Monday, 14 April 2014

6 Areas To Improve Customer Retention

Customer acquisition and customer retention are vital for business growth. SEO (search engine optimisation) primarily deals with customer acquisition, but in this blog post we're going to focus on retention. Customer retention is all about getting the most out of the leads or clients you already have, converting them from one time buyers to loyal customers and brand advocates.

The aim is simple, to do more with your traffic by increasing conversion and retention.

1. Get the delivery right

They want it now. Customers are naturally impatient, if they’ve paid for something they want to start using it straight away. For this reason the speed and reliability of your delivery service is of upmost importance. You must offer fast delivery options for those who really do want their product now and ensure that your standard delivery service arrives on time or early. In addition, keeping customers informed on the progress of their order will keep their minds at ease making the whole buying process more enjoyable for them. Under promise, over deliver makes for happy customers.

2. Use registration to make repeat purchases speedy

Online registration enables the customer to store their own information, so that they don’t have to keep on filling it in every time they wish to place an order. It is also a great way to get customers to sign up for your email updates.

Websites that use registration to take all of the hassle out of making a second order can see a large increase in the number of repeat purchases. Amazon is a great example, they offer registered users one click payment.

3. Make password retrieval easy

We are all busy people with lots of things floating around filling our heads – which makes remembering passwords difficult! The last thing you want is for a 'ready to buy' customer to put off their purchase because they can’t remember their password. Setting up security questions which allow customers to reset their password quickly will allow them to continue with their order.

4. Have an easy to understand and free returns policy

Confidence in the quality and effectiveness of your product is freeing. Offering easy and free returns can encourage repeat business because the customer sees that you are confident in your product and if they know that they can return then they will more easily be persuaded to buy because it’s less of a commitment.

5. Make customers feel looked after with personal emails

Personalised emails saying a genuine thank you once a customer has made a purchase will make them feel appreciated. And if you have online registrations you will know the birthday of your customer, sending a birthday message with a coupon of some kind is another nice touch.

If you have goals and tracking set up in Google Analytics you’ll have access to information on shoppers who have abandoned during checkout. There are many reasons why they might have abandoned; one of them is that they might not have had enough information on the product. A friendly personal email saying: “we noticed you recently abandoned your checkout, is there anything we can help you with?”

6. Value loyal customers with rewards

There are all types of rewards, for referral, for loyalty or for first time buyers. It is really important to reward your long term customers and not just use rewards as a way to get new customers.

These six things can all be summed up in two principles: streamlining the purchase process and standing out from your competitors for exceptional customer service.

Friday, 4 April 2014

6 Tips on how to write the ultimate FAQ page

“FAQ pages (on a website), done the traditional way, are the dumbest things ever.” Marcus Sheridan

In his blog article Marcus talks about ‘the traditional FAQ’ page, you know the type, where there is a really long list of questions and answers, perhaps ordered alphabetically, perhaps not ordered at all. You spend 10 minutes of your precious time scrolling through without ever finding the answer you were looking for… we’ve all been there. At this point I usually vow never to return to that website again!

So why do people have FAQ pages and are they really necessary?

Everyone else’s got one.

This is not a good reason. In a way FAQ pages have become like the unread but necessary web Terms and Conditions gathering dust on a website’s footer.

The difference is that users do actually need their questions answered.

People are increasingly searching Google with questions. Google, with its hummingbird update, is taking steps to further improve its understanding of language so that it can provide users with the most relevant answers to their long-tail queries (search phrases with lots of keywords). Anticipating these questions and providing the user with a dedicated page to answer their question is one way to improve your Google rankings. Put simply, FAQs will help your SEO.

Providing FAQs is important because unanswered questions could be stopping your potential customers / prospects from converting. The e-commerce website that provides an easy to find answer will gain the trust of the buyer; you want that to be your website rather than a competitor’s.

FAQs but done properly

So having an FAQ page is important but only if it’s done properly, but how do you create the ultimate FAQ page?

1. Keep your FAQ page customer focused

If it’s not a question that customers ask then it probably shouldn’t be there. Your FAQ pages doesn’t need to contain everything you want to say, some information might fit better on your ‘About’ page.

An easy way to find out what your customers are asking is to find out from your team what questions they usually encounter, then provide the solutions clearly. It’ll save your team time in the long run too because they’ll be able to point people directly to your FAQ page.

2. Organise

It’s really important not to randomly list questions or sort them A-Z, these are no good as there are just too many different ways to ask a question. Instead organise the questions into themes or categories that would make sense to the customer. If a question fits into more than one category, put it in both, anything that makes it easier for the user is a good thing.

