February 24th, 2011.
The current trend of Newspaper sites to publish their content behind paywalls seems to be gathering speed. The recent Google announcement of its OnePass payment system can only increase the process by making payment technology available to a wider audience.
I thought it would be interesting to look to see how the move to paywalls has affected the news sites backlink acquisition rates.
So far the main newspapers that have added Paywalls have been,
- The Financial Times – 2002
- Moneyweek – 2005
- The Times and The Sunday Times – April 2010
- The News Of The World – November 2010
- The Telegraph is set to add a paywall in September 2011
Taking the two most recent examples of The Time and The News Of The World, and using the excellent Majestic SEO graph functionality we are able to see changes on their backlink acquisition rates.
Similar, but less dramatic results for The Times. This is slightly more confusing as the paywall coincided with a domain change from timesonline.co.uk to thetimes.co.uk. We can see clearly that link gains to the old URL start to decline without the new domain ever really gaining links as a comparative rate.
Where I see some really interesting data is in the rate of acquisition for competitors sites who chose not to implement a paywall. A close online and offline competitor to both The Times and NOTW is The Daily Mail.
Their acquisition rate starts to climb sharply from the date The Times paywall goes live, and their highest ever month coincides with the NOTW adding their paywall. It’ll be interesting to see if the following two low months, December and January are a result of incomplete link data or some other trend.
It’s an interesting theory to see of the final few content producers within a market start to perform far better in terms of finance and popularity than those that eventually choose to follow the paywall route.
October 12th, 2010.
We’ve all been there, needing to show a friend or colleague something we’re seeing on our monitor but don’t want them to see the entire screen, so we reluctantly fire up photoshop (or paint!), then crop the image, save the image (thinking up some temporary filename and cluttering up yet another folder) and finally email the resulting image – wasting precious time and losing focus on other tasks at hand.
Using the tool that sits next to your clock you can very quickly highlight a portion of your screen and either copy to clipboard, save to your computer, or upload to dowce.com – where you’ll be given back a unique short URL to send out to people. You can even add a caption and password protect your capture. It literally takes a few seconds and lets you get on with your other jobs.
Pre-launch, members of the team here at Datadial installed it on their office computers and found it to be really useful when composing emails to clients which needed to contain screenshots of statistics and website layouts. Friends have also started using it to show each other winning (and losing) hands of online poker! It’s one of those tools that once you pick up, you use more than you would expect.
To give you an idea of what’s on offer, here’s a screenshot of the options you get after you’ve made your selection:
If you choose to Save to dowce.com you’ll receive a unique link to your capture…
It’s as simple as that! For a full demonstration of how it all works and to download dowce for free, visit www.dowce.com
August 17th, 2010.
This article is aimed at people new to e-commerce. It covers some of the basics of ensuring that your website maximises conversion rates.
It should also be read alongside 12 quick ways to increase conversion rates.
For more experienced e-commerce managers please see this article on advanced techniques for increasing conversion rates.
1) Minimized Navigation on Shopping Cart/Basket Pages
There is nothing more frustrating for an online retailer than an abandoned basket. Why did the user go all that way and then lose interest??
It’s fair to assume at the check out stage that a user does want to buy something. So our advice is to minimise the navigation available on your shopping cart pages. Keep wording short, simple, and to the point. Do not allow any distractions that could potentially pull your customer away or cause a delay.
By adding in lots of last minute deals and offers you risk diverting attention and losing the sale. Not everyone subscribes to this method, however at Datadial we believe it to be the best option.
An example: http://www.yapp.co.uk/pages/checkout_Login.aspx
2) Clear and Upfront Notification of Delivery Charges
Tacking on fees on to a final price without notification early in the buying process is the quickest way to lose a potential sale. Numerous surveys have revealed that hidden delivery costs are the number one reason for people to abandon a shopping cart. Notify your customers upfront if they will be required to pay any shipping or handling fees. This is a great way to increase conversion rates and build customer loyalty.
3) Clearly Display Trust Elements for Consumer Confidence
Remember, quite often users do not know who you are, where you are or really anything about you. Therefore it’s crucial you do everything you can to gain, nurture and keep your customer confidence in order to increase conversion rates. Here are a few ways to do this:
Clearly display “trust elements” on your website. Trust elements can include:
a. Credit card logos. Use only approved, high-quality logos representing the types of credit cards you accept. This helps customers feel more secure in knowing you are a legitimate business. It also shows the user that they can buy from your site. It may not be obvious otherwise.
b. Contact information. Whenever possible clearly display your companies contact information. Customers need to know they will be able to contact you if they have a problem, questions, or need more product details.
c. Real employee names and a company director. When people shop online they like to know with whom they are dealing. Displaying real names and titles of key company employees will help consumers feel more secure in knowing there are real people running the show and not just computerised robots or answering machines.
d. Photos of faces and places. Include photographs of the people with whom your customer is dealing. If appropriate and applicable, include very short biographies about the smiling faces on your website. Consider using photographs of your business location if applicable. This helps people understand yours is a legitimate business with a real location and that you aren’t likely to disappear in the night.
e. Visual verifications of claimed approvals, affiliations, and other credentials. If you have the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for example, proudly display it in a prominent place. If you have earned awards for business-related, and sometimes personal accomplishments, tell your consumers with a quality image and link that leads to more information.
f. Push any special customer services you have to offer. If your customer service representatives are bi-lingual or speak multiple languages, find a way to let potential consumers know from the get go.
