Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

How to Use Blogging to Benefit Your Ecommerce Store

Monday, June 27th, 2011

BloggingThe problem with blogs is that so many companies that have them do not know what they have them for.

They know what it is, they have spent money on building one that looks nice and works well but when it comes to actually putting content on there, that’s where the problems arise. This is such a shame as a good blog can be an excellent tool for boosting online sales.

Most Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes which it is good to clear up first and foremost. Probably the most common is to use your blog as a way to display every single new product as it becomes available. This may seem like a great idea but it is not what people will come back looking for. If they want to find your new products they will look in your shop, not on your blog. You can turn this around though by occasionally writing something interesting and useful about any new products while avoiding just posting that they exist. This more wholesome method is far more likely to get your online credit card processing system in action.

Another common mistake is not using them. Nothing looks worse to someone trying to find out more about a company who makes the effort to visit your blog only to find a big empty page. ‘Is this company still operating?’ they will ask.

So How Do You Use Your Blog for Good?

Think of your blog as a place where you get to know and interact with your customers. If you keep this as your basis and you won’t go far wrong. Customers will come back to you for more interesting information and only then should you think about slipping in some sales orientated information, preferably towards the end of your post. Remember don’t push people towards your payment gateways. Just give them the best information to get there themselves.

Get to Know Your Customers

Before you write anything, get to know your audience. This may seem obvious to you but do a bit of research into what sort people actually go online who may be interested in what your business offers, and think about what sort of information will be appealing and of use to them. Tailor your blog to answer their questions before they ask them and they will (hopefully) become regular visitors to your blog.

Social Distribution

Using your well written tailored blog as information to distribute via social channels will also be of great benefit to your store. If you have ‘followers’ then you can use them to great advantage using your blog. Try ‘tweeting’ a link to each blog with a clear message of its benefits for example and see how many people start turning up at your site and maybe even buying something.

Blogs are incredibly powerful when done properly so be sure to dedicate enough time to them and pay them the respect they deserve.

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What Did the Apprentice’s App Task Teach Us?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Smart Phones with Apps‘The Apprentice’ is a very popular television program which features Lord Alan Sugar as he puts a group of budding entrepreneurs and business types through a string of rigorous  and ingenious business and marketing tasks, in what must be one of the toughest job interviews ever created. The prize for the winner at the end of the series is to be awarded a quarter of a million pounds in order to start a business of their own.

A recent episode saw the contestants, who have been split into two groups, tasked with the job of creating a mobile ‘app’ from scratch. The winner would be the group who could get the most downloads in the space of about 24 hours. Both ‘apps’ were ridiculously poor but together they managed to get 14,618 downloads.

To be fair they did get a mention on three well subscribed tech blogs: TechCrunch, Pocket Lint and Wired UK thanks to some badgering by the production company TalkBack Thames TV no doubt. Plus they both were given the opportunity, with limited success, to pitch to a room of bloggers and tech types at a major conference within a few hours that may or may not have mentioned one or both of the apps online.

At the end of the day, what this basically shows us is just how easy it is to come up with an app that will be downloaded. With a bit more time and effort surely your online business brains could easily come up with something a lot more useful that a soundboard of annoying sounds or regional accents. These under pressure contestants had limited time and expertise for coming up with a good idea and they still got lots of downloads.

Apps can be educational, entertaining, pretty much anything you want them to be as they can tap into any of the tech you have on your mobile device from the camera to the GPS tracker, and put it to whatever use you can come up with. Google Sky Map for example allows you to point your phone in any direction and see what the stars look like from that angle in real time. Pretty amazing and all thanks to a clever little app. Depending on what your online business is there will always be some kind of app you can create that will help or at least amuse your users, and if you make it valuable enough you may even get people to pay for it. Not too difficult a task when a payment service provider can work a payment processing system into the app for you.

