NATE BURKE | November 19, 2021
After a year of uncertainty, it’s no surprise that businesses are looking ahead to refresh and refine their digital advertising techniques and strategies to ensure a lucrative and successful future.
With this in mind, businesses should consider how the perception of consumers has changed and reinvented itself over the past year or so, and what can be done to appeal to these new priorities and behaviours.
And here, we spoke to Nate Burke, CEO and founder of digital marketing and ecommerce specialists Diginius, to provide further insight on how to advertise to these new pools of consumers and how businesses can prepare for the modern consumer of 2023.
Of course, as we all know in the world of business, different consumers require different advertising strategies in order to appeal to their needs and priorities.
However, the consumer pools we once knew have directly changed as a result of the pandemic, and so we all need to review our strategies to ensure we’re still appealing to those audiences who matter to us the most.
This includes PPC campaigns, ecommerce strategies and general digital marketing and advertising.
Consisting of more of the younger generation, the pandemic gave them time to reflect on their priorities, with the verdict falling mostly to sustainability and innovation.
With this in mind, brands should look to create made-to-order items and introduce subscription models, where applicable, into their business offering.
To incentivise loyalty, discount codes and loyalty programmes can also be introduced, which are proven to be effective when it comes to retaining customers, with as many as 84% of consumers saying they would remain loyal to a brand that offered a decent loyalty program.
The New Romantics
This particular group of consumers are swayed by their emotional connection to a brand and, after the pandemic, wish to reconnect with their emotions while working towards an enhanced sense of local community.
In order for brands to appeal to this consumer group, they need to create either services, or a customer service model that allows the consumer to create more emotional ties with the brand.
Over the past few years, subscription-based businesses have experienced exponential growth and, during 2020, they reported a further revenue growth of 11.6%, demonstrating a clear desire from a particular audience pool.
With a particular focus on diversity and equality, businesses looking to cater to this audience should place particular efforts in ensuring their supply chain is ethical and should utilise advertising platforms to spread this message to their consumers.
Transparency is also key – and therefore, you should make sure your business properly communicates its vision, values and policies within all online marketing and advertising activity.
To ensure you’re effectively targeting your chosen audience, you should look at which advertising platforms you’re currently using, and whether you’ve set up specific targeting campaigns.
For example, if your goals are centred around building stronger and more meaningful relationships with your clients, I recommend harnessing the power of social media advertising, as it can help to open up doors for conversations with your customers.
Similarly, personalised Google Ads can also be effective in making a consumer pool feel seen and heard – you just need to take the time to fully understand them and their needs before putting a campaign together.
With the right knowledge of your audience, targeting, and ultimately converting, your prospects in the following weeks, months, and years will become easier and allow for increased successes as you move your business forwards.
For more information on how to prepare your digital marketing and PPC strategies for the years ahead, get in touch with Diginius by visiting its website. Read More
NATE BURKE | September 01, 2021
The way in which consumers are searching for products online has changed. In recent times, there has been a significant increase in question-based searches from consumers looking for quick solutions to their needs, overtaking direct searches for brand names.
It’s clear the consumer environment is evolving, so what can be done to ensure existing and emerging businesses can keep up?
Nate Burke, CEO of technology, digital marketing, and ecommerce solutions firm Diginius, explains the importance of optimising your products to meet this changing behaviour, while also remembering to build on your brand to become the ultimate business.
Marketplaces are now dominating the online sphere, which results in more unbranded searches being made by online shoppers who are looking for solutions to their queries, rather than a name-brand product. Nowadays, global brands can expect 58% of their searches to be unbranded, while surprisingly, for small and mid-sized businesses, the figure is much higher, sitting at around 81%.
Of course, for many businesses that heavily rely on their brand awareness and branded searches to bring in revenue, this rise might be a cause for concern.
However, virtual and online marketplaces are now considered one of the most effective ways to scale globally, both for established businesses and smaller brands as they account for almost half of all global ecommerce sales.
Whilst these platforms were once a place for small and independent brands, online retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart are beginning to scale their own marketplaces, capitalising on the nearly $2 trillion that is spent annually on the top 100 marketplaces.
The shift in search can be put down to a number of changes in the way we shop, consume media and use technology. Notably, the increasing access to voice search, with Alexa and Google devices now regular features in our homes, has encouraged the rise of question-based searches.
Understandably, competition on these platforms is increasing. So, in order to ensure their products are being presented to the right customers, businesses must work on product optimisation, while also building on their brand to encourage trust and repeat purchases.
Recreating the “boutique” shopping experience online
One way to do this is by aligning in store and online experiences. For example, although the days of exploring treasure trove, boutique shops are dwindling in favour of the online environment, consumers are still looking for those unique, personalised experiences from brands.
In fact, 33% of consumers prefer to buy unique products over mass-manufactured items, which businesses should use as an opportunity for innovation within their product offering – to develop something that the other big retailers do not.
Etsy is the perfect example of how independent sellers have come together on one virtual marketplace platform to provide consumers with just that: the opportunity to find unique, handmade products, combined with the ease of shopping online.
