10 Clever Ways of Growing Repeat Customers

Anybody who runs their own business will admit that attracting customers to your product/service is hard enough. After fending off each one of your competitors, alternatives to your product or even the customer’s own fickleness to commit to a purchase, an actual sale can leave you feeling like you deserve a sinful, creamy, double chocolate cupcake with a liquid chocolate core. (Mmm!)

If a basket of cupcakes is chocolate nirvana, a customer who returns over and over again and buys at your store would be the embodiment of business nirvana.
Trouble is, such a customer is unbelievably hard to find. We all know the most commonly touted facts about repeat customers:

“Attracting new customers is 5 times more expensive than retaining existing customers.”
~ Lee Resource, Inc.

“80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.”
~ Gartner Group

Before figuring out how to grow repeat customers, it’s important to understand why we need them in the first place.

Repeat customers have a big impact on your profits.

Read that aloud. According to a study by Harvard Business School, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by anywhere from 25 to 95%. That’s huge. And it gets better.

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Having repeat customers is similar to cutting costs. A mere two percent jump in customer retention rates is monetarily equivalent to cutting costs by ten percent, state Emmett and Mark Murphy in their book Leading from the Edge of Chaos: The 10 Critical Elements for Success in Volatile Times.

Just as increased retention rates are good for profitability, not focusing enough on customer retention and only chasing after new customers brings your profitability down. The cost of bringing a new customer to the same level of profitability as a repeat customer is up to 16x more than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

Now that you’re clear on how crucial repeat customers are to the sustainable growth of your business, let’s take a look at what can be done to keep your joy going and the customers coming back.

1. Hire a good team

A great company is the result of a talented, committed team that feels a deep sense of ownership and loyalty towards the organization and are brand evangelists in their own right.

I mention this as step 1, because everything else you do will flow from here. Your product will be first rate because an intelligent and sincere team was behind it. Because they feel a sense of ownership with the brand, they will offer great service and try to help the customer at every step. Michael LeBoeuf, professor at the University of New Orleans, and author of How to Win Customers and Keep Them For Life, throws light on the biggest reason why customers stop coming back to you:

“68% customers quit because of an attitude of indifference towards them by the owner, manager or some employee.”
~ Michael LeBoeuf

2. Create a great purchase experience

Instead of saying user experience, say buying experience, because this is as important for online businesses as it is for offline.

Make sure your website is clean, clutter-free, well thought out and well designed, to help the customer navigate through, in a painless manner. Make sure your purchase flow is streamlined, well-engineered and user friendly to prevent customers from dropping out mid-purchase. The ShopIntegrator e-commerce plug in is a great example of a smooth and glitch free purchase experience.

Offer exceptional service. This applies to your online service, in traditional stores, on your customer service number, live chat service, shipping and delivery – every customer touch point, period. A customer may not remember average service they received, but they will definitely remember a terrible service experience and worse, spread the word about it. Two key benefits of exceptional service are higher customer loyalty and lower price sensitivity. 86% of customers will pay more for great service, according to an Oracle Customer Experience Impact Report.

3. Keep in touch regularly

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“Out of sight, out of mind” has never been truer than in today’s hyper competitive, super connected world. With the number of different devices, mediums and entities that wish to communicate to your repeat customer, you need to keep pace with your communication if you want to be remembered through all the chaos.

Thankfully, the same technology that creates this “e-chaos” comes to your rescue when it comes to communicating with your valued customers.

Reach out to them through as many platforms as you can realistically manage – Email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare or any other medium that speaks to your audience. Always remember, your interaction on whichever medium needs to enrich the customer, or else they will not see value in communicating with you and your presence on these platforms will become redundant.

4. Reach out to unhappy customers and learn from them

Just as satisfied customers will gladly turn into brand advocates for you, unhappy customers can ruin your brand reputation and drive away any potential customers you may have had in their social circle.

“A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.”

