Lead score may sound very interesting to a lot of businesses at first but very soon they figure out it is not a true indication of lead engagement. To address this, LeadSquared has come up with a concept of engagement score. To understand how it actually works, watch the webinar Lead Engagement Index: The New Trend in Town here:
It’s a common misconception that marketing automation can only be used by enterprise companies. Like so many other types of business technology, an expanding market of users and an increase in the number of software vendors has driven the price of this software down and resulted in a more accessible standard for user experience.
In short, small businesses can use marketing automation, too. And in a number of cases, they should.
But that doesn’t mean SMBs will use the software in the same way as enterprises. Enterprises use marketing automation to organize vast quantities of customer data, better target the myriad of prospects in their database, and parse results to prove ROI.
Because resources are limited, there are often few marketing and sales personnel in small businesses, which puts productivity at a premium. Automating marketing tasks can significantly increase productivity without requiring a new job posting.
Marketing automation also helps align sales and marketing departments, which is a huge factor in creating a streamlined revenue model — something that SMBs are always working to improve.
So while enterprises may use marketing automation to retroactively clean up and organize their marketing, small businesses are in the advantageous position of being able to use marketing automation to develop scalable processes from the beginning.
Centralize Marketing Features
As your marketing capabilities mature, so will the strategies and tactics you use to engage leads and turn them into customers. With each new strategy — whether it’s A/B testing, email marketing, or landing pages — there comes a time to choose software to solve the challenges of each initiative.
All too often, a best of breed software is chosen for each individual tactic, and marketers end up with an amalgamation of platforms that work well for a few specific tasks, but don’t integrate with one another. This creates data silos throughout the marketing department and makes it difficult to gain a comprehensive view of your customers.
Digital marketing can be a labyrinthine undertaking, so it’s difficult to say that any one piece of software will include every feature you’ll ever need. But the best marketing automation systems do centralize a lot of the functionality that SMBS use most often — particularly the core functions of email marketing, landing pages, and lead nurturing.
Having all your major marketing features in one place can also help increase productivity, especially when you consider that a significant number of marketers still use manual processes for a number of tasks. Automating email campaigns, A/B tests, and lead follow up can save everyone on your team a tremendous amount of time.
Better Align Marketing and Sales
“Creating a lead to revenue model is an integrated sales and marketing effort. You have to break down the barriers between marketing and sales and start thinking about your revenue engine as an integrated model, from lead scoring and all the way through the funnel,” says Vidyard CMO Tyler Lessard.
For small businesses this is even more important. Enterprises may yearn for increased efficiency and better growth from the previous quarter, but small businesses have little choice but to make the most of their sales and marketing resources. And that means making them work together.
The disconnect between sales and marketing teams — in any sized business — is well documented. The problems begin with communication. Sales has typically relied on CRM platforms for their information, while marketing has employed any number of systems to perform certain channel-specific tasks.
Automation software links the data of these two departments and allows sales and marketing to collaborate on critical topics, such as standards for qualified leads, when leads need to be followed up with, and so on. This partnership goes a long way towards building a more streamlined, agile organization, and can significantly improve how organizations turn prospects into customers.
Even if the sales and marketing teams only encompass a few people, the speed of follow up time and the context of personalized marketing don’t allow for a conversation about every lead that comes through the system. Marketing automation creates a communication framework that works well on a microscale and as your company grows.
Provide a Better Customer Experience
In a recent survey, it was found that the top three sales priorities for small businesses were:
1: Acquiring new customers
2: Creating deeper customer relationships
3: Growing the value of existing customers
Similarly, customer satisfaction was the number one marketing metric. Creating a customer-centric brand is a smart move for any small business, but following through with the strategy in a holistic way requires centralized technology that links the customer journey together.
Sales will need the context of each lead’s website behavior to have a more personalized conversation and better target that lead’s pain points. Similarly, if a prospect is in a lead nurturing email campaign, the content will need to be targeted based on past behavior or on their persona.
Creating this type of consistent, personalized experience will certainly create better relationships with customers, and marketing automation platforms supply the means to automatically customize content based on behavior-based logic.
When it comes to acquiring new customers, marketing automation is excellent for generating new leads as well reducing the number of lost opportunities that would otherwise slip through the cracks because sales simply can’t reach everyone.
It would be disingenuous to say that marketing automation doesn’t take work, because it does. That’s why there’s such a large demand for digital marketers. However, small businesses can use automation software in a strategic fashion to eliminate inefficiencies, optimize the revenue generation process, and provide better customer experiences all without having to hire an entire team.
Google began to roll out its mobile-friendly algorithm update just over two months ago. What has changed since then and how will this impact your business website – Nilesh Patel, founder and CEO of LeadSquared and Meenu Joshi, Lead – Digital Marketing at LeadSquared discussed just that at the webinar last Friday. Here’s a brief summary of some of the questions asked during the session.
