The Website Marketing Group Blog

About The Website Marketing Group Blog

Michael Doyle - Managing Director of The Website Marketing Group

After 14 years of working in this industry, every day is a new learning curve which is why I love the job.

Here are some of our findings on the “best of the web” to keep you up to date with the latest news in the Internet business strategies.

From small businesses to Australia’s leading brands across multiple sectors and disciplines, this means we know what works and what doesn’t, allowing us to deliver tangible results that benefit your business where it really matters.

Whether it is a new brand identity-logo design, a social media marketing,  a complex website, an email marketing campaign or all of the above and more, our team can deliver the solution for your business.
Contact us today on 1300 911 772.

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Congratulations to the TWMG Team ! The Website Marketing Group has been successful in making the Smart50 for the SmartCompany Smart50 Awards 2011.

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5 Reasons Why People Resist Change and How To Counter Them

changeChange is about improving things and doing away with strategies and beliefs that don’t work. Changes in our line of work can take us to or help us stay on top of our game. In this context—and in an ideal world—people should be excited about changes and welcome them with open arms.

But in the real world, people tend to shrink from it; most people fear it because they have been so used to doing the same thing. Some people resist change because the unfamiliarity scares them so much that they get stranded in the same phase — in life and in business. Or that taking on something new challenges their competence to its very core.

Below are top five reasons why people resist change and how you can counter them.

1. Too Much Work Involved

Change requires a lot of work. In an organisational change, people have to learn new systems, processes, and even new tools that are different from what they have been using.

To counter this, the leader or the decision maker must effectively communicate the need for change. A sufficient explanation to the employees is necessary, emphasising that old strategies or procedures no longer work and have even become counter-productive. Employees must understand that there is a need for a change in order to remain relevant in the business, and thus, succeed.

And success for the company means success for everyone.

2. Uncertainty

Employees see changes and they are uncertain of its results. Uncertainty is one scary monkey.

To counter this thought, employers must talk to the employees on where their anxieties and uncertainties are coming from. These anxieties must be resolved point by point.

3. What’s In It For Me?

Sometimes employees believe that changes are good for the organisation but not necessarily for the individual members. Teams usually don’t see the big picture and only think about their own concerns. An employee’s concern usually revolves around his own welfare. Let’s face it. Employees do not usually care about the status of the entire organisation, unless it directly affects them.

To counter this dilemma, employers must point out the benefits of the changes to the individual members.  A good leader must be able to paint the big picture, determine how the changes affect the whole organisation and the individual members that keep it going.

4. Bad Experiences

Sometimes people do understand the need for change but are reluctant to submit themselves because of past experiences that may not have had favourable results. If the proposed changes often fail, employees will be cynical about its necessity.

To counter this reluctance, employers must explain that although changes in the past were unsuccessful, they were no doubt tried and tested with the intention of improving the overall status of the entire organisation. There is simply no shortcut to success. Everything and everyone must do their best to try something new. And not getting everyone to participate could lead to more failure.

5. If It Ain’t Broke …

Sometimes employees simply don’t see the necessity for change. If the old system works, why change it?

The times are always changing. To think otherwise would be to give in to competition and become obsolete in an industry. A good leader must be able to make his team relate to changes. Employees must be made to see that the environment outside the organisation is changing and the organization must take heed. 

To ignore the changing times, whether it’s in technology or the market, is counter-productive. Employees must understand that no matter how difficult change might be, it simply has to be done.

Spying on Your Competitors: 6 “Ethical” Tips

ethics on spyingThe moral or ethical issues on the subject of spying are a bit dodgy. On the extreme end, conducting industrial espionage may be illegal. Hiring someone from inside the enemy camp and transforming him or her into an industrial spy may violate all sorts of commercial and legal laws. It can be a constitutional violation, criminal, federal or whatnot.

But those days of finding a willing insider and turning them against an organisation, they’re long gone. Today, you can spy on your competitor—by yourself—without leaving your desk. Or your home, for that matter. You don’t have to hire someone from the enemy camp and offer him or her heaps of rewards to reveal the enemy secrets. The Internet has changed all that. In this era of digital revolution, a lot of online tools exist and are free for you to use.

Here are six tips to spying on your competitors, with the corresponding tools, of course.

1. Keywords

A lot will depend on keywords. Knowing the keywords your competitors use will give you a clue to what is driving their traffic and leads to their website. Most websites include the keywords in the coding of their pages.

Go to your competitor’s website and look at their pages’ source codes. To those who don’t know how to do this:

  1. For Chrome, click the browser’s menu, then go to ‘More Tools’ and click ‘View Source’. A new window will open showing your competitor’s website code.
  2. Find the word ‘keyword’. You should find the keywords with the tag, meta name=”keywords”.
  3. Analyse and compare it with your own site’s source code and see what you’re missing.

view source
2. Load Time

Examine the load time of your competitor’s website. There are plenty of tools that will give you this information. Here’s one that’s really reliable.

Useful tool: Google Pagespeed Insights

http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

With this tool, you can analyse the loading speed of any website, including your competitors, on both platforms: desktop and mobile. Aside from analysing the loading time, this wonderful Web developer tool suggests how to improve site performance in terms of loading time.

It would not hurt to try inputting the URL of your own site. You might even learn how to improve the loading speed of your own website.

pagespeed insights

3. Indexed Pages

The more indexed pages, the better performance in Search Engine Results Page (SERP). To find out how many indexed pages your competitor has is to determine how many you should have to level out the playing field.

Useful tool: Google Query
site:[competitor URL]

indexed pages

4. Code Accuracy

To access your competitor’s technical skills is to see how solid their codes are. You can use a free Web service to do this.

