Social Proofing - Space Between - Blog

Social Proof - What is It and How Can I Apply It?

There’s no denying the new ‘social’ way of life is changing the way we live and in turn, the way we interact online.

There’s that word again. Social.

Social, this, social that...

There’s no denying the new ‘social’ way of life is changing the way we live and in turn, the way we interact online.

We want to jump in head first to the world of social proofing; what is it? How has it changed online behaviour? How it affects customers decisions and therefore, business decisions. We look at strategies and will hopefully provide you with a nice little doggy-bag of actionable takeaways.

Social Proofing: Back to Basics

We all know by now how social media can influence users decisions, an image or an opinion can soon change somebody’s mind. But what do we know about social proofing as a whole?

Social proof (also known as informational social influence) is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.

Social proof goes far beyond social media and in fact social proofing as a marketing tool far out dates social media platforms. It’s simply the increase in the number of platforms and users of social media that has enhanced the importance of social proof. Keeping up?

Social Proof is identified in six different forms:

1) User Social Proof

This social proof can come in the form of testimonials, reviews or case studies from your existing customers.

2) Expert Social Proof

This social proof comes from reliable, trustworthy and credible experts in the same industry.

3) Celebrity Social Proof

Social proof from celebrities or other esteemed influencers who have bought your product, used your services or visited your establishment, it helps a great deal if the celebrity is properly matched to the brand.

4) ‘Wisdom of the crowds’ Social Proof

This comes when a large number of people or groups provide social proof proving that thousands of people or more have taken the desired business action, be it buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter.

5) ‘Wisdom of your friends’ Social Proof

As above but the social proof is on a smaller scale and comes from  friends of your users or website visitors. An easy example is the ‘like’ button on Facebook.

6) Certification

This one often gets forgotten, however we feel it’s just as important to get a mention. This comes from an accredited 3rd party entity which certifies that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy source.

Why is social proof important for your business?

Users’ movements can be unpredictable especially as technologies change and the Internet adapts. However, a consumer behaviour that continues to remain consistent is social proof, this is why it’s becoming such an important focus for businesses.

FACT: “Studies show that 61% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase and product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions from manufacturers.”

Knowing that over half of customers read reviews before making a decision is monumental, it shows how much trust a consumer puts into others and how they can be influenced.

And in fact, there are further stats to prove the significance of reviews on page, how about these as food for thought: Reevoo research claims that having reviews present on your site can lead to an average of 18% increase in conversion. In 2011 iPerceptions proved that 63%of customers are more likely to buy from a site that has reviews and finally, Bazaarvoice showed that consumers who take the time to read reviews and customer questions are 105% more likely to make a purchase.

By getting the best results from your conversion rate optimisation you will of course increase your ROI. However, in the process social proof marketing can benefit your website in more ways than one. Another significant benefit is boosting your companies brand.

Brand awareness is mostly self explanatory; it’s building your brand to be a well-known, trusted business. Positive reviews, customer recommendations, shares, and media mentions for example, are all social proof strategies that will help build your brand and increase your brand’s awareness. This leads us to the ‘halo effect.’ The halo effect is described as:

...an evaluation by an individual and can affect the perception of a decision, action, idea, business, person, group, entity, or other whenever concrete data is generalized or influences ambiguous information.

In layman's terms it can be said that a well established business brand has an influential effect on a person's decision.

List of further benefits of Social Proof Marketing:

  • A better ROI.
  • Social proof is a way of finding new visitors.
  • An increase in engagement throughout your site.
  • Enhanced customer insights.
  • Social proofing can help you to find the right customers for your business.
  • Social proof breeds trust into customers.

It’s clear to see why businesses are spending time and money on perfecting their social proof marketing; the power of the strategies are undeniably significant in easing the minds of customers, and in turn benefitting your conversion and ROI.

 

27 of the Best Social Proof Strategies to Increase Conversion

Below is a table showing you the best social proof strategies to increase conversion. We’ve given you a helping hand by advising how hard each is to implement and their potential reward.

Social Proof Strategy What is it? Type Implementation Conversion Value
E.g Review E.g Displaying customers case studies E.g Expert E.g Easy - Hard E.g High - Low
Ratings & Reviews Reviews left by existing customers User Easy High
Testimonials Testimonials left by existing customers User Easy High
Influencer / Celebrity endorsements Influencer/celebrity approval of your product/service Celebrity Hard High
Industry badges/certifications The display of certifications and accreditations on your site Certification Easy Medium
Media mentions The display of mentions of your product or brand in the media Expert Easy High
Social Media Proof Use of social media User Easy High
Counters - Real time statistics How many people are viewing the page/making a purchase Friends Medium Medium
Social shares/connections Show real time number of shares Friends Easy High
Subscriber/User/Customer Count The display of your user, subscriber or customer count Crowds Easy Medium
Customer base/Clients The display of client logos on your site Expert Easy Medium
Trust seals - eg payment protection Use Trust Seals such as Norton, McAfee on your check-out page Certification Easy High
Best sellers Show customers which products are best sellers User Easy High
Customers also bought The display of which products customers also bought User Medium Medium
Customer recommendations Present an average of customers that would buy again Crowds Medium Medium
Number of past orders/sales The display of how many orders you've had Crowds Easy High
Ambassadors - highlight comments etc Allow customers to become ambassadors of your brand Celebrity Medium Low
Popular content/products Sharing your popular posts or products User Easy Medium
Customer Showcase The display of happy customers User Medium High
Platform Integrations The display of the logos of integrated third-party services Certification Easy High
Case Studies Encouraging and the display of customers case studies User Medium Medium
Test Scores The display of test scores from independent third parties Certification Easy High
Photos Include photos with any of the above User Easy High
Similarity Use sources that are similar to your customer base User Medium High
Stories and Examples Provide stories and examples User Easy Low
Avoid negative social proof Don't use negative examples about missing out on a product/service User Easy High
Avoid minimal social proof Have a substantial amount of social proof before you put it live User Easy High
FOMO Allow customers to feel like they are on the verge of missing out User Easy High

Summary of Social Proofing

Seeing a long queue might not always make you want to jump in it, but it does spark an interest into what the queue is for and whether or not you’re missing out, it’s a natural reaction and as we’ve proved it’s this psychology of your audience that you need to explore.

