Digital marketing never stays static. As a business owner what do you need to know to stay ahead of your competition? Let’s start with 10 ways to make your website perform better and then look a few innovations you’ll need to consider in 2018:
Thanks to Tim Butler, founder of Innovation Visual (contact details at the bottom), for providing these excellent tips.
1. Know your numbers
Use Google Analytics and ensure you are tracking goals on your website; e.g. people filling out contact forms and clicking on phone numbers. Without the correct information, you won’t know how well your website converts.
2. Improve your search visibility
Advertise on relevant search terms using Google AdWords and Bing adCenter. You only pay for people that actually click on your ads and therefore go to your website. This is the fastest way to drive relevant prospects to your website. But beware; by not having carefully targeted campaigns, you can spend a lot of money and get no results.
3. Get your website found long term
Make sure you have what you want to be found for in your main headings; ensure that your meta titles and descriptions are well written and again contain the phrases you want to be found for; change generic titles like ‘Services’ to specific titles, for example ‘what we do’; ask your suppliers and customers for links from their website; and make sure that your Yell, Thompson and Google Business Page all link to your website.
4. Ensure it is HTTPS
Google is now alerting people when a website isn’t over HTTPS, which is the encrypted standard for websites – if yours isn’t, it will put people off. It also has a significant impact on your search ranking.
5. Ensure your website is fully mobile friendly
Check your website by using Google’s mobile website checker. Like the HTTPS issue this isn’t something that you can fix without professional help, but it is essential as now more than 50% of all UK website traffic is from mobile.
6. Make your content current
Has your website got a regularly updated blog? Get your staff to write blogs, incentivise them and report on the amount of traffic that different blogs generate.
7. Provide information for buyers at different points of their journey
Websites are used for research and investigation. Defining whether they have a need at all is the start of the customer buying journey and then they progress through a series of stages to define their requirements, consider the alternatives and evaluate what is best. If you provide information at all stages of their buying journey you can engage with them sooner and start influencing their decision.
8. Help don’t sell
Create content that helps, not sells. Think about what questions your customers might have along the buying process, from defining whether they have a need all the way through to the final product comparisons. The more you set out to help your visitors in a non-sales way, the more you will sell.
9. Include calls to action
Include calls to action. Go through your website and look at every page – Do you give the visitor a definitive call to action on every page? – Is the call to action appropriate to the page it is on?
10. Keep working on your website
Keep working on your website. It will never be ‘finished’. Use the data to guide your actions. Make sure you’re setting time aside for this every week, and if you cannot, then engage with experts that can do it for you.
Digital marketing is constantly changing and you need to be aware of the changes and the opportunities these present if you’re to stay ahead. Here’s what to look out for 2018:
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a significant force in marketing. Machine learning – the ability for AI to learn and improve itself without explicitly being programmed has seen the functional scope of what is possible expand rapidly in recent years. Marketing is at the forefront of AI use. Google’s AdWords and Facebook both use AI to refine who is shown what adverts.
Voice Search & Digital Assistants
The most commonplace use of AI is in the digital assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google Home’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. There are an estimated 50 billion searches per month now activated by voice.
The main impact areas from voice search are:
- Only the first result is read out by devices so being number two in the results now has little benefit.
- Voice searches tend to be longer and more sentence based than typed search queries. Start optimizing your content for themes, not rigid sets of keywords.
- The AI is retaining the context of what has been said before, which means that the results provided are dependent on this and increasingly granular personalisation.
- A large majority of voice searches are being done on mobile devices. Searches like ‘find a coffee shop near me’ take into account the user’s geo-location data to provide results.
- If you ask Amazon’s Alexa to order you a large peperoni pizza one will arrive from Domino’s. You do not get the choice. Being the chosen supplier or being number one in results gives massive market power when voice search is going direct to transaction.
Yes, Smarketing. The theory is that businesses need to stop thinking about Sales and Marketing as two separate functions. A potential customer views a potential supplier in singular terms. To them the experience they have with that business should be consistently good throughout their buying journey. So, they should not experience a dramatic change in tone, approach, content or even offering when they move from browsing a website to being contacted by a sales person.
Helpful chat boxes in the corners of websites have become increasingly popular. This year we’ll see better chatbots as the technology becomes more mainstream and mistakes that have come before are learnt from and improvements are made.
Bots can now integrate with existing messaging Apps such as WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger by inviting the Bot to join a conversation. This will make bots much more prevalent in 2018 and just like voice search make their use by people habitual not exceptional.
The rise of inbound
Digital inbound marketing continues to gain ground and is set to become as mainstream as having a mobile friendly website for B2B companies.
Inbound also feeds into the trends from search engines to look for content and optimizing for themes. Building great content is great for your visitors, the search engines know this, but inbound marketing and content marketing places the emphasis on getting this content to achieve the business goals.
If you follow inbound marketing techniques you create your content in a much more structured way. Content is focused on specific audience groups, personas, and their needs. Their need for information changes through their buying journey and good inbound marketing addresses not only the differing content needs at different stages, but crucially also moves the prospect along the buying journey.
Tim Butler is founder of Innovation Visual, a digital marketing consultancy specialising in developing your online presence and digital communications. Using the latest techniques in SEO, PPC and online content creation, Innovation Visual is an award-winning Google, Bing and Hubspot Partner, and works to increase conversion rates, basket values, and return frequency. See: