How much do WordPress Web hosting Services cost in NZ?

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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?

Factors to consider when choosing your website hosting provider

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. 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, but if we notice your site is slow, we do offer services to speed up your website or can advise if your platform/theme is due for renewal.

Not sure which hosting option is right for you?

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

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]

 

 

9 signs that your website needs upgrading

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Do you sometimes wonder if you should get around to rejigging your website, but other priorities get in the way? Here are some cues that an update could be on the cards.

 

1. The design is not as spunky as it seemed when the site was first built

Websites – just like fashion – have eras.  Remember the boxed-in, squashed sites with columns on the right, and lots of tiny text? The internal pages with tediously long text that went on for Africa?  Plus, large banners that meant you had to scroll before you could see any real information?

Perhaps you’ve seen a competitor website that looks clean and attractive, or you’re yearning for certain web design features that are popular? If your site is no longer visually attractive to you, then your potential customers probably feel the same way. Sight is the most important of all our senses. Design, colours, images and fonts are essential to make a good positive impression.

2. Your business has changed

The only constant in life is change. Your business and products have undoubtedly changed over the past few years.  Your site may not truly reflect today’s reality. Your website is your digital business card – often the key reference point for existing and new clients. Does your current site reflect changes in direction or highlight new products?

3. Team pages aren’t reflective of your current business structure

Particularly among professional firms, the ‘Meet the Team’ page is one of the top three pages.  Does the layout of your ‘About’ and ‘Team’ pages showcase your size and market position?  Does it filter enquiries to relevant team members?  Do you make the journey clear for where visitors could go after they’ve read the content on these pages?

4. It’s a hassle to manage seasonal specials and blog posts

Seasonal offers are a great way to spike revenue. Blog posts are a key tool to demonstrate your ethos.  These are both simple, cost-effective ways of stimulating interest in your site.  Are you able to make these changes quickly and with no fuss, or is this a daunting and time-consuming process?

5. It’s getting harder to rank well on Google

Google – like all tech companies – is constantly changing and “improving” the customer experience – sometimes at your expense. As Google changes its algorithms, factors such as page speed, responsiveness, user experience, search optimisation techniques, and the quality of content get different prioritisation. It is given (by Google) that your website has to change to take these factors into account. If not, your rank will start to slip. If you are not ranking in the top three of page one for at least 20% of your chosen search phrases, you are missing out on business.

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6. You are ranking well, but the phones are not ringing

Turning website traffic into leads is part art and part science. If a site is difficult to use or tired, customers will “bounce” away. Even a more recent site can yield disappointing results.  The stats don’t lie.  A good site needs intuitive and easy navigation with a clear journey and engaging calls to action.  

Analytics highlights quickly where the opportunities are. The answer is not clear cut, but by developing a plan, trialling variations, the results can be significantly improved.  Who doesn’t want 25% more leads?

7. Information is spread throughout your site

We are getting lazier. The idea that if the client wants it, they will trawl for it, is no longer relevant with today’s short attention spans. Ideally, the customer should be able to access the info they are looking for within three clicks – or even on the page they land on. Landing pages allow people to access specific info about the subject they are searching for, on the page they arrive on, and go all the way through to complete an enquiry. This reduces “click-time” and improves the experience.

8. Long loading time

How long does it take your website to load? 3 seconds? Longer? For every second beyond, you lose 15% of visitors. The reasons for slow page speed include old technology, heavy themes, redirects, too many plugs ins, large images. Time to speed up!

9. The mobile experience could be sharper

On average, more than 50% of traffic is generated through mobile users. The performance of your mobile site is even more important than your desktop version. How does your website perform on smaller screens?  Are there mobile-specific features to make it easy for your customers to read the information and to contact you? Not only is your mobile site appearance important for instant leads, Google will also base the ranking of your site on your mobile presence.

Which factors resonate most with you? We should add the need for consistent web updates to the certainties of taxes and death, in our world where Google is King and keeps changing the goal posts.  When you’re ready to explore upgrading your site, our digital detectives would be delighted to hear about your vision, and share some nuggets on new technology and design that addresses the signs above. You can contact us on 03 348 8477 or drop us a line via our contact form

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General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

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Tips for NZ website owners to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

GDPR has been the topic of so many news articles, tech blogs, and privacy policy updates – but what does it really mean for New Zealand businesses?

