Appiloque https://appiloque.com Digital Marketing Agency Thu, 21 Jan 2021 11:16:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.5 https://appiloque.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-512x512-32x32.png Appiloque https://appiloque.com 32 32 5 ways to tell if SEO will be a waste of your money https://appiloque.com/reading-list/is-seo-is-a-waste-of-money Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:02:17 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ SEO is sold as the holy grail of digital marketing, but be warned, it’s easy to get scammed by vanity metrics that won’t make a difference to your bottomline. Before you spend a single dollar on SEO, read this guide.

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It’s easy to see why SEO sounds like the magic wand of digital marketing. Just have a look at the stats from industry leaders: 

  • 93% of all experiences online start with a search engine. 
  • 75% of people never scroll past Page 1 of search engines. 

With this in mind, surely the race to Page 1 makes sense.  

After all, higher ranking = more traffic to your website = more conversions = more revenue, right? 

These stats definitely seem to indicate that is the case: 

  • 40% of revenue is captured by organic traffic
  • 14.6% of leads through SEO result in a sale. That’s compared to the measly 1.7% conversion rate of outbound leads such as direct mail.

If SEO is so great, why do so many businesses tell us it didn’t work for them? 

As an SEO agency in Singapore, we’ve met our fair share of local businesses who have tried SEO, got burnt and suffer from PTSD to this day. And it’s understandable, especially if you’ve invested all that money and these scenarios happened: 

  • Your website finally ranks on Page 1 but you never saw a significant growth in organic traffic. 
  • You’ve seen an improvement in all the key metrics (backlinks, organic traffic, bounce rates …) but it made no impact on the number/quality of leads you got.
  • You didn’t see any results whatsoever. 

These scenarios are more common than most businesses realise. SEO has always been shrouded in technical jargon making it hard for the layman to make well-informed decisions on which SEO agency to work with. 

Throw in the fact that SEO is a long game that can take up to months to see results, there is the real risk of spending all that money only to realise a year later that it amounted to nothing. 

But it’s not that SEO can’t drive real business results. It can.

And if it’s done by the right people for the right types of businesses, it can make a serious impact on business growth.

This is especially if you are a business that relies on your website to collect leads and drive revenue. 

You just have to wisen up and be able to sniff out the scam artists and snake oil salesmen. So if you are considering SEO, read on and be sure to ask the agency you speak to these five questions. 

1. What metrics do you think are the most important to measure when it comes to SEO? 

What you want to hear: “There are many metrics that matter but they all ultimately have to drive leads and sales.” 

The scam artist’s answer: One particular metric (eg: number of back-links, lower bounce rates, increase in rankings) 

The metrics listed above are important for SEO, for sure. And yes, Google does not hold all metrics in equal regard. But focusing on just one aspect of SEO is not going to cut it. 

For example, Google’s latest Page Experience update that is set to be completed in May 2021 will combine Core Web Vitals with existing signals (mobile-friendly update, page speed update …) to provide a holistic picture of the quality of UX on a web page. 

Here’s what the latest Google algorithm update means in normal English: 

Websites that have a lousy user experience, in particular on mobile, will fall out of Google’s favour. This update is a big shift in SEO. When the update is completed in May 2021, many websites will see their page rankings drop. 

With this update, there has been a lot of talk about the need to improve page-speeds. It is important (and has been for years, to be honest).

And it makes perfect sense — the faster your website loads, the better the overall user experience. 

But significantly improving that one aspect will not magically improve your page rankings. At the end of the day, Google is a search engine — its main goal as a service provider is to provide the best user experience. 

What qualifies as “best” in Google’s books is defined by many, many factors that are constantly evolving — whether Google can crawl and make sense of your website easily, whether the content on your website answers the search query well, whether strong and authoritative websites (also known as websites with high DA scores) have referenced your content (backlinks), whether the user experience on your website is  … to name a few. 

That’s why there is no one metric that matters over the rest when it comes to effective SEO — it is a holistic strategy.

But ultimately, what is the one metric that truly matters to any business? More leads/sales. 

More organic traffic/time spent on-site/page 1 rankings/[insert any one SEO metric here] means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t drive more leads or sales. 

That’s why you need to find an SEO agency who cares for your bottomline, and is able to come up with a strategy that will drive business results. 

Even if that strategy does not involve SEO. 

For example, it is a common complaint that SEO efforts have resulted in more organic traffic to the website but it’s not equating to more conversions. A lot of the time, it’s an issue that the website isn’t built for conversions.

In this case, a legit SEO agency will turn away your business and recommend you work with a web developer to fix the issues on your website before investing any money on SEO. 

2. How do you choose the keywords to target? 

What you want to hear: “We consider a few factors including relevance, keywords that imply purchase intent, traffic volumes and how competitive the keywords are.” 

The scam artist’s answer: “We can rank for anything you want” or “We target keywords with the most amount of traffic” 

Yes, you can rank for any keyword you want. But should you?

For SEO agencies that claim they can rank for anything you want, they’re not telling a lie. With deep enough pockets, you can rank for any keyword.. 

But the question is: Is this the best spend of your marketing dollars? 

Sure, a certain phrase might receive an immense amount of traffic but if it is also an insanely competitive keyword and you are up against big players with bigger budgets, you’re setting yourself up for a very long and expensive bidding war. 

A good SEO agency would advise you that if the keyword you are after is too competitive, it is not worth the investment it will take to rank. 

More organic traffic = more sales, right? WRONG.

For SEO agencies who focus solely on keywords with the highest traffic volumes, they miss the point of SEO. It is not about driving hordes of people to your website for the sake of it — it is about driving people with purchase intent to your website. 

Why? Because the ultimate goal of SEO is to drive sales leads and conversions. 

Think about it: People are doing searches on Google for ALL types of reasons. Good keyword strategy is all about getting into the headspace of your potential customers and determining which keywords have high commercial intent. 

Let us illustrate the point.

Say you work for a family law firm and your SEO agency has prepared a keyword list for you that includes the two search phrases below. 

“Singapore divorce law” 

“Divorce lawyer Singapore” 

For the sake of this example, let’s assume “Singapore divorce law” has a higher monthly search volume than “Divorce lawyer Singapore”. Which keyword do you think is going to drive more leads or sales?  

It’s safe to assume that people searching for “Divorce lawyer Singapore” are in the market looking for one, while people searching “Singapore divorce law” are looking for information around the topic.

The latter group might eventually decide they need your services after doing their research but they’re definitely not as close to becoming a lead on your website as the people who are searching “Divorce lawyer Singapore.” 

That’s why SEO keyword strategy needs to take into consideration purchase intent so that you drive people who are closer to converting to your website. 

3. What parts of SEO do you outsource?

You want to hear: An honest answer that can be backed up by evidence. For example, if the SEO agency outsources certain parts to other providers, they should be upfront and able to prove the providers’ credibility. If the agency claims to do everything in-house, they should be able to demonstrate end-to-end processes or in-house manpower. 

The scam artist’s answer: Any of the two answers above, without presenting any evidence. 

As with any partner you work with, you want your SEO agency to be transparent with you. 

There is nothing wrong with outsourcing parts of SEO to providers — it is common practice in the industry to reduce costs. And if the providers the agency works with are qualified, there’s little to worry about. 

However, there is one outsourced job that you should pay close attention to. It is one of the most commonly outsourced parts of SEO, and it is also where one of the biggest SEO messes happen. 

  • Link-building — Blasting out a ton of back-links in a short amount of time, spamming blogs or creating links that have no relevance to your business are some of the common practices of ill-qualified vendors. 

