Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Like most business owners, you know you need to effectively market your business in order to expand your sphere of influence and engage new customers – but you’re unsure of the right approach. Is it more practical to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or is it wiser to enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle it for you?

Both are reasonable options, but there are also ramifications connected with either decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an in-house marketing team.

3 Time-Tested Methods for Growing Your Business

If you want to grow your business (and why wouldn’t you?), there are a few tried-and-true methods you can employ to attract new customers:

  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Advertising & Marketing  (PPC, SEO, Social Media)
  • Direct Sales  (Cold Calls, Email Blasts, Knocking on Doors)

In a perfect world, a business would land so many new customer referrals that they wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, referrals can be hard to rely on. Because of this, many companies will contemplate hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing their marketing to an agency. Let’s examine both options:

WHY HIRE AN IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM?

Based on your specific business needs, it might seem more reasonable to employ a dedicated marketing team in-house. Sure, you’re accruing additional salary expenses to the business, but you’re also gaining total control over how your marketing plan is put into action.

Recruiting an experienced, skilled marketing manager who can take charge of every aspect of your marketing efforts can help grow lead generation and steadily attract new customers. So, let’s weigh the pros and and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Someone who works for your business is naturally going to have a much better understanding of the needs of your customers. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, as well as how best to promote them to clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – this may be even more critical, as an outside agency might not be as familiar with your specific market.

In-house marketers are likely to feel more connected to and in line with your overall business strategy. Chances are, they also have a fairly solid knowledge base and awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not they have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them, like an agency would. Additionally, an in-house team gives you creative control over the end-to-end digital process.

An In-House Marketing Team Is Focused On Your Brand Only

While marketing agencies will certainly make the effort to familiarize themselves with your brand and devote ample time to its marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketing personnel are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your specific needs. They spend time examining what’s working for you and making adjustments to marketing goals and processes. Because of this singular focus, your in-house marketing team is liable to put forth more ideas that are unique to your business.

In-House Marketers Are Available All Workweek Long

With a dedicated in-house marketing team, you don’t have to schedule a time to meet – you can brainstorm or revise plans anytime you need to.

Having convenient access to key decision-makers in real time can help streamline creative timelines and project management much more so than if a project has been outsourced.

CONS:

Oprah Winfrey saying,

In-House Marketing Can Be Inconsistent and Lackluster

One of the challenges of having just one or two people working on your marketing is that it’s often a part-time role. In-house personnel might already have other duties they’re expected to perform, and handling the business’s marketing needs is simply bundled into their job description.

As a consequence, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that weeks could go by without any new content being posted and ad campaign statistics going unmonitored.

Additionally, if budget constraints prevent you from recruiting a diverse team of crackerjack marketers, the content created by these individuals might be lifeless and uninspired as a result.

Yoda saying,

An In-House Marketing Team May Have Limited Training Time

Marketing agencies often spend a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring that their employees are updating their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training can entail attending marketing conferences or webinars, exchanging articles and resources online, and brainstorming between various departments.

By contrast, in-house marketers usually have less time to dedicate to improving their skills. They also don’t have the benefit of learning from or collaborating with other marketing departments. While you may initially hire individuals based on their digital marketing experience and expertise, once they’re a part of your in-house team they are far less likely to have the time and resources available to continue to maintain and refine their skills.

Steve Martin unsuccessfully trying to think of new ideas.

In-House Marketers May Run Out of Fresh Ideas

Effective marketing demands inherently imaginative minds that thrive on change. When a small in-house marketing team is focused on managing your brand alone, creativity can begin to languish over time. It’s difficult to keep formulating new and innovative strategies to promote products and share content when you have no one outside your circle to bounce ideas off. 

In some cases, company leadership keeps a tight rein on their creative team and doesn’t give them leeway to take chances and try new things. There may also be some overarching arrogance on the part of leadership, believing that no one outside the organization can represent the company as effectively as its employees.

Some rando guy saying really slowly,

Companies Must Foot the Bill for Retaining an In-House Team

In the short term, it can seem like you’re getting a better bargain by opting for a small in-house marketing team. But ultimately, it can become considerably more costly.

When you first link up with a marketing agency, you can anticipate paying out more money to get you set up – but these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

With an in-house team, you will continue to pay them an annual salary, as well as benefits and paid time off in most cases. With cost-of-living increases, this amount will only grow.

Digital Marketing Graphic with Soaring Rocket

WHY HIRE A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY?

Securing the services of a digital marketing agency can feel like a monumental maneuver. Typically, there’s a preliminary meeting, a contract of some duration, numerous discussions regarding the scope of work, and interacting with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there’s the cost. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. But a digital marketing agency can deliver a more expansive array of services and also churn out higher-quality work. Here are some pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency:

PROS:

Professional Marketers Have Specialized Skill Sets

Effective marketing demands a multifaceted approach, involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), graphic/website design, and web development. Assembling an in-house marketing team teeming with all this talent is no easy undertaking.

When you partner with a reputable digital marketing agency, you gain access to an entire team of specialists – each of whom knows their niche and understands how best to get results. These passionate and knowledgeable marketers routinely manage a wide range of clientele, making it all the more probable that they’ll implement the proper strategies for your company with not as much trial and error.

A Marketing Agency Can Offer a Fresh Perspective

Companies that have been in business for any significant period of time may ultimately come to the realization that they’re circulating the same ideas over and over again. Campaigns start to look alike, and copywriters continue using the same terminology to describe things. In-house marketers keep trying to devise new and innovative ideas, but it’s getting more and more challenging to do so.

This is entirely normal. There’s a natural limit to how long a company can craft quality content when they’re promoting the same products and services day in and day out. It’s easy to become single-minded when working from inside an organization. For this reason, getting an outside perspective can be immensely beneficial to a business.

Partnering with an agency can help you view your company from a different perspective and bring a fresh approach to your marketing strategy. While it’s true that an outside agency will not have a thorough, expansive understanding of your company’s brand and history, this can actually be beneficial. An agency can objectively identify opportunities that might have gone unnoticed or were not as easily recognizable by in-house personnel.

Digital marketing specialists have years of knowledge and experience, and they’re trained to analyze your business from the consumer’s or client’s viewpoint. The old adage “two heads are better than one” is especially relevant when it comes to digital marketing.

Additionally, an agency may be more willing to push the envelope and think unconventionally. This can bring about increased ingenuity and quite possibly more successful marketing strategies.

Consistency and Speed of Work are Hallmarks of Digital Marketing Agencies

Consistency and Speed of Work Are Hallmarks of Marketing Agencies

When generating new marketing collateral, it’s easy for an organization to become careless about what and when to communicate. More often than not, attending to customers is their primary focus, and marketing takes a back seat.

As the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the amount of time they have available to keep up to date on all the latest social media, SEO, content marketing, and branding trends is extremely limited.

By contrast, when you outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, they are able to jump in and start implementing strategies right away, carrying out each project from planning to completion. Because these agencies routinely handle a wide array of client accounts, they typically work far more efficiently than an in-house marketing team.

Over time, these agile marketers have designed state-of-the-art workflows and processes that are built for quality, volume, and efficiency. Outsourced agencies will strive to make sure that your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing are all sent out on time and looking great, as well as ensuring that your branding is consistent.

Kim Kardashian flashing that cash

Marketing Agencies Are Cost-Effective Over the Long Term

While partnering with an outside agency might seem more expensive at face value, when you compare it to the costs of recruiting a full team of dedicated marketers, it’s a bargain! In-house personnel can set your company back hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in salaries, benefits, and technology investments.

Alternatively, you might choose to designate a single, in-house employee to handle all of your social media marketing, graphic design, and online advertising. But for less than the costs associated with that one individual, you could hire an agency and gain access to an entire team of specialists who are experienced in meeting the needs of a variety of diverse clients in multiple industries.

Working with an agency that comprehends your specific needs will allow your company to move swifter, secure better outcomes, and make decisions more effortlessly. You may not even have to work with an agency long-term at full scale – once you’re up and running successfully, you may only have to manage maintenance fees, which are considerably less by comparison.

Schitt's Creek:

Outsourcing to an Agency Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce and technologies evolve at lightning speed. Thus, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s conceivable to do this with an in-house team if your organization is prepared to invest in marketing education, new technology, and advanced resources. But most aren’t.

Fortunately, staying on top of the most current digital marketing techniques is an agency’s lifeblood. Marketing agencies often enjoy early access to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software – most of which just aren’t available to smaller, in-house marketing teams.

Unless your internal marketing team is large enough to justify the costs of ongoing education and technology, it’s generally more economical to outsource your marketing to an agency.

CONS:

Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air looking nervously uncertain.

Partnering with a Marketing Agency Can Incur Higher Costs Over the Short Term

Depending on how many functions you decide to pass on to an agency, you can expect to spend a bigger chunk of your marketing budget than you would with a single, in-house professional – at least at first.

But, as previously mentioned, you can’t always get the best results when entrusting all of your marketing efforts to one person. If you’re currently covering the total cost of salaries and benefits of supporting an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you link up with an external agency, it’s important to bear in mind that, in addition to gaining access to a whole team of professional marketers, you’re also laying the foundations of a long-term marketing strategy that will gradually decrease costs and improve overall profitability.

Naturally, being businesses themselves, marketing agencies have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that must be met. In order to accomplish this, they have to set prices for each of their various services. Most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency might cost more in the short term, they are going to be able to generate better returns that you can measure right away. This signifies that you know the value that you’re paying for.

Dream Corp:

Marketing Agencies May Lack Your Knowledge of the Industry

While some marketing agencies concentrate on a specific industry, most of them work with clients in a variety of markets. Consequently, they may not have the degree of knowledge you have about your products and services.

In such cases, there will be a bit of a “discovery period” in the early days of a project until the agency has become familiar with the particulars of your central business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

As each market is distinct, what performs well for one business could fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will turn out to alienate potential customers.

Finding a firm with demonstrated results in your field can help counterbalance a lack of industry knowledge.

The Umbrella Academy:

It Can Take Time for Agencies to Get Up to Speed On a Company

It can be hard to get down to business straightaway after hiring an agency. The client-agency partnership needs time to ensure proper alignment to the client’s stated objectives.

A creditable marketing agency will want to gain a deep understanding of your clients and identify what it is that they’re looking for. At the same time, they’ll need to make certain they have a grasp of your brand’s voice and image.

After taking the time to evaluate your goals and prior marketing efforts with their team, the agency will work to determine what direction to take with your marketing and make certain that you approve of it as well.

