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Four digital marketing must-haves for 2016

Online business strategies from Generate UK

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The changing face of marketing

IT IS a new year and businesses are implementing strategies for acquiring new customers while retaining the loyalty of their existing customer base, writes Mike Robinson from Generate UK.

But each year, as social media and other digital marketing tools mature and evolve, changes are required to earn the attention of customers online.

How will your marketing change in 2016? We will share four important facets to successful online marketing for corporations and small businesses alike, and resources to help you modify your strategy for successful sales and marketing.

1. Moving to a mobile-friendly website design

Have you ever looked up a local business website on your phone, and found that it was not designed for mobile viewing?

Mobile web design is the norm, so much so that a non-mobile site can be a little surprising. However, if your business has yet to migrate your website design to a more mobile-friendly version, there is no better time than now to make the change.

In 2015, 80 per cent of global internet users accessed online content using a smartphone, according to the Global Web Index.

Google provides an easy to use mobile website test online, and resources for business owners, including the essential criteria for designing and implementing mobile friendly sites.

2. Google reviews matter: How to incorporate them into your CRM

In the past, most businesses have had a traditional testimonial or customer feedback page on their website.

This stationary page was a classic credibility piece, showcasing favourable comments by clients and customers. The testimonial page has been replaced by Google reviews.

Before you begin to ask customers to review your business or service on Google, you must verify your local business.

To add or claim your business with Google, visit the support page for step-by-step instructions to help you set up a Google+ page. Your Google+ page must be completely verified in order to reply to customer reviews and update your profile with logo and images.

Once the process is complete, you will be able to receive reviews from customers on Google. The highest ranking that a business can receive is five out of five stars. Receiving favorable reviews on Google offers a number of advantages for businesses, allowing prospective customers to evaluate your business based on positive feedback from other customers.

While you cannot delete a negative review, replying with an appropriate customer service response is important, to demonstrate your goodwill toward customers. Add a page to your website that links to the directory listing of your business on Google, and ask your customers for a review of your product or service by incorporating a simple procedure into your sales funnel.

Do you email your customer at the end of sale or service? Send them the link on a digital receipt, invoice and add it to your business email signature to encourage reviews.

You can also add an app on your Facebook page to allow customers to provide a Google review conveniently, after subscribing to your business page.

Read “How Online Customer Reviews Help SEO and Drive Sales Growth” via Entrepreneur.com 

3. The value of blogging for business

One of the easiest ways to promote traffic to your website, is to give customers fresh, new content to enjoy.

The blog is an essential piece of marketing collateral that, when utilised correctly, supports a number of benefits from sales, to customer service and promotional branding.

One of the challenges for all business owners is finding interesting things to write about on the blog. What type of content should you be sharing there?

Consider developing a content schedule and editorial calendar to plan out posts that coincide with business events (trade shows, charitable giving or corporate volunteering, etc). Tag your posts to assist with search, but avoid unnatural ‘keyword loading’ of search phrases in your blog content.

The content you share on your blog should be original (not published elsewhere), informative and easy to read.

On a technical note, avoid excessive internal links, directing the reader from the blog post to multiple pages on your website in one article, as this can hinder your site in terms of search engine results.

Have fun with your blog and share the culture of your brand and business. Employee awards or holiday parties, competitions or recognition pieces can be used on your blog. New product or service announcements, new staff appointments and other exciting news can also be incorporated into your blog.

Also seek out crowd-sourced content, or customer generated content through campaigns and promotions that allow your customers to share videos or pictures and comments about your product or service. Studies have shown that crowd-sourced content outperforms brand-generated media.

4. Social media moderation and management

Social media has been a novelty and new tool for over seven years now; it is not enough for a business to simply post regularly on social media.

Consumers expect far more from the businesses and brands they patron on social.

Spend the time to respond to comments and questions presented on blog posts and social media and remember to monitor your social channels on a daily basis to reply promptly, and to moderate inappropriate comments or images added to your page.

Set some benchmarks for review of your digital marketing.

Remember that while quality digital marketing may take time to see results, the investment is worth the effort as you can increase awareness of your brand, product or service locally or globally, using an integrated classic and digital marketing strategy.

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