June 29, 2016
The digital world is still seen as a black art by many businesses, particularly start-ups trying to set up their first business. Many are slow to embrace new technologies even those that are well established as strong marketing channels. It’s easy to see the source of their uncertainty; with industry buzzwords like “tweets”, “hashtags”, “SEO” and “earned media”, who wouldn’t be confused?
Whether you’re setting up a recruitment agency or a dog walking franchise, in essence, there are only four areas that you need to concentrate on to raise awareness of your business and attract new clients via your website. All four elements need to work together for a successful digital approach, they won’t work in isolation.
Your digital approach starts with your website. This should position you as an expert in your field, with an approachable but professional look. Your website is your virtual shop window, so it needs to show you in the best light possible. It should be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and provide enough information to prospective customers to encourage them to contact you.
You need to make this process as easy as possible, with good navigation and a simple way to get in touch. And don’t forget to ensure that your website channels remain positive, especially on mobile. To achieve this, be sure to use a responsive design.
There are two elements to content. First, there is the content that sits on your own website, which needs to be written in a tone that is both digestible, understandable and the right tone for your audience. You need to review your service pages, where you might adopt a different tone depending on your target audience.
Secondly, you also need to think about how much content to write. You want to show your company as the leading specialists so you need to write enough to convince people you know your stuff but not so much that they are overwhelmed and switch off. This is a fine balance but if in doubt, always write more. You can combat potential word fatigue with the layout of your page, keeping the important information at the top of the page, use bullet points to break up the content and move the supporting words below the page fold. Use internal links to push people to more relevant information rather than trying to cram it all onto one page.
Search marketing relies on you having content – without content, you won’t appear in the search results.
There are two elements to search marketing, the “organic or natural results” which are the results that appear below the advertising. Research suggests that “natural” results attract more clicks than advertising so it’s important to look at your search rankings as a way of attracting new clients.
There are many elements involved in ensuring your website appears at the top of the organic search results. You need unique, high-quality content on your website to answer the questions typed into Google, and you also need links pointing to your website from external websites. These links indicate to Google that your website is an authority on the topic.
The other search marketing approach is PPC, or “Pay Per Click”. As the name suggests, if you choose to advertise with Google then you pay every time someone clicks on one of your adverts. The amount you pay depends on what keywords you are targeting and how many of your competitors are trying to attract the same people. Pay per click works on a bidding process: the advertiser who bids the most for the click gets to the top of the results.
Social media has been one of the major digital marketing buzzwords for some time. It’s not the be-all and end-all but it should form part of your digital marketing mix. Social media, like search marketing, relies on you having content or you’ll have nothing to share and talk about.
If you’re using social media you’re looking to engage with people by selling the story of your business, your brand, your expertise and your team. Social media is about sharing stories through content using a mix of words, images and video: it should be a perfect fit.
There are literally hundreds of social media channels so it’s important to choose wisely or you waste time targeting the wrong channels with no tangible results. The demographics of the major channels should help you decide which is most appropriate.
The combination of a well-designed website, search marketing and use of social media channels will help to create a successful digital strategy. The beauty of digital is the ease with which you can measure and track your activities: your strategy can be adjusted at any point to take on board what you learn about people and your followers along the way and, at the click of a mouse, you can turn off any elements that are not performing. Bear in mind, there is no end point for a digital approach it is an ongoing cycle of learning and adapting to give your followers the information they need.
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