What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

Your Digital Marketing Strategy is an overall blueprint that governs all your online marketing campaigns, and should be referred to when considering changes to your website, your social media and email campaigns, digital advertising (such as Facebook or Google ads), online customer support and any other outreach you do online.

Why do I need a Digital Marketing Strategy?

In the absence of an online marketing strategy, you are essentially shooting blind. You wouldn’t know if you are targeting the right audience, the right marketing channels and the right time.

Operating without a strategy online is like a small geographical business advertising in a local London newspaper – it may look good, it may even reach a massive audience and be seen by thousands of people – but it won’t make a difference to your business.

Having a digital marketing strategy removes the guesswork, ensuring your campaigns reach the right audience through the right marketing channels at the right time – getting you ahead of the competition.

Digital Marketing Strategy Vs Digital Marketing Campaign

Many people tend to confuse the two terms and use them interchangeably.

A digital marketing strategy is a blueprint or a master plan that helps achieve your digital goals. A digital marketing campaign, however, refers to the specific tactics and actions used to achieve the goals outlined in your strategy.

So your digital marketing strategy defines the what, why and where whereas the campaign is all about how you will achieve your strategy. Both go hand in hand and are essential to achieving your marketing goals.

What should my Digital Marketing Strategy cover?

A digital marketing strategy outlines a series of steps and actions using online marketing channels to achieve specific goals. A carefully designed digital marketing plan paves the way for launching and growing your online marketing strategy successfully.

Your digital marketing strategy document should consider:

  • Your business purpose, products and history
  • Previous performance
  • Your current marketing efforts
  • Your goals and objectives
  • Your target audience
  • Current market issues and challenges
  • Your ‘tone’ of voice
  • Your branding guidelines
  • Your competitors
  • Timeframe and Goals
  • Steps and actions to fulfil the strategy
  • Check-in points and review stages to assess the performance and success of your strategy, techniques and the overall plan

Identify your audience

No two online marketing strategies are the same, and all the above steps are necessary – but perhaps the two most vital steps are to identify the target audience (or audiences) you hope to reach, and to set realistic, measurable goals to determine success.

How do I define my audience?

A good guide is to look at your best customers – the ones who spend the most and require the least amount of your time to support them, and your best market sectors. It’s possible to create several campaigns to reach different audiences, but your strategy should define who they are.

What goals should you set?

This will depend on the unique needs of your business, your goals and your budget.

However, a solid internet marketing strategy will outline the following goals:

  • Short-term (for example, more social media followers by date)
  • Medium-term (for example increase leads by date)
  • Long-term (for example increase sales by date)

The short and medium-term goals should act as checking points and will help achieve your long-term goals.

Your strategy document will be unique to your business and there’s no place for a one-size-fits-all strategy. However, by doing this step, your efforts will be more focused and you will be able to measure success.

Conclusion

A digital marketing strategy gives all your online marketing efforts the best chance of success, helping you and your team focus your efforts on achieving your goals, increasing the chances of your campaigns succeeding.

If you’d like help creating an effective digital marketing strategy for your business, contact us today.

Questions in Quarantine 6 with Paul Lyons, owner of DesignWeb, a leading provider of Digital Marketing, SEO and Web Design in North Wales. Paul talks to Radar PR Director Martin Williams about life and business in lockdown.

Leading North Wales Web Design company Designweb have taken their client hosting to the next level, investing in high-end dedicated servers with Hosting UK to improve their hosting services for clients. Existing clients are now enjoying the benefits of faster loading speeds, improved security and 4 daily backups.

Managing Director, Paul Lyons explains:

“We previously used three separate hosting companies, all in England, but as our business has grown, we wanted to unify our hosting and invest in a premium service for our clients, with improved backups and the highest standards of online security. We had been speaking to a number of leading UK providers about this.

“The majority of our clients are in North Wales, although we provide web design to a number of creative agencies in Leeds and London – so we are passionate about supporting local businesses. When we found Hosting UK, just half a mile away from our offices in St. Asaph, we were keen to talk to them – and found a provider who was as committed to service delivery as we are, rivalling anything else in the UK. They offer a superior hosting service and a highly skilled support team, so switching to them was an easy decision. We are now able to deliver an improved hosting service for our customers – and scalability for our future hosting plans.”