Can we incorporate analytics and webmaster for only mobile friendly websites?
Analytics would be there for your complete website. If you want to look at traffic separately for both the websites, then you can set different views in your analytics account – one only for mobile and one only for desktop.
If a Facebook page is linked to the business’ website and the visits are made through its Facebook page, can we find out the analytics of that website through its Facebook page? If yes, how can we find that out?
I’m guessing you are talking about whether you can track Facebook traffic in Google Analytics. You can set it up in Google Analytics.
How do you set up webmaster tools?
It’s a straightforward process. You just need to go to webmasters and put in the URL of your website. Thereafter, you’ll need help from the person who takes care of the website from the back-end or the actual webmaster because you’ll need to verify that you own that particular site.
If I do not have a mobile friendly website, will it affect the traffic ratio to my desktop website in search results?
It won’t have an impact right now. But that may change in the future. However, it will certainly push down your ranking on mobile.
What is organic search? How to check this?
When a user searches on google search bar and finds a website in the search results page, the links of the pages on the search results page are called “organic listings”.
The following links will give you a better idea:
How much time does it takes to crawl changes made for mobile sites?
As soon as you make the changes, you can go to webmasters. There, under ‘Settings’, there’s an option to force Google to reindex your website. If you do that, it would happen faster than it would otherwise happen.
Is the organic ranking of our website on same searches, same for Android & iOS users?
It might be different, it might be the same. But if you are logged in as an Android user and you search for something, it will be different in that context.
I have separate mobile and desktop websites. Please elaborate on the canocalization part.
If you are not maintaining the website yourself and if there is someone who helps you with it, then it would be best if you get your webmaster to work on it.
Basically how it works is this – there are 2 separate versions of your website. Let’s say, on your mobile, it would be m.website.com and on desktop it would be website.com. Using these tags, the alternate and the canonical tags, you are just telling the bots that this particular URL resides on this separate URL on mobile, and this particular URL on mobile resides on the separate URL on the desktop. You are just telling the bots not to read them as two separate ones, rather, read them as two corresponding parts of one particular URL.
If you get your webmaster on it, I’m sure they will be able to fix it for you. This is only relevant for those websites that have different URLs for mobile and desktop.
We use landing pages for running paid campaigns only. Do you recommend we make them responsive?
Of course. It’s about user experience. Even if it’s organic, the user experience will affect your organic ranking.
Once upon a time information was scarce, and communication sacred. Kids went to the library to research their projects, and people waited for letters to arrive.
Time warp, snap, cut to today, and we are in the age of information deluge, and perpetual distraction. One search would give you 100,000 potential resources; but you lack the patience to go beyond page 1.
Heck, the answer to life, and all the existential questions you discussed last Friday might be buried somewhere in page 5 of search results, but it will remain there – buried, unless some kid discovers it, and reddits it. In which case, it would go viral.
Well, I barely belong to the generation of framed telegrams, but I do remember going to the library to research my 8th standard History project. And, if finding information was tough then, it’s way beyond tough now.
What I am just saying that there is an excess of content, and not many ways to filter out the junk. That’s probably the reason why people’s attention span is dropping, and not the other way around.
Are you just adding to the junk?
Not really, given you understand your target audience.
There are many businesses actually getting across to their target audience, and in many cases, without doing anything fancy. They just know their target audience, and provide content of real value to them. Let’s discuss a few content marketing tips that have proven successful for many businesses.
With any of these content strategies, remember that the starting point would be to find what your target audience is interested in, and what are their content consumption channels & devices of preference.
Strategy 1: Video Marketing
We are a lazy bunch. Did I already say that? If I did, I was talking about your target audience too, as subtly as possible. They want answers, but they want them without much effort.
Video marketing can really help you cut through the clutter in that case. And, I am not talking fancy, high cost videos either. I am talking small little things of value.
I personally know of many businesses doing this really well – many of them belong to education industry. And, they don’t do anything special either – they just record their online training sessions, and put up the snippets on YouTube to get attention of the searchers. And, most of these videos aren’t uber-cool, they are just valuable.
To reiterate the fact that a good video (movie, in this case) can get even the laziest of people interested in what you have to say, take a look at what the release of The Great Gatsby movie in 2013 did to the sale of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.
To quote another example, Lucky Strike, Donald Draper’s (Mad Men) preferred smoke, saw global sales grow 44 percent in the five years following Mad Men’s debut, per Ivey Business Review. (Source: AdAge)
Let’s dial the popular and the glamorous down a notch, and talk about regular businesses.
Video tutorials are the way to go. If you have a business that requires creating videos as part of the course, you already are sitting on a goldmine.
b) You can even create video testimonials during the exam seasons, or for your lead capture landing pages.
