SEO is an essential part of developing any website. Without proper implementation of SEO practices the website and its content will not be findable on search engines. Without showing in in search engines or in search queries – what was the point in developing the website?
If you want the website to be seen and used by the target audience, then you should be considering SEO from the very start of the project. Web developers often view SEO as an item that the digital marketing team will work on after development has been completed – but there are a few key SEO considerations web developers should keep in mind as they develop the website.
Here are the top six SEO considerations for web developers and web development teams to keep in mind DURING the website development process.
1. Mobile First Web Development
This should come as no surprise, Google prioritizes Mobile First Indexing. This means that the Googlebot scans the mobile version of a website before it scans the desktop version for search engine indexing. Furthermore, the mobile version of a website is used in Google’s search ranking calculation rather than the desktop version of a website. Prioritizing mobile first development best practices will help the website rank once it has gone live.
Mobile First Web Development Best Practices
- Make sure Google can access and render your content
- Use the same meta tags on mobile and desktop.
- Don’t lazy-load primary content on user-interaction.
- Google can not see lazy loaded content.
- Make sure content is the same on mobile and desktop
- If the mobile site has less content than your desktop site, consider updating your mobile site so that the primary content is the same as your desktop content.
- Use the same headings, make them meaningful & clear.
- Use the same meta titles & descriptions on mobile and desktop.
- Structured data
- Make sure your mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.
- Use correct URLs in structured data.
- If the URL’s change from desktop to mobile use your mobile URLs.
- Check visual content
- Use high quality images but in small file sizes.
- Use supported image formats.
- Mobile sites should have the same alt tags and titles tags on images as they do on desktop.
- Place videos high up on the page.
2. Website Speed and Page Speeds
Site speed and page speed are two top Google ranking factors. Google especially prioritizes mobile site speed, as Google indexes mobile websites first.
Page speed is not only crucial for user experience but impacts a crawler’s ability to navigate your site. Slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages. Resulting in a negative effect on website page indexing.
Page speed has a large impact on user experience. The longer pages take to load the higher the bounce rate and the lower the average time on page will be. Long load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions. Conversion rates drop about 4% for each additional second of page load time over 5 seconds. 70% of users polled said that slow page load times affect their willingness to complete a purchase on a website.
Site/Page Speed Key Metrics
- First Contentful Paint ( FCP ):
- When the browser rendered the first bit of content.
- Goal: 1.2 seconds or less
- Font load time is particularly important for FCP
- Ensure text remains visible during webfont loads
- Time To Interactive ( TTI ):
- The amount of time it takes for the pages to become fully interactive.
- Goal: 2.2 seconds or less
- Speed Index:
- How quickly the content of the page is visibly populated.
- Goal: 3.4 seconds or less
- Largest Contentful Paint ( LCP ):
- Measures perceived load speeds
- It marks the point in the page load time when the page’s main content has loaded ( usually the largest image or text block ).
- Goal: 2.5 seconds or less
- Contributing factors :
- Server Response Time
- Resource Load Times
- Client Side Rendering
- Total Blocking Time ( TBT ):
- The total amount of time that a page is blocked from responding to user input. Such as mouse clicks, keyboard presses, etc.
- Goal: 200 milliseconds or less
- Cumulative Layout Shift ( CLS ):
- Measures the visual stability of a page, quantifies how often things move around the layout unexpectedly
- Goal: 0.01 seconds or less.
- ou can improve CLS by including size attributes on image/video elements, animate transitions in a way that provides continuity.
Site/Page Speed Best Practices
- File Compression
- A configuration of files on the website that allows the website to serve smaller files via gzip compression and improve page load times.
- Removing any unnecessary characters from the source code to reduce the file size.
- Reduce Redirects
- Redirects create an extra step while loading a page more so redirect chains create several extra steps while loading a page which increase page load times.
- Prioritize scripts that are necessary for the initial page render, after critical elements are rendered other elements will begin to render.
- Optimize Images
- Keeping image sizes small, and ensuring they are the right format and compressed for the web.
- Leverage Browser Caching
3. Website Structure
Website structure is an important area to consider when optimizing for SEO. Website structure is how both users and crawlers will understand your website and its content. In the sense of its categorization, hierarchy and logical flow of information – these items are crucial to plan out in the development process of the website in order to avoid major structural problems post site-launch.
Page URLs are more than just the address you use to reach a page. It establishes your website structure. A clear site structure helps both search engines & crawlers understand your website from a high level.
In particular, it identifies how users travel around the website and the content hierarchy. Because Google is moving towards automation a well crafted URL should provide both humans and search engines with an easy to understand indication of what to expect at the page destination. Additionally, URLs carry some weight as a ranking factor. Google uses URLs to determine a page’s relevance to a search query.
Planning out URL structure during the development process creates clarity to the website structure, and helps to avoid URL changes after website launch which may create 404 errors or require additional 301 redirects.
Website navigation should be a clear path of links to access the website pages. From how URLs are broken out into categories to how you link those URLs into pages and menus. This should be intuitive. Neither users nor crawlers should not have to work very hard to find out what they are looking for.
Common Website Navigation Mistakes
- Having a mobile navigation that shows different results than your desktop.
- Personalization, or showing unique navigation to a specific type of visitor versus others, could appear to be cloaking to a search engine crawler.
- Forgetting to link to a primary page on your website through your navigation.
- This is called orphaning your pages.
4. Crawling, Indexing & Robots.txt File
A search bots’ ability to crawl a website is the first step to being indexed and subsequently ranking – bots get their crawling rules from the Robots.txt file.
If you are not seeing a website show up in search results this could be due to several crawler related issues:
- Your site is brand new and hasn’t been crawled yet
- Your site isn’t linked to from any external sites
- Your site’s navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively
- Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives ( found in the robots.txt ) that is blocking search engines
- Your site has been penalized by Google for spammy tactics ( looking at you keyword stuffers )
- Your site content is hidden behind a login
Crawling vs. Indexing
Crawling and indexing are the fundamental steps that take place while a robot is processing a website. It is important to know what these two processes are and what the difference is between them.
Crawling is when search engines scour the Internet for content. They are looking over the code/content for each URL they find. Indexing is when search engines store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant queries.
Robots.txt files are located in the root directory of websites ( ex. yourdomain.com/robots.txt ). It tells crawlers which part of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl. As well as, the speed at which they crawl your site.
Robot.txt Must Knows
- In order to be found, a robot.txt file must be placed in a website’s top-level directory. Robots.txt is case sensitive. The file must be named “robots.txt” not “Robots.txt” or “robots.TXT or any other iteration.
- The /robots.txt file is publicly available. You can add “/robots.txt” to the end of any root domain to see a website’s directives.
- Each subdomain on a root domain uses separate robots.txt files. This means that both blog.example.com and example.com should have their own robots.txt files.
