Author Archives: Jamie

Why Is There No Trust Between Consumers and Companies?

Trust

‘Only 8% of people trust what companies say about themselves’ – this recent shocking statistic is representative of the problems facing the majority of businesses. Companies may have become more efficient at advertising and targeting sales but they have become less trustworthy. This is a major problem which isn’t going away. Without trust, businesses cannot build long-lasting relationships with their customers and therefore cannot create brand loyalty. There are many reasons behind this shift but there are ways for companies to turn things around.

Advertising

There have been a lot of changes within advertising in recent years, many of which are to blame for the lack of trust between companies and clients. For example, many consumers are uncomfortable with their personal information being shared without prior consent. Another issue with advertising is how the actual products and services are described. Some businesses exaggerate the benefits of their products and therefore make it extremely difficult for the products to live up to the hype. This leads to a disappointed customer who is going to take their business elsewhere in the future.

The best way to engender trust within your customers is to be respectful and honest. This means advertising products truthfully, without exaggeration. Incorporating customer reviews into your product pages will also help in creating a well-rounded outlook of your products and services.

Sales

Profit and sales are vital to any business but they shouldn’t come before your customers. Many companies will endeavour to sell products and services to customers, whether the consumer needs them or not. This can be particularly unethical when it comes to vulnerable people such as the elderly.

There is a way to chase profit and still operate as a conscientious and thoughtful company. One of the best ways to achieve this is by finding your client base. Target the group of people who are already looking for your products and/or services and sell to them. As well as helping to build trust, this approach can also make much more sense financially compared to targeting everyone.

Customer Service

Customer service offers a direct relationship between businesses and their client base. This allows companies to showcase how they treat their customers and this will dictate future interactions. The best away to approach this issue is to listen to each and every customer and treat every correspondence with the same priority. Some customers will have complaints but businesses should remain calm and try their best to remedy the problem at hand.

Many companies now offer a wide range of customer service options, which is highly appreciated by consumers. This means offering traditional communication methods such as telephone, email and post, as well as more modern options which include instant chat, social media or even video chat. The easier you make it for the customer, the more likely they are to return to you in the future.

Identity

Branding can be powerful tool, not only for boosting sales but also for showcasing yourself as a reputable, customer-centric company. There are many ways to build a brand identity which focuses on both business and people. For example, many organisations work hard to combat their carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same. Some businesses are incredibly philanthropic and will complete pro-bono work alongside their paid services.

These are just some examples of the ways in which branding can effect trust. Any company can forge successful relationships with their consumers by projecting an honest image of quality, reliability and respect.

Unfortunately, although very few consumers trust organisations within the corporate world, this can change. Many newer businesses are going against the traditional business model and beginning their journey with mutual respect in mind as opposed to profit no matter what.

Does Directory Advertising Still Work?

Directories

Modern advertising conjures up images of viral marketing, television campaigns and social media but where does this leave directory advertising? This traditional form of advertising has been popular for many years but the business world has changed dramatically in recent times. Although there is a lot of competition out there, directory advertising still has its place and can offer a wealth of benefits to small and large businesses alike.

Paper vs. Digital

Traditionally, directory advertising utilised a paper based system, e.g. yellow pages. Before the internet, these directories would have been one of the only ways for people to find specific types of businesses. With the advent of the internet, these directories have moved online. Online directories retain all of the advantages of their paper counterparts but benefit from the networking potential of the internet.

Branding

Branding is important for every company but creating a brand can be expensive and time consuming. Advertising within a directory can help businesses in their endeavour to build their brand. This can be achieved in a variety of different ways, through showcasing products and services to including an introductory paragraph on the business as a whole. This is especially successful in specialised or trade directories as consumers will begin to identify specific businesses with particular industries.

Search Engines

Businesses which advertise through a directory based website will often feature highly on search engine results. This is due to the fact that many directories often place high on search results and by creating a connection between your business and the directory, your rankings will increase as well. This is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses who may find it difficult to compete with larger companies who utilise SEO.

Targeted

One of the main advantages of advertising within directories is that you are going to reach your target audience without even trying. Many companies go above and beyond trying to target advertising to specific client bases but directory based advertising does it for you. This is especially true for trade directories which will only list companies who deal in a specific market. This approach is particularly efficient and is therefore ideal for businesses with less money to spend on marketing.

Feedback

Customer feedback can be an invaluable tool, not just for you but for other potential consumers as well. Many online directories allow customers to post reviews or comments on particular businesses and their products and services. This can be a form of advertising in itself and the best part is it’s completely free. Customer reviews help to personalise your products and can actually influence other customers into making a purchase.

Networking

As well as offering a database of businesses for customers, directories can also be utilised by other companies. Therefore they can help businesses to network with their contemporaries which could lead to new suppliers or even new contracts. In fact some businesses build their entire infrastructure around working with other companies, e.g. B2B. The internet has opened up communications throughout the globe and therefore networking has never been easier. Whilst many business owners flock to social media, many forget the benefits of directory networking.

It’s clear that there is still a place for directory advertising, especially for businesses who are looking to gain exposure. In some cases, advertising using this method can have advantages over traditional online advertising, social media and email marketing. Overall, directories offer a relatively, quick and easy method for boosting sales and showcasing your business to consumers.

