Your website is now live! What’s next?
Search engine marketing, social media, newsletters and email marketing activities?
For what return? Does it work? Why? How? When? What worked? Etc..
Thanks to web analytics software such as Google Analytics, website owners are now empowered with big data presented in a user friendly interface.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool. Google Analytics is free, user friendly, easy to install on a website or a blog, easy to integrate with the range of Google services such as AdWords, AdSense, Doubleclick, GWT, etc… This makes Google Analytics very popular et probably the most popular web analytics software on the market.
At TargetOnlineMarketing.com, we decided to review Google Analytics’ usage worldwide in 2012. Our technology partner W3techs.com explains how: “we investigate technologies of websites, not of individual web pages. If we find a technology on any of the pages, it is considered to be used by the website.” W3techs.com’s CEO Matthias Gelbmann adds, “We include only the top 1 million websites in the statistics in order to limit the impact of domain spammers. We use website popularity rankings provided by Alexa using a 3 months average ranking. Alexa rankings are sometimes considered inaccurate for measuring website traffic, but we find that they serve our purpose of providing a representative sample of established sites very well.”
According to Netcraft, there are around 700 million websites in June 2012, of which 190 million are active. On average, Google Analytics is installed on 55.8 per cent of websites – Google Analytics is installed on 100 million + websites -, giving Google Analytics a whopper 81.5 per cent market share of the worldwide web analytics software industry. The second place goes to LiveInternet with 5.4 per cent and ranking third is CNZZ with 4.1 per cent market share.
Some numbers about the use of Google Analytics worldwide:
- In Europe, we love Google Analytics, just under 62 per cent of all websites have it installed
- Only South America beats Europe to the top spot with 66.9 per cent
- In Iraq Google Analytics is used by 3.4 per cent of websites, making it the lowest ranking
- Macedonia is the Google Analytics top ranking country in the world with 83.3%
- Asia is the only region of the world with a Google Analytics usage below 50 per cent with 43.5 per cent. CNZZ would have a much higher usage
- under a third of all .mobi websites use Google Analytics as a web analytics tool – 29.4 per cent to be precise
- just under two third of newly created .xxx TLD websites use Google Analytics with 62.2 per cent
- 84 per cent of .ie sites use a traffic analysis tool vs. 68 per cent worldwide
- Google Analytics is installed on 78 per cent of .ie websites
- Full Circle Studies ranks second on .ie websites
- 5 per cent of. ie sites use Adtech vs. 0.3 per cent worldwide
- Adtech ranks third behind AdSense and DoubleClick
See TargetOnlineMarketing.com infographic ‘Who is using Google Analytics in 2012’
Good design informs our decision making. It is often the most influential factor when we are deciding what we buy, where we go and what we do. This is because the way objects, systems and services work and look, throughout their evolution and life cycle, are the result of people designing the underlying plans, processes and build specifications.
Our individual experiences with the functional and aesthetic qualities of objects, processes and services, consciously and subconsciously, acts as the basis for our personal benchmark for what is good design. And that benchmark not only evolves because of new experiences, it also changes depending on a wide range of variables, including environment, mood, whether we are working or relaxing, etc. When we are faced with a new experience or a purchasing decision we refer to the logical and sensori-emotional (aesthetic) values we associate with our most relevant benchmarks for what is good design.
This means that there are no hard and fast rules about what makes for good design. There is good design, bad design and ‘that’ll do’ design. However, designing your product and/or service and support systems should always come at the end of the development process, not the beginning. This is true whether you are designing a product/service to sell; logo and stationery; website; brochure; tender submission; etc.
Pre-Design: Research; Evaluation and Concept Development
There are many ways of approaching the pre-design stage of any project but it can be simplified down to three steps: Research; Evaluation and Concept Development. By thinking in these terms you can make the process as straight-forward and fast-moving, or as complicated, as you want.
A good designer/developer will do the heavy lifting for you, and steer you through the process in round table discussions and by asking key questions. If you decide to take it all on yourself, you should find a friend or colleague who can offer you a client’s perspective, and is willing to ask difficult questions, as you progress.
To make the most of the pre-design stage you should use a range of decision making models. Among the most widely know analysis models are ‘SWOT’ and ‘PEST’ but looking at resources like ‘The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking’ by R. Tschäppeler & M. Krogerus will help you find models that are a good fit for you. By evaluating the existing service/product providers and the service/product alternatives in diagrammatic form you can quickly see shared traits and trends. It also means you can easily update the profiles as products, services and the market adapts and evolves.