Input the URL of your competitor and see how many errors their page shows. You can also use this on your page to improve your page’s code accuracy.

validation

5. Twitter Presence

Of course, you have to assess how strong are your competitors’ social media presence. Find out who’s tweeting about them.

topsy

6. Ads

One way of checking out your competitors’ ads is by using a free online service called Moat.com. See what your competitors’ ads look like.

moat

 

Conclusion

Knowing the enemy is half the battle. The knowledge you obtain about them will be your ticket to stay on top of your game, and conquer all competitors.

Like this article? Check out my other articles here.

Burberry: A Success Story Of Digital Transformation

burberry-logo

This British luxury fashion house is a $1.7 trillion valued business. Consumers from all over the world purchase 19 billion items of clothing each year – a third more than they bought 13 years ago – and women are disposing of four times the amount of clothes per year than they were in 1980.

The emergence of fast fashion (the low cost, mass-produced collections that mimic luxury fashion trends) which sold at giant retailers like Zara, Topshop and H&M have contributed to the fast moving customer’s attitude. Fashion style revolves in and out of stores and websites as quick as every three weeks. The surging popularity of fast fashion retailers has seen high-end designer labels, whose price point is often tenfold that of Zara, facing an uphill battle to stay relevant, engage customers and ultimately generate sales.

For consumers, one question remains: why pay $1500 for a trench coat when a replica is available in over 2000 Zara chain stores across the world for one tenth of the price?

However, despite the popularity of these ‘fast fashion’ stores, one luxury label has managed to dominate social media and bring their brand back from the edge of doom. Currently, we have Nike, Adidas, Converse and Burberry dominate social media. While it’s easy to understand how the sportswear labels have succeed (due to their widely accessible price point) and developed such a large cult following, the same reason can’t be applied to Burberry.

So how did it get there?

In 2006, Angela Ahrendts was brought in as CEO of Burberry, with the company seeking a complete revamp of its historic brand after seeing revenue increase by only 2 per cent per year. In the first year of her reign, Ahrendts placed 60 per cent of Burberry’s marketing budget into a digital strategy, which ultimately saw the brand triple its annual sales in five years.

The first move for Burberry was to refocus the brand on what set it apart – it was British and had a history that dated back 150 years to a single trench coat. These two features set the tone for every piece of marketing, seasonal collection, fashion show and story the brand would tell going forward.

Burberry is one of the few luxury brands that inherently understands the need to transform a brand into a diverse social platform in order to survive in a digital landscape. In 2009, Bespoke came to life. Basically, it is a platform where customers design personalised trench coats, customising them right down to the buttons. Later, Artofthetrench.com was launched – a photographic platform that celebrates the iconic item and the people who wear it while giving customers their 15 minutes of fame. Harnessing the growing popularity of fashion bloggers and street-style photographers saw the user-generated content on Burberry accumulate 2.5 million visits to date.

The most recent big move from the British powerhouse was to seamlessly integrate their online and offline experience. Off the back of this, Ahrendts and her team launched London’s flagship store in 2013. The Regent Street space was to be a physical manifestation of Burberry.com. With art, entertainment and storytelling at the core of the idea, the store opened donning a 38-square-metre screen that live-streams catwalk shows and viral social media campaigns, iPads and digital screens featuring the heritage of the brand and microchip clothing that can be scanned for a background of where the garment came from.

For the future, newly appointed Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey says, “Content drives the company as a leading fashion icon.” Thanks to Burberry’s success, it now seems all too obvious what luxury brands needed. Burberry World sells you the Burberry feeling.

Perhaps it’s time for Australian fashion labels to listen up. Start your own customised digital strategy today.

Internet’s Most Dominant Digital Players

twmg-website-designers-sydney

When we started the business, the Internet was a far different place. Google was threatening the digital dominance that Yahoo! had enjoyed for years, websites loaded in double or triple the time in some instances and pure-play social media networks were but a vision in the minds of technology innovators.

Things have changed dramatically since then, and very much for the better. The Website Marketing Group has been fortunate enough to be at the intersection and epicenter of Web business and digital technology in the past decade. We have been occupying a vantage point that affords us a unique view into the most powerful solutions, practices and processes employed by the millions of readers, and offered by the thousands of companies. We also have had the opportunity and privilege to see emerge, grow, and sometimes even falter and fail as much and as often as they succeed.

One thing is for certain, the Internet is truly an amazing place. As a result, it is useful from time to time to explore those that are making a positive difference in the lives of each category. In today’s post, we have examined various criteria in the Web industry and the big names behind it. We’ll start the recommendation with:

1. Project Management Software

It might seem odd to start off the list with a category on project management software, but anyone that has run a Web-based business will understand. There are so many moving parts to today’s Internet enterprises, that only those who are organised and capable of streamlining their task completion will be able to achieve success. Fortunately, many software solutions exist to help brands keep track of the work they are doing and optimise their processes.

  • Wrike.com
  • Basecamp.com
  • Trello.com
  • Microsoft.com
  • Harvest.com

2. Domain Names

Few verticals in the world of Web business have seen as much disruption in 2014 as that of the domain space. With the introduction of the new generic top-level domains (gTLD’s), the preferred .COM – which, of course, remains the dominant extension – is experiencing slower growth as geographic extensions including .BERLIN and .NYC, and community and industry focused extensions such as .CLUB and .REALTOR capture the attention of Internet professionals. With thousands of the new gTLD’s entering the digital landscape in 2014, domain name registrars have benefited greatly from the increased attention as you might expect.

