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

 

 

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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

Affiliate Marketing: How SME’s can increase online sales

affiliate marketing, SME's, increase salesAs a small business owner you may want to consider the benefits of using a third-party to help you drive potential sales traffic through to your online business. Known as affiliate marketing, this online partnership can be attractive to SME’s as it can mean a controlled and often lower cost per acquisition. For a business with a  small budget this can be an attractive proposition since,  unless a result is achieved (for example an actual sale takes place) no commission is paid to the third-party.

So what is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing has grown steadily over the last ten years,  hand-in-hand with the rise of  e-commerce.  Online partnerships have become a prominent part of the digital marketing mix.  You are probably all familiar with larger established affiliate programmes like Amazon and VoucherCodes, well you can create partnerships and gain referrals from all sorts of sources such as review sites, directories, niche blogging sites and industry specific sites.  At a simplistic level, affiliate marketing is essentially an arrangement whereby one website refers online shoppers to a merchant’s site for an agreed commission or fee. This could be as a CPC (cost per click) or more usually, CPA (cost per acquisition).

“You could say that Affiliate marketing is the ultimate form of marketing communications since it’s a “pay-per-performance marketing” method i.e. it’s a commission-based arrangement where the merchant or business selling products only pays when they make the sale or get a lead.” Smart Insights

The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing for small businesses

If you spend time planning and managing affiliate marketing, then it can be an effective sales tool.  Affiliate marketing can offer your business:

  • Controlled cost per acquisition with little wastage – no fee is paid unless a result is achieved
  • Help towards SERPS visibility (don’t forget affiliates are often SEO and PPC experts enabling you to reach an audience that you may not have the resources to reach)
  • Help generate awareness for your product and brand amongst new, targeted audiences

What you need to consider

Of course there are things you need to consider before rushing headlong into affiliate marketing. Of primary importance is to choose the affiliates you are going to work with carefully. Make sure you:

  • think very carefully about commission. Work with your affiliate partner to come up with something that works for you both. Remember the EPA (Earning Per Acquisition) is  likely reflect the effort they put into promoting your business. Equally importantly, it must be profitable for your business too. If the commission is too high then it negates any benefits the referral brings, especially if you are offering special promotions and offers as well.
  • check that they are promoting your business in front of a new audience that it is difficult for you to reach,  as you don’t want to cannibalize and pay a commission on sales that you would have made anyway.
  •  verify that they are using ethical, white hat marketing techniques to promote their business. Having your business advertised on inappropriate sites may cause harm  to your brands reputation.
  • you have the resources and time in place  to work with your affiliates – a good relationship is far more likely to generate better results.

How to get the best out of Affiliate Marketing

The best way to get the most out of affiliates is to look at it as a partnership. Instead of randomly choosing loads of affiliates to work with, choose a few appropriate affiliate networks that operate within your industry or have knowledge of your particular niche.  This way you will be able to better manage and control the partnership. The relationship should be two-way and good communication is essential.  Talk to your affiliate partners, find out what offers will bring in the best success rate and let them know well in advance of any new products or features you may have coming up.

How to effectively track response through your shopping cart

Of course, just as important is the monitoring and tracking of your affiliate partnerships. This can be time-consuming especially if you have a number of different partners or affiliate networks. A good option is to integrate some Affliliate Marketing Software. There are some excellent third-party solutions available that can help you manage all your different affiliate partnerships by tracking clicks, referrals, commission, payments and so on.

You could chose either to install your own affiliate marketing software, for example:

  • JROX.COM
  • iDevAffiliate
  • OmniStar OSI Affiliate
  • Post Affiliate Pro

Alternatively you could decide to become part of an established affiliate network like:

  • ClixGalore
  • ShareASale
  • Tradedoubler
  • Zanox
  • Affiliate Window
  • Rakuten LinkShare

Whichever route you decide to go down, your shopping cart software should be able to integrate the tracking script from your chosen third-party affiliate software onto your order complete web page.

For example, with ShopIntegrator,  you can easily paste the  tracking script from your affiliate marketing software into the order completed web page, enabling you to identify the customers that arrived on your website from an affiliate / partner site, then went on to make a purchase from your site. The order value is then automatically fed back into your affiliate marketing software and each of your affiliates can be assigned their commission accordingly.

The process becomes automated freeing up your time to better manage the relationship you have with your affiliates, rather than being bogged down by administration.

For further information on integrating third-party tracking scripts visit ShopIntegrator.

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

Image courtesy of sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be prepared for international cardholders

First Data Merchant Solutions LogoGuest Post: First Data Merchant Solutions

Have you noticed that while most international visitors to the UK carry credit or debit cards, they don’t always have Chip and PIN capability?