Be very careful — these practices are a fast-track to getting penalised by Google, and eventually, you’ll have to spend more money to get another SEO agency to clean up the mess. 

 4. What’s your link-building strategy? 

You want to hear: “We focus on building quality links between websites that add value to the user’s reading experience.”

The scam artist’s answer: Focuses on the sheer number of backlinks they can build in a short amount of time

We cannot emphasise enough how important good link-building practices are to your website’s SEO health.

On the flip side, how detrimental it is to your website’s ranking if it is done using tactics that try to game the system. The last thing you want is for your website to get penalised by Google. 

When talking to an SEO agency, these are the good practices you should be looking for: 

  • Links that are relevant to your industry, niche and target audience  
  • A focus on building links to websites with high domain authority (a website’s domain authority is a search engine ranking score. The higher the score, the more Google views the website as an authoritative source of information)
  • The emphasis on links to real websites — once again, trying to game Google’s algorithm is futile and puts you at risk of being penalised
  • Link-building that happens naturally over time 

5. How long will it take to see results?

You want to hear: “It depends on how competitive your industry is but as a general guideline, it can be anything from three to six months.” 

The scam artist’s answer: Any “instant” results 

“Three to six months” to see results is not the answer most businesses want to hear but it is the truth, so you should go into it eyes wide open. 

Think about it: there are limited spots on Page 1. To get on Page 1, means having to “push” someone else’s website off that list. 

For the purpose of demonstrating why “pushing” a website off Page 1 takes time, let’s narrow it down to just one component of SEO — building of backlinks. 

If you are new to the SEO game, especially in a competitive market, your competitors have had a head-start.

Catching up takes time — the SEO agency has to map out your keyword strategy, build out quality and relevant content on your website, and secure those backlinks to real websites with high domain authority. Once again, remembering that backlinks must be accrued naturally over time to prevent getting penalised by Google. 

Even when that’s all done, it’s not like Google is at your beck and call. You can submit a request to Google to re-index your website but according to Google itself, that can take anything from a few days to a few weeks. 

Bear in mind that we’re only talking about one component of SEO strategy right now.

When you include all the other optimisations that are required to drive results (on-site technical fixes, website user experience, content creation … to name a few), you start getting an idea of why there are no quick fixes to SEO. 

However, because SEO is a long game, it can reap long-term wins. But that also also means long-term investment.

So before you spend any money on an SEO agency, arm yourself with information so you can ask the right questions, sniff out the BS, and make well-informed decisions for your business.

Arm your team with SEO knowledge with a free 60-minute training session worth $1,125

This course is conducted by our in-house SEO consultants and is designed to up-skill your marketing team and help you make more well-informed decisions when it comes to SEO. 



In this session, you will learn: 

  • The basics of SEO — what is it, and why is it important?
  • SEO strategy — the four key components that have to work together to boost your site’s ranking
  • How to measure and track the success of your SEO efforts

PLUS, you will also get: 

  • An SEO technical audit of your website worth $600
  • A personalised consultation on how to improve your SEO efforts, regardless of whether you’re currently doing it in-house or working with an agency

If you’d like to sign up for the free training session, please fill up this questionnaire here so that we can tailor the curriculum to your team’s needs. 

After you have submitted the form, we’ll be in touch to schedule a time for your training session. 

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Why Appiloque decided COVID-19 was the best time to invest in its people https://appiloque.com/reading-list/why-appiloque-decided-to-invest-in-its-people-in-covid-19 Mon, 23 Nov 2020 07:56:24 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ The pandemic is changing the way we work. This means that employers’ understanding of what it means to be supportive must evolve too.

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When COVID-19 first hit, our biggest concerns for the team members of our digital marketing agency were that of safety and stability — so we focused our attention to making the move to a fully remote setup.

As we settled into this new normal, Appiloque proved to be agile enough to cope despite the poor economic climate.

We were even able to grow our business during this time by becoming certified consultants for the Enterprise Development Grant that allows SMEs to get up to 80% funding for Strategic Brand and Marketing Development projects. 

A business is only as good as its employees

These achievements are worth celebrating in good times. During the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s a shining testament to my team. 

Our Art Director, Christian had to juggle working from home with a young child — he took work calls in the bathroom and worked late at night after she’d fallen asleep.

Say hi to our Art Director, Christian and his “intern”

Our extroverted team members such as Senior Digital Marketing Associate Jaevus, who drew energy from spontaneous across-the-office brainstorms and boisterous lunches had to adapt to the solitary nature of working from home.

On the other end of the spectrum, the lack of non-verbal cues you’d usually get from face-to-face meetings meant video meetings were especially draining for the introverts in our team.  

Employees are only as good as their leaders

COVID-19 threw a spotlight on how changes impact team members in different ways. All of them had adapted and pulled their weight more than ever, but it also became clear to me that as the captain of the Appiloque ship, I was going to have to rethink what it means to support my team. 

Here are some lessons I learnt during COVID-19: 

  1. A one-size-fits-all approach to employee support is not going to work — understanding each employee’s needs and perspectives is going to be increasingly important
  2. Team morale and camaraderie is key to boosting employee engagement
  3. As the lines between work and personal life continue to be blurred, fostering a positive and supportive work culture should be an employer’s priority
  4. There are three layers to an effective team: On the highest level, social cohesion. Between colleagues, trusting relationships. And on an individual level, a sense of purpose. A leader has to care for and build systems to improve all of the above. 
  5. Soft skill development is just as important as hard skills

Investing in psychometric tool Emergenetics 

To get things rolling, I engaged ConnectOne, a local talent solutions consultancy firm to help. That’s when Joanna Yeoh, Director of ConnectOne introduced me to psychometric tool Emergenetics.

Emergenetics is built upon the concept that each of us are a product of nature and nurture. What it aims to do is to understand this intersection and how it manifests in the day-to-day.

It does this by measuring four thinking patterns (the ways in which your brain learns and approaches problems) and three behaviour patterns (the traits that influence communication styles). 

I got the team to take the Emergenetics Profile test and after completing the 100-item questionnaire, we got our profiles. But here is where I think Emergenetics adds more value than more popular psychometric tests like The 16 Personalities questionnaire – Emergenetics is not just helpful in building self-awareness, it is an intuitive and powerful framework that can be integrated into the workplace. 

“Everyone left with a deeper understanding and respect for our differences and an appreciation of how it’s this diversity that makes the Appiloque team like no other.” 

To have everyone benefit from the tool (and also as a fun team-bonding activity), we engaged Joanna to hold a Meeting of the Minds workshop for the team. Most of us were not surprised by our own profiles but it was incredibly insightful when Joanna led us through what these results meant for us as a team. 

On an organisational level, we were made aware of our team blind spots and learnt ways to overcome them. It dissected each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and we were able to see how we could leverage each other in different ways to drive a common goal.

On a peer-to-peer level, we were able to better understand where each person came from, and picked up practical ways to accommodate each other to build trust and better communication. 

At the end of the day, it was great to see everyone in person (it was the first time for us in nine months!).

More importantly, everyone left with a deeper understanding and respect for our differences and an appreciation of how it’s this diversity that makes the Appiloque team like no other. 

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Appiloque uses psychometric tool Emergenetics to build a resilient team in the remote working era https://appiloque.com/reading-list/how-to-build-a-resilient-team-in-the-remote-working-era Mon, 16 Nov 2020 06:29:00 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ If COVID-19 has proven anything, it’s that only resilient businesses will survive. As a digital marketing agency, we believe we are only as resilient as our people.

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Even with Phase 3 on the horizon for Singaporeans, remote working looks like it’s still going to be a big part of working life here.