  • GoDaddy.com
  • Name.com
  • 1and1.com
  • Doteasy.com
  • NetworkSolutions.com
  • Domain.com
  • eNom.com
  • Register.com
  • NameCheap.com
  • Web.com

3. Web Hosting

The Web is moving faster and faster, and Internet professionals that manage to deliver a faster experience to users not only benefit from an increase in engagement and sales, but can even see higher search engine rankings as well. For these reasons, the Web hosting decision made by your enterprise is an important one. With the varying demands of the modern Web business however, it’s nearly impossible to identify which Web hosting providers are worthy of being designated in this list. There is shared hosting, dedicated hosting, managed hosting, database hosting, not to mention cloud hosting. Vendors in a category like shared hosting don’t belong alongside vendors which cater to larger enterprises focusing on e-commerce or those which run database-driven apps in the cloud.

  • Budget Hosting: HostGator.com
  • Dedicated Hosting: Softlayer.com
  • Cloud Hosting: Microsoft Azure
  • E-Commerce Hosting: Rackspace.com
  • Application Hosting: Amazon

4. SEM – Search Advertising & Optimisation

Of all the different types of online marketing that today’s digital-minded brands can leverage – including email and social – search remains dominant and, as a result of the value it can potentially provide in terms of raw unique visitor numbers, is perhaps the most attractive option. There has always been confusion about what search engine marketing (SEM) really is, however – is it purely unpaid and natural traffic from the search engines, or does it relate to advertising on the search engines, paying for visitors with a clear, keyword-driven intent? SEM is essentially any marketing on search engines, be it through advertising or through optimisation. The market for solutions on both sides is in great demand.

Search Advertising

  • WordStream.com
  • MarinSoftware.com
  • Kenshoo.com
  • SEMRush.com
  • Acqusio.com

SEO Software

  • WebCEO.com
  • SEOclarity.net
  • Moz.com
  • RavenTools.com
  • Position.ly

5. E-Commerce

E-commerce consistently elicits a great deal of attention from our community of digital professionals. Total annual e-commerce sales increase each year, due in great part to today’s software solutions which provide Internet retailers with opportunities to do ever more amazing things with their digital presence.

  • MagentoCommerce.com
  • Volusion.com
  • Shopify.com
  • Hybris.com
  • BigCommerce.com
  • X-Cart.com
  • 3DCart.com
  • GoeCart.com
  • Mozu.com
  • Miva.com

6. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (sorry Google+) have become an integral part of maintaining a digital presence on the Internet. While the value these destinations provide to enterprises is up for debate, marketers continue to take advantage of these platforms in the hopes of raising awareness for their brands, deepening engagement with their fans and followers, including:

  • Hootsuite.com
  • Sendible.com
  • SproutSocial.com
  • Buzzsumo.com
  • AgoraPulse.com
  • ViralHeat.com
  • GroSocial.com
  • SocialBro.com
  • Bufferapp.com
  • Offerpop.com

7. Live Chat Software

Once an absolute necessity in the arsenal of digital tools for top Web brands, live chat software remains a popular option for those that want to help guide their users to a more personal experience and a more profitable one for their brand.

  • Livechatinc.com
  • HelpOnClick.com
  • Olark.com
  • Velaro.com
  • TouchCommerce.com

8. Email

Love it or loathe it, email is a fundamental element of the Web today. Every digital brand from information publishers to service providers (e-commerce merchants too) use email to communicate with customers and their audience, and ultimately drive conversions. Those platforms that make the process simpler, empower marketers with the tools they need to automate the required processes and integrate with existing systems are listed below:

  • ConstantContact.com
  • GetResponse.com
  • MailChimp.com
  • iContact.com
  • AWeber.com
  • ActiveCampaign.com
  • Campaigner.com
  • VerticalResponse.com
  • Listrak.com
  • + MyEmma.com

9. Advertising & Performance Marketing

For those brands that need to raise awareness and garner mindshare in their respective markets, digital advertising and performance marketing are increasingly necessary. However, the industry has seen and experienced a variety of discouraging setbacks in 2014, from Google’s recent acknowledgement that just over half of its display ads are visible, to the ongoing tracking challenges for affiliate networks. Even with these rather significant issues, digital advertising and performance marketing are healthy industries and remain effective options for those looking to improve their bottom line.

Online Advertising

  • AdRoll.com
  • OutMarket.com
  • Chitika.com
  • Criteo.com
  • Brightroll.com

Performance Marketing

  • Conversant.com
  • RakutenMarketing.com
  • ShareaSale.com
  • AvantLink.com
  • ClickBank.com

10. Help Desk Solutions

There’s a growing trend among today’s web enterprises – improving the efficiency of customer service. Where companies once had to staff call centers with knowledgeable teams of sales and support personnel, today they are turning to help desk solutions so customers can, effectively, serve themselves. Fortunately, some powerful technology platforms have emerged that are making a positive difference in the world of Web business.

  • Zendesk.com
  • Desk.com
  • Freshdesk.com
  • TeamSupport.com
  • HappyFox.com

11. Experience Optimisation Software

If there is one single word that defined 2014, it’s that of “experience.” The data is clear, enterprises that deliver personal experiences, those which speak directly to the needs and wants of users, are the ones that are accelerating their success and reaching profitability far faster than their competition.

  • WebTrends.com
  • Optimizely.com
  • Monetate.com
  • Unbounce.com
  • VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com

12. Gamification & Loyalty

Today’s Internet users expect a different, a better, experience from the brands they patronise. They do not just want great products and service, they want to be rewarded for giving their time and attention. That demand has been met with some rather innovative solutions which enable brands to employ gamification principles to deepen engagement and increase the number and quality of interactions.

