The entry of mobile and cloud-based apps
We’ve come to a time in civilization when raw materials and resources are becoming ever more scarce. When we take into consideration the pollution, increased emissions, soil degradation and water depletion, we know the sustainability challenges that loom in the horizon are real. But into this same scenario, we lately have the entry of 3G mobile networks worldwide. Although agriculture and mobile apps technology may appear disconnected on the face of it, there is already an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that making use of mobile and cloud-based applications not only addresses these sustainability challenges, but also creates financial value for both large agriculture-based companies and smallholder farmers.
The introduction of such mobile technology and portable, wireless devices has led to the creation of innovative services and applications that are used within the agricultural chains in both developed and developing countries. The nature of adoption of these technologies in these two markets does show some variation. In developed countries, mechanization is more advanced and the agricultural labour force is significantly smaller. Here, mobile applications tend to be implemented further up the value chain. In developing countries, where a large proportion of the workforce is employed in agriculture, mobile technology is more commonly used to deliver services for producers and traders. The host of applications of mobile technology in agriculture includes market information such as trading facilities, weather information, peer-to-peer learning and financial services such as payments, loans and insurance.
How mobile apps and technologies help farmers
Spreading agricultural related information to farmers in the poorest communities are made easier with the help of cloud computing, integrated IT systems, online education and proliferation of mobile phones. One of the benefits of such connectivity and information flow is that it helps farmers make better land management decisions. For example, it can enable soil condition to be monitored in conjunction with weather information in order to better plan the planting and harvest season. Similarly, Geographical Information Systems can be used to provide pre-emptive information on pests and animal diseases so farmers can respond accordingly to the level of risk. Optimizing the use of fertilizer, seeds and water can also be done by utilizing mobile and cloud computing technologies. This helps farmers save money while reducing consumption.
Trends that favour mobile-app usage
What has made adoption of these technologies more favorable in the developing countries is increase in usage of mobile phones and apps. According to a study, 78 per cent of the world’s households had a mobile phone in the year 2011, which was a huge increase from 20% in 2000. Even in the region of lowest penetration rate of 67%, Sub-Saharan Africa, it is rapidly rising.
Today, mobile apps and services are being designed and released in different parts of the world. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently released the first two of a suite of mobile phone apps known as ‘LandInfo’ and ‘LandCover’. Available to be downloaded from Google Play Store, they are currently for use on Android phones only. These apps connect agricultural producers around the world and provide them with shared knowledge on ways to maximize their land’s productivity while protecting its resources for future generations. Such shared knowledge is becoming more critical as agricultural producers seek to meet the food, fibre and fuel needs of a growing population.
Examples of mobile applications from across the world
Let’s look at a few other examples from around the world. Reuters Market Light (RML), is a subscription-based SMS service that provides localized information on commodity prices, crop cultivation and weather. One of the most beneficial aspects of ICT in agriculture is real-time pricing information which helps farmers decide whether to sell or hold and to identify the best crop to grow, and RML helps fill this information gap.
Smartphone mobile application designed and developed by Jayalaxmi agrotech from India are the most commonly used agriculture apps in India. Their mobile apps are in regional language are designed to break the literacy barrier and deliver the information in the most simple manner. Several thousands of farmers across Asia are empowered with these apps.
FarmerLink is a mobile solution for enabling the coconut value chain in Phillipines. This was created by Grameen Foundation and combines satellite data and farm data collected by mobile-equipped field agents to help coconut farmers increase productivity, deal with crop pest and diseases, and increase sustainability of their other farms. Due to disease outbreaks in some coconut provinces in the Philllippines, the FarmerLink was initiated as it combines satellite data and farm data collected by mobile equipped field agents to predict and detect threats from climate-sensitive pests and disease. The FarmerLink will send warnings over their mobile phones. This is an example of an early-warning intervention.
In South Africa, Vodacom has partnered with GIZ (On behalf of the German government and Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solutions to launch a mobile technology solution to support South African smallholder farmers into commercial agriculture. These provide farmers with the services they need. It promotes sustainable agricultural practices, enhances productivity and reduces risk. Sourcing from smallholder farmers as a result becomes more realistic and executable for food manufacturers and retail businesses, increasing the number of smallholders and subsistence farmers in commercial agricultural value chains.