The ecommerce and PPC perspectives
Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. Whilst some of these are guaranteed to be named brand searches, many are following suit with the growing solution-led trend, creating a strong case for brands to focus their efforts on appearing in these results through search engine and product description optimisation.
For example, say a consumer is searching for loungewear. Emotional, descriptive words that create a sense of feel and a tailored result should play into your product descriptions, such as “warm loungewear”, “comfortable loungewear” or “soft loungewear”.
The idea here is to narrow down descriptions to give people exactly what they want when performing these niche, specific searches. And in the era of voice search, ensuring products are optimised with accurate and specific descriptions is crucial.
The same approach is effective for product ads, too. Descriptions and targeting cues must be tailored to customers’ searches in order to generate the best results. While this might sound like a time-consuming task, the use of PPC software and analytics tools can help you to automate, test and adjust activity for optimum performance. For example, through use of dynamic ads, copy can be adjusted to ensure it is directly relevant and personal to each searcher to encourage click through and conversions.
Although Google remains the go-to search advertising platform, we always recommend running ads on Microsoft’s Bing platform too, as often, businesses find they generate better returns and require less budget. This is because Bing is much less competitive than Google, with fewer advertisers bidding for the same keyword, although search volumes remain attractive.
Similarly, with the rise of social media commerce, with Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping leading the way, as well as Amazon advertising, businesses looking to capitalise on shifting search and shopping habits have a number of avenues to explore.
And while these tactics can help get products in front of customers in the increasingly competitive solution-led search environment, others, including retargeting, can then help to build brand awareness. This way, brands can capture customers who may have only been in the discovery or research phase when they were served the initial ad, as well as customers who may be ready to repurchase.
This solutions-based environment is similar to that of Ask Jeeves, or, as it is known today, Ask.com. The question answering business was a perfect example of how a search engine can cater to the needs of consumers and provide quick answers to their questions. However, it was launched ahead of its time.
It is interesting to see how this has now come full circle, with consumers needing quick and snappy results on-the-go, and Ask.com being perfectly positioned to cater to this need. AI has somewhat advanced this algorithmic model in today’s Google-led environment, but one could have imagined, in another time and place, that Ask could have been a pioneer in search-led advancement, rather than being the nostalgic afterthought it remains today.
This is also a prime example of the constantly evolving online market. What consumers need today might not be what they want tomorrow. Although unfortunate in the case of Ask.com, businesses that can stay ahead of the curve by paying close attention to changes in consumer behaviour are much better off than those that stay stagnant. And, brands, whatever their size or scale, should most certainly pay attention and align their product descriptions to fit a much more solutions-led environment.
But whilst adapting to changes, it’s important to never lose focus of the brand. Customers will always inherently look for trust in their purchases, and a simple flash offer is not enough to sway them away from a brand that deliver quality and confidence in its delivery.
Although non-branded searches are the trend today, any sustainable business must be backed by a strong brand - that’s one thing that will never change. Read More
NATE BURKE | July 14, 2021
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, an expert provider of digital marketing solutions for ecommerce and online businesses, explores how brands can boost affinity through customisation and personalisation tactics in the digital age.
How many of us remember walking into a holiday gift shop when younger (and before a global pandemic put a stop to the H word), and eagerly searching for a fridge magnet, mug or pencil inscribed with our name?
Personalisation is a tactic brands and businesses have been using for years to hook us into their offerings. The idea is, as consumers, we forge stronger attachments to products that appear to have been created for or tailored to us, personally. For businesses, encouraging these deep connections with customers results in loyalty and greater lifetime value.
In theory, the formula is simple. But in reality, success requires so much more than printing a name on an everyday household object. Instead, brands must allocate large amounts of resources to really understanding their customers, and then develop offerings that suit.
Fortunately, the internet provides a more efficient and effective way to personalise offerings on a mass level. And as a result, we’ve seen the rise of businesses, including Moonpig, Getting Personal and Funky Pigeon, which offer customers a service to personalise common gift items, in order to create something with greater meaning and significance for a loved one.
However, in this day and age, customers have, what seems like, an unlimited choice of options when it comes to personalised products - think those mentioned above, as well as etsy, Not on the Highstreet and the numerous photo printing and engraving services offered by the likes of Boots, Asda, H.Samuel, Next and so many others. Therefore, for personalisation to really be a differentiating factor for your brand, tailoring must go far beyond the surface level of a product.
Everything from the brand experience, content and functionality of the final product or service needs to be designed and developed with each individual end user in mind.
But again, the internet offers its hand in this sense too. Essentially, businesses with digital offerings also have data and insight at their fingertips, which can help them to better understand who their customers are and what it is they want. With this information, brands can begin to personalise the way in which they communicate, interact with and cater to their customers in order to evoke a greater feeling of connectivity.
For example, personalised digital marketing tactics, such as including first name fields in email campaigns, have proven to generate greater click through rates than those without. Clearly, tailoring this small part of an email by ensuring such information is collected and stored in your address database can have a significant impact on the success of your activity, soon outweighing any additional work or effort required to implement the change.
