Post-lockdown digital strategy considerations for Hospitality and Retail Brands

With hope on the horizon for a return to ‘normalcy’, brands operating in industries hit particularly hard by the pandemic are naturally considering how they can adapt their digital strategy to cater to changing consumer behaviours, and help fast track their recovery.

As an agency specialising in digital strategy and support for luxury hospitality and retail brands, we have pulled together advice from our in-house specialists on what such brands may consider as part of their digital activity as restrictions begin to ease.

 

Arm your website with robust analytics and tracking that helps you understand your customers’ behaviour

If there has been one constant throughout the pandemic, it is that nobody can truly predict how quickly circumstances may change. One sure-fire way to make sure you can react well to the resulting behavioural shifts is to equip your website with events tracking that shed light on how customers are interacting with your digital platforms and content.

This can include the set up of events tracking that feeds data into Google Analytics, and the configuration of custom Data Studio reports that show a snapshot of key metrics such as conversion and bounce rates, page dwell times, drop off, etc. It is also important to have full visibility on the performance of your digital marketing channels (Organic search, paid media, social etc) in order to understand what type of content is doing the best job of engaging your audience and adapt your strategy accordingly.

 

Make sure your digital content creates trust with your customers and reassures them that you prioritise their wellbeing

People’s attitudes towards health and wellbeing have been irreversibly changed, and your approach to customer safety is going to be a key factor for customers when deciding whether to engage with your product or services.

Make sure that your digital communications work hard to reassure your customers that you have their best interests at heart, as they begin to be able to interact with your brand and products in a physical sense. This may include a dedicated section on your website outlining the steps you take to ensure your customers’ safety, with supporting messaging throughout your social media and email marketing. Regardless of approach, businesses must understand that attitudes have been permanently changed, and your ability to sensitively communicate how you are catering to this change will be vital for success.

 

Make sure your business and digital platforms are equipped to react quickly to changing circumstances

Agility has been key for brands in the hospitality and retail sector over the last 12 months, and will continue to be just as important moving forward. Demand for products and services is very volatile and dependent on unpredictable factors such as infection curves, government restrictions, etc.

This means that businesses need to be able to navigate both periods of drought and periods of increased traffic and conversion equally well. On one side that could mean the creative reshaping of product offerings, such as signature menu kits to deliver and prepare at home for restaurants, to the effective planning of product stocks to accommodate for increase in purchases. Each case will require adaptation to your tech stack as well as how you communicate with customers.

 

Be prepared for the increase in traffic, and use this as an opportunity to cross-sell

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we can expect to see an increase in search volumes and website traffic, particularly in the case of hospitality brands reopening their doors and inviting table bookings.

In the run up to this, we recommend first making sure that your website’s booking engine is working seamlessly and there are no UX issues that may give your users reason to click away before completing their bookings and check out your competitors. This may be facilitated by insights from historical data combined with some good old-fashioned cross-browser and cross-device QA testing.

This increased traffic is also going to be an opportunity to make your customers aware of your wider brand and product offering, for example any online alternatives you have introduced during the lockdown months and may be your current lifelines. Think about how your new online options can feed in with your in-person experience, and how the two may work in each other’s favour. For example, restaurants may look to offer discounts to their home delivery or meal kits for customers who have dined in person.

 

 

Prepare for things not to go fully ‘back to normal’

Even with lockdown restrictions beginning to lift, it’s important to recognise that attitudes and behaviours have been irreversibly changed, and the dramatic shift towards online shopping is here to stay.

With this in mind, it’s important to continue exploring ways in which you can enhance your digital shopping experience and make sure your brand stands out amongst competitors. This could include the optimisation of your existing support systems to be more intuitive and responsive in asking important questions that would normally be answered in-store, or the introduction of new technology that replicates the in-store experience, such as an AR fitting room.

Regardless of how circumstances change in the second half of this year, expectations have it is important to be conscious of this and have a clear plan in place for the continued optimisation of your digital experiences.

To discuss an upcoming digital project, please get in touch via our contact form.

