https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:47:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6 https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/web-design/8-major-website-redesign-pitfalls/ Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:47:02 +0000
The web changes; what was once best practice becomes outdated and what was in fashion becomes old hat. And because of this, websites change too. You’ll have no doubt noticed your favourite websites have been updated in recent years and 123 Reg launched a redesigned and rebranded website just last week. Business spend a lot…
The web changes; what was once best practice becomes outdated and what was in fashion becomes old hat. And because of this, websites change too. You’ll have no doubt noticed your favourite websites have been updated in recent years and 123 Reg launched a redesigned and rebranded website just last week.
Business spend a lot of time and effort launching new sites because it’s important – an outdated website can have a negative impact on sales, especially if your competitors are keeping up to date with the latest online developments. (If you’re not sure whether you need a new site, then check out this guide.)
But redesigning and rebranding isn’t straightforward. So what should you look out for when launching a new site? Here we’ll look at eight potential pitfalls and how you can avoid them.
Failing to embrace the latest must-haves
If you haven’t redesigned your website in a while, you’re likely to be missing some of the elements that need to be included. An obvious example of a must-have feature that has emerged in recent years is mobile-friendly design – launching a new site that isn’t mobile friendly would be a huge mistake, as you’ll alienate a huge number of internet users.
But this is still a trap many people fall into – either through not knowing about current best practice, or in an attempt to cut corners and save money.
To avoid it, make sure you do your research before you even attempt to redesign your website. This applies even if you’re planning on contracting things out to a web designer – the more you know about what you want, the easier it’ll be to tell if someone can provide it for you.
As for cost, it’s a misconception that building a good-looking website with packed features has to be expensive. Unless you’re planning a huge project (like launching the new Facebook) then you should be able to get everything you need from a website builder or a platform like WordPress. You can learn more about deciding on the right web design option in this guide.
It’s understandable that you’d be keen to get your redesigned website up and running, but if you rush to launch before you’ve done any testing then you could be making a huge mistake. Why? Well, it’s impossible to predict how people will interact with your new site. You may be convinced that it looks great and works the way it should, but you won’t know for sure how customers will use your site until it has actually launched.
If things go badly, your new site could lead to a huge drop off in sales. And obviously that’s the opposite of what you should be aiming for.
Clearly, the solution here is to test. Now, you shouldn’t test the new website vs the old website all at once. For starters, it’s very hard to implement effective and even if you do get your test working, you won’t get any useful information from it. This is because testing is at its best when you test just one change at a time. So you might want to test the headline from a page on your existing site vs the new headline the same page on your redesigned site (this is known as A/B testing). If the new headline wins, then that’s a sign the changes you’re planning to make will work.
Ideally, you’d test every change in this way, but often this isn’t practical. If you’re short on resources, then focus your testing on your most important pages – that’s the ones that make you the most money.
Of course, don’t forget it’s possible to test your new website without making any changes to your online presence. You can use heuristic testing with an offline version of your new site. Heuristic testing basically involves asking a small group of people to use your site while you watch. The idea is that you get to see how people actually interact with your website, so you can see if things work the way they should.
You can learn about the principles of A/B testing here, while there’s more information on other forms of testing in this article about understanding your website visitors.
Forgetting your customers
Your business isn’t about you, it’s about your customers. And if you don’t bear them in mind when redesigning and rebranding your site, then you could be headed for disaster. Now in this case, we don’t mean forgetting about how customers will interact with your site, but how they will view the changes you’ve made to your brand.
A dramatic redesign and rebrand can alienate and existing and potential customers, especially if you drift away from the tone of voice which they expect from you. For example, if you run an accountancy firm and your website copy uses a formal tone of voice and then you redesign and rebrand to use a less formal tone of voice, you shouldn’t be surprised if your customers have a negative reaction to this.
Do research into what existing and potential customers expect from a business like yours and use that as the basis of your redesign and rebrand.
Not having an SEO plan
Ranking well in search engines is hugely important for an online business. If you approach your redesign without a search engine optimisation (SEO) plan, then you could make mistakes that will make it harder to rank well. To make matters worse, if your site is already ranking highly a redesign without an SEO plan can damage your rankings, something that can lead to a drop in sales.
Developing an SEO plan for a website redesign is a huge issue, and also a vital one. We’ll be publishing a guide on this topic shortly, so keep your eyes peeled.
Prioritising looks over function
You no doubt have an idea about what your perfect website would look like. But what would you sacrifice to make it happen? Sometimes people get so attached to a certain design, they forget the most important feature of a website is that it’s easy to use and navigate. If your perfect web design doesn’t turn visitors into customers, then it’s not perfect – no matter how you feel about the way it looks.
It’s true that sometimes you do have to sacrifice looks at the altar of functionality, but the most important thing to do is to test your new site to work out what works and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, then don’t do it.
Not benchmarking stats and monitoring changes
You launch your new site and decide you want to see how it measures up to your old site. But then you discover you don’t have any stats from before the change to compare your new stats to. Ideally, you should have statistics dating back at least a year. That way, you’ll be able to make sure that any change, good or bad, isn’t just down to seasonal differences.
Check out this article to find out what stats you should be monitoring after you launch a redesigned website.
You should also be able to see quickly if something isn’t working on the site. You may have thoroughly tested your site, but if an error has somehow crept in and that error stops people from completing a purchase you need to know about it as soon as possible.
Setting up conversion funnels on Google Analytics will let you identify any problems quickly and easily.
If you’re planning a redesign, but haven’t yet got Google Analytics installed on your site, then check out this guide to installing Google Analytics and get it on there as soon as possible. You won’t be able to draw on a huge amount of data, but anything is better than nothing.
Changing or removing your Google Analytics code
It might happen accidentally, or you might not realise how important it is to keep the same Google Analytics code. But if you do make changes to it, you’ll lose the ability to monitor the impact your changes have had on your site. And if you can’t monitor the impact, you won’t know if the switch over has been successful. Make sure your Google Analytics code stays on your site, and that it stays the same.
Redesigning/rebranding a website is a huge job, but it shouldn’t be a leap into the unknown. Make sure you’re fully prepared. By understanding the problems you might face when re-launching your site, you’re more likely to make a success of things.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/social-media/beginners-guide-to-hashtags-and-how-to-use-them-for-your-business/ https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/social-media/beginners-guide-to-hashtags-and-how-to-use-them-for-your-business/#respond Fri, 26 Aug 2016 07:00:00 +0000
Did you know that tweets with hashtags generate twice as much engagement – which includes clicks, retweets, favourites and replies – compared to tweets without? Hashtags have become so popular that most social media platforms now feature them. But beware – they work differently on each network. So, to help you get the most out…
The post Beginner’s guide to hashtags and how to use them for your business appeared first on Better business online: Tips, insight and advice.
Did you know that tweets with hashtags generate twice as much engagement – which includes clicks, retweets, favourites and replies – compared to tweets without?
