Category Archives: blog

Web Design

How To Increase Sales Through Web Design

No matter what you’re selling, be that goods or services, your web design has the power to win or lose you sales. In fact, half of consumers (50%) believe that web design is vital for a company’s overall brand, with 42% saying they would leave a site that had poor functionality and a further 38% saying that an outdated design would be their top reason for leaving.

This is because users will determine how credible they believe your brand to be based on your website. Not to mention that the very clever use of colours, branding, navigation, etc. can be all it takes to grab a customer’s attention and encourage a sale.

So, if you think it might be time that you revamp your website, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how you can create a clean and modern website and one that your customers will feel comfortable using and will enjoy browsing.

Here’s how to increase sales through web design.

1. Integrate a responsive web design

Firstly, if you haven’t already, you need to make sure that your website has a responsive design. In 2021, mobile commerce accounted for almost three-quarters (73%) of e-commerce sales, and in the last six months, 79% of smartphone users have placed an order via their phone.

These figures highlight the shift in consumer trends that have taken place over the last decade. The smartphone revolution has seen consumers increasingly shopping while on the go and relying on their phones or tablets to do so.

As such, an important step towards increasing your sales is integrating a responsive design that allows shoppers to seamlessly use your website, no matter what device they’re using.

Essentially, responsive design ensures that your e-commerce website adapts to fit on smaller screens like phones or tablets. This allows users to have the same great experience and to be able to effortlessly buy your products or services no matter how or where they are.

2. Check the speed of your site

In today’s always-on culture, we’ve become accustomed to instant results. As such, you need your website to load as quickly as possible. Ideally, you want your pages to load within two to three seconds. This is because 40% of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

You can use Google to check the current loading time of your website. Then, by optimising your web design, you can speed up its loading time and reduce the number of people abandoning your site. You might also wish to invest in some page speed services to increase your chances of making a sale even further.

3. Use only high-quality visuals

Websites are very visual, and whether it’s headings, logos, pictures or videos, every visual element plays a critical role in keeping the user engaged. If your website is full of big chunks of text, is really plain or uses low resolution and unprofessional imagery, you’re going to damage your brand.

You need to make sure that every inch of your site looks appealing, professional and trustworthy. To do this, you should include only high-quality and high-resolution imagery or visual elements. It’s also best to avoid stock images, using original images, artwork, visuals, etc., for a more personal customer experience and one that reflects your brand.

This can really help to enhance the user experience and make your website more appealing – and you’d be surprised how quickly a few great visuals can lead to an increase in sales. 

4. Utilise the white space

Lots of businesses make the mistake of trying to cram every inch of their website full of text and visuals to avoid white space. However, the key is to utilise this space carefully so as not to overwhelm your users with information and visuals.

Sometimes a little bit of white space is fundamental to a good design. It can help to create a more minimalist, clean effect, and it can certainly be important for keeping customer’s attention and directing them to the right places.

As such, it’s a good idea to look back over your website and determine if it looks too crowded or confusing. If so, think more about your use of white space and creating a clearer, more visually appealing design.

5. Organise your navigation

One of the biggest ways to increase sales through web design is to think about your navigation and the user experience. Is your website confusing to navigate? Are the navigation bars and menus clear, or do they need a bit of work?

You want to make it as easy as possible for the user to find the goods or services they are looking for. An organised navigation plays a huge role in this, and it can be very helpful to use a handful of broad categories with possible subcategories underneath to do this. You might also wish to add a search bar to make it even quicker for them to find the specific content they want.

Consumers who can find the goods faster and easier are more likely to convert to a sale. And remember, your navigation also needs to translate well on mobile, so think carefully about this when creating an integrated site.

6. Make your CTAs stand out

Last but certainly not least, you need to make calls to action that stand out and encourage customers to make a purchase. If your audience is already engaging with your website and content, a bold CTA could be all it takes to secure the sale. If your CTAs don’t stand out or help to guide users, you’ll miss out.

You can be creative with how you choose to get the user’s attention. Your CTAs might take the form of buttons or pop-ups, but they all need to display and clear and concise message that encourages the desired action. So, for example, it might say ‘click here’ or ‘sign up’, and you can also use this technique for promoting sales or discounts. An example of this might be a real-time pop-up that says ‘spend £10 more for free shipping’.

Whatever you choose to do, well-designed CTAs can engage your audience and guide them on their journey. This can help your business to see an instant boost in sales.

Online Shopping

A Guide To E-commerce Platforms

When setting up an e-commerce business, it can be tricky to know where to start. There are lots of different e-commerce platforms out there that you could choose from, but at first glance, these have some seemingly minor differences – so how do you know which one to choose?

Well, the reality is that while lots of these platforms will try to offer similar features, some will always be a cut above the rest. This means you need to do some deeper research before settling on any one platform.

Actually, you don’t because we’ve done the hard bit for you!

Below, we’ve pulled together a list of the best e-commerce platforms out there, looking at the different features, prices, etc., to help you decide which will be right for your business. These platforms include:

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the best single platform for running e-commerce and affiliate sites in one place. Plus, because it runs through the WordPress content management system (CMS), not only is it easy enough to turn any website into a functional e-commerce shop, but it is also ideal if you want to set up a blog for your brand too.

This is also by far the most cost-effective option, as in most cases, it can all be managed for free. You can get a lot of extensions and themes that cost nothing – and most of these are pretty good quality too. Though you do still need to find a good web host, which will cost you, but this can still be done for relatively cheap.

WordPress is also well-recognised as one of the top platforms for boosting search engine optimisation (SEO).

The only downside is that some users have reported their website slowing down as they added more products. This means scalability could be an issue in the future. That being said, there are lots of great features with WooCommerce, and some of its key selling points include:

• Extensions to integrate payment gateways
• Email marketing
• 1-Click selling app
• Access to lots of WordPress experts
• Highly customisable themes
• Abundance of marketing options

2. Magento

Magento is used by huge brands like Nike and Cisco, which means it must be a trustworthy platform. It is so popular because coding is part of the main package, meaning you can build a very tailored and feature-rich e-commerce website to suit your needs.

