With every New Year comes dozens of resolutions; we all make promises to improve our lives in the next year. But have you made resolutions for improvement of your website for 2018?
Digital marketing and the online world are changing rapidly and drastically. Ignoring the changing landscape can lower the number of leads coming to your website which will ultimately impact your revenue. So if you are planning to update your website for 2018, here are four important points to consider.
We live in a world in which mobile devices have become common place. Smartphones have evolved from being more than just a means of making phone calls; they have become a personal item for practically everyone. The smartphone is such a part of modern culture that it has now become the best, most effective method to reach consumers. The opportunity to reach potential customers on a level as personal as the device in their pocket or purse holds significant potential for growth of any brand or business.
Businesses are already reaching out to the mobile market. Consider the statistics below:
Another important reason that marketers need to deliver mobile-friendly experiences in their digital marketing is that Google has updated their search algorithm to give rank updated their mobile friendly sites. Google defines “mobile friendly” as sites featuring readable text without zooming, content sized to a smartphone screen, easy use of links and the absence of applications not customary in mobile devices, such as Flash. Websites not meeting this standard will fall in search rankings.
Here are some tips for designing for mobile devices:
Clear, Focused Content
“Minimize” is the keyword when designing for a mobile experience. Many people use their mobile device while they are on the go, so navigation and searching are not easy. Keep the design simple; each page should have one central focus. So the user can find what they are looking for quickly.
Simple Menus and Navigation
Mobile devices do not have the space for long menus. Make the menu a drop-down menu or an icon on the top left or right of the mobile screen. Also, make navigation easy and short. If the user has to tap through 4 levels of menus just to find something, the chances are good that they will leave after the 2nd tap.
Fast Loading Speed
According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Google measures the speed of loading a mobile page. If the page loads too slowly, Google will lower the search engine rank of the page. If you need to speed up the loading time, Google recommends that the mobile pages be created using their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) coding.
Rising Technology: Wearable Devices
Mobile devices are not limited to smartphones. Wearable technology such as watches and armbands are also growing in popularity. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that shipments of wearable devices will reach 213.6 million units worldwide in 2020. Designing for wearable technology will require a different strategy than for smartphones.
Here are some steps for designing for wearable devices:
Use Very Minimal Design
Everything from color to typography to imagery should be simple, straightforward and easy to read at small sizes. The content must be “glanceable”; meaning the user will understand the content in a single glance at the device.
Keep the Type Simple
Avoid typefaces that are light or condensed. Be careful with super thick, black or bold styles. Stick to a sans serif typeface that is easy to read at a glance.
Use High-Contrast Colors
Use colors to represent elements that require interaction. The key is a sharp contrast. Consider the environment for these devices and design so that every letter is easy to read in any condition.
Make the Experience Easy
Above all else, design for ease-of-use. The function should be easy for the user to use from the beginning. Do not include layers and menus if at all possible. If you must add layers, make sure the user can discern the next step easily with items such as arrows or “next” buttons.
After you have responsively designed your website for mobile devices, the next step is to consider the search engines that will be visiting and indexing the site. Careful designing can increase the page rank and put your website at the top of the results pages.
The level of visitor engagement by the user is an important factor in gaining higher page rank. Studies by Moz.com have determined that Google measures factors such as page views, time spent on the site and bounce rate to help determine the rank of the page.
A large number of page views signal Google that the website is popular. Page views combined with long time on-site and low exit rates can tell Google that the page is popular and well constructed. Bounce rate is another consideration. If many visitors come to the site but then leave immediately, it signals to Google that the page is not engaging.
What is a good method of increasing engagement? First, write great content. Make sure that everything you include on the landing page is helpful to the visitor. Second, make sure the content matches the promise that brought them to your site in the first place. If you promise the visitor that they will learn a new technique for improving their business, do not link them to your home page. Direct them to the content you promised they would get.
Optimize your website for voice search
According to a Global Web Index Study, one-in-five mobile users rely on voice search to find information. But voice searches are different than typed searches. When people are voice searching, they tend to have longer queries that use more complex phrases as opposed to entering single keywords in a search engine.
Because of the growing reliance on voice searches, online content creation and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website must change to adapt to it. But the new method of optimization is significantly different than the old methods that used for typed searches.
These are some steps you can take to make your website voice-search ready. These include:
Machine learning is an influencing factor in search engine optimization. In 2015, Google introduced RankBrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that interprets the searches that people submit to find pages that best fit the intent of the search. The results have been that RankBrain is 80% more effective at selecting the right pages than human search experts. This use of artificial intelligence (AI) in search engines means search engine optimization must change to accommodate AI’s preference for intent-based searches as well as conversational searches.
