Your Online Presence Isn’t Effective (And What You Can Do About It)

website-not-effective

Your Online Presence Isn’t Effective (And What You Can Do About It)

Many businesses are trying to be more proactive with their online presence and it’s easy to see why:

  • 97% of consumers search online for products and services
  • 70% have compared prices or read reviews
  • 91% have visited a store because of an online experience

With such trends in play, it’s no wonder that most businesses have finally made an investment in the most basic of digital initiatives: namely, their website. It took a while to reach the tipping point, however, as shown by these surveys by Clutch, Jupiter Research and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • In 2009, 45% of businesses had a website
  • In 2014, 51% of businesses had a website
  • In 2015, 74% of businesses had a website

If we learn anything from these statistics I purport it is that businesses are far too slow to embrace the trend toward digital. With the majority of businesses now having a website, the question becomes how effective are businesses in using this tool to bring in more customers and generate revenue? The Post-Gazette survey revealed the following basic problems with small business websites:

  • 70% have no call to action
  • 27% don’t provide a telephone number
  • 68% don’t have an email address on the home page
  • 56% don’t have meta data to improve search rankings
  • 82% don’t have social media accounts

business-web-statsInfographic: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How does your business compare? To keep it simple, ask yourself these questions:

  • When did you last update your website?
  • Have you tried to view your website on a smartphone and tablet?

These questions are vitally important to the effectiveness of your online presence, precisely because the digital arms race continues to evolve. It’s no longer enough just to have a website; it needs to be updated regularly and be mobile-friendly. According to comScore, the number of mobile users surpassed total desktop users early in 2014, and by May of 2015, Google announced that more searches took place on mobile devices than on desktop devices in the US and Japan.

Mobile-stats-vs-desktopPhoto credit: comScore

How To Increase Your Effectiveness Online

If you’ve read this far, it’s safe to assume you are a believer in the trends in play: that the vast majority of your customers are using online search to research products and services before they set foot in your establishment; and that increasingly, mobile searching represents a huge opportunity to capture leads and ultimately revenue that you might otherwise miss.

So what can you do to increase the effectiveness of your online presence? I believe there are nine excellent tactics you can employ to remain relevant in our digital world. This article will take a look at the first four tactics that serve as a foundation for being more effective online:

Digital Tactic # 1: Implement Responsive Design

44% of businesses that have a website do not have a mobile-friendly format. In addition to the impact upon user experience when mobile visitors come to a non-mobile-friendly website, Google began penalizing websites that were not mobile-friendly beginning April 21st, 2015. So you definitely have an incentive to update your website now more than ever.

Responsive design is a format that allows your website to detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout to best be viewed on that size screen. Other mobile-friendly formats may also be implemented without incurring Google’s penalty, but one of the advantages of responsive design is the consistency of the design across screen sizes. Your site will retain the branded look and feel no matter the screen size when you implement a responsive design.

Digital Tactic # 2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Is Not A Luxury – It’s A Necessity

With nearly one billion websites online (watch the stat update live here), the competition for visitors – and more importantly, qualified visitors who are interested in your products and services – is intense, and growing more intense every day.

And it’s important to note that SEO isn’t something you do once and be done with: it’s an ongoing battle to increase your ranking, defend what you have achieved, and better optimize for the type of visitor you want to attract. In 2015 alone, Google updated its search algorithm over 500 times, including five “major” updates that likely changed your ranking. In addition to Google’s changes, your competition is increasingly devoting time, effort and money to improving their ranking – so you can’t ignore the changing nature of search.

So what can be done to improve your SEO? At its core, SEO is all about content (see the next tactic for details), but a good SEO consultant can help ensure your site’s architecture, meta tags and other elements are configured properly and that you’re not violating any of Google’s parameters in a way that gets your website banned.

Digital Tactic # 3: Content Is King – What’s Your Strategy?

At the core, ranking in the search engines is all about creating good, original content. After all, none of us as users want to have our searches clogged up with irrelevant links to non-related content: it’s simply not helpful. Google and other search engines recognize this and change their algorithms to serve up the best list of websites that feature the content your customers are looking for.

In the early days of the web, webmasters could “game” search engines by stuffing their pages with keywords that didn’t have much to do with their real content, as well as other gimmicks. That’s not a strategy for success, especially now.

Instead, think about how best to explain your products and services, and offer a wide range of media to help accomplish that: from blog articles, to video how-to guides, to more detail on what’s most important to your business. If you don’t have time to create all that content yourself, then hire it done.

Digital Tactic # 4: Stick The Landing

While you’re working to improve your organic search traffic, a great way to supplement your online effectiveness is to engage in paid digital marketing. A lot of businesses already do, but is it effective?

Paid digital marketing (Google AdWords for example) can be effective, but where many businesses fall down is by not creating a sales funnel for the traffic coming from your digital advertising. Dumping a visitor that clicks your ad onto your home page is almost always going to result in a huge loss of efficacy as the visitor must hunt for whatever it was that attracted them to you to begin with.

This is the role of the focused landing page. A good landing page strips away all the unnecessary distractions that are likely on your home page or even a product page, and focuses the visitor’s attention on a single, prominent Call To Action (CTA). The harder you make a visitor work to find what you want them to do next, the less effective you will be.

