10 Tips for Marketing Your Way Through COVID-19

Think outside the box

1. Reinvent Your Marketing Plan

Now is not the time to simply jump from one tactic to another, hoping something will bring in leads.

Put a plan together that takes advantage of the new opportunities that exist and eliminates those tactics that are no longer available such as face to face events, networking or sales presentations.

Obviously this will involve more digital programs but it could also mean amending your targeting and  your messaging so that you are more relevant to the people who have a current need for your product or service and the ability to purchase now.

If you previously had a marketing plan, review it step by step and remove anything that will no longer either be possible or effective. Rethink what this new world is now offering as it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom for all businesses in these disrupted times.

If you don’t actually have a marketing plan in place, now is the time to develop one! Spend this quieter time getting your marketing plan in order so that you come out at the other end of isolation stronger than ever to dominate your market!

Social media buttons

2. Go Social

The social environment is exploding at the moment as people crave connections with other people online.

It is the perfect time to get your brand noticed with messaging that is relevant to your target audience’s current needs.

Have a plan for your social media content, deliver valuable and relevant information and make sure you have a high level of frequency so that you stand out amongst all the other brands that are bombarding social media platforms at the moment.

If your workload has reduced, now is the perfect time to build connections and content on platforms that you were too busy to use previously.

Write articles for LinkedIn, promote valuable content on Facebook, create videos for Instagram, use display ads and build the story behind your brand.

There are many options available but make sure you have an effective social media strategy and create stand out, valuable and relevant content.

Online business

3. Take Your Business Online

There are many businesses that have to date avoided doing business online, other than via listings on generic website directories. If you take advantage of online marketing during COVID-19, you could position yourself for significant and long term growth once operating restrictions are lifted.

For example, if you previously ran a retail store or were in the hospitality industry, start selling online. Online sales are going through the roof now that shoppers can’t visit their local stores. In fact, the boredom factor of having to stay at home is increasing the desire for shopping overall.

Building a web store is easy and affordable and could potentially provide you with an additional revenue stream for the long term.

If you are in hospitality, you may be in a position to provide home deliveries but don’t just rely on regular customers to phone in their orders. Build an online ordering and payment system that will showcase your menu, collect payments online and protect your drivers with contactless deliveries. You could even set up a Click and Collect service.

If you are in entertainment or training, create an events calendar on your website and deliver your events via live-streaming, webinars or podcasts.

If you are in a service industry, why not sell additional related products online via a cart to supplement your income.

There are many opportunities that exist to build your revenue through digital marketing. If you’re not sure how to make the move online, book a free video or phone consultation to determine the best path forward for you and your business.

Mobile delivery app

4. Remarketing and Retargeting

If you have a good website that attracts a reasonable level of traffic, take advantage of every visitor with remarketing and retargeting programs.

Keep your brand and promotional offers in front of your prospects by delivering social media ads to them on Facebook or Instagram once they’ve left your website.

Send targeted eDMs (email marketing) to website visitors to build your brand awareness and reinforce your offering.

You can tailor the content of your social media ads and eDMs to reflect the pages and products on your website that your prospects have shown an interest in.

It can take several connections with a brand for a prospect to commit to a purchase, or even an enquiry, so getting in front of a prospect multiple times has been shown to dramatically increase conversion rates.

Don’t waste a qualified lead! Optimise your conversions through a highly cost-effective and easy to implement remarketing or retargeting program.

Target audience

5. Rethink Your Target Audience

Some businesses are going to do better than others during this COVID-19 period so now is the time to rethink your targeting to take advantage of new opportunities that now exist.

Look at what consumers and businesses are now looking for as we are living in heavily disrupted times.

For example, accountants, HR consultants, solicitors and financial planners will all be in high demand.

So will healthcare professionals and those who focus on providing self-improvement, mental health and professional training services.

Home maintenance products, home gyms and trades will all do well as people are confined to their homes.

Entertainment and escapism will be in demand as boredom sets in.

Food, transport, online shopping, delivery services, natural foods and the basics that we all need on a daily basis – these will all do well too.

