FAQs for Digital Brand Managers

Digital demystified by our resident geeks.

FAQs from digital brand managers.

TCM’s resident geeks work closely with our clients to demystify all things digital.

We want to support excellence in your digital presence and online marketing efforts by understanding the things that are important to your brand. Some of the most frequently asked questions are answered below.

Don’t see your question answered? Contact us here and we’ll do our best to help. We’ll also keep this article updated with new FAQs as they arise. Click on the question below to skip to the answer.

  1. How can my brand appear higher on Google?
  2. How can I get more client sign-ups?
  3. Why is my bounce rate so high?
  4. How can I improve my conversion rate?
  5. Why is my website so slow?
  6. What is HTTPS?
  7. Do I need an SSL Certificate?
  8. What CMS would you recommend?
  9. What eCommerce Platform should I use?
  10. Where should I host my site?
  11. How important is a responsive website?

SEO

This really is the billion dollar question.The intricacies of the Google algorithm are a closely guarded secret and it’s well beyond the scope of this post to go into serious detail.

However, there are a few fundamentals which all brand managers should ensure are checked off.

  • Search Engine Optimised content: Is your content relevant, with well-structured copy? Are you using appropriate consistent keywords in titles, headers, descriptions and paragraphs, with working inbound and outbound links, images with alt-text applied etc? It’s easy to run an SEO scan on your website to highlight if there are areas for improvement.
  • High quality inbound links: There are links and there are links! Links from low quality, trashy websites will do very little for your SEO. In fact, they may even have a negative effect. So, we certainly don’t recommend budget link-building strategies. However, genuine, high quality, high traffic, relevant sites linking to similar content on your brand website is a definite win. Honest, genuine pursuit of this objective is highly encouraged.
  • Long tail keywords: Thinking really carefully about the search terms people might use to find what’s on your website is increasingly important. The keyword “whisky shop” may be fiercely competitive across the UK but “single malt specialist online retailer” could help a whisky fan find your shop more easily. The rise of voice search also means that keywords are changing as the way people express themselves aloud can differ to how they type words into a search bar.
  • Regularly updated content: Top websites keep their content fresh to ensure ongoing relevancy and the Search Engines reward regularly updated, relevant content.
  • Mobile responsiveness: increasingly, a website’s mobile responsiveness is a factor in the ranking awarded by the Search Engine. Skip to question, “How important is a responsive website“.
  • Social engagement: There is significant evidence to suggest that Google does value social backlinks into your content. So having a strong social content strategy with links back to your core brand content is a very good idea.
  • Fast page loading: Nearly half of users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load up sharpish and page speed is one of the signals used by Search Engines to rank sites in search results. Skip to the question, “Why is my website so slow”.

Sign up dog

You need strong Calls to Action (CTAs) to get more client sign ups. Here are some ideas to try.

  • The key to CTAs is consistency and visibility. Using a strong, consistent colour throughout a sales funnel, for example, will have the subconscious effect of creating a clear path for the user, which aids conversion.
  • Colour choice: there is some evidence to suggest that users are more likely to click on your conversion goals when certain colours are used. For example, red is a natural danger signal whereas green is a natural progression signal. Clever, subtle use of colours can assist with your conversion paths.
  • Add a prominent button or link (in the right colour!) across your webpages that’s easy to click and sign up.
  • Consider enabling a pop up up box that appears after visitors have landed on your homepage and started to explore it. Be wary here to not negatively impact the user experience. Make it extremely easy for the user to dismiss it if they’re not interested. Forcing users down a route is a very bad idea.
  • Value exchange: people don’t do things for no reason. Give your users a reason to sign up e.g. a promo code for a discount or the promise of exclusive content and behind the scenes footage, depending on your brand.
  • Incentivise your users to refer a friend to your mailing list.
  • Create a social media campaign aimed at getting sign ups with Facebook advertising, for example.

Make sure you use a reCAPTCHA on your sign up form or ask users to confirm their subscription by sending them an email. This is to make sure they’re human but also to ensure they have given explicit consent to receive marketing emails from you.

This is especially important with the introduction of GDPR in 2018. Find out more in our article about Preparing for GDPR.

Bounce rate is the percentage of your website visitors who ‘bounce’ off your site having only visited the one page they landed on.

You may be perfectly happy that visitors to your site have only visited one page, so we should caveat that bounce rate is not always a critical metric.

