6 Proven Digital Marketing Priorities for 2021: which ones will you push?

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It may be a new financial year for you. Or perhaps you’re wanting to be more proactive to put Covid-19 fog behind you, and leap forward with gusto – or at least be progressive!  How has marketing changed in 2021? What should you focus on?

To give you a few pointers, I’ve clustered some potential Digital Marketing Priorities for 2021 into six areas. Take a look and pick a strategy that you don’t have fully nailed.  Then choose two or three actions from the list to action.

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Be Found

Has your business automated the way new prospects find you?

  • Claimed your Google My Business listing and added your category, posted product updates,
  • Obtained more ratings than your competitors, so you appear on the Google Map pack?
  • Ensured you can be found on Apple Maps as well as Google Maps?
  • Optimised your website to appear on page one for important keyword searches (SEO)
  • Researched, created answers to questions so you come up for long tail “how does it work” and “how much does it cost” questions in the research phase
  • Created videos and short answers to questions so you come up in voice Searches
  • Installed Schema and Rich Snippets, marked up Videos, so your results can be shown in “People also asked” questions and product searches?
  • Listed in major portals who dominate your category e.g. Booking.com, Trademe, Eboss, ArchiPro, Houzz, Grownups, NewZealand.com
  • Updated your Google Search Ads campaigns so your ads are getting an improved click through rate?
  • Set up Bing Search ads?
  • Organised your merchant centre connection and enabled Google Shopping if you have ecommerce?

Be more relevant – connect

  • Do you review your product development every year and tweak your offering or create new products and services relevant to specific customer groups?
  • Have you defined and planned customer journeys to create content for different stages of customer readiness, to keep prospects moving through your funnel rather than escaping?
  • Have you updated your website, post designs and email newsletter templates, with contemporary design that shows you are with it (logo, videos, downloads)
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Be more visible – build brand awareness

  • Content marketing: Have you developed compelling content and pushed this with a small ad budget in front of prospects?
  • Do your social campaigns lead prospects down a compelling path, with an incentive provided to capture contact details and get more info?
  • Have you explored the idea of Native Ads on news sites to escape ad blockers?
  • Do you understand how programmatic advertising uses machine learning to zone in on engaged prospects?
  • Could you utilise cost-effective digital billboards to build visibility for seasonal promotions, without the expense of printing & installing skins?
  • Why not use Google Display campaigns and video ads driving to landing pages with video and a sign up funnel for generating specific programmes?
  • Have you created an audience in Facebook of people who have visited your web site, so you can remarket to them in Facebook?
  • Reconfigure your email marketing to leverage your contact network and reactivate dormant customers

Be more convincing – demonstrate expertise

  • Do you need to plan some videos help keep people on page and capture attention in social media?
  • Less is more. Does your content need to be reduced into succinct, compelling messages?
  • Does your imagery connect with all your target markets including younger generations or will it scare them off with wrinkles?
  • Have you prepared “you may also be interested in” content that leads people through their journey and answers their “next question” to be ready to buy (based on customer persona and customer journey work)?
  • When it comes to face-to-face or online meetings and proposals, do you have a great presentation & up to date visuals or is it old hat?
  • What promotions, offers, and incentives can you provide to give people a reason to act now?
  • What gated content & whitepapers could you provide to incentivize sharing contact details to download and automate further steps
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Be more efficient

  • Have you implemented CRM tools & automated email replies, to stand out, follow up or provide more detail?
  • Do you have a good CRM to keep in touch with clients (retain, reactivate, re-engage)?
  • Gated downloads to capture contact details
  • Have you set Analytics goals to track your drop off and attrition points so you can try alternatives and determine which work best?
  • Chat bot is hot. Do you need help to implement Chat bot/Live Chat to ensure speedy customer service or answers at any time of day or night?
  • What actions do you have to retain and reactivate? Don’t lose your clients due to inaction. What does your email marketing plan look like?
  • Could you retain potential leads with Google remarketing to keep in front of people who have visited your website but been distracted
  • Could you expand your shop to Amazon/Facebook/Instagram/Trademe?

Be focused

  • How is your marketing plan looking – prioritise your quarterly actions
  • Be proactive, not reactive by preparing a Social Media Strategy so your posts and content are part of a bigger plan, not ad hoc
  • Guide your staff with a Social Media Calendar helping to clarify the focus for content each month
  • What are your Quarterly marketing goals for yourself + team?
  • Do you have enough inhouse resources to make this happen or do you need some part-time or professional help? Set aside enough time, team & approved budget to make traction
  • Not sure where to start? Work with mentors (like us!) to be accountable and keep momentum
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Next steps

You might have a team you can delegate some actions to. On the other hand, they might be full, or you might like a little guidance as to which area you should focus on.

If you are not sure where to start, then a Marketing Plan could be a good starting point.

If you want help with the whole shebang, then talk to us about our monthly Digital Retainer programmes, starting at $1000/month.

If you have a good website but it’s not generating the leads you expected, then Google Ads and Search Marketing could be good starting points.

If you have a website you are not proud of or would like to move into ecommerce, talk to us about web design.

If your Social activity is a bit ad hoc, then a Social Media Strategy could be a good starting point.

No budget? Consider if you might qualify for some small business grants.

Want to use an inhouse person to keep costs down? Talk to us about mentoring and coaching or getting a Social Media Calendar for them to implement.

Got most things sorted? Explore with us the idea of a one-off project for chat bots, setting goals or dashboards in Analytics or customer journey mapping.

Did I miss something really important? Let me know and I’ll add it! There’s always something more we can do, to be proactive inside our business. Let me know if you’d like a coffee to chew the fat on potential directions (text Rachel on 021 556 560).

How much do WordPress Web hosting Services cost in NZ?

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Factors to consider when choosing your website hosting provider

When it comes to website hosting, you’ll find a huge variety of hosting options online in NZ and offshore. There are not only several different types of hosting such as shared hosting and dedicated “VPN” (virtual private network) hosting but also a wide price range starting from as low as $4 a month going up to several hundred dollars.

So, the question is, what is the right web hosting for you? Which type of hosting suits your website?

The reason why there is such a difference in hosting costs are the features included in your hosting plan. Whilst a private person with a one pager blog might not need all of them, additional services will definitely make all the difference for those professionally running a website.

Therefore, it is crucial to consider the following questions and to have a detailed look into the included services before just going after the cheapest offer.

What type of website do you have?

If you are using a simple DIY website builder like Squarespace or Wix, the web hosting is another expense that may be included in your subscription or is invoiced via your website platform. However, if you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, then you’ll need to find a WordPress web hosting company.

How much storage do you need?

Do you have a big database, a variety of videos and applications or just copy and small images? Most providers restrict the storage which then can slow your website down and make it unusable for your customers. Among our clients, the smallest ones use up to 3 GB storage, established companies up to 8GB and high use community sites or ones with 20+ branches might need unlimited bandwidth.

How many web visitors do you have per month?

Most providers have a restricted bandwidth that does not allow for unlimited traffic. More traffic = more downloads = more RAM needed.

What is your level of experience and time to handle website maintenance?

