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TripAdvisor: The key to your success or, the key to your demise?

For businesses with largely transient customer bases like tourists, understanding what TripAdvisor is and how to manage it can be a make or break factor for their success. Transient customers by their nature cannot be repeat customers, so new customers must always be found. TripAdvisor and its counterparts are increasingly one of the largest factors that influence the flow of these new customers.

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SEO: A Worked Example of the Potential Benefits

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital component to any successful business’s digital marketing strategy and it’s also one of the most rewarding components with an excellent return on investment (ROI). But for an outsider, it’s also a daunting aspect of marketing online that’s difficult to understand and can often be seen as a nebulous concept that can be ignored.

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How can a website help a florist grow & succeed?

Every business should have a website. But the value to a florist is particularly high. This is because a website is the perfect fit for the needs of their customers. Of course, a website also helps their businesses be discovered by customers. But that is only half of the equation, it can also provide meaningful value to customers creating a competitive edge. In this blog post, I will explain how this is possible.

A customer’s lifetime value can be significant if managed correctly. This is because flowers can be sold for almost any occasion. Often, these sales opportunities are extremely predictable i.e. Mother’s Day. In contrast, most industries cannot say the same. If a business is selling TVs, they cannot say that on a specific date everybody is going to want a new TV for example.

happy mothers day flowers as an example
Contrast this with your industry. For example, every male in the country is a potential customer on the day before valentines day. The challenge is to reach them before they find a competitor or a substitute (i.e. jewelry). You then want to have the least amount of purchase friction as possible. These are the biggest failings that florists make with their websites. A florist’s site should provide customers with the greatest amount of convenience at the same time as providing expertise.

Despite this, a common approach to a florist’s website is to add dozens if not 100s of bouquets etc on a limited set of pages. This is likely the result of imitating online-only competitors. Why is it bad? Because it assumes that flower arrangements are simple commodity products. The 2nd aspect of this is that a florist should not confuse itself for selling products, they sell a service. This service has a physical aspect, of course, but it’s also about selling expertise.

Selling these dozens or hundreds of products on a website invites customers to decision fatigue and frustration. At the same time, florists that have this approach are reduced to competing with convenience stores and discount online florists. But it’s worse than that because of the process involved in this purchase scenario. They go to the same store they go to every day, and they are presented with 2 or 3 arrangements. The decision is simple because the options are limited while the purchase process is convenient.

The interplay between this and the reality that a florist’s website should be seasonal oriented is excellent. As it’s going to result in higher sales while also being accepting of the nature of the average florist business. Maintaining a website with 30+ arrangements that reflect what your suppliers are able to give you at any given time invites burnout. In addition to unnecessary cost, all while creating decision fatigue for customers.

So what is the right approach? It sounds intimidating, but it starts with proper Customer Relationship Management. A florist’s website should be designed to remember customer details, and serve buyers with timed marketing. For example, if a customer buys flowers two days before Mother’s Day one year, they will likely do the same next year. So imagine the opportunities of a website that sends a message to a customer 3 days before Mother’s Day reminding them.

When they go onto the site and choose Mother’s Day flowers. They are presented with 4 choices, each one priced on a scale to fit their budget. Because of this it’s a straightforward decision, there is no guess work. The customer then clicks on their choice and buys it. This whole process is designed to provide value to the customer, and to have the least amount of purchase friction. While the florist has provided value through convenience, and expertise because they have curated the options to the needs of their customers and helped save them time.

This is just a snapshot of a much larger well thought out approach to designing a website for a florist’s website.

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What is Google Analytics & Why is it Important?

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google that allows businesses to track the performance of their website and their marketing efforts. While there are alternatives to Google’s service, it is perhaps the industry standard in part because it is free and integrated with other Google products.

At the simplest level of use, Google Analytics allows you to track the volume of traffic to your site and its source i.e. a Facebook link or being listed in search results for a keyword.

Using Google Analytics should be a core component of even the simplest of marketing plans for any small business. This is because it provides decision makers with accurate data to help make better-informed decisions and helps to direct energy to where it is most required.

For example, if you place an advert in a local paper your capacity to measure its effectiveness is limited if you have no method for tracking hits to your website. In contrast, with the use of Google Analytics you can observe any increases in traffic to your website i.e. 24% when compared to last month’s traffic to the site. This allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of the advert and if your advertising resources could be better utilised elsewhere.

You can also see things like the drop off rate, this is where a user loads your website but does not interact with the website beyond the homepage. While a good drop off rate varies between industries, anything above 50% is considered to be high. Keeping with the example of the advert in the local paper, imagine if the advert costs $400 and drives 70 people to your site, if the drop off rate is above 50% you are essentially wasting half your advertising spend. The purpose of this example is to emphasise that using Google Analytics is critical to a successful digital presence.