Simple Tips to Turn Visitors into Customers

Telephone Box

When running an online business, it can be easy to fall into the trap of prizing traffic above all else. Obviously attracting visitors to your website is vital but overall this means nothing unless they are buying. There are many guides out there for boosting traffic, in fact the entire SEO industry is based around the idea of attracting more online visitors. However, transforming visitors into customers can require a different approach. The following are just some of the ways in which you can achieve this.

Design

The design of your website can have a significant effect on visitors and their decision to buy. The overall layout should be simple and stylish with intuitive navigation. The design of your product pages is just as important, if not more. Clear and attractive product images should be included, with important details such as prices, features and delivery information. Try not to bombard your consumers with too many options on the one page as this has been shown to discourage some buyers. It should also be noted that your ‘Buy’ or ‘Add to Cart’ button should be strategically placed and in a contrasting colour in order to attract attention. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of designs which are unique or bold, these can help you to stand out from the crowd.

Encourage

Encouraging a customer to purchase from you, over another vendor can be difficult. It’s for this reason that companies can benefit from offering incentives such as discounts, offers and free delivery. Online shoppers have become incredibly savvy and will often search for offer codes in order to grab a bargain. Offers can also be targeted towards customers, whether via social media blasts or emails sent to subscribers. This way subscribers are given an early warning of a sale or other promotion and this works as a kind of loyalty scheme.

Review

Customer reviews have become a fixture of many online stores, most notably Amazon. Showcasing these reviews will allow consumers to gain a personal insight into the products they are looking at and this can be influential in the overall purchase decision. Many companies are now asking their customers to complete reviews in exchange for entry into competitions.

Another way that customer reviews can help boost sales is through search engine recommendations. Positive reviews on your products can place your website higher on search results and therefore more visible to customers.

Remind

Online window shoppers will often plan to make a purchase, even going as far as placing an item within their trolley and then change their mind. Many companies are now using this phenomenon as a way to boost sales by reminding consumers that they wanted to purchase an item. You can do this in a number of ways. Some stores will email a customer who has left an item within their basket and remind them of this fact. Others will even offer a discount if the customer decides to make this purchase.

The other method of reminding shoppers of a potential purchase is more subtle. A customer may be visiting a product page and then move on to other websites. When they visit social networking sites or those using Google AdWords, they could be targeted with an ad featuring an item they have previously viewed. This technique has the same effect of prompting the customer to think about the item and therefore consider buying it.

These are just some of the techniques which can help businesses to transform their traffic into revenue. With so much competition out there, the best way of attracting businesses is to offer something that nobody else is, whether that be products, services, promotions or customer service.

RIP Google PageRank

Google PageRank is a tool that was developed by Google in order to ascertain the importance of a website. Named after the Google founder Larry Page, PageRank looks at the number and quality of links to a website and uses this information to give the site an overall score. These scores help Google to rank websites in accordance with perceived importance. PageRank has been a popular algorithm for many years but has seen a decline in recent times. It seems that Google are slowly but surely removing PageRank from the public sphere.

Webmaster Tools

The first signs of Google’s plan to discontinue PageRank was way back in 2009. In an effort to curb the growing obsession website owners had with their PageRank score, the algorithm was removed from Webmaster tools. Google did this quite quietly but it was a clear sign that the organisation were changing their stance towards the tool.

Updates

From 2006 onwards, Google has been delivering fewer updates for PageRank each and every year. In fact, the last update for the algorithm was in December of 2013. This is particularly damning considering Google is a company who provide a steady stream of regular updates for all of their applications.

Browsers

Interestingly, Google has never offered an option to view PageRank within its flagship browser, Chrome. Google’s internet browser was released in 2008 and has become a representation of the company and its ethos towards the online world. With this in mind it seems strange that the organisation has never integrated PageRank into Chrome. Also, in 2011 the Google toolbar was removed from the Firefox browser and therefore access to PageRank.

Direct from Google

Although Google has yet to release an official statement on the future of PageRank, some of its employees have given their opinion on the issue. Matt Cutts, the head of the spam team at Google has talked about the algorithm publically. Towards the end of 2013, he replied to a Twitter question about PageRank and future updates by stating he ‘would be surprised’ if another update became available before 2014.  Not too long after this, he said that the ‘pipeline’ that Google uses in order to update PageRank is ‘broken’ and the company weren’t interested in fixing it.

John Mueller, a trends analyst at Google made a similar statement in early 2014. He said Google didn’t have any plans to update PageRank in the future.

Why?

When it comes to the eventual fate of PageRank the evidence seems clear but why has this happened? Whilst the algorithm is still used by Google employees, the company seem to be removing it from public use. One of the potential reasons behind this move could be due to the relationship that website owners have had with PageRank. Many users became obsessed with the algorithm and saw it as an overarching representation of the importance of their site. Some website owners also confused PageRank with their ranking within search engines. This was probably made worse by the double meaning of the name PageRank.

A much more serious problem with PageRank which was probably influential in Google’s overall decision to phase out the algorithm was spamming. With so many people looking to increase their PageRank score, spammers would offer links to highly ranked websites at a cost. This technique became rife and often users were purchasing links from websites that were banned from Googles search results but still highly ranked. With such blatant manipulation of the system taking place, it’s surprising that Google have waited this long to act on the issue. It is likely that in the future Google will completely remove PageRank from their toolbar.