June 23, 2017 Ryan Stone

The Digital Identity: A Guide to Online Branding, Marketing & Web Design

You may or may not have heard about digital identities, but you probably already intuitively know what makes up one.

What is a Digital Identity?

Think of a digital identity like you would your own real-life identity: it’s a collection of information that represents who you are, in this case, as an online entity.

Whether it’s a company, an organization, a brand or a person, a digital identity encompasses all of the things on the web that add up to who you are, including social media accounts, websites, Wiki information and more.

So why is it important to manage your digital identity? Well, like I said, it’s who you are.

If you’re a growing business, but you don’t have a website, think how that affects your digital identity. If you’re a large corporation, yet your Facebook page is practically inactive, how do you think your identity is impacted?

When you have your digital identity in check, you’re only helping your business in the modern digital age.

How Growing Businesses Are Failing to Manage Their Digital Identities

Far too often, companies small and large underestimate what it takes to build a comprehensive and complete digital identity.

By failing to manage their digital identities properly, companies may start to feel discouraged if their new website isn’t converting visitors or if their digital marketing campaign isn’t drawing attention to their brand.

Most often, businesses make common and easy-to-avoid mistakes when working on their digital identities.

Focusing on One Aspect of Their Digital Identity

Some companies focus solely on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns because they can easily see the ROI on that compared to an organic SEO campaign…or so they think. Others direct a ton of attention towards redesigning their website, but fail to include SEO or social media strategy in their budget.

Various scenarios like these plague businesses both small and large, but they’re easy to avoid.

If a business is considering redesigning its website or launching a PPC campaign or something similar, it’s important to include all facets of the management of a digital identity in the plan to do so. This includes all the above, as well as SEO and branding.

When you package all of these aspects of your digital identity instead of prioritizing one and neglecting another, you’re creating a comprehensive plan to fix, establish, build, or continue to grow your digital identity.

Neglecting SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing and More

For many businesses, the ROI from SEO and social media may be harder to see than a shiny, new website or a PPC campaign report. Sure, SEO reports can tell you how many people are visiting your site, but how does that help the business’ bottom line?

Better SEO reports (like ours, I might add) should include goals and conversion analytics; that is, how many users coming from organic SEO are converting on your site, be it filling out a form, calling the business, or some other similar conversion metric.

This way, the ROI is easily understood and justified. SEO is a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but when looking at the right information, a business can really start to see and appreciate the benefit of a solid SEO program (which helps establish the digital identity!).

Social Media is the same. Just because a follower on Twitter never buys anything from a company doesn’t mean they’re not a valuable follower to have. Followers can like, share or comment on your social content and they, in turn, amplify your content to wider and wider audiences.

The more followers you have, the bigger your reach. The bigger your reach, the more leads you have. The more leads you have… you get the picture.

Don’t neglect SEO and social media. It may be hard to see the ROI right off that bat, but with long-term nurturing, a great SEO and social media campaign can go a long way in improving your digital identity and getting you new business.

Expecting Maximum Results with a Minimal Budget

For those unfamiliar with the importance of the digital world for businesses on a micro-level, it may also be hard to justify a large budget allocated to a digital identity management campaign.

Members of the business community may feel that it’s not worth the money to invest in something like SEO or a new website; they may think, “what’s wrong with what we have?”

A website that is a few years old is ancient in Internet time. It’s way too easy for a website, even if professionally designed, to fall out of style or fail to meet up-to-date usability-standards due to the ever-changing preferences of web users.

This is why businesses should always be considering how you can improve your site in increments until a full overhaul is needed.

Similarly, businesses may not feel compelled to allocate a large budget towards SEO or social media. After all, one brings in “free traffic” and the other is managed using a free and open service, right? Wrong.

SEO is not “free traffic” – it takes a lot of time and research to run an effective SEO campaign and the same goes for social media. Failing to consider how much time and money actually goes into managing a digital identity will lead your identity to reflect your budget: one that is small, inconsequential and lacking.

So knowing what shortcomings usually plague businesses, let’s take a look at how companies can target all of these elements effectively.

Web Design, Branding, Digital Marketing, Social Media – Which is Most Important?

Trick question. By now, you should have an idea that these things are all interconnected.

I would say some of these bear a greater weight in certain regards, but really, without one of these, your digital identity already has a hole in it.

The Importance of Responsive Web Design for Growing Businesses

Web design is probably the part of the digital identity that gets the most attention (and the biggest budget).

Companies can see and “touch” a new website and they can show them off as empirical evidence of working on the company’s digital identity. But it helps if you know the aspects of modern web design a website needs to have.

Being responsive is probably the number one thing all websites need to have. If a company’s website cannot be viewed well on a cell phone or tablet, the company may as well not even have a website.

It’s a fact that more people go on the Internet from their mobile device than a laptop or computer. Failing to optimize your website for mobile users (responsive) can lead to high bounce rates (users leaving your site immediately after coming to it), a low number of page views and more negative metrics.

Related: Best Practices For Website Carousel Sliders and Slideshows

Engagement: Branding & Web Design Go Hand-in-Hand

If you want engagement with your company, then branding and web design are the way to go.

A total branding strategy will allow you to effectively manage how your company is being perceived by others in the real world, something that translates into how you’re being perceived in the digital world (your digital identity).

When considering your brand, you must align your website with that brand.

If your company colors are green and yellow, you shouldn’t have a website that predominately features elements that are red and blue.

If your brand is supposed to be smart and sophisticated, then cartoons or lighthearted, overly-casual language on the homepage is not a good look.

Your branding and web design need to go together like peanut butter and jelly or cookies and cream. They’re meant to be together, so let’s keep them that way.

The Power of Local SEO for Locally-Based Businesses

SEO is especially powerful for local businesses. That’s not to say mid-sized and larger companies can’t benefit from SEO, because they can; in fact, usually more so, but local SEO is a gem for local businesses.

This is for a variety of reasons, but consider when you or someone you know is searching for a bite to eat. What do you or they search? Something like “food near me,” right? That ‘near me’ qualifier is where local SEO can come into play.

Knowing how to master local SEO can help small businesses immensely so it’s even more pertinent for small businesses to funnel efforts into a solid SEO campaign.

Establishing Thought Leadership, An Active Community & More Through Social Media

When a company uses social media consistently and effectively, then said company may begin to reap the benefits of an active social media presence.

With thoughtful contributions to an industry in the form of, say, blog posts or white pages, then a company might start to establish themselves as influencers in that industry.

Attentive, timely and courteous customer support can yield positive results regarding customer satisfaction with your company.

Proactively searching for and joining conversations on social media (by using a tool like Hootsuite) can help to establish brand recognition as it gets in front of more and more people.

Social media, when done right, can have major results for companies that use them. Companies shouldn’t miss out on reaching its customers and members of its industry directly and instantly.

Consider the graphic below and how you can reach potential customers and clients through social media engagement.

Related: Reddit: A Surefire Way to Cultivate And Cater to Your Target Audience Offsite

The Need for a Comprehensive Digital Identity Plan

Responsive web design, SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, email marketing, audio/video production, and more – it’s all a part of what makes a great comprehensive digital identity plan.

This plan can help businesses continue to grow at exponential rates. By focusing on all facets of a digital identity, businesses can cover their grounds and excel in the digital world.

Digital Identity Management Solutions

Luckily, we do it all. Consider us your Digital Identity Curators – we’ll masterfully establish your web presence through modern web design, comprehensive digital marketing (including SEO & PPC) and social media community-building.

To learn more, contact us today.

If you’re ready to redesign your website with HubSpot, contact us today!

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