In this blog post we explore a recent PPC trial we have carried out for one of our clients called Paper London. The sustainable fashion brand was over relying on a single paid channel in order to drive conversions and brand awareness.
In order to fully realise and fulfil the brand objectives, the digital marketing team and Paper London underwent an initial discovery session where we identified target audiences, objectives and KPIs in order to make the PPC trial as effective as possible. Our approach was to help the brand set up a marketing calendar which outlined product drops and core product focus, and translate this into Paid Search activity.
We identified that the PPC trial activity should focus on the UK and Australian markets first, backed up by cross-channel performance trends. To maximise the available test spend, we narrowed down geo scope to best-performing cities in the two markets. For the two month period we included the product categories swimwear, sleepwear and outerwear. We were therefore able to target both southern hemisphere Summer customers as well as those in the northern hemisphere looking at outerwear. We phased the spend in an agile way based on observed results, which meant we were able to spend efficiently while generating a good return of investment.
We also wanted to support seasonal sales such as “Green Friday”, an initiative where the brand would plant a tree for every purchase of a certain product category, and the “New Year Sale” in January.
Our personal objective was to strive for a return on ad-spend of two. We hypothesised that the proposed PPC activity would help generate brand specific traffic as well as raise awareness to new potential customers. We were conscious that PPC could cannibalise SEO traffic so we stipulated that a combined search effectiveness needs to be incremental for the test to be successful.
In order to set up the Paid Search activity it was essential to lay the foundations of which product categories to focus on in line with any other marketing activity that was going on, such as organic social media activity or press releases. This was done in the form of creating a comprehensive marketing calendar which formed the basis of 2020/2021s marketing strategy. Vessy, our PPC specialist, then went on to select markets, products categories and relevant keywords to create ad copy that would ensure we meet the brands targets.
The set up of our Paid Search activity also entailed the creation of a Google Ads and a Google Merchant Centre account, ensuring that tracking is pulling all the relevant information to create supporting data for the performance of the ads.
For our 2 month trial with daily observations and spend management we were able to achieve the following:
UK based Paid Search activity:
79% Impression Share
Australia based Paid Search activity:
90% Impression Share
Not only were we able to uplift conversions, but the brand was also able to harness valuable information about their product categories and the demand for these products.
A variety of text ads, shopping ads and display ads all contributed to both customer conversion rates and brand awareness. The data gathered from Google Analytics also gave insight into device usage, demographic breakdown & consumer interests.
Having earlier hypothesized that the brand keyword Paid Search activity may cannibalise organic traffic, we were proven wrong. In fact, the collaboration of the two channels meant we were able to uplift session share between the two channels by 131% compared to the same time period in the previous year, as well as increase transactions by 428% and overall combined revenue increased by 640%.
Based on the trial period we were also able to analyse path length conversion, and therefore gained an understanding of the consumer journey and how many sessions it took for a conversion to happen. This in effect also impacted the frequency of newsletter send outs.
Ultimately, for the duration of the trial period, Paid Search became the 3rd best conversion driver cross-channel and PPC activity achieved a 1.91 return on ad spend, which was very close to the hypothesised outcome and laid the groundwork for a following retainer relationship with Paper London.
The Paid Search trial period also faced a variety of macro trends that meant our agile & market-reactive approach had to be put to practise. Brexit and new Covid-19 restrictions meant our campaigns needed quick adjustment to continue delivering on our projections and brands expectations.
The collaborative approach we took during our Paid Search trial period meant the client is still harnessing strong results since then. The value added not only lies in the effective campaigns we supplied, but also in the strategic growth opportunities we shared as part of the knowledge we gathered through our data led approach.
Whilst Google has declared it will not be rolling out any more core updates to its algorithm in 2020, it’s time to prepare for what stands to be a bit of a game-changer to website rankings in 2021, with the introduction of the Page Experience core algorithm update.
The new google algorithm update 2021, In Google’s own words:
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”
“Make the web more delightful” is what really stands out here and as with previous big core algorithm updates such as BERT, Penguin and E.A.T, again, Google is placing emphasis on understanding the user and delivering them not only what they want, but what they will seemingly ‘delight’ in.
The page experience update was supposed to be pushed live in mid 2020 however, with the world pushed to the edge of sanity already, and with hundreds of businesses rushing to move their proposition online, they have decided to give us time to make sure we’re set.
So it seems that after many years of speculation, Google does have a heart when it comes to releasing algorithm updates.
This is what they said:
“A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months' notice before they’re rolled out. We're providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.”
Source: Google May 28 2020
Google has given us due notice:
“Today we’re announcing that the page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021” (Nov 10 2020)
The clock is ticking and with this much lead time you can bet that the negative impact on websites that don’t meet Google’s Page Experience standards will be substantial.