Similarly, pay per click advertising (PPC) can benefit from personalisation, particularly if ads are targeted using users' individual preferences and characteristics. While PPC management can be a time-consuming task alone, and personalisation only adding to the load, there is a strong case for the use of a software solution that can help you collect and analyse data, and then automate activity accordingly. As well as saving time, the marketing tactic also becomes much more efficient, by lessening the budget being wasted on ineffective leads. With ads more likely to be shown to users with a greater chance of clicking, as their data suggests a strong interest in your offering, there is opportunity to improve click to conversion rates, too.
Again, this all sounds good in theory, but a data-centric approach presents further challenges in terms of knowing what information to collect, and then interpreting it in a way that is accurate and useful to the business. For instance, businesses operating across various sales channels may face difficulty collecting data that is representative of its multiple customer segments. Its online customers are likely to be different to its in-store ones, and so an offering that is personalised to the latter, is not guaranteed to feel equally as customised to the former. Or vice versa.
This is another area in which technology can help. Platforms, such as VTEX, offer businesses a way to collect and centralise data across all channels. With all this information in one place, it is possible to draw meaningful and accurate insights to inform personalisation decisions.
However, personalisation, in its fundamental form, is all about being human and emotive in your approach. It comes down to understanding the intrinsic values of your customers, and placing these at the centre of your offering to develop meaningful connections. Data and technology, therefore, can only help so much. Alongside this, there needs to be human input, which can come from your experience and expertise of your market and consumers.
For example, in more recent years, we’ve seen brands give more thought to mass marketing opportunities on special days and events, such as Father’s Day. While data and technology can help you create a personalised email to promote gift ideas for an event which the majority will be celebrating, a human approach will tell you that many of your customers may prefer not to see messages associated with the occasion. As a result, we see pre-campaign eshots that give warning and opportunity to opt out of communications associated with the event.
By combining both technology and human instinct in this way, offerings become that much more personal and effective at boosting brand affinity. And that is where there is a real sweet spot when it comes to differentiating your personalised offer from the next, especially as the ecommerce market becomes ever more saturated with competitors. Read More
NATE BURKE | May 12, 2021
It has been over a year since retailers were forced to temporarily shut their doors or put in place restrictions to limit the in-store experience. Now, as we return to some semblance of normality, it’s essential that trust and brand value are retained for those operating a digital-only presence.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, discusses how brands have effectively kept customers engaged, consequently building trust and brand value in the process, and what techniques to use while navigating the next steps of the pandemic.
As I write this, physical retail and outdoor hospitality are feeling a little more rejuvenated after welcoming customers back. My inbox and notification centre are full of alerts from brands offering high street discounts and incentives for scanning an app in-store. This is a prime example of how fast and timely brands need to be in order to capture their customers’ attention when trends and circumstances change.
It’s also a great example of how essential communication and marketing techniques are in building trust and creating brand value. While I might not be one to rush back to high street stores so soon, I do feel reassured and excited by these messages. And nothing could be more important at a time like this.
It’s a reminder that these shops are still there and are prepared to welcome customers back in. After all, if they’ve had time to plan and create a whole marketing campaign around the event, I can only hope their efforts towards a safe reopening have been given just as much thought and attention.
Digital tactics like those mentioned above have only ramped up during the course of the pandemic, where remote communication and at-distance offerings have been the only touch points between brands and consumers. And of course, this hasn’t been without challenge.
It’s human nature for us to trust and find greater value in something we can see for ourselves in person. Traditionally, brands have been able to create this through in-store experiences where customers know they can see products and services in action and are able to interact with staff and experts should there be any concerns. While digital channels do offer their own set of benefits, meeting these innate human needs is not one of them.
So, in a bid to retain consumer trust amid the uncertainty of forced closures, measures and constantly changing restrictions, we’ve seen a number of effective strategies from brands. Regular push notifications and email communications just scratch the surface. These tactics are a great way to generate instant response, whether it’s a brand reminder, an update on important changes or simply an alert of a new deal in an attempt to drive website traffic.
By now, it’s a known fact that personalised messages generate better results. And these forms of digital communication can certainly be personalised with little effort on the brand’s part. Whether it's a mass email with a tailored first name field, or an app alert that is sent as a restriction lifts - both feel personal and as though they have been sent by a real individual who knows who you are and understands the context of a situation.
But today’s customers need and expect more. These tactics have been used for years, and the sensitivity of the pandemic has called for a more human approach in terms of marketing and customer service. And that’s exactly what many successful brands have been doing.
While driving traffic to a website is important, it’s the service on offer once a customer lands on a page that makes the difference when it comes to building trust and brand value, and ultimately, converting. It’s all about translating the human in-store experience online.
For example, we’ve seen greater focus and uptake in live chat features on websites, with this now being an expected function for over half of consumers. Through such features, customers expect to be able to talk to a real person on the side of the screen who is able to understand their queries and responsively provide a solution.
Companies such as Currys PC World have taken this one step further, and now offer a ‘Shop Live’ feature that enables customers to video call a real sales representative who can help them with their purchase. In this way, brands are able to bridge the gap between themselves and their consumers, even in a time of social distancing. And as a result, are able to retain trust, while also adding value to their brand through the out of the box and supportive offering.
