How to Perform A/B Testing for Social Media Campaigns?

The article will walk you through basic concepts of A/B testing and help you successfully launch your social media campaign even in less time than a rocket.

Social Media campaigning is all the rage as millions of users are online each day. Effective campaigning augments brand exposure and boosts market saturation. It also aids in turning your passive viewers into paying customers.

More than 96% of small business owners use social marketing. A business that markets via social media platforms witnesses a tremendous growth in their traffic. However, not every advertisement, promotional video or image garners the same rate of success.

Pic Courtesy: Bmconsulting.in

One advertisement may be successful for the promotion of your business while others may not reap the same benefits. So, it is important for the marketers to analyze what works best for them and what does not work for them. This can be achieved through A/B testing.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is real-time research and experiment that facilitates you to test small variations in the marketing materials in order to determine the most effectual campaign for your business that caters to your target audience.

Pic Courtesy: Optimizely.com

It is also known as split testing. To perform this, you’ll have to split your audiences into two groups and then test different versions of a marketing tool with each group. The responses of audiences help in determining the most effective version out of the two tested.

It should be noted that you can only test with one variation at a time. If you’ll test two different variations, you won’t be able to find out which element was more successful.

Procedure to perform A/B testing

Pic Courtesy: Canstockphoto.com

Choose the kind of content to test

The first and foremost step to initiate A/B testing is to define your goals. In this process, you’ll have to understand what kind of content you intend to test such as images, videos, ads, hashtags, headlines, post, call-to-action, etc

Carry out intensive research to know about the ongoing trends in the market

Following the latest trends will help you to get the kind of response you are expecting. You can dig into the existing knowledge and think about quirky ideas that will work best for you. You should never be afraid to challenge the assumptions.

Make a list of variables that you’ll be testing

There are several variables that can be tested, like the right time of the day to post, length of ad, the location of the ad, language used, and much more. So, you’ll have to choose the right variables to test.

For example, if you are choosing to post a text, then you can consider testing the following factors:

  • Length of the post
  • Style of the text
  • Use of emojis
  • Use of a digit for posts linking to a numbered list
  • Use of punctuation
  • Tone of the post whether professional or casual

Create two variations based on your research

Based on your research, you’ll have to create two variations of the same product. Take into consideration that only one element should be tested for two variations.

For example, if you are looking for an amazing image for the LinkedIn profile, you can create two to three variations. Look at an example in the image shown below:

The text is same in case of all the three versions but the testing is being carried out to find the best image for stellar marketing campaigns.

Know what you are looking for

Social marketers are scientists who carry out different experiments to find out the best combination of images, text, and videos for the promotion. Just as scientists should know why they are performing the research, marketers should have end goals.

You should have a clear idea of what you are looking for in the end. The effectiveness of A/B testing can be tested only if you have defined metrics or end goals.

For Example- You can test the impact of an ad in different locations to make your campaigning target to specific audiences. You can also test two Calls-to-actions to find the one that garners more users.

Here’s an example using call-to-action

Pic Courtesy: Facebook.com

Pic Courtesy: Facebook.com

The two different CTAs used in Facebook ads are ‘Install Now’ and ‘Use app’ for the World Surf League. The one that will bring more installs (not just visits) will be considered as the better of two. So the metrics declared here is not the number of clicks but the number of installs.

Design a strategy

A/B testing is vital for your marketing campaigns so you should perform it meticulously. You should develop appropriate strategies in order to minimize the errors.

For instance, if you are testing different versions of the same element to find the one with better impact, then you should test both of them simultaneously. This would avoid any variations or errors that might crop up due to change in timings of testing.

On the other hand, if you want to test the best time of the day for successful campaigning, then you’ll have to strategize to test the same element at different times in a day for several days. The results acquired at different times will then aid in reaching conclusions.

Consider whether you need a software

Some tests are there that might need the use of a specific software. So before performing the test, it is better that you have the requisite software installed.

For eg: You can easily test two different messages on social media without any software. However, you’ll require AI-powered software to perform multivariate testing. Similarly, different testing may require different software.

Testing Phase: Segment your audience/followers and show each variation to different groups

This is the most important phase of A/B testing. Once you have decided the end goals, elements and variations to be tested, you’ll have to present it in front of your audiences.

Divide your audience into two segments randomly. Now, show each variation of the same product to two different groups. The responses of the audience can then be compared to reach conclusions.

Analyze the results and choose the winning variation

After you have conducted the A/B testing, analyze the data and compare with metrics to find which version suits your desired results. You should also analyze the statistical significance of the test results.

Analyzing the statistical significance properly aids in preventing us from making wrong decisions, and choosing the best variation.  You can once again show the chosen variation to a wider range of audiences so that you can make further improvements.

Pic Courtesy: Mageewp.com

Conclusion

A/B testing of your social media campaign is essential as it saves your efforts, time and money. You can make proper decisions regarding the implementation of the marketing materials by going through the results of A/B testing.

About the author
Anil Parmar is the co-founder of Glorywebs that aims to help clients with social media marketing and advertising services, web development, mobile apps & more. Apps and websites we develop have a common # 1 goal: Keep it as simple as possible for end users. Find him on Twitter @abparmar99 & say Hi!

Google SEO News and Algorithm Updates For 2017

Google updates need to be followed in detail when it comes to search engine optimisation.

Google updates concept

Google updates need to be followed in detail when it comes to search engine optimisation. If you take a look at last year, webmasters are now happy that Google is taking steps to let them know about the impending updates that are going to take place. These updates affect the search engine ranks of their website. Like 2016, websites have to rank well in 2017 as well, and it is important for them to fulfil certain criteria when it comes to dominating Google and being found easily. Many SEO experts in Perth say that webmasters should be made aware of these new updates so that they can take care of the issues involved and improve their search engine ranks on Google without hassles at all!

Google Updates and Search engine optimisation tips for 2017

When it comes to making your web presence felt in the market, it is crucial for you to ensure that you have an SSL certificate published on your website. Google will penalise you in case you do not have an SSL certificate on your site. Google will insert a notification in the form of an exclamation mark on your URL in case you do not have an SSL certificate in place. This is a warning to the potential visitor that your website is not safe for him or her to visit. When the visitor clicks on this exclamation mark, he or she will be informed of the security issue. To avert losing visitors to your website for good, check the Chrome 56 January 2017 update for your browser and activate it.

Do SSL certificates cost you a lot?

Now, you might be wondering on whether SSL certificates will cost you a lot or not. SEO companies and experts say that you can get an SSL certificate for your website as low as $26 every year. However, the cost for an SSL certificate for an e-commerce site is $70. Google is concerned about the protection and safety of its visitors, and this is why it directs them to go for SSL certified websites. The search engine wants the customer data to be secure and encrypted. In this way, personal data of a person is kept safe, and there is no fear of fraud and abusive use. Therefore, if you are a website and wish to be found quickly on organic searches, you must ensure that your site is SSL certified. Google will ensure you are on the top of search engine ranks and visitors will keep coming back to you because they know you give them a safe website.

Pop Up Advertisements

The next item that Google is taking care of is pop up ads on web pages. This can be found on mobile devices and gadgets. Visitors often searching websites find these pop-up ads to be very annoying and they often complain saying that they are obstructive and annoy them a lot. Google has also seen that the size of these pop-up ads are so big that go on to cover the whole screen and at times it is hard for the visitor to delete them. Now, when Google is on the hunt for credible websites, and it comes across a mobile website with pop up ads, you as a webmaster will be in for a penalty. The pop-up ads will be a discredit for your site, and so Google will not favour them at all!