~ White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

Prevent this negative word of mouth from spreading, by nipping it at its bud. The very same platforms referred to above, can be leveraged to reach out to an unhappy customer. Listen to what their problems are, apologize for the trouble they went through and offer a realistic solution that will make the customer happy. Most importantly, take your learning from the problems that your customers highlight and apply them to your business. Customer feedback is the most valuable input you can use to design your business and grow sales.

5. Be nice

Retaining repeat customers is not a clinical task of crunching numbers or rolling out one retention marketing campaign after another. It is about building a one on one relationship between the customer and your brand.

With Big Data and all the various ways to harness it, you have a gold mine of personal information about your customers. Show the customer you care by reaching out to them at times that are special to them – birthdays, anniversaries, a hello after a long purchase absence, a thank you for the purchases they did make – take your pick.

6. Seek permission and preferences from your customers

Automatically opting in a customer to your email list is what a lot of ecommerce sites do by default these days. However, opted in customers are far more likely to respond to your communication than customers that you spam with your emails. Seek your customers’ permission to communicate with them.

Ask them upfront the frequency of communication they prefer and the mode of communication that will work best for them (email, social media, direct mail, SMS). This will give you a customer who is genuinely interested and engaged, plus it will also prove to the customer that you respect their wishes and are their friend.

7. Educate them about how to best use your product

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Many customers buy a product and then leave it to gather dust in a corner as they are too confused to figure out how to put the product together or how to really use them. A good example of a product that just sat there after being bought was the ubiquitous encyclopedia set in every home a few decades ago.

Don’t let your product fall into this trap. Once the first purchase is complete, communicate to the customer on how to use the product, the various benefits it offers, interesting applications of the product and so on. This will not just drive interest and usage of your product, it will also prime the customer for a future purchase from you.

8. Upsell and cross sell products they might like

Earlier we discussed about the wealth of information we now have access to as marketers and business owners. Instead of just pushing your agenda, play nice.

Apply the insights that you gleaned about the customers shopping preferences based on transactional and behavioral data gathered till date and send them details on products that they might enjoy. This shows the customer that you’re listening and that you care, while simultaneously creating revenue opportunities for you.

9. Use artificial advancement on loyalty programs

Give customers a head start on your loyalty program to see greater customer stickiness and higher dollar values from the conversions.

Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dreze, conducted an experiment on the customers at a local carwash. They gave out loyalty cards to 300 customers but split them into two groups without their knowledge. Group 1 got cards that said they had to complete 8 washes with the carwash service to get 1 totally free carwash service. Group 2 got cards that said they had to complete 10 washes at the carwash service to get 1 free carwash service. This card had a twist in its offer. It said, “We’ll give you 2 free washes just to give you a head start in the game.” So in effect, group 2 also needed to do 8 washes to get the 1 free wash.

The results that came in showed that group 2 outperformed group 1 by almost twice the margin! While 19% of the customers from Group 1 completed the 8 washes, a whopping 34% of customers from Group 2 completed the set of 8 washes, thanks to the psychological nudge they got with the “head start” communication.

10. Use display retargeting to maintain top of mind recall

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Retargeting is basically a form of display advertising, where a customer who has visited your site is shown ads related to your brand or the item they browsed, on sites that they visit after they exit your site.

While retargeting is primarily used as a customer acquisition tool, it makes perfect sense to use it as a subtle branding tool for your repeat customers to ensure sustained top of mind recall. It acts as a nudge to accelerate a future purchase or a reminder to repeat customers who are at risk of lapsing.

A study of over 0.25 million online transactions shows that if no efforts are made towards retaining customers, just 5% of all first-time customers will return to your site of their own accord. Of the 5% that does return to your site, only 3% will actually make a second purchase.

KISSmetrics puts the cost of a lost customer at $289 per customer.

Putting these two metrics together, if you get 1000 new customers on your site per week, only 50 will come back to your site for browsing around. Of these only 3% i.e. only 15 customers out of 1000 customers will ever actually make a second purchase. This means you’ve lost 985 first time customers for good. In revenue terms, your weekly loss would be $284,665 or nearly $14.8 million in a year.

