The world has changed forever. That’s a big statement; and it’s one that gets bandied around a lot. In reality though, truly epochal events during modern times are rare (think 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash); but right now, we are undoubtedly in the midst of a generation-defining World crisis. The challenges we face as a global community are numerous and far-reaching, and for business owners they are steeped in uncertainty - a recent Yelp survey in the U.S revealed that 60% of lockdown-enforced closures have become terminal.
So, in an environment where premises are closed, footfall is non-existent as a consequence, and consumer habits are changing (possibly forever), where does that leave organisations who need to continue operating successfully amongst a myriad of trading restrictions and unpredictable customer behaviour?
Digital marketing has grown exponentially over the last decade and there is no sign of a slowdown - in fact, the trend is forecasted to continue upwards for years to come. Whereas companies used to invest a huge chunk of their marketing budget into sprawling call centres in order to facilitate customer contact, the modus operandi in the third decade of this century is starkly different. The numbers speak for themselves: SEO has a 15% conversion rate compared to less than 2% for traditional outbound methods such as cold-calling or direct mail.
Studies have shown digital marketing to be even more effective during the pandemic: live events such as expos and trade shows are out of bounds; face to face customer networking is off-limits. As a result, an unprecedented number of people are working from home and this presents an entirely new audience - digital marketing is the key to attacking this untapped pool of consumers.
Direct digital marketing has been just as successful and recent studies have helped to illuminate why:
The figures make convincing reading, so how do you go about launching into your digital marketing strategy and how does the pandemic influence how you approach it? Agencies for digital marketing are numerous, and all will promise you some sort of uplift to your level of customer interaction and ultimately, your sales figures. With so many agencies to choose from, and a seemingly endless supply of digital marketing consultants vying for a share of your marketing budget, where do you begin? I’ve dived into the world of digital marketing agencies to see what I can unearth…
Infographics are considered to trigger the highest number of shares, and a good agency will wireframe your graphic, research content, create the design, and ultimately produce it. They’ll also monitor the number of clicks back to your site and track the average time that potential customers spend on your page - these are great methods for assessing the effect your infographic is having. They can also provide stats around specific key-word impact which will help you with writing blog-posts for your site.
Rich media for mobile devices is another high-impact strategy: this generally consists of videos, and flash and expandable banners. This sort of content is engaging and is a great way to manipulate social media traffic towards your site.
Social media advertising itself is also a great way to drive consumers onto your webpage, and a competent digital marketing agency will have expertise in this field as well. The advantage here is the ability to target demographics in a more nuanced way than TV or other traditional mediums ever could: a person’s social media page contains information that literally profiles them for you. Marry that to the option of generating an ad at the exact time a user engages with their social media, and you have a genuine captive audience. To put this into context, almost a third of adults under 30 use Instagram.
Some digital marketing agencies/consultants like us at Inspired Works can even go as far as conducting behavior analysis to map out user interaction throughout the purchase process, and even construct high-level econometric models to see how your ads have performed across different marketing channels.
It’s a comprehensive strategy, but do you really need someone else to do it for you? Consider the positives:
You’ve got your digital marketing strategy and visitors to your site are increasing, it’s important that you don’t let these opportunities to convert sales pass you by. An engaging, uncluttered website design will maximise the chances of turning hits into sales. As a web design agency ourselves, we have proven we can produce a site that is both functional and attractive - with Covid stipulations ensuring that consumerism is now almost exclusively web-based, this is as vital as the quality of product or service you are offering. An online presence in general, once deemed unnecessary by many shop-based small businesses, now forms an integral part, or perhaps the entirety, of your customer’s journey. The best Web design agencies will be capable of producing you a site from scratch or enhancing an existing page.
The benefits of a professional agency over a solo creative designer is that they will have a much better understanding of your business from a commercial standpoint, and they will be able to give your site a synergy with digital marketing practices. An artisan-esque page from a hobbyist may sound romantic, but the commercial acumen of a web design agency, along with their expertise in producing striking, engaging imagery will enable them to compliment your digital marketing strategy.
So just what should you be looking for in a website design? First and foremost, your website needs to accommodate the needs of the user. A simple, intuitive design is best. Accessibility is another requirement, so an easy-to-navigate mobile site is essential, particularly because you’re hoping to drive traffic your way via digital marketing. 57% of all mobile users will choose not recommend a business if their mobile website is poorly designed or unresponsive.
Ensure that your website isn’t confusing - this is especially important for your mobile site. Consider employing an F-based pattern to your pages. Eye tracking studies have found that most of what people see is in the top and left areas of the screen. The ‘F’ shaped layout mimics our natural pattern of reading (left to right and top to bottom), so an effectively designed website will work in tandem with a reader’s propensity for scanning the page in this way.
The marketing is taken care of and you’ve got a fresh new website design, so what’s left?
An SEO specialist can help push your site up the search engine ladder - and this is imperative for capturing organic traffic. The stats below elucidate why:
I’ve blogged separately on this site about the merits of SEO when correctly structing a blog, and it should form a mainstay of your digital marketing strategy.
It’s arguable that the current climate is the most challenging that business owners have ever faced, but there are ways of fighting back. A digital marketing strategy was a great tool for generating business, but now it’s the tool for doing so.
A creative mind, intelligent, and with a flair for writing. Grant flips seamlessly between topics and sectors.