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The Reality of Being Online

The challenge facing brands today is harnessing and exploring the best digital techniques and channels available to them to deliver truly relevant, engaging solutions to business problems. But where to begin?

Prakash Patel

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Everyone wants to get involved in digital marketing these days. You’re told your brand will cease to exist if it is not online, the endless potential digital marketing has – from building awareness, driving engagement with your brand through to retention, and loyalty – and if done correctly, you’re sure to reap the rewards.

However, fewer explanations have been offered as to what tools are available and – most importantly – how they can be used to improve the way business is done. In this article we take a look at some of the most basic digital tools and how each can be used to meet the various marketing and business objectives.

Advertising has gone through the most fundamental transformation in its history with the emergence of digital marketing and will continue to do so, with the explosion of social media, advancement in technology and the mass adoption of digital engagement by user and consumers alike.

Strategy, strategy and strategy

Like all other advertising media, digital is no different and the first thing brands need to consider is establishing an over-arching digital strategy starting with the following three basic questions:

  • Who is my target market? eg. starting with LSM types, local, international etc.
  • What is my business objective? eg. build awareness, create online  presence, create an online booking system, configure a car during research stage
  • What do I want my prospects/customers to do? eg. contact the call centre, book seats online etc.

From this you have a plan as to why you want to embrace the digital channel. For example, a small flower shop previously only placed ads in local papers, but more and more customers now want to be able to order online via a website and/or mobi site.

So how do brands demystify the digital landscape into a practical digestible plan that meets their digital objective/s? Here are some of the top digital techniques you need to know about:

Creating a virtual business hub online: A place consumers can engage with your brand from browsing through to purchasing your products or services.

Websites: Many businesses underestimate the value of using their company websites as a marketing tool or revenue-generating ecommerce platform. They sometimes see it as a digital brochure or worse, a site where people will just come with no advertising or awareness. Let’s start with the basics – think of your website as your digital headquarters or your virtual showroom/shop front from which you can implement your digital marketing activity across multitude of platforms.

These include social media, email marketing, SMS campaigns – all using your website as the central hub where your customers can interact with, engage with, browse and learn more about your brand and product offerings. Any business that wants to embark in digital marketing must have a port of call, a central hub that can hold and drive any marketing activity. It can be the one central place any type of customer can go to engage with your business, including shareholders investors. It can also be the business itself (eg. an ecommerce business).

A platform like Twitter for instance, only allows 140 characters to get a message across but can be used as a pull to your digital hub where you can finish the conversation.

As part and parcel of building your website, you should invest in SEO (search engine optimisation). Internet marketing or SEO simply means that whenever a consumer uses a search engine for a product or service you offer, you will rank higher than your competitors, which positions you as the stronger brand.

There are various ways of keeping your search engine rankings high, like a regularly updated blog linked to your website. This is a practical way of keeping customers and stakeholders up to date on company news. Insightful content is a must. If you already have an existing website but no SEO, perhaps it’s time to step back and start afresh; it’s never too late to refine your competitive edge.

Mobilising the masses: Putting your brand into nearly 50 million hands covering over 6500 different mobile devices giving anyone a rich and engaging brand experience

MobileThere are more than 55 million mobile phone SIM cards inSouth Africa for a population of nearly 50 million. Approximately 32 million of those SIM cards sit in devices that are capable of access the mobile internet, whilst over 14m currently do. Therefore it is fundamental that a business anywhere – and in particular in Africa/South Africa where more people have access to a mobi site than a website – has a mobi site. There are more people picking up their mobile phone every morning than a newspaper and it’s not only to make calls or send texts – they are reading the latest gossip, checking the weather forecast or booking movie ticket via mobi sites or mobile apps.

Mobi sites can be considered as a compressed version of websites and accessible from most available handsets (if built correctly). They allow you to access all the information that is on the website on your mobile phone. A mobile app is a piece of software specifically developed for smart phones. The user is able to install the software on their device and access information without the browser – unlike mobi sites. Benefits for brands are similar, the key word being “mobile”, which means you are where the consumer is 24/7/365.

No more turning customers away when it’s time to close shop. The latest mobile payment facilities offer today’s users the convenience of making a purchase without having to be in the physical store environment.Mobileoffers seamless one-on-one interaction and engagement while on the move, and can push traffic to your digital headquarters – your website – for a more in-depth experience or engagement.

Driving traffic with a call to action: Market your customer base electronically with targeted, relevant and personalised communications

Email and mobile marketing: If you have an email database you have a group of people who want to hear from you. Email communication allows for immediate action such as direct inquiries, which go far in terms of strengthening relationships, and creating awareness of special promotions and limited offers. It is also a great pull to the businesses website. A trend most businesses have adopted is to send a mass email from a “no-reply” email address, which takes away the convenience of hitting the reply button.