If you have customers in Europe, or recruit from Europe, this issue is particularly relevant. All website owners should be proactive. Even if your target market is not in Europe, your site is still accessible by people all over the world (that’s why they called it the world wide web).

On 25 May 2018, new EU privacy laws came into effect to protect the personal data of European citizens wherever they may roam online. The laws cover the ways in which organizations use personal data and basically require consent for the collection and usage of personal information. It also gives people in Europe the right to request information on how an organization may be using their data and ask for it to be removed.

The GDPR does not apply to anonymized personal data, which means an individual can no longer be identified from the information alone.

It specifically applies to data that can be traced back to identify an individual. This includes but is not limited to; the person’s name, contact details, financial information, medical records, images and videos of the person, location data, their IP address. This applies even if they can be identified by combining different pieces of information that alone would not reveal the identity of the person. (1)

Why is it so important?

Failing to meet these regulations could result in a fine of up to 20-million euros (that’s over 34-million NZD at the time of writing). For large global companies, fines can be up to 4% of annual turnover if that’s higher than the 20-million.

The GDPR also raises questions about why our data isn’t protected as a given. Why has it taken drastic measures from Europe to get the rest of the world to tighten up privacy controls?

The graph below shows the GDPR’s quick rise to fame since the end of last year. When big companies like Facebook and Google update their privacy policies – people take notice.

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This shows a scale of relative search interest for the given region and time. A value of 100 shows the peak popularity of the term (for the GDPR that’s right now). This time last year, the term GDPR had a relative score of 8.

In some ways, this move is similar to what Google did with AdSense back in 2008 when it required publishers to notify users that they were collecting data with cookies. Basically saying ‘Hey, we’re tracking your data, is that ok with you?’ (2)

You don’t have to be in Europe

The new European regulations are far-reaching or ‘extra-terrestrial’. This means not complying could still result in hefty fines even if you’re outside of the European Union.

It’s particularly important for you to comply if you’re selling a product or service to customers anywhere in Europe. The rules apply to anyone collecting European citizen’s information through forms, online sales, or 3rd party plugins such as social media sharing buttons and sharing that or processing it.

What can you do to comply?

At the very minimum:

  • Setup a double opt-in for newsletters or forms
  • Install a cookies approval pop-up plugin
  • Create a privacy policy and explain how you store and use data
  • Include a note on any forms detailing how you store and use people’s data
  • Talk to your lawyer to ensure you’re meeting your legal obligations

If your customers are in Europe, it’s imperative you engage a lawyer to ensure that your website and data processing is fully compliant. Even if you’re customers are predominantly in NZ, it’s still worth taking measures to protect your customer’s privacy. There are also considerations for enewsletters that MailChimp explains quite extensively (3).

The recommendations below are not a substitute for legal advice and are just some starting points to get your website on track for data protection. It’s not a one-off fix but will be an ongoing process.

WordPress sites: install a plugin to support GDPR compliance.

WP GDPR Compliance: This plugin has a note in the checkbox text that states by using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website. This provides proof that a customer gave you their approval for you to collect their details.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-gdpr-compliance/

WP GDPR core: This plugin creates a page where users can request access to their own personal data that’s stored on your website. In the backend, you’ll get an overview of the requests users send and you can see which plugins collect personal data. Users who ask to view their personal data will get an email with a unique url on which they can view, update and download their own comments and ask for a removal per comment. You also need an ‘ask for approval’ checkbox.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-gdpr-core/

EU Cookie law: informs users that your site has cookies, with a popup for more information and option to lock scripts before acceptance.

Cookie notice: Allows you to customize the cookie message and redirect users to specified page for more cookie information as well as set the cookie expiry

Note: Activating these plugins do not guarantee you fully comply with GDPR. Please contact a GDPR consultant or law firm to assess the necessary measures.

Cookie notification wording could include: “We use Analytics on this site which tracks visits anonymously using cookies. Please close this box to confirm that’s ok with you, or read more in this privacy statement”

Alexanders is actively working on WordPress & Joomla sites to install plugins and privacy/cookie terms pages. Talk to us about implementing a solution. Alexanders has engaged a lawyer who has prepared templates for our clients – if you are interested, talk to us about getting a copy – for a small contribution to our legal fees.