Multiple Payment options
Most of the time one payment option on your site is totally adequate. But in the interests of maximising conversions you might consider adding other payment vehicles to your site.
The most popular alternative is PayPal. Some users only ever use paypal as they are comfortable with it and trust it. PayPal offers your customers options. They can pay with major credit cards, or can pay directly from their own PayPal account. It also has the advantage (depending on how you look at it) that Paypal store your credit card so that you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit a site offering Paypal. Paypal is also great one for small and start-up businesses that have no established a financial history with their banks. It’s fast and easy to register, display on your website, and capture funds that can be transferred right to your bank account.
So why not add it as an option?
Well it’s expensive with commission rates around the 3% mark (and 20p per transaction). Paypal also have a knack of siding with the buyer in the event of dispute meaning that refunds are issued on request, leaving merchants frequently out of pocket.
It’s an extra administrative thing to manage but if adding Paypal helps get an extra % sales conversion on your site then maybe it is worth it.
Google Checkout also offers easy solutions for start up merchants and small businesses. Google checkout claim to increase leads and create more conversions with a fast, easy, convenient checkout process.
You can also sign for basket abandonment alerts so you can recapture customers who wander away without buying!
The main advantage that Google Checkout has over Paypal is that its icon appears in Adwords results – so naturally drawing your eye to merchants using it, resulting in a 10% uplift in conversion rates according to Google.
However, Google Checkout has many drawbacks. Its interface and design are distinctly amateurish and this influencers trust building for users on their site. (Having said that Paypal’s interface is not much better). Also it’s only possible to link Google Check out to credit card accounts and not bank accounts.
Since its launch Google checkout has not taken off in anyway like Paypal before it and struggles for market penetration.
But, as above, if it means a small increase in sales conversions, and you can put up with the extra administrative hassle, then maybe it’s worth having Google Checkout as well as Paypal as well as normal Credit Card payment facilities.
Like Paypal, Google Checkout is suitable for small and larger merchants alike, though brand aware and high end merchants are unlikely to be found using either as there is undoubtedly something “cheap” looking about both!
July 22nd, 2010.
I recently went to a talk on the different forms that e-tailing is taking over and beyond the traditional e-commerce site.
Below is a distilled version of the talk with just the best bits. A lot of these examples are only availabe in the US at the moment but by reading this you are getting ahead of the curve!
(The talk was by the big cheese at Pod1 – Fadi – so credit to him for researching it all)
E-commerce via Apps
Start accepting cash and card payments with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface. US only at the moment and only for payments less than $60 but one to watch for sure.
See corporate video
And a review on how it works
Google shopper (Android only)
This APP allows you to scan barcodes, the co
vers of books and media, and even search by voice – the app will tell you where you can buy the same product and at what price. Pretty nifty if it works!
It took 12 months for the location-based social network to attract one million users and by stark contrast; the second million only took three months. Ever since February 2010, the site has been registering over one million ‘check-ins’ a week.
See how it works:
New e-commerce software
Vendr create POP-UP shops – They say that you can create your e-commerce site within 15 minutes. These are basic obviously sites now but I guess they will improve. In any event they will probably do for many home based businesses.
from their site: “Works with your current website: Add a “store” button to your blog or website, and your store will simply pop-up over your content — no more sending your customers elsewhere to make a purchase. Vendr functions as a part of your existing site. ”
Alvenda software allows you to create e-commerce shops within sites such as Facebook – Alvenda’s first customer, 1-800-Flowers.com, launched during the Mother’s Day holiday in 2009 and recognized a 10.5x lift in shopping activity by making it easier for people to shop.
New E-Tailing concepts
Cutting out the middle man – Harnessing the power of social media to revolutionise product manufacture and pricing.
For furtniture design and manufacture: You choose what makes it into our collection. Vote for your favourites and the most popular will be made available to order.
Buy early, pay less
The earlier you buy an air ticket, the less you pay. Now you can do the same with wine. Save £££!
WhipCar is the first service in the world where a car owner can rent out their vehicle for money, whenever they are not using it. WhipCar pairs sensible drivers with spare car time
April 9th, 2010.
