From cash to credit cards, the way consumers pay for their purchases has significantly evolved over the past few decades. Now, however, the evolution of payment methods is accelerating, thanks mostly to the prevalence of technology in society.
According to statistics, there are currently six billion mobile phones in use throughout the world, and 88% of Europeans own one. Many consumers now browse eCommerce websites from their phones.
In 2012 alone, people spent $25 billion on purchases that they made from their mobile phones. Now, 32% of all purchases online are made from mobile phones. As a result of the growth of mobile platforms, by 2018, according to Goldman Sachs, international e-Commerce will see a growth of $638 billion. By 2020, it is estimated that the majority of people will make purchases using their mobile phone.
The popularity of mobile phones is changing the way consumers shop. Often, people don’t feel that using their credit card or debit card to pay for purchases is safe or secure. The need for a more convenient and secure way to pay for purchases has led to an increase in mobile payment systems.
What is a Mobile Payment System?
A mobile payment system is a mobile payment processing platform, which you can use to make purchases. With a mobile payment system, you can purchase both digital and physical goods. Many companies, from PayPal to Amazon now offer mobile payment options to their customers. There are four types of mobile payments:
- Contactless Near Field Communication
- Premium SMS Based Transactional Payments
- WAP Billing/Mobile Web Payments
- Direct Mobile Billing
Popular Mobile Payment Systems
More and more companies are offering mobile payment systems, which are designed to make shopping online quicker, easier, and safer. All of these mobile payment platforms vary in the models they use. However, they all eliminate the need for registration details, passwords and credit cards or debit cards.
Zong is a mobile payment organisation, which allows its customers to make payments online, via their mobile phones. The company, which was acquired by eBay in 2011, operates in forty countries, including the UK. Zong now has 60 million users in the UK. Customers in the UK can use Zong if they are on the Vodaphone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile, 3 or the Virgin network.
To use Zong, you simply click on the red Zong symbol, and a box will appear. You need to enter your mobile phone number into this box. Then, you will be sent a secure pin code, which you will enter online to make your purchase. With Zong, a consumer’s purchase is charged through their mobile phone bill, by their mobile network.
PayPal Mobile Payments
PayPal is a well-known digital wallet and online payment system, which has been making it easier for consumers to shop online. Now, the company is offering a mobile payments system, called PayPal Mobile Payments. The company first tried the NFC payments model, but found it too complex and limiting. The system now is very simple.
First, you have to activate your mobile phone number and pin number. These will be your mobile login details. Then, either online, or through apps, you can shop using this payment system. You simply select PayPal as your payment option, and then enter your mobile number and pin number to make your purchase. This payment system is compatible with iOS and Android apps, and it allows you to pay via phone, tablet, and many other mobile devices.
Amazon Payments/Amazon Mobile Payments Service
Through the Amazon Payments system, consumers can make purchases online, in a way that is more secure and more convenient. Through the Amazon Payments system, Amazon is offering the Amazon Mobile Payment Service (MPS). With this system, customers can make purchases with their mobile phones.
To make a purchase using the Amazon Mobile Payment Service, first click on the “Pay with Amazon” button. You will then be taken to page hosted by Amazon Payments, where you will use your Amazon login details to sign in. From there, you can select a payment method that you already have on file with Amazon. Once you’ve selected a payment option, you’ll return to the merchant’s site, where you can make your purchase. You can use the Amazon Mobile Payment Service to make purchase from any mobile device.
Netsize is a payment platform, which allows its users to make purchases from their phones and other mobile devices. The company works with over 160 mobile networks in more than 50 countries. Netsize offers many mobile payment models, including WAP billing, in-app billing, and operator billing.
Text2Pay is a mobile payment system, which makes purchasing products online, much easier. The payment system operates in over fifty countries. To make a purchase on Text2Pay, you need to click on the “Pay by Fone” button. Then you will need to enter your mobile phone number. You will then be asked to enter your post code, so that Text2Pay can verify that it matches the details for your mobile phone number. After this, you will be sent a pin number, which you will need to enter to complete the transaction.
One of the largest mobile payment programs, Boku operates in 66 countries, and is partnered with over two hundred mobile phone networks. Boku is a very safe, and convenient mobile payment system, and it offers excellent customer services.
To use Boku to make a purchase, you need to select the “Pay by Mobile” option. You will need to enter your mobile phone number. Then, you need to click “Yes” to confirm your purchase. Purchases that you make using Boku will be charged directly to your mobile phone bill. This means that you don’t need to use credit cards, debit cards or bank accounts to make your purchase.
With the rise in smartphones, apps and tablets, mobile payment systems are becoming an integral part of eCommerce. As the amount of purchases made from mobile devices continues to grow, more and more eCommerce sites are sure to begin offering mobile payments.
Creating a high quality product page requires a combination of many different elements. From the content to the layout, a good product page must combine functionality, optimisation and high quality copy.
Presenting your product pages in a way that is useful for both search engines and customers is incredibly important. Many different elements are involved in creating a website that prompts customer action and increases conversion rates.
Cross selling is a technique that involves suggesting or recommending products that are similar to the one that the customer is already viewing. For example, when a customer on a furniture website is looking at a sofa, the website may recommend an ottoman, by placing a link to that product somewhere on the same page.
Statistics show that cross-selling increases conversion rates by 3%. It also improves the overall ease-of-use of your site, increases the average value of each order, and provides more visibility to your website’s overall range of products.
