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On the subject of E-commerce

Rob

July 6th, 2009.

Just how social was Compare the Market campaign

meerkat

I attended the Online Marketing show at Olympia on Tuesday and listened to “How to implement a social media campaign” By Amelia Torcode, Partner and Head of Digital Strategy, VCCP.

VCCP and Amelia are now the darlings of the social media world following their successful Compare the Market/ Compare the Meerkat campaign.  Anna picked up an NMA award last week for the campaign.

I’ve got to say that I was a little disappointed by the presentation, especially on behalf of the delegates who had actually gone along in order to learn about Social Media Marketing.  All they got was a self indulgent “aren’t we wonderful” lecture on the Meerkat experience, along with a repeat of some of the adverts just in case you hadn’t quite got the message yet.  The talk cost £40 to attend so you would hope to learn something in return apart from how wonderful VCCP are.

But my main beef with the whole thing was actually the question of whether this was in fact a successful Social Media Campaign at all.  At its simplest VCCP came up with a cute idea, paid a huge amount to advertise it, set up a Twitter account and Facebook page and then encouraged the banter on these and other sites.  This has created incredible awareness and has kept a lot of people happy.  Site traffic has gone up 80%,  but still way below Confused.com. Succesful quotes have gone up 20%.

But was this really a social media campaign in its truest sense?  Could they have achieved a better result at a fraction of the price? Did they essentially miss the point of social marketing?

Social media is a method of generating discussion about your product or service within social network platforms seemingly without any effort being made by yourself.  In short you start a story, others pick it up and pass it around because its either funny, interesting or useful  If you get the story right you don’t need to spend any money because the “network” does the work for you. In VCCP’s case they (must have) spent a fortune on the development of a separate www.comparethemeerkat.com website and on the TV campaign, and in the process killing the average cost per conversion, although Anna claimed that this had come down by 21% but it was not clear that this took into account VCCP cost.

The point and beauty of social media is that you don’t need a TV campaign, the network does the work for you.  The message is passed on because people feel the need to.  And the number of people who link to your site ultimately help the Google rankings.  The actual spike in traffic is an irrelevance compared to the long term effect on Google rankings

On the point of search engine rankings, in her talk Anna started off by saying that Google was the benchmark around which the whole campaign was based but then did not mention Google from that moment in.  When I questioned her about the traffic from Google she was unable to answer as she had no stats and there was a separate agency altogether dealing with natural SEO. In fact any discussion about Google rankings or PPC had her flummoxed. I found this astounding.

I don’t want to knock Anna or the the meerkat campaign but it’s really interesting seeing the different approach that an Advertising agency can have to Social Media compared to a proper Online Marketing company. Advertising is all about brand awareness.  SEO is all about driving sales via the website.  As an SEO consultant myself I could not imagine implementing a campaign without keeping Google and other search stats at the forefront of any analysis of the campaign’s success.

Also I would have questioned a totally separate site, comparethemeerkat.com to be the backbone of the campaign.  Any self respecting SEO will tell you that for a social media campaign to be successful is to get people to link to your client site voluntarily which in turns helps rankings and therefore sales.  In this campaign as the majority of the new links will be pointed at the stand-alone Meerkat website.  In my opinion this is a huge miss of the campaign.  1000′s of lovely links all going to the wrong website – how depressing!

The only solution would be to 301 the meerkat website one day when no one is looking, though this is a huge social media faux-pas and could potentially lose them a lot of trust and goodwill.  Undoubtedly VCCP have been successful in raising awareness of CompareTheMarket but I am unconvinced about the benefits of the long term online presence.

If I was new to social media I would certainly have left none the wiser after this talk.  If I had been giving the talk I would have attempted to reveal the theory behind succesful social media marketing, explained how stories got picked up and spun about the web, how a traffic spike in itself is not important but the links that it brings, how the ultimate prize is rankings.  In short I would  have talked less about myself and more about how to help others, especially if I was charging £40!

Rob

June 26th, 2009.

