2 Successful Digital Marketing Case Studies – With Results + Cost

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I am not going to waste your time and get into it right away. I was never a fan of fluff, and this is one of the main reasons why I love Charles. He holds nothing back and neither do I. I’ve tested many of his suggestions on my websites and guess what? They’ve worked. I am going to share my results from two sites. One is wildly successful, and the other is new and not there yet. Out of respect for the client, I am going to keep certain information hidden. Let’s get into it.

Website #1 – Construction industry niche – Budget = $50K + $500-$800/month for link-building

You might think the construction industry is easy to conquer. I am not going to argue this fact. It’s an antiquated industry in desperate need of automation and modernization. One crucial aspect to consider is that this industry is tight-knit with a few big names dominating North America. We started from scratch. What does this mean?

  1. A brand new domain
  2. Handwritten copy based off of our keyword research and user intent
  3. Market research 
  4. Link building

Keep in mind that there is a heavy emphasis on calls. It was and is very important for our client to get calls nationally within the United States. Although we would like to change this in the future so that our growth is scalable.

Our results

Our Google Search Console data shows impressive results. We’re seeing nothing but growth month after month.

We started tracking calls mid-2018. We’re selling expensive products, and the conversion rate is very high on the phone. We outsource some of the data to be sifted through and compare our numbers with the revenue generated from this website. Our numbers indicate direct website purchases to be $2 million+ in 2018. Please keep in mind that zero dollars are being spent on ads. All revenue generated from the website is strictly organic growth.

How we did it

All right, you’re probably itching to find out how we did it. I am going to lay out exactly how I took something from 0-80 (I left 20 points for future growth). Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Silo-structured navigation – We steered clear of a broad category-based navigational system. Why? Because the people in this industry are quick, old-school, and have no time for bull.
  2. Information architecture – Most of you who have an e-commerce website with multiple categories might think you need to perfect IA, but you don’t. Just listen to your customers, and you’ll know what to do. I’ll tell you how we did it in a bit.
  3. Copy – A lot of us forget to write for humans. Well, my team didn’t. We spent a lot of time researching our market and writing for the people we’re trying to sell to. 
  4. Link building – We spent a lot on link building. The client was happy to pay for all the links. I’ll tell you exactly where I got our links and how much I spent to earn our keep. 
  5. Market research – A lot of you go into marketing blind. You want to rank and assume sales and growth. Nothing works this way. Don’t get offended. I am being honest, and it’s constructive criticism. It’s not hard. I’ll show you what I did so you can do the same and dominate your niche. 

A winning global navigation

It sounds trivial doesn’t it? You’ve read hundreds of articles about information architecture and complex ideations of how you should structure your websites. What if I told you human beings are simple and that if you ask 20 people in your niche, you’ll know exactly how you should organize your website? Shocking right?

Here are the steps to get it right the first time and see organic search results pretty quick:

  1. You need to first do your keyword research. I don’t think I want to get into how I do this. Most of you are advanced enough to start your keyword research from the right places. If it helps, here’s what I use:
    1. //answerthepublic.com/
    2. //ahrefs.com/
    3. //cognitiveseo.com/ (I’ll explain how I use this tool because I am not sure everyone knows about how it can save you hundreds of hours)
  2. Ask your client to let you speak to their top customers/clients. We try to get at least 20 interviews. If you can’t do this, pay people in the industry for their time. A one on one interview can cost between $50-$100 for 30-45 minutes of their time. I know what you’re thinking, “I can do this myself. I am a rational person.” No you’re not, and neither am I. Get that through your head. It would help if you were humble and accept the fact that you don’t know everything. Knowledge is earned when you seek it. 

Take what you’ve learned and put your thoughts onto paper. You can now match your primary keywords with what you’ve learned in your interviews.

Let’s put things into perspective if you’ve got a small website with tight-categories (unless you’re working with a website like Home Depot, this should work well for you) in the kitchen countertop industry. Your client is going to have six categories:

  1. Quartz
  2. Granite
  3. Marble
  4. Laminate 
  5. Dekton 
  6. Wood

What are you to do? If I told you the answer is right in front of you, would you take my word for it? That’s right. That’s your global navigation. We can get technical and argue back and forth. I’ve done this, and it works fast. It’s easy to understand and Google seems to pick up what you’re doing quickly. Of course, nothing is written in stone. Don’t stick to one hypothesis if it doesn’t work. Stay on top of your tests and reform as you move forward.