So, what is this page experience update all about?
In May 2020, Google Chrome announced the new ‘Core Web Vitals’ that many of us picked up on when it was pushed live in Google Search Console. This new set of metrics aims to give site owners insights into the user experience of their website by tracking metrics such as page speed, responsiveness and visual stability.
Here are the main metrics now highlighted in Google Search Console:
As has long been the case, websites should aim to achieve an LCP (load time) of less than 2.5s
Google Pagespeed Insights tool has been around for a while and is the benchmark for checking your sites load speed. However there are many variables to take into account such as server and location, as well as the platform your website is hosted on.
It is important to bear in mind that different platforms have their limitations when it comes to page load times. For example, many custom sites will often score an average result in page speed insights, and this is fairly well documented and even the biggest brands out there (see Penguin below) who currently dominate search, struggle with poor site speed. There comes a point where a compromise is necessary because those custom sites that really do take into account user experience, often use several plugins and it is these plugins that will affect page load speeds. It will be interesting to see how these sites fare when the new update is rolled out.
It is absolutely worth getting your site speed as quick as possible now. However, it is widely recognised that some platforms’ websites run slower than others. For example, using several plugins on Shopify can have a negative impact on page load times. But this may be the same for your competitors. It is worth benchmarking your page speed compared to that of your competitors around you in the results for specific keywords, as well as against those who are a few pages beneath you, or above. This will give you an idea of whether you need to do in order to defend your position from a site speed perspective, or you can continue as you are with caution. Once the algorithm rolls out, see how rankings have changed and which sites are ranking top – what is their site speed compared to yours?
This is a metric to measure the load responsiveness of your web pages. It helps evaluate how a user will engage with pages that are unresponsive – a low FID shows that the page is usable. A low FID is considered anything less than 100ms.
Everyone has experienced websites that shift when you try and click a button and you end up checking out, or losing your basket, right at the crucial moment. The Cumulative Layout Shift check, assesses how much your content moves during load and as a user scrolls down a page, this is a direct check on the responsiveness of a website. The number to aim for is 0.1 or less.
Interactivity and stability are both areas that need to be looked at by developers. If your website is built using a template on a well-known platform (Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify), most of these areas should be ticked off. However, if you’ve gone down a more custom approach, you may run into some issues and it is worth getting your developers to have a look if any problems are being flagged.
Alongside these innocent-sounding tracking metrics (hmm?), Google is also including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS and non-intrusive interstitials as part of the latest ranking factor.
Increasingly users across all industries are using several sizes of screen a day to interact with content online and Google wants to ensure that websites are delivering their customers the best possible experience when they’re on the move, as well as when they’re at work or at home.
Google wants to drive users to websites that aren’t going to attack them, so it checks website to ensure that there are no potentially damaging downloadables or dangerous software. You can check your website to see if there are any suspected files in the Security Issues report.
Another factor that’s been on our minds for some time, but it remains equally important as it did when it was first introduced. Ensure your customers’ data is safe!
Hmm, this one is a topic for debate and whilst Google’s guidelines are clear, this can dramatically affect how people engage in websites. For example, many websites have country and language selector popups once you land on their website – this is within Google’s guidelines. What Google is trying to knuckle down on are those aggressive salesy ads and popups that frustrate users. The guidelines state that the size of the popup or interstitial is a key factor so this is one to watch. Read Google’s guidelines on interstitials for further clarification and we’ll be writing another article on this soon so sign up for update.
Don’t be too aggressive in pushing discounts and signups as soon as people land on your website. Give them time to browse and then move in with the more disruptive marketing tactics.
What’s more, as Google has done in the past, it suggests that it may even add icons in the search results that show what the experience of the page is like. As we know from previous trials they’ve run in the results, getting the nod from Google and having these icons displayed next to your listings will increase the click-through rates to your pages.
Covid has held the world in submission for the majority of 2020, and finding positives are few and far between. However, with the enforcement of national lockdowns, the shift to digital has accelerated and many businesses have been busy creating their digital platforms for the first time.
This is brilliant as even digital skeptics are reaping the benefits from their online offering and they will continue to do so once retail returns to normal.
As many are finding, the move to digital presents a steep learning curve and the competition to achieve visibility is often fierce, but people have been able to sustain their livelihoods and start generating incomes online in a year that is largely worth forgetting. Google has recognised this move to digital, and to speculate on Google’s feeling, they understand that many people are feeling slightly downtrodden owing to the current climate. As a result of this, or maybe by coincidence, this ‘grace period’ has given us all an opportunity to improve the way we sell online.
Feel free to get in touch with one of the Diffusion team if you have any questions about any of the above, we’re happy to help.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a huge number of businesses have shifted their focus online to remain competitive during these uncertain times. This, along with the gradual decline of brick and mortar retail, has resulted in an ever-increasing demand to shop online. That said, now more than ever is a crucial time for store merchants to up their eCommerce game in order to maximise revenue.
