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The Secret to Agile Marketing: Prepare, Produce, Probe, and Pivot

Ryan Parlee

By Ryan Parlee

Everyone’s specific business pain point is different: some people want more sales, some people want more Facebook fans and some want better branding.

But there’s one question we get from everyone: “What’s the secret on how to get on page one of Google?”

It’s not an easy question to answer.

I spend a lot of time talking about inbound marketing, and every conversation I have reinforces the fact that it takes time. Our strategy and content teams refine processes, study keywords and work tirelessly to make inbound work for our clients—and when that pays off, it feels great.

Download our guide to find out how inbound marketing can rock your brand. 

Recently, we got a huge bump in success. We got on the first page of Google just by adding and optimizing a single page of content on our site. (That’s us with the red circle!)agile-marketing-serp

Here’s the crazy part. We didn’t just sneak into these results; we ranked FIRST! We even beat out much larger national agencies, as well at the content juggernaut HubSpot.

So, how’d we do it? How did we go from zero to the front page of a popular search result page?

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

When it comes to the word “strategy,” I’m a broken record. But it really is the cornerstone of marketing if you’re going to work with Flying Hippo. Nothing is unintentional. Without strategy, you can kiss page-one rankings goodbye.

At the beginning of any inbound engagement with Flying Hippo, we dedicate two months of research and strategy before putting any pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to create content for you.

To rank for this particular keyword, we had to draw a line between our keyword research with our content creation effort. Finding the happy balance between those is strategy. While your business is different than ours, your strategy might not be.

To hone your strategy, you have to know what keywords and questions your prospects are asking. So ask them! Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. If you don’t know what keywords they’re using or what questions they’re asking, there’s no way you’ll be able to attract visitors with search engine optimization.

Once you’ve done some research and have some quantifiable data, sandwich your website content with curated blog posts and original blog articles.

Prepare, Produce, Probe, Pivot, And, Be Agile

I come from a software and technology development environment so I default to a Scrum or agile methodology. It’s in my blood. Scrum is all about working in steps — or stories. But what does the term “agile marketing” even mean? Is it just another industry buzzword?

Here’s a clip from HBO’s Silicon Valley that sums it all up:

What are the steps we took to get to success?

1 / First, we prepared by choosing the keywords we wanted to focus on

2 / Then, we produced a series of blog posts centered around those keywords.

3 / Once we deployed that content, we had to watch and constantly probe the results. What pages were getting traction? Which weren’t? (The almighty Google loves it when you answer someone’s questions.)

4 / Facebook likes and retweets aren’t enough—you need to check how you’re getting ranked in search engines. If you’re not ranking high enough, pivot your content development accordingly. With this perpetual and cyclical approach you can rest assured your inbound production will get more and more efficient each time.

5 / Lastly, it’s time to think about applying the agile or scrum methodologies to marketing engagements. The goal is to bring results, and sometimes you must be flexible to make changes and bring the client the results they’re looking for.

Just Do it.

To borrow the mantra from one of our former branding clients, there’s no shortcut to increasing your online footprint: just write it. Once you start, you build a powerful momentum. But you have to put in the time to write and review.

We have monthly and daily budgets of time dedicated to ourselves as well as every inbound account. We break this time between research, writing and analytic review. Yes, you’ll need an editorial calendar to hold you and your team accountable. This needs to come with firm deadlines—no wiggle room allowed. Plus, if you know what you’re going to be writing about for the next week or month, it makes the process much easier.


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