Paper London PPC Trial

In this blog post we explore a recent PPC trial we have carried out for one of our clients called Paper London. The sustainable fashion brand was over relying on a single paid channel in order to drive conversions and brand awareness.

 

 

Objectives/Targets

In order to fully realise and fulfil the brand objectives, the digital marketing team and Paper London underwent an initial discovery session where we identified target audiences, objectives and KPIs in order to make the PPC trial as effective as possible. Our approach was to help the brand set up a marketing calendar which outlined product drops and core product focus, and translate this into Paid Search activity.

We identified that the PPC trial activity should focus on the UK and Australian markets first, backed up by cross-channel performance trends. To maximise the available test spend, we narrowed down geo scope to best-performing cities in the two markets. For the two month period we included the product categories swimwear, sleepwear and outerwear. We were therefore able to target both southern hemisphere Summer customers as well as those in the northern hemisphere looking at outerwear. We phased the spend in an agile way based on observed results, which meant we were able to spend efficiently while generating a good return of investment.

We also wanted to support seasonal sales such as “Green Friday”, an initiative where the brand would plant a tree for every purchase of a certain product category, and the “New Year Sale” in January.

Our personal objective was to strive for a return on ad-spend of two. We hypothesised that the proposed PPC activity would help generate brand specific traffic as well as raise awareness to new potential customers. We were conscious that PPC could cannibalise SEO traffic so we stipulated that a combined search effectiveness needs to be incremental for the test to be successful.

 

Set-up/Methodology

In order to set up the Paid Search activity it was essential to lay the foundations of which product categories to focus on in line with any other marketing activity that was going on, such as organic social media activity or press releases. This was done in the form of creating a comprehensive marketing calendar which formed the basis of 2020/2021s marketing strategy. Vessy, our PPC specialist, then went on to select markets, products categories and relevant keywords to create ad copy that would ensure we meet the brands targets.

The set up of our Paid Search activity also entailed the creation of a Google Ads and a Google Merchant Centre account, ensuring that tracking is pulling all the relevant information to create supporting data for the performance of the ads.

 

 

Performance Breakdown

For our 2 month trial with daily observations and spend management we were able to achieve the following:

UK based Paid Search activity:

  • 287,544 Impr
  • 9,230 Clicks
  • 33 Conversions
  • 79% Impression Share

Australia based Paid Search activity:

  • 220,533 Impr
  • 4,915 Clicks
  • 14 Conversions
  • 90% Impression Share

Not only were we able to uplift conversions, but the brand was also able to harness valuable information about their product categories and the demand for these products.

A variety of text ads, shopping ads and display ads all contributed to both customer conversion rates and brand awareness. The data gathered from Google Analytics also gave insight into device usage, demographic breakdown & consumer interests.

Having earlier hypothesized that the brand keyword Paid Search activity may cannibalise organic traffic, we were proven wrong. In fact, the collaboration of the two channels meant we were able to uplift session share between the two channels by 131% compared to the same time period in the previous year, as well as increase transactions by 428% and overall combined revenue increased by 640%.

Based on the trial period we were also able to analyse path length conversion, and therefore gained an understanding of the consumer journey and how many sessions it took for a conversion to happen. This in effect also impacted the frequency of newsletter send outs.

Ultimately, for the duration of the trial period, Paid Search became the 3rd best conversion driver cross-channel and PPC activity achieved a 1.91 return on ad spend, which was very close to the hypothesised outcome and laid the groundwork for a following retainer relationship with Paper London.

The Paid Search trial period also faced a variety of macro trends that meant our agile & market-reactive approach had to be put to practise. Brexit and new Covid-19 restrictions meant our campaigns needed quick adjustment to continue delivering on our projections and brands expectations.

Conclusion

The collaborative approach we took during our Paid Search trial period meant the client is still harnessing strong results since then. The value added not only lies in the effective campaigns we supplied, but also in the strategic growth opportunities we shared as part of the knowledge we gathered through our data led approach.

SEO Link Building For Your Website

By Rupert Rowe

Let’s imagine that Diffusion Digital has just built and launched your new website and SEO/UX best practices, from structured data to meta tags to optimised conversion paths, have been set up with one goal in mind – to attract traffic that is likely to convert.

