If you want to survive in today’s disruptive market, you need to be your best online! Every business needs a Digital Strategy that; Supports business objective, gives good conversions and improves interaction with potential or existing customers. Do you have a Digital Strategy?
Our research shows that digital marketing can be 10 times more effective than traditional marketing efforts. But this depends on a good -Plan of Action. In this article we’ll be looking at..
Five ways to improve your Digital Strategy as recommended by Cloudnames:
1 Planning your Digital Strategy
The first step in any strategy is the planning process. The competition on digital platforms are fierce and to be a leader in the game -You need to: plan, manage and optimise your digital existence successfully and with long-term efforts.
You need to understand your current position. Set objectives and goals, decide on the best strategy to move forward with and put it into action. Then, take time to analyse the data and learn from your results.
Assessing the situation
It’s good practise to audit your current position and carry out vital research before you develop your Digital Strategy. A good start is to dig into Google Analytics, Social Media Insights and AdWords Insights. There are a number of tools you can opt for -to assess your website performance and SEO as well. Many of which are free. Simply, google it and try as many as you can. You’ll find you may get mixed results -which could be insightful.
You should focus on assessing:
- Customer Insights from existing Digital activity (i.e data from your social activities and promotions)
- Digital channels you currently hold a presence in (this includes all your social profiles)
- Website navigation and effectiveness (is your website up to scratch?)
- Market opportunities (look at what your competitors are doing!)
- Benchmark Competition (any threats? Or, any new ideas?)
- Internal resources and production (look at your team and assess how to improve your production line and communication process)
Make sure to look at which channels you are represented in, who your audiences are (in these different channels) and how your presence is compared to your competition. Check via Google search if there are any channels you don’t own that claim to represent your company.
1.2 Define your objectives and goals
Analysing your current position is a good starting point to better understand your objectives and goals. This is when you ask yourself; where do I want to be? You should define targets that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based.
You Should Pay Attention to:
- Aligning your Digital Strategy with business goals
- Define your objectives (what is your aim?)
- Choose SMART Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI’s)
- Goals for Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Targets for Return on Investment (ROI)
1.3 Decide On Your Digital Strategy
When you’ve decided where you want to be, the next step is to figure out how to get there? There are an endless number of models that can help you develop your strategy, and we love the Business Model Canvas.
You should focus on:
- Customer Segments, Target markets
- Value Proposition, special offers, lead baits, triggers
- Channels, SEO, PPC, organic etc.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Activities, Content marketing, promotions etc.
In addition, by evaluating Value Proposition -you can explore special offers like ‘Free 30 days trial’ or other offers that can help your lead generation and build trust with your target customers. We also recommend strategising on integrations between your website, social channels, mailing services or CRM integration.
1.4 Act on your Digital Strategy
Your next question should be: What do I need to get done? You have to break down your strategy into actionable activities and identify the team that will perform the tasks ahead.
You should look into:
- Your Digital roadmap
- Website improvements
- Content Publishing plan
- Promotion Schedule
- Resource allocation and budget
Please contact us at Cloudnames if you have any questions. You can send us a direct email on email@example.com or simply leave your contact details below and we’ll get right back to you.
1.5 Analyse and improve
The last step in your planning process is to decide on how you will control and monitor your progress. The question you should ask yourself is: How do I monitor my performance?
You should focus on:
- Analytics and Reporting tools
- Audiences, reach, traffic sources, customer journey etc.
- Regular review meetings
- Prioritized actions
2 Increase your reach
The first phase of a customer’s purchasing cycle is called: “Realising need.” In this phase the customer would typically explore without having an intent to purchase. They would be looking to find information about their interests, browsing Social Media channels, news sites, blogs and websites etc.
In this phase of your Digital Strategy your main target is to influence potential customers desires and needs. Your most important challenge in this step is to reach your target audiences with your information or message. Your two main drivers for reach are; Social Media and Search Engines, but there are many other digital surfaces to consider.
2.1 Social Media
There are 1.6 billion monthly users of Facebook and about 2.5 billion users of different Google services. Market shares differ, but in UK almost 90% of everyone that has access to internet are between the ages of 13-65, they also have a Social Media profile!