Why is Instagram important for online sales?
Instagram has grown to become one of the most powerful social platforms for facilitating online sales. The social media platform was quick to recognise this shift in demand and have over time incorporated a range of new shoppable features into the app, with a view to encourage its users to discover brands and boost eCommerce sales.
Having your Instagram linked to your Shopify store is a great way to build trust between you and your customers. According to PixelRocket, 62% of Instagram users are more likely to be interested in a product if they’ve seen it previously on Instagram. Not only is this an effective way to increase conversion, but it also adds high quality content to your shop.
How do I integrate Instagram with my Shopify store?
As of 29th June 2020, Instagram discontinued it’s API, meaning that Shopify store merchants can no longer directly integrate their real time Instagram feed with their store. But don’t panic, it is still possible to display your latest Instagram posts on your storefront.
There are a number of third party platforms available on the Shopify app store that will allow you to keep your consumers updated with your latest Instagram posts and maintain synergy across both platforms.
Instafeed is an example of an app that allows store owners to display their shoppable Instagram feed on their store, with the added ability to customise the layout, controls and filters so that it fits in seamlessly with the look and feel of the store.
You can view the full list of apps available on the Shopify app store here.
Make your Instagram shoppable
You can also use Instagram’s product tagging tool to make your posts shoppable via the app. By doing so, you are providing a direct link to the specific tagged product on your Shopify store, so this is a great way to ensure a seamless shopping experience for your consumers, and will ultimately boost direct traffic and sales to your storefront.
Are you are considering re-designing your website? Do you want to move your site to a new CMS platform? Or do you just want to change your domain name?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you are considering a ‘site migration’.
Unfortunately, site migrations are not always as simple as they may seem and can hurt your digital presence if not done well.
But don’t worry! This article will help you understand the risks of site migration, how to mitigate them and how to recover your traffic when a website migration goes wrong.
What Happens When you get it Wrong?
Loss of Website Traffic:
Perhaps the biggest risk when it comes to migrating your website is the potential for a loss of website traffic. While this may often be temporary, in the worst cases a site may never recover.
Decline in Search Rankings:
Loss of traffic is often paired with a decline in Google’s search rankings. An initial decline in Google’s search rankings is all but inevitable when migrating your website. However, a bad migration can mean a site may never reach its original search position and it may even be dropped from Google’s index completely!
Things to Consider when Migrating a Site:
Sound a bit scary? Don’t worry, there are steps you can take!
While there are indeed a number of SEO risks that come with migrating your site, a successful site migration can improve your digital presence in the long-term.
This site migration checklist highlights the common mistakes that people make, how to avoid them, and what actions you should take to migrate your website successfully.
To make it easier for you, we have split the stages of migration into four: Plan, Test, Launch and Monitor.
You need to consider any potential issues that you could run into before they happen. Here are some actions that you can take to plan for your website migration:
Consider your timing – Even with a well thought out migration strategy, you are still likely to lose website traffic during the first couple of weeks after you launch your new website. Choose to migrate when business is quieter, and your temporary loss of traffic won’t be such a blow.
Engage with your audience – Engaging with your audience by informing them of the website migration will help them find your website much easier when you first launch.
Audit your current website – To conduct a website audit, you need to examine thoroughly how well your website works. How fast are the pages on my website? Which pages are generating the most traffic or conversions? Which pages rank highest on Google? Are there any broken links on my website? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself as you go through your site. By answering these questions, you will be able to find out which parts of your current site you should carry over to your new one, and which parts need to be changed so that you can optimise the new site after you migrate.
Create a redirect spreadsheet – Make a spreadsheet that shows how all the URLs on your current site will correspond to the URLs on your new site. This will come in handy later when you need your old URLs to point to new pages on your site!
Make an XML sitemap for both your current site and your new site
A surprising number of people underestimate the importance of testing their site first. The testing stage of the process helps you to identify any problems with your new site before it goes live. This allows you to fix them before they affect your search ranking.
The most important thing to remember when testing your site is to make sure that your testing site is not being indexed by Google. This will stop your current site (and your new site) from being penalised by google for duplicate content, and stop users being able to see your site prematurely.
You can do this using a few methods, but we recommend using a ‘noindex’ meta tag in the site’s code to tell Google not to index it. You can also protect your test site with a password to be extra safe.
Having prepared for your site migration and tested your new site, the day has finally come to migrate your site! Once you have migrated the site successfully, there are some steps that you need to take immediately to retain web traffic and search rankings:
Remember that redirect spreadsheet that you made with your old website’s URLs? Now is the time to use it! You will need to add a 301 redirect to every URL from your old site so that it directs your customer to the appropriate page on your new site. This will prevent returning customers from getting lost on their way to your site.