One great example of video marketing done right is Edureka, a technical skills training company that grew from a start-up to topping the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards for India in 2014.
They provide technical skills training, like Hadoop and Big Data Analytics, Android Development etc. and their mode of education is webinars. There are far too many elements that have made their business successful, but effective video marketing is definitely one of them.
Their video strategy
One of their key strategies was to record their webinar sessions, and publish them on YouTube; people searching for their course-related terms would find the videos and therefore land upon Edureka’s complete courses. So, this is what they did:
1. They repurposed their content: They did not spend a fortune creating videos; they just repurposed their course content on YouTube
2. They chose the right channel (YouTube) to be discovered – YouTube videos tend to rank higher, because
- YouTube is Google’s property,
- People looking for learning resources online are looking for video tutorials.
- There is a separate video search tab on Google. It’s just easier for people.
3. They offered free webinars: Through that, they managed to catch their subscriber’s attentions, because they did it regularly and frequently (once a week, initially), and free training with a live trainer is something that always catches people’s attention, because they can get their questions answered.
Q/A section is the most popular part of our webinars as well.
4. High quality product gave them subscribers and loyal viewers: Because the content they created was high quality, people subscribed to their YouTube channel, and came back for more. They have 30,360 subscribers & 2,949,856 views on their channel now.
Travel has always been about selling a dream, an experience, no matter how small or how big the scale of a campaign is. But, how do you sell a dream on a small business’s marketing budget. You don’t have access to the same advertising resources as say “British Airways.”
a) If you can get an in-house video created, do it, and run ads on YouTube
b) If you lack the resources, source user generated content. Almost everyone documents their travel in the form of photographs and videos. Incentivize your clients for helping you out – give them a backpack, or some travel gear in return. This has become one of the most used ways to generate content and reach out to travel enthusiasts.
I will take an example from Google’s case study itself. The campaign was for Nassau Paradise Islands. This was the video ad that they used:
Target audience: residents of New York & South Florida
Marketing strategies that were being used before: Traditional brick and mortar tour operators, print media and some broadcast options whenever budgets permitted.
Chosen ad type: YouTube’s TrueView In-stream ads. These are the ads that play before a YouTube video begins, and viewers have an option to skip them after 5 seconds. The advertisers are charged for the view, only if the viewer watches the ad for 30 seconds or to the completion of the ad.
Results: They saw an average increase in website visits by 33% to 56%, and they were able to reduce cost per view from 15 cents to 11 cents. They also found that it took roughly 15 cents to get a highly qualified lead to engage with their video. This if done with a television commercial was completely unaffordable for them.
The campaign was a success and they took the campaign national after that. Their major cost was only getting the video created.
Health & Wellness and Retail
The health & lifestyle businesses can easily put together tips for make-up, fitness etc. to create videos of value. Get some v-loggers onboard if you lack the resources to do it yourself. Offer them one or an assortment of your packages in exchange, and if they like it, they would be happy to endorse you.
Here are a couple of stats for B2B searches from Thinkwithgoogle:
Most of the B2B searchers are millenials
And, millenials watch videos.
According to U.S. YouTube data, over 895K hours of some of the top B2B videos from brands were watched in 2014. And these viewers are watching videos for longer time periods.
Training videos, product introduction videos, live webinars and webinar recordings – there’s a lot to do in B2B videos. Webinar, for one, has proven to be one of the best converting content for us, both in terms of capturing unique leads and landing page conversions (always upwards of 60%)
Strategy 2: Participate in user forums
This is one of those content marketing tips that we can personally vouch for. We engage in conversations regularly on Quora, and as a result get quite a bit of referral traffic from there, and these referrals are the stickiest ones.
To do this effectively, there are 2 things that you need to do:
a) Identify the forums you should interact with your clients on
- Quora would work well across different industries.
- Yahoo Answers has worked well for a few of our Education clients. You can find specific student forums to participate in as well.
- Travel – Sites like TripAdvisor would be a good place to start
- LinkedIn would work well for B2B companies. Many higher education courses, like Executive MBA businesses would also find success on LinkedIn
b) Share things of value
Remember that you aren’t there to spam. Participate in discussions, and share your insights.
I’ll share an example of a travel business doing well on this aspect:
Post helpful answers to user queries on TripAdvisor. “The Innkeepers” are everywhere sharing helpful answers on the topics of their location, thus garnering credibility, and visibility
Why would this absolutely work?
- 70% travelers look up to 20 reviews before booking a trip. Most of this is done on TripAdvisor and Google Reviews.
- When these travelers see a hotel or a travel agent being proactive in sharing their advice, it builds credibility in their minds.
See how regular they are in this exercise:
Strategy 3: Implement a lead nurturing strategy
One important thing that many businesses forget is the keeping those leads engaged who would not buy immediately.