Hashtags have become so popular that most social media platforms now feature them. But beware – they work differently on each network. So, to help you get the most out of hashtags, we’ve created this beginner’s guide where we’ll explain what hashtags are and how to use them to their full potential on networks like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. We’ll also give you some tips on how to create your own hashtags.
Let’s get started.
What are hashtags and why are they useful?
A hashtag is a word or a phrase preceded by the hash mark “#” and it’s used to organise and to keep track of similar information around a particular topic.
This is how a hashtag looks:
So whenever someone adds a hashtag to a post, the social network indexes it and makes it searchable. When a user clicks on a hashtag, they’re sent to a page that aggregates all posts with that hashtag like in this example below:
So why use hashtags? They’re a great way to tag your content and to increase the chances of your target audience finding it on social media. Think about it – what better way to filter social media buzz and gather your audience around topics of interest than hashtags?
As a small business, hashtags can be a powerful tool to help you:
- Connect with your audience across several platforms.
- Maximise social media engagement.
- Amplify you message and boost your brand’s visibility on social media.
- Define your content as well as make it easier to find given that people often use hashtags to search for specific content that they’re interested in.
- Launch integrated marketing campaigns across different platforms
- Start your own conversation with your community or jump into conversations already happening that are relevant to your business.
How to use hashtags across social networks
While one hashtag may work for one platform, it may not work for another. Each social network is different when it comes to how hashtags are used and how to make the most of them. So let’s get into the specifics of using hashtags on each platform.
Twitter is the home of hashtags, which means that if you want to be part of a larger conversation with other users you need to be using them. People use hashtags on Twitter to tag and categorise information under a specific topic.
When used correctly, hashtags on Twitter can drive heaps of traffic. While only 10% of tweets include a hashtag, 40% of tweets with hashtags get retweeted.
However, what’s interesting to know is that the more hashtags you add to your post, the less engagement you’ll get. While tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% more engagement than tweets without them, after the third hashtag the engagement was been found to drop by 17%. So just stick to one or two hashtags per post to be safe.
Hashtags haven’t really caught on with Facebook’s users due to privacy settings. However, they’re relevant for Facebook Fan pages, although they’re not as popular as on Twitter or Instagram.
Nonetheless, using hashtags on Facebook can help expand your post’s reach, which is now more important than ever considering Facebook’s algorithm changes have resulted in a smaller and smaller reach for posts published by business pages. In addition to this, adding hashtags to your posts on Facebook can also help you to connect with your target audience. You can use them to discover and join conversations with people who are talking about your business, or about topic related to your niche industry. It can also make your posts easier to discover when people are searching for a specific topic.
Similar to Twitter, clicking on a hashtag on Facebook will take you to a page with posts containing the same hashtag. You also have the option to filter the results by Top posts, People, Photos, Pages, Places, Events.
When it comes to the number of hashtags, it’s best to keep them to a maximum of two hashtags as adding more can lower engagement.
Hashtags are extremely popular on Instagram. So popular that you need to use them if you want your content to be discovered you need to use seven hashtags per post. Research shows that that’s the number of hashtags that generates the most engagement on Instagram. However, don’t add hashtags that aren’t relevant to the post just to make them add up to seven. Your posts on Instagram need to use a mix of hashtags that are not only relevant to your post but also to your niche industry.
Even though Instagram is hashtag paradise, don’t go overboard. Try to avoid adding more than ten hashtags per post.
While not as popular as on Twitter or Instagram, using hashtags on Pinterest can help rank your content higher in search results. Use them to describe the topic and the content of your pin so you can then get in front of people who may not have seen your post otherwise.
You can also use a special hashtag to brand your Pinterest page. This can help an idea or a new product catch on.
Here’s a simple example from Nike’s “Make it count” campaign where they used the hashtag #makeitcount to get attention on their campaign:
How to decide which hashtags to use
You know how useful hashtags can be for your social media strategy but how do you know which ones to use? Fortunately, there are lots of tools you can use to help you decide which are the right hashtags to use in your posts.
TweetDeck – This is a great tool to help you monitor the conversations around a specific topic. Start by creating a list of your competitors, which will give you quick access to all their posts from a single place. Then take a closer look at the hashtags they’re using and see which ones are the most popular based on the number of retweets, favourites and comments. This can give you an indication of the type of content your target audience is most interested in.
Trendsmap – This neat tool shows you the most popular hashtags on a map. It’s very useful as it can tell you what are the trending topics that people are talking about in your area. Take advantage of the buzz in a specific location to get in the conversation.
Websta – Another useful tool that allows you to discover popular hashtags on Instagram. You can run a search for hashtags and see the volume of posts per hashtag. You can also check to see which are the most popular Instagram hashtags ranked by popularity.
Creating your own hashtag
Starting your own hashtag can be a great idea if you want to:
- Promote a product launch or an event
- Market a special offer or a content
- Host an online Q&A
If you’re considering creating your own hashtag, make sure:
- It’s unique – If you already have some hashtags in mind, do some research first to ensure they’re not already being used by some other brand. Simply run a search on the social networks you want to use that hashtag.
- It’s easy to remember and understand – Avoid creating a hashtag that’s too complicated or includes too many words. Make it simple, short and catchy to increase the chances of it catching on.
- You use the same one on all your social media channels – Be consistent with your hashtags. Using the same one when promoting a product launch gives you more exposure and makes it easier for your audience to remember it.
Using hashtags in your posts can help you increase your posts’ reach and connect with your target audience on social media. Just make sure you’re aware of how they’re used on the different social media channels.
Do you use hashtags on social media? We’d love to hear more about how you’ve put hashtags to work in your social media strategy so leave us a comment below.
The post Beginner’s guide to hashtags and how to use them for your business appeared first on Better business online: Tips, insight and advice.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/social-media/beginners-guide-to-hashtags-and-how-to-use-them-for-your-business/feed/ 0 https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/social-media/why-and-how-to-do-a-social-media-health-check/ Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:15:26 +0000
A social media health check is a key part of creating a strong social media strategy and growing your presence. Unfortunately, this often gets pushed under the rug as there are always more important things to take care of. But here’s the thing: if you don’t examine your data how can you really know what…
A social media health check is a key part of creating a strong social media strategy and growing your presence. Unfortunately, this often gets pushed under the rug as there are always more important things to take care of.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t examine your data how can you really know what is and isn’t working for your business, and what you can do to get better results?
So it’s time to zero in on your social media strategy and determine if your hard work is really paying off. Is your strategy healthy or lingering on life support?
Read on to learn what things you should check to see whether you’re managing your social media channels the right way or whether you need to rethink your strategy.
What is a social media health check and why does it matter?
A social media health check enables you to review what’s working, what’s failing and what can be improved upon across your social media channels. It allows you to sit down with all of the data in front of you, ask mindful questions and see where you stand. By asking questions, you’ll get a broader picture of how well your social strategy ties into your overall business goals, and the extent to which it reinforces a positive brand experience.
Yes, you will need to get detailed but as you start to get into the habit of performing social media health checks, it will become easier. Whether you’ve never done this before or are unsure if you did it correctly, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know to perform a successful social media health check.