And of course, marriage counselling services may inadvertently also do well due to the emotional stresses that come with a lockdown!

If you don’t work in these sectors, look at how you can modify your offering to provide relevant services and products to these businesses that will do well in the current market.

Mobile Devices

6. Use Innovative Technology

Many of our old ways of communicating and managing our business operations are now redundant so we have to look for technologies that can help us through this period and beyond.

Look for apps and tools that will help you to communicate and run your business effectively online.

Zoom has taken off in a big way as businesses replace face to face meetings with video conferences and team meetings. Microsoft Teams and Skype provide similar benefits and functionality.

We use Slack for our team meetings and file sharing. Our twice daily catch ups have been amazing for our team morale and productivity!

Our phone diversions are currently being managed by Spoke which allows calls to be transferred to our team members’ mobile phones without any privacy issues. Telcos such as Central Telecoms offers a wide range of other communication options to keep calls flowing with minimal inconvenience to clients.

Online auction software is changing the real estate industry and live streaming is changing the events industry. These industries will never be the same again.

There are so many apps and tools to manage internal and client communications, productivity, project management, marketing, calendar bookings, payments, training, file management and more.

Do some research and find innovative tools that will get you through coronavirus and hopefully help you to be more efficient in the future.

Branding

7. Build Your Brand

During busy times, businesses can often fall into the habit of focusing mainly on sales and service delivery, neglecting their brands in the process.

They can start to deliver generic messaging that doesn’t take advantage of their strengths and points of difference.

Or they can deliver mixed messages, promoting their brand as innovative and high end for example, while their visual branding and collateral is dated and unappealing to their audience.

Now is the ideal time to revisit your brand, re-evaluate your positioning and your unique selling proposition to refine and refresh your brand story.

Why does your brand exist? What are your brand values and do you have a purpose beyond simply making profit?

Do you have a core essence to your brand that provides the framework for all your communications? Disney is about Magic, AirBNB is about Belonging and BMW is about Performance. What is the DNA of your brand?

Do you have genuine value propositions that resonate with your target audience and are you effectively and persuasively communicating your point of difference through all your marketing communications?

Use this quieter period to review and refine your brand so that you can emerge from isolation with all your marketing collateral effectively communicating your brand story in terms of messaging, visuals, tools and tactics.

Get your website working

8. Get Your Website Working For You

Online competition is only going to grow through the coronavirus period and beyond, so you need your website to be seen and to be relevant to the search criteria of your ideal prospect.

Check that the platform you are using for your website is SEO friendly without code bloat, errors and omissions.

Make sure your website is easy for the user to navigate with a search-focused main navigation and lots of relevant hot buttons that encourage them on their journey through multiple pages of your site.

Get the content and visuals in line with the information your prospect is looking for and remove all the corporate, self-promotional fluff that the user doesn’t want to read.

And importantly, make sure your website is optimised for the most popular search terms and keywords so that you rank higher in the search engines.

Doing this now will not only help you to become more competitive in a quieter market; it will also position you to rebuild and thrive when the market becomes stronger as SEO programs can take several months to deliver optimum results. The time to start is now!

Customers

9. Look After Your Customers

Keep in touch with your existing clients and prospects, even if they have reduced or stopped their spend.

Send them relevant information via eDMs and enewsletters.

Let them know how you are changing your business to better suit their current needs.

Offer them valuable information that may help them to get through these challenging times without asking for anything in return.

Keep your brand awareness high so that when they are ready to spend again, they will remember that you were there for them during the tough times.

And of course, stay in touch by phone and video calls – make sure you keep your personal connection with your clients and prospects strong and memorable.

Innovation

10. Be Innovative

Now is the time to think differently about your business.

Can you deliver your products or services in a different way?

Can you market your expertise via videos, blogs, podcasts or LinkedIn articles?

Can you supplement your normal income by creating products that can be sold online?

Can you become a reseller for other products, apps or services relevant to your own product or service range?

Can you repurpose your manufacturing, partner with other companies, create new technologies or service additional sectors to find new opportunities for either the short or the long term?