When we consider the numbers; over 60% of customers reading reviews before making a purchase, it’s evident that businesses cannot ignore the power of social proofing. Using our comprehensive list of strategies you will be well on your way, from ‘like’ buttons to customer case studies, the list shows how easy social proof is to put into practice. What are you waiting for? Get sharing!

 


Colour Psychology Space Between

Colour Psychology: Increase Sales With One Simple Change

The colours you choose lay the foundation for your online image so it's important to choose carefully.

Web design sounds fancy. Yet, like all elements of conversion rate optimisation, building a website is more about construction than design. The colours you choose lay the foundation for your online image so it's important to choose carefully. Using colour psychology not only helps you look good, it can help attract the right kind of customer to your website and increase conversions.

What is colour psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of how people are affected by colour. You can test how powerful colours are just by thinking of some of the biggest brands in the world. What colour do they use? You'll recall it instantly for Coca-Cola, FedEx, Nike, and Facebook. You also know Coca-Cola is pillar-box red, not burgundy. FedEx is a rich purple, not lilac. And Facebook is a muted blue, not sky blue or sapphire.

Now think about how those brands make you feel. It's common knowledge that red represents a 'bold' attitude and pink points to products for women. But do you know that purple divides people by gender? Women are drawn to it and men are not. These findings reveal how people might react to your website.

What do colours mean?

Site visitors take just 50 milliseconds to make a judgement about your brand and colour plays a key part in this. No doubt you're already familiar with some of the basic assumptions of colour psychology:

  • Blue and green are universally popular. Blue is steady and reliable; green is fresh and calm. An edgy brand wouldn't go for these colours, but a corporate or more reserved company might.
  • If black, white, and grey are flat, unemotional colours (frequently used by tech and engineering companies), red, yellow, and orange are stimulants. These warm colours grab attention, generate excitement, and can create a sense of urgency.
  • Where pink is mostly associated with girls, purple is the grandmother of the colour chart. Pink is energetic and youthful, but purple oozes calm and wisdom.
  • Poor brown is typically unloved. Yet nobody can pooh-pooh the success of UPS – it's still going, since 1907. Brown is a rich part of the company's history and the colour of the original uniform.

The thing that makes colour psychology so interesting is that, despite the trends, everybody is different. People can become obsessive over a particular colour. Just the sight of it can stoke an old memory — good or bad. It's this reaction to a colour trigger that you can test in conversion rate optimisation:

  • What does your audience respond to?
  • Which colours work best in your niche?

How to use colour psychology in web design

Number 1

Use harmonious colours to keep people on the site

The last time you read about complementary colours might have been in school.

If you remember, these are the colours opposite one another on the colour wheel: red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple. The colour wheel has been around since 1666. It was invented by Sir Isaac Newton and used by Claude Monet. Ever since then we've trusted that these pairings are pleasing on the eye.

Image source - http://crobbesart.blogspot.com/2015/03/warm-and-cool-colours.html

More modern depictions of the colour wheel show twelve colours, which make up the RYB (Red-Yellow-Blue) colour chart. For web design, you can pick three colours that sit next to each other on the wheel because they'll always hang nicely together. Or draw the corners of a triangle, rectangle, or square shape evenly within the wheel; the corners pinpoint the selection of colours. These will always work well together because they're part of the same tried-and-tested RYB chart.

Number 2

Keep colours consistent for a dramatic increase in conversions.

Research by the University of Loyola in Maryland suggests that sticking to the same palette of colours on your website can increase brand recognition by up to 80%.

If you don't want to mix colours, add black, white or grey to just one colour to create a different hue:

  • Make a colour lighter by adding white (tint)
  • Make it darker by adding black (shade)
  • Change the intensity by adding grey (tone)

A selection of different tints, shades, and tones of your chosen colour can form a colour palette too.

Number 3

Add accents of colour to prompt people to click.

Think about the conversion elements on your website. All the thought that goes into the headline, the description, the navigation, the images, and the button placement.

Do you give the same amount of thought to the colour of these key areas? Is it clear to your viewer what they should click on next?

In the EE example below, they highlight the headline and the button with a flash of yellow.

To keep colours balanced, not garish, use this design tactic:

  • Establish your brand colour by using it across most of your site (60%)
  • Make the brand colour stand out more by using a contrasting colour in places (30%)
  • Highlight areas key to conversion by using an accent colour sparingly (10%)

Think about the colour you use to showcase headings, navigation, buttons, and hyperlinks.

Tip! Background colour affects conversion.

Most websites have a plain background and lots of white space because it makes the text easier to read. Breaking convention with yellow text on a grey background may feel rebellious, but is it a smart move if nobody can read it? If your message is lost, your sale is lost too.

Conversion experts don't guess

Get to know what each colour means and it could give you an advantage in your optimisation strategy. Your next test could reveal something unexpected that turns a poorly performing page around.

  • Colour specialist, Carlton Wagner, once claimed yellow "activates the anxiety centre of the brain". If you're a gentle brand with a peaceful product, you should test yellow against green.
  • The University of Rochester suggests red makes people nervous when taking a test. If you're in the education sector, you might want to avoid red buttons on your website.
  • Orange is said to be a polarising colour; people can hate it as much as they love it. It's worth testing orange with your audience before you launch.

What works for one website won't work for another. Not all women like pinks and purples and some people love brown. Test it in your niche to avoid a flop—like Heinz, who famously tried and failed to launch a green version of their tomato ketchup. Parents didn't respond well to the conflict of colour. Kids didn't like it either because they associate green with vegetables and food they don't favour.

Putting colour psychology to the test (and winning)

When VegasSlotsOnline.com changed a "Sign up here!" button from green to yellow, they saw a 175% increase in conversions. Conversion optimisation is all about human behaviour and this brand knows their customer well. Because of that they were able to test what they thought might be most successful:

"Psychological effects of colour do matter. In our case, we chose two colours, both of which produced convincing arguments for their use. Our test likely would not have been fruitful if we had used white or black buttons. Our niche’s characteristics were paramount to our colour selection."

