Despite this, the core areas of digital marketing still hold true. Here are 101 tips that will help your business, whether you are operating on a small or larger scale, and help get you the results you need from your online marketing over the coming years.
By using a Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, found at URLs beginning with https:// (as opposed to merely https://), you are able to provide your customers with peace of mind regarding their sensitive information. SSL indicates that a two-key encryption service is being used, safeguarding any commercial transactions made, and any personal data being transferred, for example when logging into an online portal. Google indicated early on that https and online security would become a factor in search, calling for "https everywhere" back in 2014, and it's now baked in as part of its ranking algorithm. What's more, that extra assurance can make all the difference to your prospective customers.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – the same rule applies to SEO. If you use exact keywords in your anchor text for footers, you will be guilty of over-optimisation. Google has become increasingly savvy to this and your rankings will suffer as a result.
The same principle of over-optimisation discussed above in relation to footers also applies to landing pages. For example, avoid landing pages with the titles: “Plumber in London”, “Plumber in East London” or such like. This reads awkwardly for the customer, and will potentially lead to a loss in rankings. Think of the user first, and the rest will follow.
Semantic keyword targeting is getting better and Google's knowledge graph smarter every second. Write naturally and in detail, inserting keywords without disrupting the rhythm of the editorial. Not only will this make for a better and smoother reading experience for the user, but it will sit better with Google and future-proof your content as well.
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and it's no surprise that mobile has taken over from desktop as our preferred device to get online driven largely by our love of Social Media and video. Google itself has been very vocal about its intention to promote sites which have mobile capabilities and content optimised for speed (take the Google-backed Accelerated Mobile Pages project, for example).
Google loves content that loads fast, as will your users. In particular, time to first byte is essential when dealing with page load speed as it has been shown that this correlates to higher rankings. Every second counts as even a one second delay has been shown to mean up to a 7% drop in conversions. A user’s first impression of your site makes all the difference, and if they are being made to wait around, they’re unlikely to come back and you may lose out to your nearest competitor.
Building links and a social rapport is important, but even more important is who you’re building this rapport with. Find out who has the influence and leverage this. Seek out authoritative authors (Google ranks individual authors, too) and attempt to build contact with them, whether it’s through sharing a blog or establishing a mutual partnership.
Blogging every day isn’t necessary if you haven’t got anything to say. Google can see when content is not engaged with, so make sure you only upload and update when you have a relevant and valuable message. Having said that, you’ll still want to keep your updates regular.
It’s no good gaining links from poorly ranked sites. In fact, an overabundance of cheap and unhelpful links can actually detract from your SEO performance. Think quality not quantity. One juicy link from a well-trusted, authoritative site can make all the difference.
This can’t be stressed highly enough – on-site housekeeping is imperative. Check for broken links, duplicate content, faulty media, etc. Make sure your site is in full working order – the more regularly you check-in here, the easier it will be to respond to issues faster so that you can fix any problems before they’re noticed by the user.
Ad copy testing is often overlooked. It is one of the best ways to improve click-through rate (CTR), and also helps benefit your quality score (QS). Improving your QS also helps you bring down your costs per click (CPCs).
If something works, keep doing it! Invest slightly more on the best performing ads to gain greater visibility. As above though, testing is crucial to make sure that your return on investment (ROI) is acceptable and that the extra outlay is worth it.
After testing has allowed you to determine which ads are performing better than others, pause the one which is languishing at the bottom of the league table. This will free up funds to try new alternatives. And hey, if they don’t work out, you can always go back to the previous ad; this way your performance will always be improving and you'll keep up with any changes in the ad auctions to stay competitive.
If you use Google Analytics, link it with your AdWords account. Having the data flowing freely between AdWords and Analytics saves so much time and hassle it is pretty much a no-brainer; not only is it more efficient, but it will also keep your site in good order and help you optimise for conversions.
Running searches on top-performing keywords could open up new avenues of traffic that you didn’t know existed. Potential keyword variations can be tested out to see if they generate more visitors to the site. Even with RankBrain launching in 2015, around 15% of all searches made daily in Google are still brand new to the search engine, so there's always opportunities emerging. Keep searching!