The smallholder farmer and mobile technology
In the midst of all this hoopla, what is the real position of the smallholder farmer: The smallholder farmer, who is much more exposed to the risks of agriculture, including climate change…the smallholder farmer, who barely has a profit margin, and is often cultivating just to feed his family. So it is he who needs low cost strategies more than anyone else. The recent advancements in Internet and Cell Phone Technology (ICT) bring forth great opportunities to ride over or, ‘leapfrog’ over the costly and redundant technologies that the smallholder farmer could not have afforded. He can now make use of existing tools and services. Although the decentralized structure of the 500 million smallholder farmers and cooperatives is a challenge, one thing that ICT can and has achieved is connectivity and information flows. Yet, the power and resource to be the first to leverage these technologies has always wrested with the big private companies. It is these private companies who can afford to and should invest in mobile technologies. However, so far they’ve only done it when Government regulations force them to do so.
The overarching benefits of ICT in agriculture are that it reduces transportation, transactional and corruption waste. It can bring about product traceability, disease and pest tracking, and storage. Research studies have shown that traceability data not only helps manage food risks, but also pushes up the overall business performance. In developing countries, they can deliver a significant portion of the world’s agriculture, increase efficiency levels and finally, reduce the environmental impact of farming.
Social Media Marketing for Businesses
Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you’re missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, creating devoted brand advocates and even driving leads and sales.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks in order to achieve your marketing and branding goals. Social media marketing includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, and other content that drives audience engagement, as well as paid social media advertising.
We’ve created this guide to provide you with an introduction to social media marketing and some starter social media marketing tips and training to improve your business’s social presence.
Social Media and Marketing: Start With a Plan
Before you begin creating social media marketing campaigns, consider your business’s goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a social strategy in mind is like wandering around a forest without a map—you might have fun, but you’ll probably get lost.
Here are some questions to ask when defining your social media marketing goals:
- What are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing?
- Who is your target audience?
- Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media?
- What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?
Your business type should inform and drive your social media marketing strategy.
Example of a drone company doing social media marketing on Instagram
For example, an e-commerce or travel business, being highly visual, can get a lot of value from a strong presence on Instagram or Pinterest. A business-to-business or marketing company might find more leverage in Twitter or Linkedin.
How Social Media Marketing Can Help You Meet Your Marketing Goals
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
- Increasing website traffic
- Building conversions
- Raising brand awareness
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association
- Improving communication and interaction with key audiences
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve every other marketing goal on your list!
Best Social Media Marketing Tips
Ready to get started with marketing on social media? Here are a few social media marketing tips to kick off your social media campaigns.
- Social Media Content Planning — As discussed previously, building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and competitive research to help brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience. What are other businesses in your industry doing to drive engagement on social media?
- Great Social Content — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns supreme when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you post regularly and offer truly valuable information that your ideal customers will find helpful and interesting. The content that you share on your social networks can include social media images, videos, infographics, how-to guides and more.
A great Facebook ad should be consistent with your whole brand image
- A Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’s core identity, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, should stay consistent.
- Social Media for Content Promotion — Social media marketing is a perfect channel for sharing your best site and blog content with readers. Once you build a loyal following on social media, you’ll be able to post all your new content and make sure your readers can find new stuff right away. Plus, great blog content will help you build more followers. It’s a surprising way that content marketing and social media marketing benefit each other.
- Sharing Curated Links — While using social media for marketing is a great way to leverage your own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also an opportunity to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Curating and linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
- Tracking Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing channel or technique that seems to be working for them, considering doing the same thing, but do it better!
Measuring social media performance through Twitter Analytics
- Measuring Success with Analytics —You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them. And be sure to use the analytics within each social platform for even more insight into which of your social content is performing best with your audience.
Training on how to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing
Here’s a brief overview about how to use social media for marketing according to each platform’s unique user base and environment. Different social media marketing sites require different approaches, so develop a unique strategy tailored for each platform.
Using Facebook for Social Media Marketing
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy. Start by creating a Facebook Business Fan Page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as the visual component is a key aspect of the Facebook experience.
Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly. And remember, organic reach on Facebook can be extremely limited, so consider a cost-effective Facebook ad strategy, which can have a big impact on your organic Facebook presence as well!
Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing
Google+ entered the scene as a Facebook competitor, but it now serves a more niche audience. It won’t work for everybody, but some communities are very active on Google+.
