The Weekly Shop (3rd – 7th February)

In the Weekly Shop this week…we take a look at how there has been a huge rise in overseas shoppers searching for UK retailers, how giving consumers fewer options could actually boost conversions, a bad customer experience from a well-known high street retailer and some more thoughts on SEO in 2014.

One in five US and UK consumers did all of their Christmas shopping online: stats

This won’t come as a surprise to many but findings from a new Econsultancy survey have found that 61% of people in the UK said that they completed more than half or all of their Christmas shopping online in 2013, while just 7% completed all of their shopping offline. More on the findings over on Econsultancy. Read more.

New figures reveal huge rise in overseas shoppers searching for UK retailers online

According to data from the British Retail Consortium and Google, UK retailers are also benefiting from huge rises in online searches from overseas shoppers. The figureshave revealed that  the UK is now the world’s second biggest online retail exporter. Read more.

Want more sales? Give consumers fewer options

This is an interesting article from Econsultancy which looks at how giving consumers fewer options could actually help boost conversions. Blair Keen from Adobe looks at two psychological studies which show behaviour that might help explain cart abandonment and gives his suggestions for testing this theory on your website. Read more.

How to lose friends and alienate people: Mango

When our commercial director, Ben, attempted to purchase a Christmas gift for his wife from fashion etailer Mango, the service and experience was he received was far from what he expected. You can read more about his frustrating experience over on the Econsultancy blog. Read more.

Super rich shift their thrills from luxury goods to costly experiences

According to this article from Guardian, luxury is shifting from ‘having’ to ‘being’ with consumers moving away from owning a luxury product to experiencing luxury. Figures from the Boston Consulting Group hsve shown that of the $1.8tn spent on luxuries in 2013 an estimated $1tn went on services such gourmet dining, private flights, bespoke safaris, slimming clinics and art auctions. Read more.

Now you have to do SEO, thanks to Google

There have been many debates on the right approach to SEO recently and this is an insightful article from The Drum looks at how brands really need to do SEO and how Google has made the case for this easier in recent weeks. Read more.

2014 SEO — 6 Key Pointers

Following on from the above…this last article from Clickz looks at six key things every SEO professional should be concerned about in 2014 to overcome future update issues. Read more.

Thanks for reading!

The Weekly Shop (27th – 31st January)

In the Weekly Shop this week…more search news from Matt Cutts, the importance of differentiating between content marketing and content for links, how reviews and trust signals can double your conversions and some updates on the EU Consumer Rights Directive.

How trust signals can double your conversions

As we mentioned last week, the role customer reviews are playing on the conversion landscape is increasing significantly with more and more shoppers looking for guidance on their purchasing decisions. This article from Econsultancy looks at how reviews and other trust signals can reassure your customers that they are safe when shopping with you and help to double conversions.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive: should etailers be worried?

You’ve probably heard murmurs of a new EU directive, which has implications for UK retail. It’s called the Directive on Consumer Rights and aims to improve consumer protection when shopping online. There are some good points in the directive, but also some that may concern retailers which this article from Econsultancy explores.

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Content for Links? The Wrong Answer Could Cost You

This next article explores the importance of differentiating between content for links and content for customers and how the wrong answer could be costly in terms of risk, return on investment and performance.

Study: 34% Of Google Search Results Have Rich Media, 9 Organic Links & 9 Search Ads

Moving onto some search news, a new study has been released that showed that there was rich media on the search results page 34% of the time. The breakdown of rich media showed images appear on 28% of search results pages, news 9%, and shopping 1%. Head over to Search Engine Land for more details of the findings.

Google’s Matt Cutts: Don’t Try To Build Links Through Article Directories

Matt Cutts has popped up once again this week encouraging webmasters not to use article directory websites with the goal of building links. He also tweeted his thoughts on his and you can view his video answer here.