The volume of posts on Social Networks are for ever increasing, which makes it harder to compete for attention. Are you struggling to increase spread to your target audience?
The different Social Media Channels are focusing on making the user experience best possible for their users, that’s why advanced algorithms decides what each user will see when they check for updates. Only the updates that has a high relevancy score will make the cut.
If you for example have a business page on Facebook with many thousands of likes, usually only 5-25% of your posts will reach your followers. Even if you pay to reach your followers you are likely to only reach a subset of that audience, as there is much competing content that will be considered.
This is what you need to do to increase your reach on Social Media:
- Post high quality Content
- Promote your content
- Target your Audience
- Publish long lasting content
- Share content your target audience likes
2.2 Search Engines
The second huge source of traffic is search engines. According to some sources, more than 90% of all buying decisions start with a search, but people don’t necessarily by on a regular basis. It’s more common with regards to bigger value purchases or big decisions.
Google Search has a market share of 78% globally with about 50.000 searches per second! The Chinese site Baidu is number two with 10% followed by Yahoo at 6%. This is global statistics for pure search sites and leaves only 6% to the other Internet search sites like Yandex, Bing and others. (Source: Internet live stats)
There are two ways you can use Search engines to increase your reach. By organic search or paid search. Organic search results will require that you prepare your website for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) while paid search are done by paying for clicks, also called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Many users of search engines skip the ads and look for the organic results, but both methods will give you lots of traffic if it is done right.
Search engines are the most widespread Artificial Intelligence we use today, and they are becoming smarter every day. Their main target is to serve the most relevant results to any search – that is how they get users. So you can forget trying to trick them. The only way to rank high is by offering great content, great user experience, technically optimised website and to grow your authority as an influencer.
This is what you need to focus on with SEO:
- Choosing SEO tools
- On-page optimization
- Off-page optimization
- Search engine updates
This is what you need to focus on with SEM:
- Creating and managing your ad account
- Making your ad copy
- Choosing keywords
- Audience targeting
- Landing Pages for your campaign
2.3 Other digital sources
There are an endless amount of other digital sources for traffic. Depending on what line of business you are in, they may be as important as Social Media and Search Engines, or they may be irrelevant.
Take for instance the tourist sector, I would claim that travel aggrigators like Trippadvisor or Hotels.com may be more important traffic generators than Social Media. You have other aggregators that focus on choosing flight tickets, restaurants or nightlife activities.
Other digital traffic sources to consider:
- E-mail marketing
- Banner ads and ad-networks
- Sector aggregators
- 3.rd party blogs and your own blog
- Digital PR
You can learn more about e-mail marketing in this article: Why you should start building your email list right away
3 Improving your website is crucial to your Digital Strategy
The second phase of the purchasing cycle is called “Evaluating options.” This refers to; The potential customer has decided to act and is searching for ideal solutions for their need. In this phase it’s your websites that is most crucial to your Digital Strategy. Your task is to convince the potential buyer that you have the best solution, price or product fit.
While Social Media and Search engines are great tools to increase reach, the core of any Digital Strategy is your website. If your website is not prepared for handling the traffic from Social Media, Search engines or other digital sources, it simply is a waste of money to invest in reach.
Also, most websites are really not that good. We see a lot of beautifully designed websites that lack all the basic features and services needed to be effective for Digital Marketing. On top of that you have all the websites that isn’t even looking good. Most companies need to improve their Digital Strategy.
3.1 Mobile Friendly
More than 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile clients, and the numbers are continuing to rise. Being Mobile friendly means that your website will be accessible on mobile handsets and tablets. This is called ‘Responsive design’ and means that your website will deliver a good experience on all screen resolutions.
If your website is not mobile friendly, you should consider doing something about it immediately! We think about mobile-first when we design websites because from some of our digital campaigns -95% of our interest comes from visitors on mobile devices.
It is important for SEO as well, as search engines give you a penalty if you don’t comply. You can check if your website is regarded mobile friendly by Google at this link: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
You can learn more about mobile friendly web design in this article: Is your Website mobile friendly?
3.2 Content on your website
Most companies have a lot of content, but very often it’s not available on their website. The absolute best way to make an interesting website is to fill it with high quality and valuable content.