However, this shiny new website is just the foundation – the work is really about to begin.

Let’s assume this is a new company with no prior history or authority online. Getting your chosen keywords up to the top 3 in Google, which is where you’ll get the clicks (close to 60% of clicks go to the top 3 organic results), in most cases is no mean feat and requires a significant amount of effort.

You’ll hear SEOs rave on about how content is King, and it is, but there is a Joker in the pack and generally speaking, it is the Joker that wields the cards.

The Joker, in this case, refers to backlinks.

pack of cards - the dark arts of link building

What Are Backlinks? 

Backlinks are hyperlinks coming from an external website to your own. The number and quality of these links are a determining factor on whether or not search engines trust your website and subsequently send traffic to it.

The majority of Google’s core algorithm updates since 2011 including Panda, Penguin, Possum, Hummingbird and most recently Bert – are in some way focused on improving search results by delivering the most relevant and useful page to any search query i.e. what people type into Google.

These updates all look at quality in some way. Yes, the quality of the on-page content and the setup of the site from a technical perspective is important. But increasingly the quality and quantity of the domains linking to your website will see your site either rise to the top of the pack, or slip into insignificance.

However, since Google’s Penguin update in 2012, not every website provides positive backlinks and the quality of links that you’re website receives, as well as the regularity of how often it gains new links, will dramatically affect it’s overall ranking in the results.

You'll hear SEOs rave on about how content is King, and it is, but there is a Joker in the pack and generally speaking, it is the Joker that wields the cards. The Joker, in this case, are backlinks.

What Are The Different Type Of backlinks?

Whilst Google and other search engines do not officially rank websites, or apply a score to them – so to speak, there is a definite correlation between getting links from high/low quality websites and your website’s position in the search rankings.

There are tools out there such as Majestic that assign trust scores to websites based on the number of quality links pointing to their domain.

To be honest, anything with a score over 20/100 is worth getting a link from as long as the website/article is relevant to your offering.

So, what are the best websites to get links from, and which are the ones to avoid?

Tier One Websites

News Sites, Digital Magazines, Top Listing Sites (i.e. Trip Advisor)

The holy grail of websites are, perhaps ironically in somecases, News sites and Digital Magazines. These are generally sites with very high readership and generate 1000s of links from external website. Needless to say these are the hardest ones to secure and either you have to be doing something relatively groundbreaking in your sector, or you’ll have to dig deep into the piggy bank.

Example: The Guardian

Trust: 84

Generally, most digital magazines and news publications have huge authorities so getting links from these sites is like gold dust, no, not dust, a gold bar. However, unsurprisingly, these are the hardest links to win.

Backlink From The Good Web Guide

Tier Two Websites

Review sites, Industry/sector-leading websites, Influencers

In every sector there are people who have built up an enormous authority and expertise specific to their industry that sees them as go tos for their knowledge around a specific subject matter. This can range from fashion influencers to awards websites to people who are simply experts in their fields. Receiving a link from their website is generally a good thing.

This said, there are cases where influencers are strong on social media, yet their website has an extremely low trust flow and subsequently, it is not worth it. For example, if you’re in eCommerce or fashion, Lucy Williams might drive a lot of quality traffic to your website through her social media, however her website only has a score of 10/100 – so a link from her website might means very little.

 

Diffusion encourage brands who are reaching out to influencers, to include a blog on the influencer’s website with a link to the client site as part of the influencer deal

 

Example: thegoodwebguide.co.uk

Trust: 45/100

For Diffusion’s sector, The Good Web Guides is a good example. Simply by entering one of our websites for a reward we can easily win a backlink.

how to get backlinks from blog articles

Tier Three Websites

Natural blog articles, commercial partners, press release sites

You’ll hear a lot of talk about guest blogging and blogger outreach and this generally applies to websites in this tier three category. These are people generally with less authority in their sector than the tier two sites, however, they still pack a punch and are generally fairly amenable when being approached for links. This is the creme of the crop for SEOs and generally speaking the easiest links to achieve, although it still requires quite a bit of effort in terms of the manner in which you reach out to them.