Add your Google Search Console and Google Analytics tracking codes to your new site and check that they work – you will need these working to keep track of how your new site is performing.
Remove any meta tags or passwords that might prevent your site from being indexed by Google.
Submit your XML sitemap. This will make a big difference when it comes to SEO. Submitting sitemaps allow Google to understand the structure of your site and to identify important pages quicker.
If you think that the hard work is over, you’re wrong. It’s important to keep a close eye on your site after a migration as issues are most likely to appear in the first few weeks.
You will need to check daily that all of your internal links are working correctly. If there are any broken links that lead to 404 error pages, it is best to identify them as soon as they happen to avoid any collateral damage for your website traffic. You will also need to keep an eye on GoogleAnalytics. If you notice a drop in traffic, you will need to figure out the reason for this as soon as possible.
How to Recover from a Bad Site Migration:
You may be wondering if you can recover from a bad site migration. The answer is yes, you can. However, the journey to regaining traffic and search ranking is long and perilous.
To recover from a bad site migration, you will need to start by identifying your problem areas, and this can be a very time-consuming task.
To do this, you will need to conduct a full audit of your site and address all the errors that you find. These will often include problems with redirects, your sitemap, meta tags, canonical tags, links and badly optimised content. Sadly, fixing any number of these can be difficult, and it will be much harder to recover your site once the damage has been done.
Fortunately, there is always expert help available! Diffusion Digital is an eCommerce agency who specialise in WordPress and Shopify as well as digital marketing, so if you’re thinking about migrating your website, we’ll be able to help you through all stages of the process.
Thinking of building a new eCommerce store or replatforming an existing one?
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing an eCommerce platform to help your store get off to the best possible start from the get go.
1) Getting Started / Business Objectives
So, what are the key considerations or questions you should ask yourself? Well…
What are the reasons behind the re-platforming? What are the key business objectives form this project?
Perhaps its your global growth ambitions that is spear-heading this, or potentially to reduce costs and management overheads.
Whatever the reasons are its key to make sure that these have been discussed, considered and that everyone is in agreement.
What are the key success metrics of the website?
Increasing overall sales is probably up there but what other metrics can you attribute to the success of the website?
Knowing these is extremely helpful for both you and us when we take on a project as we can link back all of activity and proposed work to these to make sure we are achieving these initial goals.
If applicable, how is the current website failing?
What are the current pain points? – This could be user experience / navigation issues, it could be inflexibility with scaling or a dated look and feel.
Whatever they are, it is imperative they do not crop up again and therefore need to be made clear from the get go.
But also think about the successes that we can develop even further going forward.
What are the main features and functionalities that you want?
Of course you will refine this as you go through this process (and we’ll discuss this more in a minute) but its useful to lay everything out on the table to start with. From here you can try to organise them into must haves and nice to haves.
Knowing what the priorities are is really useful as it can help point us to the most appropriate platform, and in cases where there are budget limitations, it can help us put together a phased project plan.
There are a huge amount of factors that can and will consider in this process, but beginning with the four points above will get you off to a good start.
I think one of the most important takeaway’s here is to make sure you involve all departments in these initial discussions. As you go through the process it won’t always be necessary to have all departments involved, but including everyone at this early stage is only going to result in a much more rounded view of the needs and objectives.
2) Product Make Up
At the core of any eCommerce website are the catalogues of products. Again on the surface this may seem quite straight forward – items for sale, different colours, different sizes, prices, descriptions and images. But actually, the make-up of these catalogues can be quite intricate and there may be certain limitations on some platforms that could prevent you from running your business effectively.
Some of the SaaS platforms (like Shopify & Bigcommerce) are more suited to less complex catalogues than the likes of Magento. For example the number of variants a product can have cannot exceed 100 on Shopify. There are ways around this but it involves customisation and/or the use of a third party app.
In isolation this is not that much of a problem but if this type of customisation is needed throughout your product offering, it can become a bit of a pain to manage.
So, to alleviate the risk of this happening here are some of the the product questions you should be asking yourself:
How many products do you want to sell online? Quantity in isolation is rarely an issue but it’s good to know this nonetheless as it will have implications in various ways such as design and site speed optimisation.
How many categories and sub categories will you have? This could be quite small to begin with and then grow, so future ambitions is good to also bare in mind at this stage.
How Complex is your product taxonomy? Think about the number variants each product will have – colours, sizes, types etc. Will these be presented as single products or as SKUs within the products
Is there a requirement to be able to group / bundle products? This has implications for stock management so it’s good to know
Will products be sold on a subscription basis? If so, what are the rules here? What does this model look like?