Once a campaign has concluded, the agency will ask for your feedback so that they can adapt and enhance your marketing strategy going forward. All of these things take time, and a freewheeling approach won’t produce the optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially At First

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in lots of meetings and discussions, especially at the outset of the relationship.

Every single aspect demands your consent and stamp of approval early on, and you can’t relegate the critical decisions to the agency. It can be burdensome at times – being tasked with reviewing a new web design or web content, or greenlighting ad campaigns – but it’s an integral part of the process.

As the client-agency relationship progresses, you can expect to continue having regular meetings in order to:

Warner Archive:

Regular Communication with Marketing Agencies Can Be Challenging

Effective communication is crucial to keeping your marketing plan running smoothly. But when you partner with an outside marketing agency, you won’t always have instant access to your team. Lack of physical proximity is a natural barrier, and face-to-face communication is understandably more limited.

Communicating with your agency partners often takes place via phone or email, and they may be slower to respond to requests, questions, or concerns than you’d prefer. While meetings can be arranged, they typically occur hours or days later.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t the agency’s only client – you may not even be their biggest client. Agencies routinely manage multiple accounts for a variety of clients. If other clients contract for more services, your company’s project may not be prioritized as highly. Simply put, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Principled marketing agencies, however, work to ensure that no client feels less valued than another. They strive to keep in constant contact with each of their clients and make a conscious effort to respond to concerns quickly.

Final Thoughts

Both recruiting an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither option is inherently “right” or “wrong” for any business.

In order to determine which approach is right for your company, it’s important to examine your short-term marketing goals as well as your long-term growth strategy. Weighing these against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in assessing whether you should keep your marketing initiatives in-house or entrust them to outside experts. In addition, identifying which particular services your company needs and what your marketing budget is are essential to reaching a final decision.

Many companies already have a core of in-house individuals tasked with handling their marketing. By and large, in-house personnel live and breathe the company brand and are likely to have a far more in-depth understanding of the business’s unique selling proposition, product set, and buyer personas. Thus, in-house marketers may be better qualified to create relevant content and effective communication strategies for the company.

Nevertheless, the range of expertise and resources available to in-house marketers may be limited – indeed, they may find it difficult to implement new software or keep pace with ever-evolving trends and technologies.

There’s a steep learning curve involved with digital marketing, and teaming up with an external agency can help avoid classic “newbie” mistakes. Instead of spending time and effort exploring various possibilities, agency specialists will formulate and carry out a hard-and-fast plan without delay, so you can receive a quicker return on your investment.

Many organizations find that a hybrid approach to marketing works best. Outsourcing key services to agency specialists can not only be extremely cost-effective, it also provides an outside perspective which can help in-house marketing teams recognize opportunities to improve. Keeping some of your resources in-house also helps the company maintain some degree of direct control over its content, branding, and other marketing resources.

Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze the pros and cons of retaining an in-house marketing team versus partnering with an outside agency, it’s time to take the next step.

If you or your business could benefit from the services of a professional, full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is here to help! 

HighClick provides comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success!

Whether you’re looking for a fresh website design, brand development, email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), our highly skilled team is fully equipped to assist you!

Reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or visit our website for a full description of our services!

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What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

It’s been a decade since 4G – the last generation of mobile network technology – was introduced. With its arrival, the landscape of digital media and mobile communication was forever altered.

Smartphones and other devices designed to fully utilize 4G wireless technology gave consumers the power of supercomputers in the palms of their hands, enabling them to quickly and easily search the internet for products, services, reviews, and media, as well as find answers to nearly any question imaginable.

In a short period of time, we’ve come to take 4G’s capabilities for granted. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that many of today’s mobile apps – with their capacity for streaming video and audio and in-app advertising and purchases – could not have existed on 3G.

No previous generation of mobile technology has had the wherewithal to drive economic growth to the extent that 5G promises. Much like the advent of 4G made it possible for services like Uber and Lyft to launch, 5G is likely to spark a brand-new wave of tech titans.

5G also gives every indication of opening up more opportunities for the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting everything from your house lights to your garage door and even your toaster to the internet. This translates into more people and more devices spending more time connected to the internet, increasingly consuming more content.

While it could take as long as a decade to realize the full potential of the technology, 5G is projected to cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025, fielding as much as 45% of global mobile data traffic. When 5G wireless networks and devices finally start to take root, they will fundamentally change customer behavior and open up new marketing opportunities for organizations.

WHAT IS 5G?

5G, the fifth-generation cellular wireless network, is a cloud-based network that connects people on mobile devices to the internet remarkably faster than previous networks. While 4G requires cables and infrastructure to operate smoothly in a neighborhood, 5G’s cellular towers enhance cloud-based signals, eliminating many cable-related needs.

Whereas preceding wireless networks were only truly capable of powering mobile devices up to the size of a tablet, 5G will be strong enough and fast enough to effortlessly power computers, televisions, and even smart devices.

5G technology carries with it the potential for download speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G; very low latency (the time it takes for a network to send a data packet after it’s requested from a receiving device); higher network capacity (the ability to connect far more devices to a network simultaneously); and faster message transmission, due to supercharged connectivity.

The possibilities of 5G are limitless and could transform the digital marketing landscape in more ways than we can conceive of.

HOW 5G WIRELESS WILL CHANGE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

The expansion of 5G will be powered by the introduction of 5G-compatible iPhones and Android phones in the near future. This will likely spawn a huge wave of smartphone upgrades. Along with being on a faster network, these devices will feature better-quality screens, faster processors, higher-resolution cameras, and other improved components.

Once customers have acquired these compatible devices, wireless carriers will begin vying for these customers by building out their respective networks. This build-out will take some time, but 5G should be an everyday experience for the majority of Americans within the next 3 to 5 years.

Faster internet speeds on 5G-supported devices will make surfing the internet, watching videos, and online shopping much more attractive on mobile. This will likely motivate consumers to use their mobile devices even more often than before. Already, 37% of web traffic and 56% of revenue is from mobile devices, according to Smart Insights. As 5G expands to more communities, these numbers will certainly escalate even further.

With better and faster data exchanges, 5G will also lead to enhanced location accuracy. Having relevant data in hand to increase targeting accuracy for any ad, search page, or web page experience means improved results for both consumers and brands. Consumers will enjoy a better experience and marketers will reach a more targeted audience. While this won’t necessarily change the tactics that local marketers use to connect to their audience, it will increase the chances that the consumers they reach are the right ones.

WHAT 5G MEANS FOR MARKETING

A Solid Online Presence Is Essential

With higher loading speeds and dependable, super-fast connections, people will be able to consume more online content, faster. In fact, early users of the 5G network have reported using four times more data than they did previously. Consumers are likely going to be spending more time browsing, scrolling, and swiping on the internet and less time viewing traditional content like cable TV, newspapers, and magazines. More screen time translates into more opportunities to reach your target audience.

If your brand doesn’t currently exist on all the relevant platforms, now’s the time to establish and develop a solid online presence. If you haven’t already launched a website, this is a crucial first step. Set up and optimize your business profiles on all the major social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Consider creating marketing videos aimed at increasing brand awareness. Starting a company blog is an excellent way to build a community and provoke conversations among industry peers.

Digital Ads Will Be on More Screens & Surfaces

With 5G and advancing Wi-Fi technologies, wireless internet is going to be noticeably faster and more widespread, even in rural locations. Due to the higher network speeds, visual and media in digital ads could be much more advanced.

Currently, digital ads can be seen on smartphones, websites, and occasionally on screens at shopping centers and airports. Super-fast wireless connectivity means high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Quite literally, any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform. Faster speeds could even open the door for functional holographic ads. 

Super-fast wireless connectivity means that high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Faster speeds could even open the door for functioning holographic ads. In a world where literally any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform, advertisers can dramatically increase the number of locations and methods by which they can reach potential customers.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

For years, marketers have deemed immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to be rife with potential for paid advertising. While some major brands have played around with VR and AR for some time, opportunities in these areas have been constrained based on Wi-Fi access.

One of the chief reasons why VR, AR, and other forms of extended reality (XR) haven’t yet become widespread in popularity is because these technologies demand significant bandwidth, less latency, and greater speed than 4G is capable of providing. The expansion of 5G networks will allow advertisers to utilize this format with more reliability and less lag.

Augmented reality inherently relies on immersion. A lag or stutter can shatter the illusion. In order to maintain the suspension of disbelief, the AR experience needs to be utterly convincing, real-time, and executed seamlessly. As internet speeds accelerate, delivering on these requirements is becoming progressively easier.

Low latency and high system capacity will improve overall consistency, helping to bring smooth, immersive experiences into mainstream reality, and offering a wealth of opportunities for marketers.

 

In the near future, we can reasonably expect to see brands launching innovative and compelling messaging using high-quality, interactive creative imagery overlaid on practically every surface imaginable. This innovative marketing content will likely be viewable not just when wearing standard AR-enhanced glasses, but also in store windows, on walls, in car dashboards, and on next-generation mobile devices that also function as projectors.

Internet of Things (IoT) Will Reach Its Full Potential

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the concept of connecting any possible device to the internet. This goes beyond the obvious connected “things” like computers, cell phones, smart TVs, cameras, home security systems, and wearable devices (Apple Watches and FitBits, for example), and extends to more commonplace items like thermostats, lighting fixtures, household appliances, doorbells, and even barbecue grills. All of these and more can be controlled through devices such as smartphones or smart speakers.

While many IoT devices are capable of functioning on 4G networks, connections between devices generally can’t rely on transferring large amounts of data because there simply isn’t enough bandwidth. With the increased bandwidth that 5G networks will bring, the number of connected items will skyrocket, and the connection between these items will become more efficient and seamless.

As adoption of 5G continues to increase, the amount of data generated by IoT devices will also grow exponentially. Marketers will have to learn to separate the valuable data from the “junk,” but once they’re able to reliably pinpoint the good data to use on a large scale, the possibilities are endless.

What benefits can marketers derive from this treasure trove of data?

  • Understand audiences more deeply in order to better personalize their messaging
  • Generate contextual and location-based ads that are hyper-targeted to reach their ideal audience
  • Create timely, relevant content for prospective customers at each stage in the buying journey
  • Listen to the needs of their customers based on their behavior
  • Make real-time adjustments to marketing campaigns based on ongoing data analysis

Going forward, advertisers should be ready to interface with users across a variety of different devices using a vast array of ad formats.