SEO experts of esteemed companies like Joel House in Australia say that when it comes to the intention and goal of Google, this search engine wants to ensure that its visitors get quality content. This is why the experts here guide their clients on a regular basis in their Perth Office. They say that customers online are always on the hunt for quality content and it is crucial for webmasters to use Adwords wisely. The pages should not have any pop up ads, and in case, you find that your web pages have them, it is time for you to rework on them. You should start advertisements through anchor text links and ensure that you hyperlink images to the pages that are relevant to the content. Google will reward you for doing the same.

The future of website design 2017

The next thing for you to look out for in 2017 is your website design. Many people are working frantically this year to improve the architecture of their websites. If you take a look at mobile sites today, you will find that most of the people today search the Internet on their smartphones. Google has conducted research, and some of its subsidiary studies have revealed that the load time on an average for a web page on a device that is mobile is roughly 19 seconds. The attention span of people surfing on their mobiles is about 3 seconds. Now, if the web page takes much time to load- in short, more than 3 seconds, you will find that users will abort the website and not return at all. In fact, around 53% of users will never come back to your web page again. Now, Google has established a separate index for mobile pages in their database. Here, the loading time for a web page is approximately 2 to 3 seconds. In case, it takes longer; Google will take note of the same and penalise you as a webmaster of the web page. Therefore, ensure you take the above into account if you wish to stay on top of the search engine ranks.

Therefore, if you wish to stay on the top of Google in 2017, ensure that you keep the above tips in mind. Check your website and web pages to make sure that you have everything in order. Hire good and skilled SEO experts for the purpose and keep track of all Google updates. Once you have the website in place, you can dominate high on search engines and generate the web presence and traffic you always have wanted!

Half of all countries lack cybersecurity strategy: UN report

Only half of countries have a policy on cybersecurity.

GENEVA — Only about half of all countries have a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one, and even the world’s most powerful countries show major gaps in their preparedness for cyberattacks, according to a latest UN report released on Wednesday. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) unveiled the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017… Continue reading “Half of all countries lack cybersecurity strategy: UN report”

How to market your website to drive maximum sales

The article focuses on the Marketing tactics that should be followed to get good ROI by increasing the sales.

By Helen Cartwright

5 Tweaks to Your Website That Will Increase Sales

Having a website is imperative in today’s competitive market. Thankfully, most companies have a website that they utilise. However, few are using them to their full potential. A website should not be window dressing for the company, rather, it should be used to drive sales and revenues. These sites are a major investment of time and effort, and they can be a lot to maintain. If you are not maximising the return on investment that your site can bring, then you are missing out on a huge potential in your revenues. In general, there are five common areas that websites need to improve. It’s not just about SEO anymore. To boost revenue, implementing some of the following tools can really help.

Add Video Content

People love videos, and it is one of the most engaging ways that a business can connect with their clientele. Why is the society so hung up on videos? Well, it is because the brain processes visual information a great deal faster than it can text. In fact, it can process it 60,000 faster. Forget about those long and drawn out product descriptions that are boring and nobody reads. Opt for dynamic video content that allows the customers to engage with the site.

Putting a video on the main page of the site has been proven to increase conversion rates by up to 86 percent, and more than 44 percent of customers will purchase more products based on those videos than text alone. It gives customers a reason to stay longer on your page, and they have a reason to come back for more. Confused on what kind of product videos you need? Why not add some customer testimonials or tours of your work facility? Companies like Leanplum push notification platform can help increase customer interaction too. Anyway possible that you can engage with the customers, the better your sales will be.

Diversify And Become Multicultural

Does your site offer content in English only? You could be missing out on global economic potential. Surprisingly, those who market to one dialect are missing two-thirds of the market’s potential. Websites need to be not only multilingual but also multicultural. These international audience members can help your company get a bigger slice of the pie. Adding diversity can improve your overall marketing potential by up to 200 percent.

If you are unsure of how to handle such a feat, you need a translation management system. It integrates into your site. Forget using manual translation, they are time consuming and ineffective. Also, you must be sensitive to the various cultural norms in each country. Remember when Pepsi switched to the bright blue and they alienated an entire market? People thought that the colour meant death so they didn’t buy the product. By expanding your horizons, you can open new doors for your company, literally. But, you must be careful in these uncharted waters.

Prevent Downtime

Remember the Cyber Monday rush last year? Well, Amazon had more than 36 million items sold during on this day. Can you imagine what downtime would have cost this company? The same analogy can be used for your site. If your page is slow and not loading properly, then you can lose customers. These customers will leave before they even get a chance to view what you truly have to offer. Did you know that more than 57 percent of visitors will leave your site if it takes more than three seconds for the page to load? It’s true, and more than 24 percent of customers say that the number one reason why they abandon their “full shopping cart” is because the transaction is taking too long.

By improving your site’s scalability, it will prevent the slow loading times. You want to keep your customers on your site and looking at your products. You should test your speed periodically on sites like Google, just to make sure things are running smoothly.

Incorporate Responsive Design

Consumers use smartphones, laptops, tablets, watches, and other devices to access your site. Because of the host of products connecting, you need to have a responsive design. This ensures that no matter what the customer is using to surf your products, it is optimised for their viewing. It is estimated that in 2017, more than 29 percent of all transactions will take place on a tablet or cell phone. You can take advantage of those sales potentials by having a responsive design. Having a responsive design will also ease management of the back-end site and increase your SEO. The best platforms to use to enable responsive design is WordPress or Drupal. It’s not just about screen sizes, but it is about the digital experience.

Add Customer Reviews

The company Angie’s List is very successful for many reasons. One of the first being they have become a source of information. People go there because they know that if they get a plumber or HVAC recommendation, they can count on this site to steer them in the right direction. The same thing can be said about your site. You need to post customer reviews about your products. People pay attention to what others are saying. In fact, most people will watch product reviews before buying a product. These video blurbs or text can really have the potential to increase sales.

Forrester Research conducted a study on recommendations on a website. They found that sites that utilised the person review made 18 percent more in sales than those that did not. It’s worth the extra effort to add a few reviews. They also found that 70 percent of consumers will trust recommendations from a friend or family member.

Making A Change

While this may seem like a daunting task, these are just things you can implement and experiment with. If you want to get ahead, you need to stay up with the competition. Bigger and better website is the key to unlocking your true sales potential. Remember, today’s customer expects you to advertise on a whole different level.

About the Author
Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital Marketing and Technology niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-write for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com.

7 Steps to Protect Your Online Business from Getting Hacked

By John Mason

In today’s digital world, one of the biggest threats companies face is getting hacked. When your business is based entirely online, this is a major concern. According to a 2015 Duke study, 80 percent of U.S. companies have been successfully hacked. Small businesses are at greater risk. Eighty-five percent of businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees report being hacked compared to 60 percent of larger companies.

These numbers aren’t much different in the rest of the world. According to the survey, 85 percent of firms in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America also report having been successfully hacked. In the UK, research shows that 90 percent of large organizations and 74 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have encountered a security breach. For small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, these breaches can cost an average of £75,000 to £310,800 in the worst case scenario. Taking the proper steps to secure your online business can greatly mitigate your risk. Start with these seven tips.

Enable Security Features

Luckily there are many ways to build extra security features into your business’s website. It’s in your best interest to take advantage of them. This can be as simple as using strong passwords and limiting login attempts for you and your employees. Other security measures include changing the default database prefix on your site to make it harder for hackers to attempt malicious logins or hiding the identity of your website’s CMS.