Are you an experienced programmer with advanced technical skills who can do updates or do you require a managed service to ensure your website is up and running secure and smoothly? If you don’t update your plugins, your site can be vulnerable to attack.  And the server itself needs regular security updates.  Some of the cheap hosting plans leave you in a massive “hall” with poorly maintained websites, and server software that doesn’t get updated, leaving your site more exposed.

What is the risk to your business if your website gets compromised?

If your website gets hacked and used as an email gateway, your domain may be put on a blacklist. If your email is also on that domain, you may not be able to send or receive email, and it could take up to two months to get off the blacklist.  How would your business survive if email was down for 2 months?  Prevention is easier than cure!

The key is to find the plan that fits your budget and provides you with the features you need.

What web hosting service is the most reliable?

The list of add-ons to basic hosting packages is endless and not everyone needs the premium-extra-plus-service. However, there are some essential features that we recommend you take up, to keep your website running reliably, and stand a good chance of preventing cyber attacks (even small WordPress sites get around ten attacks each week – some of the bigger sites get thousands! Crazy world we live in).

  • SSL certificate (that means your site is https:// not http which shows a message “this site is not secure”. This is considered necessary, and is important if you are trying to rank.
  • Automated back ups. You also ideally want your programmer to be able to log in and retrieve this file immediately, and see a log of which files have been changed on what dates, so you can retrieve a recent back up copy before the hack if your site gets compromised.
  • Security plugin that picks up if your site is being hammered e.g. someone trying to get in with lots of password attempts, and blocks that user.
  • 24/7 monitoring and support, so if your site goes down, it is picked up as quickly as possible
  • Manual back ups of core themes and plug-ins so if the whole thing goes pear shaped, or the hack is very broad, you do have a clean version that can be reinstated and plugins updated
  • Fast server with unlimited broadband and storage so your site ranks well and won’t slow down as you add content (assuming you are using modern “next gen” formats for your photos, to keep your site speedy).

What web hosting services does Alexanders Digital Marketing offer?

We are an Amazon WordPress hosting provider and specialise in Managed WordPress Hosting. WordPress hosting is designed specifically to optimize WordPress websites for speed, performance and security. It pays special attention to WordPress’ technical and security requirements. As experts in WordPress we understand that hosting is an essential part of maintaining a website and offer advanced managed services as well as security software to keep your website out of trouble.

What does WordPress Hosting include?

Alexanders Digital Marketing includes the following in our WordPress web hosting plans:

  • Managed WordPress Core Updates: all minor and major core version updates will be reviewed, inhouse tested and installed to ensure stability and to minimise the risk for breaking changes and other unforeseen issues
  • Managed WordPress PlugIn Updates: all security and non-security related plugs in and patches will be installed to keep your website secure and operating.
  • 24/7 monitoring and malware scanning
  • Daily automatic backup of your full site including all files and database with ability to retrieve backups at a moment’s notice. No 24-hour delay waiting for an incomprehensible response from a junior at the big comms hosting companies.
  • High level security suite to prevent your website from cyber attacks, identify rogue activity and block it. Uses known techniques except for those discovered in the last 30 days (see premium Wordfence option)
  • Physical test by a real human once a quarter, to check your forms are working. We ask for your co-operation to confirm that these are received, so we can keep a record.Why is this necessary if there have been no code changes? Because from a security point of view, we want the latest versions of plugins with patches, and we set sites to automatically update, some new versions can conflict with each other, causing parts of your website not stop working.
  • We set up a database to store your email form requests, so if anything happens or your email changes and you forget to tell us, you can log in and download any customer enquiries. Peace of mind.
  • Automatic SSL certificate installation and HTTP/2 activated
  • Latest version of PHP (old versions are more vulnerable).
  • In-house customer support
  • Fast and secure server with unlimited bandwidth and storage
  • Certified Amazon web host

Web hosting Extras:

  • Keep your inbox with reduced spam from forms with Cleantalk
  • Premium Wordfence: blocks known cyber hack methods discovered in the last month (can’t guarantee every method will be covered, but it the most proactive prevention).

Alexanders’ Managed WordPress Hosting is a good solution for anyone who wants the power and simplicity of WordPress without the hassle of managing technical updates.

WordPress Web Hosting Costs

Our current pricing (Jan 2021) depends on traffic usage (bandwidth) and can be broadly clustered in:

Hosting Small Sites Medium Sites Large Sites with lots of traffic
Based on MB used but approximately: $52 month $89 month $220-300 month
Cleantalk (reduces number of spam enquiries) $5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients) $5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients) $5 (incl $10 discount for Alexanders Clients)
Wordfence premium $170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee $170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee $170 p.a. plus $100 installation fee

Prices exclude GST

What are the risks of shared hosting?

Is shared hosting safe? The risk of cheap shared web hosting services is that your site can be hacked. The result is that your website might stop running, it might be redirected so your site displays unwanted content, or send your visitors to an unrelated site overseas.  Often, a hacked website is used to spam customers. Hackers earn money by getting traffic to foreign websites – even though that traffic is bogus.  The most common hacks are due to a malware or spam attack, out-dated core themes and plug ins, weak passwords, or naïve staff who succumb to phishing attacks.

In the worst case, if your email is from the same domain and your domain gets used as an email gateway your domain can get on a blacklist.  This means most clients won’t be able to send emails to you, because their email software subscribes to lists of “blacklisted” domains.  It can take up to two months to get off these blacklists, and that could cripple a business.

This actually happened to one client of ours, a few years ago. Despite multiple calls and advice to update their website before this happened, they refused to talk to us and return our calls. When it happened, they were in the middle of some significant tenders and it was an absolute nightmare. Since then, we have made it compulsory for all sites we host to comply with at least a moderate number of preventative criteria. We can’t predict every new move, but we can be proactive to try and prevent common hack methods.

As the old saying goes: You get what you pay for.

It’s not a good idea to be complacent. What worked a couple of years ago won’t cut it now.

What are alternatives to shared hosting?

If you have a group of companies, it can pay to have all your sites managed under a larger server that you don’t share with other companies. However, typically the cost of this is higher, and this option doesn’t suit smaller companies.

Shared hosting itself is normal for most small to medium businesses.  The risk of cheaper hosting options is they may not have the server software updated, you could be in with a haphazard group of sites that don’t have updates implemented, and that provides an entry point for hackers. There may be thousands of sites in your server, and when you need support, it could take 24 hours to get a copy of your site. They may not keep records on the files that were changed, so you don’t know how far back you need to go to retrieve a clean copy. And they may not have an alert system that your site has been compromised. It can be embarrassing to find out it’s been displaying other content for several days.  Plus the offshore host servers may be a long way from your NZ visitors if the servers are in the US.

What’s involved in changing hosting?

We generally like to get a copy of your site, and ensure all the plugins and core theme are up to date. By keeping all our sites on a safe system, it keeps everyone safer. Every website has an IP address, and changing host means your IP address for the website will change. So either your IT team or our programmer will need to log in to your domain management, and enter the new IP address of the new server. If you have an IT person or consultant, it’s good for them to do this. It generally takes 24 hours for servers around the globe to take note of the new location. If you are receiving email from your domain e.g. [email protected], it is sensible for this domain to be added to your email settings, as some email platforms may think emails coming from the same domain address are spam. We will then add you to our quarterly update schedule. Once a quarter, we will alert you that we are going to do some core updates, ask you not to make changes for a day or two, and respond when you receive each form enquiry.