As part of the Evaluation and Concept Development steps you should look at Design under two key headings: Functional and Aesthetic.
Under the heading Functional Design analyse how the products/services work throughout their lifecycle. How intuitive, robust and enjoyable in the user experience (UX) from the perspective of the target user? How intuitive, reliable and flexible is the UX from the perspective of the people building, maintaining and evolving the service/product?
If you are looking at Logo Design you should be asking how legible the logos are when reproduced at different sizes, in different contexts and on different materials, and the inherent production costs. If you are looking at Website Design you should be looking to identify the target audiences; how easy the sites are to navigate and, in terms of structure and content, are they optimised for the UX of the target audience or for the site owners and managers.
Aesthetic Design is all too often dismissed as being far less important than Functional Design. This is not the case. Our initial reaction to any proposition is a sensori-emotional one and a negative reaction will inform all subsequent decisions. Research has show time and again that people make their mind up about products and services within seconds, often ending the interaction there and then. An existing relationship with an owner or advocate of a product/service can alleviate some of the negativity but a sense of doubt will linger.
An analysis of the effectiveness of the Aesthetic Design of the products/services under review should look at how their sensori-emotional values compare to those of the products/services that are the most likely benchmarks for the target audience. It is about drawing up a mental model of how people would expect, and want, the products/services to work and then comparing it to how products/services actually work. The analysis should also include an exploration of the visual language, including the underlying semantics, of the services/products.
If you are looking at Logo Design, Website Design, etc. you should be looking at the balance achieved between friendliness, familiarity, surprise and professionalism, with the hierarchy of these traits being informed by the sector and type of product/service. Additional traits such as angularity or roundness, hardness or softness and solid colour or gradients should also be considered.
The attributes of the typefaces used are very important. Do you think the typefaces were chosen because of a then-current trend or are they appropriate for the product/service and the target market? Following a trend can prove to be a very costly mistake. In 2010 the Waterstones launched a new logo, presumably to convey a more modern, dynamic identity. Only 25 of the company’s stores were rebranded before January 2012 when the company launched a new new logo – the pre-2010 logo without an apostrophe – because they realised the sensori-emotional values of the 2010 logo were not in keeping with the company. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones said: “Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving a capital W, and a font that reflects authority and confidence — Baskerville does just that.” (see http://www.logodesignlove.com/waterstones-logo)
Colour is also a very important consideration as in certain contexts and cultures it can have significant meaning. In some sectors dominant brands are seen as ‘owning’ certain colour, e.g. Vodafone is Red, O2 is Blue and Meteor is Orange. You should also be looking at the tone of the language, use and type of images, the hierarchy of images and text, etc.
Concept Development: Setting the Design Brief
As part of this final pre-design step you should review your evaluations and map out the desired Functional and Aesthetic traits of your product/service. The resulting Design Brief should establish guidelines that you believe will ensure your product/service will appeal to your target market while at the same time differentiate you from your competition.
A guiding principal is that you strive to compete on your own terms while ensuring the payoff to your target audience, from their perspective, is at least equal to the payoff they get from your competition. This applies to all stages of the interaction between you and your audience, starting with the payoff they’ll get for giving you their time and attention.
The Design Brief should set guidelines and minimum standards for the Functional Design of your product/service. How do you approach delivering an intuitive, reliable, flexible and enjoyable UX for all stakeholders, within the constraints of your budget? What is the realistic lifespan of your product/service? What aspects of the functional design can you carry through to other products/services to help you move people from being product/service advocates to being brand advocates, open to other products/services?
When deciding on your approach to the Aesthetic Design of your product/service you should look at the pros and cons of designing to your audience’s mental model of how your type of product/service works and the visual language, including the underlying semantics, employed. Challenging these preconceptions so as to create a sense of surprise and personality can work to your advantage. It can establish a reputation of being ahead of the curve, not following it, and – as in the case of Apple, Google and Facebook – allow you to make changes without needing to firstly get the buy-in of focus groups. At the same time, the majority of products/services rely on communicating an impression of ‘responding to the market’. As both approaches work you need to decide which is the best fit for you and then just go for it wholeheartedly.
The Design Process
All design projects are subject to constraints but leveraging Functional Design and Aesthetic Design has been proven to pays dividends. Throughout the Design Process you should alternate between focusing on developing and testing the functionality of the component elements and building in the desired sensori-emotional triggers, until you have achieved the optimum balance possible.