For these leads, you need to set up a proper lead engagement or nurturing process. And, you have to remember that you cannot send the same random content to everyone in your system. This is when the need of a smart segmentation and marketing automation system also becomes very important.
There are 3 steps here that would lead your strategy:
a) Audience segmentation
b) Persona creation
c) Content sharing based on the segments and personas
a) Audience segmentation
There are 2 ways you can segment the leads that come into your system:
Segmentation by tracking
You identify your prospects’ demographics & interests by recording and tracking their web activities.
Segment by asking upfront
Despite having tracking systems in place, many businesses also ask their subscribers upfront about the kind of content they would like to receive.
This would be relevant if you sell or write about a lot of different things. Activity tracking would give you an idea about what exactly the prospects are interested in, but asking them if they would like updates about something else might also uncover an interest that hasn’t been identified yet.
b) Persona creation
Creating personas of your prospective buyers would help you understand their motivations and concerns and would help you create content that’s spot-on, and share it through channels they would appreciate.
Creating personas might sound painful at first, but it would definitely give you an idea of what would be the most relevant to your audience. Also, it would be a great advantage, if you are dealing with a large number of leads. This is one app that you can use to create personas.
I’ll take an example of a client from education industry who had segmented his audience into 3 classes based on their behavior:
- Students who exactly know what they want – they have done their research, and are sure about what they want to buy. Any attempt at cross-selling or up-selling to them might lead to them dropping the purchase idea completely.
- Students who need some guidance in choosing between a few options.
- Students who want to be led through to understand what course is the best for them. These students need counsellor like attention from sales people. This is the kind of audience you need to assume a guide kind of a role, and besides counselling by sales team, you need to send them documents that would help make their decisions easier.
Similar manner, you can do this for your business, B2B or B2C. Here are a few attributes that would help you create personas for your business.
B2C Persona Definition attributes
- Household Income
- Education Qualification
- Family Status
- Technology used to access internet – web, mobile etc.
- Research Sources – Blog Articles, Social (Lead Source can tell you more about this)
- Concerns, Fears, Pain-points
B2B Persona Definition attributes
- Job Level
- Company Size
- Company Turnaround
- Education Qualification
- Purchase Urgency
- Goals and Motivations
- Technology used to access internet – web, mobile etc.
- Research Sources – Blog Articles, Social (Lead Source can tell you more about this)
- Concerns, Fears, Pain-points
What will the persona definition tell you?
- What topics to choose for nurturing
- What format of nurturing content is preferred by your audience (blogs, e-books, podcasts)
- Technology through which the content will be consumed (mobile, desktops, tablets)
- Platform/Channels on which the content will be consumed
c) Relevant Content Sharing
If you want a very simple example of an effective lead engagement strategy, consider this.
You might be a travel company trying to sell different tour packages.
You cannot send a General “World Travel Guide” to someone that specifically indicated interest in “Australia Tour Packages.” You should send them something like “Australia Tour Details.” So, it’s all about staying relevant.
Strategy 4: Responsiveness
There has been a consistent growth in content being consumed using smartphones, no matter what your industry. Here are some stats from Thinkwithgoogle for the use of smartphones in a B2B purchase cycle:
The trend is consistent across B2C businesses as well. This clearly shows you that you need all your content to be consumable on mobile devices to have it read and shared.
Majority of our blog shares also come through mobile. You can use AddThis on your blog to add sharing buttons and track the sharing patterns of your content.
I’ll take an example of how responsiveness can really help your business.
After clothing brand O’Neill went the responsive way for their website, they saw an immense increase the goal completion and overall revenue from their website. (Source: ElectricPulp)
- Total Conversions increased by 65.71%
- Transactions augmented by 112.50%
- Revenue went up by 101.25%
- Conversions augmented by 407.32%
- Transactions increased by 333.33%
- Revenue increased by a mammoth 591.42%
So, if you are not responsive (or mobile friendly in some way yet), you should be. You also have to consider Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update, if you get traffic from mobile.
Strategy 5: Contests
I have kept this one for last because I know they aren’t always easy to get the hang of. There are many things to consider before you can actually run a successful contest.
1. Identify the best channel to run the contest based on your audience.
2. Build a following on the said channel to get enough participation.
3. Invest on promoting the contest: You would of course put some money on getting the contest running, and you can get your email subscribers onboard that particular channel by getting them exited for it. However, to really reach new people, you would need to reach people who actually have some followers on the particular channel to participate in or at least endorse the contest.
4. You need to identify what content prize would appeal to your target audience.
5. Identify the audience to target with these contests: Now, like Deltin’s Marketing Wizard, Floyd said in our last webinar, sometimes your actual target audience would not share your content, because even though they are on these social platforms, they are more or less the silent spectators.
So, you should target the age-group that’s more likely to brag about an experience that they had, or look forward to having. And, your actual target audience would come to know about you, when these people participate in or share your contests.
