As a marketing professional, you might be used to looking after your clients, but when it comes to marketing yourself online, are you doing all you can to ensure your services are searchable and accessible?
Digital marketing can be a minefield at the best of times. With so many avenues to explore, it’s easy to get lost in the depths of Google analytics pages, PPC how-to articles and so on.
However, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or have given up altogether, there is a risk of losing out while more marketing savvy and well-known industry peers see an uptake in their services.
Research has revealed that UK web-based web pros aren’t currently tapping into the latest marketing tools, with almost a third (32%) yet to implement SEO and 42% still to use PPC, and it’s only a matter of time before these professionals get left behind by competitors.
Because reaching the right online audience is crucial for web pros, here Ross Howells, Head of Online Sales at Fasthosts, shares his essential steps to boost demand for services online.
Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned web pro, it’s important to get a few basics right to help drive traffic to your site, and crucially the right kind of traffic from your target audience. So how do you do that, and where should you start? Here are three areas to focus on:
Social media – organic and paid
When you’re starting out there’s a lot of leveraging you can get through standard social media channels, and a lot of the tools available are free.
First you need to decide which social networks you want to place your attention on. This will usually depend on the audience you want to build. For example, while Facebook has a huge potential reach, you may be able to reach a more business-minded audience on LinkedIn, a more active community on Twitter, more designers and creative types on Instagram, or a younger generation on TikTok.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you being active on all the major platforms, but by focusing on the ones that are most relevant to your audience, you can work more efficiently and tailor content for maximum engagement.
When it comes to organic social media, consistency is key. This is where a social media content calendar comes in, and scheduling tools such as Hootsuite. Plan and write your social posts in advance, and schedule them for regular coverage. Your content calendar should be in line with your overall marketing strategy, reflecting planned announcements, updates and launches, as well as events, news stories and awareness days relevant to your sector.
When creating social media content, following the 80/20 rule is generally recommended. This refers to a split between 80% informative or entertaining content, and 20% direct promotion of products or services. Users value content that intrigues or challenges them, and are more likely to engage with posts that start conversations, such as open-ended questions, comparisons or polls. Canva is a great free tool for creating quality marketing assets for social media.
On the paid side, the major benefit of social media advertising is how it can be hyper-targeted at very specific audiences. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to build custom audiences based on various demographics, interests and behaviours to ensure that the right people are seeing your ads. If you decide to go down the paid route, you should be continually testing different audiences and ads to optimise your spend and generate maximum website traffic and conversions.
When you’re building audiences for paid social media, you can also take advantage of your own website data. By adding pixel tags for Facebook, Twitter and others to your site, you can track visitors and ensure that they see your ads in their social feeds. Tracking data can also be used to target users that closely resemble your existing website visitors, giving you access to a brand new audience of lookalikes who are more likely to be interested in your services.
SEO and quality content
Once you’ve established which social media tools you’re going to use, and you’ve set these up, it’s time to take a look at your SEO. There’s a lot you can do to improve your organic search performance, and the great thing is, it doesn’t require any investment apart from your time and effort.
One of the easiest ways to boost your SEO is to add FAQs to the bottom of important pages, such as ecommerce category pages. FAQs allow you to add lots of useful information that won’t only help potential customers, but will also give Google more to work with, increasing the number of key terms your page could rank for.
The next step to take your SEO to the next level is creating high-quality content. Through keyword research, as well as your own knowledge of questions customers may ask, you can begin to map out a logical structure for content across your website; whether this is aimed to help them convert, or in the form of an informative blog. Make sure your content is highly relevant to the aim of the page, uniquely written, and full of expert knowledge to set yourself apart from the competition.
These are things any small business on a lower budget can do themselves, and if you’re trying to target a smaller geographical area, there’s no reason you can’t rank on good quality content alone.
For web pros feeling a bit more confident in their online marketing, they can multiply their efforts by looking under the hood and taking control of the more technical aspects of their site. One of the biggest wins that could improve organic performance and paid search quality scores is by working on your Core Web Vitals. These are metrics that Google uses to consider how good of an experience your site gives users. If your site is loading slowly, it won’t convert customers well and therefore could be costing you sales. To find out how Google sees your Core Web Vitals, use the report in the “Experience” section of the Search Console.
PPC and email marketing
When you’re ready to start feeding into your marketing budget, PPC is a good place to start. It’s direct, controllable and can be faster at delivering results when bidding on relevant keywords.
Make sure conversion tracking is set up properly on your website by implementing pixels so it can record transactions or the metric you’ve set up as a conversion. This helps you track the success of your PPC advertising and is crucial, so you don’t find yourself investing in a channel without knowing if it’s working properly.
If you’re wanting to target prospective clients that are local to you, you’ll want to make sure you have selected the correct geographical area when setting up your PPC – you don’t want to be spending money on audiences and locations which aren’t relevant for your business. Also, make sure you have highly targeted ad copies relevant to the search keyword.
Once your online marketing is flourishing, and your site is beginning to attract traffic, it’s important to make sure your pages are optimised for their specific purposes. Let’s say you’ve got a page designed to convert the users that land on it into customers, but not enough are buying. You first need to check if nothing’s broken, does the add-to-cart button work? Can customers check out? If everything is technically okay, it’s time to run some tests. Does changing the colour of a button make users more likely to click it? What about adding reviews, or higher quality imagery? Your online marketing should never sit still, and even on high performing pages, there will always be ways to make improvements.
Email marketing is a useful tool to communicate with your customers or target audience, just don’t email too often and keep your message concise – say what you want them to pay attention to right off the bat, not half-way down the page. Most importantly make sure you use an email marketing tool. This doesn’t have to be expensive, depending on the size of your database you’ll pay just a small monthly fee or even get it for free if you’re just starting out. Using one of these tools will help you keep on the right side of GDPR, give you the option to have nicely designed emails, give you clear reporting on how your emails perform and also provide you with actionable insights to improve engagement.
The reality is that web pros are always just a few clicks away from success when it comes to marketing their business online. Whether you dip your toe in the world of PPC, SEO and social media, or decide to take a more in-depth approach, there is huge potential for growth when you start to take the necessary steps required to tap into a previously overlooked and undiscovered area of your target audience. Although the three measures identified above are simple first steps, they’re also a gateway into the world of online marketing – and could hold the key to expanding your possibilities for attracting new clients.
About the Author
Ross Howells, head of online sales at Fasthosts. We’ve been designing new ways to give customers everything they need to manage and control their online space since 1999. Our innovative products have helped thousands of businesses and organisations create and growtheir online ventures.
Featured image: ©BullRun