  • Klout.com
  • Influitive.com
  • Bazaarvoice.com
  • Badgeville.com
  • Bunchball.com

13. Subscription Management

One of the most exciting trends in 2014 was the uptick in subscription management usage by Internet enterprises. No longer content with traditional payment models, technology vendors emerged forcefully to enable brands to offer subscription-based billing and recurring billing in a way that was both affordable and incredibly effective.

  • Zuora.com
  • Chargebee.com
  • Cleverbee.com
  • Avangate.com
  • Braintree.com

14. Mobile Management

Smartphones were supposed to change everything – and they did. Upwards of 30% of all web traffic these days comes from mobile devices, and the savviest brands are doing everything they can to get in on the action – from rolling out responsive or adaptive designs, to personalising and prioritising content for users when they are away from the desktop. Solutions catering to this increasing demand fared quite well in 2014 and mobile analytics, mobile site builders and app platforms captured the attention of digital professionals.

  • MixPanel.com
  • AppAnnie.com
  • DudaMobile.com
  • Flurry.com
  • Appcelerator.com

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Four Great Email Examples For Sales Prospecting

the-six-ultimate-tips-for-a-successful-email-marketing-campaign

In today’s selling trend, the ability to deliver an effective sales email is one of the most important step toward your success.

The phone marketing is still a critical channel, yet it is highly inefficient. It takes 22.5 dials before you can have a real conversation or transaction. As a matter of fact, Coca Cola just discontinued their corporate voicemail. Nowadays, connecting people via email  is more important than ever and the industry is responding. This is also supported by the rise of numerous sales email applications such as YesWare, ToutApp, and SalesLoft.

On the other hand, corporate buyers are getting more emails than before, with the combination of sales emails and those being sent via marketing automation. It means, while email is essential, your email will be ignored if you are unable to pierce through the high volume of emails your prospects receive daily with compelling email copy that provides value to your prospect.

In today’s post, we will explore four good examples of effective prospecting emails sent by real salespeople and sales development representatives. There are many critical tactics associated with the successful sales emails, but there are three notions to notice:

  • Create buyer-centric email copy. Every message from voicemails, emails, social outreach, and live call should focus on the prospect, not you. They must answer the question: Why is it worth their time to speak with you? As you will see from the examples below, these emails are carefully crafted to connect with the buyer and not necessarily sell the product.
  • Research the prospect to craft a personalised message. It’s very difficult to create buyer-centric email copy without researching the prospect. Great sales emails typically reflect a deep understanding of who the prospect is and what they care about. Before writing your sales email, try to identify 2-3 key findings that you can mention and tie your value prop to. The emails below are great examples of emails written following prospect research.
  • Combine touches within seconds of each other. Leaving a voicemail within seconds of your email will increase the likelihood of your prospect opening and responding to your email. This important best practice is not represented in the emails below but is worth including as you send your buyer-centric prospecting emails. 

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these email examples:

1. How Twilio Leverages Ideas in their Outbound Prospecting Emails

email-example-1

The goal of this email was to get an executive level meeting with Starbucks. The sales development representative, Emerald Maravilla, wanted to start at the top (the CEO). Her approach was to email Howard Schultz a short list of new ideas for Starbucks that could be delivered using her company, Twilio. Before writing the email, she obviously had experience with the Starbucks brand, but nonetheless performed deep research on Starbucks to understand their current initiatives. That research enabled her to propose specific ways that Starbucks could leverage Twilio.

Emerald’s approach is a great way to interest executives. Executives respect new ideas. As the sales author Jill Konrath once said: “People respond to ideas even if they are wrong.” This type of email requires heavy research and thought. As such, it is a tactic best suited for high value prospects.

Key points:

  • Show the prospect that you are excited. In the opening paragraph, she uses the word explicitly: “excited.” Prospects have a choice on whether to spend time with you and what she is saying to the buyer is: “I have been thinking about you and I am excited to share my ideas.”
  • Come up with a set of interesting ideas crafted for their business. The ideas Emerald shares in this email are very specific to Starbucks’ business and are actually a fun read. You can imagine the reader getting excited about the possibilities.
  • Close it with value. Many outbound emails default to “setting up a demo to show you more” but the focus on Emerald’s close is to continue “idea-sharing” and to talk about how other companies are using Twilio. A hard close on a sales presentation would not be nearly as effective as her approach.

2. How YesWare Creates a Business Case for Engagement

email-example-2

This email came from Dakota McKenzie from YesWare. Whereas Emerald chose to share ideas, Dakota makes a business case for us to engage. Like Emerald’s email, it is thoughtful and full of respect. Step one in any relationship is to earn trust and Dakota earns mine by showing the audience that he has a deep understanding of their business and has thought about why we should we connect.

Key points:

  • Tell the prospect that you should talk whether they buy something from you or not. That is what Dakota’s first sentence said to me. Dakota set the table for this email by emphasizing how much we have in common and tells me he is focused on the value of an equal business relationship.
  • Provide a reason “why” we should engage. Dakota provides a business case for us to connect. When you read it, you get the impression that deep research was involved. In actuality, Dakota was able to take publicly available information and tie it back to YesWare. This results in a very compelling case for engagement.
  • Close for a business relationship versus a product relationship. The emphasis of Dakota’s close is on exploring how we can work together to achieve common goals. Based on the rest of the email, I don’t see why I wouldn’t.

3. How Kapost Makes Trial Follow-Up Emails Buyer-Centric

email-example-3

For many organisations, this type of follow-up email is canned and sent via automation. For many lower-value trials, a canned response is probably the right thing to do. However, if your goal is to actually talk to someone and ultimately sell to them, the most effective strategy is to craft a compelling, buyer-centric email. What I really liked about this email was the amount of research that Teddy did on me in advance of writing the email. It gave me the impression that the email was a personal note, which stands out from the rest of the canned trial emails one receives on a daily basis.

