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Website optimisation has a huge impact on offline marketing strategies according to recent survey

Published on December 7, 2012
Tags: Usability, Web Design London

A recent chart by MarketingSherpa surveyed a number of marketers and found that 70% of respondents believe that their online optimisation efforts have made an impact on their offline campaigns or other marketing strategies.

Respondents were encouraged to answer this question so that it could be analysed whether online marketers had any plans to integrate optimisation lessons within their larger marketing plans. Part of this can be that website optimisation gives marketers the opportunity to test elements of value and use these results to isolate products, messages and campaigns that will resonate with their audience.

This then begs the question of why marketers don’t use web optimisation findings to improve their overall results and attain more sales. In fact, data by the 2012 Website Optimisation Benchmark Report found that marketers who had advanced their levels of optimisation within their marketing practices were 57% more likely to take what they had learnt from testing optimisation protocols in offline campaigns and any form of broader messaging.

How online strategies can improve offline sales

This survey is an encouraging sign that website optimisation is the future when it comes to influencing marketing strategies. Any marketers having problems with improving sales offline might need to know how to utilise their web marketing efforts to interpret the results. From this a strategy can then be formed which will ultimately convert to both online and offline sales.

Consider the example of Hewlett Packard and how they combined their offline and online marketing strategies to boost their sales by 2,050%. The computer manufacturer did this by creating a targeted email database and website with content to connect a niche audience and drive sales.

HP faced the challenge of how to better communicate between their IT managers on college campuses and they wanted to convince their target market that HP had the hardware and the expertise necessary to make the IT managers stronger assets to their schools.

By arming the IT managers with as much information about HP’s products both offline and by creating a targeted email database and website, it meant that the HP brand was at the top of their mind when it came to making a purchasing decision.

HP built a database of IT managers by creating a microsite to host content which was specific to each audience, launching a lead-generation campaign involving direct mail which was sent to IT directors and managers. This direct mail encouraged them to visit the InformED microsite they had created and to register to receive the newsletter in return for a free T-shirt.

By enrolling the managers into subscription lists and then continuing to grow and nurture these lists, HP’s 18 month campaign saw 100% higher average revenue per subscriber than their average revenue from higher education customers.

The HP case is a perfect example of how website optimisation can interlink with an offline marketing strategy to have a huge impact on your marketing sales. 

By Chelsey Evans

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Google and Bing are hitting all-time highs in the search engines

Published on December 6, 2012
Tags: SEO

Google and Bing have hit all-time highs in US search engines, according to comScore’s  October 2012 search activity and rankings report. These new scores show that Google’s market share has risen two-tenths of a point from 66.7 per cent in September to 66.9 per cent in October, while Bing gained a tenth of a point, reaching 16 per cent in October.

While it’s no surprise that Google still owns most of the search engine market, these figures are showing record highs for these respective search engines. Other search engines in the report either remain static with Yahoo! remaining at 12.2%, AOL at 1.8% while Ask’s share of the market was down from 3.5% in September to 3.2% in October.
What these records mean
While this is a US based report, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Worldwide statistics show that Google has a market share of 82.80% as of May 2011, while Yahoo! has 6.42%, which is 2.51% higher than Bing whose worldwide market share is 3.91%. 
In reflecting on the bigger picture, this is great news for Bing who are marking their territory as the US’s second choice of search engine. Yahoo is the third most popular search engine, but worldwide they are still the second choice as an alternative to Google.
So what has made Google and Bing so popular?
Part of the reason why these two search engines have seen such great success is that they provide users with customised results based on their search activity history. This causes what is known as a filter bubble effect, where a website’s algorithm selectively guesses the information that the user wants to see. This is based on the user’s location, search history and previous clicks. 
As a result of this, users find information which agrees with their viewpoints and they become isolated in their own ideological or cultural bubbles. This causes the user to find personalised results based on what they were looking for. For example, search for ‘The House of Commons’ and it will come up with their website, along with other informative sources. This is due to search engine algorithms which change as the user’s search history is built up over time.
What can the other search engines learn from these results?
Internet marketers use search engines such as Google and Bing because they make it easy to find information about users so that marketers can target their advertising. They do this by making their search terms appear more prominently in a search results query page.
While Yahoo! has increased its number of clicks by 270% since it introduced its ‘Today’ box in 2009 to personalise the search engine results and make them more efficient, other search engines will have to follow the methods which Google and Bing have applied. In replicating their methods and helping internet marketers with their targeted advertising, search engines will then start to see their own forms of success.

By Chelsey Evans

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Will HTML5 change the future of web design as we know it?

Published on December 4, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

When HTML5 is finally released in July 2014, it will change the face of the internet. This was recently reaffirmed by Designer and Consultant Jen Simmons who spoke at Event Apart, an annual design conference which this year was held in Chicago. In her speech she said that, “HTML is more than paving the cowpaths. There's a lot of stuff in the spec about databases and communication protocols and blahdiblah backend juju. Some of that stuff is pretty radical. And it will change how you design websites."

In the near future this means that HTML5 will allow designers to think without any restraints and use this new technology to change the way that users interact with the web. This is because there are a whole host of technologies which web designers will need to be aware of and these include HTML5 APIs and beyond.

What will HTML 5 change?

While still in development at present, when it is finally released, HTML5’s core aims will be to improve the language of HTML, provide support for the latest multimedia while being simple to use and compatible across all computers and devices. This completely new version of HTML will mean web browsers will have to support it to correctly display web pages using HTML5 functions.

