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Unless you’re a small business or solopreneur, using a standard template for your business’s website is hurting your potential to convert leads into sales.

Websites built using SquareSpace, common WordPress themes, Wix and Weebly offer a cheap solution to the common need of creating a basic business website. This is great for small business and solopreneurs. These platforms are for the person that doesn’t have any web development or programming knowledge, but needs to build a website and isn’t planning on hiring a web designer or developer.

But… they’re not an adequate solution for a small business who wants an effective digital presence. They won’t do you justice.

Templates are created by other designers and developers to suit a basic and generally non-specific purpose. By using a template, you’re effectively using someone else’sdesigned product to communicate your business and your brand’s purpose.

Using templates restricts the design of your website, which restricts your ability to communicate why your business is unique and important. Needing to add anything remotely custom, be it spacing between elements, creating graphic and text overlays, calendars, or membership functionality can be cumbersome and often clumsy in practice. By using a template you’re restricted to working in the confines of only what the template offers. The offer of the template is often inconsistent to a brand’s own goal, purpose and strategy for a website.

Building from scratch, or refreshing one’s website are generally for brands looking to optimise their identity and build a stronger digital presence. To achieve this properly, they need a full digital experience that comfortably fits into their brand guidelines so users can experience it to its full potential.

Using a template without properly applying your branding can make your website, and by extension your digital presence, unhelpful towards your branding and marketing efforts.

An effective website speaks your brand’s purpose and meaning. Using the same strategy that works for one brand and overlaying it onto your business model is not an effective digital strategy. The website being built for your business needs to be able to stand on its own and speak your offering as best as it can.

Posted 19.12.18

Choosing to partner with the right digital agency will set you up to better achieve the results you want, create a profitable long term business relationship, and enjoy the whole process.

If you’re at a medium to large sized company, It can be daunting choosing an agency, especially if you’re responsible for the outcome of the project. You don’t want the project to backfire and have your head on the chopping block. That’s why you do all the research that you do, and get a few proposals from different agencies – but you need to know what you should be looking for in an agency, right?

Depending on the size of your company or business, you’ll be looking for different things in an agency. If you’re a global company, then you’ll be looking for an agency who has a portfolio that fits your brand, and can guarantee reliable management and delivery of a project your size.

If you’re an SME, you have the most flexibility in comparison to bigger companies and smaller freelance businesses. If business is booming and you’re looking for an agency to help you grow, then you can afford to look at larger or more premium agencies, to really up your game. If you need something cheap, look for a local agency who have a visible portfolio that they’re willing to share, good quality of work, and who have great communication skills. That’s what you need.

In either case, it’s critical to have an agency that you trust.

A lack of trust will lead to stress, a need to micromanage, unnecessary disagreements, and a feeling that you’re just not getting everything you should out if your agency

Small businesses will go to a freelancer in most cases, but if you’re looking to invest properly, then you need to look for a small or boutique agency that you can afford. That’s unless you know a freelancer who you’re positive can bring just as much, or more, to the table.

If an agency seems excited about your business it’s a great sign, especially if they’ve already got a solid flow of work and don’t desperately need your business. Interest shows that you’re not just another job to pay the bills, but a business they can really get behind.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with an agency so that you get the best out of the relationship, and they do too:

  1. You want to create a win-win situation. This means defining a healthy working relationship at the beginning. Tell the agency how you’d like to work with them, then learn their process and discover how you’ll bring out the best in each other. If you’re not sure, let them lead you.
  2. Let the agency do their thing, but make sure that they listen to you and what you really need from them at the beginning. If an agency doesn’t ask you questions it’s probably a bad sign. To understand exactly what you need, an agency needs to ask clarifying questions and really probe the issue.
  3. Try and write a brief before you approach an agency, so that you already know what you want, or what you need the agency to help you solve. Going in with a clear understanding will help agencies know how to respond and whether the project is right for them. It will also help you pick up and know which agencies are really switched on.
  4. It’s better to approach the agency with a problem that they need to solve, rather than a solution that you’ve already guessed is correct. You should definitely give them your ideas but don’t pigeonhole them into your solution, because you might have missed something. If you’re an expert in the field it’s a bit different, but if you’re paying an agency you may as well let them fully do their job.
  5. Look for an agency that shares your values and culture. If you’re not aligned you can clash on everything, from concepts, to copy and design.
  6. You may as well pick people you think you’ll enjoy working with as long as they pass all your other requirements of course. Life’s too short to cause yourself grief, enjoy the process especially if it’s a creative one.

At Fullstack Digital we believe in working with the right people. When we talk to a new client we like to make sure we’re as in line with them as possible, their brand, and their goals. That way we’ll be able to do truly awesome work. If we’re not a fit, we’re more than happy to recommend another local agency who might be a better fit.

Posted 19.12.18

Some digital marketers would say it’s heresy, but the controversial truth is that for some brands, a website is more important than it is for other brands.

Depending on the type of business or organisation that you are, your website’s purpose and role in your marketing plan and digital strategy varies greatly.

If you’re an e-commerce business your website is one of your most important assets, serving as your digital storefront. If you are a deodorant brand and sell only in retail stores, your website serves more for brand presence and content, and certainly doesn’t work the same way as an e-commerce store.