First things first, where are you online? Create a spreadsheet and list all the social channels you are on, then take a closer look at each one. Do all of them work for you? Are you sure you’re focusing on the right ones?
No matter how popular Instagram is, it doesn’t mean you should create an account if your audience isn’t there. Did you create a Vine account that you’ve only used once? Do you have an old YouTube channel floating around with only five subscribers?
Nothing’s worse than wasting time and resources on a channel that isn’t producing any results. At the same time, you could be missing out on great opportunities by not taking a chance on new social media channels where your audience is spending time online.
So, here’s what you should do.
Look at each social network and check to see:
- How much traffic you’re receiving from each
- How well your audience is engaging with your content
- How active you are on each channel.
Based on your findings, you should be able to determine which profiles are the best and worst performers. The goal here is to find out which platforms produce the best results so you can focus in on those.
Now, if you have no longer have a good reason to use a specific network or you find that your audience is elsewhere, don’t hesitate to cut ties and just delete that account.
If you also want to give other social networks a try but don’t know which ones are worth your time, read this article as we walk you through all the major social networks and how you can use them so they’re worthwhile for you.
Another thing you can do is to find out which social channels your competitors are using and see whether they might also prove to be valuable to you.
- Am I on the right channels?
- Which are the best and worst performers?
- Which channels should I cut?
- Do I need to add a new social network into the mix?
Once you’ve decided which social networks you’re going to take advantage of, the next step is to ensure you have a proper profile page.
So check to see that all your profiles are completely filled out. This includes the following important information: profile photo, business information like address, phone number, email address, a nicely written description, and a link to your website. This information needs to be accurate and consistent across all social channels.
Consistency is also important when it comes to branding. Your business should be immediately recognisable across all your social media profiles. When there’s a disconnect between your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, your audience might find this confusing and they might wonder whether a specific profile is official, or if they’re even following the right business.
Now, while your branding should be consistent across your social channels, you might find that it’s best to have different descriptions on different social networks. For example, on Twitter you might want to try to show a bit of your personality in the description while LinkedIn might require a more professional description.
So, while consistency is important, it shouldn’t be more important than ensuring that the tone of the profile is right for the network.
- Are my profiles accurate and up to date?
- Did I include all the important information?
- Is my branding consistent on all channels?
- Is the tone of the profile right for that specific social network?
Is your social media marketing doing as well as you hoped? Are you meeting your goals and targets? If not, why not? Are your targets still right for your business or do they need to change?
These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to meeting the social media goals you set out.
So, if your goal is to build brand awareness and get more people to learn about your business then check to see how your audience has grown over time using tools like Facebook’s Page Insights and Twitter’s Followerwonk.
Now, if you’re a small business with more than 10,000 fans or followers, is growing your fanbase still a goal? Wouldn’t it be more useful to focus on how much your current fanbase interacts with your brand and how many of them like, share or comment on your posts? Or how many visit your website and read your blog or purchase a product?
So, take a look at your goals to ensure they are being met and they are still relevant for your business.
You can learn more about developing specific goals in this webinar. In it, you will also find more information on how to monitor your goals, allowing you to see whether you are succeeding in your aims.
- Are you meeting your targets? If not, why not?
- Are your targets still right for your business or do they need to change?
When got started with social media, you probably had an idea of who you wanted to target. However, in some cases the people who end up following and engaging with you will be completely different than what you expected. So check to make sure that those who are actually following you are the ones you want to target.
Twitter and Facebook can give you this information about your audience. Check out our beginner’s guide to Twitter and Facebook analytics to see how you can learn more about your audience.
You should also look at how your fans and followers are reacting to your content. Are they engaging with your content?
Take a look at the number of interactions per post. This includes the number of replies, comments, likes and shares that you receive on a given post, tweet, or update. The more users who make an effort to interact with your brand and your content, the more likely it is that they’ll grow to care about your brand and what you have to say. And this is the audience you should be after.
- Are you reaching the right audience?
- Is that audience engaging with your social media accounts?
The content you share is your most important asset. It’s what builds your brand’s reputation so you need to make sure it’s engaging and also resonating with your followers, otherwise you won’t succeed. Use this opportunity to review the content you’ve shared and identify which posts have had the biggest impact.
Focus on metrics such as likes, shares, retweets and comments. If you want to go a bit more in-depth, you can also look at the content type:
- Educational/ informational
- Rich media (images, gifs, infographics)
This will help give you a better understanding of which type of content works best for each of your social channels. You can then use this information to fit more of that type of successful content into next month’s social media calendar.
If your content isn’t performing well and if no one or very few are engaging with it, try to find out why. Is it because it’s poor quality? Or maybe it doesn’t resonate with your audience? It might also be because you’re posting too frequently in a short period of time and your audience has begun to ignore your content.
If your content is performing well but you believe there’s always room for improvement, good on you. Browse through your competitors’ social media content to see what type of content they’re sharing and how their audience is responding, and which posts get the most interactions. This can give you ideas on what else you can do to increase engagement on your social channels.
- Is your content still performing?
- How does it compare to your competitors’ content?
How often should you perform a social media health check?
You should check things like the most popular content and the most engaging posts on a weekly basis. Each month you should go over your social media calendar to see what did and didn’t work so you know what type of content to focus on for the following month.
While these weekly and monthly checks help you to ensure you’re going in the right direction, an in-depth annual health check is essential to ensure your social media results align with your business goals.
The purpose of a social media health check is to give you a better understanding of where you stand and what you can do to improve. Use all the information you gather to create new goals – no matter what they are – and to reach them.
What’s on your social media health check? Tweet us @123reg to let us know.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/business-2/should-you-ever-work-for-free/ https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/business-2/should-you-ever-work-for-free/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:41:47 +0000
Starting your own small business or going freelance involves a lot of unglamorous beginnings: trying to build connections from scratch and doing work for free or for cheap in order to build your portfolio. And these are just a small part of the early journey. But when, if ever, is it OK to work for…
Starting your own small business or going freelance involves a lot of unglamorous beginnings: trying to build connections from scratch and doing work for free or for cheap in order to build your portfolio. And these are just a small part of the early journey.
But when, if ever, is it OK to work for free? There is no right answer. The truth is there are times when free makes sense, and times when it doesn’t.
So, when should you use free as a strategy to market your business and services? And how can you best leverage it to ensure you get the most out of it?
Using free to gain skills and experience
Gaining new skills or improving your current ones is critical for a small business owner. If you have the opportunity to gain experience by giving away services or products for free, you should consider doing it, especially if you’re just getting your business off the ground.
For example, if you are a speaker, you need to perfect your skills in front of an audience before you can get paid for it. If you’re a photographer, you may allow people to use some of your photographs for free to get your name out there and gain some exposure. (By releasing your images under a creative commons licence, you can attract attention and keep full control of your work.) If you’ve created an app, you may give free access to it in the beginning to get some valuable feedback and identify the issues that need to be fixed to make it even better so you can later charge for it.