One of the industries where it’s easiest to run contests is Travel. Because, once again, people like to talk about it, so it has more of a propensity of getting shared than other things.
I’ll give you an example of a successful Pinterest contest that JetSetter ran.
To improve traffic to the website and increase stickiness
What the contest participants needed to do?
People were invited to create “The ultimate destination pinboard”, across several categories, like escape, adventure etc., with relevant pictures. The winners would get to be JetSetter Curators, meaning they would be sent to dream destinations under the category of their choosing.
During the campaign, the page views on JetSetter increased 150%, the referral traffic via Pinterest increased 100%, and the bounce rate decreased by 10-15%.
So, what do you need to do?
- Companies like Travel, Health and Wellness, and wherever visual content can play a role can choose platforms like Instagram, Pinterest etc.
- Education companies can use Facebook contests or even YouTube, Twitter and Vine
- Be active on your contest platform of interest for some time – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and get some followers first, before you actually run a contest.
So, these were 5 content marketing tips that businesses can and should implement in their content strategy 2015. There are tons more, and I would continue sharing them in subsequent posts. Till then, tell us in comments what content type has worked the best for you.
Update : It’s almost 2016! And we’ve got a little gift for you to begin the new year on a productive note – a free, exhaustive and super-handy blog promotion checklist. Hope it helps :)
So, weather reports predicted a storm, and all we got was a mild breeze. But, what do you do after a near-miss? Do you sit around in your feeble house, waiting for the catastrophe to strike, or fix it right-away, and sleep peacefully at night?
It’s almost a month since the Google mobile friendly update first rolled out, and at a glance, it’s effect has proved to be nowhere near what was predicted.
Update: We certainly have seen a positive impact, though. I compared the Google Anlaytics mobile organic traffic data for April 21st to May 21st against March 22nd to May 21st, and there has been a 54.97% increase in the number of sessions, and the average session duration has increased by 126%. (You should also look at this data in Analytics to see how it has changed over time).
So, I would call this delayed impact, an opportunity for everyone who needs to, but hasn’t gone mobile-friendly yet. Would you really rather wait for your rankings to drop, before you actually change your ways? God, you must be lazy!
The update has been called the most gradual yet, which explains the smaller than predicted impact noticed by the webmasters, therefore, in all probabilities, it would affect your website sooner than later.
If mobile traffic is important to you, and you haven’t done anything about it, well, Google or no Google, you are losing important business opportunities. I’ll give you an example proving the kind of impact a simple switch to mobile-friendly can do for you:
Clothing brand O’Neill went the responsive way for their website, way before “Mobilegeddon” was even a thing.
They saw immense improvements in the goal completion and overall revenue from their website. Here are the results after the website change.
- Total Conversions increased by 65.71%
- Transactions augmented by 112.50%
- Revenue went up by 101.25%
- Conversions augmented by 407.32%
- Transactions increased by 333.33%
- Revenue increased by a mammoth 591.42%
Isn’t it obvious, and very much in line with Google’s guiding principle? Make it easier for the user to take an action, and everything else would just follow.
So, let’s discuss everything there is to know about Google’s mobile friendly update, and what you can do about it.
We all know that Google has been really generous this time. Not only did they announce the date of the update 2 months in advance, but they also conducted several hangout sessions to help small business owners understand what’s needed to be ready for the update.
So, to start, check your mobile rankings – without a responsive website, you may or may not have dropped ranks. As I stated before, the changes have been gradual, and not many webmasters have noticed significant changes yet.
So, this is how you would know in search results that your website is mobile friendly – that little mobile friendly label in the search results.
Got it? Great!
Let’s discuss what the update entails and what can you do about it if you haven’t started or if you are halfway through and muddled about what to do first.
What does the update affect?
1. Has affected mobile searches ONLY
Google remained true to its word, as the update has affected only mobile searches, not desktop ones, not even tablets. Not yet, at least.
2. Has only affected organic search results, not ads or other results
The algorithm has only affected the main “organic” search results, not other segments like “ads”, “news”, “in-depth articles”, or local results.
Top ads are still on top even if they aren’t linked to mobile-friendly websites. However, I would still say, if you are running ads on mobile, it’s best to redirect those ads to responsive landing pages, or websites, because even though you are still discounted from the update, you are still losing money on clicks, because no one would really go through a page on mobile, or fill a form, if the page offers a lousy experience.
Brand keywords still show brand websites on top, even if they aren’t mobile friendly.
3. Mobile friendliness is being indexed on per page level
Mobile friendliness is being crawled on page level, not the complete domain level. So, all the pages on your domain need to be mobile friendly – this includes all your website pages, your blog and your landing pages as well.
If some of your pages are responsive, and others aren’t, the responsive ones would benefit from the update. So, if you haven’t started updating your website to make it responsive yet, you might want to start with the most popular – already high ranking pages on your website, and make your way around all the others.
