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Ten things we learned in 2014

December 17, 2014 by Rachel Miller

Ten things we learned in 2014{{}}As 2014 draws to a close, here at Donut HQ we’re getting ready to take a short break. It has certainly been a busy year. Across the five Donut websites we’ve published a wealth of blogs, news, guides and articles – all with one aim, to help small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs everywhere.

Our thanks go out to all our brilliant blog writers, our generous expert contributors and our valued sponsors and partners. And we’d also like to say a massive thanks to you all for stopping by on a regular basis, for your comments and feedback and for your support on social media.

We will be bringing you more small business news, views, information and advice in 2015. In the meantime, in case you missed anything, you can catch up on some of the things we have learned this year (below).

Have a great festive break – and check out our guide to work-life balance if you need help switching off! See you in 2015.

Rachel Miller

Editor, Marketing Donut

Ten of the many things we have learned in 2014

Video is king

“Consumers that watch a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy it.”

Five key retail marketing trends in 2014

Website basics are vital

“41% of shoppers abandon an online shopping cart because of hidden charges.”

What makes people buy? Understanding the psychology of the online shopping process

Timing is everything on social media

“Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends and click-through rates are generally highest on weekends and midweek on Wednesdays.”

When's the best time to post on social media?

A badly written email can be fatal

Andy Bounds reveals the cautionary tale of a brilliant proposal that failed at the first post because of a poor covering email.

How a simple covering email can backfire

Small firms are missing a trick with mobile

“SMEs in the UK are missing out on up to £77bn in annual revenues as a result of not having mobile-optimised websites.”

Two ways to optimise your website for mobile

Social media can be dangerous

“Online libel cases have doubled in recent years due to the social media explosion, so don’t think that social media is still a grey area in the eyes of the law — it’s really not.”

Could social media get you or your business into trouble?

Customer service counts

“72% of UK customers would ditch their purchase for a competitor if they didn’t get an email reply within one day.”

How shoddy service can wreck your small business

Why “shouting” on social media doesn’t work

“You wouldn’t train your in-store staff to constantly shout out brand messages — apart from looking unprofessional, it would drive people away. So why do brands do this on social media?”

Are you having one-sided conversations on Twitter?

What Einstein can teach us about social media

“Albert Einstein said: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts’.”

Why Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about measuring social media

Why page loading times matter

“Google considers over 200 factors when ranking a website and one of those that has become more influential is website and page loading times.”

Is your website keeping pace with Google changes? 

Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.

Further reading

Ten things you could have learned from the Law Donut in 2014

Ten things you could have learned about business start-ups in 2014

Pay-per-click: a cautionary tale

December 15, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Pay-per-click: a cautionary tale{{}}Pay-per-click advertising campaigns can deliver traffic, click-throughs, conversions and ROI. But managing PPC campaigns effectively also calls for patience, expertise and diligence.

Recently, a client of ours learned just how important it is to make sure AdWords campaigns are set up properly.

For weeks on end, they couldn’t figure out why their organic traffic levels had plummeted. In fact, their organic traffic levels decreased by 45% in just two days.

Such a big and sudden drop in traffic levels is usually triggered by a technical glitch but even though we ran every possible technical audit to figure out what had made such a massive impact on website visitor numbers, we found nothing that could have caused such shockwaves.

We were still wracking our brains when our head of digital had a light bulb moment – incorrect Adwords tracking.

Paid search had been classed as organic…

All their paid search had previously been categorised incorrectly as organic traffic until we updated their PLA which fixed the problem.

There are always going to be discrepancies between data in Analytics and Adwords. Analytics is not 100% accurate whereas Adwords is – but they should be relatively on par with one another.

Now that we’ve fixed the problem, the results are accurate. However, the traffic data has been skewed for the year so the business won’t be able to analyse year-on-year stats until April 2015.

Top tips for pay-per-click campaigns

If you decide to run a pay-per-click marketing campaign, it’s well worth seeking expert help to ensure it is all set up correctly. If you are a PPC newbie, here are eight top tips for setting up your campaigns:

  • Carry out detailed keyword research
  • Include keywords in your ad copy to maximise quality score
  • Determine your PPC budget
  • Bid on brand terms
  • Test your ad copy, then test and test again
  • Make sure the landing pages are relevant
  • Get comfortable with the basics before you try advanced features
  • Make sure tracking is enabled correctly!