Enthusiasm, inventiveness and attention to detail will ensure the Design Process is enjoyable, and the resulting sense of achievement can be immense, if you trust yourself and your approach. And remember, there are no hard and fast rules. There is good design, bad design and ‘that’ll do’ design.
This is a guest blog post contributed by Chris Byrne of Newsletter.ie.
So youʼve used email marketing tools to send email, are comfortable with designing effective newsletters and you track email open rates for your campaigns. So whatʼs next? This article on welcome series will show how you can produce more effective and meaningful results than just knowing who opened your email or clicked on a link.
Whilst a single welcome or activation email is useful, a welcome series is a more effective strategy to continually engage, connect and up-sell with your subscriber over time. Let’s admit it, we’ve often purchased something online, then months later cannot recall where we bought it, right? This lack of recall could, and very often does, drive your hard-won customer to the competition. A Welcome series can help avoid that. Let’s look at an example of how this might work:
Amy buys a pair of running shoes online on Monday. Great, she gets an activation email with the usual shipping and returns info. All good so far. Now let’s look at how a Welcome series differs to sending repetitive promotional emails that could drive Amy away from your product.
On Wednesday Amy getʼs the running-shoes and goes for her first 10k in them; all is good. The next day she gets an email asking “How was your run?” and reminds her of the basic steps to share her running experience online. 3 weeks later Amy gets an email survey asking for feedback “How are the running shoes working for you?” and “Here’s some great stories from other runners just like you” . A special offer for a sports bra is included; f this were Keith, heʼd have an offer on running socks. 6 months later Amy getʼs an email with an offer on the latest running shoe and because sheʼs purchased before, a coupon code is included that she can redeem online or bring in-store. So how do we do that, without sending the same email to every subscriber or worse, in the wrong order? With Autoresponders, you can set these messages up ahead of time and create the rules that will only send the relevant email at the right time and importantly, in the right sequence. And knowing gender with integrated apps like Rapleaf saves some embarrassment too; Keith would not be too impressed with a Sportsbra email !
These welcome series emails can be completely automated if your email platform supports this and can be easily integrated with your transaction systems. Communications which are relevant to your subscribersʼ preference and behaviours are more likely to result in repeat purchases from you -not your competition.
This is a guest post by Robert Purcell. Robert is a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group which seeks to support businesses in the development of strategies for engaging with social media. As Marketing Manager for Post Consult International Ltd. (PCI), Robert’s main focus is developing the marketing and product strategy for the company’s Security Solutions offered under the corporate brand, Post.Trust. Post.Trust is a national-level Certificate Authority, wholly owned by An Post, providing security solutions that enable organisations to communicate with one another more securely and confidently in a trusted environment. You can find him on LinkedIn or @robgerard on Twitter.
Engage! Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
Brian Solis (Author), Ashton Kutcher (Foreword)
The second edition of Engage! written by social media thought leader Brian Solis really is a fascinating read. I haven’t read the first edition, but this instalment focuses more on enabling you to design a new media engagement program specific to your business and your customers. It empowers you to develop metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your activities and translate that data into bottom-line benefits. As anyone who has ever tried to champion a social media program within their organisation knows; the first question you are asked is, What’s the ROI of social media? This book will help you answer that question.
A word of warning though – Engage! is not a book you can pick up and read from cover to cover. Sections of the book are quite dense and academic – but then isn’t that what you would expect a Complete Guide to be? The book doesn’t define its target audience but whether you are new to social media or experienced in social media marketing, this book has plenty of substance and will serve as a source of reference in your social media activities. As Solis says, this is an opportunity to “hit ctrl-alt-del and restart with a fresh perspective”.
The book starts by defining social media and introducing the arsenal of social media tools available for creating touchpoints across the Social Web. It explores building a framework to amplify the visibility of your social objects, extending the reach of your online presence to new audiences, and defining the end game, ultimately guiding people to action through participating, listening and engagement.
Solis reminds us that understanding the rules of engagement is critical in this new world of socialised media. It’s about training and putting the necessary policies and guidelines in place to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn book. The latter part of the book looks at the realignment and restructuring the organisation as part of this socialisation process. Finally, it focuses on the management of this social media activity; how to track, measure and translate that social data into tangible value for the business.
