Should I do Digital?

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

When people ask what I do for a living, my answer is normally followed by ‘so what is digital and why do people do it?’  Good question eh?  So, what if you own a business that does not sell their product or service online – do you need to invest in a digital presence?

Let’s take a company where you would traditionally think that no digital presence was required.  What about a company that makes specialist parts for aeroplanes and sells business to business on a face-to-face level.  Why should they invest in digital and what should they do?

The conversation needs to be moved away from price:  Many companies fall into the trap of leading conversations with price – I have worked with some culprits of this, and when you are the cheapest product, this works great.  However, you are training the customer to shop by price, so when you are not the cheapest offering, the customer will buy elsewhere.

Building up the value proposition and moving away from price (a race to the bottom) is not easy, but discussing the value of your products and why you should be the first choice are sections that should be on your website.  And these should be the messages that you take out to your audience.

Your reach will grow and (fairly) cheaply: If you think that your audience does not spend time online, there is a 95% chance of you being wrong.  That’s not to say that they are easy to find.  Maybe LinkedIn would be a good starting point for a specialist B2B product.  A simple search for groups linked to the airplane industry shows hundreds of results – or try LinkedIn advertising for a very specific message to an audience that you can segment yourself. The cost of this sort of advertising is very low considering the audience.  Or run some small scale advertising on an industry website where your audience spent their time learning about the market place.  Or send a communication out to the industry website subscribers?

Differentiate: There are a number of ways in which digital allows you to differentiate your company from the competition.  Your tone of voice on your website; running some interesting content of the website which is not just B2B facing, as B2B buyers are consumers too (e.g. videos of planes using your parts); writing about the issues that your customers are facing (e.g. our specialist parts are 20% lighter than they were two years ago, which drives fuel efficiency).

You can tell if it’s working: Traditional methods of reaching out to audiences like these has been a little hit and miss – a mail drop here, attending a conference there, etc.  All of these are really hard to measure.  But digital is on the whole very transparent – if you have spent money, you will be able to see how many people have viewed that communication, and even if this has resulted in enquiries.

Now, I must confess that I am bias…..I think that digital should play a role in whatever type of marketing your are planning – and don’t let the industry that you operate in be a limiting factor – you may just have to think a little further outside the box.

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The Perfect Marketing Email

Email Marketing

Email Marketing

In reviews of marketing campaigns, there is one tool which is consistently used by marketers because it is cheap and effective: email marketing.

However, in my experience, little time is spent working out what makes an effective email campaign – and given the amount of flexibility you can have and how measurable your changes are, I find this crazy!  So, here are the 5 features that the perfect marketing email should have:

Visibility:  Like any marketing, unless it is experienced by the target audience, it is a waste of money.  So, make sure that it gets through Spam filters, and remember that different email providers will have different triggers for dumping your masterpiece in Spam.

Great subject line:  This is a cliché, but I receive so many marketing emails with the subject line ‘Latest News from……’.  So what?!  I don’t care what your latest news is, I want to know what you can do for me!  Simply thinking about the email from the recipient’s perspective can boost your open rate.

Content that means something:  This is a delicate balance…  It kind of depends on the objective of your email, but a mix of words and images is good.  100% words is pretty dry (and does feel a lot like a work email), but 100% pictures would mean that you are more likely to be categorised spam, and what if the pictures are blocked?  I saw a nice trick a while ago where the sender has coded their email pictures to say ‘you are missing out on a great picture of a beautiful guitar’ when the pictures were blocked – highly recommended!

Call to Action:  This may seem obvious, but I have just opened up the last 10 marketing emails that I have received, and 4 didn’t have a call to action.  Let the recipient know what you would like them to do!

Tracking:  If you have segmented your audience (and you should have to know what content the recipient would like to see), you should track which type of recipients have interacted with the email.  Simple custom URLs will track people when they get to your site, and ideally you would have something in place to track them while they are on your site – then you can start linking email with conversions and ROI!

What are your email tips?  Leave and comment and let me know!

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Landing Page Happiness

Landing Page

Landing Page

Last week, I wrote about PPC and how, if you manage it well, it can deliver excellent quality traffic to your website.  However, I also mentioned that this is only half of the equation – if your website is a disappointing experience, then the money and effort that went into driving the right traffic will all be wasted.  So, here are some tips to help you towards landing page happiness and a great experience for the user.

  1. Make sure it’s a landing page: You should not use your home page as the first page that someone visits when they come from PPC.  For a lot of the visitors who visit your site, you will not know what their particular interest is, but for PPC users, you will know what keyword they have used, so you will be able to tailor the content that they see to the keyword that they have used.
  2. Make is specific: Although this is not PPC related, it is something to consider!  If you are receiving traffic from a particular referrer, then you should tailor your landing page to that referrer.  For example, the link to your website from your YouTube channel should contain video (you already know they like that!), or if it is from Twitter, then the content should be concise and as punchy as possible.  Think about the mind-set that the user will be in when they first visit your site.
  3. Keep the options limited: When this is done well, the user will not feel like their options are limited.  Depending on the keyword that the user has searched for, offer the logical next steps for journey, and don’t confuse them by giving them too many options – this will result in the user getting lost and abandoning the site.  And don’t forget the call to action, it’s what the user is looking for!
  4. Let the user decide: There is no such thing as the perfect landing page, so you should always be testing your landing page.  Using A/B or multivariate testing to see which elements are working and which are not, and let the user behaviour and a deep analysis of the results tell you what the best approach is.  And don’t make testing a one-off exercise – it should be part of a programme of continuous improvement.  

