Sunday, 28 November 2010

Twitter Tips: What your Twitter Pic says About You

There are some quite extraordinary profile pics on Twitter, from shop fronts to logos to fancy dress and more. But do you ever stop to think what the people talking to you would like to see - and what's going to make them listen to what you have to say.

If Twitter is about the conversation, surely you want to know who you're talking to? I for one block immediately anyone who doesn't have a picture I can relate to, and I far prefer to chat to people whose faces I can see.

If you're a household name, a major brand or store (such as ASOS) a national newspaper or you only tweet or retweet news on a specific subject (and have thousands of followers, such as @tweetsmarter) then you can get away with a logo or symbol that viewers will instantly recognise. If you're trying to establish yourself as an individual 'voice' on Twitter then for goodness sake let us see what you look like, we're far more likely to want to respond that way.................


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Email Marketing Tips – Five Ways to make it Work for You

Patricia's PicThis is assuming, of course, that you’re already running an email marketing campaign……I was talking to a business recently with whom I’m doing some consultancy work and it dawned on me that they weren’t. Weren’t what? Well communicating with their customers, the visitors who happened on their site through a link on another website, the world out there who might be interested in hearing their news, their successes, their awards, their opinions and anything that might make those customers/visitors want to come back again and order from them.

If social media is all about building conversations, email marketing is the cornerstone – the way to keep your prospects/customers/friends close, to keep in contact and to tell them what you’re about. To not do it, in my view, is a complete waste of a huge opportunity.

Here are the basic rules:

Put your sign-up box ‘above the fold’ make it attractive and interesting. Just having the word ‘Newsletter’ is not enough. Make it a proper sign-up box – people love to fill in the blanks and name and email address will do just fine, thanks.

Make it possible for everyone who visits your website to sign up. You want as many as possible whether they are your existing customers or new visitors. They may go on and sign up for your ‘Free Trial’ or they may not. It doesn’t matter. If they’re so interested in you that they’ve landed on your home page you want to know who they are. And then be able to talk to them. And if they’re not already, convert them to customers.

Create an email template that is attractive and easy to use. The less complicated the better. Make sure that your logo is clear, your mission statement is clear and anything that you always want to show is built into your template – such as the message ‘Now sign up for our Free Trial’ at the foot of every email you send out. That way it won’t take you long to create your message and you can concentrate on that, rather than having to worry that the essential elements are included all the time.

I use a system called eshot which is incredibly quick and easy to set up. This is run by my developers at www.e2esolutions.co.uk and we’re still speaking (well most of the time) after working together for eight years, which must say something about them, me, or both of us. I suspect it’s the latter. If you’d like an introduction let me know.

Whatever you do do not go for a system where you are charged by address, but one with a fixed fee within certain parameters. This way you are free to email whenever you want to and even if your list grows like topsy you will not pay as much.

Make your Subject Line as Interesting as Possible. Your subject line is what will determine whether your email is read or not. It needs to arresting and interesting. Ideally you will test different subject lines for the same content but if this isn’t possible don’t try and be too clever, but do go for something attention grabbing.

Email your list regularly, although don’t go for overkill, and make your newsletters friendly and interesting. If you can’t write find someone who can. You want to entice your audience to read what you send, not to yawn, say ‘oh for goodness sake not another one from them’ and delete you. The general idea is that they sit up when you send something as they know it’ll be amusing, informative and relevant.

Include links whenever it makes sense but make sure they always open in a new window. Readers online love to click on text links and picture links – test the best format for you but I think you will find that the more the better, provided again they are all relevant to what you are writing about.

Also

Make sure that people can opt out or unsubscribe. This option has to be available with every email you send out. Period.

Check all your links, both text and picture links. I am as guilty as the next person of sending emails with broken links and anyone who says they haven’t ever done this I suspect is not being totally honest. So check and re-check. Preview your newsletter in a browser, then send it to yourself and check again.

If I am writing dedicated emails for retail clients I send a preview to them as well so that they can check too. Some time, some day, someone is going to find a link that doesn’t work. You would much rather it was you than someone else. Believe me.