The upgrade means that Designweb web hosting customers now enjoy:

  • Tailored hosting according to customer needs
  • dedicated resources to improve loading times
  • CPanel access for clients to administer their own email accounts and services
  • 4 x scheduled daily backups
  • Improved security due to restricted access
  • Superior technical support from a highly knowledgeable team

Peter Jackson of Hosting UK said:

“North Wales is a brilliant place to be based, and it’s great to be able to collaborate with a high-end local web design agency who shares our core values on quality and service. Designweb has the experience to appreciate the difference between cheap ‘just about good enough’ hosting and a robust, quality hosting product that delivers excellent security, reliability and performance. We look forward to supporting them and their clients for the foreseeable future.”

As a leading North Wales Web Design specialist, we are used to receiving calls from concerned website owners looking for professional web advice after their website has been hacked.

Thankfully, this has affected very few of our clients, however we can normally can and do help even if it wasn’t a website we built.

These days, hacking is a huge risk, to put it in perspective, by lunchtime today more than 66,000 websites worldwide will fall victim to a hacker – many of them attacking from miles away, unconnected in any way to your business, attacking your website purely because they can.

How do businesses react when their website gets hacked

The first response from most website owners when their site gets hacked is disbelief. Common reactions include ‘but why would they target me? I’m just a local church/football club/small e-commerce website/local business website? I’m not NASA!”

It causes upset and disruption to your business and many people take it personally – but targeted website attacks are extremely rare. Your website is normally chosen purely because a hacker has done a worldwide scan using a specialist hacking tool and found they could get into yours.

It is not anyone’s fault, it isn’t usually down to a mistake by your website designer, it is no different to your car being stolen. There are cyber criminals out there, and anyone can fall victim, but like with your car, there are steps you can take to make you less of a target.

Why a website hack is rarely personal

While a website hack is upsetting, it is rarely a personal attack. Most hackers hail from foreign countries and couldn’t care less about your site or your business. They are often looking for a site to show off their hacking ‘skills’ to their friends, or are looking for a website to exploit for financial gain.

Here’s just some of the reasons an innocent local website may be seen as a target:

  • Every website is hosted on a server, by hacking the website they may be able to take advantage of the server resources;
  • Your website may have an excellent reputation online, so they can hijack it to use it for their own sales projects;
  • Your website may contain business or customer data they can use;
  • In some cases, hackers just want to impress each other – they have tools that highlight vulnerable websites and yours was chosen.

While no website protection is foolproof and the most determined hackers have even secured access to places like the Pentagon, there are ways to prevent your website from being an easy target. Cybersecurity experts talk about creating layers – staff awareness, best practice, strong passwords will each offer an additional layer of protection.

What happens during a hacking attack?

Unfortunately, this depends entirely on the hacker – once they have control of your website it is up to them what they choose to do.

Sometimes, a hacker will just change a picture or content on your landing page and do little else.

However, some hacks can be incredibly damaging, stealing your client data, hijacking browser search results for your website and diverting your clients to a nefarious site, utilizing your web server for cryptomining, destroying your data and more. Some hackers will lock your data and hold it to ransom (don’t ever pay, in most cases they won’t restore your site anyway).

The good news is that most websites can be recovered to some degree, but it is not always possible to fully recover a hacked site.

In many cases however, hackers will leave some kind of back door for easy future access – which is why we always recommend choosing a professional to recover your site.

However even seasoned professionals may not spot them – hackers are experts at finding ways to make their code hidden and looking innocuous. Our advice is always to avoid being hacked in the first place and to regularly scan the website after any hack has taken place.

How can I protect my website from being hacked?

Nobody can 100% protect their website from hackers – it boils down to how much time, assets and acumen the hacker chooses to invest to hack your site. Huge corporates, Government associations and financial institutions are continually investing in cyber security and many of them have still been hacked.

However, a few small steps will reduce your risk. We recommend all website owners:

Have a SSL authentication

The SSL adds additional encryption to your site, making it harder to hack. It also has a useful side benefit of helping your web ranking, as Google prefers sites with SSL certification.

Choose Secure website hosting

You can find cheap website hosting for £1 a month, or pay thousands per month. They don’t all offer the same service and you get what you pay for. Web Design specialists like DesignWeb will have spent time choosing a reliable, secure web host for their website owners and security will be one of their key considerations. Regular site backups are important too, check whether your website host includes this.