Content marketing is all about creating and sharing interesting, valuable, relevant and useful content. This is how you build your brand and consumer confidence in your products and services, and ultimately drive desirable customer action.
Blogging is a form of Content marketing. If you want to attract customers with inbound marketing strategies or Social media marketing you should blog. Creating trust is the only way you will be able to attract customers. If your prospective customer does not trust your brand it will limit your sales. Period.
The questions you should ask yourself when you decide what content you should produce or make available for your visitors are: What would my target group be interested in? And, what kind of content would they be interested in sharing on their Social Media Profiles?
3.3 Services on your website
If you want to grow your revenue online -You need to implement services to support your strategy. These are important choices where design aspects of your website is concerned and vital instruments that will help you maintain great and valuable communication with your customers and prospects.
You should consider these services:
- Online Chat
- Contact form
- Resource library
- Online forum
3.4 Website Security
Taking care of website security is extremely important. You can put your whole company at risk if your website is hacked and your customer data is stolen as a result of it.
If your website is your main source for revenue and leads it should not be necessary to point out how important it is to avoid security breaches. In fact, very few website owners are aware of how they can protect their website from security breaches, and in many cases don’t understand the importance of website security.
You can learn more about how you improve the security on your website in this article: How to improve your website security
4 Converting visitors
The next step in the purchasing cycle is the “Decision phase.” In this phase the potential buyer has decided that your solution is the best fit, but she or he may be hesitating to give their final verdict because of worries of potential regret. This is the stage where the final decision of vendor is made and your challenge is to get the final order – a conversion in digital language. This is a very important part of your Digital Strategy.
If your products or services are too complex to get online bookings or sales you rather should focus on collecting leads. Here at Cloudnames for instance, we do both.
Our web design services, SEO Optimisation and Digital Marketing services are complex and require that we talk with potential customers before they make a purchase, so we focus on collecting leads. But for domain name registration, cloud applications and regular hosting services, customers are used to order online, so we focus on automated self service online.
So the key takeaway here is: You need to build your conversion machine to either take orders online or to collect leads, or in some cases both. In any case your website should collect analytics data, track visitors and collect visitor contact details.
4.1 Conversion instruments
You convert visitors into leads or customers by using ‘Call to Action’s (CTA’s), Landing Pages (LP’s) or as we will discuss in 4.2 solutions for reservations or e-commerce.
It’s quite simple really: Why spend marketing funds to get reach if you can’t convert your visitors into customers? We recommend that you have CTA’s on every page of your website. It should be possible for your visitors to take action always! And by suggesting that they take action you will see that they actually do so.
An even more effective way to convert visitors from your digital campaigns is to lead them directly to a Campaign Landing Page (LP). That is a page on your website that is specifically designed for that campaign and with conversion as the only purpose.
You can learn more about Landing Pages in this article: How to make perfect landing pages for your website
4.2 Booking or e-commerce
CTA’s and LP’s are perfect for capturing leads, but the even better conversions is if you can take reservations or sell your products online. There are great solutions for online reservations and e-commerce that enable this.
You need to consider:
- Booking solutions
- E-commerce solutions
- Payment Gateways
- Extra security measures
If your business is based on appointment or time-rentals, like a hotel, restaurant, hair dresser, dentist etc. you should consider a booking system for your online conversions. By giving your customers the opportunity to book their time slot online you can save time and increase the attractiveness of your services. It is easier and faster for your clients and for you.
There are different booking solutions available. They come in all shapes and forms, and some are more suitable for the different requirement than others. You need evaluate different solutions based on your requirements. If your website is built with WordPress, Checkfront, Appointments+ and Bookly are plugins to consider.
If your business includes products that are suitable for a webshop there are huge advantages of giving customers the option to order online. There are many solutions available, and your requirements are key when choosing your e-commerce platform.
Mangento is a very commonly used solution, and if you use WordPress you should consider WooCommerce. The benefit of these larger solutions is how they integrate with your ERP solution and Payment Gateways.
You also have to consider Payment gateways with your booking or e-commerce solution. Some solutions to consider are PayPal, Stripe and Square.
Extra security measures should be considered if you want to take online payments or if you are going to handle confidential customer data. We strongly recommend SSL Encryption.