Can you provide me a web hosting quote?

The monthly amount does depend on the amount of traffic you get and it’s hard to tell this before we start hosting. Please drop us a line and we can give you an indication. The main things that affect cost are if you have lots of videos, or a large image gallery, or if images have been loaded willy nilly without regard to size and speed. In such cases, a good option is to include putting your images through ”next gen image compression software” which typically makes your site leaner and faster on mobile phones.

Will your hosting make my site faster?

There are many things that can be done to make a site download faster. Hosting set up is one of them. Old, out of date servers that don’t handle the latest version of php and old web themes that are heavy with extra features can make a site slow.  Our Amazon hosting keeps a local cache which is a key strategy. Typically we allow around ten hours of programming to make a WordPress website faster (even more important now, after Google’s June 2021 algorithm update Core Web Vitals rewarded speedy sites).

To see if your website is fast enough, put your site through Google page speed insights. You want your mobile site to score at least 75%, ideally 80%.  If it’s low, it’s time to get some work done. We can advise if your platform/theme is due for renewal or if it can be improved without a rebuild.

Not sure which hosting option is right for you?

Get in touch re your WordPress hosting and we can take a look (or phone us on 3488 477).  Please note that we don’t host Shopify, Wix, Weebly or Squarespace sites.

4 Facebook Campaign Case Studies with clear customer journeys

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FB Landscape – SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook Campaign Examples: 4 Case Studies

Learn the simple ecommerce tricks that inspired purchase

In these 4 Facebook Campaign case studies, Samantha (Alexanders’ content writer) examines the subtle steps that were involved in the journey that moved her from viewing a Facebook ad through to purchase. 

1: Calm App

The Calm App is an app you can access on your phone or your laptop and it provides guided meditations covering a range of topics from anxiety, mindfulness, relationships, and sleep to name a few. It also offers musical tracks to help focus, sleep and relax, provides sleep stories, masterclasses, ‘Body’ programmes and reminders to take time to meditate.

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Customer Journey:

I had heard about this app. It is super popular and well-documented by many media outlets. It has also been a featured app many times on the Apple App Store. I saw an ad on my Facebook feed promoting a 7 day free trial. The call to action button was “Try Calm for Free.” The offer was a new mediation every day, called “Daily Calm.”

You can access Calm online or on the App Store. Being able to try the app for free helped to draw me in.

On my research on their landing page, there was an option to purchase a yearly-subscription at $84.99 NZD. They also offer a life subscription for $599.99 NZD. However, the subscription price put me off.

I liked the idea but was not sold on it. However, my flatmate has this app and she was able to give me a 30 day free trial with the “gift to a friend” option that the app offers.

Once I signed up (having had to put in my credit card details), it automatically ticks over and withdraws the yearly subscription amount from your account if you don’t cancel the free trial before the seven days are up. This is an easy way to catch customers! I had access to the entire library of Calm meditations.

Each day the app sent me meditation reminders.  As the seven day trial came to an end, I had the choice of cancelling subscription, or letting it tick over.

If I cancelled the subscription, I still had access to a few meditations and still received the daily reminders – which, when you see them after a particularly stressful day, easily pull you into subscribing again.

The desire to subscribe is also strengthened into action as Calm sends out weekly emails, describing new additions to the app, often with a special discount price.

I used the app quite a few times and really enjoyed the meditations. However, the subscription price definitely put me off and I ended up cancelling my subscription.
The daily reminders and emails eventually wore me down however, and the email offering 40% off the annual price won me over and I subscribed to the app.
https://www.calm.com

2: Adobe Creative Cloud Suite training bundles

What: A couple of online shops called Stack Social and the Entrepreneur Store sell bundles of tutorials centred around teaching you how to use specific programmes, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, and how to improve on your writing, copywriting, understanding of marketing.

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Customer Journey:

Facebook knows that I’m interested in writing and marketing. I saw an ad for an Adobe course on my Facebook feed. Purchasing the All-in-One Adobe Creative Cloud Suite Certification Bundle promised me lifetime access to 537 lessons spread over eight different courses.

Each individual tutorial within the bundle is advertised at its individual price, so all up it should cost around $USD1600.00. However, it was marketed as a sale that “expires in one day,” with a discounted price of $USD33.99 – “97% off.”  The cheap price drew me in.

I clicked the advert and went to the online shop website, where it explained what each individual course within the bundle was about.

The $1600.00 amount was crossed out and the “Add to cart” green button showed the discounted $33.99 amount. The discounted price was advertised as only being available for a short amount of time with the words, “Ending In: 1 day,” featured just under the course title’s name.

I saved the page and then checked back a few times during the day and saw the “Ending In:” had now gone down to a matter of hours.  Not wanting to miss out on the deal I bought! I accessed after purchase through a site called Stack Skills – Teachable. 

3: Yoga: The Core Play by Karin Dimitrovova

What: Karin Dimitrovova is a writer and a yoga teacher who offers three online programs – Beyond Flexibility, The Core Play, and Aligned. Core Play is a 28 day program inspired by yoga for better core and upper body strength.

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Customer Journey:

A sponsored advert for Core Play came up on my social media feed.  As I’ve been wanting to learn how to actually do push-ups (I’m super weak in my upper body) and have always wanted to do a hand-stand, I clicked the link to investigate

“With only 15 minutes of your day, you can build strength,” the ad promised. The program includes a four week, step-by-step training plan comprising of yoga flows, core and upper body strength drills, and you also have access to a “Members Area,” with extra resources offered, like meditations, and a Facebook Group community.

It is a one-off purchase which you have lifetime access too. The purchase price is $99.00 USD usually, but a discount was offered.

<a href=”https://go.karindimitrovova.com/tcp-ig”>https://go.karindimitrovova.com/tcp-ig</a>

After I clicked it, it took me to a website page explaining everything you need and want to know about Core Play.  There was lots of reading involved:

The page began by asking you about how I felt in my yoga practice, offering answers such as “uninspired, frustrated, etc.”  Karin then went on to explain WHY she created this program and how it works, week by week.

The page also featured written reviews from those who have already purchased and tried out the program, as well a couple of review videos.

As I neared the end of the page, it also described a couple of extra bonuses you get when you purchase the program, such as meditations and relaxing yoga flows. These were all presented with their “value” in price, which was crossed out.

It finally offered a 30 day money back guarantee and then summarised all you would get with the program, coming to the price offer of $47.00 USD. This amount was a discounted price. The regular amount is usually $99.00 USD.

The page states that the 52% discount is only available for a short amount of time and featured a “counting down” discount button (the discount was to expire in 4 hours).

From this, I googled how much it would cost in NZD. Then, I looked up Karin and found her website, describing who she was and the other courses she offered.  I looked up reviews online to check that it wasn’t a scam!

Over the course of this, the time slowly was ticking down for the discount so I decided to purchase.

4: Jewellery: a ring from Linjer

What: Linjer is a design studio that creates handbags, watches and jewellery for men and women. They market themselves with the tagline “Sustainably-made jewelry, bags and watches without the luxury markup.”

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Customer Journey:

Advertisements for their products came up on my social media feed.