A simple to understand information architecture

I am going to put money down that most of the websites you come across look like this:

When they should really look like:

Mr. Rooter dominates and so does Milani.ca (Milani is the first example) here in Vancouver, British Columbia. One just seems more credible and put more of an effort to improve their user experience. It’s obvious Milani just wants to rank. If they signed with us, I guarantee we will dominate their industry in less than a year. 

Having a wall of text will NOT get you more revenue. It’s just not going to happen. We have to accept this as digital marketers. What’s going to help you increase revenue from your digital assets and clear up user objections. Here’s a neat quote on you should work with all your campaigns:

“The act of helping your target demographic become who they want to become”

You can have the best of both worlds (rankings and conversions) if you invest in improving user experience. It’s not hard. How do you ask? Let me show you.

Hop on over to: 

//surveys.google.com or //www.surveymonkey.com/ and ask your questions to find out what you can do to improve the lives of the people you’re trying to target. You do this, and you’ll win each time. Let me help you get ahead of the game. Here are three really good questions:

  1. What was the purpose of your visit?
  2. Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
  3. What nearly stopped you buying from us?

Huge shout-out to //conversion-rate-experts.com/ for helping us with better survey questions.

Scientifically structuring your pages without cognitive bias

It took dozens of tests, internal battles, and failures to get to where I am today. My most powerful “tool” was to understand and manage my team and my own cognitive bias. What is cognitive bias?

“Cognitive biases are systematic patterns of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioral economics.”

For example, I never let the whole team test an important hypothesis internally together. I will, however, present my findings with the team after they each tell me about their educated opinions as to why X should perform better.  If I put them all in a room, the first answer will affect their opinions. I don’t want that in the beginning. I want unbiased and objective thoughts. 

Here are some great resources for you to jump lightyears ahead of your competition and structure your pages better:

-Subscribe to //baymard.com/ blog. If you want to invest and get access to their tests, I highly recommend       paying for their premium service. It pays for itself ten-fold. 

-Read “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug

-Read “The Design of Everything” by Don Norman

– For the ambitious: Read “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

And finally, jump on to //www.hotjar.com/ and test your pages. There is nothing more satisfying than learning from your mistakes and improving with each change. Who am I kidding? Let me give you a head start. This version of a category page template has done wonders for us:

Copy is king

I am not a good writer, let alone a good copywriter. However, I know the key elements of good copy. 

Copy is truly an art. The right copywriter will easily charge you $1500+ per project. They will ask a lot of questions. They will sit in and listen to sales calls. Good copywriters will stop here. Great copywriters will call your competitors and try to make an order. 

If you don’t have an in-house copywriter (most people don’t”, then here’s where you can get what you need:

//seocontenthero.com/

//www.writeraccess.com/ : It takes time to find someone good on Writer’s Access. Make sure you’re detailed with your description and give the writer everything they need to write good copy. 

Craigslist : Hop on and let people know what you’re looking for. You might find someone who specializes in your niche. 

//indeed.com : Same deal as Craigslist. Copywriters are looking for work. Put up a job posting and find someone who can help you. In some cases, you’ll build a long-term relationship with a great copywriter who fits in what you’re looking for.

Before hiring a copywriter, here are some of the tasks which need to be completed:

Your in-house copywriter will be involved from the beginning. If you don’t have someone hired full-time/part-time, then you might want to get these tasks done yourself to save some money. Why not, right? You’ll learn a few things, which will help you succeed on your campaign(s). 

Do you want to see how good copy, UI and UX helped a local client dominate in the beauty industry?

Remember when I said that we left 20 points out of 100 for the construction client? Well, we’re going to improve their UI and UX significantly. I am sure this will help their conversion numbers explode.