On Google+ you can upload and share photos, videos, links, and view all your +1s. Also take advantage of Google+ circles, which allow you to segment your followers into smaller groups, enabling you to share information with some followers while barring others. For example, you might try creating a “super-fan” circle, and share special discounts and exclusive offers only with that group.
You can also try hosting video conferences with Hangouts and experiment using the Hangout feature in some fun, creative ways. Some social media marketing ideas: if you’re a salon, host a how-to session on how to braid your hair. If you own a local bookstore, try offering author video chats. If you’re feeling adventurous, invite your +1s to your Google+ Community. Google+ Communities will allow you to listen into your fan’s feedback and input, truly putting the social back into social media.
Using Pinterest for Social Media Marketing
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media marketing trends. Pinterest’s image-centered platform is ideal for retail, but anyone can benefit from using Pinterest for social media purposes or sales-driving ads.
Pinterest allows businesses to showcase their product offerings while also developing brand personality with eye-catching, unique pinboards. When developing your Pinterest strategy, remember that the social network’s primary audience is female. If that’s your demographic, you need a presence on Pinterest!
Using Twitter for Social Media Marketing
Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow tweeters in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official tweets about specials, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets . Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible. Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialog and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible to nurture and build your following.
Using LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn is one of the more professional social media marketing sites. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialog with people in similar industries and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. It’s also great for posting jobs and general employee networking.
Encourage customers or clients to give your business a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations makes your business appear more credible and reliable for new customers. Also browse the Questions section of LinkedIn; providing answers helps you get established as a thought leader and earns trust.
Using YouTube for Social Media Marketing
YouTube is the number one place for creating and sharing video content, and it can also be an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. Many businesses try to create video content with the aim of having their video “go viral,” but in reality those chances are pretty slim. Instead, focus on creating useful, instructive “how-to” videos. These how-to videos also have the added benefit of ranking on the video search results of Google, so don’t under-estimate the power of video content!
Location-Based Social Media Tools
Social media platforms like Yelp, FourSquare, and Level Up are great for brick and mortar businesses looking to implement marketing on social media. Register on these sites to claim your location spot, and then consider extra incentives such as check-in rewards or special discounts. Remember, these visitors will have their phones in hand, so they will be able to write and post reviews. A lot of good reviews can significantly help sway prospective visitors to come in and build your business!
Using Reddit for Social Media Marketing
Reddit, or similar social media platforms such as Stumble Upon or Digg, are ideal for sharing compelling content. With over 2 billion page views a month, Reddit has incredible social media marketing potential, but marketers should be warned that only truly unique, interesting content will be welcomed. Posting on Reddit is playing with fire—submit spammy or overtly sales-focused content and your business could get berated by this extremely tech-savvy community.
If you have content you believe the Reddit community (majority is young, geeky, liberal, and internet-obsessed) would enjoy, you could reap tremendous benefits and earn valuable traffic.
Using social media in marketing does more than improve site traffic and help businesses reach more customers; it provides a valuable venue for better understanding and learning from your target audiences.
Whatsapp is the new SMS. We’ve realized that Whatsapp can be a very strong marketing tool. It is a good one-to-one platform for direct communication with our listeners”.
You can use Whatsapp to send images, audio files, short video clips of your products and text messages to users across the world. Unlike SMS or Email, there are less restriction on the format and delivery chances are higher.
Paid Social Media Marketing Tips
We love paid social advertising because it’s a highly cost-effective way to expand your reach. If you play your cards right, you can get your content and offers in front of a huge audience at a very low cost. Most social media platforms offer incredibly granular targeting capabilities, allowing you to focus your budget on exactly the types of people that are most likely to be interested in your business. Below are some tips and resources for getting started with paid social media marketing:
Training on social Media Advertising for Small Businesses
Learn the ins and outs of social media advertising on four major networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Creating Effective Facebook Ads
If you know how to use it properly, Facebook can be one of the most powerful advertising platforms for driving your business forward. And it’s not just for raising brand awareness. In this guide, you’ll learn how to create effective Facebook ads that generate real leads.
If you’re already advertising on Facebook and are looking to save time AND money, check out WordStream Social Ads, our new offering that makes Facebook advertising easier and more effective.
How to Create Twitter Ads
Many businesses aren’t quite sure how to tackle marketing on Twitter from a paid perspective. It’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and if you don’t quite know what you’re doing, you could wind up wasting a ton of money. Learn how to master Twitter advertising in this guide.