More Interactive Advertising

Up to this point, buffering and other technological limitations have impaired the accessibility of interactive ads.

At present, advertisers are tasked with finding a happy medium between producing compelling creative content and minimizing webpage load times. High-definition or interactive digital display ads lengthen the amount of time it takes for a page to load, which can cause some website visitors to skedaddle before they even see the ad.

5G download speeds will be fast enough that marketers will no longer be limited with regard to the quality of creative features on a webpage. 4K and live videos will be commonplace across the internet, even on mobile.

Since interactive ads won’t negatively impact a website’s performance, the sites will be significantly easier to navigate. Improved website performance could potentially boost click-through rates and decrease bounce rates as well.

Marketing Processes Will Be Improved

Reporting and data mining that once took hours or days for marketers to complete might only take a few minutes or seconds with 5G. Analytics, applied to every phase of the marketing process, can help predict where demand will be for particular products, optimize pricing to gain a competitive edge, and identify consumer purchasing patterns and behaviors.

With faster data communication between devices, marketers will finally have access to real-time analytics. This opens up the possibility to maximize and modify marketing campaigns in real time using artificial intelligence (AI) and other marketing automation tools.

Greater Personalization & Hyper-Localized Targeting

As internet speeds increase and mobile connectivity reaches deeper into more rural and remote areas, the number of internet users is likely to grow at an even faster rate than before. With the proliferation of users, marketers will also see a noticeable increase in the amount of valuable data they are able to collect. With more detailed information in hand, marketers will be able to deliver hyper-localized content and multifaceted campaign strategies. Hyper-localization makes personalization and targeting increasingly important. With this data, marketers will be better able to:

  • Tailor ads by demographics, consumer behavior, and specific device usage
  • Improve segmentation, customer experience (CX), and customer journey
  • Generate customized calls to action, personalized emails, and location-based homepages
  • Build meaningful relationships between the brand and the consumer

Expansion of Mobile Marketing

Over the past decade, screen time on mobile devices has significantly increased. With users’ eyes glued to their cell phone screens, mobile marketing is more vital than ever. 

Marketers understand that there’s a discernible difference between how people use a computer and a smartphone. Desktop search inquiries can be more complex, whereas smartphone queries are generally simpler and more direct. Bearing this in mind, marketers will need to fashion content that’s more appropriate for mobile devices.

This content will likely be centered around screenless searches – voice search and digital assistants, for example – as well as micro-moments (when people reflexively consult a device, typically a smartphone, to act upon a need to learn, do, discover, watch, or buy something). Consequently, this content will be more conversational in tone and framed to answer frequently asked questions to aid users in acquiring information on the go.

Mobile ecommerce sales in the U.S. represented nearly 40% of total retail ecommerce sales as recently as 2018 – and it’s anticipated that these numbers will keep climbing. Despite this unprecedented growth, U.S. consumers are nonetheless encountering considerable difficulties while shopping online.

Consumers’ greatest frustration emanates from latency – in a recent survey, 42% of users referenced low-performing websites or apps as their biggest inconvenience. As network speeds accelerate with 5G, zero latency will essentially eliminate the number-one problem for mobile shopping.

Now is the time for companies – and marketers – to gear up for the progression of 5G by streamlining shopping apps and enriching the customer experience.

Video Advertising Will Increase

Video is already the most consumed content on the internet, as well as a fast-growing segment of digital marketing. While 4G networks are relatively fast, lag issues still creep up when streaming videos. Due to limited bandwidth, pages load slowly, preventing many marketers from doubling down on video as a central focus of their efforts.

With heightened connectivity and accelerated internet speeds, the use of video content, streaming, and mobile video consumption is expected to skyrocket. Page load times will dramatically decrease and buffering time will be reduced to virtually nil, creating a nearly seamless streaming experience for users.

5G networks will allow users to stream high-quality videos faster than ever before, contribute to better overall quality (such as 4K video), easily support longer-form and data-rich videos, and enhance live video capabilities.

Consequently, video advertising will become more prevalent online. Marketers will focus on producing unique, high-quality video content as a primary component of their advertising strategies. Consumers should expect that the quantity of video ads they see will rise; however, these same users may be more open to video content if they find it to be particularly relevant.

As recently as 2018, users reported having viewed a combined 1 billion hours’ worth of YouTube content each day, substantially more than the next leading platforms combined. Rival social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have all rolled out emergent video platforms in an attempt to seize a portion of YouTube’s viewership for their platforms. As the breadth of video-streaming networks continues to expand, marketers will work on diversifying and gearing their efforts toward each specific platform.

Decreasing Use of Ad Blockers

Currently, an estimated 47% of consumers routinely use ad blockers. One of the biggest reasons for this is that ads can significantly slow down a page’s load time.

With the higher speeds and lower latency that 5G will bring, the use of ad blockers is likely to decline. This means that marketers will be able to serve more ads to more people, much faster than before.

Faster load times and a better user experience (UX) will ultimately lead to more positive relationships between brands and consumers as well.

Richer Content for Websites & Emails

More mobile bandwidth would seriously diminish concerns about website load times, allowing businesses to use more images, animation, and video. Just because they can, though, doesn’t mean that they should – busy and frenetic web designs can be confusing to visitors. However, 5G does allow for richer content with fewer worries.

5G technology would decrease concerns about email load times as well. Marketers could be more confident about using retina and 4K images in emails, and could even use larger-sized animated gifs with more frames.

Voice Assistants Will Be The Norm

Whether scheduling activities or creating lists, people are now using voice assistants for anything and everything they please. Sales of smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, have also boomed in recent years.

Smart speakers and voice assistants demand rapid access to vast amounts of data in order to accurately encrypt a verbal command and return a useful response. 5G technology will allow these tools to function even faster and be more helpful. In addition, the data transfer speeds available from 5G networks will enable you to take your smart speaker with you wherever you go for even greater versatility.

One of the biggest marketing impacts of 5G will be that consumers can have actual voice conversations with mobile devices, instead of merely issuing a few voice commands and interacting at other times by thumb-typing or screen-touching.

As voice assistants become more omnipresent, marketers will look for new ways to leverage this developing technology. Mobile advertising could eventually become entirely slanted towards voice conversations.

HOW TO KEEP UP IN A 5G WORLD

It’s understandable if your company isn’t quite ready to explore the possibilities of interactive advertising, augmented reality, or virtual reality. However, you should still keep tabs on the latest marketing technologies in order to be “in the know” about what the bigger brands are doing. This can help you identify which opportunities might be more accessible to you in the future, or come up with similar strategies that you might be able to recreate without the high-priced technologies.

If you haven’t already, you should also work on building up your digital and online marketing tactics. The ongoing improvements of Wi-Fi and the expectations of 5G have demonstrated that there’s a business case for being hyperconnected. If the majority of your customers weren’t online frequently already, they certainly will be in the coming years.

Make sure you’re actively engaging with consumers on the most popular social media channels for your industry. Build a robust website awash with digital content such as blog posts, marketing videos, and other relevant information.

If you’ve already got an amazing online presence, consider exploring newer mobile platforms that could thrive in the 5G era. You might not be able to afford to create an AR advertisement, but you could experiment with creating content that utilizes AR or new-media filters on apps such as Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram.

In a 5G world, marketing will be distinctly data-driven with messaging served to individuals, not the general public. At every micro-moment of decision, you’ll be seeking to gain influence. Thus, you will need solid marketing technology in order to capture and analyze data and respond in real time. Accomplishing this goal will demand investment and meticulous planning. Utilizing a customer data platform is a great place to start

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the move to widespread 5G coverage will be a gradual progression, the latest generation of wireless technology stands as a colossal creative and strategic opportunity for marketers. Integrating technology into the marketing realm was already bound to happen; but with the realization of 5G on a massive scale, digital will indeed begin to dominate.

Amidst this rapidly changing landscape, marketers must work to establish closer relationships between consumers and brands through more relevant and compelling communications and experiences. 5G will allow marketers to find new and innovative ways to communicate with their existing customers, based on better location accuracy and other techniques. 

Marketing professionals would also be wise to invest in new skills and strategic planning in order to fully leverage the new technology and its infrastructure. By keeping an eye on key digital marketing metrics and monitoring customer behaviors closely, marketers can quickly identify major shifts and adapt accordingly. 

As with any new technology, unexpected pitfalls may arise, such as data breaches and identity theft. Marketers must ensure that comprehensive security and privacy procedures are in place to safeguard their own assets and those of their clients.

Overall, the addition of 5G and even improved Wi-Fi networks will be great for businesses with an online or digital presence – and marketers who run many of their daily processes online.

There’s definitely a lot to unpack, but as 5G takes shape and becomes part of our collective reality, we’ll continue to discover new ways to harness the technology and enhance the consumer’s experience.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing and creative services team to deliver precise marketing solutions to help grow your business, look no further than HighClick Media. We provide comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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Pride Isn’t Just For June

The transparency demanded of brands by social media today means that attentive consumers can keep tabs on a brand’s values and behavior year-round

This shouldn’t be a channel that’s merely activated in February for Black History Month, or one day a year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Juneteenth – it needs to be perpetual. 

Brands that fail to acknowledge this run the risk of their messaging – for Pride Month, for example – being seen as insincere or strictly performative, particularly by younger demographics.

MarTech recently sat down with Adriana Waterston, SVP of Insights and Strategy for Horowitz Research, to discuss this issue.

Gen Z’s Unflinching Support for LGBTQ+ Rights

Horowitz Research recently conducted research on Gen Z – born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – a generation that many brands are finding it hard to connect with, due to the breakdown of the media ecosystem. The agency discovered that 28% of Gen Zers surveyed self-identified as LGBTQIA.

“That’s a substantial proportion,” noted Waterston. “The story of Gen Z,” she said, “is one of allies and being inclusive. The big message from our data is that for brands to really engage with Gen Z audiences, the tokenism of Black History Month or Pride Month or Asian and Pacific Islander [Heritage Month] – that kind of pandering engagement during these marketing months just really falls short.”

The younger generation especially, she added, is concerned with the brand’s voice, values, and social responsibility all year round. “If you’re keeping your company headquarters in a place that’s going after LGBTQ+ rights and trans rights, and yet you come out with fancy statements during Pride Month, it’s going to come off as disingenuous,” Waterston asserted.

There may be even greater cynicism among older audiences, she stated. “Marketing works one way, business and politics work another. These young people – maybe it’s a real cultural shift, I’m not sure. Are these young people going to support brands they align with politically when they’re a little older and have other considerations? I don’t have a crystal ball.”