Link-building

All right, it’s time to get into the meat of how you can get your web pages ranked. Here’s where I got all my links (I don’t build my own. I don’t have the resources and am not interested in building links in-house):

  1. //loveto.link/ – Dan Parker owns this website. I spent thousands with him and haven’t looked back. I will keep using his services in the future.
  2. //nobs.link/ – No BS is a premium service. I think Aaron is the owner. They’ve built something amazing. Warning: You’ll be paying a premium by working with No-BS. They let you pick your links, and that’s a massive bonus for me. 
  3. //www.adss30.com/ – They do niche edits now and it’s a lot cheaper than everyone else in this list. However, quality is an issue and you need to make sure the owner (Alamgir) knows what you’re looking for. You give him the details and he’ll take care of you. I got two DR70+ and 1000+ RDs for $250 and they were impressive. I’ve ordered twelve more links and will gauge the success of his links. 
  4. //dfylinks.com/ – I can’t leave Charles out. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t used any of his services yet (other than buy his quick link building wins doc, which was 100% worth the value). I am going to test him for sure, diversify my links and he seems to have a number of different services vs. everyone else just offering a singular. 
  5. //getbacklinks.io/ – James Gregory can get you amazing links. I’ve had issues with communication and organization though. Not saying I will never use him again, but he has to win my heart to go back. 

Most of the niche edit link building services will just inject your link in some random article, which doesn’t work for me. I want relevant content complementing the link I’ll pay for. Be thorough and make sure they understand what your needs are. 

No BS and LoveTo will do a great job since they find, write, and submit an article with your link from scratch. They’re not perfect and you’ll need to be on top of what’s published. There is no “set it and forget it” system here. 

Here are my keyword ranking results for our construction client:

I am not a fan of that little dip and will keep a close eye on what’s happening. I haven’t seen a major dip with our primary keywords so I am not worried too much. 

Side note: More than 35% of our links are branded and naked URL links. 68% of our links go to the homepage and the rest are distributed to the categories, product pages and blog.

I am sure you’re all aware that our success isn’t just correlated with link-building. A key factor, of course, is on-page optimization. There are hundreds of on-page optimization articles on the web. I’ll leave the technical SEO to someone else.

Here are a few useful resources:

//dfylinks.com/local-seo-audit-strategy/

//moz.com/blog/one-hour-guide-to-seo-keyword-targeting-on-page-optimization

//www.semrush.com/blog/tf-idf-advanced-on-page-optimization/

bit.ly/2KsI1B3 – An excellent SEO checklist from @iqseo

Here’s a snippet of how much we spent on links for our construction client:

I’ve spent about $5000 with NOBS/link so far. That’s right. You’re looking at 6 pages with most orders hitting between $495-$700.

Market Research

We’ve spoken about researching your market before you start your marketing campaign. I know, I know. It sounds tedious and time-consuming. I’ll say this: If you do your research and follow what I’ve done with our construction client, you’ll win every time. So don’t waste time with mediocre SEO and half-assed link-building. 

Unless the client is large, we do all of our research within the first month. This includes:

-In-person interviews with customers (Ask for customer list)

-Interviewing the president

-Interviewing sales staff

-Running heatmaps and recording user sessions (Use Hotjar for this)

-Running general market surveys (you can use Google and Survey Monkey for this)

-In-person interviews with customers who are unaware of the brand you’re working with (Use Craigslist for this)

  • The place you meet must be neutral. A coffee shop is always best
  • Don’t dress fancy and intimidate the person you’re interviewing
  • Ask to buy them coffee
  • Put a recording device on the table
  • Work with a pen and paper

Here are some solid questions we use (special thanks to //growandconvert.com/for this list)

We ask the sales team questions such as:

  1. Tell me about a recent conversation you had with a prospect, what was the challenge they were trying to solve?
  2. What was the last prospect/company that you had a really easy time closing? What was the problem that person was trying to solve for? Why do you think that person signed with you?
  3. What alternative products/services have prospects compared you to?
  4. Tell me about the competition… what do you think your competitive advantage is over the rest of the companies that you compete with?
  5. Are there specific industries or types of customers that you’ve noticed are a great fit for the product/service?

We ask the customer service team/support team questions such as:

  1. Can you give me some examples of some of your best customers? Who are they and why do you feel like they’re the best for you?
  2. Can you tell me the most common use cases that people use your products/service for?
  3. What do you feel like your competitive advantage is compared to all of the other alternatives out there?
  4. What are some of the top questions that you get asked on customer phone calls?

We ask the CEO or members of the founding team questions such as:

  1. Tell me about your background. What’s the story behind the company?
  2. What led to the idea behind the company?

We ask the delivery side or product side of the business questions such as:

  1. What feature set and/or part of the service do customers use most?
  2. What are the most common use cases of the product/service?

