We send all traffic from social media or paid ads to our home page.
Home pages are usually not great at getting visitors to complete a certain action quickly.
Sure your home page might sum up what you’re all about but it’s often the most generic page of your entire site.
They’re built with multiple offers and features to provide a generic starting point for new users.
If you’re going to engage the right targeted customer with highly relevant content, then then you need to write and build effective landing pages.
Not only will you optimise conversions but you’ll also substantially reduce lead generation costs.
In this article we’re going to:
Explain the essential components of a high-converting landing page
Introduce the Problem/Solution/Benefit Formula
List the Five Proven Conversion Boosting Headline Formulas
Provide copy direction for an effective landing page
And provide our infographic for the Anatomy of a High Converting Landing Page
What is a Landing Page?
A landing page is a page on your website designed to convert visitors into leads. It will focus on encouraging a certain targeted audience to complete a desired action. The page will usually have a short form that allows you to capture a prospects information in exchange for an offer of value.
Components of an Effective Landing Page
1. Compelling Headline
Perhaps the most important element on the page, the headline has to command the visitor’s attention. It immediately tells the visitor they are at the right place AND what’s in it for them.
It will most likely resonate the Value Proposition for your brand or for this particular aspect of your business. It has to be benefit driven and compelling!
Is this a landing page from a Google Ads campaign? Consider a headline that closely matches your advert proposition. It makes the page more relevant for the visitor and increases your Quality Score with Google.
2. Problem-solving Support Copy
You’ve captured your prospect’s attention with the headline, now confirm that your offer matches the visitor’s needs in a sentence or two. What is your promise to prospects?
3. Strong Call-to-Action
It’s crucial that we clarify what we want a prospect to do next by stating a clear Call-to-Action (CTA). This is often achieved by applying button copy that completes the sentence, “I want to __________”.
Use strong contrasts in colour to make your CTA buttons or links stand out. Red or orange buttons are often used to catch the visitors’ eye.
4. Reinforcement Statements
We use Reinforcement Statements to reinforce a proposition or highlight an offer. They are usually a short sentence displayed at a large point size. And often followed by a CTA or a Solution Grid.
5. Concise Solution Grids
Our Solution Grid is a design layout defining the key features or benefits in a concise manner. That is, what are our solutions to the prospects’ main problems?
Use images or icons to convey the topic, short sub-headlines to punch the benefit and concise body copy to explain further.
A Solution Grid might come as a short row of 3 items or a longer grid of 6, 8 or more points. We might also use a Solution Grid to outline Next-Steps or How-to lists.
6. Detailed Support Information
When we want to explain sub-topics in a little more detail, we’ll often use yin-yang sections – so called as we’ll often alternate content from left of page to right of page for a friendly design flow. Each section will include a combination of a sub-heading, support body copy, relevant image/icon and an optional CTA.
7. Succinct Bullet Points
Bullet points make it easy for a prospect to grasp the essence of your offer by keeping things short. Speak to their prospect’s pain points and how your offer solves them.
8. Striking Hero Images
Great images are as important as compelling headlines. Be sure to include relevant and engaging images to draw the prospect further in. Video is a particularly strong and engaging method to tell your story.
9. Lead Capturing Opt-in Form
Given the purpose of a landing page is to capture leads then the opt-in form is crucial. It needs to encapsulate the information we want from a prospect to complete a goal (download an eBook, sign-up to a newsletter, complete an application, or add to shopping cart).
Offering a lead magnet (e.g. eBook) at this sales stage might help us start a conversation and enable us to nurture that prospect further with personalised email.
An opt-in form may be repeated 2 or more times throughout a long landing page. Only collect the information you really need.
10. Social Proof
Prospects may not take your word for it, but they will listen to other customers. Include relevant testimonials, reviews and/or case study excerpts on the landing page. These could link to more detailed reviews but be mindful of whether tempting the visitor to another page is a good idea for this specific landing page.
11. Mobile Friendly
It almost goes without saying but your landing page has to incorporate responsive design – it has to be easy to interrupt and use on all devices.
Other Page Design Options
If you’ve led a prospect to this page from online promotion and with a direct call to action in mind, then remove distractions and any chance of them wandering elsewhere by removing website navigation.
Social Sharing Icons
Include social sharing icons so prospects can share the landing page with others across their social platforms or bookmark it for themselves to reference later.
Testing & Optimising
Use A/B Tests to optimise a landing page for conversion over time. Test substantial design alternatives and/or subtle changes in headlines, copy, images and CTAs to see what resonates most with prospects.
It’s not only useful for the visitor but also good for google rankings, that your page url is descriptive and contains your focus keywords. http://acme.com/great-landing-page
SEO Meta Tags
Always include a short Page Title in your meta tags for the landing page. The Page Title should include your focus keywords and again concisely explain what the page is about or what’s in it for the prospect. This is what they will see as the heading in a google organic search result, so make sure it’s also compelling not just a list of disjointed words.
Links to Other Pages
Lots of links on a home page make sense to encourage a prospect to navigate to the most relevant pages for them. On a specific landing page though, keep links just to relevant support pages so as not to distract the prospect from your intended CTA.
Live Chat Support
One of the strongest conversion tools that you can get for your online shop is Live Chat software that allows you to chat with your online visitors. Even if you make your landing page close to perfect, there will always be visitors with unanswered questions. Of course, you cannot answer all potential questions on your page, that would destroy its clearness. That’s where live chat comes in.
For clarity and an easy user experience your page structure needs to follow the styling that has been have established for the website.
Heading styles, body copy, emphasis copy, call out grids with icons, quotes and CTA buttons should all follow a pattern that the visitor becomes familiar with so that all your content is structured and easily skim-read or followed word for word.
While some detail can be left to the design team, within your content brief identify all key styles:
H1 (only one per page), H2, H3 .. H6
Body Copy, Bullet Points, Numbered Lists, Emphasis copy etc
Hyperlinked copy, Buttons
Choosing Hero Images
Great landing pages have great images. It’s that simple. As mentioned above, the image you choose should help boost the overall message of your campaign. It should help to illustrate exactly what it is you’re offering and shouldn’t be too abstract or arbitrary (no matter how good they look).
Here’s a 7-step framework for judging hero images, and it goes like this:
Keyword Relevance (does the image complement the targeted keywords?)
Purpose Clarity (does the image help clarify the message of the site?)
Design Support (does the image support and enhance seamless flow of page design leading to the CTA?)
Authenticity (does the image represent your brand in a credible way?)
Added Value (does the image add value? Improve relevance? Demonstrate benefits?)
Desired Emotion (does the image portray desired emotions that trigger action?)
Customer “Hero” (does the featured image depict the customer as the “hero” once equipped with this solution
Follow the Problem/Solution/Benefit Formula
Establish a problem. What’s a common issue your audience has? Identify it and agitate it!
Present a solution. Next, state why your product or service as the best solution to their problem. Ensure that your solution covers every detail of their problem.
Show a benefit. Now, you can show your prospect how much better life can be when their problem is solved.
Copy Direction for an Effective Landing Page
Step 1: Identify the Audience
The first step to creating landing page copy is to identify who you are targeting.
Step 2: Choose the Desired Action
Now that we know our intended audience, it’s important to identify the exact action we want them to take.
Your landing page should NOT be a brochure. It should NOT be informational.
The entire point of a landing page is to generate action.
Step 3: Identify the Core Problem
Once you’ve determined your targeted audience segment and desired action, your next step is to identify the key problems facing this segment that might be solved by your product/service.
Copy should use this central theme in the Value Proposition and as a filter for the rest of our copy.
Step 4: Write the Value Proposition
Now that we’ve identified the core problem for our target audience, it’s time to write our Value Proposition.
This is your business’ chance to demonstrate the value you bring to the table, IN THE CONTEXT of your audience’s needs.
Don’t talk about you.
Talk about the customer.
Step 5. Provide the Support to your Solution
After the heading and cover section, I recommend creating a “Solution Support” section.
This could involve a “Solution Grid” of 3, 4, 6 or more support summaries or you can follow up with an in-depth paragraph that explains exactly who you are, what you’re offering, and why visitors simply HAVE to get it.
Step 6: Write the How
Moving forward along our landing page, it’s time to talk a bit about HOW we can fulfil our promises to our customers.
Never lead with the “how”.
People don’t care about how until they resonate with you on “why”.
But once we’ve resonated with them at a core level and promised a central benefit that solves their problems, it’s important to touch on how we plan to deliver.
The “how” section of your landing page is all about finishing out the narrative that you are the answer to their problem.
You have the most freedom to get a bit off-track in this area but try to bring everything back to that central problem in a way that drives visitors toward the targeted action.
Step 7: Include the Social Proof
Your landing page is a narrative.
It presents a story that says YOU are the answer to your audience’s most pressing problems.
One of the easiest ways to evidence this story is social proof.
Anyone can make claims, but if you can show people that you’ve already solved these problems for others, they are far more likely to buy into the narrative.
Step 8: Write the Final CTA
By now, you’ve written the copy for your entire landing page.
It’s time to tell them to take that desired action.
They are interested.
They read your entire pitch.
Tell visitors precisely what you want them to do.
There you have it, numerous low-effort/ high-impact components to a landing page that could have lasting dividends to your business.
It’s time to explore how you can start using these essential lessons to build your effective landing pages.
Start by implementing each of these components, and you’ll be well on your way to engaging your visitors and converting them into customers.
Remember, consumer psychology can sometimes be surprising, the only way we can be confident that we’ve achieved our best page is by continuing to test. It’s always better to experiment with different versions of your pages to see which works best for your market — optimisation should become a routine at your company.
Like clothing fashions, website trends can web and flow through the years with many elements enduring from year to year.
1. Responsive Design
Responsive Design is a layout approach taken to ensure a website is user-friendly on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Its nothing new but its taking a higher priority in web design and code. Perhaps its taking on even more significance lately as clients understand the importance and allow for the extra budget required to do it better!
With website browsing on a mobile device, overtaking desktop browsing on many websites we shouldn’t be building any website that isn’t designed and coded to resize and conform to mobile browsing requirements. This is particularly true for B2C websites, requiring interaction with customers through contact forms, phone numbers, store locations and of course, online shopping. We’re seeing our NZ finance industry clients with 55% of their visitors coming from Smart Phones where they not only gather comparison information but also are happy to complete lengthy multi-page loan applications. In many cases the mobile phone isn’t just an alternative browser, it’s the households only browser.