Since Google has changed the rules that govern “exact match,” don't assume that you are eliminating traffic you don't want by using only exact match. Continue to run query reports to find any potential negative keywords, and eliminate them to avoid wasted spend.
When it comes to network targeting, you can expand your potential customer base by targeting audiences similar to the ones you've already acquired for your business – segmenting by demographics, consumer interests and even online behaviours. For example, if you already target 19-25 year-old males from the UK, and they are a profitable audience for your products, why not consider expanding to 25+ year-old males? This may sound simple but is something that is overlooked by many businesses who are happy with what they’ve already got. Always be hungry for more.
There have been so many changes in the last couple of years aimed at improving the local search user experience. If it is appropriate for your business, make the most of these; localised searches can be very powerful and cost-effective if done correctly.
With changes to Google broad match and exact match, long-tail keywords have all but been killed off for small budget advertisers. Consider going for a small, well-researched group of keywords that fit within your budgets.
There’s no point in having great copy and spending a small fortune on ad placement if the landing page when clicked on is not relevant to the ad itself or what the user is searching for. Too many businesses simply direct traffic to their homepage and not the page relevant to the ad.
There are huge amounts of time to be saved by making good use of features like automated functionality in AdWords. Automation rules are open to all and can help manage bids, budget and ad copy parameters without the manual processes. Paid services like Instant Customer are also great for coordinating and automating all of your marketing strategies with one tool.
This may sound overly obvious, but a lot of businesses still only have content strategies in their heads. Have regular meetings with all major stakeholders to review and refine, and stay agile in 2016 to make sure you’re on the same page and that you’re sticking to your strategy.
Tools such as Rallyverse are great for mapping out your content marketing strategies. Rallyverse recommends conversations, content and topics that you can get comments on, based on the keywords that you supply.
If you know what your audience wants, providing it becomes so much easier… which in turn, makes your audience love you even more. Produce more targeted content by surveying your email database and social audience to find out what they would like to know about. This can take the form of an emailed questionnaire or a social media app.
Do not underestimate the power of subscription. Even in a world of social media, having people's email addresses is still vital for direct contact with your customers. Use your content to collect customer data by getting people to give their email address in exchange for useful downloads or access to valuable parts of your website. They key here is offering real value to your audience and building a rapport based on mutual trust and transparency.
Keeping a handle on your KPIs will allow you to constantly track how well you're doing. Again, it sounds simple but many still don't do this when it comes to content. Is your clever, lovingly-created content getting any cut-through? Make sure each piece of content you create fits with one of your overall business goals – whether it be profit margins, growth rates or customer satisfaction index.
Follow relevant breaking news and get that blog post out there, post a video reaction or update your website with a relevant offer. You’ll be amazed at how much more responsive an audience will be to something that is happening right then and there.
Reduce the quantity of your content and increase the quality. It’s no good flooding your site with content if none of it is relevant or engaging. People are far more likely to come back if they have interacted with something they felt was useful or beneficial to them.
You can never analyse enough! Compare the data you get from A/B test content topics to see which one works best and feed that back into your content strategy. That way, the topics which are more popular can receive more attention, while those which do not attract interest can fall by the wayside. Content management platforms, such as Adobe Marketing Cloud, have sophisticated tools designed to help you test your content.
There’s a big world out there, and the internet has made it incredibly small. Should you be thinking about creating content to be consumed in China or the Middle East? Expanding into other markets could help to develop and grow your business exponentially.
Don't just think about social media, PR and email marketing in silos. Think about how they can work together to make the most of your content production. There are great tools out there (see Hootsuite, MyLibrary, Simple Share, among others) which can help to dovetail your various strategies seamlessly, reducing your workload and maximizing their effect.
Use tools such as BuzzSumo to see which content has performed well. From telling how many views, likes and shares a piece of content has garnered, you can tell what your audience like and what they don’t. View it as a form of customer survey… without actually having to bother anyone.