Solis discusses the concept of unmarketing as one of the most effective forms of marketing in this new genre of socialised media and really unmarketing underpins the ‘How’ organisations should use Social Media. Marketing is no longer about broadcasting brand messages – it’s about embodying the characteristics of your brand, being an active participant in the conversation, contributing value to earn relevance, build influence and create brand advocacy and loyalty toward a desired outcome.
At times, reading the book was a bit of a slog and I found myself going back over passages each time I picked it up because there was a lot to absorb. But on the whole, I found it uplifting and insightful, reaffirming my understanding of the real power of Social Media – so stick with it. Solis’s voice comes through the words on the page, inspiring the reader to embrace the social web, to champion new media engagement and become the expert to drive change within the organisation. The book is ‘peppered’ with frameworks, methodologies and tools to assist you in your journey towards building a two-way information bridge between the organisation and the online communities in those networks you choose to participate.
As Solis says, “The future of business is social”. Social Media cannot be confined to one person or department. The entire business must socialise. Organisations must embrace and ride the social wave or risk being engulfed by it.
“The greatest advantages of social media reside in its ability for worthy individuals and companies to shape perception, steer activity, incite action, and adapt to the communities that establish the market. Engage or die.”
I have been intrigued by sugru and how it achieved so much in a short period of time since seeing them in Time magazine and buying/testing some of its products over Christmas.
Company founder Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh from Kilkenny shared some insights into the company and how it has made great strides in getting and harnessing user generated content in its social media platforms and achieved worldwide word of mouth exposure.
Sugru (www.sugru.com) is a UK based company that has invented a silicone based modelling clay that helps people fix or improve everyday items. The product itself is a new development in this class and has some unique properties in that it cures at room temperature, is very self-adhesive, heat resistant, waterproof, flexible and dishwasher proof. The company has one core product with 5 colours and has shifted over 40,000 units in its first few months.
How did the idea come about?
The idea came from a process of material experimentation and an observation of the development of the open source community. Jane has an active interest in how additional life can be given to products and giving people an ability to ‘hack’ and personalise products.
She felt that traditional product design was very static in that once a product emerged from the factory, there was very little interaction where focus should be on discovering and finding out how people use it at home and other areas. This could lead to better products and also connects the company with its user base.
How did the idea come into fruition?
Jane’s story reflects many other SMEs as they build their brand but some initial kick starts have really helped. Jane’s product came from research she did when studying at the Royal College of Design in London, following previous study at NCAD in Dublin. One of the big lifts she received was when the British Airways inflight magazine featured the product in a column which sparked off lots queries from consumers and people in industry.
With help of the innovation department in the college she set up sugru with business partner Roger Ashby and after six years of development and initial grant and investment funding of £350,000, with a modest investment of £100,000 they converted their lab into a production facility. Their initial production of 1,000 packs sold out in 6 hours following their launch and they knew they had a viable business but needed to scale up production.
How do you go to market?
sugru is mainly sold from its website and also through some shops in Ireland/UK and is now in the process of setting up in the US.
- 25% of its orders come from UK,
- 45% from US with
- Ireland and Germany accounting for much of the remaining sales.
Initially they have focused on shipping small single orders and reacting to who wanted to buy it from the website but are now scaling to additional retail distribution.
What marketing do you deploy?
sugru defied much of the text book approach to marketing in that it spends very little on traditional marketing.
Most of sugru’s growth has come from word of mouth which has led to some high profile articles on the company also the inclusion in Time Magazine’s Top 50 Inventions and features in the Irish Times amongst others.
Its website, blog, email and social media platforms are still the key drivers of the business and Jane manages these directly. The company also organises and facilitates ‘Hack It Sessions’ such as a recent one in 091 labs in Galway.
Social Media Presence
According to Jane
“the Blog has been brilliant in terms of articulating our mission. This is not just a product. It was invented to reduce waste and give people an easy way to improve stuff”.
This is where sugru really excels. The company and product has plugged in to a growing movement of people fixing and repairing items and is an enabler of this movement. Rather than just looking at social media channels to push company news it sees the community as central. Most of the content on the channel tap into how people are using the product. Jane receives a lot of emails and correspondence from users who take the time to document what they have fixed/improved and even supply photos showing the degree of connection that the company has with users.
The company rewards and encourages this and as Jane puts it
“all of our marketing comes from customers in the form of hundreds of photo, stories and videos”.
The Hack of the Month profiles how innovative users have been in the use of the product which ranges from fixing medical devices to protecting school bags. sugru also asks for suggestions on who they should send sugru packs to and this recently resulted in packs being sent to scientists working on the largest bore holes in the world based in Antarctica. They featured stories on how they used it to repair diverse items from glasses to knives.