Other tactics have included offering incentives that encourage repeat purchases. For example, many online retailers offer unlimited next day delivery subscription services, whereby a one off higher yearly fee provides access to a year's worth of free delivery. With the delay between placing an order and it then arriving, as well as delivery fees being some of the biggest deterring factors from online purchases, the incentive has been incredibly effective in increasing loyalty. That feeling of the brand also offering you a better deal is also a great way to build trust, so even though a brand might be increasing the cost it incurs for delivery, the value of a repeating customer and their advocacy hold much more weight.
In this sense, it’s all about how a brand and its offerings are perceived by customers. And another sure fire way of improving brand perceptions is through PPC tactics. Anyone operating in ecommerce knows how competitive the market is. Ensuring your brand is seen above competitors is key in driving awareness and trust, as ultimately, a higher ranking and greater visibility reflect positively on a brand’s trustworthiness.
Clearly, there are a number of ways in which businesses can adapt and improve their offerings in order to encourage trust and add value. Of course, implementing all of these changes will be wasteful for budgets and not necessarily effective for every brand. Therefore, it’s important that you understand your market and customers, which can prove a challenge as things continue to constantly change as they have been.
But a solution may not be too hard to find. Insight software has advanced just as fast as these markets and customer behaviours. Therefore, with the right tools on your side, you can monitor shifts in the market in real time and adjust your offerings in response.
For example, if data shows you receive more website traffic at certain times, it may be an option to increase the number of customer service staff operating the live chat function during those periods in order to minimise waiting times and improve customer experience.
These tools can also help you decide which channels to focus PPC efforts on depending on those your customers visit most often. Using this data, you can then allocate budget accordingly, ensuring wasted spend is minimised while results are maximised. For example, during the pandemic, the figures were showing a greater uptake in use of marketplaces such as Amazon, as well as social commerce channels, including Instagram. If businesses understood this in real time, aided by collaborative commerce software such as VTEX, they may have been able to optimise their performance by increasing their PPC activity and consequently, visibility and status on such platforms.
Ultimately, commerce is facing a period of significant uncertainty that is having an effect on both customers and businesses alike. Regardless of whether stores are open or closed, customer behaviours and needs are constantly changing to keep up. And brands need to understand that how they communicate their messages and offerings is vital in retaining trust and brand value.
It’s evident that a humanistic approach is prevailing, as that is one thing that will never change. But as digital channels take centre stage, it all comes down to how a brand is able to translate its personable approach online. While there are a number of innovative methods brands are using to appear more human on online channels, using the tools and data available is key to ensuring activities help rather than hinder a business.
And in this way, not only will brands be able to retain trust and brand value, but they will be building on it too. Read More
NATE BURKE | May 04, 2021
In recent years, the focus and surge in ecommerce has been undeniable. There has been clear evidence of how a lack of online consideration can ultimately result in a brand’s demise, with Debenhams and Topshop just two recent examples. However, the latest moves by online giants, including Amazon, are suggesting we’re not quite ready for a complete digital switchover just yet.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, a proprietary software solutions provider for digital marketing and ecommerce, explains that multichannel models are the next logical step, and how businesses can boost their prospects with not just a presence in both the digital and physical space, but by combining the two to create a frictionless customer experience.
While it might have felt like the pandemic was driving us closer to some sort of digital utopia, particularly with the closure of non-essential shops, remote working and online social gatherings being the norm for over a year now, it has become apparent neither businesses nor consumers are quite ready for things to transform to such an extent just yet.
One clear piece of evidence is the buzz and excitement that surrounded the reopening of retail in England and Wales from 12 April. This date marks the first time this year non-essential stores allowed customers to enter, browse and purchase items in the traditional bricks and mortar way.
Stores and hospitality venues were met with queuing customers on day one of the eased restrictions, showing a clear desire for physical brand offerings. One brand in particular which is known for its strictly-bricks and mortar model is Primark. Despite months of plummeted sales, its stores across England and Wales were one of the most popular among consumers on the first day of reopening, with many even lining up outside before business hours.
Although the excitement may have simply been down to pent up frustration after having spent months indoors with few other recreational activities available, there is undeniably a certain sense of trust, convenience and comfort offered by the in-store experience, that digital channels are yet to trump.
However, when taking to high streets and re-entering shopping centres after so long, consumers are no doubt being met with an unrecognisable physical retail landscape, with a significant number of empty units, some of which once belonged to flagship stores and iconic brands.
A changing physical landscape
The pandemic was the tipping point for many brands that had been slow or reluctant to adapt to the gradual digital transformation that has been occurring for some years now, examples of which include Debenhams and businesses operating under the Arcadia Group. Essentially, while some of these brands were struggling against online competitors before the initial lockdown, forced store closures drove customers to shop with those that had perfected their digital experience as there was no physical alternative anymore. So with no other options, the enhanced experience and simpler processes of trusted online brands outweighed any incentives to remain loyal to those which favoured the in-store offering. Evidently, the two channels are not the same and a mere presence in both online and offline spaces is not enough.
But while consumers bid farewell to stores they have known and visited their whole life, we welcome new brands and ways of shopping to the high street, suggesting it’s not completely over for bricks and mortar just yet.
