Give Time Back with One Simple Tool

Having watched a few scary TV shows I was pleasantly surprised with the dark sense of fear that passed over me when I finally saw the Upside Down in Stranger Things. The sense of stolen youth and the unknown were palpable, and I’m thrilled season two is finally here.

But placing a support request with my average service provider, I can always wait for that. As a consumer the sense of the unknown, foreboding and lost youth is the same as with the Upside Down, only it’s reality television.

As developers, marketers and support technicians we recognise the possibility that our clients might feel the same if we don’t constantly work on better ways to process help requests and manage the communication flow.

So we asked ourselves, how specifically could AI help us expedite the workflow, especially when the request is first initiated?

Fast and Furious?

Most clients get it, technical issues come up and the fastest way to get resolution is to put the issue on your plate, after all that’s what they pay you for.

But sometimes fast means you just have to call them back to get more detail, which does not mean faster resolution, just greater expectation on the client’s part.

More Hunter, Less Gatherer

Using an automated 1st level support agent can help customers log tickets faster while still retrieving the necessary detail you need to initiate an investigation.

Your own decision tree and existing support process, especially at initiation, is ripe for automation. Contact details, issue description, follow up questions (have you restarted your computer?) and other common questions don’t need a hands on approach to gather, only to solve.

Making your support team 10-20% more productive by removing the gathering exercise for simple requests puts profitability back into your service and makes a happier team.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Using artificial intelligence to gather and process customer request data demonstrates:

1. Your clients have a problem solving partner, not a time waster
2. You would like your staff to have less interruptions providing more time for thoughtful and efficient solutions
3. Your growing business can scale intelligently and iteratively
4. You respect everyone’s time because you’re thinking about ways to give it back

Your AI automated agent will not solve every problem but it will resolve 10-20% of the noise in your support-based business, giving everyone more time to binge watch Stranger Things.

You’re welcome. wink emoji

How to Close the Abandoned Cart Loop Every Time

“Excuse me, is there anything I can help with?” Says the perfectly polished sales person at your favourite store. They aren’t pushy, they are available, knowledgeable and helpful.

 

And on the back wall of the staff room their sales numbers are off the chart. They capture every possible sale with efficiency, courtesy and a subtle tenacity.

 

It’s too bad that same in-person experience can’t be replicated in your eCommerce store…or can it?

 

While we can’t read a person’s body language online we certainly have the data to predict their interests and intent. Combining that data with artificial intelligence allows every online store to convert potential abandoned cart scenarios or translate them into wish lists for a later purchase.

 

Abandoned Cart Detection

 

With extensive experience in developing eCommerce stores we know there are certain types of browsing activity that precede an abandoned cart. This data, combined with demographics and browsing behaviour deliver an informed assistant approach.

 

Abandoned Cart Conversation

 

On detection of the pre-abandonment activity your AI sales agent pulls on various data sources to inform their offer of assistance.

 

Brand New Visitors

 

Making a first impression counts as much online as in-person so polished offers of help are an important way to start. Why not offer them a discount too for their first purchase? The clever assistant can even apply the discount to an existing cart, removing some of the checkout friction.

 

Returning Visitors

 

Having contact details provides the best opportunity to start a conversation and ultimately convert into a sale. So if a return visitor is browsing and even adding to cart incentivise them to that next step by suggesting compatible products, supporting articles or videos, or a review that might just sway their behaviour.
Validating their journey based on the journey of others is a great way to open dialogue and get to the point where you can formalise your communication on other channels such as email, chat apps or even SMS.

 

Existing Customers

 

They’ve likely already made a purchase and invested some trust in your store, so the conversation is slightly different here. You’ve got the contact details, consider the best way engender loyalty providing unique discounts. If you’ve noticed they abandon carts regularly ask them why and then deliver follow up specific to how they answer.

 

Abandoned Cart Conversion

 

The above strategies are tailored to the customer type but ultimately all serve to personalise their shopping experience and convert them to paying customers on each shopping trip.
If they are not ready now, let them save the cart for later and use your AI sales agent to manage the wish list reminder process.
Using AI to solve the abandoned cart problem is about putting all of the pieces of shopper data together into one insightful puzzle.

3 Reasons A.I. Customer Service Makes Financial Sense

As customers, we will never go backwards. We will keep demanding more and better and faster. If we don’t get it, we will vote with our feet and our social media voices.

As businesses, if we don’t invest in continuously improving customer service we can only compete on price, that joyless race to the bottom.

