Using Shoppable Videos for E-commerce

Many brands are now also using social media sites to encourage people to engage with their brand and buy from their sites. Video content shared on the social networks is great for internet marketing and many businesses are now using videos to directly sell products.

The video sharing social site YouTube is being utilised by some leading brands. ‘Shoppable videos’ are being created, which are basically promotional videos containing products that you can also click on and instantly buy.

E-commerce or online shopping is a very popular activity and if people watch a really great video for a consumer brand they often want to buy that brand’s products straight away. This is how shoppable videos can capture customers instantly.

Leading online fashion brands like Asos have started using these videos as the latest internet marketing tool to sell their products. It is a great way to sell fashion items because the user can see a product in a catwalk video that gives them a full 360 degree view of how the garment looks on a model.

However shoppable video technology had been rather clunky in the past, with it taking many clicks to purchase a product. Sometimes purchasing was also disturbed by the video play, but a new generation of shoppable videos are being created where a separate purchasing page pops up and the video content pauses whilst the transaction is made.

Brands can market their shoppable video products via other social sites like Twitter, which can be used to direct people to a brand’s shoppable video content on YouTube. In turn the video content can also be used to direct people to the brand’s main website, so it is a great internet marketing tool.

YouTube is currently offering this technology for free but many brands using it are starting to buy ads on the video sharing site to promote their videos, enabling YouTube to also create a revenue stream from shoppable videos. This content is quickly becoming the latest way to make e-commerce revenue online.

Posted in Internet Marketing | Comments closed

Using Links to Engage People with Social Media Posts

Links in social media posts can be a great way to engage people with your social content and, from a business point of view, lead them onto looking at your website.

Because social media posts are generally fairly short it can look strange to include a long URL. Of course with Twitter you don’t really have a choice but to shorten your links because each Tweet has a limit of 140 characters.

This means you want the majority of the space in your Tweet to be taken up by what you are saying and not by overly long links. URLs can be shortened for Twitter via a really great website called Bitly.

Here you can shorten links and collect data on them. Although Bitly is great for use with Twitter, you do not necessarily need to shorten links for the other social media sites.

In fact it has been found that engagement rates are three times higher with social media posts that use full length URLS, rather ones generated by link condensers.

It seems that those who are poised to click links in social media posts want to know where they are being taken. This is understandable of course, as most people are wary about clicking on a link they don’t recognise.

However, sites like Bitly are becoming more well known and many people will now recognise a Bitly link as being something legitimate.

This does not mean that it is good to use these short links in sites like Facebook and Google+ however. Because there is no limit on length in these sites, a full URL does look better and should attract more clickers.

Remember that posts should be fairly succinct in any social site if they are going to engage mobile users, but the URL should still be clear and recognisable.

If a really long link needs shortening the best thing to do is to use a brand-specific URL shortener to keep the identifying element of the URL.

The fact that social networking users are increasingly logging onto the site via their mobiles also affects link engagement. Up to 20% of users check Facebook on their mobiles and shortened URLS can be off putting because users want to know what they are clicking on.

So even though there are great link shortening sites out there that can help condense your URLs for Twitter use, the majority view is that social posts on other sites should still contain recognisable yet succinct links. This way you are more likely to encourage clicks, engagement with your website and ultimately generate new customers.

To get more advice on social media and how to make it work for your business contact eXtraSearch today.

Posted in Internet Marketing | Comments closed

SEO and Marketing Integration

Although SEO is a great internet marketing tool, many people believe it can be difficult to integrate with traditional offline marketing efforts.

In fact SEO can be combined with traditional marketing such as PR and event marketing in clever ways.

Traditionally PR involves writing offline press releases and articles that promote clients which are sent to publications. These press releases can also be put on your website and then optimised for SEO.

The best way to do this is to incorporate keywords into the headline of your press release and throughout your article body. However, don’t overdo keywords and make sure they are lower down in your press release – in order to make sure it isn’t keyword stuffed.

Press releases usually have a boiler plate – a piece of repeated text at the end about the company or product – that is used in every press release. It can be difficult to vary the keyword links in this so it may be best to use alternative boiler plates to avoid continually linking on the same keywords in all your press releases.

SEO can also be used to help maximise your success at trade shows and local events. Firstly, if you are an exhibitor, the easiest way to promote your website is by getting a link to it on the trade show website.