Keep Your Software Updated

One of the common way hackers get ahold of online businesses’ sensitive information is by hacking into the software they’re using. Older versions of website software are easier for hackers to attack because they know where the vulnerabilities lie. By keeping your systems up to date, those bugs will have been patched up and hackers will have a harder time getting in. This bit of advice applies to all software your business uses, including:

  • Computer operating systems
  • Content management systems like WordPress
  • Additional plugins or themes installed on your website
  • Payment software
  • Accounting software
  • And more

Secure Your Hardware

In addition to keeping your software updated, it’s important that your hardware doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Cyber-attacks aren’t only carried out online. Physical attacks are a threat, too. This can involve someone getting their hands on your mobile phone or computer and accessing your business files that way.

Always be aware of your devices and who is accessing them. Ensure your computer and phone are password protected to help deter thieves and malicious attackers, and be sure you have anti-malware and antivirus protection installed—and that it’s always up to date. Avoid saving any business-related passwords on your computer, and be sure you have the software installed to allow you to locate or wipe a lost or stolen device.

Use a Virtual Private Network

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is a common tactic for businesses to add an extra layer of security. This is especially true if you’re connecting to sensitive files long-distance. VPN services route your Internet data through their servers, which masks your IP address for privacy and encrypts your data. This can be especially useful for online businesses whose employees work in flexible environments, such as working over public Wi-Fi while traveling. This will protect sensitive data like passwords and company files when you’re connected remotely. VPN providers offer subscription models, sometimes for less than $10 per month. You can also try using free vpns, such as Tunnelbear which is pretty credible.

Educate Your Team

It’s not enough for one single team member to ensure their computer software is up to date, their hardware is secure, and they’re not accessing business data through vulnerable networks. Warding off attacks only works when everyone is following the same protocols. One mistake is all it takes to let hackers through the cracks. Talk to your team members and employees about cybersecurity and expectations to ensure your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Use SSL

SSL refers to “secure socket layer” and is a type of protocol that encrypts data between your website and your database. That way, hackers can’t get ahold of users’ personal information while it’s in transit. This is especially useful if your site collects personal data from customers, such as credit card information or addresses. You will have to purchase, activate, and install the SSL certificate on your website, but this is usually easy to do through your hosting provider.

Backup Your Files Frequently

As a last layer of defense, be sure to back up your business files and website frequently so that if something does happen, you can quickly restore the site. Consider putting together a plan of action in case your online business is hacked. That way, you can reduce costs, improve response time, and get back on your feet quickly if you encounter a cyber-attack.

Cyber-attacks are a real threat to online businesses both big and small, but implementing the proper security measures can help reduce the risk of a costly data breach.

Do Your Customers Feel Safe on Your Website?

One of the reasons you may not be getting the conversions you desire could be that your customers (or potential customers) aren’t sure that they can trust you.

In the digital age, things can feel deceptive. Even major companies are subject to data breeches, and the modern consumer has learned to become skeptical on the internet. You can’t blame them for wanting to protect themselves – certainly, you also value your safety online. What you can do is create an environment that doesn’t leave your consumers with too many questions.

Do They Know Who You Are?

Who you are is more than just a brand name and the products or services you provide. Believe it or not, your “about me” page can put a customer’s mind at ease. Having names, addresses, and phone numbers at their disposal will help them see that there are real people behind your website who are accountable for transactions and fulfillment. Even small businesses can post a post office box mailing address and a direct phone number for customers that want to know who is behind an operation.

Can They Get In Touch With You?

Customer service is very important. What happens when your customers have questions, comments, or even complaints? They need to know where they can direct this information. Some websites choose to utilize a live customer service chat. If you have enough customer service agents available, offer this service to your customers. If you don’t already have one, start an FAQ page, and create a clear form or support request function where customers can get answers to questions they have that may not already be answered.

Do They Understand Your Security Measures?

How can a customer determine that it’s safe to transmit their personal information through your website? They need to know what’s protecting their data, and feel confident that it won’t be intercepted on its way from their computer to yours. If you have any security seals, clearly display them on your website. It never hurts to create a page about your security and link it in the footer of your site. Make sure customers can always see that they’re on a secure “https” connection instead of a plain “http” connection.

Do They Know Where Their Information is Going?

When they send you any kind of information, including their email address, do your customers know how you intend to use it? Your privacy policy is crucial. If it isn’t displayed, you need to post it in an easily accessible location. Your customers want to know that they aren’t going to receive spam emails or unsolicited offers by signing up for your mailing list, and they also want to know who is processing their payment when they submit their information to you.

Are They Aware of Your Guarantees?

What happens if a customer is dissatisfied with a product or service they’ve received from you? Are they going to be stuck with something they don’t like or can’t use? That’s the last thing they want. If you offer a guarantee or warranty, or if you have an exchange or refund policy, you customers will be able to shop with peace of mind. Purchasing with you will feel less like a gamble to your customers if they know you’re willing to stand behind whatever you provide.

You care about your customers, and creating a safe environment is the best way to demonstrate that care. You may be surprised how many more conversions you make when you’re able to improve the level of trust users feel when they view your website.

About the author
Heidi Finigan is a technology enthusiast with an unquenchable love for all types of new gadgets and apps. Her passion for technology manifests in her job too as she writes for VPN Compass, often covering Internet and data security topics.

Tips to Improve Your Wi-Fi Connection

Article on how to improve your wi-fi signal and the common problems that cause weak signal

There is nothing more frustrating than having a slow Wi-Fi connection. It not only prevents you from enjoying fast loading pages but also makes it impossible for you to work if your job involves a lot of online tasks. If you have been experiencing bad reception, low speed, or other Wi-Fi connection problems, below are some tips to improve it.

Get an Advanced Router

If you have been experiencing very low speed and other problems with your Wi-Fi, the first thing you need to check is your router. If it has been a while since you last changed it, it might be the reason why you are experiencing these problems. In most cases, people do not see the need to replace an old router if it is still working as expected, but just because it works, doesn’t mean it’s working correctly. The router is one of the most important parts of your Wi-Fi connection. This is because it ensures all devices connected to it are supplied with an internet connection. For this reason, if you want a fast and reliable connection, you need to upgrade your old router for a more advanced version. Advanced routers are advantageous because they support the new networking standards that enable you to enjoy a fast Wi-Fi connection that has no interference. Advanced routers have increased range due to superior antennas and extra networking features to keep a strong signal.

Get Wi-Fi Range Extenders

Another way to improve your Wi-Fi connection is by using Wi-Fi range extenders. Wi-Fi range extenders are effective for fixing problems known as ‘dead zones’. Dead zones are those parts of your home or office where the Wi-Fi connection is either very poor or isn’t available at all. This problem is normally caused by the router’s inability to cover all spots in the house due to various types of obstructions that cause interference, like appliances and walls. Wi-Fi range extenders receive all the wireless signals from the router and create a repeating pattern of the signals using antennas and amplifiers. This extends your Wi-Fi coverage by almost twice as much.

Consider Using Long Ethernet Cables

Most people do not like using ethernet cables because they are less convenient compared to Wi-Fi. However, ethernet cables are great alternatives if you are looking to eliminate problems with wireless interference, lower latency, and slow connection; they are generally faster than Wi-Fi. With long ethernet cables, it is possible for you to enjoy up to 10GB/s of speed. This is very advantageous if you want to stream things online or do things that require a very fast internet connection such as playing online games. However, this will depend on which type of ethernet cable you are using; make sure you get the latest versions and ensure the cable is made by a reputable brand.