Format the whole FAQ page so that it is easy to scan. One way to do this is to minimise the answers, but this technique often uses AJAX-based code. This coding is problematic for Google to understand, so steer clear of this if you want your FAQs to help you Google rankings.

A much better way to organise your FAQ page is to create a separate page to answer each question. This way, the user won’t have to scroll down through screens and screens of information before they get to the answer they need. Your FAQ page will consist of an ordered list of the questions, which all link to a page with the answer. This is great for your SEO because as we mentioned before, people type their questions directly into Google, and a whole page focusing on that topic will rank higher in Google than a page diluted with other questions.

If your answers are too short to justify a whole page, then you could just have a separate page per theme or category, either way make it nice and easy to navigate back to the main FAQ page.

3. Make your questions and themes task based

For example, talk about ‘making a purchase’ or ‘tracking an order’ instead of ‘billing information’ or ‘order history’. This comes back to being customer focused. You need to think how a customer would ask the question and search Google for the answer.

4. Give non-technical or jargon answers

Jargon alienates people. It’s exactly the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to convert prospects into custmers. Take the time to fully explain the answer, this will not only be more useful but I’ll also provide more content for Google.

It’s hard to know what’s jargon and what’s not when you use jargon every day. So get someone who doesn't speak 'your language' to read your FAQ answers over and feedback on them.

5. Link to products / services when you can

The best FAQ pages are those that answer the customers’ questions and provide them with an obvious way to continue their purchase journey. FAQs should all point to a goal, not just randomly provide information. The purpose of FAQ pages is to remove doubts customers have so they can take action, so make sure you provide a clear call to action. This can be a link to any relevant product, service or information on your website.

6. Make it easy for customers to ask a question

You’re not a mind reader, so you can’t possibly foresee everything a customer might want to ask. This is why it’s important to provide an option for a customer to ask a question. Do this by making sure your contact details are prominent and by providing a link to an enquiry form or email.

These recommendations will help you to create a useful FAQ page that Google and your customers will love. The results: you’ll not only get more visitors to your website but it’ll also help them to make a buying decision.

Let us know what successes you’ve had with an FAQ page, or if you have any FAQ writing tips you’d like to add (click into the article and scroll to the bottom to add a comment).

Each unique visit to your website is an opportunity for you to make a sale. Your aim should be to see the largest proportion of visitors as possible converting, by focusing on this you can increase your online income without increasing visits to your website.

Monday, 24 March 2014

11 ways to encourage customer reviews

We’ve collated some of the very best tips from around the web on how to encourage your customers to leave reviews. Whether it be service or product reviews, asking users to leave a review on your website is one of the best forms of marketing that will help not only your SEO efforts but should improve your conversion rate too.

Okay let’s get started.

1. Provide a great service and/or great products. 

Psst… you really should be doing this anyway… but if your products or service beats your competitors then your customers are more likely to leave a review.

2. Ask for a review by email. 

Include a link to the reviews page either within the automated email confirmation following a purchase or make it part of your follow up email.

3. Embed review collection in confirmation email. 

This way your customers don’t have to click away from their email at all. No obstacles are put in their way.

4. Provide comment cards. 

If your business is done in person then providing comment cards that your customers can easily fill in is ideal. Or you can pop them in the post with a hard copy receipt. (Don’t forget to provide a pre-paid envelope otherwise you don’t stand any chance of getting them returned).

5. Add a request to your ‘thank you’ page. 

This is usually found after someone has made a purchase and completed checkout on an ecommerce store.

6. Make it easy. 

As with any action you ask your customers to make you must remove any barriers. Don’t ask for them to fill in a great long form. Using the five star rating system (similar to what Amazon uses) is easy and should encourage customers to also leave a written review (which is by far the best type of review from an SEO and conversion perspective).

7. Publish good and bad reviews. 

If all you have are great reviews doesn’t that look a little suspicious? Now I’m not saying go ahead and create some negative reviews if you really don’t have any but do make sure you publish your not-so-good feedback too. This also lets your customers know that you’re willing to publish any kind of review and will encourage them to take the time to write a review.

8. Turn every bit of feedback you receive into a review. 

Whether it be on the phone, via email or social media (see next tip) any type of feedback you get should be added to your website.

9. Use social media. 

Feedback via Twitter, positive or negative, can be turned into a review, so don’t forget to ask for it. Use your Google+ local page to obtain reviews. Facebook has a ‘reviews’ tab that allows anyone visiting your company page to read or add a review. After all what’s the point of having fans and followers if you don’t do something with them? Turn them into brand ambassadors.

