Reducing website bounce rates with ‘keyword lift’

conversion rates‘Ad fatigue’ is one those unfortunate facts of life that online marketers have to live with. Serve up 1,000 display ads and maybe somewhere between one and ten people will be curious enough to click through. The rest – the overwhelming majority – will simply go about their business, probably more or less oblivious to the little rectangular display boxes that are constantly vying for their attention.

You can of course take steps to push up the average click-through rate – either discreetly by making the ads more relevant and contextual, or rather more overtly by using techniques such as re-targeting.

But let’s step back for a moment and look at the bigger picture. As an online merchant, your goal is to sell more products. In order to do that you have to bring people to the site, so you spend a large chunk of your marketing budget on ads and experiment with techniques to boost the number of people who click through.

And ultimately if you have a conversion rate of, say, 1%  - increasing the click-through rate will feed through to higher sales.

However, that’s not the only strategy at your disposal. Once the display ads and affiliate sites have done their job of bringing people to your home or landing page, you can also boost sales by taking internal steps to boost the conversion rate itself. Continue reading

5 ways to optimise your live chat service

live engagementWhy do customers return again and again to certain websites and not to others?

The reasons vary. In some cases, it’s the strength of the brand both online and offline that holds the attraction. For instance, a consumer who enjoys the experience of shopping in a John Lewis store on the high street will probably be predisposed to using the online store as well.  In other cases a company’s online brand is so overwhelmingly strong that consumers see the site as a first port of call for a range of products – Amazon probably falls into this category.

But in many cases what brings the customers back again and again is, purely and simply, a good experience. Products are easy to find. Prices are keen. Delivery is reliable. And to this list I would stress the importance of providing self-serve customers with support when they need help in choosing a product or when they encounter a problem with the site. This can be provided via phone or e-mail but I would argue that live engagement – usually through chat – is the most effective way to support customers in real time while they are still on site. And the presence of an adviser, who is just a click away, genuinely enhances the experience.

But live chat is also part of the experience. When a customer clicks on a chat button, page furniture and the quality of conversation with the agent is essentially part of the brand.  And it’s important to deliver the right experience.  Here are some tips: Continue reading

How to humanise customer service online using multiple data sources

digital engagementThe sheer volume of unstructured data that companies generate directly and indirectly on a day-to-day basis represents something of a doubled edged sword.

On the one hand the information on hand provides a huge opportunity to know and understand customers better and, therefore, sell and serve more effectively. But on the other hand, unstructured data has traditionally been notoriously difficult to analyse. As such, turning it into actionable business intelligence is also difficult. For instance, think of the thousands of e-mails that a large company’s sales or customer service operation typically receives every week. In it there will be feedback on prices, the usability of the website, opinions on competitors and a huge amount of information on customer buying preferences. The trouble is that no two e-mails are the same. The data collected is not only random (to some extent) but also hidden within text. The question is, how do you extract what you need? It’s a major challenge.

But it’s one that should be addressed. Think for a moment of the wealth of data sources and what they offer. Continue reading

How live chat is helping councils deliver the promise of ‘digital by default’

live engagementWe live in an age where organisations of all kinds are striving to deliver “more for less.”

There are two basic drivers, of course. On the one hand, businesses are acutely aware of just how price-sensitive their customers are and in order to remain competitive the imperative is to cut or at least keep a tight rein on costs. Often this will mean putting strict limits on staffing.

But customers are not only price-sensitive – they also expect superior levels of service which has traditionally meant higher rather than lower costs.

Companies of all kinds have been able to square that particular circle by putting much more emphasis on online channels. By encouraging digital adoption on the part of their customers they have been able to offer the convenience of transacting at any time, any place and any device while also benefitting from the cost reductions associated with automated processes and self-serve.

The Public Sector

But it’s not just the private sector that sees “digital” as the means to offer more or less. Here in the UK the public sector is engaged in a dynamic programme of improving its digital interaction with citizens and taxpayers. Continue reading

E-commerce is 20 yrs old, loves mobile and wants to chat with you right now!

live engagementE-commerce as we know it today is a mere twenty years old, but in the last two decades internet retail has been in a state of perpetual revolution, driven by the constant fight for competitive advantage.

At first glance it might seem that very little has changed. It’s open to discussion, but the industry consensus suggests that the first secure online purchase took place in 1994 when a pioneering music fan bought the CD 10 by Sting via NetMarket. Amazon launched in the same year. That was in the US. Britain had to wait another year for the sale of a book from WH Smith’s online store on the largely-forgotten Compuserve platform.

After that things began to look very familiar. Amazingly eBay was up and running by 1995 and by the end of the decade, we had personalisation and at least some major retailers getting to grips with the realities and practicalities of multi-channel retail. And truth to tell, on a superficial level, today’s retail websites don’t look that different from their counterparts in the 1990s or early noughties.

But behind the scenes a huge amount has happened. Initially sceptical high street retailers morphed into multi-channel players offering seamless services. Since then we’ve seen the emergence of the omni-channel universe characterised by customers browsing in the high street, checking prices on a smart phone and ordering via a tablet from the bus or in front of the TV. And all too often, the final order is placed with another retailer. This is a truly challenging environment. Continue reading

5 ways to cut call abandonment

live engagementIt’s an experience that most of us have probably had at one time or another.