If you’re serious about a great customer experience then it’s time to get real about artificial intelligence (AI) because the return on investment is measurable and significant.

Businesses implementing AI in their customer experience are not replacing their existing model, they are augmenting the model where it makes financial sense. So where does it make sense?

Customer Support Cost Reduction

As organisations add new customers or new products and services their customer support request volumes increase. Using an automated agent as a first responder resolves the simple, repetitive requests that don’t require human intervention.

When the requests are more complex or require escalation the automated agent delivers a warmed up customer where the live support agent is briefed on the customer need and the customer does not have to repeat the basics of their issue.

Real Savings

Reduction in support requests requiring a live agent and/or a phone call.
Live agents maximise productivity in dealing with a smaller volume of more complex tasks that only a human being can solve and reducing the brain drain of answering repetitive questions.
Machine learning from automated agent conversations is more rapidly mobilised into website FAQ and support documentation.

Expansion of Customer Self-Service

Companies with developed customer portals already allow customers to manage their own accounts, but customers still want and need a helping hand even if they are logged into a portal.

Once authenticated, automated agents can better support the customer based on their personal history within the portal. Transactions, previously logged support requests and access to rebates and discounts are just a sample of what an automated agent can serve up all in one place and in one conversation.

Real Savings

Reducing customer churn. Providing an adaptable, personalised experience and delivering information in a timely and useful way is critical for customer retention.
For organisations it provides real time feedback on how well the customer portal is functioning. Easily gauge and improve on the customer experience by understanding what is used and/or confused.

Improved Sales Conversions

For eCommerce sites reducing any point of purchase friction is a critical, but sometimes frustrating pursuit. In the case of some businesses the retail experience is only online, and overheads are already stretched across multiple areas of the business and staffing a phone or live chat 24/7 isn’t financially viable.

Using a combination of automated support and personalised data retrieval, customers receive timely advice, supported by previous purchase data and available loyalty rewards.

Improved Bottom Line

  1. More sales conversions per site visitors and/or unique sessions
  2. Less abandoned carts
  3. Improved sales through remarketing efforts

Using AI to enhance the customer experience has clear financial benefits, but it also helps improve the person to person experience too.

As customers we want to know our money and our time is valued and adding AI to the customer support experience doesn’t just say that, it SHOWS it.

Conquering the Abandoned Cart

As a successful online retailer it’s second nature to see sales roll through your store, but the frustration of even a single abandoned cart never really goes away. That is unless you understand why it happens and employ tactics to convert them to sales.

 

Close to 67% percent of shopping carts are abandoned and this percentage has been going up every year since online shopping was possible. The reasons why abandoned carts happen have not changed much but the ability to address the problems head-on has.

 

Problem #1: Unclear or High Shipping Costs

 

Every single person out there is looking to try and save money on shipping. No one wants to show off their new item only to find out they paid twice the shipping cost – it’s like walking into a store and asking for a mark UP at the register.

 

Solution: Tell them early, often and be transparent.

 

  1. Australia Post – If you want to do shipping cost by the book then link your cart directly to real time AusPOST shipping costs. No games or great mysteries here because they can price check it directly on the AusPOST website – everyone wins.

  2. Flat rate shipping – You should have your shipping costs and margins down to a science by now but maybe you need flexibility AUSPost does not offer. Switching to a clear, concise rate structure by # of items or weight will allow you to incentivise a higher spend for better shipping rates.

  3. Free shipping – a massive winner so if it’s practical then do it. You can make everything free by adding a standard shipping cost into the price or set simple conditions to qualify and then make sure to remind them of those conditions on every page of your website, by using the word FREE.

 

Problem #2: Not Having the Right Payment Options

 

Having built hundreds of shopping carts ourselves we understand that the payment methods that work for your organisation may not be the ones that customers prefer. But the good news is we’ve come a long way since Paypal as a single option and new options spring up every month, you need to start nimble.

 

Solution: Provide 2-3 options, track what’s most popular on your site and re-evaluate every 12 months.

 

  1. Stripe – Imagine setting up an account in 10 minutes or less that allows you to process credit card payments right on your checkout page (SSL required). This is what you get with Stripe, in addition to removing sales friction from page-directs or extra account setups just to make a payment. It’s easy, seamless and it just works.

  2. Paypal – Still the golden, international standard for online payment processing and we still recommend it as a solid choice for accepting credit card payments. If your clients are also regular eBay shoppers will give them the comfort they need to convert the sale.

