The Digital Interface: Marketing and the Modern Web
The new millennium has brought rapid changes, both to the way business is done and to the way that business leads are generated. Market globalization has created an environment of opportunity and intense competition. It is no longer enough to simply be the best. Modern e-commerce demands a savvy mixture of technical expertise and creative marketing. The ability to master digital marketing strategies is vital to today’s business success.
The goal of any digital campaign is to generate leads, which in turn convert into sales. To do this, a business needs to develop a multi-leveled approach to market exposure. Personal branding, website design, social media development, and search engine optimization are all part of a successful digital marketing campaign. These are especially powerful when combined with other strategies, such as text and e-mail direct marketing, display advertising, and referral or affiliate programs.
Start with the most basic features and scale upward. A successful business needs to create a dynamic web of linked paths and presence, ultimately directing potential clients to their service or product. What the customer should see is an established and reputable network of information, with credentials that create trust and imbue a sense of authority. The specifics will vary from business to business, but the goal is always the same – to be the one they choose.
The landing point of most campaigns will be the company or product website. This may be the first look a potential client has at the service or firm, so it must appear both professional and inviting. Visually, it should be appealing without being too crowded. Prospective customers browsing a company website respond favorably to clear, cleanly presented information and images.
It is important to remember that less is more. Information overload can cause a potential client to grow frustrated and browse elsewhere. The key is to keep a website simple and easy to navigate. Provide information in a clear, concise manner. Let links deliver more information and keep images and animations to a minimum. Again, let the user dig deeper if they wish, but keep the front page clean and filled with only the necessary information.
Whether the company sells one product or offers resources for a thousand professional services, the technical know-how of site building is essential. This goes well beyond simply making the site work and being able to process sales. The coding used to develop web pages may be invisible to the user, but it is heavily scrutinized by search engines.
If the coding is sloppy or has too many errors it can negatively affect the site’s ranking in most search engines. Dead links, overused metadata, unused coding, and leftover snippets from earlier revisions can all adversely affect how and when search engines consider a site to be relevant. Web development needs to be every bit as clean on the back end as the site appears on the front end.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engines have gotten incredibly smart. In the early days of web marketing, page builders stuffed their sites with keywords and metadata, repeating key phrases and permutations over and over. It was enough to trick the early algorithms using a “more is better” approach.
Not only does it no longer work, but those practices can seriously penalize a site. It can even lead to a search engine red flagging a page as “thin content” and refusing to place it in search results. Once that happens, the entire page typically needs to be rewritten.
The best practice now is to provide original and dynamic content for every page and link in the campaign. Never copy and paste anything. Search engines can tell when pages provide useful content to users and when they are simply trying to stuff keywords into a page for higher placement.
Make pages interesting. Fill them with information relevant to the business, and keep them current. Keep keyword repetition to around one percent. If you have three hundred words on a page, don’t use a given keyword more than three times. Treat the search engines as if they were interested users. Give them new information that is relevant to page, and it will increase the ranking in searches.
Sadly underutilized by most marketing professionals, social media has become paramount to a successful digital campaign. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram greatly increase the visibility and exposure of products and services for countless companies. Humans are visual creatures, and utilizing new and dynamic content on multiple virtual locations helps promote branding and identification.
Also, many of these sites are able to link to one another. For example, creating a YouTube channel may not immediately occur to a hardware company, but being able to share videos or service information across Facebook can create enormous feedback. Likewise, a self-promoting author might not consider Instagram or Tumblr to be a part of their marketing strategy until they post pictures of a signing or concept art of their next cover.
Digital Marketing Techniques
There are certain things that can give an extra boost to a digital marketing campaign. The subjects already covered are simply the basics, but the ability to reach potential customers is nearly limitless with the right approach. The internet is a marketing playground.
First, get valid reviews. Every successful sale should have an “after care” routine that includes a polite request for a review. Many sites, such as Yelp or Google, have ways to leave reviews by customers and clients regarding the service they received from a business. These reviews make excellent links to a business’s homepage and give authenticity to a company’s practices.
Next, don’t be afraid to enter into referral marketing agreements or affiliate programs to help generate and share clients with related businesses. Cross marketing between a lawn maintenance company and a pressure cleaning business can result in a boon to each. And affiliate programs can offer monetary incentives to products related to a specific service.
Finally, recognize the power of apps. If there is one thing that consumers love more than a convenient service and website, it’s having that same convenience on their mobile device. If there is a way to develop an app for a company or service, do it. Keep it simple. Make it easy. Convenience and repetition is the key to repeat sales.
Marketing is tough and the competition online has become increasingly fierce. A business that connects with its customers today offers them real value in a sea of copycats. Know your clients. Keep it fresh and original. And do not be afraid to think outside the box.