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The marketing jackknife that fits YOUR needs

There is a television show that was popular in the eighties, back in the day of big hair and pretty pink suit jackets on the cop shows in sunny Miami. The television show was MacGyver and was so popular with geeks, science buffs, and anyone who wants to see what a little duct tape and copper pipe shavings will produce, that it was reborn as MacGyver version two, just recently.

The idea behind the character of MacGyver is that he could take anyone’s trash (literally), attach some duct tape, a few twists here, a few twists there, and a couple of paper clips and he could save the world. Presumably, everything that was shown on the television show was tested and worked, in theory. That said, you may not have the right trash at your disposal to save the world at any given moment. I mean, you are not a television show and you are not living your life on a studio set.

So, what does that have to do with digital marketing? It has to do with having those street smarts to know what it is you need. You need to know what will fit the situation and how to make it happen, the success that is.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make that happen. You just need to know how to identify the tools and resources (or in MacGyver’s case, the trash) that will work for your digital marketing success.

On the TV show, MacGyver carried around a pocketknife, or you may call it a jackknife, Swiss Army knife, or multi-tool-something-or-other. For MacGyver, it was his secret weapon to get the job done.

We need to find that secret weapon that works for you.

Do you remember that saying about teaching a village to fish and they will eat forever (versus giving them fish)? In other words, rather than telling you what tool you should use (because it may fit my needs or pocketbook), we should learn how to analyze what our needs are and what tool fits those needs.

So, in this article, I will teach you a method that I developed (probably out of all of those years in research, working on my psychology doctorate!) and we will also use that MacGyver Jackknife as a sort of visual representation of what we are learning, to help remember it 😉

BTW – you would think after all of the binge watching I have done with the old (classic) MacGyver and the new MacGyver that I would remember what he called his jackknife, but I don’t. So, we will just call it a jackknife. All I know is that it was red and he seemed to have lost it or given it away at least one time – nice guy that he was (he even gave it to a cute monkey!).

Define your objective(s)

You’ve heard this many times, I’m sure, and this article is no exception. One of the first steps in any process is to define your objective(s). This is also one of the key steps in goal hacking.

In order to identify your objective, ask yourself what it is that you would like to accomplish. For goals, you need something that is metric/measurable. An example would be to network to a point of obtaining 5,000 new Twitter followers by the last day of this year. In that case, you have a measurable quantity (5,000 followers) and a measurable timeframe (the last day of the year).

An objective, without the measurable goal, may be general and as simple as indicating that you want to have a successful digital campaign for XYZ. Granted, it is more difficult to measure when that objective has been realized, but for the purposes of this article, and getting started, you could begin your process with a general objective. As you go through this process, you will have the opportunity to learn and refine your skills and that would include identifying an objective that allows you to realize when it has been reached.

For simplicity, let’s go with the “be successful” objective.

Different tools (and functionality) but a similar process

Regardless of the tool, with an objective like the one we defined (i.e. be successful) the tool itself is not the point. It could be a tool for checking domain authority, or keywords, like what we are discussing. Identifying the right tool for the job is important and that is why we are here, to learn how to go about doing that for our particular situation.

Let’s think in terms of visual. True, the tool doesn’t matter in terms of the definition of the objective of being successful. So, whether it is a hammer or a marketing tool, the objective is to be successful (i.e. building a house or building a successful digital marketing campaign).

However, when you look at the tool, you may know that the objective is to be successful, but the tool still needs to be appropriate. If you have a hammer in one hand and marketing software in the other, you may know that both tools work toward the objective of being successful, but identifying the right tool for the right project is key and that is what we are learning today.

  • Will the hammer help us to be successful? Yes.
  • Will the hammer help us to be successful in building a digital marketing strategy? No.
  • Will marketing software help us to be successful? Yes.
  • Will marketing software help us to be successful in building a house? No.

So, the objective (being successful) may be the same for both projects, but the process of identifying the right tool for the job is still needed.

Getting the picture? Ok, let’s move on and take a deeper look and practice the process.