There is also a large community surrounding Magento, which means it’s easy to get advice and even hire developers to help build your store for you. Like WooCommerce, this is mostly used for free, but there are paid solutions for larger businesses.

If you do pay to use the service, it can be pricey, but you really get what you pay for. It’s on the cloud, quicker and has loads of additional features such as automatic cross/upselling. Some other reasons to choose Magento are:

• It’s robust and rich in features
• Great for SEO
• 1-Click selling
• Very scalable
• Highly customisable

3. BigCommerce

BigCommerce has a lot of great features, but the robust product search engine means that this platform is ideal for those with a larger retail brand. It can also be the right platform if you have a brick and mortar store but would like to start selling online too.

Its user-friendly interface and customisable templates make designing your online store easy without having to be a coding wizard. This makes it a great starting place for those with little to no development skills.

That being said, there is also a large community of BigCommerce designers and developers out there that can support you if you need it.

This platform is not free, and you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use it, starting at around £30 a month – and that’s for those starting with smaller sales limits. However, the more you pay, the higher your sales limit and the bigger the number of features available to you. Some other reasons to use BigCommerce include:

• Flexible templates and easy design features
• Very scalable
• Great for multi-channel selling
• Strong SEO performance
• Comprehensive abandoned cart feature (with certain paid plans)

4. Shopify

Shopify is another very well-known e-commerce platform and one that has been used by lots of big brands in the past. This is the best platform for those who run or want to start a dropshipping company, as well as those that rely heavily on Facebook or Instagram ad campaigns.

Shopify also makes it very easy to set up your online store as it offers a quick drag and drop interface. It takes most people just a few minutes to get to grips with the platform and get going, so if you’re a complete newbie or you’re just keen to get started, this might be the e-commerce platform for you.

You can use free themes on this platform; the problem is there are only about 10 of them, and they aren’t great. Another downside to Shopify is that it’s not great for scalability, and in terms of SEO, it offers pretty weak performance. However, some of the great reasons to consider Shopify include:

• Lighting-fast page loading times
• Super easy start/set up
• A big network of certified partners
• 1-Click selling
• Multiple channel and social selling
• A variety of great themes (but you have to pay for them)

5. Wix

Last on the list is Wix. This platform has come a long way in recent years and is now a popular and major force in the e-commerce world. This platform is best suited to smaller e-commerce businesses, as well as service providers and solorprenuers.

The platform is very beginner-friendly; it’s easy to set up and design your e-commerce site. What’s more, the customer support is fantastic, and there are lots of on-page tips to help you as you go. Like Shopify, it offers drag and drop features, allowing you to easily add elements like videos or images. You can also add a blog page to your website.

The downside to Wix is that it’s not great for larger businesses, and scalability is an issue. Plus, SEO features are not great. However, they make up for this with some exciting features, including:

• Multi-channel integration,
• Abandoned cart recovery
• Dropshipping features
• Tons of free themes

Of course, these are just five e-commerce platforms; there are plenty of others out there. But when it comes to top features, integration with other platforms, support and price, you should definitely consider all of the above and if you’re interested in having the hard work done for you get in touch with our team.

Google’s Performance Max Campaigns

Everything You Need To Know About Google’s Performance Max Campaigns

The digital marketing world has been reacting to Google’s new Performance Max advertising tool. As a PPC agency we’re in the thick of that conversation, so here are our observations so far on how Performance Max could fit into marketing plans.

Firstly, what is Performance Max?

It’s an automated, goal-based ad campaign system which applies machine learning to the creative assets and information you feed it to choose who sees your ads, where they see them, and it can even choose what page to bring the prospect to.

It’s not unlike the Smart campaigns, and some PPC management agencies are describing it as an “upgrade” for those using Smart and Local campaigns with Google.

How does Performance Max work?

A bit like paid social campaigns, Performance Max runs automated campaigns, with its parameters based on the information you supply about the product or service, the audience(s) you’re targeting and your budget. Much like a Facebook ad campaign, you kick off by selecting a campaign objective such as leads, sales, or website traffic.

Its use of dynamic ad formats is very reminiscent of Ad Manager in social media marketing; the big difference being that you don’t get ad previews, or select/de-select which platforms you want your ad to appear on. That’s all part of the automation.

The big digital media headline for Performance Max is that its ads can run across the entirety of Google inventory of digital channels, including YouTube and Gmail as well as Search, Display and Discovery.

With YouTube in there, this potentially offers an opportunity for those following a brand awareness marketing strategy driven by inbound marketing and content marketing. With high quality, high value creative, there is potential to harness a highly engaged, knowledge-seeking audience.

With a campaign objective set, you then select your bidding strategy and define the budget. Bidding strategies can include maximising conversions and maximising value, however you can also set upper limits for the cost per acquisition (CPA) and targets for the value/conversion.

Adding language and the schedule for the campaign is fairly straightforward. Google Ads Editor isn’t currently supported by Performance Max, making locations a bit more labour intensive, however there is an option to upload locations in bulk.

Performance Max’s automations extend to URLs, meaning that it will select the URL it believes best serves the campaign objective. You do have some control over this aspect. Its final URL expansion is defaulted to “On: Send traffic to the most relevant URLs on your site”.

It is possible to toggle this option off and stipulate specific URLs to send traffic to. There is also a halfway house option, whereby you can go with Performance Max’s URL choices, but enter a list of URLs you want to exclude from that list.

Creating Performance Max ads

You’ll be invited to set up an asset group, which is basically an ad. You upload and enter all of your ad creative, including visuals and copy. It can help to think of each ad as a responsive display asset; it works in a similar way.

While you can run multiple asset groups / ads within a campaign, a campaign can only have one set of targeting, so no ‘ad groups’. The automated targeting can employ a ‘lookalike audience’ type approach, in that you can select audiences to help Google decide who to target.

They use your audience info to look for signals; audience signals are online behaviours that help them identify people most likely to respond positively to your ad.