Google & Bing Agree: Past SEO Success Guarantees You Nothing Today

Matt Cutts has also released a new Google webmaster help video which addresses the topic of what an older site can do to maintain its ranking over time. Some useful tips here if you have an older website.

6 SEO predictions for 2014

And to finish off, here are six SEO predictions for 2014 from Search Engine Watch.

The Weekly Shop (20th – 24th January)

In this week’s Weekly Shop, we have four go-tos to make online reviews work for your business, figures on the UK’s online spending in 2013, an update from Google on whether Facebook and Twitter signals are part of the ranking algorithm and the last in our commercial director’s series of posts for Econsultancy on PPC payment models.

4 Go-Tos To Make Online Reviews Work For Your Business

By now, everyone knows that online reviews can have a tremendous impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Review prominence in search results is also rising, as they often appear just below their company website and make up the majority of the top 10 corresponding results. This article from Search Engine Land looks at how local marketers can reap the benefits of online reviews for the best local search visibility.

UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013 – and look set to spend £107bn in 2014

According to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for December, UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013. The internet retailing marketing grew by 16% during the course of the year and it was capped by a final month in which online sales rose by 18%, with £11bn spent up from £9bn in December 2012. More on the figures over on Internet Retailing.

Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, has been making search news once again this week with his answer to the question ‘Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?’ His short answer was ‘no,’ and he stated that currently Facebook and Twitter pages were treated like any other page due to a number of reasons that are outlined in this article from Search Engine Land.

PPC agency payment models: fixed fee

Towards the end of last year, our commercial director, Ben, started a series of posts for Econsultancy digging into the mechanics of PPC agency pricing models. His final post on the fixed fee model is now live on the Econsultancy blog and if you haven’t already, check out his overview of percentage of spend and pay on performance models.

That’s it for news this week! See you next week.

The Weekly Shop (6th -10th January)

Welcome to the first The Weekly Shop of 2014.

To kick things off, we take a look at Christmas 2013’s ecommerce stats, how UK online shoppers’ satisfaction has slipped, retail trends in customer experience and how to link build in 2014.

Christmas 2013 ecommerce stats round up: John Lewis, Amazon, m-commerce

Our first article this week is from Econsultancy, who have rounded up some of Christmas 2013’s ecommerce stats using financial results from several of the big multichannel retailers including John Lewis and Debenhams, as well as data from IBM showing the rise in m-commerce.

UK online shoppers’ satisfaction slips, annual study shows

Every Christmas, customer experience analytics company ForeSee measures the performance of the UK’s top 40 online retailers. For the first time in six years, overall satisfaction levels have fallen. Head over to Internet Retailing to find out more.

Retail trends in customer experience for 2014

As we’ve seen in the above, customer experience is becoming more important than ever in online retail – being empathetic to your customers’ needs and expectations is essential if you are to deliver a meaningful brand experience. This article looks at the four trends that will help shape the retail customer experience in 2014.

Link building the right way in 2014

Link building has changed considerably in recent months, and contrary to what you may have heard, it’s far from being dead but the process has become harder and more time consuming. This article from Clickz looks at how link building is still the best way to improve visibility in the SERPS and how you can safely and successfully link build in 2014.

Build an Audience by Creating Content, not Crap

This article from Clickz really hits the nail on the head with the point of content marketing, which they define as the process of creating and distributing highly relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage clearly defined and understood target audiences. Well worth a read.

Happy reading!

Paid search – enhanced campaigns revisited

It has been around six months since Google made migration to ‘Enhanced Campaigns’ compulsory for all Adwords accounts, so the time is ripe for a quick analysis of our own client data to see what effect this has had on the main metrics such as Cost per Click (CPC), Conversion Rate (CR) and Cost per Action (CPA). 

Enhanced Campaigns are designed to let marketers adjust keyword bids depending on three core variables – location, time of day and type – across devices, and all within the same campaign for the first time.

The major change brought about by Enhanced Campaigns was the inability to split campaigns by device, so the main concern for advertisers was whether mobile or tablet performance would be greatly affected.

