Marketing and the web

An overview of how to leverage web technologies to achieve your marketing goals.

While many of us have become very familiar with apps to help us live through the pandemic, it begs the question, are we familiar with online tools to help us achieve our marketing goals?

This post is about the web technologies that can be used when planning an online marketing campaign. 

The beautiful thing about the internet is that it can give you all the answers you’re looking for. If you have an ad on Facebook, you can see how many people view it, interact with it, and how many people clicked on it. Moreover, you can then make changes based on this data to try to improve your post or ad. However, you need to have the right infrastructure to be able to take advantage of the internet to get there. The best way to ensure you’re leveraging the web to help you achieve your marketing goals is to make it part of your marketing campaign. 

Let’s start with a regular marketing campaign and how it relates to the web. A marketing campaign has 5 stages:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Development
  4. Execution
  5. Close-out

Initiation

Initiation

In the initiation step of the marketing campaign, you will establish the campaign goals. Example goals could be:

  • Increase Visits by X%
  • Increase Leads by X%
  • Increase Email Subscribers by X%
  • Increase Conversion Rates by X%
  • Increase Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Increase Sales Qualified Leads

Make sure you make your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Once you have your goals, you will notice that you have certain requirements. For example, if your goal is to increase the visits to your website by 10% compared to the prior quarter, you need to make sure you are tracking website visitors the quarter before the marketing campaign starts. 

Planning

Planing

Once your campaign is approved and goals are set. It’s time to start gathering the information you need to make this a reality. After the planning is complete, you should know which channels you will be using and what type of content you need for each one.

For example, your marketing campaign may dictate that you contact your target market in different ways such as:

  • Social media
  • Inbound marketing (Search engine optimization)
  • Search engine marketing

Contacting your market via social media will change depending on the platform. If you’re using Twitter, you will want to insert your company into the conversation by being aware of relevant hashtags for your target audience. However, if you’re on Facebook, you may try an approach that is more about posting in groups that are relevant to your audience or creating memes that will get people’s attention. 

Inbound marketing is all about long tail keywords. According to Wordstream, Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or when they’re using voice search. You will want to be a master of these keywords and create relevant content that will make your target audience visit your site. Ideally, your lead will submit their information and/or a sale will be made after the visit.

Search engine marketing involves paying a search engine like Google or Bing to appear on the search results. Because many people advertise online, search engines need to decide which ad to show based on keywords. Knowing about SEM will help you be the first result when you’re paying the search engines for advertising.

Next, you will need to decide what assets need to be created for this campaign. You may find that you need the following for your campaign:

  • Content
  • Landing page(s)
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Email sequences

It’s generally best to first create the main content since you can derive other content from it. Like social media posts or landing page content.

Here are some tools that can help you depending on your type of content needs:

If your campaign includes blogs:

What you want to do with these tools, is to find relevant topics that your audience will want to read. For example, you may find a new trend using Google Trends and then use SEMRush or BuzzSumo to find the articles that are already written about that topic and then decide what your articles can be about to differentiate yourself. 

If your campaign includes social media outreach:

Likewise, with social media, you want to interact with your audience. Finding the relevant hashtags for your brand may help you hone down on the message or engage with a public looking for your product or service. Moreover, tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite allow you to listen for mentions in social media about your brand. This allows you to quickly respond to comments and ensure great customer service or even get someone into your sales funnel quicker. 

If your campaign includes FB ads:

From the Facebook Audience Insights page, Facebook Audience Insights was designed to help marketers learn more about their target audiences, including aggregate information about geography, demographics, purchase behavior and more. For example, say you want to raise awareness for your women’s luxury fashion brand, and you sell your products in-store. You’d want to know how many people on Facebook live near your stores, as well as their interests, their past purchase behavior and how they tend to shop (online vs. in-store). Using Audience Insights, you can get aggregate and anonymous information such as:

  • Demographics — Age and gender, lifestyle, education, relationship status, job role and household size
  • Page likes — The top Pages people like in different categories, like women’s apparel or sports
  • Location and language — Where do people live, and what languages do they speak
  • Facebook usage — How frequently are people in your target audience logging onto Facebook and what device(s) they are using when they login
  • Purchases activity — Past purchase behavior (i.e. heavy buyers of women’s apparel) and purchase methods (i.e., in-store, online)

And you can view this information for three different groups of people:

  • People on Facebook (the general Facebook audience)
  • People connected to your Page or event
  • People in Custom Audiences you’ve already created (an audience made up of your current customers)

Audience Insights is different from Page Insights because it looks at trends about your current or potential customers across Facebook, whereas Page Insights looks at the interactions with your Page (i.e., likes, comments and shares).

