COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. How has this affected marketing, and what can you do to mitigate losses?
When coronavirus, or COVID-19, first appeared at the start of the year it quickly became apparent that it would have a wide-reaching impact on all aspects of life. With lockdowns and social distancing fundamentally changing everything we do, we have had to adapt to new ways of thinking, living, and working.
With government advice urging people to work from home unless absolutely necessary and restricting people to their homes except for essential travel, it has become more difficult than ever to reach potential customers. As is usually the way, marketing departments in business across the country are taking a hit. If you can’t reach customers, what’s the point of marketing?
Here’s the thing: COVID-19 does not mean customers are unreachable. People still need and want to buy things, or carry out work as normal to keep their businesses afloat. To reach them, however, you need to rethink your marketing strategy.
Physical and traditional marketing channels have temporarily disappeared. Any exhibitions or networking events you might have had planned have gone out the window. Lists of prospects to call are useless without people in the office to answer. Industry print media, for the most part, has paused. It remains to be seen how well these channels recover post-COVID.
As a result, it is more important than ever to focus on digital and social media marketing. With people stuck at home, people are spending even more time online. Social media apps are reporting increased engagement across the board. There has never been a better time to invest in your online strategy to reach the right people.
Many online retailers saw a rapid increase in e-commerce sales during March with more people than ever stuck at home with little to do.
This might not be useful to businesses who do not work on an e-commerce basis, who have seen a drop in new projects or enquiries. However, just because customers are not searching for what they need now, does not mean they won’t be when the uncertainty of coronavirus comes to an end.
When business reopen, many clients will need to restock and form new partnerships which might have been affected by the crisis. It is vital your business is ready to intercept this surge in traffic.
Search Engine Optimisation is a long game. Invest time and effort into ranking for valuable search terms now and ensure your website is technically sound. This will put you in the best position possible for a post-coronavirus upswing in searches.
It’s important to address messaging across current pay-per-click campaigns such as Google Ads. For example, are you able to tie into trends such as togetherness, working from home, communications and essential services? If so, what value can you provide in line with these themes, and, in turn, how can you take a softer sales approach?
It is also important to review ad copy and creative. You’ll need to change “visit us in store!” and similar phrases, and any imagery of people in large groups or in-store on landing pages.
If you can deliver any services virtually that’s worth including in your campaign too. More than ever people are looking for added value at the click of a button.
As mentioned above, people are spending more time than ever before on social media. Although it’s important to remain conscious of the content we publish at this time, social media is the most vital vehicle to deliver important messages about your business, offering and industry. If you are still open and providing services, products, or solutions, let people know.
You might also consider expanding your communications beyond organic social media. With an increase in social traffic, so too has the noise from thousands of brands, all looking to reach the same customers as you. A paid campaign will allow you laser-focus in who you want to reach and cut through the noise.
With a little bit of investment and the right content, you could be reaching more potential customers than ever before. Learn from big brands – they are set to increase spend across social platforms to replace lost income from traditional marketing campaigns.
ExtraMile Communications can work with you to improve and expand your digital marketing and online presence during this difficult time. Although it is difficult to look ahead, it is vital you are doing all you can to stay relevant to your customers and prepare for the future.
We offer a range of digital marketing services including organic search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising management, social media marketing both paid and organic, and email marketing. We can work with you to ensure your business is reaching customers and prepared for the future.
It remains to be seen what kind of long-term impact COVID-19 will have on marketing and the habits of customers and clients. For now, focusing on your digital communications rather than cutting your marketing entirely may be the best way to position yourself for what comes next and mitigate losses. For more information on how we can help, or to discuss your project, get in touch.
The world of digital marketing moves at the speed of light. What are the most important trends to be looking out for in 2020?
The world of digital marketing moves at somewhere approaching the speed of light. Take your eye off the ball for a second and there’s a host of new trends and strategies to be considering.
For small to medium business owners with a million things to keep track of, getting au fait with the non-stop flow of digital marketing trends can be a daunting task. At ExtraMile, it’s our passion – and our job – to keep our fingers on the pulse of this fast-paced digital world.
In this blog, we take a look at six digital marketing trends that are set to become a big deal in 2020, and talk about what you can do to prepare for them.