These are situations when free makes sense as they allow you to gain expertise and, at the same time, to work out what needs to be improved. However, while free makes sense for a while, it shouldn’t take long until you start charging for your work. How many improvements and new features are you going to add to your app before you start to sell it? You need to think about a time frame ahead of time because free needs to be a temporary tactic, not a permanent one.
You need to determine if the exposure is worth the time and effort. If the company asking for a freebie is high profile, being associated with it could pay off in the future in the form of future business and credibility. In addition, having worked with a blue chip company can expose your brand and products or services to a large number of people.
If you use this strategy, make sure that it only accounts for a small portion of your time, and that you’re only doing it when you’re just starting out. You can also ask for something free in return. For example, you could ask the company to promote your products or services in their newsletter or on social media, or to run an ad on their website.
Teaching others about your “secret sauce”
I’m a huge fan of marketing through education. Not only is this a great way to get people to learn about your business and what you do, but it can also convince people to try your product with the hope that they’ll purchase it later on. Keep in mind that prospects score you based on how capable, trustworthy and amiable you are. You can easily prove these qualities by teaching people about the kind of work you do, and ideally how it can help them solve a problem or be better at what they do.
A good way to do this is through blogging. Check out our beginner’s guide to blogging for business. If you’re not a fan of writing or don’t feel confident to write, there are some great alternatives to blogging like podcasts, infographics, videos and more.
Another thing you can do is to offer a low-featured free version of your product. Technology and software companies often use this strategy because it’s effective at getting users to try a product and then entice them to upgrade to a paid version with additional features.
Using free for added value
A good situation where you can use free to stay ahead of your competition is to include something of value for free with a purchase. This can be more effective at closing the sale than cutting the price of your service or product in an attempt to increase the chances of your prospects choosing you over your competitors.
For example, if you’re a hairdresser you could offer a discount or a free manicure with a third haircut. If you offer Photoshop training courses, you can offer a free ebook to anyone who books a spot on your course or a discount for a future course or for a friend.
There’s also another reason people work for free – because it benefits a cause they feel passionately about. Charity work can help you improve your skills and, in some cases, provide you with exposure. But most importantly, if you do decide to work for free for a charity, pick one that matches your personal and brand values. And don’t give away so much of your time that it has a negative impact on your business.
If you’re just getting started and are considering giving away your time or services for free as a tactic to gain exposure and future business, remember that the goal is to ultimately get paid. Working for free over the long run isn’t a good strategy, unless it’s charity work. But even then you have to make sure your business comes first.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/business-2/should-you-ever-work-for-free/feed/ 0 https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/competitions/123-reg-invites-you-to-go-global/ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:32:08 +0000
Small businesses with big ideas Business, like imagination, knows no borders. That is why 123 Reg is offering our customers the chance to win a trip to grow and expand their businesses on three special trade missions set up by our partners, Enterprise Nation. Go Global is a unique opportunity to take your business to…
Small businesses with big ideas
Business, like imagination, knows no borders. That is why 123 Reg is offering our customers the chance to win a trip to grow and expand their businesses on three special trade missions set up by our partners, Enterprise Nation.
Go Global is a unique opportunity to take your business to the next level by taking it to another country. Our competition is open to start-ups and small businesses who dare to think big. For those looking to discover new markets, we have 1 customer place up for grabs on 3 trips in 2016 to Amsterdam, New York and China/ Hong Kong. All flights, accommodation, mission activities and Go Global mission pack are included. The competition is specific and open to businesses in specific sectors including homeware, retail and ‘makers’. If your business fits the bill – let us know and we hope to send you on one of the Go Global trade missions.
Ready to Go Global? Here’s how…
Amsterdam, 22nd to 23rd September 2016
Is your business ready to Go Global in Amsterdam? This trade mission is open to businesses within the living and home-ware sectors. This trip will help you to understand how to do business in the Netherlands, meet other successful entrepreneurs, meet buyers and retailers and rub shoulders with HSBC, Made.com, John Lewis and KPMG.
New York, 3rd to 5th October 2016
Ready for some business retail therapy in the Big Apple? This trip is tailor-made for those looking to ring up transatlantic business growth. This journey of a business lifetime will connect you with retail experts, buyers and bloggers. The trip to New York will introduce you to the latest retail technologies, successful American and British entrepreneurs and go behind the scenes of some of the hottest Manhattan companies. And, the chance to rub shoulders with American Eagle, Etsy, Skype and Bing.
Hong Kong and China, 9th – 14th November
Are you ready to open the door to new business opportunities in mainland China? This journey will take you to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. This trip, designed for makers and companies looking to source production in China and companies looking to sell to consumers in China. On this trip, you will meet buyers, manufacturers, distributors and agents. Rub shoulders with HSBC, UPS and KPMG.
How to Go Global
For a chance to win a business trip of a lifetime just follow the below three steps:
1) Get social and follow 123 Reg on Facebook and Twitter
2) Tell us why your business should Go Global
3) Mark your post with #123GoAmsterdam, #123GoNewYork or 123GoHongKong
What does it mean to Go Global?
In April, 123 Reg supported Charlotte Allen, owner of high-end fashion designer Klements.co.uk on its first sponsored Go Global mission to Berlin. The mission, helped Charlotte forge relationships with new retailers and stockists that she may otherwise never have met, but also share invaluable experiences with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
‘The trip was crucial. It was a real eye opener to new opportunities and tap into a new market. I picked up a super new stockist based in Frankfurt, along with new customers at the pop shop event. But just as important was meeting like-minded people, running businesses similar to mine. We were able to share advice and contacts and we have all remained in touch since. Any time that you are able to step away from your place of work and evaluate is invaluable, but to do it in such a way was amazing. I have come back focused, driven and fresh armed with new knowledge and contacts to act on.’
So, are you ready to embark on a trade mission of a lifetime?
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/featured/klements-co-uk-success-story/ Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:23:56 +0000
In September, October and November, 123 Reg will be sponsoring three individual entrepreneurs to attend ‘Go Global’ missions to Amsterdam, New York or China and Hong Kong. The trade missions, run by our partners Enterprise Nation, are a unique way for micro businesses to understand new markets, connect with like-minded people and show off their fantastic…
In September, October and November, 123 Reg will be sponsoring three individual entrepreneurs to attend ‘Go Global’ missions to Amsterdam, New York or China and Hong Kong. The trade missions, run by our partners Enterprise Nation, are a unique way for micro businesses to understand new markets, connect with like-minded people and show off their fantastic work to a new audience.
In May 2016, 123 Reg sponsored Charlotte Allen, owner of Klements.co.uk to attend the Berlin fashion retailer’s mission. Klements was part of 25 emerging entrepreneurs from fashion and jewellery brands. They heard from top experts on how to export to Germany before selling their products at a pop-up in the centre of Berlin. Germany, which as the largest population in Europe at 81 million, is a crucial market for British businesses and Berlin stands as one of the top cities for fashion in the world. With many German companies looking to buy from ‘best of British,’ a trade mission is a fantastic way for any UK business looking to grow and develop.