Key points:

  • Connect with the buyer immediately. As with most inbound emails where a buyer has performed some type of activity, Teddy mentions the fact that I downloaded a trial in the first sentence. What got me to keep reading was the fact that he mentioned me in the second sentence and in this case, he mentioned the blog post. Because the email was about me, the reader was immediately compelled to read on.
  • Provide a personal perspective. Today, many sales emails mention your content (if you create content). They might write: ‘I loved your piece on XXX.” What made Teddy’s email different was the fact that he wrote a very personal opinion on the topic the particular topic.
  • Deliver a more specific call-to-action. Maybe Teddy didn’t want to connect, but he had his audience gripped and then let them off the hook by only offering to answer questions if they had any.

4. How Switch Merge Uses Video in Emails to Increase Response

email-example-4

This email is a bit different than the others. The company, Switch Merge, had identified the right executive to connect with and just had to get their attention. While this email is more product-centric than the other 3 examples in this blog post, it still represents a personalised way to engage with hard-to-reach prospects. The technology that powered this email is actually provided by Switch Merge and it allows organisations to take explainer videos and personalise them to the recipient such as including name, company, etc. These types of emails can be very effective with busy executives who can view an explainer video and understand who you are and why you are unique in a quick, visually appealing way.

Key points:

  • Personalise the experience. This video stands out from others because it is personalised to the prospect’s name, company, and title. These personal touches give the prospect the feeling that this video was for them.
  • Deliver a call-to-action in your video content. Sales people often send content without a significant call-to-action: “Here is a piece of content you might find interesting.” In this case, the call-to-action is built into the video to help support your real request — to get a meeting.
  • Use video viewer data to determine your next steps. Many sales email tools are powerful because they tell the sales person whether someone opened or viewed their email. In this case, the sales person will know whether someone actually viewed the video and can continue to pursue this prospect knowing they have a high-level understanding of what you do.

Conclusion

These emails are distinct in their own ways, but they offer great examples of how to deliver a differentiated email experience to the prospect. Not surprisingly, each of these emails achieved successful outcomes. Choose the one that suits you and see what will happen in the future.

Seven SEO Facts You Can Implement In Your Business

seven-seo-facts

Working alongside SEO specialists is an important part of any long term digital strategy. What many retailers need to understand is, while looking for credible specialists with proven experiences, you can get started on your own.

This post focuses on seven SEO facts retailers can learn whether they have a relationship with an SEO specialist or not, and in doing so will lay down a solid SEO foundation the business can benefit from.

1. The consumer always comes first

The point is to deliver a balance of SEO techniques to accommodate search engine algorithms and preserve consumer journeys. This is the first tip because it is the most common mistake made. Many retailers would stand by their reasoning to sacrifice the customer journey, but they don’t realise two things:

  1. By damaging the experience, they lose the consumers they initially attracted.
  2. Google is focused on and supports the delivery of great online experiences. This focus is seen through the eyes of its algorithms.

If retailers followed SEO best practice (in other words Google’s rules) they will, by default, enhance the consumer journey.

One example of this in action is page load speed. Case studies have proven fast loading websites rank higher in Google’s free listings than slow ones. Read my page load speed article addressing Google’s support of fast loading sites.

An example of SEO coming before the customer can be seen on one of the largest retailers in New Zealand, The Warehouse:

When you land on the Furniture category page you will notice six paragraphs of copy with the word ‘furniture’ used 11 times.

If a consumer has any buying intent, they are not going to read six paragraphs of copy at this stage of their journey. It’s too early (this is assuming the content is relevant).

The irony of this example is that there are many SEO fundamentals The Warehouse has not implemented on this key landing page.

I spend time fully articulating the issues and remedies to this page in a separate article written providing pragmatic examples of what can be done to make an impact.

2. Do not become absorbed in SEO analysis of your competitors

Some SEO experts are adamant the first rule/tip should be to analyse your competitors. The question needs to be asked, how is this information going to help you make decisions around your own SEO and business conduct?

Some will argue this analysis will bring to light the SEO activities your competitors are undertaking, however, who is to say they are gaining better value from these rankings?

You also may have a different product mix, different resource skill sets, and different budgets. Your brand may also be stronger or weaker than your competitor requiring different activities.

MOZ confirms Google changes its SEO algorithm on average between 500 to 600 times each year.

As a result, time spent attempting to keep up with your competitor’s rankings will be non-value add time with the risk of you becoming lost in the process.

It’s good to have a superficial high-level view of your competitors and their conduct, but more from an awareness perspective. Your time is better spent working on the other tips.

3. Develop a formula for your product titles

There are two elements to getting product titles right:

  1. Avoid internalised jargon, use names your consumers understand and are looking for.
  2. Use the proper structure of a product title.

A typical formula to follow is:

  1. Product title beginning: brand name
  2. Product title middle: description of product
  3. Product title ending (optional): material type, size and/or colour

Displaying the brand title in the front of the product title is a minimum requirement. The saturation of brand titles in your product mix will deliver impact (assuming your product range is deep enough).

Successful online retailers follow this approach and formula religiously:

  1. “Calphalon Simply Calphalon 10” Omelette Pan with Cover” (Zappos)
  2. “Polo Ralph Lauren Custom Fit Long Sleeve Polo Shirt, Polo Black” (John Lewis)
  3. “L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lip Balm, Pink Satin, 0.10 Ounces” (Amazon)

Not only does this provide consumers with a clear idea of what a product is, it greatly increases the opportunity of these products being visible in search engines.