It might sound like sci-fi, but artificial intelligence is real and it’s set to revolutionise the way people behave and interact online. You might already be using AI to browse the internet by asking Alexa or Siri questions such as ‘how much does the moon weigh’ or ‘what is the best recipe for apple pie’.
Voice assistants are fast becoming one of the main ways people seek out information online. This conversational style of searching means those looking to rank need to up their keyword research game. Ensuring your site answers the most common questions by creating content which will rank for these long-tail keywords is vital.
As Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and the rest of Silicon Valley’s giants battle it out to get their assistant to the top, voice search via AI will continue to become more and more important for marketers.
You can learn more about optimising your website for voice search here.
You might be interacting with AIs and AI generated content without even realising it. Artificial intelligence has been used to produce web content for a few years now, but as these machines get smarter, the content they produce is becoming more and more indistinguishable from human-written copy.
AI can quickly produce short news articles from a few basic points using algorithms that detect the most important aspects of the story. The balance between information, delivery and quality of the content is a fine one, but it’s one that AI is getting better and better at traversing.
Speaking of AI: you will have seen chat bubbles popping up in the corner of websites more often as businesses strive to reach customers any way they can. You might even have interacted with a few. What you might not know is that you could have been talking to a robot the whole time.
While companies want to provide an informative and helpful experience on their site they also want to save money and time. AI chatbots have come a long way in terms of interactivity and some are now so advanced they can assist with a number of online enquiries without ever being rumbled. By reaching and converting visitors to your site quickly and effectively, these intelligent chatbots are set to become a big part of the digital marketing landscape next year.
Digital advertising is now more accessible than ever before thanks to social media advertising. Most of us now receive ads mixed in with our news feeds with products and services we might be interested in.
But how often do you see an ad that is completely unrelated to you and your interests? It’s frustrating, right? When these poorly targeted or irrelevant ads show up in a consumer’s timeline they will be ignored, or worse, negatively impact that person’s opinion of your brand. According to GlobalWebIndex 49% of consumers will disregard a brand due to an irrelevant or poorly targeted ad.
In contrast, 36% of people would engage with a brand with tailored messaging. Ensuring a consistent flow of messaging tailored to the person you are attempting to reach is vital, and statistics show that in 2020 companies will need to up their targeting game and produce the content to match.
Companies have been doing video marketing for years now – but it’s changing. Many predict that by next year, the majority of consumer internet traffic will be video-based. What’s more, it will be uploaded by individuals rather than brands.
A lot of businesses think that without big budgets or Hollywood production value video, marketing is pointless. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People are looking for entertaining, useful and informative videos – and you don’t need special effects and a £10,000 camera for that.
Humanised videos with a focus on how products and services are provided by and for people, are hugely effective and increasingly popular. Some examples of this type of video are employee or brand stories, company culture videos, FAQs and customer testimonials.
This is a fantastic example of video marketing. It is short, low-budget and to the point, but perfectly encapsulates the product and personality of the business. With so much content on the internet it is more important than ever to get your point across quickly and succinctly, and there are few better ways of doing that than video marketing.
It’s now easier than ever before to reach customers. It’s also more difficult than ever to keep them. Consumers now have a plethora of options to choose from and if they decide one company isn’t worth their time, no amount of remarketing is likely to change their mind.
That is why customer experience (CX) is the name of the game for 2020. You want to make the process from start to finish as simple, informative and useful as possible to retain customers and keep them coming back for more.
According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 73% of people say CX is an important factor in their decision to buy. Brands need to be on the right side of this by ensuring their CX is as great as it can be.
The most important factors behind a good customer experience on your website are:
Remember: it’s a buyers market, so you need to make sure your marketing strategy takes into account customer experience at every turn.
It might seem strange to call SEO a trend since it’s so firmly entrenched in the digital marketing strategies of every company. The fact is, SEO is constantly evolving and changing, forcing brands to keep up. And 2020 will be no different.
Being number one on Google is no longer enough. Don’t get us wrong, it should still be an important goal, but with recent major shifts in SEO, the way people get their information from SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is changing.
Google now wants to get people the right answer as fast as possible – sometimes without even having them click a link. To do that, they have introduced ‘on SERP’ results such as featured snippets, where the most useful result is positioned in a stand-out location.