Full Responsive Design is not just about changing a 3-column layout to one or increasing font sizes; its about considering the users requirements when they visit your website from a mobile device. These considerations include:
They want to find the store nearest them – activate GPS location services on your site, show the nearest store first and make it easy to drive to you using Google Maps.
If there’s a good chance they’ll want to contact you, have your phone number in a sticky menu that is constantly visible on a landing page and its coded to easily call you.
Forget the waffle on a mobile – remove unnecessary info for a mobile device and get to your key Calls-to-Action quicker.
Update your forms on a mobile device so they’re easy to navigate for chubby fingers.
Form field validation alerts must to be easy to follow and fields arranged so they are easy to navigate to and update.
Reduce questions to only those absolutely required. Do you really need to ask “how did you hear about us”?
And now that Google sees mobile-friendliness as a critical ranking factor, you’d must have a Responsive Design compliant website to ensure you are not losing customers to your competitors. Note that the battle for ranking well with google on mobile is only a reflection of what your mobile users are wanting – they’ll immediately bounce from your website, and not be happy with their search result, if they don’t encounter a pleasant user experience.
You’ve optimised for search engines and analytics but are you influencing and optimising how your users engage with your site? “Gamification” is the process of adding game-like dynamics to sites and services – It’s a powerful tactic for influencing and motivating your website visitors.
It works because it makes the routine, more engaging and encourages and challenges consumers to complete our desired actions. Gamification can encourage people to perform tasks that they normally consider boring, such as completing a contact form, shopping, filling out a survey or exploring product features.
The NZ Army have run some highly engaging forms of gamification on their website, whereby prospects could adjust key controls to successfully land a Hercules or select the right strategies to find the missing people. As NZ Army demonstrated, its important to match the ‘gaming’ to your product otherwise it will have little relevance.Gamification on a website doesn’t have to go to the extremes of developing a ‘game’; it can be as simple as animating switches within a contact form, or animating a success graph at the end of a form completion almost as a reward. Earning rewards or points through a process or through repeated purchases online is essentially another successful form of gamification.
If within a serious business context, gamification can turn the mundane into an engaging and rewarding experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet, without the intervention of people. These objects contain embedded technology to interact with internal states or the external environment. In other words, when objects can sense and communicate, it changes how and where decisions are made, and who makes them. Its also called M2M – Machine to Machine!
Perhaps the ultimate in the Internet of Things is SKYNET from the Terminator movies where the internet and machines where so much in control they took over!
The IoT is connecting more and more places – such as manufacturing floors, energy grids, healthcare facilities, and transportation systems – to the Internet. When an object can represent itself digitally, it can be controlled from anywhere. This connectivity means more data, gathered from more places, with more ways to increase efficiency and improve safety and security.
Nest is a great example of a clever thermostat that turns up the heat at home when your phone’s GPS tells it that you have just left the office. Its their version of the Internet of Things and they call it “works with Nest”…
4. Video Content
By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.
Given the time and devices, most of us would rather watch content rather than read it. Video can deliver a story with more emotion and cut-through than words or still images can alone. It’s a medium we have always gravitated to through movies, news channels and TV programmes. And now the landscape gives us streaming movies, TV on demand and reliable band-widths to provide video on our own websites if we care to produce it.
Consider silent background video within your home page cover area to draw prospects into your uniqueness. Use it to tell your story more distinctly than your competitors, or deliver a short video to make the complex product features seem simple and irresistible.
Perhaps the number one reason for using video in your content marketing or on your website is that it converts more customers. Recent research shows that 71% of marketers say video conversion rates outperform other marketing content – so catch up jump on your competitors!
Local bar, Orleans in Britomart, Auckland delivers their desirable ambiance in their website’s cover video…
SharpSpring distinctly explains how their Marketing Automation software could work for you. (Talk to Grand about the many benefits of SharpSpring and Marketing Automation techniques)
5. Your Value Proposition
For Grand, the Value Proposition is one of the most important elements of a website! It’s why intelligent code, great design or clever UX on their own doesn’t produce a website that gets results. Conversion and sales come from customers buying into your story and wanting what your product more than your competitors.
We have a mantra at Grand – “Narrow the focus to build the brand”. It’s all about building a reputation around one thing; the one thing that sets you about from the competition and forms the key reason why a customer would choose you.
The value proposition is the single, overarching statement that highlights the desirable and exclusive elements of your offering in a succinct, memorable and visitor-centric way.
Too often we come across websites where the client has taken great care to mention every conceivable product feature without really explaining the principle benefit(s) for the customer, in the customer’s terms. When a website talks from the customer’s viewpoint it can start resonating with the customer’s needs – they’ll get you straight away. You won’t have buried your uniqueness in technical jargon; you will have talked in a customer-centric manner and you’re more likely to get chosen over your competitors.
So, on quick inspection, does your website answer these fundamental questions:
Why should I choose you?
What’s in it for me?
Why should I give you my email address?
Why should I give you my hard-earned money?
It’s OK for me to buy this because….
Have you explained to your customer, from their viewpoint, what is positively different about your brand?
The ingredients of a good value proposition:
You just get it within 5 seconds – its concise and easily understood.
It describes exactly what you get from using that product or service.
It tells us how it is positively different from competitors
It avoids superlatives, hype and jargon.
If your website doesn’t succinctly convey your Value Proposition, then you are missing out on one the key website trends of 2017 – a website that engages with its prospects and customers. Here are some good examples of websites that deliver their compelling Value Proposition within the cover section of the home page…
Tile – with the promise that you’ll even lose less time searching
Curtain Clinic – not just about cleaning; they’ll bringing back the freshness to your curtains.
Grand Creative – while our business descriptor is “The Digital Marketing Agency”, what we more often promise to our customers is that our unique processes will “get more business for your business”.
6. Call to Action
Having effective call-to-actions is essential part of any website. Literally every website page should have an objective it wants users to complete whether it is making a phone call, filling a contact form, completing an application downloading an eBook or signing up to a newsletter.
In direct mail, we’d have to tell people to “mail the enclosed card.” In digital marketing, we usually ask for a click. Regardless of the medium there are 3 essential elements of a call-to-action:
Reduce the risk with a no-obligation assertion. Offer a free trial or a sample of what you are selling. This gives people the confidence to take the next step.
Create a sense of urgency. Ask for a response right now. Don’t give users the option to wonder off and look somewhere else never to return.
State the action – tell users exactly what you want them to do next.
Here’s a tip: When deciding on the ideal button copy, just complete the sentence, “I want to __________ “. It makes for an unambiguous direction.
Here’s some call-to-action examples that deliver all 3 elements…
Manpacks reduces risk by explaining “1000’s of men have already signed up”.
The button copy tells us what is happening next – we’re building a manpack!
The casual copy “Give Prezi a try” implies an easy road into trialing Prezi for free.
So, like clothing fashion there is always something new for web designers and developers to focus on or experiment with. Our list for this year is a mix of recent years’ trends but they all have the underlying objective of optimising conversion and improving clicks, leads and sales from a business’ website. Check your website and see how it is utilising these elements:
If you’re giving your business marketing efforts a big nudge this year then here’s a guide to cracking the code to more sales from digital marketing.
But before we detail 31 tactics that you could deploy to boost your lead generation, nurturing and sales, you’ll need to check and set a strong marketing base…
The Inbound Marketing Methodology
We all appreciate that the majority of prospects aren’t ready to buy your product or commit to your service on the first exposure to your brand. So, the task of much of our marketing work is to attract visitors, capture their contact details (usually email), and send information of interest to them over time, principally to build a relationship with them, educate them on our offering and keep them aware of our services or products for when THEY are ready to buy.
Essential Marketing Ingredients
Our new 4-month marketing plan calls for us to use tools that perhaps, have only been used sparingly or side-lined in the past. Like, rather than just sending email traffic to our home page, we need to truly embrace special website landing pages, email marketing or blogging into our workflow and follow that through with remarketing and automated messaging and tailored offers.
Therefore, the core of our 4-month plan and beyond requires the influence of these essential digital marketing ingredients…
1. Buyer Personas
Essentially the new name for target markets, Buyer Personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customers derived from research and sales data from your existing customers. They define segments of our most important customers and consider demographics, behaviours, interests, and especially, goals and pain points; so that can align content and strategies with them throughout the buyer’s journey.
In our Brand Focus workshops, we used to refer to Driving Audiences – like Buyer Personas, they are a profile of segments of our market. But more than that, they were the types of customers likely to be early adapters and have influence on like-minded consumers around them. I suggest you don’t make your Buyer Personas too generalist – think about them as the leaders and influencers within each of your key market niches.
We’ll match specific Persona’s to selected traffic sources and promotional hooks/lead-magnets and to certain stages within the Buyer’s Journey to personalise our messaging.
The website and the content within becomes the hub for all our marketing activity. And so, it’s crucial that your website gets the brand positioning, design and coding attention it deserves…
It’s the place to deliver a clear and unique Value Proposition so your prospects and customers quickly get what’s in it for them and why they should purchase from you. That proposition is usually delivered distinctly within key landing pages through headlines, body copy and images but is also disseminated in your overall website design, in a style and tone appealing to your Buyer Personas.
An optimised website usually makes the development of landing pages, blog posts and lead capture forms a breeze. No doubt it will be built around a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) – either from your website framework (say WordPress or Craft CMS) or from a marketing automation platform like SharpSpring or Hubspot.
An optimised website will be search engine optimised (SEO) to ensure keyword ranking on google and easily found by your targets. Intelligent use of keyword research will help optimise meta titles, meta descriptions, page headlines, copy and content and overall strategic direction of your site. If the page title found in the tab of your browser says something like “Home – Widgets Inc” or doesn’t include a search term you’d expect visitors to use in Google then the investment in on-page SEO will be well worth it.
With over 50% of your website traffic coming from a mobile device (even for B2B clients) its super critical that your website behaves well on a mobile phone or tablet. That doesn’t stop with the desktop site restyling to fit a mobile browser – you should consider what extra content you might need for mobile; are your conversion goals the same or different on mobile? Do you require a different navigation structure? Are forms easy to fill in on mobile? Are contact or location details easy to find? Does mobile require sticky calls-to-action?
Your website is the centre for brand perception,content distribution, lead capture, conversion and deal closure. And it’s a key starting point for attracting traffic and nurturing leads through our conversion processes. Don’t skimp on the investment required!
