At the time of writing, we are emerging from the worst recession of our lifetime.
In the second quarter of 2020, the UK economy shrank by 20%, wiping out 20 years of growth.
Extraordinary times. So, what’s the best way of reacting to these difficult circumstances? And how can we make sure we’re well-placed to benefit from the recovery?
This study in the Harvard Business review suggests that the businesses that cope best with recession, then thrive in the recovery are likely to have:
- Cut their operating costs sustainably
- Continued to invest intelligently in research & development and marketing
Let’s get started.
1. Invest in your data
Today’s ad targeting is incredibly sophisticated. And the more you know about your audience, the more successful your campaigns are likely to be.
A simplistic example: if you knew your best customers were female home owners in Milton Keynes, you might choose to advertise to that demographic. You might also say you only wanted to target people who’d searched for a competitor in the past week.
That’s all possible if you invest in understanding your audience.
Today, there’s more data available than ever before. The challenge is measuring what matters. At Receptional, we combine:
- The best free data sources available into a single resource, powered by Google Data Studio. We call it DataSuite™
- Google Analytics (which is free), with Facebook tracking (free) with LinkedIn insights (yep, also free)
So, our first tip – make sure you’re investing in data collection and relevant reporting.
2. LinkedIn’s website demographic tool
The LinkedIn website demographic tool is a free tool that’s under-used.
Most people are familiar with Google Analytics. This is LinkedIn’s equivalent. It’s much simpler. But it doesn’t only analyse traffic generated by LinkedIn – it analyses all traffic to your website that it can match to a LinkedIn profile.
And where it adds value is by providing key insights that you can’t get anywhere else:
- Job Titles
- Company Names
- Company Size
- Seniority and more
You can segment the data. You can filter audiences by:
- Area of your website – analyse different content readers
- UTM parameters – identify audiences from specific channels/campaigns
It is free and you don’t need to be running LinkedIn Ads.
If you haven’t used it before, you will need to set it up. That will mean creating a LinkedIn Campaign Manager account and installing the Insight Tag.
To help with this, we created an eBook which should have you covered.
3. Fix basic technical issues on your website
Technical issues hold you back in search and prevent you from gaining traffic through Google. By fixing these issues, you are unlocking your website’s true potential.
Ideally, your company’s website will have had a technical audit performed at some point and this will be able to tell you what your quick wins are.
If not, we highly recommend contacting our team to get an SEO audit.
But don’t worry if you don’t have a technical audit to hand – or are limited on budgets right now. We will share our tips with you and highlight some typical quick wins.
Quick wins typically include:
- Redirecting broken pages
- Creating an XML sitemap – and uploading it to Search Console
- Generating an effective robots.txt file
These are all really easy for a developer to address. But there is an even better quick win tip – put your keywords in your page titles!
Money Saving Expert appear in the first position on Google when searching for the phrase “investing for beginners”.
The article on Money Saving Expert is also called “investing for beginners” – and that’s no coincidence.
That’s how Google works. You have to label your content with the most relevant keywords that people search for – and it’s really easy to do.
But leading institutions are not doing this!
This table shows the home page titles for some of the biggest investing organisations in the UK and they’re completely neglecting their page titles.
You can tell this because there are no keywords in them – and the brand name doesn’t really count.
We know this works.
Basware are a global procurement solutions provider. We optimised their website – and were able to drive an overnight shift in their performance through improved sitemaps, redirects and page titles. This resulted in an increase of 395% more traffic!
4. Go back and optimise existing content
Another minimal-investment strategy – designed to unlock the potential of existing content. The majority of businesses we work with have invested in content. However, more often than not, it hasn’t previously generated the returns that they had hoped.
How many CMOs can relate to that scenario?
The content wasn’t properly optimised for search users – therefore, no one found it. It never stood a chance.
And that’s a shame because:
89% of your potential customers will use a search engine during their research
This stat was uncovered by Receptional when we surveyed high net worth individuals across the country. This means that 9 out of 10 of your customers are on Google potentially trying to find your content – yet failing to do so.
And right now, they’re concerned about their finances – as you might expect.
Since the pandemic started, we have seen huge volatility in the number of searches to do with personal finances.
Here, we’re looking at “wealth management”, which is just one example.
