The digital age has irrevocably changed the way companies conduct business and how consumers interact and transact with each other and companies locally, nationally and internationally.
These changes have necessitated that companies embrace and accept digital marketing as an essential part of their marketing mix if they are to compete and thrive in this digital marketplace.
The challenge that most business owners face, though, is that digital marketing is so broad that they do not know where to start. Digital marketing has introduced new disciplines, techniques and tools covering concepts like agile marketing, big data, content marketing, experiential marketing, responsive and adaptive web design, single customer view, inbound marketing, user-generated content and user experience. If this was not enough to confuse you, then let’s not forget the plethora of 3-letter acronyms – SEO, PPC, CRO, CTR, ASD, CMS, CPC, CPM, CTA – to name but a few that get bandied about willy-nilly.
So, how then does a business owner whose primary driver is as basic as wanting to know “how do I increase sales?”, “how do I generate more leads?” and “how do I improve my bottom line?” navigate their way through this digital marketing sea of continual change and evolution?
The first place to start is with your website as it is the one medium that has the potential to be seen by millions of people. To this end, you want to make sure that your website is easily accessible to all users regardless of how they choose to view your site- be that on a desktop, tablet or mobile device. This is an important factor as in 2015 mobile usage actually surpassed desktop usage and today many people will view a product or service on multiple devices before deciding to convert (make an enquiry or purchase). When they are on the website, the following considerations need to be made:
- You want to make sure that the content that you are serving is detailed enough and relevant to their search query. Providing irrelevant or poor content will only result in visitors leaving your site before you have had an opportunity to convert them.
- As part of the “buy” process, people are nowadays also looking for re-enforcement that they are making the right decision. The easiest way to assist them in this process is to include the likes of customer testimonials, feefo or Trustpilot reviews as well as case studies.
- Next, you want to get the visitor to engage with you. To do this you need to make sure that you provide multiple opportunities for your visitors to contact you through enquiry forms, call back requests, contact details and even an online chat feature. As part of the engagement process you might want to provide gated content, i.e. content that can only be accessed after a user has provided you with their contact details.
So now that the functional aspects of the website have been addressed, what’s next? The next focus area is all about driving traffic, and lots of it, to your website. Without going into too much detail, the types of traffic that you are interested in increasing in order to get more enquires, leads or sales are:
- Direct Traffic – this refers to someone who knows your website address and types this in to their browser directly, e.g. www.yourcompanyname.co.uk
- Organic Traffic – this refers to someone who finds your site after typing in a particular phrase or keyword associated with your product or service offering in a search engine.
- Referral Traffic – this refers to a person who comes to your site via a link from another website.
- Paid Traffic – this refers to a visitor who comes to your site via a paid advert that you have running.
- Social Media Traffic – when a person finds your site via a link on a social network, they fall into the social media bucket.
In order to increase traffic, you require a targeted and focused strategy that includes, at a minimum, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) and Social Media. While there are many technical aspects associated with these disciplines which are best left to expert practitioners, things that you can do yourself include:
- Have a social presence and share your content on social media channels. The reach of social channels is staggering with a worldwide user base exceeding 1,79 billion users. With this number in mind, “why should I use social media for my business?” boils down to simple maths: the more you share your content, the greater the chances of your network sharing the content and their network in turn and so on.
- Create a Google+ account because:
- You increase the likelihood of getting highly targeted visitors from Google’s organic search results.
- Google has “+1” votes which let Google know that what you’re sharing is being read and shared, which in turn can have an impact on search rankings.
- Add internal linking to your content so that people can navigate deeper into your site.
- Become a guest blogger on a site that is deemed an authority in your sector and similarly try and attract guest bloggers to your site. Use this approach with caution though as you only want to be associated with reputable bloggers and sites. Guest blogger networks that are established solely for SEO reasons often fall foul of Google’s penalisations.
- Create interesting content which is easily shareable. This content need not only be about your product or service, but could be related to the industry as a whole, trends or even statistics. An example of this is one of our clients’ infographics that was shared on rightmove - http://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/top-tips-moving-christmas
While the above will go a long way in helping your business drive more enquires, leads or sales, there are a host of technical tasks that I alluded to earlier that require the services of a Digital Marketing Agency. The challenge with this is knowing which agency to go with as you are no doubt already inundated with daily emails from agencies (a few local, but mostly overseas spam) making outlandish claims about what they can do for you. The only bit of advice that I can give you in this regard is to look for an agency who is a certified Google Partner, who is local to you, who has been around for a while and who has a demonstrable track record in delivering results (ask them for case studies and reference sites.) As part of the sourcing process it is imperative that you meet with them at their place of work so that you can get a feel for the environment and the company – work with someone who is a good fit – follow your instincts and together you can use the power of digital marketing to not only answer, but more importantly deliver, on your questions: “how do I increase sales?”, “how do I generate more leads?” and “how do I improve my bottom line?”
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