• Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    A guide to making the most of your own digital tools: Email, social, and more

    Developing a free digital tool that offers value to your customers can be great for your business. A useful tool can make you indispensible, more visible and present your business as an industry authority. They also are great for SEO by increasing site traffic and when used for link acquisition.

    Online tools appear in all sorts of industries, from tools for improving your digital marketing efforts, payroll calculators, or tools that helps you visualise the bedroom you want to decorate before you buy the paint, to mention but a few. Tools like this are built broadly with two aims in mind: to improve a website's traffic and engagement by providing value and useful information to their audience.
    Are you making the most of your online tools? Or are they being left out in the digital wilderness? How can you tell how effective they really are?

    Cater your tools to your audience

    What you think internally is a good idea and what your audience thinks is a good idea can be very different. To make the most of your digital tool, make sure it is tailored to your audience in both concept and function. Market research, of course, proves invaluable to keeping track of the pulse of your audience, as does monitoring and engaging on social media. More often than not, the simplest tools are the best.
    Consider the digital literacy of your audience when designing your tools. If you build a perfect tool that only your devs know how to use, you'll lose value and risk alienating your audience. If your core audience are less tech-friendly, keep your design simple and label everything clearly.
    Digital tools should facilitate and support your audience's existing tasks, not create more work and add extra layers of complexity. The best tools integrate perfectly into your audience's lives. Meeting user needs with real value and being user friendly is what makes tools so effective.
    When you build your tool, do not gate it. Gating content used to be standard practice for lead acquisition, but today it has a negative effect on the success of your tool. Gating your tool puts people off and discourage them from using it.

    Our favourite tools

    Need to know how much paint you need? Homebase's Paint Calculator has you covered. Jazz up images with Befunky. Want to improve your PPC performance? Check this out. If you need to move big files, Wetransfer is a handy tool. Salary calculators help you figure out what you really take home.

    Use all your channels

    If your digital tool is on-site, the logical approach to attracting your audience to it is to build up referral traffic from backlinks. Outreaching your tool to third party industry influencers is an effective and practiced means of using your tool to drive traffic. Reaching out to bloggers and individuals offers the benefits of an honest, personal review of your tool. Getting your tool featured in a list article or other piece of independent content increases user confidence.
    Email marketing is just as effective as ever, so consider crafting an email marketing campaign around your tool. Your digital tool can form part of your email segmentation strategy, as you can use it as a prime offering to a specific subset of your email subscribers. Crafting a highly targeted email campaign around your online tool is a measurable and effective way to give your tool the attention it deserves.
    Make the most of your social channels too. Many of them allow you to pin posts to the top of your page so visitors will see it immediately every time. If your market research reveals when your audience are looking to use tools like yours, schedule your posts to go live around that time to influence their choices more favourably.

    Tracking your tools

    It's likely that you're tracking the traffic to your tools using Google Analytics. After all, this is an invaluable way of generating leads for your business. Tracking your CTA conversion and tool completion actions are typical ways of judging the success of your tool. But, there are other ways to track your tool that can help you refine the quality of your offering.
    Heatmapping your tools and setting events for all your tool functions provide valuable insight into how people are using your tool. These insights will detail how people engage with your tool when they find, which will enable you to see which functions are most used.  Over time, you can build up a picture of typical user behaviour and make changes to your tool. For example, if you find that your users are using the zoom function on your decorating tool, you could perhaps make the viewer larger, or build a magnified display when the user directs the pointer over the image.
    Measuring user behaviour is key to providing more positive user experience on a website and the same is true of the digital tools you offer too.
    Digital tools are valuable pieces of engaging, interactive content for your website. They provide genuine value to your site, drive traffic and are great for SEO. To make your tools work for you effectively, remember to use all your outreach channels, refine and cater your tools to your audience, and track both the CTR and user behaviour.

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