Get your digital marketing up to speed in 2014.

With the Christmas holidays a distant memory and the beginning of a New Year, now is a great time to plan your digital strategy for the next 12 months.

Having a good break and time away from work, relaxing, renews our energy and brings a certain clarity, optimism and hope for the year ahead. With than in mind, we’ve put together our top ten digital marketing tips which can act as a checklist for your digital marketing strategy in the year going forward and includes looking at your website and profiles on social networks.

1. Google analytics

To make good decisions, you need to have facts. To help you decide what needs improving on your website, it’s essential to understand how visitors find and interact with your site. Taking a ‘digital inventory’ is key to establishing a baseline from which you can measure your improvements.
You most likely have Google analytics installed on your website already. If you don’t you absolutely should, as it provides invaluable information about your website visitors and customers.
There are many reports which Google analytics offers. The key ones to look at are:

  • Audience – Visitor information
  • Acquisition – How traffic comes to your site
  • Behaviour – How visitors interact on your site

Analytics offers the ability to compare the data in each of the reports to a previous period and this can be a date range of days or months.

Comparing this year’s traffic with last year.

A good idea is to regularly compare how your traffic levels are from month-to-month or more occasional year-to-year, then you can see increases or decreases. Is your SEO or Ad spend working, if it’s effective your traffic should be increasing.

To summarise, review your analytics regularly and look for patterns and trends from which you can make business decisions.

2. Webmasters tools

Google’s webmaster tools is the lesser known cousin of Google analytics – few outside of the web design and development community are aware of it, but it is an invaluable tool which provides extremely detailed information about how Google sees your website.
Where as analytics provides information on the visitors and traffic for your site, webmasters tools provides detailed information about:

  • How your site appears in Google results
  • Search queries and links to your website (links from internal pages and other websites)
  • How much of your site is indexed by Google
  • Crawl statistics and issues. (Problems or issues the Google crawler found when visiting your site)

Use webmaster tools to resolve any outstanding issues with your site, such as broken links or duplicate content and meta tag issues.
This kind of maintenance ultimately helps your visitors and will improve how Google sees your site.

Optimising websites with Google PageSpeed

We highly recommend checking out the ‘labs’ section of webmasters tools, you’re sure to find lots of cool new tools which can provide even more insight to how site’s profile and performance. One of our favourites is PageSpeed which will analyse your site and give valuable suggestions on how to improve the loading time of the page. How fast your pages load can really affect customer engagement, particulary in E-Commerce. People hate to wait and will quickly disappear if your site is sluggish.

Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that Google webmasters tools can be connected to your Google analytics account to offer even more detailed SEO reports.
See our article connecting Google webmasters tool to Google analytics for more information.

3. Mobile optimisation

It’s official – we’re living in a mobile and tablet era – and have been for some time! On our site, this is born out in the website analytics. Comparing the website visitor traffic from the whole of 2012 to 2013, we’ve seen a 20% drop in desktop traffic, a 27% rise in mobile visitors and a 40% rise in tablet customers.

Responsive webdesign

As this trend continues the importance of optimising your site for the devices your customers are using grows. Increasingly responsive websites – a single website which adapts and responds to the device which it’s being viewed on – are becoming more popular than separate desktop and mobile offerings. In fact maintaining and managing a responsive website is little more work than looking after a regular site.

4.Content

Stale articles, out of date content, broken links? Taking some time to review what’s on your site and makes changes is essential ongoing maintenance. Take some time to review older content on your site and make changes if it’s no longer relevant. There are a number of tools to help find broken links – as mentioned already, Webmasters Tools is a great source of information. Really old and irrelevant pages could be removed, but be sure to check that you redirect to a newer version of the page. Reducing broken links and missing pages can help your rankings, so it’s worth doing.

5.Social media & networking

If you don’t have profiles already, choosing which social networks are relevant to your business is the first step. Twitter is great for short timely updates, Facebook offers a richer experience between friends and also offers business pages – it’s a great way to organise events and share pictures. LinkedIn is more business focused and is awesome for networking –  Google Plus (Google+) is fairy similar to Facebook but offers additional services to businesses in the form of local pages. The newest of bunch, Google+ is growing rapidly, especially now that you need an account to post comments on YouTube.

Talking of YouTube, if your site has a requirement for video, then building out a YouTube channel is another fantastic way to engage and educate customers about your products and brand.
Posting useful information regularly is a great idea, but keep it pertinent – there’s a tendancy to share anything and everything and this can become mundane for your followers. Ramming your product or service down customer’s throats wont do you any favours either. Balance is the key here, keep posts light hearted, informative and fun!

If you use multiple social networks, why not share your stories using a social media managenent tool such at Hootsuite which can post to multiple accounts and profiles at once, as well as allowing you to schedule posts.

6.Newsletters

We believe Newsletters – which these days are often overlooked in favour of the use of social media – are still an effective communication tool for a lot of businesses. It’s a good idea to review your analytics and see how engaged your customers are with your communications and if your approach needs tweaking. Are you informing them of your new social media presences and activiity and is there crossover?

7.Microformats, data highlighting , rich snippets and the semantic web

Microformats and data highlighting are increasingly playing a more important part in how the web works. In a nutshell microformats are markup which tell search engines and other services more about the information on your website. Google puts it like this:

“Microformats are simple conventions (known as entities) used on web pages to describe a specific type of information —for example, a review, an event, a product, a business, or a person. Each entity has its own properties. For example, a Person has the properties name, address, job title, company, and email address.”

Google are trialing the use of authorship information in search results and you may have already see this effect.

Update: As of June 2014 Google have killed off authorship in search results. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6083347?rd=1

By adding structured data to our sites we can give more information to other services and our customers. For more informaiton on data highlighting and rich snippets, see here.

8.Find out what your customers feel about your site

You’ve looked at the analytics, reviewed your traffic and visitors numbers, made sure your content is great and informative – but why not find out what your customers really think about your website?

Forsee, http://www.foresee.com/ is a great tool for measuring customer experience and satisfaction, particularly if you run a number of sites and want to see how different channels and strategies appeal.

9.Delegate

Having a plan is one thing, executing it is another. Hands up! How many of us have good intentions, ideas and actions which we never carry out? I for one have many a to-do list which has not been actioned yet. As your business grows and becomes more successful, it can become more challenging to stay hands on.

To work around these shortcomings, it can be useful to delegate these tasks to a professional. After a number of postponed attempts, we have recently engaged a copy-writer and hired an additional designer to assist with our own website launch (more on this later).

Paying someone to help out costs money, but there’s value in the time you save, and if well-chosen, the professional quality of the work produced.

10.Review and repeat

That’s it! It worth checking in on the list on a monthly basis to see how you’re progressing.
For more information on ways to implement these tips on your website, please contact us.