Digital marketing

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes Paid Search, Paid Social, Organic Search (SEO), organic social and more. Its aim is to engage target audiences. Businesses get the best results using a strategic mix of digital marketing tactics and channels. For example, PPC and Paid Social can be used to achieve acquisition goals, build brand awareness and loyalty; meanwhile, technical SEO and content can be used to improve site quality and SERPs rankings, and to support other digital marketing activity.

What is the best type of digital marketing for e-commerce?

Digital marketing channels have their own strengths and weaknesses. One rule of thumb is that you should go where your customers are. For example, if they hang out on Facebook, do a Paid Social campaign backed by organic social content for engagement. E-commerce businesses have more opportunities in some areas and less in others. We recommend a blended approach that incorporates Google Shopping, which is an avenue product-based websites should take advantage of. Critically, digital marketing needs to be objective-focused in order to prioritise the right channels.

Working with a digital agency

How much does it cost to hire a digital marketing agency?

The cost of professional services from a digital marketing agency depends on what your business objectives are in the short, medium and long term. Services like Paid Search, Paid Social, and Organic Search (SEO) can be tailored to your budget and objectives to a degree, and your requirements can be prioritised. If business growth is your objective, in order to scale your business you will need to invest higher amounts. However, the benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency are that they tend to have excellent, up-to-date skills and knowledge, and will use their experience to give you good value and make this investment worth your while. Expect full transparency of costs from your digital marketing agency – before you sign up – make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting.

How do I know I’m getting value from my digital marketing agency?

At procurement, it should be clear what you’re paying for. During the relationship, you should feel the value of having a proactive partner that facilitates ideas and pushes you as much as you push them. Agencies will articulate either clear deliverables or performance KPIs. If you aren’t receiving what you expect, question it, seek clarity and a resolution. If you can’t get solid answers, seek an alternative digital marketing agency. You’re the client, so be sure to know what you’re paying for – and if you’re not getting it, move on. The value a digital marketing agency adds to a brand’s marketing activities can be measured using data analysis tools like Google Analytics and by looking at the improvements to your bottom line.

What does a digital agency do?

A digital agency is a team of specialists whose skills can be used to improve a brand’s sales, leads and reputation – in other words, to fuel its growth. The benefits of engaging an agency is their expertise: a balanced team will include time-served web developers, designers, copywriters, digital advertising specialists, SEO specialists, strategists, client services and project managers. The agency will agree project-based or retainer work with a business and deliver work that supports the brand’s objectives. A digital agency will also bring an objective perspective and insight, helping businesses to keep their focus on what matters, like customer expectations.

Can a digital agency work well with my in-house team?

It depends on how experienced they are and how willing they are to be flexible to your requirements. If the digital agency has proactive best practices and robust processes, it can run very smoothly indeed. While they should be able to integrate with your processes, a digital agency will add value through their skills and experience. This includes demonstrating best practices like transparency, communication and planning to complement and improve the skills of your own in-house resources. A good digital agency will work directly with owner managers of SMEs, as well as aligning and integrating themselves with marketing and digital teams within larger organisations.

Should I choose a digital agency local to me?

You can, but why limit yourself? Finding the right agency for you is a big decision – the wrong choice can cost money and delay or derail growth plans. A core requirement is having a good communications protocol – whether the agency is 300 (or 3,000) miles away or just down the street. Each client should have a dedicated account manager, clear service agreement and a schedule of regular calls and/or face-to-face meetings. With this in mind, isn’t it better to choose a digital agency that matches your needs and you have good chemistry with?

How do I choose a digital marketing agency?

Look for skills, experience and transparency. Digital marketing skills and specialisms vary widely between agencies, so it’s important to choose one with proven success. A good agency will have a wide selection of case studies and testimonials from satisfied clients. They will articulate their skills and specialisms clearly on their website. They will ask questions about your business objectives, your customers and your internal processes. When you’ve met with them face-to-face, you should come away feeling confident they understand what you need and will take responsibility for delivering it. Chemistry is important too – the right digital marketing agency will be one you’re going to enjoy working with.

Paid Media

What does a PPC agency do?

A PPC agency is a team that will create, manage and report back on your pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Bing and Facebook. They probably also handle other types of Paid Search, like programmatic. A PPC agency with experienced managers on its team will help a business achieve growth, even in highly competitive e-commerce sectors. They will set up a well-organised account to help manage and optimise budgets, and analyse results. Ongoing analysis of the data will help the PPC agency refine its strategy and continue to improve results.

What is a good PPC strategy?

The objective of a PPC strategy is to make money, so it’s important to set goals and measure them correctly. Every business has its own specific requirements, so there is no hard and fast rule to devising a good PPC strategy. However, a comprehensive PPC strategy might use tactics like long-tail keywords and lookalikes, remarketing and careful channel selection. Your agency should spend time on your PPC account daily to check there’s no waste and everything is performing well – if it’s not, the  PPC strategy can be adjusted accordingly. Primarily you will have a clearly defined KPI and success is constantly measured against this.