Change The Channel

The other thing that can cause you to have slow Wi-Fi connection is a signal congestion. This happens when your router is sharing a channel with neighbouring wireless networks. Routers have numerous channels and they are able to change when they are communicating with your devices. However, if your default channel is being shared by other networks, a signal congestion causes you to have interference. You can use the command prompt to view all the channels being used by other networks. In the command prompt, type ‘wlan show all’ and a list of the channels will show up. Select the channel that is least congested and you will immediately notice a great difference in your internet connection.

Change the position of your router

A lot of people make the mistake of placing routers in hidden places. This is a big mistake because it interferes with the signal. If your router is in a hidden place, you should move it to a more open place and see if there is a difference. Make sure there aren’t any objects or walls in front of the router that can cause interference. However, if your router is in an open area and you are still experiencing problems, it is advisable to try elevating it. Some people have found placing their routers in the attic to be very effective.

In conclusion, if you have been struggling with Wi-Fi speed, try out some of these tips and you should notice a significant difference in your Wi-Fi connection. Sometimes, the problem is very simple and can be solved by something as simple as moving your router. Stop struggling with slow Wi-Fi and find a solution that works for you.

If you find that your internet connection is still slow or problematic you may wish to consider changing supplier or package. The best way to do this is via a broadband postcode checker on sites like Broadband Compare UK (http://www.broadbandcompareuk.com)

About the author
Broadband Compare UK (http://www.broadbandcompareuk.com) Is a broadband comparison website helping you find the best broadband deals in your area.

How to Build an Effective YouTube Channel

Three fundamental elements to creating an effective YouTube channel

By Evelyn Timson

YouTube Logo in film frame With digital advertising set to pass the $77 billion mark next year and surpassing TV advertising spend for the first time, there has never been a better time to get your company a video presence online. With a new suite of tools to help small businesses set themselves up, YouTube is the platform to get started on. Whilst there are other video platforms out there like Vimeo, Vine and Instagram, with a billion users per month, it would be folly not to focus on YouTube.

But where do you start when it comes to creating and then honing your YouTube presence? A sensible approach would be setting up your YouTube channel. Whilst your videos will hopefully get discovered through search, it’s here you ultimately want people interested in your brand to end up. In this way think of your YouTube channel like a second website.

In this guide I want to examine three fundamental elements to creating an effective YouTube channel. Let’s begin with search engine optimisation.

Video Optimisation

Anyone can upload a video on YouTube, but for your videos (and therefore your channel) to get discovered by interested viewers you need to think carefully about how you optimise your videos for search.

Like all good SEO content, it all comes down to keyword research. The Google Keyword Planner is the perfect tool for this but so too is looking at your competition and trying to understand exactly what it is your intended viewership is interested in.

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, when it comes to video keyword research and concept creation. You really should have an understanding of keyword popularity before you start devoting budget towards video planning and production. In this respect keyword research for SEO should fall under your wider market research strategy and understanding who your audience are and what content they like to watch and search for.

Once you have established your keywords and produced your video, you need to make sure it is optimised properly. Below are four essential checkboxes you need to tick:

  • Title: A strong title is essential for search engine ranking and to accurately inform users what to expect. Ideally, the keyword(s) you choose will rank on Google’s first page.
  • Description: Put simply, the more information YouTube has, the more accurately it can rank your video. Descriptions should be at least 200 words in length, contain your keywords throughout and actually entice YouTubers to click on your video.
  • Tags: Try and add 10-20 individual keywords or phrases as tags. They may not naturally fit in your description as tags but you should predict keywords user may search for. But beware, if you try and ‘game’ the metadata YouTube will remove your video.
  • Metadata: YouTube defines metadata as information that adds “contextual information to your videos to help them be discovered by the right audience.” It’s important to tick this box to aid discovery and help YouTube rank your content.

Channel Structure and Content

However great your SEO, if your YouTube channel isn’t fresh, relevant and updated regularly then it will be unlikely to attract subscribers, languishing unloved and unseen in a dark corner of a YouTube server. This will not do.

Jamie Byrne, director of content strategy at YouTube explains the drive to ‘channelification’ on YouTube amongst brands and businesses:

“So if you’re on your PC or laptop, and you subscribe to a channel and then pick up your phone or tablet, that subscription carries through, and it makes it really easy for you to kind of stay connected to that content.”

You can start to get an idea of the power of the YouTube channel. Think of it like a Facebook page. People might occasionally see your posts but ultimately you want them to follow you and see all your posts as and when you post them.

But even with killer content, your YouTube channel will flop if you don’t pay some thought to the way it’s structured and connects with users. Let’s look at some key dos and don’ts.

Do:

  • Think carefully about your brand and your end user by using clickable thumbnails that make the video look unmissable.
  • Always add a customised background to help build and reinforce your brand identity.
  • Constantly update your YouTube channel with new and exciting content to keep users coming back for more.
  • Create content groups and playlists with keyword-rich, keyword-linked descriptions that showcase your best content.
  • Encourage subscription, liking and commentary in your videos but also on your channel. User experience signals are used by YouTube to identify popular content and boost it in the search rankings so the more interactions you’re your content you can encourage the better.

Don’t:

  • Showcase your most viewed video at the expense of other content you may wish to promote. Your aim is always to target your most relevant content to identified users (no matter how many views that advertising campaign you did 2 years ago got).
  • Mix corporate and consumer content and expect users to tell the difference. Separating this content out and making it obvious is a must.
  • That ‘how to’ video should not sit alongside your advertising. Keep your various YouTube content segmented and well-ordered and in relevant playlists. One way to do this is to segment your YouTube content into help, hub and hero videos.
  • Expect YouTube to drive users to your website. With a click through rate of around 1% it’s better to view your YouTube channel as a stand-alone destination to help you build brand awareness.

Monitoring and Tracking your YouTube Channel

There are a number of ways to measure the success of your YouTube marketing and getting your head around YouTube’s own analytics and reporting API is a good place to start. Remember we’re not measuring success by website traffic here. Brand awareness shouldn’t just come down to views either. What you want is engagement which will be reflected in the number of subscribers to your channel, as well as commentary and content sharing.

You can track your channel’s performance in a number of ways:

  • Number of views over time: the foundation of analysing a video’s success in terms of discoverability and click through rate. It’s one of the most important metrics you have and will be key to your SEO strategy
  • Average view duration: Clicks on your video are all well and good but if people are switching off after ten seconds then you are going to want to do something about it. Whereas views tends to reflect discoverability as well as clickability, this metric is a crucial measure of video quality
  • Subscribers: How many new subscribers are you getting? Has this jumped up after the release of a specific piece of content? If so can you replicate this and tap into this audience?
  • Traffic: knowing the key sources of traffic to your video is a great way to develop your video promotion strategy in future
  • Audience demographics: are you reaching your target audience?
  • Audience engagement: analysing when users stop watching your content is a vital insight into strengthening your content creation. Ultimately YouTube is a social platform and encouraging interactions with your brand will not only help your SEO, it will also help build your subscriber base.

Hopefully I’ve demonstrated the importance of getting your YouTube channel up to scratch. With 46,000 years of video content watched daily by YouTube users globally around the world, the question isn’t why should you have a YouTube channel? It’s why wouldn’t you?

About the Author
Evelyn Timson is Managing Director at UK based video content agency Aspect Film and Video and has worked with well known national and international brands like Coca Cola, Samsung, Microsoft, the British Library and the National Trust. You can connect with Aspect via Facebook or Twitter. To see a selection of their award winning work check out their YouTube Channel.