Sending customers on a wild search for the correct email address could cost you the relationship. It’s all about convenience. Make it easy for the consumer to interact with you. Remember that every email communication you send out generates a heap of actionable data you can use to refine your approach and messages. The mobile version of this is the use of SMS or MMS – again an opportunity to market to your customer base using SMS/MMS in a cost effective and efficient way. It has been proven to be more responsive than any other medium.

 

Where virtual and real worlds collide

Quick response codes: Increasingly being adopted by mainstream businesses, QR codes are two-dimensional codes that can be read by a dedicated barcode reader installed on your smart phone. You can encode text or URL information which, when scanned, will instruct the device to perform a specific action ranging from opening a mobile or web page to redeeming a special offer voucher.

Considering the mobile penetration in South Africa, QR codes can be used as a call-to-action or interactive engagement such as free downloads, or to prompt the user to want to find out more about a specific product. But be aware this still hasn’t reached mainstream adoption and/or know how as to how it is used in South Africa vs the rest of the world like Japan (where it originated) or America/Europe. An alternative is simply driving people to a web address and/or mobi site, which can be more seamless and memorable but without the novelty factors lots of brands/agencies are driving.

 

Augmented Reality: Augmented reality is a live view of the physical, real-world environment whose elements are amplified by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, and graphics. It can be loosely translated as to where the “real world and virtual world meet”.  Using a practical example, if you aim your smart phone or tablet at something in your physical presence (like a can of baked beans) you will see the embedded images on the packaging come to life.

Augmented reality gives a multi-dimensional effect to what the naked eye would typically view as one dimension. It is still in its infancy stage here but leading brands with higher LSM reach are investing in it as a way to extend the engagement between a brand and its target market.

Social Media

When you hear the words social media, the first thing most people think about is Facebook or Twitter. But social media isn’t just about Facebook or Twitter; it is about bringing together people with common causes and interests. Mobile + Social media = uncontrolled connectivity and mobilisation of the masses. Social media is like a global 24/7 community of dialogues, conversations and engagements, where you can either start a dialogue (e.g. by simply blogging, tweeting), control (by hashtags, register etc.) or just simple partake as an observer, editor or creator.

It has been said that consumers are starting to change their views about traditional advertising as being trustworthy and now look to social influencers (friends, family and other consumers), as more trusted sources. We have entered new ground where the consumer is now shaping (not controlling) the brands we market and businesses cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this.

Social media is helping us catapult the importance of digital within the marketing mix at a level that wouldn’t have been possible before. But let’s not forget that digital isn’t the new holy grail of marketing mix and social media isn’t the holy grail of digital marketing. It just presents a number of opportunities that could become your secret weapon if done correctly.

 

Consumers are ready to speak out.

A final word of advice to any business that wants to succeed is to remember that, whether or not you choose to engage in digital platforms, the consumer is already there. You need to have a plan in plan in place for when someone tweets about the bad experience they had with your customer. What’s the plan of action?

Just as in real life when a customer walks away from your company with an opinion they’re likely to share with friends and family, the increasing digitisation of South Africa now means they’re also likely to share that opinion on their web forums – making it crucial for businesses to have an online reputation management (ORM) strategy in place. ORM protects your business’s reputation online.

While a real life complaint is likely to be a one-on-one exchange with the customer, a dissatisfied client on social media can tarnish your business’s name to a wider audience much faster. Traditional “word of mouth” has been replaced with “word of click”.

Prakash Patel, chief executive officer for Prezence Digital, has more than 18 years of international integrated marketing experience and in particular over a decade of digital experience that includes Strategic Planning, Integrated (online and offline) CRM/eCRM, Website and Database Design & Build, as well as Data Planning and Analysis. www.prezence.co.za @PrakashPatel_1

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Online Marketing

10 Online Marketers To Watch In 2018

The more diverse your sources of news and inspiration, the better. These ten people can help get you there.

Jayson Demers

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Online marketing requires experience, creativity and a working knowledge of the latest trends and technologies necessary to stay competitive in the modern landscape. And while there aren’t any shortcuts to gain more experience, there is a convenient way to stay up to date on the latest marketing trends and get inspiration for your creative campaigns.

That way? Following and paying attention to the best, smartest marketers in the industry.

With 2018 just getting started, I wanted to list some of my favourite marketing influencers, some of the most influential experts in the industry and some of the most promising creative minds to pay attention to this year:

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Online Marketing

The Best Conversion Rate Optimisation Tips To Help You Grow Your Business

Whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.

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Conversion rate optimisation, otherwise known as CRO, is a 21st-century way to turn visitors to your website or blog into followers of your information or customers of your product or service.

Therefore, whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO?

Internet marketing, or what some people call online marketing, is promoting your product or service on the Internet through the digital channels available. Driving traffic is to your website or blog is hard, but it’s something you need to do in order to sell your product or service, so the last thing you want is to leave money on the table.