It’s called social media. It requires interaction. Acknowledge others, don’t simply broadcast. Engage with your audience; if they feel that they have a voice and that someone is listening, they are far more likely to keep coming back.
If you’re a newbie to the social media aspect of things, take the time to familiarise yourself with how the back-end of the sites work. Ultimately, investing such time will pay off, since you’ll be able to keep track of what’s going on behind the scenes on your social media accounts.
Again, giving people a voice will keep them engaged and feeling valued. Sure, likes and retweets are great, but what you want even more is a personal interaction. This can also take the form of subtle surveying, to get a clearer idea of how you can improve and meet your audience’s needs better.
While it might save time to update all of your networks with the same content, remember that people could be engaged with you across all of your social networks. If they see repeat content, they’re unlikely to be impressed. Different platforms can be seen as individual communities – not all content will be suitable for all target markets.
It might be tempting to sweep criticism under the rug by deleting negative Facebook comments, but it will not endear you to those who wrote them. Instead of alienating your audience, show that you value them by responding respectfully and in a timely fashion to all comments, both positive and negative. This will demonstrate your integrity to those who took the time to leave their thoughts and the wider audience as a whole.
If people feel that you are only trying to sell them something, they will be much less inclined to trust you. Using media – be it TV, video, audio – to share information and provide meaningful and useful content, rather than to push your message, will significantly improve your social campaigns. In this method you can win your audience’s trust, which will make them more likely to buy from you when the occasion arises.
Tools like 33Across analyse social media habits in conjunction with marketing efforts, giving you the knowledge of where your ads will be most effective. That way, your content can remain informational and helpful, whilst your ads are strategically positioned to garner the most attention. This is beneficial to the consumer as well, since they are exposed to more relevant products.
If things are going well, it can be tempting to rest on your laurels and expect the progress to continue. However, things can change quickly. The best way to keep fans interested and engaged is to measure what is working and what your customers really connect with. Then, you can adapt your strategies to accommodate more of their tastes.
By offering exclusive deals to your followers and no one else, you can show them how much their continued support is appreciated. This will help to keep them feeling valued and a result, keep them coming back for more. More importantly, by offering voucher codes you will be able to track sales and ROI.
When is your targeted audience most active online? Use your analysis to find out their habits and then release your content at these specific times. Engagement and success levels can be directly affected by what time you post the content.
If you feel you may have missed part of your audience by posting in the morning rather than the evening, for example, don’t be afraid to re-post. This can have the added benefit of those who have seen the content at an earlier time directing others to it when they are reminded of its value.
It might sound simple, but the best way to present a likeable image is to first find out what people like. The money spent on researching and surveying your clientele and your audience may seem like a lot, but you will reap the benefits when you are able to target more effectively as a result.
Make sure your brand is unique, eye-catching and informative, drawing customers in at first glance. You’ll never get a second chance to turn people’s heads like you will the first time they interact with you, and the first impression is make or break time. Don’t let the opportunity slip.
How can you know if you’re doing well if you’re not clear on what it is that you’re doing? Having a specific strategy with quantifiable goals will enable you to measure your progress and continue striving to improve. These goals should incorporate such aspects as the audience you wish to reach, the information you wish to impart, the way you wish them to feel and how you want them to react in a behavioural sense.
Make sure your PR interlocks with all aspects of your marketing. Too many brands still fail to integrate their PR with SEO and social teams and this is visible in the results they achieve. You can gain a better return on activity by implementing an integrated content strategy underpinning everything.
Thought leadership remains important. This basically entails positioning yourself as an expert in your chosen field, meaning that people will seek you out for help rather than you chasing them. You can achieve it by promoting individuals in your business, creating and sharing thought-provoking content and by building up your press relationships. Making yourself available to the media is key, this can include speaking at events.
Your easiest route to audience interaction and building is through an accessible medium such as a blog. If you regularly post insightful, well-written articles that not only engage and entertain but also give information and enrich the reader, you’ll be seen as the expert in your field in no time. Inviting well-respected and influential guest bloggers onto your site is highly recommended, too.