We spoke with Charlotte Allen to help explain the mission and the crucial leads gained from the trip.
What is Go Global?
Go Global saw fashion and accessory labels head out to Berlin with the Enterprise Nation team to learn more about the German market, learn more about exporting and gain crucial insider tips. On the top, we meet a range of contacts and had the opportunity to host a pop-up shop event in the heart of Berlin!
How important was Go Global?
Really crucial, a real eye opener to opportunities and how to tap into this new market. Thanks to the mission, we were able to pick up a new super cool stockist in Frankfurt, along with customers at the pop shop event including a lady who purchased a dress from the Klements website the day we got back!
Isn’t it all about selling?
I met some great like-minded people running a business similar to mine, so we were able to share advice, contacts and with many, remain in touch since back. Any time to step away from the studio and evaluate in this manner is invaluable – you come back focused, driven and fresh armed with new knowledge and contacts to act on.
Other Klements news…
AW16 was our best season to date – picking up 30 new USA stockists. We have had a great summer seeing some of our favourite celebrities and musicians wearing Klements to key festivals – such as Daughter wearing Klements on the main stage at Latitude. Autumn 16 sees us launch our exciting collaboration with the British Museum in London.
Are you ready to embark on a Go Global mission? Be in with a chance of winning a place to Amsterdam, New York or China here!
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/social-media/how-to-boost-your-small-businesss-social-media-shares/ Sat, 20 Aug 2016 11:17:24 +0000
It’s official – social media is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get your business name out there. Nowadays, a simple article or video posted to your page can be the ultimate breakthrough for a small business’s social media presence – if enough people get to see it. The key to these breakthroughs…
The post How to boost your small business’s social media shares appeared first on Better business online: Tips, insight and advice.
It’s official – social media is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get your business name out there. Nowadays, a simple article or video posted to your page can be the ultimate breakthrough for a small business’s social media presence – if enough people get to see it. The key to these breakthroughs are the amount of shares a post will get- some companies are able to get hundreds and thousands, while others aren’t always so lucky. If you’re in the latter category, by the end of this article you won’t be – as you’ll be equipped with an action plan to help you increase the amount of shares your posts get. Let’s get started!
Who do you want to share your content? Influencers are people who are experienced, knowledgeable or well-known in your industry. They often have high follower counts, and almost always get plenty of shares on the content they post. Influencers are the key to your sharing success – if you can get them to share your post; chances are it’s going to reach a lot of people that are interested in your business. So how do you get them to share your content? It’s important to really do your research- look through their social media pages for ideas. Things to consider: what kind of things have they shared before? What are their interests? What kind of posts do they share on a regular basis? Once you have this information, you can start working on a post that caters to their interests and is relevant to your business.
What are you going to post? A good way to generate interest and shares of your content is to focus on what people are currently concerned with. Trending topics are your friend- pay attention to them. You can use Twitter and Facebook to get a real-time report of what people are talking about. Wondering where to start? #heresaclue!
If you have a topic in mind, searching it using a hashtag is a good way to get an idea of how people are currently engaging with it. Facebook in particular is great for this because it shows you exactly how many people are talking about a particular issue. It’s a great indicator of how many people could potentially be interested in what you are posting about.
Research until you find a topic that is interesting and entertaining for your followers, while still related to your business. Here are two examples of posts with the right balance of interest and relevance:
One last thing on hashtags. Don’t forget to include them in your own posts- they’ll help you get shares by making it easy for people to come across your content. For more information on using hashtags in your posts, check out this guide.
Where are you going to post your content? The simple answer is: wherever your influencers are. You want to make sure your post is seen by the right people to maximise your chances of getting shares. From your research, you already know what social media channels your influencers are using, so be sure to promote your content in the same places. Facebook and Twitter are brilliant, but don’t forget the other little gems: LinkedIn, Medium, Pinterest… the list is endless.
Don’t be afraid to share the same post on different social media channels – promoting your content across different platforms is a great way to make sure your work gets seen by as many people as possible.
How is your content going to be received? There’s only one way to find out: test it! Publish a few varied posts and see how your existing audience reacts to it. Note how many times each post gets liked, commented on and most importantly- shared. Which post was most popular amongst your followers? The posts that come out on top are the ones you’re going to take to promote.
Testing your posts will allow you to gauge what your followers find interesting and what kind of content they want to see. You might also want to take a look at this article – it’s got loads of information on how ensure your posts to reach your audience.
Once you’ve identified and tested your best content, you can really put the plan into action and start to boost your shares.
Paying to promote your posts can be a rewarding investment for your business. It allows you to reach people who are interested in your business who may not have seen your posts otherwise. Every business has a Twitter account these days, so it really does pay off to do all you can to make sure your posts get seen and shared. Sometimes one or two great posts is all it takes to gain a follower, and if that follower is an influencer that’s great news for your business.
This is why it’s really important to identify your best posts- and only pay to promote these. If you pay to promote every little bit of content you post it’ll be an overload, and will leave potential followers with no reason to visit your page. Don’t go overboard: the aim is to attract new followers with quality content.
Many social media platforms make paying to promote your posts an easy process. Twitter, for example, allows you to create Follower Campaigns which enable you to target promoted tweets at your influencers and other people interested in your business. Payment is executed in an auction style- so you decide how much you’re willing to pay for a follower- and you only actually pay when somebody follows you. Here’s a guide that explains the process in further detail.
Every action plan needs a review, and once your share numbers start to increase it would be a great idea to analyse what has worked for you and why. By doing this, you can make each post better than the last, seeing an increase in shares each time. Running out of ideas for things to post? Check out this article for some interesting suggestions.
The post How to boost your small business’s social media shares appeared first on Better business online: Tips, insight and advice.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/business-2/getting-started-with-small-business-exporting/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 09:47:10 +0000
So you’ve decided you want to export. It’s a big step and one that can be very profitable if things are done right. But there are also a huge number of pitfalls that must be avoided. In this guide we’ll walk you through the basics of getting started with small business exporting and point you…
So you’ve decided you want to export. It’s a big step and one that can be very profitable if things are done right. But there are also a huge number of pitfalls that must be avoided. In this guide we’ll walk you through the basics of getting started with small business exporting and point you in the direction of resources with extra information to help you on your way. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Researching your target market
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to expand an existing UK-based business, or planning on launching a new business focused solely on exporting, researching your target market is absolutely vital.
If you don’t do sufficient research, or get your research wrong, you could end up ploughing thousands of pounds into a business that’s attempting to export a product to a market where there’s no demand for it.
Your research should cover the following areas:
Which territories have a demand for your product?
Don’t just guess, or base your research on stereotypes about a particular country. Conduct in depth research that gives you a good idea about what kind of person or business is going to want to buy your product. You may discover that a country you thought was certain to be an excellent market has little or no demand, while another country has a high level of demand that you hadn’t anticipated.
What legal and tax issues will you face?