How to create email Marketing
This is a very cost-effective method for a business to market its products or services to a broad audience. If you can plan an effective email campaign with a quality business email list then you can get great results from it, since the emails are delivered to people’s email boxes, there is possibility that out of 100,000 emails you sent, 70,000 people will reach their destination.
An important advantage of business email marketing is that it allows you to reach a large audience with minimal effort. It is relatively cheap to launch a business to business email marketing campaign when compared to other marketing methods. Often, you will already have your own email list that you have compiled from your own client base.
The mobile search market is experiencing out-of-control growth. Mobile searches have increased 200% year over year in 2012, and it’s predicted that within the next year, mobile will become the primary way people access Google’s services. But despite early reports, Google isn’t doomed from a sudden shift to mobile.
Far from it – the opposite in fact! Google has managed to transform itself into a “mobile first” company. Currently, the majority of Google’s $8B run-rate mobile revenue derives from advertising (excluding Motorola). That’s why the company is totally restructuring the way its pay-per-click advertising platform, AdWords, works – Google wants more businesses advertising on mobile, so it’s making mobile PPC radically simpler with the introduction of enhanced campaigns, as well as new mobile conversion types, offer extensions and a mobile app ad type, all specifically created to address mobile-centric use cases.
New research conducted by WordStream into Google’s mobile product portfolio reveals that Google’s mobile strategy centers around investments in four key mobile product areas: Mobile Devices, Mobile Apps, Mobile Content and Mobile Advertising.
We believe that with such an exciting mobile product portfolio, advertising formats have just scratched the surface of the mobile monetization opportunity.
We’ve already showed you how Google makes money from search ads. In the below graphic, we outline Google’s top 20 mobile products, including a report card that grades each product based on quality, adoption, originality, value to advertisers and other criteria. Scroll through to learn what each of these products does – and how they add to Google’s bottom line! (Click on the image to enlarge to full size.)
Below is a quick summary of Google’s four areas of focus and the mobile products in each category.
Mobile Advertising: Google Ads for Mobile
Google mobile advertising in on the rise – Google’s key advertising products for mobile search include:
- Google AdWords – AdWords, Google’s online ad serving platform used by millions worldwide, offers powerful mobile targeting options and ROI reporting tools for mobile advertisers.
- Location and Call Extensions – These ad extensions help mobile advertisers reach local searchers and make it easy for them to convert. Everybody wins!
- Google Offers – Google’s answer to Groupon, Living Social et al, Google Offers are mobile discounts that can be redeemed online or at brick-and-mortar stores.
- Google AdMob – A mobile advertising platform specifically designed for mobile apps. Marketers can advertise their apps inside other existing apps.
Killer Mobile Apps: Google Apps for Mobile
Google’s portfolio of mobile app products include:
- Google Maps – The gold standard for mobile map/GPS apps. Google understands that location is key to providing a great search experience (1 in 4 Google searches are related to location).
- Google Now – A system of Siri-like voice commands and a card system that lets users customize the updates they want, when they want them. Google Now is the dream of the perfect smartphone!
- Google+ Local – Mobile users can search for nearby restaurants and entertainment rated by Zagat with Google+ Local app.
- Google Play Books – Google’s version of Kindle, Google Play Books lets you read ebooks on a mobile device.
- Google Wallet – A method for online payments via Google’s secure cloud servers. Google Wallet isn’t supported everywhere, but it’s a step toward cashless and cardless transactions.
- Google Voice – Make cheap international calls, send free text messages, read voicemail transcripts and more with Google Voice.
- Google Search App – Makes Google search easy to navigate on your mobile device.
- Google Shopper – The Google Shopper app helps mobile users find products to buy and make purchasing decisions.
- Google Goggles – A mobile image recognition app that allows users to take a photo of an object to find more information about it. In its early stages, but exciting technology for visual search.
Mobile Content: Google Content for Mobile
- Youtube – The world’s best video sharing website. Nothing else comes close! A full 40% of video views on YouTube now come from mobile devices, adding up to a billion views a day. Of these daily billion views, Google also serves ads in the form of YouTube advertisements.
- Google Play – An app store for purchasing mobile apps, ebooks and music, this is Google’s answer to iTunes.
Mobile Devices: Google Devices for Mobile
- Android – Google’s Linux-based, open source operating system for mobile devices is the world’s most widely used smartphone platform.