3. Remarkable Content
At the heart of digital, and specifically inbound marketing, is Remarkable Content.
It’s what attracts interest and provides value. It’s what endears prospects to you. It should be unique, original, thought-provoking and timely.
Depending on your audience and goals, remarkable content may include landing pages, blog articles, ebooks, secondary offers or trip-wires, infographics, videos, webinars, games and more.
Researching, producing and analysing content also helps us with material for building backlinks from authority websites, to provide further traffic sources and further ranking points with search engines (SERPs).
4. Inbound Marketing Tools
Whether you’re using a spreadsheet or something fancier, there’s a plethora of tools and apps to help us plan, execute, optimise and track our research, activity and results.
A solid inbound strategy backed by the right technology stack for your business will help you stay on track to achieving your goals and may include:
Adwords, online ads and back-linking for attracting traffic
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for tracking and segmenting leads and clients – personalising messages to their specific page visits and purchase habits
Google Analytics and other reporting apps – budgeting and tracking KPIs
Keyword research, page audits and rank tracker tools – for optimising website pages, blogs and email campaigns
Blogging, landing page design and other Content Management Systems
Social media scheduling tools.
The tools are there to help us do a job your competition may not even begun to think about. We’re going far beyond a monthly email newsletter – we’re strategically moving your traffic, leads and customers through an intelligent sales funnel – all within a level that matches your budget and resources, of course.
You can use specialised apps for specific needs or you can use inbound and marketing automation tools that perform most of these tasks in one application suite, like Hubspot or SharpSpring.
Month 1 – Marketing Framework Setup
Assuming you have the Marketing Essentials in place, this month is all about preparation and setting up your marketing framework.
Your marketing machine won’t be perfect at Day One and if you waited until it was you’d never start the journey. All businesses, large and small, struggle with setting the perfect base. Your mindset has to be about setting a manageable platform and applying incremental improvements and updates over many weeks and undoubtedly, months of work.
Tactic #1. Define your Value Proposition
Your Value Proposition is that statement that explicitly explains why customers would choose you over competitors; that compelling reason why people will work with you.
Why should your prospects choose you? What makes you positively unique from the competition?
Use this as the litmus test with all your assets and communications.
You’ll use this throughout social media profiles and on your website and it will force you to focus. Remember, go beyond what you sell and focus on WHY IT MATTERS TO YOUR CUSTOMER.
Communicate your value proposition in a variety of ways that can be applied throughout your digital marketing…
Within 10 words – literally tell us your value proposition in a sentence. Don’t use advertising jargon here – tell it like your talking to a colleague. This might be used in the Cover of your home page.
Within 60 words – provide a version with a little more explanation or substantiation. Useful for social media profiles.
Your tagline – how might the value proposition be conveyed in a tagline? Not all brands need a tagline but this might be useful to clarify your brand function or direction.
List your business’ 3-4 core features or services – with title and short description. Useful when you need to highlight the main outputs from working with you,
Why does your business exist? Tell your story and how its supports and blends into your value proposition. Use this to explain your business on the About Us page or in your business introduction video.
#2. Set your Design Style
Draft a mood board of the design style and tone that best represents your brand. Test it against your value proposition, your logo, your website and brand packaging. Reflect it in your writing style; even for internal documents – live the brand from the workplace, out.
#3. Claim your Brand
Dependent on your plan, make sure you claim your brand and set up branded accounts on important social networks.
Facebook.com/brand-name – particularly if you are B2C brand wanting to connect to your customers and similar people.
LinkedIn.com/brand-name – particularly for B2C brands where you can reach specific industries, brands and people with specific job roles.
Twitter.com/brand-name – share your businesses thoughts and link to important information, all within 140 characters.
YouTube.com/brand-name – talk to prospects and customers with the engagement of video.
Instagram.com/brand-name – share your story with photos.
Google My Business – gives you the tools to boost your search visibility by showing your business information and updates in local search results.
#4. Set KPI’s and Tracking
You can’t judge how well you are doing unless you know where you have come from. Now is the time to check your website analytics and tracking.
Add Google Analytics tracking code to your website to track your visitors.
Add Views to Google Analytics so you only track relevant traffic, e.g. track only New Zealand visitors, exclude bots from results, exclude the office IP so you’re not including sales staff using the website as their product catalogue.
Link up Google Search Console so can verify your site is being crawled by Google correctly and check for errors.
Setup Conversion Goals within Google Analytics to track significant website events – Completing a contact form, viewing important pages, downloading an eBook, making a purchase.
Annotate Important Events in Google Analytics – When you get website traffic spikes (from a strong email campaign, organic search from a great blog post, press coverage etc.) add an annotation note within Google Analytics so you can remember the reason for the surge at any point in the future.
Decide on your most important Key Performance Indicators and track them within a spreadsheet. Choose the frequency that you’ll measure results e.g. typically monthly for a service business, and often weekly for an B2C or ecommerce business. Typical KPIs include:
Sales Revenue (actual vs budget)
Cost per Acquisition (per medium e.g. CPA for Adwords)
Landing Page Conversion Rates
Traffic by medium (Organic, Paid Search, Social Media etc).
#5. Know your Website CMS
A good Content Management System (CMS) will make it easy for you to add landing pages and blog articles. Have your website agency design, format and code templates that you can easily add and style. Or at the least, request that they add numerous templated pages and articles that you can reuse to save time and fees.
As mentioned you can use your website’s CMS framework, like WordPress, or put a landing page builder to work from your marketing automation software; the latter will allow landing page personalization and dynamic content specifically aimed at a unique visitor or a segment of your market.
#6. Undertake Keyword Research
Understanding the keyword phrases that you need to rank for effects many aspects of your online marketing. It’s a task that needs to be performed now and revisited and updated frequently. Google’s own Keyword Planner is a great place to start researching and there are numerous other resources that can provide valuable insights into yours and your competitors’ performance. Consider subscribing to Moz or SEMrush and take advantage of their Site Audit and Analytics tools.
Keyword research results will be used for:
Focusing and fine-tuning your Value Proposition
Updating website meta tags: page titles and descriptions, H1 headings, copy and alt text etc.
Optimising content based on what prospects are really searching for
Generating landing page and blog ideas
Targeting inbound links from other reputable sites with link anchor text matching your relevant keywords
Setting and optimising Adwords campaigns
Note, don’t just target high traffic keywords – they’ll be harder to rank for given the level of competition – consider moderate volume terms, that added together are a good source of traffic but may be lower in difficulty to rank well for.
#7. Update On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the practice of optimising elements on a website in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from search engines. On-page SEO refers to optimising both the content and HTML source code of a page.
Having a comprehensive understanding of the keywords you need to rank well for (or that prospects use to find businesses like yours) is the foundation required for checking and updating your On-Page SEO – this largely concerns the metadata Google uses to ascertain what your website or page is about and is used in their search indexes and algorithms to deliver specific search results.
Google Search have made it their absolute mission to deliver the most relevant results to users and so it relies heavily on the accuracy and completeness of the metadata you provide – if it’s difficult to decipher, by Google or humans, then you simply won’t rank for those keywords that visitors are using to find the products you offer.
Here’s some of the key attributes required for strong on-page SEO:
Links to other pages or external sites provide more information of what a page is about.
Page load speed to ensure a pleasant user experience and a better rank from google.
Use of Schema Markup to help the search engines return more informative results for users.
Page URL structure which in itself can include keywords and indicate page importance.
Page metadata including Page Title and Page Description, summarise what a page is about to Google.
Mobile friendliness is an ever-increasing ranking factor and user driver, given the dominance of mobile device browsing.
In-depth content – “thin content” or content under 300 words, was one of Google’s Panda specific targets. To rank well, content must be adequately in-depth on a relatively focused subject.
A note of page content length: Crazy Egg and Quick Sprout co-founder, Neil Patel has shown that in most cases long form copy doesn’t just boost your conversions, but it also increases your rankings too. His conclusions include that Google prefers content rich sites because data shows users like it. While there is a strong correlation between the number of off-page backlinks, length of article and page rank, the implication is that landing pages and blog posts in excess of 1500-2000 words will rank significantly better than short content – albeit, don’t write crappy content for the sake of a long article.
#8. Choose an Email or Marketing Automation Provider
According to Ascend2, Email continues to maintain its position as a top marketing channel. However, the effectiveness of other types of technology driven marketing – such as content, social and relationship marketing – are rapidly gaining on that position.
MailChimp and Campaign Monitor offer great email platforms with some automation features. Marketing Automation apps like Hubspot or SharpSpring come with a far broader range of features for businesses looking to take their marketing to the next level.
Your full application stack could include:
Content Creation & Management – for landing pages and blogs
Email Marketing platform – for one-to-one emails, newsletters, drip campaigns and transactional emails
Social Media publishing – creating and scheduling posts to Facebook, Twitter etc
Keyword research and SEO – so prospects find your content on Google
Marketing Analytics – to track website and campaign performance
Lead capture forms – to easily create, edit and track signups and downloads
Lead segmentation and scoring – identify hot leads, drifting customers etc and market to them accordingly
Dynamic landing page and email content – customise page content on-the-fly to match visitor personas
Visitor ID – real time tracking of visitors including life-of-a-lead information
Custom Workflows – design if-then-else campaigns to provide timely content to propsects
CRM Integration – sync with other dedicated CRM platforms e.g. Salesforce, Pipedrive
#9. Create Email Templates
In preparation for all that email marketing, design and set branded email templates. Pay particular attention to:
a. Fonts – while we can now code the full range of Web Fonts into an email, that special font you have chosen may not show within all mail providers. For example, there are particular restrictions within Outlook and Gmail. And so you always need to code in fall-back options to the original stable of fonts including Arial, Verdana, Georgia, Times New Roman, and Courier. Your designer should consider substitutes that have a similar font x-height.
b. Responsive Design – given that your email is more likely than ever to be opened on a mobile device, your email template needs to be coded so that it automatically renders beautifully on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop. That could mean an image moves above copy rather than sets alongside or copy point size increases for readability. Catering for all screen sizes and browsers requires good coding skills and can be tested through an email tester like Litmus.
c. Email Templates – have your digital agency design and develop 3-4 base email templates. These will be the platforms you’ll use for most of your email marketing. Once these templates are set then you’re free to clone and adapt them to fit most of your email marketing requirements without having to call on the agency each time you require an update or start a new campaign.