How You Can Use Videos to Boost Startup Growth

Video can be used to convince investors and customers which is good thing for startup. If you have started a business you can make use power of videos

Startups face numerous challenges. They have to convince new customers to consider their products, poach customers from their competition and keep up with myriad other challenges which include but are not limited to funding. If you recently started a business or plan on starting one soon, you may need to consider the power of using videos.

What do you prefer; reading pages of explainer text or watching an entertaining video that explains the same concept? If you are like most people, you prefer the latter. In the same way, if your proposals are being rejected by investors day in, day out, there is a good chance that they don’t really understand what you have to offer. A video might be just what you need to not only convince investors to invest in you but also to recruit new customers. This post looks at some of the different ways you can use videos to accelerate the growth of your startup.

Simplify your story with explainer videos

Studies show that approximately 64% of consumers are likely to purchase a product after watching an explainer video about the product. The explainer video can be used to quickly explain problems consumers face and then show how it will solve those problems. This is because the right video will simplify the introduction of your products and services. The video clearly shows how the product or service will benefit the consumer. This is unlike text which is limited in several ways.

Explainer videos serve a dual purpose. In addition to simplifying your story and saving the audience time which would otherwise have been spent reading pages of text, the short video will boost your search engine ranking. Google search emphasises on videos. Using videos will help with organic SEO which is essential in reaching out to more consumers.

An effective explainer video will communicate the core concept of your products and services without making it more of a sales pitch.

Consider live streaming

It is predicted that come 2017, 74% of Internet traffic will result from video. This can be attributed to the immense popularity that videos have amassed over the last five years. This growth is not expected to stop any time soon. The best you can do is to embrace it.

Thanks to apps like Meerkat and Periscope, you can easily connect with your viewers faster. You can use live streaming to boost excitement long before your promotion goes live. You can do this by giving behind-the-scenes tours during product development, host Q&As with a range of audiences such as employees and investors, offer a sneak peek at the product/ service or give a live stream of the conference or events you are currently attending.

To make your broadcast known, you can contact a top San Francisco SEO company to help with online marketing. The company will also help you choose where to host your videos, how to phrase your headlines and so much more.

Stand out from the competitors

Humans are visual learners. Studies have shown that 65% of your audience will prefer videos over text. This can be linked to the fact that visual information is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. This is data you cannot afford to ignore.

With a carefully scripted and produced video, you can showcase more information in less time and also end up capturing more customers. Videos are also the best tools to use if you wish to impress investors and build confidence in them and in consumers. Unlike text, a video takes less time to watch, it is consistent and clear, and it shows you are serious about attaining your goals.

Explain your products within seconds

Consumers are more likely to purchase a product that comes with an explainer video. This is because the video gives them a clear introduction and guides them through how that particular product will help them. A video will make your product more compelling and much easier for your consumers to understand.

After creating an app, you can create a 30-second long preview that you post on App Store or Google Play. You can also post the video as a demo on your landing pages. 70% of marketing experts have reported that video converts better than all other mediums.

Raise funds easily with crowd-funding videos

Videos grab the attention of audiences better and send the message forward more clearly. When raising funds, using a crowd-funding video will make it easy for your audience to understand your pitch and compel them to take the appropriate action.

Videos boost conversions better because they introduce, explain and even advertise your products and services better and within 2 to 3 minutes. It also sends the message that you have invested more time and money in your business and adds the much needed professional touch. Having a video on your landing pages will increase conversion by up to 80%.

About the author
Derek Iwasiuk run’s national digital search engine optimisation firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Also, spends a lot of his free time educating the minds of thousands of young SEOs and top San Francisco SEO agencies. You can also follow him on twitter @Diwasiuk

UK growth statistics missing out on digital boom

Britain’s economic growth rate would be higher if its official statistics properly reflected the explosive growth in online activity

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economic growth rate would be higher if its official statistics properly reflected the explosive growth in online activity, former Bank of England Deputy Governor Charlie Bean, said as he wrapped up a review into British economic data.

Fully capturing the impact of firms such as music provider Spotify and retailer Amazon in gross domestic product figures could add between one-third and two-thirds of a percent to the growth rate of the British economy, Bean said.

“I’m not saying the ONS (Office for National Statistics) numbers are wrong. It’s to do with the concept of GDP not capturing a lot of these Internet-based activities,” he said as a final version of his report was published on Friday.

Bean was asked by finance minister George Osborne last year to look into how Britain’s economic statistics could be improved after they came in for criticism, including from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

“There is little doubt that users believe ONS performance has deteriorated in recent years,” Bean said.

Carney said in 2013 that ONS measures of business investment were not reliable and work needed to be done on measuring debt levels across the economy, both of them important issues for the BoE as it considers its policy decisions.

The review recommended that the ONS create a new research centre to find better ways to measure digital activity.

It also said the ONS needed a culture shift to become more proactive about addressing short-comings and said Britain was lagging other countries such as Canada in its economics data.

Jonathan Athow, a director general at the ONS, said Britain was following international rules to determine GDP.

“As the review states, measuring the changing digital economy is difficult. The ONS is investing significant resource in ensuring that we can capture all economic activity in the UK economy,” Athow said.

Bean also said the ONS should set up a second centre to look at ways that it could use a vast range of public data which would help it produce more reliable and more up-to-date measures of the economy but which its statisticians struggle to access due to a cumbersome legal framework.

Britain has lagged other rich economies in the use of such data and has relied heavily instead on surveys to measure its economy.

(Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by David Milliken and Jon Boyle)

How to Choose the Right Marketing Partners

Sharing marketing campaigns across companies decreases costs, increases advertising quality and drives market penetration.

Sharing marketing campaigns across companies decreases costs, increases advertising quality and drives market penetration. But choosing the right partner can be difficult. A great marketing partnership should build both companies’ brand reputations. Choosing poorly could result in a downturn in the marketing strategy. When creating your marketing partnership, learn lessons from these companies to help you choose wisely.

Make Competition Into an Ally

The airline industry is a fascinating case study in collaborative competition. Airlines share physical space, outsourced services and operating networks that are linked to overall market distribution. The main reason airlines can do this is because of the high costs associated with moving into a new market. Physical space alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly. Instead, competing airlines use alliance revenue management and codesharing to offer flights throughout the world with other providers. This gives the consumer the best experience, while enabling the airline to retain revenue. When selecting a marketing partner, look for a company that can increase your market share by leveraging its market.

Expand Social Responsibility

Starbucks, Levi’s and Hershey’s have each used marketing partners to enhance their brand reputations around corporate social responsibility. Creating a socially responsible company goes beyond donating large sums of money, though that does not hurt. Hershey’s partners with big-name philanthropic groups, like the Children’s Miracle Network, in such a way that it is able to wrap its chocolatey image into a worldwide response to childhood hunger and rural learning. This choice for a marketing partner opens a company up to relatively inexpensive media coverage, but it requires a company-wide commitment to the partnership.

Use Existing News

Some technologies come with built-in marketing. This is the case with virtual reality, as it takes center stage at comic book conventions, consumer electronic shows and healthcare expos. This is one of the reasons that smartphone technologist HTC has partnered with virtual reality pioneer Valve to deliver mobile VR gaming and applications. HTC’s high-resolution smartphones are ideal for Valve’s VR streaming technology. This partnership gives HTC all of the leverage associated with cutting-edge tech news in an organic, natural manner.