Exmaple: The Bump

Trust: 39/100

Through competitor backlink research, you can identify relevant blogs who are talking about your service or offering and subsequently reach out to them. As an example The Bump is a website about pregnancy however they wrote a blog on “The Best Vacations For Families With Young Children” and in it included a link to the luxury resort Tranquilo Bay. All Tranquilo Bay did was sent out a press release which was picked up and written about by The Bump. +1 backlink with a strong authority : ) 

are links from web directories okay

Tier Four Websites

Web Directories, Forums 

We’re starting to get into dangerous territory and entering the realms of web-directories and forums.

Don’t get me wrong there are good directories out there specific to each industry that are well worth reaching out to. However little weight is generally given to these in the eyes of search engines – but something is better than nothing.

Equally, an old trick played by SEOs was to comment with a link on other people’s blogs/websites that were relevant to their own. It’s a quick but moraless win however can pay a dividend if you’re being selective in your approach to who.

Example: Clutch

Trust: 46

It is definitely worth identifying and signing up to as many relevant directories as possible. These are super easy links and whilst sometimes you have to pay a subscription (always check the websites authority before paying!), there are many that are free.

image of a toxic domain/link farm

Tier Five Websites (Don’t even consider it!!)

Link farms, paid links, gambling sites, pornographic sites, unnatural blog posts (spam)

These are the sites that Google’s trusty Panda update was sent out to penalise. Simply put, having links from spam sites or link farms can get you penalised by search engines and see youe pages dropped from the listings if not dealt with quickly.

Now you might think, ‘why on earth would I ever try and get a link from a gambling or porn site?’

Well, there are several reasons your websites could end up listed on one of these, it could have been an old strategy, pre Panda, to try and get easy backlinks.

Alternatively, and worryingly it’s becoming more evident, someone else could be adding your links to these shadowy domains. ‘Someone else’ being a competitor or the like.

This is another good reason to hire a specialist SEO agency to monitor your backlink profile and ensure that you aren’t being attacked with so-called Black Hat SEO.

Example: The Globe

Trust: 0/100

It isn’t the end of the world if you find your website listed on a site like this, however it is definitlely in your interest to disavow these links, i.e. ask search engines not to consider them.

How to form a backlink outreach strategy?

There are thousands and thousands of websites out there all bleating about the same thing. The trick is in identifying those who are bleating about the kind of thing that is relevant to your specific service, and also those who are willing to link to your website.

Enter the research phase!

  • Firstly you need to see who is ranking for the keywords that you are targeting simply by typing into Google the keyword and listing who is in the top five positions (although you’re only interested in the actual competitors’ websites – ignore news/reference sites as you will not compete for these places)
  • Using Majestic tool, identify all of the website linking to the domains you’ve identified in the top positions of Google http://majestic.com/
  • Export all the backlinks pointing to your competitor’s website
  • Categorise each backlink using the different tiers as seen above

This is all incredibly timeconsuming and people find it hard to justify categorising 1000s of links into tiers.

I can hear 100s of interns out there now quaking in their boots at the thought of their next ‘research’ task.

But, done well and when their target keywords start climbing the rankings and enquiries are through the roof – they will be the heroes! (Although I’m sure someone else will take the credit – I know they did to me, you know who you are!!!)

Excel sheet showing how to categorise backlinks

Outreach

This is where a bit of finesse comes in as we all have very little time to read emails, especially those from people not in our contacts. But it must be done.

Now that we have a strong list of tier 2-4 websites, it is time to reach out and try to convince them your website is worth linking to. You have this list because all of these websites have in some way linked to a competitor so you know that they are interested in your services.

As to how you should reach out to them? Well, that really depends on your industry/service/offering. Perhaps you can get the conversation started with a friendly email saying that a blog they have written is highly relevant to your service, or simply send over a press release. Try and see what they come back with – but don’t send a characterless, un-personalised email, these are sure to be ignored.

Depending on how strong authority a website has, they might ask for something in return – a product, a stay at your hotel, a free sample. What you given in return is up to you.