The adverts featured clean photography, usually of a single product e.g. a ring, alongside simple design which used the words “sustainable.”

I clicked the link which took me to the product page on their website.  The product was shown via a multitude of clean and bright photos. The costs of the product automatically came up in my home country pricing.

Below the low pricing, there was a line saying, “Compare to $…. NZD Estimated Retail.” This was proof to me that the product was much cheaper than usual – but still sustainably made.

Each product had reviews.  There was a simple add to cart button.  I want to mention that it was their tagline and use of “sustainable” that really drew me in. I researched more into the sustainable side of their business before finally purchasing.  https://www.linjer.co

Extra Note – nearly hooked by another brand’s focus on sustainability

https://www.sayebrand.com

Saye is a brand of shoes which also drew me in with their “sustainable” advertising. I did not purchase anything from here, but the focus on sustainability was something that I connected with, and almost prompted me to purchase. The words “Vegan,” “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” feature throughout Saye’s advertising and websites. They make their shoes from organic and recycled materials. Their shoes are made in Europe, they pay their workers well and they plant two trees for every pair of sneakers you buy (this you all see on their homepage).

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Chasing Unicorns:

I also bought a dress after seeing a Facebook post from Chasing Unicorns, which is a small design company based in Byron Bay Australia. Their pieces are one-off, often hand-made, and are created as a stand against fast-fashion, hence are often more on the expensive side e.g. the dress I bought was $250.00 AUD on sale. Their brand story grabbed me.  They have a large focus on sustainability and use natural fibres, known for their longevity, and thus their items are known to last (“pieces of clothing you pass down to your daughter”). This idea really drew me in (not that I have daughters yet!).  This showcases the idea of a strong brand message. https://www.chasingunicorns.com.au

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Conclusion:

Sam noticed a clear pattern in the way she purchased programs, subscriptions and items online. What drew her in to clicking on the adverts was strong photographic imagery with simple, clean designs (so it was immediately clear what was being sold).

There was a clear theme of sustainability which piqued her curiosity to investigate further.  The use of scarcity or count-down elements, backed by good reviews and social proof, sealed the deal.

She always researched the brand itself to ensure it was a legitimate product. She used reviews and checked back a few times before purchasing.

The discounts were alluring, especially the countdowns. However, she has since realised that a lot of discounted offers continue on, e.g. one advert said the discount ended at midnight, but she has been seeing the advert for months.

Would you like some help to craft your next social media campaign? The team at Alexanders offer social media campaign coaching to build your confidence. Get in touch today to discuss your ideas for upcoming campaigns.

How Instagram Works for eCommerce

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Instagram Ad Case Study:

Customer journey from Browsing to Purchase

Below are two case studies of a product promotion on Instagram. Samantha – our bubbly, eco-conscious twenty-something-social writer – details her customer journey from browsing and viewing an advert, all the way through to eventual purchase. Then Rachel showcases a designer furniture store story that she followed.  These illustrate how you can use your company Instagram promotion to drive web traffic, newsletter registrations and product sales.

Case Study 1:

The Cultivating Creative:
Creative writing course with Christina Macpherson

Christina Macpherson is an Australian model and writer. During the New Zealand lockdown, every day at 11am she posted half an hour of writing exercises on her Instagram stories, saving them to her Highlights so people could view them again whenever they liked. People could tune in and practice their writing alongside her or come back at a later time. From the success of this, and for the love of writing and sharing, Christina created an online course called ‘The Cultivating Collective.’ She advertised this on Instagram.

https://www.thecultivatingcreative.com

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Customer Journey:

  • Christina’s writing exercises during lockdown gave customers a sneak peek/free-trial into what her course would offer.
  • She advertised the course on her Instagram Stories, every now and again, with a swipe up option to head to the website where the course is hosted. The website url is also permanently in her link in bio.
  • I followed her exercises during lockdown. Once lockdown ended and she stopped hosting the exercises on Instagram, I was still eager to keep up my practice and hence her course was very appealing, with the idea of all of the exercises in one place – I assume this was the case for many.
  • Her course website is simple, clear and to the point – it explains the “what” and features several reviews.  You can purchase the course for $60.00 AUD. The course is four weeks in length, but once you purchase it, you have lifetime access.
  • Her price is low and she compares it to buying 8 coffees with oat milk.
  • A simple swipe up (or click of the link in her bio) takes you to the website page, where a basic ‘Buy Now’ button allows you to purchase the course.
  • I read the online website page (it was short and sweet and didn’t take long to fill me in on what I needed to know).
  • Over the next few weeks, I had the course in the back of my mind. Christina advertised it a few more times on her story which reminded me of it (not over saturated though- it was mixed in with her usual posts).
  • Eventually her reminder of how much it would cost (comparing it to the oat milk coffee) got me to purchase the course.

Case Study 2:

Scout and Nimble

Scout and Nimble is an affordable designer furnishings and decor company. They are very active on their social media, especially Instagram. Almost every day they post on their Instagram story, showing you not only their product, but how it’s made and why it would be perfect for your home or space.

See below for Rachel’s experience with the brand. What a lot of trouble they went to.

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Rachel viewed their story on Instagram, as she was following the brand.

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Their story announced the new boucle trend.

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Simple graphics illustrated the textural feel of boucle.

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The use of tools and text overlays make the graphics interesting.

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They’re now actively trying to get you to go to their website.

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Note the arrows to “Swiping up” – a handy design trick that draws your eye to the critical action which takes you off Instagram to their website.

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There is a call to action near the end of the blog, “Sign me up!”.

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At the very end of the blog, there is a photo of the product the blog has focused on, which allows you to click through to the product page and purchase. They also sensibly show other products made of boucle, similar to the one just described.

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They invite comment on the blog. Below this, there is a link back to their Instagram, reminding you to follow them. There are finally links to the rest of their website, including their About Page.

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I like the clean design of the footer on mobile.  I think this was a well thought-out story.  They successfully showcased a trend, built engagement, and drew visitors to their website. I admit I didn’t invest in a boucle chair (though I’ve recently had a boucle suit made. Maybe I’ve been influenced subconsciously!)  However, I am a brand fan. They don’t mention anywhere where they are based. Delivery was a component that could have received a mention.

Google’s new website mandate: Core Web Vitals

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Google sets new goalposts for website performance

 

As a world leading company, Google watches carefully how search behaviour changes. Every so often, Google announces a new standard that web designers have to aspire to, in order to improve customer experiences on websites. They recently announced a new “standard” that websites will have to reach, that is rolling out globally from June 2021, called “Core Web Vitals”.

You will remember a few years ago when everyone had to ensure their website would render on a mobile phone. Everyone rushed to make their websites “responsive.” Then we had to move from http:// to https:// to keep our credit card details secure when we enter payment details.

Next, last year they said they were going to make the mobile version of websites the one they crawled so your seo data had to be set up to work with shorter text on mobile versions of websites.

And Google added a speed incentive: websites had to download in less than 4 seconds or they were penalised and pushed down the rankings if they were slow.
Fair enough. Google knows that you can improve your website’s conversion if the site downloads within 4 seconds.

When Google brings in new standards, they give web designers a heads up, a good 9 months before the change will become a ranking signal (i.e. if your site doesn’t achieve it, your site might fall in search results. They do this by having something called Google Console. Basically we put a bit of code in the top of a website that proves to Google we are authorised to make changes, and they then know who to email when there are important updates such as Core Web Vitals.

