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Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

It's less than a month until Santa fires up the Reindeer and eTailers should be squarely focussed on the annual Christmas shopping frenzy that's about to begin.

Like a bear fresh from hibernation, the Christmas Shopper is browsing, looking to feed their appetite, searching for the best deals on the gifts that give the most.

To help get your eStore ready for the Christmas shopping rush, HCD is pleased to provide our 12 Steps to successful Christmas eTailing.

Skipping the menial "make sure you have a reliable website that can handle the increased traffic load", and the "get your mobile website up and running" advice (because as HCD clients, we know you have already completed those steps, but if not feel free to get in touch and we'll do our best to help)...

So, here's HCD's Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing:


Step 1: Plan to create an experience

One thing the Christmas Shopper loves more than the joy of buying the perfect gift, is being swept up in the moment while they are doing it.

Think about how you can boost that emotional connection with the customer during their shopping experience, leaving them wanting to a). share their experience with others, and b). come back for more.


Step 2: Put up some decorations

Break out the box of decorations and go over your website to give it a fresh feel.
Some simple but effective ideas are to:

  • Create a visual impact - Update or modify images to attract attention and create a new look.
  • Rewrite product descriptions - Change the language in your content to suit the moment.
  • Fix or remove any broken links - Nothing will lose a Christmas Shopper faster than a broken link.
  • Review your Returns Policy - Create reassurance for the Christmas Shopper by highlighting any specific conditions for this time of the year, and make the policy page easy to find.
  • Create a special category - Make browsing easy for the Christmas Shopper by putting the hot items front and center.
  • Create a Gift Purchasing Guide - Not only does a guide help the Christmas Shopper make a decision, it adds to the shopping experience.

Step 3: Offer Gift Wrapping / Gift Cards

Take away some of the stress for the Christmas Shopper by providing the peace-of-mind in knowing that the hard part of gift giving (wrapping it) is taken care of.

Create a lasting positive experience by going above and beyond expectations. A little effort can go a long way in this respect.


Step 4: Create a Landing Page

Create a Christmas themed landing page on your website to direct the Christmas Shoppers.

Keep it simple, with a clear call-to-action directives that guide customers onto where they need to go.


Step 5: Install a Live Chat plugin

Unlike real stores, eStores can lack that real-time enquiry and resolution that the Christmas Shopper often relies upon.

Adding a Live Chat feature to your website overcomes this, and allows your staff to answer customer queries while they are at your eStore, ready to buy.


Step 6: Entice the Early Shopper with Promotion Codes

The Early Christmas Shopper is typically calm, but has keener senses to sniff out the best bargains and can afford to be choosy.

Offer an early bird special at the start of the promotion to attract their attention, and reward them for being there at the start.


Step 7: Entice the Late Shopper with Last Minute Offers

The Late Christmas Shopper is usually in a panicked state, franticly searching for any deals that are still available.

Have a refreshing offer on hand to attract them over and satisfy their appetite.


Step 8: Sing your Promotion Loudly

Shout out frequently (but not aggressively) with newsletters to the Christmas Shopper to let them know what you have on offer! Your campaigns should run in parallel with the phases of your promotion:

  • Send a personalised email to loyal customers, with a special incentive just for them.
  • Advise Shoppers of your upcoming promotion start date. Add tips to help in their preparation.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has started.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has reached the middle, offer more incentives.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion is about to come to a end (just 1 week to go!!).
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion ends tomorrow.

Step 9: Create a buzz on Social Media

Support your email campaigns with a social media campaign on your selected channels. You could also run a competition around your promotion to add extra buzz and/or incentive.

Keep your audience in the loop about your promotion's progress, and share the mood and festivities to add that personal touch.


Step 10: Give something back

Help the Christmas Shopper get into the festive spirit with the incentive of receiving something in return for their shopping efforts.

Charitable donations are a good additional incentive to offer during the festive time of the year to create a warm, fuzzy feeling of goodwill.

Small freebie items for the Christmas Shopper also work. And nothing works better than a little, unexpected surprise!


Step 11: Communicate the delivery process

Keep the Christmas Shopper in the loop by letting them know when their order is being processed, when their order is being packed, when it has been shipped, and when they can expect delivery.

The clearer the communication, the happier the Shopper.