As a digital marketing agency in Singapore, the logistics of transitioning to a WFH situation was relatively seamless. Even before COVID-19, we already used a whole suite of digital tools for project management and collaboration so we were able to make the move to remote working very early on.

But as time went on, we started seeing the different ways it took a toll on our team. It became clear that if remote working were to be sustainable, we had to look for innovative and meaningful ways to support everyone on the team.

We engaged the help of Joanna Yeoh, Director of talent solutions consultancy firm ConnectOne, to use psychometric tool Emergenetics to boost employee engagement and morale, and build a more resilient team.

“Appiloque aims to be a progressive organisation that invests in its people. When it comes to upskilling staff, SMEs in Singapore tend to focus solely on hard skills. But so much of the day-to-work is dependent on soft skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership qualities, conflict resolution, problem solving and empathy. Emergenetics arms us with the tools and strategies for us to develop these soft skills — I believe it will benefit each team member and make us more resilient as a team,”

Joey Wang, Director of Appiloque

Using Emergenetics as a framework to understand and respect our differences

Built upon a foundation of social analytics, neuroscience and psychology, Emergenetics aims to dissect the way in which people behave, communicate and think through a 100-item questionnaire.

It measures seven key attributes that make up your profile — four thinking patterns (conceptual, analytical, structural and social), and three behaviour patterns (expressiveness, assertiveness and flexibility). 

On an individual level, it helps to understand yourself better. You might have always known that detailed administrative work has always been your least favourite thing to do, but Emergenetics provides a framework for understanding why that is the case.

In this case, the structural way of thinking is just naturally your least preferred mode. It’s neither good nor bad — it is what it is. But knowing this helps to explain why doing this type of work has always been particularly draining for you. 

As a team building tool, Emergenetics offers a clear and intuitive framework to understand each person’s differences — why a person approaches a problem the way they do, what their preferred mode of communication is, where their strengths and weaknesses lie … That heightened level of awareness fosters empathy within the team.

When workers feel like they are understood and supported, they are more likely to make their colleagues feel the same. It all translates to more engaged workers and a resilient team. 

The Meeting of the Minds workshop

To harness the full benefits of Emergenetics, Appiloque engaged Joanna to conduct the Meeting of the Minds workshop for our team. The workshop helped our team …

  • Experience first-hand how our preferred modes of thinking and behavioural tendencies manifest in the workplace on three levels: as an individual, peer-to-peer and as a team. 
  • Gain a deeper understanding of our strengths and potential blindspots individually and as a team. 
  • Pick up practical strategies to improve communication, better accommodate each other’s preferences and leverage our strengths.
  • Understand what keeps each member engaged and motivated at work, and strategies to bring out the best in each other.

We gained so much from the workshop but the most important thing we learnt is that Appiloque is a team made up of unique individuals, and there is ultimately, strength in diversity. 

Want to find out how our team can help your business? Read more here.

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Appiloque can now consult for Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) projects https://appiloque.com/reading-list/appiloque-can-now-consult-for-enterprise-development-grant-edg-projects Wed, 01 Jul 2020 10:19:00 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ Speak to our Registered Management Consultants to enquire further about Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) projects.

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The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG), created by Enterprise Singapore, aims to help Singapore firms grow and transform. If your company is looking to upgrade its business, innovate, or even venture overseas, the EDG can provide you with a substantial amount of funding support.

There are three main types of projects that are supported by Enterprise Singapore:

  1. Core Capabilities: Aimed at helping companies grow and transform by building stronger business foundations
  2. Innovation & Productivity: Aimed at supporting companies to explore new growth opportunities or improve efficiency
  3. Market Access: Aimed at assisting companies which are looking to expand into overseas markets

Naturally, there are certain criteria that your business needs to fulfil in order to be eligible for the EDG. These include:

  • Being registered and operating in Singapore
  • Having minimally 30% local shareholding (if you’re unsure about this, the information is on your company’s ACRA bizfile)
  • Being in a financially stable position to start and finish an EDG project

Yes, we get that the third criteria is a bit vague. Enterprise Singapore will need to assess if your company has a reasonable amount of turnover – either based on your latest audited financial statements, or if your company is exempted from audits, based on your certified management accounts.

Nonetheless, if you fulfil the qualifying criteria, you’ll stand to benefit from substantial funding support.

As announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat during the Supplementary Budget:

Maximum support level will be raised from 70% to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020.

For firms that are most severely impacted by COVID-19, the maximum support level can be further raised to 90% on a case-by-case basis.

Supplementary Budget 2020

If you’re keen to apply for an EDG project and tap on the funding support, look for a management consultant with an Enterprise Singapore-recognised certification. Enterprise Singapore states their rationale as follows:

Enterprise Singapore-recognised consultants are certified by certification bodies specifically appointed to help businesses select management consultants in their business upgrading journey.

This certification recognises management consultants who possess the right knowledge, competence and ethics to support businesses in their projects and growth strategies.

Enterprise Singapore

Appiloque’s Registered Management Consultants are from the Institute of Management Consultants (Singapore), which is one of the certification bodies recognized by Enterprise Singapore.

With a strong foundation and over 6.5 years of experience in the digital marketing space, we’re now looking to help clients bring their businesses even further.

Do any of these scenarios feel familiar to you?

  1. You’ve engaged digital marketing agencies that are unable to operate on a strategic level and you’re tired of instructing them on every little thing
  2. You’ve in-house staff that can only operate as “doers” and you need a more strategic plan
  3. Your management has been reluctant to accept digital transformation and you need that extra “push” 
  4. You want to build in-house capabilities, start properly marketing your company digitally, and build a brand you can be proud of
  5. You want to capitalize on additional government funding support during the COVID-19 pandemic to innovate, upgrade, and market your business

If any of these resonated with you, do consider taking up an EDG project. Here are just some of the aspects that we’ll be able to support you on:

  • Stakeholder Workshops & Focus Groups
  • Omnichannel Digital Brand Audits
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Market Research & Insights
  • Digital Transformation
  • Digital Branding: Assets, Playbooks & Style Guides
  • Digital Marketing Strategy & Implementation Plans: For Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Digital Advertising & Email Marketing
  • Digital Marketing Training

Feel free to reach out by dropping us a message via the form at the bottom of this page!

We’ll be happy to advise further and guide you throughout the entire process – from grant application to claim submission 🙂

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COVID-19: 4 Ways to Give Your Business a Real Fighting Chance https://appiloque.com/reading-list/covid-19-give-your-business-a-real-fighting-chance https://appiloque.com/reading-list/covid-19-give-your-business-a-real-fighting-chance#respond Thu, 02 Apr 2020 02:00:49 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ As a digital marketing agency, we want to help businesses in the best way we know how. So, keep a clear mind and remember these tips.

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Business survival in this pandemic is going to take more than hope — it’s going to take a clear, well-defined strategy and a whole lot of grit.  

I mean, imagine if we got a dollar for every time we heard someone say, “These are crazy times” in the past few months… 

It is true though — these are crazy times. Trust me, I know.

As the director of a digital marketing agency in Singapore, my agency, like most other local businesses, have been thrust into an unprecedented economic climate. Most of us are taking a hit and it is understandably an incredibly stressful time. 

So what is any business to do to survive these challenging times?

There are no easy answers but these four principles have stood the test of time through many other crises. So while things might seem crazy right now, keep a clear mind and remember these tips.

1. Hold your nerve and remember what your brand proposition is.

Declining sales and general end-of-world vibes can send even the biggest companies into a panic-driven frenzy of doing whatever it takes to make money.

This could mean going down-market (a move that can tarnish your brand if not handled well) to attract new customers, or spending all your marketing dollars on nothing more than offers and tactical promotions. 

