What does your business need to succeed in the digital world? It’s a question we asked ourselves and spent quite some time trying to answer. In this ultimate guide to the digital world, we focus on the three main aspects that determine your digital success.
- First, there is your content. Is what you publish relevant and optimised for search engines? Do you have a unique brand voice? And what about your brand image? Does your story make an impression?
- Second, you need a great website that generates leads. What technology is your website based on? Was your website developed with UX and UI in mind? Does it have the required functionalities? Do you know how to create the right landing pages? You need a lot more than just a pretty site to convince your visitors.
- Third and last, we have the promotion (marketing) of your business. Have you defined KPIs to measure goals? Are you on social media? Have you looked at what marketing channels are suited for your business?
In order for your brand to become an online success, you need to carefully tend to all three aspects. In this guide, we walk you through the three ingredients that make up the recipe for digital success.
Table of contents
- 1. Content
- 2. Website
- 3. Online marketing
1.1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. With SEO, you aim to increase the organic (free) position of your website in the search results of e.g. Google or Bing. So this is the opposite of Search Engine Advertising (SEA), where you pay to appear at the top of the search results.
SEO is something that is constantly changing. Over the years, Google has changed the algorithm used to determine the order on search pages several times. Supposedly, today there are over 200 ranking factors that play a role in determining search results. Keeping your website SEO-proof is vital.
Optimizing for search engines is done by paying attention to three things, each containing various aspects: relevance (on-page SEO), authority (off-page SEO) and technology (technical SEO).
1.1.1. Relevance (on-page SEO)
- Content: quality takes precedence over quantity.
- Keywords: start with keyword research, avoid keyword stuffing and engage in semantic optimization.
- Interlinking: make sure pages on your website are interconnected and that you link to other domains with high domain authority (DA).
- Meta descriptions: these do not affect your ranking, but are interesting for increasing the Click Through Rate (CTR).
- Header tags: use headings so that search engines can identify a hierarchy on your page (H1, H2, H3, …).
- Title tags: the title of the page that will appear in the search results.
- Alt tags: clear description of an image.
1.1.2. Authority (off-page SEO)
- Link building: make sure high authority websites link to your website.
- Brand building: your brand must have a strong and recognizable identity.
- Social media: social media links, shares and interactions are not ranking factors but social media as a stand-alone platform can strengthen your brand (name).
- Local SEO: optimize your website for local search results, e.g. a bakery
- Content marketing: this is about all the content you publish on the web, don’t forget about guest blogs, a survey picked up by news outlets, etc.
1.1.3. Technology (technical SEO)
- Crawlability: search engines use crawlers to index your website. By providing interlinking, robots.txt and robot meta tags, you guide these crawlers.
- Core web vitals: focus on user experience is important. Core web vitals include how fast a page loads (Largest Contentful Paint), how long it takes for the page to respond to an interaction (First Input Delay) and the visual stability of the page (Cumulative Layout Shift)
- Website structure: provide a clear structure without any stand-alone pages.
- Security: a secure website that ensures user privacy is a basic requirement. Consider, among other things, the use of https.
- Structured data: additional HTML tags that help search engines better understand the content of your pages. This structured data is also used to create rich results.
- XML sitemap: a blueprint of the website that helps search engines find, crawl and index all the content of the website.
- 404 pages: avoid 404 pages (page not found). If they do occur, make sure visitors can navigate back instantly and easily to existing pages.
- 301: set 301 redirects (permanently moved pages) or 302 redirects (temporarily moved pages) to avoid dead-end pages or error messages.
1.2 Brand voice
The brand voice is nothing more or less than the personality of your company. This is about how you position yourself as a company to the outside world. Your brand voice ensures that you create recognizability in the way you communicate using a certain tone of voice.
Your company’s tone of voice can usually be summed up in a few powerful terms. Coca-Cola, for example, identifies itself as a happy and friendly brand. When I see a refreshing commercial in which happiness and friendship are central themes, I often know in advance that it is a Coca Cola commercial. A company like Nike also has a very clear brand voice: be inspirational and exude strength. Their slogan “Just Do It” fits perfectly.