4. Develop category titles to align to your target market

Think back to when you created the names for your main and sub category titles. What was the process? Did you think about what consumers are looking for online? What words they might use when searching? Or was this decided internally amongst key members of your team?

To truly find out if your category titles align to the demand of your target consumer, conduct an audit on every category title you have. Implement the following methodology in your audit:

  1. Research search demand by using free tools provided by Google.
  2. Research trending data on these terms (using Google Trends).
  3. Review existing data on category popularity.
  4. Research site search data to see what customers are searching for on your website.
  5. Balance the above research with the size of product offering.

The combination of consumer demand research, existing consumer behaviour, and your product offering, will deliver alignment to your target consumers. In doing so, this will be your SEO efforts. This is SEO in its truest sense. Whilst you do not need to rely on SEO specialists for this tip, they would add value to this process through their assistance in keyword research if this is new for you.

5. Introduce social proof into your site

This rule is a good example of what can be done to lift both organic rankings and consumer experience.

The challenge in making this rule work for the business comes in the disciplines required to drive and influence consumers to deliver this content.

Many customers are too busy to take time out of their busy day to review a product. If the customer is not a fan of the brand, you need to work hard at conditioning this behaviour.

Three tips to increase the likelihood customers will provide a review:

  1. Provide incentives. You don’t need to offer a much, keep it simple such as a chance of winning something, for example, “provide a review and be in the monthly draw to win….”. For those products that are seasonal in nature and/or have shorter life spans, be more aggressive in your incentives.
  2. Explain to them it will help others. There are many people who are motivated through the desire to help others.
  3. Be strategic in your timing to ask for a review. For apparel, you can ask days after the purchase, for large electronic purchases it pays to wait longer. Think about what the customer is using your product for and how long it will take for them to know if they are truly happy with the purchase. If you send the review request too soon, it will be ignored, if you send it too late, the excitement of the purchase is gone and the review will be less impactful and heartfelt. There is no definitive best practice time to send a review request, every product type is different, every brand is different, and customers respond to each brand in different ways. If you are unsure as to when to send the request, test it.

There are too many benefits not to have customer reviews. Studies have proven when customers write how much they like/love the product they recently purchased, they like/love the product and the brand even more.

If your e-commerce site is set up properly, search engines will pull customer reviews into the search engine results page improving the odds of click through.

6. Ensure your e-commerce technology is built to comply to search engines

The e-commerce technology driving your online store must be built and structured in a manner to ensure all the changes mentioned above will make an impact.

You can do great SEO work and execute all the right things, but if the technology is not set up properly, it will negate your hard work.

Go to your e-commerce technology vendor and ensure they comply to all SEO best practice standards, some examples: page structure (headers are set up), page load speed, clean URL strings, and site maps as a minimum.

This rule is best executed with the assistance of an SEO specialist. They will know the questions to ask and what to look for. Some of the technology elements can be highly technical in nature.

7. Develop your SEO strategic plan

There are immense benefits to developing an SEO strategy, but many retailers are not ready.

If you fall within the “Not Ready” category, continue to think pragmatically and focus on the key activities mentioned above. You will not go wrong.

The above recommendations represent the beginnings of a long term plan. Only once you feel you have a grasp on the above, its time to think SEO strategy.

An SEO strategy achieves two primary things for the business:

  • Defines content architecture.

This delivers focus on the use of digital assets and how it will leverage your content creation and content marketing plan.

The two primary digital assets where content will be applied in the short term (for most) will be the e-commerce site and a blog.

The use and placement of the blog opens many debates and opinions. Is it best to use a subdomain (blog.RetailerURL.co.nz) vs subdirectory (sitting within the www.RetailerURL.co.nz site) vs separate (SeparateURL.co.nz)?

The answer to this question is a strategic one and cannot be answered until more questions are addressed. What does the retailer want this content to do for the business?

  1. Do you need to improve reputation management; are you dealing with negative brand mentions in the search engine results pages (SERPs)?
  2. Are you attempting to build a thought-leadership position?
  3. Are you trying to build a channel to drive deep linking to specific pages of your website?
  4. Are you trying to build depth of content or develop a tool to target queries? In other words, do you want to attract and acquire early stage buyers by being visible in search engines for non-branded terms?
  5. Do you want to broaden your organic visibility across many keyword terms?
  6. Do you want to enrich the consumer experience with content?

The improper use of a blog tool will dilute the content marketing plan and diminish the SEO opportunity for the business.

You need to clearly understand how you want to leverage the content to determine the proper treatment of the blog and develop a content marketing plan.

  • Defines the content creation plan.

Content creation consists of content specifically for your products (images, video, reviews), and content which compliments your products, product ranges and your brand (examples: buying guides, “how to” guides, fashion tips, and content aligning to your target market).

Content must be written first for the consumer, second for search engines. Consumers will know immediately if content is made for them or search engines. Reading copy with the same wording repeated and displaying paragraphs of content when it adds no value to the consumer damages the experience. Strategy also enhances the little things such as something as simple as article titles. They may not seem important, but when a title makes sense to consumers and entices them to read the content, it lifts its impact for both consumer relevance and SEO. The key message here is stick to the fundamentals and do the basics very well. If you are able to build the above tips/disciplines into your business you will be ahead of the majority.

Writing A Great Value Proposition (Infographic)

How to deliver the best possible promised value of a content?

For those who have no idea, value proposition is the main reason why a prospect or new customer should buy from you, not from your competitors. Becoming a valuable source is very important for the longevity of your business. Learn more about value proposition in the following infographic.