Keep It Legal

Because strategic partnerships can change the way people think about a product, industry or philosophy, they have the characteristic of pushing the ethical and political limits. For example, partnerships between filmmakers, researchers and economists have gone a long way in changing cannabis legislation nationwide. If chosen poorly, a partner can lead a company down a dark path. This is what happened in the healthcare world when medical providers came together to illicitly market anti-obesity drugs that promised miracle cures to the most vulnerable. Now they are being called out as snake oil salespeople, preying on the needy. Be careful of marketing partners that are pushing the envelope too hard. If you are not one-hundred percent in agreement, then it is not the right partnership for your company.

Know the Role of Trust

In the book “The Routledge Companion to Financial Services Marketing,” trust is described as a willingness to accept the vulnerabilities of the other party based on the belief that the partner has the ability to perform to everyone’s mutual benefit. The most important aspect in choosing the right partner is that your company can trust in both the benefits and vulnerabilities of the partner. Find partners that you can trust with the good and the bad.

What stage is your online business at?

The kind of activities you need to do online depend upon the stage at which your business is in its development.

Change written in the cloudsBusinesses go through several natural stages and the kind of online activity you need to engage in rather depends upon what stage you are at. Every business has to change and adapt, but the kind of changes you need to make online are linked to the stage of your business.

The first stage of business is clearly the start-up stage. What you need to do at that point is to create awareness, interest, and get recognised. You are trying to build reputation and to gain customers.

Online, this means promoting your website, establishing an email list, and using social media to build up a profile, for example.

The next stage of your business is growth and consolidation, so online that means working out where most of your income is coming from and capitalising on it. This is the stage where you need to pay attention to analytics and focus your online activities. Gone are the days where you need to worry about building up email lists, now is the time to capitalise on your existing lists of people who are really interested in what you have to sell.

The final stage of a business is getting it ready for sale, or closing it down when the owners retire. That requires a further consideration of the kind of online activities you undertake. Not only do you want to increase value by carrying on with the growth of your business, but this is the time when you want to use social media activity to find potential partners who may then take on the business after your retirement. In the final years of your business you need to create deep social connections with potential buyers.

The notion that business activities are linked to the stage of the company was emphasised in this article – Motivation and the Three Stages of Franchisees. This pointed out that people behave differently at the various stages of their business life. Given that is the case, then the kind of online activity needs to match those stages too.

Your web success depends upon your online footprint

People no longer just check out your web page, they look across the entire Internet. That means you need extensive and consistent information about your business online.

A long time ago on the Internet – as far back as the year 2010 – people used to look up your business on the web and would be satisfied with the information they found. Typically, a business website would be an online brochure and all the relevant material for a prospective customer was there to see.

Nowadays, that has all changed. People no longer rely on what your website says. Instead they want to see what other people say about your company and how that stacks up against what you claim.

As a result they check out your social media profiles, they look at what people are saying about you on Twitter and they do a quick sweep of the Internet to see what other information they can find out. You no longer need a website; you need an online footprint that covers every possible place that prospects will look at.

Online Marketing Signpost

Your website is just the starting point. People will look up your profile on LinkedIn, for instance. So, is your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and does it contain the same kind of information as your website? Are the two consistent? Do you also have personal profiles for all your staff and are they linked to the company’s profile? If not, people will suspect you are not taking this Internet malarkey seriously enough.

What about Twitter? Potential clients will look there too. If you are not Tweeting regularly, they could assume you are not serious about your business image, plus they could believe that you are no longer in business if you are not present in the “live” world of Twitter.

People will also look at Facebook. Do you have a company page? Is there a group discussing your products and services? If you lack Facebook activity people can – rightly or wrongly – assume that your business is not terribly active.

However, it is not just these leading social networks that people will explore. They will look at bloggers in your sector to see if they are writing about you. They will check out your Google profile. They will see if you have a Google local business listing.

And they can get to all of this with a simple search on their favourite search engine.

What this means is that you can no longer concentrate on just having a good website. You need a good web presence where you are found everywhere and you are consistent. Plus you need to be up-to-date in all the places you exist online. Otherwise people make incorrect assumptions about your business.

All of this requires planning and scheduling. It is no good realising after six months that you haven’t sent a Tweet in ages, or going back to your LinkedIn profile to see that you did not update the company address.

A consistent and active web presence requires Internet activity to take a central focus within your business. It might seem that this is not necessary because you do most of your business by word-of-mouth. But what you never know is the amount of business you lose because the people who have been recommended to use you have not followed that up as they took one look at your web presence and thought “no thanks”.

Many companies are losing out because they concentrate on having a super website, without considering the need for a super web presence through a massive online footprint.

And it is not only businesses that need to consider this. Employees too could be losing out on jobs if their online footprint is not good enough. Potential employers check out the online presence of possible employees too. If you are looking for a new job or want to make sure a good career you need to check out “How to create an online footprint that will attract employers“.

How to choose the right domain name

Choosing the right domain name requires you first to think about how you will be using the name and how it will be perceived.

Choosing a domain name

There is a myth about domain names which suggests that “all the good ones are gone”. That just is not true. People who tell you this are really saying they don’t have any creative ideas as to domain names. You might want a domain name such as “SalesGenius.com” only to find someone else has bought it. So you could use “SalesGenius.biz” – well you couldn’t because I have bought that one….! But if all the “Sales Genius” options had gone, I could get “SalesGenius.expert” or “SalesGenius.academy” or one of more than 170 possible combinations of “Sales Genius” which are still available to anyone who wants to buy them. Or I could just buy “SalesGeniusBook.com” which is still available (but might not be by the time you read this…!).

There are virtually endless possibilities for domain names if you only think about them for a while and consider things from a creative perspective. Yes, the domain name you really want might have gone, but an extra word here or there is all you need to add and you are very likely to be able to get what you want.

One way out of the situation of domain names having gone is supposedly to use a hyphen. But I’d avoid that. For a start, there is the possibility of confusion with the alternative website without the hyphen. Plus you have the awkward necessity of telling people to use a hyphen when they type in your domain name. Hyphens are ignored by Google and other search engines, so there is also the danger that you could lose out in ranking terms with the alternative site that does not have a hyphen.

Choosing the right domain name requires you first to think about how you will be using the name. If it is only ever going to appear online, as a link, then the length of the name or the wording you use is largely unimportant.

However, if you are going to use the domain name in “word of mouth” situations, such as when you are talking with potential visitors or mentioning your domain name in a business presentation, then you need a short and memorable name. Also, short names help when it comes to public relations – newspapers will not print long domain names as they break up over narrow columns. Plus if you have a short or memorable domain name it is easier to use on the radio, for instance.

If you are not immediately creative, use the tools at Name.Kitchen.

Name.kitchen

One thing you also need to consider is the psychological impact of your domain name and the psychology behind great business names. Also, think about what conjoined words could be misread as. The company “Pen Island” that sells a variety of pens probably has more than its fair share of interest with its domain name “www.penisland.net“. However, it does pass the test for memorability.

You want your domain name to be memorable, easy to say, straightforward to type and that doesn’t sound like something it is not. You also do not want things that can confuse, such as words that can be misheard or easily spelled incorrectly. Nor do you want domain names using words that are different in American and British English.

But why do you even need to consider new domain names anyway? If you already have a website, what value is a new domain name? Domain names can be used for specific campaigns to redirect people to particular pages on your own website, for instance. Or they can be used for new products and services.  Just because you already have a website, does not mean you do not need new domain names.

Businesses feel submerged by overwhelming amounts of data

Overwhelming amounts of data are submerging businesses in needless analysis

Big data mind map, business conceptThere is more data available now than ever before. Indeed, the amount of online data doubles every two years. That means in 2017 the amount of data in the world will be twice what it is today. It took thousands of years for the amount of information to double to the volume we had just five years ago. We don’t live in exponential times – it is worse than that. The volume of data is in “vertical take off”, just shooting up in what appears to be a never-ending rise.