Consider these 4 base email templates:
Plain email – should look like a normal email you’d send from your mail app – it will look a personal note from you but could be going to thousands of leads. Include your default brand logo and signature.
Letter email – This is the next step up and will include minimal styling like a background colour, extra branding, call-to-action button and a special footer. We use this for transactional emails and emails that are obviously a promotion of sorts but have a personal letter feel.
Promo email – This email will look more visual with use of headings and a larger point size for body copy. The template will include placeholders for large images and call-to-action buttons. We’ll typically use this template for a promotional offer.
Newsletter Email – Similar to the Promo email but containing multiple sections or posts that follow a pattern: intro full width image, compelling headline, body copy, call-to-action. We’ll use this for general newsletters containing excerpts from 3-4 blogs that feature on a website or a mix of news, blog posts and promotional offers.
#10. Set up Blog Pages
Blogging can be incredible valuable to growing your business and here are some of the reasons why:
Attracts Visitors – providing rich content is a fundamental of inbound marketing – blogging attracts visitors by providing something of value to them. It should establish credibility and awareness amongst that audience, whereby we can go on to form a relationship, capture leads and eventually convert then to customers.
Establishes Authority – A blog establishes your knowledge and expertise in your field. It enhances your brand’s image.
Builds Rapport – Blogs help convert traffic into leads and leads into customers by creating positive touch points with your audience. Customers will be more receptive to a warm call if they have found value from your blog.
It’s a learning mechanism – I’ve found blogging forces me to research and more fully understand related topics. It’s a create medium to gather your thoughts and pass on your learnings to your audience.
Differentiates your business – Despite the push by inbound agencies and marketing gurus to get us all into blogging less than 15% of New Zealand businesses actually do it. If you start blogging you have the chance to standout in your industry. Start with a gentle target of one blog per month and watch you page rank rise!
Month 2 – Start Communicating
Heading into Month 2 we still have setup tasks to complete but we also start to reach out and communicate. We’re starting the journey through the sales funnel in earnest – attracting visitors and engaging with leads.
11. Research & Write One Blog
Even the most prolific bloggers started somewhere. Whether you, the brand manager or the agency are writing it, start with a topic you are interested in and you know your target market will take value from.
This first blog could well be an item that you’ll use within an email campaign to existing prospects or current customers, or it could be part of a nurturing campaign to new leads.
Writing valuable sort-after content won’t get social media likes and followers, if you aren’t spending time on building up your social media accounts.
Get your content in front of your audiences and attract them to your brand and website. The best way to learn about submitting your new content to social media is to simply start! Post an excerpt of your latest blog or new product page to Facebook or Linkedin. Consider paid promotion of your post to engage with a larger audience.
If you are anxious about committing to blogging and social media and think that it will require your team or agency to churn out 1, 2 or 3 posts a week, then think again. We’re a firm believer of quality over quantity – your objectives are about attracting more visitors and engaging more prospects, they shouldn’t be “4 posts per month”.
Your objectives are about producing valuable content that will rank well with google and attract visitors searching for this type of information. Your strategy is about sharing valuable content that people will find compelling to read. You are better off researching and preparing one piece of absolutely captivating content than writing 5 or 6 superficial articles. Given that that one article is appealing and search engine optimized, it’s going to attract far more targeted visitors than all the other pithy articles added together.
When judging your own content ask yourself, “why should I care (about that content) and why would I share?”. If those questions don’t invoke a positive response then start rewriting.
There’s a ton of useful apps out there to help you organise and post your content. Hootsuite offers a simple and easier way to schedule posts, track the performance of your content, and manage all your accounts in one place. And your Inbound or marketing automation tools, like SharpSpring or Hubspot, are likely to come with their own social media managers.
#13. Set up an Editorial Calendar
As a simple starting point, set up an Excel spreadsheet calendar to achieve the following:
Write one weekly blog post for your company blog
Write one guest post per month
Each month plan out what topics you might cover in coming weeks
Use an RSS aggregator app like Feedly to keep up to date with your favourite blogs
Use Pocket to capture articles that interested you on the topics you’d like to cover
Define some post types that are easy to produce on a recurring basis (perhaps a monthly curation of interesting links from your industry)
Hootsuite provides some useful templates here. The first is the editorial calendar, which will gather all your content projects into one document to help you plan and schedule each release. Get a copy of Hootsuite’s Editorial Calendar Template.
The second valuable content calendar is a social media content calendar. This should include all of the social media messaging you’ll use to promote your content, organised by date and time.
#14. Enable Social Sharing Plugins
Social mediums like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer several plugins to enable the viewing and sharing of your content. And now that you’ve added a blog or two it’s time to start the sharing process.
Facebook offers several Social Plugins that you can implement onto virtually any website. Each has their purpose from discreet blog links to detail Facebook activity feeds.
The Like Button is probably the most well-known of the Facebook social plugins. Like buttons can be placed on any page of your website and can be targeted to like the page that the button is on, or a URL that you specify.
Ok, the Marketing Automation that you have established needs to be put to work. Email marketing specialist products like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor now come with basic marketing automation functions or you can use more specialised apps like HubSpot or SharpSpring. With the later products, you’ll get a raft of other features, including dynamic landing pages, lead scoring and social media management.
A marketing automation workflow is a series of events (usually emails) that are designed to guide your prospects closer to your conversion goal.
One of the objectives for setting an automated workflow is for lead nurturing. Not all of your leads (potential customers) are ready to commit when you first meet them. It can often take several interactions before people reach the point where they are comfortable to convert. This could be due to timing, need for extra research, or it could be that cluttered inbox’s or just being busy distracts people from taking the time to read your message.
Here’s some marketing automation workflow’s that you might start with…
For New Blog Subscribers – Give your new blog subscribers a friendly welcome, remind them what they’ll receive, give them an opportunity to review and update their details and provide links to your most recent articles.
As a Service Reminder – If you offer a product that requires periodic maintenance set an automatic email triggered when a customer is due for their next service. Consider offering a discount to sweeten the deal.
Calling a Prospect – Take advantage of your automation software prospect activity tracking features to personalise your phone call but without sounding creepy.
Notify a Sales Agent – From website events that indicate a buying interest, like product spec or price pages, use a workflow to trigger an email notification to a company sales agent with relevant Prospect information and personalised content for that particular Prospect and outreach emails.
For Engaged Visitors – Create a dynamic list from a visitor’s engagement with your website based on page visits, clicks on emails and/or form submissions. Then create an email workflow that’s based around encouraging posts to social media.
#16. Track your Keyword Ranking Progress
As the month’s pass by you’ll want to track your progress. Important KPI’s include revenue, website visits and cost per acquisition. But you should also keep a log of prime keywords that you wish to rank for and track their progress over time.
Setup an application to track your search engine ranking for at least 10 of your most important keyword phrases. We use Rank Tracker by SEO Powersuite to benchmark both on-page and off-page Search Engine Optimisation.
Also include tack your key competitors against the same keywords. Ongoing on-page and off-page SEO efforts are about outperforming competitors and so you’ll need to monitor what keywords they rank well for to develop content and backlinks to outperform them.
SEMrush and Ahrefs also provide excellent resources for rank tracking.
Each app measures rank slightly differently – the main thing here is to stick to the same measuring tool and core set of keywords so you’re comparing apples with apples.
#17. Add Custom Reports to Google Analytics Dashboard
There’s a host of reporting apps out there that can simplify the process of reporting results but they usually tap into the staggering amount of information available within Google Analytics – so we could cut to the source and set up custom reports within Google Analytics – perhaps pick your top 5 KPI’s (Key Performance Metrics), and create a report for each.
The important part here is to add the report to your dashboard, this saves the setup and structure of your report “query” so that you can access the data from one overview screen whenever you need to produce a marketing report. Here’s just 2 examples:
Browser Performance Report: As Peep Laja from Conversion XL points out, one of the most common money leaks on websites is incompatibility with certain browsers. He suggests creating a custom report showing conversions per browser and segmenting the report by device (mobile, desktop, tablet) so as not to skew your numbers. Import the Browser Report.
Customer Acquisition Report: If you want a simple report that shows you what channels are contributing the most revenue to your business, you can import this report to your Analytics account. It includes eCommerce metrics like Revenue, Average Order Value, and Conversion Rate but you could swap those metrics out for other goals. Import the Customer Acquisition Report.
Month 3 – Optimisation & Engagement
Month 3 introduces the concept of conversion rate optimization starting with focusing every page of your website on a single call to action and creating landing pages for better pay-per-click success. We’ll also start to develop your subject matter expertise by creating your first eBook (which you’ll use for lead capture later on).
#18. Optimise Landing Pages and CTA
We’ve already mentioned landing pages that have a single-minded purpose, now is the time to optimise for that. Every page on your website should be laser focused on a single objective. It channels your visitors to complete your intended goal, it helps you to measure and optimise more easily.
Check your Google Analytics and firstly focus on the top 6-10 pages that are most visited. In a spreadsheet write up a table containing URL, Page Objective, Call to Action, Keyword(s) focus, Page meta title and Page meta description, and Page headline (H1). Now check the page content and the manner it delivers on your objectives etc.
Fish where the fish are. Paid online search advertising ensures that you are in front of your targets when they are searching for information and actively looking for a solution to a problem they have. Its paid advertising that works more like an Inbound marketing tactic because you’re providing a landing page of solutions to the problem a user is searching for.
If you’re a newbie to Adwords or simply are making sure your agency knows what is doing, how about taking an Ultimate Google Adwords online video course at Udemy.
#20. Segment Audiences
When you start thinking about a new email campaign break it down by the types of people you want to communicate to – segment them into different lists to make your promotions more targeted. Base your segmentation of age, location, gender, job title or interests.
It pays to build up segmentation information on prospects and customers over time – there are not too many of us that would answer a 12-question form to download an eBook or complete a sale. Marketing Automation apps like SharpSpring solve that by offering progressive profiling – if you already have information from a lead for a specific form field, the field will be replaced with one that the lead has not yet filled in. This way your forms will be shorter and your collect more info on visitors over time.
#21. Write an eBook
An eBook is typically a PDF containing a short piece of expert advice on a given subject that your potential customers would find valuable. We use it a Lead Magnet – it attracts a lead to our content and in exchange for an email or phone number from them, we provide something of value in return; in this case, an eBook.
Other forms of value we could use to exchange for a visitor’s details include infographics, videos, a personal consultation or access to a demo program.