Try out colour psychology on your own site design

Will colour psychology testing work for you? If you work in conversion, you know there's only one way to find out: Test it. Find out if choosing one colour over another changes the way people behave on your website. It might just result in more click-throughs and more sales.

Here are some tools to help get you started...

Choosing a colour

Selecting colour palettes

W3C compliance

Let us know how you get on in comments. How do you use colour psychology in conversion rate optimisation?


Fashion Industry World Pollution Climate Change

Ethical eCommerce - Selling Ethically Online

We take a look at the fashion industry and the impact on our planet and how we can move towards more ethically focused eCommerce.

 

...the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter to the planet...

 

Ethical eCommerce - Selling Ethically Online

How many of you are aware that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter to the planet?

Me neither; until I was carrying out some research a couple of months ago.

It surprised me to find out that some of the much discussed, micro plastic pollution is coming from us washing our clothes!…Synthetic fibres coming ‘out in the wash’ so to speak.The movement towards more ethical trade and consumption is becoming more prevalent day by day, but our shopping habits and way of life is counter intuitive to this drive. Our want it now and want it fast habits are adding extra pressure on the environment, but companies and governments are trying to do something about it.

The 5p plastic carrier bag charge is having a positive impact on our habits, since we have implemented this our plastic consumption in the UK has dropped by 83%, with more than £66m of the revenue generated from the charges being donated to good causes*

(*edie.net 2017).

What about Fashion retail?

We’ve noticed an ongoing pressure, and commitment, to driving fair and ethical practices within the apparel retail industry. Whether it’s the environmental impact of apparel manufacturing or the wellbeing of those involved in production, this is something that will shape the retail industry going forward and become an important driver of brand loyalty.

As shoppers become more aware of unethical practices through the news and social media, they will become more loyal and engaged with brands whose ethos matches their own. The rise of fast fashion doesn’t help companies when looking at the ethical process and consumption of clothes. Due to the increase in trend cycles (we can see up to 50 cycles per year, instead of the traditional 2) clothing is becoming a quick fix, short term purchase, leading to a much larger volume of unwanted goods – the ones left in stores and in the back of people’s wardrobes.

According to eConsultancy ‘fast fashion’ has grown by 21% over the last 2 years, much quicker than the luxury market. Mckinsey & Company carried out a study that found the average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 compared to 2000 but kept each garment half as long.

How can we reconcile a business model that encourages such a drive in production whilst meeting the important needs of reducing our environmental impact? Technology is at the forefront of enabling companies to become more responsible towards to the planet. Companies can now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to better understand their processes, customers and market trends; so they can increase sales, reduce returns and improve stock management. Delivery companies like DPD are committed to smart urban delivery to reduce local pollution and improve customer experience with reduced waiting times for parcels. Shopper user experiences can also be improved to help make buying decisions easier. Fit recommendation technology by Rakuten Fits Me is being used by companies like Mud Jeans, to not only provide a more personalised shopping experience, but also to help reduce their fit based returns. As an ethical jeans company this helps them to meet a variety of their sustainability drives.

 

 


eCommerce Email Marketing

Successful Email Marketing Tips for eCommerce

Email marketing allows you to create a deeper relationship with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional media while also increasing brand awareness.

What is Email Marketing?

A marketing email is a form of direct marketing via email that allows you to communicate a message to an audience. This audience is a collection of your email list and they tend to be either a current or a potential customer. Email marketing is a great way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.

With email marketing, you can easily and quickly reach target audiences without the need for print space, television or radio time, or high production costs. Also, with email marketing software, you can maintain an email list that has been segmented based on several factors and target them individually with unique campaigns.

Why is Email Marketing Successful?

One huge positive to email marketing is that it is low in cost - it’s that simple. Whether you do it yourself, or through an email marketing agency, marketing to hundreds of consumers via email is going to cost you very little in comparison to other channels of advertising. And other than being cost-effective, published findings showed that 85 percent of retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics (Inc.com, 2018).

Another appeal to email marketing is its versatility. Depending on the size of the email database and the skills of the marketer, email marketing messages can range from simple to very complex. They can also be personalized to include things like the name of the user and even more. You can do this with the likes of Dotmailer.

Another reason is that it’s a great way to keep customers informed. It helps to keep business owners and consumers stay connected. A recent study showed that 28 percent of online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to stay informed (especially if discounts are offered)(McGregor, 2018). Studies also showed that 64 percent of Internet users have printed a discount coupon from an email (Inc.com, 2018). One of the primary reasons people choose to opt-in for emails is for the special or exclusive offers and news. The customer wants to be in the know and up-to-date with your business.

Successful Email Marketing Tips

Before you can create a successful email marketing campaign you need to have a good sized email list. There are different ways to collect these emails, for instance, you could offer a signup form on your website for updates or free downloads of some variety. You don’t have to target your whole mailing list either, you could segment them into groups but this depends on what you’re trying to get across and to whom. One thing to consider is timing. Try not to be too ‘spammy’. The biggest risk in sending out an email marketing campaign is in return you receive a large number of un-subscribers. You want to share valuable content and information with your customers.

Consider your subject line. Is it clear and informative? Perhaps even personalised? It is far better to use a clear subject line that tells the reader exactly what is inside the email and creates immediate curiosity or interest. If you’re offering a discount code, make it known in the subject line, don’t hide it in the body of the email as the buyer may never click on it and know. A coupon code is a great way to entice your customers to open your email and lead to a call to action and can help drive clicks which lead to an increased conversion rate.

This leads to the next point. Write directly to your target audience. Whether it’s women who are interested in beauty products or men who are interested in fashion - create a concise email speaking directly to them, don’t just be generic. Be time sensitive as well with your call to action. If you’re an online retailer offering 20% off on their next purchase. Writing “Today Only - Receive 20% Off All New In” is a good example. Your reader should want to click because there is an immediate benefit and you can also leverage curiosity. Letting your reader know there's valuable content inside is more likely to drive the customer to where you want them to go - and that’s your site.