Example: New Look
Click on any product on fashion retailer New Look’s website and you’ll not only be presented with great high quality imagery for that product, but also other complimentary items. New Look gets cross-selling right in their “You May Like” sidebar. The complimentary products are prominent, but small enough for the main product to still be the primary focus.
Effective content is, arguably, one of the most important aspects of creating a high quality eCommerce site. In fact, 60% of consumers buy a product after they’ve read content about it.
Good copy cannot only increase your conversion rate, but it can also help your site’s search engine ranking. If you want to increase conversion rates, you must have an engaging product description written for every product on your site.
It should not only include the dimensions and specifications of a product, but it should also tell the reader why they should make a purchase. It should let them know what makes this product unique.
Example: William Sonoma Steel Grill Fry Pan
When it comes to product descriptions, William Sonoma gets it right. The product description for their Steel Grill Fry Pan combines all the elements of a good product description. It uses adjectives carefully, and cleverly, and provides the reader with information about the product in an interesting and engaging way.
Subtle Use of Keywords
Search engine optimisation is as important as ever for online businesses. B2B statistics show that SEO leads have a close rate of 14.6%, while traditional leads, such as print advertising, only have a close rate of 1.7%
Implementing effective SEO on-page elements can drive traffic to your website, and place it at the top of the search engine results. Search engine rankings are important for your site. According to statistics, 75% of consumers never scroll past the first page of search engine results. If you can get your site higher up in the search engine results, using SEO, it can have a massive effect on your conversion rates.
Example: John Lewis
Using both generic and brand phrases such as Adidas and football trainers, as well as longer tail descriptive keywords like black, white and mens in a way that reads naturally, and actually adds value to the copy and covers longer tail search phrases, John Lewis is a prime example of how SEO can be used effectively. There is also a good amount of descriptive text on the product page that will help the product rank for a wider range of long-tail phrases.
Product copy is one of the most important aspects of a good eCommerce website, but potential customers often want the opinions of “real” people. Allowing customers to leave reviews on your site can increase your conversion rate. Statistics show that 70% of consumers check with reviews before making a purchase.
Pharmacy, and cosmetic company, Boots allow their customers to leave reviews on products. You can even sort products by customer rating, using the “Top Rated” search criteria.
High Quality Imagery
Photographs are a huge selling point for eCommerce sites. High quality imagery makes the shopping experience for your customers better overall. It gives the customer more information about the product, which words simply can’t convey.
To increase your conversion rate, offer controllable 360 degree views, photos with products on their own and in use, close-ups and views from multiple angles and perspectives. It’s also ideal to use images that are on the larger scale, rather than small images, as these can increase conversion rates by 9%, according to statistics.
Sofa.com is a fantastic example of how high quality imagery can be used to enhance customer experience. Large, high quality photos, and 360 degree product views, make the viewing experience a delight for the consumer.
Utilise Extras Like Video
Video offers a number of benefits. It increases overall user experience, and provides a fresh insight into the product. Most, importantly, however, videos can increase your conversion rate. Statistics show that consumers that watch a video about a product are 64% more likely to make a purchase.
While cross-selling, email capture forms, copy, high quality imagery, and videos are all important for increasing your conversion rates, you don’t want to overcrowd your product pages. You want the focus of each page to be on the product, and on purchasing the said product. So make sure that you have a clear call to action on your site.
Responsive Optimized Web Design
Nowadays, consumers not only shop for goods on a PC, but they also use laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Providing your consumers with a high quality experience on your sites, across multiple devices can improve conversion rates and ROI.
A consumer shopping from their phone doesn’t want to have to scroll across the page. A responsive web design makes a website viewable from multiple devices, without the consumer having to resize the page or scroll across.
Example: Cotswold Outdoor
Whether you are shopping from your laptop, or your phone, the Cotswold Outdoor looks great. A fantastic example of a responsive optimized site, you can view this website on any device, without having to scroll, scale or zoom.
Many businesses may think that page load speeds are not very important, and why would they? Most of us these days have super fast broadband Internet, fibre optic is being rolled out and 4G provides users with speedy mobile Internet. So what does it matter if a webpage takes 0.5 milliseconds longer to load than others? Well for one, Google takes into consideration page loads speeds, and will rank websites with faster load speeds higher in their search rankings. Major ecommerce giant Amazon, reported in 2006 that for each 100 milliseconds they speeded up their page load speeds, directly correlated in a 1% increase in overall sales. Interested now? We thought so, here are 11 ways to improve your websites page load speeds.
1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN (such as Cloudflare) works by placing your files across several different servers around the world. For example, when you get a visitor from Brazil, they will download your website files from a sever that’s closest to them. Using a CDN can reduce as much as 60% bandwidth and greatly minimises the number of requests visitors make to your site. Using a CDN also helps your website become less susceptible to DDoS attacks, as files are distributed over several locations
2. Compress your images
Images are a major factor when it comes to page load speeds. There are several ways to compress images without comprising quality, for WordPress users we suggest downloading the Smush.it plugin. This will automatically reduce the size of every image on your site without distorting the visual appearance. Also, before uploading images to your server ensure that they are compressed as much as possible using a free programme like Irfanview
3. Spring clean your database
A problem with website platforms such as WordPress, is the size of your database can become very big in a small amount of time. Once you start making post revisions, adding plugins and extra widgets, your database can become a big drain on your server resources. Depending on the platform you use, there’s several ways to reduce the size of your database, from manually deleting files you don’t need, to downloading plugins that do all the hard work for you.