Also find out if you can contribute to the show’s blog and send out an optimised press release to online publications beforehand. Make the most of your time exhibiting my taking video content that could go on social media sites like You Tube after the show.

You can also boost your SEO by getting involved in local events. For instance you could become a sponsor and this might get you in the local news. You could ask attendees to upload their photos of the event to a site like Facebook, perhaps giving them an incentive like a discount off your products.

So there are many ways to incorporate SEO as part of your general marketing activities. Just think creatively and you could turn traditional marketing into a great way of search engine optimising your online business.

Posted in Internet Marketing | Comments closed

Is Facebook Advertising Worth It?

Since Facebook was floated on the stockmarket, making it open to investors, its advertising model has changed a lot too. Because ad sales could have a bearing on market value, the social network has now turned advertisers into paying customers.

Facebook is now a popular platform for PPC advertising and many more businesses with services or products to sell are using Facebook adverts now.

But even though you might reach young people and product consumers with Facebook ads, it may not be the best form of online advertising for targeting business people. Facebook is popular with young people and helps spread messages quickly but is often not used by more mature internet users.

So even though Facebook ads allow advertisers to reach an extremely large group of potential customers (Facebook use is now at nearly 1 billion), some people question the value of these ads and whether they’re really worth it.

Firstly you have to rely on people actually being Facebook users to see your ads. Although it is a popular social site by no means all people are on it and many actively choose to steer clear – especially the older generation.

This makes Facebook advertising less viable than say Google Adwords, where you know that anyone searching Google could potentially see your ad.

Plus even if you wanted to target the Facebook demographic it is not guaranteed that your Facebook advertisement will reach everyone. Facebook ads are competing with each other for attention so there is a real possibility yours will get lost.

The truth is that Facebook paid advertising is still in its infancy and time will tell whether the adverts and Facebook itself will be a useful advertising platform. More proof is needed to show that this advertising model will make users a return on their investment in the long-term.

Posted in Facebook | Comments closed

Look out for Negative SEO

SEO is all about helping websites rise up the rankings. But did you know that people can also use SEO to damage rankings of websites? This is called negative SEO.

Some believe that negative SEO does no real damage but others think it can really harm the rankings of a competitor, so there are some things to watch out for if you think you could be affected by negative SEO.

It has become more of a concern too, since the recent Google ‘Penguin’ algorithm update. Google’s downgrading of poor quality website content further penalised websites that contained lots of spammy links.

After this update any sites that were submitted to paid link networks saw their rankings significantly drop. People who had submitted sites to these paid link networks, in some cases companies who were trying to do down their competitors, saw rankings of submitted sites immediately drop.

This is one example of how companies can use negative SEO to manipulate the natural search rankings of their competitors. Other tricks that competitors can use to damage SEO include duplicating a rival’s website content on spammy sites, creating fake negative business reviews and linking known spam link generators to competitor’s websites.

To avoid negative SEO make sure you regularly look out for signs of it. For instance if you find a fake review of your website, ask the website containing it to remove it immediately.

Also one of the main things to concentrate on to make sure you aren’t penalised by Google is improving your own SEO. Making sure your website content is as good quality as possible will mean any negative SEO will have less of an impact in the long-term.

Posted in SEO | Comments closed

Responsive design

What is responsive design?

In layman’s terms this means that the content is shown differently depending on the platform (eg a mobile phone, a tablet or a widescreen TV). So the content of a page can be laid out for wide screens or small vertical mobile handsets.

Technologically this is done using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) media queries which adapt the layout of the page to the viewing platform. Academically this in interesting, and it provides a coding challenge – but does this address the real marketing need?

Is responsive design useful?

ExtraDigital think there is too much hype made about responsive design and the more important issue is responsive content. When viewing information on a mobile or a laptop the screen area is very different, and the amount of information which can be processed is very different. So should the same amount of content actually be delivered to the two very different devices? We think not.

Responsive Content

Responsive content is about ensuring a suitable amount of content is presented. This can be more on larger screens, but should be less on smaller screens or devices which are read in a more linear manner. On some devices such as mobiles there is less space for large menus, so a different navigation structure may be best.