 

In our next post we’ll be talking about how to rescue your website from a Black Hat SEO attack. Until then, let London’s leading eCommerce agency know if you have any issues.

Things to consider before sellecting a new plugin for your WordPress Website

Plugins are to WordPress what apps are to a smartphone and in the world of Content Management Systems, and just how the iPhone was one of the first smartphones to offer virtually limitless possibilities thanks to the ubiquitous App Store, it isn’t a stretch to say that plugins have helped WordPress to a similar degree in making it the number 1 choice of Content Management System (CMS) across the world.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as it’s said and with all that popularity comes great security issues to be aware of and take into account before you decide on which plugin to install.

If you’re thinking about adding new features to your WordPress website, this short but useful guide from Diffusion Digital will help you decide on one that is fit for purpose and safe for use.

Ladies & gentlemen, start your plugins.

Your Needs

The first step is to understand what you need from a plugin before you even begin the search for one.

Take time to figure this out and note down the specific needs you would like it to address or any problems it should solve.

This is likely to save you resources in both time and money, and give you ideas on where to start your search.

The Developer’s Reputation

It makes sense to find out how preeminent a developer or the agency is in the world of WordPress plugins as well as how effective their plugins are.

The first step is to check the reviews, ratings, as well as the number of downloads their various modules have.

To state the obvious, a plugin which has had lots of good reviews and comments is a good one to go for.

However, don’t just take your decision based on reviews as you might miss out on identifying recently launched plugins simply because no one has downloaded it yet (there has to be a first one, right?).

A safe bet here is to look at plugins the developer might have released before and how they have performed. Even if they weren’t incredibly popular but has had mostly positive reviews and the developer has a good reputation, don’t hesitate to try a new one and help others by being one of the first to leave a review.

Security

It is estimated that the hacking of about 22% of WordPress websites is purely a result of some security issues within a plugin such as them being out of date or a vulnerability being discovered..

One of the most straightforward approaches to confirm the risk of security breaches is confirming when a particular software lastly got updated.

It is advisable to opt for packages that are often updated, at least within the past two months, and most preferably compatible with the latest version of one’s computer programme or website.

Software that is updated frequently has lower security risk; this is mainly because known issues on previous versions of itself are likely to have been rectified.

Look at the Changelog

A changelog is a record of all alterations done to a programme. By taking a look at the log, one can tell the security issues that have been resolved, if any, as well as what the application has to offer.

It helps one see the additional features that come with each update as well as how often the changes have been affected over its lifetime.

More modifications not only imply that the developers are keen to solve any issues detected but are also eager to tweak their add-on to satisfy client needs.

Client Support

Premium plug-ins have a dedicated team of personnel that works around the clock to ensure that customer experience is optimised. This means that any time a client makes an inquiry, they get a reasonably fast response.

Such a prompt response is critical especially when one is faced with a security risk. With a premium package, it is even possible for the developers to check for issues from their end by accessing your device or website.

Unfortunately, some of these features are not available for free packages usually so if the plugin has mission-critical to your business, spending the additional amount for tech support could be a wise investment. .

Recommendation
It is wise to consider acquiring plug-in bundles. Such a bundle comes with a few modules that work hand in hand. This can spare time and cash, as you don’t have to look for different applications from different companies.

Furthermore, all the applications in a group originate from a similar source, therefore, they are in sync with each other. On the off chance that for reasons unknown they don’t, you need to go to one source for assistance.

It is also more economical to acquire a bundle than purchasing individual modules.

Conclusion

It’s estimated that there are approx. 29k WordPress plugins to cover a wide range of functions and features so if you have an addition you’d like to make to the website, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.

However, taking the additional time to do some research before you make the choice can help make your WordPress site more secure and safer.

Of course, if all of this is simply too overwhelming for you, don’t hesitate to give Diffusion Digital a try, we’d love to help!

The Ultimate Guide To Selecting an eCommerce Platform

By Will Wigram

 

Thinking of building a new eCommerce store or replatforming an existing one?

 

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing an eCommerce platform to help your store get off to the best possible start from the get go.