Now is not the time to just sit and wait. Don’t go into hibernation, waiting for the market to revert to how it was before coronavirus. It may never be the same again.

So be brave, be innovative and make sure that your business is one that takes advantage of the new opportunities that do exist in this strange, new world.

 

Good luck! Please call us if we can help or if you’d just like a no-cost obligation-free chat.

What is a brand?

The definition of a brand has come a long way from the days when cattle ranchers used ‘branding irons’ to identify which cattle belonged to who. A century and a half later, the definition has become significantly more complex and, unfortunately has therefore become a lot harder to understand!

To address some common misconceptions, a brand is not just your ‘brand name’ and it’s not just your ‘logo’, although both of these attributes contribute toward your brand.

Your brand is a perception; it exists inside someone’s mind. It’s how people perceive your company, products, services and experience, in both a rational and an emotive sense. ‘Branding’ is the process of defining, maintaining, strengthening or changing that perception to positively influence their buying decisions.

So why are brands important? Brands differentiate your offering, build loyalty and improve recall and recognition over your competition’s products. You can see this in the baked beans category, for example where Heinz is by far the best selling baked beans product in the UK (where they sell more baked beans than the rest of the world combined – over 1.5 million cans a day!). However, as far as the product is concerned, it has come in just third in taste testing on multiple occasions (see for example https://www.village-bakery.com/best-canned-baked-beans/) demonstrating the power of a brand over the quality of a product.

Furthermore, when people connect meaningfully with a brand, trust, loyalty and emotive engagement will increase which will build protection from negative influences such as competitive activity, pricing disadvantages and poor media exposure. Take the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall in 2016, for example. The high profile event wiped out 98% of the profits in the mobile division and dragged company profits down by 30%. However, it did little to damage Samsung’s brand loyalty. A poll later that year found that Samsung’s customers were still fiercely loyal to the brand with 91% of current Samsung users saying they would be likely to purchase another Samsung smartphone, and 92% of current users saying they would probably buy another Samsung product in general. Despite a disastrous product failure, the company was forgiven by its customers, thanks to the value of its brand.

To successfully build a brand, it must be communicated consistently across all touchpoints a company or product has with its customers. If the brand message and experience are not consistent across all touchpoints and interactions, your unique brand advantage will be diminished. Within your marketing collateral, this means consistent messaging, visual styling, tone of voice and brand personality across your proposals, brochures, website, social media, business stationery, office or shop interior, customer service style, staff uniforms, advertising and even non-marketing communications such as invoicing. Every touchpoint should tell the same story.

A well thought-out brand will effectively portray what your business stands for and what makes it unique and appealing to your customers. It expresses the qualities, strengths and personality of your business and if strategised well, it will appeal directly to your target market, drawing them in like a moth to a flame.

What is involved in developing a successful brand?

The process in creating a powerful brand involves thorough market research to profile your customers, understand their motivations, map their buying journey and substantiate why they should be attracted to your business.

A unique brand essence, or company/product DNA, can then be defined which will provide the framework for all brand communications. This is the emotional heart of your brand, combining rationale and emotive reasons to buy with the clarity of a defined and relatable personality and brand archetype. This is the core upon which your brand purpose, positioning, value proposition and other elements of your brand strategy will be built.

Ultimately, your brand strategy will be translated into brand standards including your logo, tone of voice, brand visuals and other tangible brand elements.

An investment for business growth

The typical mindset many people face when starting up a small to medium business may be to save as many pennies as possible until the profits roll in. This unfortunately means some businesses will miss the window in creating the correct foundation required for a successful and sustainable business. It may be hard to appreciate that part of your marketing budget should put aside for brand development and that taking the leap and hiring a professional to build your brand may in fact prove to be one of your most valuable investments for long term business success.

So how much does it cost to build a unique brand strategy for your business? Well, if you are BHP, the answer would be in the $millions! But for an SME, it is really an affordable proposition that should return the investment many times over in the future. If you’d like a firm quotation and proposal for your business, simply give us a call.