#22. Add a Marketing Automation Workflow
Using the new eBook, add another marketing automation workflow – this time it could include an email promoting the Book to a segmented prospect list that are more likely to find value in that eBook. Send specific follow up emails to prospects who didn’t open the email, those that opened but did nothing and those that clicked but didn’t download the eBook. Update Lead Scores of those that did download the eBook and add them to a new nurturing campaign of several emails.
#23. Send traffic to landing pages – not your homepage
Rather than sending all traffic to your generalist homepage, consider the audience and the purpose of the link and opt for conversion optimised or personalised landing pages.
Send Adwords for “loan for a car” to the Vehicle Finance page.
Link a Facebook post about “gifts for birthdays” to the Birthday Flowers page.
Visitors clicking on the LinkedIn profile, send to the About Us page.
Send applicants for the Account Manager job to your careers page.
Optimise pages for specific groups of keywords and ensure a Call-to-action or Lead Capture form matches your conversion goal.
#24. Case Studies, Testimonials & Reviews
Case Studies, Testimonials and Reviews are forms of trust marks – they provide a visitor a degree of comfort about what to expect from your business. You need to consider the ways you will collect these trust marks.
Call your best clients and directly ask them for comment. Explain that you’d like to feature them in a Case Study and request an interview. Follow up with an email giving them guides and hints about what your interviewer will be asking. Do the writing work for them so it makes it easy for a key client to say yes.
Send review requests by email a few days after an online or off-line purchase asking customers to rate the product out of 5 stars and provide a comment. Syndicate product reviews through third-party aggregators that are affiliated with Google so that results will appear next to google searches.
Month 4 – Repeat, Improve and Convert
In month 4 we look to repeat our important functions, like blogging and optimising landing pages, and also introduce automations focused on closing deals or encouraging prospects to complete a purchase.
#25. Rinse & Repeat
Of course, numerous tactics in this 4-month plan need to be repeated regularly. Following your marketing plan and editorial calendars you need to building-out, sending, testing and repeating:
Email marketing campaigns
Social media schedules
Landing page additions and optimisations
Adwords & remarketing campaigns
Marketing automation workflows, and so on…
#26. Add a Convert-focused Workflow
We’ve spent much of the 4 month’s with attraction and engagement tactics – now’s the time to add at least one conversion-focused marketing automation workflow with the aim of closing deals and selling. The marketing automation workflow you set up could:
Send a notification to a sales representative to call the prospect, based on reaching a certain lead score.
Send an Abandoned Cart email reminder.
Offer a Coupon Code popup upon Pricing page exit.
Send a discount offer by email based on frequency of visits to product page.
Offer the prospect a Free Demonstration, Test Drive or Consultation.
Identify lapsed customers and email a special offer.
#27. Engage Your Facebook Fans
Your Facebook Page needs to be the voice of your business on Facebook. You’ll use it to build relationships, find new customers and increase sales.
No point having a Facebook page unless your target audience pay some attention to it. Build your audience, engage with your followers and grow your Facebook page with these quick tips:
Get Facebook Likes – Include Facebook Like Boxes on your website and blog. Invite contacts and employees to Like your page. Cross promote on Twitter and LinkedIn
Interact with Your Fans – When fans post on your wall or comment on your posts, interact with them when it’s appropriate.
Schedule your interactions – you don’t want to make your Facebook fan page feel deserted from lack of pasts but don’t bombard your fans’ timeline with endless posts.
Get the word out – Promote it on your website, in your adverts, in your email footer and through other social media accounts.
Ask a Question – Use your Facebook fan page to pose a question that engages your readers. Use a trending news story to ask your fans’ opinions.
Share the comments – integrate Facebook comments into your website. People like seeing their comments shared and it also motivates people who aren’t yet interacting on your page to do so.
Advertise on Facebook – Facebook’s huge New Zealand audience combined with the ability to target your ad by demographics, location, interests, and behaviours allows you to access the exact people who are most likely to want to buy your products or services.
#28 Add a Lead Capture App
If you’re spending valuable time, money and resources driving traffic to your website than make it count by converting website visitors into subscribers so you can continue to nurture or sell to them.
There was a time when “pop ups” were seen as disruptive and bad for the brand but executed right popups can radically up your conversion figures. Techniques include capturing leads as they leave your site with exit intent popups. it could also include signup bars and in-line forms, often activated by specific user actions. Lead Capture or Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) apps can also identify and convert cart abandoners with enticing promotions and email follow ups.
There is a long list of Lead Capture apps to choose from. For starters take a look at these:
OptinMonster – a powerful lead generation software that converts abandoning visitors into subscribers with our dynamic marketing tools and Exit Intent® technology.
Icegram – offers an extensive suite of WordPress plugins for all stages of customer communication.
Justuno – a full featured option which includes abandoned cart integration in to ecommerce apps including BigCommerce, Shopify and Magento.
#29. Create more Lead Magnets
A Lead Magnet is something you construct to give away for free, or little cost, to convince visitors to give you their contact details, like an email address.
Your visitors aren’t dump – they know that you probably intend to market to them in some way, once you have their email address or phone number. The more value they see in your Lead Magnet the more likely they are to give you their contact details.
The detail beyond this process will be the subject of another post but in a nutshell here’s what you have to do…
1. Create lead capturing landing pages
2. Drive traffic to your landing pages (PPC, Social media, content marketing)
3. Develop resources that collect email addresses
Create a variety of lead magnets
Make your lead magnet noticeable
Make it easy for people to give their information
Define the Promise: what they’ll get when they subscribe.
Connect: who is this for and why you produced it for them.
Key Points: bullet list of issues & solutions.
Call to Action: what you want the user to do next.
4. Set up an email marketing campaign
5. Track & Tweak your sales funnel
In structuring your Lead Magnet, start with the hook – “what’s in it for me?”
TIP: TO WRITE STRONG CTA BUTTON COPY, SIMPLY ANSWER THE QUESTION, “I WANT TO __________” E.G. I WANT TO DOWNLOAD THE CONVERSION EBOOK
#30. Add Live Chat to your Website
Another way to improve your conversion figures is by adding live chat to your website. Even friends would rather text than call or email us and so it is on websites – if users have a pressing question and you’re online, live chat offers a simple and immediate response. Use a system that offers automated responses to prompt visitors to engage, train responders to answer with messages that will encourage further engagement, and choose a live chat app that has both desktop and smart phone apps so you have every opportunity to be on line for your prospects and customers.
Some worthy live chat contenders include:
Tidio Chat – inexpensive but full featured with instant integrations with WordPress, BigCommerce, Shopify and Magento. Features automated responses and workflows, smart phone apps and chat with Messenger.
ConvertFox – Start targeted live chats proactively, with customers and visitors. Nudge users to take action, using customized trigger messages based on user behaviour. Packaged with Email marketing and Visitor tracking & segmentation.
Intercom – for an enterprise platform with options to send targeted messages and integrate a help desk and a well-designed UI look no further than Intercom.
#31. Create an Infographic or Video
Over the past year, we’ve seen the importance of visual content highlighted by the changes that occurred across almost every major social network, including Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. At the same time, videos have continued their rise tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their markets.
So, there we have it – 31 marketing tactics to apply within the first 4 months of your new marketing push. Whether you’re a startup or a seasoned business, a marketing newbie or a senior marketer just looking for some fresh ideas, we hope there is something valuable for you in this rather lengthy post. Here’s a list of those 31 tactics:
Define your Value Proposition
Set your Design Style
Claim your Brand
Set KPI’s and Tracking
Know your Website CMS
Undertake Keyword Research
Update On-page SEO
Choose an Email or Marketing Automation Provider
Create Email Templates
Set up Blog Pages
Research & Write a Blog
Submit Content to Social Media
Set up an Editorial Calendar
Enable Social Sharing Plugins
Set up a Marketing Automation Workflow
Track your Keyword Ranking Progress
Add Custom Reports to Google Analytics Dashboard
Optimise Landing Pages and CTA
Start an Adwords Campaign
Write an eBook
Add a Marketing Automation Workflow
Send traffic to landing pages
Case Studies, Testimonials & Reviews
Rinse & Repeat
Add a Convert Workflow
Engage your Facebook Fans
Add a Lead Capture App
Create more lead Magnets
Add Live Chat to your Website
Create an Infographic or Video
If you’re not presenting the most attractive and compelling ecommerce website design to your target audience then you’re definitely leaving money on the table.
The creative appeal of an ecommerce website plays a big part in engaging customers, ensuring trust and increasing the appeal and perceived value of your products.
The relationship of design with the function focus of most ecommerce sites will ensure one a site stands out from the many homogenous sites around it.
Given my line of work, I’m constantly bookmarking and cataloguing websites that catch my eye for numerous reasons. Here’s some of the reasons the following websites made my ever-growing ecommerce wunderlist:
Online Store Familiarity
I expect a catalogue of products laid out in a familiar grid. I expect identifiable Add to Cart buttons and common experience through the shopping process. Anything less could confuse, reduce trust or increase the time it takes to get through the checkout. If you are brave you could break this rule but I for one expect a certain design familiarity to an ecommerce store.
Easily understood navigation
Good navigation helps new shoppers find what they’re looking for without hassle. If you have broad market, not all accustomed with a fly-out sidebar menu, the stick to the path well-trodden.
Design Shouldn’t Overpower the Products
The focus of an ecommerce site should be on the products that are available for purchase. There are always exceptions to the rule but ensure the product remains the hero.
Ease of Checkout
Good design can make the checkout process fluid, guiding the shopper through often complicated hoops. If the checkout process involves too many steps or is confusing, shoppers will wind up abandoning their cart with items left unpurchased.
Compatibility with All Devices
Not-so-small screens with improving resolutions is fuelling the unrelenting rise of mobile phone use for ecommerce purchasers. It’s vital that our store designs consider the requirements of mobile-only shoppers and the design elements they’d find helpful – special navigation flyouts, horizontal scrolling of products, sticky View Cart buttons.
Use of Clear, Beautiful Images
Product images should be the heroes on any ecommerce store. Quality luscious photos should focus on aspiration use of products, product details and benefits. Just think when you’ve visited a store with small low-quality flat images – it certainly can easily turn you away.
DSTLD design and produce luxury denim clothes and accessories. They’re on my design radar because the industrial design layout matches this brand’s essence. Photography is aspiration and on brand but direct and detailed when it needs to be. Despite the minimalist style ecommerce items are where anyone would expect them to be.
