In this podcast, Chloe Thomas talks to Dominic Irons, owner of Bureau Direct an award-winning mail order stationery retailer.
A focus on design, great products and excellent customer communication has enabled Dominic to grow his online stationery business and now he's getting up to 3,500 orders per month.
Dominic and his team want to make their customers feel part of the family and the communication strategy includes a weekly e-newsletter which, says Dominic, really embodies the values of the business and "has taken on a life of its own".
In this interview, Chloe also finds out how Dominic is growing the traffic to his website using SEO and pay-per-click advertising.
Tune in to Chloe's latest podcast below to hear from this successful online entrepreneur.
Ecommerce is getting more competitive. If a visitor comes to your online shop and doesn't like the look of it or finds something that doesn't work, they'll be just a click away from one of your competitors.
In short, getting the design elements right in your online shop plays a key part in keeping your customers on your website and encouraging them to buy.
A couple of years ago, having large header pictures at the top of every page was a standard look on many ecommerce websites. Today, this is considered a waste of space. Instead, present your top products using a content slider. Don't overload it with graphical elements and text; keep it clean and ensure there is a clear call to action (CTA).
Welcome text at the top of your home page might seem like a nice way to engage with your customers and add a personal touch but it takes away valuable space which you could use for prominently placing products or special offers.
Our recommendation is to skip the welcome text and add a call to action image or a special offer to lead your customers where you want them to go. If you want to have SEO-optimised text on your home page, place this at the bottom.
Often, shop owners settle for describing their products with one or two basic sentences or, even worse, by just copying the original product description of the manufacturer.
Not only does this negatively affect your Google ranking but it also sends the wrong message to your customers. Take time to write your own unique product descriptions that are easy to read and show your customers that you know your products well.
Your website is the main face of your business but you don't want to have the same appearance as your online competitors. So stay away from standard stock photos and try taking pictures of your own products.
Authenticity and personality are more important than ever. Show your customers what makes your shop unique. If you are not able to produce your own pictures, take some time to look for stock pictures that fit your shop perfectly.
Have you painted your living room in ten different colours? If not, why should your online shop have ten different fonts? A lack of design integrity gives your website a chaotic and amateur look. Choose your own corporate design and focus on one main font for your headlines and another one for product descriptions.
Copyright © 2016 Richard Stevenson, Head of Global PR, ePages.
The most successful e-commerce retailers are always learning. But what did we learn in 2015 that can help us move forward in 2016?
The industry has grown up. We turned a corner in 2015. It’s no longer about the shiny tech - those who are succeeding easily are focused on how to best serve their customer and finding the right ways to do this.
In this, my new podcast, I have brought together three top e-commerce experts to review the lessons of 2015.
Chris Dawson, is co-founder and editor of Tamebay and a top expert on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Alex O’Byrne is co-founder of WeMakeWebsites, the UK’s highest rated Shopify web designers. And Andrew Wilson runs his own e-commerce business, Allergy Best Buys.
Tune in and find out how what we all learned in 2015 could help you make more online sales in 2016.
It's time to start planning for Christmas and there are six key areas that business owners need to focus on: internal communications, audience segmentation, attribution, email targeting, display advertising, and affiliates.
Set up a cross-departmental "peak planning board" so that everyone in the business understands their role in the build-up to Christmas. It is especially important for marketing and fulfilment teams to be in constant contact as seasonal campaigns and promotions must be supported to allow the supply of high-demand items. Marketing teams can also help drive stock movement by creating promotions for items that are lagging behind in sales.
Businesses need a deep understanding of shopper behaviour in the build-up to Christmas so they can segment and target their marketing effectively. Using insights from previous years, it is possible to identify the frequency and value of a customer's purchases, whether they buy from you throughout the year or only at Christmas, or whether the type of purchase they make changes at Christmas. This information will help you determine the level of personalisation and the type of marketing message to apply to different customers.
Advanced attribution takes account of every touchpoint; every device, platform or channel used by the customer during the buying journey. And it can provide valuable insight into customer behaviour. It allows you to measure return on investment for individual channels and campaigns in near to real-time, which in turn opens up opportunities to adjust campaigns and divert resources on-the-fly to support successful channels.