These snippets can appear all over the SERPs, but the most coveted position is before the organic listings, which has now been dubbed ‘position zero’. Google will use its algorithm to detect the most useful, informative result and put the answer to the query right there on the results page.
There’s no real science to getting your page front and centre with a featured snippet. Google will generally select an answer from the front page of the results, but it isn’t always the top spot. All you can do is ensure your site is providing a comprehensive, informative response to the most likely questions and search terms through in-depth keyword research.
This can be a time consuming and, let’s face it, confusing endeavour at times. Recruiting the help of an experienced and knowledgeable SEO agency can vastly improve your chances of ranking high and in these vital positions.
It’s a new decade and an exciting if unpredictable time for digital marketing. Ensuring you are ahead of the curve means you are preparing your business for the challenges and changes we’re sure to encounter.
For more advice on digital and search engine marketing, visit our services page, or get in touch using our contact form.
Choosing the right SEO agency for your business can be a daunting task. Get it right and you could benefit from increased traffic, brand awareness and revenue in a relatively short amount of time.
Get it wrong, however, and you can be left feeling misled, conned and not to mention out of pocket. All this can be avoided by asking the right questions before you hire an agency to help with your SEO.
Dependant on the agency, there will be a range of options available to you. Ideally, an agency should have multiple SEO services available and be able to tailor these to the specific needs of your business.
When it comes to SEO, one size certainly does not fit all. The services you receive will depend on factors such as the current performance of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs), the content on your website and your current marketing activities – just to mention a few.
A well-rounded SEO strategy should consist of a mix of the following:
On-page SEO relates to the content on the pages and within the HTML source code of your website. Generally, activity will include editing current pages on your website to target your priority keywords, making sure the pages have effective calls-to-action (to encourage conversions) and internal linking between the pages on your website, amongst other things.
A good SEO agency should perform thorough keyword research to pinpoint the terms that most relate to your offering, and that your target audience will be searching for. They should consult you for your expert opinion to ensure that their research is as accurate as possible, as these keywords will usually form the basis of your on-page SEO strategy.
Off-page SEO refers to your business’ presence across the web and other external factors. Mentions of your website will basically give search engines an idea of what others think of you – think of it almost as a word-of-mouth review, but digital. This helps search engines determine your authority and can help improve your ability to rank.
Your off-page SEO strategy should mainly be focussed around building valuable links back to your website from authoritative sites. However, brand mentions (without a backlink) also count towards your off-page optimisation.
Perhaps ask your potential agency what kinds of outreach they have done for clients in the past to achieve this.
Before carrying out any significant work, your SEO company should conduct a technical audit of your website. This will identify any problems with your website that are affecting its ability to perform efficiently and rank well in the eyes of search engines.
By carrying out any necessary fixes outlined in the audit, you can benefit from some quick-wins fairly early in your campaign. These could include fixing broken links (404s), ensuring all important pages have unique and optimised metadata, and ensuring all pages are secured by HTTPS.
The basis of your ranking strategy will be formed around target keywords relating to your business offering. It can be tempting to go into an SEO campaign with a list of keywords as long as your arm. If your business offering is vast with lots of products and product lines, this may be suitable for you. However, it usually won’t be necessary.
An SEO expert will be able to conduct thorough keyword research to tell you which keywords are really worth targeting – often, it will be less than you think. They’ll most likely come up with a few that you’d never thought of, too. It is important that they are willing to work collaboratively with you to determine the relevance of any keywords they suggest, to ensure they truly relate to your offering.
From there it’s all about the process. This should be to form a plan of action and should usually include a backlink strategy (covered in the off-page SEO section above). Your agency should also have other Google ranking factors in their sights to ensure that a well-balanced campaign is executed.
It’s unlikely that you’ll need to know all the ins-and-outs of the tools used by your potential SEO agency. However, they should be able to provide an overview of what they use and explain why they feel that is the best tool for the job. Some of these tools can be quite costly, and a less-reputable SEO agency may not want to fork out for the best. Be sure that you ask:
As we mentioned earlier, when it comes to SEO – one size does not fit all. Different industries may have different levels of competition, different search trends, different economic circumstances and of course a difference in audience.