4.3 E-mail conversions
E-mail is a cheap and cheerful way to follow up on potential conversions. And in many cases very effective if it is done the right way. Rule number one is to make sure your customers and potential customers can leave their e-mail address when they visit your website.
At Cloudnames we collect e-mails through CTA’s on all our blog posts, we have made a number of ‘Lead Baits,’ which are ebooks, guides, webinars etc. that our visitors can download in exchange for their contact details.
One way we use e-mail is when someone leave our shopping cart without completing the checkout. This is visitors that bail out at the absolute last step and almost converted. We have automated an email with the content of their shopping cart and a simple button for them to click to continue their checkout. It is very effective!
4.4 Re-marketing techniques
The example above with e-mail re-marketing towards abandoned shopping carts can be done with many different re-marketing techniques. Also, by tracking your website visitors and which websites they are visiting you can create very effective remarketing campaigns with Social Media and Search Engines too.
The number one rule for re-marketing is to get your tracking done right with pixels, analytics code and cookies. This is small pieces of code that is installed on specific places of your website to log what your visitors are viewing.
You can learn more about pixels in this article: How to use the new Facebook pixel
Re-marketing towards an audience that has shown interest in your products or services can be very effective. This can easily be done on Social Media and Search Engines. Here at Cloudnames we use many different re-marketing techniques, and one of the simplest one is to target audiences that already have visited our website – assuming they may be interested in our products and services.
Another powerful technique we use is to mirror our customers and leads lists. This is done by identifying similar profiles on Social Media as our customers, assuming there is a larger probability that they too would be interested in our content.
You can learn more about the power of building audiences in this article: Multiply your visitors with custom audiences
5 Engaging with your Audience
The final part of the Customer Purchasing cycle is the “Implementation phase.”
This is where your focus should be to turn your customers into ambassadors. Customers that are extremely happy will likely purchase your products or services again, and tell their friends and family about it. This is also the final chapter in your Digital Strategy.
5.1 Customer reviews
Creating a way your customers can leave comments or reviews can be very beneficial for potential new customers. This is probably the best way to build trust, which of course is key to gaining trust with potential customers that don’t know your company.
Another way is to write customer stories or case studies that you share from your website. Reviews are also common on Social Media, but it will be more valuable if you make this available on your website.
It is also very important that you have a plan in place for handling bad reviews. You can learn more about that in this article: Bad reviews are the business killers of our age
5.2 Support services
Establishing an easy way for your customers to reach you when they need help is essential for any business. There are many great solutions for handling support, with ticketing, chat, escalation possibilities, e-mail support etc.
Some of the most common solutions are UserVoice, ClickDesk, ManageEngine and Zendesk. If your website is built on WordPress, you should consider HelpScout, Zendesk for WordPress, AwesomeSupport or WPHelpDesk.
5.3 Social responsiveness
All companies have a Social responsibility to contribute to the community and help improve environment for its surroundings. This is also highly appreciated by customers and your community, and should be communicated on your website and Social Media Profiles.
5.4 Creating an online community
Probably the best step you can take to engage with your audience is to build an online community, where you can combine all engagement with your customers and potential customers. By offering a login to a customer account which give access to resources and support you generate a great tool for interacting with your audience.
Also, be aware that there are solutions that allow people to log in with their Facebook or Google accounts (and many others). This is a very easy and convenient solution for your customer, that also give you access to communicate directly with your community members with Facebook notifications.
You can learn more about building an online community in this article: How successful is your online community
What we do at Cloudnames
We’re a Digital Agency that would love to help you to Be Your Best Online! We offer services that range from; Digital strategy consulting, Website development and management, Inbound marketing services, Social media management, Digital marketing, Sales and Marketing Automation and all the complicated technical details to effectively grow your revenue online.
At Cloudnames we offer all the services you need to Be Your Best Online! We can design, develop and manage your overall Online marketing strategy, while you focus on your core business. Leave your contact details and we’ll get back to you with expert advice!
Please contact Cloudnames if you have questions or need help! You can send us an email directly with your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing is Caring!
At Cloudnames our motto is “sharing is caring,” so we have made a guide on everything you need to know to make a successful Digital strategy. You can download your free copy of our Digital strategy guide here.
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