Do website software updates

While your website will have been built in line with up-to-date recommendations, both website hackers and technology are continually evolving.

For this reason, WordPress issues updates to plug ins, themes and settings almost daily. Keeping WordPress updates up to date is essential .

Once a vulnerability is uncovered, hackers usually spread the word very quickly, so it is an ongoing battle to issue updates in a timely fashion.

Most web designers will offer a premium service where they take care of things like Joomla and WordPress updates for you. It can seem like a cost saving to say no, but it’s worth the time you will save to keep your website secure. It’s certain a service we’ve found popular among our clients.

Very old custom-built websites are particularly vulnerable, as they will not have received regular patches and updates – many website designers will offer a free website review – take advantage of that and then listen to their advice.

Finally, WordPress has some good plug-ins that will reduce your vulnerability. Talk to your website designer about whether one would benefit your website.

Choose secure passwords and educate your staff to do the same

You’d be amazed how quickly a techie can guess your passwords from a quick glance at your Facebook page. Pet names, kids names, friends names all make for terrible passwords. Also common names and passwords get added to hacker databases which automatically scan your site for vulnerabilities – so avoid them, too. Most hackers use a ‘brute force’ technique which keeps trying for common words in a database… so ‘motoracing’ or ‘rugbyfan’ is not so clever as you hoped!

A secure password is harder to crack.

A good password should not include names, have a mix of capital and lower case letters, numbers and special characters, and ideally at least 12 characters long.

Change passwords when staff leave

Not all hackers are remote – and an ex-employee with a grudge is always a risk. Good practice can eliminate that risk altogether.

It’s best practice to change passwords when people leave – not doing so leaves you wide open to business disruption. Trust is great, but secure practices are a firmer guarantee.

Website security is a huge topic and of course, we can’t cover every detail in a short article.

However, these basic steps will avoid your site being an easy target. Awareness and monitoring, too, will make you able to respond quickly to any potential threat.

For more information and advice, please call us on 01745 508588 or visit our website: https://www.designweb.co.uk

DesignWeb SEO Consultant Lisa Baker discusses Google’s latest Algorithm change.

At the slightest twitch of Google’s algorithm, a business can literally drop from first page ranking into obscurity overnight.  Make no mistake, getting SEO wrong is not good for any site, but for a business that relies on web leads, or ecommerce sales, a Google algorithm change can literally halve your sales.

Many website owners may not be aware that last week, Google made some massive changes to it’s algorithm that are still being felt by the search community.  

What do we know about this Google algorithm change?

Google haven’t given any details about this update, other than to confirm it. They don’t always announce changes and only rarely do they let the web community know what the changes will be. At least the SEO community will understand why our rankings may be fluctuating this week, even if we don’t yet know the full outcome as it settles into place.

As always, there will be winners and losers.  The Daily Mail has reportedly seen it’s search traffic drop by 50% since last week- something that will hit advertising revenue.  The CEO is apparently appealing to the search community for help to resolve the problem. 

If experience is anything to go by, we won’t know the long-term outcome of these changes for a few weeks longer.  Even then, Google makes regular, minor tweaks and search is evolving all the time.  I therefore won’t be rushing to respond.

The last big Google algorithm change in March seemed to hit health-related sites, however early indications are that sites hit hard in March are showing signs of search recovery since last week’s update, so there could be some ‘corrections’ to earlier changes.

What do SEO consultants do?

SEO consultants are judged with a mix of awe and fear, as though we hold huge power.  I’m sometimes called the ‘Google Witch’ (I love that one so much I want to brand it!). 

Actually, the real power remains with Google, and our role is less sacred, SEO is mostly hard work, measuring, testing. reading, painstaking link building and content creation and keeping active in the search community.  We may tweak your website content, build backlinks within and to your site, sometimes we may remove or disassociate backlinks. It’s very individualised and we focus on learning what works today – and re-learning as necessary.  

Black hat and white hat SEO – what’s the difference?

Black hat is seen like a mystic art and almost always involves trying to trick Google. White hat SEO means following best practice.

I always follow white hat because in the long run, this works.  Even if hit by an algorithm change, sites using white hat techniques usually recover fairly quickly once the Google algorithm changes settle into place.

Black hat SEO – now that really is a dark art, with only short-term effect.  Trying to exploit a weakness in Google, like building fake links, (which saw business owners literally slapped out of the top 200 rankings by Google’s Panda) and other nefarious practices, will have limited long term effect.