If your campaign includes online ads:

You can use the same tools for content planning to create ads that people will click on. The great thing about Google Keyword Planner is that it’s using data from Google Adwords so it’s going to be very useful when understanding the different types of keywords that can be used for the same phrase. For example, you may have different results when adding in your ad “We services the Gainesville community” versus “We service you locally”. The Google Keyword Planner would help you choose the best keyword by giving insights into how likely each one is to convert.

Development

Development

No doubt that development is going to be the longest part of your campaign planning process. You need to prepare and coordinate with multiple people in your company or even several outside vendors and ensure everything is ready to go by the due date. It is important to remember that while everything has to be functional, you also need to be tracking engagement to be able to generate the final report and optimize the campaign. Among the things that would need to be done are: the design or the campaign, digital assets for the ads, social media postings, blogs posts, newsletters, etc. 

Web pages will have to be created as well. Keep in mind that it is not enough to have a website that works. Code will have to be installed to track visitors to the site, to track Facebook users, and to create retargeting audiences. Some of the code will need to be triggered on every page load, while other code only gets triggered based on different conditions. 

If you have content pages, make sure they are all connected and that you have a clear pilar page for SEO purposes. 

If you have a landing page, chances are you need someone to fill out a form to receive some lead magnet. Something to take into consideration is where will the subscriber information be sent to? Do you need it to be sent to a CRM? Or maybe a newsletter service? Perhaps a remarketing list? Sometimes is to one of these services, oftentimes to all of them. Automation of these sorts of tasks is very useful and will allow your team to be focused on high level tasks rather than mundane ones. 

Now that you have a website or web pages, it is time to optimize it. It is not enough for your page to load. Google has strict standards on what they consider a good page. These standards ensure people have a good user experience while online. For instance, if your page is not mobile friendly, Google will likely not show it for users navigating from their cellphones. The problem with this is that over 60% of searches are being initiated on smartphones. Then, you need to consider page speed. If a page takes over 3 seconds to load, Google categorizes it as a slow page and will penalize your ranking. This can affect the position of your ad. If you’re running an ad on Google AdWords and your landing page is slow to load, Google may not show your ad in a good position. Even if you’re paying them to do so!

Tools like Pagespeed Insights and Webmaster tools help understand how Google view our sites. To understand how your users navigate your site, you can use mouse tracking tools such as Hotjar. With Hotjar you can see how long someone was on your website, how far down they scroll in your site, how their mouse moved, and more! Gathering this information will help you optimize your page so that more people convert into customers. 

Other experiments you can do before launch are A/B test experiments. A/B testing (also known as split testing) is the process of comparing two versions of a web page, email, or other marketing asset and measuring the difference in performance. You do this giving one version to one group and the other version to another group. Then you can see how each variation performs. The great thing about doing this type of testing is that you can better understand your visitors and make it easier for them to accomplish their desired action, which will eventually help your bottom line. Tools to help with optimization are Google’s Optimize, Optimizely, and Crazyegg

Once all this work is done, don’t forget to set-up and schedule your different campaigns in your different platforms.

Execution

When a campaign is active, you want to monitor and track results. I have encountered customers in the past that have trouble understanding when or if a sale is made. Oftentimes this happens on bigger companies with different departments and different systems. If you’re in that position, it’s a good idea to integrate the different systems that are part of your campaign. For instance, a business development center may mark a customer sale on their system but not let the marketing department know that the customer converted. As a marketing professional, this would create a problem. A simpler version of this happens with AdWords. You may want to track which keywords are converting versus the ones that make people click but not convert. If you don’t install the AdWords code correctly on your website, you may not be able to tell. 

