Size Doesn’t Matter(or at least that’s what I keep telling myself)

Throughout my career, I have worked with clients who have spent as little as £5000 per year on digital marketing and also huge businesses turning over billions who spend millions each year promoting their business online.  The reason I wrote this blog post is that I have found that some digital marketing strategies work incredibly well for any business with an online presence regardless of their size.  This blog post was written on the assumption that you already use SEO, PPC or other methods to drive traffic to your website and simply want to improve conversion.  However, if you want to improve traffic levels, there are also some techniques described below that will help you do so. Although the blog post is aimed mainly at Search Engine Marketers and eCommerce professionals, with a bit of work, anyone who has an interest in improving website revenue should hopefully find this post useful. The below marketing strategies/techniques will complement organic and paid search activity and will also look at unconventional ways that you can use your skills as a search engine marketer to help benefit your clients.

Email Remarketing

More often than not people won’t convert as soon as they hit your website so it is important that you try to engage them after they have left. One extremely cost-effective way to do this is via email remarketing.  If you are running extremely targeted search campaigns it makes sense to capture visitor data as the likelihood is that they are interested in your product or service offering. There are many ways to capture a visitor’s email address but one extremely effective way is to offer them some sort of incentive for joining your mailing list.   For example, offering them value-added content such as a free guide, the chance to win a gift voucher or get an exclusive discount code can sometimes be enough to get your visitors to part with their details.   Once you have captured a visitor’s email address it is possible to create a contact strategy that is tailored to the individual visitor based on their browsing history on your website. For example, if a visitor carts a particular item but doesn’t checkout, it makes sense to send them an offer specifically about the item they have shown interest in. It is important not to bombard your new subscribers with too many messages, personalisation is important as it ensures that the emails are relevant.  A fantastic tool that I’ve used in the past called Fresh Relevance makes this process pretty simple.

Dynamic Display Remarketing

Everyone knows that remarketing is a hugely effective way to increase the chances that someone who previously visited your website but never converted will buy from you in the future. Google AdWords offers the ability to automatically remarket to previous website visitors and automatically show relevant ads based on products the visitor looked at or carted.  Other remarketing services, such as Criteo make this ridiculously easy and can be a game changer for businesses that haven’t previously carried out any form of display remarketing.  Criteo actually has a wider reach than Google as you are able to automatically remarket across other networks such as the Bing Display Network as well as on Facebook.

Web Analytics

Suggesting that someone involved in search engine marketing should learn to analyse traffic to their website is going to sound extremely obvious to a lot of people but you would be surprised how many digital marketers don’t actually dip into Google Analytics and directly see the fruits of their labour.  Often in big companies, they have departments dedicated to analytics which means that sometimes people responsible for driving traffic and conversions don’t really have a great understanding of how effective their campaigns are performing. Also, there are a few relatively unknown features within Google Analytics which go beyond simply measuring visitor interaction. I reached out to PPC expert Sam Noble who I know uses Google Analytics in very innovative ways to drive revenue and asked her to share her best tip. “Building out audiences is one of the most important features of Google Analytics if you work in paid media. Every segment that you can use on the platform can be made into an audience and that audience will then automatically be imported into Google AdWords to advertise to. One example that I have been talking about a lot recently is using an audience of your existing customers in order to market to them and encourage repeat purchases thus increasing the lifetime value of your customers.” – Sam Noble Sam wrote a fantastic blog post that contains over 15 strategies for using paid media to increase customer loyalty.  The blog post can be found here and I urge everyone to read it. Another great way to see how visitors interact with your website is by using a tool such as Hotjar. Hotjar allows you to record a video of how visitors are interacting with your website.  It’s an incredible bit of software that offers a very generous free trial.

Call Tracking

I once worked with a large eCommerce business that sold products ranging from £5 to £5000. They were spending a huge amount on Google AdWords and would often make decisions to increase or decrease spend based on conversion data.   The problem for this client is that a lot of their conversions happened offline, over the phone, the solution to this was call tracking using dynamic numbering. Effectively tracking online conversions is extremely important, but if a lot of your business transactions occur offline, then you can lose valuable tracking data.  There are call tracking solutions that easily integrate with Google Analytics, and also some CRMs, that will allow you to track how many customers called your business via a specific campaign, keyword and search query.  More importantly, you can use the software to track how much a customer spent if the transaction occurred offline. I’ve used several call tracking solutions in the past and I’ve found Call Tracks (based in the UK) to be one of the best.  As well as the standard services you would expect from a provider, they also offer bespoke CRM integrations for larger businesses.

Personalised On-Page Content

One disadvantage of selling online compared to traditional retail is that you can’t really have a 2-way conversation with your potential customers in the same way that good salesperson can. However, there has been a huge focus on personalisation technology over the years which means it is now possible to tailor your visitor’s experience to them instead of having a one-size-fits-all solution. There are now many CMSs such as Sitecore that have personalisation technology built-in, but often these are enterprise solutions come with a hefty price tag but there are also less costly solutions that can integrate with most websites and will help you achieve similar results. Imagine you worked for a large retailer and you knew, because of a previous purchase, that someone owned a PlayStation.  During their next visit to your website, it would be wise to show relevant offers such as PS4 games or merchandise.  To see this in action Amazon and notice how they surface offers on their homepage based on your previous purchases and browsing history.    This kind of technology isn’t just open to big businesses either.  Tools such as Sementify help you achieve similar results at a reasonable price.