A New Cultural Consciousness

Despite a common perception right or wrong – that the LGBTQ+ audience is a coveted demographic for brands, with ample disposable income, the community has still been somewhat marginalized over time. Why is that?

“I think it has a lot to do with the way brands think about marketing and how they spend their marketing dollars,” explained Waterston. “It’s not just LGBTQ+, it’s multicultural and diverse in general. Brands would look at numbers like, less than 5% of the U.S. audience is LGBTQ+ and think, this is not a sizable enough audience for us to market to year-round – forgetting that it’s also about the allies, about the families, about tapping into the zeitgeist – a cultural sensibility of inclusiveness and progressiveness.”

With regard to Gen Z, the matter becomes even more intricate, suggested Waterston. “There’s so much fluidity. Older generations are just now learning that gender is perhaps not just binary. Young people today were born into this sensibility, and that makes it complicated for brands. People don’t feel they have to hide their preferences.”

Essentially, whether the Horowitz Research study points to an actual upsurge in LGBTQ+ numbers in the Gen Z demographic is open to debate; what it does show is a greater inclination for individuals to openly identify with that segment of the population.

Here, a correlation between the LGBTQ+ community and the Black Lives Matter movement can be drawn. The more willing people are to be outspoken on an issue – even as allies – the more liable they are to call for consistent commitment from the companies they purchase from.

Three Practical Insights

First, as already attested, brands must be mindful of diverse audiences not only at specific times of the year but all year long.

Second, having diverse viewpoints in the room when marketing decisions are made creates opportunities for authentic engagement.

Third, “brands need to start thinking more creatively about engaging with audiences beyond traditional advertising. For example, with these young people, we saw how powerful something like TikTok is,” added Waterston.

“It is about rethinking all of your marketing approaches,”  Waterston said, “and it’s part of the whole conversation that’s happening in this country. It’s not just about LGBTQ+; it’s about diversity overall. The marketing world has, for way too long, been very binary, meaning that white and straight is called the general market, and everything else is not. The reality is that what is white and straight is not only not the general market, but is actually a much smaller portion of the market than you would have thought.”

Diversity, argued Waterston, needs to be the norm. And if truth be told, she added, “a lot of brands realized that what happened in 2020 was a wake-up call. We’ve been busier than ever because brands have started to figure out that they don’t know what they don’t know.”

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An earlier version of this article appeared at martech.org.

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4 Essential Digital Marketing Elements That Your Business Needs

4 Essential Digital Marketing Elements That Your Business Needs

1. Branding:

This is so important because it shows your customers how you’re going to accommodate them. Your brand is your business name, logo, tagline, personality and more! Most popular brands evolve by adjusting to the times. This allows them to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of the clients and customers. If nothing else, you need a brand name, a target audience, and an idea of how your brand personality is going to connect with your target audience.

(1971)

(2022)

This is a good example of brand evolution. Starbucks is continuously updating their brand and services, presenting a fresh take on a company we’ve known for decades.

2. Website:

If you’re a newbie, you probably don’t have a huge website budget yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome website. Ideally, your site should be simple and easy to navigate. Fast load times are also vital, or you might be losing people before they even see your site!

You will also want to make sure that your website is mobile-optimized, meaning that if someone wants to visit your site from a phone or tablet, they’ll still get a great browsing experience.

3. Content

Content covers all the things. Anything that educates your customers about your business is content. Potential clients are going to visit your website to see if and how your content is relates to them and their needs. The best content should be non-intrusive and inspire your customers to come to you.

4. Advertising:

A strategically planned-out ad can help your business grow substantially. And the best part? You don’t need a ton of money to get started! Advertising is key- don’t forget it!

If you are just getting started, my suggestion to you is re-marketing to people who have already visited your website. They’ve already shown interest, and all you need to do is seal the deal! Digital advertising is a great way to drive traffic to your site and convert prospects into customers.

There you have it! Four essential digital marketing elements that every business needs to have in order to set you up for success!

If you wish to have more traffic, leads or sales, then it’s time we talk!

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How to Know When it’s Time for a Website Overhaul

How To Know When It’s Time for a Website Overhaul

Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace over the past several years, and there’s every reason to believe that it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. What’s more, social media has evolved into a digital marketing hub, which has escalated the competition for businesses to remain relevant. In order to contend in today’s market, your organization’s website may need a redesign, as there are hallmarks that consumers expect in terms of accessibility, new content, and an engaging experience. If your website hasn’t been updated recently, it may be hurting your business both in leads and credibility.

Consider these critical indicators in determining whether it’s time for a website overhaul:

1) Your Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly

More than ever, people are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to connect to the internet. Accordingly, you need to make certain that your website is compatible with a variety of screen sizes without undermining the quality and layout of your site.

The overall appearance of your website on mobile should be congruent with the desktop version to guarantee that customers are capable of accessing links and navigating the page from their tablets or smartphones. 

Having a website that isn’t optimized for different screens can adversely affect your search engine rankings, since Google prioritizes responsive websites in their search results. 

If you haven’t already configured your website to function the same on mobile and tablet device screens, you should modernize the design of your website without delay.

2) Antiquated Content & Lackluster Visuals

No matter what type of business you’re operating, your website needs to have an inviting visual design. Mismatched fonts and out-of-date imagery and content can make your website seem unappealing to customers. Revamping your website aesthetic can give you an edge over your competitors.

When assessing the present design of your website, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Are the images displayed on your site an accurate visual representation of your brand? Poor-quality, stretched, or run-of-the-mill stock photos are a dead giveaway that you’re ready for a redesign.
  • Is your website content easy to read and comprehend? It’s critical for your viewers’ overall experience to achieve the proper balance of text, background, and visuals. 
  • Is your website too cluttered and disorderly? Having incongruous fonts, lengthy paragraphs, or compressed photos can make it hard for viewers to navigate your site.

3) Invalid, Inaccurate, or Irrelevant Content

Do you really want to occupy “prime real estate” on your website with content of little worth to your brand or the message you’re trying to convey? Your content should clearly communicate what your business is about: its core principles, the products and services you offer, and how to get in touch with you. Here are a few clues that your content might need to be refreshed:

  • There are products/services listed on your site that are no longer offered.
  • Your most recent blog or news article was posted over a year ago.
  • Your website contains immaterial content that doesn’t correspond with your brand.

4) You’re Not Putting Social Media to Good Use

As previously discussed, a majority of people use their smartphones and tablets to access the web. They also spend a LOT of time on social media!

Two reasons why you should be taking advantage of this popular resource:

Social Media Can Help Grow Your Brand

Facebook and Instagram are excellent avenues for sharing more innovative content, advertising your wares, and engaging with customers directly. By linking your social media profiles on your webpage, you can create more traffic to each platform, which is likely to grab customers’ attention more effectively.

Consumers Prefer Brands That Are Active on Social Media  

Making personal connections with customers online helps create loyal customers and generate better feedback. Plus, it’s a surefire way to identify what your customers are looking for – this, in turn, can help you answer their questions and make informative content that they want to interact with.

Your Professional Website Redesign Is Only A Phone Call Away!

At HighClick Media, our professional web designers are experts in website redesign! We love solving hard problems with creative solutions! Our website redesign process integrates marketing, design, technology, and digital strategy, to give you the best product possible. We believe that great design inspires website visitors to take action and to take notice of your company. Partnering with us as your web design agency ensures you that you are receiving the most comprehensive web design strategy possible. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to schedule a consultation with our web design team!

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How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

Prior to 2020, the retail industry was projected to continue its gradual shift toward digital and mobile-first purchasing within the next decade. Nearing year’s end, the future has already arrived…a bit earlier than anticipated.

Thanks to social distancing and stay-at-home measures, ecommerce expansion has escalated from 16% of all U.S. retail sales in February of this year to 27% by April, based on data from the Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The way that consumers shop progressed ten years in just a couple of months. And it happened before our very eyes!

Some organizations were better prepared than others. Presently, every business – regardless of its scope or size – has the chance to revamp its ecommerce approach.

In this article, we’ll explore four ways that you can transform your brand in order to better connect people with products online:

Redefine Loyalty

While ecommerce brands are notorious for their pricing wars, customers these days are seeking more than simply a good deal – it’s the total value that they want. In a recent global survey carried out by Ipsos, two out of three respondents stated that the way businesses act in response to COVID-19 will influence their spending. Half of all participants asserted that they are inclined to pay more for a product if they can be assured of its quality and safety, according to research by Nielsen.

Having the proper approach to customers can help you further deliver that value. Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed assert that exceptional customer service is critical when deciding where to shop online, according to a Kantar study commissioned by Facebook. By being transparent in updating order details and shipping timelines, you can greatly enhance the customer’s experience.

Problem-solving is another great way to build loyalty with customers. Platforms that allow real-time messaging can help make transactions smoother and more personalized. In addition, your willingness to issue refunds, process reshipments, and engage one-on-one with customers can help contribute value to your brand.

Advancing the common good, through nonprofit donations and partnerships, can also help. By demonstrating to customers how their purchases give back to the community, you can foster a sense of community and positivity.

Build for Boomers

Baby Boomers aren’t generally regarded as the savviest ecommerce users. Regardless, their mobile and online purchases have increased 85% year-over-year, based on research from Facebook IQ. Given the magnitude and median income of this demographic, Boomers could very well signify your next big opportunity.

Nevertheless, 78% of respondents in that same study said that they encountered challenges while holiday shopping on mobile devices – which means you’ll have to come up with the proper user experience (UX) strategy in order to engage Boomers.

Major points of conflict include too-small fonts, slow-loading sites or apps, hard-to-understand product info, and too many screens or steps to complete transactions. UX personalization can help improve shopping experiences for these customers.

Consistently poll different groups of people who use your site or app, so you can pinpoint the main barriers to purchasing and make adjustments if necessary.

Promote Agility

In a recent survey from GlobalWebIndex, 80% of respondents report having delayed a major purchase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

You simply can’t afford to wait for the market to bounce back – you have to expedite it. But how? By capitalizing on the opportunity to embrace an agile organizational structure.

Agility allows you to bring your senior leadership team into alignment and make informed marketing decisions in real-time.

Adapt to “FOGO”

That’s “fear of going out,” for the uninitiated. Only half of the people surveyed worldwide are ready to return to stores right now, according to GlobalWebIndex data.

Ready for another marketing acronym? Okay, here we go. Compared to 2019, there has been a 208% increase in BOPIS (that’s “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store”) purchases, with over a third of them coming from first-time BOPIS shoppers, based on data from Adobe Analytics. Consumers are also more receptive to contactless shopping than ever before.