- It’s best practice to indicate the location of any sitemaps associated with the domain at the bottom of the robots.txt file.
Web development teams should be aware of different crawl errors and how to resolve them. These errors are either 400 or 500 level http status errors. These are errors that make pages entirely inaccessible to site visitors.
- 400-level errors mean that the content cannot be found or it is gone altogether.
- 500-level errors indicate an issue with the server.
5. Website Redirects
Redirects include permanent ( 301 redirects ), temporary (302 redirects & 307 redirects ) and redirect chains. Setting up proper and appropriate redirects is essential. They impact user experience and crawlability.
Types Of Redirects
There are 3 main types of redirects, permanent, temporary and redirect chains. They all have different uses.
- Permanent Redirects: Or 301 redirects are a way to tell both searchers and search engines that your page has moved permanently. This option is best for SEO.
- Temporary Redirects: Or 302/307 redirects divert users from one URL to another temporarily. These types of redirects do not pass much “link equity” between pages.
- Redirect Chains: a redirect from one page to another that redirects to another page and so on. The problem with this is that it takes a few seconds for every redirect to load on the user side. As a result Google decreases the “link equity” each redirect. When a chain is too long, Google won’t even attempt to reach the final page.
Using 301’s Redirects To Avoid 404 Errors
301 redirects are the optimal choice in SEO. Without the redirect, the authority from the previous URL is not passed on to the new page. Which helps Google find and index the new version of the page. Additionally, this redirect ensures users find the page they’re looking for or something similar to it.
The presence of 404 errors on your site do not harm search performance. However it does impact the user experience. Allowing your visitors to click on “dead” links will take them to error pages instead of a page with what they were looking for or something similar, which can be frustrating.
6. On-Page SEO
On-page or on-site SEO is the practice of optimizing web page content for both search engines & users. These are the types of things that can improve search volume and rankings.
On-page SEO is key to gaining and improving SERP rankings and visibility. On-page SEO tells search engines about the content on your page and the value it provides to visitors.
Creating and publishing content is not enough. You must add value by optimizing for search engines and human experience. On-page SEO helps search engines find the most relevant search results for a query.
- On-page SEO includes items such as:
- Including page meta descriptions and titles
- Proper title tag markup on links
- Proper alt and title tag markup of images
- Use of H structure
- Use of internal links
- Clear URL structure
- Length and quality of content
So … Why Should Web Developers Should Care About SEO?
Simply put, just because you built a website does not mean people will see it. Nor does it mean it will just show up in relevant search results. Take the time to work with an SEO early on in a website development process. Working with an SEO or with the guidelines we worked through will ensure each page on your site has proper SEO structure and markup.
If you are responsible for building a website you are also responsible for making sure it has the ability to rank. Many site ranking factors come into play early on in the development process. Such as site navigation, mobile development, url structure, etc. If you are in the habit of circling in an SEO at the end of the project or solely assigning SEO tasks after the site is built, you are creating problems that do not need to exist.
Furthermore, site maintenance involves ongoing SEO practices. Things such as crawl errors, redirects, etc. Understanding the best practices and how to accurately address them without harming site visibility is an essential part of working with SEO as a website developer.
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It’s important for designers to take on a position of social responsibility when it comes to inclusive design. It is easy to forget about the limitations of a system or service design and get lost in our own biases. Inclusive design expands your business potential reach to include those whose needs are not represented in traditional audience segments. Utilizing an inclusive design strategy when designing your website and other digital brand materials gives your business the ability to reach a wider audience, and to meet the needs of those who have non traditional ways of interacting with your site design.
Here are the basics of inclusive design and how to get started with integrating it into your design strategy.
Inclusive Design Vs. Accessible Design
Although they are closely related, inclusive design is not the same as accessible design. Inclusive design focuses on the process of creating a design that can be used by a diverse group of people. While, accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered.
Both types of design thinking have a target goal of creating and finding solutions for the largest possible group of people. Accessible design can be seen as a piece of inclusive design. Inclusive design is the overarching concept of creating a design for a diverse group of people while accessible design looks at the specific needs and barriers of users who might not have access to a typical design. While one is part of the other they are not synonymous.
Where Inclusive Design & Accessible Design Overlap
For digital designers specifically, inclusive design looks at the diversity of experience that may exclude some people from using an interface effectively. Designers have to imagine different circumstances in which a user is excluded from using their products or services. Users who need inclusive design run into barriers that were initially created by those who were designing only for people who do not have barriers. When designers seek out and try to fix these inclusivity issues, they also address accessibility issues as well.
For example,text-to-speech audio is where inclusive and accessible design meet. This solution addresses both people who may have a disability, and those who are in a situation where they cannot or do not want to read. It is not uncommon for situational and ability-based impairments to produce overlapping pain points and user needs.
Designers should be aiming to create experiences that are all-inclusive. This means taking into consideration those who are outside of a target demographic, those with disabilities, those in particular environments with differing abilities, and other unique circumstances. Look for cases of exclusion to address that are about context and ability.
Email and text messages were initially created to include those with disabilities. Now these features are used by everyone and include elements of inclusive design. Creating design solutions that are both inclusive and accessible can change the way we all interact.
It takes time and effort to create with all of these factors in mind. But it is always worth it in the end to make customers happy and to keep up with competitors. It has become standard practice for businesses such as Microsoft and IBM to utilize inclusive design in all their work.
How Can Designers Incorporate Principles of Inclusivity Into Their Designs
A place to start is by imagining the context or environment in which your user is interacting with this design experience. What is the user doing at that moment and what is their end goal? Where are they and what are the environmental factors? These are vital things to keep in mind to ensure that you are covering all the bases. Finding solutions that apply to certain scenarios may also apply to much broader audiences.
How to Recognize Exclusion In Design
Although there is no clear way to begin, a common way of starting to implement inclusive design is by recognizing exclusion in the first place. Listen and learn from one’s audience, then find and tackle the issues that you can control. Make sure you listen to all perspectives early and often. Designers should be thinking about inclusivity from start to finish. Don’t make inclusive design an afterthought. Imagine the challenges it would bring to make these changes after a project is almost complete.
Being proactive in identifying points of exclusion is essential in integrating an inclusive design. Take the time to understand how users are actually using your site and how those who cannot see, hear or type may be excluded from using your site due to limitations with design. Understanding where they are being excluded is the beginning of recognizing exclusion in your design. From there you can begin to adjust and include features for those identified users. These can turn into steps in your process of making all designs inclusive.
Ready to Get Started with Inclusive Design?
By taking the time to really think about inclusivity in your designs, you are opening up doors to more users, new markets, and bettering your own design practices along the way. It is all about how personal attributes are shaping the market of your product or service. Make sure that you are watching and listening to a diverse range of people, then develop your roadmap for design, development, and production.
