As a marketer, there are two important factors you need to achieve online success: a highly-optimized website and a data-driven, 360-degree approach to digital marketing. These are essential in establishing a robust online foundation and obtaining qualified leads for your business.
Online marketing is gaining popularity among small and large enterprises. This is because digital marketing is a powerful yet economical platform to build brand recognition and expand customer reach.
Regardless of your niche, there is always fierce competition in the market. To compete, your business needs to adapt to the demands of this fast-changing digital industry. Start by building a user-centric website.
No matter the type or size of your business, you need a website to create a strong online presence. “Your website is your global headquarters in your digital strategy,” said Joseph Jenkinson, Thrive’s senior digital marketing consultant. “For many prospects, it is the first destination in their journey to becoming your customer.”
A fully-optimized site works like a well-oiled machine in generating leads. According to the GE Capital Retail Bank’s Second Annual Shopper Study, 81 percent of consumers perform online research before visiting a business or making a purchase.
Your website allows you to appear in relevant search results when customers look for your brand and products online. In this way, you can reach out to a vast online market and increase your customer base.
Position your brand in front of your target audience by building a robust digital presence.
In this post, we’ve covered the essentials of creating a solid online foundation and acquiring more leads. Our discussion focused on:
• The importance of a business website
• Building a website on a budget
• Templated vs. custom designed sites
• The significance of building a robust digital marketing strategy
• Optimizing your site for search
– Search engine optimization (SEO)
– Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing
– Social media marketing
– Video marketing
– Online reputation management (ORM)
– Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
• The importance of your site in boosting your online presence
Read on to learn more about how you can leverage your business site to your advantage.
Your Website is Your Digital HQ
A good website, together with a strategic digital marketing campaign, is integral to building your brand’s online authority. Your site serves as your business’ extension in the digital space. It is a cost-effective platform that allows you to connect with your prospects and customers, promote your unique value proposition and generate higher profit.
Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes the need for a website. Studies show that almost 40 percent of small companies do not invest in a website because they find it costly and irrelevant to their business. Unless you’re a marketer who’s not interested in growing your brand, you need a website.
Why Your Business Needs a Website
Running a successful business isn’t just about selling your products and services. It’s also about providing value to your customers through useful information.
Research shows that approximately 93 percent of customers’ online experiences begin with search engines. This means that to establish brand awareness and build customer trust, you need a top-performing website.
Still not convinced of the importance of a business site? Here are more reasons to facilitate your decision making:
1. Your website is your number one marketing asset.
According to the Digital Consumer Study published by the Local Search Association (LSA), 30 percent of online users won’t consider a business that does not have a website. This means your brand is as good as non-existent if you don’t have a website.
2. The majority of your target customers are online.
Globally, there are around 4.54 billion active internet users. With the emergence of the internet and sophisticated technology, consumers have become increasingly more dependent on online platforms in deciding where to go or what to buy. If your local business doesn’t show up on search results, then you are losing a significant amount of potential sales.
3. Your competition has a website.
Statistics show that 71 percent of small businesses have a website. If you don’t have an online presence, there is little-to-no chance that your target customers will find your brand. When this happens, the majority of your target audience will move to your competitors.
4. Your site helps boost your brand’s online credibility.
Consumers expect companies to have a website just as they expect you to have a real physical business location. Not having a website reduces your vote of confidence from potential customers, and, ultimately, lowers your marketing potential.
5. Building a website is not as expensive as you think.
Your site offers a better return on investment (ROI) than other forms of advertising. The key to building and maintaining a website with a minimal budget is finding the right web design and development company to partner with. Your digital marketing provider can help you allocate your budget for your domain name, site design and creation and web hosting, among others.
6. Your site allows you to generate more leads and expand your market.
It serves as an accessible platform for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) interaction. Using analytics, you can analyze your page visitors’ site interaction and utilize the results in building a customer database. It makes it easier for you to reach out to your target audience when marketing new products or services.
7. Having a social media presence is not enough.
If you think having a Facebook page is sufficient, think again. Social media reach is limited. Within a week of social media algorithm updates, your business’ online presence can plummet lower than it was already. Your website, on the other hand, allows you to implement various ways to protect your digital presence and stay on top of search results.
8. Your site serves as an online customer service platform.
Gaining your customers’ vote of confidence is essential if you want to succeed in this fierce business landscape. One way to obtain their trust is to boost your brand’s accessibility. The good news is your site allows you to engage with your target audience and attend to their immediate concerns no matter their location. More importantly, it makes your business available to consumers 24/7.
