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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

New year, new website: Support your online offering with a 2022 refresh

As 2021 draws to a close, it's time to pause and reflect on the challenges and triumphs another pandemic year has brought to your business. It seems likely that 2022 will see a return to something closer to pre-COVID 'normal', and with it comes a great opportunity to take stock and consider goals for your business in the year to come.

A website refresh is a great place to start in 2022. Your website is incredibly important for projecting your business' message, a critical piece of weaponry in your digital branding arsenal, and one of the first places potential and returning customers will come into contact with (and possibly pay for) your goods or services. Yet it is often the case that companies don't commit enough time and resource to maintaining and updating their websites effectively, at the expense of site performance, aesthetic appeal, failure to position products properly and, ultimately, their customers' experience.

This problem has been exacerbated in the last 20 months. Companies have turned to social media as the quickest, easiest, and most flexible way of keeping customers up to date with their news, often to the detriment of website development. For those planning on a website refresh next year, here are a few things to consider…

Content is king (and always will be)

It is something of a cliche, but content really is king (as predicted by Bill Gates in a 1996 essay of the same name). Produce a website which uses a rich mix of features, blog posts, reviews, and other relevant pieces of creative, and the results will speak for themselves.

About 74% of online consumers get frustrated when website content doesn't appeal to their interests. Content will help your audience get to know and trust your brand, is sustainable and scalable, will help you to understand your audience segments, is applicable to every stage of the customer journey, and will allow you to curate your message on your terms. The key is to leverage content to engage your target audience, and to tell a customer-centric product story that appeals to them and positions your offering in the most effective way.

And don't forget to prioritise a data-led approach to content creation, using insights (such as those created with tmwi's Audience & Search Intent Modelling) to fuel a personalised content strategy. Content also has a practical application. Both SEO and EAT (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) rely on the publishing of consistent, high-quality creative, so if you want to give search algorithms the best chance of ranking your site highly, a focus on good content is important. Conversely, a website littered with legacy creative that is outdated and unrepresentative of your current ethos will have a negative impact on search engine results.

Bright colours

Things move fast in website design and keeping up to date with the latest trends is important. Fail to do so and there's a chance you will eventually start to lose conversions, as customers go elsewhere having been put off by outdated design and UX.

In 2020 71% of the global population accessed the web using either a tablet or smartphone, with only 29% getting online via desktop, so clearly a 'mobile first' approach to website design is increasingly critical. White space in website design is also important. Giving content room to breathe, and using blank spaces (of any colour), both to guide a viewer through a page and reduce eye strain, will make spending time on your site easy and a pleasure.

Equally, use colour to influence customer mood. Bright, saturated colours engender a positive vibe, and there's even evidence to suggest you can influence a customer's behaviour with the use of colour, with red being a bold, positive choice for a call to action.

Back-end

Equally important as the look and feel of your website is the foundation it sits upon, the back end that underpins the pages. As with design, technology moves fast and there are always upgrades and improvements to consider. The steady roll-out of Google's latest Core Web Vitals is a good example, and in particular the arrival of Cumulative Layout Shift. This is the search giant's scoring system that helps determine how stable a website's page layout is. It directly affects search ranking, so do your best to achieve a low CLS score.

Load times are also important. Close to 60% of visitors won't wait longer than three seconds for your site to load, and as many as 80% are unlikely to return. Stress test your site to confirm it can take a sudden surge, so that whatever your traffic, whether it's a few thousand visitors a month or nearly 90 billion (Google), your site won't crash under pressure. 

If there is an ecommerce element to your site, ensuring you're up to date with the latest security certificates and advice will protect both you and your customers. Consultant Ernst & Young's 2020 Global Information Security Survey found that customer information is the most highly prized form of data for attackers, and the range of weaponry criminals use these days to steal data now includes AI and automation.

Level up

Once you're happy the above basics are covered off, you can have a little fun adding exciting new features with forward-looking technologies. Chatbots are a great example, providing a good customer experience while freeing your team from mundane tasks. But don't forget, features aren't just gimmicks. You should look for features that help solve the problems your audience have, or appeal to the needs of your target audience. For this, surveys and simple market research go a long way to improving your customer experience.

Personalised content is a great way to engage customers, and it is possible to present visitors with dynamic copy, based on their location and browser history, to provide a really customised experience. With the advent of virtual assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant, voice control for websites will become more commonplace, and the same can be said for Virtual Reality. Being able to show a person round a product or service through their browser adds a great deal of value and will help customers make a considered purchase. And finally including a 'dark mode' for your website will both help reduce eye strain while also adding a sleek, contemporary alternative design through which to showcase your business.

Your website should contribute heavily to your business' growth strategy, and the new year offers a golden opportunity to consider where improvements can be made. Powerful, audience-first creative is a great place to start but ensuring your design and tech foundations are solid is equally important. Earlier in 2021, tmwi helped Nescafe achieve a 153% increase in organic traffic over the previous year using the principles detailed above - a reminder that the rewards are there to be had for those looking to update their websites as we move into 2022.

Copyright 2021. Sponsored article by Brendan Clarke, Director of Operational Performance, tmwi.

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