SERP Ranking Indicators Are Everywhere
Ranking criteria for displaying Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are no longer limited to keywords, titles, and description. Many pieces of content such as news stories, images, product reviews, and articles will contribute to the ranking of a page in the search engines. Companies that wish to stay at the top of the ranking will enact tactics to develop content that provides search engine friendly material.
In January of 2015, Forbes Magazine shared: “62% of consumers say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks but to engage them.” The important phrase here is “engage them.”
Consumers want to engage with companies and products.
Social media and the interactive Internet have created a class of consumers that expect companies to connect with them just like their friends do. Consumers are demanding authenticity and transparency when evaluating products.
Authenticity and transparency show up iin these ways:
When searching for products, consumers say that they prefer an “experiential” environment; one in which they are involved in the entire presentation. Two things that will work well to achieve this are niche content and live-streaming video.
Niche content is the act of creating content with the intent of using it to market to a particular niche market. Niche content can be created to appeal to a particular industry, a subset of companies, a department, or even a specific job description. Niche content is where the “persona” of content marketing is important. It helps you define the niche.
Niche content will help you appeal to target customers and reach them in new ways. That can bring the following benefits:
Ultimately the successful marketers will direct their focus toward more narrow niches, personalized content and more targeted channels through which they will produce smaller content volume but increase the content ROI.
Consumers are demanding more intimate connections with companies before making the purchase decision. One of the best methods for making that connection is through live-streaming video. A research report from BrandLive.com showed that based on a survey of more than 200 brands a more authentic interaction with the audience (79%) emerged as the top benefit, followed by bringing a human element to digital marketing (63%). In 2016, several apps launched that allowed users to produce live video using a smartphone. Product introductions, Q&A sessions, product support, and production facility tours can now be broadcast live and can include questions from the viewers. Close connections with the audience through live video can build preference for your brand through open transparency and connection.
Data-Driven Lifecycle Marketing Optimization
The advent of data-driven marketing ensures that organizations can identify the strategies and campaigns that are most likely to be successful and also secure buy-in and investment for marketers by demonstrating the potential ROI of impending campaigns.
Today’s digital marketing tracking capabilities generate a pool of data that is readily available to companies. The main challenge with data-driven marketing today is that there is a lot more data available. Choosing the most important data to analyze and not wasting time on the unimportant metrics is critical in order to bring the most benefits.
Data must be shared between business units to be a data-driven organization. For this to be successful, data needs to be managed consistently across the entire business and businesses need to ensure that a strategic approach to data is adopted organization-wide. Marketers need to create a single, complete, actionable and flexible view of their customers and prospects. Enterprises will inevitably need to integrate customer data from different systems.
With the data integrated and augmented, businesses can utilize analytics to deliver actionable insights and guide decision-makers. It is not just marketers that can benefit from this rigorous exercise; departments ranging from sales and customer service to finance and purchasing can profit from greater insight into prospects and customers.
Companies that will succeed in 2018 will move their focus toward more predictive marketing; using the data they have captured to determine the potential best clients and developing marketing campaigns to reach out to and convert the targeted audience.
Digital marketers have discovered that they can use data gathered on earlier campaigns and apply predictive analytics to build stronger and higher-return programs. Predictive analytics apply to multiple channels of marketing from online digital to mobile to email, all as part of a multichannel strategy.
Studies from Infer.com suggest that predictive analytics are successful with the following steps:
Obtain a single view of the customer by focusing on customer data integration
Customer data integration provides the foundation for deploying decision management systems that enable companies to deliver highly relevant customer experiences.
Determine promotional effectiveness by channel and also by narrowly defined customer segments. Different promotional tactics (e.g., discounted prices, ads, online events, etc.) tend to elicit different response rates based on the characteristics of the target segment.
Note which customers are already maintaining a relationship in more than one channel. Maintaining multichannel contacts with the same customer can increase campaign effectiveness.
Drive experience by learning about customers instead of using that information for promotion and stimulation. Today’s customer owns the relationship more than organizations do. Predictive analytics can be especially helpful for audience selection for expensive channels such as direct mail or phone. This is particularly true in situations where the available universe is large, and only a portion of the universe is targeted.
As you move forward with your website design, keep these four design factors in mind: mobile, search, customers, and data. They add up to a better experience for your web visitors which ultimately means more business for you.