Lorcan Kinsella from Brand Nova Digital discusses Nova 360 and improving digital marketing results
Karl: Well, it’s never been more important to be able to sell online. And this year alone, the Local Enterprise Office Network nationally issued over 10,000 trading online vouchers to SMEs. These business owners now find themselves with a website. But in many cases, they lack the digital literacy skills to maximize their online potential. Lorcan Kinsella of Brand Nova Digital joins me now to discuss this increasingly important area. But Lorcan, start by providing us with an insight into Brand Nova Digital.
Lorcan: Brand Nova Digital is a digital marketing agency or a web design and e-Commerce web design and digital marketing agency. So, we build websites. And with those websites, we market them. It’s all about, for Brand Nova, traffic and conversion. And the conversion part is something we’re extremely passionate about. And what that means for us is getting that online sales for our client.
Karl: Since the onset of COVID-19, a record number of SMEs have been forced into trading online in order to survive. However, thousands of these e-Commerce sites have gone live at record speeds over the past 7 months. But as a user experience, has it suffered as a result?
Lorcan: Because of COVID-19, there has been that massive push to trade. And the easiest option and the most obvious option is to go online, to trade online, which has been provided with great initiatives by the government through the Local Enterprise Offices where you can actually access your online trading voucher. But with that, it has brought a massive surge. And with that massive surge, it has pushed a lot of people in. And where sites are up and running and they’ve spent their money, they’re trading, but they’re wondering now what do I do with that website and knowing what to do and where to take their business next because one business is going to be so much very different to the next. So, there is a real DNA of a digital marketing strategy that needs to be broken out for each business even though getting there, you know, like looking at your personas, looking at your competition, looking at actually kind of where your position on the search engines, for example, Google and Bing. And this is actually where people are gonna get somewhat of a price of actually kind of how it all works. I’ve got my site, but how do I get my clients? How do I get my first paying clients or how do I get that income coming in on a daily, kind of weekly, monthly basis, you know, where it’s sustainable and it works for you?
Karl: In reality, SME business owners have been thrown in into deep end in relation to digital marketing over the past 7 months. From your insights and experience, Lorcan, do SME business owners actually possess the technical and digital marketing skills that are needed to be effective?
Lorcan: Well, while the pandemic has driven businesses to utilize and hone their digital skills, many business owners still lack the tech literacy needed to make the virtual transition. Now, according to the European Digital Economy and Society Index and despite Ireland being a leading tech hub, digital skills are in about 11% below the EU average. So, from highlighting the impact of their website to that of their social media and marketing materials, so that’s where, I suppose, for us is where Nova 360 kind of provides businesses with a compass, allowing them to focus their productivity on the areas that need it most.
Karl: And Lorcan, whether it’s online or through traditional means, the principles of marketing don’t change. So, on that basis, what do they need to get right in order to make sure that the website is effective in converting traffic into spending customers?
Lorcan: Yeah. With a website, I call it your digital marketing real estate and it is your brand. It is our legacy. And we can be so distracted from— There’s so much overwhelming information out there, Karl, from the different social media platforms. Given that there’s 52 different social media platforms, which one should I be on? Like who is my competition? Knowing and having a clear understanding of that. Who is my persona as in who are the people I’m looking to sell to? So, there’s a particular foundation that needs to be absolutely rock solid to know exactly where I’m going to position myself within the market. For me, it comes down to two words, Karl. It’s traffic and conversion, and your brand, your digital marketing real estate, and to try and rebuild that. Rather than actually being everywhere, you need to build that out and how you can manage building the traffic around that digital marketing real estate through what I call the 4 pillars; your search engine optimization, your pay-per-click advertising, social media (focusing on one or two), and e-mail marketing. Those four alone done right with the proper foundation, you can have an extremely exciting experience in selling your products, services online.
Karl: What advice have you got for business owners? I’m trying to decipher which is the best platform for them to be spending their time.