However, if you do wish users to visit multiple pages on your site but have a high bounce rate, this is an indication that what they’ve found on the page either:

  • hasn’t engaged them – didn’t look good, was dull, too wordy or out-dated.
  • had a fault – gave a 404, wasn’t usable on mobile, annoying pop up box or ads obscuring content etc.
  • wasn’t what they were expecting – was your website described wrongly on another website, or did they click on an out of date link that gave misleading information about what they would find?
  • there was a barrier, such as an age gate or sign up form that immediately turned the user off.

Whatever the reason, it’s an opportunity to look at those landing pages in your analytics and try different strategies to improve the content where bounce rate is high.

Remember, there will always be reasons beyond your control that visitors ‘bounce’ because life gets in the way (the phone rings, a child needs attention, the call of nature!) so don’t take this metric in isolation.

ecommerce

There are always tweaks that can be made to a user journey to try and improve conversion rate and turn that visitor into a customer.

It’s worth reading our section on Calls to Action before reading on.

The key thing is to understand what your users are doing on your website by analysing your web metrics and asking questions.

  • Is there a clear user journey to conversion with clear CTAs?
  • Is there distracting content preventing a user from converting?
  • Is your offering or value exchange extremely clear and simple? (If it’s not, it should be)
  • Does your user feel secure fulfilling your conversion goal, whether it’s sales, sign ups or something else? (Do you have a good SSL certificate and trusted payment provider? Do  you have a reassuring data usage policy if asking people to sign up?)
  • Where are users leaving the website – what are the exit pages – and why are they leaving here, what can you do about it?
  • What’s the percentage of abandoned carts and why?
  • Can you follow up with people who visited without buying anything to ascertain what put them off? Are you using Google AdWords Remarketing to try and pull people back in?
  • Are there issues with functionality that are discouraging people from making purchases?
  • Is it clear who we are and what we’re about?
  • Can our content be more helpful for visitors?

Answers to these questions will give you ideas how to improve your users’ journey, simplify obstructive processes and encourage visitors to return as customers.

Site speed is important because more than half of users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load up quickly. Moreover, Google punishes slow sites in search rankings.

There are a number of reasons your website could be running slow.

  • Does your website need optimising? Huge databases, large image files, autoplay videos, multiple scripts and software integrations can all make your website take the strain when loading up.
  • Is your web server good enough? Whilst it may be tempting to find the least expensive option which seems to do the job with 1000 MySql databases and unlimited email addresses for example, it is often the case you get what you pay for in the web hosting world. Using a solid provider such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), or even Rackspace, whilst expensive will ensure you can scale up or down according to your requirements. This will ultimately give your end user a much better experience as well as improve your rankings.

There are many free online web speed test tools e.g. Google, Pingdom.

Fortunately, there are usually lots of ways to optimise a website that’s feeling the strain. For example, removing or replacing old plug ins, reducing the file size of images, updating your database etc.

security

HTTPS is the secure version of the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website you are on.

It guarantees the communication between your browser and the website you’re on is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by a third party.

This is essential now if you have any kind of eCommerce on your website or if you handle personal data. Some websites still run on HTTP but soon all websites should be on HTTPS.

In short, yes.

Whilst it is still possible to run a web server on http, and many still do, the way the industry is going, all major search engines will give significant preference to sites hosted over https.

In addition, not having a good SSL certificate will diminish the premium feel of your brand and potentially turn off clients and inhibit conversion.

For a website to run on https it needs to have an SSL certificate installed on its server to activate the secure protocol.

An SSL certificate is a small data file that binds the domain name of a website to the organisation with a cryptographic key.

Look for the green padlock in the browser bar, next to the website address.

There’s a wide range of excellent Content Management Systems (CMS). Which we would recommend depends largely on what you want to do.

For example, a small business might be fine with the excellent WordPress for all their website needs. A large commercial brand may find a more customisable and developer oriented platform such as SilverStripe, Craft or Drupal is more suited to their needs.

In some cases it may be that any CMS itself isn’t suitable as the requirements of your brand may be so specific, you require a custom build, in which case we would highly recommend using a Laravel framework as a basis.

We are strong proponents of the excellent Magento platform. Whilst complex, its power and flexibility are incredible, allowing such things as multi-domain eCommerce platforms from a single back end, and much, much more.