Whilst mobile bids can be adjusted and ads created for mobile use, tablets have no such luxury and are essentially grouped together with desktops for all account management tasks.
A vast majority of Leapfrogg’s PPC clients work within the retail sector, so ROI is generally our main focus but there are many caveats when carrying out such a study including:

  • Seasonality
  • Changes in product lines
  • Site changes
  • Competitor activity
  • Shifts in strategic focus

When comparing the six months before the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns i.e. February to mid-July 2013, to the following six months to December 2013 we noticed the following changes:

1. A 40% increase in mobile impressions with tablet and desktop spend unchanged

2. A 30% increase in mobile spend with tablet and desktop spend unchanged

a. This follows the trend of increased mobile usage to a certain degree but is a large percentage increase nevertheless

3. Increased cost-per-click across all devices

4. Lower click-through rate across all devices

5. Increased conversion rate across all devices (we would hope that on-going optimisation of accounts should deliver this anyway)

6. A similar cost-per -action across all devices

The increase in conversion rate experienced by Leapfrogg clients has offset the increased cost-per-click, so we are paying around the same for our conversions now as before Enhanced Campaigns. This is probably not the case in many agencies however.

It is well documented how product listing cost-per-clicks have increased, partly due to increased competition no doubt, but cost-per-clicks on the whole, particularly on mobile, seem to have followed suit too.

Again, I need to stress that this is not scientific and there are too many variables for it to be reliable but it does make me wonder…does Google know many of its advertisers will be paying more for conversions due to higher cost-per-clicks?

The recent addition of ‘Estimated Total Conversions’ to Adwords reporting estimates how many extra cross-device conversions may have been generated and then adds this to your total. This seems to suggest they may be looking to prove extra value that we don’t necessarily see at the top line. However, I somehow doubt many advertisers actually take this data seriously.

Quality of leads is a better target than estimated conversions and a recent Google update has allowed uploading of offline conversions, which will help demonstrate that, particularly for lead-based businesses.

One thing is for sure though – you can’t completely control your cost-per-clicks as Google ultimately decides that, but you can improve your conversion rate. For this reason conversion rate optimisation is playing a much larger part in PPC advertising and will be an even greater level of focus for performance-led agencies such as Leapfrogg in the future.

 

The Weekly Shop (16th – 20th December)

Welcome to the last Weekly Shop of the year. In this last edition, we take a look at why ecommerce retailers are still failing provide information on Christmas delivery dates, which country spends the most online and some insight into SEO in 2014 and why link building is not enough anymore.

Ecommerce and Christmas delivery: some retailers still don’t get it

For anyone doing some last minute online Christmas shopping, one of the biggest questions will be ‘can this retailer deliver in time for Christmas?’ This information is essential to manage customer expectations and improve retention through clear messaging and delivering on promises. In this article, Graham Charlton from Econsultancy looks at how ecommerce sites are failing to inform customers about delivery dates at Christmas time and he also sheds some light on best practice approaches.

Key Christmas trends to keep in mind this season: stats

With higher-then-usual retail activity, Christmas is always an interesting time for digital trends and statistics. Using their vast pool of research and data, Econsultancy have helpfully put together some of the key Christmas trends which are worth bearing in mind in the lead up to the 25th and beyond.

The UK spends more online per head than the rest of the world: stats

OFCOM’s 2013 International Communications Market Report has found that the average person in the UK spends £1,175 online, making us the biggest online spenders in the world. According to the OFCOM report, the UK also has a higher level of trust in online retailers than the rest of the globe. More stats over on Econsultancy.

Silver surfers show their online confidence: research

Following on from the above, we’re clearly becoming more confident with the idea of online shopping and new research has shown that Senior Citizens have also embraced the digital shopping revolution.