It’s your choice – would you rather spend millions of marketing dollars on acquiring new customers who never return or would you dedicate a substantial portion of your marketing efforts to nurture every customer you currently have into a lifelong user and brand advocate?

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

Shopping cart security: why Trustmarks still matter for small online businesses

trustmarks, online trust marksAs a growing nation of online shoppers I’m sure most of you are familiar with some of the Trustmark security logos placed on websites, such as VeriSign, McAfee and PayPal.  These Trust logos help reassure customers that it is safe for them to shop on a particular website. It means he website will have passed a number of security tests that protects customers from threats like  credit card fraud and identity theft.

So how effective are Trustmark’s in reassuring customers that a website is a safe place to carry out financial transactions or impart personal information?According to The European Consumer Centres’ Network Trust Mark Report 2013, Trustmarks can be defined as:

  Electronic labels or visual representations indicating that an e-merchant has demonstrated its conformity to standards regarding, e.g.,security, privacy, and business practice.”

Consumers have become far more confident shopping online and certainly where a brand is well-known and long established, I suspect  Trustmarks probably make little difference. For example so full of trust  am I in John Lewis’s brand, I don’t think that I have ever looked at or checked their security credentials. However on a site I am new to or unfamiliar with, security reassurance is one of the first things I would check.  Online security is still high up on people’s list on concerns and for smaller online businesses with less established brands reassuring customers with your security credentials is essentails. Indeed research shows:

  • 84% of online shoppers are “concerned to very concerned” about shopping at websites they have never heard of before (McAfee)
  • 69% are concerned about buying at websites where they have not shopped in the past (McAfee)
  • 76% of survey respondents had not purchased something because they hadn’t recognised the logo  (Actual Insights)
  • 61% of participants said that they have at one time not completed a purchase because there were no trust logos present. (Actual Insights)

 How can trust marks help?

For most small businesses it is important to reassure your customers as much as you can about the security and trustworthiness of your site. As we mentioned earlier small businesses and start-ups can’t rely on having an established and recognisable brand to convey trust and therefore need to work harder to convey the credibility of their online business.

Alongside other trust building activities (which we’ll come onto in a moment), Trustmarks can be used to help give  customers confidence that undertaking online payments and transactions involving  personal data is safe and secure.

This can help reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase conversions. Indeed, according to research:

  • 58% of consumers have abandoned their shopping carts over concerns about payment security (Econsultancy)
  • Research by McAfee shoes that showing a McAfee Secure Trustmark can significantly increase sales conversion by an average of 12%

Use Trustmarks as part of a ‘trust package’

Using Trustmarks in isolation won’t work when it comes to getting customers to part with personal information or complete a financial transaction. Rather, Trustmarks should be looked at as one part of a number of wider activities that you need to undertake to give your site credibility. For example:

  • Your website needs to be well designed. It needs to look professional, be easy to navigate and have up-to-date, relevant content. Make sure you contact details and registered address are present and easy to find.
  • Client testimonials, independent reviews and links to official associations can all help convey trust.
  • Your shopping cart and checkout process should be easy to use, linking to a number of PCI DSS compliant payment gateways. And it’s security partner will guard against credit card fraud, identity theft, spyware, and other threats
  • Customer services should be helpful and professional at all times – dealing with queries quickly and efficiently

Trustmarks in combination with the factors listed above will help convey trust and reassure visitors to your site.

 Make sure your Trustmark is recognisable

Choose an online shopping cart solution that is  affiliated with a recognisable Trustmark . A Trustmark should be one that people recognise. Otherwise,  in terms of recognition and it won’t immediately establish as much trust with the consumer as an instantly recognisable one can. Indeed, 64% of people surveyed said an unknown (unrecognisable) Trust logo would affect their sense of trust for a specific website.

In a Trustmark Survey by Actual Insights, the top three most recognised Trust logos were:

  • McAfee 79%
  • VeriSign 76%
  • Paypal 72%

So in summary….