- Motorola – The dream is to combine Motorola’s great hardware with awesome Android software, but so far this dream hasn’t been realized.
- Chrome for Mobile – Google’s Chrome browser for mobile makes the web easier to navigate from mobile devices.
- Google Glass – Google’s much-hyped augmented reality glasses are still in development, but early models are reminiscent of science fiction. Fascinating and scary stuff!
The Future of Mobile
This infographic doesn’t even cover all the mobile products that Google has in development – just the most exciting and (so far) most profitable of its forays into the mobile space. Clearly, Google is positioned to be one of just a few major players in mobile as the revolution continues. As far as mobile advertising goes, Google has barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. You can expect them to make huge advances in the realm of mobile advertising – and billions and billions in mobile ad revenues in the coming years.
Today, a website is a fundamental requirement for every business. The process of planning, designing, and building a website is a critical step in establishing and launching a brand, yet website building is often fraught with problems caused by common misconceptions, misinformation, dangerous shortcuts, and poor guidance.
While no one thinks it will ever happen to them, even the most careful and savvy business owners fall victim to potential threats that sabotage their website’s success from day one.
Luckily, with the right mindset about your small business website, the right approach to creating your site, and the right website strategy to gain conversions, you can create a powerful website that works when you’re not working.
When you’re beginning to think about building a new website, the first step is getting in the right frame of mind so you avoid these three common website fallacies:
1. My website must look and be cool.
When beginning a new website building project, many business owners are concerned with one thing: looking cool. They want to look legit and cool to their industry and competitors, they want to feel cool, and they want other people to think they are cool. When this need for ultimate coolness is combined with an inexperienced designer’s need to create something cool and “cutting edge” for their portfolio, you end up with a site that is set up to fail.
- First, your competitors aren’t going to buy from you or hire you and neither are your designer’s competitors.
- Second, your website might be selling your services or products, but it’s not about you and what you want. Your website must be about your potential client or customer and what they want.
- Third, you know what feels cooler than an awesome website? An awesome website that actually works to build your list, create new opportunities, and make money.
This isn’t high school. Customers don’t care if you’ve got the most cutting-edge technology integrated into your site or the slickest design. They don’t care if your website won a design award or if you love it, and you shouldn’t either. Customers care about finding the information they need quickly and easily and getting the help they need. You need to care that it attracts the right prospects, resonates with them, helps them, and guides them to take action.
2. It’s smart to hire a friend or relative to design my website on the cheap.
I get it. Hiring a designer or developer with years of experience and wisdom to design your website can be expensive. This is especially true when you hire a professional who doesn’t just make a pretty website, but researches, plans and strategizes the entire conversion process and site flow before even beginning the design.
I also understand that hiring a professional designer or developer also means that your project is more than likely going to take a little longer to get to market. They aren’t going to be OK with banging out something mediocre just to get it done. Instead, they’ll insist that you think through all of the fine details so your site delivers results from day one and can grow and evolve with you as you grow and evolve.
So trust me when I say that I see why so many people get sucked in by the excitement and savings of going the fast and cheap route.
But here’s the problem with the fast and cheap route, with hiring a friend or relative to just get it done: You’re skipping the critical step of the website building process that makes all the conversion magic happen.
In this case, you do get what you pay for. Going the cheap and fast route most often means you’ll be working hard to drive traffic your site and market your business, but you won’t see the conversions, sales, and results you were hoping for. As a result, you’ll continue to dump money into your site, hiring various people who promise they can “fix your funnel,” and you’ll end up with a site that’s a hodgepodge of different ideas and visions, instead of a streamlined conversion machine. And guess what happens then? You have to start over and spend more money to create a smarter, more strategic website that does work.
3. My website is an online brochure to show people I exist.
Yes, in 2016, we still get phone calls and inquiries from people who just want a brochure website to prove that they exist if someone searches for their company online. And, if I’m being totally honest, a brochure website is all you need if you are happy with where you’re at, staying with the status quo, and not interested in growing.
But, if you’re investing in a website, I’m going to bet that you’re doing so because you want to grow your business, make more sales, increase opportunities, and expand your brand visibility. If this is the case, a brochure-style, static website isn’t going to cut it.
In today’s highly competitive, digital landscape, the market is crowded, noisy, and full of people all hawking their wares online and jockeying for position. To compete effectively and carve out your own space online, your website needs to more than a brochure, it needs to be a living, growing, changing entity. It needs compelling content and interesting images, clean and professional design, a laser focused message, a natural path to conversion, and regular, ongoing, new content added to keep your audience coming back again and again.