Is pre order a requirement? If so should this be triggered automatically when a product is out of stock or manually? Can pre order be managed through other channels such as by phone?
Do you have a BTC and BTB product offering? How do these differ and should they be set up completely separately?
How will your product make up change and grow over the next few years? Linking back to what I mentioned earlier, what are the ambitions for all of the above?
Ultimately it is preferable to choose a platform that can accommodate as many of your requirements as standard features of the platform. Of course, one of the great perks of many of the eCommerce platforms out there, is the vast range of third party apps/plugins that are available that you can bolt onto the website to enhance functionality (we get to this later).
However from experience, it’s not advisable to have heaps of plugins as this can have a negative effect on overall site performance and speed.
If the majority of the functionality of your website comes from third party plug-ins, it’s probably a pretty clear sign that you are not on the most appropriate platform.
This is why it’s important to have all of this detail clearly available when selecting a platform, to alleviate the risk of choosing a one that restricts you and does not allow you to create and evolve in a hassle free manner.
3) Content Requirements
Content is at the core of every website and different platforms offer different solutions to the variety of different elements that you may or may not require, some making it easier that others.
Types of Content:
Ediorial – Blog, News, Press – archives
Campaign – Projects, Case Studies , Look Books
Brand – About, Philosohy, Process / Craft, History,
Social – integrating 3rd party content
Again, try to think about how this will evolve as well as what you’re launching with. How often are you going to be adding new content to the site?
If this is regularly (as, of course, it should be to help your SEO rankings) it is so important that it is an easy to do, otherwise it will cause such a headache to whoever has this job, wasting their time going through a tedious process or even worse deterring them from adding any new content.
WordPress, is a great option for content rich sites as there is no real limitation from a creative or management point of view. We have historically connected this with WooCommerce to offer a powerful eCommerce solution for our clients – and this is definitely a combination we still recommend.
Bigcommerce has recently developed a WordPress integration that creates a really powerful solution giving you all the benefits of WordPress, but weaving this into a very capable and solid ecommerce platform.
Shopify is also improving as a content management system and whilst it used to be tricky to manage editorial style content, this is no longer the case.
4) Technical Requirements/Integrations
You will find that a lot of the more common integrations are easily achieved with ready made plug ins available. These include:
Connecting to email marketing platform to capture newsletter sign ups
Connecting to Payment gateways – to allow a seamless check out experience
Feeding your instagram account onto the site to offer fresh and dynamic content
But it’s not always this straight forward. The recommend approach therefore is thinking about which integrations are going to add value for your customers and your business, rather than going off what you have on the existing site or copying current trends.
Once we have this list we can start to evaluate how these can be executed on different platforms, and what level of integration is needed.
As mentioned, on the one hand you don’t want to be in a position where you are having to completely customise and bolt on hundreds of apps to achieve your desired offering
On the flip-side you also don’t want to buy into an expensive enterprise level solution when you actually only need 2% of what they offer and are therefore hugely over engineering the situation.
We’d be here all day if I was to attempt to list all of the different types of integrations that could be incorporated into your site, but these are some of the potentially more complex but really useful ones that definitely need consideration, and will really help with the seamless running on your business:
ERP Systems – he
Taxes and Duties
Multi Currency Check Out – internationalisation
Fulfillment / Shipping
Internationalisation especially, is often one of the biggest factors that will shape platform choice. Giving your customers a local shopping experience, and allowing your business operations to work efficiently on a global scale is essential.
Up until now we would only have suggested the more enterprise level platforms – like Magento or Shopware, for this type of requirement.
This said a lot of the SaaS platforms are now getting up to speed with this.
For example, implementing Shopify to target several countries around the world was always the biggest deal breaker as the only option available previously, was to clone the store in order to enable check out in another currency. However now, multi currency checkout is available through their premium offering -Shopify Plus. In 2019 the road map for Bigcommerce also has Internationalisation at the top of its agenda.
As the capabilities of every platform is constantly evolving, it is really important to think about what your technical requirements are and what integrations are needed so that we can help pair you with the a platform that’s the best fit, now and in the future.
5) Costs and Timings
And last but by no means least – money! Ultimately one of the determining factors in this process is going to be the available budget and deadlines.
The time (and therefore cost) it takes to build an eCommerce website will vary hugely based on the size, complexity and platform you are using.
Whether you choose to disclose your budget with your agency at this stage is up to you – from our point of view this is helpful as we can tailor an appropriate solution.
Either way, though, it is just crucial to have these figures worked out in good time.
So, there are two key factors that must be considered and budgeted for:
The initial cost of the build of the website
Ongoing costs to keep the site running.