Think of all of the most commonly asked questions you hear in your day-to-day dealings. Compiling all of these together in an easy-to-access list on your website will elevate your status in your specific niche and also save you time in having to respond to the same questions countless times.
The last thing you want to become is predictable. Keep your content and your pitches fresh so that your audience remains engaged throughout. If the user senses a pattern emerging, or a certain way of phrasing that is geared towards sales, they will become suspicious, disillusioned and bored. This also applies to the questions you want to ask your audience.
Bear in mind the ever-present possibility that new social platforms could emerge at any time. Look at how sites like Facebook have grown… and how quickly ones like MySpace have fallen by the wayside. Don’t get left behind when it comes to capitalising on such sites’ popularity and user base.
Keep track of all of your various strategies of attack, but have them coordinated. Whether its social media, email, podcasting, blogging, ebooks or another platform, you want to remain consistent and congruent across the board.
If something is working well for your competitors, there’s no reason you can’t do it too… just focus on doing it better. Take an effective idea and put your unique and personalised stamp on it to ensure you are the one reaping the benefits.
Having a strong working relationship with anyone you come into contact with in the digital marketing world is desirable, since a rapport will smooth the gears of operation. All this comes down to building a close relationship with the editor and publisher of your native ad, which could pay valuable dividends in times of need.
Native ads provide another advantage over traditional display: long-tail organic traffic. Because they are at home on the sites in which they are placed, they can appeal to a more niche audience and thus offer a direct route in to long-tail traffic. Traditionally, long-tail was not cost-effective due to the outlays in comparison to the people reached. With native advertising, this is not a concern.
Native advertising isn’t a quick campaign. It’s a strategy that will need long term investment. Plan out your extended approach to this form of advertisement and make sure you factor it into your budget for the long term.
As with the tip above, native advertising is a campaign which will require significant investment and thought. Therefore, don’t simply place all of your content on a single channel and expect that to solve all of your problems. Hedge your bets by scattering it across several, and check constantly which are the top performers.
Retargeting is a way of allowing your message to reach the right people. Tools like AdRoll are designed to allow you to continue to advertise to people who have landed on your site as they navigate around the web. It brings native advertising to a much wider domain, and can be invaluable in expanding your sales opportunities.
If people are interacting with each other on your site, it will drive up traffic with no effort on your part. This is what you are aiming for; get the ball rolling by asking questions where possible to generate a discussion. You’ll find that once people start answering you, others will respond to them and your traffic will lift spontaneously.
Consistency across all media is key. Though you are integrating your advertising natively into a site to look natural, you don’t want to lose track of what the rest of your media is doing. Re-evaluate constantly to ensure you aren’t sending out mixed signals.
The easiest way to maintain consistency throughout all of your strategies is to have them remain true to your core message. Once you start straying from who you are and what you represent, your message will lose its power. Always make sure your advertising, wherever it is placed, is saying what you want.
If you want to earn your audience’s trust, you need to be transparent about the promotional nature of your features. Consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with the concept of native ads, so any attempt to mislead will not go unnoticed. Provide relevant content, be upfront and honest, and your viewers will be much more receptive.
Viral content is the Holy Grail when it comes to digital marketing. Things that people are more likely to share are things that make them laugh, that make them think, that evoke strong emotions or that are positive. Steer clear of negativity. Once you understand what people are more likely to share, you can be more confident in creating consistently viral content.
Include no more than one idea per post. The internet generation unfortunately suffers from short attention spans, and you need your posts to be consumed easily and consistently, wherever they are placed. Short, sharp and to-the-point posts grab attention and don’t run the risk of putting your audience to sleep.
Run your tests repeatedly before concluding on what really works and what doesn’t, as the first time can always throw up an anomaly. Consider the potential variables, and don't dismiss a valuable suggestion or solution just because you didn’t get the response you’d expected first time round.
This is imperative. Mobile email is increasing at a rapid rate; in the first half of 2014, 49% of users accessed their email via mobile, and this figure is expected to rise to a whopping 78% by 2017 (with some industries already seeing this percentage or higher). Smartphones overtook laptops in 2015 as UK internet users' preferred device to get online, and most check their email at least once per day. Make sure you’re not missing out on a big chunk of your email subscribers opting to open and engage with your content on mobile.