  • Ensure you choose an ecommerce solution that supports and utilises a Trustmark logo
  • Use an online store with one of the most recognisable Trustmarks- For example McAfee
  • Don’t use Trustmarks in isolation but alongside other ‘social proof’ to build trust package 

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. So please do take a moment to leave a comment.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Copywriting: 10 top tips for beginners

 

copywriting tips, copywriting for small business, how to write copy, digital marketing copy, copywriting onlineIf you are a small business owner, chances are you’ll be wearing multiple hats – including that of copywriter. At sometime or another you’ll need to write copy – whether it’s copy for your website, adverts, banner ads, newsletter, leaflets, press releases, blog post or email promotions. Following a few simple tips can help make the whole copywriting experience less daunting and enable you to write effective copy with confidence.

You often hear people lamenting that they can’t write - that good writing is only in the realms of highly paid advertising executives or literary geniuses. However, in reality creating effective and engaging copy is within everyone’s reach, since copywriting is essentially just another way of talking to your customers.

Of course, format and length of copy may well vary depending on what it is you are writing. For example online press releases are formatted with a fairly uniform layout to serve a specific purpose. However, I think that there are a few really helpful tips that can apply to all copywriting  – from a small banner ad to a blog post.

AIDCA – an oldie but a goodie for direct response copywriting

When I started out in marketing nearly 20 years ago, one of the first copywriting ‘guru’s’ I came across was Drayton Bird – an expert in direct marketing copywriting who advocated the AIDCA formula. Even though it’s been around since the 1920′s the AIDCA is a good starting point – and I still use it today 20 years on. It is easy to remember and a useful model that can be applied to almost any piece of copywriting that needs to illicit a response.

A = Attention

Grab readers attention (usually with your headline)

I = Interest

Develop readers interest in your subject / product / feature

D = Desire

Create desire with offer and benefits

C = Conviction

Reassure that they are making right decision (a summary, testimonials and guarantees can work well here)

A = Action

Have a clear call to action

 

10  tips for creating effective copy

In no particular order, here are a few universal tips that I use when I’m copywriting. Hopefully they’ll help give you a bit more confidence when you are putting your copy together.

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Most importantly keep in mind who it is you are writing for. Think about who your audience is? Knowing this will help you  communicate your points more effectively. Imagine you are talking to them in person as this will help you get a feel for what tone to use and what is going to capture their interest.

2.

Headlines. These are the first thing that people see and your chance to grab readers attention. Remember your ads, blogs, email and press releases are competing with thousands of other pieces of online content so you need to spend time creating a good headline. Indeed,   “80% of readers never make it past the headline” (Moz.com). There are lots of useful articles available that are worth you taking a look a more detailed look at, but for some basic guidelines I would suggest the following:

 

  • Keep your headline short and to the point – preferably under 10 words. “All in all though, short headlines are easier to scan, and cannot be missed. My general rule of thumb is to write the shortest headline possible that also convincingly conveys a unique benefit to the reader so they’ll read the body.”  (Copy Blogger)
  • Remember you are writing for search engines too – so try and use keywords that reflect the content of your following copy
  • Don’t be try to be too clever. Only really established brands can get away with using off-the-wall headlines. Make sure yours are self explanatory and are relevant to the article you’ve written

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Keep it simple. This means don’t waffle on too long using too much flowery language. Write simply and get to the point quickly otherwise you run the risk of your audience losing interest.

4.

Features AND benefits. If you’re talking about a product or service, don’t just focus on a long list of features. You must include the benefits. For example what benefit will a particular feature bring to you audience. This is what will help you convince them that they need to take action.

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Write in a friendly manner as if you are talking to a friend. There are of course times for a more formal tone (for example if you are writing a press release you will always write in 3rd person), but for the most part try to write copy as if you are talking directly to a friend as readers will find it more engaging.

6.

Keep sentences and paragraphs short, punchy and to the point. I’m not saying don’t ever include long sentences but if you do follow it with a short one. Too many long sentences  and  your audience’s concentration will wander.

7.

Back up what you are saying with evidence.  For example, including things like statistics, testimonials and reviews will add support to what you are saying and will help convince and reassure your reader.