The same goes for your business. Your business goals and objectives should be discussed from the get-go to ensure that any activity serves to meet these.
Ask your potential agency where they feel they are likely to adapt their processes to fit with your business. Are there any problem areas in your industry that they can identify? Have they worked with a similar business in the past with whom they achieved positive results?
Usually when working with an agency, they will require access to your Content Management System (CMS) in order to make changes to your website. Before you do this, you need to be confident that any changes made will go through the appointed contact in your business for approval.
Ask about their approval process. Make sure they know who they need to get approval from, and how to go about it. They also need to be clear on what parts of your CMS they are authorised to change, and how to make the changes.
It is important that you can track any changes that are made so that they can be monitored. If something goes wrong, you need to know why. Alternatively, if your traffic and visibility is improving, it’s useful to be able to pinpoint the changes that have been making an impact.
It’s always encouraging to see an agency investing in their agents. SEO is an ever-changing environment, meaning that a training course completed 5 years ago is unlikely to still be up-to-date. Constant learning is a necessity, and therefore training/research time should be the norm for an SEO specialist.
Ask what training and accreditation they have, when they were obtained, and how often they tend to read about changes in the industry (Google algorithm updates are a good place to start – make sure they can name and explain a few of these).
The whole point of hiring an agency to carry out search engine optimisation work for you is so you can see RESULTS. Without some form of report, how can you measure the success of your campaign?
Ask the agency to send through an example of a report and to explain all the elements on there. It’s going to be no use receiving a document each month that is just numbers and technical jargon.
As we’ve discussed in a previous post – SEO should be a long-term, continuous process. Time should be taken to lay solid foundations and create a well-considered plan.
Ask your potential agency for some case studies that outline what results were seen and when. Remember though, every business is different and you’ll likely be starting from a different point than they did.
Overall, you should understand that some wins are quick and some will take time.
This is one thing that commonly gets overlooked when businesses hire an SEO agency. While, of course, it will be the agency who is responsible for the success of the project, there will occasionally be things they need from you, too.
Before the project begins, ask the agency how often work will be sent through for approval, what level of communication is usually required, etc. This will give you an idea of how much time a month you’ll need to set aside to ensure that the campaign is ticking over as it should. Without your input, work could end up being delayed, which is likely to lead to delays in your results.
Great communication will facilitate great results, so make sure you’re all on the same page from the start.
So, you should now be equipped with everything you need to ensure you’re hiring the best SEO agency for your business. To speak to us about how ExtraMile could handle your campaign, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.
Many smaller businesses are missing out on the benefits of digital marketing in the belief it is only worth it for large companies. This couldn’t be further from the truth
Most companies are now aware of the importance of digital marketing and search engine optimisation. Many large businesses are taking advantage of digital marketing to improve their rankings and increase their customer base. Smaller businesses, however, are still missing out on the benefits of local digital marketing.
In this blog, you will find a few local business marketing tips and digital marketing ideas to boost your online rankings and, hopefully, your profits.
Historically, small businesses have relied on word of mouth and local reputation to ensure a healthy flow of customers. However, in a world where face-to-face communication is increasingly being replaced by online dialogue, it is becoming more and more important to have an online presence.
Some small business owners might scoff at the idea of digital marketing. This is a mistake, as according to Google, 46% of searches made on their site have a ‘local intent’, such as ‘digital marketing agency near me’ rather than ‘digital marketing’.
This means that digital marketing for local businesses is something that can no longer be ignored. By not taking advantage of the benefits of local digital marketing solutions, you could be missing out on these potential customers.
There are several ways that you can promote your business locally with search engines such as Google with search engine optimisation (SEO). Ensuring that both your location and services are prominently displayed throughout your website will increase your chances of showing up in a localised Google search.
But how does local SEO work? Optimising the content of your website can be a full time job, but Google actually already gives businesses a head-start on local SEO with its Google My Business (GMB) function.
When someone makes a local search that includes a place name, or a phrase such as ‘near me’, Google will do its best to show locations near to the searcher. You have probably seen these results showing up like in the image below.
Google is trying to provide the most useful answers, which include not just the nearest businesses, but those with good reviews and sites that include related keywords. It will also provide contact details, distance, and even the opening times if possible.