Responsive Menus or Navigation

A key part of any website is the navigation or menu structure. ExtraDigital think that the actual number of navigation options should vary with device, so we suggest responsive navigation systems, both in terms of their design or layout and also structure.

Consistency of content

Responsive content need not mean inconsistent content; for example websites with a regular news bulletin should show the same news on all devices. But what might be different is the amount of other information given on the page.

Conclusions on responsive design

Responsive design is a fun challenge for a programmer or developer. but for a marketing agency the challenge should be responsive content to provide the best user experience.

Posted in Website Design | Comments closed

How important is your website colour?

A familiar saying of marketing agencies is “Content is King”. But what about the colour?

What does the colour of your website say?

Or is it not important?

The colour of your branding and your website is in fact very important as it helps to convey a message about your values and beliefs.

By colour we do not just mean the basic colour (“green”) but also the shade; for example a lime green, bottle green and pale green all convey very different ideas.

Below is a quick guide to the choice of colour on your business branding. But remember that the shade of colour and choice of secondary colours can significantly alter this.

Blue conveys trust and professionalism. Blue is usually a relaxing colour, and a colour for good clear communication. Blue is a good colour for business websites. Soft blues are calming and can be used for medical or people centred websites. Stronger blues work well in more corporate settings.

Yellow is often associated with happiness, optimism or creativity. Yellow can look cheap and is apoor choice for text as not readable which is why it is used less often.

Red is a strong colour, and is used for bold branding. Can also be used for love especially the pink shades or red.

Green is a natural colour, lending itself well to websites about the environment. It can be difficult to design with (colours do nor reproduce well).

Orange is a fun colour, and stands out well. Not often used as primary colour as it is harder to design with.

Violet is often used with luxury (especially dark shades) or spiritual values (paler shades).

Black is very strong. Can be used for luxury products or for rebellious websites.  A favourite choice for artistics websites as well.

White is a clean colour giving space and an uncluttered feel. Works well on high class shopping carts and on corporate websites.

Brown is down to earth, with associations to the natural world. Brown is a good choice of colour for a website wanting to give the impression of a safe and reliable organisation.

Posted in Website Design | Comments closed

How to Use LinkedIn for Business

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for business. It has become one of the most popular social networking sites for personal profiles, alongside Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn is also a great marketing tool for businesses.

This is because it works like an online CV, offering key information about a person or company. When a business profile is created; all services, products and employee skills can be listed.

As a LinkedIn spokesperson recently explained, “It’s a centralised location where millions of LinkedIn members can go to stay in the loop on company news, products and services, business opportunities and job openings.”

There are several things you can do to optimise your LinkedIn business page. For instance pictures can be added to your page to create more interest. Your business page can list all your products and services, perhaps with images or logos to go alongside each offering.

With LinkedIn you can create a contemporary and interactive display of your services and client projects to promote your business. You can even add plug ins to your LinkedIn profile to enable you to post slides and video.

If anyone within an organisation has published any books or articles, you can also add publications to your LinkedIn business profile. This helps to promote your companies academic skills to the wider world and shows employees as experts in certain fields.

You can also use LinkedIn as a platform to offer expert consultancy advice. You can network with others and build up an online community by recommending others for their business acumen using LinkedIn, just as they might recommend you.

However it is not ideal to bulk recommend people or suggest people you don’t know, as LinkedIn should be a platform where you are selective and professional about who you interact with in the business arena.

The really great thing about Linked in terms of SEO is that it has a higher conversion rate than Facebook and Twitter, plus good backlinks, so it is really of benefit to business as a tool for internet marketing and customer conversions.

Posted in Social Marketing | Comments closed

Should Social be used for customer service?

Many businesses set up social media pages in order to promote their company and communicate with customers. However, social networking has to be used in the right way if it is going to be a platform for good customer service.

In many retail businesses for instance, followers on Twitter or Facebook may comment on products, make inquiries or even complain if they feel they have got a bad service. This means the company has to be constantly vigilant with their Twitter or Facebook page, ensuring that they respond appropriately.

It is not very appropriate to delete or ignore a negative response, instead the company should respond in a positive way offering a reason for the issue or an incentive for the customer to stay loyal.

Posts on Twitter or Facebook from customers need to be responded to as rapidly as possible. This is not always easy if you have business to run but there should be a person or persons given the responsibility of regularly checking social media for comments from customers.