In case you are wondering, I have seen the impact of penalties in real life. A former employer who loved black hat went from page 1 position 1 for over 50 keywords to obscurity and not being visible in the top 200 for months, when Google rolled out Panda. It proved a costly lesson.

Aren’t Google algorithm updates just unfair?

We shouldn’t feel resentful when Google challenges an unethical practice, because bottom line, as search consumers, we want high quality results.  In my view, black hat is the lazy man’s approach to SEO and it only works short term.

However, Google’s power is scary.  For example, when Google changes it’s policies to determine whether news or products are ‘fake’ or ‘genuine’, I’m left a little cold.

Should Google censor content?

When it comes to holistic medicine, drugs, or alternative remedies, many sites simply do not rank despite having excellent SEO – the algorithm has deemed their content as not fit for their search engine (and by extension, society).

With effectively one search engine to rule them all, should we allow Google to make these policy decisions for society?  Because let’s face it, if you can’t find it, you can’t shop there. They can close an ecommerce business overnight.

It’s a lot of power for a single player to hold – and while Google rules all searches, it is largely unregulated.  Google is simply a business with shareholders to please.  

On the flip side we also expect our search engines to protect children and vulnerable people from seeing harmful content.   Censorship through search is a tough tightrope to walk. 

What will the Daily Mail do about their SEO problem?

The Daily Mail have, I’m sure, put a response team in place to deal with this Google algorithm change, with internal and external resources working on the issue while search positions stabilise.

I will be monitoring my client’s traffic and will make changes if necessary once things are settled. Like most SEOs, in the meantime, for me it will be business as usual.  Two things are certain:

1)      Sites optimised using white hat SEO are more likely to recover, even if there is short-term instability, and

2)      This will definitely not be the last update Google makes – it, like the SEO community, are learning, evolving and responding.

If you need help with any aspect of SEO, please get in touch with the DesignWeb team.

Picking the correct domain name for your website is essential – it represents your online brand and forms an impression of who you are.

Online visitors may not see your branding, your office or your appearance – so you need to think carefully about what you are choosing to portray.

An innovative name can be a significant influence in attracting guests to your site – but if it doesn’t reflect what you do, and you are unknown, being ‘clever’ or ‘too far out’ will see you struggling to attract good search positions.  That’s because your ‘URL’ is one of the factors Google looks at.

A little research can reap dividends.  SEO expert Lisa Baker explains:

“I built an HR News site for a former client – we chose the name “HRNews.co.uk” purely to drive SEO traffic.  As a result the site is now thriving.” 

How to choose the right name – think like a visitor

Let’s be honest, Coca Cola don’t need to register ‘SparklingColaDrink.com” – their brand is so strong that those looking for a Cola drink will probably type in Coca Cola and know who they are looking for.

However, most people aren’t in the fortunate position of having years of branding that make them the go-to product in their sector.

If you are a campsite in Snowdonia, “snowdoniacampsite.co.uk” is possibly going to do you more favours on Google than “mountainview.co.uk” – because chances are, customers will type in ‘snowdonia campsite’- so if this is your first web venture, have a think before you settle.

(Incidentally, a campsite has registered that domain name and pointed it towards their main site!)

Help! My domain name doesn’t do what it says on the tin!

That’s ok.  You are in the same boat as many other website owners.  You can wait for Google and your customers to find you, start writing keyword-rich content on your website, and use social media.  In fact, even if you have the perfect domain, we would recommend you do this anyway.

If this is something that you don’t have the time or the skills to do in-house, we offer SEO and social media management services. Our skilled team have been getting results for a number of years and are on hand to offer advice if needed.

Make your brand match your website

No matter what your domain is, you will need to think about branding.

Your domain name represents how your clients will perceive you – are you targeting the high quality end of the market, the bargain basement or somewhere in the middle?

It’s important to be honest with yourself about your product and make sure your brand identity and website target the right audience – your customer will know who they are, and what they are looking for. 

In short, don’t be a mini marketing to Rolls Royce buyers – if you know your market and target your site and digital marketing accordingly, they will come.

The same applies to a domain – nothing wrong with ‘cheapcars.com’ or ‘RollsRoyceWales.com’ so long as what you find inside matches the brand.

