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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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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6 Things People Might Hate About Your Website (And How To Address Them)

6 Things People Might Totally Hate About Your Website (And How To Address Them)

Whatever the size of your organization, one of the first things a business owner seeks to sort out is your website – understandably so, given the digital age in which we live.

A good website is an integral part of any business’s success; but for e-commerce companies, in particular, it’s absolutely essential. Notwithstanding, businesses are often quick to launch a website without making certain that it functions in a user-friendly manner. 

Making the effort to ensure that your website is fully operative – both from a design and usability perspective – can help your site become a chief source of both leads and revenue. But neglecting to do so could bring about an infinite number of missed opportunities.

In this article, we’ll take a look at six key components that people generally hate about websites in order to help you avoid making the same mistakes with your site.

Dumbledore is waiting for something to happen...impatiently.

Slow Loading Times

Let’s start with one of the greatest nuisances for web users today – loading time. In this day and age, people want instant gratification in every area of their lives; rapid access to web pages is merely another “necessity” that we’ve come to expect. Indeed, the impatience level of most people is about 3 seconds – with approximately 40% of individuals reporting that they’ve exited a site which has failed to load in that time.

There are a number of ways you can effectively overcome slow loading times. These range from quick fixes such as decreasing the amount of media on a page as well as compressing large image sizes, to more technical solutions – some of which might necessitate the services of a professional web developer.

Jocelyn from Schitt's Creek: So what does this mean?

Keyword-Stuffed Copy

Website content that’s jam-packed with keywords does nothing but lead to haphazard copy providing very little value to consumers. Moreover, it actually undermines your search ranking, as Google now penalizes sites observed to be employing this method – meaning that there’s no good reason for businesses to persist in this practice.

The concept of keyword stuffing came about at the turn of the century when Google’s search algorithm leaned heavily on the amount of keywords featured on a website. This led to marketers incorporating as many keywords into their copy as possible, without regard to the overall quality of the content – which, at the time, saw their websites ascending through Google’s search rankings.

Since that time, Google’s ranking algorithms have progressed by leaps and bounds, and now a considerable burden is being placed on website reputability and user behavior. Regrettably, many marketers are still seeking to optimize their sites through the now-antiquated practice of keyword stuffing.

You ought to have a good idea of the content that’s currently on your site. However, it’s never a bad idea to revisit your copy to make certain that it provides genuine value to website visitors and hasn’t fallen into the trap of keyword stuffing. You can have an in-house employee refresh your copy or hire a professional copywriter to update it for you. The long-term effects of being penalized by Google will outbalance the short-term commitment of time and money in rewriting the content – the sooner you get this taken care of, the better.

Steve Harvey is a bit overwhelmed by all the messages on his computer.

Too Much Text

While it’s important to provide quality content that users will find beneficial, websites should also be visually appealing. Content doesn’t only consist of written copy; nowadays, images play a critical role as well. Not only do images help provide a visual reference, but they’re also ideal for splitting up large portions of text.

Websites featuring an excess of verbiage will instantly turn off many users. In this day and age, when people’s patience levels and attention spans are perpetually declining, it’s unreasonable to expect them to wade through multiple paragraphs of text.

Britney Spears is very confused...as per usual.

It Doesn’t Clearly State What Your Business Does

Having a website that doesn’t explicitly spell out what your business does is a surefire way to suffer defeat at the hands of your competitors. As with many decisions these days, consumers are likely to hop online and research their options before investing in a particular product, business, or service.

When a user visits your website, they’ll expect to quickly find out what it is you do and how your product or service could be of use to them. It’s vital that you communicate this information right away, as consumers are typically only a couple of clicks away from looking elsewhere.

If you know your target audience would prefer to be spoken to in plain English, then you’d be wise to stay away from industry jargon as this could make your product offering hard to understand. It’s always best to keep your message as clear and concise as possible.

Overusing Stock Imagery

Users welcome an image or two to break up sections of written copy. Regardless, businesses that choose to utilize stock imagery have to take into account the types of images they use. A huge number of identical or similar-looking images are being overused these days. Adding to these trends could leave your website looking tacky and outdated while failing to reflect the true nature of your business.

The images you choose to use on your site should add value as far as providing a visual aid for the information on the page – or, at the very least, be aesthetically appealing while still being relative to the page itself.

