The Internet changed the way businesses operate. It was just over two decades ago that less than 1 percent of the world population was online. Now nearly half of the earth’s seven billion residents are connected. They regularly scroll, click, share and buy.
History will show it is those who adapt that survive. For businesses, mere survival is not enough. They need to succeed. In today’s highly competitive online marketplace, this requires an aesthetically pleasing, search engine-optimized website that communicates a professional brand image.
It takes a creative, data-driven digital marketing strategy to build awareness and drive potential buyers to the site. This is an opportunity to create a brand image and ad campaign only limited by imagination and code. It is the chance to improve the customer experience and grow sustainable brand equity that yields higher revenue and deeper engagement.
Developing a seamless and impactful online experience requires planning, research and true brand discovery. Let’s look at the major components of a digital presence, and what to anticipate constructing a successful online marketing strategy.
Pouring A Solid Digital Foundation
At first glance, a business website is a virtual storefront that hosting companies will advertise as easy to create with their free drag and drop site builder. In reality, it is mission control for the digital extension of a brand image. It is a tool for data collection and lead generation. It is a central hub all other online communications point back to.
Pouring a solid foundation starts with choosing a domain and reputable web hosting company. If a professional web designer or digital marketing agency is not helping with this process, there are a few things to keep in mind. The domain should be easy to type and remember. Relevant keywords are important, but keeping it short and memorable is also important.
Web hosting is a complicated beast. Company email and website speed are both dependent on the quality of the host/hosting plan. For e-commerce sites, this decision can have a significant impact on sales, search engine placement, and conversion rates. Our advice: don’t automatically choose the least expensive option, and make sure they are available by phone.
At this point, it is important to consider the platform and purpose behind this endeavor. What is the goal of your website? Who are your buyers? What do your competitor’s websites look like? These answers can have a significant impact on the long-term sustainability and success of your efforts.
How Great Web Design Improves Conversion Rates & ROI
A study by Stanford shows 75 percent of users make a judgment about a company’s credibility based on the web design. Another study states the home page has less than eight seconds to connect with the user before they leave. This data reinforces the fact a company’s branding and website design is critical to online success.
Great web design arises from a clear understanding of the brand’s mission, target audience, and unique attributes. It relies on a combination of knowledgeable programming, creative direction, and search engine compatibility. The imagery, message, and color contrast of design elements all impact user behavior and conversion rates. It will either impress and convert or repel and confuse.
The use of negative space and strategically placed calls-to-action are also important. A great website is visually stunning with easy navigation and quick access to information that helps the visitor make an informed purchasing decision.
This includes brand assets such as:
- Downloadable brochures and customer forms
- Sales materials/presentations/videos
- High-impact photography of products and staff
- Blog authoring/case studies/white papers
- Associations and awards
Having these items in place will better inform your audience and reduce employee time to answer calls and questions. The website becomes a resource for the organization – a tool for lead generation, data collection, and extension of the brand experience. This is why finding the right web design company is essential to long-term success online.
To deliver a beautifully functional and consistent experience across all devices and browsers, the site must respond and adapt to the screen size and operating system. With over half of searches originating from a mobile device, this is a critical element to consider when choosing the platform and design.
Developing An Effective Online Presence
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. How many are relevant to your products and services?
For a brand to increase visibility in search engines and develop an effective online presence, it must know where its audience is, and what makes them purchase. It requires keyword and competition research with an understanding of user behavior and SEO. Knowledge of software, customer search intent, and an eye for future opportunities are key.
This process is an integrated multi-channel digital marketing strategy that builds authority and trust across the web. With purposeful communication, targeted advertising and off-site development, significant gains in traffic and search engine placement can be achieved.
Businesses can greatly benefit by developing buyer personas, to more accurately target their ideal customers while using some of the more popular digital marketing methods. This can help determine who the most likely buyers are through social media, PPC, email and other channels.
Let’s look at the most effective techniques being used today.
Creating a company profile on reputable directories such as Google My Business is a great way to start building an online presence beyond the website. Potential buyers use these outlets to analyze reviews before making a purchasing decision, get directions to a local business, and put trust in the information provided.
Some directory listings are more valuable than others. For instance, Better Business Bureau requires a paid membership. and the business is vetted before being listed. BBB.org also has domain authority over many other directories so search engines may recognize the business listing as more reputable and relevant. Furthermore, low quality or spam sites your business or link is featured on may hurt visibility.
One way to differentiate your brand and deliver valuable, persuasive media for each step of the buyer’s journey is through highly relevant digital content. This includes videos, infographics, ebooks, blog articles, case studies, and other web-based media that supports your mission and sales team.
The goal is to create great content others will be interested in, find valuable, share with colleagues, family or friends. Grab them with great design. Compel them to act with stellar copy. Content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing, and generates three times as many leads.
One way to maximize your content marketing investment is to create personalized content for the various segments within your audience. This allows for a more personalized customer experience, creating more value and trust in your outward-facing relationships.
