WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS) accounting for 60% of CMS systems across the web. Even more impressively, 28% of websites use WordPress full stop.
So what are the key factors that make WordPress so successful?
It’s open source
Everyone loves something for free, whether it’s a biscuit with your coffee or the website that puts your business online.
One of the most frequently asked questions around WordPress is “how much does it cost?” And although it seems too good to be true, WordPress is indeed free to use.
It’s supported by the majority of Website Hosting companies
Hosting companies such as 123Reg and 1and1 have WordPress in their kit bag meaning you can install it straight from their control panels and point it directly to your domain.
Is supported by over 55,000 plugins
The beauty of WordPress plugins is there is usually something available to fulfil the functionally you are looking for, removing the need to build anything in-house.
Whilst plugins are easy to search for and install, the real science starts in the application of those plugins within your website, supplementing your content, layouts and themes.
There are more than 11,000 different themes available
To help you kickstart your website design, you can download and install a theme to get you some of the way. A WordPress theme is a collection of files (stylesheets, code, images) that work together to produce the underlying graphical look and feel for your site without modifying the underlying software.
There’s over 11,000 of these to choose from, some paid for and some free, so if you have idea in mind, or are looking for some inspiration, you can search for themes from within WordPress, install and get configuring pretty quickly.
It’s scalable, you can use it to create your first blog or power an enterprise site
It’s true that many small and personal blog websites are on WordPress, but on the other hand businesses like Mercedes Benz, Bacardi and Sony Music use it too. Even Twitter’s most popular figure, Katy Perry, has her site on WordPress!
The point is that WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform that can be configured and tailored for any purpose.
It has strong community of developers, translators and contributors
WordPress is already a strong proposition, but it also boasts a huge community of developers constantly adding new features and making the platform even better.
You don’t become the most popular CMS in the world by standing still.
It comes in 62 different languages
As a global provider it’s no surprise that WordPress is available in so many languages. If you have offices abroad and users who speak different languages, this could be crucial.
It’s the good fit for B2B
Building a website for most businesses is part of the overall strategy to drive growth. With WordPress the tools, the resources and the optimised UI, mean that the buck doesn’t stop when your website is completed – the result you have is an evolving content platform and communication tool with which to engage your target audience.
Your website is only as good as the user experience
Despite making life a lot easier, WordPress, and any other CMS for that matter, will not guarantee you a successful website receiving thousands upon thousands of visitors every day. ‘Content is King’ as the saying goes – without great content, user experience, navigation, analytics, SEO and storytelling your beautiful masterpiece of a WordPress site is merely just a pretty picture!
If you’ve found a theme or struggling with your WordPress setup we would be glad to help! Get in touch here.
The use of automation and AI in marketing is provoking a lot of debate in the office. Mostly it’s around the insight you can gather from data, the role of experience and gut instinct and, ultimately, a brand’s ability to be agile.
Personally I think of agile marketing is an approach that lets you make small tweaks or radical adjustments to your marketing campaigns as they run. Quickly too.
Agile is just how marketing is
As anyone who has been in marketing for a while knows, there are an infinitive number of factors that can impact the success of your marketing programmes. Monitoring and reporting on campaigns constantly is a must, as is using project scrums that bring together the experts who can influence changes so if things aren’t going as planned you can adapt rapidly and get a better outcome.
To be honest, I’d say this is just how marketing is now whether it’s called agile or not. It’s simply a way for us to discuss the modern approach to marketing and differentiate from a pre-AI world.
Data has made us more agile in marketing
Of course the biggest difference today is the amount of data we have access to now. In the ‘olden days’ we were flying a bit blind. Marketing plans were formed much more on opinion and views rather than founded by data. The availability of data mid-course was also lacking so it was difficult to make well-founded adjustments nor did you have the prompts to meet with your team more often.
With traditional marketing, you often had a ‘big annual marketing kickoff’ usually featuring some awesome 50 slide PowerPoint someone had crafted using data from the previous year. This would be supplemented with quarterly review meetings.
The benefits brought by agile marketing
Modern ‘agile’, if you like, is very different. It’s a high-energy scrum every week using data – in real time. And of course there’s experience to draw on. The more you do the more you are able to follow your instinct and trust the data in front of you, or discount it if you see an anomaly.
In these scenarios, the benefits are clear: you are giving yourself every opportunity to adapt the plan, more often with the aim to achieve better results. You are constantly learning as well. The team picks up new skills, and in my experience, they are quicker at adjusting, as they are more regularly thrown into the deep end. And I think everyone would agree that you create more as well, helping to feed the collateral bucket.