The changes that HTML5 will bring include increased speed due in part to removing the extra elements needed inside the actual code. This means that in a HTML5 browser, no extra information is needed to render the same content on a screen, as it will already know what needs to be shown on the screen, using a more concise amount of code to show this.

Input fields for forms will also become more simplified; at present when an input field is required, a script has to be generated to validate the form. In HTML5, a simple component will be added to each element which indicates that a field is required, so there’s need for Javascript. This is just one example of the many benefits which HTML5 will bring to forms.

Another advantage of HTML5 will bring is providing web technology which no longer relies on Flash for watching animations on websites. The new HTML5 will provide a more efficient means of drawing and animating objects.

As the web is becoming more mobile with many people accessing the internet over their smartphone, there are multiple problems with viewing Flash files as they tend to load very slowly. This could soon be a thing of the past as it becomes easier for servers to load, so downloading files won’t take as long to parse the information.

Simmons says that all these developments will allow designers to “Break from design’s past in order to fully take advantage of its future”. As the internet is becoming increasingly more app based, this could open up a whole new world of opportunities, allowing people to rethink the way that content is created. 

By Chelsey Evans

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Which data is most important for capturing lead generation data?

Published on December 3, 2012
Tags: Internet Communication, Web Development London

A recent market research chart from MarketingSherpa.com analysed a range of top form fields from a variety of their respondents.  Their findings from a collection of lead generation data discovered that ‘the selection of form fields on the landing page can potentially affect volume and quality of conversions’.

So if for example on your landing page on your website, you include too many required fields, the number of leads generated will fall. This happens because many potential prospects might not be interested in providing a lot of personal information, due to it being time consuming or because they’re worried about how it might be used.

What the results found

The leads that do provide their information into these fields will usually be of a better quality, allowing you to capture this data more effectively and gain a broader prospect of who is using your website. Ultimately this will allow you to use appropriate marketing techniques to target your prospective audience.

Similarly if you don’t include enough fields, then the quality of your leads will suffer but it means that you will increase the volume of prospective leads who will share their data. At the top of the chart for example, was email address with 96% of respondents indicating this is the most important field for capturing data and as a means of staying in contact with their target audience.

In second place was the lead’s name with 89% of respondents claiming this was vital information. This is because most landing pages need to capture a lead’s name and email address for the basics of profiling their audience and addressing them appropriately.

In contrast the least important fields for collecting data were considered to be budget (17%), website (20%), key pain point (23%), timeframe for purchase (24%) and mobile phone number (24%).

Balancing quality vs quantity leads

So what should you choose; quality or quantity? Ideally you want a high number of quality leads but interestingly, the MarketingSherpa article found the criteria that counts the most is the one that relates to the most lead-capture optimisation. This was highlighted by the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic which found that the largest response was to email addresses and names but after this, there was a significant drop (by 38%) to the next category at just 51%.

In summary

Today’s consumers are used to doing multiple things at a fast space, so it seems logical that many would abandon a lead generation form if it asked for too much information. Time is precious and capturing as many leads as possible is vital, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of not fulfilling the lead’s basic needs. It also depends on the context and type of business you’re running. For example in regard to the bottom of the chart, many of these fields would be included on niche sites such as business and consulting web pages where specific information is required so that the client’s request can be handled properly and provided with an adequate solution.

By Chelsey Evans

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Survey reveals slow shopping websites affect visitor buying habits

Published on November 30, 2012
Tags: Usability, Web Development London

A recent survey by Monitis, a cloud and web app monitoring company found that many online shopping websites are not fast enough with new data providing warnings that many consumers have cancelled their orders due to slow response times.

Findings from 1006 online shoppers who were polled by Opinion Matters on behalf of Monitis, found that 56% of those taking part, when quizzed about website response times, spent more than two hours a week shopping online and admitted they had cancelled an order if the response times were slow.

74% of respondents also believed they would switch to a competing online shopping site if they felt they could have a better user experience and the website was a lot faster than the one they were currently using.

Other important findings from the survey found that in 81% of respondents, the number one reason for choosing to shop online was to make purchases instead of shopping at stores in the high street.

61% also found that price was the most important consideration when it came to choosing what to buy online. Meanwhile 61% of online shoppers might leave a web page and search for a competitor whose site doesn’t take longer than 30 seconds to load.

What does this mean for online shopping during peak season?

With the festive season approaching, online retailers (vendors) will need to ensure that their websites are providing shoppers with an efficient user experience which is efficient, but the onus is on the web developers and designers to avoid downtime as the holiday rush approaches. This is particularly important as for online stores, their success is solely focused on the minimum threshold of their uptime; so for every moment their website is down, they lose sales.

One of the ways in which an online vendor can ensure they make good sales is to have sufficient developers working on the system for maintenance in case the website goes down. Another option is to ensure the website is easy to access and highly usable, as 56% of respondents to the Monitis survey indicated that when comparing one retail site and why they went to another instead to do their shopping, website usability is an incredibly important factor, second only to price and reputation.

Online vendors should also have a good idea of the best time to shop online and according to the survey, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the most popular according to 40% of all respondents, while 32% preferred to do their online shopping in the early evening, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

All of these factors are things which a website vendor should take into account when thinking about how their visitors use the site during peak times, when demand for online shopping is high. Sub-optimal performance and a poor customer experience can result in transaction losses, so businesses need to learn how to optimise their website and strengthen their online stores for such occasions.

By Chelsey Evans

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