From Old School to New School: SEO in Transition

This article from Search Engine Watch looks at some of the transitions that have taken place in the world of SEO by comparing the way SEO was practiced a few years ago to how it should be approached today.

Link building vs. content strategy: why link building alone is not enough anymore

In light of the above, our last link is a post from our Senior Social Media and Content Consultant, Alice, about why link building alone is not enough anymore. Her post really sums up our approach to link building and Alice has put together an infographic to illustrate the key aspects of a holistic natural search strategy.

And that’s it for this week. We’ll be taking a short break over Christmas, but we will be back on the 10th of January to fill you in on all digital marketing and retail news for the New Year.

Until then, Merry Christmas!

 

Link building vs. content strategy: why link building alone is not enough anymore

Here at Leapfrogg, we’ve always followed the mantra ‘users first, search engine second,’ when it comes to natural search. In other words, whatever we do to improve the visibility of your website should also benefit the user. You can read more about our customer-driven approach in one of Ben’s guest posts for Econsultancy, found here.

It used to be the case for many others that by simply building lots of links to your site – no matter where those links came from – you’d be able to “game” the search engines into thinking that your website was worthy of a high position in the search engine results page (SERP). Targeting specific keywords with links to specific pages would see your Google rankings steadily climb for those terms. Unfortunately (and quite rightly) it’s not that easy anymore. Your website has to genuinely add value to your readers if you want it to be noticed.

Since Google released its first Panda update back in 2011 with the aim of filtering out low quality content from search results, increasing emphasis has been placed on building a content-rich, well-structured website as a starting point for any natural search strategy. Following the latest Hummingbird update, which very much places users’ needs at the centre of search, Google is going to notice faster than ever before if your site doesn’t cut it when it comes to content.

Links are still important, there’s no denying that. Links count as editorial votes of confidence, but whereas this used to work in a silo Google is getting better at catching you out if you’re building links to a less-than-brilliant site. We’ve put together the accompanying graphic to illustrate the key aspects of a holistic natural search strategy. It’s not about gaming Google, it’s about creating a site that’s worthy of its position in the SERPs and making sure that the right people know about it.

Link Building vs Content Strategy Diagram

Click to enlarge

Make your website awesome

Your website shouldn’t just be the place where people can buy your products; it should be an indispensable information resource for your customers. User-focused content that sits on your site such as how to guides, a comprehensive FAQ section, customer competitions, white papers, surveys, videos, news stories, images, infographics and an active company blog – provided it’s all properly structured – will significantly increase the size of your site and give you a wealth of content that people will naturally want to link to.

Share your content with the world

Now that you’ve built an amazing site, it’s time to shout about it. Ensure that you are regularly sharing links to your on-site content via your social media channels – Google will notice when links to your site are being shared on social platforms and these positive social signals generally correlate with the authority of your site and your natural search visibility.

Encourage the world to share your content

It’s not just about YOU sharing your content though; it’s about getting others to share it. Use your social media channels to reach out to influencers including industry publications, potential and existing brand advocates, bloggers, influencers and – most importantly – customers by initiating conversations and volunteering links to your content. Also, ensure that every page of content on your site has sharing buttons, making it possible for others to promote your content with one click.

Nurture your brand advocates

Social media is undoubtedly the most effective way of building your army of online brand advocates. If you deliver a great experience via your social channels as well as having an amazing product or service, you’ll find that you’ll reap the rewards in the form of online recommendations which goes towards maintaining that all-important social buzz and engagement around your brand.

Get the links you deserve

By having a well-structured website with fantastic content, you will likely find that sites will link to you naturally as a result of discovering you via social media or natural search. Most of the time, however, securing links needs a lot more work. Do something that’s newsworthy, come up with a killer content collaboration idea, host an event for fans or influencers or launch an exciting competition and actively reach out to the people you want to links from – whether that’s news sites, industry publications or bloggers.