FOGO is a particularly relevant topic if your business involves a sizable brick-and-mortar presence. A number of retailers have effectively fashioned solutions that keep in-person interaction to a minimum, such as mobile payments, self-service checkouts, contactless returns, and improved browsing experiences.

Even if brands known for their large retail presence don’t run their own stores, they are beginning to take the concept of FOGO as a sign to create offerings that can be ordered exclusively on the internet

Conclusion

Don’t settle for “business as usual.” The best brands are established in times of crisis. Pursuing the questions that appear unanswerable today might lead to solutions that could essentially create new opportunities to propel your business for years to come.

If you’re looking to expand your brand by integrating ecommerce capabilities into your website and social media pages, the digital marketing experts at HighClick Media are more than happy to help you along on your journey. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today or drop us a line here.

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Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Over the past few years, the way we use social media has evolved.

Originally, social media was designed as a way to connect with people near and far. But as platforms have progressed, they’ve begun connecting us with brands as well. Nowadays, consumers can complete a purchase on their favorite social media site – from start to finish – without ever having to exit the platform.

Social media has finally advanced enough to play a significant role in the thriving world of ecommerce.

We’ve arrived at the era of social commerce where social media platforms are quite literally becoming search engines for shoppers.

What Is Social Commerce?

Simply put, social commerce is the buying and selling of items and services through a specific social media platform. The entire shopping experience – from product promotion to after-service sales – is incorporated into interactive features available within the social networking site.

Thanks to social commerce, users can shop directly from their social media feeds.

How Is Social Commerce Different From Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a technique geared towards steering qualified traffic to an external website or online store.

Social commerce, on the other hand, provides the convenience of one-stop shopping within a social media site or app – an exciting alternative for today’s on-the-go shoppers.

The Emergence of Social Commerce

Shoppers these days are impatient – maybe even a little spoiled. Our attention spans are just 10 seconds long, if that.

Our social media obsession has hardwired us to expect instant gratification in all of our digital interactions. Social commerce is the solution, by virtue of the fact that it understands and accommodates this fundamental change in our preferences.

If we were to pinpoint the primary cause for the emergence of social commerce, it would undoubtedly be the Millennial generation. Indeed, Millennials were the catalyst for the shift toward social commerce in the first place.

Due to the enormous spending power of this generation – estimated at a whopping $1.4 trillion already and projected to be $4 trillion by 2030 – businesses understand that they are duty-bound to cater their efforts towards Millennials.

Essentially, there are just two factors that significantly impact the success of a business:

  • A product or service that fulfills a genuine need in the market
  • A streamlined buying process that makes it simple for customers to make a purchase

The potentiality of social commerce lies in the latter requirement – the whole purchasing process is simplified, thanks to features such as chatbots and auto-fill payments.

Understanding this critical component of online shopping, Facebook rolled out its Shops feature with the sole intention of giving people “a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying.”

Let’s be clear: social commerce isn’t some passing fancy that’s going to fizzle out in a matter of months – it characterizes the way online business will be conducted from now on.

For organizations that don’t wish to be caught off-guard, it’s critical that they pivot towards social commerce.

that was easy

 

What Are the Advantages of Social Commerce?

One of the key characteristics of social commerce is its seamlessness. Seamless, in this context, refers to delivering an individualized experience for each customer whenever and wherever they want.

Social commerce meets these criteria in that brands can now have an entire conversation with a customer, instead of shifting from phone to desktop and eventually to a brick-and-mortar store. 

To wit, a shopping experience targeted towards the wants and needs of each individual shopper will become the favored solution. While price and quality still matter, being regarded as a cherished customer is an enormous part of the total experience for today’s shopper.

A staggering 75% of consumers are apt to purchase from a brand if its marketing content addresses them by name and offers suggestions based on their buying history.

Brick-and-mortar retailers recognized this long ago and began installing greeters at the entrances to welcome customers. The attention showered on customers went a long way toward building brand loyalty.

Social Commerce vs. Traditional Ecommerce

Traditional ecommerce models require shoppers to go through an excessive number of steps, increasing the risk that they will abandon the entire purchasing process.

Social commerce, on the other hand, centralizes the whole customer journey in one location. Shoppers can locate the products they need, read customer reviews, make any inquiries they might have, and check out – all without leaving the platform.

With fewer steps required to complete a purchase, customers are much less likely to get confused, frustrated, abandon their carts, and leave the site.

It’s important to note that, with social commerce, you still manage your products and market the way you normally do. However, you must take the added step of linking your inventory with the platform and streamlining the journey for customers engaged via social media.

Which Social Media Platforms Have Enabled Social Commerce So Far?

With an overwhelming number of physical stores having to shut down due to government lockdown measures earlier this year, many businesses resorted to ecommerce in order to survive.

Fortunately, many of the top social media sites had already integrated social commerce capabilities into their platforms or were actively working on doing so.

Facebook Shops

The world’s largest social media platform’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic came in the form of Facebook Shops. This new feature gives businesses the ability to advertise and sell products directly from the Facebook platform.

Brands already utilizing an ecommerce platform on their website, such as Shopify, can integrate it seamlessly with Facebook to sell to their social media followers.

Facebook Messenger

While email boasts the highest return on investment of all traditional digital marketing strategies, social media messaging app sales have now greatly outpaced email.

Open rates and click-through rates of ecommerce emails are, for the most part, relatively low: 15%-25% and 2.5%, respectively. By comparison, Facebook Messenger chatbots generate an astounding 80% open rate and 20% click-through rates on average.

Facebook Messenger’s chatbots come equipped with a number of potent features, including:

  • Greeting capabilities and assisting customers to “Get Started”
  • Allowing brands to send and receive text/images with customized calls-to-action
  • Templates letting customers interact with chatbots with the help of interactive visuals

Facebook “Buy” Buttons

Until recently, brands used call-to-action buttons on social media posts to divert users to a third-party site in order to complete their purchase.

Now, when brands include “Buy” buttons on their social media channel, customers can buy their products easily and then continue on Facebook right where they left off.

Instagram

Thus far, Instagram has primarily been used for brand discovery – the most recent data indicates that 70% of consumers use the platform to find out about new products. However, Instagram has laid the groundwork towards becoming an ecommerce hub – a smart move considering that more than 200 million users frequent at least one business profile each day.

The Instagram Checkout feature enables shoppers to browse through images and videos of products in their feed. Once they find an item they’re interested in buying, they can click on the post, select the dimensions or colors as applicable, and then pay for their purchase – all without leaving Instagram!

With Instagram’s shoppable posts and Stories features, brands can tag images or videos with the name, price, and description of catalog items that users can then click on to learn more about the product.

Pinterest

With more than 416 million active monthly users worldwide, Pinterest is another powerhouse channel for social commerce.

Brands can use Rich Pins to sell their products within the platform. Rich Pins are an organic format providing additional up-to-date information about the Pin itself, including the product’s price and availability.

Buyable Pins allow customers to purchase products directly on Pinterest without the platform redirecting them elsewhere. These Pins are distinctive thanks to the big blue “Buy It” button positioned next to the iconic “Pin It” button.

Buyable Pins allow users to see the product’s price, its seller, and read the descriptions. Once shoppers click on the “Buy It” button, they’re automatically directed to the Checkout page within the platform.

Snapchat

It might be surprising to find Snapchat in this list – but after a number of updates, this Gen-Z-favorite platform is making a pass at social commerce as well.

The most interesting – but not necessarily astonishing – thing about Snapchat’s attempt at competing with larger social platforms is the fact that it’s using augmented reality.

Snapchat’s 238 million users will soon be able to use the app’s lens-altering selfies to digitally try on shoes – whimsically dubbed as “shoefies.”

This is a crucial step in the platform’s ultimate goal of enabling users to virtually “try on” a complete wardrobe.

Given that reality-altering lenses are integral to the app and the fact that its users are predominantly Millennials and Gen Zers – the principal drivers of social commerce – Snapchat figures to become one of the leading social commerce channels in the coming years.

Augmented reality (AR) is a powerful tool that ecommerce companies can’t afford to shrug off. Consider that:

  • 61% of consumers prefer to shop sites that offer augmented reality
  • 49% of online shoppers are willing to pay more for an item if they can preview it in AR
  • 45% of consumers state that AR reduces the amount of time spent on making a purchasing decision

TikTok

The fastest-growing social media site around, especially among younger users, TikTok is also integrating social commerce capabilities into its platform. TikTok recently partnered with ecommerce giant Shopify to integrate in-app shopping features. Thanks to this partnership, brands can create and manage their TikTok marketing campaigns from the Shopify dashboard after installing the TikTok channel app through the Shopify app store.

Brands can create a TikTok Pixel to track actions – such as users visiting their site, adding an item to their cart, and completing their order. Using ad templates designed specifically for ecommerce, brands can also create in-feed shoppable video ads.

YouTube

Even YouTube, the stalwart video-based platform, is elevating their ecommerce game by implementing a more shoppable ad format. By expanding the call-to-action buttons on video ads, brands are able to drive more traffic to specific product pages. Businesses can sync their Google Merchant Center feed to the video ads to create a browsable display of featured products.

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms are perpetually coming up with innovative ways to simplify the purchasing process. Social commerce is but the latest in these continuing efforts.

If your brand is willing to invest the time and resources now to get up to speed on the fundamentals of social commerce while the trend is still in its infancy, you’ll be able to provide superior service to your customers for years to come.

Need help getting started with social commerce on one or more social media platforms? HighClick Media is here to help! Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today to find out how we can help elevate your brand!

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16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

Thanks to advanced technology, building a website today can be extremely simple. However, designing a website that marries impeccable functionality with stunning visuals is still challenging. It goes without saying that websites are now a fundamental part of a business’s online identity.

No business can hope to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s cutthroat market without an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. Far too many businesses fail at building a substantial online presence for their brand due to a subpar website.

So, why do some websites fail to attract and hold traffic where others succeed?

Certain elements of a website design contribute the most to building visitor interest in a website. Including these elements on your site gives it a beautiful visual appeal along with flawless functionality and authority. These are also the components that are most often botched during development.

Let’s take a closer look at 16 critical elements for building a great website.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a website is seldom paid attention to when developing a website. However, you should know how important a role it plays in influencing a visitor’s behavior. Therefore, it’s important to use a color scheme that will best appeal to your visitors while also representing your brand well.

