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
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.
Photo 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.