The outreach and investment in the online community now means they have a large gallery of photos and stories of customers documenting their use of the product.
User generated content is the nirvana for a lot of companies and getting customers to tell their stories can be notoriously difficult. Even if people really enjoyed the product getting them to invest the time and allowing you use their stories is rarely successful. Although there is no doubt that this is a very innovative and good product, the subtle difference having the ethos of the company – to reduce waste and allow people to personalise and improve stuff – central in all they do is key to their success. It’s not about sugru but rather what people do with it and how it helps their lives. This approach means people are happier to contribute as it plugs into their lives and the sugru community feels like a grouping of like-minded people rather than a community website. Even the website itself clearly positions it as being about the user and not the product itself. You get a clear impression that much as sugru benefits from user engagement people are learning, teaching and educating each other how it could be used.
Jane is the first to admit that although they do a lot with communities that there is more to do and she feel they are only scratching the surface on what could be done. Similar to most companies, measurement is evolving and difficult to quantify. Easy to measure items such as ‘likes’ are less a concern than the quality of interaction such as conversations and comments. Key is seeing if people are getting the message and spreading it. Twitter is also another active daily channel with most activity taken up by answering queries and interacting than pushing company messages. Jane herself still manages these channels directly herself showing the level of commitment to the users.
One of the other positive aspects of so much user generated content is that now the company can see recurring uses and this can be fed back in to product research, design and marketing. This translates as possible future iPhone cable and adapter products/packs as the company has seen lots of examples of sugru being utilised to fix or improve these.
Real World Interaction
As with much social media activity it’s important to have a real world footprint also. The ‘Hack It’ Sessions facilitate this and are almost a real world reflection of what goes on in the online world. sugru sometimes organises these itself or facilitates them by sending product to users who want to create a shared experience of using the product. People learning from each other and being creative opens up new views on the product that sugru could never do by itself.
Much could be learnt from the sugru experience online and according to Jane companies could really improve their online presence with some simple philosophies including:
- Have a clear mission that is people/users focused and not company centric
- Tweet and interact with people the same as if over a shop counter
- Don’t be frightened of people or interaction
- Don’t be overly promotion
- Remember people are not interested in you but rather what you can do for them
- Have conversations
- Facilitate, reward, and respect the input from people who contact you
sugru is now working on expanding its US presence directly through stores and setting up shipping locally. They are also talking to hardware chains in Ireland to extend its reach and easy of buying.
sugru has achieved a worldwide presence after only 9 months in operation and sold over 40,000 packs. Its marketing is mainly word of mouth and customer based. It has made huge progress into cracking the ‘user generated content’ nut and has built a very strong online brand by having a mission driven and customer centric approach.
This case study is part of the IIA Social Media Working Group‘s series of studies on how companies are using social media to achieve their business aims and objectives. This study was written by Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications, chair of IIA Social Media Working Group.
This review is part of a series of reviews that you can expect to see over the next while from the Social Media Working Group. This first one is by Eamonn O’Brien, Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club. Here he reviews The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, by Joan Curtis and Barbara Giamanco:
This book offers an introductory guide for people who need to figure out how to both understand and harness social media in a world where traditional sales techniques may have had their day. As such, it probably won’t serve as more than light reading for seasoned social media pros.
The authors spend the first half of the book outlining the revolution that has occurred in the way businesses and customers/consumers communicate – and why companies need to learn how to adapt to a new sales era, dubbed Sales 2.0. They argue that since customers are now more in control of what they buy, and have instant access to more information prior to when they make purchase decisions, that a modern form of consultative selling (which integrates the power of social media to develop better relationships, trust and customer collaboration) needs to be used as a replacement for traditional push based selling techniques.
While there are many nuggets to be found in the first 8 chapters, including author observations, examples of how politicians and companies are adapting to/benefiting from communication changes plus a quite interesting potted history lesson on the evolution of selling approaches from the 19th to the 21st century, much of the information provided at the outset of the book appears to be rehashing of stories and observations that have been doing the rounds for some time (online and offline). Also, many of the points made in the first half of the books seemed be endless variations of a single theme; “Embrace the new technology… move away from old sales approaches, they won’t work any longer with the 21st century buyer”.