Copyright © 2014 Lauren Grice, content strategist at web specialists, Bespoke.

New consumer regulations for online businesses at a glance

December 11, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Guide For Online Businesses

Consumer Regulations Guide for online businesses created by IT & IP Law Firm Waterfront Solicitors LLP who provide expert advice on Commercial Contracts.

Further reading

How small firms can benefit from online video

December 10, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

How small firms can benefit from online video{{}}Online video on mobile is fast becoming one of the most influential marketing channels.

Recent research from eMarketer reveals that consumers in the United States spend almost an hour, on average, watching digital video every day – that’s up from just six minutes in 2010. In the UK, advertisers are spending £316 million this year on digital video ads – a figure which is expected to double within four years.

But it’s not just the big firms that are benefiting from this surge in mobile video advertising. Thanks to more affordable technology, small businesses can also take advantage of the opportunities that mobile video offers.

The growth of mobile video

Surfing on mobile is increasing and it’s clear that mobile is driving consumer behaviour. BuzzCity’s study of mobile video consumption shows that 84% of mobile surfers watch videos on their handsets.

Better telecoms infrastructure is driving the growth. In the UK, between 2013 and 2014, the number of active 4G mobile subscribers jumped nearly 19-fold to over six million.

In addition, carriers are offering better rates, independent video sharing sites are expanding and smartphones now have bigger screens and faster processors. So it’s no surprise that social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Flickr, which started with photos, have expanded to include video.

What opportunities are out there?

The empowering tool is the power of sound and moving pictures; these appeal to our senses and create an emotional quality that is highly engaging. What’s key for small firms is that this relies more on creativity than on budgets; creating powerful videos has never been easier.

The opportunity is not new, of course, and many brands, such as the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, have created powerful viral video strategies. In addition, Honda has used music videos as a promotional tool and Harley Davidson has encouraged user-generated video to build its brand presence online.

In many ways though, these brands follow the traditional “branding on TV” route. Digital video, on the other hand, promises the same emotional response with the practicality of direct response. Advertisers can inspire engagement with mobile surfers and then track their spending. This is an added bonus for small businesses, enabling them to budget more effectively in line with results.

More art than science

Data and analytics are vital. But advertisers also need to be mindful that the user experience of video is subjective. The only way to get engagement is to create content that people really care about or are interested in. This is more of an art than a science and it’s not something that can always be quantified.

This is what makes mobile video accessible to businesses of all sizes – it’s not the size of the budget which counts but the combination of strategy, measurement and creativity.

Copyright © 2014 Dr K F Lai, ceo of BuzzCity.

Shoppers love free delivery – and you should too

December 08, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Shoppers love free delivery – and you should too{{}}Did you know that 83% of people are willing to wait an extra two days to receive an online order if they get free delivery?

According to a recent ComScore study, consumers are perfectly happy to forgo instant gratification if they don't have to pay for delivery charges.

That's how important free P&P is to online shoppers. But it's just one element of why free delivery is so important to consumers and why it can actually pay for itself several times over for an online retailer who offers it.

Don't put a roadblock in front of the shopping cart

If the products you sell are available in a store, then it doesn't make sense to charge for postage. This is especially true if your product is sold in a department store where the consumer will have more choice for competitive products and you run the risk of them buying something else there.

The last thing an online retailer wants is for a shopper to abandon their shopping cart and head down to their local retailer simply to avoid delivery charges. That's a lost sale that might have been prevented.

When a shopper is making an online purchase, they are, for the most part, already committed to a brand. But they can very easily jump ship when faced with delivery charges.

According to the Wharton School of Business, over half of shopping cart abandonment is due to delivery costs. Wharton’s Professor David Bell reveals that: "A free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.”

Free delivery increases average order volume

Why is free postage so important to online retail success? These compelling statistics have been gathered by Demac Media in this infographic:

  • Nearly half of all online orders currently include free delivery;
  • Free P&P increases average order volume by 30%;
  • 52% of abandoned shopping carts are due to P&P costs;
  • 58% of shoppers surveyed said they abandoned their shopping cart because postage made the purchase cost higher than expected;
  • 57% loaded up the cart to compare against competitors;
  • 50% said they abandoned the cart because their order wasn't large enough to qualify for free delivery.