4. Compress your website
We mentioned the benefits of compressing images, but all your other files eat bandwidth too. Using server compression applications such as Gzip, will speed up page loads speeds by compressing all your website files into smaller compressed files. Hor hosting company should be able to install this very easily.
5. Don’t let others hotlink your images
‘Hot linking’ an image is when another website uses your image on their website, that’s sourced back to your website database. This results in bandwidth being taken for free by other websites for your images. There’s certain plugins you can use to stop this in WordPress, or by adding code to stops others from hot linking your pictures.
6. Sort out your broken links
Going through your website and fixing all 404 errors and broken links not only helps your site save bandwidth, but improves your Google performance and improves your visitor experience. If you site has many broken links, users are much more likely to leave your site, check your Google Webmaster Tools to see if you have any broken links or errors and fix them. Alternatively, download the Broken Link Checker plugin on WordPress. Fix your links and watch not only your bounce rate fall, but your site speed up.
7. Is your code best practice?
If you hired a coder to create your website, did they use the best coding practices? It’s quite possible to have two identical websites that both look and respond the same, while being created from two different blocks of code. Using as little coding as possible is a sure fire way to improve page load speeds and reduce overall file sizes. If you’re not a coding expert, and chances are you’re not, ask someone who is to quickly look over your code and ask them what they think.
8. Ask Google
Google offers many amazing free tools you can use for your website, one of them being PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter the URL of your website and hit analyse. Once complete, Google will give you feedback on how your website loads up on desktop and mobile devices, and what further action you can take to help speed up your site.
9. Enable browser caching
Browser caching is an awesome tool all website owners should use, it work by allowing your previous visitors to save your sites commonly usee files on their local machine. So the next time they visit your site, they can access the files directly from their computer without having to make another HTTP request to your sever. Perfect!
10. Reduce your plugins
Less is more when it comes to installing plugins on your site. The more you have the slower your site becomes, and the more problems and security threats you open yourself up for. Any plugin you don’t require or no longer use, delete them. If you have a feeling a particular plugin is reducing the page load speed of your website, deactivate it and run a speed test to see whether it was slowing down your site. You might be surprised to see how much damage one small plugin can do to the page load speed of websites.
11. Use a faster web host
Not all web hosting companies provide the same quality service, depending on who you use, makes a tremendous impact on your website speed and performance. Popular budget host providers are names to avoid if your website drums up a lot of daily traffic.
Along with using Google PageSpeeds, there are several other free tools to check your website performance, they include:
Pingdom – is a great free tool that allows you to test the speed of your website, and monitor how quickly users can download files from your site.
Which Loads Faster – compares two sites against each other to see which one loads faster. It’s best used to compare your site with your competitors to see where you are falling behind.
WebPageTest –allows you to check the speed of your site from several locations around the world. Users can create simple tests from testing page load speeds to video capture and visual comparisons.
Web Page Analyser – works very much like PageSpeed Insights in that it measures the speed of your website and gives you advice and tips on how to improve performance and efficiency. As it stands today, around 48% of all Internet users come from mobile and tablet devices. The need to reduce file sizes and increase page load speeds is increasingly important. if your site takes too long to load, users will click back and head on over to your competitors.
Follow our 11 tips today and watch your page load speeds become faster than ever before.
Use the free tools listed in this article to test the speed and performance of your website. After making the 11 changes, run the tools again and let us know how your website got on in the comments below.
In 2012, Google launched its Trusted Stores program in the USA. Now, the search engine has opened the program to UK retailers, aimed at creating a better shopping experience for both consumers and eCommerce websites.
What is Google Trusted Stores?
Google Trusted Stores is a program that is beneficial to both consumers and eCommerce sites. With the Google Trusted Stores program, retailers that meet certain criteria get a Trusted Stores badge, which displays on their site, and on paid search engine results. This badge allows stores to show they offer fantastic customer service and consistent, on-time deliveries.
Benefits to Consumers
The Trusted Stores Program benefits consumers in a number of ways. As online stores have to meet strict criteria to join the program, consumers are able to shop with more confidence. Online, there are thousands of stores for consumers to choose from, and often, consumers don’t know which ones are going to provide them with the best shopping experience.
When a consumer sees the trusted stores symbol on a store, it differentiates that site from others. It allows shoppers to more easily identify stores that offer a high quality shopping experience. Merchants with the badge will also offer free purchase protection from Google.
Benefits to Businesses
For retailers, the program can be highly beneficial. It provides merchants with the chance to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The Trusted Stores badge immediately makes a store stand out.
For example, a person searching for a floor lamp on Google will see an abundance of stores. However, if they see one store is displaying a badge, they are most likely to visit that particular store. This increased level of visibility will attract more customers, and therefore, increase sales and conversion rates.
Most importantly, however, the objective data offered to consumers through the program can drastically increase a store’s customer base. When a consumer places an order with a site, they want to know that it offers a good shopping experience. The Trusted Stores Badge provides consumers with more objective information on a store’s quality level.
When a consumer hovers their mouse over the badge, they will see a report card. This card offers information on a store’s customer services and shipping reliability. Also, it will display overall data on the store, such as returns, delivery times, email response times and the overall shopping experience. This data is collected through an independent shopping evaluation company called StellaService. With this symbol, the consumer is given an objective review of the site, and will be more likely to purchase with that store.