Got some great landing page tips of your own?  Please leave a comment and share them!

5 Hot Topics for 2013

What does 2015 hold?

What does 2013 hold?

So, the world hasn’t ended and its the first week of 2013!

January is a great time to take stock of 2012 and look forward to how the digital environment is going to affect your organisation.  To help you out, here are my thoughts on the top 5 topics to watch in the next twelve months.

This has already grown massively in 2012.  If you are active on Twitter, then you will be used to people tweeting their opinions on the TV show they are watching – indeed, many TV shows encourage viewers to do so by helpfully providing a ready-made hash-tag for users to tweet with.  However, in 2013, second-screening is going to develop – the number of devices that people can use to get online is growing all the time, so watch out for the rise of the Xbox and Wii U.  Also, the UK will follow the US and see significant growth in connected Smart TVs which may cut the number of devices required to multi-task down to one.

Perhaps the most predictable of hot topics!  It will come as no surprise that the number of smart-phones will increase (hopefully in line with people being able to use them!), but how people use them will change.  Mobile payment started to gather momentum at the end of 2012 with Starbucks accepting payment in 7,000 outlets via the Square Wallet app.  Apple’s offering, Passbook, has great potential for redeeming vouchers but the take-up rates suggest that it will need to develop in 2013.  However, adoption may be the issue in 2013 – consumer trust in mobile payments is yet to be fully understood.

Content is still King:
Search engine algorithms have become more and more sophisticated in the last couple of years – they are now capable of sniffing out and prioritising articles which are original, well written and informative.  Content marketing got some very positive PR in 2012 after Coke announced that it was one of their key priorities, but now its up to everyone else to develop their plan – make sure your frequency, themes and distribution plans are sorted for 2013.

Social Commerce:
This has struggled to gain traction over the last couple of years – ask 99% of organisations how their Facebook store is performing!  Organisations need to become more sophisticated and subtle about the way that they sell – Pinterest will continue to deliver referral success (look out for Instagram this year too).  After a couple of year’s ‘grace’, organisations will expect social media to start delivering revenue, particularly as social can be resource heavy.

Demographics out, Behaviour In:
Advertising is unrecognisable over the last ten years – the channels by which organisations communicate with their audience has changed dramatically.  However, many organisations still target their audience by demographics – age, gender, location, eduction.  In the digital age, the opportunity is in behaviour.  Let’s say you sell guitars (one of my favourite subjects!) – instead of targeting by demographics, target users who follow guitar manufacturers on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, or people who use guitar forums.  Those who unlock this in 2013 will have a good year.

So, those are my 5 hot topics for 2013 – what would be in your list?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Mobile Marketing Strategy

Mobile phones

When mobile marketing is mentioned there is often a sharp intake of breath from the room, with everyone thinking ‘this is going to be expensive’!

However, mobile doesn’t have to break the bank. This year is a perfect opportunity to start looking at your mobile strategy, because the growth in people using mobiles to access websites is likely to keep increasing.

From a marketing perspective, it’s easy to see why mobile is so attractive. The devices are virtually all on, always next to their user and content is easily shared. In addition, the analytics for mobile are accurate and powerful, with some packages on par with Google Analytics.

I did say that mobile doesn’t need to break the bank. You should be able to build up your mobile strategy piece by piece, and here is where you start:

1) Understand what your current level of mobile use is – the first step should be to see what number of visitors use mobile devices, and what devices they are. There is no hard and fast rule as to what the proportion needs to be before you start your mobile strategy – that will depend on your market, your website and the budget you can allocate to mobile.

2) QR Codes – these are a really good way of starting to meddle in mobile. These are codes which convert off-line activity to on-line, where behaviour can be tracked more accurately. There are some great examples of this being used with direct marketing, but there are also a lot of fails. You need to think where the user is likely to see the code – if they are at home or in the office, they are likely to have access to the internet. If they are on the London Underground, they will not (Google Olympus QR Code Fail!)

3) SMS and MMS Marketing – the average text is opened within 4 minutes of it being received, so response rates can be very quick – they enable effective campaigns to strike while the iron is hot! An SMS campaign should not break the bank too – if you decide not to use a short number (e.g. 88112), that is a saving of £5-10k per year, so most of your cost is in the text itself.

4) Mobile Website – this is basically an abbreviated version of your website. It will have less menu options for the user, but will render well on a small screen such as a smart phone. These can be as simple or complicated as you would like, it entirely depends on the needs of your business. But before you invest, actually look at your website on a variety of devices – how does it look and how easy is it to get around. Many content management systems, e.g. WordPress, automatically generate mobile versions of all of its websites, so this should save you the cost.

5) Apps – if a large proportion of your customers are viewing your mobile website and your content is forever being updated, then an app might be the answer for you. The growth of apps has been astonishing – the Apple Store has 650,000 for you to choose from and Apple users alone has downloaded over 300 billion apps. However, to have an app takes a lot of investment – costs can be upwards of £20,000, most of which is in the design and production of the website.

So, before you start briefing your agency on your new app, I recommend that you build up your digital strategy. Start with small campaigns and small costs and build it up your mobile presence, taking your learnings from every step of the way.

What do you think of mobile? What tips would you give to people starting out? Leave a comment and let me know!