So, in business there are recessions, there are booms and there are pandemics, but is there ever a bad time to invest in your Digital Marketing? No. Your brand should be actively marketing throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, economic downturn and eventual restoration of the “new normal”.
Highstreets were referred to as desolate, the use of the word “furlough” hit unprecedented highs, and business diversification has never meant more. It seems the world changed completely overnight.
As 2020, 2.0, unfolds, the true impact on our economy is unravelling, and many businesses are feeling the effects. Redundancies, scaling back, diversification and even closures.
Where digital marketing is concerned, in recent surveys, more than 90% of businesses reported a detrimental impact upon their day to day business and as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak would be cutting back on their marketing spending. And according to recent research only 14% of businesses will go ahead with campaigns as planned.
Cutting back on your marketing spend is not our recommended method to save money however; allocating your marketing resources more efficiently will save money whilst increasing revenue.
Being sensitive to the current pandemic and economic downturn with your marketing strategies is obviously paramount, you don’t want your efforts to be counter-productive! Ensuring your messaging is supportive of charitable organisations, small local businesses, the local and national government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, and of course the NHS, while staying true to YOUR brand values is the key.
Now is the time to collect customer data to better target your brand messaging and marketing efforts. Ironically though, media planning, paid search and SEO have been the digital marketing areas that have suffered most.
The resounding importance for the Coronavirus pandemic is without doubt the health of the population, but there are many more people affected in addition to the ill. By acknowledging the issues this situation is having on your client base (both existing and prospective) you’ll be establishing a shared narrative, enhancing the trust in your brand.
Although we may be becoming more cautious with our personal interactions, we haven’t lost interest in the businesses around us. In fact, in many cases, it’s given consumers the opportunity to delve deeper into the values and services of businesses on their doorstep.
With more time comes more intent; individuals are focusing their efforts on the local, independent companies around them, looking to support those in need. On Pinterest alone, there has been a 400% increase in ‘ways to support a small business’ searches, confirming there is a whole new market out there to engage with.
Small businesses across the country have shown their ability to adapt and evolve during the Coronavirus outbreak, and this adaptability has not only kept them going but supported local communities and charities too, in turn increasing the brand awareness. The surge in support for these small businesses, and the focus on their versatility, is creating quite the ‘buzz’ on social media. It’s hard to miss the gratitude and appreciation for those who have adapted to help others the best way they know how.
Coupled with this need to ‘stay local’ has also been the upsurge in eCommerce sales, with Europe seeing an increase of 35% of installations of eCommerce apps during th height of the pandemic and a 25% increase in time spent in app sessions.
Placing your brand in line with these messages and on the right platforms will be the key to survival in the long term.
What’s your brand message?
Whilst being reminded about the virus constantly can create a feeling of bombardment, it is a mistake to avoid the COVID-19 topic altogether. Mentioning it isn’t charging the fear, it’s helping people to feel connected to the brand, demonstrating that you know and understand their situation.
Those brands who can empathise with the consumer during, and after, the pandemic will undoubtedly be more successful. It’s essential that you get the tone and message on point. Effective marketing means always being willing to adapt and change with the circumstances, rolling with the industry punches if you will.
Make your offers relevant to what your target market is going through right here right now. What will they need moving forward, and what are they most likely to want to spend their money on?
It’s also a good idea to remove anything from previous content or website copy that may come across as insensitive.
Social Media Marketing
Our new socially distant way of life means that the country is spending more time within the confines of their own homes, whether furloughed, working from home, home educating, or simply being cautious. Consequently, people have been embracing social media with an unprecedented rise in screen time, an increase of 25% in engagement on Instagram in April 2020 alone.
Work smarter, not harder! If you’ve had to delay a product launch, pause or even recreate your content plan, don’t be afraid to amend and repurpose previous content to continue your online presence. Conjuring up fresh ideas during unchartered waters can be tough at a moments notice. Using what you already have as a starting point is perfectly okay; you’ve invested time, effort and money into your content, gaining value from it time and time again is recommended. Try updating the language and focal points showing its current relevance, implementing a sense of community in your older posts.
Content created before the pandemic may not now be as relevant, but it might come back into focus a few months down the line. So instead of throwing it out entirely, stash it away for later, you’ll thank yourself when the time comes and you can pull it out of the bag with a few tweaks.