Applying: Who should Apply and How to Apply
Stores can apply to the Google Trusted Stores program, only if they meet certain eligibility criteria.
- Process a Certain Number of Orders: Your site must consistently process at least two- hundred orders, over twenty-eight days to be eligible.
- Use Shipping Tracking Numbers: On the majority of the orders your site ships, you must use shipment tracking numbers. This is so Google is able to see how quickly your shipments were delivered, and how many were delivered.
- Cannot Sell Restricted Items: If your website sells any restricted items, such as tobacco, weapons, and certain pharmaceuticals, it won’t be eligible for the Google Trusted Stores Program
- Must Offer Reasons for CancellationsIf your site becomes part of the Trusted Stores program, it must provide reasons for cancellations. When an order status changes to cancelled, you will be taken to a pop-up screen. On this screen, you will have to state the reason for the cancellation. In order to keep your Google cancellation feed up to date, you have to enter this data.
- Deal with Customer Escalations Promptly: If a customer is not happy with one of your employees, and wants to talk to someone in a higher position, this issue must be resolved within one working day.
- Use a Custom Domain and Have an SSL Certificate: Your website must have its own custom domain, and have an SSL certificate to participate in the Google Trusted Stores program.
Launching in the UK, the Google Trusted Stores program is sure to have a big impact on eCommerce and paid search, and may helpincrease conversion rates for many stores.
For many small business owners, online marketing is a vital component of the marketing mix, and thankfully in my experience; this is something that most small business owners will know very well. And while there are a lot of ways to get noticed on the internet, the best way to get online attention has always been Google. Because of Google’s ever-reaching virtual arm, a business owner would be advised take advantage of the local-business focused Google Places.
Google Places is a great tool for any locally focused business, and it’s also free and easy to set up. This post is going to show you exactly how to get your business listed on Google Places and it’s going to take you through the all-important task of getting ranked.
Setting Up Your Account and Getting Listed
Before we get to optimisation, I’m going to take you step by step through getting your business actually listed on Google Places. This process is fairly straightforward and the initial setup should take no more than an hour.
Step 1 – Create a Google Account for Your Business
To start with the very basics, you are going to need a google account for your business. You probably already have a personal google account, but it is advisable to make one specifically for your business. The reason for this is that there is a chance that an employee will manage your listing at some point, and you probably won’t want them on your personal account. This is also convenient if your business does ever switch hands in the future. It’s best to keep your business account easy to remember, and most people will simply put their business name @gmail.com.
Step 2 – Claim Your Business as Yours
If your business Gmail account is good to go then you can now claim your business and get it listed. Now you’ll need to go to the Google Places homepage and click Get Started. Click “Get your business found on Google” and now you’re off to the races. Since this is your first time listing a business under your business account you will have to search for the business by your country and phone number. It is important that you use the businesses landline for this search or google won’t recognise the business (this is because of the integration with google maps).
When you search for your business Google will either find your business and show you basic information (usually pulled from directory sources such as Yell) or it will take you to the next step that we’ll cover. If it does have you listed already then still don’t worry because you will be able to edit and add more information about your business. At this point your business is being claimed as yours and you will now move on to the biggest part of this guide.
Step 3 – Edit Your Listing
Now you are in control of your listing and you can get started on entering all of the details of your business. Google will want you to be very specific and you should prepare yourself because there is quite a lot of information to be entered now. We’re going to touch on each area now and give you a good idea of how to efficiently do each section.
Basic Information is where you’ll input all of the, you guessed it, basics of your business. This section is fairly easy to understand, but it is also very important for your listing. These are the categories that your listing must have, straight from Google:
- Company Name
- City, County, Postcode
- Main Phone Number
While the fields are pretty self-explanatory it is important to note that consistency is key here. Google wants to trust your business and it wants to make things simple for the consumer, so it is very important that you enter everything here consistently with how you’ve used it in the past. Look at other websites that your business is on, such as FreeIndex or Qype, and make sure that every detail is identical. It really helps to nitpick here because even minute things like using St. instead of Street can make a difference to Google.
The business description in Basic Information is also a very important part of your listing. This is your time to shine and make your business look good (all in 200 characters or less), so you should think of it as something that you would feature on your own business website. Use keywords here and make sure to target the description to your ideal consumers.
Service Areas and Location Settings Areas
In this area you will be asked if your business is in one location or if it is in multiple locations. If your business doesn’t do deliveries or outside business of any kind then select that option and you’re done. If your business does operate in multiple locations then you will have to determine an area of service. For this option you can either provide a distance from your location or list the cities/areas that you want to be listed in. Both options have their advantages and it will really depend on your type of business.
Hours of Operation and Payment Options
This section is again pretty straightforward. Google will pull the information from your company website if you don’t enter it, but it is best to be in control of the information and avoid any errors. Completely filling everything out will also help to build on your reputation with Google and make you look more trustworthy.
Photos are a very important part of your listing and they should definitely be included. Pictures will make your business look more attractive to potential customers and it will also make you look more professional and trustworthy to Google. There is a limit of 10 pictures so be sure to use the best pictures possible with you limited slots. It’s also a very good idea to use your most important pictures first, so that customers see the good ones even if they don’t look through all of them. The pictures that you should use include:
- Company logo
- Images of your employees at your business
- Pictures of your products
- Pictures of the business itself
Videos aren’t exactly necessary in your listing, but they definitely won’t hurt. Every little thing still builds credibility and makes you look more trustworthy.
