sheet to make sure it’s updating properly.

If for some reason it’s not working, there are two places you can check. Twilio keeps a log of all the errors it sees which you can find by clicking the little “Debugger” symbol in the top right corner:

Google also keeps a record of everything that happens with your Cloud Function. This includes non-error notifications. You can see all of that by clicking “VIEW LOGS” at the top:

Conclusion: break things and have fun

All of this is by no means perfect, and I’m sure there’s stuff you could add and improve, but this is a way of building a network of scalable chatbots, each specific to a different business, and each partially managed by that business at minimal cost.

Give this a try, break it, improve it, tear it up and start again, and let me know what you think!

Postscript: weird hacks

This bit is only really for people who are interested, but because we’ve deliberately done this on a shoestring, we run into a couple weird issues — mainly around requests to our bot when it hasn’t been activated for a bit.

When Twilio gets messages for the first time in a while, it turns on pretty quickly and expects other things to do so, too. For example, when Twilio makes requests to our code, it assumes that the code failed if it takes more than about five seconds. That’s not that unusual — a lot of chat platforms demand a five-second max turnaround time.

Cloud Functions are able to run pretty fast, even with lower memory allowances, but Google Sheets always seems to be a bit slow when accessed through the API. In fact, Google Sheets is particularly slow if it hasn’t been accessed in some time.

That can mean that, if no one has used your bot recently, Google Sheets API takes too long to respond the first time and Twilio gives up before our code can return, causing an error.

There are a couple parts of our script designed to avoid that.

Trying again

The first time we activate our Cloud Function, we don’t want it to actually change anything, we just want information. So in Twilio, we start by creating a variable called “retries” and setting the value as 0.

If the request fails, we check if the retries value is 0. If it is, then we set the retries value to 1 and try again. If it fails a second time, we don’t want to keep doing this forever so we send an error and stop there.

Waking the sheet up

The second time we activate our Cloud Function we do want it to do something. We can’t just do it again if it doesn’t return in time because we’ll end up with duplicate orders, which is a headache for the restaurant.

Instead, during an earlier part of the exchange, we make a pointless change to one of our sheets, just so that it’s ready for when we make the important change.

In our conversational flow we:

Send the menuGet the responseAsk for the user’s nameWrite the order

We don’t need to do anything to the sheet until step four, but after we get the user’s response (before we ask their name), we activate our code once to write something useless into the order sheet. We say to Twilio — whether that succeeds or fails — keep going with the interaction, because it doesn’t matter at that point whether we’ve returned in time. Then, hopefully, by the time we go to write in our order, Google Sheets is ready for some actual use.

There are limitations

Google Sheets is not the ideal database — it’s slow and could mean we miss the timeouts for Twilio. But these couple of extra steps help us work around some of those limitations.

We trust that you all thought the post above useful.
You will find content similar to this here on our main site: https://rankmysite1st.com/blog/

Welcome to Content Marketing Unlocked: Your Free Blogging Course


Some helpful tips on how to rank my website.

The following article was published by Neil Patel.

Blogging is so effective that there are over a billion blogs on the web.

Just think about that… that’s roughly 1 blog for every 7 people.

Sure, we don’t really need any more blogs, but people still create them because they can be such effective marketing channels.

And best of all, unlike social sites, the moment you create a blog that has an audience, you can continually reach them without having to worry about algorithm changes.

So, to help you with your content marketing efforts, I’ve created a free 4-week training course called Content Marketing Unlocked.

Introducing Content Marketing Unlocked

As I mentioned, over the next 4 weeks I am going to teach you all about content marketing.

Everything from the basics of content marketing and how it works to the advanced parts such as generating traffic and sales from blogging.

To get you started, make sure you watch the welcome video:

The welcome video breaks down what you’ll learn over the next 4 weeks and, under the video, you’ll find a goal worksheet and a course outline.

Then you’ll learn about the history of content marketing:

In that lesson, you’ll find 2 worksheets:

  1. Content outline – this will show you how to outline and create content.
  2. Content steps – this breaks down the steps you need to follow in order to write amazing content.

After you get the hang of writing content, you’ll want to learn how to rank your older (existing) content on your site.

And in that lesson, you’ll also get a list of tools that you should use and a master resource guide that’ll help speed up the process.

From there I teach you about the different types of content you can leverage to get more traffic. Believe it or not, there are actually 18 types you should be using.

Over time I will continue to add more lessons, but I don’t want to drown you in information by embedding all the lessons in this post.

So, what else will you learn?