Now with the reinstatement of restrictions in pockets of the UK is the ideal time to actively dig into your audience's conversations; spend time as a live user, instead of scheduling in advance? Post within platform, interact with what’s going on in your community right here right now, be present. Using your intuitive social listening skills to then direct your content throughout this fast moving and ever changing situation, enables you to tailor your message to fit that moment in time.
Something to consider for your current social media marketing strategy is relevant timing. Life isn’t as we once knew it; many of us are still not commuting, clocking in at 9am and clocking out at 5pm, our daily routines have been reworked. It’s worth considering that your potential audience is online at different times and for longer periods.
To establish when this is, test out upcoming posts with various times of the day. Traditional posting tools and scheduling algorithms have yet to catch up with this ‘new normal’, so taking the time to listen to the mood of your audience allows you to post when it’s most likely to be seen and be the most interacted with.
Keeping one eye on your competitors is always a good idea, by monitoring which channels they’re pushing their marketing efforts through you can assess how you will push your own. You certainly don’t want to simply copy everyone else, but to some extent you need to be aware of what seems to be performing well and on what platform.
With the enforced isolation we saw during the beginning of the pandemic and the subsequent lack of ‘normalcy’, more people than ever are on the internet, and for longer. Although this could be fantastic for brand awareness, the unpredictable nature of the ongoing situation and post-Corona income led to a reduction in online spending during the first half of 2020 but with, stalwarts of the highstreet and online giants like Next and Amazon predicting and upsurge for the final quarter (especially in online sales) of 2020 a knee jerk reaction and cancelling marketing efforts looks to be a long-term mistake. For those who are continuing with their campaigns, the average Pay Per Click cost has dropped by over 50% across the board, which means they’re enjoying leads at significantly lower costs than before. A tremendous competitive advantage. Big winners in this sector are charity organisations, nonprofits and health and medical businesses.
If you’re an online business, or a business with an online offering, now could be the perfect time to increase your Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
So, rather than pausing your campaigns altogether, an amended strategy, taking advantage of this lower cost, would be to reduce your spending, yet attain more effective bang for your buck by allocating it wisely.
Generally speaking, this is an excellent opportunity to stand out from your competitors, and spending the time now working on your long-term strategy will pay dividends later.
Utilising the ‘Overview’ section of your Google Ads dashboard, you can see a Day & Hour chart, which you can adjust to see when you tend to get the most conversions. By honing in on the top 2-3 days and times, then either excluding the other days or reducing the bids so you still appear, your campaign spend will be more cost effective giving you a better return on investment.
One of the most valuable pieces of information when considering your Pay Per Click budget is the performance of your keywords. By interrogating how much you have been paying for your clicks, compared to what the market rates are, you can determine where the smart spending lies. Narrow down which keywords/phrases are forming lower cost conversions as opposed to those that are costing you more, then amend accordingly.
With the nation beginning to ramping up their business output once again, the need for fresh, accurate and enticing content is enormous. Although many would have chosen to keep their marketing offerings in-house during the pandemic, now’s the time to invest in what you put out; marketing is why, and how, your customers not only buy from you, but find you in the first place.
In the same way you might do an alright job of cutting your partner’s hair, the chances are a professional will do a far better job. Professionalism is always key.
Content creation can be anything from graphics, adverts, social media posts, blogs, vlogs and website copy. Ensuring these are high quality will boost your search engine rankings. The more Google likes and respects what you do, the more traffic and exposure you’ll receive.
Outsourcing your content creation can significantly increase your financial return, freelancers and specialists are proven to be more productive and innovative. By giving the task to those who know how, you’ll be spending less hours yourself, therefore being able to distribute your time and effort elsewhere in your business.
The pandemic and the inevitable economic recession that has followed continues to be an incredibly difficult time for businesses both large and small, the important thing to take away from this is the changes both you and your customers are facing. If you are to continue marketing your brand effectively, you must demonstrate understanding and empathy whilst maintaining awareness of you and your business. Investing the time to your long-term strategy, website design, copy, brand message, SEO and social media will help to reinforce your business position.
Spending time with your PPC statistics and Google dashboard not your idea of fun? Get in touch for us to tick that box for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Onsite SEO - Getting Ahead Of Google (And other Search Engines, but basically Google..!)
If this blog has made its way to your screen it’s likely you either have a website (hosted or self-built), or are planning on getting one. You will have heard of the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but may not have grasped its relevance or implementation fully. You see, without investing in your site’s SEO, you can’t expect to ever appear highly on the all-important Google rankings. Without impactful/purposeful/deliberate SEO efforts, it’s safe to say you’re doing half a job.
