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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

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

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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.

Why these are exciting times for independent retailers

November 26, 2014 by Rachel Miller

Why these are exciting times for independent retailers{{}}Things are changing on our local high streets. Consumers are shopping in a different way and these new habits are bringing exciting new opportunities for independent retailers.

Just last month, a report by the Local Data Company in conjunction with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) revealed that the number of independents is now at its highest level in four years following a net increase of 432 new stores in the first half of 2014.

There are lots of reasons for this positive news – consumers are keen to support local retailers and the recovery, although unsteady, is certainly helping too.

But the biggest driver seems to be a shift in shopping habits. New data shows that we are increasingly swapping the old weekly food shop at an out-of-town supermarket for more top-up trips made locally. And that is driving footfall to all kinds of shops on our high streets.

A new generation of canny shoppers

The recession has permanently altered the way we shop. We are less keen to drive to out-of-town supermarkets. And we are determind not to waste food as we once did. That means we would often prefer to buy our food locally as and when we need it.

What’s more, when we are visiting a Tesco Metro or a Sainsbury’s Local to get some essentials, we are also increasingly visiting other local stores as well.

But that’s not the whole picture. We’re also lapping up any opportunity to get a bargain. While the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury struggle, discounters such as Aldi and Lidl are flourishing. And of course, we are increasingly shopping online too.

All this has prompted Goldman Sachs to suggest in November that one in five big supermarkets may need to close. It points to “altered shopping habits” as well as competition from the big discount chains and pressures from online retailers.

These are clearly seismic shifts – not just recessionary aftershocks.

Grasping the opportunity

Now’s the time for independent shopkeepers to grasp these new opportunities. It’s about promoting what makes you special and giving customers the kind of friendly, personal service that big names just can’t deliver.

Tell your customers just how much good they are doing by shopping locally. According to Independent Retailer Month, for every £1 spent locally, 50-70p goes back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online only 5p trickles back to the local community.

After all, a recent survey by Vend has found that 53% of consumers who choose to shop at small businesses do so to support the local economy and 30% of shoppers choose small businesses to buy one-of-a-kind items.

The convenience of online shopping, however, is undeniable. Independent retailers can also win more business by having an appealing and accessible website where customers can browse, get information, order online and either have goods delivered or click and collect. Judicious use of discounts and deals will also appeal to many shoppers that are counting the pennies.

Support for independent retailers

All over the country there are shop local campaigns offering support and inspiration – Love Hackney Shop Local or Buy Local Norfolk to Totally Locally Durham are just a few examples.

Above all, at this time of year, it’s well worth getting involved with Small Business Saturday. Taking place on 6th December, this grassroots campaign encourages consumers to shop locally and support small businesses in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

You can download support and marketing materials on the Small Business Saturday website. And look out for the Small Business Saturday bus – coming to a town near you in November and December.

Blog by Rachel Miller, editor of Marketing Donut.

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