One of the latest additions is Amazon Fresh. The online giant has been taking up space in physical retail across the U.S. for some years now, with bookstores, Amazon Go and the acquisition of Whole Foods. While the latter helped Amazon break into the competitive grocery market in the UK too, its most recent Amazon Fresh store opening in Ealing, London, is on track to solidify its position.
The unique store concept of a till-less shopping experience aims to disrupt the grocery industry by removing frictions and enabling customers to get their goods in the most convenient way. The concept utilises hundreds of cameras, depth sensors and artificial intelligence to recognise and monitor items customers pick up and put back. Upon entry, they scan a barcode on their Amazon Shopping smartphone app, and upon leaving, their accounts are automatically charged with the items they walk out with.
Of course, Amazon certainly did not need to make this move into physical retail, especially considering their growing online financial performance. However, the business clearly understands the importance of a model that comprises both online and physical channels, particularly as consumers’ behaviours and sentiments adjust following the pandemic.
Digital-led bricks and mortar
While digital offerings have provided a lifeline for both businesses and consumers amid lockdown restrictions, there are still certain items that customers prefer to buy in-store, with groceries and clothing two of the biggest categories. Ultimately, in-store grocery shopping remains the most convenient way to get items you need instantly, and digital is yet to offer a way to help customers gauge fit, feel and quality of clothing items online. The only option is to place an order and return it if you are unsatisfied, which as Amazon is beginning to understand, comes at a great financial and environmental cost.
The brand’s physical stores offer a way to combat these issues until a digital solution is established. Not only do they offer a fast and seamless way to shop for essential grocery items, Amazon Fresh also features a station at which online orders can be picked up and returned, minimising the impact delivery to multiple addresses and round return trips have on its bottom line and the planet.
Going forward, this is precisely what the future of retail will look like. Rather than pulling all physical presence, technology and digital software needs to be integrated into in-store offerings in order to reduce pain points of either channel.
Many multichannel retailers offer similar click and collect services that help merge customer experiences across channels and create a seamless and convenient process. And while Amazon Fresh is a unique concept, we can see other brands making similar moves with the likes of Scan and Go services and self-checkouts.
By embracing and leveraging the technology available, brands can make the most of their multichannel models, whereby online and offline routes are not separate entities, but rather a way to boost business prospects through greater presence, frictionless processes and an overall better buying experience for the customer. Read More
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
NATE BURKE | April 15, 2021
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has come a long way, with continued developments, advancements and algorithm tweaks giving business owners, brand agencies and marketing gurus more than just a digital headache.
But traditionally, SEO has been a numbers game, with ranking positions the all-important deciding factor. However, with the purpose of the activity to reflect and cater to user behaviours, can SEO really be simplified to numerical values?
In this piece, Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a proprietary software solutions provider for digital marketing and ecommerce, takes a look at how far SEO has come and how more recent advancements in intelligence are helping it towards its ultimate goal.
For any business operating online, SEO is an essential element of the digital marketing mix. Forming the foundation of website designs and content output, SEO helps businesses build an online presence by increasing the chances of web pages and products appearing in visible positions on search engine results pages.
Over the years, the activity has advanced significantly. Of course, it has come a long way since the early days of cramming as many keywords as possible into text, or using spam websites to backlink to yours in an attempt to gain authority.
And while many of these activities are now frowned upon, and can in fact, negatively impact SEO rather than help it, the motivations are the same. For instance, using keywords in website copy or product descriptions is still key in ensuring they rank for the right search terms. Similarly, backlinks remain the golden ticket for website authority, albeit from genuine and trustworthy sources.
The difference is that today, SEO is much more intuitive. Best practice is all about optimising content for logical human behaviour and user experience. For example, keywords that are integrated into copy in a much more natural way are likely to gain more SEO points than a page which uses the old cramming approach.
The reason for this shift is all down to advancements in intelligence, which are enabling search engines to assess and score content in more sophisticated ways than previously possible. Ultimately, today’s ranking assessments understand pages and content in ways that are similar to human usage and interactions.
For example, Google’s roll out of featured snippets has shown significant insight into how the search engine is being used, and in turn, how businesses must adapt their content in order to reach the top-ranking positions.
Emphasis on Q&A style results in position zero of results pages is clear evidence for users turning to the platform for question queries, for which they want quick and straightforward answers. And with these featured snippet boxes taking up significant space on the top of the results page, pushing other organic results further down, it is essential for businesses to include such content into their optimisation strategies.
Additionally, there is a strong case for the use of PPC ads in order to ensure higher visibility on pages that are becoming much harder to rank on organically. This is also true for product searches, as the search engine prioritises shopping results when a user’s query is interpreted as an intent to purchase. Therefore, shopping ads are a great way to ensure your products are visible among competitors in the most prominent position on the page.
Evidently, intelligence in SEO is enabling it to reflect user behaviours and intentions more accurately. And while this is a positive change from a consumer perspective, as results are only becoming more relevant, convenient and useful, for businesses, the playing field is more complex than ever.
So, with ranking criteria constantly being adapted and advanced by search engines, there are ways for businesses to leverage their own intelligence in order to improve SEO activity.
For instance, the backbone of any effective SEO strategy is data and insight. For many, collecting this information requires a trial and error approach, whereby businesses implement tactics and learn from what is and isn’t working.
But as search engines become more complex and intelligent, it can be difficult to get things right, or to really be able to assess activity without waiting months in some cases. Therefore, businesses should use their own data and insights to inform any decisions or activity. This can be a key way to ensure you focus on the right channels, customers and keywords.
For instance, using lead intelligence gathered and analysed by a sophisticated management system that takes into consideration all sales channels, including owned and third-party marketplaces, can provide valuable information on which channels your customers are using most frequently and what products or services are most popular.
This information can then go on to inform the channels you should focus your SEO efforts on, and which products or services will provide the best ROI.
In SEO, the numbers will always be important, as ranking positions will always determine the success of any efforts. However, intelligence should be given just as much attention, as it is only with the latter that efforts can be streamlined for more effective results. Read More
NATE BURKE | March 24, 2021
Unfortunately, a website is no longer enough for a significant or successful digital presence. Essentially, a presence is non-existent without some consideration of search engine optimisation (SEO).
But this too has become one of the basics of ‘going digital’ – a must, rather than a ‘nice to have’. Which begs the question – has the playing field been levelled? And if so, how can your business possibly get ahead when it seems everyone is in on the so-called secret for success?
Well, Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a digital marketing and ecommerce specialist firm, explains the SEO sweet spots that remain unexplored, or at least under-utilised, in order to help businesses really get the most from their digital activity.
It goes without saying that the online marketplace is saturated, and is only going to become ever more so as an increasing number of businesses undergo digital transformation. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent impact on physical business practices, this transition has been accelerated much faster than anticipated.
Consequently, there hasn’t been a gradual switch where businesses have been allowed time to learn and adjust to the new and unfamiliar ways of conducting sales and interactions. Instead, many have found themselves thrust into a marketplace that already feels exhausted. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing and any guides or ‘how tos’ they may have read, are fast becoming outdated and no longer provide a way to get an edge on the competition.
But digital is here to stay, right? We can’t possibly have exhausted its possibilities yet. And we haven’t. Fortunately, this is one of the many benefits of the digital landscape – it is constantly evolving as new advancements and innovations are developed.
In terms of SEO, it once really was an activity that not many were focusing on and for the few that were, there was great success to be found. However, we have long passed such a time and SEO elements form the foundations of just about every professional website development project. Therefore, it can be incredibly difficult to get ahead of competitors with such tactics.
However, it should be noted that although you might not be able to use basic URL mapping, page speed optimisation and content structuring techniques, for example, to gain an edge, you can quite quickly find yourself falling behind if such foundations are skipped.
And this ties in quite nicely with one of the first and most important ways to continue seeing SEO success. Remembering that the digital landscape is forever evolving, one should commit time and resource to ensuring these foundations remain relevant, updated and able to support any additions or developments to the website.
When these elements have been built into the early stages of the website development, it can be easy to forget about them. But as core parts of the platform, it is not difficult to see why it is so essential that they remain functional and effective over time.
Think Bing and beyond
Another trap that many businesses can find themselves falling into is believing all effort and focus must be placed on Google. While Google does hold significant market share and influence in search engine optimisation trends, it is by no means the only platform that exists.
In fact, Bing holds more than 10% market share in the UK, and this is steadily increasing month by month. Therefore, consideration should also be given to how online presence can be optimised for the Microsoft owned platform too.
And when you begin to monitor your performance on the search engine, you may even find you are yielding better results, including greater impressions and consequently click through rates, and higher rankings due to less competition.
Similarly, YouTube and Amazon are rising in popularity and prominence when it comes to consumers searching for products and services. And what may come as a surprise to some, Amazon has actually overtaken Google as the first point of call when searching for a product to purchase.
In many ways the marketplace offers consumers with a greater intent to purchase, thanks to convenience, choice and better usability in terms of completing a transaction. They no longer have to scroll through pages and pages of text to then click through to various websites in order to get information regarding price, features and availability, as Amazon offers it all in a single view.
Therefore, businesses utilising the marketplace should place greater focus on optimising their product listings in order for them show higher in results pages. Just like SEO for Google, Amazon has its own best practices that leverage its ranking algorithm. These include elements such as product titles, brand or seller names, bullet point features, images, reviews, and so on.
While Amazon is great for high intent transactions, optimising YouTube content is a vital way to ensure you are capturing those customers still in the research or discovery phases too.
Similarly for YouTube, businesses should look to ensure video titles and descriptions are targeting the right keywords and phrases. And as the platform now transcribes content, it is also crucial that these keywords are mentioned in the video. But most importantly, content needs to be engaging.
Again, there are a number of best practices for each of these platforms, but essentially, what’s key here is that you remember to focus on them as well as any efforts on Google, as this will help you establish a strong overall online presence.
No matter the platforms you are choosing to optimise your performance on, it will always require a long-term commitment. And although the commitment will pay off in time, businesses looking for shorter term results should consider using PPC tactics to supplement their SEO efforts.
The two activities can run hand in hand. If equal amount of focus and attention is given to both, there is opportunity for one to help the other, too. For instance, if your ads are ranking well and raising awareness of your brand and traffic to your website, there is then a greater chance for this is impact people’s organic perceptions and recollection of your company. They may even search for your product or service by name, or look for your listing in organic results, which could certainly help improve a search engine’s interpretation of your authority and relevance – both of which are key factors for SEO.