If you haven’t already please consider concentrating on your email campaign – it can be very rewarding, create loyalty and increase your sales. Contact me if you want help. But just do it. It’s all part of the conversation.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Five Things to do to your Website This Week

In all the frantic rush of getting ready for Christmas – getting Christmas products up (if they’re not up already) and sorting the logistics of coping with what will undoubtedly be a busier Christmas online this year than last (IMRG/Capgemini forecast that £6.4 billion will be spent online this December, as against £5.5 billion last year) it’s very easy to forget that there are simple things you should be doing to your website to make sure that you reap the benefit of the huge numbers of people who are going to be flocking online in 2010 to do their Christmas shopping.

restoration hardware screen shot

Make your home page look inviting and festive.  Even though it may be early, the excitement about Christmas is gearing up and you only have to look at www.restorationhardware.com and www.netaporter.com to see how a subtle move towards the Christmas gift and party spirit will help to build anticipation.  The full blown season is only a couple of weeks away with the peak online shopping week predicted to start on November 29th.  Make sure you’re ready for it. 

netaporter screen shot

It’s too easy to make festive look tacky, by the way if you haven’t got the resources of these two great online retailers.  Subtle has to be the name of the game.

Be absolutely clear about your Christmas delivery policy and shout about it from your home page.  Don’t even think of hiding Delivery within T & C’s.  People need to know very quickly what your last delivery dates will be for Christmas, so start telling them now and they’ll bookmark your site into their emergency list for that last minute guest they may have forgotten about. 

Make them search for the info?  Forget it.  They won’t bother.  And if you’re not already offering next day delivery with a reliable courier I suggest you consider it now, even if it costs.  You’ll be amazed at how many are willing to pay the extra.

Offer Gift Wrap if you’re not already doing so.  I know, it may be a bore, but you want that person who’s looking for a gift to be sent on their behalf up to Birmingham from Devizes to come to you, don’t you, rather than to someone who’ll wrap, write the tag with a personalised message and send out on their behalf?  If you don’t you will lose sales.  If necessary bring in the extra help - you will get the extra orders.  And shout about that from your home page as well.

Email your customer/subscriber base NOW with information about your new services and remind them of your best sellers by featuring them with a short lifespan special offer.  Use pictures and content links of your best sellers.  These are the most likely to get them to come back to you. 

When I am writing dedicated newsletters for retailers I always ask them for their six to eight top sellers.  There’s always a temptation to feature items that you want to get rid of.  Don’t do that at this time of year.  What you want is as much relevant traffic as possible to your website to remind them of what’s there now and how you’ll be helping them over Christmas.

Make sure your visitors know you are to be trusted.  Never take this for granted.  You know you’re honest, efficient and reliable but how are the casual browsers that arrive on your site through search or your Adwords campaign going to know?  There are frankly just too many websites out there.

Display the ISIS logo if you are a member prominently on your home page, and if possible offer independent customer reviews by a company such as www.feefo.com  – in this viral marketplace news travels exceptionally fast.  Make sure that all the news, good or bad, comes to you so that you can respond, and show your visitors that you care about what your customers think about you and are not afraid to show it. 

Showing that you are a member of an accreditation scheme and offering customer reviews are two excellent ways of establishing trust and loyalty with your visitors and customers.

There are two retailer offers, for ISIS and for Customer Reviews which you can click through to in the retailers section at thesiteguide.com

Clearly display your Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode logos on your home page if these are applicable to you as well and any other accreditation schemes or awards.  Do not keep these for your payment page or About us Page, and do not hide them for the sake of a ‘clean home page’ which is something I so often hear.  Shout about them.  Your visitors need to know. 

Take a look at these home pages and you’ll see what I mean - http://www.coast-stores.com/  http://www.my-wardrobe.com/  http://www.sogifted.co.uk/ – whether it’s secure payment methods, Feefo customer reviews or ISIS – they all display them loud and clear.

If this sounds a lot to do it really isn’t and everything here will help you be prepared with the Christmas rush, when there’s barely time to grab that cup of coffee, let alone make changes to your website.  Start now and this Christmas will be better than ever – and online.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

SEO Tips–Three Ways to Optimise your Home Page Content in time for Christmas

chris colour for home pageI’ve written quite a bit about Title and Meta Tags, with your Title Tag being the first place you start in optimising your website for natural search.  All the links to those posts and any other relative to this one are below.

Your home page is the most important and powerful page on your website.  You may have dozens of other landing pages that bring conversions, but the majority of your traffic is going to start on your home page.  It makes sense to get that right first.

It actually doesn’t matter what time of year it is – your home page content is key to bringing people to your site with natural search and there are three fundamentals.

Keyword Research;  This is your first step and there is no quick fix.  You almost certainly know your business better than anyone else so don’t hand this over to a junior please.  With just a little time and knowledge of how to use the Google Keyword Tool (the one I use – there are others) you can identify the key words and phrases which are most relevant to your business, which are being searched for, and where there is space for more competition. Hopefully you have done this already.