  3. Bank Merchant Account – With Stripe and Paypal you still don’t get direct access to your cash until it’s in your bank account. Setting up a merchant account with your bank and processing payments directly into your bank account makes money management easier. Most of the big banks offer this facility, it’s up to you to negotiate the fees associated with your merchant account.

  4. Layby – In the last 12 months multiple online layby options have sprung forth. End customers are really loving this, the immediacy of getting something now and paying for it over time. Zippay and Afterpay are the most popular choices but you need to check the fine print and make sure your preferred layby option will talk to your eCommerce system.

 

Problem #3: They Aren’t Ready to Buy Yet

 

Almost no one goes to a website once, adds a product to cart and checkouts straight away. They compare prices, look at other comparable products and check customer reviews on your products and business. You know this already, so accept it and start building a more memorable customer experience.

 

Solution: Make customers feel respected and supported.

 

  1. Wish Lists – They know you value their money, but have you shown them you value their time? Let customers continue the shopping journey instead of restarting with a Wish List. In return you get an email address and the chance to follow them up and sweeten the deal with marketing automation. If they are serious shoppers they will remember you for saving them time.

  2. Customer Support – All shopping carts being equal, this is where you can really set your experience apart. If your products have some complexity, can they live chat with someone about their questions? Better yet are you using intelligence automation to engage customers and provide answers and reassurance 24/7?

 

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when shopping carts get dumped, spending too much time on the problem and not the solution.

If you are addressing these top 3 concerns thoughtfully, effectively and with regularity then you’re turning frustration into knowledge and tactics that will help you conquer the challenge of the abandoned cart.

Turnaround Lacklustre eCommerce Sales in 3 Steps

You started your eCommerce site to expand your revenue and your reach, but lately its not doing anything noteworthy and you have a sneaking feeling you’re just coasting. Sound familiar?

 

Having produced and supported hundreds of eCommerce sites across many industries in the last 10 years we’ve seen common themes for successful sites. What these companies do, and the tools they use, can be boiled down to three areas.

 

1. Automate Site Visitor Analysis

eCommerce sales conversion rates average 3% globally, so for those that don’t convert you can still capture valuable behaviour data that will help you convert better in the future.

 

Optimizely for A/B Testing

 

What your designer or developer thinks might convert better could be wrong. Remove the need for arguments by using Optimizely and find out what users respond to. Use that data again to inform future sales strategies on your site.

 

Kissmetrics for Building Ideal Customer Profiles

 

With Kissmetrics, you can leverage data to determine where your best customers come from, who your best customers are, and how to convert more customers on your website. The tool allows you to view revenue metrics broken down by traffic source as well as providing insight into what’s keeping people from checking out.

 

2. Intelligent Pursuit of (More of) Your Ideal Customers

Once you have a decent read on what brings repeat visitors and sales to your site you need more of those customers. An effective content marketing strategy paired with cost-effective advertising will help you do that.

 

GoAnimate Explainer Video Creation to Demonstrate Product Benefits

 

The engagement stats on using video versus any other content medium are undeniable and exponential in some cases. Building shareable (and if lucky viral) product content is best executed through GoAnimate because its easy, engaging and cost-effective. Adding these to your website, your YouTube channel and social media also gives you a baseline of shareable content that can be used and reused.

 

Tribe to Find Your Ideal Social Media Influencer

 

To achieve faster and more high profile exposure for your brand use Tribe to find your power middle influencer. Tribe puts you in direct contact with the 250,000+ Australians that have more than 5000 social media followers. Submit your campaign brief and influencers will bid for your business then you get to choose who you work with and how. Aligning with a rising star is a powerful possibility with Tribe.

 

Google Shopping for a More Targeted Ad Spend

 

Advertising with Google Shopping is a visual and cost-effective way to display what you sell, matching up head to head with your competition. Product comparison via Google Shopping is a standard starting point for most online shoppers so make it easier for them to find your products linking directly to your website where all your great product content and authority lives. Conversion rates from Shopping campaigns can easily convert at 3 times the rate of general Search campaigns.

 

3. Find Your Evangelists and Loyal Supporters and Keep Them Close

You’re now intelligently and actively courting your new batch of ideal customers, but make sure not to leave your loyal fans hanging. They’re the ones who interact regularly with your brand and provide unsolicited positive feedback so ask them to formalise that positivity and then reward them for good behaviour.