But consider this:

These efforts might help with making a quick buck. The company might pull through but ignore your core brand proposition and alienate your current customers, and the brand will almost definitely emerge weaker (and less profitable) post-recession.
These efforts might help with making a quick buck. The company might pull through but ignore your core brand proposition and alienate your current customers, and the brand will almost definitely emerge weaker (and less profitable) post-recession.

Instead of taking the huge risk of reinventing or undervaluing your brand in a volatile commercial environment, use this opportunity to audit and reinforce your brand.

Which brings us to our next point. 

2. It is understandable (and prudent) to penny-pinch in these times but don’t be too quick to slash your marketing budget.

When companies tighten their purse strings, the marketing budget tends to be one of the first line items to go.

In general, any form of thoughtless cost-cutting measures is short-sighted but thinking marketing is expendable can cause short- and long-term damage to your business.
In general, any form of thoughtless cost-cutting measures is short-sighted but thinking marketing is expendable can cause short- and long-term damage to your business.

For one, you need to engage your current customer base now more than ever. Remember the business adage that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers?

Your loyal customers will prove to be your most reliable source of revenue, and you should have a game plan on nurturing and retaining these relationships (a process that by the way, is five times cheaper than trying to acquire new customers). 

Secondly, this like every other crisis before, will not last forever. So do more than thrive — play the long game and set your company up to be more resilient when the dust has settled.

“I personally believe that companies that continue to execute on their planned digital marketing campaigns, and more specifically, on their planned content and conversion strategies around SEO as an acquisition channel, will be poised for faster (and more effective) recovery when we come out the other side.” Nick Eubanks, CEO of US-based marketing agency, From the Future
“I personally believe that companies that continue to execute on their planned digital marketing campaigns, and more specifically, on their planned content and conversion strategies around SEO as an acquisition channel, will be poised for faster (and more effective) recovery when we come out the other side.”

– Nick Eubanks, CEO of US-based marketing agency, From the Future

3. Digital marketing gives you more bang for your buck. 

In a climate where every dollar spent must be justified, digital marketing gives you more control and precision over your marketing spend. That is provided you have a clear marketing strategy with well-defined business goals, of course. 

But done right, it can give you key insights on a granular level on who your audience is, and what types of content convert.

Plus, its performance can be measured so you know exactly what your ROI is, and have a constant source of real-time market feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

Businesses are ultimately built by people, for people. Go back to basics and ask yourself “What do your customers truly need in these times?”

In prosperous times, marketers can get caught up with demographics, snazzy ads and new product launches.

But at the core, the hook tends to be simplistic: You’re feeling great about your life right now, you have some disposable income … Hey, we have a product that fits your lifestyle to the T!” 

In health crises like SARS and the present one, this type of sales pitch is tone-deaf. And it is not simply because people are less willing to spend money right now.

It is mainly because it ignores the deep, emotional responses that underlie changing consumer wants and needs.
It is mainly because it ignores the deep, emotional responses that underlie changing consumer wants and needs.

You just have to think about the waves of panic buying around the world to realise that an emotion like fear, can drive dramatic consumer responses.

Or think about the hoarding of toilet paper and realise that even if it is completely irrational, people will spend more money on things that make them feel better about a crazy situation (in this case, the reassuring thought that their butts will be clean even as the world ends). 

According to this Harvard Business Review report, businesses that fail to acknowledge the psychology behind these consumer changes will ultimately fail to give what their customers crave and need in these times. That is, like every other human being right now — reassurance, empathy and a sincere sense of solidarity.

Fail to do that, and miss out on the opportunity to build a genuine brand that people trust and love for a long time coming.

Emerging from these challenging times with minimal battle scars is a war better fought together, and we want to help businesses in the best way we know how.

If you need help to maintain business growth during this crucial period, check out our Digital Marketing Relief Package. Because if there were any time for us to rally together and help each other, this would be it.

That’s all I have for now. Till next time!

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How do I select the right keywords for SEO? (Part 1) https://appiloque.com/reading-list/how-do-i-select-the-right-keywords-for-seo-part-1 Mon, 25 Nov 2019 01:00:00 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ Keywords are an essential aspect of SEO. Here's part 1 of our guide to getting them right.

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Many businesses covet a spot on Page 1 of Google for that nice boost of visibility and targeted traffic. Some engage a digital marketing agency for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services, while others go out into the trenches to discover how to play nice with Google’s algorithm. 

We’ll be covering an essential aspect of SEO today – keywords. And if your business is looking to engage a digital marketing agency for SEO services, use this newly gained knowledge to evaluate your agency. Or if you’re the DIY sort, hopefully this information will give you a good start.

Let’s dive in! 

What are SEO keywords and how are they related to your digital marketing goals?

Keywords exist for two reasons. The first is to help people find the information they are looking for on the search engine. The other is to help search engines find websites with relevant content, so that these can be shown to users.

Look at it this way. When someone searches “SEO company singapore” they are clearly looking for an SEO company in Singapore.

On the flip side, the SEO company in Singapore wants people to find them. They may include those keywords in a grammatically correct manner where relevant in their website, so Google can clearly understand that they provide SEO services (and possibly other digital marketing services) in Singapore.

Makes sense, right?

The problem arises when businesses are unsure about what keywords to use. How do you know what phrases people are searching?

Keyword research can solve that problem.

Is SEO keyword research that important?

Get them keywords right, and Google will know what your website content is about. This makes it easy for the search engine to show users your website when users search for those keywords.

But more importantly, keyword research will let you get into your customers’ heads, giving you topics that will help guide your website’s content strategy.

What do we mean by this? 

Think about it. If you know what your customers are looking for or need answers to, it’ll be easy to create landing pages or blog articles that directly address these issues.

Such content relevance will not only make it easier for potential customers to find what they want, it’ll also establish your business as an authority figure within the industry.

When you prioritize an actual human user for your website content, you’ll create valuable content that is actually helpful. And that is actually what Google wants you to do!

Some say SEO keywords don’t matter anymore

There are people who don’t think there’s a point in doing keyword research. The truth is, there is no point in doing keyword research if you’re still stuck in 2006 SEO practices – which was when quantity was seen as more important than quality. 

You’d essentially be stuffing your content with keywords. For instance, if we wanted to rank for “SEO agency”, we’d simply insert a ton of those keywords in our website content.

Keyword stuffing no longer works. In fact, you’re more likely to be penalized for doing it. 

Nowadays, factors like these are far more important to help you achieve your digital marketing objectives:

  • Mobile optimization and usability: Whether or not your website displays properly and how fast it performs on a mobile device. We’ve written about Google’s mobile-first index and optimizing your website’s page speed previously.
  • Quality backlinks: Backlinks refer to websites that link back to your site. The more high quality sites that link back, the more credible or authoritative your site is seen by Google.
  • Semantically related phrases: Optimizing your website not just for a single keyphrase, but for other related phrases as well. We’ll get into that later in this guide.

The different types of SEO keywords 

The competition is fierce when it comes to ranking, so it’s essential to understand how to choose keywords that will provide you with the best results.

There are three primary types of keywords:

Head keywords are the most competitive, followed by body keywords and long tail keywords. 

Here’s an example to illustrate what these keywords look like:

keyword-category-division-backlinko-briandean

Source: Backlinko

You’ll probably get millions of search results if you do a search for “t-shirts”, but when you start specifying what type of t-shirt you’re looking for, the results you’ll get decrease, but become more relevant.

Long tail keywords are what we like to call “low-hanging fruit.” They’re the juiciest and tastiest, plus the easiest to reach up and grab.