You can see there are enormous spikes in the number of people searching around this topic – up to 900% greater than the numbers previously seen.
To capture this audience, there’s are quick and easy content tweaks you might even be able to make today.
Content Optimisation process
Our Content Optimisation process generally involves:
- Keyword Research using Search Console
All websites should have a Search Console account – it’s free data and really insightful. We use this data to identify which content has the most potential. We do this by comparing which topics have the highest levels of interest yet receive the lowest number of clicks. With strong optimisation, we can increase the number of clicks received.
- Optimising article titles
We simply align the article titles with the keywords we uncover in Search Console.
- Merge similar content
Google hates duplicate content and this is a common issue for larger websites where multiple versions of the same content often exists.
- Depth & Insights to existing content
This can be necessary because Google doesn’t like THIN content.
- Ensure that the best content is easy to find
We achieve this by adding internal links on the most relevant pages.
For our efforts, we generally expect to increase click through rates from 1% to 10%. This can drive a few hundred to thousands of new website visitors – depending on the popularity of the topic.
This can generate significant returns
Our optimisation work for the commercial loans firm, Liberis, generated a 700% increase in website visitors.
5. Steal your competitors’ content ideas
Coming up with a decent content strategy can be time consuming. If you’re not basing your strategy on data, it can be a hit and miss too.
However, your competitors may have done all the hard work for you – and with a sneaky bit of analysis, you can basically steal their best and most successful content ideas.
We call this a Content Gap Analysis.
The objective is to find the gaps in your content by comparing your pages and articles with that of any competitor in your niche. You can then build out an editorial calendar based on those gaps.
For one of our clients, we identified 23 gaps in their content. The related keywords were searched for up to 121,000 times a month. Using this data, we estimated that there was the potential to drive an additional 39,000 visitors to the website if these gaps were plugged.
In our experience, this is a really great use of time and resources as it produces an instant content strategy – powered by estimated traffic numbers.
6. Run YouTube tests
Establishing your brand authority and trust are key to winning new business – particularly in the finance sectors.
There are few better ways of establishing brand authority than advertising on YouTube – 10 million of us each day use YouTube.
YouTube is the most popular app on both Android and Apple devices. What’s more, we know that the 18-34 age group spend more time on YouTube than watching ITV, Channel 4 and Chanel 5 combined – which is a staggering figure.
And, given that YouTube ads can be really well targeted, if you’re not advertising on YouTube, you’re missing an opportunity.
This graphic shows how you might apply your ad budget across Google’s different channels – search, display and YouTube.
As a rule of thumb, at least 10% of your digital budget should be invested in video ads. Most businesses aren’t investing enough, particularly at the moment. During the coronavirus pandemic, advertising prices have plummeted. So, in many markets we’re talking about paying a penny per view.
Get your targeting right, and you’ll pay very little to get your brand in front of your best prospects.
So, what’s your YouTube spend? How do you compare with best practice?
7. Look beyond Search
In the Paid Media and PPC sector, we are guilty of putting Google Ads on a pedestal. Understandably, it’s usually the key piece of the puzzle when it comes to advertising budgets.
But the underlying reality is that only 4% of time online is spent on search engines.
If you want to reach your audience, you need to be advertising or be present on other channels too.
The graph we have here is some data from March of this year – at the start of lockdown.
It might be a few months out of date but it still paints an interesting picture.
While less people were searching for products and services at the height of lockdown, overall internet usage was up.
This means channels like the Display Network and YouTube thrived.
Let’s take a look at the Google Display Network – what we call the ‘neglected younger brother of Search’.
It’s basically a network of 3 million+ websites and apps around the internet. It allows advertisers to show banners (i.e. display ads).
We mentioned that search engines are 4% of attention. Well, display covers the remaining 95-96% so it’s a large piece of the puzzle and worth investing in.
In terms of reach and brand awareness, this is a unique channel, rivalled only by the 2 billion (or so) users on Facebook & Instagram.
Display is hugely important for long-buying cycles. Financial decisions are often highly deliberated and well researched, over periods of time and on a number of devices.
The Google Display Network with banner advertising allows you to have your brand show up at each of the key touchpoints on the user’s journey.
As someone is researching a financial decision, it increases the chances of your brand being front of mind when it comes to them making a decision or purchase.