Get on Google+

Unsurprisingly, Google really wants you to use its own social media platform. Having a Google+ page for your business will help to enhance your presence in natural search. Firstly, by tagging your site up with rel=publisher, your Google+ page and latest Google+ post will appear in search results for relevant queries. Secondly, tagging individual content pages on your site (e.g. guest blog posts from industry influencers) with rel=author promotes the transparency and integrity of the content, helping users scan and read content by people they want to read more from. It also helps pages stand out in the SERPs by having the author’s image next to the listing which can help improve CTRs to your site. Additionally, blog owners should contribute to others’ blogs as an author which adds more weight to your brand and improves individual identity.

In summary…

Securing links should still be an integral part of your natural search strategy. We’ve known for a while that buying hundreds of links from low-quality sites won’t work, but now the quality of YOUR site is of primary importance. Even if you’re regularly gaining links from blogs and other online publications, Google will be looking at a whole host of other factors including your on-site content, how your site is structured, how many times links to your content have been shared on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. and whether or not you’re making use of Google+ as a social brand hub.

By getting all of these elements right, you’ll drastically increase the chances of your content being seen by the right people: your potential customers. What’s more, as is always the end goal, this should ultimately have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Alice Reeves on Google+

The Weekly Shop (2nd – 6th December)

In The Weekly Shop this week…we look at the launch of the first railway station parcel collection point, a new nation of ‘smart shoppers’, how understanding the traits of online shoppers can drive conversions and 10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey.

Network Rail launches the first railway station parcel collection point that’s open to all retailers and carriers

Following on from the news last week that Asda are launching click and collect services at six London Underground car parks, Network Rail is following suit and will be trialling ecommerce parcel shops at unused space at mainline stations. The first collection point opened on Tuesday at Milton Keynes Central with more sites to follow at UK railway stations throughout 2014.

Smart shoppers combine high tech with high street to beat Christmas rush – saving a seven mile walk

New research from O2 has revealed that we are turning into a nation of ‘smart shoppers’, using technology to shop on our own terms this Christmas. The research has found that the average Brit visits 21 retail websites each week on their hunt for presents, notching up a staggering 425 minutes online – the equivalent of walking over 7 miles to browse the same range of products. The research also highlights the growing trend for consumers to blend offline and online services to meet their needs. More over on Internet Retailing.

Understanding the traits of online shoppers to drive conversions

Now onto another study which has identified that just over 1% of an ecommerce site’s users contribute 40% of its revenue. By analysing 950m page views from more than 123m website visits, the research found that whilst this 1.06% of total visitors generates four tenths of a site’s income, there are a further 20% of site visitors who will visit regularly, but never make a purchase. With this research in mind, this article from Econsultancy looks at the traits of these very different consumers and how can you use this information to convince them to shop more, not less.

10 tips for planning your New Year sales customer journey

Here’s a timely article from our Managing Director, Rosie Freshwater, on planning for your New Year sales customer journey. In her blog, Rosie provides us with her top 10 tips to using the busy sales period to increase retention, loyalty and revenue by placing the customer at the heart of the buying experience.

SEO Changed Forever In 2013. How To Adjust And Thrive In 2014

It’s clear that the changes we’ve seen in search throughout 2013 have been aimed at creating a better experience for the searcher. In this article from Search Engine Land, Jim Lui looks back at the key innovations search has seen in 2013 and how you can stay ahead of the game as a SEO Marketer in 2014 by putting the user first.

Three key steps towards a customer focused digital transformation

Last but not least, some food for thought from Econsultancy. This article looks at how brands must digitally transform to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their customers. With 2014 being a time to make new resolutions, Glen Hartman looks at the three main areas businesses should focus on to start their journey to achieving a successful customer-centric transformation to reap the resulting benefits long after we ring in the New Year. A recommended read.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading!

The Weekly Shop (18th – 22nd November)

In the weekly shop this week…the second in Ben’s series of articles on PPC Payment models, 11 ways to improve online customer retention, ASA’s fight against paid links and a case study on our work with iconic lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.