The four lessons above are a great start, but there is much more to the content marketing course. This is what you can expect from Content Marketing Unlocked:

Week #1

Lesson #1: Getting Started

  • Course Introduction
  • Strategies You’re Going to Learn
  • What Google Wants
  • Content Production Strategy Overview
  • Understanding the Algorithm & Updates
  • The Right Mindset

Lesson #2: History of Content Marketing

  • History of Content Marketing
  • Fact & Fiction About Content Marketing
  • Understanding Your Target Audience
  • How to Find Keywords That Will Make You Money
  • Refining Your Keyword Lists
  • Content Examples

Lesson #3: Optimizing Your Existing Content

  • How to Audit Your Existing Content
  • How to Optimize Your Content the Right Way
  • How to Re-Write Your Content So It Gets You Traffic
  • Step-by-Step On-Page Optimization Tactics
  • Content Templates to Rewrite Your Content

Week #2

Lesson #1: Major Content Types

  • Credibility & Trust Through Content
  • Types of Content
  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Infographics
  • Videos / Visual Content
  • Podcasts / Radio Shows
  • Facebook Posts / Pages
  • Courses / Digital Classes / eBooks / Checklists
  • How-to Guides
  • SlideShare / PowerPoint / Webinars
  • Photographs / Graphics / Art
  • Instructional Guides
  • Magazines (Digital & Print)
  • Streaming Media (Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat)
  • Forums / Wikis / Groups / Resource Centers
  • Whitepapers / Case Studies
  • Memes (Twitter/Facebook)
  • Testimonials / Reviews
  • Content Templates for Different Content Types

Lesson #2: Pilar & Cluster Pages

  • Turn Your Keywords Into An Outline
  • How to Write Content That Gets You Traffic
  • Topical Clusters
  • Pillar Pages
  • Cluster Pages
  • Pillar & Cluster Templates

Lesson #3: Alternative Content Strategies

  • Building Authority Through Guest Posting
  • Content Production Tools
  • Plugins to Use
  • FAQ Schema
  • Live Case Studies, Market Data & Field Reports
  • Share Worthy Content
  • Content Outline Templates

Week #3

Lesson #1: Marketing Your Content

  • Site Structure
  • Theme & Topic
  • How to Rank Your Content Faster
  • Promote Your Content on a $0 Budget
  • Content Marketing Strategy
  • Content Promotion Workflow

Lesson #2: Link Building Tactics

  • What is Link Building?
  • External Link Building
  • Internal links
  • Your Link Profile
  • Advanced Linking and Off-Page Optimization Strategies
  • How to Build Links from Authority Sites
  • How to Launch Link Campaigns

Lesson #3: Tracking & Analytics

  • Setting Up Google Analytics / Google Tag Manager
  • Setting Up Google Search Console
  • Must Have Content Marketing Tools
  • Live Ranking Case Studies, Market Data & Field Reports
  • Determining KPI’s
  • Budget Planning

Week #4

Lesson #1: Ranking 1 Long Term

  • You’ve Got Content & Links, What’s Next?
  • Content Marketing in a Competitive Space
  • How to Get Started if You Are New & Have Little to No Budget
  • How to Scale if You Do Have a Budget
  • Build a Brand Long-Term

Lesson #2: Media Outlets

  • Getting on Huge Media Websites (Forbes, HuffPost, NYTimes, etc)
  • Guest Blogging
  • Podcasts
  • Social Media
  • Connecting with Influencers

Lesson #3: Omni-Channel Strategies

  • Going Omni-Channel
  • Back Office Infrastructure
  • Analyzing and Measuring Results
  • More Content Marketing Case Studies
  • Become A Great Content Marketer
  • Summary – How to Get the Most Out of This Course

How can I follow along?

You can go to the training section of this site as I keep all my courses there.

Every Monday, Thursday and Saturday I will be adding new lessons and content.

Each lesson is roughly 10 minutes in length and contains worksheets, templates, cheat sheets, checklists, spreadsheets, and more that will make your life easier.

In general, if you take the time to follow along each week and complete your homework assignments, it shouldn’t take you more than two to three hours each week.

Some weeks will be less work, but because this course involves writing and promoting content, you will have to put in a little bit more effort than some of my other courses.

As a heads up, I won’t be blogging about each lesson, so the easiest way to keep up is to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Once you click the link above, you’ll see a subscription box popup on YouTube. All you have to do is click the “SUBSCRIBE” button.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Once you click “Subscribe,” you’ll notice a bell image next to the subscribe button. Make sure you click that as well.

A close up of a logo

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When you click on the bell, you’ll be given a few options.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Click on the “All” option. Next to the “Subscribed” button, you should see a new bell notification:

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This makes it so YouTube notifies you when I release a new Content Marketing Unlocked lesson.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoy Content Marketing Unlocked.

I created this course because content marketing is one of the best ways to market your business and compete with the large companies.

Best of all, you won’t have to spend a dollar on marketing.

Let me know what you think about the course so far.

And also, what free course would you like me to create next?

The post Welcome to Content Marketing Unlocked: Your Free Blogging Course appeared first on Neil Patel.

I trust you found the above of help and interesting. You can find similar content on our main site here: https://rankmysite1st.com//blog/

Let me have your feedback in the comments section below.

Let us know what subjects we should write about for you in future.