Lastly, before you send out an email campaign, test it first. Take two concepts you think will be successful and dry run it on a much smaller sample group. Look at the metrics to see which one performs better, that one is the definite winner. This way you can make any last minute tweaks to make sure it’s as successful as possible before you go ahead and launch your email marketing campaign.

Best Email Marketing Tools and Services

Dotmailer is a great service to not only help you create marketing campaigns and help engage one-to-one with your users but much more. They help you create bespoke emails for your customers and tailor them to your chosen demographic cohorts to increase conversion rates. However, if you don’t quite have the budget for Dotmailer just yet, MailChimp is another platform you could use. They connect eCommerce shopping carts and track the results - an excellent feature for an entrepreneur, especially those starting out.

Email continues to be the most powerful of the online channels so ensure you’re making the most of it.

Email Marketing Personalisation

One of the most effective ways to increase conversion rates through email marketing is to make sure your emails are all personalised and you can do this in a number of ways.

Think outside of just inserting their name in the email - think about the subject line too. Emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened (Campaignmonitor.com, 2018). Also look into data and purchase history. Don't spam all your customers on your mailing list with the same thing. For instance, you may have a sale on jackets but you should aim to only send these emails out to customers that have purchased searched jackets in the past.

Similarly, you can email unique product recommendations to your customers based on their purchase or search history as part of your email marketing campaign. This can help to boost conversion rates. Creating real-time, one-to-one targeted content that speaks right to the individual will also help to create a long-term relationship and increase the lifetime value of that customer.

However, there are a few instances where it’s okay to send your email to ‘all’, such as if your brand publishes blog posts or a monthly newsletter. Also if you’re making an important change to your business that will affect customers, it’s good to inform all of them - this could be updated terms and conditions. Another good example is if you’re launching a new product, you want to make sure all your customers are aware.

Conversion from Email Marketing

One way to help increase conversion from email marketing is to optimise your emails for mobile - you should test the optimisation to figure out which elements work as intended and which don’t so your campaigns are mobile friendly. Run an A/B test to evaluate the changes you have implemented and see how your segments react to them.​ There are some things you need to consider when creating mobile optimised email campaigns. This includes things like making sure your font is big enough to read on a smaller screen and spacing out so readers can skim read and not feel overwhelmed with text. Making any links you’ve included visible and easy to access. Reducing image sizes to make them load quicker.

Another way to increase the chances of conversion rates is to segment your email lists. You can do this by categories like demographics and preferences and interests. Once you segment your list, you need to find the best way to approach your customers. By using segmentation to send out more personalised email campaigns, you will increase the relevance for your customers and therefore the interest. Your subject line, the sender name, and the quality of the content are the three things that will determine your recipients' reactions to your campaign and the reaction you do not what is for them to unsubscribe or remove themselves from your mailing list.

You should also consider using the double opt-in method for your customers. This is when you ask them to confirm their email address and that they've signed up for a newsletter by clicking on a confirmation link they receive via email. This way you eliminate all the emails that contain typos or are delivered to the wrong recipient and can grow your list, though maybe at a slower pace, it will consist of real people. More so, Increases the likelihood that recipients will engage with your emails.

Cart Abandonment Emails

Cart abandonment is when a customer fills up their shopping cart online but for whatever reason, chooses not to follow through with the payment and ‘abandons’ it. In an effort to try and capture some of these lost sales, cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out. When sending cart abandonment emails it’s good to be both specific and personal with your emails. Depending on when you send your email, people might have forgotten about their cart items. So be specific and specify which items are remaining in their cart and it helps if you leave images, this is much more effective. Using visual marketing to show people which items they’ve left makes the email more personal and reminds them of what they’re potentially missing out on.

Again, it’s a good idea to include a discount code so they can finish their purchase.  Offering a special extra 10% or 15% discount offer for your user in their exclusive email to finish their checkout process. It will make them feel valued and their email will feel personalised as it’s not something everyone is getting. To read more on cart abandonment emails and how to increase conversion using them, we have a whole article on it here.

Final Round up of Email Marketing

According to statistics released by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing brings in $40 for every $1 spend, outperforming search, display and social marketing. Aside from it being a financially rewarding process, email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers. Email marketing allows you to create a deeper relationship with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional media while also increasing brand awareness. Each email that is sent to consumers exposes them to your business and your brand.

You can target your audience - you have the chance to control exactly who sees an email by segmenting your contacts based on factors like demographics or location. Targeting emails ensure that your audience receives content suited specifically to their needs. Email marketing also allows you to boost conversion through offering customers unique product suggestions and discount codes.


Cyber Security Staying Safe Online

7 Tips to Staying Safe Online

In honour of safer internet day today, we’ve put together a list of 7 top tips to help you stay safe online.

1 - How To Create A Strong Password

The strongest passwords tend to be on the longer side. Generally, a minimum of 12 words is a good start, lowercase and uppercase, but the longer better. Another thing to bear in mind when creating a good password is to use not only letters but also numbers and symbols. You want a good, strong password, particularly for important accounts (such as online banking) to decrease the risk of being hacked. Lastly, change your password frequently.

2 - Staying Safe While Online Shopping

Use a secure payment method, such as PayPal or credit cards, rather than de when making a shopping purchase online. This way you get buyer protection and won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges. Also beware of fake shopping apps that may appear in in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, that try to trick shoppers into making purchases for goods that don’t exist.

3. Check If The Website Is Secure

Look out for the following signs to know you are shopping safely with a secure website. And remember, only put your card details into secure websites.  There are some telltale signs to let you know whether a website is secure. These included the following; there should be a padlock symbol in the address bar next to the website address and sometimes the padlock symbol is even green. The web address should also start with https:// And finally, a good way to check if a website is secure is by clicking on the padlock symbol the left of the address bar. Here you will see information on the site certificate which should tell you who has registered the site. If you get a warning about a certificate, avoid the website.

4. Wifi Hotspot Security

Anytime you enter personal information using a public network, you're setting yourself up for identity theft. This is because most wifi spots don’t encrypt your data. So avoid using public wifi for things that require you to log in any personal information, e.g. your bank details. This applies to mobile phones as well as laptops and tablets. Be aware when you're using a hotspot that any information you send through the Internet could be picked up and if it’s sensitive or personal, it is recommended you log this in at home.