So what are Google Core Web vitals?

Core web vitals are three important factors that influence how quickly a page is “usable” to visitors, such as how long it takes to be able to view the information on the first screen before scrolling, and how long before the buttons etc actually start working. Essentially it’s a whole lot of techy nerd things that can be scored, and we have to up the game again to keep speeding up how quickly websites become usable.

What are the specific measurements?

Google uses three specific page speed and user interaction related measurements. These are:

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This is a metric that measures the time a website takes to show the user the largest content on the screen, complete and ready for interaction.  Watch out if you have big banners!  This is influencing a trend to big font headings instead of big pictures.

Google considers only the content above the page’s fold, meaning everything that appears before you start scrolling. This includes images, video thumbnails; background images and text elements such as paragraphs, headings, and lists.  Essentially, the server has to go back and forth and say “oh where’s this website file hosted?  What is the theme? Where is the logo? Now I need the menu, oh and the banner.  Heck where’s the menu? Gee there’s three fonts? If only there was one…”.  The server goes back and forwards to get all the elements.

Google is wanting us to build sites so there are fewer trips to get the elements (some could be clumped together to save trips, like sharing seats in a car).  Google wants us to ensure that there’s no extra bits that are unnecessary that slow the experience down.  For example, sometimes older themes mean you have to bring down a whole lot of stuff for desktop, when you only want the smaller items sized for mobile phones, if you’re on a phone.  Other times, there might be whizz fang bits of code to do fancy moves, but they are actually only needed on other pages deeper in the site – so why have it on the home page).

This metric is called Largest Contentful paint (LCP) and here’s what is considered good, bad or indifferent (yes there is a link later so you can see how your website scores).

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Interactivity

is a metric that tracks the time from when a user first interacts with a web page after entering it, to the time when the browser can start processing that interaction. So basically, the delay between when you click or tap on something like a link or a button, and the time that the browser responds to your action and starts processing it.
This metric is called First Input Delay (FID) and is measured in milliseconds (ms).

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Visual Stability

is a performance metric that measures how reliable the page is in terms of what elements move unexpectedly on it. User-initiated shifts of content occur when content on the page moves around due to a user action, e.g. clicking on a search bar and a new menu appears. In contrast, unexpected layout shifts happen when content on the page moves around without user input or prior notification e.g. trying to click on a button and the content moves due to a pop-up.
This metric is called Cumulative layout shift (CLS)

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Why is it important to perform well on these metrics?

Over the past few years, Google has increasingly focused on defining evaluation parameters to enhance the user experience. User experience is a differentiator, as well as a fundamental parameter for sites to be found on the web. That’s why it’s not enough to have good content, attractive products, and sophisticated design. Agility in page loading, interactivity and visual stability are essential parts that are not only favourable for the user itself but also direct ranking factors.

So, if you care about your ranking and user experience, you must take time to work on your web vitals before May 2021.

If you’d like to see how you scored on Google’s last speed test, you can check your site here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
To see how your site is looking on Core Web Vitals, the reports are full of technical details and nearly all sites need improving. Yep. Raising the bar.

There is an endless stream of things that can be done, but we recommend allowing a block of 10 programmer hours to work on your Core Web Vitals. It’s a good thing to get done in 2021.

You have any questions about how you can improve your score, email our marketing team or call us on +64 3 3477 477.

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Ecommerce tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Written by Samantha Mythen

Two of the biggest shopping days of the year are soon to hit New Zealand!

As the end of the year holiday season quickly nears, your customers are beginning to think about Christmas and what they need to buy in preparation for the festive celebrations. The big sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of this holiday shopping season. These days provide you with the perfect opportunity to enhance your ecommerce sites in order to increase your online sales. We’ve shared 6 ecommerce tips to get you ready.

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What is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

During Black Friday, stores host huge sales online and instore for their customers to get massive deals in the lead up to Christmas. Discounts are offered on popular brands and big deals are offered throughout the store. Cyber Monday offers similar bargains, but it is exclusively offered online. These days mark a peak period for many ecommerce retailers. Any store can make the most of this sale time opportunity. It is perfect time to attract the organised shoppers who want to avoid any last minute Christmas panic, or who are bargain hunters and addicted to sale shopping.

When are the sales?

Black Friday begins on Friday, 27 November 2020 in New Zealand. It traditionally follows Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America. Cyber Monday is at the end of that weekend held on Monday, 30 November 2020.

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Ecommerce tips to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

1. Create your landing page early

Create your landing page highlighting your Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals at the beginning of November, well before the actual sale day. This means Google will be able to discover and index the page. It is important to make sure Google is not blocked from discovering the URL for the page.  You need to leave enough time for Google to crawl this page (most websites are crawled every two weeks).

2. Optimise your landing page for Black Friday and Cyber Monday product deals

Make sure your landing page incorporates SEO relevant to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals you are wanting to advertise for your products.  Rachel can guide you on this if you need some help.

 3. Link to the landing pages from your home page

By hosting links to your Black Friday or Cyber Monday landing pages from your home pages, you are increasing their distinction. This helps customers, alongside Google, to find the specific landing page quicker and more efficiently.

 4. Use a recurring URL

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday are yearly recurring events, you will want to give the landing page a relevant URL that reflects the event rather than the year. For example, use /sale/cyber-monday rather than 2020/sale/cyber-monday. That way you can save yourself some duplicate effort next year.

 5. Include a relevant, high quality image

On your landing page, place a still image that accurately represents your sale. This image should be of high quality and be visually interesting and engaging.  Brodie is great at coming up with ideas for these kinds of images.

 6. Get your page recrawled

After you have tested your structured data to ensure it is valid, get in touch with Google and ask them to recrawl your page. This will get your content updated more quickly.

Then post and promote via Facebook, Instagram, your e-newsletter and don’t forget a Google Ads group.  You may also want to invest in a Display advertising campaign for a week leading up to it.

If you have any questions on how you can craft your online presence to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, please reach out to Kristin or Rachel at Alexander’s Digital Marketing today.  Samantha is our social media content Queen and between Sam, Brodie and Kristin, they can easily create a set of visuals and posts for your social media, email newsletter and landing page.  Kristin is ready to help set up your Google Ads campaign.

Cowboy client gets spanking in court

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In 23 years of business, we have come across a few rogues.  It is a sad fact that we have been involved in three court cases against naughty clients!  Macauley Marchant was a cowboy roofing contractor who scammed $158,000 from customers, including $19,000 of work from us You may have seen him on Fair Go. At his recent sentencing, he avoided jail (ODT article). 

Macauley approached us in November 2018 to set up a roofing website, and to undertake an aggressive Google Ads campaign – admittedly with a higher monthly budget that usual.  That should have made me suspicious.  Mateo did a fantastic job, and the leads piled in.  We were proud of our efforts and success.   

However, in late January 2019 after the holidays, we noticed the bills hadn’t been paid. We paused the campaign on Feb 13 after he said he had paid us, but in fact had not.  I then noticed that his company was put into liquidation the day after. 