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Four Great Content Discovery Tools To Boost Your Marketing Results

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Content discovery tools are very useful for content marketers. With so much being said and written about content marketing, its significance seems self-explanatory; especially in the era of Web 2.0 when search engines have focused their attention on high-quality content.

To drive sales and grow consistently businesses today must focus on content marketing as much as other traditional approaches to marketing. The content shared needs to be engaging and must add value. It is also important to ensure that such high-value, high-engagement content is created steadily and consistently. Other advantage is, content discovery tools make it easier to find and share relevant content from across the web.

In this post, you will find four most easy-to-use tools that can help boost a company’s content marketing efforts while keeping costs and efforts low.

1. Hootsuite

HootSuite

Not only does Hootsuite allows the user to discover great (entertaining, engaging and shareable) content online, but it also lets them manage multiple social media accounts using a single Web-based dashboard.

Hootsuite’s Suggested Content feature takes into account the user’s post history on social media, say Twitter, analyzes the Tweets that have been interacted with, and then makes Tweet recommendations based on the posts that have been most well-received. The user has the option of scheduling the suggested posts automatically, or viewing them and posting/removing them as you wish. Not just the suggested posts, a user can also schedule all Hootsuite discovered posts in advance from the dashboard.

In addition, Hootsuite allows the user to monitor and measure engagement metrics, such as likes, shares, conversations and social media conversions. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and a host of other analytics help measure and fine-tune the content marketing strategy in an easy, efficient and cost-effective way.

2. Scoop.it

Scoop.it_

Scoop.it is another popular content discovery tool that allows the user to discover and share content in an easy and efficient way. Scoop.it however, wins some extra points over Hootsuite, because of its sharing platform. A user can share the “scoops” that he/she discovers through a simple keyword search across the largest selection of social networks, using the tool’s highly customizable sharing platform.

On a personal Scoop.it dashboard, the user can create different Web pages, which are called “topics” and then add content pieces or scoops to it. For instance, take the topic “Best Social Media Tools,” give Scoop.it some relevant keywords, and click on “Create.” The app generates a continuous stream of suggested scoops (see screenshot below) that can be added to the dashboard and shared easily. The user may also choose to publish posts using other social media tools, widgets and RSS feeds.

3. DrumUp

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DrumUp has a fresh take on content discovery and social media presence management. The app simplifies both content discovery and sharing, while providing an array of customization options for both. It is a cool, clean app that needs little input to get rolling.
The user simply has to key-in the content themes, and the app will identify popular content from the Web, relevant to the selected audience. The posts to the user’s Facebook and Twitter pages are scheduled according to the time zone input, and the user can run the app in manual share or auto-share mode. Completely fresh, custom posts can be added and scheduled as well. Since DrumUp is currently in process of acquiring early users, it is currently available for free.

4. Buffer

BufferApp

Another cool and clean app for content discovery and social media management, Buffer likes to keep things conventional. The app supports the “big four” of social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn, allowing the user to seamlessly share great content across the four platforms with supreme ease.

It allows the user to schedule posts days, weeks and months in advance. There is a “Suggestions” feature on Buffer as well, which picks popular content across different categories such as marketing, business and startups, inspiration, lifehack or simply, Buffer picks. While DrumUp is a free tool, you can use Buffer for free for a limited time.

Customer Journey Mapping Guide

“Stories have defined our world. They have been with us since the dawn of communication, from cave walls to the tall tales recounted around fires. They have continued to evolve, with their purpose remaining the same: to entertain, to share common experiences, to teach and to pass on traditions.”

However, storytelling is not just a tool to engage users. It is also a powerful way to teach organizations more about their customers.

Most organizations are reasonably good at gathering data on their users. But data often fails to communicate the frustrations and experiences of customers. A story can do that, and one of the best storytelling tools in business is the customer journey map.

What Is A Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.

It may focus on a particular part of the story or give an overview of the entire experience. What it always does is identify key interactions that the customer has with the organization. It talks about the user’s feelings, motivations and questions for each of these touchpoints.

It often provides a sense of the customer’s greater motivation. What do they wish to achieve, and what are their expectations of the organization?

A customer journey map takes many forms but typically appears as some type of infographic. Whatever its form, the goal is the same: to teach organizations more about their customers.

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It will come as no surprise that marketers often use customer journey maps. But more and more digital professionals are adopting them, too.

Why You Should Create Customer Journey Maps

A customer journey map is a powerful tool.

If you are a designer, it will help you to understand the context of users. You will gain a clear picture of where the user has come from and what they are trying to achieve.

If you write copy, it will help you to understand what questions users have and how they are feeling.

It gives managers an overview of the customer’s experience. They will see how customers move through the sales funnel. This will help them to identify opportunities to enhance the experience. The map will show how enhanced customer service can differentiate the organization’s digital experience.

For the user experience designer, a customer journey map helps to identify gaps, points in the customer experience that are disjointed or painful. These might be:

  • gaps between devices, when a user moves from one device to another;
  • gaps between departments, where the user might get frustrated.
  • gaps between channels (for example, where the experience of going from social media to the website could be better).

Most of all, a customer journey map puts the user front and center in the organization’s thinking. It shows how mobile, social media and the web have changed customer behavior. It demonstrates the need for the entire organization to adapt.

It encourages people across the organization to consider the user’s feelings, questions and needs. This is especially important with digital products and services.

With so many benefits, a customer journey map makes a lot of sense. But where do you start?

How To Research A Customer Journey Map

The process of creating a customer journey map has to begin with getting to know users.

Many organizations already have some information about users. In fact, you might meet resistance from those who feel that repeating this exercise would be a waste of time. This is why gathering existing research is a good start. Often, this research will be out of date or buried in a drawer somewhere.