That said, the second half of the book (when the authors get into a more ‘how to’ mode) is likely to prove both interesting and genuinely useful to anyone who needs practical suggestions on how to harness social media for sales and marketing purposes. The authors did an especially good job on how Sales meets LinkedIn and Sales meets Twitter, including really helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ tips.
Also, their observations on how to use blogging to drive better Google site rankings together with their suggested ‘rules of engagement for bloggers’ are spot on. But the real value in this book comes at the end, with a case study style 30 day social media sales challenge. This blow by blow demonstration of how social media can be used and why – together with suggestions re goal setting and performance measuring – sold me on this book, all on its own.
My Overall Book Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks a million Eamonn! More from the authors on their website.
This is a review of last week’s Annual Conference by Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations. Mark is also chair of the IIA Internation Working Group. This review was originally published on his own blog and he very nicely (cos he’s a very nice chap) allowed us to republish it here. Thanks Mark!
IIA Annual Conference: Open Data, Cloud Computing and the Future for Irish Entrepreneurs
Cloud Computing and Open Data
A tech-conference in Dublin these days is not a conference without an appearance by Josh Holmes – Microsoft’s evangelist. And Josh didn’t disappoint either, with some wonderful insights into deep fried mars bars and other Arkansas delicacies. Tech-details aside, the convergence of cloud computing and open data is starting to show signs of becoming a reality, well done to IIA for showcasing the strategic nature of this convergence. Check out our thoughts on m-cloud.
Future for Irish Entrepreneurs – a European Content Hub?
The final panel discussion really started to spark the imagination. Neil Leyden, joint-winner of “Your Country, Your Call”, outlined his fantastic ideas and visions for an Irish Content Services Centre (ICSC) here in Dublin. In short, it’s the IFSC Part II.
However, instead of funds, Neil suggests that we focus on our unique position and ability to play a central role in Content distribution to the European market – and beyond. Disney (www.disney.com) , EA (www.ea.com) , Sony (www.sony.com) etc could all be invited to set up European “content” centres here in Ireland.
Constantin Gurdgiev loved the opportunity to speak publicly and not mention the words “bailout” or “crisis”! Instead he focused on the opportunities for organisations to develop new technologies, not based on a defined and known market, but more along the lines of: build it, go to market and try and sell it, take on customer feedback, modify the product or service and go to market again. The future is un-known, as soon as you do market research, it’s out of date!
This is real entrepreneurship – heading into the future, not certain of where or how you’ll get there but knowing that you have the people, tools, resources and abilities to get there. With a sprinkling of deep fried “self-belief”, as Josh might say.
So instead of spending your €1million of investment in technology, spend €250k on the sales channel and sales person… and spend the next €500k on upgrading and improving. “K”s can also be dropped above ; – ). A bit like the Japanese Kaizen approach.
This approach ties in very nicely to a current LinkedIN debate in the Irish Software Association group on how tech start-ups can find the right sales people. What’s emerging is that IRELAND INC, as a collaborative community, could be doing a better job at supplying already existing information and / or contacts and networks to our entrepreneurs – so that they are better equipped to face into what is ahead. Perhaps Michael Gerber’s “E-myth” be made mandatory reading before anyone sets up a business. In reading the book it becomes clear:
- Most businesses are set up by folks who know the “technology”, myself included.
- The more successful they get, the busier they become in delivering product / service
- This leaves a gap in the business: Who’s going to sell my services
- Sometimes this realisation comes too late: the business goes under
- Successful entrepreneurs either delegate the technical aspects or hire a great sales person
- All businesses are the same; all entrepreneurs are the same – only with different challenges.
- So let’s just recognise the problem, consult others to see if it’s valid, and change our approach.
In Ireland, there are ever more green shoots appearing. The harvest is still some time away.
However those that are just starting along the road to global success can learn from those who are one step ahead, those that are one step ahead can give back to those that are just starting. Just check the newspapers last weekend, the Turley brothers netted €80m for the sale of their business CarTrawler. One of the brothers was in sales, one was in operations – it works!
In advance of his training course next week for the IIA, Des Martin of Local Search Marketing has written this blog post to impress upon us how important local search is for all businesses. If you think your business could benefit from learning more register now for Targeting Local Customers Online. This is a morning course taking place on March 30th and is keenly priced at €200 for non-members and €100 for members.
According to the Kelsey Group, ‘74 percent of internet users perform local searches’.
What is a local search? When you enter a location specific keyword you are performing a ‘local search’. For example searching for ‘dublin pizza’ above. Many of you will have noticed that these local searches now trigger a map in search engine results from Google (Map highlighted in red above. Click on the image for a larger version.).