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What we were not to know, was that he was taking the deposits for roofing projects, spending up large at the Casino for his gambling 
and alcohol addiction, and living the high life with fine dining and travel. Here is an extract from the judge’s sentencing report: 

“During that period, the police received numerous complaints about you [Macauley]. You would routinely tell members of the public that you were able to complete their roofing work, but then having undertaken to do that work, would stall and come up with excuses.  This would occur after they had paid you deposits of varying amounts. You would say things such as you were short-staffed, the weather conditions had not been right, and so on. 

In this way you were able to extract $128,000 from 13 complainants…You spent $130,000 at gambling establishments… including spending at the Cashmere Club or the TAB which totalled some $60,000, and there were ATM bank withdrawals totalling some $70,000.  There were also a large number of purchases from bars, nightclubs and the like, as well as travel and dining….Only some $2000 was identified as legitimate purchases for your company….You also incurred a $19,000 debt to a web design company whilst you were hopelessly insolvent.  This person has sustained a $19,000 loss and I have read her victim statement which indicates that it has had a significant effect.” 

In February 2018, I contacted the liquidator. When he heard what had happened, he approached the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) who took up a case against the client.  Fortunately for me, MBIE lead the court action, on the basis that the client had knowingly incurred debt whilst insolvent.  This saved me the court fees and a lot of angst. The Crown was concurrently taking a case against the client for ripping off the 13 customers. 

The outcome? At sentencing, as he is young (24), it was his first offence, and he had an addiction, rather than a prison sentence, the client received home detention, paying $10,000 reparation and promising $350 a week repayment (split amongst 14 of us – I might be lucky to recover it all in eight years).  We thank Thomas Chambers for all his efforts. Heads up: this ex-client is now working for a friend of his in Auckland. 

It is very disappointing to be taken for a ride, especially when we had done such a good job of generating leads.  And it is not the first time!  A further client, who turned out to be seven-times-convicted fraudster, also tried to take advantage of us in a brief to build an allergy app. Fortunately we were not left out of pocket after we discovered what he was up to.  However, we are to be a witness in that case, and I am grateful again, that the Crown is undertaking the prosecution. 

A third naughty and very high-profile clienttreated us in a way we believed was contrary to our signed agreement, which was to provide $2.8 million dollars of advertising services over two years.  In this case, as the amount was significant although the period involved was short, Alexanders has instigated court action. We have been waiting for three years for this case to come to hearing, and it has been delayed a further year due to Covid-19.  A number of other marketing entities and parties have also taken action against the same entrepreneurs, or been treated in a way they did not think was becoming.  Unfortunately, in this case, we are fronting the court fees. 

Hard to believe but there was also a fourth instance some four years ago. A rogue sales manager got his hands on the client’s multi-million dollar stash, and ran off with the $23,000 we were owed for work completed for an exciting agri-venture.    Earnest promises of repayment dwindled to procrastination.  We had been paid for about two thirds of the work, and I knew it was somewhat speculative.  I could not justify contributing funds with the client in joint action. 

What have we learned?  So far, I have been heartened by the support shown by MBIE and others in leading action where we were treated unfairly. We take up front deposits for new clients, and do additional checks on new clients on the Companies Register.   

I sincerely hope that no further rogues come our way – or yours.  We work conscientiously and hard for our clients, and reduced profits from bad debts are something we all prefer to do without! 

7 ways Coronavirus is changing marketing in 2020

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How Coronavirus is impacting marketing

The volatility in financial markets, border closures, and stringent measure to contain the outbreak have naturally created uncertainty for businesses and marketers.  In this article, we present 8 ways coronavirus is impacting marketing based on feedback from Beijing and Rome.

  1. Boost in e-commerce for daily necessities

With brick-and-mortar stores in Greater China and Singapore having been forced to curtail their business hours or close completely, shoppers have gone online for daily necessities. This has led to a boost in online grocery and fresh food sales – a trend that is set to hasten the growth of the online ordering format. This bodes well for supermarkets that have home delivery.  In Rome, my friend reported on March 12th that pharmacies, banks etc were closed, but supermarkets remained open.  The food industry gets the tick – though of course with hospitality and logistics affected, less dining out means less demand for premium NZ meat and wine, placing unwelcome pressure on drought-stricken NZ farmers, fishing enterprises and meat processors.

Relatively under-served e-commerce markets such as Hong Kong have also seen a jump in online sales, which may signify the beginning of a long-term fundamental shift to an online economy. E-commerce platform HKTVmall reported a 64.7% y-o-y surge in average daily orders in January.  HKTVmall is also reportedly working with its merchant partners to set up pick-up points in their stores.

2. Shift to Social commerce & Live Streaming

The Intime Department Store in China has partnered with hundreds of Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) to host livestreaming sales events during the outbreak. As well as online grocers and fresh food, other industries such as medical doctors and educational centres have been forced to operate online during the outbreak, to varying degrees of success.

One of our former employees who went to Beijing to do his Masters, has not been allowed back to Beijing after travelling to Asia, and is stuck at his parent’s home in a smaller city. All university study is being done online.

The daughter of a friend in Rome is not enjoying doing her schoolwork by Skype.  The lack of a disciplined school structure is not good for her anxiety.

3. Preference for retail outlets that have hygiene measures

Hygiene and other measures to ensure facilities are safe and clean for employees and customers will be top of mind. Permanent measures may include providing hand sanitiser at entrances and more regular cleaning of goods or locations frequently touched or used by shoppers. Some places in China are doing temperature scans before you can enter.  The Warehouse and Noel Leeming sent out emails promoting their increased sanitization measures.  Some supermarkets are offering disinfectant wipes at trolley bays.  I admit to having disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves in my car, as well as using napkins to avoid touching café doors already! Am I paranoid?

4. Native advertising

With the higher focus on news readership on global online news websites, native advertising should be high on your agenda.  Native ads appear at the bottom of news sites with an image and a headline.  These escape ad blockers.  It’s a time when health and cocooning topics should get good uptake.  If you’d like to know more about native advertising options, please contact us by Live Chat at https://alexanders.co.nz

 

5. Growth in online advertising

My friend in Rome – who is a publisher – is noticing a lot more online ads especially from big brands.  Perhaps that’s because he is online more, because he can’t zip around everywhere in his convertible Jaguar.  Whilst brick and mortar book sales are down, he is selling more of his work on Amazon.  He sent me a picture of the walls being constructed at the border of Italy with Slovenia – sadly reminiscent to him of the Berlin Wall.

 

6. Sales to liquidate cash tied up in inventory

Companies may offer special bargain promotions to clear stock and generate cash, in anticipation of a squeeze.

 

7. Increase in email marketing

It’s more cost effective to reach existing clients than new ones.

 

Change in marketing spend in NZ

At Alexanders, we have seen fewer companies investing in big ticket projects like significant web builds, while more companies are investing in their existing websites, getting help to improve the conversion rates. We recently helped one company to achieve a whole year’s worth of web enquiries/quotes in the first two months of this year – a rewarding outcome!

Google Ads and seo budgets have remained consistent though there has been some softening in clicks in March. However, with the change in the way seo has evolved for voice search and intent, there is more focus on content planning, based on an analysis of customer segments and page bounce rates.  We’ve observed consistent traffic but diminished conversion rates for one clothing e-commerce site in the first half of March. The growth in anticipated time spent online shopping could be countered by caution regarding job stability.