The final step is defining your ad extensions. A Performance Max ad extension is an additional bit of information or a call to action added on to your ad to prompt a desired action. That’s why it’s called an extension – it’s an extension to the asset group/ad you’ve created.

Google will suggest extensions based on your stated campaign objective. For example, if you want to generate new enquiries, adding a call extension would be a good extension. If you have a more traditional marketing goal, such as more visitors to a brick and mortar store, a map extension could help people to find you easily.

Reports and results

The PPC agency world has voiced frustration with the lack of meaningful data available for campaign reports.

What you can see:

  • Top level campaign performance – so things like total conversion rate, CPA.
  • Location performance
  • Performance of campaigns by time of day, day of the week, plus day and time combined

You can’t currently see how well each individual asset group is doing, if your campaign has more than one (which it will do, if you are targeting different market segments).

There is also no way to see key data on who your ads have been shown to. The audiences you select are used to identify signals and behaviour patterns, but does not necessarily mean that audience will be directly targeted.

With no reporting on keywords, demographics, audience, there is no way to add exclusions either, however it’s believed negative keyword functionality is coming down the line, so we’ll keep an eye out for that.

Despite the limitations, early indicators are positive for Performance Max’s performance. Some like for like (as far as possible) comparisons show cost per lead (CPL) averaging around 20% lower than search engine display campaigns. The evidence is anecdotal at this stage but still positive.

If you have any questions about this type of ad campaign or any related issues, we would love to have a chat. Phone 028 3833 9100, email info@cornellstudios.com or send a message via our contact page.

site migration - cornell studios

Site Migration issues: Traffic Dropped?

As a digital marketing and SEO agency, we deal with site traffic every day. We monitor site traffic for our clients on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, constantly tracking, analysing and adjusting according to the data we see.

Although digital marketing is a relatively young industry, an SEO agency has the digital tools and enough experience to know what could be the issue when you suddenly lose traffic unexpectedly. Site migration is one of those key pivotal moments in your digital marketing journey. It can offer huge potential benefits but – as with any disruptive process – there can be teething problems.

Here are some of the ways a digital marketing and SEO agency troubleshoots a drop in traffic following website migration. 

Weed out common issues with a crawler

A crawler is basically a bot that ‘crawls’ the internet and indexes websites and web pages. This is basically the tech behind search engines – it systematically combs the internet and analyses it to decide what questions it answers or needs it meets.

Using a specialised web crawler to analyse your website can flag up any basic issues which may be preventing people from finding your site as easily as before. 

A scan can flag issues such as broken links, duplicate content, redirects, metadata and txt blocked URLs.

Screaming Frog is a popular site crawler, and the big SEO names such as SEMrush and Moz also have their own crawlers. 

Before any major changes to a website, including migrating it, it’s important to do a big scan and make sure everything is properly backed up. Save the HTML/layout of your website before any redesigns or site migration.

Have specific pages lost ranking?

If so, visit the pages and check the canonical tags. Have they been changed in a way that could cause a dip in visits? Are they pointing to non-relevant pages? Are there broken links or old URLs? What about programming issues?

Meta Data

A common issue an SEO agency sees is the loss of meta data when migrating a website. This is where your crawler scan can shed light. Check the meta title and description for your website. Are they still accurate? If not, amend or add these back in. 

This is where that site back up can come in handy and prevent you having to change all the meta titles and descriptions manually. It’s possible, but fairly labour intensive. 

Page Speed

Loss of traffic could be down to how quickly (or indeed, slowly) your website is loading for users. We have less and less time to capture a visitor’s attention. Anything more than a couple of seconds and they are likely to move on, denting your traffic. The user experience is more and more important with each passing year.

Google’s Page Speed Insights is a handy tool here. If you changed servers or did a full site migration, slower page speed could be hitting your traffic.

Verify the CDN was part of your website migration. Is it working correctly?

Check your caching system is in place and working as it should.

Is your new server allowing the site to load quickly?

Internal Links

A simple thing but so easy to overlook in a site migration. Are all your internal links pointing to the right pages in your site, or do they link to the old website? Check and fix all internal links.

Can search engines find you easily?

Google’s Search Console can help you check for errors or issues with URLs. Log in and click ‘Index’ then ‘Coverage’. You’ll be able to see what if any issues in your website URL structure and can fix them on the spot.

Are site redirects broken?

Broken redirects are a common problem after migrating a website. This is why it’s so important to have a 301 redirect plan in place before a move. Put simply, search engines don’t know where your new site is, so can’t redirect people to it when they click your URLs.

Head back to your site crawler to find any redirect loops, verify redirect chains, and make sure old URLs point to your new ones, using 301 redirects.

Use a site crawler to analyse all your old URLs to make sure all start URLs are accurate and correspond with accurate destination URLs. 

Has external link building been lost?

Links to your website from good, relevant websites is a great way to build organic SEO. It also leads to potential headaches once you migrate your sites, if these sites don’t update the URLs they are linking to, if needed.

Broken or old links can hurt traffic from these valuable external sources. It may be worthwhile redirecting these links to a page of your new site. 

Have you moved to a new platform or server?

Again, any major shifts can be disruptive. They can hit your site speed, crawlers can be blocked by firewalls and you may encounter country restrictions which didn’t affect you previously. 

This is why it’s well worth testing platforms and servers before you make a big move, rather than after. 

Have you redirected image URLs?

Check to make sure your image URLs are linking to the right images and to your new domain post migration. If images drive a lot of traffic to your site, it’s important to make sure these are all redirected properly. If you used CNAME to create your own URLS, make sure image URLs point to your new server and site.

Have there been any Google updates?

Any SEO agency will tell you that Google’s updates to their algorithms can cause major headaches! It may well be that this time it’s not you – it’s them.

An SEO agency will use tools such as Google Analytics to track changes in organic search and SEO performance. It’s important to make sure you are collecting and analysing site data before any site migration. You need to be able to benchmark against what is normal for your website.

Although there are tools which help troubleshoot, there are rarely any truly ‘quick’ fixes in SEO. Be systematic in analysing and correcting issues. Then, make sure to track traffic for long enough to conclude whether changes help or hinder.

