Those of us lucky enough to remember the outbreak of rumours surrounding the millennium bug in September 1999 and the worldwide media panic that was driven into everyone, may also remember the speed at which the rumours spread and that the internet was a completely different beast than it is today
During this period, most businesses were hooked on building a new website, driven mainly by the major brands who had embraced the internet despite it being in its infancy.
At the time, the web was still very much seen as a future technology, still to develop and to reach its full potential. Having a good looking, well optimised site at that time provided great kudos and was something to brag about for most SMEs.
Fast-forward 15 years and not only is it now of paramount importance to have a web presence but it is also seen as business critical to have a website that is visible as high up on the search engines ranking pages (SERPs), but why? Is it really that critical for you to be No.1?
From a commercial viewpoint this is historically just a mind-set, a paradigm that is now seen as being out of date; if you believe this then ask yourself the following: Why is it so important to us to be at the top of Google, especially for a search term that may well be relevant to our business? Can being in the number one position drive masses and masses of traffic to our website? Will that traffic convert really well and provide me with new orders or potential clients? When creating your marketing strategy, you also need to ask yourself another question ‘What exactly it is that’s so important to me and my business commercially?’
For any e-commerce business it is vital to ask and understand these questions and to understand the commercial aims of your website. The answers should be clear, you buy (X) amount of stock and sell it for (Y), leaving you a profit margin. You take into account your overheads including marketing costs, (these may well be budgeted for within the overall cost price of your product) and results and returns are easily calculated, in real time, meaning you can see how much profit you have made, today!
With a definitive objective in place it’s much easier to prepare a specific and targeted plan, measure your online ROI and see the real benefits of digital marketing
Lead generation or brochure sites will naturally have a completely different set of objectives and it is more important therefore to understand what these types of sites offer and what it is you need them to do for you. It is also important to remember that using these sites you cannot determine full revenue potential of new clients until later.
In niche marketplaces with high order values a single genuine enquiry that leads to a converted sale each month or quarter can be a massive success, whereas a lot of e-commerce sites now need a sale literally every minute of the day to survive and be profitable as well as being a truly sustainable entity.
I speak to so many people who run businesses and marketing departments and I always explain that correctly implemented and detailed targeting of your audience is of high importance, this is mainly due to the sheer amount of websites still making the mistake of targeting those generic high volume search terms relevant to individual sectors.
I’m sorry to repeat myself here, but again, the danger of this approach is bringing masses of traffic to you that won’t necessarily generate massive revenues, a wasted exercise in so many ways. Over the years a lot of digital marketing strategies have been sold on the promise of the thousands and thousands of potential visitors to your site and how this will provide untold riches and a lifetime of wealth…….Then came the reality, which would usually be a strategy with a massively inflated cost to implement with a poor ROI model nearly always due to incorrect targeting.
In the future invest your time wisely at the earliest possible stage of formulating your marketing plan to understand clearly your targets and objectives, without relying at all on physics or computer programming think about your own Magic Number! This clarity will help a great deal when you then open dialogue with potential digital marketing partners or formulating your own strategy.
With these clearly defined commercial targets from day one, a good quality agency will be in a position to clearly understand these aims and consult with you to create a strategy that mirrors your targets exactly. With a definitive objective in place it should then be much easier to prepare a specific and targeted plan to achieve that business aim, measure your online ROI and see the real benefits of digital marketing.
A simple three-step thought process to help achieve your commercial objectives:
- Research and create a realistic but exact ‘magic number’ for your business, a number of sales, leads or enquiries required to sustain your online activity.
- Create a plan or work with a partner to execute a defined strategy to achieve the ‘goal’
- Check and review progress constantly, make changes to strategy where necessary
The recent changes to the Google algorithms have reinforced the need to step back to basics before adopting a smarter, more modern and dynamic approach to digital marketing. The correct technical structure of a website, with architecture answering longer tailed search queries and pointing end users to relevant and specific web pages, is now the best route to online success.