Offer intelligent, friendly, keyword rich content; There are a lot of small to medium (and large) sized online retailers who have quite simply not bothered enough with good content.  It’s time to get going.  A vast amount of business will be done online this Christmas - £6.4 billion according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index – make sure that at least some of it comes your way.

You have a business, you have great products, you need to tell the world about them in a way that it attractive to look at and interesting to read.  If you are a household name ok……you can do away with some of the extra words.  If you’re not, you have just a few seconds to get your visitors interested.  Are they going to find what they’re looking for on your website?  How will they know?  How quickly can you attract them?  Clear keyword-rich headings and words plus good pictures tell the story every time and you need both.  Your keywords are not just for your title tags.

Make your home page come alive by featuring optimised images of your best sellers and and linking through to them.  The most likely things to capture attention are the items that are your best sellers so feature them on your home page.  Google will not see your pictures, but will be able to crawl your image description, the alt text and your image caption. 

Make sure you’ve done your keyword research for the items you’re featuring so that your content will be relevant.  Also make sure your images are high quality.  Poor images = fewer clicks.

If you’d like any help with your home page content please contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com

Links to other Posts:

How and Why to use the Google Keyword Tool
How to Write Great Title Tags – Ten Things You Need to Know

Monday, 8 November 2010

How Not to Sell Online………………………….

I wrote earlier today at www.glamoursleuth.com, about the Juicy Couture Tracksuit, Hermes Kelly and Cartier Tank.....................sort of. And guess what? When I went to link to some beautifully and luxuriously branded (!) pages so that everyone could visualise what I was talking about - as if they didn't know already - I confirmed what I already suspected. That it was impossible without a major struggle. And I simply didn't have the time.

Cartier deigns to sell online in the US and Chanel does not, anywhere. Ok so what's new? Louis Vuitton has a very beautiful website and does sell online but try to link to a page? You can't on any of them because these are all FLASH websites and I dislike flash intensely. But then I would because I'm an impatient functionality girl and I want to be taken to the product fast. At least at Louis Vuitton you can get up close and personal to the handbags and order online.

All of these websites are beautifully photographed, fantastically (in some cases over) designed and too clever for words but one thing they, other than Vuitton, are not designed to do is sell, and surely by now brilliant online retailers such as Net-a-Porter have proved that we are waiting, willing and able to spend oodles of dosh online?

It is far too late to start saying that 'people need to touch and feel' or 'our luxury products are just too special to sell online'. We know for a fact that is no longer the case and that if you have a great product and an easy to shop from website there are those out there who will spend spend spend. There will be fewer and fewer browsers who will be willing to wait for a flash site to load no matter how beautiful (as flash sites take so much longer), they will be rushing off to Tiffany, or Net-a-Porter where they can spend as much as they want and calm down.

The web is not a patient place. We are becoming more and more used to instant gratification. If I want that taupe leather Balenciaga handbag, or Alexander McQueen dress, I can, provided it's in stock, almost certainly have it tomorrow.

And that is what the web is about, with the best websites offering extremely well designed, easy places to shop that tempt us to part with our cash with ease and never keep us waiting, wherever they are in the world. We can get so close to the products we can practically touch them and we can shop quickly and easily at any time of day or night. And we do. I hope and suspect that the day of the over-endowed flash website is coming to an end and that all major brands, luxury or otherwise, will be offering their products globally online soon.

What? Do I hear that you actually don't want the extra sales?......................scratches head in bemusement. Oh well....................................................................

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Twitter Tips - Why your Twitter Bio Matters So Much

I was talking to someone earlier today who had very few followers on Twitter (no names, sorry) and when I had a look at her bio I completely understood why - it was a joke; literally.

Twitter, and apologies for repeating myself, is all about the conversation, and whether you're engaging with discussions with other Twitterers, useful information, links to your blog, links to relevant news or just what you happen to be doing at any given moment people will decide to read about you/follow you on the strength of your bio as well as what you say.

Your bio on Twitter needs to be short, preferably amusing, to the point and tell people about you. Mine reads:

Author, blogger, fashion & lifestyle web directory md, online consultant.  Glamour, music and travel lover.  1 husband, 3 kids, 3 dogs.

Which is pretty well all you need to know about me to start with.

Take a look at your bio and use the space you have to let people know who you are, or believe me they're unlikely to want to talk to you. I won't, anyway. And if you're in doubt about what to write contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com and I may well try and help, unless I'm on a plane, that is.

Come and join me on:
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/ShopaholicGuide
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thesiteguide
LinkedIn:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/patriciadavidson1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/108093314539272860897/posts
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/shopaholicguide/
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com