Our agency specialises in digital marketing and SEO, so any companies struggling with traffic problems with site migration, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help. 

Digital Marketing Trends 2022

Digital Marketing Trends 2022

As a digital marketing agency, we get to see in real time the digital marketing trends that come and go. We get to see the top digital marketing trends as they happen, as well as anticipating the next big thing, and reflect down the line on if and how they deliver for business and consumers.

With our eyes peeled and ears continually to the ground in the digital marketing world, here are the key digital marketing trends we see coming for this year.

Influencer marketing

The rise of the micro-influencer continues, as digital marketing companies find customers placing more and more value on hyper-local content as well as local products and services. Influencer marketing may feel like a fad to some, but as more and more people are born into a digital world, the more normal it is to forge trusting relationships with the people we meet and engage with online. 

Engagement is the key word here. Having influence is what qualifies a creator as an influencer – not follower numbers or likes. In 2019, a creator with 2 million Instagram followers sold only 26 t-shirts to this audience during a promotional campaign. An influencer with a small but highly engaged audience is potentially far more valuable than one for whom vanity metrics don’t translate to real-world buyer intent. 

More and more brand collaborations will be the influencer trend in 2022. Businesses are recognising that they can effectively leverage each other’s audiences, giving both a boost and raising their profile. Conversational marketing can be highly effective in brand collabs, especially for small businesses, but increasingly bigger names are using this approach too.

Voice search

We are increasingly using our voices to search rather than our fingers. All modern smartphones have sophisticated voice search capability built in, and many of us find it totally normal to ask our phones or our smart home devices to find or do things for us. 

A study by PWC found 71% of Americans prefer to use voice search rather than type out their queries. Perficient reports that voice searches is second only to web browsing as the most used feature of smartphones. Statista predicts by 2023, approximately 8 billion devices will include voice assistants.

Augmented reality

Facebook’s parent company rebranded as Meta towards the end of 2021, signalling the company’s move towards a world augmented by digital tools. The company believes this new world, or ‘Metaverse’ is “the next evolution of social connection”. 

Spark AR is Meta’s new tool allowing users to create 3D spaces and experiences, and the tool seems to have a low barrier to entry, with “no coding experience” necessary.

21st century digital marketing, particularly social media marketing, thrives on interactions between brands and customers. The more immersive an experience, the more potential to connect on a deeper level with more and more of your audience. AR could be used to let customers try things on, access one to one customer service remotely, visualise products in their homes, take tours of places and properties… The possibilities seem endless. 

Digital advertising

Google ads are showing a trend towards reducing friction between search and shopping. For a product based business, digital marketing companies will be recommending that ad spend is directed towards Google Shopping adverts.

With consumers ever more discerning in the online world, it is also important to tell compelling stories about what you’re offering, particularly how it improves or changes the lives of ordinary people. In 2022, we are craving connection with each other, so authentic human stories are a powerful way to create loyal online communities and support consistent conversion rates.

Content marketing

As the public relies ever more on search engines – mainly Google search – to answer all of their questions and to do their shopping. More than ever, we are not only buying online, we are using the internet to learn about products and services in order to choose the right one.

This is why content marketing remains a key component of a well balanced marketing campaign. Google has spotted the uptick in people using Google search to answer questions and has responded by making answers even easier to find.

If you type any question into Google right now, you will most likely see a featured snippet. That is, Google is not just crawling the internet to find the best answer to your question, it is displaying that answer on the first page of results either at or close to the top of the page.

This is why it is even more important to create high quality content that answers questions and solves problems. This places you as the expert, builds trust and brand awareness with your target customers and could be the beginning of a buyer journey. Your expertise can now be even more visible online.

Email marketing remains a powerful way to utilise a content marketing approach. Delivering useful, valuable content direct to someone’s inbox rather than relying on the algorithms of search, remains rich with potential for engaging with customers on a deeper level. 

Video marketing

Content marketing is here to stay. People are still reading articles and blog posts online, but an increasing number of people prefer to watch rather than read. And unsurprisingly, Google search is already accommodating that preference.

Not only will Google often give you a selection of videos to answer your question, they will often bring you to the exact point in a video where your specific question is answered. 

So, don’t shy away from longform, in depth video content but make sure it is as succinct as can be and answers questions relevant to your business that your ideal customer will be asking.

Shortform video is not going anywhere, as YouTube continues to push YouTube shorts, Instagram doubles down on promoting Reels and video content in feed, and mobile app Tiktok maintains its popularity with a widening audience. 

Data (safety) is king

Consumers are more aware than ever of the extent to which they can be tracked, watched, analysed, categorised and targeted using their online behaviour. In our ‘fake news’ world or increasing cyber crime, people are rightly becoming more protective of their data.

For a digital marketing company, 2022 is going to be all about accessing the data you need to find your customers online, but doing it in a way that feels life-enhancing for them – and not invasive. Apple was one of the pioneers of a customer-protective approach with its iOS14 update which upended how Facebook was able to track ad conversions.

Google Analytics is rising to the challenge with Google Analytics 4 which it describes as “the next generation of Google Analytics”. The upgraded data tool is designed with customer privacy in mind. It’s aimed at allowing advertisers to reach the right people in a data driven but data-safe way. 

This digital marketing company predicts that machine learning will make the process of analysing and adjusting digital marketing campaigns much quicker and more responsive to real world activity.

So, there you have it, our  predicted digital marketing trends in 2022. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency to help you get started why not get in touch today.

Paid Ad Channels - Cornell

The 5 Paid Ad Channels You Need to Incorporate Right Now

If you want to use digital marketing seriously in 2022, you need to be embracing paid advertising. Organic social media marketing can be effective and budget-friendly. However, social media companies and digital marketing companies in NI (Northern Ireland) worth their salt will advise a paid strategy to complement organic activity. 

Without regular online advertising, you are wasting a huge opportunity to utilise the wealth of customer data on these marketing channels. All smart marketing is focused on defining the target and reaching them in the right place with the right message. Google and Facebook are no longer the only places to focus on when doing this for your own online advertising. Furthermore, with issues such as how Facebook audience targeting has been impacted by iOS 14.5 privacy updates, now is a good time to explore other options. 