 

Reviews.io to Harness the Power of Positive Feedback

 

You have to work hard for sales, but getting people to say nice things about your products & service is harder right? Not with Reviews.io. 90% of happy buyers will provide a review and this software not only manages the entire review collection and distribution process but it will help you achieve the coveted Google seller rating faster than a manual review process which helps you save even more on your Google Shopping advertising campaigns.

 

Smile.io to Create and Automate Your Customer Loyalty Program

 

They’ve already given you positive feedback and referred you to others, now it’s time to reward them. Personal emails and one off discounts are nice, but scaling the power of positivity should be automated and delineated.  Smile.io is a powerful and cost-effective tool allowing you to create your own influencers, putting you in the driver seat of managing your online reputation.

 

From Lacklustre to Arse-kicker

 

There is a theme here:

 

  1. Automate data capture to create insight about what works
  2. Use that data and insight to spend wisely, attracting more of what works
  3. Get serious about capturing crowd-sourced data and insight to create a continous loop attracting more of what works
Creating your own eco-system of what works does take effort, but so does starting an online store in the first place. In the fastest moving marketplace your data collection and analysis methods must be sharp and evolving, but thanks to the growth in apps most of the hard work is now automated.
These ideas and tools will give you the power to choose how fast you grow and that is anything but lacklustre.

3 Website Stats to Make You Look Smarter and More Attractive

A pool full of metrics and you dive in it…yeah OK, Kendrick’s real song was not about website metrics but the haze of interpretation can be the same in both cases.

If you’re anywhere close to digital, marketing or IT, someone is likely to have thrust a Google Analytics report in your face and asked, “Is this good?” Instantaneously they’ve pushed you into the pool full of metrics, your clothes are sopping wet and you’ve got to make the best of it.

No one wants to look silly but its really easy when you look at the volumes of website usage data you can track in Google Analytics (GA) . If you can count the number of times you’ve looked at GA data on one hand (or no hands) then these 3 statistics below will help you turn the inquisition into a conversation.

1. Site Visitors

This is the total number of unique visitors to your website for the time period of the report. Essentially, how many different people took the time to visit the website because they were interested enough in the content.

So what is a good site visitor number? This depends entirely on whether the site is being actively promoted but also what kind of traffic can be expected for the topic and the time period.

Websites that are likely to have less than 1000 visitors per month:

  • Sheep Farmers Union of Invercargill
  • Knitters Guild of Kalgoorlie

It’s always possible a global revolution is being launched from these places but you probably get the picture, hyperlocal concerns that don’t change too frequently for an already small user base.

Websites that should have much, much more than 1000 visitors per month:

  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • You Tube

Extreme examples yes, but the point here is that sites that provide everchanging information and/or entertainment for a wide audience should be in the millions of site visitors per month.

Once you’ve had a look at the Site Visitor number on the report turn it around and start asking questions like:

  1. How does that number compare to last month, last year?
  2. Have you been actively promoting the site?

Timing is everything, maybe the website is seasonal like truffles or has a increasing visitor rate compared to previous time periods then the news story is better or more normal than you might think.

2. Bounce Rate

This one is really important. It represents the percentage of users that visited the site and did not proceed to any other pages.

A bounce rate of between 26-40% is excellent, 41-55% is average, 56-70% is below average, and anything higher than 70% is poor.

A high bounce rate (56%+) probably occurs for one of the following reasons:

  • What they thought they would find on your site was not at all relevant to the reason for their visit
  • What they found on the site WAS related to what they wanted, but it was not sufficiently engaging to stay
  • It took so long to load your website that they just clicked off because they got impatient

Ultimately if the website does not have interesting, relevant content or performs slowly once the visitors arrive then you could just be giving a lot of people a really bad experience. An important lesson for big and small organisations.

3. Device Type

As web designers we think this number needs more attention than it gets now, if only to illustrate the importance of flexible responsive design.

Broken down into Desktop, Mobile and Tablet, if you have a Mobile and/or Tablet usage of 25% or more than you must have a site design that rearranges to look good and flow well on mobile and tablet devices.

It has been over two years since Google declared that websites must focus on the mobile experience first, ahead of desktop, an edict no organisation wanting to grow can ignore.

Looking Smart, Sexy and Delivering Value

It might not be in your job description to understand Google Analytics but giving customers, including yours, a good experience with value-added information is going to keep them in your good sted.