This initial cost can include:
Discovery costs – could be UX, brand work, concepting, SEO
Design and build costs
Content creation – copy writing and photo shoots
Third-party integration costs,
SEO Set Up
Once the implementation is completed, you have to account for the ongoing cost. Items included in this are:
Maintenance and support retainers,
Ongoing host fees,
Platform licence costs
Payment gateway related fees,
Third-party apps / plugin subscriptions
Ongoing SEO and marketing
Depending on the type of platform you choose, some of these costs might not apply which might be a deciding factor for picking one platform over another.
So, there we have it. Once you have a good idea about all of the above points, let’s organise a time to sit down and discuss which eCommerce platform will help propel your business forward.
Digital marketing should already be an essential cog in your marketing machine because whether your goals are generating sales from your Ecommerce website, awareness for your brand or leads for the service you offer, in terms of cost-effectiveness, nothing does it better than digital marketing. Of course I would say that, and here is why….
If you’re still on the fence about whether to invest in digital marketing, this guide should give you a good understand of the origins of digital marketing, the channels available and which ones may be worth it for you. For those familiar with this, feel free to skip over to the trends section.
A lot has changed over the last year or two, with the rise in popularity of voice enabled devices, voice navigation becoming an increasingly used feature in mobile phones, as well as the rise of Internet of Things (IoT); the start of the year is a good time to brush up your digital marketing knowledge and set out a plan for the year ahead.
With so many choices of platform, devices and audiences, it is important to understand the features and benefits of each so you can take an informed decision about where to invest your marketing budget.
The Origins Of Digital Marketing
The term ‘digital marketing’ can be traced back to the early 1990’s when the Archie search engine was created. This indexed FTP files and worked alongside the huge stores of data that companies were collecting, allowing them to track customer information. The result was the ability to target a customer with more relevant marketing material and essentially was the beginning of modern digital marketing.
Competition and increased usage led to an increased use of digital matter which enabled the first clickable banner ad going live; as long ago as 1994. It could be argued that the success of this ad is what drove digital marketing forward. Estimates suggest 44% of the people who saw the ad clicked on it i.e. click-through rate (CTR). Sure, you could make the case that it yielded those high CTRs only because it was a relatively new concept but it was a good metric nevertheless.
Of course digital marketing really started to take off in the 2000’s when the internet started to become more commonplace and not just reserved for the tech-savvy amongst us.
Moreover, the introduction of mobile devices and other ways to access the internet on the move such as tablets (called Personal Digital Assistants back then), over the last 20 years, has driven increased growth and transformation of digital marketing.
Types Of Digital Marketing
There are several different ‘types’ of digital marketing, and by type we’re referring to how it is implemented and the platforms put to use.
Social Media Marketing
Even if you don’t use social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn to share information about your business and your products no doubt you’ve heard about advertising on it before. This is a great way to engage with potential customers and promote your products and in terms of maintaining brand loyalty, it is perhaps the most effective way of increasing and maintaining awareness for your business.
But, you do need to choose the right channel for your products / services. Each social media platform has its own features, use-cases and what it can deliver for your business, you just need to choose the one that best suits your objectives.
Not all that you publish as a business will be about sales and neither should it be. You need to publish a lot of useful and informative content online for people to engage with in order for them to find out about you, your services and what you could potentially do for their business. These are all important factors to most potential purchasers. Good quality content will pass on valuable information while engaging with the customer; it needs to be easy to read and appeal to your target audience.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the method by which you rank your page within the first few positions on the search results. You need to choose keywords that are relevant to your business i.e. those likely to generate leads or sales for you and then go about implementing a SEO strategy to promote the content and the website.
The key is to choose the right keywords for your business as this can make or break your SEO campaign.
To make things more complicated there are many different strategies within SEO that will have a huge effect on the campaign’s success.
Get in touch to find out how we can help with your digital marketing campaign
Search Engine Marketing is another way to ensure that you maintain visibility across the various search engines across paid for channels. The pricing models for SEM will vary from one channel to another.
For e.g., in Pay Per Click (PPC) Google is the undisputed leader. When it comes to display marketing aka impressions, which is how often a prospect sees your ad, Facebook leads the way.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Simply put, PPC marketing is when you pay each time someone clicks on your ad
Compared to SEM which is often based on impressions, PPC costs work on a click basis only and they are therefore generally more conducive if lead generation is your goal.
Another way in which you can increase the awareness for your business and generate more sales is to use affiliate marketing links. In short anyone can list a product that you’re selling on their own site. If they end up selling a product of yours you pay them something. Think of affiliates as your network of sales personnel.
The great thing about this approach is that there are no limits to the number of affiliate links you can have and you only pay out after a confirmed sale. This dramatically reduces any risks associated with online marketing campaigns.
The email has been a wonderful invention not just for personal communication everywhere but for marketing purposes too.