How do I create a good PPC strategy?

To start with, your PPC accounts should be well-organised and budgets allocated appropriately, including a testing budget if possible. Make sure you are targeting the right keywords (not too broad) and your negative list is in good shape. Your PPC account will need constant checking, analysing and refining so there’s no budget wastage. Target your right audience in the right way. And don’t forget your landing pages – to gain the best ROAS (return on ad spend) your quality score needs to be high. The more you learn, the more you can refine your PPC strategy, so don’t neglect your campaigns.

Paid Social

Why is Paid Social advertising important?

Advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can be highly profitable thanks to the control you have over who sees your ads. Being able to select the interests, ages, locations and sex of your perfect audience, you can capture their attention with something that matters to them. As well as being good for acquisition (selling more products), Paid Social campaigns get your brand out there and create awareness as part of your wider marketing mix. It’s also great to differentiate channels being utilised, so you are not left in a weakened position though over-dependence. If you were solely running Paid Search ads and a competitor with big pockets enters the mix, you would be exposed with no other channels offering support. In this case, Paid Social provides a strategic safety net.

Organic Search (SEO)

What do SEO agencies do?

Digital agencies that specialise in SEO (organic search) improve your visibility and rankings in search engine results page ranking (SERPs). They will fix technical issues on your website that are making it under-perform, like broken links, link building, effective Schema planning, site speed optimisation and sitemaps. SEO agencies will also conduct keyword, competitor and sector research and put a strategy together to get you ranking highly for your audiences. High performing SEO agencies will use this strategy in conjunction with copywriting and UX to get the best results, which they can measure and report back on using specialist tools.

What is content SEO?

If your aim is to rank highly on organic search engine results, content is the answer. Algorithms are highly sophisticated and can understand natural language, so balancing their requirements with the needs of your customers is crucial. First and foremost, the copy on your website should engage your customers with information and persuasion. However, copy should also be written with consideration to search engines. Good content uses keyword strategy to help produce relevant search engine results by telling Google and Bing what your pages are about.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?

CRO will help you work out what your customers want from your website. It uses a structured programme of testing variants on layout and customer journey and accurately measures customer response. These tests happen in real time, for a determined period of time, usually weeks or months. If the results suggest you need a green ‘buy’ button instead of a red or blue one, or headline A over headline B, you can make the change in the knowledge it will improve your bottom line. CRO proves what works and what doesn’t using data, rather than subjective arguments. It stops you wasting time and budget.

User Experience (UX)

What is UX design?

UX design (user experience design) considers the needs of visitors to your website and aims to give them what they are looking for easily, quickly and without fuss. Every business wants a good-looking website, but not at the expense of conversions. UX design seeks to create a balance between the aesthetic look and feel, and what your customer needs to do when they are there. Navigation should be clear, layout should be hierarchical and uncluttered, calls to action should stand out, shopping carts and checkout should be as simple and secure as possible. UX design for mobile browsing is of critical importance.

Site Speed

How can I improve my website speed?

How fast your website loads depends on several factors. Improving your site speed starts with auditing and assessing these factors, from the code to the assets to the server specification. A main culprit is image size, so you could try reducing these (typically a quick win). Too many page redirects can also be a problem – a developer can help you iron this out. Custom themes can fall foul of an efficient ‘time to interaction’, though sometimes it’s unclear whether this is poor coding or something in theme settings – check both. If you have multiple elements all trying to load at the same time, try staggering them or delaying database queries. Read more about site speed.

Why is Google page speed important to e-commerce?

Google prioritises faster websites in search engine results pages (SERPs). At the end of 2018, the biggest search engine announced that slow websites would be demoted in SERPs. This is because Google wants users to find and do what they want as quickly as possible. Speed is now an SEO influencer. Learn more about site speed.

Web Development

Why will my website development be released in phases?

For large and complex e-commerce projects, your web development agency might suggest a phased release. The benefits of this are that your business will have a new working platform completed sooner rather than later. It will also provide you with additional business intelligence – providing real time feedback that allows for course corrections. Another advantage is the impact on your marketing budget, as you would only pay for each phase at a time. Your website development agency will help you prioritise your requirements for a phased release during the discovery phase.

How will a website design agency know what I need?

A good website design agency will run a thorough discovery session to get to the heart of your business objectives. This session will include an exploration of customer requirements. Using this information, a website design agency will be able to clarify what your website needs to be able to do and how your chosen e-commerce platform technology can support this.

Will my website design agency recommend which CMS platform I should use?

You might have a preferred e-commerce platform or CMS to use and a web design agency will take this into consideration. As part of due diligence, they might suggest a platform that might better suit your requirements. If you ask for a recommendation, they will  definitely recommend a platform. Make sure your web design agency is platform-agnostic – if they are WordPress specialists, they will have a vested interest in recommending this particular platform, even if Magento 2 would give you better functionality.