Website #2 – Modest organic growth in the disability industry – Budget $2K + $300/month for link-building

This project was a test project to see how far I could take a small website and have it compete with a few juggernauts in the US. It’s an affiliate website with very little revenue generated so far. I am not done yet, though. Now that we’ve ranked the site for branded terms, we’ll start going after broader terms with much more traffic.

Researching and targeting the right keywords

I followed the same research tactics as Website #1 above. I found our primary short and long-tail keywords using:

Answer The Public

Google Keyword Planner

Ahrefs

Cognitive SEO

Soovle

We were able to get a branded domain (the brand didn’t seem to mind and encouraged it), which helped right away when we launched the website. It also helps to know that my competition is not very stiff for my branded terms. However, the broader terms are a different story.

I would need at least 30+ good links to rank for my broader terms. This would cost way more than $300/month and would take forever to rank for. I have a few tricks up my sleeve though. I’ll explain later.

Writing my copy

Once I knew all my keywords and the intent of who I was targeting, I could start writing my copy. For this project, I strictly stuck with //www.writeraccess.com/and had all my copy written for less than $1000. Remember, with website #1 I was very detailed about what I wanted to be written. I was also very specific with what I wanted written for website #2. I left nothing for the writer to guess. 

Specifically, I used Cognitive SEOs content assistant to help me gauge the market and help me write copy that ranks. The content assistant goes through 1000s of topics and spits out opportunities, which would take forever to do on your own. 

For example, let’s say we’re targeting the keyword “hand knit dolls”. Here’s what I get with Cognitives keyword explorer:

Their ranking analysis gives me:

I now know that with good copy and a few links, I can easily rank for hand knit dolls. Most of these top-ranked pages don’t specialise with just hand knit dolls. If you go into this niche, you’re hyper-focused and will do well (like Cuddle + Kind).

Here’s where Cognitive SEO shines for me. Their content assistant will tell you what keywords to go after and even suggests keywords you should use, keywords you should use more often, and if you’re stuffing your content. It’s not perfect, but I’ve used this part of their tool very successfully for this project.

I now know that with good copy and a few links, I can easily rank for hand knit dolls. Most of these top-ranked pages don’t specialise with just hand knit dolls. If you go into this niche, you’re hyper-focused and will do well (like Cuddle + Kind).

Here’s where Cognitive SEO shines for me. Their content assistant will tell you what keywords to go after and even suggests keywords you should use, keywords you should use more often, and if you’re stuffing your content. It’s not perfect, but I’ve used this part of their tool very successfully for this project.

Building a well-optimized website

Once I had all my content, I got to wireframing. I made sure:

The designer knew where my images were going to go

Where branded videos were going to go

How my homepage, category, product pages and blog should be organized

How key information should be displayed

What my webpages were going to look like on mobile and tablet devices

Here’s part of my wireframe:

I made sure all my content was easy to scan (even though most pages are content-heavy). I hired someone from Mexico to build my website for less than $750. She put the whole thing together with a new logo and optimized everything to my liking.

Speed was an aspect I took very seriously with this project. Here are my scores:

The cost of speeding up my website was less than $100. I found an excellent developer to help with this from India. He also updated and secured my website. I’ve had no issues so far.

Building relevant backlinks

Links are not cheap. I had to be smart with how I can get links and get a quick a ranking boost. What did I do? I went to SEO 101 and tried to get websites with broken links to connect to my website instead. 

Here was my message:

Hi Kathryn,

Looks like your post //www.x.com/y/z has a broken link. 

Do you think you can link “keyword” on that post back to //xwyz.com/ instead? It’s relevant and helps your readers.

I would greatly appreciate it and am willing to pay for your time if that’s what it takes.

Thank you,

Nick

I got more than ten links this way. This worked very well for me. I’ll do my best not to get complacent and keep going after broken links. 

I also hopped on to //loveto.link/ and bought a few links from Dan. Remember, I have a very small budget to succeed so I can’t go crazy and spend hundreds in one shot. I paid $254.85 in a span of two months. 

Press releases aren’t what they used to be, but because I had a half decent looking website and good copy, I decided to splurge and get a press release sent out. I used //seobutler.com/ for this. I also have an active blog and boosted a couple of my traffic winners with some social boosts. 