5. Using Emails Safely

Avoid opening email attachments received unexpectedly, no matter who appears to have sent it. Also if you are sent links within an email, type out the URL in your browser to make sure you're going to the site you think you're visiting instead of just clicking the given link. Many phishing scams involve emails from what seem to be from legitimate sites, such as banks and online stores. Also, remember that real sites won't ask for important information over email. If you receive something that doesn’t feel right, you can always mark that email address as spam or even block it.

6. Are You Using The Latest Internet Browser?

Every time there is a new version of an internet browser, there will be a boost in security. Older browsers, besides not working as well with some websites, often have holes in their security. This can weaken your online safety.  Updates will keep you ahead of potential identity thieves and keep your credit safe.

7. Do you have an antivirus installed?

This is one simple way to make sure you’re safe online. All you have to do is pay for and set up your antivirus and that’s it. Or if you’ve already got one installed, make sure it’s up to date. Updates often contain changes which help protect you are your devices from scammers and online criminals. (Most antivirus software can be configured to do this automatically). Also, Use a firewall,  it takes just moments for a non-firewalled computer to be infected so stay safe by installing one.


How to sell on Social Media

How to Sell on Social Media

Almost 2.5 billion people use social media online today and you can now do so much more than just promote a product on social media, you can sell it.

What is Social Selling?

Almost 2.5 billion people use social media online today and you can now do so much more than just promote a product on social media, you can sell it. Social selling is when a business uses social media to directly sell their goods. It’s the latest way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers by connecting with them.

67% of the customer buying journey is digital. Decision makers read 5 or more pieces of content online before making a purchase. Therefore selling on social media gives eCommerce businesses the ability to make any social media post shoppable. It’s quite simply using online social tools to engage in the relationship-building strategies that have always been the foundation of what good sales professionals do. It gives you the chance to be involved in the purchasing decision.

On the other hand, selling on social media is not about bombarding strangers or followers with unsolicited Tweets and private messages. This is spamming. You need to nurture and build your relationship with followers, posting the best most informative content about your products to the right audience at the right time.

Social Media Best Practices

Studies show that over 50% of people shop on their phones and the majority of these people use social media. So by not participating in social selling you are most likely losing out in revenue. We have put together some best practice suggestions to keep in mind when considering social selling.

Start off by choosing a theme. Each of your social networks provides a unique outlet to your audience. The way you use and run your social media gives viewers insight into what to expect out of you and your page so it’s a good idea to have a theme or tone of voice. This also keeps you consistent with your brand message and image.

Grow your audience the right way. Big numbers are great but what you really want is an engaged and loyal audience. The best formula to steadily grow your customer base is to be consistent while sharing valuable content, sending timely responses, and being helpful and friendly to your users.

Share behind the scenes content. One platform that’s great for brands to show behind the scenes of their company is Instagram. Not just through posts but through Instagram stories. Though the stories format is very similar to that of Snapchat stories, the good thing about Instagram stories is that anyone can view your story, even if they’re not following you, as long as your page isn’t on the private setting. Stories are the ideal tool to show your audience a more raw and authentic real-time look into what sets you apart and what makes your business unique.

One of the most important things you need to ensure you are doing is producing good quality images and videos. If your images are blurry or not clear they won’t generate the attention. Captions are also a great way to engage your users because you ask them questions and spark conversation in the comments. For instance, you may be releasing a new product in multiple colours, you could ask users “which is your favourite”.

Another great tactic is to have specific goals and get to know your customer. Who are they? What are their interests, likes or dislikes? Can your product meet their needs? It’s important to ask yourself specific questions about your buyers in order to target them more effectively. By moving away from basic-level targeting, you spend more time reaching out to the individuals that matter. This way you can relate to them in a way that can potentially result in closing a sale. If you really want to ramp up your social media selling then look to take advantage of UGC (user-generated content). We’ve spoken a lot about user-generated content and the importance of reviews in our other articles, you can read more here.

It is great practise to encourage your staff to be social ambassadors by making it easy for them to share company content on their personal channels such as LinkedIn and twitter. Employee engagement is one of the best ways to get your social message spread far and wide.

How To Sell Products On Social Media

Sales don’t often occur on the first contact, 80% happen on the fifth to twelfth contact but almost half of businesses do not follow up after the first contact. So to win the sale, it’s important to have a follow-up process. The best sales come from relationships that have been built over time.

Active and consistent engagement is an important part of any social campaign. Different ways you can engage on social media include reaching out to your followers, being involved in online conversations and trying to solve any problems left in the comments section. Joining relevant groups and taking part in niche discussions by offering unique perspectives or ideas. Or positioning employees on social as industry experts who share diverse, relevant content can all help you to sell more and grow your online presence.

You will only start to sell more online on social media if you build trusted relationships and nurture them. You want to offer value to prospects first, and sell products second. The priority needs to be the customer and then the sale will follow. The sales you get should be a by-product of the care and attention you give to your customers. Brands and employees can establish this trust to build stronger relationships include connecting to prospective buyers on a more personal level, other than just automated messages (a little extra effort can go a long way) or content and starting conversations around topics related to your industry as a whole. E.g. fashion related conversations. Finally, incorporate social influencer marketing.

How To Use Influencer Marketing

Influencers are people who are active on social media and blogs and have a large following. They are also brand advocates and promote products. Once upon a time, brands paid big named celebrities to promote their stuff, but today it’s social media influencers that brands often go-to. This is because they’re more accessible and more affordable than celebrities yet they still having a large following, often hundreds of thousands.

Once you have identified your audience, it’s time to start choosing and using influencers to social sell. Why engage with an influencer? Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than the brand itself. After all, the brand will try their best to make their product sound as good as possible.

When you social sell via an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Due to the loyal following they have, an influencer has the ability to drive interest and traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, while also helping sell your product through their recommendation.

In this example, we see the brand Ego Official, a footwear brand, and Amber Davies, a reality star with 1.6 million Instagram followers.

The caption is engaging and involves her audience into her thoughts (a topic for possible discussion) and in this case, she’s even given her audience an exclusive discount code. This would have been given to her by the brand to further entice Amber’s followers to make a purchase.

