We’ve all seen those reality television shows where they make over a house or a garden, or even people. They effortlessly show how to go from drab to fab—all packaged up neatly for us to follow.
I’ve not seen a television show that shows you in 30 or 60 minutes how to do a digital marketing makeover on your business. The reality is that it can be a complex piece of work, involving many marketing disciplines.
To help you, we have come up with five key steps that you need to undertake to ensure you have a success digital marketing makeover.
1. Walk in your customers' shoes
To help you develop your strategy, we suggest you do two exercises on your existing website. The first is open Google and type in a keyword search that you think your customers or prospects would use to find your website. Remember, it may not be a branded search, it could be something like “how can I manage my cash flow”, if you’re a financial services firm or “where can buy widgets in Melbourne” if you’re a retail outlet or manufacturer.
Look at the results the search returns. Does your company website come up in the results? If it doesn’t, try different terms including your company name. Once you have results, click on the links. What page is displayed? Does the information on the page reflect the search term? Is the information up-to-date and accurate?
Is there a web form requesting more information or to be contacted? If so, fill out the form and submit it. What happens to that form? Does it feed into your CRM system? Does your marketing department get an email informing them there is a new lead?
This may sound like it should be simple 101 digital marketing, but you would be surprised at the results we have found for a number of our customers. In one case thousands of leads that went nowhere, thousands of opportunities to bring on new customers, but no one was responding. What type of customer experience do you think that created?
We also found out-of-date web pages, in one case going back over a decade. You have to remember that your prospects are using your web pages to do research on you before they contact you. What do you think they would make of you if your news section was last updated in 2005?
The second exercise is to map all of the customer touchpoints you have in your company, both online and offline. How many are there? Is the experience consistent? If you have a customer-service desk, call it. How long does it take to get through? Can they help resolve your problem? Does their tone and response reflect your company values?
These two exercises will give you a picture of your current state of play, and allow you to start to develop a strategy to close the gaps that should be the basis of your digital marketing makeover.
2. Is your technology costing you customers?
Technology has changed rapidly over the past few years. Scott Brinker, aka @Chiefmartech published a Digital Marketing Landscape graphic in January 2015 which showed just under 2,000 technology players across a number of functions including, search-engine marketing, social media, email, marketing automation and data.
How does your existing digital marketing technology stack up? Do you know how much it costs to run? One client we worked with discovered it cost $6,500 to make a simple text change on its website. To add insult to injury it also took, its technology team three weeks to make the change! In today’s fast-paced environment, seconds count; you cannot afford to have technology impact your customer experience.
Do you know what technology your customers use? Most web searches conducted today are done on mobile devices. Does your website scale to fit the device being used? Today if your website is not responsive, you risk losing customers. In the airline industry, most of the airlines have developed fantastic tools and websites to respond to their customer needs; however I am still amazed that a number have not.
3. Analyse your data: Listen to your customers
Riley Newman, a data scientist at Airbnb, is quoted as saying:
Data is the voice of your customer. Data is effectively a record of an action someone in your community performed, which represents a decision they made about what to do (or not) with your product.
When did you last look at analysis from your website? What did it tell you and what did you do about it? There are a number of great, free, web-analytics tools available for you to use today. These tools offer you basic insights into how many people visited your site, how long they stayed and what pages they looked at.
The average attention span is now around eight seconds—that's about the same amount of time as a product on a supermarket shelf has to attract your attention. If your website is not holding visitors' attention, how can you demonstrate your value proposition? For B2B companies this is a key challenge, especially for complex products.
If you are prepared to make an investment in some advanced web analytics, you will be able to get deeper insights into customer and prospect behaviour on your site, right down to where they went before and after visiting your site.
4. It’s all about the user experience
The first three steps will help you understand your current user experience and help direct where it should evolve. Today responsive design in a website is a must, so make sure your site provides a great UX across all devices.
But UX is more than graphic design. It's about how you make it easy for people who are going to use your website to find information, navigate through, place an order and ask questions. Is it going to recognise them each time they visit? Will it learn from their browsing behaviour and make suggestions for where to go next or automatically change the content based on the context of their search?
Good UX will do all of that and more. It should also be able to surprise and delight but not seem creepy or too one sided—asking for a lot of information, but giving little in return.
You should also ensure it is accessible for people with disabilities. Statistics show one in seven people has some form of disability, from something as simple as colour blindness right through to more profound disabilities. See how your website scores against the W3C Accessibility Guidelines?
5. Refine and repeat
This is not a set-and-forget exercise. Each step along the way should be reassessed and refined as you start to gain engagement with customers and prospects. Did you map all of the touchpoints? Does your technology work more efficiently and effectively. Can you get to market quicker? Were your analyses and assumptions correct? Can you get more data points to support new product development or services? Did the new UX deliver greater stickiness on your site, create more sales or garner good feedback?
By creating a cycle of continual improvement, you will find it gets easier to make changes and enhancements. And it will be easier to create business cases for additional budget or resources, as you’ll have detailed analyses to support you cases. Step change can keep you in front of your competitors and keep your customers, as they see you as a dynamic organisation attuned to their needs.
Jeffrey Evans is VP of digital in APAC for Epsilon