10. Publish reviews where people can see them. 

Why would a customer leave a review if they can’t see reviews others have made? Or they didn’t know that they could leave a review?

11. Pick up the phone.

Give your top clients / customers a call and ask them if they'd be willing to give you a review. They don't have to put anything in writing but need to be willing for you to use their names. Let them know that you value their feedback and by giving your products or services a review will help others to make a better buying decision.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

angelfysh MD Mike Owen is Guest Speaker at the BPMA North Regional Event

Mike Owen is MD of angelfysh and award winning brand consultancy Violet Bick, our sister company. He'll be speaking on:

‘Why STOPPING Using Promotional Gifts As Marketing Tools - Today - Will Make More Money (For You and Your Customers) Tomorrow’

It’ll be challenging, odd, unusual and weird.

But then that’s the world of proper branding…

The BPMA North Regional Event, will be taking place this Wednesday 26th March. Read the full story here.

User Reviews: why they’re essential for e-commerce SEO and how to encourage your customers to leave reviews

Enabling customer reviews on your e-commerce website can both help your SEO and positively influence your customers' buying decisions. In this blog post we'll talk about why reviews are so important and how to encourage your customers to leave them.

Why are customer reviews important?

BrightLocal carried out a survey in 2013 where they asked 3,600 consumers various questions about how reviews impacted their buying behaviour, they found that:

  • 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.
  • 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 49% of local consumers are more likely to use a business that has positive reviews.

Reviews matter to consumers when they’re deciding whether or not to make a purchase. They present the customer with real insight into what the product is actually like. Customers identify with these reviews and have begun to expect them.

Do online reviews have the same impact as personal recommendations? This is a very important question as there would be no use in reviews if other customers didn't believe them. The second statistic above shows that nearly 8 out of 10 people do. Customers tend to trust a review even more if the author is similar to them, as we all take advice more readily from those our own age and in similar life situations.

How do customer reviews help your SEO?

Reviews = UGC: You may have noticed that we talk a lot about content. That’s because it is arguably the single most important factor when Google determines where to rank a website in its search results. Content is the backbone of SEO. Reviews allow users to add their own content to your website; this is called User Generated Content (UGC for short).

This additional unique content makes can make a real difference to your SEO. For example, two e-commerce websites selling the same product are likely to have very similar product descriptions; product reviews give you the opportunity to have completely unique, product specific content for each product page.

Regularly updated website: Customer reviews mean that your website will be regularly updated, without you having to do anything. This is beneficial because to Google, a regularly updated website is a useful one. Google will crawl updated pages more regularly and this aids your Google rankings.

Increased CTR: Google has started to include consumer reviews in its search engine results displayed as star ratings under the website link. These little stars draw the attention of the searcher, causing the proportion of people who click through to the website (the Click Through Rate) to increase. This not only gets you more visitors but it also helps your rankings.

Increased conversion rates: If visitors arriving at your website see that other customers were pleased with a product then they are much more likely to make a purchase, therefore increasing your conversion rate. This means that you receive more business from the same number of visitors. saw their conversion rate increase by 14.2% when their product pages featured reviews.

Broader range of LSI keywords (words with similar meanings): Customers will use their own phrases to describe the product, purely because they’re not you! This adds keyword diversity to a product page, which Google thinks is a good thing.

What happens if I get a bad review?

Publish it. Customers need to see authenticity to trust reviews, not cherry picking just the best reviews will show customers that the good reviews are genuine.

It is really important that you respond publically to all negative reviews. This shows the rest of your customers that you’re listening, you do care about their custom and that you’re quick to resolve an issue.

Negative reviews could alert you to an issue you may not have been aware of, e.g. If your delivery company is grumpy and unhelpful, this allows you to fix the issue.

How to ask people to review my website?

One great opportunity to ask customers to review a product is in their post product emails (make sure to include social links in this email in case the customer wants to share the product). You could also follow up this email with a friendly call.

Offering an incentive for leaving a review works well to encourage customers. Incentives don’t always mean giving something away for free; gamification techniques such as customer status are very powerful incentives which can be used to increase engagement. (If you want to read more about gamification - which means making an experience more game like - Gabe Zichermann talks about it here.)

Make sure that it’s really easy to leave a review. If a customer is already logged into an account, do you need to ask them to fill out a CAPATCHA?

It is really important that you don’t duplicate external reviews in your website review system as Google will be able to tell that the content is not original and Google penalises duplicate content.

Make sure your reviews are accessible for Google to index. This means avoiding Java script, flash, images or frames. It is also very important that Google can match the review with the product – otherwise all the SEO benefits will be wasted.