Similarly, there really is no harm in taking up additional space on a search engine results page, which is only possible through a ranking ad and organic listing.
And while it might seem running both activities will create extra workload and strain on your resources, there are ways to minimise the burden. For example, keyword research can be conducted and applied to both initially, and then micromanaged using an integrated software solution in order to inform and streamline any areas for improvement.
Ultimately, there is still a lot to be discovered and implemented when it comes to optimising your online presence. There really is no one way to go about it, either. Businesses need to look at what is and isn’t working for them and those they are competing against, and identify the untapped opportunities that will help them get ahead. SEO isn’t a game of following suit, and that is the real secret. Read More
NATE BURKE | February 01, 2021
AI is everywhere. In ecommerce and digital marketing in particular, it’s likely you’re using AI to support your activities, whether you’re aware of it or not.
In most cases, AI supported practices are a great benefit to the business. They enable improved efficiency, a reduced administrative burden and help create more effective campaigns and services.
But Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a UK provider of proprietary software for digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, believes businesses could be getting more out of their use of AI. In this piece, he explains how businesses can use intelligent proliferation to their advantage and really stand out from the crowd.
Today, just about every business that has some online activity benefits from AI. Whether that’s how they appear in search engines or their social media reach, for example, AI is practically everywhere.
Generally, it works in the background and requires little input from the business, while offering some valuable internal benefits, including greater efficiency, fewer administrative tasks and more successful campaigns and services.
But with it increasingly being integrated into just about every digital tool, it’s no longer the case that AI can be used as a differentiator or a way to stand out from the competition. However, that’s not to say it can’t be.
In order to really reap the rewards of AI and place your business leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd, it’s time to start taking a more proactive approach.
Now, this might sound counterintuitive. After all, AI is supposed to relieve some of the effort and input required from you. And while that isn’t entirely wrong, no matter how much technology advances, we are all still human. And humans require some element of emotional connection with brands in order for them to create successful engagement and interactions.
Ultimately, businesses need to find the perfect balance between artificial and emotional intelligence. Activities and decisions should be supported by both technology to make life easier, and human judgement, in order for output to be received well by customers.
And this has never been more important than in the current market.
The multichannel model
Online business is thriving. The number of digitally transformed companies, online sales, ecommerce channels and engagement platforms are increasing. And businesses and consumers are adapting.
The pandemic has encouraged more to embrace the shift. But as physical retail and face to face business opens back up, the multichannel model will no doubt become the new normal. However, as well as increasing workloads for management, challenges will also exist in creating cohesive and high-quality customer experiences.
But AI integration does offer a remedy. For instance, commerce solutions provide retailers with a single, centralised platform on which they can combine activity across all sales and logistics channels, both digital and offline.
Data from all areas of the business, including supply chain, sales channels and end user experience is then available in one place. This rich data is often much more valuable due to its quality and quantity, and by leveraging AI’s ability to analyse such data, you can turn it into invaluable business insight. When translated into digestible reports, such as trends and benchmarks, you can really optimise both the business’s potential and your customers’ experiences.
This takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation, ensuring the output is just as high quality as the input, and providing an informed basis in order to justify decisions.
But, your business is yours for a reason. It’s likely you have knowledge, expertise and experience in your industry, things that AI can’t, and shouldn’t, replace. Put simply, if you don’t maintain your core data, such as product attributes and tracking information, in a timely and accurate manner, then you can’t expect AI to make sense of your mess.
Artificial vs emotional intelligence
Although data driven trends and patterns are important when making business decisions, consumers cannot be simplified to a mere statistic. Rather, their emotions and intrinsic behaviours are better understood by humans.
Therefore, business owners and employees play a vital role in interpreting such data and trends, applying their sense and experiences to really comprehend what their customers want and why. And then using this to make better business decisions.
It comes down to striking a balance between the benefits offered by AI and our own emotional judgements. This way, we can create more personal and positive brand experiences that encourage engagement.
For instance, over recent months this might have involved digital marketing campaigns that are sensitive to the current global situation, yet delivered at a time and place the data has shown you your customers will receive it.
Or, perhaps a chatbot service that utilises AI to collect basic information from a user, then passes them onto a real customer service representative who can help resolve the issue in a more friendly and sensitive manner. While the business benefits from greater efficiency, wasting fewer human resources in the initial stages of the interaction, the customer still gets the personable service they so often need and prefer.
But AI is advancing at an incredible rate. It might not be long before the technology begins to understand more complex human behaviours through verbal or written cues for example, and it will be time to readjust our practices again. However, until then, human judgement remains pivotal, even in an increasingly digital world. Read More
OMNI CHANNEL MARKETING
NATE BURKE | January 04, 2021
It’s that time of year again where we reflect upon the prior year and make informative predictions for the months ahead in order to adjust our business activities and refocus our strategies.
Unsurprisingly, due to the nature of 2020’s events, just about every industry and business will be looking to 2021 with hope and optimism, as well as a strong sense of caution.
