We might be a couple of months into 2015, but there’s still time to take stock of your business and its objectives.
Marketing budgets are slated to increase this year, thanks to the recognition of the important role digital marketing plays in profitable businesses. Whether you’re a seasoned marketing professional looking for a refresher or setting out your first digital marketing plans for the year, make sure your online strategies are on point by taking a look at my essential digital marketing tips to help boost turnover for the year ahead.
1. Go mobile (and get with the program)
The use of mobile devices is relentlessly on the rise, and so it follows that website access via smartphones and tablets is following suit. This trend is set to continue throughout 2015 and it is predicted that Google mobile searches will surpass desktop searches too.
With this in mind, now it’s more important than ever to ensure that your website is completely mobile-friendly. If it isn’t already, then 2015 should be the year that a mobile version or mobile-friendly site goes to the top of your ‘To Do’ list. Since Google has introduced a highlighted tag in its search results, there’s even more reason to opt for a mobile-responsive site this year. Procrastinate, and you’re likely to lose out on a significant volume of search traffic in 2015.
2. Get your PPC campaigns mobile too
Another one to add to your 2015 essentials list is to make sure that your PPC campaigns are adjusted to take into account increasing levels of mobile traffic.
The first step is to measure your site’s mobile traffic levels. A number of our clients are now finding that over half of their sites’ traffic comes from mobile devices, and on average, have incurred a 39% increase in mobile PPC traffic over the past year. In the same period, desktop traffic has decreased by 12.6%.
The question you need to ask yourself is what should you be doing to account for this change in your PPC account. Here are a few top tips:
- Bid on performance by device – select this via the segmentation drop-down in AdWords to access and review these figures and assess whether you need to apply +/- bids to your site’s mobile traffic
- Make sure to include ‘click to call’ extensions for users on mobile devices. Including a call button in ads means that the number is automatically populated in the dialer
- Dedicated mobile ads should have fewer characters to avoid truncated words, with language relevant to the device, e.g. “Get Now On Your Mobile!”
- Don’t forget click-through rates on mobile devices – use mobile-specific sitelinks.
3. Remember Your PPC Ad Extensions
Always test and assess the sitelinks that are available to you. Despite Google’s inclusion of the expected impact of ad extensions into their ad rank calculation for well over a year, there are still many advertisers out there who are ignoring all that is available to them. Don’t follow suit! Remember:
- There are 11 ad extensions to choose from that can be added to standard ad text, six of which are customizable. Enable as many as possible to increase your visibility and stand out from the competition
- Including sitelinks into your campaigns could lead to a 30% increase in your site’s click-through rate
- Ad extensions only become visible when your ad copy sits at the top of the results page. But there are some extensions that improve quality scores, giving your ad a boost to the top spots without the need to increase your bids
- A full range of ad extensions could double your ad’s ‘real estate’ space, helping to push your competitors further down the results pages.
4. Recognize phone calls as a lead source
Regardless of whether your advertising takes place exclusively online or offline, the phone remains an important tool for your sales activities in your business. Business calls will always be generated, and you need to know which marketing is actually generating these calls.
When you consider that inbound phone calls are 10-15 times more likely to convert than web leads and 70% of mobile searchers will call directly from the search results, you begin to understand why business phone calls need to be integrated, tracked and assessed as part of your marketing strategies.
The easiest and most efficient way of ascertaining the origin of a lead (online or offline), is by installing software to track inbound phone calls on your organization’s website. By using unique telephone numbers across your different marketing channels, you’ll soon have enough data at your fingertips to find out where your strongest leads are coming from, and where to invest your marketing budget.
5. Ditch the slider on your homepage
Sometimes you really have to consider function over form. Although carousels or ‘sliders’ on web pages look good – and have gained in popularity over the last couple of years – they do pose a problem. Through testing, we have found carousels to be highly distracting for site users.
Instead of a clear-cut path or navigation, users’ decision making is convoluted, which generally leads to lower conversion rates. So before you jump in and opt for a slider, check out http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ – the website provides in great details the reasons why sliders pose accessibility and SEO issues for your website.