Apps are already incredibly popular and account for a massive portion of how people interact with their phone and the net. The Apprentice task merely highlights how easy it is now to create something that can reach millions of people in next to no time. Get your brain in gear and see what you can come up with. There are many app developers out there waiting to help you while Lancore can help you with appropriate payment gateways.

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What Makes A Product Page More Effective?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Ecommerce stores are notoriously difficult to manage. Not necessarily because of the technology, but because of the users. Most people who visit ecommerce stores fail to do exactly what you want them to do or what you have predicted they will do. It would be all plain sailing if every visitor went straight to what they wanted and immediately completed a purchase or at least made an enquiry. This unfortunately is for the most part not the case and there are hundreds of factors in your ecommerce sales process that can cause users to decide not to make a purchase.

One of the most crucial areas of any ecommerce store is the product page. When you have managed to get your visitor to delve this far into your website, this is the front line, where you will show off each individual product using images, words and also provide incentives to encourage your visitor to take the next step and make a purchase: the more effective it is, the more money your website will make through your payment service provider.

Here are some crucial factors you need to consider to make sure your product description is as effective as it should be:

Excellent Image

One of the first things shoppers will look at when they get to your product page is the image. Partly so that they know that they have arrived at the right page but also to look at it in more detail. Give them a large image which they can also zoom in on as well as a choice of angles so that they can evaluate the product properly. The image needs to be extremely high quality and must load quickly so that people see it almost immediately when they arrive on the page and don’t have to wait.

Product Description

After the image, the next most crucial element of your product page is your product description. Think of this a bit like a newspaper article. Put a headline at the top (what the name of the product is e.g. Smart Black Shoes Size 9) so that people know what it is, then have a brief sub heading of about 1 line explaining its main selling points, then list some of its best features and benefits in a short bulleted list underneath. Below this go into a bit more detail about the product then at the bottom go into even greater detail. Your shopper will get the gist early on or read a lot more if they want to. Get the lay out of your product description right and your product page will be a lot more effective and making your sites payment gateways a lot busier.

These are two of the most important of many elements on your product page that can be altered to get a greater number of sales through a more effective page.

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Your Customers Are Afraid Of Registering

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Sign UpOne thing is for sure, ecommerce store owners want their users to buy their products. They will go to great lengths to find ways in which people can be convinced that a certain product is the one that will change their life for the better. This might include altering the product, changing an advertising campaign, re-designing their website and fiddling around with their pricing. But one thing many ecommerce sites are unwilling to change is their registration process.

There is no denying that having users register is a very helpful and valuable thing. For a user, registering usually means that they only have to put their details in once, they may be able to order other products more easily when they come back, be offered a discount for registering and more depending on the type of ecommerce store it is.

For ecommerce stores registering is of great benefit too. It allows them to get their user’s email addresses in order to include them in direct email marketing campaigns, gets users to commit to the store in some way that will possibly make them more likely to come back and in the case of ‘wish lists’ allows companies to offer customers deals on products they have already admitted they are interested in.

In spite of all these benefits, the fact is most customers are actually afraid of registering or at least so put off that they will immediately leave a site if this is what faces them. By forcing customers to register before they can make a purchase, websites seriously jeopardise many of their sales for something so unnecessary.

So why are they afraid of registering?

  • Speed is of the essence online as people want to get in and get out in the fastest time possible. Websites know that the speed at which their pages load can dramatically affect how many people stay on their site. The same goes for ecommerce checkouts. People just don’t have time to register.
  • With email and social networks and your online phone bill etc all needing to have a login and password, people just don’t want to have to create yet another login and password to remember. It is always easier to exit and find a shop that doesn’t require login.
  • Also, as people offer more and more of their information up to the internet realms, they are becoming not more relaxed, but instead more wary of the security of their information. This means that you have to be incredibly good at convincing users of your security credentials as well as your business credibility and even payment service provider to get them to give you their details. Especially if you are asking to save their card details for speedy purchases and payment processing.

While you can try and be very convincing, at the end of the day there is no substitute for allowing your users to purchase without registering. This is the only sure-fire way of not putting them off just at the moment when you want them to hit that ‘Buy Now’ button. In fact a good compromise is to offer registration as an option after they have purchased.