Why free delivery is good for your business

Here are some of the business benefits of offering free postage:

Short-term gains. Free delivery can immediately boost online sales.

Larger orders. Free postage can lead to larger orders particularly when retailers set minimum purchase thresholds.

Long-term gains. Many online shoppers will only buy from merchants that offer free delivery, so, when it’s offered, merchants should expect to acquire new customers.

Repeat purchases. Free P&P can contribute to the lifetime value of those customers that a merchant might not otherwise have achieved had it not been for free or discounted delivery.

Staying competitive. Customers are more likely to leave a merchant and shop at a competitor site if they are offering free delivery.

How to keep your costs down

Of course, offering free delivery will add to the cost of a merchant doing business. However, you don’t have to offer free P&P on every item at all the times in order to increase sales or become more competitive.

Here’s how to manage your costs:

Offer free P&P with minimum thresholds. Setting minimum order value thresholds encourages larger orders and reduces risk. It's more realistic than free delivery on everything.

Offer free delivery on certain Items. Perhaps on products with higher margins.

Offer free delivery at certain times of the year. Target peak events such as Christmas.

Offer free delivery to certain locations. Setting geographic parameters either within country or on an international basis can help control costs.

Offer free delivery on returns. No-one wants to pay to return something that doesn't fit right or, worse, arrives damaged.

Offer flat-rate postage. While not free, shoppers will immediately come to the conclusion that larger orders are more economical.

Free delivery is something consumers expect and appreciate. When a merchant does something the consumer is happy about, they are building loyalty. So free delivery should be seen as a loyalty deliverable.

In exchange, merchants could consider asking for account registration or some other option to gather more information from the consumer or require the consumer to opt into email lists.

But what it really boils down to is removing a roadblock. The easier it is for the consumer to click the "buy" button, the more likely it is that they will go through with their purchase. And isn't that what we all want?

Copyright © 2014 Greg Shepard, ceo of AffiliateTraction.

How marketing helps small firms get ahead

December 01, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Why experiential marketing helps small firms get ahead{{}}Small businesses have unique, localised advertising needs and are often subject to financial and logistical restrictions when it comes to marketing. So which approach is best – promotional or experiential marketing?

Promotional marketing, such as discounts and offers, focuses on creating an incentive to persuade consumers to take action by immediately purchasing a product.

A recent UK survey found that promotional campaigns produce a higher ROI than radio and outdoor advertising and one equal to that of TV commercials and print ads. 56% of the people surveyed felt more favourable towards a brand after receiving a promotional item and 79% said that it made them likelier to do business with the company.

However, giving things away isn’t always an option for businesses on a budget. So how can small firms compete with larger rivals?

Targeting a niche audience

For starters, they can focus on localising the nature of their campaigns and developing memorable ways of differentiating their messages from competitors. A niche can be a valuable commodity. Large companies often won’t bother targeting small segments of the market – and that opens the door for smaller specialised companies to flourish.

Creating an experience

Experiential marketing techniques provide opportunities to directly and creatively engage potential consumers. One of the simplest ways of achieving this is by celebrating success or growth with the local community. Whether a business has opened a new location, launched a new product or won an award, take advantage of this opportunity and throw a bash, offer a limited-time service or sponsor a charity event.

Participating in local events

Actively participating in your local community by sponsoring school or sports teams, operating a stand or entering a contest at a local fair, hosting an annual public cook-off will make customers happy and appreciative. Those feelings will, in time, foster trust, loyalty and provide an incentive to support your business.

Word of mouth

Inspiring word of mouth is key to drive small business sales. A recent Nielsen survey found that 49% of consumers say that friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness. And another study revealed that 77% of consumers are more likely to purchase a new product after learning about it from people they know.

The more involved a business is in its community, the more of a stake the community will take in the business. By directly engaging with local consumers, small businesses have the advantage of building real relationships and appealing to customers’ emotions. That’s how experiential marketing can deliver results – even on the cheap!

Copyright © 2014 Duncan McCaslin, director of Kreate.

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