Already got a carousel in place? Then try running a conversion test to see whether ditching the carousel helps to create more business.
6. Make the user experience your priority
One of Google’s top priorities is to provide users with the best search experience. This means serving up search results that send users to the most relevant sites they’re looking for, as well as those that offer a great user experience.
Through Google Analytics, Google+, search queries and other data collection, Google has access to a huge bank of information, enabling it to adjust its search algorithms to sites that provide the most relevant content and the best user experiences. User experience isn’t just about content, it also relates to a site’s speed, usability and design/navigation for mobile. For 2015, your site needs to provide visitors with the very best possible user experience or you’re likely to miss out on sales, conversions and traffic.
7. Address your site’s speed
Google has made is abundantly clear that site speed matters for rankings. And with an even greater emphasis on the user experience today, site speed continues to be a crucial elements of a site’s success and search position.
We know that today’s web browsers have become accustomed to fast loading sites thanks to faster broadband, so they’re not going to hang around for a slow web page to load.
Here are a few important things you can do to speed up your site and ensure that your prospects don’t get away!
- Testing your site’s speed using Google’s speed insights tool is the best place to start.
- Ensure your current web server can handle you size of your company’s website. Overloaded web servers is usually the number one reason for slowing down load times.
You may also find that one of the following culprits is slowing down times:
- Embedded videos or media
- Using a lot of images
- Not compressing images to minimize pixels before uploading
- Clunky, messy coding
- Using a lot of plugins or outdated versions
By using Google’s Page Insights Tool, you’ll discover quick fixes for any of the above issues.
8. Trial Instagram-sponsored posts
Instagram-sponsored posts are still a relatively new addition to the online app, only appearing in UK feeds in September 2014, yet our clients are already yielding impressive results from them.
As a social and marketing device, Instagram is a potential proverbial goldmine. Instagram is still retaining a fairly rigid quality control over who is allowed to place sponsored posts. As it stands, access to the advertising network is restricted to users with accounts with an existing and sizable following. But if you’re lucky enough to be selected, you can expect to enjoy a significant edge over your competitors.
Case in point – here’s one of our competitors who has been trialling Instagram ads:
Since implementing the Instagram ads, direct traffic back to their website has increased six-fold. If that hasn’t whet your appetite for testing Instagram ads, then nothing will!
9. Print still has a place in a digital world
A publisher’s activities shouldn’t just be restricted to digital media. An integrated approach with both online and offline media is more likely to capture a broader but relevant audience for your business.
There are a multitude of businesses and brands with an online provenance that have expanded into the world of print. One example is Tech website, CNET, who recently launched a print magazine back in November 2014. This has helped CNET reach a new audience and broaden their appeal within her niche and the offline market. It’s also opened another stream of revenue in the form of printed advertising.
Offline marketing and publicity is a very useful tool in driving website traffic, and vice versa – so at the right time, it’s well worth the investment.
10. Engage your audience with other users’ content
Online consumers are pretty savvy, and many are less likely to engage with businesses than their peers. For this reason, it’s so important for brands to reach out to their readers, giving them a platform as publishers, which will in turn create a series of real brand advocates. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Look for influential customers or followers to take over your blog or social feeds – a real, honest and fresh take from a “real” consumer outside of your organization will lend credibility to your brand and help to attract a new readership.
For example, the clothing brand ModCloth uses customer photos wearing their clothing, along with their measurements and personal reviews to advertise their products. This form of audience participation engages users much more on a consumer level as they can see what the products look like or how they have fulfilled genuine people.
- Get your customers to create content through honest reviews of your products and services. This can be shared on your site, and via a respected network of bloggers. For example, Bulu Box send out a healthy living kit to their network of blogger brand ambassadors every month. The kit itself and the regularity that it arrives helps to keep the bloggers on track with their healthy lifestyle, and provides them with some fresh content to write about on their blogs.
Zoe-Lee Skelton is a Content Marketing Consultant at Receptional and enjoys blogging about all things digital. In her spare time, Zoe-Lee is an artist and a designer. You can follow her work on her personal blog.