 

1)        Getting Started / Business Objectives

 

So, what are the key considerations or questions you should ask yourself? Well…

 

What are the reasons behind the re-platforming? What are the key business objectives form this project?

 

Perhaps its your global growth ambitions that is spear-heading this, or potentially to reduce costs and management overheads.

 

Whatever the reasons are its key to make sure that these have been discussed, considered and that everyone is in agreement.

 

What are the key success metrics of the website?

 

Increasing overall sales is probably up there but what other metrics can you attribute to the success of the website?

 

Knowing these is extremely helpful for both you and us when we take on a project as we can link back all of activity and proposed work to these to make sure we are achieving these initial goals.

 

 

If applicable, how is the current website failing?

 

What are the current pain points? – This could be user experience / navigation issues, it could be inflexibility with scaling or a dated look and feel.

 

Whatever they are, it is imperative they do not crop up again and therefore need to be made clear from the get go.

 

But also think about the successes that we can develop even further going forward.

 

What are the main features and functionalities that you want?

 

Of course you will refine this as you go through this process (and we’ll discuss this more in a minute) but its useful to lay everything out on the table to start with. From here you can try to organise them into must haves and nice to haves.

 

Knowing what the priorities are is really useful as it can help point us to the most appropriate platform, and in cases where there are budget limitations, it can help us put together a phased project plan.

 

There are a huge amount of factors that can and will consider in this process, but beginning with the four points above will get you off to a good start.

 

I think one of the most important takeaway’s here is to make sure you involve all departments in these initial discussions. As you go through the process it won’t always be necessary to have all departments involved, but including everyone at this early stage is only going to result in a much more rounded view of the needs and objectives.

 

2)        Product Make Up

 

At the core of any eCommerce website are the catalogues of products. Again on the surface this may seem quite straight forward – items for sale, different colours, different sizes, prices, descriptions and images. But actually, the make-up of these catalogues can be quite intricate and there may be certain limitations on some platforms that could prevent you from running your business effectively.

 

Some of the SaaS platforms (like Shopify & Bigcommerce) are more suited to less complex catalogues than the likes of Magento. For example the number of variants a product can have cannot exceed 100 on Shopify. There are ways around this but it involves customisation and/or the use of a third party app.

 

In isolation this is not that much of a problem but if this type of customisation is needed throughout your product offering, it can become a bit of a pain to manage.

 

So, to alleviate the risk of this happening here are some of the the product questions you should be asking yourself:

 

  • How many products do you want to sell online? Quantity in isolation is rarely an issue but it’s good to know this nonetheless as it will have implications in various ways such as design and site speed optimisation.
  • How many categories and sub categories will you have? This could be quite small to begin with and then grow, so future ambitions is good to also bare in mind at this stage.
  • How Complex is your product taxonomy? Think about the number variants each product will have – colours, sizes, types etc. Will these be presented as single products or as SKUs within the products
  • Is there a requirement to be able to group / bundle products? This has implications for stock management so it’s good to know
  • Will products be sold on a subscription basis? If so, what are the rules here? What does this model look like?
  • Is pre order a requirement? If so should this be triggered automatically when a product is out of stock or manually? Can pre order be managed through other channels such as by phone?
  • Do you have a BTC and BTB product offering? How do these differ and should they be set up completely separately?
  • How will your product make up change and grow over the next few years? Linking back to what I mentioned earlier, what are the ambitions for all of the above?

 

Ultimately it is preferable to choose a platform that can accommodate as many of your requirements as standard features of the platform. Of course, one of the great perks of many of the eCommerce platforms out there, is the vast range of third party apps/plugins that are available that you can bolt onto the website to enhance functionality (we get to this later).

 

However from experience, it’s not advisable to have heaps of plugins as this can have a negative effect on overall site performance and speed.

 

If the majority of the functionality of your website comes from third party plug-ins, it’s probably a pretty clear sign that you are not on the most appropriate platform.

 

This is why it’s important to have all of this detail clearly available when selecting a platform, to alleviate the risk of choosing a one that restricts you and does not allow you to create and evolve in a hassle free manner.