Lorcan: I always consider looking at social media or digital marketing. If for example you have a store, a bricks and mortar store, and you opened a store and we were partners in it, Karl, and after the first day of opening, we had 500 people in through the door and, at the end of that day, we got the cash register, we opened it up and there’s no money in the till, I’d be shocked, you’ll be shocked. We’ll say, “Well, we have no sales.” If we actually take that same sort of psychology to an online and that’s the way exactly we should treat it, that this is a business, it is online, but there is real tangible ways of actually how we can get, I suppose, our ideal client, our ideal customer to our website and how we go about that. But it is so important that we get the very basics right or dead right, that we have to understand who our competition is. We do have to understand kind of who is our ideal client. Are they male, female? Kind of age and all of that really important information and also as well to just do kind of a situation analysis of exactly kind of how it’s all positioned. And I suppose the fundamentals of marketing do still exist. Even using your SWOT analysis or your SMART kind of analysis — that being Smart, Measureable, Attainable, Results-driven, and Timely — that is done in those so that the anchors, the pillars of marketing are still there. Because we have digital and the people feel like the rulebook just kind of goes and where social media and digital marketing kind of eat up so much time, it is so important that if we’re going to do it, do it well, do it simple, but focus, focus, focus on what exactly you’re gonna spend your time doing.
Karl: Now, pay-per-click digital advertising is something that you’ve mentioned a number of times. It has been growing exponentially over recent years, but it comes with a health warning. Unless you know how to use the tools, you could end up wasting a hell of a lot of money.
Lorcan: There is quite a lot of money available to put in digital marketing campaign to look at pay per click and different tools available to us to build our digital marketing strategy, but it does come with a health warning. Pay-per-click advertising is not something that I would actually recommend to every company. I’d be very somewhat reluctant. Only that we understand the budget is well-managed and is well-monitored. And there’s a couple of real strong kind of keystones you need within pay-per-click advertising. It’s a dangerous business if you don’t have the technical knowhow of, for example, setting up the campaign, knowing your cost per click, knowing your cost per acquisition. And it’s those kind of technical things that you do need a little bit of expertise and help you along the way. And social media, fine, we can all maybe kind of send a post. We can see and look at the analytics, but I always look that we have to kind of see it as a business. And we have mortgages. We have rent to pay. And I always look at the very start of each week. How are we going to make our next sale? How are we going to kind of pay the bills? Like keep it very, very simple. And when you have that level of focus of where you get the return on what you’re spending, that’s where it becomes extremely relevant because you’ll find that whether you’re spending way too much on social media and you’re not getting the return or if you hemorrhage your budget or finance on pay per click because you setup your campaign wrong, these are the real pitfalls that businesses are exposed to.
Karl: You recently developed and launched a new platform to support and assist business owners. What is it and how does it work?
Lorcan: Yeah. Nova 360 is something that I’m very kind of passionate and delighted it’s actually kind of launched. And going back 10 years ago, I’ve lectured in Digital Marketing Institute, and Dublin Business School, and Griffith College, and different corporate organizations in a training and lecturing capacity. But what I found there, Karl, was that there was a real kind of— There was a transparency of actually kind of business owners not understanding how to monitor exactly what they were spending on digital marketing and the time that they were spending on that. 10 years later, like we have Nova 360 and Nova 360 is a simple tool of where you access, for example, where are you positioned for your products and services online in search engines. We have that, so we could see that in one place. Google Analytics, we would have that all integrated into one place. Google My Business, your social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn all in one place. How is your website up and is it actually kind of— Is it in good shape? Is your digital marketing in good shape? So, what we’ve done is we’ve brought all of these bits and pieces, all of these tools under one roof. So, it gives businesses a direction, it gives them a compass that they’re not flying blind. We go and step extra as well where what we do is we actually kind of— we integrate your competitors as well. So, what we do is we not only kind of— where you can see online exactly how you’re doing as a business, but we also will benchmark you against your top 3 competitors to see how well you’re doing against them.
Karl: This particular platform, Nova 360, is providing the business owner with intelligence and quality data in real time, but what about implementing that information in terms of improving their SEO or improving their overall speed of their website or whatever it may be? What are the options available to business owners once they have that data?
Lorcan: We’ve integrated Nova 360 as part of actually Brand Nova. So, Brand Nova actually provides the expertise in UI/UX, e-Commerce, web design, and search engine optimization. So, for example, where we can see that you can be doing an awful lot better, we actually provide a digital marketing consultancy kind of arm to this. So, we would actually get on the call with you kind of every month and take you through kind of how you’re doing against your competitor, but how you can do better. And where we actually identify how you can do better, we then would actually implement a campaign, for example, whether it be a search engine optimization campaign or maybe a pay-per-click advertising campaign. With Nova 360, we can monitor if we are spending €1,000 on a Facebook ad. And we can pivot 3 days later to actually kind of set that ad up better to optimize, for example, your cost per acquisition or your cost per click to get more traffic, more paying clients, and obviously more revenue for your business.