4. App related queries show app results
Queries that are app related would have the high rated apps rank higher than normal search queries. For instance, I have looked for vocabulary games here, and GMAT practice.
They all show up app results with a CTA to download the app. So, if your business has an app, you would do well by:
a) Having perfect keywords in the title and description of the app
b) Deep linking your website and the app pages – both would pass along authority to each other.
5. Changes are crawled real-time
Even though April 21st was touted as a very important date, the crawling is real-time, so if you are for some reason, still not mobile-friendly, make the changes, and it would be crawled and updated as and when you update it, and resubmit for indexing, or whenever Google indexes it next.
So, what what are you supposed to do?
I) Test your website on Google’s Mobile friendly test tool
It would give you a kind of layman overview of what’s going on with your site without going too much into the technicalities of what’s wrong. You can use it as a starting point to identify the problem areas, and take it from there.
This is the view you would see if your website passes the test:
In case your website isn’t mobile friendly yet, this is the view you would see:
1. You can see the basic problems because of which your website failed to pass the test.
Now that you know the problem, you can start fixing them, or get your webmaster, agency, or whoever created your website to fix them. If you are going all out with a responsive website, even better. But this would give you a good starting point.
The tool tests one url at a time, so if you tested your complete domain name (www.yoursite.com), it doesn’t mean that all your pages are mobile friendly – www.yourwebsite.com/pricing might still not pass the test.
3. Follow Google’s advice on basic fixes
Another great thing of the tool is that in addition to telling you the problems, it also points you to the fixes. In the above image, point 3 shows Google detecting that the website is on WordPress and pointing the webmaster in the right direction. There are other really helpful resources there as well.
II) Test your website for mobile usability
You would find this tool after logging in to your webmaster tools, as the last head under “Search Traffic.” It would show you all the different issues with the usability of your website on mobile devices.
If your website is responsive and doesn’t have any usability issues, you would just see a message stating that there are no usability issues.
III) Know how much of your traffic is mobile-driven
This would tell you whether or not it’s worth it for you to make the update to mobile-friendly.
IV) Know how much of your mobile traffic is organic
Now, remember, the update is only going to affect the organic rankings. Check how much of your mobile traffic is organic. You can do this simply by adding “Source/Medium” to the secondary dimension while you are in Audience > Mobile > Overview (the above screen)
V) Having identified the problem areas, start fixing them
Use the resources suggested by Google in mobile friendly test. Google has shared a lot of guidelines on what would constitute as mobile friendly design. Here are a few things to point you in the right direction.
a) Mobile friendly doesn’t only mean responsive design
Though responsive is something that Google recommends, there are other ways of giving your mobile users a good experience. So, you can continue maintaining a m.xyz.com website, if that’s what suits you, and if your mobile site is properly maintained, and doesn’t have faulty links, you would get the benefit from the April 21st update.
b) However, opt for responsive design if you can
Yes, you can continue using your mobile versions of your website and it would still be considered mobile-friendly by Google, but responsiveness would cut down an immense amount of your work in the long run. These are the obvious reasons why Google recommends responsive design.
a) You would need much less effort maintaining the site, because there is only one version for you to maintain.
b) You don’t have to worry about faulty links. Redirection and canonicalization is very important if you have 2 websites (one for mobile and one for web). You need to make sure that the mobile website pages are canonicalized properly against its corresponding desktop counterparts.
c) It should be easy for users to complete their objectives
Depending on your business, the objective of the users might vary.
If you are a retailer, the complete process of selecting the products, adding them to cart, and checking out should be completely user friendly.
If you are a blogger, the content on the page should be easy to read. This would include making sure that the font size is big enough, the line heights are easy on the eyes, the pages are lightweight, and don’t take forever to load (you might want to reduce your image sizes, or even hide images in certain sections, if they are not needed on the mobile version).
This has already proven to be true in case of many businesses that went responsive, even much before the algorithm update. Remember the O’Neill example above.
d) The content should be readable, and actions easy to take
i) Tap targets should be minimum of 7 mm high and wide. This means that anything clickable – checkout buttons, or any other Call to Action buttons must be big enough for an average human thumb to click comfortably. Also, you must leave 5 mm gaps between tap targets.
ii) Font size: Don’t have a base font that’s too small. Using 16px as the base font size is a best practice in most cases.
iii) CSS line height should be minimum of 1.2 em, for it to be comfortably readable.
You can see in the image on the left that the text is painfully small to read. (It is still better than many other websites I have seen), and on the navigation bar, some things would be really hard to click comfortably.