The personality of your brand is not something you choose lightly. It will be determined based on your vision and the ideal customer you have in mind. This ideal customer is often called a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional person that’s provided with a comprehensive description of the target audience this person embodies. Based on analytical research, you try to find out who these target group(s) are.
1.3. Relevant content
Convincing potential customers of your added value is not easy. You can demonstrate your added value by providing accurate, relevant and updated content on your website. It’s vital that you look out for duplicate content, which is something that Google does not approve of. Therefor, make sure that your content is original. Of course, one person is not like another. Tom may be looking for information about web design while George is already a few steps ahead and has to choose a website provider by next week. The different steps consumers go through is also called the customer journey.
So an important step is identifying these different stages in the customer journey. The REAN model helps with this. In the reach phase, you are trying to create awareness and sell your business. Your potential customer is stuck with a problem and is looking for answers. Common content types used in this phase are blog posts, how-to’s, white papers, and so on. In the engage phase, the user starts looking for the best possible solution to their problem. This is the time to push your product forward. Case studies, demos and FAQs help the user make an informed choice.
In the activate phase, it’s time to prove that you can deliver on your promises. Using testimonials and references, you show potential customers what you are capable of. Once you have convinced a customer, they enter the final phase. The nurture phase is focused on retaining your customers. Using cross- and upselling, you create loyalty and guarantee long-term cooperation.
Since you do not know where someone is in the customer journey, it is important to provide content on your website for each step in this funnel. By actively maintaining this, you prove to potential customers that you have the knowledge and know-how to solve their problem.
1.4. Brand image
Brand image means the image that consumers have of a product, service, company or organization. So the brand image is what comes to mind when someone thinks of your company or product. Brand image is how customers see you as a company. Brand identity, on the other hand, is how you want your company to be perceived.
Brand image is important. Brand image is determined by the visual aspects (logo, packaging, website, etc.) of your product, the importance of your product to the end customer (added value, convenience and quality) and the general awareness of your company. Our branding can be found in our brandbook.
Good website branding (translation of your brand identity into a website) makes websites feel like full-fledged; a real (i.e., not virtual) world to explore and connect with. A good brand image sucks you towards the brand. And will also make you buy. Before you can brand a website, you need a clear brand identity. This is the personality of your brand: are you modern or old-school? Affordable or exclusive? Serious or playful? Once you know exactly who you are, you can develop a brand identity that visually represents your personality through fonts, images, a color palette and shapes, as well as things like the style of text, layout and functionality of your website.
2.1. Lead generation
Lead generation is the process of capturing the interest of potential customers to increase future sales. When a prospect begins a commitment with you by showing an organic interest in your company, the transition from prospect to customer is much more natural.
The goal of your lead generation strategy is to obtain your customer’s data. The easiest way to do this is by filling out a simple form or through the contact page on your website. Using a nice landing page full of valuable content, offers, etc., you convince a potential customer with a powerful CTA (call to action). Once your potential customer has performed the desired action, you have a new lead.
Lead generation involves a wide range of tactics, campaigns and strategies, depending on the platform on which you want to capture leads. A good lead generation strategy should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. Without new unknown potential customers, your business cannot grow.
There are numerous ways and platforms to generate leads. For example, you can advertise on social media. These often already have a lead generation form function, which simplifies the process for you. Or you can also organize everything organically. As long as your potential customer gets a valuable incentive after handing over their data, they will eagerly act on your CTA.
2.2. Customer support
Customer service or customer support is the contact with your customer after the purchase of a product or service. This contact can be through email, phone, chatbots, FAQ pages, contact pages, social media or through personal contact. How you execute this process determines whether you create a customer who will develop loyalty toward your business.
Think of it this way: good marketing tells our customers why they should choose us. Customer service shows them why they should come back.