SOURCE:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4548674/Heinz-left-trailing-place-blind-taste-test.html
https://fortune.com/2016/11/21/galaxy-note-7-recall-samsung-brand/
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/samsung-galaxy-note-7-recall-exploding-phones-profits-a7382786.html

Changes to Mailchimp

For many years, we have advocated Mailchimp to our clients as one of the best value options for managing emarketing programs (amongst a few others we also recommend). With the free version offering a competitively high mailing volume of 2,000 subscribers, great analytics and the opportunity to customise eDMs, it has proven to be one of the best free platforms around.

However, earlier this year Mailchimp made some significant changes to its plans which have impacted both pricing and available functionality. If you are currently on a Mailchimp platform, we don’t necessarily suggest changing to an alternative provider but you should be aware of the following:

1. Every contact in your list now counts towards your contact total – this includes unsubscribes, subscribes and non-subscribes. Free accounts still allow up to 2000 contacts but to keep within this total, you should now go into your mailing lists and clean them up regularly, deleting unsubscribes and non-subscribes so they won’t be added to your total.

2. You now only get one audience (list) with the free plan. If you have maintained different lists for customers v prospects v VIPs, for example, you may now want to look at upgrading to the Essentials Plan from $14.64 a month as this level allows for 3 audiences.

3. Importantly, for most clients who have had an eNewsletter or eDM template designed by us, the free version no longer allows new templates to be custom -coded, leaving you with the only option of basic templates. If you want to take advantage of more interactive features and a better user experience, you will now have to subscribe to the Essentials Plan as a minimum.

4. Multi-step automations are no longer available unless you are on the Standard Plan or above which starts at $21.97 per month.

5. Insights and analytics have been limited to the basic level and don’t include A/B or multivariate testing.

On the positive side, Mailchimp has expanded its services recently to now offer retargeting through Google, Facebook and Instagram, enabling you to integrate your marketing campaigns within one platform. If you haven’t explored the power of retargeting, why not ask us to provide a marketing proposal for you. According to Google, combining retargeting with other advertising programs can increase your conversions by as much as 50%!

Improve your business in 2020

As we race towards the finishing line for 2019, it’s bewildering to realise just how fast the year seems to have gone! For some sectors, it was a slow start with various state and federal elections destabilising market confidence but we have been delighted to see that, for many of our clients, business is now on the rise and they are looking forward to a stronger 2020.

Despite the tough year, it has been a time of growth and improvement for many businesses; for others, it’s been a time of change and a chance to get ready to take advantage of better conditions ahead.

If your business is going through the latter, here are some simple tips for achieving growth even in slow times:

1. Look after your existing customers well – they are invaluable in both good and bad times and very costly to replace.

2. Reduce your risk by diversifying your customer base if you are reliant on too few customers.

3. Be proactive in your marketing – while your competitors are quiet, you have a great opportunity to be heard.

4. Take the time to improve your service and operations so that you are well-positioned to cope with the influx of business when the good times return.

5. Use quiet times to train your staff so that your customer service is a key competitive advantage.

6. Keep staff motivation high – show your staff they are valued as it costs a lot to replace well-trained, quality staff.

7. Keep a tight grasp on your finances – know how you are progressing, protect your cashflow and maybe pay a few extra visits to your accountant.

8. Think innovatively about the products you sell, the services you deliver and future market needs. A quiet period is a chance to think differently about your business and, as long as you research and test well, it can be time to make beneficial changes for a more sustainable future.

We’re very proud of our clients who have done so well against the odds this year – see our story below on how many of our clients who have won much coveted awards, for example! If you are looking to take advantage of improved market conditions in 2020, come and have a chat with our Director, Barbara Ketley. She has worked on growing hundreds of brands across a diverse range of sectors for over 25 years and would be delighted to help you to jump-start your business growth for the new year!