Huckberry say that their emails will be the most awaited in your inbox and they’re not wrong – they’re interesting, full of rich photography and content – particularly if you like the outdoors. And their ecommerce website design continues to deliver on that promise with wicked product photography. Note how you need to login in to view – with this site I haven’t hesitated.
Sometimes we get carried away with our positioning tactics! The brief says the home page must include a lavish cover image, copy that conveys our proposition, links to blog articles and videos, trustmarks and testimonials, social media feeds to facebook and Instagram. Holssen said stuff it; let’s just show our amazing products.
While not strictly an eCommerce website, FiftyThree made it to my shortlist because it’s definitely selling something. That something is creativity, style and technology all wrapped in to their product called Pencil. This landing page is as creative as the product and is loaded with well-designed benefits, imagery and animations.
I’m a sucker for great positioning and the ‘world’s most comfortable shoe’ sounds like a proposition that should resonate with a big market. This site uses typography, images and quirky illustrations to tell why you need a pair. Allbirds tell their story well and provide plenty of calls-to-action to get your buy in.
Always been a fan of Beardbrand’s website design. It’s one site where bearded models aren’t just there for the hipster factor. Their eCommerce site feels like a knowledgeable and helpful friend and they happen to sell stuff.
Most of the eCommerce sites I’ve listed so far are conventional in their layout. To prove that I’m not confined to normal, meet Flambette. Note the vertical menus placed to the sides, animated copy and images on scroll. Animated product images intrigue the user and the designers have even considered page load animated icons.
Many clothing sites could make it to a list of creative eCommerce design and there is a similarity with many of the great ones. Paolita finds inspiration for their fashion designs from many cultures; European, North African, Mexico. Its demonstrated from white collections through to heavy patterned and coloured collections. I love the fresh nature of their design layout and the subtle animations on display of copy and product images.
If you’ve got this far with my list, you’ll appreciate I lean towards minimalist design and familiar shopping aesthetics. Ethel’s Baking is here to break that mould. While built in BigCommerce it manages to redefine this ecommerce SaaS system with it’s own highly tailored design.
This site might have made it here because of my interests in anything Mac and handmade. But boy, what a great example of those two interests in one product. Grovemade presents their fantastic range of products with soft grey backgrounds and minimalist navigation. Nothing gets in the way of exploring their products and putting them in your cart.
In putting together this short collection of ecommerce websites I’ve learnt that my design preferences are as much about current creativity as they are about practicality and familiarity from a visitor’s viewpoint.
Sure, I came across far more intense designs but for me I found those sites over styled, not clear about what they were selling or simply too awkward to navigate.
To me, good ecommerce design isn’t about austere model shots but about integrating on-brand imagery with a seemingly simple ecommerce shopping experience for your particular target market.
If you want to optimise your website’s return-on-investment, provide the best experience for your customers and maximise lead generation, then your website needs to be maintained regularly.
If we care for our vehicle, we’ll follow the recommended maintenance plan and have it serviced regularly. It’s not that we expect it to run radically better the next day but we know that regular maintenance will keep it running at its peak and as efficiently as possible. It will pick up any issues early and hopefully mitigate more expensive break-downs. And we’ll tweak and replace items like tyres, brakes and wipers that wear out.
Unfortunately, the maintenance program on business websites is seldom as thorough! After investing the price of a vehicle, on a professional website, it’s surprising that many clients are reluctant to fork out the funds for a regular maintenance programme.
Check 1 – Website Backups
Make sure that your website files and database backups are being automatically performed on at least a weekly basis. Restore from backup at least once every six months to ensure the backups are valid. Verify that backups are also stored off site or include a cloud backup system.
Apply available security patches for any software your site relies on (e.g. PHP, content management systems, ecommerce carts, etc.) Ensure you have a full site backup before applying updates. Check website and extension functions after applying updates. Evaluate non-critical software updates to see if they’re worth applying.
Check 4 – Broken Links
Run a link checker to crawl your site and look for broken links that can annoy users and reduce search engine rankings. Use a free tool like Online Website Link Checker or a website auditing and SEO app like SEMrush.
Check 5 – Site Speed
No one likes slow page loads including Google. Use Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to check how quickly your website pages load and get actionable recommendations. Ensure that website editors loading appropriately resized images and that the website itself is adequately optimising images.
Check 6 – Sitemaps
Sitemap files tell search engines the structure of your website and help incorrectly indexing your site with Google. Check the sitemap to ensure that it is up to date. Check for broken links to deleted legacy pages. Also check to ensure links to newly added and important pages are updated within the sitemap. Check that the sitemap.xml file is automatically updating. Submit it to search engines if necessary.
Check 7 – Website Forms
Forms are usually an important part of lead generation and need to be checked regularly for script errors or changes in destination emails. The connection to automation apps and email lists should be tested as well.
Check 8 – Analytics & Conversions
Check for active tracking scripts on all pages particularly on static sites with automated Content Management. Check and test Goals and conversion data in your analytics reports to confirm that key actions and events are being recorded for analysis.
Check 9 – Search Engine Optimisation
Use a website auditor tool like SEMrush to find structural problems with your site that may affect how search engines view your site like missing meta titles, poor responsive design or duplicate content. Correct critical issues and plan a time to address other issues.
Check 10 – Content Grammar & Readability
Over time, errors can creep into your site content as changes are made by numerous people. Read and correct all content on the site. Check often forgotten “thank you” pages. This could include checking ALT text associated with images that search engines use to index what that content is about.
Check 11 – Website Technology
As new CMS platforms and code technologies like AJAX evolve, many website scripts need to be altered or added to keep up with compatibility and the competition. All make for improved function, performance and animation.
Check 12 – Website Design
Over time, a website’s design will date and become less competitive. While graphic elements can be changed to refresh the site, at some point you need to consider a full website redesign.
Many clients under-estimate the importance of regular website maintenance and complain to the website development agency when it breaks! If you’re not booking your website in for a regular service then we know who is really at fault when traffic comes to an untimely halt.
It’s vital to keep your website asset purring and performing. Grand offers affordable website maintenance packages for any business, whether we built your website or not.
Contact us here, if you’d like to discuss website maintenance or performance boosts.
We’re living in uncertain times.
Now is not the time to sit back and weather the storm – it’s the time to adjust and adapt to a new way of digital marketing as the pandemic fades and we adjust to a new normal.
Where before your business may have focused its resources on a physical shop presence or sales reps to engage with customers, digital marketing may have just become your new best friend.
Now is the time to adapt your product offering to suit your customer’s needs, tune your value proposition to suit their adjusted psyche or improve operational aspects, like contactless delivery.
Even if you only dabbled in online marketing with a limited budget on Google Ads and the odd sporadic email campaign, now’s the time to double down on your digital marketing efforts.
So, what has changed – EVERYTHING
Many Kiwis have lost their jobs or face an uncertain future. Many businesses face issues staying afloat or adjusting to a new way.
Whether its lock-down or more relaxed social distancing this pandemic will affect the way our businesses market themselves, at the very least until a vaccination is mass produced sometime in 2021 – lets pray for an earlier breakthrough!
Take advantage of the silence
Do not sit and wait quietly for the economy to bounce back. Actively prepare for it.
If you have a product or service that could provide sales opportunities through ecommerce, pursuing online options is ideal.
For those businesses where that’s not such a relevant option, you can still build brand awareness and engage in content and social marketing so that as things slowly turn to “normal”, customers already have you on their list.
Or perhaps this is not so much about change per say, but about addressing the shortcomings we knew existed in our businesses.
This period represents an amazing opportunity to turn your business on its head and get it more positively into the digital age.
Here are 15 digital marketing initiatives to keep your business going during this crisis, and how to attract new customers in the process…
1. Stay current
Your customers are looking for information and trust your company to deliver.
Place up-to-date information on a website mini-header and follow up with detail on special landing pages or in blog posts.
Adjust your messaging to share information about any extra precautions that you’re taking, if you’re providing any extra services to the community or whether you’re experiencing delays.
If your hours of operation have changed for example, update your customer facing sites, including Google My Business.
Google My Business (GMB) is often the first impression that people get for your business and brand. It dramatically affects your visibility on Local Search, Google Maps, and organic rankings.
If you haven’t created and verified your GMB profile yet, you can do it right now.
Check your brand messaging. Is your home page headline still relevant? Could you tweak the language used to express empathy?
Create product demonstration videos and post on YouTube.
3. Refresh your website
We have seen a real spike during the last few weeks from companies wishing to create or update websites, launch new e-commerce channels and create social media campaigns focused on home-workers.
If your business previously put token efforts into digital channels – because like a lot of other businesses, you had built your networks offline and that had always seemed to work – now is the time to revisit them.
That could be as simple as giving your website and social pages a refresh.
Or it could mean an overhaul of your product offering and presentation.
4. Optimise for Mobile
More so now, people search for local businesses from their mobile, so it’s critical that you provide a good mobile experience on your website.
Is your business’ mobile experience pleasant? Keep to interesting imagery and short readable copy.
Are forms easy to complete? Make sure fields are large enough to select and next steps are obvious.
Pay special attention to the action of dropdown menus so that visitors can easily navigate around your site.
And another critical ranking factor for mobile websites is speed – test your performance with Think with Google.
5. Pivot to keep your current customers
Can you find a way to adjust your product to fit where your customers are now?
It may be as simply as changing your messaging to reflecting the new way customers could use your product.
Or it could require a more radical change in delivery.
Act quickly to make adjustments and get up and running. Then make sure all your customers know about your new offering.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop, quickly open an online store.
If you’re a restaurant, prepare your offering for take-out – pickup or delivery options. Work with Uber Eats or devise your own contactless delivery system. Update your website for ecommerce and fulfilment.
Yoga studios are offering virtual classes on Zoom.
If your Roller Blinds business, relying on home visits for detailed quoting, how could you shift this to self-measure quotes and virtual home video visits.
We all hope things will return to a degree of social normality but if consumers’ habits change to an acceptance of more ecommerce, how is your business placed?
6. Move to More Personalised Marketing
Digital transformation provides unparalleled opportunities to offer personalised service to customers.
Leverage marketing automation to understand customers and provide recommendations and experiences that are unique to them.
This personalised approach is clear when it comes to ecommerce with specialist automation programs like Sharpspring or Klaviyo.
But its relevant for all businesses, where at least clients could be segmented in to 2 or 3 broad groups and marketed to with at least some degree of personalisation.