I anticipate more loyalty club offers, based on headwinds for retail, hospitality & tourism as people stay at home and the flight bans are in place.  Cathay Pacific pilots were requested to take three weeks unpaid leave, while the airline was forecasting a loss for the first half of the year.  For one of my friends, it’s a bonus to have her husband in Christchurch for a few weeks, but tourism losses will put livelihoods at stake.

 

Coronavirus impact on NZ businesses

Uncertainty breeds caution and tightening belt straps.  Yet among our New Zealand clients, some businesses say they are continuing double digit growth, some report no sign of change, while others are deeply hurting.  Feedback from clients and accountants during the last month indicates:

8 Growth & opportunity sectors in Coronavirus:

  • Hygiene, sanitization & respiration
  • Home schooling, online tutoring and virtual classroom tech
  • Funeral directors
  • Online meeting software like Zoom & Skype
  • IT services: growth in data centres as companies move email and servers to the cloud to support flexible working.
  • Hire equipment store demand could rise as people spend more time at home and do home projects. Whilst party hire equipment might suffer, garden and small home diy project hire could be a winner.
  • Pantry providers & supermarkets – canned foods, pasta producers
  • Food delivery apps and courier services

Business as usual despite Coronavirus:Government funded entities such as roading/approved education projects – make get a boost with infrastructure spending as governments aim to boost flailing economies

So far house building, high end furniture, section sales are steady, as existing projects carry through.

Quieter sectors:

Retail, meat, expecting property transactions to diminish

Deeply affected sectors:

Travel, hospitality, tourism, logging.

10 sectors that thrive in a potential recession

  • Accountants
  • Healthcare Providers
  • Home Maintenance Stores
  • Rental Agencies / Property Management Companies
  • Grocery Stores
  • Bargain / Discount shops
  • Repair industries e.g. automotive
  • Vices
  • Funeral services
  • Government projects

Do you know of any other sectors that are thriving or barely surviving?

P.S. If you’re interested in renovating rather than rebuilding your website, find out how we delivered a year’s worth of web quotes/enquiries in two months, working on an existing website.  To request your copy of this case study, please email Rachel [email protected]  Or if you have time up your sleeve to prepare content, talk to us about a User Experience Workshop and defining Personas, so you can make good use of your time to be more engaging with customers.  It’s likely your target audience will have more time online.

 

 

Source: CBRE report on the impact of Corona virus on Asia Pacific Real Estate

Live chat vs email vs phone

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Web design: Live chat vs email vs phone – which performs better?

It is said that only about 3% of people visiting your website are ready to take action.  What can you do to get more from the 97% of people who are further down the funnel?  Can your contact method make a difference?

Why don’t those 97% get in touch?  Many of them have an unanswered question, but don’t want to make a formal approach.  Email or phone calls are quite a formal expression of interest.  They are also not the main tool for communication used among younger generations. People will use whatever enquiry method is most convenient or that they are most comfortable with. 

I wondered: was our enquiry method – with email forms and phone numbers – out of date?  With the rise of Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, SnapChat, quick messaging tools have become the norm for social communication.  Would using Live Chat increase the contacts from younger visitors?

For visitors aged up to 44 years old, Live Chat is actually their preferred method for online shopping queries:

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Chat vs. Phone call

So is email on the way out?  This graph (from 2017) shows that even then, it was phone enquiry that was declining, while Live Chat was already a rising star:

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Interactions by channel

Fast forward to Jan 2020 and now more than 41% of customers expect live chat on your website. For customers that visit your website on a mobile device, this number is as high as 50%.  

However, fewer than 9% of companies have Live Chat on their site. 

Although Live Chat has been around since the 1970’s, its popularity has seen a resurgence. It’s expected to continue to grow by as much as 87% in the next 12-18 months. The reason for this increased adoption is simple: more than half of all customers prefer to chat with someone in real-time and online, rather than call a company for support.

Live chat has become the leading digital contact method for online customers, as a staggering 46% of customers prefer live chat compared to just 29% for email, and 16% for social media. (source https://www.superoffice.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/)

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We’ve found that roughly 50% of chats turn into jobs.  According to CrazyEgg 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support.    

Live chat leads to a 40% increase in conversion rate.

 

What is the expectation for response time through web chat?

The average response time for emails is 12 hours.  For social media, it’s 10 hours. By using live chat, your customers can get answers to their questions in two minutes.  If you’re online.

So what about when you’re not at your desk?  With the Chat software we’ve implemented on WordPress sites, you can have several people be notified re inbound chat enquiries.  You can get the app on your phone so you can check it when you’re away.  You can specify the hours for which you’re available for monitoring, and if you are away from your desk, it does prompt people to input an email address, so you can follow up shortly if you miss it.  Not everyone leaves an email, but I’d say around two thirds do.

You can also have multiple people answer chats in different departments (you pay by user by month). 

Automated customer support

One of the cool features, it that you can also set up chat bot that asks pre-defined questions e.g. Hi.  Are you interested today in [product A], [product B], or [something else]?  If they click product A, a different set of questions come up.  And if they click [something else], you can say, “would you like to speak with a human?”  Just finding someone….

So how much does it cost to implement Live Chat?

The Live Chat software we like and have tested for WordPress is NZD$113 per month, with about $1380 to cover our programmer’s to install and configure it, and support you to set up the autoreply messages.  Have a look at it on our site https://alexanders.co.nz (it’s set to pop up after 60 seconds on our site).

Easy win

There’s no doubt that understanding your personas and customer journey, preparing blog content that caters for people who are not ready to take action, and setting up some kind of automation for nurturing them is a great way to address visitors that aren’t ready to take action just yet.  However, this is not a quick fix (we love doing these too if you need support). Live Chat is simple to implement.  Our programmers can do this on WordPress sites very quickly.

Other ways to improve engagement

One of the key strategies we’ve used in the past three years to get more leads or conversions from a [non-ecommerce] site is putting in an enquiry form at the bottom of product pages with a Click to Call number for mobile visitors or email enquiry form.  For most companies, email enquiries go up dramatically.  For some companies whose clients are more hands-on types, phone is still the go-to over email.  However, we’ve discovered that now, the majority of our enquiries are by Live Chat. I was inspired to try Live Chat after liaising with a UK door knob supplier.  After all, Live Chat offers instant gratification.

And who doesn’t like instant answers?

 

Doubling sales: web design case study

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How we doubled sales enquiries, & turned around an underperforming website, without requiring an expensive re-build.

Alexanders Digital Marketing in Christchurch were approached by a regional hire company to quote on a Google Ads campaign. But rather than starting Google Ads straight away, we recommended there were a few things that should be adjusted on the client’s website first, so their promotional spend wouldn’t be wasted.

The client had an enthusiastic sales team member who was keen to implement what they could themselves, with guidance from us.

Our initial review of their site revealed that the WordPress theme was not too old, and the general design was presentable, but we could see a number of obvious and easy layout changes that would improve enquiry rates and the user experience. 

Although the client did not have keywords properly put in the site, they were accidentally ranking quite well for a few, but I suspected we could improve traffic by at least 25-30% by being more focused.