Responsive Display Ads have seen a resurgence, due to a number of updates which have ‘lowered the barrier to entry’.
Instead of uploading pre-made, fully-branded banners, you can now upload a series of assets:
- Different images
- Different sizes
- Different headlines and descriptions
- Different calls to action
Google takes templates and uses machine learning to configure those ads for you, using testing. The algorithm system will learn which combinations work best. Once it self-optimises, it becomes more affective. A quick win.
8. Invest in re-marketing
We often get asked where to start with Paid Media. Or if someone has a small budget, where to invest it first. The answer is almost always re-marketing or retargeting.
We like to use the catchphrase ‘lowest hanging fruit’. But this is how we see re-marketing.
It’s bottom of the funnel activity, where you’re re-engaging people that have a level of familiarity with you. The prospects who have perhaps been to your website or at least seen your video or liked a social media post of yours before.
We’ve already discussed Display Ads but if you add re-marketing on the Google Ads platform – the most powerful and sophisticated re-marketing platform around – your business has a huge advantage over any competitors that aren’t investing in these areas.
Better still, you can reach 2.5 billion users across Facebook properties (Instagram, Facebook and Messenger), too.
The ultimate combination is using the two platforms hand-in-hand. If you’re using one without the other, you’re missing out – and giving your competitors an advantage.
9. Test lookalike audiences
One of the mistakes we often see in Paid Social is people relying too heavily on interest targeting that isn’t substantiated.
This is where testing lookalike audiences comes in.
You might be asking what’s a Lookalike audience?
It involves providing a seed list to the platform you’re working on – it could be Facebook, LinkedIn or Google (who call it a ‘similar audience’).
By using machine learning algorithms, create audiences that best resemble those groups of people – based on demographic or behavioural similarities online.
When it comes to prospecting for new potential customers, avoid guesswork – make those decisions based on your customer data.
It’s worth testing.
10. Increase Conversion Rates
In digital marketing, we tend to focus on activities which drive traffic and brand awareness. But the ultimate aim is to increase sales and enquiries. Sometimes, marketing professionals over look this or assume that it’s someone else’s job to worry about that.
We believe that marketeers should have a hand in improving conversion rates too – we want to be able to demonstrate as positive returns as possible. Conversion Rate Optimisation is critically important and it’s really not that difficult.
What exactly is a “conversion”?
A conversion is whatever you choose it to be – depending on your business and how you generate customers and revenue. It could be someone:
- Calling you
- Using the contact form on your website
- Purchasing something directly through your website
- Downloading an eBook
Your conversion rate is the percentage of your website visitors that perform your desired action.
What are my conversion rates?
In our experience, a number of businesses aren’t tracking their conversions at all. It’s commonly the first thing we have to set up for our new clients. We urge businesses to investigate this.
Without conversion tracking, you can’t determine to what extent any of your activities are working and delivering results. It also makes it hard to produce robust commercial figures – essential for most business in order to get worked signed off and running.
For those who do know their conversion data, how do you compare to industry benchmarks?
Industry data from Google suggests that sites in the finance space yield conversion rates of 10%. That’s 1 in 10 people picking up the phone, sending an enquiry or booking an appointment.
At Receptional, we tend to be a little bit more conservative in our forecasting. We would aspire to conversion rates of between 4-8% – assuming the site is well optimised.
If you need to increase your conversion rates, there are some essential changes that you can make today.
Basic Conversion Rate Optimisation tactics
1) Make sure your “action” is easy to find, for example:
- Placing a phone number at top of the website
- A contact form on the side of the website
- An instruction at the end article in massive bold text.
2) The action needs to tell the person exactly what to do, for example:
- Call this number
- Book an appointment
- Register online
- Download our guide
- Compare our prices
3a) Tell them why they should do this, for example:
- What do they get in return – is there an incentive?
- Is there a reward or a freebie?
- Will it be quick and simple?
- Will it be no-win, no-fee? No obligations?
3b) Or try and create a sense urgency, for example:
- Book today to avoid disappointment
- Or while stocks last!
- Limited spaces available
- First come, first served
Hopefully you’ve found these cost-effective suggestions useful. As a next step, choose one of the ideas. Just one. And implement it within your business.
That one simple, focussed change will help you get more value from your marketing budget. And will set up your business for future success.