By Steve Lubahn, Vice President of Client Marketing Services at Vision Design Group, Winona, MN
It’s that time of year again, to look back on how we’ve spent a year in anticipation for improving our businesses in the year ahead.
Working closely with more than 250 businesses at our marketing firm, Vision Design Group, I looked back at 2012 to find five key marketing trends that can help direct your marketing efforts in the coming year:
- Continued shift of traditional print and advertising budget to digital marketing. Many clients now have digital marketing budgets that exceed 50% of their total marketing budget.
- Website redesigns are becoming more frequent. Where businesses once updated their website every 5-7 years, they’re now finding it necessary to update every 3-5 years to keep up with online trends, updated information and implement new technology to serve their customers. Remember when we used to come out with a new brochure every six months, or an annual catalog? The ability to make on-demand changes to your website comes with the responsibility to deliver a website that keeps pace with changes in your product and service offerings, as well as changes in internet technology.
- Major increase in requests for mobile optimized websites. Most of our clients are now seeing mobile traffic ranging from 10% to over 30% of their total website visits. It’s no longer optional to consider both the tablet and smartphone device user experience on your website. If you are updating your website, strongly consider a responsive design that will adjust the page layout based on the size of the display, from desktop PC to tablet to smartphone. (See the article Do I Need A Mobile App for My Business? for examples of several types of mobile website optimization.)
- Sharp increase in the number of clients using paid search.Clients who implement cost per click (CPC) paid search advertising on Google and other search engines are typically seeing increase of 5% to over 70% in website traffic. In addition, paid search traffic often results in conversion rates higher than website traffic sources.
- Increase in commercial photography. Companies are choosing higher quality photography not just for printed materials, but also to improve their internet presence. Fewer websites use stock photos and now favor real-life images of company-related people and settings.
Based on this ongoing migration from traditional media to internet-delivered media, how can you cost-effectively improve your digital marketing efforts in 2013? Here are a few ideas that you can implement quickly to improve the performance of your website and increase sales leads.
4 Tips for Cost-effective Digital Marketing in 2013
- Claim and optimize your Google+ Local listing. Google and other search engines are placing a heavy emphasis on local search. If you haven’t already, claim your Google+ Local (previously Google Places) listing. It’s a free and simple action you can take immediately. If you have multiple locations or branches, optimize the listing for each location. Once you claim your listing, add keywords related to your business and services to improve your search rankings. You can also customize your listing with your logo, images, business hours and products and services. Also consider claiming and updating your listings on Bing Local, LinkedIn, Manta and other popular business directories.
- Spend more time on email marketing. Though not as glitzy as social media and other newer forms of digital marketing, email marketing to a solid in-house list continues to be one of the most cost-effective means of communicating with and selling to your customer base. Experiment with frequency and the call to action. A good mailing list can maintain open rates of 20%-30%, and many of our e-commerce clients enjoy an increase in orders after every email they send. Be sure to clean out bounced or abandoned emails to improve your email deliverability rates. For more information on email marketing trends, advantages, and tips, see our blog post Email - still your most effective marketing media.
- Improve your website’s organic search results. If you want to improve your organic search engine optimization (SEO), start with making sure your page titles are unique on each page, and align with target keyword phrases on each page. For best results, try to limit page titles to about 70 characters maximum, and page descriptions to about 125 characters. Most search engines place little or no weight on the keyword metatags, so do not spend much time trying to tweak your keyword metatag. Looking for ideas on what keywords to focus on? Review your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools reports for keywords and phrases that are currently driving traffic to your website, and focus on those that are resulting in orders or other forms of conversion.
- Consider adding live chat to your website. For anyone over 40, it is hard to image the need for live chat on a website. If you have high school or college age children, you know their cell phones are rarely used for voice communication, but they use them constantly for texting and sending messages via social media. Many businesses are finding implementation of live chat increases their ability to interact with potential customers, particularly those in younger generations. Live chat can also improve your customer service with more timely interaction and can often reduce the time per support case for your customer service staff. Live chat is quick and cost-effective to implement; for instance, a platform called SnapEngage can be implemented with up to four customer service agents at less than $50 per month. For more information on Live Chat, see the Vision Design Group blog article Use Live Chat To Increase Leads and Customer Interaction.
Steve Lubahn is Vice President of Client Marketing Services at Vision Design Group in Winona, Minnesota. Please visit their Web site at www.visiondesign.com. Contact Steve by phone at 507-453-0767, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.