It is a leading eCommerce platform and Content Management System (CMS), chosen by 1 of every 4 online businesses.

Magento works out of the box but is also heavily customisable, making it a very flexible solution for selling online. Our team of friendly experts have years of experience working with Magento and the Magento Open Source Community around the world.

We support major corporate clients running well-known global eCommerce websites as well as independent brands with customised online stores.

Already using Magento 1.x? Read our advice about moving to Magento 2.

We primarily use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the range of services offered is enormous, flexible and very powerful. For our large corporate clients, where we would expect to manage their infrastructure, this would definitely be our recommendation.

However, for a smaller business user the level of technical knowledge required may be a barrier. In which case, you may be better off looking for a Plesk / cPanel style solution. Offered by providers such as Media Temple, these services allow non-techy users a great deal of control over their system without having to worry about understanding the underlying set-up and code.

Responsive websites

A responsive website is business critical these days.

Most websites now have more than 50% of their traffic coming from mobile devices. If your website doesn’t give the user a good experience on their phone or tablet, you are jeopardising your brand’s traffic, sales and reputation.

The Google algorithm already checks for mobile responsive websites and if yours isn’t up to scratch, your site will appear lower in the rankings.

Next year, it is expected that Google will introduce mobile-first indexing, prioritising mobile sites over desktop sites. Other search engines will surely follow.

Having a fully mobile-responsive website is therefore essential.

Test your site with Mobile-Friendly test tools from Google and Bing.

Preparing for GDPR: What does it mean for you?

Take action on your websites and data management now.

Hang on, what is GDPR anyway?

The GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – comes into force in the UK on 25th May 2018.

This new EU regulation replaces the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998.

The GDPR has similarities with the DPA as well as new and additional requirements for the handling and processing of personal data. Anyone with day-to-day responsibility for data protection needs to be aware of it.

Failure to comply with the GDPR carries with it some serious fines so now is the time to start preparing for its introduction.

Everything you need to know can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website. We’ve pulled out some key points to get you thinking about what your business will need to do about its digital properties.

Have you got explicit consent from your subscribers?

Can you prove that everyone on your mailing lists – whether customers, prospects, fans or followers – have given explicit consent to be on those lists and marketed to?

Businesses must be able to prove subscribers have positively opted-in to be marketed to. If they filled in a form with a pre-ticked box or simply failed to respond to a call to action (e.g. if we don’t hear from you we’ll assume ….) that’s not good enough.

Implied consent isn’t good enough for the GDPR.

Are your subscribers humans?

If your sign up and opt-in box or page doesn’t have a reCAPTCHA form or confirm your subscription by email process, you might be marketing to robots or unwittingly spamming people. This is not good.

What about those Cookies?

You’ll need to get a handle on exactly what data your website or app is collecting from users.

An understanding of the fair and lawful basis for acquiring that data is required by the GDPR and again, you’ll need explicit consent to do so.

Make sure you’ve got a decent message about Cookies that your users can opt-in to proactively.

You’re going to have to review your privacy policy.

The GDPR is about transparency and accountability. Your website privacy policy is going to need a review.

Businesses must be clear about why and how they are handling people’s personal data, how they ensure it is adequate (not excessive), accurate and kept up to date.

They must also be explicit about how long they keep personal data and what the removal, archiving or deletion process is.

The GDPR reinforces the rights enshrined in the DPA for individuals to request access to the data an organisation holds on them. Individuals also have the right to rectify inaccurate information and have it erased in certain circumstances.

Have you got procedures in place to allow for deleting personal data wherever it may be stored in your business? You’ll also need a protocol for providing personal data to users who request it.

When your privacy policy is up to date do share it with other staff and offer training where appropriate.

Don’t forget to update it on your website or app too.

What about your digital partners with software integrations on your website?

It’s time to review which third parties have integrations on your website or app. Are they taking steps to be compliant with GDPR? Have you got proper agreements or contracts in place with them about handling personal data?

There are some helpful recommendations about Digital Vendor Risk Management available from the Media Trust.

Do you know who’s responsible for Data Protection in your business?

Could it be you? Find out. It’s not legally required to appoint a Data Protection Officer but the buck stops with someone. Make sure you know who’s responsible.

These are just some of the things you need to be thinking about now to ensure your business and website are GDPR compliant by May 2018.