By gathering existing research, you will see what the organization knows and how relevant that information is. This will placate those who are resistant, while potentially saving you some research effort.

There are two types of research: analytical and anecdotal.

1. Analytical Research

You can turn to many sources for data about users. The most obvious is website analytics, which provide a lot of information on where users have come from and what they are trying to achieve. It will also help you to identify points in the process where they have given up.

But be careful. Analytics are easy to read wrong. For example, don’t presume that a lot of clicks or long dwell times are a sign of a happy user. They could indicate that they are lost or confused.

Social media are also a useful source of data. Tools such as SocialMention tracks mentions of a brand and whether those mentions are positive or negative.

Search data also provides valuable insight into what users are looking for, revealing whether your existing website is providing the right information.

Finally, consider running a survey. This will help you build a more detailed picture of users’ questions, feelings and motivations.

2. Anecdotal Research

Although data can build a compelling case, it does not tell a story by itself. For that, you need anecdotes of user experiences. You can get these by speaking to users in interviews or on social media.

You will also discover that users volunteer experiences by posting them to social media. Be sure to collect these mentions because they will be a useful reference point in your final map.

Speaking to front-line staff who interact with customers daily, such as those in support and sales, is another useful way to understand customer needs.

The detail of the research will be constrained by your time and budget. If your organization has many different user groups, then creating detailed customer journeys for each might be hard. Therefore, focus the research on primary audiences.

You can make educated guesses about the customer journeys for secondary audiences. Do this by workshopping solutions with front-line staff and other internal stakeholders. Although this “quick and dirty” approach will not be as accurate, it is still better than nothing.

Be careful to make clear what has research behind it and what does not. Making many decisions based on assumptions is dangerous. Once management sees the benefits of research, they will be willing to spend more time on it.

With your research complete, it is time to create the map.

Presenting Your Customer Journey Map

As mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to produce a customer journey map. Normally, it will be some form of infographic with a timeline of the user’s experience. But it could just as easily be a storyboard or even a video.

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The goal is to ensure that the user’s story remains front and center in people’s minds. Get a designer to produce the graphic to ensure it is as clear as possible and grabs people’s attention.

Whatever its form, the map should contain both statistical and anecdotal evidence. It should highlight users’ needs, questions and feelings throughout their interaction with the organization.

5-discussing-approach

Don’t make it too complex. It is easy to get caught up in the multiple routes a user might take. This will just muddy the story.

The graphic is not meant to map every aspect of the customer’s experience. Rather, it should tell a simple story to focus people’s attention on the customer’s needs.

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Think of the customer journey map as a poster pinned to the office wall. At a glance, people should be able to see the key touchpoints that a user passes through. It should remind them that the customer’s needs must always be at the forefront of their thinking.

7 Common Mistakes When Creating Content For Mobile Users

mobile pitfallsThere is a basic underlying principle in mobile computing. First and foremost, we have to be clear in our understanding that mobile is a different platform. Although it is supposed to display the same value of information as the regular desktop, the mobile phone is a very different equipment compared to regular PC. It’s not just the small display.

Several factors key in making the mobile device an entirely different animal. The way mobile phones are used, the time of the day they are most likely to be used, and most important, the type of information accessed through it, all these are differing factors that directly and indirectly affect each other.

When making a mobile version of a website, most companies fall into the regular pitfalls can be easily avoided once we understand the basic underlying principle. This principle is the fact that mobile is a different platform. Once we understand this truth, then we can avoid the pitfalls.

Here are the seven most common.

1. Landing page – for desktops
This mistake is very basic and yet a lot of websites out there do this over and over. Basic truth: mobile display screen is small. You created a responsive website but you forgot to include an optimised landing page. How basic is that mistake? Who would want to scroll sideways, on a mobile?

2. Unreadable and tiny fonts and links
Again, the basic truth. Mobile screen is small. There is a huge limit for the user in terms of visual space. Add the fact that the user is most likely not using a pointer mouse but rather, his or her own forefinger in browsing the web. Mobile content creators should be wary of these limitations. Make the text and links bigger and easy to read.

3. Menus that sticks
Since the mobile display is already small, more spaces should be reserved for content. That is the reason why menus are hidden and only display when users access them. Users want to see the content and if the menu is blocking the view, users would most likely leave the site. Make sure the menus are out of the way, or can be easily closed by the user.

4. Popup Windows
Popup windows are already irritating on a desktop. In mobile, they are infuriating. Take note that users’ patience are already thin on a desktop. In mobile, that short patience becomes even more shorter. If you have to do popups, if there’s no way around it, at least minimize it.

5. Missing content and features
What’s available for the desktop should be available for mobile too. Users find it frustrating if they cannot access certain sections of a site when using a mobile device. Especially if that section or app is available when viewed through a fancy desktop. And users know this and they become frustrated. They see it as discrimination.

6. Non-accomodating messages
There’s nothing more infuriating for a user than seeing a message in a site that says: “Please use a 1080 x 736 desktop for maximum viewing experience.” You can almost hear them answer,”Yes, I’d do that except that I’m on subway and using my mobile phone.” It’s already clear that the mobile device is not going away. Forcing users to use a desktop is tantamount to turning them away.

7. Slow Pages
Mobile users are most likely browsing with 3G connection. Add that to the fact that the mobile device’s OS is not as fast and sturdy as a PC. In lieu of this, pleas make sure that all the mobile content are optimised for mobile display. For what use is the information if it cannot be accessed?

In sum, all these pitfalls can be easily avoided. Given the right understanding of what users want displayed on their mobile devices gives us the upper-hand. It is now up to us if we want to convert users or turn them away.