Why Businesses Should Take A Holistic Approach To Online Marketing
Today's Internet connects millions of disparate buyers and sellers together from around the globe. For users there's also an increased sense of immediacy, be that access to information, products or services. So for any business, the split-second it takes to present us with a list of relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) could prove to be the deciding factor in its ability to tap into a suitable buying audience and ultimately its success.
As an increasing amount of businesses now choose to promote their services online, advertising their products on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, the competition has become extremely fierce making it harder to get noticed. For this reason many forward-thinkers have turned to online marketing to try to give them a competitive advantage.
Promoting Your Business Online
So, how do you go about successfully promoting your business online? As a pre-requisite you will need a web presence that portrays your business in the most positive, attractive manner as possible. It needs to look clean, fresh and modern, be easy to use, responsive in nature (adapting to the users device) and have quick page load speeds.
Next you'll need traffic, but not just any traffic, relevant buying traffic. To achieve this you'll need to advertise your website in a targeted fashion to people interested in what you have to sell. There are a number of different methods at your disposal including, but not limited to; Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay-Pay-Click (PPC)& Remarketing, Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO), Social Media and Email marketing.
We group these into different categories which we at Promote affectionately call “VCR" (Visibility, Conversion, and Retention).
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - Visibility
There are two main factors to consider with SEO; on-page and off-page. On-page factors are those we can directly control such as the semantics of the HTML mark-up or code used to develop the site. It is the underlying code and the meaning of the tags used within that sends out your message to the search engines. To illustrate this in simple terms consider a newspaper front page without a headline. Not only would that look strange but at a quick glance the reader would get no sense of the subject of the article. Similarly a web page without a heading <h1> tag would be less attractive to the likes of Google. In some cases we may think we have what looks like a headline but if it is not marked up correctly then the semantics are totally lost. The good news is that we can greatly influence a websites ranking for specific phrases simply by optimising the code. Conversely, off-page factors are not directly controllable. For example. the most basic signal search engines use are backlinks; in crude terms the more you have from trusted external sites the greater the credibility given to your site and the better it will rank.
When it comes to undertaking your SEO campaign it's also vital to understand what keywords and phrases to target. These are the search terms that are commonly entered into a search engine that are related to your products and services. By understanding which keywords to use (you can analyse using keyword tools), you'll be able to work out search volumes, competitiveness and ultimately a keyword efficiency index (KEI). For example:
No. Searches/No. Results = KEI
The higher the KEI the easier the ranking should be to attain and the more prudent that phrase would be to target on the assumption it's relevant for your buying audience.
Keywords and a concept called LSI (latent semantic indexing) can then be used as part of a content marketing strategy to attract a search engine to rank your site for your chosen phrases. Whilst Google and others go through algorithm updates adding, removing and adjusting the importance of key signals, the fundamental approach to SEO has remained constant over the last decade. This is why SEO is seen as the best way to establish a long-term presence within a search. A well-structured SEO campaign should start delivering results within the 1-2 months; any longer and you're using the wrong agency.
Pay Per Click (AdWords) & Remarketing - Visibility
If SEO is the long-term holy grail of online advertising then PPCis more short-term and immediate because you are paying for the privilege of appearing. Nevertheless,you can produce great results with a correctly structured campaign. Unfortunately many businesses are lured into PPC without a true understanding of best practice and for that reason PPC could also be viewed as a “stupidity tax". In very simple terms your adverts are placed within search results whenever the keywords you define are searched for by the user. There are other variants but typically the process guarantees that you'll literally 'pay-per-click' only when somebody clicks on your advert – so PPC can offer a fantastic way of driving a great volume of targeted traffic to your website, in a relatively short space of time especially if your organic rankings from SEO are not so visible. Where you appear in terms of adverts position is a based on something known as AdRank made up of Google's quality score and the amount of your bid. The highest bidder does not necessarily get the top spots.
Remarketing takes this to another more cost effective level by showing typically banner adverts to users who may have previously visited your site but did not take any action. These adverts stealthily follow you as you browse and depending upon previous pages visited can deliver different targeted offers. For example if you sell toasters and user was browsing a specific toaster product landing page we could remarket back to them via a banner on a 3rd party website with a voucher code for a percentage discount off an electrical appliance. The ability to target users who have previously shown an interest in a particular product and entice them to buy with a personalised offer is an extremely powerful tactic.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – Conversion
So, by now you've invested in getting relevant targeted traffic to your site but what if the enquiries and sales are not forthcoming? What can we do? This is the time to look at CRO. In order to do this you need to first define the goals for your site and then look at how to increase the fulfilment of those goals i.e. the number of conversions that result.
Two key concepts to consider in CRO are “visual match" and “word connect". Just as prospective property buyer may form an opinion about whether they like the property or not within a few seconds of a viewing, a consumer sub-consciously undertakes a similar evaluation of your website. Did your site meet their expectations from an imagery and wording perspective? Does the site instil confidence about the people and the business behind it? Are the functions and features of the site easy to use? Is it easy to for the user to navigate and find what they are looking for?These are just a few examples of factors to consider. Getting these basics wrong results in high bounce rates and low conversion rates. There is little point throwing good money into online marketing if the site you are taking them to lets you down.
Social and Email Marketing – Retention
Social Media has immense reach however is not right for every business regardless of the hype surrounding it. Even when it is applicable you may want to be selective in which channels you actively engage with. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn are the main players each having their own pros and cons. Facebook is worthy of special note due to the ability to accurately target and segment selective groups of users who are interested in your products or services via Facebook Ads. These users can be marketed to very cost effectively compare to more mature approaches such as PPC and lend themselves to increasing visibility and customer retention.
Email Marketing still continues to provide an extremely low cost way to promote offers and keep existing customers informed about your business with a view to retaining their current and future custom. Just remember to offer your customer a simple way to unsubscribe and be aware of GDPR for collecting consent and storing personal data.
Taking A Holistic Approach
Whether it's due to time, cost or skill constraints many businesses pick and choose their which online advertising methods to use. However, it's only by taking a holistic approach and engaging in multiple disciplines that you will truly be able to succeed online - and continue to make it a success going forward.
For more information on digital marketing, call our friendly team today on 0845 050 2500.