Final Roundup Of Social Selling

95% of westerners now own a mobile phone and 2.5 billion people use social media. With statistics like that, not choosing to participate in social selling would be a hugely missed opportunity. Social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers. They are also 51% more likely to achieve quotas and outsell than those that choose not to social sell.

Getting your foot in the door by making sure you have all the relevant social media accounts to sell and promote your products, such as twitter, facebook, and Instagram, is a good start. eCommerce stats show 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide their purchases, and 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media.

If your sales team has not embraced social selling, your sales are quite simply not what they could be.


Returns Policy Guideline - Best Practice

A Best Practice Guide to Handling Returns

One key service that customers look for when shopping online is your returns policy and process

Why having a good returns policy is important

In recent years consumer surveys have proved that online shopping is surpassing in-store buying. It’s more important than ever to make sure your website is not only running perfectly but meets all the expectations and has all the features customers expect online now. One key service that customers look for when shopping online is your returns policy and process.

Returns can often be overlooked as people feel that it’s an afterthought to the eCommerce process, however, in reality, it’s just as much part of the customer purchasing journey as anything else and shouldn’t be thought of as an afterthought. Someone who is reviewing your returns information is showing a strong signal that they are wanting to make a purchase. You need to give them confidence.

How to Prevent Online Returns

The process of returns starts at the beginning of the customer's experience, not after the product has arrived. There are actions you can take to prevent a return happening after an initial purchase.

Around 30% of all e-commerce orders end up being returned and a lot of this has to do with the product not matching the description. Ensure the products you’re selling have informative descriptions and plenty of images, displaying the different angles of the item. Even better if there’s a video alongside the product. Include sizing and dimensions and above all, be as accurate as possible. If the customer is sure of what they’re buying it will massively reduce the possibility of a return.

You should encourage customers to leave feedback on your products. Not only will this help to increase revenue because 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know but also it can help to prevent potential returns and refunds. The customer can read reviews from previous customers who have tried and tested your product and help make a more informed purchase decisions. Research shows that when shoppers know what to expect from a product from first-hand users, the likelihood of them returning those products drops substantially.

How To Write An eCommerce Returns Policy

Use terms that everyone can understand and it will be easier for customers to follow and understand your policy. Make sure it’s easy to find. It would also be useful to dedicate a whole page on your website that can explain your whole returns policy. Include things like cost (if there is a cost or if it’s free) and the return deadline.

It's normal to give a specific time frame to accept returns. So you need to define how long the customer has to make up their mind. Tell your customers if they must return the product within 30 days, 2 weeks, whatever it may be, so they’re aware.

Aside from the time frame deadline you’re allowing for returns, you also need to make sure you’re stating what is and isn’t acceptable returns conditions. Sometimes retailers don’t allow returns of certain products, such as underwear or earrings. 66% of online shoppers check a website's return policy before purchasing an item, so make it clear, not only on your returns page but also in other areas like receipts, packaging and definitely on the product page. Your customer should have every opportunity to know your returns policy before making a purchase not just after making a purchase.

For those retailers that also sell in store, not just online, it would be helpful if a customer can return-to-store. 62% of shoppers are also more likely to shop with you online if they know that a return in-store option is available. Not only does it appeal more to the customer but it will save you costs too especially if you’re part of the majority of retailers that pay for customers return shipping. The key is to keep your customers happy and minimise fuss. 70% of shoppers who return an item in-store, make another purchase when there - something else might appeal to them while there.

How To Handle Online Returns for Your Customers

Along with the item or items they ordered, customers should also get paperwork that includes details of how to return their goods if necessary. Including return labels would be ideal instead of making the customer print it out themselves from your website. If you offer free returns, make it known and clear. Equally, don’t hide any extra costs. If it's up to the customer to pay for return shipping, make that very clear. As it stands, about 75% of retailers take care of the return shipping cost for their customers.

Make the return process clear and easy for the customer. Provide clear instructions and even include a returns envelope to make sure no mistakes are made with the address. If people know they can easily return stuff then more likely to buy again in the future.

Don’t put off the customer. Just because they make a return, it doesn’t mean they won’t come back. If they have a smooth returns experience that doesn’t cost them anymore, they are much more likely to come back. But if they have to pay a hefty fee to return their unwanted items it could put them off permanently. The way your business handles a return can either build a stronger relationship with a customer or lose them for life.

eCommerce Returns Policy Examples

As we can see with this ebay.co.uk example, they have clarified their returns information on the product page, right beside the product. This can make the customer feel at ease as they know how much time they have to return and get their money back if unhappy. In this example, it’s 30 days refund, seller pays postage.

The clear display of return information (not only how long they have but also how whether they have to cover the cost or not) will likely seal the deal with the customer as they now have the confidence they need to go through with the purchase.

In the example, you can also see that the reviews are also clearly visible. The customer gets to see an overall rating for that product and this information can help them make up their mind about the item and now know what to expect from a product from first-hand users.

Handling Returns Final Roundup

The best practice when handling returns is to include a free returns label for your customer and be part of the majority 75% of businesses that do so, they will appreciate this.

Do not make the process of returns any longer or more complicated than it should be with the idea that it may deter a customer from sending back their items. All this will do is put them off buying from you in the long run. However with a good returns policy and process, the customer is satisfied and more likely to return, knowing that your business operates in a smooth and hassle-free manor.


Shopping Cart Abandonment

Abandoned Basket Emails

How to bring back customers with creative cart abandonment email campaigns

Cart abandonment statistics

Cart abandonment is when a customer fills up their shopping cart online but for whatever reason, chooses not to follow through with the payment and ‘abandons’ it. The global average statistics for cart abandonment rate, for online retailers, was 77.24%. This means that over ¾ of shoppers choose to leave the site without completing a purchase.

In an effort to try and capture some of these lost sales, cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who have added products to their cart but failed to check out. The abandoned basket campaign can be a powerful sales recovery tactic and bring back otherwise lost revenue. Studies have shown that almost half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead back on to the site to make a purchase.