And while the physical retail sector has been one of the hardest hit, ecommerce has experienced the opposite effect, but that’s not to say it has been without its challenges. Consequently, businesses need to respond to shifts in the market for the chance of a successful future.
Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a UK provider of proprietary software for digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, shares his predictions for the industry for 2021 and beyond.
Physical retail outlets have been facing uncertainty long before the term became widely used. This is due to multiple factors, including high commercial rents, a shift towards digital-first consumer shopping habits and online competitors’ ability to undercut prices. These influences have resulted in the gradual digital transformation of retailers, whereby online offerings have become a primary focus for business efficiency.
Proof of this is the year on year increase in online sales. But the spike experienced in early 2020 is the basis of the first prediction, which is high levels of online shopping will continue into the next twelve months, with no going back to pre-COVID ways. But many organisations are already in a position to accommodate this trend, particularly as 85,000 new businesses enabled ecommerce functionality or joined an online marketplace during the first national lockdown.
And now these businesses have made the digital switch, they will want to continue maximising sales through online channels as the pandemic has created a permanent digital shift in consumer shopping behaviours with more predicted to shop online post-pandemic than before it.
Alternative sales channels
The next prediction is fuelled by both digital innovation and the rise in ecommerce. As more and more businesses enable ecommerce functionality, there will inevitably be greater competition and an increase in options for consumers to choose from.
Therefore, the channels through which businesses sell their products will widen and become more accessible in order to generate the greatest chance of items or services being seen and ultimately, chosen over competitors’.
Fortunately, the rising popularity of online marketplaces and the developments in social media shopping functions, means businesses now have the opportunity to distribute products through more channels than ever before. And this will only continue to increase in the year ahead.
When it comes to marketplaces, Amazon is leading the way with a year on year rise in net revenue. Not only is the business’s performance evidence of this, but so is the consumer shopping behaviour shift which is seeing more consumers go directly to Amazon first (40%) when searching for a product, as opposed to Google (30%) or a brand’s owned channel (19%).
Facebook and Instagram are also notable channels for ecommerce businesses, with YouTube also growing in popularity and prominence. Although by nature, these platforms are designed for social interaction and content consumption, in recent times, they have placed greater focus on shopping with Facebook’s marketplace, Instagram’s shopping tab and YouTube shopping ad functions, for example.
One of the biggest benefits of utilising social media as a shopping channel is the streamlined customer experience that can be created. Fundamentally, shoppers can see a product on their feed, click through to view it and then place an order without even having to leave the app.
But as well as convenience, social media is an effective shopping channel as platforms are key influences on consumer consumption decisions anyway. In fact, 80% of Instagram users and 68% of YouTube users say content on the respective platforms helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.
Therefore, as more businesses realise the impact of these platforms, we’ll see social media being added to an increasing number of online sales strategies.
Many are hopeful for a return to some form of normality in 2021. And with the potential reopening of physical retail, businesses will be faced with the opportunity to maximise their presence and in turn, sales through both online and offline channels, creating an omnichannel brand offering.
This way, brands will appeal to a larger customer base. And no matter which channel a customer chooses to use to interact with the brand, they can expect a consistent quality of service and overall experience.
But in 2021, what many will realise is the challenging nature of upkeeping both channels. Of course, there will be a greater financial burden due to property costs and employee wages, which will only be felt deeper due to the volatile, COVID-struck economic climate.
So instead, a true omnichannel experience will be created through integration and innovation whereby each channel is used to support and supplement the other.
For example, we’ll see retailers using their physical locations to relieve some of the pain points of the online service, such as delivery and returns processes. Some retailers are already excelling in this, including the likes of supermarkets, Next, John Lewis and Argos who have all integrated click and collect services and other smart shopping options firmly into their primary offering.
As technology and creativity moves on, we’ll also begin to see an increasing number of concept stores that make shop visits an unmissable experience that is personal to each customer and adds value to their purchase, rather than simply a distribution channel.
With all these additional sales channels, retailers will see the benefit of digital management systems that relieve some of the administrative burden and enable greater efficiency.
The VTEX solution, for example, provides a single comprehensive commerce platform for brands and retailers. Combining activity across every sales and logistics channel, these platforms allow for a unified customer experience, lower cost of ownership, and increased business capabilities across physical stores, websites (B2B and B2C), third party and company owned marketplaces.
With all this information in one place, businesses can provide better customer experiences as order information can be retrieved faster and response times reduced. Customer updates can also be automated to ensure any important information about an order process is timely communicated, with no additional workload for employees.
And as well as customer-facing benefits, these systems enable better collaboration between points in a supply chain, which can streamline a business’s processes, and in turn reduce waste and increase efficiency.
For example, orders for items that are low in stock can be placed automatically and only when they are needed. This way, businesses won’t have cash tied up in unused products and materials, and resources can be reallocated to other critical activities.
And as these systems collect and analyse data, they can also provide meaningful insight into market trends, that can inform accurate future predictions and business decisions.
These trends are evidence that the ecommerce landscape is ever-changing. While digital transformation is set to continue, the speed at which it has occurred for retailers this year means the ecommerce market will inevitably undergo further significant change in the months to come.
Businesses that are prepared to adapt now will experience better growth and success than those that remain static or stuck in their ways. Read More