Looking for a team that has experienced designers who are open-minded and listen to your needs? We’ve got the solution for that. Connect with our team today to get started.
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Here at Solution Agency we have launched hundreds of websites during our 25-year existence. One of the most misunderstood tasks of a website launch is making DNS changes. DNS is one of the most critical parts of any company’s website uptime and unfortunately, most people don’t even know that it exists. So we here at Solution we thought it would be beneficial to take a moment and explain DNS and how it works.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name System. Think of your DNS as a traffic cop of the internet. DNS handles pointing web traffic in the direction it needs to be going in order to keep things streamlined.
Think of it this way, the DNS has two hands. One is pointing emails to your email IP address and the other hand is pointing website viewers to your website IP address. Now, there is a lot more to it than this, but these two principles are a good starting place when you are new to working with DNS.
Most people only care that their website and email are working. Typically, when it’s not working, they call their web or IT person and have them fix it. However, it is still good to know some basics about your DNS regardless of if you are the CEO or the IT person. I have included some terms as well as some brief explanations below to help you get a basic understanding of DNS .
A Visual Overview of How DNS Works
Where is Your DNS Located and How is it Managed?
DNS is a series of records that are most commonly hosted on your website registrar’s(like GoDaddy or Network Solutions) nameservers. Nameservers are servers intertwined with the Word Wide Web that store DNS records. Every single domain name is linked to nameservers. Often nameservers are thought of as phone books containing the IP addresses associated with domain names. Nameservers connect your domain to your hosting provider. They let the internet know what specific server hosts a particular website.
The Most Common DNS Records and What They Do
The A records are used to point a domain or subdomain to a certain IP address. The A record is the most common type of DNS record used – and the one you are most likely to encounter. Its main function is to point a domain or a subdomain to a particular IP address. In other words, thanks to the A records you are capable of reaching a website on the internet.
Why is it called an A record? The “A” actually stands for Address, because this kind of record helps your computer find the correct server when you try to access a website.
For example, if you have a site called “mywebsite.com” and its A record points to 184.108.40.206.1, it means that when someone makes a request to mywebsite.com it will be directed to the server which has assigned the IP address 220.127.116.11.1.
Here is an example of an A record:
If you have not correctly set your A record for your domain to the server your website is actually hosted on, your domain (website URL) will not be linked to your website and people will not be able to travel to your website when our domain name.
MX records stand for Mail Exchanger. This record is vital to the proper functioning of your email system. MX records tell the internet which mail server is responsible for managing and hosting your emails.
Most MX records have more than one record and are ranked in priority order. The reason for this is that if the first priority MX server is unavailable then the next priority server will be used to ensure that your email is working properly.
A very commonly used mail service is Google’s G Suite. See below for an example of Google’s MX records:
CNAME stands for canonical name and this kind of record is used to create an alias between two different domains.
For example, you can point mywebsite.com and www.mywebsite.com to the same website hosted on the same server by using a CNAME record. Here is how this would be implemented:
An A record would be created for mywebsite.com and pointed to the server IP address. You would then create a CNAME record called www.mywebsite.com and point that to mywebsite.com. The advantage of doing this is that if you needed to change the website IP address you would only have to make that change to one record instead of two.
A couple of important notes about the CNAME DNS record:
- If there’s no A record, then the CNAME record won’t display anything when you try to access the record.
- You must always put a period at the end of the CNAME record. The period at the end of the domain name is very important because if you don’t use it, then the DNS server will assume the domain is a subdomain. So instead of subdomain.domain.com you will get subdomain.domain.com.domain.com Some systems include the dot automatically, but if you are not sure about it is always better to type the dot on your own.
Here is a sample CNAME DNS record with corresponding A records:
The TXT, or text records, have different functions, but all of them are used to display certain kinds of information or data for sources outside of your domain. The TXT records are used to manage important records such as SPF and DKIM records discussed below.
The SPF record, also known as Sender Policy Framework record, is one of the most important records in regards to email. SPF records are important because they will tell which hosts are authorized to send emails from a particular domain.
If an SPF record is not created in your DNS records, chances are that your emails will be rejected or blocked by email recipients. To create an SPF record you will need to use a TXT record. One of the most common SPF records is for Google mail.
Here is an example record:
If creating a record like this seems daunting, don’t worry! Many third-party email services providers like Google will provide you with their SPF record. All you have to do is add the TXT record to your DNS. Keep in mind that there shouldn’t be more than one SPF record per domain. If you try to create more than one it could lead to an error in the DNS zone or it will create a conflict for other servers where they are unable to detect which is the correct record.
There are some nice tools available to check and see if your domain has a valid SPF record. MX toolbox has a great tool specifically for this purpose.
DKIM records, which stands for Domain Keys Identified Mail, is an authentication mechanism for email. DKIM records were created as a way to fight SPAM emails.
When a company utilizes this type of TXT record it is making itself responsible for the emails that are sent from its domain. The DKIM record provides an encryption key and digital signature that verifies that an email message was not forged or altered in any way. This will improve the security of your email and increase deliverability.
Here is an example of a DKIM record:
As you can see, a DKIM record is a long encrypted TXT record that is unique for each domain. Fortunately, email service providers such as Google have instructions on how to easily create DKIM records.
Managing Your Web Presence Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting
Though this article only scratches the surface of the power, and various aspects of DNS, hopefully, it provided you with a little more information on the basics of what DNS is and how it works.
Have DNS questions? Need help on your next web development, design or digital marketing project? Contact Solution Agency, we are your partner solution for all things digital. Our expert team of web developers, designers, and marketers is standing by to help you with any project that you have in mind.
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“Trends come in cycles.”
Almost everyone has probably heard some version of this adage. It’s something I first remember hearing as a teenager, thinking “Yeah right. Why would bell-bottoms ever come back?” But as the design, layouts, palettes, and aesthetics of the 1990s are in full revival now, the phrase continues to ring more true with each generation.
Even Apple can’t resist the pull towards two decades prior, announcing a new line of iMacs in fresh pastel colors. Though not quite as vibrant as their hardware in the 90s (and missing that awesome transparent plastic), these colors do evoke a different feel than the variety of metal finishes Apple has offered for their devices for the past decade.
It seems the 90s is upon us again so let’s take a look at some of the defining design trends from the decade, trace their origins, and learn about the driving factors behind these trends.
1990s Design Trends
“Never mistake legibility for communication”
David Carson, Ray Gun Magazine
Carson’s sentiment implies that even though something may be clearly legible and understood, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the proper meaning or tone was conveyed. Born out of angst and 90s counterculture, grunge follows a lineage and pulls inspiration from graffiti and the punk music scene while embodying that same chaos and unrest in their visual design. Rough edges, tattered textures, and misaligned type all converged to make the distinct and chaotic style of grunge that continues to see innovative applications today.