Daily SEO Fix: Investigate Changes in Your Rankings with Moz Pro

SEO & Online Marketing tips and tutorials.

This post has been first posted here: https://feedpress.me/link/9375/13777020/daily-seo-fix-ranking-changes.

As members of the Moz onboarding team — which gives one-on-one walkthroughs of Moz products to over 500 customers a month — we have our finger on the pulse of what people are asking for when it comes to SEO. We’re here to help you uncover the relevant Moz Pro features for your business.

We know that somewhere along the journey of improving your website and drumming up more traffic (and hopefully conversions), you’ll want to track rankings for your target keywords. Perhaps you started by noticing a traffic drop on your website. Or maybe you’re actively adapting your business in response to new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll ultimately want to know how your page rankings were affected, and start to explore what you can do next.

In this series of Daily SEO Fix videos, the Moz onboarding team takes you through workflows using the Moz Pro tools. We help you coast through your rankings analysis to gain some actionable insights, from tracking your performance against your competitors to making impactful improvements to your pages.

Don’t have a community account or free trial yet? Sign up first, then book your walkthrough to chat with our onboarding team.

Start your free trial

Segment and sort keyword rankings

One constant in SEO is that ranking positions are always changing. Some keywords tend to move around more than others, and they can be tricky to spot. Luckily, Moz Pro has a simple way to focus on these keywords.

In this Daily Fix, Maddie shows you how you can sort out your keywords by ranking gains and losses, so that you can glean some insight into how to make the relevant improvements.

View rankings over time and vs. competitors

They say you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This is also true for SEO.

By tracking your keywords, you can measure the impact of your SEO efforts and identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to optimize your SEO.

Moz Pro allows you to track your ranking performance over time. You can quickly see exactly what page on your site is ranking in the highest position for a particular keyword, as well as other pages that may be ranking for the same keyword. This helps you easily flag potential keyword cannibalization on your site.

In this Daily Fix, Jo on the learning team will shows you exactly how this works.

On-page optimization

There aren’t many things more confusing than seeing pages rank for keywords that have absolutely nothing to do with your business. You’re always signalling something to the search engines — whether you intend to or not. Optimizing your on-page SEO ensures you control that signal.

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages for specific keyword(s) in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.

In this Daily Fix, I show you how to use the page optimization tool to improve your on-page SEO.

Be sure to check out our post on on-page ranking factors if you want more tips.

Compare link profiles

Link building is one of the aspects of SEO that can’t be done in isolation. In order to know how much effort you should dedicate to link building, you first need to look at your competitive landscape.

Moz Pro’s link explorer allows you to compare the link profile of up to five websites. In a snapshot, you get insight into many important metrics like domain authority, spam score, external and follow links, etc. You can easily use the graphs to spot trends in the type of links your competitors are getting, and even click through to see the individual links. In this video, Alicia shows you how.

For more tips on building links, check our beginner’s guide to link building.

All crawled pages

Technical SEO is table stakes, and arguably the most important aspect of your SEO work.

Even if you use the right keywords, create the most optimized pages, and have every authoritative site in the world linking to you, if the crawlers are’t able to index your pages correctly or you’re not following best technical SEO practices, your pages won’t rank as well as they deserve. Moz Pro’s Site Crawl tool helps you ensure that your technical SEO is on point.

In this Daily Fix, Emilie shows you some tips you can use to improve your rankings with Site Crawl.

I hope that you all found the post above useful.
Content like this can be found right here on our main website: https://rankmysite1st.com/blog/

18 Content Types to Dominate Content Marketing – Module 1 – Lesson 3 – Content Marketing Unlocked

Tutorials and tips on how to rank my site.

This video was provided by Neil Patel.

I hope that you found the above useful or interesting. You can find similar content on our blog: https://rankmysite1st.com/blog/

Let us know what topics we should cover for you in future and let me have your re-action below in the feedback section in the feedback section.

What Do Dolphins Eat? Lessons from How Kids Search — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Online Marketing news updates.

The article was first published here: https://feedpress.me/link/9375/13769318/how-kids-search.

We’re bringing back this slightly different-from-the-norm Whiteboard Friday, in which the fantastic Will Critchlow shares lessons from how kids search. Kids may search differently than adults, but there are some interesting insights from how they use Google that can help deepen our understanding of searchers in general. Comfort levels with particular search strategies, reading only the bold words, taking search suggestions and related searches as answers — there’s a lot to dig into.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. I’m Will Critchlow, founder and CEO of Distilled, and this week’s Whiteboard Friday is a little bit different. I want to talk about some surprising and interesting and a few funny facts that I learnt when I was reading some research that Google did about how kids search for information. So this isn’t super actionable. This is not about tactics of improving your website particularly. But I think we get some insights — they were studying kids aged 7 to 11 — by looking at how kids interact. We can see some reflections or some ideas about how there might be some misconceptions out there about how adults search as well. So let’s dive into it.

What do dolphins eat?