Responding to good customer service has more benefits than just loyalty, it helps create a well-oiled operation between marketing and customer service;
- Better buyer persona development
- Content creation ideas
- Align customer expectations with the product or service
- Unified Messaging: both teams are aware of certain activities or promos
- Sharing customer stories
- Creating an ideal loyalty program
- Product marketing where USPs are driven by customers
- Sharing shared goals and valuable insights
So you see, customer service is more than just setting up a chatbot on your website. With the right customer service, you turn your customer into an ambassador who not only comes back for your product or service, but also enjoys doing word-of-mouth advertising.
2.3. Strong functionality
The functionalities of your website depend largely on the purpose of your website. There can be several purposes for a website:
- Create better leads: there’s something very satisfying when receiving a well-qualified lead. This can be achieved on your website by giving visitors access to information that matches their needs. A well-structured website with well-placed content is a site that does its job. It should be structured to lead your users to the information that is relevant to them, and allow them to search further if they wish. Features that can help your potential leads maximize your website are a clear and clean navigation, interconnected pages, and an easy-to-understand interface.
- Sales: for e-commerce, good design can make a huge difference in sales. A website that is easy to navigate and user-friendly is a no-brainer for many customers, provided you have an attractive product, of course. In addition, sales are easier to track because they are purely about numbers. This is where automation shines – an automated system can record your monthly online sales while your web designers continually improve the functionality of the website. An effective website will make shopping fun and easy, convincing potential customers to buy more.
- Improved customer support: customer service on your website, whether it’s via email, live chat support, or a chatbot, can do wonders for customer satisfaction. A well-designed site can smooth out the kinks in your customer service and make your customer base feel happy, satisfied, and heard. The more accessible your business is, the more likely your customers will turn to you when they have problems. With good customer service, you can earn loyal clients.
- Purely informational website: informational websites are sites created to provide potential and active customers, members, investors and so on with a customized and branded resource. These websites are driven by content and design.
- And then we have blogs, portfolio websites, event websites, membership websites, … the list goes on.
Whatever the primary purpose, some features are must haves for any website :
- Elegant logo
- Clear language selection
- Easy navigation
- Search bar
- Unique Value Proposition
- Call-to-actions (CTAs)
- Newsletter subscription
- About us page
- FAQ page
- Live chat
- Contact page
- Breadcrumb navigation
- Trusted signals
- Search option
- Blog categories
- Sharing possibilities
User experience is the overall experience a visitor gets when using your website. User experience is about how something works, how something feels and how something comes across. It is a feeling that is generated, but it is guided by objective criteria.
The User experience is the overall result and is determined by:
- Usability: being the ease of use of the website. This includes the effectiveness and efficiency of a website for the visitor. Thus, usability is separate from graphic design. Usability means: how easy is it for your visitor to find the information they are looking for. The degree of usability is determined by the information architecture of your website. This consists of (1) the navigation structure or menu at the top of your website, (2) the page structure, which you can set up using wireframes and (3) the search function of your website, which can be either a completely free or structured search function with filters and taxonomies (categories and tags in WordPress).
- User Interface (UI): is the website beautiful and pleasant to use? Are the fonts easy to read, are the buttons clear, are images used that add value? Let’s not forget accessibility (as Anysurfer label), also for people with visual impairments.
- Credibility: can I trust what I read? Credibility is determined by the visitor themselves, and by third-party information (reviews and discussions of your product/service on other platforms).
- Usefulness: is the website instructive and useful? Is the information published there useful to me?
Your scores on each of these four criteria together determine the overall experience of your website.
2.5. Landing pages
A landing page is a page designed to facilitate a single desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, signing up for a free trial or entering an email address.
It is called a landing page because it is a page where users “land” after clicking on a link in a Facebook post, on a Google ad, in an email newsletter or through other traffic sources.
Landing pages differ from regular web pages because they are designed to serve a single purpose. A normal web page tends to have several desired actions. It is this specific focus that sets them apart.
There are two main reasons why landing pages are good for increasing conversions:
- they have a targeted CTA;
- and they are targeted to a specific audience.
After your landing page has been live for a while, it’s time to see where you can make improvements. You can measure this in many ways. Using various tools, we can examine how and where we can optimize our landing page. Think of traffic data, heatmaps and A/B testing.