The problem for business is that the ever-increasing amount of data just means more work. And more work. And yet more work. This is hitting productivity; there appears to be a link between digital data usage and productivity. Countries with the most ardent usage of technology are becoming less productive than countries that are not so digitally entrenched.  It is possible that the vast amount of data collection and checking that is being done in high-tech nations is a potential time-waster. Far from making us more capable, vast amounts of data are potentially paralysing business.

Of course, that is just one theory. There is no denying, however, that the more data a business can collect and process, the more it can improve. Amazon, for instance, is well-known for being completely data-centric and using vast amounts of “Big Data” to help understand its customers even better.

The real issue is how we deal with the vast volume of valuable information. If the material is not easily accessible or understandable, it takes us longer to process it mentally and think about it.

One of the key reasons many businesses feel submerged by data is because they do not have adequate systems for presenting that data so that it is easily consumed by human beings.

As the BigStep blog on big data points out the problem is confounded by reducing attention spans, making us all more demanding that data is “instant”. This suggests that there is a need for the increased intelligent use of graphical presentation of data so that it is quickly understandable. It also means greater categorisation – our brains attempt subconsciously to categorise everything, so the more categories you have for data, the more easily understandable it becomes.

There are no simple answers to how we can cope with ever increasing amounts of data. But if your business is not to be paralysed by the dramatic surge you need to think about how your staff will interact with the ever-increasing amount of data. If you don’t, your productivity will inevitably suffer as people struggle to deal with the data they are expected to process.

Online Businesses: Getting the Right Insurance

No matter which sector your online business operates in, you should consider taking out insurance to protect against the unexpected.

By Hannah Corbett

It’s just important for an online business to have insurance as it is for a more traditional, offline business. Though an online business may be exposed to entirely different risks than an offline business, it is still equally as important to protect against them.

Without the proper protection in place, an unexpected peril could have the power to bring your business to its knees, and cause financial devastation. In order to make sure your online business is properly protected, you should consider taking out the following forms of cover:

Buildings and contents – You may not have a physical shop or bricks-and-mortar building that people can enter to interact with your business – but chances are it still operates from somewhere, such as an office building. Even if you do not own your business premises, warehouse, or any other buildings that you use to run your business, you may still have to insure them against damage.

When it comes to contents, your stock, furniture and business equipment are often valuable, and not always replaceable. Usually, it’s worth insuring your business buildings and contents in case the worst should happen. Try to consider, realistically, the cost of repairing major fire damage to your business building, or replacing your entire stock – could you afford it?

Public liability – If your business is deemed responsible for causing harm to a member of the public, then you could be taken to court, in which case you might have to pay for legal defence, plus any resulting compensation. A public liability insurance policy could help you with this financial burden, if you are caught in an awkward situation.

It’s worth noting that public liability does not usually cover injury or damage caused by one of your products – for that you would need a public liability insurance policy.

Employers’ liability – If your business relies on staff – full time, part time, or even unpaid – then there’s a good chance that you’ll be legally required to have employers’ liability insurance in place. This policy can provide financial protection for you in the situation that a member of your staff becomes ill or injured as a result of their working duties, and makes a claim against you as a result.

Cyber liability insurance – This type of cover is particularly pertinent to a business operating wholly or largely online, as it offers protection from risks encountered through working with and on the web. For example, some of the things that may be included in cyber liability insurance could be data protection, computer virus liability, network security liability, and even the repair of online reputation damage. Of course, the exact terms and extent of cover you will need to discuss with your insurance provider, as you may find variations between different insurers.

No matter which sector your online business operates in, you should consider taking out insurance to protect against the unexpected. No two businesses will necessarily have the same insurance, though, no matter how similar they appear to be. As a business owner, it’s up to you to know your business and its weaknesses, be able to identify the areas in which it may be most vulnerable, and then take out the best insurance to protect that. Carrying out a proper risk assessment is an absolute must when considering business insurance, and should be done carefully and thoroughly. The most important thing to remember is to take your time, consider all the options before buying, and aim to strike a balance between price and protection.

About the Author
Hannah Corbett is a copywriter who specialises in the small and start up business worlds. Much of her time is dedicated to keeping up to date with the latest in SME news, as well as producing useful content and tool to help small businesses develop and grow. You can follow Hannah on Twitter, or connect on Google Plus, or, to find out more about business insurance, visit www.makeitcheaper.com.

How to do Almost Anything: The Rise of the ‘DIY’ Website

We did a little research into the rise of the ‘how-to’ website to find out how they have become such an indispensable part of browsing

Pooling knowledge to benefit us all, the Internet has revolutionised the way we consume and share information. Combine that with the advent of social media, and we’ve reached a point where the answer to almost any question imaginable is only a couple of clicks away.

As a business or a company, providing expertise and sought after information is a fantastic way to both bring in traffic, and paint a good image of your company. It goes back to the oldest examples of content marketing.

The best at this are the ‘Do-it-yourself’ and ‘How-to’ websites, which have become a free, go-to source on subjects ranging from household cleaning dilemmas to building your own robot, empowering consumers in the process. We did a little research into the rise of the ‘how-to’ website to find out how they have become such an indispensable part of our browsing habits – as well as picking a couple of our favourites.

Wiki or CMS?

DIY websites can be divided into two categories: Wiki (think Wikipedia) and CMS (content management systems). The aptly named Wikihow is an ‘open’ source of information, created, written and edited by a community of users with the idea that content will be refined to an ever higher standard over time. Conversely, expert knowledge bases like Cleanipedia provide a high-quality, comprehensive resource, with detailed content written by industry professionals.

Wiki platforms are therefore typically associated with more eclectic how-to guides (‘How to Stop a Wedding’ went viral earlier on this year), while a closed CMS is the natural choice for more specialised content.

The Decline of Traditional Media

The rise of the online ‘How-to’ platform is intrinsically tied to the gradual decline of print media. Traditional magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Real Simple have had to establish an online presence to try and take advantage of the unparalleled convenience of the internet.

Still, they’ve got some work to do to catch up with some of the How-to websites out there. Here are a couple that are leading the way:

  • Cleanipedia

Instead of frantically searching through magazines looking for a red wine removing solution, you can head to Cleanipedia for uncluttered, indispensable guides on cleaning everything in the home (including seemingly un-cleanable items). Tips include recommendations for the best cleaning products out there, as well as homespun methods using common household ingredients to make housework easy.

  • eHow

With almost as many bizarre guides as Wikihow, this DIY behemoth has grown exponentially from 17,000 articles in 2006 to several million in just a few years. Content includes step-by-step guides, instructional videos and expert advice on a variety of topics such as money saving tips, health, fashion, beauty and cooking. The sheer breadth of the information on offer coupled with the fact that articles are written by aficionados in each field has made eHow an invaluable resource.

Share and Share alike

Part of the continual growth of ‘how-to’ websites can surely be attributed to the share-ability of the content on offer. Websites have developed increasingly innovative ways to integrate high-quality content with social media, allowing ease of access in a single feed. For example, Howto.tv recently unveiled its proprietary ‘LinkTo’ player, integrating high quality instructional videos with Facebook Timeline – showing that there’s still room for innovation in the world of DIY sites.

The future of ecommerce

What does the future hold for online retailers? Where can they go from here and what are the shopping public expecting?

By Stuart Gonsal

It’s bizarre to think of a world without the ol’ click and shop now. We effectively go wandering down the High St, looking in all the shop windows, from the comfort of our couches or while we’re on our morning commute.