Agile does have its downsides
The downsides are that your work is never done. Goalposts change constantly and so too does the budget – it has to. And with more going on, and more being spent mistakes happen more frequently or there’s a danger to do more things less well, so I always ensure we are ready to counsel the point at which doing less is more.
Agile Marketing the Essential way – an example
Here’s an example of how we do it at Essential, which explains exactly the point on reviewing and ensuring success. For one of the large operators, we found that its partners were not engaging so much with the new collateral marketed to them.
The web traffic we monitored revealed a fairly high bounce rate and low attention span – duration spent on the site. We introduced an interactive quiz to lead partners around the new content. As a result engagement visits, dwell time, downloads and so on increased by over 100% in the short term and further quizzes and other responsive activity has maintained engagement at the higher level solidly for the last 12 months.
Most importantly we didn’t wait for the campaign to run its course to get the full data set. Our experience showed us that we needed to respond sooner rather than later.
Be responsive, curious and impatient – the Agile way
And that sums it all up to me – data, inquisitiveness, impatience if you like and understanding the end customer helped to make the campaign a success. And it won’t stop there, we’ll continue to ensure it keeps momentum with tweaks as necessary.
I’ll be honest that when I started seeing references to #agilemarketing I did think, ‘oh dear here comes another buzz phrase’. But the truth is marketing has changed, the rules have changed (GDPR), your target audience has changed (much more savvy, suspicious and shorter attention spans), technology has changed (AI) and we have access to much more data.
Marketing has to be agile and responsive – the agile marketing approach is now a necessity. Your brand won’t survive without it.
This classic pancake recipe is versatile – in fact the batter you make can be used for Yorkshire puddings, thicken a little further to make American style pancakes or even line your friend’s shoes as a slimy practical joke!
What’s the purpose of your website? I’m beginning this article with that question because hopefully the content and structure of your website supports what you want your visitors to do on it. Whether it’s direct sales, making an enquiry, requesting a demo or the download of some specific content – all websites exist for a reason. So are your website visitors behaving in the way that you hope?
Call to Action
Your website contains one or several calls-to-action and a route or routes to get to them. Whether it is obvious or not so, it is really important that you periodically check:
- A) what portion of your visitors are reaching the CTAs
- B) what routes your visitors are taking from the homepage
- C) what your top landing pages are
- D) where your visitors are going from those landing pages
- E) where the traffic is coming from
- F) what your website bounce rate is (what portion of visitors are leaving having just arrived?)
Checking this stuff regularly means you have the insight to adjust your website content so that more people reach and complete those calls to action supporting your goals.
Google Analytics is a bit of a minefield of useful information about your website and your website visitors. There is so much information there that I think it can put people off at times. Bursting through the analytics cloud, here are five things to look at in Google Analytics to help you see where your audience is going:
1) Top Landing Pages
In Google Analytics > Behaviour > Landing Pages
The best overview of the pages acting as the starting point for your visitors would be the Landing Pages view. Using this you can immediately see the top 10 starting pages and the associated stats for those (sessions, new users, bounce rate and session duration).
2) Top Exit Pages
In Google Analytics > Behaviour > Exit Pages
Exit pages – you would hope you’d see your calls to action(s) here. If you aren’t then where are your visitors leaving your site?
3) Previous and Next Pages
In Google Analytics > Behaviour > All Pages
Pick a page, say Products, and see how your visitors are getting to that page and where they are going afterwards. If your aim is to drive visitors to look at your products and then contact you via your contact page, this report will show you what they are doing instead. Click on any /page and see how people are getting there and where they go next.
4) Behaviour Flow
In Google Analytics > Behaviour > Behaviour Flow
The Behaviour Flow report visualises the path users travelled from one page or event to the next. The report shows you your top landing pages and then where the visitors go from those. See the example below, the top landing page is a page called “/opensource” rather than the homepage which is surprising and warrants investigation.
The report helps identify potential content issues, if you are expecting people to travel from your homepage through to a contact page, for example, you can see this here or where they are going instead.
5) Bounce Rate
You want people to interact with your contact and click through to other pages on your site. Google Analytics calculates and reports the number of visits to an individual webpage or the website as whole (in which a person leaves the site without browsing any further). This is the bounce rate. A low bounce rate % indicates you are getting great interactions with your content.
On a lot of websites, blog articles have a high bounce rate. This is often because the articles themselves don’t link off to other content on the site. If the reason you are writing blogs is to attract new visitors from social media then you are shooting yourself in the foot if your blogs have no call-to-action or link off to other areas of your website that you want your visitors to go to.