Understanding the role of your website in your marketing mix is critical to a successful digital strategy.

Some digital marketers would say it’s heresy, but the controversial truth is that for some brands, their website is highly important to their marketing and business success, and for other brands the website isn’t a critical asset, doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, and shouldn’t really be top of mind.

I might buy Maggi 2 Minute Noodles every week, but have I ever been to their website? No. I also suspect that an extremely high percentage of their other loyal, regular customers haven’t either – and they have probably never needed to. On the other hand, if I buy health supplements online every month, the layout of the ecommerce store and presentation of product items, my user journey, and the brand’s ability to reach me with new products and offers can all greatly affect how much, and how regularly I shop with them.

So do some brands not need to worry about digital then? No.

Digital platforms are a core marketing tool for every brand on the planet. Here’s the catch: It’s is just as important and useful for every brand, but the usage and mix of platforms and channels is unique to all. Understanding your mix is the key factor to success.

No two brands should be doing digital exactly the same way.

Every day we see businesses copying other strategies exactly, or launching campaigns without understanding who they’re reaching and how they’re doing it. We are in a space where a business consulting firm and an ice cream company might have exactly the same digital mix and budget: website, email list, and regular sponsored Facebook ads. They may even have the same audience, e.g Males 25 – 45 in Sydney, Australia. In terms of traditional advertising strategy, these two businesses would never match up with the same mix of media.

So why do they awkwardly match up now? Because there’s a lack of in depth understanding of how digital platforms work – and it’s not the brands fault.

Digital moves so fast and so quickly that you need someone dedicated to your digital presence to truly stay on top or ahead of it.

A majority of brands don’t have this and can’t afford it, and usually the digital firms that they look to to do this for them are more interested in these two things than in properly servicing the client:

  • Running a stock standard campaign with the same platform and creative mix, swapping out only the target audience and location, or
  • Using the client’s budget as a way to experiment with the latest and greatest when it doesn’t fit the clients needs at all

A pre-digital traditional ad agency would rarely fall into this unhealthy pattern, so why does it happen in digital? Because it’s so fast, simple, and easily accessible to anyone. And that’s the dangerous trap that most are falling into.

So, how do we fix the problem of this approach to digital?

The solution is simple, but by no means easy. Doing digital right takes valuable time and effort.

First, a brand needs to understand how and why their audience use their digital devices and platforms. Then, they need to learn how and where their own brand and business model fit into that usage pattern, so they can create and execute a strategy that meets the members of that audience where they’re at, connecting them to the brand in a meaningful, valuable, and authentic way.

Your audience gets to hand pick each bit of content that they consume, website they visit, or app that they use. You need to know why your brand is important and meaningful to your audience. If you don’t, how can you possibly engage them in a space where they consume only the content that they deem meaningful and valuable?

This is the first question that a brand needs to answer before they look at the actualities of digital marketing. Without knowing your message and your brand, it doesn’t matter how often you put it in front of consumers – it’ll be missed.

Copy-pasting another business’s digital strategy is the best way to waste 90% of what you spend on digital.

Here’s a multi step plan to approaching your digital strategy:

  1. Know why your brand is important and meaningful to your audience.As stated before, in a world where your audience hand picks everything they pay attention to, you need to know why you’re worth paying attention to. How else can your audience connect with your brand?
  2. Learn how your audience spend their time on digital platforms.Everyone uses different platforms in different ways, for different amounts of time. Without knowing how your audience spend their time, you’ll end up spending money and effort somewhere that your audience never pays attention to.
  3. Understand how your business model works best in the connected world. It’s crucial to consider the big picture rather than looking at digital with tunnel-vision. The goal of your digital efforts may be to get your customer to walk into a store and purchase your product, rather than clicking an ad to visit your website. Your goals will be different from other brands so don’t go in to this exercise looking for a way to emulate another brand’s flashy new campaign. Understanding your landscape will help you know how to split your budget, time, and creative effort.
  4. Understand the technicalities of every relevant platform and technology relevant to you. Using a platform incorrectly will undo all your thorough planning, because your strategy simply won’t catch. Without understanding how a platform works, how can you create a piece of content or experience that’s authentic to the platform, rather than tacky and jarring?
  5. Know what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to track it. It’s easier now than ever before to track metrics, including website traffic, ad impressions, clickthrough rates, engagement rates, and every other metric under the sun. Tracking your progress is vital to digital success, because you’ll be able to see what you’re doing right, and what you’e getting wrong before it’s too late. This gives you the flexibility and power to learn and grow, scaling the success of your efforts rather than waiting until the end to learn valuable lessons.
  6. Craft and execute a strategy. Whether it’s a one month ad campaign, or an ongoing effort, use your newly gained knowledge of audience, brand, technology, and platform to craft the right campaign – then launch it.
  7. Measure and adapt. The worst thing you can do with digital is “set and forget”. You need to be constantly watching, learning, creating, and improving. Without this, your efforts will stay relevant and interesting for only a short period of time, putting you back in the same place you were before.

The connected world will always be quickly evolving. Your most important digital asset is your understanding of your brand and business, and how it fits in to the ever changing landscape of our digital world.

Posted 17.12.18