Make sure that you know which metrics are going to be important before launch and that you have a way of getting the data to calculate those very important metrics. 

Close out

Close-Out

In the close-out stage of your marketing campaign, you want to generate a report, update your marketing knowledge base and archive all assets and documents that were used in it.

Conclusion

Now that we have covered all that is entailed in making a marketing campaign on the web, I want to take a moment to go over how Onward Development can help in this process. 

As you noticed, building the different websites or web pages for a marketing campaign, requires a certain level of expertise. To this extent we have created a new product called Further Websites. Further websites are designed to be created with a quick turnaround time, they are optimized to be found by search engines and load fast. More importantly, we work with you so you don’t have to spend time learning how to code or figuring out how a template works to tweak it. 

Another product we have is Fuse Integrations. Fuse connects your different systems so information is always up-to-date. With Fuse, you can send information from your CRM to your marketing software if they have an API. For example, we have customers that deal with one software for candidate tracking and with a vendor for background checks. They need to be able to send a candidate to this other system and receive the results of the background check. If the systems were not connected, the HR person would have to do a manual process twice for each candidate they are considering. Fuse connects these systems so all the information goes back and forth between them and the HR person can save time. 

Finally, we offer custom software development. Custom software is built based on your business needs to solve your business problems. It can be a combination of things; for instance, a platform where users can register, receive a sequence of emails, then be able to pay online for your service or product. Meanwhile the information about this user can be sent over to other systems such as your CRM or any other database. 
If anyone here has thought about creating a new website, redesigning an existing one, integrating two systems, or creating a custom software or mobile app for their business, please contact us and let’s schedule a time to talk about your goals and how we can help you.

How to maximize your website for the new post COVID-19 digital consumer

All of our lives have changed. Now is common to order curbside, have video-chat happy hours, and attempt to work from home while we have kids demanding our attention. The new reality got us thinking: How does the post COVID-19 digital consumer look like? What changes does our business need to do to adapt to them?

COVID-19 is referred to as the great accelerator. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, summarized the pandemic period as

“two years of digital transformation in two months”

On average, it takes 2-8 months to form a habit. This means that for some people, they will continue to shop online for toilet paper, or order curbside at Target after the pandemic is gone. Further, it tells us that the way consumers behave is changing and this brings challenges and opportunities to our businesses.

Here are some numbers on how consumer behaviour is changing:

  • 50% of Drizly, an alcohol delivery app, users plan to keep buying alcohol using their app for the remainder of the year.
  • Clothing store Francesca saw a 50% drop in in-store traffic but a surge on online shopping. Now, they are building an iOS and Android app to connect with their customers.
  • Instacart is hiring hundreds of thousands more contractors to cope with demand. This period has been so good for them, they finally are not losing money. In fact, they expected to make $10 million in net profit in April.

Download our quick guide to Prepare your Business for the post COVID-19 Digital Consumer

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What does it mean for your business?

To answer this question we have to go back to the basics. How does the post COVID-19 digital consumer looks in your industry? What does your customer want? What problem are they trying to solve? How can your business help them?

And this is when you have to evaluate your website:

  1. Is it helping potential customers find your business?
  2. Does it help differentiate your company from the competition?
  3. Does it help you build credibility?
  4. Is it generating revenue for your business? Does it need to?
  5. How is it helping with delivering your offer or post-sales customer support?

How does your website help your customers find you online?

There are three main categories to consider here: SEO, Local Search, and Social Search. 

SEO

In an ideal world, when your customers look for anything related to your business, your website will show first on the search results. According to backlinko.com, being the # 1 search result gets you 31.7% of clicks for a given keyword. Being on the second page, gets you 0.78% of clicks. In summary, you want to be part of the top 10 results for strategic keywords so potential customers can find you. 

Local search

According to Google, Local results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their location. They’re shown in a number of places across Maps and Search.