Amazon Ads

This ecommerce giant needs no introduction. Thousands of people report that they start their online shopping searches and research on Amazon. Various studies put the figure between 49%, and a whopping 63% of online shoppers start their search here. According to Search Engine Journal, 225,000 small businesses made over £75,000 in sales on Amazon in 2019.

Advertising on a platform that is geared towards and frequented by people who are in the frame of mind to spend money, seems like a no-brainer for sales and brand awareness. It certainly is for SEO companies and digital marketing companies in NI. 

Many small businesses successfully used Amazon as a branding channel, to reach more of their target audience. To advertise on Amazon, however, you need to be set up as an Amazon seller, which should be taken into account when defining your ad budget, as Amazon charges seller fees. This can reduce your return on investment. So do the numbers carefully before diving in. 

Benefits:

  • Cheap ads – CPC averages at less than £1 for sponsored product ads on Amazon.
  • Huge audience, actively shopping – Amazon’s audience is not only large, making it useful for top of funnel brand awareness, it’s also widely used by people who are ready to buy.

Instagram Ads

The visual content-sharing platform is owned by Facebook, so if you are already using Facebook’s Business Manager and Ads Manager channels for social media marketing content and advertising, it’s easy enough to get started with Insta advertising. Instagram also uses Business Manager and Ads Manager for advertising. 

You can’t simply copy and paste your Facebook creative to Instagram, however. The size and type of images and videos you can use on Instagram varies hugely from Facebook’s. This can be the bane of existence for NI based digital marketing companies! Social media marketing experts with years of experience can often struggle, as Ad manager can be a bit unwieldy. 

Having said that, Ads manager usually catches any incompatible content at the creation stage and prompts you to change it.

Benefits:

  • Audience – Instagram has a highly engaged audience, who love to copy their favourite influencers, and impulse shopping is common.
  • Affordable – The average CPC for Instagram ads is less than £1.

LinkedIn Ads

If you are a B2B (business to business) seller, Linked In advertising is definitely worth exploring. It has tens of millions of senior level decision makers actively using the social platform every day. 

Studies have shown that 65% of advertisers have seen an increase in sales from advertising on the platform, with 75% of users reporting that ads influence their buying decisions.

Their paid option allows ads to be served to platform users in their news feed, within their private messaging area (called InMail) and within Spotlight which highlights key features of your product or service. 

Social media companies report it as one of the most expensive social platforms to advertise on; we’ve seen figures that put CPC on Linked In between £2 and £6. 

Benefits:

  • Unrivalled B2B/professional targeting – Unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn’s demographic data relates to career and business characteristics. 
  • B2B marketing – can allow for hyper targeted advertising. 
  • Goes straight to the decision makers – Unlike other forms of marketing which often involve convincing ‘gatekeepers’ to allow your message through, Linked In can target decision makers directly. 

Google Ads

As one of the leading SEO companies in NI, we are constantly researching search engines. Formerly known as Google Adwords, Google Ads are a crucial part of a solid digital marketing strategy. 

Google continues to dominate the online search space, used for most online searches across mobile and digital. With Google Ads, you can place highly targeted ads, allowing your business to be seen whenever someone searches for something relevant or related to what you offer. 

You can place ads across Google and its many partner sites and Google-owned apps. This means your business can reach people on YouTube, Gmail, Maps as well as other apps and sites. Your business can appear in search results, on websites, and in apps. 

You can choose a search campaign, display campaign (appearing on websites), shopping campaign (search results optimised for online buying), local campaigns (designed to bring people to your shop or premises) or video campaigns on Youtube, plus Smart campaigns where Google targets your ads to give the best return. 

Benefits

  • Reach – Google is the biggest search engine, so your ads have the best chance of reaching more people on Google Ads.  
  • Faster than organic search – Your online content should be optimised for search. However, it can take time and work to rank your page solely through SEO. Couple good search optimisation with a paid campaign, and you are likely to see faster results. 
  • Highly targeted – Google’s audience targeting options allow you to get really specific on the people you want to reach. You can use keywords, location, demographics such as age and gender, and devices to serve your ads to the people most likely to buy.

Tiktok

This growing social media platform has 1 billion active global users, so is well worth considering for paid social media marketing efforts. Tiktok is made entirely of short-form, portrait oriented videos, and gives users an enormous suite of easy to use editing tools. 

This has allowed for unprecedented levels of creativity from its most popular users. It’s unique in that its algorithm prioritises brand new content, as well as content that is already doing well on the platform. Its ‘for you’ page is its main feed, which shows you content regardless of whether or not you are following any other users or not. This is quite unique and allows new users to be discovered and good content to very quickly go viral.

It is hugely popular among the younger generation, or Gen Z, but more and more older people are getting in on the fun. Nearly half of 18 – 29 year olds use TikTok, but 20% of 30 – 49 year olds are on it too, and 14% of 50 – 64 year olds, so it shouldn’t be ignored if you have an older target market. 

Benefits

  • Ads incorporated into news feed – Tiktok quick-swiping ‘for you’ page is where your ads will appear, and they can initially look quite indistinguishable from non-paid content. 
  • Affordable – Despite its huge and growing audience, CPC is around £0.19.

So, there you have it, 5 paid ad channels that are worth your attention in 2022. If you’re looking for a Northern Ireland based ad agency to help you get started why not get in touch today.

Google My Business Benefits

Google My Business Benefits

If you found us by searching Google for social media marketing, SEO or digital marketing companies in NI, chances are you’ve seen our Google My Business (GMB) listing. 

GMB is a free tool offered by the world’s largest search engine to help businesses get found locally. A Google My Business listing is a handy online snapshot of a business, allowing customers to quickly find the info, products or services they need online. It’s not just for digital marketing companies or social media companies. 

It shows important information about the business such as its opening hours, the products or services it offers, its address, phone number and website address, as well as images, reviews and offers or updates from the company. 