Ideally, you want to include more long tail keywords throughout your website content. Because these keywords have the lowest competition, you’ll have a higher chance of ranking for them.

Latent Semantic Indexing: What is it?

“Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords are essentially keywords that are semantically related to your main keyword, used in a search query. These LSI keywords supplement the main keywords and act as helpers to give a stronger contextual information to the search engines and users. 

In short, an LSI keyword is a keyword (or word phrases) that has a high degree of correlation (relevance) to the primary keyword.”

Source: LSIGraph

Since we’re talking about SEO, here’s an example to illustrate this concept.

If you head over to Google right now and type in something like “SEO services”, you’ll find that Google will try and complete the search for you based on what other people look for.

LSI helps searchers find what they’re looking for, even if they’re unsure what that is. That’s why it helps to include keywords that are relevant to the ones you’re trying to rank for (also known as long tail keywords), on your website. 

Understanding what the user wants: Keyword intent

One of the most important things to understand about keywords is intent. You can do a lot once you understand the intention of your target audience.

Now, there are four different types of keyword intents. Each of these refer to what the reader is looking to achieve when they start conducting a search on Google.

If it’s hard to understand, think about how you would follow this process. If you wanted to buy a new pair of running shoes right now, how would you go about buying it?

You might first research about how to pick a pair of running shoes (informational). From there, you would want to know about the best running shoe brands (investigational). Lastly, you’d search for the exact brand and type to buy (transactional).

Need help getting your keywords right?

All this keyword stuff might sound like quite a bit of work. It is, and that’s okay because we’re here to help – part 2 of this guide is coming soon!

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your SEO and keywords, be sure to reach out and we’ll be happy to shed some light 🙂

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Should You Hire a Digital Marketing Agency (or In-House Marketer)? https://appiloque.com/reading-list/should-you-hire-a-digital-marketing-agency-or-in-house-marketer Mon, 18 Nov 2019 14:24:01 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ We break down the different types of professional digital marketing help and their expected costs.

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Let’s explore a rather common question today.

Which is better: A digital marketing agency or an in-house marketer?

In fact, it’s a consideration that we’ve encountered with quite a number of businesses.

And it’s understandable – after all, digital marketing can get very time-consuming. Attempting to plan and execute a strong strategy while juggling other parts of the business is a huge responsibility to take on.

For most companies, it makes sense to hire additional digital marketing help to hand over the baton. 

But with so much going on in a business, it can be difficult to know where exactly to invest your marketing dollars.

We’ll be breaking down the different types of professional marketing help, along with the expected costs in this article. But before that, we first need to address something important.

Designer ≠ digital marketer

This is not meant to be discriminating in any sense. We do work with a team of in-house designers, and there are already a ton of specializations within the design discipline itself such as graphic design, UI/UX design, and motion design. Plus, there are the neighbouring disciplines of photography and videography.

If you’re wondering why we’re even talking about this, it’s because several businesses we’ve met with seem to think that hiring a designer will solve all their digital marketing problems.

But just like design, there are many skills required for digital marketing. 

Here are just a few broad examples:

  • Ad Management: Ad set-up and optimization across popular ad platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Keyword research, on-page technical fixes, off-page link building, and web content management
  • Email Marketing: List cleaning & segmentation, content split-testing, and the setting up of automation campaigns 
  • Social Media Marketing: Content strategy & distribution, community management, and copywriting
  • Website Design & Development: Site architecture planning, UI/UX design, copywriting, frontend & backend development, and lots of miscellaneous technical work (e.g. domain name registration / migration, web hosting)

Naturally, there’s a need for analytics (analysis and actionable insights) for all of the above as well.

The point that we want to establish is: It’s extremely unlikely that a designer can be skilled in all aspects of digital marketing.

The cost breakdown

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the costs involved for the various types of digital marketing help. Our salary references are from two main sites: PayScale and Glassdoor.

Cost to hire a Marketing Manager

Hiring a full-time, in-house Marketing Manager is likely to set a business by a substantial sum. 

According to PayScale, the average Marketing Manager in Singapore makes SGD 71,115 per annum, or slightly below SGD 6,000 per month.

This sum is even higher on Glassdoor. SGD 98,000 a year translates to slightly above SGD 8,000 per month.

Cost to hire a Marketing Coordinator

A Marketing Coordinator, on the other hand, is a more affordable option. PayScale pegs a Marketing Coordinator’s average salary as SGD 39,984 a year, or slightly above SGD 3,300 per month.

Glassdoor has had less salary submissions for Marketing Coordinator positions in Singapore, but the figure of SGD 3,500 per month does come close to that of PayScale’s.

Cost to hire a digital marketing agency

Now that we’ve covered the costs of hiring in-house help, let’s talk about how much you need to set aside, to hire a digital marketing agency. 

We can’t speak for the prices of other agencies, but one thing is definite: Every business is different, and this means the digital marketing strategy, implementation plan, and acquisition channels will differ. 

As such, prices really boil down to the scope of work required. For our clients, prices can be anywhere from SGD 1,500 to SGD 8,000 per month.

It is quite a range. In fact, most digital marketing agencies will require a better understanding of your business needs or a more detailed brief before they can give you an accurate quote.

How do you decide which is right for you?

We’ve covered the costs involved, but how exactly do you know which is the right option for your business?

It’s a big question and the answer depends on your business needs. But don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you hanging!

When should you hire a Marketing Manager?

Assuming you’ve done your due diligence during the candidate screening and evaluation phase, having a full-time Marketing Manager on board means that you can step away from marketing and leave it in the hands of a directly responsible individual.

But wait, every Marketing Manager needs a team. We’ve met established businesses whose marketing department consisted of a single Marketing Manager, and that person is almost always half dead from the workload.

Marketing managers don’t work independently. They expect a team of marketers to assist them in their efforts, be it in-house Marketing Coordinators or external help from a digital marketing agency – so be sure to factor that in when doing budget planning.

And if you’re considering building a team of in-house Marketing Coordinators to support your manager, plan ahead because there will be extra work to build suitable systems, for your marketing team to succeed.

In a nutshell:

When should you hire a Marketing Coordinator?

Based on the figures above, the average Marketing Coordinator earns around 2 times lesser than a Marketing Manager – making this hire a more affordable option.

That makes sense. After all, a Marketing Coordinator is usually an entry-level position. 

Naturally, there are certain considerations for you to evaluate before deciding to hire one.

Do you have extensive knowledge in digital marketing? Do you already have a strategy and marketing processes set up for your business?

If you answered yes, then hiring a Marketing Coordinator is a great way to help you execute a process that’s already established. 

As Marketing Coordinators aren’t as knowledgeable or experienced as Marketing Managers, you’ll need to spend time to train them, so they can help you scale the business to your needs. 

Plus, there’s a high chance that you’ll need to train them in other areas of marketing that they aren’t familiar with. 

As most Marketing Coordinators are limited in their areas of expertise, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to oversee a large handful of initiatives. We’ve mentioned several aspects of digital marketing earlier on in this article, and there’s really a lot to juggle. 

Training a Marketing Coordinator isn’t just a one-off event either. Keep in mind that you’ll need to constantly manage and coach them on the next steps of the marketing strategy.

In a nutshell:

When should you hire a digital marketing agency?

Hiring a digital marketing agency is a great option for those who don’t have the time to recruit or manage full-time employees. Instead, you can leave it to the professionals to analyze your business from a fresh, outsider perspective – which often leads to a more informed and strategic way of doing things.

But before you go about searching for an agency, make sure you know the difference between the various types of marketing agencies.