Cart abandonment examples

Some cart abandonment on websites is inevitable. There are many users that may just be window shopping or doing a price comparison for items. They may also be saving items for later or exploring gift options. These things can’t be avoided (and a small portion of these people may likely return and purchase later). But aside from those just browsing, cart abandonment examples could occur for a number of other reasons. These include things like shipping issues, for instance they decided to buy in-store instead.

Lack of payment options or cost can also be another reason. If your shipping costs are above industry average or you add additional fees that don’t appear until after the checkout process has begun, then people will leave. Also, if you have a coupon or discount code option at checkout, people may leave looking for discount codes. If they don’t find any, they may not return to complete their purchase because they think a sale could happen or a better deal on the item will appear at a later time as they’re not willing to pay full price. To prevent this from happening, consider adding a code somewhere visible on your site or consider adding codes to popular voucher websites.

Technical issues are another reason. Sometimes customers may even abandon their carts without meaning to do so. For instance the website crashes - or ever more simply, they had to leave their device to do something and forget to return. Therefore these emails can act as a reminder to come back on to your website.

Other reasons people might abandon their carts is because there was not enough product description. If your website doesn’t provide enough details about a product, shoppers will go elsewhere. To prevent people from abandoning your shopping cart, provide them with as much item description as possible. Perhaps even research competitors that are selling similar products to ensure that your website offers everything they do and more. Also, it might be nice to have the option to live chat on your website, about any queries or questions the customer may have. Delivering good customer service will more likely lead to to a sale.

Checkout templates to avoid cart abandonment

Before we get to the ways we can try to bring back lost customers, it's good to look at the ways we can prevent losing them in the first place with these checkout templates to avoid. Firstly, what are the payment options for your site? Not everyone has their credit card handy when impulsively adding items to their cart so make sure you allow for alternative, quick and easy payment options like Paypal. Make all the payment options known to the user before they proceed. For instance, with ASOS they show the buyer all the methods they take, clearly at the beginning of the checkout option.

Another way to improve your checkout flow, it to include a guest checkout option. Many people abandon their carts because the checkout process is too long. While it’s good to get people to sign in or sign up with you, so you have their information on hand, it excludes customers who aren’t willing to create an account as they still want to buy from you. Making your checkout process smooth and easy for everyone to use, will reduce your cart abandonment rate.

Cart abandonment best practice

There are some best practices to follow for cart abandonment emails. To start off, be specific. Depending on when you send your email, people might have forgotten about their cart items. It’s no good just sending a vague email like “you’ve forgotten your items”. What items? So be specific and specify which items are remaining in their cart and it helps if you leave images, this is much more effective. Using visual marketing to show people which items they’ve left makes the email more personal and reminds them of what they’re potentially missing out on.

Along with specifying their basket with images, give them an incentive - perhaps make it known in the subject like straight away so they’re aware of the offer before the decide whether to click on your email or not. Offering a special extra 10% or 15% discount offer for your user in their exclusive email to finish their checkout process. It will make them feel valued and their email will feel personalised as it’s not something everyone is getting. One of the reasons people might choose to abandon their cart is the price. The products may have come to a total more than the customer initially thought so offering a discount in your email could be a nice prompt to complete their purchase. And you don’t have to offer direct item discounts, you could offer other things like free shipping or a free item at the checkout when they complete their purchase.

Your email needs to read well on every device - expect that the majority of the email you send will be opened on a mobile device so make sure it’s phone friendly. Also you are asking a customer to click-through the reminder and take action so it’s important that when they click the link they are directed to their abandoned cart, not an empty one.

Final round-up

In a recent study conducted in relation to cart abandonment emails, over half of users felt that reminder emails were helpful. And as we saw, customers that are sent cart abandonment emails tend to return to make that purchase. It is worth sending good, personalised emails to customers that do not go on to make a purchase - but within reason. Don’t spam them - You want to send your first recovery email in the first 24 hours of cart abandonment, then leave it to see whether any engagement takes place.

Sometimes item abandonment can happen without the customer meaning to and sometimes it happens due to reasons like cost, which can be won by a personal discount code via that email. Either way, you have a good chance to bring customers back on to your website.

Finally, sending out these emails also lets the customer know you care about their custom and have paid attention to their items. Being specific - including images of their basket - these are the types of details you need to pay attention to.


Design Sprints for Validation

How to Use Design Sprints to Rapidly Validate Your Ideas

What is a design sprint?

In short, it is a time boxed exercise and it’s all about collaboration. A 5 day process that helps answer critical business questions through prototyping, design and user testing ideas and it was first developed by GV (Google Ventures) who studied over 300 different business strategies. Sprints allow your team to reach well planned out goals and gain key learnings as well as test ideas out, but fast.

The process is there to help spark innovation and bring your team together under one shared vision, and to help you reach your goals quicker. It is advised around bringing on no more than 7 members to a design sprint. For instance you may be wanting to bring everyone together to see how you can make the user's journey on a website better.

There is even a publication on this business strategy, Sprint by Jake Knapp, that aims to help business owners to improve that claims to help  you “fast-forward into the future”.

How does a design sprint work?

There are three times you may need to use a design sprint and these could be; when you’re trying to reach a goal or do something quickly, when big challenges need solving or when you’re stuck.

Before the sprint begins, you need to have the right team there. Someone from different parts of the process. It could be your tech person, your design person, your marketing person, whoever you’re bringing together make sure you have someone from each field who is responsible for the final product.

You and your team will then get together for an uninterrupted 5 days to work together to create new ideas or products for your brand and begin by reviewing everything you know about the problem, to end on not only a solution but a prototype.

Planning your sprint

There are several things you need to make sure are prepared and planned before you can conduct your design sprint. Firstly, it is crucial to do some pre-sprint research before you begin your first day. This could be in the form of interviews with current or prospective users. The goal is to plan ahead and set the stage without overwhelming the team with too much initial information.

Prepare your working space, the right room is important. It may sound obvious but a big, well equipped room is important. Make sure there are enough windows, whiteboards, pens, computers- whatever you need. Remember to stock up on supplies and organise the days well so that everything is ready to commence with no glitches or interruptions. It is also recommended that sometimes an off site location is a good idea, not the same place you work daily.