Traditionally, from the traffic you drive to your blog or website, a percentage of that traffic will become your customers or followers.

CRO is conversion optimisation strategies that puts a focus on your blog or website to determine what small or big changes need to be made to convert as many of your visitors as possible.

It’s the classic case of not working harder, but smarter.

Changes such as a new headline, new sales copy, a different coloured CTA (Call-to-Action) button, and more, are tested for effectiveness. This helps you take out all the guesswork and make changes that are proven to convert more sales.

Techniques such as A/B testing, where you create two different landing pages and send the same amount of traffic to each, is one example.

At the end of the day, the version that receives the most conversion is the one you would choose. A site with significant traffic may successfully test over a shorter time. On the other hand, in order to get accurate data, a site with a smaller amount of traffic will likely need more time than a larger one for testing.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

What Happens When You Convert More Visitors Into Customers?

It’s a no brainer, when you convert visitors into clients and customers, your sales increase, and that’s the number one goal of any company or business. CRO can help you grow your business by receiving the same amount of traffic that you’re currently receiving.

Technically that means that you can make more sales without having to spend more money on marketing.

That also means that you’re not focused on the number of traffic you pull in with a mind on percentages, but rather focused on making the most of the traffic you currently have which makes the most of your marketing efforts.

Not Utilising CRO Means You Are Leaving Money on The Table

money-on-tableLet’s say you’re a small company with a goal of R50,000 a month in revenue. Your job is to turn a percentage of your visitors into customers. Without the correct conversion rate optimisation strategies, you’re looking strictly at numbers. You find that 1,000 visitors turn into 50 customers with a revenue of R20,000, which is R30,000 away from your goal.

Without the correct CRO strategies in place, you would work to increase the number of visitors to your site. However, with CRO, you implement e-commerce CRO tips that result in those 1,000 visitors turning into 125 customers.  That brings you to your R50,000 goal.  Without performing conversion rate optimisation, you’ve left R30,000 on the table.

Now that you’ve reduced your cost per acquisition, or what you pay per sale or click or form submit, you can either invest more in advertising or just bank the profits. Now that you understand what conversion rate optimisation is all about, let’s have a look at some of the best strategies that can help you take your business to a whole new level.

20 Of The Best CRO Strategies

You can spend loads of money on a fancy website or blog, but if it isn’t converting correctly, you’re losing customers and sales. That’s why conversion rate optimisation is becoming the number one priority with websites and blogs in the 21st-century.

1. Create an Effective Headline

If you are trying to convert visitors into followers or customers from a specific post, then your headline is one of the most important elements. It’s not there for a hard sell; it’s there to draw your potential customers to your site so that they’ll check out your product or service.

Your headline must show people what benefit they will receive from using what you have to offer.

Keep changing up those headlines till you find a strategy that works.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 2)

2. Reduce Huge Blocks of Text with Bullet Points

The way you present the content on your website is crucial. Give a potential customer too much information, and they’ll leave your site with eyes glazed over. Any material you present should be not only easy to understand but short and to the point.  One of the best ways to do that is with bullet points.

Bullet points create an organised presentation that keeps potential customers interested.

3. Include Your Contact Information

Significant changes can be done to your website or blog to increase conversions, but so can small ones. Include your contact information on your site or blog. This shows that you’re accountable and don’t mind being contacted, which can lead to customer trust and eventually sales. Include your phone number, email address, and even your mailing address.

4. Replace Phony Stock Photos

Stock PhotosYou know what a phony stock photo looks like. It’s the kind that you purchase from stock photo sites, and they’re the kind that you often see at more than one website. These types of photos look phony, and they reduce your credibility. Replace fake-looking stock photos with professional, unique photos or good quality photos that you’ve taken.

For example, instead of using a stock photo model with a cheesy grin, use a picture of one of your employees.

5. Use a Pop-Up Form

One effective way to convert visitors into followers and subscribers is a pop-up form. When visitors come to your side, a form pops up that encourages them to leave their name and email address, or just their email address, to become a subscriber. When you have a list of subscribers, you can then turn them into customers through newsletters, emails, etc.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 3)

6. Eliminate Unneeded Form Fields

A website or blog that is not user-friendly when it comes to form fields may not translate to customer conversion. A form field is where your customers type in their information.  What is the bare minimum of customer information that you need? You ask for the name, but do you also need the company name, for example, or can you do without having a customer type that in?

7. Remove Automatic Image Sliders

Images that flash before your eyes automatically may look attractive, but automatic image sliders have been proven to create banner blindness and therefore, reduce conversion. Use static images instead.

8. Include Videos

Videos have proven to be effective in drawing visitors and turning them into customers. If your site sells fishing products, for example, include a video of an expert fisherman using one of your fishing poles. Make sure the video is no more than two to three minutes long and be sure to put one on your landing page.