9. Your website can lead your customers to your physical store.
Over 90 percent of purchases still happen offline. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, your site is an excellent platform to drive your customers to your business’ physical location. Using your website, you can attract more customers who are already interested in making a purchase.
10. Online marketing is more affordable than traditional advertising.
Many businesses rely on digital marketing because it’s the most cost-effective form of advertising. Unlike conventional media, such as print, TV and radio, your site allows you to reach millions of prospects across the globe all at the same time.
Although the budget and project scopes vary, there is no real difference between the website of small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. The key is to implement a results-driven SEO and online marketing strategy. In this way, you create a strong online foundation and protect your brand’s digital presence.
Building a Website on a Budget
If you’re among the business owners who hesitate to invest in a website due to budget constraints, then fret not. Building a website is now a lot easier and cheaper than ever. In fact, according to Jenkinson, a site no longer requires an investment of more than $20,000.
If you don’t have the budget, Jenkinson recommends that you take the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. “You could have a website for your business for as little as $14 per month –and some effort on your part,” Jenkinson said.
Here are a few tips from Jenkinson in building a DIY web design:
1. Choose the right pre-designed template for your business
2. Customize it yourself –drag and drop and change anything
3. Add professional tools, such as an online scheduling system
4. Publish your website and “Go Live!”
“There’s no excuse to not have a website,” Jenkinson added. In this fierce online realm, having a website is not an option but a necessity.
Template vs. Custom Websites: Which is Your Best Choice?
Once you’ve decided to build a website, the next consideration is whether to choose a template- or custom-designed website. The fact is both types of sites offer great solutions for your business. The right decision, however, boils down to five critical considerations. These are:
1. Budget — How much are you willing to invest in your website? Naturally, templated sites are much cheaper than custom web designs. If your budget is less than $20,000, a templated site might be your best option. Otherwise, you can invest in a custom-designed website.
2. Brand — Your site should reflect your business’ core values and unique personality. As such, you must carefully consider which type of website can powerfully convey your value propositions.
3. Timeline — What is the timeframe of your web project? A quality site takes time to build and design, depending on the complexity of the features. Typically, custom sites take two to four months to launch. If you’re in a hurry, you may opt for templated web designs.
4. Flexibility and Scalability — Most templated sites have limited functionalities in terms of coding and placing additional features. Custom websites, on the other hand, are designed to cater to your current objectives and future needs. The key is to choose a site that is easily scalable as you grow.
5. Functionality — Consider whether your site option can extend its functionality once your business begins to grow. When choosing between a templated and custom web design, evaluate its device responsiveness, ability to capture leads and vulnerability to attacks.
To give you a better idea of which website to choose, here’s a brief overview of each site option:
“Templated website is the middle ground,” Jenkinson said. “It’s already designed, laid out, pre-built, lots of functionalities exist in there.”
Taking the templated approach allows you to save time and money. However, choosing a templated website also means you agree to settle with non-exclusive site design as well as limitations on customization.
This solution is perfect for:
• Businesses with a smaller investment
• Marketers with no time or desire to learn how to build a website with an online DIY builder
• A low barrier solution to “Go Live!” and launch a website for your business
“That [templated website] is not a good solution for everybody,” Jenkinson added. “But it’s a perfect solution if you just need a simple website at low cost.”
Custom Designed Website
A custom web design, on the other hand, is built specifically for your business. It is visually appealing, easy to use and optimized to convert visitors into customers.
When you choose a custom web design, you can expect:
• Direct communication with a web team to discuss the project
• A scheduled consultation that involves discussions on developing a strategy, design requirements and custom site functionality, among others
• Collaboration with a dedicated project manager to guide you through the web process, set expectations and answer any questions you may have along the way
• A multi-step approval process of your site’s strategy, design, content and launch
“[Custom web design is] A great way to stand out from your competition or soar your business to the next level,” Jenkinson said.
People are Looking for Your Business Online
Building a website is the first step in creating an online foundation, but it doesn’t end there. “If your business website does not have exposure online, then you are at a competitive disadvantage,” Jenkinson said.
Let’s look at the statistics:
• 46 percent of all Google searches have local intent (GoGulf)
• 50 percent of local mobile searches lead to store visits within 24 hours (Search Engine Watch)
• 72 percent of consumers who perform local searches visit a store within five miles (HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
• 50 percent of search queries consist of four words or longer (SEO Tribunal)
What does this mean for your business? These statistics show that simply having a website is not enough to boost your brand’s digital presence. “There are so many things that you need to start doing now to grow your business,” Jenkinson added.