Digital Marketing

Like all digital marketing companies in NI, we believe every local business needs a strong online presence. But even if you don’t sell online, have a website, email your customers, or do social media marketing, your business should have a Google My Business profile. Here are the key benefits of Google My Business:

Most people go online to find local businesses

Even if you’re a traditional, bricks and mortar business, your potential customers will look for your product or service online. From plumbers to restaurants to funeral directors to accountants – in 2021, most people do a Google search when they want to spend money. 

Currently, 87% of online searches happen on Google, so your business needs to be visible on the search engine giant. Google My Business is a free and powerful tool, allowing people to find your business on Google easily via Google Search and Maps.

If someone searches for “restaurants near me”, at the very top of the local search results page, Google will pull together the three top-ranking restaurants nearby on Google Maps. It will do the same thing if a person Googles “gardeners in Belfast” or “furniture removals in Co. Antrim”.

Having an up-to-date, optimised Google My Business listing significantly boosts your chances of featuring in these convenient and highly visible groups of search results. 

Gather and showcase reviews

If most people use the internet to make their spending choices, then online reviews are essential for convincing a potential customer to buy from you or make an enquiry. 

Your GMB listing is a quick and easy way for customers to leave reviews. If you respond to reviews, the customer will get a notification, which is a nice way to engage with them post-sale and keep you top of mind. It’s also good for potential customers to see that you are responsive to reviews. Although nobody wants a negative review, dealing with them politely and constructively is an opportunity to build a good public image. 

Valuable insights on customer behaviour

As one of NI’s leading SEO companies, we know Northern Ireland businesses have a huge opportunity to use Google My Business profiles to gather detailed marketing data.

For SEO, it’s important to know how many people are finding you online, who they are, what search terms they use, and what they do next when they find you online. 

Your Google My Business listings will show you how many people are clicking on your profile, your posts, and your photos, all useful information to determine how well your search optimisation is performing over time. You’ll be able to see the different search terms people put into Google to find you, which can give lots of insights into what’s important to them and the problems they want you to solve. You can use this information to inform product development, marketing and also content creation.

It also offers demographic information, so you can see a report of who is finding you, broken down by factors including age, gender and location. This is useful information you can use for defining your market and market segments. 

GMB also shows you the actions people take when they find your listing on Google, including how many people call you directly from your profile, how many click through to your website, and how many people share or comment on your posts. The data can show you which content is most effective, help you see what stage of the buyer journey people are at, and see how your market prefers to connect with you. 

100% free

Despite its huge suite of features, Google My Business is completely free to use and you can update it as much as you like. Indeed, it works best when it is regularly reviewed and updated. 

Posts allow you to share news, offers, events and content, and they expire after 7 days, so creating new posts at least once a week is what digital marketing and SEO companies will recommend. 

Repurpose your content

Your GMB posts are a great way to increase the reach of your social media and/or blog content. As well as driving traffic to any offers or events you are promoting, posts allow you to share news and information. 

You can include images and graphics too, so we think it’s a great way to bring your content marketing to a new audience. Publish a snippet or a highlight from your latest blog or social post, and use the buttons to link through to the full piece of content. It’s a free way to make your content go further and reach new people. 

If you would like to chat about improving your local SEO or utilising Google My Business, give us a call on 028 3833 9100, email info@cornellstudios.com, or send us a message directly from the website.

How to win on social media marketing 2021 and beyond

As one of the leading digital marketing companies in NI, social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools we use to drive online demand for our clients. It’s an ever-changing landscape, with new platforms, tools and trends to keep up with. So we have decided to cut through the confusion by pulling together this article to help you craft a winning social media strategy in 2021.

Social media should be goal-led

A winning social media strategy sits within a wider digital marketing strategy which, in turn, must be closely aligned with your business’s overall marketing strategy and marketing campaigns. So before we talk tactics and TikTok, we need to talk about your goals.

What do you want to achieve for your business? How can your social media help to achieve this? Rather than growing a huge following for the sake of vanity metrics, think about what you want from your customers this year. 

These are some examples of how your goals can help create a social media strategy or campaign. 

Customer loyalty

Is it all about future sustainability through repeat business? Then nurturing relationships with your social followers will be important. 

Focusing on engagement across your platforms will be key to building that trust and relatability:

Tactical tip:

  • Encourage user-generated content. Do you promote your own branded hashtags? Do you give your followers ideas for using your product or brand to create their own content? This content not only engages the person creating it, but gives you social proof to share with the rest of your audience. By sharing it, you’re supporting the creator, deepening their connection to your brand, making them more likely to create more. It’s a simple but effective flywheel.

Find new customers

Do you want new customers, or to target a new segment? Then you’ll be chasing visibility on your social platforms to boost brand awareness. So making sure your content is shareable is important; this way your followers will share it with people who aren’t following you yet. The algorithm will prioritise content that’s being shared – it can see that users are getting value from it. Useful content keeps users on their platform. 

Tactical tip:

  • Use all the platform’s tools – especially if they’re new. Do you make sure to tag your location in posts and Stories? Do you include keywords in video descriptions and captions on Facebook and Instagram? Are you including hashtags? These things aren’t just gimmicks, they are ways the platforms help its users search for the content they want to consume. The newer a feature is, the more likely the platform is to serve that type of content to more people. For example, we’re seeing higher than average visibility on Instagram Reels at the moment. Instagram is open about the fact they’re prioritising Reels because they want them to do well (they’re competing with TikTok!)

Use social metrics for campaign research

Your marketing campaigns should be informed by:

  • Who your customer is
  • Where they buy and when
  • What they want
  • The ‘why’ behind their decisions

These are tried and tested marketing principles. Social media marketing simply offers new (highly effective) tools with which to do this research.

If you’re using business accounts on your platforms, the native analytics will show you things like:

  • How many reactions, comments, shares and clicks each post gets (its engagement)
  • How many likes or followers you have
  • When most of your audience are online
  • The interests, preferences and demographics of your audience

How this data can inform your campaign:

  • Engagement shows you what your audience likes and doesn’t like.
  • Audience size and growth brings insights into your brand awareness. 
  • Knowing when they’re online helps you select the best times to post and communicate
  • Their preferences and demographic information helps you refine your customer service, messaging and even your product or service itself

Social listening is not new, but a relatively recent social media research tool. It basically means to pay attention to the content of your audience’s comments, posts and conversations. In other words, to ‘listen’ to what they are saying about you, or about relevant topics.