8.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that those you are writing for will have the same level of understanding on a subject as you. A few readers may have but they will probably be in the minority. Write as if your readers are not familiar with the intricate details of your product or  service and don’t use technical jargon or industry acronyms  without adding in a definition.

9.

Don’t forget your call to action at the end of any copy that you require a response to. Make sure it is clear for the reader to see and easy for them to take action on.

10.

Finally, try to relax into and enjoy what you are writing – this will help with the flow . For my part I find it useful to write an outline plan first – just so I know what I want to cover, then I tend to just write and leave the editing right to the end, rather than interrupting the flow to check grammar, spelling and repetition.

Hopefully there are some useful tips to get you writing with confidence. And, if you’d like to do a bit more reading  on the subject I’ve listed a few helpful websites and articles below.

Useful resources

All Good Copy – Free direct-response copywriting advice

Social Media Today – Begginer Copywriting Tips

How to write a successful online news release

How to start a successful blog for your online business

Drayton Bird Associates – Free marketing library

Social Media Today – how to write great online headlines

Small Businesses Do it Better – The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Small Business Email Marketing

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post, so please do leave a comment. Thanks!

Image courtesy of Just2shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

M-commerce: smartphones and purchasing on-the-go

smartphone online shoppingWhat does the growing popularity of smartphones mean for small online businesses ?

Recent years have seen a shift away from online shopping being carried out solely through a PC. Purchasing online is now a multi-device, mobile experience that has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop online.  As M-commerce continues on its steady upward trajectory,  what does this mean for the small business owner? In this post we look at some interesting statistics surrounding smartphones and their growing place in consumers’ online shopping experience.

Mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday life, for example when was the last time your left home without your mobile device?  I know if I ever leave mine behind, I spend the day subconsciously reaching about for it – so accustomed am I to its constant presence. So,  as mobile technology continues to improve and develop, one has to wonder what effect it will have on online shopping namely,  ‘shopping on the move’.

Shopping with smartphones – what does the future hold?

Actual online purchases made through a Smartphone are currently still lagging behind desk tops and tablets . However,  purchasing via a smartphone is rising and is likely to continue to do so as smartphone sales grow, mobile technology continues to advance and online businesses adapt their websites to be small device compatible.

In the last year, shopping by smartphone and tablet in the UK increased by  18%, with sales via mobile devices doubling to £3bn  .

“About 80% of mobile sales come from tablet computers, but sales via smartphones are growing faster as retailers adapt their websites to make it easier to shop from a phone and the technology improves. Sales from smartphones nearly tripled between 2012 and 2013.” The Guardian Business

Interesting Smartphone  statistics

“Smartphones are our constant shopping companions – helping us research, compare, and even purchase products online and in stores” Google Mobile Ads Blog  

I had a little look for some recent Smartphone statistics and found some interesting reading some of which I’ve listed below.

  • Mobile retail is gaining momentum with more than four in five (87%) smartphone and tablet owners in the US using a mobile device for shopping activities (Nielsen)
  • In the US 34% of mobile internet users admit that their smartphone is their primary device for going online (econsultancy)
  • A quarter of the UK have shopped online using their smartphone. Research shows that 23% of consumers in the UK have bought goods online  their smartphone. (econsultancy)
  • Data from econsultancy’s Multi-channel Retail Survey that the number of consumers that have made a purchase on mobile has roughly doubled in the UK since 2011 from 13% to 25% of consumers.
  • According to e-marketer 4.55 billion people worldwide will use a mobile phone in 2014 with 1.75 billion of those using smartphones
  • In June 2013 more than half (55%) of all ‘retail related’ time spent online originated on smartphones and tablet devices (econsultancy)
  • In the UK Smartphone owners who have used their smartphones to make a purchase has increased from 28% in 2011 to 39% in 2013 (Google Mobile Planet)
  • Smartphone penetration in the UK now stands at 58% (econsultancy)
  • eMarketer expects 4.55 billion people worldwide to use a mobile phone in 2014
    Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536#YeJmgHpqi67eTDtT.99
eMarketer expects 4.55 billion people worldwide to use a mobile phone in 2014
Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536#YeJmgHpqi67eTDtT.99
The global smartphone audience surpassed the 1 billion mark in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014 Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536#xolsKEfKZ550j9jI.99
The global smartphone audience surpassed the 1 billion mark in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014 Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536#xolsKEfKZ550j9jI.99