People search in different ways. To rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more customers, you need to invest in a solid SEO strategy.
Why Invest to Rank Higher on SERPs
It takes only seconds for online users to form an opinion about your company. Your website serves as a deciding factor whether your target customers choose your brand or move to the competition. You have 50 milliseconds or 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression.
Now, to appeal to both search engines and consumers, you must go above and beyond with your digital marketing strategy. Your goal shouldn’t just be to build a website but to rank higher on SERPs.
Beyond the 5th position on search results, the click-through rate (CTR) drops dramatically. “This is where people are clicking,” Jenkinson said. “So our goal and one of the metrics we report is how many keywords do you have ranking in the top five positions. This is going to translate into traffic.”
Besides, beyond the first page of SERPs, those clicks are practically non-existent. “This is another reason why there’s a continuum effort towards search engine optimization,” Jenkinson added. “You might be ranking number one, number two or number three for a particular keyword, but whatever’s on these rankings are not sitting around. There’s such a finite number of positions for each keyword that matters. It is a constant game, honestly.”
Optimizing Your Website for Search
There are a lot of factors that go into perfecting a website and ensuring it adheres to Google’s guidelines. Let’s look at the different digital marketing components you need to consider in boosting your site’s online presence:
B. PPC advertising
C. Social media marketing
D. Video marketing
F. Analytics and reporting
A solid SEO strategy in place allows you to attract and convert qualified leads into sales. Search optimization improves your site’s overall searchability and visibility. Listed below are three essential SEO elements you need to optimize to take your brand to the next level:
Technical SEO is the foundation of your website. It is the process of optimizing the infrastructure of your site to allow search engines to crawl and index it properly. Technical SEO deals with several site elements, including XML sitemaps, page speed and URL, among others.
Here are some of the important on-site factors you need to optimize to help site visitors and search engines find your website:
• Speed — The fastest loading sites offer the best user experience and are rewarded for it. If your website takes more than three seconds to load, more than half of your site visitors will leave the page.
• Schema Data — Schema data allows search engines to understand the content and purpose of the page. Using schema markup, you can boost your SEO and improve your site relevance and rankings.
• Metadata — Carefully manicured metadata is critical to your site ranking. It helps search engines and online users determine what the content is about.
• On-Page Elements — Heading elements in the HTML of a page provide a hierarchy of importance to your content. Optimizing your page title, meta description, content and internal links, among others, is critical in earning organic traffic.
• Image Optimization — Well-optimized image formats contribute to site speed. Images can be tagged with additional data to provide more useful information to search engines.
“There is a lot of stuff besides content that Google does look at,” Jenkinson said. “A lot of these, just to kind of set you at ease, is a one-time [process]. Once you get it right, you’re good to go. We do a lot of these in the website design process. But many times, there are some additional tweaks that require SEO specialists to take it to the next level.”
“Content is another big factor in SEO,” Jenkinson said. Publishing original, information-rich and authoritative content is one of the primary ways to boost your search rankings. “Even after content exists on your website for particular keywords, the breadth and depth of this content need to continually grow,” Jenkinson added.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting your site content:
• Your page content should have depth. It should not only explore the target keywords and repeat the terms throughout to try to trick search engines. You need to craft useful, compelling content that provides value to your target audience.
• Craft long-form blog posts. According to Jenkinson, the higher the word count, the more chances you have of increasing your site relevance and boosting your search ranking.
• Optimize your content for both keywords and user intent. Target keywords should be included in the content, but more importantly, it should explore the subject with more depth.
“People search in many different ways for the exact same thing,” Jenkinson said. “You should be talking about the same thing in multiple ways, different angles.”
Backlinks direct users from other websites to your page. Inbound links are significant factors in boosting your organic and referral traffic and improving your site authority.
Here are some tips in building high-quality backlinks:
• Create useful content. Publishing information-rich blog posts is one of the most effective ways to acquire high-quality backlinks. The key is to create fresh, unique content that addresses the need of your target readers.
• Build your network. Connect with industry leaders and top review sites. This practice helps boost your brand recognition. Furthermore, it makes it easier for you to promote your new content to a vast audience scope.
• Evaluate your backlink sources. Not all inbound links contribute to your SEO efforts. Remember to evaluate the relevance, domain authority and human value of your backlink sources, among others.
Inbound links send powerful signals to search engines that other online sources vouch for your content. “It’s this trust factor,” Jenkinson said. “Each link is like a vote of confidence.”