I’ve got this “What do dolphins eat?” because this was the first question that the researchers gave to the kids to say sit down in front of a search box, go. They tell this little anecdote, a little bit kind of soul-destroying, of this I think it was a seven-year-old child who starts typing dolphin, D-O-L-F, and then presses Enter, and it was like sadly there’s no dolphins, which hopefully they found him some dolphins. But a lot of the kids succeeded at this task.

Different kinds of searchers

The researchers divided the ways that the kids approached it up into a bunch of different categories. They found that some kids were power searchers. Some are what they called “developing.” They classified some as “distracted.” But one that I found fascinating was what they called visual searchers. I think they found this more commonly among the younger kids who were perhaps a little bit less confident reading and writing. It turns out that, for almost any question you asked them, these kids would turn first to image search.

So for this particular question, they would go to image search, typically just type “dolphin” and then scroll and go looking for pictures of a dolphin eating something. Then they’d find a dolphin eating a fish, and they’d turn to the researcher and say “Look, dolphins eat fish.” Which, when you think about it, I quite like in an era of fake news. This is the kids doing primary research. They’re going direct to the primary source. But it’s not something that I would have ever really considered, and I don’t know if you would. But hopefully this kind of sparks some thought and some insights and discussions at your end. They found that there were some kids who pretty much always, no matter what you asked them, would always go and look for pictures.

Kids who were a bit more developed, a bit more confident in their reading and writing would often fall into one of these camps where they were hopefully focusing on the attention. They found a lot of kids were obviously distracted, and I think as adults this is something that we can relate to. Many of the kids were not really very interested in the task at hand. But this kind of path from distracted to developing to power searcher is an interesting journey that I think totally applies to grown-ups as well.

In practice: [wat do dolfin eat]

So I actually, after I read this paper, went and did some research on my kids. So my kids were in roughly this age range. When I was doing it, my daughter was eight and my son was five and a half. Both of them interestingly typed “wat do dolfin eat” pretty much like this. They both misspelled “what,” and they both misspelled “dolphin.” Google was fine with that. Obviously, these days this is plenty close enough to get the result you wanted. Both of them successfully answered the question pretty much, but both of them went straight to the OneBox. This is, again, probably unsurprising. You can guess this is probably how most people search.

“Oh, what’s a cephalopod?” The path from distracted to developing

So there’s a OneBox that comes up, and it’s got a picture of a dolphin. So my daughter, a very confident reader, she loves reading, “wat do dolfin eat,” she sat and she read the OneBox, and then she turned to me and she said, “It says they eat fish and herring. Oh, what’s a cephalopod?” I think this was her going from distracted into developing probably. To start off with, she was just answering this question because I had asked her to. But then she saw a word that she didn’t know, and suddenly she was curious. She had to kind of carefully type it because it’s a slightly tricky word to spell. But she was off looking up what is a cephalopod, and you could see the engagement shift from “I’m typing this because Dad has asked me to and it’s a bit interesting I guess” to “huh, I don’t know what a cephalopod is, and now I’m doing my own research for my own reasons.” So that was interesting.

“Dolphins eat fish, herring, killer whales”: Reading the bold words

My son, as I said, typed something pretty similar, and he, at the point when he was doing this, was at the stage of certainly capable of reading, but generally would read out loud and a little bit halting. What was fascinating on this was he only read the bold words. He read it out loud, and he didn’t read the OneBox. He just read the bold words. So he said to me, “Dolphins eat fish, herring, killer whales,” because killer whales, for some reason, was bolded. I guess it was pivoting from talking about what dolphins eat to what killer whales eat, and he didn’t read the context. This cracked him up. So he thought that was ridiculous, and isn’t it funny that Google thinks that dolphins eat killer whales.

That is similar to some stuff that was in the original research, where there were a bunch of common misconceptions it turns out that kids have and I bet a bunch of adults have. Most adults probably don’t think that the bold words in the OneBox are the list of the answer, but it does point to the problems with factual-based, truthy type queries where Google is being asked to be the arbiter of truth on some of this stuff. We won’t get too deep into that.

Common misconceptions for kids when searching

1. Search suggestions are answers

But some common misconceptions they found some kids thought that the search suggestions, so the drop-down as you start typing, were the answers, which is bit problematic. I mean we’ve all seen kind of racist or hateful drop-downs in those search queries. But in this particular case, it was mainly just funny. It would end up with things like you start asking “what do dolphins eat,” and it would be like “Do dolphins eat cats” was one of the search suggestions.

2. Related searches are answers

Similar with related searches, which, as we know, are not answers to the question. These are other questions. But kids in particular — I mean, I think this is true of all users — didn’t necessarily read the directions on the page, didn’t read that they were related searches, just saw these things that said “dolphin” a lot and started reading out those. So that was interesting.

How kids search complicated questions

The next bit of the research was much more complex. So they started with these easy questions, and they got into much harder kind of questions. One of them that they asked was this one, which is really quite hard. So the question was, “Can you find what day of the week the vice president’s birthday will fall on next year?” This is a multifaceted, multipart question.