Customers don’t buy when you want them to buy, they buy when they are ready to buy — and it’s your job to make sure your website is in front of them when they decide they’re ready.
The Right Approach To Building A Powerful Small Business Website That Works When You’re Not Working
When beginning a new website building project, the very first thing you need to understand is the job your website need to do. Yes, your website has a job, it’s like a silent employee, working for you 24/7/365, who knows everything about your business, expands your sales, positions you as an expert, and does the things you need to get done without being asked.
It must attract the right customers.
While the design must reinforce and enhance your brand, position you as an expert, and build your credibility, your website’s sole focus must be on attracting the right prospects to the site and serving your ideal clients and target market.
It must be optimized for people and search engines.
From the way it is built to the content that is written, every aspect of your site must be optimized not just for search engines, but for real people. This will boost your chances of being found online by those who need what you offer, help ensure visitors connect with your message, and persuade them to take action before moving on.
It must be easy to use.
Your website design should facilitate, not frustrate. It must support the content, clearly communicate the message, bring attention to the calls-to-action, and naturally guide visitors toward a conversion. Ultimately, visiting and clicking through your website needs to be a positive, enjoyable experience.
It must help you stand out (in a good way).
Your website needs to ensure that you are remembered, respected and referred. It should help visitors remember you and your message, and connect with you and stay in touch with you. It should help you expand your brand visibility and gain momentum and respect for your talents and skills. And, as a result, it should open new doors and lead to new sales by increasing referrals.
The Right Website Strategy
Whether it’s to purchase, sign up, subscribe, enroll, register, click, comment, enter or join, every website, and even every individual web page, has a conversion objective.
As all website visitors don’t enter your site from the home page, a crystal clear, comprehensive website strategy outlines the paths to conversion from multiple entry points on the website. It maps out how visitors move through the site, what information they need during their buying process, how they find and consume the information they need, and how they are guided to the next logical step, and eventually to taking action.
Know, like, trust, conversion.
Today, the web is littered with mediocre free offers, email opt-in boxes making promises that don’t deliver, and products, programs and courses that are more hype than value. As inboxes are filling with spam from companies they did not give permission to, consumers are becoming more picky than ever about who they give their email addresses and money to. Before they even think about taking action on your website, they first need to get to know you, see if they like you, figure out if they trust you, and only then will they decide to take the next step.
To ensure your website works when you’re not working, you need four types of content:
- “Know” content. Content designed to help people get to know you and learn more about you, your brand, and your background, what you do and how you do it, who you serve and why, and what results you get. It answers the What’s In It For Me? question.
- “Like” content. Content designed to help visitors see who you are, what you stand for, what you have to say, and whether or not they like you. This content offers glimpses into your personal life, showcases your personality, and shares your opinions.
- “Trust” content. Content that is decimated to building credibility, reliability, and trust by positioning yourself as an expert, providing value and quality content, and showing a history of proven results. The goal of this content is to make it a no-brainer to hire you, buy from you, or join your list because they trust you and believe in you.
- “Conversion” content. Content dedicated to persuading visitors to take a specific action and convert new visitors into clients, customers, or subscribers that you can continue to market to, sell to, and work with in the future.
When you implement the Know, Like, Trust, Conversion approach on your website, you’ll notice:
- Your ideal clients will self-select themselves right into your best-fit services, products and programs.
- Sales with be made with more ease, and your sales cycle will be shortened.
- New business leads and referrals will increase.
Multiple Paths To The Money Content
Another critical website strategy that will have your website working for you while you sleep is creating multiple paths through your site to reach your money content — the pages that are part of your core sales funnel. Linking to your core web pages in the main website navigation menu isn’t enough.
In addition to the primary menu links, you also need to link to the Money Pages throughout the rest of your website:
- Different people will connect with different types of content and areas of content on your site.
- Some people will simply click through your navigation menu from left to right, some will scan/read the page first and click a link that sounds interesting, some may look at what’s in the sidebar or footer and find a link they like there.
- Not everyone will enter your site from the Home page, some will enter through direct links, blog posts, or landing pages.
- Have a link to the next logical step in the conversion journey readily available when they are ready to move on. Don’t make them scroll to the top of the page, or click elsewhere.
