Thursday, 14 June 2012

Your Header Design– A Checklist for Sign-Ups, Cookies and More

Working with clients on their websites and working through new website developments it always surprises me what people think the header area is for.  It's what any visitor to your site see first....and judges you by first.  Yes it’s about your logo.  Yes it’s about your strapline or mission statement if you have/need one but it’s also the first place visitors look for vital information about your company and your website.

Too often the cry goes up ‘but I want to keep it clean’, ‘I want visitors to understand about our branding from the minute they arrive at our website’ and I agree with both of those, however there are some things that just should not be left out, and if you do you will affect your chances of conversion.  Remember, you just have a very few seconds to grab the attention of those who arrive at your website, and you need to make the most important details as obvious as possible.

Your Logo - Left or Center
Your Search Box (centre or to the right)

Telephone Number or a link to Contact Details
Store Finder (if appropriate)
Delivery Information Link
Currency Converter and Country (If appropriate)
Basket Details

This may sound a lot, but remember that so many will now be browsing your website on a tablet or mobile device and so much of what you would, in the past, have put in the footer, and may repeat there, needs to be fully visible at the top for quick clicks.  Too far down the page and the information may not be spotted..

Email sign-up Box – you think it’s obvious, unless you don’t have one………….
Two websites I have worked with recently had no email sign-up box on their home page.  Hands thrown up at such a missed opportunity.  Just in case you’re one of those, do something about it right now.  It is an essential piece of home page real estate and cannot be left out.

Privacy and Cookie Policy – Another hot topic (and one which will remain so) more and more websites are putting this also in their header area.  Make sure you have updated yours in any case. More about this here.  And take a look at how and have handled this.

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Friday, 8 June 2012

E-Commerce Awards–You have until to 22nd June to Enter

PrintAs an online retailer there are several awards you can enter for, and with trust building such an important factor in converting visitors to customers it’s well worth considering entering for a recognised award so that you can publish any wins on your home page.

The e-Commerce Awards were established to recognise the e-commerce businesses that have performed best in a range of areas over the past year. They’re hosted by IMRG – the UK’s industry association for e-retail - in association with the e-Commerce Expo, held in October of each year.

There are 15 separate awards available that e-businesses can put themselves forward for this year, with a further two to be decided by the Awards’ Judges: the Online Gold Award (OLGA) and Outstanding Contribution to e-Commerce.

Here is the link to the information page and registration form.

Awards categories are as follows:
1 Best Multi-Channel Retailer of the Year

2 International e-Retailer of the Year

3 Large e-Retailer of the Year

4 Small e-Retailer of the Year

5 m-Commerce Strategy of the Year 

6 Best Use of Rich Content Online

7 The e-Commerce Innovation Award

8 Re-design/Re-launch of the Year

9 Best Customer Service Award

10 Best e-Retailer Delivery Award

11 Best e-Commerce Marketing Campaign

12 Best Social Media Engagement Award

13 Green e-Retailer - The Consumer Choice Award 

14 The Online Gold Award (the OLGA)

15 The Outstanding Contribution to e-Commerce Award

16 New e-Retailer of the Year

17 Best Payment Innovation in e-Commerce

Don’t think because you’re small, new or evolving fast that you shouldn’t enter, this is something that every online retailer should be aspiring to, and there’s nothing better than pinning that awards badge to your home page at the end of the day.

The last date of entry has been extended to June 22nd

Friday, 1 June 2012

Customer Service–5 Ways to Improve Customer Traction

It doesn’t matter how beautifully designed your website, how competitive your prices, how excellent your range.  You are only as good as your lowest common denominator – the man or woman at the end of the phone when a customer calls with a query or to make a complaint.

It’s no surprise that the most successful e-commerce businesses also have the best customer service.  That’s not to say that nothing can ever go wrong, but when you deal with companies such as Amazon, John Lewis, Asos or, in particular, Zappos in the US you expect to get speedy, efficient and friendly customer service, however the contact is made.

In the US and from a report by customer service blog Fonolo (read the full report here) 64% of brands got a rating of ‘ok’, ‘poor’, or ‘very poor’ from their customers (Forrester), and 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report 2011). 

It costs over 6 times more to gain a new customer than it does to maintain an existing one, therefore boosting customer retention rates can bring huge benefits to your bottom line.

This is something that many businesses don’t concentrate on, rejoicing every time a new buyer appears but totally forgetting that existing customers will not hang about unless they receive great customer service, which should, in any case, be the cornerstone of your organisation.

5 Essential Ways to Improve Customer Traction.

1.  Make sure that your staff understand from top to bottom that the customer should always feel important.  Competitive pricing, a great range and speedy delivery will be as nothing if the person on the end of the phone isn’t properly educated in how to talk intelligently, informatively and helpfully to a customer.  Too many businesses get this one wrong and you can lose business in a second.

2.  Be there for your customers – have a person to answer the phone.  An unmanned phone and/or voicemail will not do it.  Make sure your customers know that you are there for them when they want you, not when you make time for them now and then.

3.  Handle complaints quickly and efficiently – this is actually one of the fastest and easiest ways of turning a customer into a friend as it not only shows how much you care, but increases the conversation and ensures that your service won’t be forgotten. 

4.  Go the extra mile.  Do more than your customer expects.  Make yourself remembered by always doing just that little bit extra in whatever context, from handling complaints to the efficiency of your service.  This is what will make a customer remember you and want to return.

5.  Be reliable, always – if you say you’re going to do something do it and get a reputation for doing so.  ‘They never let me down’ is something every business wants to hear said about them.  The opposite is a fast way to losing business.
In this time-short age we expect next day delivery, efficient service, competitive pricing and a wider and wider choice, particularly online and online, unlike offline retail, is still growing.  Take advantage of this fact by making sure that no element of your customer service lets you down and you stand a chance out there.
As Sam Walton, founder of Walmart said ‘The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.’

Your LinkedIn Profile–Three Essential Updates to Make you More Interesting

Linkedin LogoAs of April 2012 over 2 million companies have LinkedIn company pages and there are more than 9 million individual members in the UK.  There are 150 million plus professional users around the world (

LinkedIn has fast become an essential tool for any professional and corporation, however there are many who simply don’t take the time to make sure that their profiles and pages represent their brand, or themselves, in the best possible way.  There are thousands, almost certainly millions of unfinished, badly written and poorly presented LinkedIn pages, sometimes from surprising sources.

If you are an individual on LinkedIn, here are three updates to do today, or over the weekend, and updates you should without a doubt make time for.

1.   Your profile picture.  Don’t try and duck this one.  You may think it unnecessary for a number of reasons, but you are more likely to get interest if you have a reasonably professional looking picture on LinkedIn rather than an empty box.  No picture and you will undoubtedly find it harder to gain traction and connections, let alone business, from LinkedIn.

2.   Your past history.  For any prospective employer your resume is essential and LinkedIn is one way of telling people what you’ve done in the past – it’s a kind of informal resume that can generate interest and is constantly available.

Of interest also is how long you have remained in any position, those who hop about are less likely to be the next best thing for a large corporation than those who have stayed for a while.  Make sure that your past history is clear, well written and interesting as well as being informative.  Don’t use wordy paragraphs, no one reads them.  Use short paragraphs and bullet points if necessary and spell check as well as checking for grammatical errors.

3.   What you’re doing now – When was the last time you updated your current occupation?  We’re all guilty of leaving this too long, moving on and forgetting to tell the world.  You know immediately if this applies to you, if it does, get writing.

Someone, somewhere is out there searching for you and your abilities – make it easy for them to find you, and then when they do, make them want to get to know you.
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