Full-service agencies like ourselves will mimic the role of the Marketing Manager and oversee all aspects of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. While this is a more pricey option, it’s a viable investment for those who want to put their digital marketing on autopilot and leave it all to the professionals.

Specialized marketing agencies, on the other hand, will offer 1 – 2 services that they’re experienced in. For example, there are agencies that only specialize in web design & development, or only do SEO and digital advertising. 

If you’re certain that you only need a specific digital marketing service, specialized marketing agencies will work. 

But if you think your business will benefit from a more holistic digital marketing coverage and you prefer to communicate with a single point-of-contact, a full-service agency would be a better option.

Now, that all sounds great, but in all seriousness, a digital marketing agency may not be the right partner for all businesses.

In fact, if any of the below scenarios sound like you, you’re better off saving the money and not engaging an agency:

  • You are satisfied with your business growth rate
  • You have free time to learn about digital marketing and implement it yourself
  • You want results ASAP (digital marketing is a long-term investment that requires time to show ROI)
  • Your total marketing budget (not including salaries and CPF you pay to your marketing employees) is less than SGD 1,500 per month. 

In a nutshell:

Interested in hiring a digital marketing agency?

Alright! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the marketing assistance you need for your business.

And if you think that hiring a digital marketing agency is the right option for you, drop us a note and say hello. We’ll be happy to help 🙂


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Do You Need Website Maintenance If You’re Building A New Website? https://appiloque.com/reading-list/do-you-need-website-maintenance-if-youre-building-a-new-website Sun, 27 Oct 2019 07:51:09 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ Having trouble convincing your boss to budget for web maintenance? Here are the reasons for your case.

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Digital marketing has become a vital investment for businesses looking to survive the digital age – and a user-friendly web design provides a ton of value to the digital marketing professional that utilizes it correctly. 

But here’s the thing: Avoiding website maintenance means that an exceptional revenue-generating marketing channel may cease to function as intended.

Yes, even if you’ve recently revamped your site.

But if you’ve experienced difficulties getting additional budget to spend on website maintenance, you might recall facing these obstacles:

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the role of website maintenance as part of a healthy website.

Because the truth is, deprecated programming language can cause significant delays and losses. And unfortunately, that’s just the beginning.

Let’s start by examining why website maintenance can be so tricky in the first place.

It’s not immediately visible, but…

It’s understandable that the importance of website maintenance falls to the backburner. Unless you can spot functional red flags, it’s difficult to see when something isn’t working correctly.

But here’s a thought:

Usually, site owners end up contacting a web design company when something inherently goes wrong. They notice a lag or the site goes down altogether. At this point, your bottom line may already be incurring losses.

It’s for this reason that we heavily advocate for the need to perform regular website maintenance.

Allowing someone to ‘get under the hood’ of your site gives you the chance to see if everything is operating as it should. After all, potential customers are going to judge everything you do, and how your site functions is no exception.

Make sure you are putting your best face forward! Budgeting for maintenance during a website design refresh is critical to your success, so be sure to talk about post-launch support with your web design company!

Website maintenance crushes problems before they can begin

Your website is the most valuable digital asset you can have. It’s a lead generation machine!

Just as you think you’ve done working on your site, maintenance tasks and updating content kick in. And as we’ve written previously, every decision you make that affects the look and feel of your website will affect its performance.

Moreover, maintenance is not the earmark of a poorly designed site. Even the most modern, user-friendly sites out there require upgrades, updates, and other maintenance items.

Regular website maintenance can actually put the kibosh on problems before they even have the chance to start. 

For example, server-side PHP scripting language needs updating depending on the Content Management System you use. But most websites on shared hosting are running on PHP 5, when the latest language currently is PHP 7 (released December 2015).

If you’ve yet to update your language version, here’s what would have happened:

  • Plugins and themes become incompatible
  • Your site is exposed to hackers as older versions no longer receive security fixes
  • You no longer have access to active support (ended on January 19, 2017 for PHP 5.6)

Basically, not updating something even as simple as the language version can result in a ton of  problems. But with regular website maintenance, your website can continue running smoothly while preventing problems long before they even appear on-page.

What does website maintenance entail?

Now that you have a good understanding of why web maintenance is so important, let’s start examining what goes into website maintenance.

Performance

A crucial part of website maintenance is about the speed and uptime of your website – both of which are essential functions of attracting and keeping visitors on your website.

We’ve written about the importance of page speed previously, and it’s something that you cannot afford to ignore if you’re using your website to get sales or leads.

If your web design company also offers maintenance, make sure they’re able to provide suggestions to help your website perform better – be it through faster hosting, image and content size reductions, or other means of reducing your load time.

Next, you’ll also need to consider the “uptime of your website”. Are you confident that potential customers can access your website at any time? 

What if you accidentally break something when refreshing or adding new content?

Plus, will you be able to predict when your hosting will have issues, or when you might undergo a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack?

Probably not.

Uptime monitoring should be a part of your web maintenance program because it gives you the assurance that there will be capable people on hand in the case of an emergency – and this allows for good business continuity.

Compatibility

Websites are entire systems in and of themselves. This concept is particularly true for digital marketing professionals who use Content Management Systems (CMS).

Platforms like WordPress and Drupal offer plug-ins and templates galore. However, this also means that there is potential for your add-ons to conflict with one another. If you’ve ever been on this side of the coin, you know how nerve-racking it can be to install a template and watch your site malfunction!

The truth is that it’s part balancing act and part technical skill to adequately address compatibility issues. A reliable developer can create custom code and plug-ins to ensure that your features work cohesively together at critical customer touchpoints.

Plus, a developer can also create a sandbox, or staging website to test the compatibility of your website before it goes live – especially during updates.

“A staging site is a clone of your live website. It enables you to test any changes or major new features that you plan to implement in a secure environment. Developers often use staging sites as a testing ground in order to prevent errors occurring on ‘live’ websites, thus avoiding the issues and/or downtime that might otherwise result.”

Source: WP Engine

Using a staging website is something that we strongly recommend – it’s quite simply the best way to check if the changes or upgrades you’re implementing will cause issues with your website.

In fact, when clients engage us for web design and development projects, our User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is always performed on staging sites.

UAT is the final testing phase whereby our client determines whether a website can be accepted. And having the UAT on a staging site means that any errors or changes can still be addressed, without affecting the live version of a site (also known as the production site, which is the website that your users will see).

Likewise, using a staging site to to review any website updates or new features helps to prevent your production site from going down, if the event of incompatibility issues. 

Security

Most of our clients use WordPress as a CMS, and WordPress actually powers over 35% of the internet. The popularity of WordPress naturally attracts malicious hackers, who for instance, attempt to break into a site by guessing usernames and passwords.

Plus, with technology evolving at a rapid rate, it’s easy for hackers to find new opportunities to exploit code vulnerabilities. This is precisely why the WordPress community is always making changes and updates to its themes, plugins, and even the WordPress core.

Website maintenance therefore comes in handy to examine your website’s potential code vulnerabilities, and also to help you stay on top of new security alerts.

Backup and restoration

Finally, backing up and restoring your site is the icing on the cake when it comes to website maintenance. If you aren’t already conducting back-ups regularly, what would you do if your site suddenly went down and all data was lost?

Well, we don’t want you to have to think about that either.

It’s rare to lose all of the information on your site, but it does happen occasionally. 

You might miss a payment with your hosting service, get hacked, or pay for the mistakes of a well-meaning web administrator.

Instead of leaving things to change, making backups of your website, is the best way to ensure the continuity of your website’s function.

Budget for website maintenance, get a peace of mind

If you’ve had trouble convincing your boss to set aside budget for maintenance, hopefully the points we’ve brought up will provide enough reasons for your case. 