The upturn in online spending in the build-up to Christmas brings an increased risk of basket abandonment as customers save products they see for comparison or purchase later. It is important to have a clear strategy in place for following up on abandoned baskets and incomplete purchases – including when to start offering discounts or other perks to entice shoppers back to their basket on your site. Consider shortening your usual timeline for this follow-up, particularly as Christmas gets closer. Email-based discounting campaigns can also be useful for implementing "contingency plan" campaigns in the event that revenue targets are not being met.
Competition for advertising space during the build-up to Christmas is intense and the early bird catches the worm. High-impact display advertising formats such as home page takeovers, billboards, pushdowns and skins get snapped up quickly – especially on sites with high prestige or traffic volumes. Seasonal campaigns should be planned and space booked in September, to run from November. This means that advert design and copywriting needs to be finalised by September.
It is important to think not only about special days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also about the January sales period. These slots also get filled up very fast by premium publishers.
Partnering with affiliates can be an effective way to increase the reach and penetration of your marketing campaigns; something that's vital to customer acquisition at Christmas when so many voices are competing to be heard by the same audience. To ensure maximum impact from your Christmas campaigns, you should begin working on partnership agreements with affiliates from September, so that they go live from November.
The popularity of online shopping in the run-up to Christmas increases every year and Black Friday has intensified and extended this period of heightened demand. This trend isn't going anywhere; retailers must act now to ensure they are adequately prepared.
Copyright © 2015 Luke Griffiths, general manager of eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions — EMEA.
Are you worried that your online competitors are stealing customers from your business?
If so, you're not alone. In our recent survey, 46% of businesses told us this was their greatest fear. Another 27% were worried that competitors' prices were lower; 18% reported concerns that their competitors have better marketing.
But business is competition, so how can your company gain the advantage?
In order to outperform your competitors, you'll need to think strategically about the differences between your business and theirs. Here are three steps you can take to make it easier.
Your business is your brand - without a strong brand and a solid reputation, you'll find it much harder to convert and retain customers.
Check out online reviews to see what customers are saying about you. When customers give you a glowing five-star review, what do they praise the most? When they're unhappy, what are the most common complaints? Many customers feel more able to voice their opinions online than in person, so this is an excellent way to learn what customers really think of you.
Understand your brand's appeal from the customer's point of view - why do they buy from you instead of your competitors? Does the customer perspective align with your company's presentation of the brand?
Once you've explored opinions of your brand, get to know your customers' needs and desires:
One of the simplest ways to discover this information is to conduct a consumer survey. As the majority of consumers use mobile devices, a mobile survey lets you reach them wherever they are and provides an easy way for them to respond.
It's important to keep track of what advertising and marketing tactics your main competitors use, from SEO and SEM to social networking and email marketing. Notice any changes in their approach so you can gain insight into their broader strategies.
Take the time to audit your competitors' online performance:
Subscribe to your competitors' email marketing campaigns to see how they're using this channel. Use a non-corporate email address for this, to avoid flooding your business inbox with competitor marketing campaigns or tipping off your competitors about your research activities.
Now learn more about your competitors' customers (and how they could become your customers):
Guesswork won't give you the insight you need to make the right decisions, but accurate data will.
To obtain data on your customers and how they interact with your brand, consider using lead conversion software. This can track key metrics including: impressions compared to click-through rates; conversion rates of different customer segments; conversion rates of different landing page designs; and how your chosen metrics change with the time of day, the day of the week or even the seasons.
Copyright © 2015 Paul Liascos, managing director of ReachLocal UK.
You might think that the year 2000 was a bad time to start an internet business. After all, that was the year the dot-com bubble burst, and investment in online companies dried up
But the crash didn't destroy every internet business. Take Prezzybox. This online gift retailer launched in September 2000, by founder Zak Edwards and a small team.
Initially run from a borrowed office with a bright orange wall, the company has since grown to have an annual turnover of £5m. In a highly-competitive sector, that's no mean feat.
Website eCommerce MasterPlan recently interviewed Zak for their regular podcast. During the half-hour discussion, he explains how the business got started, reveals his favourite online tools, and gives essential advice for anyone who's running - or thinking of starting - an ecommerce business. Listen now: