By Tina Judic, Managing Director at digital marketing agency, Spring Digital.
The current economic climate is undoubtedly driving more and more people online in search of bargains and discounts. It doesn’t look like this trend is set to slow down any time soon either, regardless of how long the ‘r-word’ lasts. In fact, current statistics* show that over one half the population will be online buyers by 2013.
And, with online advertising overtaking TV expenditure in Britain for the first time (IAB), the web is no longer a corporate after thought. It’s a part of our commercial landscape, and the competition is hotting up. This means that getting digital marketing right is of vital importance.
For better or for worse
Digital marketing doesn’t have to be a marriage. Of course, it requires commitment, focus, and an understanding of what the final goal is, but it doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. You make the rules, so you can easily change the rules.
For example, email campaigns can be sent on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Paid search campaign budgets can be adjusted on a daily basis. You can dictate the commission you will pay through your affiliate marketing programme. And, you can blog and tweet at your own free will!
Know your analytics
What is your site’s bounce rate is? How long do customers stay on your site? What journey are they most likely to take? What percentage converts into customers? Knowing the answers to these questions gives you all the ammunition you need to start making decisions with your digital marketing strategy.
If you don’t have the information, then sign up to Google Analytics, a free analytics tool that you can use to understand your site’s performance. For a short period of time, and for a small fee you can make use of a heat-mapping tool on your site (there are many suppliers out there), to understand where your users are clicking as well as understand your website hotspots.
Get your site right
Getting your website right, targeting your audience correctly and giving them the information they need to convert to a customer is key to your success. An attractive site is no good if the user can’t understand the navigation or if the customer can’t easily place an item into their shopping basket. Equally, commercial websites makes no sense if they aren’t built around conversion.
A user will land on a website from varying mediums – these users are now becoming more savvy, more expectant and less patient - you need to ensure they take positive action. There are many companies who will gladly offer you a free or low-cost website audit, to provide you with greater insight into your site performance and how you can make further improvements.
Get the Balance Right
In general, online advertising is typically a far less expensive form of acquisition than offline marketing. However, with so much to choose from, costs can mount and direction is easily lost. Finding the right mix means expertly coordinating each project, and developing those areas that deliver the highest reward.
It’s important to define your goal, define your budget, and then you can determine which online mediums you want to engage.
But there’s so much to choose from
There’s no major rule you should follow, however, recent research by e-Consultancy highights that paid search-marketing accounts for approximately 24% of marketing budgets, search engine optimisation 15% and social media 5%. The internet provides so many touch-points, so many opportunities to engage with customers - it’s about how best to reach these customers, at the best ROI possible.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engines are the largest gateways between customers and your brands’ website. You can quickly set-up, for free, paid search campaigns in the key search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. Whether you choose to spend £10 a day or £10,000 a day is your choice as you have sole management over your budget.
The key is to establish the keywords that are working for you (are they returning good return on investment?) and to adjust, amend or remove those that aren’t. Far too many companies risk wasting so much money on paid search campaigns, simply because they don’t understand the detail of their campaigns. If you don’t understand, speak to an agency who can help manage your spend against your budgetary and conversion objectives.
Search Engine Optimisation is not as immediate but following some simple rules will set you on the right path; Include the core keywords in your domain name, page title and article title. Check your sites for dead links. Ensure the content on your site, and specifically your landing page, is relevant to the keywords you are trying to optimise (and don’t forget to add relevant content to your meta data).
Update your site and pages often – search engines like this immensely and, generally, give priority to regularly updated sites. Create and submit a sitemap to the search engines. SEO is gaining a larger focus in the online space – think relevancy, visitors and measurement and you can start to make some headway at no cost or, again, engage an agency to take you to the next level.
Social media covers all sorts of platforms including Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and, of course, all forms of blogs. They are all platforms that focus on one thing - good content. If you have good, relevant content to share, people will read it, link to you, and follow you. Social media can prove to be one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a broader audience, as long as you have something to say.
Affiliate marketing is another great way to manage your spend effectively as it is all ROI based. You determine how much a sale is worth for you to acquire and affiliates can drive these customers to your site. Best of all, you pay only when that visitor converts into a sale. It couldn’t make measurement any easier.
Directories and other listings
Directories are worthwhile tools. There are a number of free directories out there where you can list your business as a provider. Search them out online and submit your site.
Test, test and test again
Numbers don’t lie. Online marketing is transparent and provides a measurability that isn’t always apparent through traditional media, whatever the online methods you choose. In this way, online marketing provides companies the ability to test a wide array of tactics, evaluate, which mediums are generating the best responses, and then adjust the marketing programme accordingly.
Retailing tycoon John Wanamaker once said: “I know that half my advertising doesn’t work, the problem is I don’t know which half.” We’re lucky in the digital world in that we don’t really have this problem. Just about everything can be tracked, logged and managed to check it’s getting results, allowing you to continually test performance, time and time again.
Managed correctly, you can have a highly competent digital marketing strategy, whatever budget. Getting the strategy right means healthy ROI leads and the potential for growth. In other words, a starting point of £10 a day could grow to £000’s over time. If the strategy is well managed, you don’t have to have deep pockets to be big online.
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