It might be tempting to put keywords and extra marketing in this section, but that would be a very bad idea. The best use of this area is to put additional details only, things similar to the examples that Google offers (brands carried, parking). You can use your keywords in the other sections, but reserve this area only for important details that didn’t fit in the other areas.
Step 4 – Verify Your Google Places Listing
You are almost done now, but you still to verify with google that you do actually own your business before you can take full control of your listing. There are two options for verifying your listing, and these options are phone verification and mail verification. Mail verification can take 2-3 weeks so as long as the option is available to you (which it will be in 99% of cases), you’ll want to use the phone option. Immediately after you choose the phone option your business line will receive an automated call from Google which will give you the 5 digit verification pin. Enter the pin and you will finally be ready to go on your listing.
Optimising Your Google Places Listing
Now you and your business are all set up and verified on Google Places, but there are still some things that you can do to get the highest ranking possible on your listing. Being listed is all well and good, but this isn’t the same thing as being found.
A lot of the little tricks have been mentioned above, but I’m going to go through a few more good practices that will help to get your rankings up.
Maintain Your Google Places Listing
This might seem a bit obvious, but you will definitely want to keep up with your page and change any details if anything in your business changes. It’s also a good idea to check the analytics on your website and play with your listing until you get the optimum traffic from it.
Market Your Google Places Listing
It might seem redundant to market a marketing tool, but giving your listing some love really will make a big difference in the long run. To ensure that your Google Places listing gets the most attention possible you might want to consider these steps:
- Encourage your customers to review your listing – use transactional emails and mailing lists for this.
- Post updates on your Google Places page with things like coupons and discounts
- Build up business reviews on other reviews services
- Optimise your business website for Google
Utilise Citations to Improve Your Google Ranking
The last thing that we’re going to touch on which will really help your ranking is the all important tool of citations. Google loves to see you being mentioned on other websites, and having a good list of third party citations is one of the best things that you can do to improve your local ranking. There are countless services that list local businesses, and getting yours on just a few of these (but especially the right ones) will endlessly help you in your pursuit of getting noticed by customers. LocalVisibilitySystem is a great starting point to see the types of websites that you should be getting your business listed on.
I have also put-together a useful list of the top local citation sources that are used by Google.
The Excel Spreadsheet can be downloaded from here
The above tips will all help your business not only get listed on Google Places, but will also help you actually be seen. If you follow these steps and always keep your Google listing in mind then you will start to find that it is an excellent source of well-targeted local customers.
LASTLY – you can of course ask your SEO agency to do ensure you have your Local SEO done right. Please see how Datadial can help you by clicking here.
February 13th, 2014.
A new EU directive has made its way into UK law.
The purpose of this new legislation is to both increase customer rights when buying online, and make expectations of customers more consistent across the European Union, thereby increasing cross-border trade through online stores.
We all remember the cookie fiasco of 2011, the last major attempt at enhancing the rights of the internet user. The UK government not only failed to enforce it, but even to comply to their own law. Due to strong resistance and powerful arguments against the law, it was revoked in 2013.
Will this new push for user’s rights follow a similar fate?
10 Second Summary
To make customer rights more uniform across Europe via:
Increased minimum cancellation period
Obligatory refunds within this period
To increase customer rights by:
Forbidding auto-ticked checkboxes
Using clearer, less attractive language on the ‘Buy’ button
There are many other changes to be made in response to this directive, but the above represent the parts of the legislation most likely to affect online retailers in a big way.
When Will This Affect Us?
The law is set to come into effect in the UK on the 13th of June, 2014.
Some things are likely to need changing before this date rolls around. We’ll need to retrain our staff in regards to dealing with returns, cancellations, refunds, and customer service in general.
Terms and conditions will also be affected, as well as the code responsible for auto-ticked checkboxes, and the text for the ‘Buy Now’ button is going to get a little uglier, I’m afraid. Let’s get into specifics.
Shall I Click “Buy”, or “Order With Obligation To Pay”?
“Order with obligation to pay” is the phrase our customers now have to read and agree to before buying from us.
One of the biggest arguments against the old cookie law was that it put other countries, particularly the US, at a significant advantage, since their websites didn’t include pop-ups which, to those that don’t know what cookies are, looked like a request to infringe on their privacy.
The buy button thankfully occurs a lot further in the buying process, and is likely to have less of an impact.
Sales may be lost, however, and they are not sales that depended on people not knowing what they were clicking on. It’s a wonder why this was deemed as a necessary change.
If the cookie law was a reaction against the thought of websites tracking our movements, is the buy button law a reaction against the thought of the 1-Click button?
We can deviate a little from their suggested script, as long as it remains explicitly clear that by clicking the button they are entering into a contractual agreement that ends in payment. Clearly, it’s up to us to interpret this detail to a degree.
Whatever the case, the change to buy buttons is just one part of this legislation.
Say Goodbye to the Presumptuous Tick Box
When a page loads, any checkboxes that relate to a add-on service must be un-ticked.
From July onwards, if you want your customers to sign up to your newsletter or add some extra insurance cover to their purchase, you’ll have to make the prospect compelling enough to have them tick it themselves.
Most customers have now been trained through experience to look for checkboxes they have to opt out of before clicking confirm. No, it doesn’t build goodwill for a brand, but it still goes on. You can see how this is in the same line of thought as the buy button changes, the difference being that these checkbox changes are likely to be a genuine improvement in the buying experience.