Complete Your Customer Journey with Infusionsoft

Do you make the most of every touchpoint your prospects or customers have into your organisation? We have recently been working in conjunction with Infusionsoft to build a complete digital customer communications program for one of our clients, mapping their customer journey from start to finish. Infusionsoft is an all-in-one sales and marketing tool which allows businesses to manage everything from a customer enquiry through a business’ website to post-sale customer surveys. It also allows a business to manage marketing, leads, payments and coupons as well as create automated campaigns and provide real-time customer updates for sales, all from the one convenient platform.

Infusionsoft is capable of managing every aspect of the customer journey to ensure that your customers are given the best service possible. Importantly, it allows you to optimise every opportunity to convert, upsell and build relationships with your customers.

You can use Infusionsoft to obtain more information on your customers for segmentation, get more likes on social media, send tailored content and promotions, encourage signups to eNewsletters, cross-sell relevant products and services, provide and follow up quotes, conduct surveys and more.

If you want to know how Infusionsoft can benefit your business, we have a fully trained Infusionsoft expert here at Milestone-Belanova to help you make the most of your customer journey. Contact us today and ask for an appointment with Karl to see how Infusionsoft can help your business!

Introducing the Non-linear Consumer Buying Process of Today

The introduction of the internet has revolutionised how consumers make decisions when purchasing an item. Consumers no longer follow a linear path of seeing an advertisement for a product, contacting the seller, getting a quote and deciding whether they are going to purchase the product or not. Today’s buying process is a lot more complicated and non-linear. It involves consumers sourcing information on the internet from a vast array of locations before making an educated decision as to whether they wish to purchase the product or not. Research has shown that up to 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews, with nearly one third of consumers rating online reviews as very important or higher.

Social media is one of the most dominant sources consumers turn to when researching a product. Studies have shown that as much as 83 percent of consumers discover brands, products and services through the use of social media, and 55 percent of consumers trust reviews they read on social media. Facebook is a key area where reviews can influence whether a consumer will purchase a product or not. Consumers are able to post reviews of a business on the business’ page or ‘Place’, or comment on any post for a product with their review. All of these reviews are easy to locate for anyone wanting to know more about a company or their product.

Video is another avenue consumers are looking towards today to get an informed opinion on a product before deciding whether to purchase it or not. Today, one third of activity on the internet is spent watching videos, and it is predicted that by 2020, 82 percent of all web consumer traffic will be video. Studies have also found that two thirds of consumers looking for online reviews on a product will look at videos, and consumers who do view videos on a product are 1.81 times more likely to purchase the product than consumers who do not view videos on the product.

Of course, you can’t talk about online reviews without mentioning review services such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Amazon, all of which have dedicated channels for consumers to review products, services and businesses. These three services are just a few of the many services which offer reviews on products, but their impact on consumers should not be understated. Research has shown that 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and nearly 60 percent of consumers will decide to not buy a product after viewing between one and three negative reviews about the product or service in question.

Regardless of where a consumer sources their information, it is clear that the reputation of the product or service in question is more crucial than ever in order for a consumer to purchase it. The introduction of the internet has meant that consumer opinions are now more highly regarded and easily accessible than ever before.

SEO Won’t be Dying Anytime Soon – Here’s Why

There have been many proponents over the years who have claimed that SEO is either dead, dying or ineffective. What these proponents fail to consider is the everchanging nature of SEO as it is developed. What may have been considered effective a year ago may not provide the same results today. Google is the major driving force in the evolution of SEO as it constantly reviews and makes changes to the algorithm used to determine which websites get the top spot in web searches.

The change in effective SEO over the years has been dramatic to say the least. In the early 2000s, link spamming was an effective way to help your website rank highly in web searches. The quality of the link did not matter, which led to many websites creating links back to the home page in order to increase the websites ranking. Today, spamming your website with unhelpful links severely damages the ranking of your website.

The evolution of SEO can most easily be seen with changes Google introduced in 2014, which meant that well-optimised websites were given a significantly higher ranking than poorly-optimised websites, and more recently in 2018, where Google made changes which made websites that are optimised for mobile viewing rank higher than those that are not.