Reverse Engineer Your Competitor’s Work

I wrote a blog post in the past about reverse engineering competitor’s hard work and using it to your advantage. I plan to update the blog post to include some new tools and techniques but fundamentally the principles remain the same so you may want to read that blog post later. Using tools such as SEMrush to reverse engineer and gain an advantage over my client’s competitors has helped me massively during my career, not just for search engine marketing, I’ve also been asked by businesses in the past to help analyse which products competitors are selling and this data has been used to make product buying decisions. Here are a few ways I’ve helped my clients make more money through reverse-engineering competitor’s work:

  • Gained an understanding of which keywords competitor’s bid on via AdWords using SEMrush
  • Used Majestic to reverse engineer a competitor’s link acquisition to improve search presence and look for PR opportunities
  • Used Buzz Sumo to quickly find out which content has worked effectively for competitors
  • Crawled large competitor websites using Screaming Frog’s custom extract function to understand which products see the most review activity to help inform product buying decisions

Understanding the Psychology of the Customer

Before working in digital marketing I worked in a few sales positions.  As I’m not a natural salesperson I had to study what motivates people to buy. This lead to a new hobby at the time and I read a huge amount of books on psychology, persuasion and also sales and marketing. Although I’m still a terrible salesperson, gaining an understanding of what motivates people to take action has helped me massively when it comes to digital marketing. For example, have you ever noticed that in restaurants there is often an expensive dish that appears to offer horrendous value for money in comparison to other dishes?  The reason for this is to make the other dishes look comparatively better value!  When people having something to compare it often makes the decision process easier.   Now that you know this you will see this principle being used around the web, it’s especially apparent when you look at SaaS pricing models. One book that stands out for me as being especially useful is Dan Ariely – Predictably Irrational. This book challenges that the common assumption that you can trust human beings to act rationally but in actual fact, people often act irrationally in a very predictable way. To get you started here are a few things that I’ve found works well to increase the likelihood someone will buy from your website:

  • Giving something for free can be a great way to encourage the likelihood that someone buys from you.  This may sound obvious but there are companies who make very little on shipping, for example, but could make a whole lot more overall if they simply offered to ship for free.  Read more about the power of free here.
  • A time constraint is a hugely effective way to increase the likelihood that someone will buy from you.  This can be as simple as indicating that a sale is about to end by using a countdown timer.  Showing the scarcity of products is also an important motivator.  Do you have something that is a limited edition? Is it about to sell out?  
  • Social proof, or informational social influence, is when people to look others to help them make up their mind.  It’s the idea that if other people think it’s good, then it’s probably good.  An easy way to use this to your advantage is to display reviews on your website but other elements that indicate the popularity of a product or service is also helpful.
  • Make buying easy is a phrase that I’ve lived by for years when it comes to digital marketing and eCommerce.  It’s easier said than done but if you make buying easy for your visitors, they will be far more likely to buy from you.

Perceived True Value is Everything

I know that this will seem obvious to most, but if you get everything else correct when it comes to your online business but you don’t offer better value than your competitors, it is likely that your website visitors will be far less likely to buy from you. Unless you own a high-end brand, or you’re selling something truly unique that cannot be compared, your potential customers will know. To me, the idea of perceived value is quickly diminishing and the power is now being put back in the hands of the customer. Customers are beginning to understand the true value of goods as they can quickly and easily make comparisons online. Former Marks & Spencer Chairman Sir Stuart Rose summed this up perfectly when he said “I was brought up to believe ‘the customer is king. Now the customer is ‘master of the universe’ and what customers want they will go out and find today.” Gone are the days when retailers were able to overprice their products knowing that the customer will probably not find out as it was difficult to compare.  Now, at the click of a mouse, a customer can find out whether you are more expensive than competitors, whether you offer a good service and are able to accurately and instantly gauge the true value of your offering. They can even use sites such as Alibaba to find out the cost price of many products available online if they wish. I don’t like the idea of racing to the bottom when it comes to price, but if you are priced higher than your competitors and/or offer a worse or even the same level of service, then there is no real incentive for a customer to buy from you. Competitor monitoring tools such as Prisync can help you keep an eye on what competitors are up to with regards to pricing and tools such as Visual Ping will alert you when anything changes on a competitors website.  Reacting to change will only get you so far, the reality is that anyone involved in eCommerce is competing with giants such as Amazon and customer’s expectations are being influenced by them. To stay ahead of the game it is important that you have robust digital strategies that allow you to measure success and make continuous improvements. As customer’s expectations are continually evolving, it is incredibly important that you do a better job than your competitors and ensure that you are offering excellent customer experience and providing true value. I hope you found this blog post useful then please comment or share. 🙂

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