In terms of acquisition costs, few platforms can rival the cost-effectiveness of email marketing especially when you’re marketing out to a warm or hot list i.e. your previous or current customers and qualified prospects.
You can use email to market just about anything – a new product or service launch, an event or sale you’re having, updates about the company or simply to stay in top-of-mind of your customers.
The only caveat with email marketing is not to overdo it as it only takes a single click for your audience to have had enough and them abandoning your list.
It may seem old fashioned but advertising on the radio can still work very well for certain types of businesses and offering. A lot of people listen to the radio at some point during the day and often at times when their attention is undivided for example in the car or at work.
SMS messages sent directly to your phone is an established digital marketing technique and works very well for most B2C industries especially those in the restaurant trade and/or offering local services.
WhatsApp is often touted to be the next iteration of SMS marketing but hasn’t quite taken off fully yet but with Mark Zuckerberg planning on integrating Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook, hopefully this is going to be on the rise, giving businesses yet another way to interact with and market to potential customers.
Prospects For The Digital Landscape In 2019
The traditional way of carrying out digital marketing is via a single channel. This could be something as simple as telling your existing customers to invite their friends to support your business; you could even offer an incentive to ensure people take the right action.
Alternatively you can do what Facebook and several other firms do and invite all your friends for you; you’ve given them permission somewhere in the small print. This is still a single channel approach but a very effective one.
Although this method does still work, it is no longer as effective as an omni-channel approach which as the name suggests, you target users at multiple ‘touch points’ and at different times.
With the myriad of ways consumers now engage with content online, from different devices, starting and stopping and then starting the explorative journey again, building a marketing campaign across multiple channels will dramatically increase a campaigns potency and effectiveness in 2019.
The internet has swollen to such a size that all the digital marketing channels are being flooded by online businesses. In order for you to stand out from the crowd and reach those customers you need to hit all the channels possible.
The types of digital marketing discussed at the start of this guide are all important, but the key here is you can’t target just one of these channels; you need to be utilising as many of them as possible in order to ensure your business is seen and heard as often as possible. This will help to ensure you are the first one they think of when after your specific product; helping to ensure they buy through or from you.
In addition, there are certain trends that are likely to be prevalent all of 2019 so it helps for you to familiarise yourself with these.
Understanding & Utilising Voice Search
It is estimated that by 2020 half of all the searches done on the internet will be by voice search. Searching using voice commands is the natural progression of the smart home systems such as Alexa and Google Home, and the beauty of these devices is that you will be able to find information on what you need while completing other tasks. This is important as most people lead exceptionally hectic lives making anything that saves time a hugely desirable commodity.
This means that you should start thinking about optimising your site for voice searches in order to ensure you are at the top of the page rankings when searches that are displayed may be read out on these devices. This obviously depends on the products you sell as it is widely accepted that repeat buy items are benefited by voice search where as one-offs and unique things will generally remain as they are in terms of search strategy.
The good news is that the tactics you are currently using for SEO and content marketing are still very relevant. In essence the voice search is no different to a typed search the only difference being the length of the search query.
Your website, the amount of time it takes to load, it’s engagement (or lack of it) are all important factors too so here are some things you can do to improve it:
In order to rank high when a voice search is performed you need to have pages that load quickly. You should take a look at each page and remove unnecessary clutter, pieces of code that are weighing the site down, heavy images and anything else unnecessary. The faster your page loads the better.
If your site is not already on HTTPS then you need to incorporate it today! This is essential for SEO and so must be an essential part of your digital marketing campaign in 2019.
It is important to keep your answers short. Users are increasingly asking long questions but want short answers that can be easily digested on the move.
You should perform a voice search on some of your keywords regularly to see how high you rank and what pages are linked; this will help you to improve your marketing focus. It is important to remember that people will phrase the same question differently; you need to infer the intent of a question not the literal response.
Getting good quality of traffic to your website is only half the job. You need to make sure that the website is doing the best it can to convert those visitors. and , it doesn’t matter whether you have a Shopify powered website you use to generate sales or a WordPress site to generate leads leads – having an engaging website is a must.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – The Facts
Most marketing people don’t like to think about the conversion rate; after all marketing is about making people aware of your brand and getting them to visit your site. However as wonderful as it would be to have 1 million followers this is not much use if none of them are purchasing your products.
You must consider how to maximise your conversion rates. Whilst there are several great guides on this subject online, this section is about giving you a basic understanding of CRO and making your website more ‘conversion-friendly’.
The first step is to establish where the majority of your customers are coming from. You’ll probably find that an increasing share is coming via mobile devices. If your site is not optimised for mobile devices then you are going to lose conversions; people need to be able to see all the relevant information without having to scroll left and right continuously.