12 things to check for your SEO Christmas checklist

santa-6-months-copy

Christmas 09 is only 4 months away.  No doubt you’ll already have your products organised and maybe some ideas on offline marketing but what about online marketing.

Because online marketing can take 4-6 months to “kick in” there’s no time like the present to activate your Christmas strategy.   So below are 12 timely reminders on what needs to be in place to ensure that your site delivers this Christmas in a way that would make Santa Claus proud.

1. Blogging – sounds similar to ‘tobogganing’ and is just as much fun

  • Simply, unless you are willing to put the time into adding useful and interesting content on your site then there really is little chance that the search engines will bother ranking you for anything more than your domain name.  You have to deserve to be number one.

2. Social Media – it’s time to get social (both online and off line) – and we don’t mean just churping along with the robins

  • Marketing is no longer a one way monologue.  It’s all about dialogue now and if you’re not up for a chat then users won’t listen.   If you say something  interesting then others will refer to it and pass it onto their friend – if it isn’t then they will talk about your competitors products instead.

3. Link Bait – lay the foundations now and reap the rewards by Christmas

  • How would you like say 500,000 more visitors to your site. Content will go viral if written properly – but before it goes viral make sure that your website can take the strain of the increase in visitor traffic.

4. Mouse tracking – discover how your customers behave online and throw them a lump of cheese…

  • Find out where people are clicking on your site and where they are getting confused. You’ll be surprised by how quickly and easily people get lost and move on elsewhere.  Make sure buttons like “Add to Basket” are big and easy to find (and look like buttons)Â

5. Cross-selling – if your customers have a basket, fill it!

  • Seems pretty obvious thing to do but many companies still miss this easy opportunity to up the customers’ spend by 10% or so.  Ask your web programmers to implemenet basket based offers.

6. Communications – ensure your data management system is working for you and send glad tidings to all your customers

  • I’m presuming you already have an email database.  If not, why not?  But continue to refine your database so that you can target relevant offers at different people.

7. Seven swans a-swimming – (well we had to give some reference to the twelve days of Christmas) Will your customers be able to swim through your site without any hold ups?

  • Should you really be making your customers register before purchase?  Are you hiding your delivery charges? (Hidden delivery charges are the 2nd most cited reason for people abandoning a shopping cart). Is it obvious how to make the order?  All these issues will effect conversion rates.  Get friends to perform specific tasks on your site and see how they perform. You’ll be surprised.

8. Content management system – check that your system will enable you to do everything you require. We’re still working on a turkey cooking programme but we are happy to cover off everything else.

  • Got a great idea for a Christmas offer? Have you checked that your e-commerce software is capable of handling this type of offer.  Find out now and don’t leave to last moment.

9. Reputation management – discover if you are featuring on your customers’ Christmas wish lists this year

  • Find out what people are saying about you with Datadial’s reputation management software and then respond to these comments and start a dialogue.  See how Love Film responded to a post I wrote about them – this was a classic bit of Reputation Management whereby they quashed my negative comment about them.

10. PPC – Pretty Perfect Christmas?  We believe Pay Per Click is the icing on the cake of an online marketing strategy (never the key ingredient)

  • Multi channel marketing includes PPC as well as snail mail.  PPC is expensive if implemented incorrectly.  Get this sorted before the Christmas rush starts.  Do all your experimenting with what works and what doesn’t or else you’ll find all the money coming in one end is going out the other end.

11. Online PR – You don’t need to bring frankincense and myrrh but if you’re doing anything quirky or different then let the blogosphere know about it

  • Do not presume that your PR company can do online PR.  Online PR is an entirely different science to Offline PR and most PR companies do not have a clue about how to create buzz on line.

12. Online optimisation – creeping round every corner making sure everything is as ‘friendly’ as possible

  • This is the most important thing to get right – If your website is not optimised for search engines then it has no chance of being ranked for its keywords.  Ask us to provide a website analysis for you.  If you ask nicely we might even do it for free, seeing as it’s nearly Christmas!

If you’ve got it all covered then you can join our happy Santa on the beach

santa-tanning-300x225

Rob

June 21st, 2009.