Naturally, the context on which we use a mobile device varies. For example, we may use our smartphones to find a restaurant because we are on the go. Thesearchreview.com shows mobile search statistics. About 60% of searches are done on mobile devices while 72% of searches for food and beverages are carried using a smartphone. 

According to the findings, mobile searches tend to serve a more significant role in answering consumers’ questions earlier on the purchase journey, with navigational or brand-specific searches still more likely to be conducted from a desktop. Conversely, a desktop is used for more in-depth research. 

Adding a listing to Google or Bing Local Places can help your business be found by mobile searches more effectively. 

Social Search

Social search happens when search engines integrate your social graph (jargon for “the people you’re connected to via social media”), into their search results for relevant terms.

What this means is that an online review, or other relevant social media post, may appear next to a keyword. 

Being on top of your social media assets and reviews may help control what your possible customers encounter to show your most positive side.

In conclusion, now we know that your website will help your customers and future customers find you on any of their devices. Plus, you should be intentional about what keywords and phrases you use on your website copy to ensure you are ranking for the keywords that will attract more of your ideal visitors. 

How does your website help your business stand out from the competition?

Listing your products online

It may sound obvious but your website should present the product or services you offer. 81% of consumers start their buying journey online. If you don’t have your product or services listed; first, people won’t find you; second, you may be discarded from consideration since you are not clear about what your product or service does. Moreover, these consumers may be collecting data for 79 days before deciding to make a purchase. 

Not only the products should be listed, they should also be described in a compelling way. At a minimum, talk to your ideal customer in the copy and use the benefits to sell them a vision of what the product will do for them. If you want to take it a step further, use superlatives but make sure to back them up with data. Or use sensory adjectives to paint a picture of what could be. While you are at it, write a story to lower rational barriers against persuasion techniques. Finally use social proof to take them over the finish line.

How does your website build credibility about your business?

Your website is a great way to build credibility for your business. Think about all the great interactions your business has with your customers. Then, think about how your customers use social media. Put them together and you can have a powerful tool to create word-of-mouth about your business. Word of Mouth marketing impression results 5x more sales than a paid media impression and people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend. Therefore, displaying positive social media posts from your customers in your website, should help you increase credibility with your visitors. Testimonials collected by your team should have a similar effect. 

Other ways to  build credibility are to highlight your team, partnerships, and awards. It’s always good to show the human side of your business, let the user know more about your personality as a company while highlighting the expertise that your team has. 

Moreover, you can build expertise by sharing industry articles, creating a blog that includes industry news and thought-leadership pieces; plus, news about your company. According to ThriveHive, there are statistics to show that:

  • The custom content from blogs warms prospective customers up to your business.
  • Businesses that blog generate more leads than businesses that don’t.
  • Blogging can sometimes be just as effective, if not more, in promoting your company than through advertisements.
  • Blogging helps buyers find you.

Generated content can then be used to enter the conversation via social media. If your audience sees you as adding to the conversation, they may perceive you as an authority in the field as well. 

Ensure your website has some of the discussed elements before it’s launched. You want to make sure your clients perceive you as an authority and trust you will do a good job.

Generate revenue

At first thought, we may think that the only way a website may make money for a business is by selling products online. After all, we all use Amazon. But looking closer at ways a website can generate revenues for us, we would find that our site could:

  • Collect money
  • Create estimates and quotes
  • Offer physical and digital products online
  • Offer services online
  • Offer real-time chat to help answer customer’s questions and close sales

Collect money

It’s very likely that the post COVID-19 digital consumer will not want to go to a location and pay in person. Therefore, having the ability to collect money online is very useful and can become essential to doing business even after the pandemic ends. 

Notice the difference between collecting money online and over the phone. When you collect money over the phone, you will need a staff person to stop what they are doing and collect the credit cards details. Then, they will either process it on a machine or call a number to get authorization. After, they would have to notify the customer. In short, it’s a cumbersome process. Contrast this with collecting money online, the customer clicks on a link, enters their details and gets immediate confirmation of the payment. Your staff will not be interrupted and money will be collected.