Mobile ecommerce shopping cart checkoutAdapting your website for small screen purchasing

It is important for small online businesses to adapt their websites for small screen purchasing. Even if actual purchasing on smartphones is still relatively low, it is rising steadily year-on-year. And as mobile technology and indeed shopping cart technology improves this is trend is likely to continue.

Equally important is the integral part that smartphones play in the multi-channel online shopping journey. Even if actual end purchasing is still predominantly via tablets and PCs, Smartphones are used for the initial research like checking out your website, downloading vouchers and looking up product reviews.

“In the UK, people are increasingly using their smartphones for researching products, locating stores and making purchases. That’s why it is now essential for businesses to ensure their sites are mobile-ready”. Matt Brocklehurst, Product Marketing Manager at Google

So make sure you don’t dismiss smartphones and the significant part they play in the online shopping journey . Get your website fully optimised to be multi-device compatible -  ensuring your customers experience a seamless online journey - right through to shopping cart and checkout.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post, so please do leave a comment.

Smartphone carrying shoppingcart courtesy of cuteimage / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

Online giving: increase charitable and non-profit gifts with a donation button

online donation, donating onlineIf you run a charity or not-for-profit organisation such as a school or church, then online giving can be a practical and valuable addition to your fundraising website. In recent years people have become more confident using the internet and far more proficient and trusting when carrying out financial transactions online. We can see this  reflected in the growth of online donations.

Increase online giving with a Donate button

Online giving  has become an increasingly popular way for people to contribute to charities and causes close to their hearts. According to The 2013 Charitable Giving Report overall charitable giving in the US grew a healthy 4.9% last year. However, even more impressively online giving grew 13.5%. It is important that smaller charities in particular tap into this by ensuring that they have a way to collect online donations from their websites.

A donation button offers charities and not-for-profit organisations:

  • an additional channel to take donations
  • a quick, simple and immediate way for potential donors to contribute
  • cost-effective collection tool – particularly for smaller charities where fundraising budgets are tight.

As internet usage continues to rise globally, adding a donation button to your website should be high- up on your fundraising agenda. People are turning to the internet not just for initial information research but with the intention of carrying out the entire process from start to finish online – including the final financial transaction. As online security has improved, people have become far more willing to complete financial transactions online. Indeed online credit and debit card transactions have steadily grown year-on-year and hand-in-hand with this growing confidence in making online payments. According to The UK Cards Association’s Annual Report 2013,  in the UK alone consumer internet card spending more than doubled in the period between 2006 and 2011.

“Online fundraising isn’t just for the future: it’s important for your nonprofit right now” (non-profit hub)

So how can a donate button help increase giving? Take this scenario, you have attracted a prospective donor to your to your site and they have decided that they are ready to contribute to your cause.  You are far more likely to get them to convert if you can offer an immediate payment option there and then. If you send them off to make a phone call or  to write and post a cheque, you run the risk of losing the donation altogether. It is important you make it as easy as possible for someone to make a donation. You must  strike whilst the iron is hot or in this case whilst your prospective donor  is on your site ready and willing to pay. If you donor leaves your website, the moment may have gone and you run the risk of your organisation losing out on a potential conversion.