If a business has an issue come up that is getting a lot of response on Twitter, which may be too much to reply to individually, then they should put out a Tweet explaining the situation so that people can be clear what is going on. For instance, if a company’s website is running slow then they can tell people why and when it is going to be fixed on their social media page.

It is also a good idea to personalise your Twitter or Facebook pages. You can do this by adding names and photos of people within your company biography or as a profile picture instead of or perhaps incorporated with your logo (if company rules allow).

Your bio doesn’t just have to describe your company, it can contain names of employees who have individual Twitter profiles. This way there are lots of people to contact if the customer wants a rapid, tailored response.

Personalising social media pages also means the customer feels like it is more of a real company with names behind the corporate face! Posts can also be ended with names, especially if the message has come from a particular department or specialist within the company.

Social media is also a great way to maximise customer conversions. For instance if a person who is not yet a customer asks a question on your Twitter or Facebook page, if you respond helpfully and quickly they are more likely to then use you for future information and perhaps go on to be a loyal customer.

So social media can be used for customer service and there are many ways to make sure it is a tool to aid good customer relations. Because social networking is becoming ever more popular, many companies can’t afford to ignore it and so should turn this easy and direct way to communicate with customers to their advantage.

Posted in Internet Marketing | Comments closed

An acceptable approach in analysing multi-item Likert scales in business surveys” with an emphasis on the ‘business’.

First for anyone not familiar with the language of statistics, a Likert scale is the posh name for the type of questionnaire with answers such as “Strongly Agree”, “Agree”, “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree”.  So it is simply a survey with choices usually based on level of agreement. The key is that these options are not number values, but are words (or images) conveying a range of opinion.

Pitfalls to be wary of for any Likert scale analysis:

  • Means are dangerous, Modes are Better. What does this mean and Why? If we consider three responses of Disagree, Agree and Strongly Agree, then it can be tempting to give these a score of ‘1’,’2, and ‘3’. If an average is calculated between Disagree and Strongly Agree – this will end up an ‘Agree’, yet this may not be the case as the scale need not be linear. So ‘means’ or averages are not helpful. The mode (the most common value) is more useful and is a real bit of information.
  • Line charts are meaningless, Bar charts are Better. The data within a Likert scale is best shown using a form of bar chart. In tabular reporting the percent of responses giving any answer is another useful parameter.
  • T-tests are not appropriate. These are based on assumptions such as a normal distribution which are rarely application for any Likert scale analysis. Unfortunately many statistics packages are unaware of this fact and report meaningless data. Better tests to use here are the Kruskal Wallis test of variance, or the Mann Whitney U test.

See the post on statistics in business for more information on using statistics in a meaningful manner.

When using these in practise other factors must be considered, that in fact apply to any form of survey, Likert scale or not:

  • The influence of position in the ordered list when the survey is presented (either online, by print, phone or face to face) is important. For example it is highly likely you will get a different response if your questions have “Strongly Agree” at the top or left compared to if this is located at the bottom or right of the list of options.ExtraSearch experimented this using online forms with drop down select boxes, and there was a huge bias towards choosing the first option in any drop down box. When we changed the order in the drop down box the ‘responses’ changed.
  • The motivation behind completing the survey. The answers to any survey are a very good indication of how people wished to answer the survey, not necessarily the same as their own opinion. Answers can be influenced by leading questions, or respondents might feel unwise to give the real answers (if politically incorrect or rather radical), or they may simply wish to complete the survey as fast as possible to claim the free gift on offer. Wise respondents may intentionally alter answers to avoid or gain further offers and correspondence (Eg coupon codes).

So what is an acceptable approach to analysing multi-item Likert scales in business surveys?

The following points serve as useful guidelines:

1)      Devise the questions to reduce any impact of external factors

2)      Layout the questions to reduce bias from first/last options

3)      Report the data as total per answer, % of total per answer and the mode (most common answer)

4)      Use bar charts (not line charts) to show data graphically.

5)      Avoid any mention of the mean or average answer.

6)      To test variance or significance use an appropriate test (Kruskall-Wallis rather than t-test)

7)      Ensure before reporting you have considered the impact of external factors and dealt with any unusual data.

Posted in PPC, SEO, analytics | Comments closed