Of course, just because a country has a demand for your product, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to export your product to it. You also need to be aware of the tax and legal issues relating to exporting to a particular country. It may be that legislation or high rates of tax cut into your potential profit margin so much a seemingly profitable market becomes unviable. There are so many different tax and legal considerations that it’s impossible to list them all here, but this guide from Gov.uk is an excellent place to start.
What competition will you face?
You may think that you’re bringing a revolutionary new product to a market, but if you haven’t done your research, you may discover that the demand for the product you’re selling is already being met by a well-established company. Make sure you’re fully aware of all the competitors you’ll be going up against.
What logistical issues will you have to deal with?
The practical side of exporting is all about logistics. How are you going to get your product to your customer, and how much is that going to cost? If the logistical side of things proves to be too expensive, then you may struggle to turn a profit.
Researching an export market can be a long and complicated process. A good place to start is the relevant exporting country guide from the Department for International Trade.
Once you’ve decided which markets you’re going to export into, the next step is to start planning the localisation of your business. Put simply, localisation means adapting your existing business assets so they can be used in a different market.
For online businesses that decide to export, the biggest localisation issue is likely to be your website.
Here are some areas to consider:
It’s vital you provide your target market with a version of your website in the language most commonly used there. If you don’t do this, you’ll be putting off a huge section of your target market. And don’t rely on online translation tools, either. Partner with a specialist translator who will be able to deliver high-quality business writing in the language you need.
Make sure your products are priced in the local currency. Although some people will buy from you even if you use sterling, many others won’t want to bother with working out the real cost to them and will head elsewhere.
If something goes wrong for an overseas customer, will you be able to put things right? Will you even be able to understand the problem they’re having? Make sure customers with problems know how to get in touch with you to resolve them, and that you have a system in place for dealing with any issues, regardless of the language they speak.
International search engine optimisation could also be said to fall under the umbrella of localisation, but it’s such a big topic it deserves a section of its own. Here are the areas you need to consider.
Single site v multisite
Should you build a new site focused on each country you plan to export to, or should you adapt your existing site so it shows a different version to people based on their location?
Let’s look at what each option involves.
Launching new sites
Every country has its own country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). For the UK it’s .UK, for Spain it’s .ES.
If you’re going to start a new website for every country you’re planning to export to, then you’ll need to register your brand name for each relevant ccTLD.
Adapting your existing site
With this method, you can use either subdomains or subdirectories in order to create sections of your site that are localised for each country’s visitors.
For the subdomains option, a Spanish version of your site would look like this es.example.com/
For the subdirectories option, a Spanish version of your site would look like this: example.com/es
You would then use a menu to present visitors with the different variations of your site, so they can select which one they would prefer to use.
So which of these two methods is best?
The answer is “it depends”. There are pros and cons for each option. You can learn more about those, and more about how to make the choice between the above options in this guide from Google.
The hreflang tag
Another crucial area for international SEO is the hreflang tag. This tag tells Google which language a page is in and allows the search engine to include the page in relevant search results.
This is a huge topic and correct implementation of hreflang is crucial to ranking well for international SEO. You can learn more about using hreflang on your site in this guide from Moz. https://moz.com/learn/seo/hreflang-tag
If you’re using a generic Top Level domain like .com, Google Webmaster tools allows you to tell Google which country/countries your website(s) is/are targeting. It’s a useful and easy way to get off to a good start with international SEO. You can find more details here.
Learn everything you can about international SEO
International SEO is a huge topic, and if you’re planning to export using an online business it’s a crucial one. Take some time to learn everything you can about the topic. A good place to start is this guide from Search Engine Land. You can also use this checklist from Moz to keep you on the right track.
We’ve covered the basics of getting started with exporting, but every business is unique and you’re bound to face unique challenges when trying to enter new markets. One of the best things you can do when facing a challenge such as this team up with a business advice service, who will be able to guide you through the various issues you’ll face. You can search for a local business advisor here.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/email-marketing/why-you-should-delete-email-subscribers/ Wed, 10 Aug 2016 09:36:25 +0000
You can have an amazingly designed email newsletter that’s also optimised for mobile, you can A/B test your subject lines and experiment with different calls to actions… but the long and short of it is this: if your mailing list is not maintained correctly, your campaigns may never make it to the inbox to get…
You can have an amazingly designed email newsletter that’s also optimised for mobile, you can A/B test your subject lines and experiment with different calls to actions… but the long and short of it is this: if your mailing list is not maintained correctly, your campaigns may never make it to the inbox to get opened and acted upon.
Why? It’s all due to the quality of your email list. When was the last time you deleted subscribers from your database?
If a big chunk of people haven’t opened any of your emails in the last year or more, should you keep them in your list considering that:
- It’s costing you money to have those email addresses in your list and to send them your content?
- It’s reducing your open rates and possibly preventing interested subscribers from receiving your emails?
Why pay for subscribers who are no longer interested in your business or what you have to say? Why keep them in your list if the chances of them opening your emails are slim to none?
If email marketing is responsible for the greatest chunk of your revenue and the thought of performing major surgery on your cash cow worries you, we’re here to help.
In this post we’ll explain why it’s important to clean up your mailing list regularly, and how keeping inactive subscribers can negatively impact your email marketing results. We’ll also share the steps to take to remove inactive subscribers the right way, without having to worry that this action will halve your business revenue.
Which subscribers should you delete?
If you’ve been hard at work building your list for a year or more, you probably have subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked on an email from you in months. They might be deleting your emails without opening or reading them at all, or they might even be sending your emails directly to a filtered folder that they almost never revisit.
These subscribers are known as “inactive subscribers”. And if you’re wondering why they became “inactive”, here are a few possible reasons:
They may have opted in for the wrong reasons. Maybe they gave you their email address to get access to a discount or to download a free e-book. But now, even if they’re no longer interested in hearing from you, they never really bother to unsubscribe. They just delete your emails without even opening them.
They’re no longer interested in your business or emails. It’s common for people to change their interests with time. You may have helped them with a certain challenge or problem in the past but a year later they might have moved to another country, changed their career or shopping habits. They no longer want or need you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
You’re not segmenting your list. If you don’t organise your list based on interests, challenges, or other factors, and if you’re sending the same email to everyone in your list, you’re likely to have a low engagement rate with your subscribers. This will also happen if you put them in the wrong segment when they’re not really interested in the topic you’re covering. Over time they will stop opening your emails. Fortunately, the 123-reg Email Marketing tool allows you to segment your subscribers based on their engagement, their location, personal information, the other lists they are subscribed to and how many emails they have previously received.
Your email goes directly into the SPAM folder. This means that your subscribers never get to see them and read your content. This can happen when you’re using SPAM trigger words like “£££”, “cheap”, “save up to”, “no fees”, etc; when you’re sending attachments or using link shorteners in your emails. So pay attention to these when sending your emails.
They changed their email address. They may have changed jobs, switched from a free email to a custom domain. In this case there isn’t much you can do to get them back to your list. All you can do is hope that they like your content so much that they’ll subscribe to your list using their new email address.
