Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in. Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
This is excellent and should be intuitive for marketers (and SEO pros are marketers!) but we often take the short cut and neglect critical details. What would also reinforce the strategy is way of providing solid projections for SEO (these could be based on industry trends and statistics). Clients now ask for ways to calculate ROI and they need numbers to get budget approvals. Increase in traffic by X, increase in qualified traffic and leads, conversions etc, some way of quatifying the expected return.
You might be doing all the right things to generate leads -- landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn't driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as "split test") different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you're posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.
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Very in-depth information, Brian. I love the part about updating old content, I still find old articles in search results, sometimes 3+ years ago that are clearly out of date when it comes to marketing topics. I usually skip those results, and wonder how that content is still ranking, but it would be great if everyone updated that content. This entire post is full of useful tips, as usual. I am bookmarking now, and sharing-
See the screenshot below for some of the sections for specific recommendations that you can add which will provide the meat of the document. Keep in mind this is a very flexible document – add recommendations that make sense (for example you may not always have specific design considerations for a project). Remember, it will be different every time you do it.
Don’t read everything at once. There is a lot of great information in here, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed after reading through all of the content in one sitting. Instead, take incremental steps. For example, if you want to find out where or how to ask people for their emails on your site, read the content in chapter 2. Implement it, then come back later for the next steps.
Get creative. Since every business is different, some of the strategies in this guide might not work for your business if you implement them exactly as described. However, most of what’s described can work for a large majority of businesses with just a few tweaks. In some cases, you might even get greater results than the people who wrote these posts.
I completely agree that defintion of a target audience isa great first step, but would ask if adding in competitors to the analysis (mentioned here as a later step) helps draw out who your target audience would be via comparisons, i.e. showing who you are an who you are not - would be very interested to hear opinions on how this tactic can be used within the overall step in coordination with targeted keyword discovery.