PPC marketing is a fast and effective way to increase your ROI. Short-term visibility is most readily achieved by utilizing paid advertising channels to promote your site to thousands of online searchers. These include PPC, Google Shopping, display ads, remarketing and YouTube.
Here are a few statistics that highlight the importance of PPC in creating a solid online foundation and generating qualified leads:
• On average, PPC ads drive approximately 15-30 percent of online engagement on SERPs (Google Ads)
• Google Display Ads reach 90 percent of Internet users (Google Ads)
• PPC retargeting is more likely to convert 70 percent of site visitors (Invesp)
• Paid search ads boost brand awareness by 80 percent (Google)
So what do these numbers mean for your business? These statistics prove that doing organic SEO alone won’t cut it. “You should always do both,” Jenkinson said. “Target the SEO, but even when you rank number one, you also need to target the ads. [There are] more chances of the click, yes for cost per click you might need to mark up a little bit, but if you do that, you’ll get more leads for your business at a short time. So it’s worth it most of the time.”
Social media is a powerful internet marketing tool. Since it’s an integral part of consumers’ daily lives, it makes it easier for you to position your brand in front of your target market.
Statistics show that on average, online users spend approximately two hours per day on social media. This results in 52 percent of online brand discovery that happens on social media platforms. To leverage this opportunity, many businesses have included social media advertising on their digital marketing strategies.
According to Jenkinson, there are two key takeaways when it comes to social media marketing:
• You can’t always be selling. You have to be “social” on social media to see maximum success.
• As a business, in addition to your posting efforts, you must also invest in paid social media ads or you are wasting your time.
“You have to invest time to actually connect with your audience,” Jenkinson said.
If you have a text and a video on your website, 69 percent of users will prefer to watch the video to learn about your product or service. This means that aside from content marketing, you must also invest in quality videos.
“This video marketing is one of the areas that have the biggest and quickest ROI,” Jenkinson said. Placing a video on your site or landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80 percent. In addition, video advertising is an effective way to boost your leads and sales. Research shows that the average CTR of video ads is 1.84 percent. This gives video advertising the highest CTR of all digital ad formats.
Reputation management allows you to take control of online conversations about your brand. With the increasing popularity of social media, third-party review sites and other digital platforms, it is crucial that you maintain a solid online reputation.
• 88 percent of online shoppers assess local businesses based on customer reviews
• Online reviews significantly impact 67 percent of customers’ purchasing decisions
• 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
• 74 percent of customers trust local businesses that have positive customer reviews
Consumers are relying more on search results in making purchasing decisions. Leverage digital platforms to your advantage. Maintain a positive online reputation and build customer trust and brand authority.
F. Analytics and Data Reporting
There is a wealth of data and software available to boost your digital marketing efforts. Using Google Analytics and other data tracking tools allows you to create results-driven online marketing strategies.
According to Jenkinson, at a high level, you can measure the success of your lead generation efforts using two metrics:
1. Form inquiries (Google Analytics)
2. Calls (Call Tracking Software)
“A lot of people don’t pay attention to Google Analytics and stuff,” Jenkinson said. “But this will help you make a lot of decisions — where to invest, etc.”
Strategic CRO practices help lower your customer acquisition costs and increase your revenue per visitor. Across industries, a landing page generates an average conversion rate of 2.35 percent.
However, according to Google, 53 percent of mobile users abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. For every one second delay in your site load time, your conversion rate falls by 12 percent. The good news is there are proven ways to help lower your bounce rate.
According to Jenkinson, the best way to optimize your site performance and encourage visitors to stay on your page is to invest in quality CRO services. Digital marketing experts improve your site’s online performance by:
• Conducting competition analyses
• Utilizing heatmaps, scroll maps and user recordings to improve your site experience
• Boosting your website’s device responsiveness
• Optimizing your site speed
• Highlighting your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) in the content
• Ensuring smooth site navigation
• Placing strong, clear calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout your site
• Leveraging trust signals and social proof on your website
• Improving user flow
Reinvent Your Brand’s Online Presence for the New Decade
Your website is the backbone of your digital marketing campaign. Without a solid online foundation, your business is highly likely to fail.
Don’t waste your time, money and resources on low-quality online marketing strategies. Entrust your business’ site development and online marketing campaign to the experts. At Thrive Internet Marketing Agency, we are committed to ensuring your marketing success. Partner with us and let us show you how we build a robust online foundation and generate leads that convert.