SEO has arguably become more prevalent than ever before, with social media platforms such as Facebook using detailed algorithms to determine which pages get the top result in searches. This can be the defining factor in whether you, or your competitor, are featured in the top spot for searches on your industry.

So, here’s a quick guide to maximise your SEO today:

  1. Optimise your website for mobile viewing – since 2018, Google has given greater weight to websites which have a good mobile site than those that have a good desktop site. The speed pages load at, how user friendly the navigation is and the size of the buttons are some of the considerations Google uses to rank websites.
  2. Optimise the loading time for your website’s pages – Google considers the loading speed of website pages more important than ever when ranking websites.
  3. Optimise content to be suitable for featured snippets – featured snippets are the text boxes Google places at the top of a search page with a paragraph of information on the topic being searched. They are typically used when users have Googled a question, extracting information from the selected website to provide the desired answer to the question. You can optimise your content towards being featured in snippets by anticipating what questions users may ask and tailoring your content to provide a brief 40-60 word answer to the question.
  4. Update your website to HTTPS security – in July 2018, Google introduced an update which makes websites with HTTP rank lower than those which have HTTPS.
  5. Optimise your content for voice searches – with the increase in popularity of voice searches through home automation devices such as Google Home, optimising your content for voice searches can mean the difference between your content being viewed or not. This can be achieved by tailoring content to reflecting how a person would speak out a question, similar to how featured snippets are optimised.

If you would like a complimentary SEO report run on your website to identify any issues, please give us a call.

The Essential Guide for Upgrading to Gutenberg

WordPress 5 has arrived, and with it, Gutenberg has been introduced. There are a number of great additions that come with the update. However, there have also been reports of the update causing trouble with existing websites.

We’ve recently experienced the risks associated with upgrading WordPress ourselves when one of our clients upgraded their website from WordPress 4 to WordPress 5 as a security measure. The update responded well with most of the plugins used. However, there were a number of issues with the Page Builder which broke the website. Our team was successfully able to revert the website to the latest WordPress 4 update, which had all the security updates of WordPress 5 without the plugin compatibility issues.

If you are considering updating your website to Gutenberg, there are a number of things you need to know:

  1. Back up everything! This is essential in case the update causes anything on your current site to break.
  2. Update your PHP version and any plugins you are using. This will reduce the possibility of anything breaking when you upgrade to Gutenberg.
  3. Use a test server to upgrade a copy of your website to Gutenberg first. This will allow you to check for any potential issues and fix them without your live site being affected.
  4. Be prepared for your website to break temporarily after upgrading. Although Gutenberg offers a lot of new functionality, your current plugins may not function properly without being updated. Most issues will likely only require a quick fix. The test server is crucial to ironing out these issues without affecting your live site.
  5. The new editor looks different, very different. Gutenberg has dramatically changed the way WordPress sites are edited. If you do not like the new editor, the Classic Editor is available to use with Gutenberg.

If you are concerned that updating to Gutenberg will break your site, here at Milestone-Belanova we have an experienced team who are happy to help! Contact us today for a quote on upgrading your WordPress website to Gutenberg.

How To Run A Competitive Analysis

Knowing where your business sits within a market and how you compare to your competitors is a critical part of your marketing plan. A competitor analysis can provide you with the needed insights to help shape your business’s approach and give you a leg up on your competition. Below is an outline of the five steps you can take to conduct a competitor analysis for your business.

Step One: Compare your website

  • What web pages do you and your competitors share? What pages don’t you share?
  • What features do your competitors offer on their websites?
  • How do your competitors make sales through their websites?
  • How do your competitors use their websites? (Is it a landing page? Do they sell products on their site? Do they even have a website?)

Step Two: Compare your social media accounts

  • How many social media accounts do you have compared to your competitors?
  • How many followers do you have compared to your competitors? (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube)
  • What type of content do your competitors share? (Videos, images, blog posts, quotes, tips, industry insights?)
  • How often do your competitors post on their social media accounts? (Once a month? Once a week? Multiple times a day?)

You can use this information to base your social media campaign off.