Only giving visitors one way to browse your content and reach your important web pages is a recipe for failure because every visitor isn’t the same. Instead give them multiple ways to reach the desired conversion, so they can choose the path that is best for them.
Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions
I love WordPress because it puts website owners in total control of their website. I also sometimes hate WordPress because it puts website owners in total control of their website. Let me explain. WordPress gives website owners the ability to add pretty much anything they want to their websites at any time — and most add content, badges, plugins, widgets, feeds, ads, logos and other junk to their site simply because they can. But just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.
Without a crystal-clear website strategy in place, it’s easy to add stuff willy-nilly to your site because a friend added it to their site, you think it’s cool, or you read a blog post that said you should.
Here’s the problem: You only should ad something to your website because it adds value, improves the experience, or increases conversions.
This means that most of the content found in website sidebars and footers shouldn’t be there, and in most cases, is actually hurting website conversions by sending visitors away from the site and distracting them from taking action.
Before you add anything to your website — whether it’s in the content area, sidebars or footer — ask yourself these questions:
- Will this add value to my website?
- Will this enhance visitors’ experience on my website?
- Will this distract visitors from taking action or encourage them to leave my website?
- Will this move visitors closer to taking action?
If you already have a website full of clutter, it’s time to review each element added, ask yourself these questions, and get rid of any that result in a NO answer.
Naturally Guide Visitors To Action
With the right mindset, the right approach, and the right website strategy, you have the power to not only create a valuable, helpful, friendly website that is easy and fun to use, but a powerful, profitable website that meets its goals and delivers results on a daily basis.
When you understand the job of your website, eliminate distraction, map multiple paths to conversion, and apply the know, like, trust, conversion process to naturally guide visitors to action, you can skip the icky in-your-face marketing tactics, cheap-looking blinking arrows, threats of failure, and obnoxious call-to-action buttons.
Instead, your visitors can enjoy the natural flow of your website that has been carefully crafted to help your ideal clients self-select right into your products, programs and services without ever having to sell them. And you can enjoy a website that works when you’re not working, and an inbox and voicemail box that is full of requests from new clients ready to get started and pay you what you’re worth — and nothing feels better than that!
Online advertising is one of the most effective ways for businesses of all sizes to expand their reach, find new customers, and diversify their revenue streams.
With so many options available – from PPC and paid social to online display advertising and in-app ads – online advertising can be intimidating to newcomers, but it doesn’t have to be. WordStream makes online advertising easy, and we’ve helped thousands of businesses grow by leveraging the power of paid search and paid social advertising.
Online Advertising: Paid Search
When you think of online advertising, the chances are pretty good that you’re thinking of paid search advertising. Paid search – also known as pay-per-click advertising, or PPC – is one of the most common and effective types of online advertising.
Image via Google
Paid search allows you to bid on relevant terms and phrases that may cause text-based ads to be displayed to users when they enter specific search queries into Google or Bing. These terms and phrases are known as keywords, and they form the basis of PPC advertising. Advertisers bid on keywords as part of an ad auction. This ensures that all advertisers have a fair chance of their ads being displayed to users, rather than those with the biggest advertising budgets.
Keywords should be highly relevant to your business, organized and structured into logical ad groups separated by campaign type, and aligned with the correct match type in order to be displayed to the right visitors, at the right time, for the right campaign.
Online Advertising: Paid Social
While paid search may have transformed Internet advertising, paid social is transforming the web of tomorrow.
Image via Facebook
Social networking remains the most popular online pastime for adults all over the world, and advertisers have evolved their strategies to target consumers where they spend their time, namely on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Paid social advertising functions similarly to paid search, with the notable exception that advertisers, not users, take the initiative – advertisers must “search” for users, rather than the other way around.
One of the greatest strengths of paid social advertising is the granularity with which advertisers can target prospective customers, and this principle underpins many social advertising platforms and products. Advertisers can target users with hundreds of parameters, from demographic data (such as age, gender, income, level of education, and marital status) to browsing preferences and social behavior.
Facebook allows advertisers to target users based on their level
of educational attainment, and even specific schools attended.
Advertisers can also target users based on the types of pages and profiles they follow, the things they buy, and the news they read. These custom audiences can be created from existing customer data (to create “lookalike” audiences of similar users) to email lists, which Facebook and Twitter can pair with their data about these users to reveal greater insights about their behavior.