There are a multitude of practises, activities, tips and tricks to aid your SEO efforts, both on your website (on-site SEO) and through other channels (off-site SEO). At Goldilocks Creative we offer packages to cover all, or few, of these aspects, but if you’d like to give it a go yourself, here are our top tips for winning at on-site SEO. (See our “Off-site SEO” blog for help there too!)
On average a website has 3 seconds to grab someone's attention, and hold it. It needs to showcase why you are the best of the bunch.
A homepage that is impressive in terms of design and usability goes a long way in converting visitors into customers. A/B testing is advisable to test your homepage design elements; what works with your audience and, more importantly, what doesn’t.
Does your home page load slowly? Have a clunky interface? Is it too busy and hard to follow? If so, you will almost definitely lose prospective customers, no matter how fantastic a product you’re offering.
Keep your product images up to date, and ensuring you have the most recent offers and releases visible from your home page will stand you in good stead for SEO purposes. The new season must-haves, the technological upgrades, and the revolutionary inventions, are all irresistible USP’s to consumers.
Having at least one call to action on your visitors first landing page is essential. Digital shoppers want to be able to shop quickly and easily, being able to buy options from the home screen or get to the section they need right away will increase sales. Potential customers should not have to work to hunt down the option they want.
An effective product page will not only generate more sales revenue, but it will also prevent as many product returns, reducing costs.
Pricing is almost always going to be the deciding factor for someone making a purchase. Contrastly, a common reason online shoppers leave a site without completing their purchase is often down to unclear or misleadingly low pricing. Having exceptionally low prices per item, but ramping up the costs in shipping is a sure-fire way to lose a sale! This type of deceiving pricing breaks shoppers’ trust, and once you have lost that they will not buy from you, fact.
Clearly displayed and fully inclusive prices on your product pages, with shipping costs detailed alongside the listing, will mean your potential customers stay engaged and informed.
One of the biggest challenges for online retailers is the lack of senses available; you may well sell a physical product, but your customers can’t see/touch/smell/taste/hear it prior to them deciding to purchase. As the retailer your product descriptions are how you can provide clarity, aiding your sale. Including short paragraphs and bullet points of specifications allow concise and an easily understood summary.
Your product descriptions need to be detailed and compelling, while also incorporating your brand’s personality, making it unique and relatable. Your product copy should be written to reflect the specific needs of your ideal customers, speaking to them as individuals, from you. Simply taking the manufacturer’s copy and dumping it verbatim alongside a product image will not suffice, in fact it could well damage your SEO ratings as Google will consider it duplicate content.
Providing robust product descriptions (with complete item specifications, dimensions and other technical details) will ensure less returns, as the more informed the customer is the more likely they are to be happy with their purchase.
Return policies are often expensive and rigid. If you can provide a straightforward and free (if possible) returns policy, your visitors will be more inclined to shop from your website, they’ve got nothing to lose!
Similarly, if you offer a ‘price match’ guarantee customers will lean to you rather than your competitors as this enhances their trust. Being able to demonstrate that your store is customer friendly and trustworthy is one of the cornerstones to winning at eCommerce!
Keyword and keyphrase research takes some thought and planning but is the ultimate winning component for making sure your site ranks highly. Search Engines love it when you use the most relevant and frequently searched keywords for your product page’s title, description and headings.
It’s important to note here however, that simply plying your copy with your chosen keywords and phrases does not fly with Google, they can spot manipulative attempts a mile off, so organic, authentic writing is the key.
Not sure how to decipher your keywords? There are a plethora of free, and paid for, tools guiding you in the right direction. These are very helpful, but it’s also a great idea to just sit with a notepad and pen; what are your prospective customers typing in and how could they find you? Geographical locations, product descriptors, business and industry specific terms, etc will all help here.
Now you’re ready to get writing, but what other ways are there to optimise your pages?
You need to stand out from your competitors so your product labels need to be enticing to your viewers. Accurate information, perhaps with character (business specific), will reassure your potential customers that clicking on your link will not be wasting their time!
Within your website there are differing levels of text. We highly recommend ensuring your key phrases are in all levels; Header, Sub Header and Body Text. In addition to this, one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO is with Alt Text, utilise this feature by inputting relevant text to all of your tags - it can count as much as your anchor text!