For instance, if you visit the fast-food giant McDonald’s website, you’ll be greeted with a color scheme that combines red, white, and yellow. These colors have been synonymous with the brand for ages.

We suggest first choosing the dominant color that best represents your brand. You can then choose an analogous color scheme that complements your dominant color choice to highlight certain sections of your site, like call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

White Space

Open any website today and you’ll find that a majority of these websites possess white space that divides certain sections of the webpages. These spaces lend an immaculate and accessible design to your site. They make the content or CTA buttons on your site easy to identify and read for visitors.

Some websites also use white space to give certain aspects of the site more emphasis than others. For instance, white space can be used to make certain “special deals” the focal point of a page.

Make sure you’re consistent in spacing the gaps between sections of your site. We recommend beginning with the navigation and then moving your attention to the content of your site. A grid-based layout can help you design a clean interface that maintains consistency across the entire page.

Easy Navigation

Sites that make it complicated for their visitors to navigate normally experience higher bounce rates.

As such, it’s imperative to facilitate simple navigation by giving users an easy-to-use and intuitive website. The website should offer users simple routes to navigate to certain fundamental aspects of a site, recommended pages, along with a way back to the original page.

Take a look at this quick navigation menu bar in Marks & Spencer’s website:

We suggest using parallax scrolling as a navigation system, which includes arrows that make a website’s user interface (UI) easy to interact with. Therefore, you must place a strong emphasis on simple navigation if you want visitors to spend more time on your site.

Distinct Typography

Using unique typography to present content on your site is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other similar sites online. The fonts you ultimately choose should complement your brand while communicating its message to visitors. It’s also important to consider a font that makes your site look professional without appearing bland.

We suggest using a font size of at least 16 pixels to make your site’s content readable on mobile and desktop devices. You can use different but complementary fonts to highlight the headings and subheadings on the site. Finally, use contrasting color schemes to match your text with the background perfectly. Pairing darker tones with lighter colors will do the trick just fine.

Outstanding Visuals

This goes without saying, but certain visual cues on your site will give any website a distinct edge over similar websites online. Populating a webpage with high-resolution images and beautiful illustrations can make your site more compelling to visitors.

For example, take a look at this high-definition image from Hershey:

Of course, you can’t use just any random visuals on your site. They should align with what your brand stands for.

Use stunning banner images. You can populate your page with custom-made images, which can also be used to highlight certain key focal points of your site. Try to avoid using too many stock photos on your pages.

Site Usability

Aside from beautiful design, you also need to create a site that provides users with a satisfying user experience (UX). Most developers make the critical mistake of compromising a site’s usability in favor of its overall visual design. It’s imperative to optimize a site in order to facilitate smooth interaction between the site’s elements and visitors. A subpar UX design could result in your website’s bounce rate blowing through the roof.

You can enhance the user experience by using animations, readable and engaging content, simple navigation, and more interactive elements.

 

High-Quality Content

Having high-quality content is integral to optimizing search engine rankings for your site and thus generating more traffic to your site. It’s also absolutely essential to populate your site with quality content in order to keep your visitors engaged. Top-notch content that’s relevant to your brand can persuade visitors to spend more time on your site, explore other areas, or make a purchase.

We recommend dividing your content based on its relevance. Always keep relevant information about your website, product, or service at the top. Follow it up with content that explains your services or highlights features that set you apart from competitors.

Finally, use an FAQ section to answer questions that a visitor may have about your service.

Have a look at this FAQ page design from Shopify:

Compelling Calls to Action

A website exists to persuade a visitor to take certain actions on it. CTA buttons on a site trigger this response from visitors. As such, you need to place CTA buttons strategically throughout your site to persuade visitors to perform desirable actions on the webpage. The call-to-action messages themselves must be persuasive. They should explain what you want visitors to do in a few words.

“Buy Now,” “Sign up Free,” “Contact Us,” etc. are all examples of CTA buttons commonly used by most websites.

Make sure your landing page leads users to all the CTA buttons present on the page. You can utilize contrasting color schemes, content, and white spaces to highlight a CTA button.

Take a look at this CTA button used by Spotify:

If you have a variety of CTA buttons on your page, determine which type is more important and use it more prominently.

Mobile-Friendly Design

It is a well-known fact that the majority of websites receive most of their traffic from mobile users. With over 7 billion active smartphone users around the world today, not optimizing your site for mobile devices means losing out on such a massive audience. Suffice it to say, mobile optimization is one of the first things you need to do when building a website.

You need to utilize a custom web design that responds and adapts to various mobile screen sizes automatically.

We recommend using Google Search Console or other free tools like Pingdom or BrowserStack to check whether your site is mobile-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Elements

As you may know by now, search engines like Google take many aspects of a site’s user experience into consideration when ranking a site. As such, a developer needs to consider search engine optimization from the very beginning of a website’s design process. Elements like simple navigation, scannable text, loading speed, and mobile friendliness contribute to the overall user experience.

A problem with any of the above elements will result in a user having a poor experience with your site, eventually increasing its bounce rate. Google will take this high bounce as a sign of bad UX and ultimately plummet your site in search engine rankings.

It’s important to consider how each element will contribute to your site’s SEO. We suggest working with an SEO expert, who will monitor and assess all crucial elements of your site while it is in development.

Right Usage of Ads

You’ll find many websites online that have successfully monetized their websites by displaying ads on them. If used appropriately, display ads can be a great way to earn some revenue from your website. However, such advertisements – if used incorrectly – can aggravate your visitor’s user experience. In short, advertisements have the power to make or break your site.

As such, we discourage using too many ads on websites as it can harm the user experience. You don’t want your website to look unprofessional, which is exactly what will happen if your webpage is littered with ads.

The most effective way to advertise on a site, in our opinion, would be combining banner ads with affiliate marketing. Make sure your ads integrate organically with your site. They shouldn’t feel out of place and interfere with the content on your site.

Security

Online security should be an integral part of any website. Security and privacy have often been a major cause of concern for individuals surfing the web. Security alerts popping up when someone tries to open your site is a surefire way of turning potential website visitors away forever.

Internet security should be given as much focus as the design and overall functionality of your site. It should be mandatory for your website to implement an HTTPS protocol. This will help protect a user’s information, lend some much-needed credibility, and build trust among prospects. 

We suggest buying SSL certificates from reliable hosting service providers. These are cheap to acquire and can be integrated seamlessly with your site.

Integrating Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of active users from all around the world. So it only makes sense to integrate social media into your site’s design plan. You should have social media buttons that instantly redirect your users to your site’s official social media channel. You can also have buttons that allow users to directly share certain content or products from your website on their private channels. 

Having social media buttons strategically placed on your website is a great way of indirectly marketing your site, opening doors for people to leap in directly onto your site from their respective social media profiles online. 

Adding Internal and External Links

A proper link-building strategy can prove to be a great way of enhancing the brand authority of your website. It is important to learn how to build internal and external links to help boost your website’s performance. For instance, you can direct users to certain content on your site and improve its SEO performance by using appropriate internal links.

Proper link-building research requires a good strategy. We suggest finding out how your competitor’s websites are employing their link-building strategy. Draw inspiration for sites that are using the strategy with productive results.

Comments Section

We’ve already stressed how important it is to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible. Aside from content, you can add a comments section to your site, which allows users to leave their two cents below a particular content or product information. This can be a great way to receive feedback, which can be used to improve your service.

If you are running an ecommerce store, we recommend adding a review section similar to what is found on sites like Amazon and eBay. A dedicated comments and review section will make your site more interactive and improve brand loyalty.

Achievements and Endorsements

This is perhaps the most effective and widely adopted way of building trust among customers. It is in your business’s best interest to flaunt your past achievements on your website for all to see. Displaying your achievements can go a long way towards building a solid reputation for your business and brand.

We recommend having a dedicated section for testimonials, displaying positive comments from at least 4 to 5 past clients.

We also suggest highlighting the names of all the popular brands you’ve served. If you’ve received endorsements from authoritative brands, add them to your site as well.

Final Thoughts

While these 16 elements can seem a bit overwhelming, they’re essential to building a website that not only looks fantastic but functions flawlessly as well.

Are you ready for the good news? You don’t have to do it on your own!

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in professional website design. Our talented web designers will craft your business website with lots of TLC and plenty of technical prowess! We can build you a brand new website from scratch or spruce up your existing site.

Interested? Reach out to HighClick Media today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. We’ll be glad to show you how we can help #elevateyourbrand with a world-class website for your business.

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Guest blogger Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, a digital marketing firm based in Texas.

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Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before. They expect to have access to information, services, and products wherever they are, whenever they want them, and at the lowest price.

To remain competitive in today’s ecommerce market, you must integrate digital technology into all areas of your business.

Fortunately, integrating digital technology into your ecommerce business doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. In this article, we’ll take a look at several tips that will help put you on the path to success!

Create a Customer Engagement Strategy

Once you’ve got your customers’ attention, you need to get them to take action. Constructing a customer engagement strategy is all about converting your website visitors into paying customers.

Of course, you can’t expect every visitor to eventually become a customer just because you want them to. Instead, you should focus your efforts on converting the most relevant and interested visitors into paying customers.

You can do this by creating and executing a customer engagement strategy. Customer engagement strategies range from seeking email subscribers to building and nurturing a repeat buyer base.

Build Automated Marketing Campaigns

Now that you’ve got a solid customer engagement strategy in place, you can integrate digital marketing techniques and ecommerce capabilities. The key to any successful digital marketing strategy is to automate as much as you can.

This can be done through email marketing automation and lead generation campaigns. As marketing guru Neil Patel notes, automation helps you create and execute your digital marketing strategy more quickly and effectively.

Digital Tech Trends to Try Today

When it comes to digital technology, there are countless options to choose from. For ecommerce businesses, the following technologies are likely to prove particularly beneficial:

Integrate Mobile Payments

While you may already have an existing mobile app, if there isn’t an option for customers to make online payments, you’re truly missing out. Before you integrate any payment feature, always make sure to first add API authentication.

API authentication allows clients to verify their bank account and routing number instantly via ACH. What’s more, your app will work seamlessly with other mobile payment options like Swipe and Dwolla. Your customers will appreciate the convenience and ease of use that come part and parcel with a mobile payment option.

Implement Remote Work

Letting some employees work remotely is an excellent start. However, you need to take additional steps to always ensure effective communication. Collaboration is key when working remotely, so be sure to make use of a process map template.

With process mapping in place, you and your remote team will find that it’s easier than ever to work together. You’ll be more organized and productivity will increase dramatically.