 

3)        Content Requirements

 

Content is at the core of every website and different platforms offer different solutions to the variety of different elements that you may or may not require, some making it easier that others.

 

Types of Content:

Ediorial – Blog, News, Press – archives

Campaign – Projects, Case Studies , Look Books

Brand – About, Philosohy, Process / Craft, History,

Social – integrating 3rd party content

 

Again, try to think about how this will evolve as well as what you’re launching with. How often are you going to be adding new content to the site?

 

If this is regularly (as, of course, it should be to help your SEO rankings) it is so important that it is an easy to do, otherwise it will cause such a headache to whoever has this job, wasting their time going through a tedious process or even worse deterring them from adding any new content.

 

WordPress, is a great option for content rich sites as there is no real limitation from a creative or management point of view. We have historically connected this with WooCommerce to offer a powerful eCommerce solution for our clients – and this is definitely a combination we still recommend.

 

Bigcommerce has recently developed a WordPress integration that creates a really powerful solution giving you all the benefits of WordPress, but weaving this into a very capable and solid ecommerce platform.

 

Shopify is also improving as a content management system and whilst it used to be tricky to manage editorial style content, this is no longer the case.

 

4)        Technical Requirements/Integrations

 

You will find that a lot of the more common integrations are easily achieved with ready made plug ins available. These include:

  • Connecting to email marketing platform to capture newsletter sign ups
  • Connecting to Payment gateways – to allow a seamless check out experience
  • Feeding your instagram account onto the site to offer fresh and dynamic content

 

But it’s not always this straight forward. The recommend approach therefore is thinking about which integrations are going to add value for your customers and your business, rather than going off what you have on the existing site or copying current trends.

 

Once we have this list we can start to evaluate how these can be executed on different platforms, and what level of integration is needed.

 

As mentioned, on the one hand you don’t want to be in a position where you are having to completely customise and bolt on hundreds of apps to achieve your desired offering

On the flip-side you also don’t want to buy into an expensive enterprise level solution when you actually only need 2% of what they offer and are therefore hugely over engineering the situation.

 

We’d be here all day if I was to attempt to list all of the different types of integrations that could be incorporated into your site, but these are some of the potentially more complex but really useful ones that definitely need consideration, and will really help with the seamless running on your business:

 

  • Stock Management
  • Accounting
  • ERP Systems – he
  • Taxes and Duties
  • Multi Currency Check Out – internationalisation
  • Multi Language
  • Fulfillment / Shipping

 

Internationalisation especially, is often one of the biggest factors that will shape platform choice. Giving your customers a local shopping experience, and allowing your business operations to work efficiently on a global scale is essential.

 

Up until now we would only have suggested the more enterprise level platforms – like Magento or Shopware, for this type of requirement.

 

This said a lot of the SaaS platforms are now getting up to speed with this.

 

For example, implementing Shopify to target several countries around the world was always the biggest deal breaker as the only option available previously, was to clone the store in order to enable check out in another currency. However now, multi currency checkout is available through their premium offering -Shopify Plus. In 2019 the road map for Bigcommerce also has Internationalisation at the top of its agenda.

 

As the capabilities of every platform is constantly evolving, it is really important to think about what your technical requirements are and what integrations are needed so that we can help pair you with the a platform that’s the best fit, now and in the future.

 

5)        Costs and Timings

 

And last but by no means least – money! Ultimately one of the determining factors in this process is going to be the available budget and deadlines.

 

The time (and therefore cost) it takes to build an eCommerce website will vary hugely based on the size, complexity and platform you are using.

 

Whether you choose to disclose your budget with your agency at this stage is up to you – from our point of view this is helpful as we can tailor an appropriate solution.

 

Either way, though, it is just crucial to have these figures worked out in good time.

 

So, there are two key factors that must be considered and budgeted for:

 

  • The initial cost of the build of the website
  • Ongoing costs to keep the site running.