Read this blog post to learn just how specific advertisers can be when it comes to custom audiences – you may be surprised by how deep you can dig.
An example of Facebook’s targeting options based
on purchasing behavior
The rise of so-called “identity marketing” has proven to be the latest – and arguably, the most profound – shift in digital marketing of the past decade, offering advertisers unbelievable opportunities to grow their business. To learn more about Facebook’s targeting options, read this PPC University lesson by WordStream Founder and CTO, Larry Kim.
Know Your Audience
Just as paid search advertisers have to conduct in-depth keyword research before launching their campaigns, paid social advertisers have to know their ideal customers inside and out to ensure that they’re targeting the right audience segments with the right messaging. This is where buyer personas come into play.
Creating detailed buyer personas for your ideal customers allows you to go beyond surface-level information about your most loyal customers and delve into targeting options that allow you to target your prospective customers with a high degree of granularity. This not only allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising spend, but also offers more relevant, targeted ads to your audience – recent data shows that people actually appreciate online advertising more when it’s highly targeted and relevant to their interests.
Online Advertising: Campaign Elements
There is much more to online advertising than simply placing an ad on the Internet and hoping for the best. The most effective advertising campaigns combine numerous interconnected elements, all of which perform unique functions to maximize the campaign’s potential. Not every online advertising campaign will have every element, but the following components of a digital marketing initiative will be common to many campaigns.
Text and Visual Ads
Google AdWords and Bing Ads offer advertisers the choice of either text-based ads or more visual advertisements, such as banners. Text-based ads are often referred to simply as PPC ads, whereas banners and similar ad formats are commonly referred to as display ads. In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook offer highly visual advertising formats that include some ad copy, which can be thought of as a combination of both. There are dozens of advertising formats available to today’s advertisers, allowing you to choose the format and advertising network that best suits the needs of your campaigns.
An example of a display ad on the Google Display Network.
Image via Google
Landing pages are specialized, optimized web pages that visitors are taken to upon clicking an ad. Landing pages can feature specific products featured in the advertisements themselves, or they may include prompts for users to provide the advertiser with more information, such as web forms. Landing pages can be used to convince prospects to complete an action, such as making a purchase, or function as another step in a longer “funnel,” such as requesting additional information or downloading a piece of content for lead generation purposes.
To many advertisers, phone calls are the most valuable source of leads. For this reason, advertisers can choose to track phone calls generated from online advertising campaigns. WordStream Advisor, our comprehensive PPC and paid social management platform, offers fully integrated call tracking functionality, allowing you to determine the precise ad and keyword that prompted a prospective customer to call your business.
Many advertisers choose to utilize sponsored content as an element of their online advertising campaigns. Sponsored content can take many forms, from advertorial-style editorial content featured on websites (commonly known as native advertising), to sponsored updates on social media platforms. Both Facebook and Twitter offer advertisers this feature, with both platforms boasting a wide range of sponsored update options, such as Facebook’s Promoted Posts and Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets.
Example of a Promoted Post on Facebook. Image via Facebook
Advertisers do not simply publish ads to the web and hope for the best – they must know exactly how well their ads are performing, and from where their traffic is coming. This is why analytics is a crucial component of any online advertising strategy. Analytics tools such as those found within WordStream Advisor offer a wealth of information about an advertising campaign, from impression share and click-through rate to cost-per-conversion and trends over time. Analytics tools are also invaluable in determining how consumers discover and ultimately interact with your website, a process known as attribution modeling.
Email marketing is one of the most common elements in an online advertising campaign. Some advertisers launch email-only campaigns to highlight time-specific offers or content downloads, whereas others use email to complement their other digital marketing channels. Email marketing can be highly effective, making it a popular choice for today’s advertisers.
Consumers rarely discover a website and decide to make a purchase immediately. The customer journey can be lengthy and complex, and take place across multiple devices and websites over prolonged periods of time. For this reason, remarketing has become one of the most important tools in a digital marketer’s toolbox. Remarketing allows you to track users who have visited your website – but failed to convert or take action – once they leave your site, and serve ads to them on other websites. This not only significantly increases brand awareness, but also provides numerous further opportunities for the user to revisit your website and convert at a later time. Remarketing can be enabled on search and display campaigns, as well as social advertising initiatives.
PPC and Paid Social – The Perfect Combination
Combining the reach of paid search and the granularity of paid social is the most effective way to maximize your return on investment, reach new customers, and grow your business.