Typically my knowledge of domains, DNS settings and A-records is happily restricted to one phrase: “Sergio, can you setup a new site please?”
But recently my personal website had issues with the DNS service I was using. I needed to move it, including changing my entire hosting and email. It’s headache material, but it’s one of those things that website owners have to do sooner or later.
If you are also daunted by all of this jargon, this may help:
The small print: this is a highly simplified diagram of how all of this works, intended to only provide an introduction. There are many more connections in between the ones illustrated. This also only shows POP3 email accounts (the most common business setup), but there are other options such as webmail and IMAP.
January 5th, 2010.
This tutorial will guide you through the setup of your email account. You will need the details we provided you to setup your account on Outlook
- Startup Microsoft Outlook 2007.(a) If this is the first account you are setting up on outlook a Wizard will startup, click Next.
On the account Configuration Select yes to configure E-mail account then click Next. Go to to step 2
- Select Microsoft Exchange,POP3, IMAP, or HTTP then click Next
- Enter E-mail account details
Type your name: e.g. Joe Blogs
Type your E-mail address: e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
Type your Password: e.g. password
Then retype your password: e.g. password
Then Select Manually Configure Server Settings or additional Server types then click Next
- Choose E-mail Service
- Enter Server Information
Account type: POP3
Incoming Mail Server : Information provided by Datadial
Outgoing Mail Server(SMTP): Information provided by Datadial
User Name: Information provided by Datadial
Password: Information provided by Datadial
Select Remember password then click More settings
- Outgoing Server Setup
Select Outgoing Server tab
Select my outgoing Server (SMTP) requires authentication and Use same settings as my incoming server then click OK
Select Test Account Settings and check if everything is completed then select Next
- Finish Setup
Select Finish. If you still have an account settings window open you can click close to return to Outlook
Select Internet E-mail then click Next
July 20th, 2008.
Like many of Microsoftâ€™s recent software products (Visual Studio .Net, .Net Framework or C# 3.0) SQL Server 2008 has been enhanced based previous versions by fixing bugs and adding new functionality built based on existing features. This is a welcome strategy that helps ease the transition for developers and database administrators.
In this blog post I will briefly touch on some of the database administrator functions and focus on the developer functionality, additions and upgrades.
SQL Server 2008 policy management has been updated and is now called the â€˜Declarative Management Frameworkâ€™. It is now possible to configure multiple database servers so that a standard configuration can be applied and maintained on multiple servers and databases.
Multiple Server Integration makes it possible to execute queries against multiple servers by placing them within special groups. Result can be categorised into one result per server or merged together as one set of results.
Security (Transparent Data Encryption)
A cool new feature of SQL Server 2008 is the improved flexibility of data encryption. Data encryption is now a property of the database instead of application code. This makes the database administrator and developerâ€™s lifeâ€™s easier as now they donâ€™t have to make changes to the database every time encryption functionality changes at the application level.
Database administrators can now specify how much CPU/RAM each user is allowed to use. This will help to eliminate situations where a userâ€™s mistake could potentially bring down a whole server. By imposing these limitations users are restricted to a predefined amount of CPU/RAM usage.
Developers have also been treated to some appealing updates in the latest version SQL Server. There are a number of new features that have been added to make a developerâ€™s life easier and increase their productivity.
LINQ Vs SQL
Most developers are pretty familiar with writing T-SQL queries to retrieve data for application objects. Most are also aware of the distinct syntactical differences between VB/C# and T-SQL. SQL Server 2008 provides something called the LINQ to SQL provider, which makes it possible to write LINQ commands directly within SQL Server. This lets develops use one common object centric language in the application domain and the database domain. Developers will be able to use the LINQ programming syntax on database table and application collection, XML and datasets.
DATETIME Data Type
Datetime has now been separated into two separate data types so that each one can be defined independently. These new data types will help increase performance by eliminating the need to perform certain operations to extract the date or time portion of the Datetime data type.
GEOGRAPHY and GEOMETRY
These two additions have been added to better represent location specific data. This eliminates the need to break geography and geometry data down into formats that fit other standard data types.
The SQL language has had some small additions in the shape of Inline Variable Declarations:
DECLARE @myVar int
SET @myVar = 5
DECLARE @myVar int = 5
C like math syntax
SET @i += 5
Icing on the cake
SQL Server 2008 had been blessed with Intellisense. All I can say is â€œabout time tooâ€. Gone are the days where you would have to do a Google search to remind yourself of certain T-SQL keywords, statements or syntax. Now SQL Server will give youâ€™re a full list of statements and keywords available for a particular variableâ€™s data type as well as column names for a particular table.
SQL Server offers some interesting new features that will keep developers and administrators happy. These new features integrate well with Visual Studio and the .Net framework 3.5 making SQL Server a nice finishing touch to a well rounded application development environment.