If you have a website hosted with us Google Analytics it is normally pre-configured and has been collecting data since your website’s launch. If you would like access please let me know and I will send through one or more sets of login credentials for you and your staff.

If you do not have a website hosted with us, we would be happy to install it on your website free of charge. Alternatively, you can ask your current web developer to install and configure it for you. One thing to consider is that it is a requirement to update your website’s privacy policy to let users know that you are using Google Analytics, often this requirement is overlooked putting your web site in violation of Google’s Terms of Service and often local privacy laws.

What is a Proposal & why is it Critical for high Value Projects?

As all my clients know, I provide a proposal and a contract before the start of each project. But why do I produce a proposal instead of just a quote like most design agencies? It’s true that they are more time-consuming to produce. But, I believe the value they contribute to securing work, as well as throughout the life of the project is invaluable. This is because no two projects or businesses are ever going to be exactly the same. A proposal is about communicating your understanding of the unique problems that each client is trying to solve, and then telling them how you’re going to solve them.

A proposal is such an integral part of our business that 3 out of 5 of our formal steps in completing a project directly relate to creating and presenting a proposal.

To understand why proposals are so effective at converting prospects to sales it is important to remember that there are two key barriers to purchase when selling high-value services, which are risk and uncertainty. A proposal helps mitigate both, particularly if the prospect has made contact with your competitors. If they don’t provide a proposal, all the prospect knows about their offer is that it’s going to cost X and the reason behind that price and the final outcome is not going to be clear. The prospect then has the option of choosing between a reasoned and explained proposal, and a single page quote peppered with figures and technical terms they do not understand. Another benefit is that by providing carefully structured information, the prospect is able to have an enhanced picture of what they are buying, this allows them to be more comfortable asking questions, as well as rejecting part(s) of the proposal; it facilitates dialogue where a quote does not. This means they are more likely to ask for more information, and then accept a revised proposal, than outright reject your services.

Any business that sells high-value services should be providing prospects with a proposal. As mentioned before, the higher the cost of the purchase, the greater the pain for the purchase, and the greater risk adversity. Essentially, the more expensive the product or service, the greater the pre-purchase information search for a house or a car this is hard but not as hard as selling a service. This is because services lack the tangibility of a car or a house, so the risk adversity is greater still.

The use of proposals become more common the higher the value of the service offering, and larger businesses require them before they will consider a service offering of another company, this comes in the form of a Request for Tender (RFT).

The Sales Funnel

The adoption of sending clients proposals is a great way to start or expand your business’s sales funnel in a meaningful way. It’s not uncommon in Tasmania for businesses to have a sales funnel that involves the customer contacting them, and then through ‘things that happen in the middle’ they become or don’t become a client. The absence of a formalised sales funnel creates an inconsistent level of service quality and limits the ability of a business to refine its sales conversation to be more effective. By this, I mean that it is impossible to understand why one customer over another chooses your services, if you don’t understand what you did for either of them.

The Questionnaire

A clear impediment to producing a proposal for a prospect is the absence of information; to remedy this a means of capturing it is required. In our case, we use the following Questionnaire. Now the thing to keep in mind is that the form needs to be adaptive to the prospect’s specific enquiry, which is to say that the client does not want to read and become confused by a question that is relevant to another service. Collecting client information in this manner is excellent not just for the purpose of creating a proposal for them but also for client induction. In our case, when a client completes the form, their information is automatically stored, and their details are adding to our invoicing, proposal, email and contract systems. This is not only time-saving, but it also reduces the likelihood of human error and, therefore, improves the quality of our service offerings.

The majority of the questions you ask in your questionnaire are questions you would have to ask anyway, the only difference is that their collection is now automated and streamlined and is in workable and accessible format. This approach is also convenient for both yourself, and for the customer. It is a means of evaluating and eliminating people that are not invested enough in the overall process if they are not willing to spend 15 minutes telling you what they want. For the prospect, it is available for them to complete 24/7 and is also often a more convenient way for them to articulate their needs in a none time sensitive way.

How to get Started

So if this all sounds interesting, what is the best way to go about doing all this? I use Nussi because of its visual appeal and ease of use for the actual proposal aspect, but Osmosis is another great alternative with a fuller feature set that includes the actual questionnaires, and also a lower price.

As for integrating into your website, this is typically done through a Call to Action, you can see an example on our website, here. The alternative is to provide it as an option on your contact page, or send them a link to your questionnaire once they have made contact via your contact form.

I hope you have found this post to be useful, if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

AIC Technologies provides businesses looking to succeed online with a complete one-stop shop from website design, social media management and hosting, and everything in between.

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