Adopt a German Attitude Towards Refunds
The “right to cancel period” will be expanded from a minimum of 7 working days to 14.
This is to align the rights of customers buying from a UK retailer with those of customers buying from other EU countries, such as Germany, who already enforce a 14 day right to cancel period.
Refunds for products will be obligatory within the right to cancel period, on the condition that the product is returned with its value undiminished by carelessness. Even if the customer has cancelled, the retailer can withhold refund payment until the product is properly returned, which most of us will agree is fair enough.
It seems that these changes to refund policies are weighted to be fair to both parties, but they will require some attention be paid to our terms and conditions before enforcement comes into play in July.
The benefit is a consistent customer experience across Europe, which should result in more cross-trade online, and a wider reach for small UK retailers that don’t have the budget to expand operations overseas in a physical capacity.
How Do We Protect Ourselves from Prosecution?
If you’re hoping for a similarly lax enforcement practice as we saw with the cookie law, you’re in good company. Perhaps a revision to the surprising buy button policy will occur in time, but until then, any UK business owner who acquires sales online will be at risk of prosecution without making the necessary changes.
You can read the official document here (PDF), which includes model cancellation forms and detailed descriptions of policies we’ve covered here.
The most visible loose ends we will need to tie up are the buy buttons at the end of our buying sequences, the add-on checkboxes that appear at the same stage, the statements made in our terms and conditions (even if it is only the enforcers who will read them), and the wording of any relevant forms available to our customers.
Be sure to educate yourselves and your staff on all the relevant changes. There are many others included in the document above, including changes to content classification, and to information available through customer support helplines.
January 29th, 2014.
Your customer is staring at the screen, hovering over your buy button, and they can’t shake the feeling that they might be about to waste their money.
Finally, their cursor slips back to Google, where they throw “…reviews” at the end of the search query. They don’t come across anyone talking about your product, but instead find few about a competitor.
If people can’t find what others are saying about your product or service, then this scenario is a daily reality for your would-be customers.
Traditional advertising is losing its advantage. People have always trusted their friends’ opinion, and now, just about anyone can be your customers’ friend online.
As consumers we’re predisposed to respond to recommendations, rather than promotions. We trust honesty, skeptical of sales copy. Above all, we want be convinced by people like us to give in to our temptations.
If someone is considering handing money over to you, it means they’re tempted. They will look for reasons to buy.
All you have to do is give them reasons they feel they can trust, which means they can’t come from you.
The Secrets To A Lucrative Review Campaign
Review campaigns are efficient converters if done correctly.
In order to translate into increases in sales, they need to be optimised in four ways
- Schema Markup
- 3rd Party Reach
- Reputation Management
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
1. Schema Markup: Make Your Reviews Impossible for Google to Ignore
People don’t link to reviews, so how are we supposed to get ours some visibility in the search results?
Schema markup and social signals are all the search engines really have to go by.
We’re covering social signals in section two, so here’s an overview of what you need to know to have your reviews indexed and properly organised to make them accessible to search engines.
Schema.org markup is the metadata convention that the major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!), agreed to use as the standard way to make web content more accessable to them.
Implemented properly, it makes sense of, and helps to organise structured data structured data.
Use the “itemscope” attribute in a <div> tag to tell the bots that everything in this division is about one particular “thing”, which you’re about to specify.
<div itemscope> </div>
Use the “itemtype” attribute to link to Schema’s page about reviews, telling the search bots where you’re getting your markup from. This leaves it looking like this:
<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>
Finally, add an “itemprop” attribute to this tag, and every other tag within it that you want the machines to understand. The itemprop name for a review is simply “review”, so our division ends up like this:
<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>
Let’s look at an example taken from the Schema.org webpage on reviews.
5 stars – “A masterpiece of literature”
by John Doe. Written on May 4, 2006
I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential challenges people face as they try to make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.
<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Review”>
<span itemprop=”reviewRating”>5</span> stars -
<b>”<span itemprop=”name”>A masterpiece of literature</span>” </b>
by <span itemprop=”author”>John Doe</span>,
Written on <meta itemprop=”datePublished” content=”2006-05-04″>May 4, 2006
<span itemprop=”reviewBody”>I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential
challenge people face as they try make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.</span>
You can go further into the world of Schema.org markup and make full use of all the attributes and properties that it offers you, but the above is all you need to get started and to label the essential elements of a review in a way the search engines will understand.
If it’s all a bit daunting there are a few markup generators out there which you might want to try-out.
A bit of Schema markup makes your reviews stand-out in the search results. Searchers prefer to click on links that have a picture and/or a line of stars next to them which will have a huge impact on your click-through-rates. If you’re running ads in Google Adwords, why not give your landing page every advantage it can get?
2. Persuasion: Turn Customers into Spokespeople
Ask and you’ll receive.
Companies are constantly leaving opportunity on the table when it comes to reviews. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, considering how easy it is to tap this resource. Take this chance to get an edge.
There a a few ways to go about it:
Follow up email. You have your customers’ email addresses, so make use of them. Make it a simple one-click-at-a-time process, perhaps with the words, “Are you satisfied with our service?” and a binary option below, which opens up a fast-loading page with the words “…almost done.” at the top, and a single extra box to fill in a quick reason for their answer. Don’t ask your customers to fill out a survey. Most people imagine they’ll be committed to pages of questions.
Calls to Action. Where would it be appropriate in your site to ask for a review? Perhaps at the end of a tutorial blog post that helps your customers solve a common problem? Blog comments are better than nothing, but perhaps it’s worth directing people’s attention to something a little higher in return.
