You only have to walk down the High Street to notice how many shops have closed and how less crowded they are nowadays. One of the most visible trends in the past decade has been the move to shopping online. Companies like Shopify have achieved remarkable success by taking advantage of the ease with which would-be entrepreneurs can set up their own retail business online and use websites like Wix to set up their own websites.
Of course, today, all businesses – including B2B, as well as B2C – have their own website where customers can go to find information about the business and decide whether it can provide the product or service they are looking for.
Many business owners lack the technical experience and confidence to expertly manage the generation and analysis of traffic to their website. Naturally, this can lead to avoidable cases of under-performance and missed opportunities.
To make matters worse, a number of myths have arisen which can mislead and misdirect business owners:
- Spending a lot on designing the website is enough.
Studies show that a website only accounts for 15% of the equation when it comes to Google’s local search rankings, so relying on the website is short-sighted in the extreme.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is dead.
Whilst the algorithm which the likes of Google uses to filter and rank websites is ever-changing and being upgraded, it remains a key determinant of which websites will appear at the top of online searches. Hence we need to give it the attention it deserves. In the early days of SEO, meta tags were used to help search engines recognize content for displaying proper search results. However, this process was quickly targeted by spammers and dropped. Instead, digital marketers can use the title tag and meta description tags to attract search engine crawlers, as well as influence users to click on your website within the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
If the business owner does not have the time or the expertise to handle this, it is easily outsourced to freelancers or delegated internally to company specialists.
- Driving massive traffic to the website is enough.
If we consider that the website is an important part of the marketing tools and image of the business, then we need to optimise it from every angle. As with any other marketing activity, it should be tailored to the needs and wishes of the target market.
The mantra should be about quality of traffic, rather than quantity. Fortunately, platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow businesses to target their message to their target market.
Optimising the website includes monitoring how long visitors spend on which pages, how many shopping carts are abandoned and how many visits convert into paid purchases. This includes optimising the speed with which visitors can find what they are looking for in simple and easy to follow layouts.
- Digital marketing is only for big business.
In the old days, any customer wanting to know more about your business would have to call your office or call centre and speak to a customer service representative. This process was labour-intensive and expensive. The beauty of digital marketing is that it is automated and ideally suited to scale a business, without a commensurate increase in costs. Hence, it is important for businesses, big and small.
- Digital marketing is only for computers.
The proliferation of digital platforms has spread from computers to smartphones, tablets, game consoles, television, radio, as well as electronic billboards. And more recently, big brands have been investing in virtual real estate in games such as The Sandbox. And as companies like Meta (Facebook) are embracing the challenge of developing the MetaVerse, we may soon see that our main digital interface will be on smart glasses or other wearable devices. This means that our digital content should be adapted to work seamlessly on platforms other than computers.
- Managing social media is enough.
Whilst it is undeniable that a vibrant social media activity can be an invaluable way to interact with existing and potential users and customers, it should not be a standalone activity, but rather be part of an integrated digital marketing strategy. It is still unclear on how effective it can be as a lead generator and it would be unwise to ignore the importance of SEO and allowing visitors to the website to opt in to receiving email updates.
- Access to digital data, negates the need for market research.
Whilst the budget needed to run market research studies may be beyond the budget of small businesses, it would be a mistake for medium and large-scale businesses to ignore the value of insights from deep dive sessions with consumers, such as focus groups. Big data is great at providing a quantitative profile of what is happening in the business, but typically lacks the qualitative insights into why certain numbers are high or low.
- Digital marketing is a technical aspect best left to the I.T dept.
Whilst it is always a good idea to take advantage of specialist expertise to run things like SEO or set up and monitor Google Analytics, digital marketing is still an activity that should be under the control of the marketing dept. Marketers represent the voice of the consumer inside the organisation and their input and management is vital. They will usually coordinate this close with their Advertising Agency.
- Once the website is set up, it will run itself.
The most successful digital marketers understand that perhaps the most important skill in the digital age is the ability to create engaging content on a consistent basis. Content is king and is the magnet that attracts an online audience to your corporate account, on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. The process of creating new content is a challenge that cannot be done casually or without a well-planned campaign. Take as an example, the YouTuber “MrBeast” who has 88.2M subscribers and who famously spends millions of dollars on creating and producing each episode. Naturally, not everyone has the resources or talent to create content on such a scale, but it does underline the importance of an organised and systematic approach.
- Digital marketing is too difficult to measure the ROI
There are many tools to analyse and track the outcome of your digital marketing campaigns. These range from visual website optimizers to email marketing tools to display retargeting tools to programmatic advertising tools.
In summary, we are living in a fast-changing digital age and expertise in digital marketing is no longer optional for businesses – big and small – wishing to survive and flourish. The design and management of the website should be part of an integrated digital marketing function under the control of the marketing department. It should manage social media, content creation, adaption to the growing number of digital devices and up-to-date SEO tweaking to make the website easy to find in online searches.