7. Offer Discounts and Incentives
As a business, you need to give shoppers more reasons to buy from you and ways to find you when their attention might be directed elsewhere.
So you might have to get creative with your pricing. It’s a way to differentiate and it doesn’t have to come across salesy.
What discounts can you offer to new clients?
Can you introduce a loyalty program?
How can you improve your click and collect service or speed up your courier services or offer free shipping?
Perhaps your price offer is based on an up-sell – when you purchase this, get that at 20% off.
8. Experiment, Optimise and Test Again
Our growth marketing methodologies call for ongoing experimentation and testing.
We don’t expect to get everything right the first time and the role of tracking and reporting is to highlight what’s working and what is not.
If a campaign doesn’t get the results we expected it needs to be ditched or re-worked.
If a Google Ad, landing page, lead-generation offer combination is showing good results how could it be improved?
Ensure you’ve updated Goals within Google Analytics to reflect the success indicators of your marketing efforts.
If you struggle to add clear sales goals within your analytics (like a purchase or sales enquiry), at least add an Engaged Traffic goal that demonstrates some sort of interest from a specific visitor to your website. This could be in the form of users who visited 5+ pages within a session, or spent 4 or more minutes on your site.
Use Event parameters to record goals like the completion of an enquiry form or the viewing of a partially hidden phone number.
Consider offline analytics where we add activity, not captured by your website, back into Google Analytics to report on completion of a goals like the number of actual drawn-down loans for a finance company, or products sold from a specific channel where a quote is requested online but the actual sale transaction happens separate from the website.
I strongly recommend using A/B testing tools to make sure your updates are more effective than the current content. A/B split testing statistically analyses which version of a landing page is preforming stronger.
While you can test wholesale changes side by side, often testing just a headline change or the change of a button colour, can lead to fruitful results.
Google Website Optimizer is a free website optimisation tool that helps online marketers increase visitor conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction by continually testing different combinations of website content.
Optimizely is an another fine experimentation platform that gives you the tools you need to make data-driven decisions in real time.
Be creative and quick and measure your success at every stage of the marketing strategies you experiment with.
Make sure your marketing experiments are easy to deliver.
If it works, well done! Rinse and repeat and continue to optimise.
If it doesn’t work, try new things quickly and ruthlessly.
9. Conduct a Mini-Audit of Your Content Assets
A full-blown content audit takes time and expertise, but there is much you can do during this slow period to improve your content performance with a mini-audit.
If you haven’t kept an inventory of your content assets to date, this is a great time to get started.
Use a spreadsheet to note all the active and current pages, posts and files you have for
Articles published externally, etc.
Match these assets against your new tactics. What can you repurpose? Where are the gaps?
10. Improve your Ranking on Google
With busy promotional calendars, frontline ad spending on Google Ads and constant customer and operational issues to address, Search Engine Optimisation can be left on the back burner.
Now might be a great time to consider a list of website updates and checks that all contribute to your overall SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position). These could include:
Important Page Meta Tags. Checking your top 10 pages Page Titles and Page Descriptions for keyword inclusion and engaging copy.
Category and Product Meta Tags. Ensuring product pages are using an automated dynamic manner to pull in Page Titles and Descriptions
Video Carousel feature. It’s no surprise that YouTube results feature prominently in Google’s Search results. Apply VideoObject schema markup to your website videos.
Product Carousels & Rich Results.Mark up your product pages so users can see price, availability, and review ratings right on Search results.
Data Table Snippet. Tables can be an effective way to share information or demonstrate concepts. Schema.org estimates that under 50,000 domains are currently using the proper markup to tell search engines there is a table on one of their webpages.
Reviews Snippet. When Google finds the proper markups for reviews, it may expand your rich result with a review excerpt or an average combined rating score.
FAQ Snippet. Again, just by adding the right schema to your FAQs page could add to the real estate you’ll occupy for search results.
11. Focus on Digital Assets
Your website needs to reflect all the glorious value that you’d normally present in person. The product information backed with enthusiastic flair, the useful tips, the entertaining anecdotes, the relevant case studies.
Now you need to portray that same information that got you the sale in person, but digitally:
Case Studies and Testimonials
Fact Sheets, Brochures and Whitepapers
Video Content (marketing, sales, training and support)
Build in the same fun and gusto, you or your team would have used in person
12. Add fresh relevant website content
Google and prospects love good content and it can fuel all aspects of your marketing.
Look for innovative ways to add fresh inspiration content to your website and emails.
Perhaps task not-so-busy staff to write content on nominated topics and/or engage content writers from inexpensive sources to produce content for you; giving them article outlines and references to expand on.
Deliver this content across multiple channels; blog posts, email marketing, lead magnet landing pages, social media posts, video, customer case studies.
13. Run Webinars
Consider setting up informational webinars that tackle the big issues in your industry, led by your team experts.
Thought leadership is one of the reasons why people travel to conferences, and you can replace those cancelled trade shows with a virtual conference that features online executive-level talk tracks.
Host a webinar on GoToWebinar. Livestorm or Zoom.
A webinar represents a great way to engage with prospective customers in a non-salesy way, by providing instruction or advice that is valuable to them.
Meanwhile, you get to capture participant details and develop qualified leads for your sales funnel.
14. Get your Ecommerce or Digital Lead Generation Live!
Now is the best time to ramp up your e-Commerce program.
Engage professionals to build an end-to-end ‘purchase to payment’ system that can scale now, and also when the crisis is over (none of this will be wasted effort)
Think about your marketing message, e.g. how easy it is to buy from you even from your lounge chair
Focus on the ‘contactless’ order-to-delivery process
Display clearly your online purchase, refund and exchange policy
Implement online help systems such as Live Chat or an online FAQ help centre that make purchase issues easier to resolve.
Make doing business with you EASY! (Ensure purchase issues are resolved quickly).
15. Build new customer engagement processes
Replace your face-to-face events and sales steps with ‘virtual environments’ and digital tools that will support your essential business tasks such as sales calls and presentations, project development meetings, customer training, and support.
Educate your Sales Teams on digital systems to help them better manage their sales engagement process and sales pipeline (Email Marketing, CRM, Sales Dashboard, Zoom Meetings)
Adopt Digital Transformation for your business by implementing digital tools such as Zoom Meetings, MS Teams or Google Hangouts.
Encourage everyone to turn video on during calls – you should be at that point now that video calls aren’t new and special anymore; they’re the norm. Make those calls as personable as possible by showing your face.
As long as your business approaches the shift to digital marketing strategically, there’s no reason why it should just serve as an emergency fill-in.
Upping your digital transformation now will carry on providing long-term value when the world eventually gets back to “normal”.
And it will make your business more resilient to deal with any future pandemics!
The economy will come back. If you can problem-solve and plan for the future while others give up, your business may be perfectly positioned to come back stronger than ever.
The Growth Marketing options available to Marketers are endless, so in this post I’m distilling a long playbook list down to 23 practical tactics that any of our small to medium New Zealand clients can deploy today.
I’ve loosely arranged these example actions into one of three sections. The lines are a little blurred between each section, but you’ll get the picture…
Website SEO – preparing your most important digital asset.
Lead Generation – growing traffic and capturing leads.
Content Marketing – nurturing prospects and closing sales.
A key strength of a Growth Marketing strategy is not hinged on any one campaign, channel, or tactic in particular. The success pivots on each of the channels and actions combining to have an effect that is far greater than the sum of their performance alone.
A strong Growth Marketing plan will take care of short-term wins and develop medium- and long-term successes.
It’s likely to include a mix of our shortlisted tactics: Facebook advertising, Google Ads, display advertising, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, landing page design, conversion rate optimisation, email marketing, content marketing… pretty much anything that will help you achieve your goal.
What’s important with any growth marketing methods, is that you take a fluid approach to budget allocation – adjusting the allocation of your budget each month to the channels where you’re generating the best results. Experiment, test and improve constantly.
I can’t think of many situations where a strong website isn’t the catalyst for better results. So make your website great again.
Firstly, set it up so that it will rank well with Google and get found your prospects.
Then ensure it works hard to convert – changes opinions, captures lead, initiates calls or store visits, or it directly sells something.
Search Engine Optimisation – run a website audit and apply the technical changes for Google’s sake. Apply keyword-researched on-page SEO.
Offsite Link Building – ultimately Google ranks popular sites higher and one of their criteria is the amount of quality backlinks your site has. Here we start by auditing competitor sites to work out what strategies they are using to obtain their ranking for specific keywords and then we’ll look to build a better version of their backlinks.
Website Upgrade – perhaps it’s time for a total upgrade to a state-of-the-art mobile-friendly site that better reflects your brand and its position against your competitors.
Landing Pages – Don’t just send traffic to a general home page; direct it to specific landing pages optimised for certain keyword groups and designed to capture leads or for a specific conversion. Destination URLs from pay-per-click ads should be designed specifically in relation to the keyword or topic which was being advertised. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to find the information that is relevant for them. Consider a product like Instapage that also reports on page performance
Conversion Optimisation – construct your landing pages so they encourage a signup or sale. Even subtle changes to button copy can have significant effects. Having the highest conversion rate possible allows you to spend more on marketing than your competitors. Actionable optimisation data could come from Google Analytics, heatmaps, visitor recordings and online surveys.
A/B Split Testing – a fundamental of Growth Marketing is experimentation and testing. Who’s not to say the old clunky page is worse than the new highly-crafted concept page – the only way to find out is to test them side by side at the same time using products like Google Optimise or Optimizely.
Website Trustmarks – An important factor in converting a visitor will always be how much trust they have in your brand or product. If you want a prospect to trust you more, include your clients’ logos, affiliations or employee photos on your website.
Now that you have new traffic to your website, how can you turn that visitor in to a lead, capture an email address or contact details and then continue to engage and nurture them?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service.
Search Engine Marketing – If you want to attract visitors today then start with paid search advertising (pay-per-click). Our tactics often start with Google Ads for immediate traffic and lead generation.
Facebook Advertising – Conversion focused ads using Remarketing, lookalike Audiences, client website fans and tailored interest groups.
Remarketing – You’ve put effort and money into getting people to your site; now retarget those specific groups of those visitors through Google and Facebook.
Gmail Sponsored Promotions – Here you can even target users receiving emails from your competitors!
YouTube Advertising – Test activity on the next largest search portal after Google search. Consider starting with Veeroll to produce high quality inexpensive video ads.
