HFB’s resident web expert, James Purves, casts his eye to the year ahead and how you can refresh your digital offering
The start of the year is a good time to test out some new ideas and see what has traction and what doesn’t. There is a lot of talk about social media influencers and video usage across social media and the web as a whole. As an alternative to those, here are some other approaches that are also worth experimenting with that will have an impact on digital marketing in 2020.
Know your data
Google Analytics has been a fantastic source of website usage data for many years now. Things are changing though as we’re seeing new channels, such as voice search, across digital that aren’t well reported within Google Analytics. There are also other types of conversion that are not as straight forward as a one-off purchase, such as partnerships, affiliate marketing, webinars and more.
Therefore, some companies are starting to look at solutions that tap into their own database in a more integrated way, such as amplitude.com. This gives you a central place where you can tie in all of your data and make better-informed decisions based on the lifetime value of a customer or strategy, instead of looking at short-term conversions. Google also has a free alternative called Data Studio. It is a powerful tool and allows you to pull in data from multiple sources, including Facebook data, in much more detail than Google Analytics will allow.
There has been a lot of talk about voice search, and I’m seeing it used more and more. This is backed up with data by ComScore, which is saying that over 50 per cent of online searches in 2020 will be from Voice. Therefore, optimising for Voice is going to be vital for businesses who want to be found through this fast-growing channel.
A quick tip from a search engine perspective is to create content in a question and answer style, or even to adapt existing content titles to work in this way, for example, a blog with the title ‘10 healthy habits for January to start the New Year feeling fitter, happier and more energised’, could be rewritten to ‘What can I do to feel fitter, happier and have more energy next year?’ This will very quickly optimise your content for those searching for answers via voice and give you a much greater chance of your content being picked up. This is all well and good, but at this point, the optimisation is focused on gaining volume, but it isn’t optimising for your business revenue. There are now some online tools that help you to benefit from voice for use through ecommerce such as Jetson.ai. This allows you to accept ecommerce orders via a voice instruction using Alexa and Google Assistant.
Email marketing is in a slump, now what?
Email marketing lists have had a rough ride over the past few years. Not only have open and click through rates on average dropped 10 per cent or more, delivery has become trickier, with mail servers having more stringent blocks on marketing emails and many marketing lists were left in tatters in the wake of the GDPR in 2018.
This doesn’t mean that it is time to abandon email marketing, it is just that other means of communication should be considered and tested. For example, take a look at Manychat or MobileMonkey, which allow you to communicate through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. There are a number of tools you can test such as chatbots on your website, Facebook messenger ads that get you talking directly to your leads through messenger and growing your list of Messenger contacts and finding a way to send out marketing messages or alerts to all of your Messenger contacts in a one-off blast or in a more staged way with regular points of contact over a set period of time.
Is brand your last standing defence?
Things have changed with the online world and it is much harder to stand out as a business. Before the age of digital allowing quick comparison and access to so much information, you could create a business with some unique advantages that competitors were not aware of. It could be a feature, your cost structure, a technological advantage, or even a marketing advantage.
However, over the years, these lines of defence have slowly been disappearing and have been harder to distinguish. The digital age makes it much quicker and cheaper to copy ideas and replicate business models. Some things which may be working now can quickly disappear as soon as they are noticed and the competition catch on, eking away your competitive advantage.
The one thing that is uniquely yours and should remain a strong asset to you in 2020 and beyond is your branding. There are so many examples of large companies trading on the strength of their brand such as Nike, Ferrari, Tesla, Apple and Harley Davidson and this is why brands spend so much effort on influencer marketing to ensure
they remain at the forefront of people’s mind and preserve the high regard and reputation their brand has. The brand effect works at all levels, be it within a locality or a particular business niche. Once you have an established brand and reputation, the two become synonymous.
Therefore, building upon your brand in 2020 should probably be top of the list. This can be either personal brand as an expert within your specialism, or a business brand, it will be the one thing your competitors can’t take away from you, is unique and something you can keep building, no matter what other trends come and go as the fast paced nature of technology pushes onwards.
James is a web consultant who specialises in online marketing strategy, user experience and search engine optimisation. He owns Unstuck Design, a creative design studio dedicated to creating websites and brand identities within the health food industry.