Step 12: Follow up with post-Christmas rewards and opportunities

The day after Christmas is, of course, when the Christmas Shopper is ready to buy more. Entice your Christmas Shoppers to return by offering rewards or discounts that can be redeemed after Christmas, or even for a January promotion.


Just have some fun!

Your Christmas Promotion needn't be as stressful as your Christmas shopping.

With a little planning, and well-timed execution, your promotion should run as smoothly as Christmas at Grandma's house.

Spread the joy, share the love, and feed your Christmas Shoppers a feast they'll want to come back for.


Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some preparation advice of your own that you think we missed, share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.


5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

As the saying goes: business is booming somewhere, you just have to find it.

The Internet has removed many barriers to International business, allowing trade virtually anywhere and at any time and Social media provides business with platforms to communicate and interact with customers like never before.

So it makes sense that if you are going to trade internationally, your business should also socialise internationally.

Global Social Media Communities

In an article published just last year, eMarketer estimates that by 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social media networks around the world.

While Facebook and Twitter are household names in Australia, other countries have developed their own on-line communities.

China, for example, banned websites like Facebook and Twitter, yet nearly half the population are active on their local social media networks. That's over half a billion users that can't be reached through Facebook.

Other countries also have smaller social media networks that are popular amongst niche groups of people, for example Google+ in the United States.

With a little planning and preparation, new business opportunities can be created by branching out into social media communities that would typically be overlooked.

The 5 Steps to Get There

Planning and executing a global Social Media Strategy for an international target audience is very similar to planning and executing a Social Media Strategy for a local audience.

There are 5 steps to follow before joining any international social media network (with a few points to consider along the way):


  1. Select your target country and target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • What language will you communicate in?

      Targeting countries that speak English will be easier, but don't dismiss countries that speak a foreign language just for that reason. There are many translation services that can be used, such as Google Translate, or see it as an opportunity to learn a new language.

    • What cultural differences should you be aware of?

      The last thing you want to do is offend your audience, so take the time to learn what is acceptable, and what is not. You don't want to get caught out giving the O.K sign when it doesn't mean O.K in a different language.

  2. Identify and join the networks used most frequently by that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • How does the audience use a particular social media platform?

      Take the time to learn how your selected audience use and connect on their preferred platform. For example, is it professionals networking, is it a forum style platform, or is it used like Facebook?

    • Individual or combined social media accounts?

      Think about whether you will make one account and post all content from it or make different local accounts for each country you are targeting. It might help to hire a social media manager who will be able to keep track of multiple accounts and respond to queries on all of them.

  3. Create and share content that appeals to that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • Individual or shared content?

      Different audiences will respond to different content. You can maintain consistency by sharing the same content across audiences, but ideally, create content that is tailored for your individual audience tastes.

  4. Engage and communicate with the target audience regularly.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you manage the different time zones?

      Social Media requires interaction - joining conversations, replying to comments, and reacting to situations as they unfold. How will you business manage these events outside of opening hours?

  5. Measure progress. Refine and repeat.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you measure progress?

      Just as you are tracking and measuring your progress on local social media platforms, how will you manage your key performance indicators on other social platforms?

You could combine several countries into one strategy and target a shared audience; or you could have individual strategies for each country, allowing you to target individual audiences with greater focus.

Get Out There, Be Seen, Say Hello

While creating a presence on social media networks in other countries might not result in direct sales immediately, it will create brand recognition and allow you to build reputation in new markets.

Be seen enough, and before too long, people will start to consider your products and services in their buying decisions.

You might not think that your product will sell in other countries, but it could just as easily become the next must-have craze that your local customers didn't catch on to.



Further Resources:



Are you planning to go social in other countries? Share your strategy tips with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

Top Authoring Tips to Attract, Captivate and Impress

In a world where more content is generated every day than in all of history up until just a few years ago, content authors must not only instanty grab attention, but maintain engagement for at least long enough to successfully deliver their message.

At Hub Communications Digital content is a big part of our daily life and we've learned a thing or two about writing engaging content for your website.

  1. Picture Web Readers as Wild Animals

    In the article Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster, Jakob Nielsen at the Nielsen Norman Group likens readers to 'wild animals gathering food' who are looking for the 'maximum benefit for minimum effort' while searching the Web for information.

    Jacob describes the term 'Information Foraging' as the process of hunting for information and 'Information Scent' as the process of tracking or following the trail to the information they are hunting for.