Styles of music including Acid House and Trance with origins in the 1980s began to define a look all their own in the 1990s. Gatherings for these musical events began to go by the more illicit name “raves.”
While not the full-blown descent into debauchery that the nightly news of the time made them out to be, patrons of raves would occasionally be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Combine this with dark environments featuring strobing lights and you’ll quickly realize legibility was at a premium.
As a result, designs featuring bold, high contrast typography mixed with psychedelic figures and geometry are at the forefront of this design trend. Present-day, these trippy visuals are now often combined with motion graphics to create even more captivating and immersive designs for digital album art, live performances, and music videos.
While the Brutalism aesthetic wasn’t actively or intentionally created in the 1990s, it was a product of the technical limitations of the time. Today’s designers are very intentionally curbing from these designs of decades past.
Borrowing its name from the minimalist, barebones architectural style, Brutalism in the design world gains its look by employing only the most rudimentary of technological advancements in order to reflect back upon a time when design, specifically in the web and digital world, was much more limited. Effects that mimic basic HTML formatting techniques, text effects generated by program defaults (think Microsoft WordArt), and retro operating system elements are meant to give a raw and barebones appearance.
Pushing Brutalist design even further, some artists (Anti-Artists?) have paved the way for what’s now called Anti-Design. This aesthetic seeks to actively create ugly and confounding designs utilizing a mishmash of nearly all of the previously mentioned trends. These designs are loud and grabbing, forcing their audience to pay attention by bucking expectations for how layout, design, and user interface elements can look and function.
So now that we understand the basics of some of the popular 1990s design trend revivals, why exactly did those designs take formation in the first place?
Availability of Technology
One of the greatest contributors to design trends In the 1990s was the significant advancements and wider availability of design, editing, and print technology, both hardware, and software. The Knoll Brothers published Photoshop 1.0, leading the way for digital editing software. Foundries began to digitize and distribute their font libraries via CD (some even on the World Wide Web!), creating even more options for designers. Computers, scanners, and printers reached a price point that allowed for much greater adoption.
Even though these new design instruments were becoming more widespread, in some cases artists continued to use the same design methods learned in their punk heyday (70s & 80s). As a result, trends that began life in the analog world began to see themselves recreated digitally. One example being the continued evolution of grunge style as digital methods became more readily available.
In the case of punk and grunge music scenes, zines and posters would often be collages, cut and pasted, splattered, painted over, duplicated, and run through however many Xerox passes were necessary to get the desired look. Made with an underground budget and less focused on traditional design elements, each of these steps chew into the artwork and give it that iconic grunge and grit. With the introduction of applications like Photoshop, each of these steps could be consolidated into one file as well as be shared and copied between artists.
Trends Come in Cycles
Young adults today have grown up with computers and design software readily available. And their inspiration comes from the far-off land of the 1990s. This isn’t to paint a target on our younger generation. Much like the deluge of 1980s related media reappearing in recent years, from Stranger Things to a Blade Runner sequel, each cycle looks back about 20 years. Every generation is guilty of looking to the past for inspiration. There’s an allure and mystery to time periods before one’s own, particularly when they are not so far in the past that it’s impossible to imagine.
Art and design trends are artifacts of the past, with a distinct origin in time and occasion that brought them into existence, but that doesn’t mean they’re bound there. Trends of yesterday offer a lens through which to compare where we’ve come from to where we are now. What was considered good then? Is it still? Can we refine it? As time continues to march on we can look to these trends for nostalgic inspiration, and lessons learned.
Take Trends for a Test Drive
Want to see what your brand can look like through the lens of past and present design trends? We take inspiration from every decade, combined with the latest design technology and your brand requirements to help you present your brand in new and relevant ways. If it’s time for a brand makeover — our team can help to find the design solution that is right for you. Connect with our team today.
Digital Ad Targeting in the Wake of iOS 14.5
The recent iOS 14.5 data tracking privacy update from April 2021 has advertisers scrambling to figure out how to change up their digital advertising mix. The iOS 14.5 update allows iOS device users (basically, anyone that uses an iPhone!), to opt-out of data sharing on apps on their device. While this update affects all apps on iOS, this update poses a significant threat to the efficacy of Facebook and Instagram ads in particular, which heavily rely on collecting user data for its ad targeting options.
Facebook is projecting that only 20-25% of iOS users will continue to opt-in to data sharing. Once a user has opted out of data sharing on the Facebook platform you are no longer able to target personalized ads to them through interest, demographic, and lookalike targeting. Since the rollout of this iOS update, early data is showing nearly a 60% drop in Facebook ad performance.
Along with reducing the availability of target audiences for personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram, this update also makes it harder for advertisers to collect and measure data from ads — data like conversions — making it harder for advertising to see how many sales or lead conversion actions were attributed to their Facebook or Instagram ads.
While this update has not yet affected Android platforms, we can likely expect to see similar privacy updates rolling out on Android phones sometime in the future as global privacy standards continue to evolve. In the meantime, cost-per-click prices for Android users are skyrocketing, as they make up the bulk of remaining target-able audiences.
Key takeaway: Facebook and Instagram now have a much smaller sample size of audience data available for ad targeting. Advertisers may be paying more to reach someone who doesn’t totally fit their target audience. For the foreseeable future, we can expect to see Facebook and Instagram ads less effective for the amount of money spent.
(Re)Mixing Your Digital Advertising Mix
In the wake of the iOS 14.5 update, I’ve had many clients asking me about different advertising options that will help them reach their target audiences, particularly ad targeting options for Google Display and Google Video (Youtube) ads. Many smaller advertisers had previously opted to spend less on these channels in favor of Facebook and Instagram, as the targeting was more granular and costs were typically lower.
A lot of our clients are local businesses and do not have huge advertising budgets to waste on generalized Facebook campaigns that are not helping them reach their target audience and are unable to correctly track results. Google Display ads and Google Video (Youtube) ads present a way to continue targeting audiences with some granularity in places online where your audiences are already hanging out; these campaign types are also able to utilize visual ad formats similar to Facebook.
Do we think that advertisers should abandon Facebook and other social advertising altogether – absolutely not! But we do think it’s a good idea to reevaluate your digital marketing strategy and advertising mix frequently to determine if your digital mix is delivering you the best possible ROI for your ad spend.
Thinking about adding Google Display ads or Google Video (Youtube) ads into your digital marketing mix but don’t know where to start? Read on…
Google Display Ads
What are Google Display Ads?
Google Display ads are ads that are shown on articles, websites, or videos that consumers browse. With Google Display ads your ads are shown across the Google Display Network (GDN) — over 2 million websites that reach 90% of the internet.