How do they handle complex, multi-step queries?

Most of the younger kids were pretty stumped on this question. Some did manage it. I think a lot of adults would fail at this. So if you just turn to Google, if you just typed this in or do a voice search, this is the kind of thing that Google is almost on the verge of being able to do. If you said something like, “When is the vice president’s birthday,” that’s a question that Google might just be able to answer. But this kind of three-layered thing, what day of the week and next year, make this actually a very hard query. So the kids had to first figure out that, to answer this, this wasn’t a single query. They had to do multiple stages of research. When is the vice president’s birthday? What day of the week is that date next year? Work through it like that.

I found with my kids, my eight-year-old daughter got stuck halfway through. She kind of realized that she wasn’t going to get there in one step, but also couldn’t quite structure the multi-levels needed to get to, but also started getting a bit distracted again. It was no longer about cephalopods, so she wasn’t quite as interested.

Search volume will grow in new areas as Google’s capabilities develop

This I think is a whole area that, as Google’s capabilities develop to answer more complex queries and as we start to trust and learn that those kind of queries can be answered, what we see is that there is going to be increasing, growing search volume in new areas. So I’m going to link to a post I wrote about a presentation I gave about the next trillion searches. This is my hypothesis that essentially, very broad brush strokes, there are a trillion desktop searches a year. There are a trillion mobile searches a year. There’s another trillion out there in searches that we don’t do yet because they can’t be answered well. I’ve got some data to back that up and some arguments why I think it’s about that size. But I think this is kind of closely related to this kind of thing, where you see kids get stuck on these kind of queries.

Incidentally, I’d encourage you to go and try this. It’s quite interesting, because as you work through trying to get the answer, you’ll find search results that appear to give the answer. So, for example, I think there was an About.com page that actually purported to give the answer. It said, “What day of the week is the vice president’s birthday on?” But it had been written a year before, and there was no date on the page. So actually it was wrong. It said Thursday. That was the answer in 2016 or 2017. So that just, again, points to the difference between primary research, the difference between answering a question and truth. I think there’s a lot of kind of philosophical questions baked away in there.

Kids get comfortable with how they search – even if it’s wrong

So we’re going to wrap up with possibly my favorite anecdote of the user research that these guys did, which was that they said some of these kids, somewhere in this developing stage, get very attached to searching in one particular way. I guess this is kind of related to the visual search thing. They find something that works for them. It works once. They get comfortable with it, they’re familiar with it, and they just do that for everything, whether it’s appropriate or not. My favorite example was this one child who apparently looked for information about both dolphins and the vice president of the United States on the SpongeBob SquarePants website, which I mean maybe it works for dolphins, but I’m guessing there isn’t an awful lot of VP information.

So anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little adventure into how kids search and maybe some things that we can learn from it. Drop some anecdotes of your own in the comments. I’d love to hear your experiences and some of the funny things that you’ve learnt along the way. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How To Rank Your Existing Content – Module 1 – Lesson 3 – Content Marketing Unlocked

Tutorials and tips on how to rank my site.

This video was provided by Neil Patel.

I hope that you found the above useful or interesting. You can find similar content on our blog: https://rankmysite1st.com/blog/

Let us know what topics we should cover for you in future and let me have your re-action below in the feedback section in the feedback section.

How Content Marketing Started – Module 1 – Lesson 2 – Content Marketing Unlocked

Tutorials and tips on how to rank my site.

This video was provided by Neil Patel.

I hope that you found the above useful or interesting. You can find similar content on our blog: https://rankmysite1st.com/blog/

Let us know what topics we should cover for you in future and let me have your feedback below in the feedback section in the feedback section.

6 Connectors to Spice Up Your Reporting: Introducing Google Data Studio Connectors for STAT

Online Marketing tutorials & tips.

This article was first posted here: https://feedpress.me/link/9375/13765686/stat-google-data-studio-connectors.

Data visualization platforms have become a vital tool to help illustrate the success of a body of work. Painting a clear picture of your SEO efforts is as important as ever, whether you’re reporting out to clients or to internal stakeholders at your own company. More and more SEOs are turning to data visualization tools to do so — pulling in data from across multiple SEO tools, blending that data in unique ways, and helping to pull back the curtain on the mystery of SEO.

Platforms like Tableau and Google Data Studio are becoming more commonplace in the SEO community as we seek better ways to communicate with our teams. We’ve heard from a number of folks in the Moz community that having a central dashboard to present data has streamlined their own reporting processes. It’s also made information more digestible for colleagues and clients, as they can see everything they need in one place.

Thanks to the helpful feedback of many, many STAT customers, we’ve been hard at work building six Google Data Studio Community Connectors to help pull STAT data into Data Studio. Fortified by beta testing and your thoughtful input, we’re excited to launch the six connectors today: Historical Keyword Rankings (site and tag level), Share of Voice (site and tag level), and Ranking Distributions (site and tag level).