And if you’ve questions on web maintenance or need help with your website, please feel free to drop us a message. As a digital marketing agency with experience in web design and maintenance, we can help to keep your revenue-generating channel (aka website) in tip top shape.

Alright! Before we end off, here’s leaving you with some food for thought:

Thanks for reading. Over and out! 🙂

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Don’t Settle for Fluff: How To Be Confident of Your Agency’s Digital Marketing Strategy https://appiloque.com/reading-list/dont-settle-for-fluff-how-to-be-confident-of-your-agencys-digital-marketing-strategy Thu, 17 Oct 2019 09:02:23 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ Here's how to know if the digital marketing agency you're about to hire is the right one for your business.

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In today’s modern landscape, there’s no question that a big part of any company’s marketing strategy is digital. 

After all, consumers and businesses alike are always online – and one of the best ways to reach potential customers is by observing their digital behaviors and approaching them at the right time and place.

But executing a strong digital marketing campaign is a big job, and many companies often turn to a digital marketing agency for help.

So, how do you know if you’ve made the right hire? What if you’ve made the wrong choice?

That’s where we come in to help. 

We want to bring clarity to this ever-changing digital marketing landscape. In fact, education is something that we’re deeply passionate about, so much so that we’ve made it part of our manifesto.

Without further ado, let’s dig in and help you gain more confidence for your agency’s digital marketing strategy.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s first outline exactly what a digital marketing strategy is.

Every digital marketing strategy needs a business goal. 

If you don’t already have one, take a step back and analyze what is it that your business really needs, before jumping on the digital marketing bandwagon.

Spending on digital marketing without clear goals, or for the sake of “just trying”, is pretty much equivalent to pouring money down the drain.

Once you have your goals in mind, digital marketing campaigns are simply the building blocks or actions taken to help you move towards that goal.

Assuming you’ve your goals ready, here are the things you should look out for to ensure that your digital marketing agency is up to scratch.

Does your digital marketing agency understand your marketing goals?

So, you’ve spent some time thinking about your business goals. Next, you need to communicate these goals to your agency.

For instance, if you’re looking to increase sales leads that come in through your website by 20%, your agency should:

  1. Understand how much traffic your website is currently getting and analyze how much more traffic is needed
  2. Propose ways to send targeted, relevant traffic to your website through e.g. SEO or online advertising
  3. Understand your current conversion rate 
  4. Advise on how can website can improve its user experience and performance e.g. through page speed optimizations or web design best practices 

Of course, if you don’t already have your website analytics configured correctly, it’ll be hard for your digital marketing agency to know your current statistics (as stated in 1 and 3).

In such cases, your agency should include website analytics set-up as part of their proposal. For instance, our go-to tool is Google Analytics, which we’ve helped many clients configure.

In essence, whatever your marketing goals are, your agency should be aware of them – so it can plan a marketing strategy to meet them.

Does your digital marketing agency understand your target audience?

Next thing – any digital marketing strategy requires a clear understanding of target audience.

To put things into perspective, here are examples of bad audience targeting:

  • Anyone who owns a home
  • Anyone who consumes snacks
  • All parents

To properly define your target audience, your agency will need your support. After all, no one knows your business better than you do.

There are two types of information to care about:

Quantitative information

There are various types of quantitative data you can collect to better understand your customers.

Demography, or socio-economic data, would fall under quantitative information. Attributes can include location, age, gender, marital status, or education level.

Besides gathering data to detect potential trends from your customer base (which is typically what your company should be doing), your digital marketing agency can also utilize analytics tools to determine your online target audience.

For instance, to discover the location where most of your website traffic is coming from, we use Google Analytics once again.

Social media analytics tools are also straightforward ways to tell your audience make-up in terms of age and gender 

Of course, sharing of access rights is required for your digital marketing agency to view such data.

Having quantitative information then makes ad targeting a lot more efficient for your agency, because of how robust targeting options are nowadays.

Just take a look at the types of audience we can target here!

Qualitative information

It’s also a good idea to understand your target audience on a deeper level, rather than just by data.

What are the goals they’re hoping to achieve? What are their challenges? Can your product or service assist? 

While you may already feel like you have a decent understanding of your customers, it’s best to confirm your opinions by speaking directly to them. 

It’s also useful to have an idea of their hobbies and interests to achieve a more well-rounded idea of your buyer personas. If you’re a beauty brand, for example, it’s valuable to know that many of your customers may also be interested in health and wellbeing.

Now, your digital marketing agency is limited in the amount of information it can gather without direct contact with your customers.

However, if you’ve built up a strong social media following, part of its analysis should include the comments and reviews that customers are leaving for your business. 

What happens if you have trouble understanding your target audience?

There are always a variety of methods to get the target audience information you need, and a good digital marketing agency should be able to help you out.

For instance, your agency could propose a way to garner feedback from your customers – be it via email marketing or a social media campaign.

At Appiloque, we’ve ran a few email survey campaigns – these worked really well when our clients offered an incentive for respondents. We’ve also utilized Instagram Stories as a casual method for B2C companies to obtain feedback via polls, which is a great way to keep things personal.

Now that you’ve got marketing goals and target audience covered, it’s time to explore your agency’s understanding of the 3 main types of media: Owned, earned, and paid.

Is your digital marketing agency analyzing your owned media?

Owned media refers to the digital assets that a brand owns – anything that an organization has control over.

Often taking the form of content, every message that your brand releases can be classified as content in a general sense – whether it’s your website, social media posts, blog posts.

Content plays a part in increasing awareness, building credibility, and generating leads. And this means that there’s always a need to utilize owned content as part of a company’s digital marketing strategy. 

So whatever your business goal is, your digital marketing agency should analyze your current owned media to better understand your digital health.

Finally, it should help plan the next steps of your strategy – by identifying gaps or opportunities based on your target audience, then generating a content creation plan that includes promotion channels and content formats.

Let’s move on to earned media.

Is your digital marketing agency analyzing your earned media?

Earned media refers to the exposure a brand has earned.

In this digital age, things posted by the public play a big part in your company’s visibility and reputation – and your agency should be proposing how to get more of the good and less of the bad.

Earned media is particularly important when it comes to SEO and social media marketing. At Appiloque, some of the ways we’ve incorporated earned media into our digital strategy for clients include:

  • Online Reputation Management: This is particularly useful when businesses receive negative press mentions and need to rebuild their reputation. We won’t lie – there is a lot of legwork to be done, but improving your reputation is possible.
  • Community Management: Proactive two-way communication on social media, ensuring that both positive and negative comments are addressed.
  • User-generated Content (UGC) campaigns: Planning social media strategies that encourage fans to create or share posts about a brand.

Finally, let’s talk about paid media.

Is your digital marketing agency analyzing your paid media?

As the name suggests, paid media refers to any exposure your brand receives by paying for it.

There is a need to share access for your agency to analyze your company’s paid media efforts. After all, your agency wouldn’t be able to tell the paid media campaigns you’re running, just by taking a cursory look at your various online channels

Access sharing for paid media would apply primarily for your Facebook / Google ads account and your Google Analytics account. 

Don’t worry, because there are different levels of access.

For instance, the “Analyst” level access for a Facebook ad account only allows your agency to view ads and access reports. 

Likewise, the “Read-only” access for a Google Ads account works in a similar way.

This might be a bit complicated if you’ve been running paid media campaigns with an incumbent digital marketing agency and have recently engaged a new one. 

But if you’ve been spending a lot of money on paid media but aren’t seeing the results you hope for, it’s time to refine your approach and either scrap certain channels or focus on another platform. 