You may already be familiar with Google Search ads; these are the ads that appear in search results when you enter a search query (keyword, question, etc.). Google Search ads target people actively searching for a specific query. Google Display ads, however, are a little different. Google Display ads show ads to people who are in set targeted audiences, or on websites of specific topics passively, when people are not actively searching.
Since Google Display ads are not predicated on a search query, they can be a fantastic way to spread awareness about your brand/product to a larger audience who may be interested in your products/services.
Google Display ads can also be a fantastic tool in your remarketing mix, targeting people who have previously visited your website or completed a conversion action to help keep your brand/product top of mind by following these users around the web and displaying ads to them.
What Do Google Display Ads Look Like?
Google Display ads are (typically) a visual ad format. You can utilize both animated and still ad assets, as well as video assets in your Display ads. There are a couple of different ad types you can choose from within your Display campaign — we recommend using a mix of both for best results.
Google Display ads have two main ad types you can choose from:
1. Image Ads: These are still or animated images that have no additional ad copy or call-to-action (CTA) text associated with them. You create your ad assets in a variety of sizes that fit within different ad spots within website headers, sidebars, or main content.
For example, this banner ad was spotted within the content of a blog article on our client’s website:
2. Responsive Display Ads: Responsive display ads combine still images or video assets with text and CTA buttons. Within Google Ads, you can choose up to 15 images, and up to 2 video assets to combine with a selection of headlines, long headlines, descriptions, and CTA buttons. Google then dynamically picks and chooses assets to display together based on available ad sizes, audience, and past performance data.
For example, a responsive ad may look like this furniture company ad — with an image, a headline, a description, and a clickable button:
Google Video (Youtube) Ads
What are Google Video (Youtube) Ads?
Google Video (Youtube) ads are video-based ad campaigns that allow you to reach your audience on Youtube and other Google video partners. With Google Video ads you can choose for your video to appear within Youtube search results, Youtube videos, or on other video partners within the Google Display Network. Video ad content must be hosted on YouTube.
Google Video ads work in a very similar way to Google Display ads — they appear to targeted audiences passively and most formats do not require a search query to appear.
What Do Google Video (Youtube) Ads Look Like?
Video ads are exactly what they sound like: a video is your ad creative. Videos can vary in length based on which ad format you choose.
Google Video ads have a few different ad formats you can choose from:
Skippable in-stream ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Skippable in-stream ads play before, during, or after other videos. After 5 seconds the viewer has the option to skip the ad.
Non-skippable in-stream ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Non-skippable in-stream ads must be 15 seconds or shorter, and they are able to show before, during, or after other videos. The viewer does not have the option to skip the ad. Non-skippable in-stream ads can also appear on Youtube TV depending on eligibility.
Both types of in-stream ads might look something like this:
Video discovery ads: appear within Youtube search results or on the Youtube mobile homepage. Video discovery ads are a thumbnail image from your video combined with text that invites people to click the video to watch.
Video discovery ads that appear on the mobile Youtube homepage might look something like this:
Video discovery ads that appear in Youtube search results will be at the top of the search results. Here I searched for “real estate” videos and we can see that a video discovery ad is a top result:
Bumper ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Bumper ads can also appear on Youtube TV depending on eligibility. Bumper ads must be 6 seconds or shorter and are non-skippable. Bumper ads can play before, during, or after another video. Bumper ads look nearly identical to the in-stream ads listed above, but they do not contain a “Skip Ad” button.
Outstream ads: are mobile-only ads, and appear on websites and apps that are Google video partners. This ad format is not eligible to run on Youtube. Outstream ads can run in a variety of different mobile placements such as banners, interstitials, and more. Outstream ads begin playing automatically with the sound off, and views must tap to unmute the ad. An example of an outstream ad might look something like this:
Targeting Options for Google Display & Google Video Ads
Okay – so now that you know the basics of what Google Display and Google Video ads are and how they look….how do we get these ads in front of the right audience? We don’t want to waste time or money serving ads to people that are not going to perform the desired conversion action, so taking the time to understand your different ad targeting options is key.
Google Display and Google Video ads have a huge range of targeting options to help you get your ads in front of the right audience. We do suggest going through some brand positioning exercises and having a good understanding of your consumer’s mindset to help you understand who your target audience is before this point.
The two ways to target display and video ads are through:
- Audience Targeting
- Content Targeting
Within those two buckets falls a number of subcategories. It can seem overwhelming when you are first jumping in (feeling a little TOO overwhelmed? Reach out to our team for help today.) – but stay with me! We are going to break down all of the different categories and how to implement each type of ad targeting below…
Google Display & Google Video (Youtube) ads allow you to set the audience that you want your ads to reach. You can select a range of features that fit your ideal target audience — such as their demographics (i.e. age, gender, income), personal interests (i.e. cars, real estate, hip-hop music), things they are actively planning or researching (i.e. someone who has added new running shoes to their shopping cart), lookalike audiences (audiences similar to your chosen audience), and remarketing audiences (people who have interacted with your ads or website previously).
Key takeaway: Audience targeting defines who your ads are served to.
Demographic targeting allows you to choose audiences that fall within specific demographic groups such as:
- Parental Status
- Household Income
Benefits of using demographic targeting:
- Align ad delivery with your base target market.
- For example, if you sell orthopedic womens shoes, you might want to select an age and gender demographic that fits this product (i.e. Ages 45-54, 55-64, and 65+, Female)
How to set demographic targets in your campaign:
1. By default when you create a new campaign all of the available demographics will be active. To change targeting for your campaign, select the ad group within your campaign that you want to adjust. Then select “Settings” from the left-hand menu.
2. On the settings page you will see a button that says “Edit ad group targeting.” When you click this button you will be taken to a screen where you can edit your demographic targeting. Once you have made your selections click the blue “SAVE” button at the bottom of the screen to apply your demographic targeting selections to your campaign.
3. If you want to remove demographic targets, exclude demographics, or set specific bid adjustments for different demographics. You can do this within the ad group you want to edit, select “Demographics” from the left-hand column. From here you will see you can select the different demographics.
4. To make adjustments to a particular demographic, select it from the list and click the “Edit” dropdown button. You will see a dropdown menu populated with the different options of things you can configure on that particular demographic. For example, if you wanted to bid higher on the 25-34 age range, you would select “Change bid adjustments” from the dropdown.
Location targeting options allow you to selectively limit the availability of your ads by geographic areas. For example, a brick-and-mortar furniture store that doesn’t sell online might only be interested in targeting a 20-mile radius around their store — as any further than that and customers are unlikely to visit the store location.
Benefits of using location targeting:
- Target areas where your customers actually live
- Useful for businesses that only serve certain areas
- Useful for excluding areas
- For example, if you are a mental health services facility that only takes Ohio Medicaid patients, you would want to exclude all states other than Ohio.
