If you want to get ahead…

It may well be tempting to curb your marketing spend following the government’s decision to reduce the Feed-in-Tariff. With the explosion of sustainable energy providers during the past year added to the mix, Laura Jones, marketing manager at MCM Net, looks for the best way to navigate your company through a competitive 2012.

Many companies might be tempted to cut back in a bid to save money as the market becomes more aggressive. Upon first assessment, this seems like a sensible and effective strategy. However, if your company does choose this route, you risk losing sales to those more visible in your industry. After all, if a customer doesn’t know about you, how can you expect to secure their business?

Switch on to digital
Therefore, the key is to spend money wisely, reaching a large audience who will be receptive to your message. With over 476 million internet users in Europe alone, the digital audience has never been so big and it’s still growing. Marketing to your potential customers online has never been so important.

A digital strategy can incorporate a arsenal of tactics including the creation of a new site or improving your current website presence, search engine optimisation techniques, e-mail marketing, mobile applications and viral games.

There are a few basic steps that should be taken to create an attractive web presence in order to increase your chances of conversion. A clean and clear design is essential for any site. Calls to action, such as the company phone number, e-mail address and enquiry forms are vital if you want customers to get in touch and ‘About Us’ sections and homepage introductory text can de-mystify your products and services for first time purchasers.

Think like your customer
Many website visitors are likely to be impatient and as a result, they hate clicking through hundreds of pages on your site to find information. Make your navigation simple and keep the number of pages a visitor has to click through at a minimum. Incorporate a search facility to make it easy for users to find what they want quickly – or they will leave your site and go to another provider.

Treat visitors as if this is their first interaction with your industry and you’ll be more likely to find new business. If possible, create a focus group that contains members of your target audience and ask them what they think of your website ideas.

Get noticed
Getting your website noticed by search engines is vital to drive traffic to your site. Search engine optimisation is the process of making your site rank higher in Google’s natural listings. Improved rankings in Google mean higher visibility, more traffic and more enquiries.

If you’re looking to significantly improve your rankings, you will need to enlist the services of a reputable agency but there are some steps you can take yourself to see some positive changes.

Including key phrases that you would like your businesses to be associated with and appear for in search engines, should be included in your website copy. Don’t put key phrases in your website copy too frequently though or Google will see it as ‘spammy’ and demote you on listings!

In addition, look to get your site promoted on other reputable sites. Quality, relevant resources are more important than having lots on poor, remote sites. Create great content that would be useful to your audience and you’ll be more likely to get a good response.

A good foundation to any digital marketing strategy begins by creating a useable and focused website presence and consequently, promoting that presence effectively. Start with these tactics and you’ll be more likely to stand out amongst your competitors.