More than just a tool

So, we got the idea of a tool, whether building a house or creating a marketing strategy. But, there is also such a thing as the tool specialty.

In this case, the tool itself has features, what it is good at doing. Compared to another tool, there may be a different tool feature list. That is what we talked about in the last section, having the right tool for the job. But, not only is the right tool necessary but having the right factors (features) is important, too.

Let’s use the jackknife illustration. Let’s say that the knife itself is a keyword tool. Now, let’s say that the features of this keyword tool would be the separate little tools in that jackknife. Do we use all of the tools (features)? Maybe not. But, one thing is for sure. We need to use the right tool for the right job.

Let’s use another visual, ok?

Let’s pretend that we are cutting thread or wires in a tight-fitting place. Which of the following jackknives would be appropriate? Hint: You are considering the mini-tools that are included in each jackknife. The first one shows a mini-tool scissors that looks more like an office pair of scissors, wouldn’t you say?

Now, in looking at the jackknife below, would it be more practical (not to mention fitting in the pocket more easily)?

The smaller scissors are likely to be able to get in a tight space a little easier than the office scissors. However, the office scissors are likely able to cut through an 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper faster than the little pair of scissors, wouldn’t you think?

So, it is about having the right tool for the job (the jackknife) but it is also about having a jackknife with the right features (mini-tools). Both jackknives, above, have mini-tool scissors that will cut a thread and they will cut paper. But, the jackknife tool on the top would be better at paper and less effective at thread whereas the jackknife and its mini-tool scissors in the bottom image would be better at thread cutting in a tight place, but less effective with the paper-cutting.

If we think of the jackknives as the marketing keyword research/suggestion tool, both may work for keyword research (not the jackknife, but using that as an illustration) but one feature of one tool may be more effective than one feature of another tool. So, one keyword research tool may have the competitive analysis (as a feature) whereas another keyword research tool may not have the feature of competitive analysis. Both tools may technically work as a keyword research tool, but not as effective if they do not have the desired features.

Ok, this will make more sense as we apply it. Seriously, we are applying it now.. well, after one more section 😉

Evaluating a marketing tool

Whenever I think of keywords and keyword research, one of the first things I think of is the keyword planner and how I should be logging into Google to do this whole keyword research thing correctly.

However, that may be like going upstairs to my office, over to my desk and pulling out the desk scissors to clip a thread that could be clipped with those little scissors on the jackknife in my pocket. Do I want to spend five minutes longer getting a tool that may be overkill for the job? Or, do I want to use what I have readily available, that works better for the job, and get it done… and done right?

It is about using the right tool for the job (and knowing which tool that is!).

One of the undisputed top-of-the-list tasks in any search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is that of doing our due diligence when it comes to keyword research. This is not an area where we want to cut our efforts or attention. We do not want to optimize for a word that is not relevant to the content at hand or the campaign. We also do not want a case of over-optimizing and getting a slap on the wrist from Google.

We don’t want to spend too much effort (more than needed), nor do we want to spend too little effort (less than what is needed). And, that goes for money, too, in what we spend for services or advertising campaigns.

So, it is very important that we get it right… that we do it right. Oh, sure, all of the tasks are important. All of the tools are important, but keyword research is a task that 1) most agree is a part of the process; and 2) most agree needs to be done correctly.

So, why not start with keyword research, as our case study tool category? Let’s find a tool that does that keyword research and one that we can analyze, learning the process of identifying quality tools and how to evaluate those tools for the identification of the right tool for the job. That is, the right tool for OUR digital marketing campaign.

Our case study tool: Ubersuggest

At the top of the list, comes Ubersuggest. This tool is a very comprehensive keyword tool and helps us to perform the task(s) of keyword research. It is also a tool that provides keyword suggestions (another important aspect of SEO!).

But, don’t take our word for it. We will show the screenshots, the process, and our own analysis process in just a moment.

This is your opportunity to work through that analysis process yourself and give points (or take them away) as you see fit. By doing so, you are applying the process of evaluating tools and you can use this process to select the next tool for your marketing toolbox and digital marketing campaigns.

