The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lock-down has in various ways been a wake-up call for business in SA. In many instances we have been slow to adapt, innovate and change to a digital world that poses many threats but also many opportunities. Like the famous story of the frog slowly getting boiled because the water around it heated up so slowly, we as business are also often reluctant to change when it’s “business-as-usual” – we don’t feel our environment changing although it does as surely as the frog’s water was slowly killing it. In a way the Covid-19 pandemic is shock to this system – like suddenly pouring some boiling water over the frog and he immediately takes action and jumps for safety. The boiling water (Covid-19) is certainly unpleasant but if long term sustainability of your business is a priority, this crisis could be the wake-up-call so many of us needed.
What do the following businesses have in common – Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest and Whatsapp? They were all started during the previous worldwide recession (2008-2010). Research has shown (McKinsey published a study) that brands that act effectively in a crisis become disproportionately stronger afterwards. Now is not a time for procrastination or slowing down – it’s time to look critically at every aspect of your business and see how it can be improved.
Time to take stock
Increased accessibility and download speeds have made the internet the single biggest driver of change in human behaviour in our lifetime (yes, in SA as well) – think online streaming (Youtube, Netflix), social media, video conferencing, ecommerce, e-sports, job searches, travel and the list goes on. Where people congregate opportunities always abound. Simply put, every business needs to find ways to use the internet to their advantage – whether operationally, internal systems or marketing. As Wordsmiths Marketing we also had to look at how to change the way we do things – we now use Microsoft Teams and SharePoint to work remotely, Zoom for video conferencing and various other software packages that have completely streamlined our daily operations. What we would like to share with you here however is how to take stock of your digital marketing assets – the tools you use to communicate your brand to the vast digital world – and show you how you can make changes that will have lasting benefits for your business. We have put together a practical guide that will help you to look at each item individually (starting with your website) and make changes.
Auditing your digital marketing assets – Websites
Your website is an extension of your brand but more importantly the worlds window to your business. Websites need to be easily navigable by users, and ultimately work to serve your goals. This could be to sell, generate leads or provide valuable information.
Type your website address into the browser and press enter – now look at it as a first-time visitor would. Consider the following:
1.Speed is important:
Quite simply, websites that load between 1-3 seconds earn most of the traffic from Google. Research done by Google themselves reveals that 90% of users will leave a website that take longer than 5 seconds to load. This is disastrous for businesses that rely on their website as a primary sales tool.
Go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ put in your website URL and click analyse. Google will give you a summary of how fast your website is and all the things that you can do to improve the speed of your website.
(Note – Most, if not all results will have a task called “reduce server response time” please note that this is not a website performance issue but rather a server issue. In order to improve this, you will have to speak to your hosting provider and may have to upgrade your hosting or even change to be a better hosting provider such as Xneelo).
2.Landing page content
Content is king, people are searching for answers to their problems, or they are looking for services and products they need. For your website to perform well you will need to get your message across – what is the first time visit most likely searching for/ is that clear and easy to find on you home page? Your home page must be concise and eye catching. Make sure you think about the following:
- Your call to action buttons are clear and stand out, this will raise the likelihood that they will call or buy from you.
- Use bold statements to get your message across clearly and in as few words as possible
- Use professionally designed images, banners, and videos to engage the reader, the longer they stay on your website the better.
- Most of all keep it simple and clean!
3.Is your website easy to navigate?
Successful websites are easy to navigate. Visitors must find everything they need quickly and easily. If users find your website confusing or if they find it difficult to find what they need they will get frustrated and leave. Consider the following when designing your website navigation:
- Plan your navigation. Prioritise your pages that will lead customers through your desired “sales funnel” leading them to pages where they can buy or contact you.
- Limit the number of items in your menu to pages that you think are important to your customers – less is often more.
- Stick to conventions. Being creative is great but try to stick to norms that people are used to. This will make navigation easier for most people. For example: Always link your logo back to your homepage as this is expected.
- Make sure that users can reach any page from any page. This will avoid users having to go back to find pages. One way to do this is to install a “sticky menu” which is always visible no matter where on a page a user is.
- Depending on the size of your website and the amount of content, you might consider implementing a mega menu, also known as uber menus. These types of menus go beyond the typical drop-down menus by allowing you to organize content in your navigation bar using columns. These are widely used on E-commerce websites like “Takealot” for example.
4.Does your website work on a smartphone?
- Did you know that Google now ranks websites for mobile usage first? The reason for this is simple – around 70-80% of online traffic is now coming from mobile devices. This means that without a mobile responsive website, your site will rank below your competition. It also means that customers finding your website on their phones will not be able to navigate correctly, losing you valuable business. How do you test this for your own website? Start by browsing your website on your smartphone – does it look right and function as required?
- To test if your website is mobile response go to https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly put in your website URL (address) and click Test URL. Google will give you an indication of whether your website is mobile friendly or not.If your web page is not mobile friendly, you can then click on the page results which will be available after running the test and Google will show you what issues there are and how to fix them.
5.User experience or “UX” and User Interface or “UI” Design:
UX stands for “user experience” and UI for “user interface”. Most people ignore these two essential practices when creating their website. For your website to work well for you, you will need a good user interface for people to interact with and a good user experience to keep users coming back to your website. So how do you know implement this on your site?
- To achieve a good UI/UX design, keep the flow of the website simple and to the point, make sure everything on the website works, this is mostly important for people running ecommerce websites, there are many times when a user is ready to buy on a website but are forced to abandon cart and leave due to a malfunction.
- Test the flow of your website constantly by interacting with it as a normal user would. Do user testing by asking your staff or a group of people to use your website and provide feedback on improvements and then enforce those improvements.
6.Tracking your website’s Performance
Marketers and business owners should always be analysing their websites performance. They should also be analysing user behaviour on their website. The following are common things that marketers will analyse on their website; these can be interpreted in many ways.
- Bounce rate: This is how many times a user leaves the website having only viewed one page – the higher the percentage the worst the site is performing for this metric (the more people leave after just viewing one page). This can indicate a lack of engaging content.
- Unique website visitors: This is how many new people viewed the website for the first time in a given time period. This can be a positive indication provided these new visitors stay on your website and end up contacting you or buying from you.
- Visitors to your website: This is total visitors to a website in a given time period. This is an area to analyse the overall traffic, this can be driven through other channels like social media or advertising.
- Page views per session: How many pages does an average user look at in a session. If you have a website that is engaging and flows well, your page views per session should increase.
- Average time on a page: The average time on a given website page. If the time spent is high, it could be good or bad depending on what you sell and who your customers are. This is something for you to analyse.
- Best landing pages: The most popular website pages. This is critical in analysing the type of message your customers are responding to. Use this to your advantage.
- Exit pages: Pages that most users viewed last before leaving. This could indicate pages that lack good content but could be a positive indicator if the exit page is a contact us page.
- Conversions: The number of times a visitor to the website carried through to a given action. For example, made a purchase or filled out a contact form. Your goal is always to increase conversions.
- There are many more key performance indicators which are important in knowing your customer.
To make this all possible, you will need to connect your website to Google Analytics. This is something you can do yourself if you feel confident enough. Follow the steps here. Alternatively, a digital agency could assist with this.