Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Writing Great Email Headlines–3 Rules You Need to Know

The decider in whether people will open your emails/newsletters or not is quite simple.  It’s all in the headline. Get them at hello and they’re more likely to read what you have to say, more likely to click through and more likely to convert.

Firstly it must be obvious that the email is from you, and that you are a trusted source, so identify yourself clearly in the ‘from’ area.

Then.
Highlight the most important information or reason to read in your email and put it at the front.  Make it obvious in as few words as possible that what you’re writing about will be unique, interesting and relevant to your readers.

Create urgency within your headlines – make your readers instantly aware that if they don’t take quick action they will lose out, particularly with offers and discounts.  Make them time limited and concisely incorporate this information in your headline.

Make writing your subject line the most important part of creating your email – never leave until last, it matters more than any other part of your email.  It will be the decider of your results.  Give it a great deal of thought and speak to your audience in a tone they will understand as being commensurate with your brand and what they expect from you.


It’s always a good idea to analyse which emails have produced the best results for you in the past, and work out why.  If you can, test different headlines with the same subject matter to get a good idea of which work the best.

Talk to your customers, understand what they expect from you give it to them with a call to action every time.


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

Friday, 17 February 2012

Pinterest–Diary of a Pinner–2

Pinterest My Style I can freely admit, after less than a week, to being totally hooked on Pinterest, for several reasons:
Firstly it’s extremely engaging, a place to put all of your favourite things and keep them together.

The format is very attractive, and Pinterest is so easy to use.

It’s a demonstration of personal style, the items, places, pictures, fashion that you choose are on show, it’s all about you, individual or brand,  no matter who or what you’re showcasing.

Whereas putting things down in words doesn’t always come easily to some, when you have unlimited access to the pictures on the web there no excuse for not being creative, you don’t have to think about something to say all of the time, you can say what you think in pictures, and pictures of course, speak instantly.

Finally it is becoming more and more obvious to me that this new fast growing form of social media, and make no mistake, Pinterest is about ‘social’, can be huge for business – for showcasing products, trends, the ‘must-have’ of the moment, new arrivals,  items on offer, a place to create desire for pieces not yet available.  The potential is enormous, and although Pinterest is growing like topsy, it hasn’t begun to be tapped yet.

Once brands realise the captured audience that Pinterest has, already over 10 Monthly Uniques by Feb 7 2012, and that it is ‘The Fastest Growing Stand-Alone Site Ever) it will begin to be monetized extremely fast.  Are you there yet?

Now in the US this is food for new board ideas – the wish to update and create is very strong.  It’s early days yet so everything is trial and error, to see what followers are interested in, who follows you, who re-pins your pictures and almost too early to work out why, that will come I have no doubt.
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

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Website Usability - Design over Function–Which Matters Most?

Etienne Meneau DecanterThis is a decanter.  It was designed, by Etienne Meneau to hold wine, and yet it is, in its own right a piece of art.  If you owned it would you really want to use it for the function it was designed for?  Or would you choose something more straight forward to pour your wine out of, and treat this, as it really is, as a piece of art, letting design win hands down over function, even though you may have bought it as a decanter in the first place.

This brings me to my main topic and that of website usability. There is no fine line between what works on a website where usability and functionality are concerned.  The template is set, we know what gets a potential customer to convert, how they scan a website, and the priority is without question website usability.  And yet I come across, time and time again, websites that have been professionally designed by developers charging large amounts of money – in some cases seriously large amounts of money – that do not work functionality wise.

These websites in many cases look very pretty.  You land on them and think, oh yes, this is a good place to be, where I may find what I am look for.  However, if it takes you more than a couple of seconds to find the path to what you’re searching for you will leave.

The fault is clearly with the developer who needs to ensure, even with a demanding client who may know what they like, but will probably not know what works, that basic functionality is embedded within the site.

I come across websites with flaws such as hard coded items that should not be, making it impossible for them to be changed.  Websites that do not allow even home page optimisation and where every tiny change costs a fortune.

I’m well aware that developers perceive client changes as permission to print money.  If they’re tweaks to a well designed website that’s fair enough.  If they’re changes to things that are wrong to start with they shouldn’t be charged for.

I work with two developers who I trust implicitly, who have never let me down, who would not dream of designing something that didn’t work and if there was the smallest fault they would put them right at no charge.  How is a wannabe e-tailor, with little experience, to know what they really need?  Well they can ask me for a start.

Back to the decanter.  I’d like two.  One for its artistic value, and the simple, wine-pouring variety that wouldn’t give me sleepless nights over using, let alone washing.  And I want my websites to work, simply, clearly and obviously, and to follow the format that’s proved so successful for others and that, quite frankly, isn’t going to change any time soon.
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

Monday, 13 February 2012

Pinterest–Diary of a Pinner

Pinterest LogoHaving only started on Pinterest yesterday I’m not going to pretend for a second to be the all knowing, all seeing pinner of all time.  But having read a great deal about Pinterest recently, that (as of Feb 11th and via Techcrunch) Pinterest now has over 10.4 million registered users, 9 million monthly Facebook-connected users, and 2 million daily Facebook users, and most of those who use Pinterest are female.  for the moment, it seems a good time to become a pinner newbie. 