Background and information about our case study tool

Ubersuggest has been around for a while and Ubersuggest was acquired by Neil Patel in its more recent history. With this acquisition, we not only have the opportunity to continue to use a comprehensive keyword research tool, but we also have the additional benefit of Neil’s knowledge and expertise, all rolled into one resource at

Remember we talked about the features of the tool. The tool, in this case, is the little red (or blue) jackknife, or specifically, our case study of Ubersuggest. The features are like the mini-tools, whether it is a screwdriver, a wire trimmer, or a pair of scissors.

We are evaluating the features of our case study tool, Ubersuggest.

There are two aspects that Ubersuggest identifies itself as helping you to accomplish.

One area is the search engine optimization (SEO) process for any given post, page, content, etc. The other is that of the pay-per-click (PPC) campaign that you may be using as a part of your overall digital marketing campaign, for advertising on Google, Bing, or any other PPC platform.

In order to be able to walk (or run) down that path toward either (or both) of these objectives, you need data such as the following:

  • search capacity of any given keyword or phrase;
  • difficulty of ranking for those keywords or phrases;
  • checking out the competition (includes understanding whether the competition is ranking or obtaining their positioning through PPC).

The two areas could be used as your specific objectives, desiring to have success in SEO efforts or desiring to have success in PPC efforts. But, let’s not get overly confused, as the key is the analysis.

Ranking Ubersuggest (Deborah’s WebToolsTV Method)

As a part of our analysis, we are going to rank each feature on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the best (like a five-star rating). We are using Deborah’s WebToolsTV Tool Evaluation Method.

Even though you are going through this process, feel free to use different rankings than what we use. Remember, this is a case of what works for you and our analysis is our opinion.

We are providing our rating as a part of teaching the process. You see, at the end of the day, you need to select your own digital campaign tools and tool sets and so you need to be the one understanding how to apply that process.

  1. Feature 1: Price

Ubersuggest is free. Ok, that is a biggie, isn’t it? Yeah, I’d probably swing $3-15 per month even for a tool that is not top-notch, but free? That already makes some points. So, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, Ubersuggest gets 10 points for being free.

  1. Bonus Points

Ubersuggest gets bonus points! Remember how I mentioned that I felt like I should be logging into Google? I should be logging into Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.. I mean, after all, I even promote one of the most successful programs (as in step-by-step SEO process) that uses BOTH in order to achieve SEO success! So, should I, of all people, be logging into those apps every time I perform keyword research?

Well, technically, yes!

What does that have to do with Ubersuggest? Well, the cool thing is that Ubersuggest pulls the keyword data from Google tools! So, I don’t have to open another browser tab. And, I don’t have to feel guilty about it 😉

Now, let’s go back to our jackknife. It is like this one is a bonus feature. It is a bonus tool. It is like thinking that your jackknife comes with eight tools and come to find out it comes with a ninth tool that does something you didn’t imagine it could do (i.e. take out the garbage for you).

With this bonus, I felt inclined to give Ubersuggest an extra 10 points. Since our scale is 1-10, we can’t really give it more than 10 points, but it has to get some points for the bonus. So, Ubersuggest now has 20 points out of 10 points possible.

  1. Feature 2: Functionality

Ubersuggest does its job. This ranking component is a matter of evaluating how well the tool does what it is supposed to do. It is helpful if you make a list of what you would expect a tool like this to do. In this case the tool is a keyword research or keyword suggestion tool.

We are ultimately using a keyword tool to help us in our digital marketing campaign strategy; either in optimizing the content (SEO) or in determining which keyword or phrase we should pay money for, in the case of PPC. So, our question would be whether or not the tool, Ubersuggest, helps us in either (or both) of those areas. To the extent that it helps us, it is doing its job.

In this case, we may want to take a unique approach and see how the competition is doing. This may be a bit unorthodox, but ultimately, we need to evaluate whether the tool is helping us to reach our objective. So, if our objective is to rank well for a keyword phrase like art museum for our site,, we want to see how well our competitor is doing at ranking for that phrase and if there is any room for us. And, if there is not as much of an opportunity to rank for art museum we want to see what other keyword phrases may be available for us to use in SEO and/or PPC.