How to set locations in your campaign:
1. To set location targets in your campaign, select the campaign you would like to add locations to in Google Ads and then select “Locations” from the left-hand menu.
2. In this particular campaign, you can see we are targeting the USA by default. If we want to edit this, we will need to click on the blue circular pencil icon, and from here we can add in specific locations, or radiuses to target. Once you have selected your locations, hit the blue “SAVE” button at the bottom of the screen to add your location targets to your campaign.
Interest targeting gives you options for different categories that people have shown interest in. Ads will be shown to people with an interest in these categories, even if they are on a website/video/channel about another topic.
Within interest targeting, there are several different interest categories you can choose from:
- Affinity audiences: People who have strong interest in a specific topic.
- Custom affinity audiences: Custom audiences that you can create that are highly tailored to your brand or product compared to the more broad standard affinity audiences. You can set custom affinity audiences with interests, URLs of related websites, and by linking related apps.
- For example: if you are a store that sells Football memorabilia, you could select the broad affinity target of “Sports Fans”. Or you could add in additional specificity with custom affinity audiences by entering interests like: sports collector, football, football fans, entering “NFL.com” as a related website and then connecting apps that Football fans might be interested in, such as the NFL Fantasy Football app.
- For example: if you are a store that sells Football memorabilia, you could select the broad affinity target of “Sports Fans”. Or you could add in additional specificity with custom affinity audiences by entering interests like: sports collector, football, football fans, entering “NFL.com” as a related website and then connecting apps that Football fans might be interested in, such as the NFL Fantasy Football app.
- Life events: Life events allow you to reach customers based on recent lifestyle or behavior shifts and life milestones such as: moving, graduating college, or getting married.
- For example: if you are a wedding planner offering services, you might want to target people who have the life event “getting married.”
- In-market audiences: In-market audiences are groups of customers who are actively researching and considering buying products or services.
Download the full lists of affinity categories, topic placements and in-market categories.
Benefits of using interest targeting:
- Reach users that have interests that align with your brand or product and avoid wasting advertising dollars on audiences whose interests do not align with what you are trying to sell.
- Reach users who have high-intent to buy
- Reach users whose recent life events your product or service
How to set interest targets in your campaign:
1. To set interest targets in your campaigns, select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. Note: Interest targeting is set at the ad group level.
2. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.
3. Once you have selected any affinity audiences, in-market, and life events you want to target, they will populate the right side of the field. Then click the blue “SAVE” button to apply the audiences to your campaign.
Lookalike Targeting (Similar Audiences)
Lookalike or Similar Audience targeting, is a targeting feature that lets you expand the reach of your best-performing audiences, or remarketing audiences by targeting new users with similar characteristics.
Benefits of using lookalike targeting:
- Expand the reach of your campaign to new users who are similar to your existing users.
- Similar audiences are updated in real time and use Google’s machine learning to analyze user signals to deliver your ads to people who are likely to convert.
How to apply similar audience targeting to your campaign:
1. To set up similar interest targeting in your campaigns, select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.
2. In the audience selection field, you want to choose “How they have interacted with your business (Remarketing and similar audiences)”, and then choose “Similar audiences” to see the audiences available to you. Available similar audiences populate automatically based on your active remarketing lists, and custom audiences.
3. Once you have selected your similar audiences, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the audience selection box. After you have completed your selections, hit the blue “SAVE” button to apply similar audiences to your campaign.
Remarketing (Customer Match)
Remarketing is a powerful way to help you deliver ads and reach people who have previously visited your website, completed a website purchase, watched your videos, or otherwise interacted with your brand/business in the past.
Remarketing is a huge topic — we could write an article about remarketing alone. However, we are going to focus on the basics of remarketing audiences as it pertains to targeting for Google Display and Google Video ads. (Let us know if you are interested in a longer guide on remarketing!)
The two primary types of remarketing audiences that apply in this scenario are:
- Website & app remarketing: Show your ads to past website visitors, converters etc. as they browse sites and apps on the Google Display Network.
- Video remarketing: Show ads to people who have previously watched or interacted with your videos or Youtube channel as they use Youtube and browse sites within the Google Display Network.
Benefits of remarketing:
- Show ads to people who have previously interacted with your business.
- Create remarketing lists for specific cases (i.e. someone who added something to their shopping cart but did not complete the purchase)
How to add remarketing audiences to your campaign:
1. To get started with remarketing, you will first need to set up some remarketing lists through your Google Ads Audience manager. You can learn more about setting up video remarketing audiences and website remarketing audiences through Google documentation.
2. Once you have added your remarketing lists to your audience manager, they will now be available to select in the audience selector for individual ad groups.
3. Select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.
4. In the audience selection field, you want to choose “How they have interacted with your business (Remarketing and similar audiences)”, and then choose “Website Visitors” Any available remarketing audiences that you previously set up in your Audience Manager will be available for you to select. Once you have made your selections, click the blue “SAVE” button to apply the remarketing audiences to your campaign.
Google Display and Google Video ads allow you to set where your ads actually appear on the web with various content targeting options. From a really granular level, you can set whether ads appear on specific websites, Youtube channels, and Youtube videos. You can continue to drill down your ad targeting with keywords that target ad placements on content related to those keywords, and device-specific targeting options
Key takeaway: Content targeting defines where your ads will show.
Topics targeting lets you target your ads to a wide range of videos, channels, and websites related to the topics you select.
For example, if you are targeting the topic of “Books & Literature,” you enable your ad to show on any website, video, or channel that includes content about books, book reviews, bookshops, and other similar themes.
Benefits of using topic targeting:
- Show your ads on a broad set of videos, channels, and websites all related to specific topics.
- Quick to ramp up ad delivery.
- Ability to exclude topics to make sure ads do not show on topics unrelated to your business or topics that are not performing well.
Download the full lists of affinity categories, topic placements and in-market categories.
How to add topic placements to your campaign:
1. To set topics in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Topics” item from the left-hand menu.
2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any topics selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new topics to a campaign you will click on the blue circular pencil icon and a field will populate on the page where you can select your topics. In this field, you can search for topics by a word, phrase, URL, or you can browse through the available topics in the left-hand column.
3. Once you have selected your topics, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the box. After you have finished making your selections simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your placements to your campaign.
Placement targeting allows you to select the Youtube channels, Youtube Videos, video lineups (this option is only available for video ads), websites, apps, or app categories that you would like your ads to show on.
Benefits of using placement targeting:
- Ability to show ads on specific websites, videos, channels, or apps that you have hand selected.
- Show your ads on websites, videos ,etc. where you already know your audience is.
- The ability to set individual placement bids to be more or less competitive on specific placements.
How to Set Placements in Your Campaign:
1. To set placements in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Placements” item from the left-hand menu.
2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any placements selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new placements you will click on the blue circular pencil icon and select “Edit Placements” from the popup menu.