Though this information might be on your website, Google actually pulls it from your Google My Business profile. You might be the closest business to the searcher, but Google wants to show the most relevant businesses, and comprehensive GMB information is important for providing everything a user needs to know.
Your business may already have a GMB page based on what Google has found on your website. But to make sure all this information is up-to-date, correct and useful, the safest thing to do is to claim the page. You can claim or create a GMB listing here.
Alternatively, you could take advantage of Google’s own ‘pay-per-click’ (PPC) Ads service. This allows you to create and display brief advertisements which show in various places on the Google network. Your ads will show to users dependant on the relevance of their search in relation to factors such as your chosen keywords, ad copy, landing page etc.
It is important to remember that PPC can take some time to perfect, sometimes involving a significant amount of trial and error. However, once you find the right approach for your business, PPC can deliver a sizeable return on ad spend (ROAS). PPC should be used as part of a balanced search engine marketing strategy, with the quality of your website content playing an important role.
As well as SEO, having a local social media advertising strategy is another important part of reaching local customers. While you may have a business Twitter or Facebook, recent changes to these platforms mean that the effectiveness of standard social media activity has been reduced.
Instead, these platforms want you to take advantage of their advertising services, and pay them to target their user base with ads for your product. Though this may sound cheeky, by creating an attractive ad and using their audience targeting data, you can actually create a far more effective advertising strategy than you ever could with standard social media activity.
Facebook, for example, allows you to target not just interests and employment status, but offers a laser-focused location targeting function. This means you can target ‘painters’ or ‘artists’ around the Staffordshire area, who might have a greater interest in your new handmade, artisan paint brushes than the clay sculptors who already like your page.
That is definitely not to say that standard social media posting is useless. Regular and informative tweets and posts can be a powerful tool to entice customers. But, once again, you are best off striking a healthy balance between the two.
When many people think of Public Relations, they think of giant corporations or celebrities buttering up to the press. As a small business owner you have limited time and resources. Surely there are better ways to spend them?
The fact is PR is a vital part of running any business. When done right, PR can be a powerful tool and often even more effective than advertising. PR is a great way to put your business’ personality front and centre and show you are more than just a product or service.
What’s more, with local reputation being vital for any small business, one upset customer can do an incredible amount of damage without even trying. With a dedicated PR team on hand to respond, you can be sure to minimise risk to your brand should things go awry.
It can take time to build meaningful relationships with the press, however, and that’s time you probably don’t have. That is where PR specialists come in, providing their expertise and offering a range of useful contacts. Though it may be another cost to consider, the benefits of local PR can be endless.
As we discussed above, word of mouth and local reputation is becoming increasingly unreliable. Unlike before, when people might have asked a friend or family member for the best restaurant in town, they’re now more likely to pull out their phone and Google it.
By using these simple local digital marketing ideas, you can improve the online reputation of your business, and get ahead of local competitors who are not yet taking advantage of SEO.
For more information, or to find out how ExtraMile can help you with our local SEO, PR or local digital marketing solutions, visit our services page, or get in touch.
Social media has become ubiquitous. It has taken over areas of your life, the media and politics amongst others. We have embraced it fully but is this wise?
I realise the title of this article is a little contentious given that as a company, ExtraMile embraces social media – whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or the next big thing. The reason for the title is this – you can’t trust anyone on social media. In a world of ‘Fake News’ social media allows anyone to say anything online, without justification or evidence and get coverage. The more coverage that person gets the more weight their opinion begins to hold.
A prime example of this – and the dangers that can be created by it – is Jenna Abrams. She built up a following of over 70,000 followers through her tweets covering everything from the Kardashians to the American Civil War. Her tweets were quoted on a veritable ‘who’s who’ of media outlets; The BBC, The Washington Post, The Times of India, Russia Today her tweets were covered across the northern hemisphere. Once she had built an audience her tweets shifted focus more heavily towards right wing views, with tweets promoting segregation, immigration controls and perhaps most importantly Donald Trump.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, Jenna Abrams is fictional. She existed nowhere other than her social media accounts, chiefly on Twitter. She was created by the Internet Research Agency – a Russian, state-funded, ‘troll farm’. The way the Jenna Abrams account succeeded is at odds with the current reporting of the 2016 U.S. Election interference by Russia – it’s been given low key coverage by a number of organisations who instead prefer to focus on the ‘in your face’ Facebook ads paid for by the Russian state. Perhaps this is because those media organisations were suckered into believing Jenna Abrams was real and held real beliefs? I suspect it’s actually because it’s much harder to explain how this subtle approach worked to influence US politics.