Initiate Data Analysis

Data analysis can be used to further improve the processes of your organization. Here, it’s important to differentiate process mining vs. process discovery. Process discovery – which essentially creates an optimized map of what a process should look like – is a part of process mining. Moreover, Harvard Business Review explains that process mining uses data to find, validate, and improve your ecommerce business’s workflows. As a result, your entire company will benefit.

This means greater efficiency, increased sales and revenue, better risk management, and hidden opportunities. To achieve all this, you’ll need to start by finding potential data sources and mapping out a timeline. Then, you can determine key stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s cloud computing, digital marketing, machine learning, process mining, or any other digital technology, there’s a wealth of resources available to use. The key is finding the ones that will work best for your business and your customers. When you find the right technologies, you will notice profound improvements in your ecommerce business.

HighClick Media helps grow businesses of all shapes and sizes by implementing comprehensive marketing solutions, such as website design, paid advertising, and other creative services. Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas – Education, Relationships, and Community.

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9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

For some business owners, even entertaining the thought of a website redesign can be headache-inducing. Between concerns that the project will be overly time-consuming and the possibility that it may cost more than you’re willing to pay, it can be a lot. Add to that the challenge of trying to decide which website-building platform to choose among the many on the market today.

We get it! That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you along in the process. First, let’s consider why you might want to have your website redesigned in the first place.

7 Signs It’s Time for a Website Redesign

  1. Your site hasn’t been updated in a while. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, most professionals agree that business websites should undergo a redesign every two to three years. As web design trends are constantly changing, what was considered attractive and aesthetically pleasing just a few years ago probably isn’t today. As rapidly as technology is advancing, any business website that hasn’t been upgraded in three years is unlikely to provide the best user experience to customers and potential clients. On top of that, when your site is regularly updated with valuable content Google takes notice – and that’s never a bad thing!
  2. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly. For most businesses, the majority of their website traffic comes from mobile users. Therefore, you need to make sure that your site performs as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops. A fully responsive website is simple to navigate on a smartphone, thanks to a mobile-friendly menu, easy-to-click buttons, and text that can be effortlessly read without having to zoom in. Not to mention the fact that Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites in search results.
  3. You’re not getting enough traffic to your site. If your website isn’t generating traffic, something needs to change. Perhaps your content isn’t optimized for Google searches, or you’ve failed to address broken features or duplicate content – neither of which Google is very fond of. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing battle between Google and your website. Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant results high up on the first page. If it’s been years since your website was last updated and your competitor’s site is updated often, Google will likely rank the competitor’s site ahead of yours.
  4. Your site isn’t converting visitors into paying customers. Are people visiting your website and leaving without taking any action? Are they spending scarcely any time on your pages before “bouncing“? If so, it’s obvious that while your site is easy to find in searches you aren’t delivering what visitors are looking for. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can monitor how customers are responding to your website’s current design. Low conversion rates could be a result of a site layout that isn’t compelling enough to persuade visitors to stick around. This is a clear indication that your site needs a makeover – and quickly!
  5. Your site looks and feels old. People like attractive things; it’s as simple as that. If your site layout is chaotic, cluttered, or just plain ugly, that’s not going to cut it with today’s consumers. An unappealing website can (and will) negatively affect how potential customers perceive your business. Is your website riddled with recurring “technical difficulties” that need to be addressed? Are there new features you want to introduce or outmoded functions (such as traffic counters or flashing banners) that need to be eliminated? If so, a website redesign is certainly warranted. Redesigning your site allows you to modernize the look and feel of it; you might choose to modify your brand colors and fonts, revamp your logo, or update the images and written content – the possibilities are endless!
  6. Your site isn’t performing well. If visitors encounter a bunch of broken (or “dead”) links, pages or images load slowly, users can’t easily access the information they’re looking for, the website is constantly crashing, or (as previously mentioned) it isn’t mobile-friendly, then it’s time for a website redesign. In short, if any part of your website isn’t functioning properly, consumers will quickly move on to another company offering similar services. A poor user experience can create an unfavorable impression of your business and can even negatively affect your search rankings. By contrast, a positive user experience will result in visitors spending more time on your site, increasing your potential to generate leads, engage with your market, and solidify your brand.
  7. Your site doesn’t clearly or accurately reflect your business in its current state. Your website is the digital face of your company – so, you’ll want to be sure it makes a good impression. After all, the first interaction that the majority of customers will have with your business is through your website. Accordingly, you’ll want to ensure that your site accurately represents the business as well as the products and services you offer. Over time, your business model, messaging, offerings, or priorities may have changed. Naturally, your website should be updated to reflect these changes. If you aren’t regularly refreshing the content on your site, people may incorrectly assume that you’re no longer in business or that you don’t value your online presence – in which case they’ll probably look elsewhere for a company to do business with.

What Is WordPress?

Since its humble beginnings as a blogging tool in 2003, WordPress has evolved into a robust content management system (CMS) and website-building platform. It’s the most popular CMS on the market today – in fact, over 43% of all websites worldwide are powered by WordPress!

In technical terms, WordPress is free and open-source software that uses the PHP scripting language to send and retrieve information from a MySQL database. In layman’s terms, WordPress is a web platform offering tons of features and functionalities without requiring a high level of expertise in web programming after the site is developed. 

Aside from the basic WordPress code itself, there are three major components to every WordPress installation: themes, plugins, and widgets.

A theme is a collection of files – specifically HTML and CSS files – that serve as a design template for your website. Themes define what the pages will look like without altering the content within those pages. You can choose to use a pre-built framework or have a theme custom-designed to suit your specific needs.

Similar to an app, a plugin is an extra bit of code that can be used to add customized functionality to your website depending on how you want it to work. Plugins allow you to expand the capabilities of your site beyond the features included with the basic WordPress installation. With the right mix of plugins, your site can run faster, look more attractive, and be more user-friendly than ever before.

Widgets are small blocks of content that you can drag and drop into the sidebar, header, footer, or other enabled areas of your site (depending on the theme you choose). Similar to plugins, widgets are used to add specific features or functions to your website without having to write any additional code. Common examples of widgets include recent blog articles you’ve posted, embedded social media feeds, fillable forms, calendars, and banner ads.

Why Should You Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign?

From startup website builders to more established CMS platforms, there are many options to choose from when you’re considering a website redesign. So, are there any clear advantages to using WordPress over any other platform on the market?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the top benefits of WordPress and offer 9 compelling reasons why this platform is perfect for your website redesign project.

WordPress Is Easy to Use, Update, & Manage

Initially, it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the WordPress platform. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the user-friendly Dashboard interface makes it easy to add, remove, or modify content – such as text, images, videos, and effects – to web pages and blog posts. You can update and optimize your website structure, add navigation menus, and even customize your colors, fonts, and other design elements.

One of the greatest advantages of WordPress is that you don’t have to possess any prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, or any other programming language to effectively use WordPress – nor is it necessary to have any formal training or professional experience as a web designer or developer. 

As flexible and powerful a program as WordPress is, virtually anyone in your organization (who is authorized to do so) should be able to maintain your website quite easily. Assuming you have an internet connection and a web browser, you already have everything you need. If you’re familiar with any of the most popular word-processing programs, editing a page within WordPress will look very familiar to you.

WordPress’s visual editor – known as Gutenberg – allows you to add or modify content without ever seeing your site’s code. The simple interface features a toolbar with text editors, formatting tools, and the ability to upload media files in various formats. When you’re done making changes in Gutenberg, WordPress automatically updates the code on your website to reflect those changes.

A Word About Website Structure

Website structure refers to how your content is organized, interconnected, and presented to visitors across the various posts and pages of your site.

Having a good website structure can improve the user experience of your site by providing visitors with the information they need while making it easy for them to navigate to other relevant pages. Creating an orderly site structure also makes it easier to keep track of the various pages on your site.

Website structure is also a major factor that Google considers when assigning a rank to a site. When Google detects that visitors can quickly find the information they’re seeking on a website, Google is more likely to recommend the site as useful by ranking it higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). WordPress’s user-friendly interface allows you to create a clean, simple-to-navigate website structure that’s designed to appease users and search engines alike.

WordPress Sites Are Fully Customizable

With a wide selection of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins on the market, it’s entirely possible to build a fully customized website that caters to the specific needs of your business.

Currently, there are over 31,000 WordPress themes – more than 9,000 of which are free – that you can choose from to create a basic layout and structure for your website. Themes range in price from being completely free to $299, with the average cost being around $40. Even if you do end up having to pay for a theme, the cost will still be considerably less than if you were to hire someone to custom-develop your theme.

While many of these themes can be found on WordPress.org, several third-party websites also offer plenty of great options. As there are themes available for every industry imaginable, the real challenge isn’t finding what you need – it’s choosing the one you like the best.

Keep in mind that not every off-the-shelf theme has to match the design you have in mind. While it’s highly likely that the theme you end up choosing will be one that other businesses have previously used, that doesn’t mean your site is going to look exactly like someone else’s.

While some free or low-cost themes have only minor customization options and are generally intended to be used “as is,” the more robust off-the-shelf themes can be configured and customized as much as you want and still give you the website you need – at a tiny fraction of the cost of custom development.

Take the time to scour through the myriad off-the-shelf themes available and find one that’s high-quality, well-reviewed, and comes as close as possible to what you want by default. You’ll thank yourself later.

Plugins serve many important functions on your website, both on the front end in terms of user experience and on the back end for overall site performance. Like themes, WordPress also offers a wide range of plugins that you can add to your site. Some plugins are offered for free, some at a cost, and some have both options (these are often referred to as “freemium” plugins).

There are currently over 59,000 WordPress plugins to choose from on the WordPress.org website. If you can’t find a suitable solution from WordPress’s database, you can comb through the directories of third-party providers and independent developers to find what you’re looking for.

Imagine any task a typical website may need to complete, any problem it may need to solve, and any feature it may need to offer, and there’s probably a plugin for it. Of course, having thousands of plugins to choose from can be overwhelming. That said, there are certain essential WordPress plugins we recommended adding to every website:

  • Contact Form: This gives your website visitors a way to reach out to you and allows you to get back in touch with them as well.
  • Analytics: This allows you to see how many visitors your site is getting, how much time they’re spending on the site, and what actions they might be taking.
  • SEO: This allows you to optimize the content on your site to attract more traffic from Google searches.

Depending on the specific needs of your business, you might want to add plugins that enable advanced features such as foreign language translation, online payments, appointment bookings, multi-factor authentication, and social media integration.