Then remember to regularly optimize your landing page so that it always converts in a consistent manner. This is the key to a successful landing page.
Looking for a partner for your project? The first step is knowing how to write a Request for Proposal (RFP). A Request for Proposal is a document prepared by a company to select a partner for the realisation of a project, in this case the development of a website.
Read how to write a RPF
2.6.1. Lamp stacks and CMS systems
A website is like a cake with many layers. And when you talk about web technology, you sometimes hear the terms LAMP stack (Linux (OS), Apache (Web server), MySQL (Database), PHP (programming language)), WISA (Windows Server – the operating system, Internet Information Services (IIS) as web server, Microsoft SQL Server as database and ASP.NET as web application framework), MEAN (MongoDB as database, Express.js (server-side application framework), Angular.js (client-side application framework) and Node.js (server-side environment)). And there are countless others (LAPP, LEMP, …) but Dazzle works exclusively with LAMP for the following reasons:
- It is well suited for more complex applications.
- LAMP has a mature environment with a large community.
- It has well established application frameworks such as Symfony (Drupal), Zend, Laravel.
- LAMP has clear standards for development, which makes it easier to keep code clean.
But more important (at least to website visitors and administrators) is the parent Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a software solution that allows users to create, manage and modify content on a website without requiring specialized technical knowledge. Put more simply: a Content Management System is a tool that allows you to build a website without having to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to write code). Most CMS systems are useful for a range of website types: static websites (also called information or brochure websites), blogs, e-commerce stores, forums, social networks, online training courses, membership sites, portfolios, etc.
Important questions when choosing a CMS are:
- Ease of use: both in development and content management.
- Graphic design options: standard themes and templates speed up the implementation process considerably.
- Integration capabilities: a good CMS platform should have tools that allow you to easily import, export and integrate your data with other applications.
- Extensions, plugins and add ons: these are separate softwares, built by the community, that you can simply install on your CMS software to add new features not provided by default in the CMS.
- Help and support options, and price: here we are talking about the choice between a “closed source” (or proprietary or commercial) license, or an “open source” license.
At Dazzle, we use two (open source) CMS platforms: WordPress and Drupal.
Below we will not discuss a website’s performance and uptime, technical quality, coding standards and documentation, cross-browser access and responsiveness. Obviously, the necessary technical requirements for a fast and secure platform are a must.
WordPress.org is our number one choice for websites that do not have complex functionality. It is the world’s most popular CMS software, and more than 50% of all websites on the internet have WordPress as their CMS.
It is important not to confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. WordPress.org is a free open source CMS originally designed for blogging, but now used by all kinds of websites / online stores. WordPress.com is a blog hosting platform.
- WordPress offers the flexibility and freedom to build any type of website (online store, auction site, membership site, etc.).
- Daily management of a WordPress website is relatively simple. Modifying content or images is possible without in-depth technical knowledge.
- WordPress offers many expansion options and has the most plugins and themes available. These allow you to add all sorts of useful extras to your site, such as contact forms, photo galleries, and more.
- Development costs are lower because all kinds of plugins and themes are available. So you already have a basic “kit”. This makes it suitable for both beginners and developers.
- WordPress is very well tuned for search engine optimization (SEO). It is easy to create SEO-friendly URLs, categories and tags for your posts. You can also choose from numerous SEO plugins to get the most out of your website.
- There is a large supportive community around WordPress, as it is an open source CMS. You can join groups such as the WPBeginner Engage Facebook group to get help with any problems you encounter.
- WordPress allows you to download all your content in XML format, making it easy to switch to another system in the future if you wanted to.
- Due to their great popularity, plugins are a target of hackers, which compromises security. Therefore, it is important to always keep the website, themes and plugins up-to-date. At Dazzle, we make sure this happens automatically.
WordPress is open source and therefore free. Of course, that does not mean that development, hosting and maintenance are free. Depending on how many functionalities, plugins, etc. you want, you pay a lower or higher price.
