On average, 38% of marketing budgets are spent on digital, up 3% from 2013. Like any channel, marketers want to spend it wisely and for the greatest return.
There are lots of pressures (and sales calls) on a budget but the three areas that will yield the best return are:
- Measurement – to understand an audience’s behaviour
- Mobile – responsive and app-based solutions to meet the audience’s expectations
- Content promotion – for effective content marketing so any targets can find you
All of the above can also be effectively tracked to prove their value – not just in terms of sales and followers, but also for customer satisfaction.
It’s easy to put all your measurement eggs in the Google Analytics basket. After all, it’s free and pumps out lots of attractive data. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Analytics’ biggest weakness, however, is its lack of insight into what users actually do on a page beyond goals. By this I mean, how far they scroll down and where they click on a page. It does have some tools for this (e.g. In-page analytics) but they are not as advanced as other products on the market.
Why should you bother with information like this? We like to make assumptions about our audience – they won’t like this colour, this design etc but the reality is, you will not know unless you ask them or test them. Tools such as heat mapping and A/B testing challenge our beliefs about the audience and will make your site better.
How will heat mapping help me understand my audience?
Heat mapping will show you how far users scroll down pages, where they click on a page (and how frequently) and what channel clicks have come from. Understanding how a user moves about a page will help you know if a website design is working.
For example, if a heat map shows that 75% of users don’t scroll beyond the top quarter of your home page and you have a high bounce rate, then it would suggest you don’t have the right messages at the top. You could then A/B test different messages or layouts to see if the stats improve.
Heat mapping will not interfere with your audience’s website experience. You may need a developer to install the code for you but this is a one-off task and can be done quickly.
Estimated annual cost: £60-£700 (depending on visitor volume).
How will A/B testing benefit my digital strategy?
Website audiences are fickle and time poor – they make split-second judgements and move away if they don’t like the words, colour or design.
A/B testing helps you understand if design or copy changes will impact visitor behaviour, e.g. completing actions such as downloading a file or moving deeper into the website. It works by serving up an alternative page to a percentage of visitors and measuring their behaviour from that page (some systems will integrate with heat mapping software giving you even richer information).
You have an ecommerce site and notice the “add to basket” event goal has dropped in Analytics. There is clearly an issue with the product page but what is it? Through A/B testing you could test:
- Font size – do bigger or smaller product titles and text make a difference?
- Different layout – does moving the Add to basket button affect goal completions?
- Colour – does a more prominent colour for the Add to basket button increase clicks?
- Copy – does changing the button copy to “Add to basket” to “Buy now” increase sales?
By making subtle changes, you will evolve your website into a converting machine. You can use Google Experiments (within Analytics) or other sites such as Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer. Like heat mapping, it involves adding code to the website and it should not interfere with a visitor’s experience if it is done properly.
Estimated annual cost: £144- £600 (depending on monthly visitor volume)
As desktop sales drop and more companies embrace tablets and smartphones, you audience’s mobile expectations will rise.
Developing a responsive website (or a separate mobile one) is the first step, but you must also think beyond this.
If you send out regular email newsletters or alerts, these emails should be responsive. At least 50% of email is checked on phones – you will achieve a higher click-through rate and website engagement if the email works on mobile (and if the site they land on is mobile friendly).
Also think about how customers use your services. Would an app enhance their experience? Is SMS more convenient for them? Are all the systems they use with you mobile?
Creating a responsive site or an app is not cheap nor should it be lightly undertaken. However, not being mobile will cost you in the long run and it is now an investment you must make.
Estimated cost: dependent on the size and functionality of website/app.
Content marketing is currently one of the digital darlings. Now that everyone is on the band wagon, getting your content seen is hard.
If you are producing high-quality content it can be frustrating to see poorer content do well. The reality is that it is being promoted more intelligently.
Relying on tweeting out about your latest blog article or featuring it in the next newsletter will satisfy those that know you. If you want more brand awareness, followers and sales, then the content needs to be pushed harder. This means paying for it.
We know that platforms such as Facebook have made changes and your news stories have less audience reach. Paid promotion is now essential for content to be seen.
Facebook and Twitter are cost-effective platforms – cost-per-click is significantly less than LinkedIn. You should plan budget for each blog post and any other associated content, e.g. infographics, presentations.
Really good content should be advertised. LinkedIn has the best targeting and a well-planned and promoted campaign would see you reach a high-quality audience who are more likely to engage.
Estimated monthly budget: £500 to cover basic promotion – you may need to spend more depending on what you producing.
Content discovery platforms
These platforms place links to your articles at the bottom of pages on other sites under “From around the web” or “Recommended posts”. They are frequently used by sites such as CNN and the Guardian.
An algorithm decides if your content matches the content of the piece.
This exposes your content to a huge audience and could attract significant traffic. While this is tempting, you should plan this well to make sure you are getting the right traffic and results. Arguably this approach may be too broad and drive the wrong traffic to your website.
The upfront cost is high and often requires a commitment of a year. Popular platforms are:
Estimated cost: Varies across platforms. You can spend as little as $10 a day with Outbrain.
Tracking digital success
All of the above areas will create data and you should combine this with other platforms, e.g. CRM, Analytics, to make better, more informed marketing decisions.
Unsure where your digital marketing strategy is going or not sure how to allocate the digital budget? We’d love to help! Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how our digital marketing audits and strategies can add more value to your business.