Statistics and Sales: Getting the Most out of your Website

April 19th, 2013 in Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Web analytics marketing SEO statistics

They say cliches only become so popular because they have a grain of truth. So while we like to avoid them in our marketing materials, there’s one old saying which we think has a lot to recommend it in marketing circles: practice makes perfect.

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I risk over-using a tired old saying because constantly monitoring your activity is the best way to ensure your return on investment is as high as it can possibly be. Like learning to play a musical instrument or improving your golf handicap, tailoring your website is an activity to undertake over time. Practice really does make perfect.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing our attention on the Sleepeezee website, paying detailed attention to the statistics of each and every one of the site’s pages. By going back again and again to these pages and these statistics, we’ve been able to increase their hits by twenty-seven per cent. On our own site, the same attention to detail has seen our ‘bounce rate’ reduce from 63% to just 4%.

But what does all this mean in plain English? The ‘bounce rate’ is simply the percentage of visitors who enter a website and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site. A high bounce rate is bad news: it means people simply aren’t lingering for long on your pages, reducing your chances of converting eyeballs into paying customers. The only way to rectify this problem is to look closely at your pages, and figure out what it is about them that is failing to capture your visitors.

So practice makes perfect. At Image+, we capture, monitor and interpret the usage statistics of our client’s websites, and use this process to improve bounce rates. We can identify which of a site’s pages have the worst bounce rates, and analyse their content to ensure that it is more engaging; once we’ve tweaked that content, we can again monitor the page’s statistics to see the changes – and repeat the steps as many times as it takes to improve and perfect the way in which you site communicates with your potential customers.

This process really is essential if you are to get the most out of the website in which you’ve invested so much time and money. If you hardly ever pick up that guitar, or never manage to get any time on the course, you’re not going to become the next Jimi Hendrix or Seve Ballesteros; likewise, if you don’t pay detailed attention to your website, and spend time tailoring your pages on the basis of active and passive user feedback, your website won’t work for you as it should.

Put it this way: purging your sales copy of cliches is a great way of helping to keep your visitors’ attention; but in doing so you’re proving one of the oldest ones in the book. Practice makes perfect.

And They’re Off: Web Apps And The Competitive Edge

April 4th, 2013 in Bespoke, Web App Bespoke Web

Whilst putting together this month’s newsletter (for which you can sign up here), I looked back over our post about the Cheltenham Festival and SEO… and reflected that time is moving so quickly that we’ve already reached Grand National weekend! Time flies when you’re making websites, as the old saying almost goes.

742787371On which note, it’s worth pointing out to you some of the projects which have seen us glued to our screens recently. In particular, two new web applications have taken considerable effort, since they were built from the ground up, bespokely fitted to our clients’ needs.

Web applications are essentially modules you can plug into a website in order to achieve a certain effect or functionality. Many websites are required to fulfil a series of functions which can be applied ‘out of the box’: common demands such as blogging, interactive menus, video galleries and the like have tried-and-tested solutions which we can implement very smoothly, drawing on our experience of the range of options available.

But it’s also true that a website can achieve a great deal more, and if a client wants their online platform to serve a very specific, even unique, function, we’re always excited to help them achieve that. The code which makes websites work can be written from scratch – and the bespoke solutions we devise together may well become the ‘out of the box’ options of the future.

The first of the new applications we have recently developed is an order processing system for a courier company, Pro 21. Pro 21 had some very particular requirements, including the capacity to allow customers to book directly online, monitor the progress of consignments in real-time, and receive invoices smoothly and efficiently. In order to achieve this, the system has to apply a unique customer ID to each user, and handle an array of data, as well as boast an intuitive interface for customers and administrators alike.

Likewise, the web-based facilities management system we developed for Diamond FS had to handle a wide range of variables in such a way that the data outputted to customers made sense to them quickly and cleanly. Facilities management is a key element of any business with significant infrastructure, making not just the services Diamond FS offers, but the medium through which they are requested and monitored, crucial to both their own success and that of their clients. That made this web application a key element of their offering – and worth doing both properly and bespokely.

In fact, like the Grand National racecourse, which is famously tweaked and tested rigorously and continuously, web applications are all about detail: understanding the specific demands, challenges and opportunities of a given ‘course’ – and fitting the solution to them carefully and with a commitment to ongoing improvement. In this way, we can add real power to your website’s elbow – and give it a USP that will keep users coming back for more.

Packaging: Thinking Outside The Box

April 2nd, 2013 in Design, Packaging Design Packaging

Perhaps only Christmas can rival Easter when it comes to decorating the nation’s living room floors with discarded packaging. Around 90 million eggs are consumed in the UK each year, and that makes for an awful lot of cardboard torn apart by hungry kids – and sometimes greedy adults!

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It’s easy to assume at this time of year that packaging doesn’t really matter, and that it’s what’s inside that counts.Whilst of course the quality of the ultimate product is key, packaging attracts all kinds of attention. For instance, just last week the House of Commons saw fit to debate Easter egg boxes, with the MP Andrew Stunnel unveiling facts and figures which suggest confectioners are still producing excess packaging. As you might imagine, the companies are doing their best to burnish their green credentials in response – chocolate giant Nestle, for instance, are keen to emphasise their eco-friendly Easter packaging.

All of this underlines the point that packaging matters. They might seem to your toddler like a pesky hurdle before the main chocolatey event, but the companies which sell those eggs put huge thought into the boxes: from the structure to the materials used, packaging is considered to be an important part of the overall offer. Cost is weighed, of course, but more important is the message sent by the box in question – and the extent to which consumers will appreciate it.

So as I cleaned up some of the wreckage left behind by this year’s Easter feast, I found myself looking at the branding choices made by the designers of the board and foil I was picking up. At Image+, we offer packaging and promotional items services which embed your brand in the daily experience of your customers. Understanding what they expect of your product and its packaging, what that packaging needs to achieve (does it sit on a shelf, or travel across continents?), but also how your brand should influence and even dictate its shape, colours and composition can be key.

The packaging of those Easter eggs might be disposed of quickly (or not – some virtuous souls in the Image+ office eat their eggs slowly, using the box as storage!). But it’s also the first thing anyone sees of the egg and the company which made it. That makes it key at the point of sale, of course, but also afterwards in reinforcing and reminding the consumer about a brand you want them to recall and trust. I blogged last week about branding – packaging is where all that design work arrives in the real world – not just on the floor, but also in people’s lives.