The image on the right however shows a good example of a well designed site. The content is readable and the buttons big enough to click.
iv) Avoid lateral scrolling – lateral scrolling is when the users have to scroll horizontally to read the content from left to right. This definitely does not constitute good experience.
v) Mobile viewport: If a user comes to your website, and has to pinch and zoom your content, user experience takes a major hit. To avoid this, you need to add a viewport metatag in the head of document. This document would help.
Without going into the technicalities, I would point you to Google’s hangout videos that can help you.
e) Handling media elements
If you have media elements like videos etc. make sure that the plugins they are using are supported in mobile browsers. This is why Flash must be avoided.
f) Content Quality
It’s all about the user experience – this includes the content quality. Are you answering the relevant questions? So, if you have a responsive/mobile friendly website, but crappy content, that’s not going to cut it either.
g) Proper canonicalization if you have separate mobile and desktop websites
Redirection and canonicalization is very important if you have 2 websites (one for mobile and one for web). using a rel=”alternate” tag on the desktop URL with a rel=”canonical” tag on the equivalent mobile URL
h) Be wary of using elements that aren’t mobile friendly
Be careful of what WP plugins you are using, and anytime you apply something new, make sure that you still pass the page speed test.
i) Force bots to reindex updated pages
Use submit function in webmasters tools after you are done making the changes.
So, right this is what can get you started with a mobile friendly design.
I would reiterate that even though many webmasters haven’t seen the changes yet, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be ready, or forget being ready, just give a good experience to people landing on your website.
Our last webinar threw light on marketing in the hospitality industry. Floyd Tavares, Manager – Business & Digital Marketing, from Deltin Group ran the session. He was joined by Nilesh Patel, Founder and CEO of LeadSquared. In case you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording below. You will also find a short Q&A session with Floyd, talking about what has worked for Deltin and what generally works for the hospitality industry.
Nilesh: You mentioned that OTAs are an important channel for generating business. Are there any preferences from an OTA standpoint? For example, would ClearTrip would be better suited for luxury hotels versus MakeMyTrip? Is there any recommendation you have or does one work better than the other or would you recommend we use all of them?
Floyd: It’s a very difficult question to answer because if MakeMyTrip is generating maximum business for us in January, in March we would have ClearTrip generating maximum business. In May we would have Agoda generating maximum business. So there hasn’t been a consistent trend as to which OTA has generated maximum business for us.
This is also based on the relationship we have built. The ones we have met the most personally have given us the most amount of business. That’s because we have been in touch with them. The ones we have sat with and customized offers, the ones with whom we have actually discussed and spoken to – how can we grow our business together and work together. These are the businesses that have actually generated more revenue than the other ones who we have not proactively been in touch with.
Nilesh: It makes sense now because OTAs generally also invest a lot in digital marketing – some OTAs may be spending more money in a certain month versus the other, which basically will result in traffic and bookings for you.
And of course, as you mentioned, relationships play an important role. When you say build relationships, do you mean keep in touch with them regularly? Deltin is obviously one of the largest names in the business – what about hotels that are focused on a certain regions and those who are not very big chains, what would be your advice to them? They may not even have a bandwidth to build a relationship with an OTA. How would it work for them?
Floyd: When I say, building a relationship, I mean picking up the phone and constantly sending them emails every 2-3 days. You don’t need a team to do this. In a smaller region, you would have 10-15 OTAs, that’s around 5 calls a day for 3 days. Keeping in touch with the OTAs is not a major issue. Participate in whatever offers they give online. They do search engine marketing campaigns quite a bit so if you are part of any of their promotions like their summer time bonanza or their mobile special promo, these would give you special offers. So I would say, give them something more than revenue.
Nilesh: You also mentioned something about difference in cost per lead online versus taking it from 3rd parties. When you said 3rd party, were you referring to the Holiday IQs or something else?
Floyd: We have started investing in companies that provide solutions to cost per lead. We pay per lead. We do not advertise. They run campaigns for us, and we pay per lead.
Nilesh: Are they small agencies or large business?
Floyd: They are small agencies and startups who have started providing leads.
Nilesh: So we could call them agencies that have the service offering of leads on lead basis?
Floyd: Yes. You see, in Goa, search engine marketing is a tough deal because we have 100-140 hotels here searching for customers. Our cost per keyword, like ‘hotel’ (cost per click) can go up to 150-200 bucks. A cost per lead would go up to 1000-1500. So we have to find other mediums besides Google. The other thing that has worked for us is click to call. So now the calls directly go to the reservation desk which is not being tracked on Google, hence, Google doesn’t know if the lead has converted.
Nilesh: So traffic goes to the website and then there is a click to call. Is that how it works?
Floyd: No, they click it from the ad itself. I click on the ad and it comes to my phone. Now when I dial the number, Google doesn’t know whether that person has answered the call. So in that sense, click to call is really changing our industry, especially in the hospitality industry where 75% of the people want to call the reservation and close because today, people are getting more impatient. They want things to happen fast.