Create estimates and quotes 

If you have a service business, it is very likely you have to send several estimates or quotes per month. Remember how it takes 79 days to close a sale after a consumer starts doing research? Having a tool in your website to provide estimates, can help bring customers when they are researching for different providers. It will indicate that it’s easy to do business with you and that you understand how the selling process works. Providing an estimate tool may be a way to get a visitor’s information as well. 

A quote is going to be created in the final steps of the selling process. Imagine if you could create a quote online and not online send it digitally but your customers can sign it and pay online. This can save many emails and remove friction from the process. 

Offer online physical or digital products

An e-commerce solution is a straightforward way of making money online. Visitors come to the site and decide if your offering is worth their money. If it is, they pay online. Then, they will wait for 3-5 days (longer times during COVID-19) to receive their physical product, or expect to download their digital product right away. 

Your business can sell gift cards (digital products), as well as, branded products such as t-shirts, or hats online and create a new revenue stream. 

Offer services online for the post COVID-19 Digital Consumer

Most web and mobile applications are online services; from book-keeping to health services, everytime we think of an app, it’s very likely it is a service. Providing services online is a scalable way of providing a service. 

Your business can provide a free way to schedule appointments with your consultants to determine if a project is viable or even sell online consultations. 

Real-time answers to questions

Artificial intelligence is opening the door for new technologies to be used to help increase your sales. A chatbot could help answer frequently asked questions to your onlines visitors. Eventually, they could even collect payment information and generate sales for your customers. For now though, they can help quickly identify a support visit versus a sales visit and redirect leads to a sales person when appropriate. According to Neilpatel.com, about 79% of people use live chat and over half (57%) prefer to use it when they are trying to make a decision about a product. Lastly, having a live chat functionality on your site, can improve your site conversions up to 45%. 

Provide customer support; incentivize repurchase + referrals

Well congrats! You did an online or offline sale. How can your website help you now?

Deliver the product

We discussed how your site can be created to actually provide the product or service. An often missing piece is that the website can help with giving an excellent customer experience right after the sale. Imagine if you send your customer a link with a video explaining how the new product works, or even a list of frequently asked questions. These are ways in which you can create excitement while the customer is waiting for the product to be delivered. 

Streamline operations

On the operations side, your business may start small and you could retain in your mind everything that needed to happen. As your business grows, however, you are going to start needing systems to help deliver the product or service. Your website could become an extension of this system or being updated accordingly to provide a better customer experience. Moreover, if you are using multiple systems, you can create your own to streamline operations and fulfill more orders with the same amount of people. 

Organized support strategy

Now that you have a customer and have delivered a product, you may need to provide support. A combination of support may be required nowadays: phone, emails, and web. Your website will more than likely be the first place where your customers go for help. Are you making it easy to find support? Offering a dedicated support website is a great idea, linking from your main website is a must. For support, you may have a frequently asked questions section, a knowledge base to get into more details, and live chat with a support agent. All of this functionality can live in your website or be a separate entity on its own. 

Capture customer sentiment

Finally, if you ever want to ask for referrals or recommendations, how do you know who to ask? This is where understanding what your customers think of your business or service comes handy. Your website can be used to collect information about its visitors but also about your customers! 

Collecting information about your visitors can help understand consumer behaviour and help you identify what has to be changed on the website to increase your online sales or conversions.

Collecting information about your customers can help identify how happy your customers are with your business and how likely they are to refer others to your business. The Net Promoter Score®, or NPS®, measures customer experience and predicts business growth. This proven metric transformed the business world and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs around the world.

Conclusion

As you can see, your website can be a strategic tool that enables your business to increase sales, improve operational efficiencies, and/or delight your customers. For many businesses, their website is all three things. Are you maximizing your web presence for the post COVID-19 digital consumer? If not, consider talking to experts about your options. 

Once you understand what a website can do for you, it will open the doors to see how it fits into your overall strategy. COVID-19 is changing not only the way consumers behave online, but also the way we do business. Now is the perfect time to reassess your digital strategy and revamp your website if needed. 

Download our quick guide to Prepare your Business for the post COVID-19 Digital Consumer

Download now

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