Your website and online presence are your most important marketing tools. They have to function at their best in order to attract new customers and incite them to make a purchase.
The difficulty caused by the online realm is the rapidly evolving life cycle. Things that were amazing in 2015 are highly likely to now be dead in the water. This doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch but you need to be regularly upgrading both your website and your digital marketing strategy.
While it is possible to set your business back if you’re distracted by every bright and shiny innovation that comes your way, there are some new practices and ways of thinking which are worth considering for your business in 2018:
Chatbots surfaced a few years ago but over the last 12 to 18 months they have really taken off. The technology allows a robot to handle the initial communications with your customers and to answer FAQs.
For example, a real estate agency may add a chatbot to their Facebook Messenger or website which welcomes visitors and asks if they are looking to buy or sell. The bot can go to work on the agent’s behalf, sharing relevant properties with users then transferring hot leads to the agent to follow up on.
A banking chatbot will invite people to ask about credit cards, home loans and general accounts before responding with helpful answers. Restaurant chatbots may share menu links or opening hours. These bots can be interacting with hundreds and even thousands of people at the same time, offering customer support which would be impossible to achieve otherwise.
If you’re thinking this sounds too expensive and complicated for your business, do some research. There are a lot of chatbot providers which can help you get set up without the hefty price tag.
[Want pizza? A chatbot can help]
One way to incorporate chatbots into your site is by integrating Facebook Messenger. This can kill two birds with one stone as you can also use it on social media to connect and chat with your clients.
Make it personal
When you connect with a Facebook Messenger chatbot, you may notice it uses your first name (the one according to your profile) to correspond with you. This is part of a rising trend in digital marketing personalisation.
Beyond using first names, personalisation looks to highlight the products you may be interested in buying. This is something Amazon does well with its ‘Recommend For You’ options across its website.
Personalisation also means keeping in touch with customers throughout their journey with your business. Automated emails can be created to make contact when a customer has an appointment coming up, when they haven’t been in touch for a while or simply to say ‘Happy Anniversary’.
As a starting point, it doesn’t take much to personalise your automated email marketing. From there, you can look to break your customers down into segments depending on their demographic, their purchasing history and any information you have relating to their most likely future interactions with your business.
[At Disney World, high-tech ‘Magic Bands’ provide a more seamless, personalised experience for park visitors, welcoming them and remembering details about their preferences]
One of the most important things about having a good website is that Google ‘likes’ it and judges it to be worthy of sharing on search result pages. In 2018, being SSL secure will play a large part in whether or not your site surfaces on those pages.
In ‘techy’ terms, according to info.ssl.com, “SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.”
When you add SSL to your website, it doesn’t look or function any differently from a usability perspective. The only difference is your web address will read ‘https://’, instead of ‘http://’.
[Look for the ‘https’ before you click on web links]
The reason it is important to upgrade is that come July 1st, 2018, Google is going to actively ‘punish’ websites which aren’t SSL secure by pushing them lower down search results. Google’s browser Chrome will also highlight ‘http://’ sites as not secure, which has the potential to turn people off your business.
Upgrading is a simple process. Talk to your website provider about making this change before July or you risk your website traffic taking a sharp nosedive.
Have you ever quickly jumped online to start researching a purchase or a holiday while you’re waiting in line? Google released a post recently which described these actions as ‘micro moments’.
A micro moment may involve finding out the price of an airline ticket or figuring out the correct way to tie a bowtie. This new term is something Smart Insights identified as a new marketing trend for 2018.
The trick as a marketer is to get your brand in front of your customers when they are quickly referring to their smartphone and to demonstrate how your product or service can solve their problem right now.
A micro moments strategy includes mobile-centric, targeted advertising. It will involve short content (think six second videos or single images with concise text) and strong calls to action.
[Menulog shortcuts the takeaway meal experience by offering quick links to different cuisines from search results]
Creating mico moment solutions may be as simple as updating your opening hours on Google My Business or adding your phone number to your website metadata (the information which shows up in search results). Consider yourself the customer, google your business and think of whether what you see would incite you to click or keep scrolling.
If it’s big, it must be scary, right?
Fortunately, the term ‘big data’ really only refers to the fact that there is a lot of it available!
Using big data, you can examine non-identifying information about your customers and your target audience. A couple of ways you can use this to your advantage include:
- Reviewing Google Trends to monitor what is interesting and important to your target customers
- Referring to Google Analytics to track how customers are discovering your website and optimise performance in this area
- Creating an automated email marketing sequence based on your most common customer journeys
- Suggesting products to customers based on past purchases or the purchases of customers in a similar demographic
Big data gives you insights which business owners of the past could only dream of. For example, it can show you what time of day the most people come to your website and what city your users are likely to live in. You can identify trends and use this information for more accurate forecasting.
Customer experience marketing
Once upon a time, ‘marketing’ meant putting posters up in shop windows or spending big on television commercials. Back then, it was all about the message.
Now, it’s all about the customer. We all encounter advertising constantly as we go about our day. Marketing has become more savvy to meeting the needs of consumers by providing more personalised content and more impressive experiences.
Coke Zero created a cool example of this a couple of years ago, giving a select number of customers a 70 second challenge in order to win free movie tickets. The resulting videos were compiled to compliment a viral marketing campaign.
[You can see the 007 / Coca-Cola Zero campaign here]
When creating marketing messages, consider how they can delight your customers as well as sharing what your business is about.
You have a video recorder in your hand, why not put it to use? There are so many statistics showing how effective video is as a marketing tool. For example:
- 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
- One-third of online activity is spent watching video.
- Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
- Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
You can use video in the following ways:
- Stream live moments on Facebook and Snapchat
- Create ‘welcome’ videos introducing users to your product or services and place them on the homepage of your website
- Gather customer testimonials in video form for your website
- Shoot ‘how to’ videos that promote your products
- Make fun content to share across social media
You don’t need a huge budget to get started leveraging the effectiveness of video, just make sure you are posting content which aligns with your marketing strategy and is helpful, informative or entertaining for your audience.
[Oh, who is that great looking guy broadcasting live? I regularly post quick clips and am always surprised at how much interest is captured.]
Great digital marketing is about keeping your finger on the pulse, researching what’s new and understanding what works for your business. There is some trial and error involved but if you have clear goals and form a strategy around them you have the potential to skyrocket your leads and conversions.
Related Tag: Sales Automation Consultant