A quick and easy way to start employing social listening is to set up a Google alert for your brand name. This can help you track mentions of your brand online, to capitalise on the good and damage-control the bad.

Being responsive on your social media accounts is important too. This means actively spending time on your social accounts, reading comments, answering questions, responding to feedback and solving problems. It’s easy to forget the ‘social’ aspect of social media! Scheduling tools and content planning are essential for making social media manageable for a business, however there needs to be human interaction too, otherwise you could miss key insights. It’s also important that a small business remains ‘human’ online too – it’s a cliche but people do buy from people. 

Don’t spread your digital brand too thin

It feels like new social media apps and features are released every day and it’s impossible to keep up with them all. The good news is that, as a small business, you don’t need to! Your ideal customer is not going to be on every single platform. Even if they are, you can be sure that they spend more time on some than on others.

The only type of business you’ll see on each and every social media platform are the biggest global brands, who either have a mass or a highly segmented market base. 

Not only do big companies have entire teams of people to look after their socials, you can bet they take a different approach for every platform to appeal to different audiences. Coca Cola’s Facebook page is all about big brand collaborations and competitions, because they know it’s the biggest platform audience-wise, and its users are financially mobile. This is all about brand loyalty and maximising the value of its advertising partnerships. Its Linked In page focuses on its corporate responsibility efforts, as it will be using this business and employment focused platform for recruitment and maintaining its reputation as an employer.

Take a Kaizen approach to marketing with social media

Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning ‘continuous improvement’, used widely in manufacturing. Rather than doing things a certain way and then overhauling it when it stops working, quality improvement is a continuous, everyday process.

By continuously monitoring how you’re doing, you can see what works, what doesn’t, and make little tweaks and course corrections as you go.

In social media, this again comes back to the data. By setting clear key performance indicators (or KPIs), you clearly define what success looks like for you on social media. Depending on your marketing goals, that might be “Boost audience engagement by 10% this quarter” to achieve brand awareness or “Increase website click-through rate by 5% every month” if you’re keen to boost repeat sales through e-commerce.

As you put a plan into action to achieve these KPIs, you’ll see how realistic they are, whether your tactics are effective at achieving them, or whether those performance indicators are still an accurate barometer of marketing success. 

Social media trends for 2021

The world of social media is a rapidly-changing one and what worked in 2020 might need updated for 2021’s marketing plans. Together with the fundamentals outlined above, these key trends will help you stay current with your plans and strategies for marketing on social media.

Short form video

Social media companies and content creators across the world went into meltdown when Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced the platform was “no longer a square photo sharing app” as it was widely reported. 

In a video posted to his account earlier this year, Mosseri expanded on this, explaining Insta was prioritising Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. Despite the online uproar, Adam actually said the app was no longer “just” about sharing pictures, that people wanted to be actively entertained on social. No surprise given the meteoric rise of TikTok, no longer just an app for teen dance crazes and edgy Gen Z in-jokes. 

Make it work for you:

Instagram and YouTube are both actively promoting in-feed short form video content in 2021. Don’t be tempted to jump on the latest craze if it’s not a fit for your brand. Educational content, life hacks, and ‘mini vlogs’ (think ‘a day in the life’ type content) are all super popular on these apps, and on TikTok itself, whose audience is growing and diversifying every day. Play with it, experiment with the huge range of editing tools it puts at your fingertips, and don’t obsess over perfection. People value authenticity over perfection in visual content these days.

Stories

Stories are another form of short-form content; the key difference with Reels (Instagram) Shorts (YouTube) and TikTok, is that they are only visible on your platform for 24 hours after posting, after which they ‘disappear’ for your viewers. As well as videos, you can post images to your Stories. Both videos and pictures can be embellished with filters and special effects, music, stickers, gifs, captions and hashtags among other things. 

Stories aren’t new on social media, but Facebook and more recently Twitter have adopted them after their success on other platforms. Snapchat pioneered the format, but it wasn’t long until Instagram nabbed the idea!

Make it work for you:

Adding location stickers and hashtags to your Stories can help them be found and seen by people who aren’t already following you. If you’re pursuing user engagement as a goal or KPI, questions and polls are highly effective ways of getting people to interact with your content. With a business or creator account, you can see in real time how many people have watched and interacted with your content, and who they are. Stories are also archived after they disappear from user view, so you can track thes important metrics to further inform strategy and tactics. 

Audio content

The latest new feature on social media is the introduction of audio-only ‘rooms’. The trend began with the launch of Clubhouse last year, who built hype by initially being only available to iPhone users, and operating an ‘invite only’ membership system. It wasn’t long before other platforms jumped on the bandwagon; Twitter uncharacteristically was the first, with the introduction of Twitter Spaces. 

Facebook started rolling out audio rooms and podcasts this year, but unsurprisingly there is no copycat on Instagram which is known as a visual platform, but it will be interesting to see if they try it out too.

Make it work for you

The basic idea is that these ‘rooms’ or ‘spaces’ are places you can host, listen to, and participate in live conversations. Much like the podcasting or webinar spaces, these can be on any topic. If you are pursuing a content marketing strategy, this could be a useful way to repurpose your content, particularly if it’s already in an audio-only format, such as a podcast. If you create videos or webinars, could you re-use your notes or script to host an audio-only conversation? If you already use livestreaming to connect with your audience for Q & As or educational content, could you simultaneously go live on audio-only, or use your livestream topic ideas to host a conversation? 

If you need some more advice or support on your social media strategy, our digital marketing agency would love to help. Give us a ring on 028 3833 9100 or send us an email to info@cornellstudios.com

shopify website - Cornell Studios

Advantages of Shopify – 5 Reasons to love it!