Your site needs to look good on a mobile device, be fast and be exceptionally easy to navigate – this is where my friends in UX come in. The longer a visitor spends on the site the more likely they are to become a customer. Don’t forget that people do still access websites on laptops and desktops, the screens are different sizes and your page needs to adapt to all of these sizes effortlessly and instantly. If you have an eCommerce website then simple things like showing when an item is out of stock will help customers not to waste time and help prevent them from leaving your site annoyed.
It’s also a good idea to create several mock sites and test them for conversion rates. This can help you to find the design that works best for converting visitors into customers. You can then change your official site to match.
Another key point is to answer the question of “why should I buy from you?” This is actually more important than what you are selling! Once people have connected to you and believe in your brand you’ll be able to guide them through purchasing your product. You can do this by making it instantly very clear what you do and what your values are.
You can do this with a prominent image and simple slogan. Although it’s simple, it will improve your conversion rate.
Conversion optimisation is intricately linked with leverage funnels. This is actually true for many of your digital marketing strategies and the reason why it can appear so complicated. A leverage funnel is the process of gently guiding the customer from their first awareness of you down to their ultimate purchase.
Not every customer will complete all the stages, hence the potential customer numbers will diminish creating the effect of a standard funnel. Getting this process right will help to ensure the maximum number of visitors possible will end up purchasing from your site.
The first stage is to identify the need. You’ve made the product but you need to let everyone know that they need it. This can be achieved through content marketing, SEO and social media, by illustrating your product and demonstrating its value, you’ll create a need for it.
Next you need to proceed to the second stage of the funnel, this is where potential customers will search for information regarding the product they now know they need. 70% of people will use a search engine to find out more info; you need to have your keyword orientated content ready to help them realise that you are offering the best product for their needs.
Stage three involves checking out the competition. This is when you need to have something unique on offer, whether it be an introductory discount or some other sweetener. If you’ve done these stages correctly the visitor will see your product as the logical choice and proceed to purchase.
At this stage you can attempt to up-sell a better version of your product or even use a down-sale to encourage the purchase. In addition you can link to other relevant products and increase your income via cross sales.
It is important to record the data from each customer, you will want to confirm the lifetime value of your best customers and offer them extra incentives as they past certain thresholds; this will help them to stay loyal.
People may tell you that content marketing is on the decline as more people use alternative ways to find the answers they need.
In fact the real threat to content marketing is the number of posts on the internet, all saying similar things. You need to design content that is unique, memorable and most of all, easy to read.
Content marketing remains one of the best ways to get your site established and known; with the right content and links you can build a good reputation. To do this you need to develop your content marketing plan today.
As mentioned all content should be original but it should also be relevant to the visitor. It can be difficult to make content personal but it is important as this will increase your conversion numbers.
Alongside this, some links to local and even national leaders of your industry will help to establish your reputation and advocate your brand. This will help you to get the visitors and conversions you need to stay competitive in 2019.
You probably won’t find it surprising to learn that video content is becoming increasingly popular. Videos can help a subject to seem more entertaining as well as allowing potential customers to feel like they are connecting with a real person in a more interactive and visual way.
Videos need to be short and informative but they are also a great way of showcasing a specific product. However, remember it’s a video so you need to treat it like a mini-film and create a storyline that shows the value of a product without needing to feature the product too much.
This will appeal to the emotional side of a potential buyer and increase your conversion rate. Don’t forget many visitors will only stay on your site for approximately 10 seconds; your video needs to get straight to the point!
If you can get someone to forget reality for a minute and make them laugh then your video is sure to gain more traction. Tagging it across different channels as much as possible will help it to be seen which in turn will increase the likelihood of it turning up in organic results.
Finally consider adding podcasts to your digital marketing strategy. A whopping 45% of podcast listeners have a household income above $75,000; that’s a lucrative market you want to be accessing.
A podcast can be listened to in the car, while working, cooking or even when doing the gardening. This means people can be finding out more about what you have to offer when they wouldn’t normally have the time to be surfing the internet.
The great thing about a podcast is that your latest podcast will be made available, via applications such as iTunes, without you needing to do anything. Your customers can access you without any effort and all you need is a script and somewhere to record it; the script doesn’t even have to be rigid.
You can also add advertisements into your podcast breaks which are surprisingly effective at creating sales.
The Bottom Line
Digital marketing in 2019 is set to become even more competitive as more and more businesses began to abandon traditional forms of advertising in favour of going digital.
Looking at the types of marketing in this article and the trends that are likely to prevail in 2019 can leave you feeling a little disorientated; but it doesn’t have to. By creating a plan you can tackle each of these elements one step at a time; ultimately creating and applying the perfect digital marketing plan for 2019. Of course, if you’re unsure in any way or need some extra guidance then you can simply ask for the advice and support you need.
It’s great to have someone there to help you, try us out today to see just how much we can benefit you!