Drupal is another open source CMS platform, especially suitable for complex websites that need to process a lot of data (excellent performance).
- Customizability: your website can be fully customized, without the use of third-party plugins. This makes Drupal a more flexible solution, especially if your website requires a very specific information architecture.
- Multisite: If you’re working with a multisite or a multi-country website, then Drupal is the ideal solution.
- Scalability: Drupal can scale easily, more so than other systems. Many of the world’s most visited websites run on Drupal for that reason.
- Flexible: It is easy to add content on Drupal. The custom content types are flexible and offer many options.
- Longer learning curve: Drupal’s system is inherently more technically complex than WordPress. So to add new features, you do need a strong technical baggage.
Drupal is also open source and is therefore free. The development of a Drupal website is considerably more expensive than a WordPress website, though.
3. Online marketing
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs to evaluate their success in achieving goals. KPIs are evaluated over a period of time, and are compared to past performance metrics or acceptable standards.
|Goal||Attract customers||Interact||Buy||Retain and re-engage|
|Volume KPI||Unique visitors||Leads||Sales||Up-sell, cross sell, referral|
|Quality KPI||% Bounce rate||% Conversion to lead||% Conversion to sales||€ Recurring business|
|Key KPIs||Visitor volume ratio per referrer (VVR).|
Cost per referred visit (CPRV).
|Bounce rate (BR)|
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).
|Returning visitors (RV)|
Email open rate/ CTR
User generated content
Since the customer journey has different objectives for each phase (reach, engage, etc.), we are going to measure different things for each phase. The figure above shows the main KPIs for each phase. A complete list can be found here.
3.2. Social media
Social media marketing is using social media channels to sell or promote a brand, product or service.
A social media marketing strategy is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to accomplish on social media. You determine in advance (1) the goals, (2) the tactics and (3) the metrics you will use to measure your progress. That way, you’ll give direction to your actions and be able to track whether or not your efforts are paying off.
The goals you set for your social media strategy should align with your company’s overarching online marketing strategy. These goals may also vary per social media channel.
Different goals usually mean different approaches, too. Depending on your business, you’re going to capitalize on other social media platforms. The most popular ones (currently) are Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat.
Ready to get started marketing on social media? Here are a few social media marketing tips to get your campaigns started.
- Create varied content
- Stay consistent (pay attention to your brand voice)
- Don’t just post, but participate
- Use automation tools for content creation
- Reuse, repost, recycle content
- Measure your efforts with analytics
- Experiment with paid ads
The more specific your plan is, the more effective it will be. Keep it concise and don’t make it so complicated and broad that it is unachievable or impossible to measure.
3.3. Email marketing and email automation
Email marketing is a powerful marketing tool that uses email to promote your company’s products or services to an already interested audience. When done right, a newsletter is a cost-effective, quick and easy way to keep customers informed (and excited) about new product launches or interesting promotions.
Sending out email campaigns can play a central role in your marketing strategy. For example, it helps with lead generation, brand awareness, building relationships or keeping already existing ones warm.
There are roughly four major types of email campaigns that can be distinguished:
- Newsletters: aim to inform your reader about novelties and are often sent out periodically (e.g. once a week or a month). It is especially important here that you can provide valuable and relevant content.
- Acquisition emails: you want to convince your reader of your product and transform them into customers by offering them added value (e.g. welcome email with clear explanations)
- Retention emails: make sure you stay top of mind with your audience (e.g. asking for feedback or a special promotion for dormant subscribers).
- Promotional emails: get your target audience motivated to convert (e.g. exclusive discounts or upselling of products)
Email automation helps you find your audience and engage your customers. Unlike manual campaigns, automations run in the background while you engage in other valuable tasks. An example of such marketing automation is a welcome sequence where a new subscriber receives a few standard emails upon signing up.
The benefits of email automation:
- Personalization: by setting up different flows, you base your emails to the behavior of your (potential) customer.
- Save time: a marketing automation flow should only be set up once and can then be activated automatically each time.
- Top of mind: stay fresh in the minds of (potential) customers by sending out emails on a regular basis.