The web based pin board has definitely arrived and what’s great about Pinterest and very different to either Facebook or Twitter, is that whatever you ‘pin’ is not just on show for a split second, falling ever further down your timeline, but they’re there for all to see and they stay put.

I initially set up my profile, which is similar to other social media websites, and as usual an essential action to take, and then created five ‘Boards’ – Favourite Restaurants, a very girly (obviously) Spring Handbags, My Style, full of all the things I’d like to buy this spring if I won the lottery, Places I’ve Visited and For the Home - Art as Decor. 

It becomes clear, as you pin, what a valuable tool this will be for businesses, and for social networking in general. 

As with everything social media related – you need to establish your profile, to follow others, and to update.  Hence today’s board – Precious Metals.

Encouraged by the reaction to what I’ve created so far I will be continuing, and I’ll let you know.
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

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Your Website Pictures–3 Rules to Let Your Customers Get Up Close and Personal

Timberland Boots from ZapposOne of the problems here is the way that website photography has moved so far in the direction of those with a larger budget, increasing the divide between the smaller and bigger online retailer.  The use of video, zoom, 360 spin and a wide variety of images have now become the norm, and those that do not play follow my leader will eventually lose out on conversion.

Having said that there are still some very large online retailers not doing everything they should be with their photography.  A wide range is no excuse.  It is essential to know what the best practices are, and do as much as you can to move towards them even if this is over time.

I’m sure I can hear a few groans, but there’s no doubt, with the way that online retail is growing and the amount of competition, that if you do not move towards these rules you will fall back. 

There are better and better studio systems for taking your own pictures which is by far the best option if you have a constantly changing range and it puts you totally in control of your offer. 

Make sure, if you are considering a re-design, that the above features (zoom, video, multi images etc) are available as standard.

These are the essentials.

1.      Picture Quality.  You photographs need to all be taken on the same background, be the same size and be absolutely clear.  The day of the poor quality photograph driving sales is gone forever.

2.      Zoom.  This needs to be as large as possible.  There are still a large number of websites where the zoom facility increases the original by very little.  This will be dependant on the size of the image uploaded in the first place.  It is well worth while making sure that your images are large enough initially to allow zoom to get your customers really close.  Or work towards this with new uploads.

3.      Varied views.  Zappos from the US (above) show us exactly how it should be done.  There’s is no question that the old front and back, or even worse, single shot, simply won’t do it any more, because your customers, now more used to buying online, want to see every single detail of their chosen product.  At the very least offer three views of each product. 

Let your customers get up close and personal and watch your conversions rise…………

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

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Christmas is Over–Rule No 1 for Keeping your Website up-to-date


I landed on a web page today, about a retailer’s gift wrapping service, which was also all about Christmas.  Christmas being so last year – and New Year’s Eve for that matter – it reminded me of the number of online retailers who don’t check their websites right at the start of the new year to make sure that any mention of those two festivities are totally eradicated, particularly in relation to gift wrapping and also deliveries.

Not updating your website, to existing customers and new potential customers alike, makes your site look not only out of date, but as if you can’t be bothered to update it.  We all know that this is in most cases a function of being busy/away/doing something totally different, but it’s one for the calendar: as in ‘Jan 2 remove all mentions of Christmas and NY’.  Nothing makes a site look as out dated as old information.

Just in case the words ‘glasshouses’ and ‘stones’ come to mind I have checked my website at www.thesiteguide.com – but if anyone finds anything please let me know, and I’ll return the compliment.

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

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Facebook Timeline–3 Steps to Keeping your Privacy Intact

You never think it’s going to happen to you, that you posted something on Facebook years ago, about someone, somewhere, that you thought was private (or for your friends only) and suddenly the whole world knows about it, from your boss and your colleagues to family and friends and….anyone who lands on your profile page.  Facebook Timeline has arrived.

I suspect that there are going to be some very red faces when Facebook Timeline takes over your profile.  And take it over it will, with or without your consent.  The best advice is to get with the program now, and even if you don’t do anything else, take these steps.

1. Get Facebook Timeline now by clicking here, and get ahead of the game.  You still have time to make any changes to what other can see.

2. On your Facebook profile page go to your Privacy Settings, which you reach from the little arrow in the top right hand corner of your Facebook profile page and change the settings from Public to Friends.

Timeline Privacy

Then go down to ‘Limit the Audience for Past Posts’ and change this to ‘Limit Past Posts’.  This will change old posts to Friends only, plus people who are tagged, and their Friends.

You can then view your Timeline as others can see it once you have these privacy settings in place, by clicking on the cog and arrow next to the Activity Log and then on View As.

View As

3. At this stage you need to go through post by post
clicking on the top right hand corner of each, where you have the option to edit or remove posts entirely from your Timeline.

Once you have been right through all of your posts, and you’re happy that nothing is visible to anyone that you do not want to be, then you can go live with Facebook Timeline.


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
And contact me at phd@thesiteguide.com