You see, the success of the tool is measured by way of the success that it provides to us. If there is zilch, the tool is not necessarily living up to its promises as far as functionality. Granted, the tool may be fine and it may be that there are no keywords, but if that is the case, how do we measure it. It is easier to measure what exists (i.e. suggested keywords) than what does not exist (zilch).

So, let’s go back to our keyword phrase of art museum and see what we find…

Step 1: Insert keyword or keyword phrase into the Ubersuggest keyword tool.

What we found is that there are 74k searches for art museum. That isn’t too bad. It is better than one search, eh? And, the cost per click value is $2.07. Now, that is really helpful information because it gives us an idea of what our bid should be if we were to use PPC. Anything below that is a bit of a savings.

So far, Ubersuggest is at least functional, wouldn’t you say? But, let’s continue to evaluate its functionality…

Step 2: Evaluate Keyword Suggestions

Already, we have an idea that there are quite a few suggestions. We are not obligated to use art museum with one thousand other options. But, that is quite a list to go through one by one, so let’s see if we can minimize that list a bit. One idea is to filter the results (lower left).

Step 3: Filter the 1k results by adding the word abstract to the box in the lower left and click Go.

Now that we have filtered the list, we see that there are still some options. Granted, the option of using abstract art museum is not necessarily what we want to use since the search volume is so low but the other two keyword phrases may be an option. We also see that our CPC (cost-per-click) goes down, so maybe we can afford to throw a couple of bids at those, for our PPC campaigns, even if it is a way to see if there is success in that method, using those keyword phrases.

Based on this little bit of analysis, I would call this tool very functional. But, that may be because of its price, so I have to recognize that potential bias. Therefore, I am going to give it an eight out of ten on functionality. The total for this tool evaluation is now 28 out of 20 with the bonus points.

Note: When it comes to functional analysis, there is really much more that should be done than what we did in this article. However, this article should give you the basis and an idea of how to go about it.

In all fairness, to more easily evaluate the functionality of a tool, it is helpful to compare it to another tool that does the same thing. It would be helpful to use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your analysis. You could even break down the aspects of functionality (like the mini-tools on that jackknife) and give points to each tool that is being compared. That is an easier way to determine the number of points each compared tool gets, with less of an impact of bias.

You can add other factors to analyze, beyond the price, functionality, and any bonus points. It also depends on the tool. But, this section should get you started.

The big divide: ROI (Return on Investment)

The final component is an evaluation of price.   As you recall, that is one of the comparison factors in our analysis above, but it is also what can be a major determining factor. Our case study tool, Ubersuggest, received a ten out of ten on that one because it is free.

Had we been comparing a tool that had a price tag attached, like Moz, ahrefs, Majestic, or SEMRush, this would require more work. If there is a price tag, we would want to compare what we get out of it (what is our digital marketing success worth to us?) with what we are paying for that success (the cost of the tool). So, if we are paying $1 for a tool and making a profit of $3, that is a fair return. If we are making $300 while paying $1, that is a really good return on investment!

The reason free is so easy to evaluate is because, well, it is free. Any amount of money we are making, using the tool, is free and clear (at least as it relates to that particular tool) and so it is all profit. Again, this is only a comparison of the tool and does not take any other expenses into consideration.

This is how we need to look at it >> All things considered, is the exertion of our time and/or money resulting in a success that makes it worth it? That would be our ROI.

By evaluating our ROI, we are making the choice. If we have done our analysis correctly, or effectively, we have determined the tool that fits our needs, including functionality and our pocketbook.

After our analysis and determination, what is left to do? Well, that would be a case of putting the selected tool into action and reaching for the stars… that is, our digital marketing success! You, too, can be on special lists, everywhere, as influencers and movers and shakers.

By Deborah Anderson

When Deborah Anderson is not busy writing articles for popular, influential internet sites (yes, ghostwriting on behalf of some of your favorite thought leaders), she is finishing up on her dissertation on white-collar crime in the Los Angeles financial district, while completing her doctorate in Psychology.

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