The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
by Alexander Bussey, Freelancer
This article is the first in a series designed to cover the fundamentals of digital marketing. The intention is to create a valuable resource for small business owners, marketers or PR experts who are getting to grips with the digital landscape in 2018.
As the first in the series, it makes sense to use this article to talk about the importance of a strong foundation, and the long-term benefits associated with making sure that your website has everything it needs to succeed.
Speaking frankly, there?s no point spending money on SEO, PPC or even social marketing if your website isn?t up to scratch. You?ll end up with subpar results, and you may even end up blaming your marketing campaigns when the real culprit was a broken ?buy? button, a confusing menu or a page of duplicate content.
By the end of this article, you should be able to recognize all of the basic things that a website needs to succeed. You should also have a good idea of what a well-optimized website looks like, and we are also aiming to provide all of the information that your development team will need to start correcting any issues too.
In particular, it?s important to ensure that your site has:
Plenty of well-optimized content
Ever since Google introduced the Penguin update back in 2012, content has been one of the most important parts of any website. Keyword-rich content helps Google to understand that your site is offering real value to its visitors, and it also helps to:
- Cement your place in search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Lower the cost-per-click of PPC advertising campaigns
- Boost engagement
- Convert prospective customers
As a rule of thumb, you should make sure that you have a page of detailed, interesting and unique content for every keyword that you want to rank for. It?s also a really good idea to build out some ?general interest? content that answers common questions that people might have about your business, your industry or your product.
This helps to establish a bit of brand personality, and also builds trust by making it clear that you are invested in your vertical.
It?s also worth investing a bit of extra time to make sure your product and category pages pop too. It might seem like a lot of effort now, but if your content really sells your service/product for you, it?ll be doing more than half the work once you start launching those big marketing campaigns.
Whether you?re pushing people to sign up to your newsletter, trying to sell a product or just generate leads, a strong call-to-action (CTA) can make all the difference.
Picture yourself reading an article about a brand new car. Now, imagine at the bottom of the page there were two buttons; one saying ?click here to learn more? and another saying ?technical specifications of the XJ8?
Which are you going to pick? Chances are, it?s the one that seems to speak to you directly, using a strong verb, and attempting to put the benefit (learning more) ahead of the technical content of the next page
The same is true of any website: Implementing strong CTAs drives an uptick in conversions, higher engagement rates and more action on the part of browsers. It?s also a very easy fix, requiring minimal development time.
There?s no point putting your website in front of prospective customers if you can?t make the sale, or cope with the traffic. Unfortunately, bugs, glitches, and unintended errors crop up on a lot of websites, and the end result is always the same: Customers get frustrated and then, instead of buying a product, they bounce away and take their cash to a competing site.
To prevent this, we always recommend that our clients test every aspect of their website before they launch a marketing campaign. Taking a few hours to check that you can add products to the basket, that all of the buttons function correctly and that it?s easy to move from the home page, right through to the checkout can make all the difference, and save you a lot of money in the long run.
Believe it or not, site load speed also has an effect on how Google rates your site, and on how easily you?ll rank for competitive SERPs. One of the easiest ways to reduce load times is to ensure that your images are well optimized and as small as they possibly can be.
There are plenty of tools out there to shrink images, and your web team will know exactly how to trim them down so that the site looks good and performs well. If you are curious to know what your current site speed is, you may find Google?s own speed checker very useful.
Simple and straightforward navigation
Convoluted menus and irritating drop-down boxes are a sure-fire way to lose customers in 2018. Most people now expect to be able to reach any page of your site in less than four clicks, and you will need to clearly signpost common user journeys if you want to make the most of your inbound traffic.
If your main menu is complicated, unwieldy or difficult to navigate, it?s definitely worth considering an overhaul. This also goes for landing pages that feature hundreds of different drop-down options, or pages that can only be reached via a very specific, and obtuse, path.
Spending the time to work out how to make your pages more accessible, and re-jigging menus to prioritize the most important parts of your site will increase the traffic reaching the bits of your site that are most likely to convert, and you?ll end up with much happier visitors too, which is always a good thing.
Your developers should be able to tell you how hard it will be to organize your menu, but it’s generally a fairly straightforward process. The difficulty lies in knowing how to arrange things visually, and how to prioritize different options.
The next guide in this series will focus on on-site SEO and the technical elements that are needed to guarantee good ranking potential.
If you have any questions about the information in this guide or want to chat about any of the issues that it raises, we?re always on-hand to offer help and advice. Just drop us a message using the contact form on this site, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.