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Marketing in the Digital Age

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Written by Tanya Tan, Intern at The FinLab

The time it takes for you to read this sentence is the average attention span of a consumer in today’s world. This number is a mere 8 seconds, according to a 2015 study conducted by Microsoft Canada. With greater access to information online, consumers are processing information in shorter spans of time.

The Zero Moment of Truth

Businesses must now find new and effective ways to engage their customers in shorter spans of time. Gone are the days where businesses could rely on only traditional marketing means, to entice consumers to visit brick and mortar shops. The growing ubiquity of mobile devices has dramatically changed the marketing landscape. Today, consumers can – and expect to – obtain information about a product through online means: product pages, reviews and social media platforms, to name a few.

(Source: Google, 2011)

Technology giant Google terms these moments of online information discovery as ‘Zero Moments of Truth’. This period is crucial, for it presents a window of opportunity for businesses to capture and sustain consumers’ attention. Should they fail to do so, consumers will move on to other alternatives – quickly.

With that, it is important for businesses to make product information readily available to consumers. They can do so by ensuring that their products feature on top of search engine results pages. Leveraging on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to increase a website’s ranking on search engine results pages has been widely adopted, and will only grow in popularity. Ad services like Google Adwords can be utilised to scope out keywords that users typically search for, as well as track the frequency of such searches over time. Businesses can then tailor their website content to include these keywords. Besides inserting relevant keywords, businesses can – and should – work on the following areas to improve their websites’ SEO rankings:

  • Page load speed: Singapore mobile sites take an average of 9.32 seconds to load, much slower than the APAC and global averages. This exceeds the typical attention span of 8 seconds, which increases the drop-off rate. Data from Google in 2016 shows that 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3s to load, which negatively impacts a website’s SEO rankings. To increase page load speed, images on websites should be compressed as much as possible. Plug-ins should be cached. Additionally, unnecessary scripts such as render-blocking JavaScript and CSS files should be eliminated from the site.
  • Mobile-responsiveness: According to DigitalNext, mobile-friendly sites are now an industry standard. Today, 80% of searches on Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, are carried out on mobile.
  • Dwell time: The longer a user stays on the site, the better the SEO rankings. Websites should work on featuring content that keeps users on the site. One effective way to do so is to write compelling headlines, accompanied by content that matches. Internal linking should also be used to lead readers from one topic to another. It is also imperative for websites to contain all the information that visitors might require, precluding the need for them to find it on other sites. It may be useful to present the information in an easy-to-find manner, like single-page designs. Single-page designs allow users to locate business information on a single page, instead of having to navigate to different pages.
  • Readability: Websites that are easy to read provide consumers with better user experiences. This encourages consumers to return to them, thereby boosting their SEO rankings. To improve readability, websites should feature plenty of white spaces, section sub-headings, and images to break up large chunks of text.

Besides SEO, businesses should also leverage on SEM to make them more searchable online. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a form of digital marketing via paid advertising on keywords that consumers will search on. Paying for SEM puts your website at the top of the results page, and helps businesses reach customers who are searching for information related to the business. However, it is important to proceed with caution as consumers tend to trust organic search results more than search ads. The best way to strike a balance is to use both SEO and SEM, as SEO yields results in the long-run, while SEM, immediately.

The Rise of ‘Micro-Moments’

In the realm of digital marketing, ZMOTs are not the only moments that matter. We are evolving into a world of micro-moments – points in time when consumers think “I want to buy”, “I want to do”, “I want to go”, or “I want to know”. Such moments are intent-rich and occur at arbitrary points in time.

When putting together a digital marketing campaign, it is imperative for businesses to adopt a customer lens and think about when these moments occur, as well as how they can reach out to consumers. Businesses that want to do well should anticipate consumer needs and be on hand to provide fast, personalised and relevant messages, in real time and in the right context. This explains why many businesses are analysing customer data to better understand consumer behaviour, before crafting marketing campaigns.

Jumping on Omnichannel Marketing

Today, the ‘path to purchase’ is no longer linear. Inspiration, research, decision-making, purchase and satisfaction all used to happen in a single location. Now, they can take place separately and anywhere, across a multitude of physical and digital touchpoints. Consequently, businesses are dabbling into omnichannel marketing, wherein the focus is to create consistent and frictionless experience to customers across multiple channels. As more customers engage with products through various touchpoints, omnichannel marketing has been touted as the way to go – and which businesses should adopt, if they haven’t already done so.

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