Social Media. People like to talk. And nowhere do they talk more online than on social media sites. On-site reviewing presents a mental barrier. The customer isn’t used to your domain, or your interface. It’s new and scary. But they’ll turn around to tweet in the next moment without hesitation. There is opportunity in the connection you have with the social web, and exploiting it can be as easy as tweeting, “Tell us what you think.” Consider having a section of your site that displays the best tweets you’ve ever received.
Incentivise. Asking nicely works on some people. Others need a little more of a push. Stay well away from gifts that could be construed as paying for reviews (i.e. discounts on future purchases), as this will discredit the reviews that you do manage to get. We’ve been trained to be suspicious of internet content at the best of times, so do everything you can to maintain trust. A good alternative is to offer a prize draw, or to donate to a cause. Any kind of incentive is risky to your reputation with not-yet-customers, so to be safe keep these offers to follow up emails and make it very clear that the incentive doesn’t depend on whether the review is positive or negative.
3. 3rd Party Reach: Have Spokespeople Everywhere Online
72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, as long as they find them on an impartial review site such as Reevoo or Epinions, or on the marketplace site where they reached your brand, such as Amazon or Google Checkout.
Google Shopping seller ratings are aggregates of ratings pooled together from all relevant review sites on the web, including reviews left on your own site, so long as you’ve implemented Schema markup properly (see above).
While social media can be powerful, the highest return on time investment will always be spent on the sites where people go specifically to talk about products and services, and to either persuade or dissuade others from using yours.
Enter into these targeted conversations and take an active role.
Answer people’s questions or deal affectively and professionally with concerns that are raised, and don’t be shy about linking to pages that list your product or service. Remember, 3rd party reviews are seen as more trustworthy, so encourage them!
4. Reputation Management: Use Everything to Your Advantage
A bad review will help you.
Consumers who go out of there way to read bad reviews are 67% more likely to convert than the average shopper, and 30% suspect censorship when there are no negative reviews to be found. I know I fall into that category.
A caveat to this is that if the majority of reviews are negative, the impact is of course to deter most potential customers. There is a balance.
In order to strike it, we need to manage our online reputations by tackling negative reviews head on. Listen to what’s being said, as the feedback alone can be invaluable. To stay completely on top of it, keep a spreadsheet of negative reviews. This way, you can search and compare what customers wish were different. See what’s cropping up repeatedly, and if it’s clear something needs to change, you can now allocate resources to solving a problem that you can be sure will boost your business in the future.
December 17th, 2013.
Love them or hate them, almost all of us these days use Google as our default search engine, and for increasingly other services beyond that, from email to analytics, document storage to translation. Some strange few even use their social media offerings.
But are Google ‘good’ as a company? There is plenty of deserved criticism surrounding privacy and tax avoidance amongst other things. supposedly Google still work on the simple premise of ‘Don’t be evil’, although many would claim that this ethos went out of the window a long time ago. Even Eric Schmidt has since come out and said that the claim was stupid.
However, Google do do a lot of ‘good’. Here are ten of the best examples of ‘good guy Google’, and of the search engine giant doing things that, while not driving their profits higher, help to benefit – potentially – all of mankind. And no, this isn’t a paid Google post..
Google.org is perhaps the best example of Google doing good, as it exists purely to develop technology with a positive social impact.
Projects range from Google’s role in advertising and coordinating crisis response efforts, to heavily subsidised (or free) versions of Google’s commercial products for use by non-profit organisations.
Most impressive of all, however, are the Dengue and Flu Trends services, which detect the earliest indications of an outbreak of flu or dengue fever based on the number of people searching for symptoms and treatments.
These can predict epidemics even before doctors have noticed a significant increase in patients presenting with the relevant symptoms, allowing production of the right medicines and vaccines to be scaled up in preparation.
Search for ‘suicide‘ and you might expect the usual helplines and support services for your country or location to be among the top results anyway.
However, Google go further than that – in the UK, you’ll receive a specific message (which, admittedly, still appears below rather than above the sponsored links) telling you to call the Samaritans for help.
In the US, you’ll be presented with an equivalent message for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, while in either country, the organic and sponsored results alike are packed with organisations who can offer advice and support to those going through troubled times.
Perhaps more than any other big brand, Google work to open doors – figuratively speaking – in developing countries, in order to give people there access to information on as much a free a basis as possible.
The company itself is physically present in over 60 countries worldwide, and the majority of its search results are served to non-US customers.
Google Search itself is available in over 130 different languages, while Google Translate translations can be manually improved by international readers to give a better version of the text than is possible through automated translation.
This is helping to make every web page – regardless of its original language – accessible to web users worldwide, putting all countries and nationalities on a level footing in terms of their access to knowledge and information.
When Google’s homepage logo changed to a ‘Doodle’ – originally a stylised version of the logo that paid homage to a famous person born on that date, or some other such achievement – it used to be big news.
These days, Google Doodles appear much more often, and are much more complex, often involving some kind of game or other interaction.
However, they also serve to raise awareness of scientific achievements, independence days and cultural celebrations, helping to unite people all over the world every time they make a search.
In rare instances, Google will also add a text message below the main search box on their homepage – they did this, for example, as a mark of respect to Apple innovator Steve Jobs upon his death – and this is a further means by which they can raise awareness, as well as showing a little of their human side on what is otherwise a sleek corporate homepage.