If a platform is too old to get looking good on mobile phones, a rebuild in a more modern template can be the first step. But in this case, we felt the money would be better spent on renovation so we could get onto marketing and bringing in results sooner.

  1. Analysis of customer behaviour
    Firstly, there was no Analytics set up, so we created some tracking. We were interested to know the most visited categories and popular hire products.  Our aim was to make it easier for people to get straight to what they were looking for or show the more popular sections more prominently. 
    I asked the client also to check sales figures (this was not an e-commerce site) and give me a list of the top ten items hired by volume, and also by profit. 
    We also noted that one of the most commonly visited pages was the search feature. So we added a big search field overlaying the top of the banner on the home page. 

  2. Making it easy for people to get to the popular items
    The website had rotating banners on the home page, showcasing popular items.  There were some quick links from the bottom of the banner to categories, but these were not the most visited categories.  With the client data, we changed these out to the most popular four categories.  There was also room for an extra row of four categories below the banner that we added.

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  3. Legibility
    Some of the writing overlaying the home page banners was difficult to read.  That was a simple fix – we added some fuzz shadow behind the text so that if there was a white part on the photo, the text was still readable.
    Also when you clicked on a category, the grid of products presented had dark black View More buttons. The spacing between the rows was tight, so it was confusing to see if the black buttons were for the product above, or the one below.  That was a simple quick fix – we added more spacing between the rows in the default settings, and changed the default button colour to yellow.  Much more appealing!

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  4. Navigation
    Below the categories, the client had two rows of featured products and another menu.  Then some two rows of blog posts.  It was too much!  Our focus was sales enquiries, so though blogs were helpful, they were distracting away from helping people to get to the right category. We took out one row of featured products, and made the menu list a bit shorter so as not to be overwhelming.  We also helped the client to set up blog categories, and edited the site so that only relevant blogs would populate on the category pages. Who wants to read about wedding marquees in the farm equipment section?

  5. Product page enquiries
    The product pages were built using a fairly standard catalogue page layout with a product name, photo and description, then tabs for detail below.  However, the client had not filled out any of the long descriptions, and some of the short descriptions were too lengthy and technical.  I recommended they add common uses into the short description, to help customers be sure that what they were getting was ideal for their purpose, and to move the more technical details into the long description gradually over time as they were editing products. 

  6. Improving the call to action
    The major opportunity on the individual product pages was that there was no obvious enquiry form for each product. Our WordPress programmer noted that the easiest place to make this happen was actually on one of the existing product detail tabs.   So we added an enquiry form to show on the first tab.  We were not sure at this stage if more people would make contact by phone or by email, so we put a phone number at the top of the email form.  These days we like to add Live Chat too, but first things first. The shorter description would also hold attention and ensure the contact enquiry form was not buried too far down the page.

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  7. Supporting people who were unsure of which item best suited their needs
    Only about 3% of people on a website are ready to order or buy right now, but I knew if we could get a dialogue going, we could convert many of the other 97% to bookings. Thinking of people like myself – I do hire some seasonal gardening gear but I’m not an expert about these things – I noted that a competitor said “Not sure if this is the right item for your job? Our experienced sales team can guide you” so we added a similar line in above the enquiry form, to try and get more enquiries from those who were sitting on the fence. 

  8. Providing trust and reasons to choose
    There was a small module half way down the product page, on the right hand side that showed “related products” but this module was out of date, hadn’t worked for eons, and in fact showed product that was completely irrelevant to the user’s behaviour.  Yes we could update the module.  But in provincial areas, local ownership is a strong point of difference.  So we replaced this with some icons and text encouraging people to “shop local”.

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  9. Improving speed on mobile
    The existing host was pinning our client down to renew their hosting contract.  Our speed tests showed that the site was slow to download, but the images weren’t too big (large image sizes that are too high in resolution is a common cause of slow websites). 
    We duplicated the site and did a dummy trial on our Amazon server.  You’re supposed to get most pages downloading in under 3 seconds as it improves enquiry by 15%.  The other host must have had an older server, because we managed to get pages downloading in 3 seconds, when on the competitor’s old server, it was taking 10 seconds.  It was going to cost the customer a little more, but every mobile user gets frustrated these days with slow sites, and every lead counts, so the client was happy to switch to our set up.

  10. Campaigns to drive traffic
    Now that the site was set up to convert better, we were ready to start bringing more traffic to it. We started a Google Ads Search campaign, for the 12 most popular items/categories based on the client’s own sales data.

    Within a week, I noticed a search phrase for a category that the client didn’t have listed, yet they supplied a whole lot of hire equipment that delivered on this need.  I asked the client to add a new category to their website – and bingo, within days, this was one of the most popular categories.  Hire for one significant item in this category was booked out four months in advance when it had usually only been booked up for two months in advance.

    We ran the geo-targetted Google Ads campaign for three months to get some good data, identifying variations of phrases.  For example, would toilet hire or portaloo hire work better?

    I then made a keyword plan for these top pages, and trained the client how to seed the keywords into their pages, doing the first one as an example.  The client (who is so much fun to work with) made a bold effort.  Granted, it did take a few hours of extra twiddling by us afterwards, but the team effort was worth it because the client wrote with humour and a knowledge of what clients were looking for.  Our job was to make sure Google would know what to rank the pages for.

    The client’s manager wanted to stop Google Ads.  So we did, though we would still recommend an ongoing maintenance budget. However, as they were organically ranking really well – due to being in a regional area with only two main competitors – neither of whom had done seo – we were happy to let this lapse for a period to check if organic sales would replace the paid leads. The sales volume had jumped markedly but naturally the traffic dropped a little once the Adwords campaign was paused.

The result?

The client has doubled their website emails/quotes for the year ended March 2020 (and there are still three more weeks to go before March ends) compared to last year

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The client reached 84% of last year’s entire inbound email quotes in just the first two months of this year – and there are still 10 months of the year to go:

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Value of inbound email quotes 10 weeks into the year at Mar 4 2020 – already achieved 84% of whole year last year

Hires of the highest priced item had already exceeded last year’s 12 month total by 8% at month 9.  

The sales team were busier than ever.  Of course, this created another issue: the sales team want to address some automation for quoting!  

The client was overjoyed and referred us to a key supplier.  The only downside for the client is that the enthusiastic sales team member is asking for a pay rise.  Well deserved if you ask me!

The cost? 

All up this cost around NZD$10,000 over 5 months to implement the changes and run the pilot Google Ads campaign, with a lot of regular work being done by the client’s website administrator, who was enthusiastic with content loading (and got training from us on how to do a few things along the way). 

What would a new site have cost? Probably $25-30k excluding the 3 month Google Ads campaign.

This was a clear case where a web renovation was a better choice than a web rebuild.

Now that the website is working harder to generate leads, another clear opportunity is to guide their social media calendar and customer email strategy, to increase bookings and awareness among existing customers of seasonal hire items.  It’s not all about new leads – there are many opportunities to grow repeat orders from existing customers.

We have really enjoyed working with this client and are looking forward to working on another of their businesses shortly.  Creating better results is what we love and do best.  If you’d like to discuss getting better results from your site, we’d love to chat.  Live chat with us on https://alexanders.co.nz, call Rachel 03 3488 477 ext 1, text 021 556 560 or email me on [email protected]