Pay-per-click advertising accounts for roughly 27 percent of the clicks following a web search. It is the “right now” solution for driving immediate traffic to a site. The ability to target high-value leads, customize the buyer’s journey with dedicated landing pages, and retain previous visitors with retargeting make it a cost-effective channel to attract quality leads and build brand awareness.
A hyper-focused pay per click ad campaign gives you the ability to create relevant and timely ads to a highly targeted audience. Database segmentation also allows for a more personalized message, making a campaign more meaningful.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of techniques and tactics used to achieve high-ranking placement in organic search results for specific keywords. This includes both on-site and off-site strategies that should be performed by a reputable company with a track record of success. There are many roads to success with search engine optimization, some are simply longer routes (or dead ends).
If you expect to compete for the most coveted spots in search engine results for specific keywords and phrases, SEO should be a priority for your organization.
Cultivating a database with qualified leads and loyal customers to send communications that drive traffic to the website can be a valuable asset. With an attention-seeking subject line, professional design, and a compelling call to action, a company can experience a 3800 percent ROI with the most preferred corporate communication method by U.S. employees.
Social Media Marketing
Growing a loyal audience and staying connected to customers can be done in a more casual, creative setting. Social media provides a platform to communicate the personality and uniqueness of your brand. The right message and strategy can turn a brand from boring to bold and interesting. Whether approaching executives on LinkedIn, or marketing to millennials on Twitter, each channel has a format and function.
Social media scheduling tools can help better prioritize your time and more efficiently manage multiple channels. This is another element to an effective marketing automation strategy.
Deliver Unique, Relevant and Timely Advertising
The ability to reach the right buyers, with the right message, at the right time has never been more accessible or affordable to small and mid-size organizations.
New technologies and software create new opportunities for your business to deliver hyper-relevant advertising to a well-defined target audience. This may include a pay-per-click ad campaign that is only activated when a narrow set of keywords and search parameters are met. Or, CRM software that provides actionable data in real-time. The potential to improve your company’s lead generation, nurturing, and online advertising exists- and is exponentially growing.
Email, social media, search engines and smartphones have all contributed to a dramatic shift in consumer behavior in a very short period of time. Business owners need to understand how these changes impact their specific industry, and in turn, their company’s brand communications strategy. It is those who embrace and adapt to to these changes the quickest and most efficiently that gain an advantage.
As marketing automation software and programmatic advertising continue to evolve, organizations increasingly have the ability to meet consumer needs at the moment it matters. This may be after a search engine query. Checking email on a holiday weekend. Scrolling through a social media feed within a certain distance of a business.
Will your brand be visible? The message relevant? The delivery unique? That is up to you.
Activate Data-Driven Decision Making
Possession of the latest technology and relevant data does not automatically translate to success. The accurate interpretation, predictive analysis, and actions derived from that data will determine your results.
To activate data-driven decision-making requires leadership and in-depth research. You must have clear objectives and purpose. The rewards are more confidence in marketing investments and more impactful interactions with the audience. By aligning business and marketing decisions to analytics insight, organizations can accelerate progress and improve ROI in every instance.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
It is not just about data but accurately interpreting the right data. Website analytics such as bounce rate, time on page, and cost-per-conversion are insightful metrics that translate on how to improve your brand communications. PPC data helps you gauge search intent and identify the key terms most likely to lead to a conversion. CRM software reveals how a customer or lead interacts with the brand.
By incorporating a multi-channel strategy that reacts to new information quickly and intelligently, companies can accelerate success and exponentially improve the customer experience. It allows brands the ability to be flexible and change course as needed. They are then better able to spot early indicators of trouble to correct course.
Leaping the Digital Divide
For most organizations, a digital marketing strategy is a large investment in regards to both time and cost. The time to make that investment is now.
Online data and digital assets are comparable to accrued interest in that they acquire more value over time. Domain seniority and content marketing take time to develop and ad campaigns may run for days, weeks, or months. Depending on the size of an organization, it may take time to pivot and shift strategy and ad spend. Creating and executing a successful online presence often requires a revaluation of company goals and priorities. This can be a time consuming process.
Those who are not already engaged online have significant catching up to do. Companies that advertise online may be ahead of the game, but it is those who create a remarkable experience driven by data and great creative that succeed. They use every tool in the virtual toolbox to get ahead. While a lost opportunity cost is difficult to measure, it can be estimated by search volume, competitive analysis and other factors.
The Path Forward
Creating a successful marketing strategy requires significant cooperation between the marketing and sales teams. Hiring an agency to work closely with your company and manage your campaigns can provide several distinct advantages.
An experienced digital agency can make the most of your marketing investment while producing measurable results. They can track key performance indicators in real time and adjust strategies as needed. An agency also provides unencumbered, fresh perspective.
Ready to discuss a successful digital marketing strategy for your business? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.