Archive for May, 2009

In The Know… Ecommerce Trends

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

In spite of the downtrodden economy, Bill McKiernan, founder of Cybersource says, “Broad, secular trends are benefiting ecommerce businesses currently. The recession has created more bargain-conscious consumers who are seeking better prices from online merchants versus, say, what they get in the local mall.  We’re also seeing more individuals supplementing their income with niche online start-ups, which are creating more products for online consumers to choose from.  And larger merchants are recognizing that it is more cost effective to sell online than in a physical location.  In short, we’re seeing more shops online, more products online and more consumers shopping for them online.” What exactly does this mean; it means that you better get your Ecommerce store in shape because the competition has just heated up.

Show, Tell, Engage
So, you have an ecommerce store, but you are wondering whether or not you have what it takes to succeed online. Well, the good news is you can always turn to a trusted designer to improve what you feel may be lacking. One trend that is distinguishing good shopping carts from the not so good is the design. Online shoppers turn to the Internet for cheaper prices, but keep in mind they also go online for a different experience. The online shopping experience must integrate technology, it should be more than just an online directory.

Seal of Approval
The look and feel of your online store is of great importance; equally as important is the opinions of your customers. Many online retailers have reached success by having their customers spread the word through: product reviews, product recommendations, and additional product suggestions. What does this mean, take a look at: as an example of this trend.  When you allow your customers to voice their opinions, you can acquire first hand knowledge of what products are selling, why these products are selling, who is buying them, and what other products these customers are likely to buy. While you can get some of this information from monthly sales reports, there is another benefit to this method. Good product reviews and recommendations spread like wildfire, customers end up doing the sale for you. This is certainly a feature that can be of great benefit to your ecommerce website, definitely one you should discuss with your design provider.

Instant Resolution
While we all strive for rave reviews and consistent customer satisfaction, this is not always the case. Customer service is an important part of any retail or online shopping experience.  For this very reason, many online shopping stores have the chat feature on their websites. What does this mean? If a customer is experiencing difficulty or has a question, the customer can easily access a customer service representative to answer questions. This is a huge advantage over physical store locations, shoppers can now access customer service without waiting, fighting for attention, and most significantly only when they need and want it. This trend toward instant customer service is not going away and customers are letting us know – they want to chat.

*Did You Know – the week of May 11th, 2009 registered 68,485,609 new website domains?

In The Know… Website Design Trends

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

After much deliberation, you have decided you need a website for your business. Unfortunately, you do not know a thing about design, color schemes, fonts, graphics, or content. Well, luckily I can help you.  Let me tell you a something about website design and the trends that are making a splash across the World Wide Web.

Does Color Matter?

The look of your website conveys a strong message to visitors before they read a single word of content. If you have a creative and appealing website it tells visitors you are someone who has all the bases covered. You and I know you are allowed one opportunity to make a first impression.  If you are going to spend money on creating an online presence for your business, you better get it right the first time. Very often people are either turned on or turned off by certain colors.  Have you noticed most business websites stay clear of color, opting for plain whites, muted blacks, and safe grays? Although, these colors are generally accepted as representations of a serious business, they can say BLAND and NON-CREATIVE! How about demonstrating that you can think outside of the box with these colors:  Dark Citron, Slate Gray, Vibrant Terracotta, Palace Blue, or Lucite Green?

Vertical or Horizontal

Now that you have all of your colors selected, do you know how you want information on your website to be viewed? What do I mean? How about you take a look at these websites, or What is different about these two websites? If you guessed the horizontal navigation, you are correct! Once again, this simply shows your costumers you have given thought to the smallest details and you care about their experience on your website.  Honestly, how often are you surprised by the navigation features on a website? Unfortunately, I imagine not too often.

Call to Action Button

A few words can make all the difference: Download Now, Trial Offer, Free, And Click Here! Now more than ever before, a call to action must be direct, visible, easy to understand, and complete.  If you want your customers or potential customers to take certain action, remember these rules for your call to action buttonthe color should stand out from the rest (contrast), it should be conveniently located (above the fold), the language should be short and to the point, it should stand alone, and it should be slightly larger than the rest in size.

Forms Make Them Simple!

Have you ever filled out an online form with pointless questions? We all have! Now, when most people think of website design, they certainly do not think about their forms. But, did you know the fewer fields on a form, the higher the conversion rate?   Think about it, the form field is a call to action for clients and perspective clients and it is also a “customer engagement page.” This being said, your form page should do the following: highlight benefits to clients, keep it simple, clarify privacy policy, provide context, clarify fields, allow feedback, provide progress indicators, and provide strong calls to action. Most people think of the landing page as the most important, that is not wrong, but it is not entirely right. As I just mentioned, a form page requires patience, private information, and persistence from visitors – make it easy and interesting.  The importance of forms will be a main focus for the rest of this year and years to come.