Why is it so important to remove inactive subscribers from your list?
There are many reasons why you should delete inactive email subscribers, and here are the most important ones:
Having a big email list may be something you’re proud of. If you sell training courses it sounds a lot better to say you have 5,000 students enrolled as proof of your skills. If you see a blog with 20K subscribers, you can’t help but think there must be something good about this blog if so many people follow it, right?
But here’s the problem – the bigger your email list, the more you’ll have to pay to your email service provider. And having a huge list of inactive subscribers who will never again interact or buy from you can cost you a lot. Wouldn’t you rather use that hard-earned money to build your list with quality subscribers that you can then convert into customers?
Also ask yourself – wouldn’t you rather have a list of 1,000 people who open every email you send than 20K who mostly don’t open your emails and just send your content to their spam folder? You can make more money with those 1,000 engaged subscribers than with a non-engaged list of 20K.
Increase email deliverability
Having lots of inactive subscribers can seriously hurt the deliverability of your emails. Here’s why: email and Internet Service Providers are becoming increasingly savvy to the type of content people want to see in their inboxes. In their ongoing battle against spam, they track and quantify the number of emails opened, the number of unsubscribes, and general inactivity so they can determine whether you’re a spammer or not.
So, if they see that a big percentage of your subscribers are not opening your emails, then they’re more likely to just flag all your emails as spam. This means your IP reputation will decrease, resulting in lower deliverability and even fewer emails actually reaching perfectly valid, interested subscribers. Not good!
A clean list means you have a better chance of getting your emails delivered. Even if you do deliver on what you promised, subscribers can change their behaviours in time, and formally engaged people can become uninterested in what you have to say. This can hurt your list’s overall performance, which is why it’s so important to keep tabs on your mailing list and ensure it’s clean.
Delete those who continuously ignore your emails and watch your engagement rate go up. Opens, clicks and deliverability will yield higher percentages when you weed out the inactive audience and hone in on those who are truly interested in your content.
The truth is that engaged subscribers are the only ones you should care about, as they’re the only ones who really matter. They are the ones who open your emails, click on your links, visit your site and ultimately buy from you.
So, it’s those email subscribers who are paying attention to you and acting on what you say that matter, and not the size of your list.
The moral is simple: a small yet engaged readership is far better than a big yet disconnected list of subscribers.
How to monitor engagement levels
So how do you manage engagement? Here are a few metrics you should pay attention to:
- Open rate – This is the percentage of recipients who opened your email.
- Clickthrough rate – Refers to the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links in your email.
- Conversion rate – The percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within your email and completed a desired action, such as filling out a form or buying a product.
- Email sharing rate – The percentage of recipients who clicked on a “share this” button to share your email to a social network, and/or who clicked on “forward to a friend” button.
While opens and clicks are your most essential metrics, there is plenty of other data you can look at to determine engagement levels. With every campaign you send, you’re able to gather more information about your subscribers, their behaviour and interests, and what’s actually driving engagement.
Check your campaign reports regularly and look closely at the changes in your engagement rates over time. If engagement is rising, it may well be because you’re sharing valuable content that your audience is very interested in, or because your subject line is enticing. If you’re getting lots of clicks, look at your calls to action to see whether the button design or copy might be boosting engagement. If your engagement is dropping, try reducing the number of emails or send them on different days of the week or at different times to see what works best for you.
The key steps to cleaning up an email list the right way
Here are the steps you need to follow to successfully clean up your mailing list.
Step 1: Get rid of all bad addresses and those who have unsubscribed
Check your mailing list for “hard bounces”. These include email addresses who are no longer valid or recipients who have blocked your email address. Once you have all these bad addresses, don’t think twice about deleting all of them from your list.
Next you should remove everyone who opted out of your list or marked your address as spam. Some email providers, like 123 Reg’s Email Marketing service, will delete and update your list automatically when a user unsubscribes.
However, there are also providers who don’t take care of this for you so you’ll have to do this manually. Make sure to check with your email provider to see if this feature is included in their solution.
Step 2: Run a re-engagement campaign
Before you take the final step to remove all inactive subscribers from your list, we recommend giving it one last shot to ensure they really are a lost cause and will never engage with your emails again.
Here’s how to do it:
2.1. Identify inactive subscribers
You should count as inactive subscribers those who haven’t opened a single email from you in over a year. To identify them, look at:
- When they first subscribed to your list
- When they last opened one of your emails
2.2. Create a new segment for inactive subscribers
Once you’ve identified your inactive subscribers, make a separate list and save them as a new segment so you can then send them your re-engagement campaign. For example, with the 123 Reg Email Marketing tool you can easily create your “inactive subscribers” segment so you can then send them a final email asking if they’d like to remain on your list.
Check out this video tutorial to learn more about audience segmentation and how to use it with our tool.
2.3. Create and run your re-engagement campaign
Try not to complicate things. Your re-engagement email should be as simple as “Would you like to stay on my mailing list?”.
Here is a great example from Grammarly:
The copy is short, to the point and also engaging. And one other thing I liked about this email is that they also added a paragraph just below the call to action to re-introduce themselves, just in case I forgot who they are:
Now, the chances are that the majority of your inactive subscribers won’t respond. But you might also be surprised to see that some will actually open your emails and re-engage (like I did with Grammarly).
2.4. Analyse results
After you’ve sent your re-engagement email, don’t start deleting people after 24 hours. Give them a chance to check their inbox and decide whether they’d like to stay or to forever disappear. They might be sick or on a vacation, or too busy doing other things. We suggest you wait a few days before you start deleting.
2.5. Delete, delete, delete
If your inactive subscribers don’t open your email and don’t take any action after a few days, it’s time to permanently delete them from your list.
It might be hard at first but once you’re done, you’ll feel relieved. Next time you send an email campaign check the results to see how much more engaged your list is. And isn’t that the goal?
How to attract high-quality sign ups to replace unengaged email list members
Now that you’ve deleted a (probably) big chunk of inactive subscribers, you might want to get to work and replace them with high quality ones. Here’s how to get started:
- Make your list irresistible. Let people know exactly what they’re signing up for and the type of amazing content they should expect to receive from you directly to their inbox.
- Spread the word about your awesome resources and offers on social media whenever relevant. Join conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or create your own groups where you share your tips and advice. Then when the time is right encourage people to join your email list so they get even more useful tips.
- Run a paid campaign on Twitter and/or Facebook and attract the right subscribers who are interested in your content and your business.
For more actionable tips on how to get more people to sign up to your email list, check out this guide.
If you’re considering cleaning up your list (and you should), we hope you find our guide useful. And remember that a healthy email list is one that serves those who are truly interested in your content and your business.
When was the last time you cleaned up your mailing list? What else have you done to improve your mailing list and increase its performance? Tweet us @123reg.
https://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/online-marketing/beginners-guide-to-google-shopping-ads/ Mon, 08 Aug 2016 09:26:23 +0000
Your success as a business rides on your ability to attract new customers at an acceptable cost. Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are one of the top traffic sources that can give your small business a competitive edge. That’s because they enable you to promote your products and services at the moment potential customers are…
Your success as a business rides on your ability to attract new customers at an acceptable cost. Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are one of the top traffic sources that can give your small business a competitive edge. That’s because they enable you to promote your products and services at the moment potential customers are searching for them online.