Note: Search queries with ‘local intent’ also appear. i.e. restaurant, pizza, butcher – by themselves can trigger the map results to appear.
This map and results are generally placed at the top of the search results. More recently Google have begun to blend the local map listings with what were traditionally the organic results (free listings). This can be seen in searches like ‘accountant dublin’ below. The local ranking factors are playing a big part in these blended results (we have highlighted the map and local listing in red).
Google return local and mobile search results based on a different set of criteria to the traditional search results (SERPs). Effectively they use a different algorithm. Small and Local businesses can now compete for prime positions at the top of the search results without spending the large sums of money that were previously required. The key is to focus your efforts in the right areas by building up your company profile across the web. Local Search has been growing in importance for the last few years. It’s time to sit up and take notice.
Why have local searches become so important?
There are several reasons. One of the main reasons is the rise of the smart phone. There are now an estimated 1 million iPhone and Android devices in the Irish market. These people are no longer confined to their PC to perform internet searches. These people actively search for products and services daily while on the move. What’s more these people may be very close to your physical location.
When someone searches for a ‘cork restaurant’ on their smart phone, there is a very good chance that this person is close to the centre of Cork and is likely to have lunch/ dinner in the next hour or two. If your restaurant is in position on the search results, you have a decent chance of converting that searcher to a customer; if not you are ignoring a major segment of the Irish market.
What’s more, mobile searches last considerably less than their PC equivalent. So that person will make up their mind in a short space of time and may find many existing websites awkward to navigate on a mobile phone.
This is where the local listing (Google Places) comes into its own. See mobile screen shot:
Example of a local search conducted on an iphone above.
The mobile searcher is presented with Google Places page information. With the Place page you get information relevant for decision making, this being: map location, directions, click to call phone number. All of this is available in Google without ever having to enter the business website. This is hugely beneficial for mobile searchers. With one further click they can see reviews, street view images of the location and often additional images supplied by the business owner as demonstrated in the screenshots below:
Any Irish business in the retail/ hospitality trade needs to feature prominently for local searches that relate to their products and services. If you don’t feature, you are losing customers.
People searching for local business online are further along in the purchase cycle, the cost of converting each consumer is lower and the return on investment is higher. Targeting these searchers produces real results for local and multi-store retailers.
This is where Local Search becomes an essential part of your online strategy
- Google Places listings are the tip of the Local Search Iceberg. They demonstrate what you can achieve by targeting local search results with Google Places. One million smart phone searchers in Ireland alone.
- Local Optimisation. Local Search can also be applied to onpage optimisation for websites, including designing website alternatives for mobile searchers. Google presents different results for mobile searchers. They rank these results partially based on how well the page will render on the type of phone that submitted the query. For more detail on mobile SEO, here is a great article by Cindy Krum < . This means having a mobile version of your website increasingly important.
- Local pay per click. Targeting local keywords reduces the level of competition and the bid price paid for local keywords in PPC programs like Adwords. Local keywords are more targeted and result in a higher click through rate which will in turn help with your Adwords quality score.
- Local Social Media. Lots going on in this space at present. Facebook recently launched their check in service Facebook Places in Ireland. Facebook Deals is due to follow hot on the heels of Places. This will allow business owners to target local consumers with ‘deal’ based offerings. This promises to be a great promotional tool for local business.
In addition business owners can reward and attract local consumers using existing social media like ‘FourSquare’ and local focused blogging.
- Group Buying websites like citydeal.ie (Groupon) have exploded in the past few months. Increasingly local consumers are finding out about ‘local deals’ through these websites. Local Business owners need to adopt a group buying strategy to maximize their return when running group deal promotions. Pay attention to building a relationship with the consumer and gain repeat business rather than be left one time consumer and ultimately a loss.
Begin your local search campaign today:
A local search campaign uses an integrated strategy involving
- Google places listings,
- pay per click advertising,
- search engine optimisation
- and social media
to convert local leads into new customers. An additional area that is fast becoming important for local business is Group Buying websites. These can be a great promotional tool, but you need to factor in the total cost and how to maximize the return on investment.
About the Author:
Des Martin is the director of Local Search Marketing who specialise in local search strategy. Their client list includes sole traders, SMEs, franchises and multi location retailers. Des will be presenting a series of training courses run by the IIA in the coming months.