Finally, I ordered four high authority niche links from //www.adss30.com/. It was imperative to get quality so I had a meeting with the owner and was very specific about what I needed. I got two stellar links published so far. Here is the overview of the two links:

The content and the links are spot on. I’ve ordered ten more links from Alamgir for two other projects. Theses links can cost you anywhere between $150-$200 each so be prepared to spend a little.  

I am going to continue building links for my broader parent terms in this niche to move the needle more. I am getting a little impatient. My budget might have to increase to at least $600/month to see quicker results.

My results in 6 months

Here are my rankings for branded terms (nationally in the States):

Before you get critical, you have to remember that this project is really young. I check my rankings every morning and I see very healthy growth. I won’t rush this and wait another 6-8 months and sustain my position. Here are the results for the broader parent keywords (nationally in the US):

Let’s not stop there. This niche is big in New York, Texas, and Florida. I am doing okay locally as well. Here’s the results from New York:

The domain has very little authority right now. With a few more links, I think I’ll see very good growth within six months.

Here is where I stack up for my primary keyword according to Ahrefs:

Google search console data

You might see weak data, but I play a patient game. I see nothing but growth and opportunity here. How do I know? Here’s why:

I’ve earned $695.40 USD so far. I am sure I’ll increase sales once the authority of the website has increased. That’s coming. It’s just a matter of time.

Overview and resources

I’ve gone over a lot. It might even be overwhelming for some of you. To help guide you in the right direction, I’ve put a checklist together for what has worked in my favour for multiple projects.

View and download my checklist here. Don’t forget the tabs at the bottom. I have four phases for you to check. 

If you have something to add, let me know. I would love to improve my checklist.

Over to you

Kudos if you’ve made it this far. I am not very articulate so a high five for letting me ramble on. I’ve gone over how I take a large and small project from nothing to something”. The first website is wildly successful. I’ve followed the same structure for more of my own and agency campaigns. The results aren’t lightning fast, but like watching the stock market grow steadily without a downturn. 

If I’ve missed anything or have made a mistake, let me know in the comments. I don’t claim to be the best digital marketer and am very humble. Here’s where we make our community strong.

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8 Comments

Reply dan July 2, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Good read , I love a good case study – great work on the construction site, I’ve had good success ranking construction related sites before, seems like a relatively low competition industry online given the amount of money in it – I might have to try some affiliate in it – ‘best cherry pickers 2019’ anyone?

p.s Was the URL share in the pagespeed screenshot intentional?

Thanks

Reply Charles Floate July 2, 2019 at 5:25 pm

It was not, Puya forgot and asked me to remove it for him.

Reply David July 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Still seeing the link there – just a heads up

Reply Puya July 2, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Thank you, Dan. Yes, depending on the branch you target within the construction industry, you can make a lot of money. It’s boring but very lucrative (pouring concrete… cough cough!)

Reply Vishal July 3, 2019 at 9:02 am

Great post! Love the way you spell out everything you guys did and am definitely going to be applying the tips on getting data by interaction with clients customers and clients. Also perhaps you should mention that by calling your client’s clients and saying you are from xyz agency you can actually maybe get business from them without pitching to them. They may just ask you for help!

Reply Puya July 3, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Thank you, Vishal. Yes, we do say that we’re from agency XYZ. Some of our clients are a little insecure and think we’ll take over their business (this happens often even though we want nothing to do with their business). Nevertheless, I’ve still landed pretty big clients by working with the vendors of our clients on a specific campaign. They see the great work we’re doing and hire us as a result.

Reply Jeff Dyring July 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm

A very thorough post! The fact that you have a decent healthy sized budget from the client, shows that they know the value of the many different aspects of building the online aspect of their business. This allows the investment in the right tools, the right people (copywriters, user testing, etc) to really make an impact on the bottom line. And that’s what matters and that’s what you have achieved for the client. Great work and thank you for the tips.

Reply Puya July 18, 2019 at 5:54 pm

When I can get the best of both worlds (a client who understands digital marketing and knows the value of our work), everyone wins. When you get a client paying $2000/month who expects to rank nationally for a highly competitive keyword, you might as well kiss your sanity goodbye.

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