 

This initial cost can include:

 

  • Discovery costs – could be UX, brand work, concepting, SEO
  • Design and build costs
  • Data import
  • Content creation – copy writing and photo shoots
  • Third-party integration costs,
  • SEO Set Up

 

Once the implementation is completed, you have to account for the ongoing cost. Items included in this are:

 

  • Maintenance and support retainers,
  • Ongoing host fees,
  • Platform licence costs
  • Payment gateway related fees,
  • Third-party apps / plugin subscriptions
  • Ongoing SEO and marketing

 

Depending on the type of platform you choose, some of these costs might not apply which might be a deciding factor for picking one platform over another.

 

So, there we have it. Once you have a good idea about all of the above points, let’s organise a time to sit down and discuss which eCommerce platform will help propel your business forward.

 

 

What is Google Optimise and why you should be using it?

By Rupert Rowe

You may not have heard of Google Optimize yet. You may not even be familiar with what Landing Page Optimisation is. But, I’m guessing you understand why testing all your marketing activities is important…whether that is the ad copies on your Google Ads campaigns, your SEO keywords and perhaps above all else, the pages where you direct your marketing traffic to.

This is where Google Optimize (GO) comes in.

Similar to the first generation of tools such as VWO and Optimizely, Google Optimize is brought to you by Google to make the task of A/B testing your landing pages easier and in typical Google fashion, it brings you a range of enterprise-level software for free.

And, this really is the biggest selling point of GO.

Most of us are already using Google Analytics which means getting started with your A/B testing is not only super easy, you will get access to far more metrics and KPIs to measure, test and evaluate than you would with a 3rd party solution such as VWO.

This deep integration also enables the storage of most of your testing data in GO of course but also Google Analytics which is a huge time-saver if you’re running tests frequently.

The other benefit is the shorter learning curve in learning how to use GO compared to other tools.

If you’ve never setup an A/B landing page test you’re not alone. Although, majority of most small business budgets is spent towards traffic acquisition as opposed to conversion, landing page optimisation is extremely important as the cost of implementing any digital marketing strategy whether that is SEO or PPC or Social rises every year as competition heats up and after a certain point, maximising your website’s conversion rate is where you will get the additional rewards.

VWO and Optimizely are the 2 other biggest landing page testing tools and whilst  none of them are particularly difficult to work with, they aren’t as effortless as working with GO.

What’s more, if you’re familiar with the dashboard of other Google products such as Google Analytics or Google Ads, you’re likely to find GO rather easy to use.

Here’s a quote from Krista Seiden, Google, who looks after GO

“Your test stats are available in the Reporting tab within the Optimize UI. They are also available in Google Analytics in a number of ways: Every hit from Optimize is sent to GA with an Experiment Name, Experiment ID, and Variant number automatically attached. This means that you can get much more creative with how you analyze your test data outside of the Optimize UI. You can:

 

  • Segment and add secondary dimensions to a report with Variant #, Exp ID, and Exp name

 

  • Create audiences and segments based on previous test behavior, and even target to future test experiments based on being a part of a prior test” (via Digital Debrief)

 

Finally, GO offers quite a few options on what sort of test you want to set up and whilst that can be a bit overwhelming at first, esp. If you’re new to the world of A/B testing, getting the hang of it won’t take too long.

Here are some examples of tests you can carry out in Google Optimize:

 

Optimisely examples for split testing

 

A/B – The most basic type of test where you compare one element against another. You could test one landing page vs another or a headline or a call-to-action…the list is endless.

 

how to split test different web pages

 

Redirect tests – Similar to a A/B test excepting that you’re testing the 2 elements separately. For example, before launching your new website, you could test it with real users showing only one version to one set of users and another to a different set.

 

Split Testing Example three

 

Multivariate tests – Think A/B/C/D… You can test multiple variants of multiple elements at the same time. In other words you can combine testing landing page with the headline on one version with the call-to-action on another and so on….

And there you have it.

We hope this serves as an easy to use starting point if you want to try out Google Optimize.

We highly recommend it not only because it’s fairly simple to use once you get used to it but as importantly, because split testing is a great way to improve your conversion rates and your ROI from your marketing efforts.

Of course, if you ever need help with setting up Google Optimize or split tests for you, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.