Use digital marketing to help drive traffic to your donation button

A donation button is an essential addition but  don’t look at it in isolation, rather as a part of your fundraising efforts as a whole. I’m not saying that simply dropping in a donation button will suddenly solve all your fundraising problems. However using it in conjunction with your other digital tools can help increase those all important donations. Try to drive potential customers to your website donation button using email and social media. This way you have more of a chance of converting potential donors off the back of other campaigns. Once they are on your site make sure you have a good landing page where you can focus your efforts on converting prospects into potential donors.

 online donate buttonIntegrating a ‘Donate’ button to your website

When you are looking to integrate a ‘Donate’ button, think about choosing a flexible buyer chooses value option that enables a your donor to choose the amount he or she wishes to give.  Indeed,  by enabling your donor choose the amount they wish to contribute you may well end up with a larger overall donation. In fact, studies have  indicated that when people can actually choose the amount they wish to contribute they feel in control and are therefore increasingly likely to pay or donate a higher amount.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post, so please do leave a comment.

 Pink Donation image courtesy of winnoud / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Donate Computer Key image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

How smartphones have brought credit card acceptance within your reach

 

Guest Post: First Data Merchant Solutions

First Data Merchant Solutions LogoNew smartphone and Bluetooth technology has enabled very small businesses, such as mobile hairstylists, gardeners, plumbers or electricians to accept credit and debit cards easily and affordably.

Richard Simon from First Data Merchant Solutions, which provides special rates for card services to ShopIntegrator members, explains how small businesses can use the new technology to ensure they no longer have to turn away customers not carrying enough cash.

He said: “Traders can now buy a pocket sized card reader that can be easily attached via Bluetooth to their smartphone. Once you’ve downloaded an app to your phone, you are ready to start accepting card payments.

“These mobile card systems are more cost effective for very small businesses as they require less up-front investment than traditional card terminals like the ones used in shops.”

“First Data is a global expert in card acceptance,” explained Richard, “and we have recently recent launched Pogo> which enables you to accept mobile card payments with your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® or Android™ device. It’s fast, secure and easy to use with no contracts, fixed fees or minimum usage agreements.

“In the UK it’s still early days for mobile POS. Research suggests of Britain’s 4.9 million[1] small businesses less than a half accept card payments[2] and could be losing more than £800m[3] of sales a year as a result.

“This could be about to change as strong demand for mobile POS is predicted from both micro merchants and large merchants driven by growth in online trade, a rise in smartphone usage and card penetration. [4]

“Consumers increasingly expect to be able to use their cards whenever they wish. For the trader, mobile POS can mean never having to lose a sale because the customer doesn’t have the right amount of cash and less chasing of unpaid invoices.”

For more information about Pogo> please visit First Data Merchant Solutions

 

First Data Europe Limited is authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Service Regulations 2009 for the provision of payment services (FCA register No. 582703).

[1] http://www.fsb.org.uk/stats

[2]http://forum.vendorcom.com/media/RBTE2013/120313%20Worldpay%20Retail%20Presentation.pdf

[3] https://www.paypal.co.uk/blog/do-you-accept-cards-the-ps800-million-question-for-smes/

[4]http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mobile-pos-technology-market-and-social-commerce-impact-on-consumer-goods-industries-analyzed-in-new-research-reports-204335361.html

 

Google Adwords for small businesses and the importance of tracking ROI

PPC marketing, google adwords

What is Google AdWords and PPC?

Google AdWords is Google’s PPC (pay-per-click) search engine advertising program. It is not the only one, but it is the largest and probably most renowned. In this post we’ll examine why search engine advertising can be a really effective marketing tool for small businesses and should be included in your search engine marketing strategy. We’ll also focus on why tracking your PPC campaigns and their ROI  is important.

Basically, search engine marketing comprises of two key tools –  non-paid Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and paid PPC search engine advertising. SEO  focuses on content and involves the ongoing process of on-page optimisation, key-phrase analysis and link building. These help improve your businesses ranking within the natural / organic listings in the search engine results pages (SERPS). PPC on the other hand, is a paid approach that involves you advertising your business at the top and to the right of relevant search engine pages through identifying the keywords appropriate to your business and placing bids on those keywords. On each click-through from your advertisement you pay a pre-agreed amount to Google.

Benefits of Google AdWords to small businesses and start-ups.