When it comes to building an eCommerce website, the platform you use is an important choice to make – and there are plenty of platforms to choose from. Here at Cornell Studios, one of our firm favourites is Shopify. In this month’s blog we are going to be looking at 5 reasons why we love it, and why you should too!

Visually Appealing

Regardless of the platform you choose to use, one of your top priorities will always be to build a visually appealing website that is a joy for users to navigate, one that will increase click through rates, and encourage users to return to the site. Shopify is able to give all this with an offering of professional themes that will allow you to create a unique store and for developers to work on creating a rich user experience.

App Integrations

Shopify can easily be integrated with apps, which is great news for your website as it means your developer can introduce all sorts of customisable features. So, if you want to introduce some extra functionality to your website to help users have a better experience, and offer further features than most other platforms would offer, Shopify is a great option.

SEO Friendly

Whether you are building a new website or upgrading an old one, one of the first steps in technicality is always going to be assessing SEO. No matter how beautiful your website looks, no one is going to see it without search engine optimisation. Shopify is able to support SEO parameters by making your website highly customisable and offering custom title tags and meta tags. Shopify also offers super-fast loading speeds, and the themes are mobile responsive so you can optimise your site for mobile.

Secure

When it comes to moving your business online, it is paramount that the platform you are using is secure. Not only will you be using delicate business information, but for eCommerce websites, you will be handing personal and financial details of customers also. Shopify is secure and reliable and will take care of all server maintenance and upgrades as well, so you can rest assured that your store is up to date and loading quickly for customers at all times.

Easy To Use

Finally, one of best parts of Shopify is just how easy it is to use! The platform itself offers the software and hosting that is needed for getting the website live, and is a hassle-free process. The backend is consistently user friendly for any updates that are required, while the user-interface offers a streamlined experience for customers.

Cornell Studios

The five points above are just a few of the reasons why we love Shopify, but there are many more! When it comes to ecommerce websites, we think this is one of the most user-friendly platforms to choose, and is great for developer, client, and customer alike. Shopify are big on customer help, and so they offer 24/7 customer support, along with great documents to guide you through the process. Here at Cornell, we love building our websites with Shopify – so if you would like to know more on what we can do for your online business, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Head to the contact section on our website, we would love to hear from you.

Web Design Plans

A Guide To Planning A New Website Build

If you’re building a new website for your business you can save yourself some time and hassle by doing a bit of planning first. Don’t just dive straight in and start building.

Instead, there are some important aspects that you need to consider. And don’t worry this part of the process doesn’t have to be long or labour intensive. Even the simplest of plans can help you to get your website off to a good start.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at 8 steps you can take when planning your new website to ensure you create a site that delivers.

Create an audience persona

It’s a good idea to start by creating an audience persona (sometimes known as a buyer persona). This can help you to think about the wants and needs of your visitors rather than your own and tailor your website accordingly. This will help to offer the best possible experience for your target audience. 

Do some competitor research

Checking out what your competitors are doing can be a great source of inspiration. It can help you to see what they’re doing well and what they’re not so good at, so you can apply this to your website.

You can also navigate your way through their website to see what the user journey is like and if there’s anything you want to do differently.

Just be careful not to get sucked in by their design. Remember, just because something looks great, if it’s not very functional or user friendly it’s still no good!

Think about your SEO strategy

It might seem very early to be thinking about search engine optimisation but it’s important to consider this in the planning stage of your website. Trying to incorporate good SEO into a site that hasn’t been built for it can make things much trickier down the line.

You should also do some keyword research. This will help you when planning the structure of your website and deciding what content you’re going to need to create early on.

Working with SEO in mind right from the start will help you (or your team) to build your website in a Google-friendly way.

Plan the structure

When it comes to planning your structure, you don’t have to spend ages getting this perfect. That being said, the more thorough you are at the planning stage, the easier life will be for you later on in the process.

Whether you simply jot down some notes or you choose to draw out a diagram, your structural plan must contain a list of the main categories that will go in your header and any sub-categories that will lead on from them.

Just make sure that you keep user experience in mind at all times and don’t make your structure too complicated. You should try to avoid choosing any more than seven categories as this can become overwhelming.

Remember, the simpler the better.

And this is also your chance to implement your keyword research to start making your website as SEO-friendly as possible.

Think about your budget

It’s important to consider your budget during the planning stage as this may have an impact on how you build your website.

There are several costs associated with starting up a new website but not all of these will apply depending on the services you use. Some of the key costs you might need to consider are:

  • Domain name
  • Web hosting
  • Content and SEO – if you’re paying people to write/do this research for you
  • Web design
  • Testing tools
  • Cybersecurity

It’s worth doing your research during the planning stage to get a better idea of what these costs will be and whether you want to outsource some of these tasks (such as content creation) or do them yourself.

Consider what content you’ll need

Next up, you need to think about what content you want to go on your website. This might be page descriptions, your ‘about’ page, blog posts, product descriptions, etc.

This is your chance to put together a quick list of how much content needs to be created and to consider what keywords you’re going to be targeting with this.

Depending on the nature of your website, you might have relatively little content or you might have a lot to create before you can officially launch. So carefully consider the time you’re going to need to dedicate towards writing this.

If you’re writing this yourself that is.

Decide what other assets you’ll need

However, it’s not just about content and pages when building a website. You also need to think about the other aspects that make your site great. For example:

  • Are you going to need to create a logo?
  • What colours and fonts will represent your brand?
  • What photos will you use?
  • Will you include links to social media accounts?
  • Do you need a sign-up form?

All of these additional aspects are important and although you can think about these and even change these later on, it’s helpful to create a full plan of what you want your site to look like and any must-have features you want to include.

Choose a suitable CMS

Finally, you have almost completed the planning stage of your website build but there is one final thing you need to do. You need to choose a content management system (CMS) to build your site on.

In a nutshell, this is the framework that your website is built upon. So for example it could be WordPress, Wix, Magneto or Squarespace.

The CMS you choose will depend on which you’re most familiar with, most comfortable with and what features you want on your website, so do a bit of research into this before settling on your final choice.

If you’re considering a website project and would like a little help or advice feel free to get in touch.