For more information visit the Information Commissioner’s website. We can help you get compliant. Contact us today.

Key web metrics for measuring brand success

Don’t drown in the sea of data. Learn these basics.

Do your brand’s web metrics make you feel like you’re wading through a murky sea of data?

There are loads of things that web metrics can tell you. But what do you need to know to be able to judge the success of your brand’s digital marketing campaign or eCommerce store?

Here are some basic tips to help you dive through clearer water and fish out the web metrics that are most important to your brand.

Best metrics for eCommerce sites

If you only have time to look at three key metrics, look at these.

  • Volume of visits to the store – how many people are browsing your products or services?
  • Conversion rate – what percentage of those visitors turn into customers?
  • Average order value – how much revenue are your customers bringing to you when they convert?

Taking action to increase any of these three metrics will be beneficial to your business.

Pulling on all three levers at once will have a dramatic effect on revenue.

ecommerce

Best metrics for Brand websites

These four key metrics will give you topline intelligence on your audience.

  • Number of visits – users indicate unique visitors, sessions
  • Pageviews – how many pages have been viewed
  • Time spent on page – did visitors dwell on your content or skim it?
  • Bounce rate – what percentage of visitors bounced away from your website after 1 visit?

Number of visits gives you an idea of your total audience and is a great topline figure to benchmark how popular your brand is.

The number of pageviews on a particular page will give you an idea of the how popular the content on that page is. If you know what your users love reading or looking at, you can create more of it.

Analytics will also tell you the average time visitors spend on each page, which gives an indication of whether people are paying attention to the content, or skim reading and clicking straight off it again.

Appraising content with high pageviews and longest dwell time can give you great ideas of how to improve content on other pages to attract more visitors and views.

Bounce rate tells you about the pages your visitors land on when they arrive at your site. If they don’t like what they find, or it isn’t what they expected, they’ll go somewhere else. The percentage of visitors who do this gives you the bounce rate.

Some metrics that apply to eCommerce and Brand websites

A lot of metrics will be important to eCommerce and brand websites because all websites need to know who their visitors are, where they’re coming from and what they can be persuaded to do once they’re on your website.

How are your users finding your website?

Web metrics will tell you where  your website visitors are coming from:

  • Email campaigns
  • Social media channels
  • Search Engine searches
  • Links from other websites (referrals)
  • Advertising campaigns (AdWords or display ads)
  • Direct – typing your URL into the browser or using a saved bookmark

This information can help you monitor the success of PR campaigns. If your brand gets coverage in a magazine you’ll be able to see how many users their website refers to you.

It can also help you appraise your email marketing campaigns. Are they working? Can you compare two different campaigns and work out why one performed so much better?

If you’ve spent money on a paid-for Search Engine Marketing or Display Ad campaign, you can track the results to make sure you get return on your investment.

If you notice many more people find you through Facebook rather than Twitter, can you put more effort into your Facebook content and advertising to capitalise on that social media success?

mobile

Are your users doing what you want them to?

Every business wants people to visit its website and do something that turns them into a loyal customer.

If you know what you want people to do when they visit your website then you can track their behaviour. Maybe you want them to:

  • Buy something
  • Click a button
  • Sign up to a mailing list
  • Register an account
  • Share something on social media
  • Enter a competition

Events will track clicks on buttons or particular pieces of content. Not getting enough clicks? Move the button, change its colour or the copy and track it again.

Processes, such as form sign ups, can be tracked with Goals.

Once set up correctly, a goal can track every stage of a sign up process so you can see how many users complete this successfully over time. You can also see at which point someone abandons the process and try and work out why. Perhaps you can improve the form to make it easier?

Do all your pages work as well on mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers? The data can also flag potential problems with responsiveness and user experience.

Are your users coming back for more?

All businesses need new customers and they also need to maximise value from their repeat customers. However, the new vs returning visitors ratio isn’t all that helpful in itself.

If you apply some segmentation to the new and returning visitors report, you can pull out some interesting information about where they’ve come from. This can help influence your marketing strategy.

For example, looking at the ratio of new and returning visitors by channel e.g. search engine traffic, email marketing, social media and referrals it may become clear that the first two are most important for return customers and the latter for new visitors.

Now you have data to drive your decision making and a benchmark from which to measure the success of campaigns to acquire new customers or drive repeat purchases.