SEO and PPC both have their own advantages and disadvantages and you don’t have to use one or the other in isolation. In fact, to make the most out of your search engine marketing you should use a combination of both SEO and PPC – that way you’ll maximise the amount of traffic coming through to your site. As a rough guide about two-thirds of visitors click-through via a natural listing and a third through PPC – which is still a significant amount of traffic that you can’t afford to ignore.

Google AdWords PPC offers a number of benefits to smaller businesses:

  • Cost control: You can manage and control your budget through capping your spend. Plus, you are only paying when a user actually clicks through to your site.
  • Quicker visibility: SEO offers longer-term and sustained rankings, but for a small business it can take a fair amount of time and lots of hard work to move up the search engine rankings. Whilst you are working on improving  your natural listings, PPC can be great way to get your business in front of your target audience quickly.
  • Immediacy: you can get your advertisement up on SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) within hours – which is great if you need to get a promotion out quickly or indeed need to react to some unexpected competitor activity.
  • Keyword bidding: Through higher keyword bidding against a competitor your ad can achieve a higher ranking.
  • Effective monitoring: Google AdWords tracking script enables you to closely monitor the success of your PPC campaigns.
  • Brand Awareness: Even if visitors do not click through to your advertisement, you are still building awareness of your brand amongst your target audience.

Search Engine MarketingMaking PPC work for your small business

Once you’ve signed up to Google AdWords, your first starting point is Google Keyword Planner. This will enable you to research relevant keywords, help generate keyword ideas and get search volume statistics and traffic estimates, all of which will help you decide which keywords to use and what budget  to set.

Remember though, the most popular keywords (the ones that generate the most traffic) will have the highest competition and will therefore require more budget. So spend some time looking for what’s known as ‘long-tail’ keywords. These are longer, more targeted keyword phrases that often have lower competition (as they generate less search volume) and consequently lower costs.  Crucially though they often have a higher conversion rate giving you a better ROI.  To get the most out PPC you will need to do a fair amount of tweaking and testing of different keywords and phrases.

And, don’t forget your landing page. You could have the greatest ad campaign in the world, but if your landing page is poor then any potential customer will leave immediately rather than converting into that all important sale. Spend time making your landing page effective in order to maximise your conversions.

Importance of monitoring your Google AdWords campaigns and ROI

The key to success in using any PPC service lies in the richness of keywords themselves as well as the continuous testing of ads” (Gay et al, Online Marketing).

As with any other marketing, it is essential that you can monitor and analyse your campaigns. Having a deeper understanding of how specific keywords and campaigns have performed,  means you will be able to   focus your effort and channel your budget in the right direction, thus maximizing your ROI (Return on Investment).

Google AdWords provides  a tracking script that enables you to monitor all sorts of useful information that occurs after a customer clicks through from your advertisement.  Tracking and analysing  this information equips you with the knowledge you need to make decisions on where best to focus you efforts. You will know which of your campaigns were the most successful at bringing in business  and then you can tweak or get rid of those that are underperforming.

Tracking your Google AdWords campaign on your shopping cart’s order completion page.

Conversion tracking through your order completed page is simple once you’ve set up you Google AdWords campaign. For example, with  ShopIntegrator you can easily integrate the Google AdWords campaign tracking script at order completion. Google AdWords can then receive statistics from customers who have made a purchase from you and arrived at your site from your Google AdWords campaign. ShopIntegrator allows you to insert order specific statistics like order value into the Google AdWords tracking script that will enable Google AdWords campaign dashboard to show your cost per acquisition.

Google AdWords is a great marketing tool for small businesses especially if you are looking at the wider picture of search engine marketing as a whole and using it in conjunction with SEO activities. Focus your initial efforts into keyword research incorporating long-tail keywords and phrases, optimising your landing page and tracking your performance. Remember creating successful ROI with PPC takes lots of testing and tweaking – so keep at it.

Useful websites and articles if you want to find out more about successful PPC

Google Adwords

Google Keyword Planner

Smarta: How to use pay-per-click advertising

Econsultancy: SEO & PPC 

Search Engine Watch: Long-tail Keywords

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic, so please do leave a comment.

SEM Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net