Boring but important – Changes to “place of supply” for VAT

VAT – are you preparing for new ‘place of supply’ rules?
Major changes in VAT legislation are on the way and it is essential that all businesses are prepared in advance to meet the requirements and avoid any possible financial penalties.

From 1st January 2010 there will be a change to the basic rule regarding the place of supply of services. This is the rule which identifies the country where services are deemed to have been ‘supplied’. Currently, if a supplier has established its business in the UK, then the place of supply will be deemed to be the UK and any services charged for will be subject to UK VAT. There are, however, numerous exceptions to this rule. Establishing whether a service falls under one of the exceptions – and if so, which one – constitutes a major headache for businesses.

The new basic rule states that if the recipient is a business customer then the place of supply is the country where the recipient belongs. Therefore, when the new rule applies, if a UK business supplies training services to a business customer in Spain and delivers the training in France then the place of supply will be Spain and the reverse charge will apply. The existing rules dictate that the place of supply is France, with the result that the UK business may need to register in France.

The new basic rule also states that if the recipient is not a business customer then the place of supply is the country where the supplier belongs.

As is now the case, there will be some exceptions, but these exceptions are in many cases different from those currently in force. It will be important to ascertain just how your business will be affected.

The changes may affect businesses which receive services from abroad. Such businesses may already account for VAT using the reverse charge mechanism, but may in future have to do this in situations where the reverse charge currently does not apply.

Another significant change, which is being introduced as an EU anti-fraud measure, relates to EC Sales Lists. Businesses supplying services to commercial customers in other EU countries will be affected. Currently, EC Sales Lists are required only for supplies of goods. Although this comes into force on 1st January 2010 you should be preparing now to collect the necessary data.

 The above was copied from an email sent to me by UK Training (Worldwide) Limited

Registered Office
4/5 The Mayflower,
Liverpool Road,
Formby,
L37 6BU.

Tel: +44 (0)1704 878988
Fax: +44 (0)1704 832124
http://www.uktrainingworldwide.com/index.asp

I have no association with them but the information is important to digest for anyone trading online.

As ever Datadial are here to assist you in implementing your e-commerce sites to the specification you desire.

Rob

November 10th, 2008.

New E-commerce launch – www.Yapp.co.uk

 

We took a dogs dinner of an old website and transformed it into a work of art that converts users to buyers. As always the project was delivered on time and on budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design

Yapp Wine Merchants website now has a fresh, modern design, packed with tools to help you find the wine you need.  It is unfrightening and designed to cater to Yapps broad user base.  We’ve made searching for wine fun and easy whilst retaining Yapp’s connoiseur edge.

Usability
Everyone has their own ways of looking for wine so we implemented 4 ways to navigate the site:

  • The Easy Wine selector uses dynamic searching
    Watch your search results change dynamically with easy to use search sliders. Have a play.  The great advantage of this is that it all happens on one page with no hopping backwards and forwards to and from search results.
  • The Food and Wine selector allows you to search for wine by Food Type by clicking on images of different food types.  This is not rocket science but is dis-armingly useful.
  • Advanced Search - for those who really know what they are after.
    Search by Regional maps
  • “You recently looked at”
    Isn’t it annoying when you look at lots of different items and then have to re-find them by re-doing the searches.  Well we eliminated this problem with the “You recently looked at section” so you dont have to re-do previous searches.
  • Tell a friend / Bookmark tools
    Not strictly a navigation tool but so simple and effective.  How else can you let your loved one know what you want for Christmas?  Simply post your choices to your Facebook page and invite others to have a look.


Search engine friendly

As always with Datadial, the site is built to be search engine friendly
All pages from the old site have been redirected to the relevant new pages.
The site uses Friendly URLs so http://www.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-South/Chateauneuf-du-Pape/ instead of

http://www.yapp.co.uk/?catid=6/?type=3/desc?=12/

Technology

Integrated stock control – the site is integrated to draw stock levels from Sage accounts.
The site is fully content managed, giving Yapp control over all aspects of the site including creating offers, mixed case offers and product information.
The site is also integrated with Datadial’s email marketing system.