Whether you like it or not, everyone thinks they are the best negotiators so they call the hotel and get a much better deal than what’s listed online.
Nilesh: Could you throw light on what a revenue management agency is and what are they responsible for?
Floyd: Every hotel would have a revenue management agency. A revenue management agency plays with rates. For example, they tell you what rates to be charged on the weekend? At 80% occupancy, I raise my rate. If it’s on 20% occupancy, I lower my rate. Someone plays with numbers, someone is responsible for revenue, someone is responsible for the right price. The revenue management agency normally plays this price game.
But for smaller hotel chains, a 3rd party revenue management agency comes on a retainer basis and percentage basis. For example, I generate ‘n’ amount, I would keep ‘n’ percentage. It’s a safe model for smaller businesses because if they are anyway not generating revenues via OTAs. Now the revenue management is guaranteed, as in, you are paying them only on business.
If the 3rd party revenue management agency is generating 1 lakh of business, you are going to pay them 2%. It’s a safe model for hotels to work with.
Nilesh: So the revenue management agency will have access to your business’ traffic?
Floyd: Yes, it would. The online game is all about the price – who is lower, who is cheaper, who is more popular – they do their research. Smaller hotels may not be able to do research of the brands around them. Revenue management companies have done research on all the hotels, their prices, what has come down, what are the relevant competing brands, etc.
They would give you a price at what to sell – they would play with the price. They would see that you are listed on all the online travel agencies and key sites. And based on how these OTAs generate business for you, they will give a percentage.
Nilesh: So in other words, they are specialists in pricing the product and will see to it that you are listed in all the sites relevant to your business. I think it’s beneficial for smaller hotels who do not have enough staff to do the research, price the product and so on.
Floyd: Yes, smaller hotels who are not able to sell their inventory on a daily basis have 40-50% occupancy. So they have another 50% rooms to play with. The hotel manager would be too busy with everything else but selling.
Nilesh: The awareness bit in your presentation was pretty interesting. You showed a picture and people seemed to have latched onto it, which you weren’t expecting. I would consider that as content that you shared on social media. So from a content standpoint, what would you do for your business? Content has variety, it includes videos, photos, write-ups, etc. What kind of content can hospitality businesses produce, to connect with their potential customers?
Floyd: In the hospitality industry, user-generated content would be much more effective. My content for the hotel would be – people coming into the hotel and checking it, people sharing reviews about the product, people talking about us, sharing a review on trip advisor or any other site.
So how do I get people to talk about me?
What we have done on one of our boats, Deltin Royale is, we have started a photo booth and if they share their photo on social media, they stand a chance to win a free stay at Deltin Suites. So now we have everyone coming there, clicking a photo for free. These are already active customers who are already at the venue and they share their photos on Facebook. On an average, if they have 500 friends, they are getting 10 times the reach out of that one share. This is all free publicity. I think hotels should do this a lot – ask people to check in, talk about them, give them something in return.
User-generated content is something hotels need to push. If you are looking for generic content from the point of view of hotels, then each and every hotel should act as an opinion leader. Talk about 10 best places to eat in, 10 best places to visit. If you are in the luxury segment, talk about 10 most luxurious cars or the 10 most expensive watches in the world. These are the kind of things today that get us significant reach. A generic post about Deltin Suites and what it offers gets us no reach. On the other hand, 10 best luxury hotel suites in India – this content is shared on an affiliate website or an affiliate social media page. And Deltin Suites is one of those hotels on that list.
So we are building a content team who can write content that people would like to actually share and read.
Nilesh: In hospitality business, you would be targeting a certain kind of demographic. From a demographic standpoint, when you do content marketing and content sharing, are you saying that women of a certain age are more likely to buy or males from 30-40?
Floyd: In our business, we have a very male dominanated target segment. 80% males. But they don’t talk about the business much. We have customers who come to game and we have customers who come to experience the product. So a lot of people come to Goa and want to experience a night on the casino. Now they are the ones who will talk about it – the younger generation from 20-30. We influence these people who share things on their social profiles, and also reach out to possible gamers.
So I just look at the age group of 20-35 and I target the male segment because that works for my industry.
Gamers are not the people who would talk about gaming. But I would like to target gamers since we are in the hospitality industry. But gaming as such is banned online. I can’t boost a post that talks about poker. So I have to talk about Goa because that is really aspirational. 25% of leisure trips are dreamed of and based on what their friends have said. If you see your friends photos on Facebook from Vegas or Kuala Lumpur, that’s where you want to go. We are influencing people from 20-35 to share their experience on social media so they influence others.
Nilesh: It appears that businesses should start investing in chat but aren’t actually doing so?
Floyd: The chat person should act like a call center. The chat person should not only chat. He should be receiving inbound, at the same time chatting with people. This should be the case for smaller businesses.