John Champion from First Data Merchant Solutions, which provides preferential rates to ShopIntegrator members, offers advice on what to do if you are handed one of these cards so you don’t lose a sale.

While Chip and PIN technology has been established in the UK since 2008, it’s still not a standard feature on many international payment cards – including those issued in the USA.

‘The magnetic stripe and signature strip is the fall back solution where there is no chip, it’s not working or has been disabled,’ explained John. ‘So we suggest two things – firstly that retailers remind their staff how to use the stripe option and secondly to remember all the old ways of spotting fraud.’

  • When checking the signature, look closely at the signature strip and make sure the original signature has not be ‘over-written’
  • Look at the front of the card under a UV light – does it have the appropriate mark?
  • Make sure the first four digits of the MasterCard or Visa card number are also printed above or below the      embossed number
  • Check that the last four digits of the embossed card number appear on the receipt

‘So if you are handed an international card without Chip and PIN technology – don’t panic and definitely don’t turn the customer away!’ says John. ‘A little planning and training will mean that you make the most of international cardholders.’

For more information about special card services rates for members 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).

Talking someone’s language will increase your international sales

Globe covered in country flagesGoing global – reach, engage and convert an international audience

The Internet opened a whole world of global opportunities for the small business owner.  For the first time, SME’s were able to compete on a level playing field to reach markets once only accessible to big multi-national corporations. Suddenly a small cottage business could sell its products to customers from all over the globe.

With annual global e-commerce sales now over the $1 trillion mark, growth looks set to continue. Research statistics estimate that by 2016 there will be  1321 million digital buyers worldwide with an average digital spend of $1,439 per annum by 2016.

If you can successfully tap into this lucrative global market, a whole international audience awaits. The key issue however is, now that you’ve reached this new global audience how do you then engage them and convert them into paying customers?

Offering a multilingual online shop can increase international sales

We know that the more welcoming and straightforward your website is, the more chance you have of engaging your customer and converting them to a sale. Well, the same applies to an international customer. The more welcoming you make your website, the more likely it is that they will convert to a purchase. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by enabling your website to speak their language.

Why should you adapt your perfectly functional English language website to include a multi-lingual online store? In an  J.P. Morgan report for the Department of Commerce, it is estimated that only 27% of global online shoppers are English-speaking – that leaves a whopping 73% you are not able to communicate with through your website.  Offering a multi-language online store will help you:

  • Attract more overseas customers
  • Grow your global sales with increased conversions from international customers
  • Reduce shopping cart abandonment rate from overseas customers
  • Encourage more repeat visits from international customers

Merry chrismtmas in different languagesOffer a multilingual storefront

If your website offers  international shipping you are probably already receiving interest from international customers. As an SME you can better cater for an international audience by providing an online shopping experience in their own language. You may have a single English-speaking website or wish to create several multi-language versions of your site. Either scenario will benefit from introducing shopping cart software with multi-language capabilities.

1. Single English language website: The checkout process is often the most complicated element for an international customer. Terminology can be technical and trying to negotiate the payment element can make a customer unfamiliar with the language nervous – often resulting in shopping cart abandonment midway through the purchasing process. Offering customers a choice of languages in which to progress through your online store can make all the difference in whether your engaged customer converts to an actual sale.

2. Separate multi-lingual websites:  Alternatively, you wish to build several separate language versions of your website for audiences from different countries. Choose a shopping cart where you can use the same shopping cart account for all your multi-language versions. Having a shopping cart account that can be set to display the matching language of each specific website will eliminate the need for the shopper to make a language selection and for you to operate a different online store account for each language.

ShopIntegrator offers a multi-lingual storefront in 7 languages which compliments its multi-currency capabilities. And impressively, if you totted up the combined total of these seven key languages, you’d have a total audience of 1.7 billion people.

ShopIntegrator’s seven key language options:

  1. English
  2. French / Français
  3. German / Deutsch
  4. Italian / Italiano
  5. Portuguese (Brasil) / Português (Brasil)
  6. Spanish / Español
  7. Swedish / Svenska

Keep the shopping experience seamless for international customers

Keeping the language consistent across all a customer facing aspects of your online store is important, from basket right through the third-party payment processing. Using the customers preferred language from start to finish provides  a welcoming environment and seamless process for international customers. From:

Online store text

e-commerce buttons

Shopping cart checkout

Payment processing

Customer order email receipts

Customer order invoices

Order completed web page

Essentially, the success of converting an interested international audience into actual purchasers lies in removing as many obstacles as possible. And, language has to be one of the biggest – remove it and you are on the way to growing your international customer base.

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