Pop-ups and Exit Intent – Tastefully styled and intelligently positioned popups can highlight an offer and drive conversion (usually email subscription focused). When all else fails, an Exit Intent popup can catch a visitor before they leave with a special offer or coupon.
Online Chat – Online chat works like text messaging and we all know how popular that is. It’s also inexpensive, so just add it to your site and test out the results.
Email Acquisition – Email can form a valuable core channel for any growth marketing plan but first you need to get those email contacts. Part of the email pool will come from general website lead capture – blog subscribers, quote requests, incomplete signups, purchases or applications and enquiries Valued Content Offers – visitors are only going to give up their email if you offer something valuable to them in return. One way to build your email list is to offer special eBook downloads promoted via Facebook or pay-per-click mediums. Another way could be through competitions; offering a prize to entrants.
Content Marketing & Promotion
Content is the fuel that attracts prospects to your website. Great content engages prospects, warms them to your brand and ultimately helps you build a relationship with customers.
Unfortunately, it’s often an afterthought for businesses. If Google Ads works, why would we need to write a couple of blog articles a month? Why should we let our competitors in on our secret best practice guide? Because great content drives interest in our brand and positions us as a leader in our industry. It shows expertise and builds trust. And it weaponises our personalised emails, monthly newsletters and automated responses, and creates interest in social media, while our banner ads are being ignored.
Blog Articles – Much of our work here will be stimulated through valuable content sort out and searched for by your prospects. We’ll use social media and emails and SEO tactics to attract visitors to your blogs. Even for larger clients, blogging is often a hard tactic to commit to but by using affordable content writers anyone can have a strong blogging presence – which will become a strong foundation for much of our Growth Marketing. Mix your topics up a little; think case studies, reviews, in-depth articles, lists, aggregating other sites’ content.
Blog Optimisation – Your blog pages need to be optimised for lead capture – think popups and inline forms and download offers. Don’t forget to AB Test these as well.
Reviews & Ratings – Use a system to gather reviews and ratings from customers; display them on your site and ensure they are added to Google My Business or aggregated by a 3rd party so that they appear in search and Google Ads results – that way prospects are more likely to click on you.
Email Marketing – Email remains one of the most effective means of delivering personalised messages to prospects and customers. We use it at all stages of the sales funnel, segmenting lists and delivering emails to welcome new subscribers, send requested content, to make special offers, send out periodic product news or bring back a lapsed customer.
Marketing Automation – not so much a strategy as a tool, but one that helps us do more, automating many processes through the funnel; from lead generation, segmenting and tagging users, personalising website pages, controlling email marketing and assisting with CRM.
Loyalty Programme – it seems that Retention Marketing often gets left off the list. Marketing to current or previous customers can take a lot less effort and deliver better returns than finding new ones. A loyalty rewards programme could be just the edge your customers need to come back to you for more. Reviews and ratings – People trust reviews to inform them about their decisions, and reviews play a huge role in people’s purchasing decisions. So set up a system where you ask for them, display them schematically correctly on your website and have them pushed to Google My Business and beyond.
A marketing plan shouldn’t be written and put on the shelf – that’s why we treat a client’s plan like a guidebook that continually focuses our actions and reminds us of the strategies we’re deploying to achieve your KPIs.
Our marketing process covers 11 crucial steps:
Goals & KPIs
We’ll guide a client through these steps and summarise the information utilising our planning templates. It’s a 2-way process where the client imparts valuable information to us and in turn we provide workshops and tools to facilitate the planning and ongoing activity:
#1. Describe Your Brand Mission
The first step in creating a strong marketing plan is to highlight the mission statement of your company. All of your marketing efforts will revolve around fulfilling that statement for your customers.
What purpose does your company serve?
What problems are you solving?
Why are you in business?
Summarise that mission in one or two sentences.
#2. Define the Value Proposition
There are many ways to go about developing a Value Proposition, but we think the following formula cuts to the chase. It’s also great for presenting the ideas to your team or visualising how the website page might convey this:
Headline. What is the benefit you’re offering to customers, in 1 short sentence? Might mention the product and/or the customer. Does it grab attention – why should I care? What’s unique or desirable about it.
Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why is it useful. Why should I choose you rather than a competitor’s product.
Bullet points. List 3-4 key benefits or features. Make sure the support the headline and your overall claim.
Visual. Images communicate much faster than words. Show a hero shot or an image that reinforces your main message.
Evaluate your current value proposition by checking whether it answers these questions:
What product or service is your company selling?
What is the end-benefit of using it?
Who is your target customer for this product or service?
What makes your offering unique and different?
Why would I purchase your product/service over the competitions?
Go beyond what you sell and focus on why it matters to your customer
#3. Build Buyer Personas
Buyer Personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customers derived from research and sales data from your existing customers. They define groups of our most important customers and consider demographics, behaviours, interests, and especially, goals and pain points; so that can align content and strategies with them throughout the buyer’s journey.
Match specific Persona’s to selected traffic sources and promotional hooks/lead-magnets and to certain stages within the Buyer’s Journey to personalise your messaging.
Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
This bullet point table will focus us on the issues that need to be addressed for the coming year.
Use this information to address your marketing strategies.
To find your strengths answer questions like:
What does our organisation do well?
What are the things that other people say you do well?
Why did we win our last pitch or why does Distributor X deal with us?
What processes do we have in place that have made us effective?
What do we currently do that is a unique strength to our business?
To find your weaknesses answer questions like:
What could we improve in our organisation?
What is causing a constant barrier to our success?
What are we currently doing in our marketing process that could be improved?
What are the things you need to avoid?
What does our competitor do well that we don’t?
To analyse opportunities outside your business, answer the following:
What external trends could bring opportunities?
What are the current ongoing trends?
What is the market missing? What disruptive thinking could you benefit from?
What is changing in our industry that we could take advantage of right now?
Analyse the threats that may impede your success:
What obstacles are you facing on your current mission?
What are the negative aspects in the current market?
What are our competitors doing better than us?
Are there changes in our industry that could threaten our efforts?
What political, economic, or social aspects could hinder our marketing efforts?
#5. Competitor Analysis
You don’t have to be the best business in the world – you just have to outperform your competitors.
List key direct competitors in your market.
Include global operators that you’d nominate as hero’s or as a source of inspiration.
What are your competitor’s strengths and how can we negate or take advantage of them?
Determine competitor vulnerabilities, and capitalise upon those weaknesses.
What are they doing right and how could we improve on that?
Track your progress against your competitors based on industry reported sales, research, website rank tracking etc.
#6. Set a Marketing Budget
There are four ways you can set a marketing budget for the year:
Percent of Revenue. This is where the revenue that your business brings in determines what your budget will be.
Top-Down. This is where the GM or Marketing Manager decides what your marketing team will spend.
Competition Matching. This type of budget is based on trying to reverse engineer what your competitors are doing.
Goal Driven. This type of budget is based on the goals that you have set for the year. The amount you spend on each project will depend on the kind of goal you need to reach.
#7. Optimise Your Website
The website and the content within becomes the hub for all our marketing activity. And it’s crucial that your website gets the brand positioning, design and coding attention it deserves…
It’s the place to deliver a clear and unique value proposition so your prospects and customers get what’s in it for them and why they should purchase from you. That proposition is usually delivered distinctly and quickly within key landing pages through copy and images but is also disseminated in overall website design, appealing to your Buyer Personas.
An optimised website usually makes the development of landing pages, blog posts and lead capture forms a breeze. No doubt it will be built around a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS).
An optimised website will be search engine optimised (SEO) to ensure keyword ranking on google and easily found by your targets. Intelligent use of keyword research will help optimise meta titles, meta descriptions, page headlines, copy and content and overall strategic direction of your site.
Your website is the centre for content distribution, lead capture, conversion and deal closure. And it’s a key starting point for attracting traffic and nurturing leads through our conversion processes. Don’t skimp on the investment required!
#8. Setup Marketing Tools
Whether you’re using a spreadsheet or something fancier, there is a plethora of tools and apps to help us plan, optimise, execute and track our research, activity and results.
A solid marketing strategy, backed by the right technology stack for your business, will help you stay on track to achieving your goals and may include:
The tools are there to help us do a job your competition probably haven’t even begun to think about. We’re going far beyond a monthly email newsletter – we’re strategically moving your traffic, leads and customers through an intelligent sales funnel – all within a level that matches your budget and resources, of course.
#9. Build out a Strategy Grid
Build out a Strategy Grid for your business defining your business/product strategies and tactics by buying stage; Attraction, Engagement, Conversion and Retention.
This is perhaps the most important element of your marketing plan because it assesses and details exactly what you’ll do with the resources that you have.
#10. Detail an Activity Planner
While the overall tools and strategies might be in place or documented, we still need to lay out what will happen next week or next month.
Dependent on your appropriate promotional cycle (weekly, monthly etc), you need to set up a planner to detail what email campaign will be delivered on the 15th or what promotion will run in June.
It could include a Content Publishing calendar or detail about what automation flow you’ll introduce in two month’s time.
While you should lay out a full 12 months of activity, it’s important to concentrate on the detail for the immediate rolling 3-4 months.
The activity planner can also include a list of strategic things-to-do with ideal delivery dates.
#11. Set Goals & KPIs
The last element in our marketing process is to set goals and key performance indicators. Our marketing goals should be S.M.A.R.T. This means they should be:
Specific. You should know exactly what you’d like to accomplish.
Measurable. If you can’t measure it, it’s not useful.
Attainable. Stretch yourself, but avoid setting yourself up for failure.
Relevant. Your marketing goals should be connected to clear business outcomes.
Time-based. Give yourself a deadline by which you’ll achieve your goal.
Set up a spreadsheet for these goals and combine those results with reporting from sources like Google Analytics. Track them by your most appropriate promotional cycle (weekly, monthly etc). Common KPIs include:
Gross profit %
No. of online transactions
While a strong marketing plan must cover at least these 11 elements, we’ve found that the more concise you can write this up, the better. It’s not that detailed reports and analysis are unimportant but when we’re summarising your plans and activity the shorter you keep it, the more understanding and buy-in you’ll have from key stakeholders.
If your first Marketing Plan draft covered these elements over 2-3 pages, you have already made a significant start to a strong plan and more than likely achieved significantly more well-contemplated planning than your competitors.
Want more sales? We’ll help you find more traffic, generate more leads and get more business for your business.