Stock images (such as the two pictured above) are classic examples of the type of imagery that will leave your business looking dull and unimaginative. Make sure your brand identity isn’t obscured amidst the excessive use of generic images.

girl scrolling on her mobile device

Not Optimized for Mobile Devices

While mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are being used to surf the internet more than ever before, a staggering number of websites still aren’t optimized for mobile. This often makes for a lousy user experience for visitors attempting to browse a site that lacks mobile functionality.

Whether it’s persistent pinching and pulling to navigate each page, multiple clicks on the wrong tabs due to the display screen being too small, or a section of the web page not showing up correctly on the screen – the end result is typically that visitors will no longer wish to return to the website, at least not on mobile devices.

If you have yet to optimize your website for mobile, it’s time to take a look at how much of your traffic is arriving via mobile. If it’s a considerable chunk – and let’s be honest, it almost certainly is – then optimizing your website should be your primary concern. You don’t want to be turning away potential customers due to negative experiences while navigating your site.

Final Thoughts

As demonstrated here, there are a number of elements that visitors dislike or find annoying about business websites. Hopefully, this list will help you identify any trouble spots on your site while also offering some practical ideas for how to improve it.

Before you go about making drastic changes, though, it’s important to take a close look at how your website is currently performing. Doing so will allow you to better track how the changes you make now will impact your site’s performance going forward.

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, the highly technical task of updating and optimizing your website might be a bit outside the scope of your personnel’s capabilities. Never fear! The knowledgeable web designers and developers at HighClick Media are ready, willing, and able to help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or visit our website for more information!

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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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By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

By the Numbers: Data Application in Business Operations

 

If you’re operating in the digital space, it’s important to incorporate data and process analytics into your work process. Analyzing data and forming insights are crucial to acquiring and retaining customers, mitigating risk, and navigating a path forward that’s profitable and risk-averse. In this article, we’ll outline a few examples of data application from an operational standpoint.

Customer Acquisition & Retention

Customer Management

Customer retention refers to the strategies you use to keep existing customers coming back. Analytics is critical in this regard, as it provides predictive metrics of how your customers might react to company changes, price fluctuations, etc. A data-driven approach using mathematics, statistics, and probability will allow you to safely test strategies and develop prescriptive insights without risking the real-life loyalty of your existing customers.

The same logic applies to new customer acquisition. The first and clearest advantage of an analytical approach to data involves taking a look at the costs associated with actually acquiring a new customer. With the right implementation, you can weigh the combined costs of advertising, offers, delivery, salary, and communications against the value of the customer themselves ahead of time. 

By contrast, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a user-centric strategy designed to increase the rate of desired behavior amongst users on a website. If you’re collecting data correctly, you’ll be able to more closely scrutinize the user journey across your website pages, forms, customer service, and ecommerce site and adapt your sales and customer journey accordingly.

Internal Process ManagementInternal Process Management Using an iBPM

Many businesses underestimate the importance of internal data capture. Depending on the size of your business, deploying analytics within the context of your own office can be cost-efficient for improving productivity and operational efficiency. Data can be used to improve hiring methods, give insights into effective management, and optimize training methods. It can also be used in conjunction with key performance indicators (KPIs) to more accurately measure team attainment and scrutinize work efficacy.

Another strategy is to use business process management (BPM) to analyze how the people, systems, and data within your business interact. You can also use this tool to automate and optimize processes and workflows, leaving menial tasks to the AI and giving your employees more time to focus on more pressing issues. Automation tools and intelligent business process management (iBPM) combine to make for a more efficient operation. When creating a BPM framework, just be sure that you’re always monitoring its effectiveness and making adjustments to improve output.

Risk ManagementRisk Management

Without data analytics, it’s almost impossible to develop an effective, long-term risk management process. If you have the available technology, you can embed data to identify risks and react in real time to market shifts, faulty internal processes, etc., thereby reducing the likelihood of bad investments and wasted time. With risk profiles, it’s possible to create a framework that weighs financial and strategic threats and prescribes a course of action that would mitigate and manage them. If your data models are precise enough, it’s even possible to predict future outcomes and build workflows that respond automatically, without intervention.

A risk assessment matrix goes a step further and ranks the likelihood, impact, and severity of potential risks. These can then be manifested as key risk indicators (KRIs), which may grow and evolve over time depending on your application of machine learning. Ultimately, you want to create an approach to risk management that changes with the data, ensuring your company is adaptable to hazards as they emerge.

Through data analysis and efficient process management and automation like iBPM, your business will be able to make decisions based on behavior prediction that will improve customer acquisition and retention and company efficiency and reduce the chance of a major setback.

Data Analysis***************

Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today, he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice, and troubleshooting tips.

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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