Pick the Best Domain Extension

The area after the “dot” can likewise help or damage your name.

We generally recommend avoiding the new ‘flash’ domain names, like .pizza and go for what people know and trust.

For US businesses, and some UK companies .com is a natural choice – with .co.uk a natural choice for UK businesses.  .Org usually indicates a charity.  Getting the right one will send out a subtle message to customers that you are authentic and trustworthy. 

It’s worth mentioning too, that no matter what domain you choose an SSL certificate is increasingly essential. 

Competition

Seen your competitors domain up for grabs?  It’s not worth trying to steal business from a competitor by grabbing a .com if they own the .co.uk.   This could be seen as ‘passing off’ and could cause business complications. Don’t waste your time, it could create more hassle in the long run.

However, to protect your brand, we may recommend you register more than just one domain extension, because a few quid is worth protection from the hassle of your competitor choosing to snipe your domain and you having to complain to the UK registrar, Nominet.  We can help with this if it has happened and you need advice. 

Give us a call

As North Wales website design and digital marketing experts, we’ve built our knowledge over years of practice and while we charge for our web design and SEO skills, a quick chat about the right domain name for your business won’t cost you a penny.

As always, we’re here to help.

While those of us in smart homes may spend hours playing with Alexa skills that turn your lights off or alter your heating, business owners should pay attention to another skill – because voice search on electronic devices is set to expand big time.

It’s already popular with Apple users, who may use Siri to book a restaurant in a new neighbourhood.

Give it a try – ask Alexa or Siri to recommend a restaurant near you. She doesn’t disappoint.

Then try asking who she recommends for your line of business in your town – do you come up?

The new voice search is going to create some pretty big issues for your SEO strategy.

Firstly, while the old favourite Google pulls up pages of information, giving the user plenty of choice, a voice search will often only read the top 4 matches. Position 5 – forget it!

Secondly, and more complex, voice search is opening the search market back up. For years now, Google has anecdotally captured more than 80% of the search market.

In recent years, Internet Explorer and Bing search has been seen as the ‘poor relation’ for SEO. A great source of cheaper PPC leads, certainly, but always second to big brother Google.

As Alexa is starting to roll out for mobile use, Alexa’s voice search could be about to help Bing buck the trend.

Google is far from being left out on the voice search front, it has own smart device and already owns the Android operating system powering mobile phones across the globe, as well as providing the default search option for Apple’s Siri.

However the Amazon Echo voice search is powered by Microsoft Bing – and Alexa sales are booming.

To succeed in voice search, your SEO strategy will need to focus on pleasing both search networks.

Voice search is fast becoming an increasingly important part of planning your future SEO strategy and something SEO professionals are keenly aware of.

It’s been said for years that you need to think about SEO before you even buy your domain name. Voice search is hotting up the competition for rankings.

If you need help planning for voice search as part of your SEO strategy, give us a call.

We were delighted to work with local MP, Chris Ruane to build his new website, https://chrisruanemp.uk/.

The new website, launched recently, will hopefully enable all constituents, no matter how computer literate, to access information on the work of their Member of Parliament and to contact him via the internet should they need his help.

In an interview with local business website North Wales Business, Mr. Ruane said:

“Having a website is an essential way of businesses, organisations and elected members communicating with members of the public. The website provides an additional avenue for constituents to contact me, check out my surgery timetable or to keep up-to-date on any news or what I’ve been involved in, in Parliament.”

Mr. Ruane continued:

“It is extremely helpful when you can have a reputable local company such as Designweb which provides hands-on, support in getting one set up. Paul and his team have provided an excellent service and support throughout this process.”

We worked closely with Mr. Ruane, and from the word go, ease of use was our priority throughout the web design process, so that Chris’s constituents can access the information they need clearly and easily.

It is commendable that Chris Ruane chose to work with a web design company in his own constituency when many MPs just outsource to large media centres in London, and again proves the MP’s commitment to supporting businesses in the Vale of Clwyd.

The DesignWeb team really enjoyed working with him on the project and we hope the new website will improve support for the residents and businesses in our region.

As our profile as a leading web designer continues to grow across North Wales, Designweb were invited to comment by North Wales Business on news that companies who trade under a .EU domain were likely to lose their domains at relatively short notice in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Our media relations team were happy to oblige and the link to the article is here:

https://north-wales-business.co.uk/

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