See below, I’m looking at the Channel view (Google Analytics > Acquisition > Channels). Not much traffic is coming from Social Media but the Bounce Rate is much higher than from other channels. Also the session duration is pretty short too. Knowing that our social marketing efforts are pointing people to blogs we have written, the bounce rate % tells me that people aren’t staying on the site once they have arrived and the Avg. Session Duration of 44 seconds tells me that people aren’t reading the blogs either!
Websites are there to help attract and pull in more business for your organisation. You could be having quite a bit of success in driving people to your website through social and email marketing, SEO, Adwords and organic search but you are only reaping the rewards if you are converting that traffic through your Calls to Action. Use Google Analytics to understand where traffic is going and then make the necessary changes so that more people are following the write path on your site. Follow the yellow brick road!
Just so I don’t contradict myself, here is my really obvious Call to Action from this blog.
Time usually plays a part in any excuse these days but setting aside just a few minutes a day or even a week there is plenty you can still achieve in the world of digital marketing. Now 15 minutes is only a short space of time, so I’m not suggesting you can build and publish a whole website in this time and writing this blog post is certainly more than 15 minutes work, but by using content and tools you already have access to, along with the big wide web, there is still a lot you can accomplish.
With the stop-clock started, here’s a few things I managed to achieve in 15 minutes plus a few suggestions as to other uses of that time.
Using scoop-it, a tool used to aggregate news stories into your own newspaper site, I was able to use keywords and phrases to pull out the latest blogs and news stories across the www, post them to my scoop-it news page “Essential Marketing” and then take those ‘scooped’ urls and put them into a csv file for uploading to hootsuite. Hootsuite has a bulk upload facility allowing you to create a csv file with the date, post text and url of multiple twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter posts and then schedule those automatically.
Case Study or common theme or category summary and post
Pick some content from your current website and hash together a summary or link together through a common theme. (It’s a copy paste exercise plus a title). Additionally, schedule some social media posts for your piece of content.
Ask a question
For a wider project, ask a question and feedback the responses – using a quick and dirty survey tool, or just via a Q&A site like Quora. Treating this as a research exercise, this can take many forms, it depends a little on the question. Think of a question, ask a Q&A site and get the responses. You could create a blog post on this on your website asking thequestion and adding the reasoning behind why you are asking it.
Alternatively, we all ask google 10s of questions every day, pick one of those questions and write something on your website about what you found. I’ve managed many websites in my time, the most recent, a corporate site, the page with the most hits was one entitled ‘What is the difference between Small, Medium and Large’ companies. Just think – how many people ask google that. Guess where our page was in the google rankings for that search? No.1 of course.
Analyse some data
Google Analytics: get some insight into what content is working best on the site, what platforms and devices are being used, find out what people like to read and copy that for next time. See above – only through a couple minutes worth of exploring the analytics data on our website was I able to spot that the best content on our site was the stuff where we answered a common question or asked one. Doing this only took 5 minutes in reality, drilling down into the Content analytics stuff in Google Analytics. The outcome was that we starting creating more content that asked or answered a common business question.
Lead forensics: take a look at who’s been on the website recently and what have they looked at, who were the recent clickers in your email marketing campaigns. Who hasn’t opened your emails. If you are not doing extensive email marketing automation, pick out groups of people who haven’t engaged with your campaigns and resend those campaigns to them – this will achieve a couple of things i) it will help verify if they exist and help you clean your database, ii) it might reap some leads, iii) you’ll get some more traffic to your website. you may find some leads which sales have yet to spot!
Pick a specific topic and find out what people have been writing about that topic in the last few months. (Use twitter # search or google)
Research your clients, there might be something in their successes that can be leveraged for your own use.
Create an infographic and post. Our blog “Don’t be infotragic – how to create effective infographics” might help you.
People like pictures, they are easier to digest and take less time and effort on the brain. Struggling for ideas on what to create a picture of here’s a good’un:
Summarise the last quarter in work done across the business in pictures, it could include new clients, projects completed, coffees drunk, blogs written, #tweets, website hits, #meetings… you get the idea.
Write a short YTD summary on business wins, achievements, a news. e.g. Q1 roundup
Introduce a team member, new staff
Writing a short piece on a team member is an opportunity to show off the wealth of experience your organisation holds.
This blog post took longer than 15 minutes to write but I managed to flesh out the structure in that time. In fairness, it took longer for my colleague to review my copy than this took to write!
If you’re struggling to find a spare 15 minutes, our blog ‘Make time, not excuses’ gives 9 practical tips on how to be free up some time and be more productive.