Is it finally time for your ecommerce business to start taking voice search seriously?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Whether you personally consider smart assistant devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to be the future of online communication or a mere gimmick, the mere fact that more and more of us are becoming owners of them should cause ecommerce store owners to sit up and take notice.

Indeed, it was reported just earlier this year that almost a quarter (22%) of UK households now had a voice-controlled digital home assistant device like those we mentioned above.

This is quite the jump on the 11% figure recorded in 2017 – and with 41% of households having indicated that they plan to own such a device in the next five years, the actual ownership percentage at present may already be a lot higher.

No less crucial, however, is how we are using these devices

As recently as August, it was reported that almost 60% of smart speaker owners in the UK had used their device to shop in the last month. However, nearly half – 45% – felt that they weren’t really getting the most out of their devices, which indicates just how much of a burgeoning opportunity voice ecommerce might well be for many online retailers.

Moreover, Google has predicted that half of all searches will be initiated by voice by next year. So, is now the time to start re-jigging your own ecommerce portal for the emerging era of voice-activated shopping, or is the hype around it still outpacing the reality?

There are very real complexities to shopping by voice

Unfortunately, if there’s any reason for you to not invest a huge amount of time and money into readying your site for voice-initiated shopping just yet, it’s the sheer awkwardness and difficulty of trying to search for and purchase products using voice alone, at least for now.

For one thing, even with simple goods such as T-shirts, there are just so many attributes and variables for shoppers to compare and choose from – think the likes of size, colour, style, fabric, price, brand and so on.

And, while artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly continuing to improve, it’s still got some way to go until shoppers can be assured of a concise and easy path for sorting through the various choices before them as far as product specifications are concerned.

Nonetheless, voice-based shopping is a field to keep an eye on

Even if the AI in today’s voice assistants isn’t quite up to the task just yet of conducting the sophisticated conversations that many customers will expect if they are to start making serious use of this method of online shopping, the seeds of such development have certainly been planted.

As a consequence, voice shopping is creeping up and up on many ecommerce store owners’ priority lists – and it should be doing the same on yours.

As for what you can do right now to boost the relevance and usefulness of your e-tail portal for the current preferences and needs of your customers and those that they are likely to have in 2020 and beyond, get in touch with the Piranha Designs team today for a more in-depth conversation.

You’re welcome to contact us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices, and when you do, we’ll be pleased to advise you on the best steps to take with your ecommerce website design to achieve the results that you want.

How can you analyse and compare your rivals’ SEO to your own?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Given that you will probably be glancing every now and then at how your competitors are doing anyway – it’s difficult to resist checking whether they are ranking higher or lower than you for a particular keyword – it makes sense to know how to undertake a more formal analysis of their search engine optimisation (SEO).

It’s worth remembering that while simply copying your rivals’ approach to SEO is not a fast ticket to success – after all, you’ll need to figure out the best ways to beat them, not merely match them – a competitor analysis can nonetheless provide vital insight into how your own site could do better. 

The five steps to a successful competitor SEO analysis 

There are five basic components to an analysis of your rivals’ SEO that will actually provide the information you need about where your competitors are going right or wrong – and by extension, what moves you could make to better challenge them in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

These are (1) determining your critical keyword themes and the sites competing with you for such themes; (2) conducting an organic ranking audit; (3) analysing the top-ranking pages; (4) identifying the elements valued by search engines; and (5) developing a plan to improve on these elements for your own site. 

Even a relatively basic analysis can go a long way 

As we mentioned above, picking out keywords and competitors is an important part of an effective SEO competitor analysis. If you have a keyword strategy already, this should be a straightforward step – and if you don’t, our team here at Piranha Designs can help to put one together for you. 

Some rudimentary keyword research can be carried out through the use of a tool like the free Google Keyword Planner. However, pinpointing your competitors from an SEO standpoint can be a little trickier, as they aren’t always the same as those your marketing team may have in mind. Remember that both large and small ecommerce sites can be SEO rivals of yours, as well as media companies and sites with different business models. 

Then, there’s the SEO ranking audit to undertake. You could do this with a dedicated enterprise SEO platform or even just manually with a spreadsheet, documenting how highly various rivals are ranking for certain keywords. 

Finally, once you’ve got such invaluable ranking data, you’ll need to start scrutinising and making some conclusions from it. It is at this stage that you will need to dissect the competitor pages that are outranking you, and consider just what is making those pages so special in the eyes of Google. 

It could be that certain high-performing competitor pages have more content than yours, or are optimised more effectively for the keyword themes you have identified. Perhaps they’re simply more engaging to read, which makes it more likely that the average reader will remain on that page, instead of simply leaving (‘bouncing’) a few seconds after arrival? 

Take your next big step to SEO success with Piranha Designs 

We could go into greater detail about how your business could make leaps and bounds online – but of course, we only have so much space here. So why not contact the Piranha Designs team to discuss how we could devise a search engine optimisation strategy that delivers big results for your brand?

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.

More people buy from the experts. Are you an expert?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 09, 2011
On the web there are some websites that sell everything. Amazon and ebay are the biggest ones. These sites are hugely successful.

However there are also a large number of businesses that seem to offer a load of different services. This can be rather confusing and not as beneficial as it sounds. As business owners it seems good to have as many bases covered as possible, but as a customer this is not always the case.

Let’s imagine you are looking to buy a fountain pen.

Now you search online and you find many different websites selling fountain pens. One of them is a stationery site that sells thousands of products, it has good prices and looks interesting. Now you check another site and see that this one is a fountain pen expert site. It is a store focussed on fountain pens. They have a lot of information, good prices but above all they know their stuff, and that’s all they sell.

Who would you most likely buy from?
The stationery site that happens to sell fountain pens? Or the fountain pen expert?

On the web it pays to be an expert. There are many people out there who claim to do everything. It is often better to claim to do very few things and do them really well.

Can you focus your website a bit more? Can you perhaps make multiple sites each of them concentrating on one area of your business? Analyse your site, do your visitors know what you do straight away, and are you portrayed as an expert?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to buy from the experts.

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