The Return of Authorship
It’s worth taking a moment to look at some of the more recent ‘good things’ Google have done specifically for the way the web works.
For instance, since introducing their own Google+ social network, Google have made it possible for authors to effectively connect their work directly with their Google+ profile.
This in turn allows seasoned professionals to be given added significance in the search results by placing their author image alongside their work.
The web has often been portrayed as the enemy of traditional journalism, with print news publications finding it difficult to compete with real-time ‘news’ via social networks, and to maintain editorial standards in the face of bloggers who are often not subjected to the same levels of scrutiny on grammar and spelling.
In February 2013 though, Google took the first plainly visible steps towards overcoming that (outside of simply carefully selecting the sources of content that are included in the Google News search index).
A total of eight students from 2,300 applicants were selected for fellowships at seven different organisations with links to journalism, from research centres and training facilities, to action groups that aim to protect investigative journalists while they carry out real-world research.
The response to the scheme was so great, Google had to extend the application review period by a full week, and received an application every two minutes on the last day of the deadline; the chosen students will also spend a week working at Google, and learn about how the worlds of journalism and technology can overlap in the years to come.
Safer Internet Day
Each year, on Safer Internet Day, Google make efforts to raise public awareness of online security – particularly among those users who might not be so experienced at using computers or searching from smartphone handsets.
The brand’s commitment to security is built into its products – Google Chrome automatically updates to apply any new security patches, while both Google Search and Gmail transmit data only via encrypted connections.
But its public awareness efforts go beyond automation, encouraging best practices among human users of its services, and of the kinds of technology on which those services are delivered.
In 2013, for instance, the Safer Internet Day campaign from Google focused on issues like locking and password-protecting PCs, laptops and mobile phones, to prevent unauthorised access.
Scrolls and Santa
In December 2012, Google made two announcements with close links to Christmas – one of which was a frivolous bit of fun, while the other was a major archaeological advance.
Once again, the search engine ran its annual ‘Santa Tracker’ service, giving people worldwide the ability to “see where Santa’s headed next” on services like Google Earth, and on devices ranging from PCs and laptops with the Chrome browser installed, to Android-powered mobile devices.
Around the same time, Google unveiled the further digitisation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, putting 5,000 images of the scrolls online, and with detailed information for 900 individual manuscripts.
Google provided the storage for the data – which includes colour images at 1,215 dpi resolution, along with infrared scans – and added supporting information through Google Maps, their own imaging technologies, and even YouTube integration.
Whatever your religious beliefs (and that extends to non-religious beliefs like atheism too), Google strive to cater for cultures and communities of all kinds through these kinds of projects, whether they are academic in nature, or simply a fun way to celebrate an important date on the calendar.
In 2009, Google stopped using noisy, air-polluting lawnmowers to clear the grass and brush from the hills around their Mountain View headquarters (a necessary task to reduce the risk of a grass fire close to the building).
They instead hired a herd of goats to come and eat their way across the hillside, clearing vegetation as they went.
‘Mowing’ using goats takes the company about a week each summer, and has the dual benefits of reducing carbon emissions while also naturally fertilising the land – and for approximately the same cost as using petrol-powered industrial mowers.
Searchmetrics is a brilliant SEO tool, the amount of insight that it gives on client and competitor sites is incredibly useful. One of my favourite reports, along with some manipulation in Excel is to run a quick rankings comparison report on your competitors so you can gain insight into what they’re ranking for, more importantly what they’re ranking for and you’re not, and also how your site matches-up a full range of industry keywords.
For this sample report I’m going to take a look at some of the bigger sites in the insurance sector.
Other good insurance companies do exist, along with quite a few terrible ones.
Run each domain through Searchmetrics and run a long-tail keyword report on each of the sites that you wish to compare.
Export and download each of these reports.
In Excel create different sheets for each of the exports along with the first sheet which should be named ‘comparison’ this is where all of the magic happens and your data will be pulled-in.
Paste each sites data into onto it’s own sheet, as well as cumulatively into the ‘comparison’ sheet.
Then under Data > Remove Duplicates remove duplicated keywords on the ‘comparison’ sheet.
Then delete the following columns in the ‘comparison’ sheet – URL, Pos, Title, and Traffic Index. This should leave just Keyword, Search Volume and CPC.
Next add columns for each of the sites that you wish to compare. This should leave you with a sheet that looks something like this.
Then, using VLOOKUP you’ll need to pull the ranking data from the other sheets into the comparison sheet. So for example into Column C all of the rankings for Aviva will appear.
The formula you’ll need is =VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0) The easiest way to generate this is to use the insert formula function,
Lookup value – Is the value that you’re looking up, in this case is column A, the keyword.
Table array – is the table you’re finding the value in, which is the Aviva sheet, so click in the table array entry field, then go to the Aviva sheet and highlight all of the columns.
Col index num – is the column with the data in that you wish to import, so column 3, the ranking position.
Range lookup – Enter FALSE or 0 here to find an exact match. This will cause #N/A to be returned if the site isn’t ranking for the keyword.
Repeat this for each site. And then expand the selection by dragging the corner of the box down to apply to each of the cells in the sheet.
Tidy the sheet up by formatting as a table, and (hopefully) you should have something that looks like this.
If the #N/A results are annoying you can easily remove them by modifying the VLOOKUP formular from
You can also colour-code the rankings using conditional formatting.
If you would like to download this example sheet I have added it here – CompetitorReport