Assemble a plan together that you will distribute. It doesn’t have to be thoroughly detailed as things to should flow naturally as ideas develop, but should still give people a sense of what they’re going to be doing and what the agenda is for each day.

Why should I use a design sprint?

In many cases, a Design Sprint will lead you to something that gets initial user validation, where the next steps are defined. You’ll have reduced risk by doing some validation early, and develop next steps faster than would have otherwise been possible. What makes the Design Sprint approach most effective is the structured, time-constrained framework with the right exercises.

A design sprint can stop you from creating the wrong thing or wasting precious time going back and forth with other people. Instead, all the stakeholders (those that have a steak in the project) are together in one room. The purpose of the Design Sprint is to get answers to a set of vital questions, not to produce the prototype for the next version of your solution.

The other question is, do you really need 5 days? Different lengths of sprints were tested. From 3 days, up to a month long. The best results were found with the 5 day sprint. This is because it allowed people enough breathing room to focus and not feel overly stressed, while also maintaining the factor of urgency to get things done.

One of the most valuable things about a design sprint is that it saves precious time. Though it can sometimes be difficult to set aside a whole day, let alone 5 whole days, in the long run it’s very valuable. It is also a great way to test out big ideas. Low-risk ideas with high confidence usually don’t need the attention and structure that a Design Sprint provides. So even though it may sound like a high price to pay, it will be worth it.

Final round up

One of the most important parts of it (if not the most important) is your team. If you have the right team it will work. So spend some time when picking members to be involved and make sure you have an expert from each area.

The results tend to be qualitative and focus on perceived value. Design Sprints are not a substitute for usability testing and should come much earlier in the process.

Design sprints initially cost you money and the fact you have to clear out 5 days to conduct one may seem daunting but in the long run they actually save you a lot of time and money over the lifetime of the project.

As long as you have your goals, your schedule planned, your team and a good working environment, there is no reason why you cannot have a successful design sprint. All the back and forth and the ‘middle men’, if you like, are removed from the normal decision making process to allow you and your team to come up with important changes.


eCommerce Site Search Best Practice

eCommerce Site Search - Best Practice

In this article, we discuss the importance of a good search bar and how to make the most of yours.

On eCommerce sites, up to 30% of visitors will use the site search bar to navigate.

These users are showing a clear intent to purchase by entering product names they may wish to browse. Therefore, you want to ensure you’re making the most of it and create the best experience for your visitors.

Make it easy to find

This probably sounds simple but it’s very important - make it easy to find. If the user can’t find the search bar, you could be losing out on that potential extra 30% of sales. It doesn’t necessarily need to be too big or bold but users should be able to find it quickly when they arrive at a page and look around. Here, Halfords have gone as far as to dim the rest of the site when a user clicks on the search box.

Positioning the search box

The position of the search box on the site can influence the user's decision to make use of it to look for products. Navigation should be clear across the entire site, including the site search boxes. This is so that visitors can move around easily, whichever page they happen to arrive at.

However do bare in mind that you want to avoid any confusion on your site. So to do so, make sure you do not locate the search bar too near to other boxes, such as newsletter sign-ups or postcode searches for stock information.

Use autocomplete for site search

By applying this feature to your search bar you improve the search experience by reducing the work that the visitor needs to do. As they type, products are suggested. The use of images not only provides a visual appeal but it also allows them to check the products quickly, such as is shown with PrettyLittleThing.com

If I were the user and I typed in ‘red’, not only do suggestions appear, such as ‘red crop top’ and ‘red denim skirt’ but images appear too which makes the experience for the user better as they get to instantly preview the items.

Filtering the results page

 

Whether a customer clicks or leaves your website can be down to your search results page. Not only do you want the searching experience to be easy and hassle free, you want to bring up relevant results.

With a good site search engine, you should be able to customise your users search to great deal. For instance, if you were a womens fashion retailer, one of your visitors could search for ‘black dress’ and all black dresses would appear. I have used retailer ASOS for this example (see images).

That user should then be able to filter their search more by features such as size, length (do they want a midi, mini or maxi length?), price and so on. Using filters helps to narrow down the options available for the customer so they aren’t overwhelmed and can therefore find their desired item faster.

You can see that just by adding a few filters the search for black dress has gone down drastically.

Track your searches

Some tools you should be taking advantage of are Google Analytics and Google Keyword.

The majority of search engines or hosted searches will keep a list of search terms that users have been looking for on your website. This is a great way to keep track of what the most popular items are and you can see what users are after. With this information you are then able to place these items nearer the top of search results.

Leaving the right breadcrumbs

It can be very irritating when a website produces breadcrumbs like Home > Search > Your Search Result. But leaving the right breadcrumbs can make the users life much easier. People use them to get a more precise search. Helpful breadcrumbs allow people to search without clearing everything and starting from the beginning.

For instance, using this John Lewis camera search query, we can see that convenient breadcrumbs have been left on the site. The item selected while browsing, in this example the Sony camera, might not be exactly what the customer is looking for, therefore leaving useful breadcrumbs such as ‘Cameras & Camcorders’ or even ‘Electricals’, makes searching easier. Furthermore, a faster and hassle-free shopping experience will more likely result in a sale.

Make sure it works and it’s fast

Or risk losing revenue. There is correlation between the amount of users who purchase something from your website and the load time. The same is true for search results. When load times increase, profit decreases. Amazon reported that “one additional second would cost them $1.6 Billion dollars in sales”. Therefore, run tests and ensure your load time is acceptable - this includes checking the load time on mobile devices.

When considering search result load times, even loading time by half a second can be detrimental. In 2012 Google conducted an experiment on search results by increasing results from 10 to 30. The outcome showed that revenue and traffic decreased by 20% because the additional search results took milliseconds longer to load.

Give search suggestions

Placing suggestive text in your search bar will encourage or prompt the user to search for something on your website, but make sure you limit your hints to just a few words.

Not only does a sample search query give them suggestions but it also makes it clear on what they can search for on your website and how many criteria are available. For instance Triavago.co.uk search for hotels and have given ‘New York’ as their search sample, whereas Odeon have given multiple samples, ‘Films, Cinema’s and Questions’.