Two years after the start of the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt online with e-commerce expected to reach $6.17 trillion by 2023, making up 22.3% of total retail sales. This surge in online sales is impacting businesses of all kinds that depend on their digital presence as part of their marketing strategy.
As a result of this unprecedented digital transformation, increasing your visibility should be a top priority this year. The good news is you don’t have to invest a ton of money in digital ad spend to do it. Follow these key steps to help you boost your visibility and marketing results this year.
Step 1: Make your website user-friendly
A user-friendly website is the cornerstone of an effective digital marketing strategy and essential for expanding your reach online. Customers should be able to easily read and understand what you have to offer and take action.
According to Steve Krugs in his foundational book on the subject, “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” the best experience is one that doesn’t require users to think. As Krug writes, “It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.”
The less users have to think as they navigate your interface, the more easily they can accomplish their goal on your website. In addition to offering effortless navigation, your site should also be mobile-friendly, as mobile devices now account for roughly half of all web traffic.
The percentage of people who immediately leave your site is known as the bounce rate. As Tech Times points out, user experience has an impact on search rankings. Low bounce rates and high time spent on site signal to search engines that your website contains valuable information. Conversely, if customers routinely pop onto your website and quickly click away, your ranking on Google and other search engines can suffer.
Step 2: Optimize your site for SEO
Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is a set of best practices designed to elevate your website on search engine results pages — and it’s critical for expanding your digital reach in 2022. In a recent study, Backlinko found that the top result gets about 31.7 percent of the clicks, and the top three organic results get 75% of the clicks. Only 0.78 percent of searchers access the second page.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by SEO, but it’s not as technical as it sounds. Getting your website to rank at the top of Google depends largely on two things — providing great content and incorporating relevant keywords.
It all starts with smart keyword research. Ubersuggest is a great, affordable tool for smaller businesses and startups. Look for keywords that have high traffic but low competition. Next, sprinkle these keywords naturally on relevant product and service pages on your website, in your meta title and meta description, and in your URLs.
Post keyword-rich articles to your blog regularly, ideally on a weekly basis. Avoid sales content on your blog — your articles should address the challenges and pain points of your target audience, showcasing your expertise, building trust, and driving your readers to relevant product and service pages.
Step 3: Implement local online marketing strategies
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business or do business locally, it’s important to take steps online to make sure your website is showing up in local search listings.
Here are some steps to increase your local SEO from the marketing experts at Paperless Agent:
- Set up a Google My Business (GMB) Page: Claim your business page through Google.com/business, make sure all the data fields are filled out with your most up-to-date information, verify your location through your Google Business portal, and respond to your Google reviews.
- Optimize your site for local search: Add location keywords such as your city and county to website headings, title tags, meta descriptions, body copy and footer. Add your contact information to your website and make sure it’s consistent with your GMB page.
- Get backlinks from local organizations: Links from other local websites help Google create a stronger connection between your business and your location. Get featured on local news websites, add your website to local chamber of commerce directories, and sponsor local events.
- Write local blog posts: Publish content about your local area that’s relevant to your customer base, incorporating local keywords. Aim for 800 words or longer, but make sure the article is filled with useful information.
- Ask for reviews: Google and Yelp reviews not only provide social proof to potential customers, but they’re also a key ranking factor for Google.
Step 4: Build and maintain an email list
With the average email open rate now at 29.55 percent across all industries, your chances of getting in front of your audience via email are even better than with social media. Not only that, according to Mailjet, email yields a 4,400% ROI, so it’s definitely well worth investing in your email marketing this year.
How do you get subscribers? It all starts with an opt-in page offering a freebie such as an eBook or other downloadable resource in exchange for the user’s email address.
Once you’ve started to build your list, send out a newsletter every week if possible. These newsletters should contain relevant content that your readers will find genuinely useful. If you aren’t sure what to include in your newsletter, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- New products or featured items.
- Industry news.
- Upcoming events, webinars or classes.
- Frequently asked questions.
- Customer stories and testimonials.
- Links to your most popular blog posts from the past month.
It’s worth investing in a professional designer to maximize the usability of your newsletter. In particular, make sure it’s optimized for mobile devices to increase engagement and clicks.
Step 5: Post regularly on social media
According to the social media experts at Sprout Social, 55 percent of consumers learn about new brands on social media. They report as well that social media use is up since the COVID-19 pandemic: “Consumer use of social to discover or learn about new products or services increased 43%—a trend that’s expected to continue in the next three years. Just over one-third of consumers also follow and interact with brands more than they did a year ago, and expect that to increase in the future.”
Remember to focus on platforms that are relevant to your audience. There’s no need to create a TikTok account, for example, if the majority of your customers only use Facebook.
To save time on content creation, consider repurposing your blog and newsletter content in creative ways. Social media platforms are also a great place to get interactive with your target audience. Conduct polls, ask questions and hold live streaming events. Not only will you build a loyal community of followers, but you’ll also gain a better understanding of your customers’ pain points, which will help you create more content that resonates.
Boosting your digital presence
In the post-pandemic marketplace, businesses in all industries are faced with more competition than ever before online. If you’re serious about boosting your digital reach in 2022, these best practices will help you do so — and without a hefty ad spend to boot.