Getting data right from the source (i.e. ad account) is always the best approach, but sharing your previous agency’s reports might help your new agency gain further insight too.

Connecting the dots for a cohesive digital marketing strategy

Every business requires a marketing strategy that’s individual and unique, which is why it’s so important for an agency to fully understand a brand and its needs. 

There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy – and it’s a collaborative effort between the agency and the company engaging the agency, to do the groundwork for a solid strategy.

Ideally, the strategy should be planned for a longer-term period – and 12 months is typically a good starting point. After all, different online channels and tactics might come into play at different times of the year.

Plus, results need time, and time required is dependent on the type of digital marketing vehicle.

For instance, if you’re expecting results from an SEO investment to be visible within a month, you’ll end up being disappointed – but you will be able to see results from Facebook or Google ads within a month.

Alright! 

Hopefully you’ve managed to learn more about what needs to be done, so that you can be confident of your selection of a digital marketing agency.

If you’re still looking for one to understand your business and tailor a digital marketing strategy for your business, drop us a message! It’s something that we enjoy doing tremendously 🙂

The post Don’t Settle for Fluff: How To Be Confident of Your Agency’s Digital Marketing Strategy appeared first on Appiloque.

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How to Improve Your Website’s Page Speed for Better SEO Results https://appiloque.com/reading-list/how-to-improve-your-websites-page-speed-for-better-seo-results Fri, 04 Oct 2019 06:00:39 +0000 https://appiloque.com/reading-list/ Google has emphasized the importance of page speed and its impact on organic rankings. Is your website at risk?

The post How to Improve Your Website’s Page Speed for Better SEO Results appeared first on Appiloque.

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No one likes a slow site.

In fact, Google states that 53% of mobile visitors will leave if your pages don’t load within three seconds.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you and your SEO agency can improve your website’s page speed, and bring you closer to your digital marketing goals.

Let’s take a look!

First, what exactly is page speed?

You might have heard of different terms such as Fully Loaded Page, Time to First Byte, and First Meaningful Paint / First Contextual Paint – these are all various ways to measure your page speed.

What’s the difference?

  • Fully Loaded Page: The most straightforward method to measure page speed, this refers to the duration it takes to load all resources on a page.
  • Time to First Byte: This refers to the duration before a page begins its loading process. If you’ve ever clicked on a link and stared at a blank screen, you’ve experienced TTFB.
  • First Meaningful Paint / First Contextual Paint: A better representation of user interaction with a web page, this refers to the time it takes for a page to load enough meaningful or contextual content – so that a user can start reading or interacting with the page even before it’s fully loaded.

So, which of these is better?

To be honest, there’s no single “right” metric that’s better. Instead, what you should be doing is to improve your page speed across the various metrics. 

Why is page speed important for SEO?

Page speed is one of the most important aspects when it comes to on-page SEO optimization.

If a visitor stays on your site, Google gets signals that your site is valuable – and that’s one of the factors that helps your site rank organically.

However, if your site takes a lot of time to load, the visitor will “bounce”.

“A bounce is a single-page session on your site. [This happens] when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits. Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page.”

Source: Google

A high bounce rate signals to Google that your site does not provide a good user experience or is not valuable to visitors – resulting in poorer organic rankings. 

Search engines are evolving

Search engines like Google keep getting smarter. 

Google wants to provide the best possible search results to users, and sites that offer a poor user experience (e.g. slow page speed) do not help – in terms of maintaining its competitive edge and ad revenue potential.

After all, the more people use a search engine, the higher the ad revenue potential for the search engine.

If you need further proof about how important page speed is for SEO, check out Google’s official announcements below.

Page speed has been affecting organic rankings since 2010:

Site speed a factor - Since 2010
Source: Backlinko

Google has further emphasized the importance of page speed in 2018:

Site speed update, 2018
Source: Backlinko

So, is your site fast enough?

The best way to understand if your desktop site is fast enough is by running a Google PageSpeed Insights test.

When you enter the URL of the pages you want to check, Google will generate a report showing you:

  • Your page speed score
  • Problems causing pages to slow down
  • Opportunities to make your pages faster

The closer your score is to 100, the better. 

For instance, Appiloque has a score of 80, which is pretty decent but not perfect yet.

With page speed, there’s always room for optimization. That’s where the “Opportunities” provided by the tool comes in handy.

Next, it’s time to see how your mobile site fares with Google’s Test My Site – a more accurate and updated mobile site speed tester that Google has released.

This tool is going to show you how your mobile pages perform. It’s incredibly important as Google has shifted towards mobile-first indexing – which means that Google values your mobile site’s performance more than your desktop performance. 

Just like the PageSpeed Insights test, Test My Site will generate an in-depth report with problems and solutions that you can fix yourself or engage an SEO agency for.

How can you improve your page speed?

Improving your Page Speed can be tedious, but it has to be done.

It’s also not as simple as doing it once and forgetting about it.

If you want your site to stay fast, you’ll have to routinely optimize it with the following practices:

1. Compress your images

A 15MB image takes a lot of time to load. And since browsers usually load images first, a slow-loading image means a slow-loading page.

You can counter this immediately. Simply compress your images before you upload them.

For WordPress sites, a plugin that is a hot favourite is WP Smush. We personally use it for our clients, and it’s great for compressing images in bulk.

2. Compress your code

If you want to improve your website’s page speed, it’s time to do some code housekeeping.

There’s nothing like bloated code to slow down your site and make your visitors flee.

This covers your website’s:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Or any other code that it uses

If you’re no longer using certain features or plugins, be sure to remove them.

Additionally, if some features significantly slow down your page speed, consider removing them entirely.

For non-programmers, we recommend finding a web development agency with SEO experience that can help with this – or you’ll risk spending a ton of time trying to D-I-Y.

3. Set up browser caching

When you set up browser caching, your site loads much faster for repeat visitors.

The first time they visit your site, their browser will store the information about your site locally.

When they drop by the next time, your site will be up and running much faster because their browser retained the knowledge of your code.

One of the best ways to set up browser caching (which we personally do for our clients) is to edit the .htaccess file.

This configures how a web server responds to different requests, and is best edited by someone with programming knowledge.

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If you want to welcome international traffic to your website, a CDN is a great solution.

A CDN refers to a group of servers that are distributed geographically. It distributes content from servers that are geographically nearer to your website visitor, helping to speed up the delivery of Internet content.

For instance, if you only have servers in Singapore, your website will load slower for customers in Germany.

However, if you use a CDN, it’ll serve your content from servers in Europe, thus speeding up your pages.

5. Upgrade your hosting plan 

Your page speed can also suffer because of your hosting plan. This is common for Shared Hosting, where you rent a tiny portion of a physical server. 

With many websites sharing the same server, it only takes a few large websites (or websites receiving huge amounts of traffic) to consume too many resources – resulting in a lack of resources for your own site.

When that happens, your website page speed suffers. In fact, there’s even a chance where there’s a lack of bandwidth and people can’t load your site.

If you’ve optimized everything and your pages are still slow, it may be time to look for a Virtual Private Server (VPS).

You’ll get your own dedicated resources (CPU, RAM, storage, bandwidth). So, even if there’s a larger website, or a website that gets a ton of visitors on another VPS, you’re still guaranteed the resources that you pay for.

Alright! Those are the key things you can do to improve your page speed. Here’s a quick summary:

Speed(y) SEO services to bring you closer to your digital marketing goals

If you need help speeding up your site, drop us a message!

Let’s keep happy visitors on your site and improve those organic rankings 🙂

The post How to Improve Your Website’s Page Speed for Better SEO Results appeared first on Appiloque.

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