With the online world becoming increasingly competitive, any advantage you can get over competitors is worth seriously considering. In 2014 customer reviews are an e-commerce website ‘must have’. They aid your SEO = more visitors. And they increase conversion = more business from those visitors. It's win win.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Write on Tap with Debbie Owen

Debbie is our angelfysh copywriter and Social Media Author. She creates character. When she's not writing for angelfysh Debbie writes for ITV, BBC and now Write on Tap.

Working alongside highly renowned writers such as Lynda La Plante, Debbie has contributed towards some of the UK’s most highly rated TV soaps and dramas and has received various commissions from the BBC and ITV.

Debbie is also a founding member of Write on Tap, a theatre group entirely devoted to producing and developing new plays authored from aspiring new writers. Chrysalis is a play that Debbie composed and was performed in February.

Read a little more about it here.

Friday, 17 January 2014

How to integrate social media into your online strategy to support SEO

Today we’re going to focus on Social Media and how to best integrate it into your online strategy to support your search engine optimisation (SEO).

The Platforms

Many people ask us, “Which Social Media platforms should I be using?” The answer is that it depends on what you do and what you want to achieve. In this section we will briefly discuss the 6 most widely used social platforms.

LinkedIn: A Social Media tool created to facilitate networking and communication between business people. This is the most popular platform used by B2B marketers.

Facebook: A stable, consistent, conversational platform that invites people to chat, share and become involved in your company and its opinions. It’s a ‘calm’ platform, offering more long term conversations. If you are a B2C company, this is a platform you should be utilising, and it is especially important for retail business to have a presence on Facebook. In fact 90% of B2C companies actively use Facebook.

Twitter: An immediately responsive platform used for short, concise, relevant and powerful messages. This is a fabulous platform where you can reach your customer base, constantly grow your audience, chat back and forth and be accessible. It is a great platform to utilise if your aim is to engage new prospects as this platform is responsible for 82% of B2B Social Media leads.

YouTube: The leading online video platform, owned by Google. 65% of B2C Marketers use video to promote their business. The advantage of good video is that it is a very engaging medium, meaning that it is highly shareable.

Google+: Google’s own version of Facebook, with the purpose of connecting people and making online content easily shareable. This platform is used on average by 40% of businesses, making it the least popular of the platforms we are discussing in this blog post, however, if one of your Social Media goals is to support your SEO then you cannot ignore Google+.

Which platforms are used by B2B marketers?

Now that we know what each of these platforms 'does' we are going to look at how other marketers, in B2B use them . This chart shows the percentage of B2B marketers who use the above social platforms.

The proportions of B2B marketers using each social platform, and the proportion of leads generated from that platform.

Note that the sum of the percentages is well over three hundred percent, this indicates that many are using more than one platform to market their business.

Unsurprisingly LinkedIn is the most used Social Media platform used by marketers but Twitter seems to be the most effective platform for B2B lead generation.

Which platforms are used by B2C marketers?

Now it’s time to turn our attention to B2C Social Media use. 84% of B2C marketers use Social Media as a marketing strategy to engage new customers, increase website traffic raise brand awareness or increase sales.

The proportions of B2C Marketers using each social platform, and the proportion of leads generated from that platform.

Facebook is unarguably the most widely used platform when it comes to B2C companies and it also seems to generate the largest proportion of leads.

How should you use Social Media

1. To promote your content - If you work hard to create fantastic, high quality content such as blog posts, guest articles and videos then you need to get that content in front the largest possible relevant audience. Social Media provides you with the ability to do this.

2. To support your SEO - An active social presence is vital to your search engine rankings. In particular, having (and updating!) a Google+ profile and Google+ business page will aid your SEO because Google favours its own platform.

3. To establish yourself as an expert in your field - Build a relevant following and get involved in discussions.

4. To say interesting things - Back to content again! Everything you say should be interesting and valuable to your audience, otherwise its just more noise in an already very noisy world!

The case for Social Media

Social Media, when used well can create an on-brand ‘buzz’ that will further build your brand and work towards achieving your distinct business objectives.

Legitimate interactions between businesses and customers are hard to fake using Social Media. For this reason Google is placing more focus on Social Media and social sharing to determine how highly and how quickly a website should rank in Google search results.

Google gives more weight (and therefore higher rankings in search results) to SEO-type activities that are harder to create. For example, 30 seconds spent creating a tweet on Twitter is not great in Google’s eyes. However, a news article on a website that is shared 100 times between visitors, that’s also posted to Twitter and Facebook and which is re-tweeted by your followers is excellent.

These results highlight the growing expectation, in the eyes of customers and Google, of businesses to have an active social presence.

Social Media Today