3. From here the field to select your placements will be at the top of the page. You can search for placements by word, phrase, URL, or video ID.
4. Once you have selected your placements, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the box. After you have finished making your selections simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your placements to your campaign.
You may already be familiar with keyword targeting if you have run Google Search campaigns in the past. Google Display and Google Video campaigns also allow you to select keywords. When you select keywords for a Display or Video campaign, Google will find relevant websites, videos, or channels that include your keywords, as well as relevant audiences who are interested in those keywords.
Structuring keywords – examples:
When you are utilizing keywords in a Display or Video campaign you want to make sure your campaigns are effectively separated into ad groups by different products or services you offer.
For example, if you are building a campaign for your garden supply center your instinct may be to build a campaign with one ad group and lump all your keywords into that ad group – for example:
|Garden Supply Center||flowers, shovel, petunias, fertilizer, gardening gloves, potting soil, mulch, tulips, seeds, trowel|
However, this structure may not produce the best results for your ads as you have keywords of many different themes within one ad group. A better way to structure this to ensure that your ads are showing in the most relevant places for your keyword sets would be to split your campaign into multiple, tightly themed ad groups.
For example, for your garden center campaign you might break out into the following ad groups:
|Flowers||petunias, flowers, tulips|
|Soils||potting soil, soil, mulch|
|Garden Supplies||gardening gloves, trowel, shovel|
Guidelines for choosing keywords:
- Choose keywords related to the product or service of the ads in your ad group.
- Create a set of 5-20 keywords, two or three word phrases tend to work well.
- Select keywords related to the websites that your audience would be likely to see.
- If you have a well-known or recognizable brand, include some brand keywords
How to set keywords in your campaign:
1. To set keywords in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Keywords” item from the left-hand menu.
2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any keywords selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new placements you will click on the blue circular + icon. After clicking the icon a field will populate on the page where you can enter your keywords. In this field, you can enter your list of keywords or get keyword ideas from a website, product, or service.
3. Once you have entered your keywords in the box, simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your keywords to your campaign.
For your Google Video and Google Display campaigns, you can target your ads to specific devices.
The available devices to target are:
- Computers: desktops or laptops larger than 7 inches.
- Mobile: handheld devices, including phones
- Table: Mobile tablet devices (i.e. iPad, Kindle Fire)
- TV Screens: Devices that stream TV content such as a smart SV, gaming consoles, and connected Chromecast devices (this option is only available for video campaigns)
You can further narrow your device targeting by targeting specific operating systems, device models, and different wireless carriers.
Benefits of device targeting:
- Tighter bid control, insight into which device has the highest conversion rates vs which have lower conversion rates lets you set better bid strategies to not waste money on devices that historically perform poorly. If a device type is irrelevant to your product or service, you don’t have to waste money on serving ads to it.
- Ability to control relevancy of ads based on device.
- For example, if you are selling iPhone 10 phone cases, you might want to only target your ads to show to people on iPhone 10 devices.
How to set devices in your campaign:
1. To set devices in your campaign, select the campaign you want to edit devices for in Google Ads, and in the left-hand menu select “Settings”. If you scroll down the settings page you will see a drop-down menu labeled “Devices”. Note: Device targets are set at the campaign level. You must be on the campaign view, not in an ad group view in order to get to the device settings.
2. From here you can select to either show on “all eligible devices” or to “set specific targeting for devices”. If you select “set specific targeting for devices” you will be presented with the different device targeting options. Once you have made your selections hit “SAVE” in the bottom right of the screen to add your device settings to your campaign.
Navigating the Changes Tides of Digital Ad Targeting
For businesses of any size, navigating the waters of digital advertising has never been easy. As privacy standards continue to evolve, we can expect to see more challenges thrown our way. Understanding which advertising platforms can help you to reach your target audience in an ever-changing, and increasingly crowded digital space is just one step.
Want to get started with Google Display, Google Video ads? Need help setting up your target audiences? We can help you discover the digital marketing solution that is right for your business. Connect with a member of our team to get started today.
Connecting with Your Consumers Online in 2021
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the latest trends, patterns, and constantly trying to find ways to connect with your consumers in the digital world?
You are definitely not alone, did you know there are over 7million online retail shops and that number is only on the rise. With competition high, and options limitless how do you get seen and build lasting relationships? In an age of endless information and rapidly changing technology, it can be daunting to know how to help your brand stand out online. When you don’t have limitless resources and funding it can be difficult to keep up. We have discovered the most effective area to focus on when establishing a lasting online presence with your customers is the deep down nitty-gritty of your brand psychology. Understanding the basic psychology of your consumers will provide you with tools to enhance your brand on a cheaper, more effective level. This knowledge will help you feel more confident in your brand, dig deeper into what makes you stand out and how to get there.
Whether you have an established brand, or you are working on building a new brand, there are a few things you should consider before launching your online presence to ensure success. Digital trends and technologies will continue to develop at breakneck speed, so what are the other areas that can help to ensure the success of your brand?
Basic Consumer Psychologies to Consider When Building Your Digital Brand
We have put together a shortlist of psychologies to help you understand the behavior of where you are positioned, who is playing in your space, and where to focus your efforts during the building process.
Countless books have been written on the subject of branding and branding psychology – we’d be remiss to say that we could cover the entire topic in just one post. Below we outline the four components we believe you need to focus on and will be going in-depth to each of them in subsequent posts.
Want to continue the journey? Look for the next topic in the series next month, or sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates.
The 4 basic psychologies to take into consideration when building your digital brand:
- Audience (behavior)
- Brand (influence)
- Environment (experience)
In this first article, we will be specifically taking a look at the principles around audience behavior.
Audience & Consumer Behaviors
First, you need to understand who your customers are and what sort of behaviors they have. There are many differences between physical (in-person) interactions/behaviors and digital interactions/behaviors. As we are evolving into an increasingly digital age, physical interactions becoming more obsolete.
When interacting online you don’t naturally experience the full human behavior of a customer that you would experience in a physical in-person setting. Online interactions between brands and customers can often become diluted. In-person you have countless access to people’s nonverbal cues, facial expressions, tone of voice, appearance, body language, etc. In a digital setting, those are stripped away, which can leave the customer feeling disconnected from the full brand experience – causing them to bounce at a rapid rate, and only discovering and connecting based on their personal needs/wants as there’s no reaction to a natural give and take that would occur in a physical setting (i.e. to interact when “spoken” to).
Most businesses start by putting all their focus on how to get the visitors to the door, through the door, and keeping them coming back for more – solely based on digital performance data. But what if we start to consider the digital space as we would the more traditional physical space? Would you be shouting at customers to come to buy in extreme ways? Or would you find confidence in your performance as a sales clerk and guide them with expertise?