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Do Your Online Customers Trust You?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Ecommerce TrustTrust is one of most important things for shoppers. Gone (well practically) are the days when we can walk into a shop and be sweet talked by a savvy salesman into buying something we don’t want. Shoppers know their rights more than ever and are also particularly careful with their money. This is especially true online as we have no reason to stick around and read or listen to anything about something we don’t definitely want to buy.

So if your shoppers won’t listen to a salesman, who will they trust when looking to buy something online?

Social Media

If you were in a shop and you did not believe what the salesman was telling you about how good a particular product is, and then your best friend walked in and confirmed what the salesman was saying, would you not be more likely to make a purchase? This is basically what social media integration with you website does. If you have these social elements plugged in, that little ‘like’ button and comment box which show up next to products that your friends have already purchased are key to offering you an immediate injection of trust.

Professional and Reliable Sites

Another thing online customer’s look for in order to trust your website is how they look and how they work. One crucial aspect of this is your method of payment processing. Continuing the analogy, if you walked into a shop and it was falling to bits, the door wasn’t working and the salesman was being sick in the corner, would you trust the company? Likewise if the shop wasn’t open when it is supposed to be would you bother to come back? A professional, functional website that always works and looks smart instils that crucial element of trust your customers need. Hand in hand with this goes the quality and respectability of your websites payment service provider.

Honest Sites

Similarly, if your site has inaccurate information or has key conditions of purchases hidden until much later in the buying process, you may be seen as being dishonest or at least seen as withholding the truth to some extent. Be honest and upfront and your customers will trust what you tell them all the more.

Mobile Apps

With more and more consumers using mobiles to buy online, having a good quality mobile app is important for your business. You must ensure that your trustworthiness extends to this app too as it is an extension of your website and must still encourage trust. Make sure it is slick and professional, works perfectly and is upfront about everything.

Get all this right and your customers will trust you, and hopefully tell their friends to trust you too.

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What Could An App Do For Your Online Business?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Mobile ApplicationsWith every person and their dog now owning and using a smartphone or tablet PC to access the internet, and with apps (downloadable applications) rapidly becoming the normal way with which people interact with these devices, you must be interested to hear what having one will do for your business…and what not having one will do to your business.

Let’s say you have a nice online business website already, with a good ecommerce store that has some good conversion rates and a secure payment service provider. With more people starting to use tablets and smartphones however, they may stop visiting your website as they would rather use a more user friendly app on their device. If you have a competitor who offers the same thing you do, and they have an app, you could be losing this rapidly growing traffic source with every day that passes.

Keep your customers

Having an app will offer your device using visitors the opportunity to stay with you. When users are already familiar with a company and are happy doing business with them, they will be reluctant to change who they deal with unless they have to, or if it becomes more convenient to use someone else. By advertising the availability of your own app prominently and making it super easy to download from your site, you will ensure that your current users don’t drift away.

Attract new customers

If you make sure your app is good enough, you should hopefully attract new customers too. For example, if what you offer on your website is notoriously difficult to sell and you find a way with your app to convey its benefits with ease, you may get a whole host of new people flocking to buy your app and your products. There are countless development companies online who can help you build a sparkling app that does exactly what you want, or you can even try making one yourself using one of many DIY tools available. But make sure you test it to death to ensure that everyone who uses it does so with ease.

Take business forward

What an app could do for your business is take it in a whole new direction. It is possible for a new app to attract them more sales and payment processing than a regular website. This might be down to having too much search engine competition or if a website is faulty, but with a new app it can be like a fresh start and allow a business to leapfrog all of this other competition.

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Has There Ever Been a Better Time to Start Doing Business Online?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Other than during the initial cyber bubble in the 90’s, no.

So far in 2011 UK consumers have spent a whopping £10 billion online. The figures of approximately £4.9 billion spent in February alone are up 20% on the same month in 2010. This is a strong indicator for anyone who had been thinking about moving their business online that now is the time to get on with it.