WordPress Is Versatile & Scalable

In the beginning, WordPress was largely regarded as nothing more than a blogging platform. But over the years, it has progressed to become a powerful platform that you can use to produce virtually any type of website

Whether you’re looking to build a full-service website, you simply want to create or blog, or you want to incorporate a blog component into your existing site, WordPress is up to the task. You can construct a static homepage with static pages behind it or dynamic pages with drop-down menus. You can create customized landing pages to sell your products or easily add image galleries and social media links to encourage user engagement. The possibilities are endless!

In addition, given that WordPress is highly compatible with many other website builders, the platform is perfect for redesign projects. The flexibility of WordPress makes redesigning an existing website simple, convenient, and affordable.

Scalability is another important advantage of WordPress. As your business grows and changes, your website needs to be able to grow and change along with it. Fortunately, WordPress makes that process easy.

The WordPress platform is cleanly coded and well-equipped to handle massive amounts of traffic. If you should encounter a performance bottleneck, there are plenty of plugins you can install to help with scaling by performing tasks such as caching, compression, resource minification, and image optimization. Once installed, these plugins allow your site to accommodate more traffic without buckling under pressure.

WordPress Is Mobile-Responsive

These days, people spend more time surfing the web on their mobile devices than they do on desktop computers. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices won’t perform well for visitors trying to access them with smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Users may struggle to read text, view images, or click links on your site.

Most people won’t think twice about ditching a website that doesn’t load properly or function as it should on their mobile devices. With millions of results available in every Google search, it’s all too easy to simply look elsewhere to find the information they’re seeking.

Over the last few years, Google has placed greater emphasis on websites’ mobile responsiveness. In 2018, Google officially announced that it would be taking a “mobile-first” approach to search rankings. This means that the search engine now primarily uses the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. While it isn’t required to have a mobile version of your for your content to be included in Google’s search results, it is strongly recommended.

Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to create a mobile-responsive site that loads smoothly on all devices. Most WordPress themes are designed to be mobile-friendly by default, so you don’t need to worry about your site being inaccessible to mobile users.

Moreover, when you update your theme for desktop, the mobile version of the theme is automatically updated as well. So, you can rest assured that your website will look equally as good on smartphones as it does on desktops.

Another great perk about WordPress? Since the Dashboard is also designed to be mobile-friendly, you can easily manage and update your website anywhere, whether you’re on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

WordPress Is SEO-Friendly

SEO involves lots of keyword research and search metric analysis – and it’s an essential component of any high-performing website. That said, the technical SEO process can be extremely complicated, especially if you aren’t familiar with the terminology and tools involved.

While WordPress won’t automatically optimize your site for search engines, the platform does come uniquely equipped to assist you in your SEO efforts.

Here are just a few reasons why WordPress is great for SEO:

For these reasons alone, it’s no wonder that WordPress websites are much more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites built with other platforms. Better ranking means more visitors to your site, and having more visitors greatly increases your chances of boosting profits.

While some SEO-enhancing aspects are built into the framework of WordPress, still others can be implemented by adding plugins specifically designed for search engine optimization

These plugins can be used to help optimize the content on web pages by providing instant audits of your on-page optimization efforts as well as managing key SEO data such as H1 titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, keyword embedding, and schema markup. In short, SEO plugins are designed to do everything possible to ensure that your site appears more often and higher up in SERPs.

Yoast SEO, one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins, gives step-by-step information on how well (or not so well) your content will rank and provides clear guides for how to improve your site’s readability for search engines and users.

All-In-One SEO is another great SEO plugin that’s easy to use but incredibly powerful; we can recommend this plugin with confidence, as we use it on our company’s websites.

WordPress Is Safe & Secure

Having a secure website is central to maintaining a business’s good reputation. If your website is an easy target for hackers, your visitors may be confronted with inappropriate content or even be exposed to dangerous viruses and malware. If you have an ecommerce site, security is even more critical. After all, your customers are relying on you to provide a secure interface for entering and storing their personal information and credit card numbers.

While WordPress sites aren’t impervious to cyberattacks, they’re generally better protected against unauthorized access than sites built with other CMS platforms. When a WordPress website does get hacked, it’s usually because the site is utilizing questionable themes and/or plugins, is hosted by unreliable providers, or has been compromised due to a paucity of basic password literacy. In short, the problem doesn’t lie with the platform itself. Considering that WordPress powers well over 40% of all websites globally, it’s merely a statistical coincidence that WordPress-based sites appear to be targeted more often than non-WordPress websites.

That said, you still need to have a strategy in place to make sure that your website is continuously monitored and backed up frequently in the event of a catastrophe. Aside from enlisting the services of a reliable managed IT services provider (we can recommend a really good one!), you can also install security-focused WordPress plugins to further safeguard your website against hackers, malware, and other threats. These plugins can be used to implement features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), limiting failed login attempts, and scanning your site for vulnerabilities.

At HighClick Media, we highly recommend adding the Sucuri plugin to your WordPress site. Sucuri creates multiple layers of security to help protect your website from hackers, malware, DDoS attacks, and blacklists; provides continuous website monitoring and site scanning; plugs any security leaks or loopholes it may detect; and can even make your website faster in terms of speed and performance.

WordPress developers are constantly making improvements to the platform to ensure that it runs smoothly. Security updates are rolled out regularly as new cyberthreats arise, addressing and promptly correcting any possible gaps detected in the platform’s defenses.

Users are informed whenever security updates are required, and these updates are easy for users to make. By updating to the latest version of the WordPress core, you’re decreasing the chances of your website falling victim to cyberattacks and ensuring that everything continues to work properly.

WordPress Benefits from a Thriving Developer & Support Community

Because WordPress is open-source software and has been adopted by so many individuals and organizations around the world, the platform enjoys a sizable and active community of contributors

This highly engaged community – comprising thousands of users, developers, designers, and business owners – has created a vast array of plugins, help sites, and forums for discussing issues surrounding WordPress and suggesting solutions to common (and uncommon) problems.

Since community members are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, you’ll never be at a loss for invaluable resources that offer the support you need to manage and update your WordPress website.

On the official WordPress website, you’ll find a wealth of reference materials, training courses, how-to video tutorials, and support forums to help you take full advantage of the platform’s potential. Offsite, there are numerous independent forums and Facebook groups to further help get your questions answered.

The WordPress community also engages in lots of outreach to users, hosting WordPress camps around the world and supporting the growth of local WordPress user groups.

WordPress Is Cost-Effective

Whether you’re just getting started or your business is already well-established, you’re probably looking to keep expenses as low as possible. Choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one way to save money.

Nearly all DIY website builders such as Wix and Squarespace place commercial restrictions and limitations on what you can and can’t do with their programs. Not so with WordPress. That’s because WordPress is open-source software, which means that it’s free to download, install, use, and modify in any way you choose.

Keep in mind that while the software itself is free, you’ll still have to acquire a domain name (which can be free but usually comes at a minimal cost) and pay for web hosting; and you’ll most likely have to spend some money on themes and plugins as well.

A domain name is the internet equivalent of a website’s physical address. It’s the text that users type into a browser’s search bar to directly access your website.

If the domain name is the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points to. Web hosting is where all your website files are housed, served, and maintained, and it’s what makes your website content accessible to other users on the internet.

WordPress Is Time-Tested & Trusted By Many

Website builders come and go – even the big names can fade from view (remember GeoCities?). WordPress, however, is far more likely to stick around for the long haul. This is because open-source software like WordPress isn’t maintained by a single person or business entity. Even if WordPress were to cease to exist (which is extremely unlikely), any competent developer could simply copy its source code and launch “new” software with a different name in a matter of minutes (a maneuver known as “forking.”)

In the 19 years since its original release, WordPress has been tested, fine-tuned, expanded, and optimized time and time again. Throughout its evolution, WordPress has become a first-class web publishing platform that’s well-suited to meet virtually any website’s needs. Millions of users worldwide benefit from WordPress; it’s available in over 53 languages and propels thousands of multilingual websites as well.

It isn’t just small- and medium-sized businesses that are using the platform, either. According to data from BuiltWith, WordPress powers over 36% of the top 1 million websites (based on site traffic). Many leading brands and organizations in a variety of business sectors rely on WordPress to power their websites and blogs. 

Chances are, you will have heard of a few of these companies:

Final Thoughts

For many business owners, the choice between having a website custom-developed versus going with a more ready-made solution such as WordPress is not an easy task. We hope this guide has been helpful in assisting you with that decision.

As we’ve detailed here, WordPress is designed to be easy for everyone to use (not just web developers), allows you to create any type of website you need (whether it’s an ecommerce store, online forum, marketplace, membership site, or just about anything else you can think of), and provides a wide range of tools and options for customizing the site you’re creating. The platform allows you to create a site that looks and performs equally well on mobile devices as it does on desktops, scales easily if you need to add more pages or features as your business grows, and positively contributes to your overall SEO efforts

WordPress sites are uniquely positioned to withstand some of the most common cyberattacks and can be bolstered further through the use of security plugins. Thanks to a passionate support community, WordPress users have ready access to the information they need whenever they need it. A WordPress site is relatively inexpensive to create, requiring only minimal investments towards domain name acquisition, web hosting, and plugins/themes. Finally, WordPress is a tried-and-tested solution for creating any and every type of website.

In short, choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one of the smartest decisions you can make as a business owner.

HighClick Media Can Help You with Your WordPress Website Redesign

Redesigning a website can be a complicated process, especially when you have a site with a lot of moving parts. While WordPress positions itself as a platform that anyone can use to build a website – and to a certain extent, this is true – creating a site that’s both fully functional and professionally designed often requires an expert touch.

Just because you can build a site on your own, thanks to WordPress’s impressive arsenal of tools, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good site. After all, you want to make sure everything works flawlessly and that the user experience is configured in such a way that the website will contribute to – not hamper – the performance of your business.

If you need more advanced functionality or a custom-developed theme to help you further stand out from the crowd, partnering with a professional WordPress web design and development company might be the way to go.

Once the redesign project is complete and your site is up and running, your web development partner will train you and all other authorized users on how to access the backend of WordPress so that you’re better prepared to make future updates to the site on your own.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your website (or even building a brand-new site from scratch), we at HighClick Media wholeheartedly recommend using WordPress as your preferred platform – and we can help make your design project happen, too! When you partner with HighClick Media, we’ll work with you to determine how best to approach your website project to maximize your online presence and #elevateyourbrand! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to schedule a website design consultation!

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