Consider where your email database lives. Do you need to use languages other than English in your email marketing? If you have a mishmash of nationalities on the same database, you may want to look at splitting it into different segments. Making yourself understood comes before any other considerations.
Using a service like PayPal can revolutionise the way your email marketing works. With the ability to invoice or send funds to an email address linked to any account in the world, transactions become that much easier, thus opening up new revenue streams.
Don’t just rely on a solid email marketing campaign; there are plenty of other avenues to explore. Your customers will appreciate it if you give them the option of how you communicate with them. Is it email, Facebook, SMS? You can also use all three to market simultaneously, ensuring your message gets through.
These are people who will never convert into customers but have been too busy or disinterested to opt out. They'll be costing you money and time in terms of sending emails and database space. Send them a final “Come Back” campaign and if that doesn't work, take them out of your database.
After the first transaction is made, send a short email or message thanking the customer for their business. One week later, send another asking them how happy they were with the service. A month later, prompt them for more business (gently). Following up on existing clients is just as important as making new ones.
If someone opts out of your service or unsubscribes, don’t try to persuade them to stay. This will only annoy and alienate them and make them determined never to do business with you in the future. Instead, thank them for their business in the past and tell them how you hope they’ll come back in the future… and that you’ll be waiting with open arms when they do.
Instead of sending the same offers and updates to everyone on your list, try timing your emails around the sales cycle and triggering correspondence at key moments in your relationship with each customer. By understanding where your customers are in the sales process, you can improve conversion rates, reduce customer defection, and improve customer sentiment and loyalty.
A 2015 study showed 66% of customers said they preferred to receive emails with lots of images rather than text. Give the people what they want and keep them engaged by breaking up hard-to-digest chunks of text with colourful and attractive images.
Though it’s advisable to experiment with different times of the day for your marketing strategies, when it comes to email, morning is almost certainly when you’ll want to get your messages out. Open rates before 9am are often double what they are after lunch, and people are more engaged and attentive when they are fresh after the first cup of coffee than when they are drowsy after a meal.
Automation can mean that emails are sent at the perfect time for the customer be it a welcome email; a post-booking or post-experience email; a dropped-out-of-basket email. Invest more now for better engagement rates.
Base an email around a local news story or event for increased open rates; people are far more likely to open a mail and read it to the end if it engages and interrelates with something else they have just read or heard about. It will also show that your business is at the forefront of things, reacting to real-time events and with your finger on the pulse.
Email service providers (ESPs) like MailChimp offer ways of embedding video into email. Experiment with implanting video into your outgoing emails; leverage the advantage of standing out from the mass of text-based emails, and wowing your customers with one of the most engaging and easy-to-understand communication mediums around.
The single biggest tip for CRO in 2016 is: do it! So few organisation actually engage in a consistent UX optimisation strategy that it will be a huge step to simply commit to one. SEO services are going to be following up on CRO and conducting user tests over the next couple of years in a big way – don’t miss out.
There are several, very powerful CRO tools and platforms out there but they don't come for free; free tools simply do not do the job. Paying for a tool is very good value and they are geared towards allowing quick and easy test implementation. Tools such as Usabilia will allow you to get feedback about the architecture of information on your website, while Olark is great for live chat on-site, allowing you to fix problems in real time.
Anyone that believes this is misguided. The biggest web companies spend massive amounts of money on CRO and now it is available to businesses of all sizes at relatively low cost, so there’s no excuse. There’s always room for improvement… the trick is knowing where and how. CRO can help with this.
If you don't know what is wrong with your website, set up a heatmap test and get an idea of where people click. Are they clicking where you want them to? Are they clicking somewhere you didn't expect? Heatmapping will create questions CRO can answer.
Depending on the traffic, it can take several days for a test to gain statistical significance. It is important you give all variables the chance to get there without rushing to any conclusions. As mentioned above, anomalies happen; and you don’t want your strategy to be thrown off by one.