The fact that it’s taken nearly a year and a full investigation team to establish Jenna Abrams was fake shows how hard it is to identify frauds on social media. The case also highlights how simple tactics can build a huge amount of trust online – with nothing to back it up. And yet people still believed what was being posted, it stimulated debate around issues raised by the account and directed a number of online conversations. All of this was being done by an anonymous collective in Russia.
Even identifiable people you know in real life are guilty of cherry picking the best bits of their life to display online. In a 2015 study over 2 thirds of people admitted to editing their social media profile to make them seem more outgoing and active on social media. Social media envy is a very real thing, and a significant proportion of us are guilty of misleading our ‘friends’ leading them to think our lives are better than they are. We trust people to represent a truthful version of themselves without stopping to think they might be deceiving us (or themselves?)
Barnardo’s have just released a new video campaign – Follow Me – which highlights how easily we trust people online by highlighting the paradox between the impact of language online versus real life. The language used on social media is designed to make us feel comfortable and good – we have followers, we make friends, we like content, we love posts – all positive affirmation for our online contacts to make them feel good. Yet if you asked to follow them or be their friend in real life their trust in you would definitely take a hit (you’re either a creep or a 4 year old!) and you’re likely to make them feel very uncomfortable.
There’s a psychology to the language used that puts at ease, makes us feel comfortable with sharing and keeps us engaged. Perhaps we need to be more conscious of our interactions, more suspicious and more aware of what’s happening to us online.
P.s. I’m sure you noticed there were no references or verification on any of the content above, but you trusted me, right?
Social Media Envy:
Everybody knows that the concept of remarketing is a good idea, but implementing it within their marketing strategy is another story with a lot of questions. The biggest reason for this is because it is still a fairly new ‘term’ in the marketing world, having been launched in AdWords only seven years ago (March 2010).
In order to take the confusion out of remarketing, I have decided to answer the five most commonly asked questions on the subject.
Remarketing is exactly how it sounds – marketing to people you have already marketed to. Each day you will have a number of visitors to your website, but not all of these will complete the action you want them to take. For example, if you run an E-commerce website, the visitor could leave the site without making a purchase. So, maybe they weren’t ready to buy or they were just looking around out of interest.
With remarketing, you are able to show an advert to that user once they have left your site as they are browsing other sites on the internet. Sometimes, having a small reminder about the item they were just looking at is all it takes to convince them to re-visit your site and complete that purchase, send an enquiry or complete any other action that may be useful to your business.
These are just a few of the reasons why remarketing is a valuable, effective marketing strategy for any business:
It all starts with cookies. Not the tasty kind, but the kind that websites store on an internet user’s computer. A little snippet of code in your website’s HTML is all it takes to track user’s cookies so that they can be identified as having visited your site.
Google, Facebook and email marketing platforms are able to use these cookies to display your ad to previous visitors to your site whilst they are browsing the web.
The best part about remarketing ads is that they can be customised to your business. You choose the image you want the visitor to see, you add your logo, a clever little piece of ad-copy and you’ve got a unique advert to show to potential customers. This is where a little creative prowess comes in very handy.
Here are a couple of great examples of remarketing ads (which I borrowed from WordStream)
This is a great example of a Facebook retargeting ad, giving the previous visitor a fantastic reason why they should come back and complete the purchase.
Here’s another good example of a retargeting ad encouraging a user to return to the site after abandoning the cart. This ad cleverly displays the reasons why the buyer should purchase from them with phrases such as “price match guarantee” and “free shipping on orders over £35”.
For the time and money it takes to set up and manage a remarketing campaign, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that this will be one of the best marketing decisions you ever made.
Here are the three best reasons why:
Don’t struggle with your marketing strategy, ExtraMile can help you achieve your goals. Just get in touch to find out how.