Want to make sure you’re using your digital marketing budget effectively? Here, Natwest’s Marcelino Castrillo gives us his guide to developing a successful online strategy.
(1) Content is king
Creating interesting and useful content for your website can be a great way to show your audience that you understand them and that you’re an expert in your field.
If your site sells clothes, then just publishing information about the products will make you an also-ran. But if you run a blog that highlights the latest fashions and gives visitors help and advice on choosing the best items for their wardrobe, that will elevate your site to the next level.
(2) Make your site work on all devices
The web isn’t just used by people on desktop computers. For many types of site, the dominant visitor is a mobile user. In all, 42 per cent of UK online sales are made via a mobile or tablet device, with three out of five visits to retail websites made via mobile, according to figures from IMRG and Capgemini published in August 2015.
So by ignoring – or actively discouraging – the mobile audience, you’re effectively cutting your audience and revenue potential by 50 per cent. Additionally, you could also be affecting your ranking with Google. The search engine has revealed that a site’s mobile-readiness is one of the few criteria that it admits to using in the way it ranks sites, with download speed being the other.
(3) Digital doesn’t mean an end to the personal touch
In the past, shop staff would know their audience. They would know who’d bought what and when, and tell their best customers when new stock that they may like would be available.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue that personal service online. A well-targeted, personalised email, a direct message on Twitter or a text message to your best customers will make them feel that you’re thinking about them and that they’re not just another email address.
(4) Understand your digital audience’s needs
Content may be king, but understanding context also goes a long way to making a sale, especially on mobile websites. Mobile users want different things to desktop users. A PDF of a restaurant menu is easy to read on a desktop, but it’s just another reason for a mobile user to click elsewhere.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a company’s details on a mobile phone, then a key contact method will be a phone number, not an email address or a web form. So make sure phone numbers are displayed prominently on your mobile site. Maps, addresses and directions for locating the business are also essential.
(5) Act global but keep local
Advertising on the web gets your message worldwide, but if you’re a restaurant or a garage then any marketing spent outside your core area is wasted. Make sure your digital marketing is targeted to your region. Search-engine key phrases and website content should reflect that local aspect, and reference local awards and other local media, for example: “voted best garage in Horsham by listeners of BBC Radio Sussex” or “best supermarket in Acton”.
(6) Become part of a digital community
Communities can be one of the most effective ways of creating a buzz and sending traffic to your site. From Facebook groups for your local area to LinkedIn groups for your type of business, communities can take many forms.
Find the right groups and follow them, then once you’re confident enough, contribute to discussions and start your own topics. If a community doesn’t already exist, then launch your own. It’s easy to do, but remember that communities are like gardens – they need tending and they like attention. If they’re neglected, they’ll end up as an eyesore and work against you.
(7) Be creative
By adding video and picture resources to your digital marketing strategy, you can create more engagement with your audience and grab their attention quickly and effectively, particularly when posting on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
If you’re looking for the youth market, then photos on Instagram and video on YouTube are essential. If you can’t create your own images, digital library sites like Shutterstock and Getty Images allow you to buy professional quality images relatively cheaply.
(8) Create adverts that follow you around
If you visit any major brand website, you’ll notice that for some time after you leave the site, the items you viewed will start to pop up on other completely unrelated websites. This is known as remarketing or retargeting, and it can be effective, especially where a customer has abandoned a shopping basket. According to 2016 figures from Baymard, the shopping-cart abandonment rate is over 68 per cent. If just 5 per cent of those carts were converted, that would represent an increase of 20 per cent in turnover.
(9) Harness the power of the hashtag
Twitter and Facebook are effective ways of reaching a wide audience, but they can be expensive to advertise on. If you’re clever, though, you can use both without paying a penny in advertising.
Search for hashtags that relate to your industry and see which are the most popular, then start reaching out using those hashtags. Answer questions from people using the hashtags, make observations using them, and you’ll soon see traffic to your site grow.
(10) Don’t forget offline
The digital world is not an island, and retailers who forget this fact are missing a trick. More and more online businesses are realising that there’s still an opportunity for digital media products to advertise offline and exploit the high street as a shopping channel. For example, Amazon has recently opened up a bookstore and retailers ASOS and Net-a-porter both have print magazines, while one of the most successful ecommerce initiatives has been the click-and-collect services pioneered by Next, John Lewis and Argos.
And now for something different – read our expert’s top five tips for startups when pitching to investors.
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