PPC agency payment models: performance based

Our first article is the second in a three part series from our commercial director Ben, who has been dissecting PPC Payment Models for Econsultancy. This week he has been scrutinising the ‘performance based’ payment model. If you want to catch up with his previous article on ‘percentage of spend’, then you can do so here.

11 ways to improve online customer retention

Next up is an article from Econsultancy, which outlines 11 ways in which ecommerce retailers can improve customer retention including personalisation, delivery options and community building amongst other useful tips.

Paying bloggers for positive reviews is it common and is it right?

In 2010, the ASA started working with Google to make sure websites disclosed if they were being paid to advertise something on their website. Now, the ASA has posted a reminder to bloggers that they must make it absolutely clear on their blog if the content is an advert or ‘sponsored post’ rather than a normal article. In light of this, the above article explores the slightly murky relationship between bloggers and advertisers. More information can also be found on the ASA website.

John Lewis makes hare-raising Twitter mistake as it promotes wrong accounts for bear and hare

Last week saw the launch of Bear and Hare – John Lewis’ £7m Christmas advert, yet since the campaign launched, the company itself has been promoting the wrong Twitter accounts for the characters. Whoops! The John Lewis Twitter account directs people towards @JohnLewis_Bear and @JohnLewis_Hare: but the accounts tweeting are actually @JohnLewisBear and @JohnLewisHare. Possibly a miscommunication between the PR team and the people handling social media after they presumably set up accounts to stop people from claiming the Twitter handles.

Case Study: Agent Provocateur

To finish us off this week, our insight and strategy work with the iconic lingerie brand Agent Provocateur has been featured on Figaro Digital.

See you next week!

 

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The Weekly Shop (28th Oct – 1st Nov)

Unbelievably, it’s Friday again (where did the week go and how is it November already?) which means it’s time for The Weekly Shop! This week, we take a look at a new coalition which aims to take 200 high streets online, an infographic about what shoppers want from retailers this festive season, some updates from Matt Cutts and an article from Ben for Econsultancy examining the percentage of spend PPC payment model.

New coalition aims to take 200 UK high streets online

In retail news this week, a new coalition launched with the aim of taking 200 UK high streets online. The coalition, which had its formal launch at Westminster yesterday, is launching an ecommerce network built on the foundations of the MyHigh.St project in order to give independent high street retailers across the UK an online shop window. Read more over on Internet Retailing.

Infographic: What Holiday Shoppers Want From Retailers In 2013

There’s no escaping that Christmas is now just around the corner, are you ready? Here’s a preview of what holiday shoppers are looking for from retailers following a survey of over 3,000 online shoppers in the U.S last month. Take a look at the stats and an infographic of the results over on Marketing Land.

Matt Cutts on SEO, PageRank, Spam & the Future of Google Search at Pubcon Las Vegas

Now on to developments in the world of search. Interesting, Matt Cutts was the keynote speaker at Pubcon in Las Vegas last week. Cutts talked extensively about the changes Google has been making recently and offered a few juicy insights into their future developments. More over on Search Engine Watch.

Don’t believe the hype: Google+ does not mean great SEO

Whilst speaking at Pubcon, Cutts also revealed that social signals like Likes, retweets and +1s will have no short-term impact on search performance and won’t help you rank better. Following on from this, this article from Econsultancy looks at the evidence that Google+ does not mean great SEO.

Successful Social Marketing is So Much More Than Social Media

While we’re on the topic of social media, this article from Clickz looks at how social media has evolved into much more than just a channel or tactic and how it should be an ever-present strategy in all aspects of your marketing.

PPC agency payment models: percentage of spend

And to finish us off, here’s an article from our commercial director Ben which is the first in his series of posts for Econsultancy which will dissect three of the most common PPC payment models. In his first post Ben looks at the most commonly used model in the industry – percentage of spend.

So, that’s it for this week. Happy reading!