The figures for e-retailers have never been rosier with the equivalent of £79 per person being spent in the UK online in February and with a wealth of assistance available to all kinds of businesses to make the most of what they have to offer by utilising online opportunities. But why is it that consumers are now spending more online than ever before?

Trust

One of the major factors that have given online shopping such a boost is that people trust online stores more now. With more investment in user experience design by websites people find them easier to use. With more recognisable security measures people feel safer, and just through peoples gradual increase in trust as their orders have made it to their homes unhindered and because they haven’t seen their credit card details sold to third parties. In fact the reliability of payment gateways for e-commerce sites and evolving money transfer services mean that the security of online purchasing has dramatically improved in recent years. Trust really is a huge factor and if you can get your customers to trust your site, you will have won half the battle.

Strong Adoption

The UK stands out when compared to our neighbours France and Germany as we spend more online than they do combined and 10x as much as people spend online in Italy and Spain. The UK has evidently adopted online retail with a passion and thanks to strong links in other media, in-store promotions and investment in internet marketing the trend looks set to continue. If you get your own online store set up, you can be certain that there are customers out there who will pay you a visit if you have your marketing in place.

Cheaper

Of course one of the big reasons why people shop online more now than ever before is the fact that it is simply cheaper. With less over heads an online store can charge less for the same items that a high street store would have to charge. Plus with most major supermarkets offering a free home delivery service people can strap on their lazy slippers and save money on petrol, bus fares and shoe leather by not having to go to the shops at all.

Your online future is bright so what are you waiting for?

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Would A Tablet PC Make Any Difference To Your Productivity?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Since the launch of the iPad in 2010 it has met a generally favourable response from users, reviewers and businesses. Time Magazine even listed it in their top 50 best inventions of the year 2010. There are now many copies (though some say they had the idea first) of this product which certainly shows that it is being bought in high numbers. But aside from it being a great invention, how can it help your or your business’ productivity in the real world?

The reason the iPad (and now iPad2) has been so popular in the real world is partly just because it is an entirely new type of device: like a huge smartphone or a stripped down laptop and people like to own the latest gadgets. But some people have argued though that there is no benefit of this product over either of the others.

Bad for Productivity

One of the major things it has been criticised for is its lack of connectivity options. While it is certainly capable of Wi-Fi data sharing, it lacks a USB port, an Ethernet connection or a memory card slot. This will seriously dent productivity for businesses that need to be able to share information quickly and don’t have a Wi-Fi connection to hand. You don’t want to be ready to seal a deal but be unable to take the data onto your computer because your client only has a USB stick. For this reason you should be wary about adopting iPads until they have better connectivity.

Also, some consider tablet PCs to be a bit ‘show-offy’ which may alienate you in certain situations.

Good for Productivity

Having said this, having an iPad is certainly a boon in the style stakes in some areas of business. If you whip out a sleek gadget like that at a meeting you can be certain of impressing some people, maybe convincing some people to make a deal which is good for business if not good for productivity. Many a payment service provider has seen changes in how customers interact with online stores and increasing visits through smartphones and tablet PC’s means many are looking at new ways to enhance payment gateways into this blossoming market.

The iPad has found itself most productive in areas where people need to be able to use PC functions, when a whole laptop would get in the way. For example, doctors have found that using a tablet is great for using in patient exams as it prevents them from creating a barrier between them and the patient and can be used to quickly show images. More specifically for businesses, some have found that it cuts down on paperwork and has increased productivity through the tablets ease of use, its portability and because it is very lightweight.

So will a tablet make a difference to your productivity? The short answer is that it depends on what you intend to use it for, e.g. if you need to connect stuff: no. If you want to move faster: yes. Think hard before you invest in this trendy device.