    By considering this analogy, writing with the informavore's navigation behaviour in mind, you will improve the chances of catching the reader.


  2. Spend Time on the Headline

    The headline is the most important part of the article.

    Authors tend to focus more on the body of the article, putting a simple headline or title at the top. However, for the reader, the headline is their first sniff of the information scent.

    Typically on the web links to articles are the headline, which the reader uses to determine the relevance to their search for information.

    Headlines must inform the reader of the subject of the article, arouse their curiosity, encourage them to continue reading and be short and memorable, all in one line.

    While there is no perfect formula, there is evidence that six worded headlines have been found to be the most effective.


  3. Use Simple Language

    Writing for the Internet is very similar to writing for a newspaper or a magazine. The use of abstruse (hard to understand) words that are not part of everyday language will distract the reader (as just demonstrated).

    Even if you include hyperlinks to the definition of words that you have used, the simple act of wondering what a particular word or sentence means can distract the reader and break the flow of their reading.

    Unless your audience are academics looking for peer-reviewed journals, your readers will quickly lose interest and find something easier to read.


  4. Follow the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing

    A popular technique among journalists is the inverted pyramid writing style - putting the most important information at the top of the article and expanding upon the idea as you move down.

    Try to imagine your average reader as someone who is late for work in the morning, but really wants to know what is in your article, and write your copy accordingly.

    Include the most important information in your opening paragraphs instead of having the reader go through an entire page.


  5. Pick Your Key Words

    Writing for the Internet is not just about writing interesting copy. You must also make sure that your content is search engine friendly.

    As an author, you need to consider the keywords of the topic you are writing about, and incorporate them into your writing to give your content the greatest visibility on the web.

    Some forethought is important however, as some search engines penalise the misuse of keywords, such as using unqualified or unrelated keywords, or using them too frequently.


  6. Write for Easy Flow Reading

    Write content that can be skimmed through quickly whilst still delivering the important details easily.

    Readers want the answer to their question immediately, so give it to them and make it clear, but reward those that take the time to read deeper by expanding upon what the reader would otherwise take away just from skim-reading.

    Stick to a single idea per paragraph or use bullet points to separate out the ideas in long paragraphs.


  7. Write Accurate Information

    One of the most important aims for any author must be the use of accurate information.

    Don't underestimate the ability of your readers to independently verify claims made by you in your article. Only provide them with well researched and factual content.

    If you learn that information in an old article has become incorrect, add a correction into the article or write a new article with up-to-date information.


  8. Make Sharing the Article Easy

    While following the steps above will make a tasty article for the 'informavore', making the article easy to share will add the cherry on top.

    Add tools to allow readers to easily quote paragraphs of text from your article and post to their social media platform of choice. Provide the means for the reader to easily create a link to your article, or e-Mail the link to a friend.


In Summary

While writing for the web might be different from writing a book, or an essay; with continuous practice, authoring web content can become as easy as catching fish in a tank.

Keep the above points in mind when writing your next article and you are on your way to creating quality content for your website.



Further Information:



Got Your Own Writing Tips? Share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

5 Steps to Better Link Building

We have been covering the shift in web content and SEO practices recently, and now we get to the practice of link building.

Links are not the beginning or the end of Search Engine Optimisation, but they do hold a large portion of weight in the algorithms employed by Google/Bing to rank websites on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

It is worth spending some time to understand link building, to incorporate link building into your content creation processes, so that you can reap the rewards from the effort in the future.

A Short History of Link Building

In their simplest form, links are like map locations for search engines to navigate between on their endless quest for information. Another way to look at them, is to consider a link as a vote from one website for another. Links help search engines calculate the popularity of websites and specific pages based on the number of other websites that carry links pointing to them.

Rand Fishkin of Moz, in 2009, summarised the history of link building and described it as follows: Between 2000 and 2002, direct link buys, email requests for links and link exchanges were popular. In 2003 and 2004, link networks, blog commenting and paid text links became popular. 2005 saw the advent of social media links, linkbait and quizbait and in 2008-09 came content licensing and editorial content for links.

After 2009, Google started introducing software like Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda which fished out websites that were aimed at fooling search engines. These complicated software algorithms were created to penalise such websites and to stop them from appearing at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

The Better Way to Link Build

Nowadays, the best practice for link building is to consider the bigger picture, and focus on building your link profile. QuickSprout has a great article - What is a "Good Link Profile" and How Do You Get One - that is worth reading if you have not heard of the term before.