Rob

July 9th, 2007.

How to irritate an online shopper or “Philfing”

Given that shoppers are a fickel lot it’s probably best not to annoy them too much, particularly if they have bothered to visit your website. 

However, a survey of 2,400 UK online shoppers commissioned by MoreComputers.com has revealed the irritation many shoppers feel when shopping online. 

Particularly, the most annoying thing an online retailer can do is something called “philfing”. The term ‘philfing’ stands for ‘purposely hiding what I’m looking for’, and the survey found that 93% of UK web users are annoyed by such things as hidden delivery charges or credit card charges.

Other e-commerce practices which irritated shoppers included:

  • Having to register before buying – this annoyed 57% of those surveyed, while 14% said this would make them abandon a purchase.
  • 35% found hidden delivery costs annoying, while this would prevent 64% from buying from a website.
  • No phone number being supplied for the site annoyed almost everyone, and rightly so.  48% found this annoying, while 50% would never purchase anything from such a site.
  • Interestingly, 36% found the type of ‘people who bought this, also bought…’ information typical of Amazon annoying, while 5% said this would put them off buying.

At the end of the day it’s all about trust.  Establishing customers’ trust in the buying process is essential, and it’s difficult to re-establish once it has been broken. Not providing a phone number or hiding extra charges until the customer has gone through the checkout process is guaranteed to break this trust. This is all obvious stuff youo might say but it’s amazing the number of companies ignoring these simple steps.

Rob

July 9th, 2007.

Why do so many shoppers abandon shopping carts.

According to a new report from Marketing Sherpa shows that almost half of all online retail transactions are abandoned at the checkout stage. This constitutes the single biggest loss of revenue for many e-commerce sites.

There are large variations on abanodment rates ranging from as low as 15% to as high as 90%. The chart below shows the results of survey, and gives an idea of the variety of  reasons for customers leaving the checkout process.

Reasons for abandoning shopping carts

Some reasons may be omitted from these answers, such as customers’ level of trust in a website, but the data suggests some important conclusions:

  1. Many e-commerce checkout processes are suffering from design and usability problems which can be easily rectified.
    These include hidden charges, lack of clear delivery details, or poor usability.
  2. Business processes within the checkout area give customers problems
    User registration, shipping costs that customers consider too high, or overlong checkout processes.
  3. Some carts are abandoned for reasons beyond the control of the retailer.�
    Some people will add items to their basket and reach the checkout when comparison shopping, with no intention of buying.

These conclusions suggest that there is much that online retailers can do to reduce their abandonment rates. Case studies suggest a 10-15% reduction can be achieved through redesign, split-testing or a combination of the two.

For more, see our the full report by E-consultancy’s website (Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special by Dr Mike Baxter, which examines checkout best practice) or talk to me, Robert Faulkner on 020 8600 0500 for a verbal digest of the report.

Alex

June 25th, 2007.

Online Retailers – Changes To Your Website Security

You may or may not be aware of the recent changes that have happened to Switch cards.  Switch is no more and has been fully replaced by Maestro (part of the MasterCard family).  This change occurred earlier this month and all websites have been updated to remove the Switch logo and replaced with the Maestro logo.

Further to this Mastercard are implementing security to all Maestro transactions from 30th June 2007.  From this date all online retailers will have to use a security protocol called “3D Secure” if they wish to continue to accept Maestro transactions.  3D Secure encompasses Verified-By-Visa and MasterCard SecureCode and is basically an extra layer of security used to prevent against card fraud.  During the checkout process, after entering their card details, customers will be redirected to their bank or card providers website where they will need to enter a password which they set up with their bank or card provider.  If they have not set up a password they are given the option to do this online.  If all the security details check out then the transaction is completed as normal. 

3D Secure has already begun to be implemented by us on all of our e-commerce websites.  For clients who use Protx as their payment provider the changes do not need to be in place until August 2007.

For more information on these changes click here.

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