In just a few short days, we will say goodbye to 2019. As we come to the end of the year (and decade), it’s a great time to reflect on our successes, the new things that we learned, and the most influential technology trends. It’s also important to look ahead to the New Year and identify the digital marketing opportunities that will shape 2020.
This year saw the launch of over 20 new websites across 5 different content management platforms and 8 industries. Each one of these sites represent many months of partnership with our clients – gaining a deep understanding of their business and their target audience so that we can build a site that will help them to achieve their goals. Here are a few of our favorites:
Space Coast Credit Union
This past July, we were proud to launch the newly redesigned Space Coast Credit Union website. This was the culmination of a 12 month project to completely reorganize, redesign and rebuild their website to provide a better member experience while also greatly improving the editing experience.
Wakefly leveraged Kentico’s features and functionality to provide more flexibility to the marketing team so that they could build pages without the need for a developer. The new site makes it easy for visitors to find the information they are looking for, and therefore, the conversion metrics on the site have been phenomenal. Within the first month after launching, they experienced a 40% increase in clicks to apply and a 235% increase in sales leads.
Lytx went live with a fresh look in August. This was an exciting project that involved a very tight timeline and close partnership with both Lytx and another design agency. We had been working with Lytx prior to this project on the previous version of their website and continued to help them maintain and optimize their existing site while simultaneously building their new one.
We took a completely different approach to this project to shorten the timeline. Start to finish, this project only took about 3 months – typically a site this complex could take from 6-9 months. We worked iteratively within their existing Kentico instance. This greatly reduced the need for content migration. The strong teamwork between Wakefly and the other design agency allowed us to always be moving forward with some aspect of the site – building some functionality while other parts were still being designed.
Awards and Honors
Wakefly received 4 Kentico site of the month honors in 2019 for our work on:
We were also proud to be included on the following lists: 2019 Clutch Top Web Developers in Boston, Upcity’s Local Excellence Top 20 Service Providers, and The Manifest’s Top 30 Digital Strategy Agencies in Boston.
2019 saw a continuation of a lot of the trends that have been dominating digital marketing for the past few years. Here are our top 5, based on conversations with our own clients.
It’s become extremely commonplace to see that little pop-up appear in the bottom right of your screen asking if there is anything they can help you with. Chatbots have become smart and no longer require a physical person on the other end manning the chat. These continue to be a great tool for sales and marketing because they can be programmed to answer common questions and route users to the page or person who can help them with their needs. They save time and resources while also improving the user experience for your site. Best of all, they are fairly inexpensive and easy to install and configure. If you’re interested in a deeper look at how you can leverage chatbots for your business, check out this blog.
Video advertising continues to grow at a rapid pace and currently accounts for approximately 30% of all ad spend on the display network. The reason why videos have been such a successful medium is the disruption factor. They are attention-getting in a world where attention spans are lacking. Video ads are a great way to build brand awareness and increase your overall site traffic.
There are a wide variety of platforms that can be leveraged for video advertising, including Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, and Youtube. Wakefly works most frequently within Google Ads, where we can help our customers target their ads to specific audiences and choose the types of sites where the ads appear. Ultimately, the content needs to be engaging in order for the ads to be successful but using video in your advertising is becoming necessary to stay competitive. Check out Paid Strategist, Ryan MacQuarrie’s tips for getting started with video advertising.
It’s probably no surprise that being mobile-focused is still extremely important. Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in March 2018 so mobile-friendliness strongly impacts how your content is indexed. Probably even more important though is the fact that more than half of Google searches are now being conducted on mobile devices. This means that you need to put more focus into how your mobile search results are appearing.
Another aspect of search that you should be taking advantage of are Rich Snippets, which are essentially enhanced search results that help your content stand out from the competition. A standard search result contains a title tag, meta description and URL. Rich Snippets allow you to display additional content in your result such as images, ratings, stars, price, availability and more.
Standard search result:
Search result using rich snippet:
Results that use rich snippets are more eye-catching and typically have a better click-through rate. There are specific types of rich snippets like: product markup, reviews, events, organizations, and more. This Backlinko article is a great resource on the topic if you want to take a deeper dive.
SEO has expanded beyond traditional search engines and many businesses also need to optimize their site for voice search. From Siri to Alexa to Google home devices, voice search is on the rise. According to the statistics gathered in this Brafton article, more than 66 million Americans own smart speakers and 75% of those smart speaker owners search for local businesses on a weekly basis. It’s predicted that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.
So how does this impact the way you optimize your website? It means that you should target keywords/key phrases that are more conversational and include question words. It also means that the content you write as a likely “answer” to their voice searches should be concise. Featured snippets and FAQ pages are also great for voice searches. For longer content pages, you should embed long tail keywords into the content to increase the odds of search engines finding it relevant.
Changing the Rules
There have also been some fairly recent changes with Google and with privacy laws that have impacted the digital landscape this past year. It’s critical to keep up on these types of updates because they can have a major impact on the success of your website and your business.
In late October, Google rolled out the BERT algorithm. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and is Google’s neural network-based technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP). BERT helps to better understand the nuances and context of words within searches to provide more relevant search results. Based on what we know about the future of voice search, this is not shocking. However, it’s having a big impact on search results and is estimated to have impacted about 10% of all search queries, which in turn is affecting search traffic.
This is all a continued step towards the goal of rewarding content that is written for users, not for bots. It seeks to better understand search intent and provide the most relevant results. The BERT update specifically did a lot to improve the relevance of featured snippets.
2018 was the year of GDPR but 2020 will be the year of CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). It officially kicks in on January 1st and at a high level, it gives California residents the right to:
- Know what personal data is being collected about them.
- Know whether their personal data is sold or disclosed and to whom.
- Say no to the sale of personal data.
- Access their personal data.
- Request a business to delete any personal information about a consumer collected from that consumer.
- Not be discriminated against for exercising their privacy rights.
Personal data covered under CCPA includes: name, username, password, phone number, physical address, IP address, device identifiers, race, religion, marital status, military status, sexual orientation, browsing history, location information and biometric information. Data found in government documents is excluded.
CCPA will still allow companies to use anonymized data but those in violation of the law can be fined $2,500 per violation, or $7,500 for intentional violations.
While this is a California state law, it’s likely to have a much wider impact. If you have a website in the US, residents from any state might visit it so you need to be covered. Similar laws are expected to crop up soon in other states too.
You should consult your legal counsel for a more complete view of the compliance requirements but here is a basic list of things to do to prepare your site for CCPA.
- Make sure there is a way for customers to request access, change and delete data
- Introduce an identity verification system
- Have a data governance framework in place
- Include an “opt-out” or “do not sell personal information” link
- Obtain consent from minors
We are proud of the work that we did this past year and look forward to another year of helping our customers elevate their online presence. Marketing trends, technologies and regulations are continuously evolving. By keeping on top of the latest information and pushing the boundaries of web development, we will continue to focus on providing a superior user experience.