If you’re already using STAT, dive into our documentation in the Knowledge Base to get all the nitty-gritty details on the connectors. If you’re not yet a STAT customer, why not chat with a friendly Mozzer to learn more?

See STAT in Action

Want to hear a bit more about the connectors and how to implement them? Let’s go!

Historical Keyword Rankings

Tracking daily keyword positions over time is a central part of STAT and the long-term success of your site. The Historical Keyword Rankings connectors send historical highest rank data to Data Studio for every keyword you’re currently tracking in a site or a tag.

You can start out with a simple table: perhaps if you have a group of keywords in a dynamic tag, you might want to create a table of your top keywords ranking on page one, or your top keywords ranking in positions 1-3.

Turn that table into a line graph to understand average rank for the whole site or tag and spot trends:

Find the Site Level Historical Keyword Rankings connector here and the Tag Level Historical Keyword Rankings connector here.

Share of Voice

In STAT, share of voice measures the visibility of a group of keywords on Google. This keyword set can be keywords that are grouped together into a tag, a data view, or a site. Share of voice is calculated by assigning each ranking a click-through rate (CTR) and then multiplying that by the keyword’s search volume.

It’s important to remember that share of voice is based on the concept that higher ranks and higher search volume give you more share of voice.

The default chart type will display a doughnut chart for current share of voice, and a line graph will show share of voice over time:

Find the Site Level Share of Voice connector here and the Tag Level Share of Voice connector here.

Ranking Distribution

Ranking Distribution, available in the Daily Snapshot and Ranking Trends views in the STAT app, shows how your keyword rankings are distributed across the top 119 Google results.

View your top ranking positions as a bar chart to easily eyeball how your rankings are distributed, where shifts are taking place, and where there is clear opportunity for improvement.

Find the Site Level Ranking Distributions connector here and the Tag Level Ranking Distributions connector here.

Getting started with the connectors

Whether you’re a Google Data Studio pro or a bit newer to the tool, setting up the connectors shouldn’t be too arduous. Get started by visiting the page for the connector of your choice. Authorize the connector by clicking the Authorize button. (Tip: Each connector must be authorized separately.)

Once you authorize the connector, you’ll see a parameters table like this one:

Complete the fields using the proper information tied to your STAT account:

STAT Subdomain: Fill in this field with the subdomain of your STAT login URL. This field ensures that the GDS connector directs its request to the correct STAT subdomain.STAT API Key: Find your API key in STAT by visiting Options > Account Management > Account Settings > API Key.STAT Site/Tag ID: Retrieve IDs through the API. Visit our documentation to ensure you use the proper API calls.Allow “STAT Site/Tag ID” to be modified in reports: Tick this box to be able to edit the site or tag ID from within the report, without reconfiguring the connector.Include Keyword Tags: Tick this box to add a column to your report populated with the tags the keyword is a member of (only applicable to site and tag historical keyword rankings connectors).Allow “Include Keyword Tags?” to be modified in reports: Tick this box to be able to turn the inclusion of the Keyword Tags column on or off from within the report, without reconfiguring the connector (only applicable to site and tag historical keyword rankings connectors).

Once you’ve filled in the table, click Connect in the top right.

Confirm which columns you’d like to include in the report. Review the columns, and click Create Report.

Once you’ve created a report, the exciting part begins! Whether you’re pulling in your STAT data for a fresh report, adding it into a report with other pieces of data, or using Data Studio’s data blending feature to create compelling views of your search presence — there are so many ways to slice and dice.

Ready to put the connectors into production? We can’t wait to hear how your Google Data Studio reports are strengthened by adding in your STAT data. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

Not yet a STAT user but curious how it might fit into your SEO toolkit? Take a tour of the product from your friendly neighborhood Mozzer:

Learn More About STAT

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How to Find Your Target Audience


Some helpful tips on how to rank my website.

The following article was published by Neil Patel.

Target Audience

When I first started out in marketing, I thought traffic was everything.

I wanted to be as big as companies like HubSpot. Just look at the image above and you’ll see how many visitors they are getting.

They generate 29.61 million visitors a month from 11.74 million people. And those visitors produce roughly 10 billion dollars of market cap.

Now, let’s look at NeilPatel.com. Can you guess how many visitors I’m getting each month?

I’m generating roughly 8.717 million visitors a month from 3.616 million people.

When you look at it from a unique visitor perspective, HubSpot is getting 3.24 times more unique visitors than me.

So, in theory, I should be worth roughly 3 times less than them, right? Well, technically I’m not even worth 1/10th of them. Not even close.

Why is that? It’s because I didn’t go after the right target audience, while HubSpot did.

And today, I want you to avoid making this massive mistake that I made. Because marketing is tough, so why would you start off by going after the wrong people?

It will just cause you to waste years and tons of money like it did with me.