PLAs, also known as Google Shopping Ads, are growing in popularity as an effective method to increase visibility and generate more sales. In fact, to get you excited, let me share some neat stats. Google PLA click volume grew nearly five times faster than Google text ad volume in the second quarter of 2016. Also, according to a report by performance marketing agency Merkle Group Inc., Google Shopping Ads are set to account for more than half of retailers’ paid search clicks by the end of the year.
So, what does this mean for your small business? It not only means that this method is effective but also that there’s plenty of opportunity there for you to advertise whatever it is that you’re selling, and increase your revenue.
In this post we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Google Shopping Ads, how they work, and how you can maximise their potential to generate more sales for your ecommerce store.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a dedicated shopping search engine from Google that allows businesses to advertise their products directly in the Google search results and in front of ready-to-buy audiences.
These results appear within regular Google searches whenever the search engine believes there’s a shopping match. They appear in a special shopping box, which shows a “Sponsored” disclaimer.
Here’s how Google Shopping ads look:
Unlike Google Adwords, where the ads are text-only, the search results included in Google Shopping feature product information, prices, stock availability and ratings. That’s what makes them so effective. Also, since these ads usually appear at the top of the search results, your products will show up where searchers are looking the most.
Who is it for?
This isn’t a service for organic listings or increasing your rankings. It’s for any business, large to small, that can afford to invest money into advertising their products and compete against other similar-sized businesses or bigger brands.
Apart from that, Google Shopping Ads can also help to send more traffic to a store at the time users are ready buy. Also, thanks to the richer search results that also include images, prices and other valuable information, the click-through rates are also higher, as compared to standard AdWords text listings.
So whether you’re looking to boost sales for your online or offline store, Google Shopping Ads can help. Ready to get started with your first Google Shopping ads campaign? Let’s begin.
Getting started with Google Shopping
You can find Shopping within Google Ads. This is where you’ll be able to create PLAs where you’ll include details for your products like description, images, prices and more.
Now, to start a campaign you need:
- A Google AdWords account
- A Merchant Center account
If you don’t have an AdWords account, it’s easy to set up. Just visit this page and follow the steps to set it up.
Next you’ll need to create a Google Merchant account, if you don’t already have one. This is where you’ll be able to provide Google with information about your products. To set up your Google Merchant account, go to this page and simply follow the steps to create your account.
You’ll now be redirected to your Google Merchant Center Dashboard. The next step is to create a ‘Feed’ where you include the products in your shop.
So click on ‘Feeds’ located in the left hand column.
Setting up your feed is not very difficult and all you need to do is fill out a spreadsheet. However, if you encounter difficulties, you can watch this video that gives further instructions on how to create and submit a data feed:
Once you’ve set up your Product Feed, you now need to link your AdWords account with your Google Merchant Account. To do that, click on ‘Settings’ in the sidebar, and then select AdWords.
Now just click on ‘Link Account’.
Creating your first campaign
You can now create a Shopping Ads campaign from within the Merchant Center. However, you can also set up a campaign through Google AdWords.
To make the process easier, visit this page and Google will walk you through the process of setting up a ‘Shopping Campaign.’ When there, just click on the ‘Guide Me’ button.
Basically you’ll need to log into your AdWords account and then click on ‘+Campaign’ -> ‘Shopping’ and you’ll be on your way. You’ll also need to set your budget and bidding options. You might want to start with a small amount, like £10, to test the waters. After a few days or a week, you can take a look at the results and see whether you should increase the campaign spend or make changes to it.
Important! Shopping ads don’t allow you to pick keywords when advertising products. The service works by taking the products in your Product Feed and then showing them to searchers using Google’s own keyword data. This is one less thing to worry about as you know Google has great insights and data on the keywords that people type in when searching for products like yours. This ensures your products will appear in the search results for relevant keywords.
If you’d like to create a campaign for a specific product, you can do that too. Go to the ‘Advanced Shopping settings’ on the page where you initially set up your Shopping Ads campaign. You’ll see a section called ‘Inventory filter’. This is where you’ll be able to choose the product that you’d like to advertise in your campaign.
You will also see an option called ‘Campaign priority’. This is particularly helpful if you’re running several campaigns at once where you advertise the same product. You can use this option to give priority to certain products so that they get a higher bid and, thus, better exposure.
Tips to maximise revenue when using Shopping Ads
If you feel that your results could be better, you might consider implementing these following tips.
Adjust your bids. If you’re familiar with how AdWords work, you probably know that it’s based on a bidding system, meaning that those who pay the most for an ad usually receive the most exposure for that ad. So if you find that your ad isn’t performing well and isn’t getting clicked, you might consider raising the bid for your ad.
Use high quality images. You already know the massive impact that images have in terms of grabbing users’ attention and getting them to click on your ad. So if you notice your ad isn’t getting too many clicks, you might want to change the image for your ad with a more powerful one that really stands out. Just make sure that any image you use in your ads is high-quality.
Optimise your product descriptions. Make sure that the name of your product accurately describes what you’re offering. As with any text ad, words sell so make sure you test the copy in your ad to ensure it’s not only keyword-rich and descriptive but also appealing to a potential buyer who is viewing your ad.
Yes, do use relevant keywords. Think about it – a product number like YLO63597XC3 says nothing to a potential customer. However, “Extra Large Red Hoodie” can mean the difference between an order and an ignored ad. Also notice that I didn’t write “red hoodie” but “extra large” as well to describe it. This means that you should use keywords and terms that describe your product and help users easily understand and visualise your product. Using these keywords that your audience would use to find your product can also increase the chances of that product being found and featured in a feed.
Take advantage of labels. You can create custom labels to help group and manage your products. For example, you can have labels for seasonal products that you’d like to promote heavily for a given period of time, or you can have labels for best sellers, or you can do price buckets. You can even create a label for all your products between £5-20. There’s nothing you can’t do with labels when it comes to organising your products so they perform well.
Always mention promotions. If you’re running a sale or a promotion – whether it’s a discount or free shipping – it’s always a good idea to mention this in your ad.
Now, if setting up Google Shopping ads seems a little bit too tricky or complicated, and you’d rather leave it to a team of experts, meet our PPC management team of experts. They can set this all up for you if you need assistance and also create your ads and run your campaigns for you to ensure you make the best out of Google Shopping ads.
If you sell products, Google Shopping Ads shouldn’t be just another option to advertise your products, but one of the top ones. Using these ads allows you to show image and text-rich ads right at the top of the search engine results. And this is where they’ll be seen by ready-to-buy users.
Don’t forget to experiment and test different product descriptions, images and bids to see what works best for you and your target audience.
So, go ahead and give Google Shopping Ads a try and see how well they work out for you.