Ever thought about how your images are labelled? Optimise your alt text by naming your images to include relevant keywords or phrases! Put it like this; how often do you use an image search to find the product you’re after? Exactly!
Optimising your product pages with precise key phrases is one of the best tips of the ecommerce trade. Expanding your keyword database to include ‘long tail’ keywords (product specific phrases with 3 words or more) will help those who search long phrases. These people are your premium audience as they know exactly what they are looking to purchase. The conversion rate from visitor to customer is much higher.
The user experience of your website relies heavily on its structure. If your site is tough to navigate or has complex categories and drop-downs, users will simply look elsewhere for your products. Online consumers want ease, convenience and rapid response.
In 2020, far more items are purchased from a mobile device than a desktop, therefore having a mobile-friendly store is essential. The mobile user experience of your website needs to be equally as good as the laptop version; consumers have a zero-tolerance attitude to anything less. Visitors expect a responsive, easily understood layout, ensuring this will equate to an improved mobile conversion rate.
Your menu items on both mobile and desktop should display the range of product/service categories concisely; not so overwhelming that it’s impossible for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, drowning in a sea of potential purchases.
Blogging; that word you will have heard repeatedly from marketeers and SEO specialists! Not only does it enable fresh content directly from the horse’s mouth, which search engines love, it’ll also keep your consumers engaged with your brand.
Blogs become a touch-point, allowing you to express your business values, processes, releases, promotions and events, all of which consumers may miss otherwise. Use-queries and detailed posts about individual products/services will also give the audience reassurance and support for their purchases.
You can choose to share your blogs and/or vlogs via email or on social networks, this increases the organic reach of your store, directing target audience traffic to your website, without you needing to actively market this content, it’s free!
Vlogging has fast become the new media phenomenon. By including entertaining and engaging video content to your marketing strategy, you are increasing your brand awareness and reach. Consumers want to get behind brands, and when they do, they want the world to know about it.
Little known online fact; YouTube is now the second most utilised search engine, see our offsite SEO blog for details of how having a YouTube channel and using it to power your website blog and social media can really ramp up those click throughs.
As you may have noticed, the digital arena within your local town, industry and/or realm has become highly competitive. Contributing to your very own blog or vlog has become an essential aspect of successful marketing campaigns.
Over 50% of all visitors who abandon their e-basket do so because it’s too complex or too slow a process to get to the finish line and purchase.
If your visitors have managed to find your website through your various SEO and content efforts, you then want the best conversion rate to a sale!
Probably the most simple and straight-forward way to improve your conversions is to simply reduce the steps it takes to buy a product. Here’s a few tips:
Exit pop-ups are a brilliant way to improve sales and to increase sales referrals within your web store, this can be done in one of two ways.
People love what they consider to be a bargain; if you have an exclusive deal for them they’re more likely to continue with their purchase. Presenting this discount when your visitors are navigating away will entice them to stay on and purchase.
The second method follows a purchase. To keep the user actively engaged in your brand, it’s good practise to add promotional offers such as discounts, referral bonuses, freebies and prizes to encourage the user to shop again and/or refer a friend.
Many site designers overlook the ‘Thank You’ page, however, from an optimisation point of view, it’s a gem! Customers love gratitude, especially when they see their purchase as a personalised item, and research indicates that the chances that this customer will buy from you again are doubled.
Gaining loyalty from a customer is one thing, but when that person uses your suggested referral discounts on their social media platforms with friends, your prospective client base widens also.
It’s important to note here, that a “Thank You” page is a fantastic tool where Google Analytics are concerned. You’re able to track your website visitors and therefore their buying journey. This data provides you with information about how and where your customers came from, what they eventually purchased, how long they were on your site, which pages they viewed, the list goes on!
Many shoppers will religiously read consumer reviews before they buy something online; it provides them with faith in the listing, showcasing what peers thought of its quality and instils all-important trust in the brand.
Providing relative reviews alongside product descriptions is one trick that aids Amazon in winning the most sales. A simple quote, a star-rating, or a detailed customer review could do wonders for your sales.
Etsy do all of these fantastically with their image, product descriptions, instant checkout, shipping costs and reviews all displayed within view.
So there you have it, it’s not simply about your keywords! All these elements will boost your ratings bit by bit; it could be the difference between page 1 line 1, and page 3 line 6 on Google. If it all seems a bit overwhelming, and looks a lot like something you don’t really have the time to do, the various website and SEO boosting packages at Goldilocks Creative could take the task off of your hands.