We ring a call centre – perhaps on a matter of some urgency – and hear a recorded message telling us that our enquiry can’t be dealt with immediately. Sometimes our friendly robotic voice will give a specific reason. “All the agents are busy.” “All the agents are engaged.” “The call centre is experiencing unusually high amounts of traffic and you have been put in a queue.”

None of this particularly impresses the customer and many will simply abandon the call at that point, perhaps ringing back later or opting to send an e-mail. This is not only bad news for the customer, it’s also terribly damaging to the company’s reputation.

But here’s the good news of sorts. A great many customers will persevere. After all, if they’ve already worked their way through a series of menus, it probably makes more sense to sit indefinitely in a queue rather than hanging up and starting the whole process over again.

But for some there will be a double whammy. For some reason, the call simply times out or disconnects leaving nothing but a dead line. Frustration now turns to anger and the reputation of the brand takes another downward plunge. Continue reading

How EE is benefiting from the switch to Live Chat in their call centres

live engagementAny business adopting live engagement as a means to boost conversion rates and incremental sales rightly expects to see not only a measurable but also a significant boost in performance.

And the truth is that live engagement delivers. For instance, UK telecoms company EE rolled out live chat on its contract sales operation in 2013. Today the chat assisted sales run at five times the level of self-serve conversions.

But in any chat implementation, the agents themselves are a key component of success. From sales through to customer service, the agent is the front-line representative of the company. Good, well trained agents optimise sales and boost customer satisfaction. So how do you get the most from these key people?

1. Create a dedicated team of chat agents

If possible, we would recommend the creation of a dedicated team of chat agents. In other words, rather than moving people interchangeably between the traditional phone hotline in response to the peaks and troughs of incoming calls or chat requests, it’s generally better to have a group of people who are focused on the chat channel. This may not always be possible but we find that it produces optimal results. Continue reading

The growing importance of CSAT & Net Promoter scores and how to boost yours!

Selling via the web can be a strangely impersonal business. Yes, you personalise the experience for each individual customer – most commonly by serving content based on transactional records – but for the most part, the road to the check-out offers little and usually no opportunity for interaction. No surprises there – it is after all, a self-serve medium.

But think about what happens after a purchase has been made. Once the credit card details have been processed and delivery is in train, the customer has time to reflect on the experience and consider whether he or she will buy there again and perhaps also whether the site warrants recommending to a friend.

And this is where things begin to get interesting. By and large, people want to share both their good and bad experiences and today that often means posting on social media. That post could run something along the lines of: “I’ve just got a great deal from….”. Equally, though it could read: “There was an error with my order and when I rang to complain, I was kept hanging on the phone for 15 minutes.”

In other words, the customer experience matters not simply because you want repeat business from that customer but also because the power of social media has added and amplified the power of “word of mouth” to an unprecedented degree. Continue reading

How to grow your overseas customer base online using Live Chat

online retailIncreasing numbers of UK online retailers are targeting an overseas market, or at the very least offering an international delivery option in order not to miss out on potential orders from foreign buyers. At least that’s the finding of the latest International Ecommerce Delivery Report as carried out by point of sale software company Micros.

To gather information for the report, the company recruited a panel of buyers based overseas and used them to test the international capabilities of 112 British retailers. The survey found an increased enthusiasm for selling abroad. Not only did 67% of the retailers in question offer to deliver internationally, 31% offered a range of options such as standard and express while 34% offered free shipment above a certain threshold.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. E-commerce in the UK is now just 20 years old and from the get go, one of the advantages offered by web sales was the ability of companies of all sizes to break free of their geography. Small local firms could sell nationally while larger businesses with strong brands could address a global marketplace.

In reality it was never quite that simple. In addition to getting the delivery options right, selling internationally may also a require a commitment to localising the website in terms of language, pricing and product description while also providing the same level of service enjoyed by customers in the domestic market. Continue reading

Why do your customers really shop online? – 5 questions to ask

online retailJust how well is your website performing?

On the face of it, that’s a fairly simple question to answer as you doubtless have the crop of ‘stats and key metrics to hand. So you’ll know how many unique visitors you have (and whether the numbers are going up or down), the conversion rate, the bounce rate, the exit points, the top ten or twenty favourite pages and doubtless a whole lot more.

But sometimes the stats pose more questions than they solve. You might for example know the point on the customer journey where the majority of exits occur but that’s not quite the same as knowing why. And do you really know what’s driving the conversion rate or why your site has a higher or lower bounce rate than its rivals?

Or to put it another way, the key web metrics are incredibly useful in terms of telling you what your customers are doing but they don’t necessarily tell you why. That’s why it’s important to also collect qualitative data. The traditional way to do this has been through surveys but increasingly businesses are finding that the insights gathered when chat agents talk to customers provide a highly effective means to tap into customer opinion and motivation. Here are some of the things you should know about your customers:

Continue reading

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