Ecommerce has progressed incredibly over the past decade, and methods we never dreamt of – live chatting to someone on the other side of the world about the product details of an imminent purchase – are commonplace and expected now.

But the goalposts keep shifting and things that we may have seen as the great hope – say, Facebook stores for prestige brands – have not panned out exactly as expected.

So what does the future hold for online retailers? Where can they go from here and what are the shopping public expecting?

Across a range of interviews and articles, two main elements keep coming up: personalisation and customisation.

Personalisation

In this current online age, it can be easy to feel like a faceless walking password. That’s why personalisation is a way of captivating the customer, making them feel like they are interacting with someone who knows them and their tastes. More than just a ‘You might also like…’ algorithm, personalisation goes across all kinds of consumer communications and interactions.

A perfect example of personalisation is the use of live chat. In this article by The Chat Shop, they discuss the use of live chat not only as an excellent feedback tool (people are more disarmed and open on a live chat as opposed to a back-and-forth email conversation) but as a way of offering customers a truly personalised shopping experience, particularly in the fashion realm, where people can actually video-chat with stylists or use online shopping concierges, then make their purchases. The customer is actually having a one-on-one retail experience.

Customisation

With online shopping comes the sense that there is nothing unique to be found – we are all browsing the same global village market. Customisation, however, offers customers the chance to stand out a little; to have that item that is specifically, and only, theirs. Nike lets customers design their own sneakers, you can customise your watch bands, use 3D fabric prints – you can be your own one-off.

But don’t forget – the customer is key

 This study by Walker includes a really interesting graph predicting what online shoppers will want in 2020. And what ranks highest? The customer experience. More than price or product, it’s how they are treated as customers that will ultimately lead them to transact.

Measuring the Results of Secret Shopper Data

Happy customers will purchase only your products and services and share their customer satisfaction experiences with friends and family.

More than ever, the business spotlight is shining on the importance of customer satisfaction. Why? Because in an increasingly competitive corporate landscape, businesses can only thrive by providing “blow your mind” shopping experiences for their clientèle.

Outstanding customer satisfaction means that your fans are so happy with your organisation that they’re more likely to be loyal to your business than to any other enterprise in your industry. Happy customers will purchase only your products and services and share their customer satisfaction experiences with friends and family.

Savvy business owners know that measuring customer satisfaction programs will give them the know-how to fix any operational glitch, retain current shoppers and attract new fans. To them, it’s worth the time and financial investment to learn where their businesses stand. Because at the end the day, happy customers mean more money for you and your employees!

People shopping

Source: Alan Cleaver

Start Measuring Customer Satisfaction with Secret Shoppers

There are several ways to gauge customer happiness. One of the best methods is to hire secret shoppers. These highly qualified, pre-screened personnel act as normal customers stopping in to make a purchase or use a service.

According to their assignments, secret shoppers will arrive at your location and start “shopping”. Once their visit is over, they complete a checklist which has been customized by a third-party to match up with your organisation. Secret shoppers will note well-run as well as problematic aspects of the in-store experience.

Here are some of the areas on which they’ll comment:

  • Convenience of the business location
  • Store hours
  • Décor, merchandise displays and atmosphere
  • Selection, prices and variety of products
  • Employee responsiveness to questions and concerns
  • Likelihood of returning for additional products or services
  • Likelihood of sharing the shopping experience with others

Secret shopper programs are a fast, accurate and valuable resource. They are incredibly helpful for small businesses that may not have the personnel to conduct long-term studies.

Quantifiable Results

Once the results are in, you’ll find that secret shopper data will objectively reveal whether or not your business is a well-oiled machine. The third party organisation that provided the survey will interpret the findings in a special report. The following benchmarks will be noted:

  • Appropriateness of current services
  • Employee training
  • Level of customer service before and after training
  • Employees’ honesty when it comes to handling cash and credit card transactions
  • Effectiveness of promotional campaigns

Survey results could lead to the establishment of new and exciting employee recognition and training programs. These additions will not only help your staff exceed company standards, but they will have more incentives to take care of your valuable customers.

Survey results could also introduce a customer loyalty plans. Frequent visits or certain monetary amounts spent each month or year could yield extra special “thank you” gifts and discounts. And who doesn’t love these?

Ready to Get Started

If you’re ready to put your business to the test and shake things up for the betterment of your customers, then we recommend hiring a top-notch third-party organisation. They will help you quickly and affordably achieve your professional goals.

Once you have a plan in place, we also recommend sharing this information with your employees. Chances are they’ll be excited to rise to the occasion and provide a new level of customer service. And what could be more incentivising than knowing secret shoppers could be coming in from time to time?

Measuring Customer Satisfaction: The Ongoing Process

Secret shopper data can lead to an ongoing longitudinal database of averages. From the percentages, you’ll be able to see organisational trends from season to season and year to year. Be sure to check your results on a regular basis. Then take the time to discuss the results with your employees. Talk through the problems in an effort to reach solid solutions.

Some businesses opt to anonymously share their secret shopper data with others in their industry. They find the regional or national averages to be beneficial to all when it comes to marketing, providing complete service menus and appealing to local demographics.

The only way you can truly discover the efficiency of your customer services and product is if you partner with an organisation who can measure customer satisfaction. Secret shopper data will help you make the best of your business – and ultimately, your bottom line.

How resilient is your company website to attacks?

Even if you don’t consider your company’s website a particular target for hackers, it’s important to ensure your website is as resilient and protected as possibl

Even if you don’t consider your company’s website a particular target for hackers, it’s important to ensure your website is as resilient and protected as possible. Research and surveys by communications company Verizon has shown there were a record number of cyber attacks in 2013, with 71% hitting businesses with less than 100 employees.

The majority of website security breaches are not necessarily intended to steal your data, but can also be attempts to use your server as an email relay for spa, or to create a temporary web server to serve illegal files. Hackers normally create automated scripts to scour the web in an attempt to exploit security weaknesses in websites and software, so it’s essential to make sure your website is as secure as possible from these types of attacks.

Test your website’s resilience

Firstly, it’s important to understand just how secure your website is from hackers and cyber attacks – which is where software testing comes in. Penetration testing is key to understanding any weaknesses in your website’s systems, and is a process where an attack is performed on your website with the purpose of exposing vulnerabilities. Software testing, audit and compliance are also essential in ensuring that your data is protected to the legal requirement, preventing any action against you in the event of a data breach. It’s best to seek out expert assistance when attempting any of these actions. Contact a company like NCC who offer software testing audit and compliance services.

Keep software up to date

If the results of your software testing are alarming, how can you make your website more resilient to attack? Thankfully there are plenty of simple measures you can put in place to ensure your business website is highly protected. Firstly, make sure that all of the software that operates your website is up to date. From your server operating system to your CMS and forum software, the newest versions will have the required security patches to give you the protection you need. If you use third parties, make sure you’re signed up to their mailing list so you’re kept abreast of any security issues of developments.

Be careful with your error messages

Be aware that your website systems can give away too much information in their error messaging. If you have a login form, make sure you use generic messages such as “Incorrect username or password” when communicating failure on attempted logins. Make sure the messaging doesn’t specify when a user got only half of the login right. In such a situation the attacker will then be able to concentrate his attention on finding the other field. Take a look at this blog post for more information on improper error handling.

These are two simple but important steps in ensuring your website is less vulnerable to cyber attacks and hackers. To make sure your website is well protected, it’s best to call in some expert help who can alert you to any problems and help you fix any weaknesses as soon as possible.