Step Three: Compare your strengths/weaknesses

  • What do you do well? What do your competitors do well? (Use this information to see where you can improve or where your strengths are).
  • What do you not do well? What do your competitors not do well? (Use this information to understand where your business could improve. You can also use this information to understand opportunities where you could improve on what your competitors are doing).

Areas to focus on:

  • Price
  • Product/Service Range
  • Product/Service Quality
  • Convenience
  • Longevity
  • Brand Awareness
  • Customer Service Standards
  • Hours of Trade
  • Turnaround Time
  • Marketing Collateral

Step Four: Competitive advantages

  • Review the factors that provide your business with a competitive advantage over your competitors.
  • Establish whether this is a sustainable competitive advantage or one that could be easily replicated by your competitors.
  • Review your competitor’s competitive advantages and do the same processes as above. What features, services, details or actions do your competitors have as an advantage over your business? How do they provide a superior service over your business?

Use this information to understand how your business could improve and whether you can replicate any of their advantages.

Step Five: Bring it all together

By the time you get to step five you should have a clear understanding of how your business stacks up against your competitors.

  • You will know whether your website needs work or if you are providing features beyond what your competitors are.
  • You will have an understanding of how your competitors are using social media and what you could do to improve or continue leading your social media campaigns.
  • You will know what your strengths and weaknesses are and whether your competitors share any of these. You can use these strengths and weaknesses to refine your business and improve on areas you may be lacking in.
  • You will have an understanding of how your competitive advantages compare to your competitors.
  • You will also be able to judge if your advantages are sustainable for future growth or whether they can be easily replicated by your competitors.
Download our FREE competitive analysis template today!

SEO vs SEM: What’s the Difference?

Every day, 3.5 billion searches are made on Google – which translates to 1.2 trillion searches per year! With so many searches being made, it’s critical that your business takes steps to ensure your website is showing up for your customers. There are two popular ways of achieving this – SEO and SEM. These two methods use the power of search engines to increase your website’s visibility and attract more visitors. As they are so similar, SEO and SEM are often confused as the same process so we’ve outlined each and provided information on how they can benefit your business.

What is SEO? – ‘Earning traffic through unpaid or free listings’
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) refers to the tactics businesses use to give their website the best chance of ranking highly in search engine results. Google is often the first place people turn to when they are searching for information – whether it’s to find the answer to a question, confirm a business address or view a product they hope to purchase. Showing up on the first page of Google results can significantly increase the number of people who discover and visit your website – it’s for this reason that SEO is so important for your business.

Search engines rank websites based on a number of factors that influence the legitimacy of the site. These can include:

  • Page loading speed
  • Content length/quality
  • Backlinks (other websites linking back to your website)
  • Mobile view (websites that offer mobile compatibility rank higher)
  • Social media links
  • HTTPS – read our article on the importance of HTTPS for your business

SEO’s goal is to ensure these factors have been met and refined to improve the chances of a higher ranking.

What is SEM? – ‘Buying traffic through paid search listings’
Rather than relying solely on the chance of appearing amongst the top-ranking organic search results (through the use of SEO), a business can have its website advertised above organic listings by opting for paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This is known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM for short). SEM has become a powerful marketing tool as the advertisements not only display at the top of search pages, but they can also be targeted to specific customers through keywords and copy

PPC: As the name suggests, the level of traffic directed to a website through its advert dictates how much the business will pay. Unlike traditional advertising, SEM provides immediate feedback about whether the advert is working or not so the business can continuously adjust the ad until they find results.

SEM is valuable as it can connect your business with customers who are searching for similar companies to yours but might not know you exist yet.

Which one is better?
As both SEO and SEM will provide different results for your website, it’s difficult to suggest that one will be better than the other. You should instead focus on discovering when your business may need to use SEO or SEM.

  • SEO – your website should have some form of search engine optimisation to ensure it ranks well in search results. The sooner you implement SEO, the better.
  • SEM – search engine marketing is effective when you want to increase your amount of visitors and gain more exposure. It’s also powerful to advertise a new product launch or a sale you are currently running.