Step One: Focus on Content

The first step is to produce quality content which is relevant, meaningful, and will gain popularity on the Internet in its own merit. Unless you create content which readers would want to share, you aren't going to create reason for other websites to link to your website.

As mentioned earlier, links are like votes. So if a website posts a link to your content, it is like the owner of the website voted for you. If a website which is considered an 'authority' links to your content, the value of the 'vote' increases. All of this affects where your website shows up on a Search Engine Results Page.

There are several ways in which you can structure content on your website to make it more appealing. Articles which list the '10 best' or '10 worst' of a topic are very popular with readers. Infographics or white papers providing insight into specific areas of your industry are also very popular and make the content easier to share as well.

Step Two: Only Aim for Natural Links

According to Google, their algorithms are configured to use only natural links for indexing and ranking websites. Search engine algorithms are able to distinguish between genuine links to your site posted by people who think the information would be helpful to others, and links which are posted specifically to "boost votes". The latter are referred to as spammy backlinks, which hurt your link profile.

Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote

The content that you have created needs to be promoted aggressively by you. Do not wait for people to notice your content first and then start sharing. Instead, reach out to authority websites and "influencers" in your industry and share your content with them. If they find it useful and share it with their followers, your reach will increase exponentially.

Use paid options offered by social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote posts. You can also buy ad space in online journals using content syndication networks like Taboola and Zemanta to promote your content.

Step Four: Diversify your Back Links

Mix things up by requesting backlinks in different formats and on different platforms. Aim for some backlinks to be through social media, and some to be contained within content.

Another popular way to diversify link building is through guest blogging. However, today, guest blogging has become vastly more complicated than before. To establish your own set of followers, it is imperative that you contribute high quality content regularly. You must also promote the content you contribute and respond to queries / feedback.

Step Five: Backlink Management

Keep a constant watch out for any websites which feature your name or that of your brand. Check these websites regularly and request backlinks to your website if you have been mentioned, but not linked to. Another popular way of tracking mentions is through Google Alerts. You can enroll for competitions and also submit reviews of products to websites in return for a backlink.

In Summary

We have provided a very basic introduction into the practice of link building for today's content writers and provide a list of articles that should provide you with some more in-depth information. If you would like to discuss how you can improve your link building strategy or your overall content strategy, feel free to Get in Touch.

Further Reading:

Want to discuss this some more? If you would like to know more about content marketing or about anything in this article please let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking "Mobile First"

6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking "Mobile First"

6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking Mobile First

Almost everyone would agree that mobile is the current focus for the Web, even Google holds a "mobile first" mantra for their products and services. Even still, the websites of numerous large companies are not taking advantage of rapidly growing mobile consumer market.

The team at Voucher Cloud have put together a Portrait of a Mobile Consumer; an infographic that highlights the current status of the mobile consumer market, and, once again, it gave some compelling statistics that took even us by surprise.

If your website isn't mobile friendly, here are 6 good reasons why you should be thinking "mobile first":

  1. It is estimated that there will be 8.2 billion hand-held mobile devices by 2018. The estimate for the global population in 2018 is only 7.4 billion.
  2. Within the next 3 years, m-Commerce sales are predicted to hit $626 billion, which is just shy of the 2013 e-Commerce sales total of $638 billion.
  3. 90% of consumers are already using their smart-phones for pre-shopping activities, such as to find directions to and the opening hours of a business.
  4. More than 50% of Amazon customers completed a purchase on a mobile device in the last fiscal quarter of 2013.
  5. Near Field Communication ready point-of-sale checkout terminals are expected to increase to 44.6 million within the next 2 years. I.E. Check-out/Pay via your smart-phone.
  6. Retailers are starting to use mobile-devices to create interactive in-store experiences, pairing the smart-phones with contact-less technologies such as Near Field Communication (BlueTooth for example) or QR Codes. So far, real-world examples are offering vouchers or membership benefits, but the possibilities are endless.

If you need to move your business on-line, or you want to make your website mobile friendly, Get in Touch for a FREE demonstration.

View the Infographic: Portrait of a Mobile Consumer

More Information: Portrait of a Mobile Consumer - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud.

Got an opinion? What was your reaction to the statistics put forward in the infographic? Share on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.