9. Make Your Call-To-Action Button Pop

Here is another strategy that seems small but that may prove to be very effective. Alter your call-to-action or CTA button. For example, is it more efficient for your button to say “Download Now” rather than “Buy Now”?  Is it better for your CTA button to be a bright red rather than a navy blue? By testing changes to your call-to-action button, you can determine if such a change will be effective.

10. Limit Your Call-To-Actions

If you have one call-to-action button on your website, that’s a wise choice. Too many call-to-actions can confuse potential customers and turn them off from your site. Put your focus on one effective call-to-action.

11. Have You Included the Word “Free”?

If there’s one thing that people love, it’s free stuff. What can you offer potential customers that are free?

For example, let’s say you sell psychic readings. Offer your potential clients a 10-minute free reading and display the offer prominently on the front page of your site. Chances are you’ll get a lot of conversions for your niche. Once you’ve drawn in customers with the free deal, you can better bring them to your paid services.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 4)

12. Match Your Landing Page to Your Ad

When your ad matches your landing page, the colour co-ordination and organisation can translate to conversions. In addition to the colour, the copy you use on your ad should match, in some way, with your landing page. So, when you draw potential customers to your ad, you gently move them to your landing page with no sharp differences.

13. Incorporate Trust Seals on Your Checkout Page

If there’s one thing that draws customers to a product or service, it’s trust. Incorporating trust seals on your checkout page and other places on your website is an excellent way to show that you are legitimate and to increase conversions.

For example, if you are offering dental products, a seal from a trusted dental association helps with customer trust.

14. Convey a Sense of Urgency

When you are promoting a product or service letting your potential customers know that a particular price will end soon, or that a product or service will only be offered for a limited, time greatly helps with conversion.

For example, let’s say yours is a site that sells cookware and you’re providing a crock-pot at a temporarily discounted price.

You would display on your blog or website a photo of the crock pot, along with content and possibly a video, and you would show the price and when the price ends.

15. Give Them a Money-Back Guarantee

There will always be a percentage of customers who are on the fence about your product or service. So how do you get them over that hump and create a conversion?  One way is to offer a money-back guarantee and to display it where it can be seen.

Keep in mind that it’s good to put a time limit on the money-back guarantee to something like 30 days or 60 days.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)

16. Include Live Chats

live-chatsMany companies are adding live chat prominently on their websites to answer customer’s questions in real-time. This is an effective solution that can lead to conversions. It allows you to take care of all a client’s issues to lead them into a sale. Many companies utilise chat apps to help with this process.

17. Retarget Your Ads

There are large and small changes that can be made to your website to increase conversions, but changes to the way you’re handling your ads could be done as well. Retargeting customers, can help increase conversions period.

When visitors come to your site, you create a customised targeted ad to get to them as soon as they leave.

If a visitor has come to your cosmetic store looking for an eye shadow, when they leave your site you target them with an ad for a different eye shadow in your line. The goal is to keep a visitor engaged with your product or service while staying top of mind.

18. Give Them Free Shipping

Shipping costs for a product can often make or break a sale. So, if there’s one thing that can contribute to conversion, it’s free shipping. Let your customers know that shipping is not a cost that they have to concern themselves with.

If free shipping seems unaffordable for your company, work with ways to cover shipping costs with your product prices.

19. Include Real Testimonials With Photos

One of the best ways to instill confidence in your product or service is with real testimonials. Have customers write testimonials of 50 to 100 words about your product or service and include a photo of the customers next to their testimonials. Include their full name with their picture.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 6)

20. Get Customers to Share Their Purchases on Social Media

These days, almost all of your clients are likely to be on at least one social media site. Encourage them to share the purchases they’ve made of your products on social media, such as Instagram.

Every time a customer buys one of your products or your services, automatically give them an opportunity to share and talk about what they’ve bought with a user-friendly share process included on your site.

The sooner you work on conversion rate optimisation tips on your blog or website, the sooner you’ll be bringing in customers in the most efficient way.

Customers translate to profits and profits translate to a successful company or business. CRO takes time, but with patience, your website or blog will see vast improvement in conversions.

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Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies

Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.

Perry Marshall

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Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.

Dynamic search ads (DSAS)

Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.

What Are DSAs?

Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.

DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.

Related: The Secret to Building A Profitable AdWords Campaign

Why should you set up a DSA?

As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)

Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”

If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.

How do they work?

It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.

Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.

When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.

Related: 7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Adwords Agency

Here’s how to set up a DSA:

  • Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
  • You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
  • You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
  • Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced target­ing for later.
  • Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.

Ongoing management of your DSA

dynamic-search-ads

Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)

Call-only campaigns

These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.

A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.

Related: 3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google Adwords

Why use call-only?

Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.

How to set up call-only campaigns

Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.

Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com

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