Over.complicating tests can dramatically increase the time it takes to achieve statistical significance. Keep tests simple, quick and actionable. Instead of trying to micromanage all areas with one test, identify the problem areas with a simple test. Then you can zone in on the details.
Don’t limit tests to small groups or test insignificant details as it will only lengthen the tests. The braver you are, the quicker you will see results. Obtain results from a large sample pool and then be decisive in your action. Change doesn’t have to be bad.
Experiments that do not make an improvement will happen. The key is to take this information on board and move on quickly. A failed test still tells you important information about what does and doesn’t work on your site. Indeed, a failed test can be invaluable in ruling out avenues that shouldn’t be pursued, so you can devote your time and energies to ones that do.
If you test something you believe will make an improvement and it makes no difference, this does not mean it has failed. It just means that it hasn’t made things worse; and, if you think it makes the site look better, then that is as good as a win!
Capitalise on what you know by putting it into practice straight away. There’s nothing like striking while the iron is hot, and if you upgrade before your competitors it could make all the difference to the customer. There’s no time to lose!
Just because something wins, doesn’t make it perfect. Once you have implemented winning results, come back and retest again, to see how you can make it perform even better. There’s always room for improvement.
Google's Universal Analytics tracking solution is now the defined standard, and if you are still using classic, upgrading all of your applications is a great idea. The software is very powerful, and upgrading your tracking code to Analytics.js will open up a whole new world of attribution, conversion funnels and instant plug-and-play functionality with a seemingly endless list of 3rd party tools and services.
Web analytics, as a discipline, is constantly evolving. It’s a full-time job keeping up with all of the latest developments in technology and protocol, and trying to save money by figuring out problems on your own will cost you in the long run, since you’ll end up wasting time grappling with things you don’t understand.
With so many exciting and powerful technologies out there these days, almost all of them with some sort of free trial period, so it makes sense to take advantage and find which works best for you. But…
One of the biggest sticking points stopping companies from capitalising on free trials is the slowness with which changes to tags are deployed on the live site. Google Tag Manager is a great tool which allows you to get round this problem by wrestling control away from site developers and back into the hands of the analytics professional.
There is no reason why you can't have data for the same page or website going to different Google Analytics accounts. If you want to give analytics visibility to a person or organisation for one part of the site and not to another, this is a great way to do this. After all, the accounts are free, so there’s no drawback in setting up as many as you need. Just keep your setup clean and check for a correct implementation of tracking code across your site.
Whilst case studies and white papers can afford insight into the effectiveness of tools or practices, there is no sense in waiting for one to come out before making your own decisions. It’s much quicker (and more rewarding) to make mistakes yourself and learn from them than to wait for an industry expert to tell you what to think.
One way to gauge customer behaviour is to offer printable vouchers, coupons and offers, available only online, and then track who is redeeming them. By collating such information with the data given by the customer, you will be able to understand more about behavioural patterns and tailor your marketing accordingly. Explore methods of tracking different customer behaviours, such as call tracking and you will get a clearer view of where your customers are seeing your offers and their preferred methods of getting in contact with your business.
The data involved in warehousing efforts is often too abundant to be controlled efficiently and too shallow to be of much use. It is frequently too anonymous and too granular to be helpful, and merging online and offline data can be a nightmare. The advent and evolution of big data has only exacerbated this problem. Unless you’re very comfortable in this niche, stay well clear.
Just as you might link up your AdWords and Analytics accounts to enable richer insights, make sure you have set up and linked all of your Search Console properties as well. Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, will provide you with organic search data, notifications on your site's performance in search, potential warnings about your site, newly acquired links and more.
If you’re not dispensing with at least one quarter of your measurable success factors (or metrics) on an annual basis, you’re refusing to allow your business to develop. Constantly re-evaluating the direction in which you’re
heading and the steps you’re taking to facilitate it will allow for natural growth and evolution.
So, there we are! It's quite a list, but we're sure we've missed a few. If you have any suggestions for other tips to kickstart your digital marketing, or would like to find out how our services could be of benefit to your business, feel free to get in touch.