Defining your target audience is the first and most essential step towards success for any company or business, especially if you are just getting started.

So before we dive into things, let me first break down what you are about to learn in this article:

  • What is a Target Audience?
  • The Difference Between Target Audience and Persona
  • The Importance of Selecting Your Target Audience Correctly
  • How to Define your Target Audience: 6 Questions to Help You
  • Creating Customized Content for Your Audience

Let’s get started!

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a share of consumers that companies or businesses direct their marketing actions to drive awareness of their products or services.

I know that is a tongue twister, so let me simplify it a bit more…

The intention here is to target a market with whom you will communicate with. A group of people with the same level of education, goals, interests, problems, etc. that will need the product or service you are selling.

Basically, you want to target people who will buy your stuff.

If you target people who don’t want to buy your stuff, you might get more traffic to your site… but it won’t do much for you. And you’ll be pulling out your hair trying to figure out why none of your visitors are buying from you.

Now before we dive into the details on finding your target audience, let’s first go over “personas” because many people confuse them with a target audience and if you do, you’ll just end up wasting time.

The difference between a target audience and a persona

You already know the definition, so I won’t bore you with that again.

The most commonly used data to define the target audience of a company are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education background
  • Purchasing power
  • Social class
  • Location
  • Consumption habits

Examples of a target audience: Women, 20-30 years old, living in Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree, monthly income of $4,000 – $6,000, and passionate about fashion and decor.

If you start a company without knowing your exact target audience, you could end up like me instead of HubSpot… we wouldn’t want that now. 😉

And here is another example. Let’s say you have a business that sells educational toys. So your target audience might be children, mothers, education specialists, or teachers.

Or you have a motorcycle business. Your audience will definitely not be people younger than 18, right?

There is no point in trying to reach everyone in order to increase your chances of sales and profit. It will actually cost you more and decrease your profit margins in the long run.

Now let’s go over “personas”…

Persona

In marketing, personas are profiles of buyers that would be your ideal customers.

Personas are fictional characters with characteristics of your real customers. They’re developed based on target audience research and may help you direct your marketing actions better.

A persona is a person that may be interested in what you have to offer since they’re very connected to your brand and you must make an effort to make them a client and retain them.

A persona involves much deeper and more detailed research than the target audience since it includes:

  • Personal characteristics
  • Purchasing power
  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Engagement in social networks
  • Professional information

Persona example: Mariana, 22, blogger. Lives in Miami, Florida. Has a journalism degree. Has a blog and posts makeup tutorials and tips about fashion and decor. She always follows fashion events in the area and participates in meetings with other people in the fashion niche. As a digital influencer, she cares a lot about what people see on her social network profiles. Likes to practice indoor activities and go to the gym in her free time.

If I had to define the main difference between persona and target audience, I’d say that the target audience considers the whole, in a more general way, while the persona has a more specific form.

And if you want help creating personas for business, check out this article about creating the perfect persona. But for now, let’s focus on finding your right target audience.

The importance of choosing your target audience correctly

The big mistake I made was that I didn’t figure out my target audience when I first started. I just created content and started marketing to anyone who wanted traffic.

But that is a bit too vague because not everyone who wants more traffic is a good fit for my ad agency.

They could just want to be famous on Instagram or YouTube, which is a lot of people, but that doesn’t help me generate more income.

Funny enough, there are more people who are interested in getting Instagram followers than people who want to learn about SEO.

But once you know your target audience, it’s easier to find and perform keyword research. For example, I know that I shouldn’t waste too much time writing articles about Instagram or Twitch even though the search volume is high.

It will just cause me to get irrelevant traffic and waste my time/money.

And that’s the key… especially when it comes to things like SEO or paid ads. The moment you know your target audience, you can perform keyword research correctly and find opportunities that don’t just drive traffic, but more importantly, drive revenue.

Now let’s figure out your target audience.

How to define your target audience: 6 questions to help you

Figuring out your target audience isn’t rocket science. It just comes down to a few simple questions.

6 actually, to be exact.

Go through each of the questions below and you’ll know the exact audience you are targeting.

1. Who are they?

When thinking about who might be your target audience, you must consider who are the people who identify with your brand.

One way to find out is to monitor who follows, likes, shares, and comments on your posts on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

If someone is willing to engage with you, then chances are they are your target.

But in many cases, your ideal audience may not always be on the social web. They might be inactive on social media but buy from your company frequently or sign up for your services.

Even those who bought from you only once must be considered a part of your target audience, as someone who bought once might buy again.

There is no point in making a great effort to sell if you don’t make a similar effort to keep the customers you have already gained.

Customers like to feel special, and that is why the post-sales process is so important. Your relationship with the customer must remain even after the purchase is completed.

2. What are their greatest difficulties, problems, or desires?

What is cool, interesting, and good for you might not be for the customer.

You can’t think only of yourself when it’s time to define the difficulties, problems, and desires of your target audience. You must put yourself in their shoes.