Building a strong foundation for your online brand or business starts with understanding the psychology of your consumers and will provide you with the confidence to communicate what your brand stands for more effectively. The goal is to look at every aspect of the digital space as one of familiarity in the physical world and to find digital ways to reproduce those comfortable feelings we have when walking into our favorite business down the street.
Let’s dive into consumer buying behaviors and how they have evolved.
What is Behavior Psychology?
Behavior psychology is the theory or understanding of how humans and other animals interact within an environment. (We will focus on humans, while cats on keyboards have a hand (or paw) in these studies, they are not our primary audience!) The environment of the topic is the digital space; websites, search engines, social media – anywhere that you and your audience hang out online.
The Four Traditional Buying Behaviors
While we have evolved into a digital environment to purchase, our natural instincts do still exist. We should consider traditional buying behaviors and the differences between in-person and digital, and adapt in order to keep the human connection with our employees, buyers, and partners to provide a successful customer journey.
- Complex buying behaviors – Expensive products/services. These types of visitors are extremely involved throughout the buying process. They tend to research before committing to a purchase. This is typically recognized when making larger purchases. If you are prone to this style you will need to have a strong understanding of your product and make this information easily accessible to your visitors. Relating to these buyers’ beliefs and attitudes is equally important.
- Dissonance-reducing buying behavior – Unique products/services. This occurs when options for purchase are scarce and the buyer has minimal options for a purchase. This involves limited decision making and relies on availability, time, and budget for the buyer. Having a strong messaging focus, with discounts and sales, will help build repeat sales and referrals.
- Habitual buying behavior – Daily products/services. Not a lot of thought occurs with these purchase decisions. Buyers typically have developed a favorite brand, selection is made on budget or availability. These products are attractive through media exposure, referrals, promotions, influences, etc. Constant advertising and discounts works well for these buyers.
- Variety seeking buying behavior – Variety products. There are a variety of options for these products. These buyers will switch products based on wanting to try something new, a different flavor, or just because they saw it. These can be impulse buys, and can occur without intention. Brands should typically include a variety of flavors and options to oppeese to these buyers and or providing a different flavor option another brand doesn’t offer for them to try. Free samples are great for these types of buyers.
The Five Most Common Online Buying Behaviors
Providing buyers with new purchasing environments comes with buyers developing different buying behaviors as well. As we mentioned, when going digital we lose some pretty important physical cues, so naturally, the consumer buying behavior changes as well. Additionally in the digital space buyers become overwhelmed and distracted with a rapid rate of information at their fingertips, it is literally a .00000025s click to the next storefront if dissatisfied or simply curious.
- Discount seekers – This makes up 67% of online shoppers. These types of visitors do not have loyalty to any brand and are searching for the best price and purchase is determined by how much they can save. While 67% is a large percentage these shoppers aren’t as common and can still be persuaded to revisit. They can become interested in the benefits of your products vs. just the price if you shift their focus and emphasize what sets your product apart from competitors.
- Wandering customers – These shoppers make up for the majority of your traffic count. Compared to traditional shopping they are window shoppers. They spend a lot of time looking but not sure what they want to buy. They typically make up the smallest percentage of revenue for your business and become lost or disinterested quickly. For these shoppers instead of focusing on attracting them, you should focus on making the process seamless as possible for them to get to the finish line (the checkout or end goal) quickly.
- Impulse buyers – This is the excited shopper. They love trends and can’t wait to have the next best thing. Industries that are constantly trending or changing are great markets of interest; such as fashion and technology. Recommendations go a long way for this shopper because it means that is what the majority has approved to be trending and therefore “good”. Newsletter subscriptions are good for these shoppers to keep them up to date and have the latest trends/news delivered to them without them searching. The initial discount for first time purchases is directed toward these shoppers with a desire to stay connected through social media.
- Need-based shoppers – These shoppers are extreme research driven purchase decision makers, with anxiety of making an uninformed decision. This is the most up to date, and complex online shopper. This type of consumer will do tons of research on what they are looking for and if they find themselves torn between two very similar products at the end they choose what enlines closest with their emotional views. These shoppers are built on trust and typically have strong brand loyalty. Educational videos are important to relay your views to these shoppers. Providing features lists, FAQs, and expert advice is essential.
- Loyal customers – This is the end goal of what type of consumer you want in your corner. Loyal customers care about your business, product or brand and are more likely to repeat purchases, recommend you to their friends, and stick around even if not 100% satisfied out of pure brand loyalty. However, these customers typically make up the minority of your customer base. VIP programs are great for encouraging this type of consumer behavior and keeping them around.
Three Factors That Affect Consumer Behaviors.
There are other factors to understand about your consumer and why they behave. These factors will have an influence on you as well and help you decide on how to position your brand.
- Personal Factors – These are the attributes that have built our lives and who we are as individuals. Past experiences, current location, age, gender, career, etc.
- Social Factors – These are the attributes of where we stand in society. Peer and family relationships, income class, education level, etc.
- Psychology Factors – This is how you perceive yourself and the world around you. Your beliefs, attitude, values, and ultimately how and why you make decisions and how you choose to interact.
Consumers today are often easily overwhelmed by the number of options online, however, research shows that even when in a digital space some of our natural buying behaviors come out. How to effectively influence your consumers amongst your competitors can be challenging and quite a feat in itself. So much that we wanted to share a full brand positioning guide here.
Manipulation vs Persuasion
Once you compare your products/services to these consumer behaviors and begin to understand how consumers are naturally influenced you can then develop a successful strategy on how to communicate your brand and position yourself for success. The best practice for this is to utilize persuasion rather than manipulation. As digital marketing evolves, consumers have also become more aware of manipulative strategies and will become offended and choose not to interact if they feel they are being manipulated. We believe the best way to remain successful in the space is to focus on how to express your products/services in a genuine and authentic way that will provide confidence within the brand that will reflect in your consumers.
Manipulation can feel like an easier strategy and may provide short-term success, but true persuasion in an authentic brand will provide long-term benefits. The truth is with so many options available to online shoppers the only way to withstand the competition is to remain authentic to yourself. The top reason consumers stick with a brand and make it through the purchase funnel is largely based on trust. This is why it is essential to understand these psychologies and build a strong brand presence with confidence that helps to build trust with your consumers.
Building Your Brand with Visual Cues
Building a brand online relies solely on visuals on screen (words, images, video) with minimal physical cues. How to develop these visuals will rely on brand psychology as well. As you gain an understanding of online consumer behaviors, you can start to communicate your brand more effectively visually to influence these behaviors.
Want to keep learning about brand psychology? Stay tuned for more articles in this series!
Not sure where to start with building or improving your digital brand? Solution Agency can help. Connect with our team today to get started.