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Who has the Next Big Mobile App for Your Business?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Do you have a Twitter account for your business? Chances are that you probably do (if you don’t, you should) because you heard that along with other social media applications, For any business selling online, having a good payment service provider isn’t enough to get the profits flowing into your site. Twitter is a great way for you to interact directly with your customers and to show that your business is a forward thinking tech savvy entity.

Now what you may not know is that Twitter launched all the way back in 2007 and had its big break at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Texas, a hot pot of opportunity for entrepreneurial developers. They lined up along with all the other hopeful tech start-ups praying that some influential people would see the genius behind their idea. Luckily for them the right people did and started a wave of adoption for their app. Now every corporate hegemony, commercial franchise and corner shop is Twitting, Tweeting and Twooting to great effect every day.

So what is the next big mobile app?

Since Twitter has done so well on the back of this event it stands to reason that maybe the next big app will come out of the same event. Here are some of the names being hollered from the stands at this year’s SXSW:

Hashable – Digital networking tool

This networking tool is described as being the replacement for the business card. This application allows you to post, through a Twitter style sharing platform, everyone who you meet and are introduced to. You can check in with people, track your meetings and calls either publicly or privately. You can swap information just like swapping business cards using their email address or Twitter ID. Plus you can see who your friends are networking with to help expand your network.

This app if it is widely adopted could become very popular very quickly.

Scvngr – Don’t just check in – Interact with your customers in a new fun way

Scvngr (pronounced ‘scavenger’) is on the surface a lot like the check-in functions offered by Foursquare and Facebook, to let people know where you are. What Scvngr does is go a whole lot further. Not only does it allow you to check in to your location, it also offers a new level of interaction.

Let’s say you are a restaurant business and you have signed your business up to Scvngr. Your customer comes into your outlet and checks in. You then offer them things to do at this location. Quick fun things to do which they can complete in order to gain points that add up to a reward of something like a free drink or a discount or whatever you want to offer. All of the things they do are posted online and all improve the notoriety of your business.

Both of these apps are a hot tip for the future and by getting your business signed up soon will give you a good chance of taking advantage of their success and importantly boosting the payment processing capacity of your business.

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What Fundamental Aspect of Your Website is Wrong?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Website FixWhen a visitor or potential customer arrives at your website for the first time, they form an opinion of your site and your company as a whole in a few seconds. This means that you need to make sure that every element of your homepage (primarily) and all the deeper sections of your site are completely tailored to give your visitor the best emotional response and first impression. Think about the last time you arrived at a site that looked odd, was unappealing, and made you feel awkward in some way…did you stick around? I doubt it. You don’t want to be in their shoes.

One of the key elements that are so often overlooked by people designing their company website is the colour scheme. Every colour has an effect on the emotions of your visitor, which as we have learned, will have an overriding effect on their perception of your company and your brand. A common way to approach the design of a company website is to use the company brand colours. This could be a real problem if your company colours do not emotionally appeal to your web visitors. What you can get away with on a letter head may translate into a colour scheme that scares away online customers.

So what’s best for your website?

Business

With a business or corporate website you generally want to convey that your company is professional, trustworthy and indeed holds an element of power. To give this impression immediately to your visitors, the best colour to use is blue. Blue naturally produces a calming effect and is a common colour used by royalty. Incorporating blue as a major theme in your business website will help visitors see you as an intelligent authority figure, but if you have anything to do with food you may want to use it more sparingly as it acts as an appetite suppressant. This colour scheme coupled with a clear indication of secure payment gateways and professional money transfer services will show your company in a very professional and distinguished light.

E-commerce

When choosing colours for your website if you are basically an online shop, what colour you choose should be decided by what products you sell. For example, if you are selling products for children then you are best to base your colour scheme on red. This colour is proven to catch their eye, is cheerful, energetic and will provoke a positive emotional response. Use sparingly though as red can also be associated with danger.

Use this same theory to pick your colours appropriately and you should be able to get this fundamental element of your website right from the start. Your visitors will be appropriately emotionally charged and, in turn, be more likely to reach one of your websites goals i.e. a sign up or a purchase.

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