Don’t make offers based on what you think. Make them according to research grounded in data, previous experiences, and analysis of your potential customers’ behavior.

Understand the greatest difficulties your audience faces to try to help solve them.

3. Where do they find the information they need daily?

Everyone needs information.

Every day you are surrounded by tons of information on the channels that you follow, but when you need it the most, where do you go to find that information?

Identify the communication channels most appropriate to your target audience and try to talk to them using a specific language from their universe.

For example, I know my target audience will either read marketing blogs or spend a lot of time on social sites like YouTube and LinkedIn consuming information.

4. What is the benefit of your product?

Everyone wants solutions for their problems and to make their lives easier. This is a collective desire and it’s no different for your target audience.

Think a little about your product and the problem of your target audience. What benefits does your product or service offer? What can it do to solve those problems? What is the main value offer?

With so much competition, you must try to find your competitive advantage in your niche and always try to improve your product, offering something extra that others do not.

5. What draws their attention negatively?

Being optimistic helps a lot, but thinking about the negatives can also help, especially when we talk about target audiences.

Better than considering what your audience wants, you can consider what it definitely doesn’t want, what it considers negative, and what it avoids.

With this powerful information in hand, you may have more chances to captivate your potential customers.

Avoiding what they consider negative is the first step to gain their approval. After that, you only need to apply other strategies to do efficient marketing.

6. Who do they trust?

Trust is everything to your target audience. No one purchases a product or service from a company they don’t know or trust.

This is why reviews on Amazon are read and so important for sellers. They know it builds trust… it’s also helped Amazon become a trillion-dollar company.

Even though this is the last question to define target audiences, it is one of the most important ones.

This is why the reputation of your company is so important. Taking care of the relationship with your customers is essential as they will spread information about your brand on the internet and to their friends and family.

If you get good reviews, have positive comments, and garner a great reputation, this will be the base for potential customers to feel motivated to buy from you.

Creating customized content for your audience

Now that you know your audience, let’s get to the fun stuff. Let’s create content for them.

Everyone creates content, right? Just look at Google if you don’t believe me.

You just have to put a keyword on Google and you will see thousands if not millions of results for each keyword.

When you research “best earbuds” on Google, this is what you see:

Content Customized for your Audience 1

First, there are options of products from Google Shopping, with ads and prices for different earphones for various audiences, needs, and tastes.

Next, there is a list of sites and blogs with information about different types of earphones and comparisons:

Content Customized for your Audience 2

There is no shortage of content about this subject or any other that you can search for. Anyone can create and publish text with no barriers.

The question is how you can make this content more personalized and attractive for your consumer.

Everyone produces content. Millions of publications are posted every day.

The secret though is to create content that targets your ideal customer and no one else. Generic content may produce more traffic, but it will also produce fewer sales.

To find what your target audience is searching for, you can use Ubersuggest. Just type in a keyword related to your audience.

target audience ubersuggest 1

From there, on the left-hand navigation, click on “keyword ideas.” You’ll then be taken to a report that looks like the one below.

Content Customized for your Audience 2

You now have topics to choose from. Not all of them will be a good fit but some will.

I recommend that you go after the long-tail terms, such as “best earbuds for running” (assuming your target audience is active). The more generic terms like “best earbuds” will drive traffic and a few sales, but it won’t convert as well as more specific terms.

The same goes if you are doing keyword research for the service industry or even the B2B space.

Types of content to create

Once you have a list of keywords you want to target, you might be confused as to what type of content you should be creating.

You’ll want to create content based on your funnel. In essence, you want to cover each step of the funnel.

target audience sales funnel

The top of the funnel involves content created for visitors and leads, that is, people that might access your site, blog, or social networks by chance.

When thinking about the top of the funnel, the idea is to create materials with more general subjects, with clear and easily accessible language.

It could be educational content, including clarifications or curiosities about your product or service or something somehow related to your industry.

The middle of the funnel is when the conversions happen. In other words, in this stage, the person who has a problem and the intention to solve it considers the purchase of your product or service.

It’s the middle of the road, but it is not the sale itself, because it’s still only about ideas. It’s in the middle of the funnel that you get closer to your target audience and generate more identification.

Next: bottom of the funnel content. This content focuses more on your product or service.

Here you can introduce details about functions, benefits, and other direct information about your product or service.

It is far more likely to convert here as this particular audience has practically decided to buy already and you are only going to give them a final push.

Conclusion

I’m hoping this article saves you from making the big mistake I made.

But knowing your target audience isn’t enough, though. It doesn’t guarantee success. You still need to create and market your content. That’s why I covered keyword research in this article as well.

Once you create content, you may also want to check out these guides as they will help you attract the right people to your site:

So have you figured out your target audience yet?

The post How to Find Your Target Audience appeared first on Neil Patel.

I trust that you found the above of help and/or interesting. You can find similar content on our blog here: https://rankmysite1st.com//blog/

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