*Did You Know – in 2008, more than half a million people chose Iris Blue as the color for their website design?

Content, Content, Content! Is Your Website Written Well?

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Online studies show website content is worth studying.  Why?  It is valuable.

Clients already know content writing is a viable tool for improving website traffic, but is it their best way to convert traffic into profit? In order for this to work, you will need articles that inform people about what you are marketing, and quality writing which asks your users to participate; because with more traffic, you should have higher sales and increased advertising revenue.  You will find good content is not only worth reading – it is priceless.

One key benefit of quality content is the potential to improve a websites search engine ranking.  Engaging and well researched articles attract links from authoritative websites. Good writing also leads to conversions.  It can do so by directly targeting visitors with sales-driven copywriting, or by using interesting articles which encourage people to spend more time at a website, browse through its pages, and even recommend the site to others.

Content must be done right, to be effective.

If you are intending to implement the right on page technique for your website, you have to accept a complete change of focus for the copy.  Rather than “we” and “us” the copy should be directed toward the visitor while still communicating important benefits about buying from the company.

Organic searchers who click your pages are highly qualified visitors to your site.  They are more likely to make a purchase than some other  visitors you receive.

All other things being equal, pages where query terms appear in important places, such as the page title, tend to rank higher than pages where the terms are buried at the page bottom of the page.  Pages that feature query words in titles and initial paragraphs are said to have high keyword prominence, because the keywords appear in more prominent places than on other pages.

The title of your page is the most important part of the Web page to a search engine.  The title is what displays in the search results page, and it is shown in the window title for the browser.  You can think of a Web page‘s title as similar to the title of a magazine article.  Therefore most search engines give more weight to terms found in bold headings, and to italicized or colored text,assuming these are more important occurrences of the terms. Headings are most similar to bold section headings inside a magazine article that break up the running text and indicate what the paragraphs below are about.

Body text includes all the words that appear on the page, but body text that appears closer to the top of the page is considered more important than text found in the middle or at the bottom of the page.  Pictures on the page also contain alternate text that search engines use to “learn” about each picture.

Web pages generally contain a summary some; search engines still show under the title in the search results.  Most search engines, however, no longer show the description nor give it any more weight than body text.

According to Mountainline — The art of writing good and compelling content can be split into seven categories.  If you take all of these things into account then your chance of conversions will be much higher.  Below is the list:

1. Communication

One of the biggest things that people forget is the art of communication.  It is important your message is clear and communicated in a way people can understand.  If you fail to make it clear then people will not stop to figure it out and you will likely lose them.

2. Audience

Think about whom you are pitching to and target them.  Think about what you like, you like websites that openly sell to you.  We mean pushing the sale down your throat so you cannot avoid it.  Most people do not like this and so you need to think about what your audience will want.  This can mean doing a profile of the type of people you are targeting and what they would like to see.

3. Focus

Many websites will fill their pages with lots of irrelevant information.  It might be interesting to you but do your visitors really want to go through all this to find out what you are offering?  The answer to this is probably no.  It is important to focus the attention of your visitors on the message you are trying to get across.  This means you need to keep everything clear and concise.

4. Language

Remember the language you use will say a lot about you.  You should try and include words that will appeal to your audience.  For example if your audience is the under 25 demographic the language you use will be completely different to a target audience of the older than 65.  Think about how your target audience would speak and write your content in that way.

5. Performance

This is all about how your content is delivered.  You need to put a show on to appeal to your audience.  Whether this is through the addition of images, video, colours, bolding, or anything else you need to think about how it is appearing.

6. Personality

The most important rule of sales is people buy people and so you need to get your personality across.  This will help you to make a connection with your audience and increase your chance of conversions.  It is important your audience know who you are and what you do.

7. Psychology

People do not want to be sold to and actually prefer to buy.  This seems a bit cryptic but basically they want to buy something they want.  The best way to do this is to tap into their psyche and make them want your products or services.  This will help people to buy from you much more easily.

*Did You Knowthere are 86,400 seconds in a day.  On average, it takes 1-5 seconds to say a word (if you know how to pronounce it correctly and/or if it is a short or long word).  If someone went from the beginning of the day to the end saying completely different words (probably using the dictionary), they would say 17,280-86,400 words.