This is a guest post by Derek Traynor of AllMoto.ie, an IIA Member Company, republished with his permission from his blog. In it he writes about a subject dear to our hearts in the IIA: online retail and the knock-on effects of reputable online business for the economy. If you would like to ramp up your own online retail business, don’t miss our upcoming conference, 8 More Ways to Sell Even More Stuff, designed especially for retailers, whatever stage of the online game you are at.
OK firstly let me explain – this isn’t a story about my personal ‘Bedroom Efforts’ (I’ve another blog for that 🙂 ), it’s my opinion, as an etailer (online retailer), on the damage that small, online, bedroom based efforts cause to industry in general.
What I mean by ‘Bedroom Efforts’ is someone sitting at home, on a laptop, listing products on ebay, Amazon and similar, and ordering in stock as it sells. However, let me clarify, my issue isn’t with the sleepy entrepreneurs but rather with the suppliers who decide to sell product through them.
I’ve been harping on about this pet-hate for years now and I’m “happy” to report that in just the last month I’ve had three suppliers contact me with concerns over it – way to get with the times guys – but at least they recognize the problem. These suppliers are eventually requesting minimun retail prices on their products. I’ve no idea where they stand legally if challenged about anti-competition legalities but…. well who cares about that for the moment.
I’m sure a few people are now thinking, “but sure you’re a online shop – who are you to talk?”, but this is where most people are missing the difference: I’m a reputable online retailer, adding value to a customers experience. I do this by providing:
- product knowledge. We’re experts on what we sell and use this knowledge to only sell product that is good.
- product support. If our customers have difficulty with a product we’re there to help by phone, email and often in person at events.
- product backup. Did a purchase break or fall short of what a customer expected? We always repair and/or replacement based on the circumstances.
- stock off the shelf. When a customer buys something it gets shipped within 24 hours (over 85% of the time in my shop).
- a unique user experience. The customer always subconsciously relate to their experience of the product.
- a physical store where people can drop into in person if they want to.
Bedroom Efforts generally damage a product having little or no technical knowledge, no repairs, no returns policy, no parts backup and NO stock. The customer ends up waiting longer, buying ill advised and losing all if an issue arises. What is not seen here is the damage to the brand that was sold. Note to suppliers – one way to lose repeat business is to allow a terrible customer experience in the initial purchase.
The hidden damage goes further though. These bedroom efforts often make almost no margin and that’s fine as they’ve almost no costs. But the damage arises in the lost sale the ‘real’ retailer has lost. Don’t be misled, reputable online etailers have almost as many costs as your local shop (Google ads, website development, online presence maintenance, customer support, STOCK, rent, taxes, to name a few).
What also makes me laugh is that these same suppliers then complain about having trouble getting paid by their retailer network. Maybe it hasn’t crossed their minds yet, but, support your network of retailers. Note to suppliers – IT’S EASY TO GET PAID FROM PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING A PROFIT.
Imagine this outside Victorias Secrets: “knickers, knickers, two for a tenner”
Chanel and Gucci don’t supply someone so they can set up a market stall outside Brown Thomas (Ireland’s exclusive department store) on a busy Sunday afternoon. Why do suppliers continue to sell to people who just list on Ebay, Amazon, etc, and provide no backup on a Monday morning?
Chanel and Gucci understand the principals of brand image and most importantly – making profit.
Thanks to Derek for that heartfelt post! If you are a member of the IIA and would like to share a guest post about doing business online (any aspect: it doesn’t just have to be retail!) please read our guidelines and get in touch.
In providing a service over the internet into other EU countries, from a website hosted in Ireland, an internet service provider will typically want to ensure that if there is a dispute with a user of the service, that the dispute can be litigated in Ireland.
The Brussels Regulation (which determines which courts have jurisdiction in civil and commercial disputes between companies and individuals) at article 2 provides (subject to some exceptions including that set out in article 23) that a person (legal or natural) may only be sued in the member state in which he or she is domiciled.
One of the issues that a previous decision of the European court of justice had argued, was that an EU member state court could have exclusive jurisdiction where there was a validly concluded jurisdiction clause, even where there was a dispute as to the validity of the agreement in which the clause was included.
The judgement provides some encouragement to web site owners, that if their web site terms are sufficiently well drafted (including incorporating a home state jurisdiction clause), and are brought properly to the attention of site users, that the onerous provision of article 2 of the Brussels Regulation can be avoided and home state jurisdiction maintained. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will uphold this decision.