Great First Steps To Increasing Effectiveness

Digital marketing isn’t a fad and the challenge of remaining relevant online continues to evolve. The tools and resources available to businesses of all sizes to establish and increase effectiveness continue to expand.

The best news with digital marketing is that it is so measurable. By implementing the four tactics mentioned above, you will have data to analyze that provides almost immediate feedback on how effective you are. The process of finding the mix that works for you and your business is what makes it fun.

Watch for more updates from Sine Cera Marketing, where we will cover some of the advanced techniques for improving the effectiveness of your online presence.

 

About the author: David Eldred is the President of Sine Cera Marketing, a boutique marketing consulting practice based in Eugene, Oregon. Sine Cera specializes in helping businesses create and maximize their digital presence – as well as offering a full range of marketing consulting services, including social media marketing, social selling, search engine marketing, website design and mobile marketing solutions. 

The Micro-Moment Wave

mobile

Are you riding the micro-moment wave?

Once upon a time, my grandmother would watch television always with a small notepad and pencil within easy reach. Why? So she could quickly jot down the 800-number of products she saw on TV and wanted to buy.

Such impulses were the early origins of what we now know as micro-moments – and with the penetration of smartphones within the US now exceeding 64%, micro-moments are more actionable than ever. According to a recent “Think with Google” report, consider the following:

  • 66% of smartphone users turn to their phone to look up something they saw in a TV commercial;
  • 82% of smartphone users used their phone when looking for a local business;
  • 91% of smartphone users turn to their phone for ideas while doing a task;
  • 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy.

To put this in a more visual context, watch this video about micro-moments:

Micro-Moment Take-Aways:

So what are some of the take-aways of this trend?

  • Mobile-friendly websites: if you’ve been postponing a website redesign wait no longer. And when you pull the trigger, be sure the design incorporates responsive technology to be consistent from platform to platform;
  • Content is king: to capture the actionable micro-moments relevant to your products and services, be sure your website is well-stocked with SEO-optimized content on how to accomplish tasks, compare features and benefits and find your locations easily on the smaller screen of mobile devices;
  • Use geo-location: the beauty of mobile devices is the inherent geo-location that is built in. If prospects are searching for what you offer and they are within a radius of your location, your ad should be appearing within the apps your prospects are already using.

It’s a digital world and if your business is not mobile-friendly, you are leaving business on the table. The good news? Implementing mobile-friendly marketing solutions doesn’t have to break the bank. All it takes is a little strategic planning and “thoughtful execution” and your business can ride the wave of the micro-moments your prospects are generating right now.

Digital Distractions: Your Antidote for Magpie Marketing

magpie-marketing-banner

Marketers and business owners today are faced with what can be an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to selecting the right marketing mix for their companies. Not only are the traditional advertising channels still relevant in reaching audiences, but the increasing toolset within the digital space has resulted in an explosion of platforms and activities that are in a constant state of tactical evolvement.

Too often, this results in what I call “magpie marketing,” where marketers flit from one bright, shiny tool and activity to the next. How many businesses or competitors have you seen launch a Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube channel, post a flurry of content, and then move on to something else while the community they began languishes under infrequent updates?

Equally dire is the well-intentioned re-branding initiative, launched with a fresh, modern logo and brand campaign amid much fanfare, but which fizzles shortly after launch, when internal teams assume the world knows the message, loses interest in the brand campaign and shifts back to product advertising.

When I am approached by businesses suffering from magpie marketing, I find they often have one thing in common: they lack a business plan that sets forth the goals, strategies, objectives and tactics that are important to their success. We’ve all read about the importance of a business plan in the pursuit of obtaining financing, but the business plan is also the foundation for any successful marketing plan. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

Introducing the G’SOT

For marketers, the value of identifying the goals, strategies, objectives and tactics (or G’SOT, as coined by Forbes contributor, Mikal Belicove) can’t be overstated: they serve as a touchstone for focusing your marketing efforts and resisting magpie syndrome. Let’s perform a quick review of what each term means, and how it applies to developing your marketing plan:

  • Goal – a broad primary outcome
  • Strategy – the approach you take to achieve a goal
  • Objective – a measurable step taken to achieve a strategy
  • Tactic – a tool used in pursuing an objective

Note how each goal is approached by one or more strategies, which have specific, measurable steps identified; each of which are pursued by a tool put into motion. Thus, if you were the owner of a massage therapy practice, one set of G’SOT for your practice may look like this:

  • Goal: Make our relaxation massage service the leader in sales revenue within the local market by 2018.
  • Strategy: Position relaxation massage as a special event to be shared with friends.
  • Objective: Increase relaxation massage appointments by 40% by end of year.
  • Tactic: Through creative that encourages social sharing, extend special offer discount to prior relaxation massage clients through refer-a-friend group pricing.

The hierarchy above is just one set of goals, strategies, objectives and tactics that would comprise the business plan. Once a full set of G’SOTs are established, formulation of the marketing plan becomes a much more focused endeavor. Better yet, a management team who regularly revisits the business plan throughout the year can easily determine if they are on track to meet the measurable objectives that were outlined during the planning and budgeting process. Course corrections may then be implemented as needed.

Thus, the business plan moves beyond being a static exercise of the finance team and becomes a dynamic tool with which to direct and focus initiatives – especially marketing. With a solid touchstone like the business or marketing plan, the distraction of magpie marketing can be reduced or eliminated.

Photo credit: Koshy Koshy