- Scalability: marketing automation makes your marketing strategy scalable
At Dazzle, we use Sendinblue for everything related to email marketing.
3.4. Search Engine Advertising (SEA)
Search Engine Advertising (SEA) is a form of online marketing in which search engines such as Google and Bing allow advertisers to display ads on their results pages (SERPs).
Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, which means you do exactly that – you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. This makes it clearly measurable and verifiable. The big advantage of paid advertising is that you appear at the top of the results page, even above the organic results.
Every second, tens of thousands of people search Google for products, services and solutions. This presents an incredible opportunity for you to promote your business to an audience that is actively searching for (information about) your product or service. Each time a consumer enters one of your keywords into a search engine, your display or text ads are entered into an auction. Your quality score and bid are then reviewed to determine at what position your ad will appear on the search page.
The opposite of SEA is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), where you try to rank organically (non-paid) on search engines. Because this is a free option, it is often tempting to focus solely on SEO. The clicks are free, and consumers sometimes prefer organic search results. However, it is important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy that requires you to invest a lot of time. A combination of SEA and SEO is often recommended, although it’s best to look at this specifically for your business.
3.5. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing. Affiliates actively promote products or services from advertisers in exchange for commissions. Usually through blogs on a website, but it can also work fine through newsletters, advertisements or on social media.
Affiliates often have a very specific audience. This creates a well-defined niche or personal brand that helps the affiliate attract consumers who will be most likely to act on the promotion. Thus, the affiliate creates content that persuades potential consumers to take action.
Affiliate marketing is a quick and inexpensive method of making money, for both the affiliate and the product/service seller. Affiliates can be paid for their efforts in a variety of ways.
- Pay per sale
- Pay per lead
- Pay per click (CPA (cost-per-acquisition) & EPC (earnings-per-click))
- Pay per installation
The benefits of affiliate marketing are enormous. As a seller of a product or service, you have a low cost, low risk, you get a targeted audience, it is a very flexible model and you have a high Return on Investment (ROI).
We would like to point out that not all affiliates are equally reliable. It can happen that the intended audience is not reached at all and your message ends up with people who consider it spam. It is therefore an art to build a good relationship with the right affiliates.
3.6. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing involves a brand partnering with an online influencer to increase their brand recognition.
Influencers, unlike celebrities, can be anywhere. They can be anyone. And most importantly, they have the ability to influence others’ buying habits. Influencers have developed a reputation as experts in their field. Thus, they become the go-to people who provide the answers to their followers’ questions.
49% of consumers rely on influencers‘ recommendations to make a buying decision. Capitalizing on this offers a huge opportunity for your brand to increase sales and reach the right people. In addition, influencer marketing has numerous other benefits, including:
- You reach a specific audience.
- Increase engagement and reliability.
- Build brand authenticity.
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program requires targeting and planning. You won’t achieve strategic success by just sending stuff for free. Therefore, establish a strategic roadmap before you call on influencers.
3.7. Content marketing
Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts and other content. This approach creates expertise, promotes brand awareness and keeps your company top of mind when it’s time to convert prospects into customers.
Content marketing is a go-to tactic that has proven itself multiple times over the years. What’s more, it offers a competitive advantage. It’s how you inform your leads and prospects about the products and services you offer, increase conversions, build loyalty, show the personal side of your business and create a community feel around your brand.
To use it effectively, you need to deliver the right and strong content at every stage of the sales cycle – from awareness through consideration to purchase. A successful content marketing strategy is best put together using the content creation framework:
- Conceptualization: provide enough (types of) content and for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Timeline: set goals and make sure all facets of your business are present in your content.
- Workflow: determine who is responsible for what content, through which platforms you will share content, etc.
- Writing: get started with the ideas and make sure someone is always there to proofread your work.
Content marketing often takes a little more time to get results. But you know what they say: content is king. And that’s no mean feat!
So there you have it, the three key aspects of digital success. Unsure how to get started with your content, website or online marketing? Don’t worry, at Dazzle we have a team of experts ready to transform your business into a digital success.