Just like reading your first word or first book, digital literacy simply requires you to keep taking one step forward at a time, one topic at a time.

Women ARE Bad Drivers And Robots ARE Evil

Traitor…that is likely the nicest thing my female colleagues, team members, friends and family are thinking right now. Shame on me really, because I’m here to tell you why we should throw those antiquated ideas out the (car) window.

 

Women, on average, are are looking after more than one person at any given time, requiring more patience and thought in getting from here to there.  So if we take a bit more time or allow more than one car to merge remember the literal and metaphorical band-aid at the back of our mind.

 

The Light Bulb Moment

 

As a managing director I think a lot about our customers and the service experience we deliver. The best win we get is the light bulb moment on a client’s face telling us we nailed it and frankly I got into this business because of those damn light bulb moments. Helping people can be addictive and (spoiler alert) the IT industry is actually full of people like me.

 

So we love these “nailed it” moments but in reality we now have to nail it each time customers need our help, not just when we are face to face.

 

As our client base grows we have to be more strategic about that “nailed it” service delivery. How do we keep the service personal and effective, but expand it in a smart way?

 

The statistics around our customer service expectations are that at least 50% of us expect it to be 24/7. We also don’t want our time to be in vain, spending precious time on the phone, only to not get the answer or solve the problem.

 

Over time technology has rushed to fill the gap, sometimes quite effectively. Live Chat, as an example, is a personal and convenient conversation that can help us get the answer we seek or progress it to a point where we know what we need to do next.

 

What live chat does not fully solve, and it is a big gap for companies, is true scalability. As you grow your client base you need more team members to staff the chat. You train them on the same content, the same procedures and sit them in the same desk solving the same problems. Formulaic but not cost-effective in the long run.

 

Our own light bulb moment came last year when we saw how far artificial intelligence had come. Google, Apple and Facebook have been at this for years, but for the rest of us the technology has evolved from esoteric movie fodder to something far more practical and democratic.

 

Artificial Intelligence For Business

 

Companies of all sizes and industries can now have their own personalised service agent using artificial intelligence. Think of it as a harmonic merge of Siri and live chat, tailored for your business objectives.

 

Front line chat agents are expediters to the end game, allowing companies to be “on” all the time cost-effectively. They free up people on your team to excel at solving the complex issues, allowing you to hire for unique skills rather than repetitive tasks that scream low ROI.

 

While this opportunity may sound scary to some make no mistake, your competitors, your board, the CEO is already thinking about this. It is time for all of us to join the conversation and make technology work for us, improving the service experience while still preserving our fundamental humanity and those beautiful light bulb moments.

3 New Features Available For Your Next Mailchimp Marketing Campaign

An email to your clients, consumers and other stakeholders is one of the quickest and most effective ways to send out a key message instantaneously, but when you’ve got hundreds of contacts to get in touch with, it can no doubt be quite an exhausting task.

 

Email marketing platform Mailchimp allows businesses and e-commerce retailers to send marketing emails, automated messages and targeted campaigns in a straight forward way, and their continuous innovation in technology is allowing businesses to grow and gain more ground with their target markets.

 

The latest resources of Mailchimp allow you to communicate to your audiences faster, and here at WK Digital we can help you implement best practice email marketing so that you can run with it and utilise it for your business.

 

We’ve put together a list of the platform’s most recent features to show you not only how easy it is to use, but just how beneficial it can really be.

 

  1. Facebook ad campaigns

Mailchimp has taken a major step from email-only to marketing, now allowing subscribers to create beautiful Facebook ad campaigns. In the same familiar interface, you can produce an effective campaign strategy to match your branding style and target your audience.

 

Not having to spend time navigating through two different sites is one of the stand-out elements within this new feature. Also, because you integrate Mailchimp with Facebook, you’ll be able to track your return on investment, how many new customers you’ve gained, your orders total, the amount of people you’ve reached, and whether or not you should improve your marketing strategy.

 

Often it’s an easy decision for a business to advertise – after all, it makes sense to let the public know you exist. But choosing how and where to advertise can be problematic, especially when you’re a small business and your budget just can’t cater to the larger-fit costs of a broader campaign.

 

Mailchimp’s Facebook Ad Campaigns feature allows you to utilise the most popular social media platform in the world today, and target actual people. Other ad systems use cookie-based advertising to limit showing ads on a particular device or browser, but Facebook works quite the opposite. As most people access their Facebook profiles on varying equipment almost on a daily basis, you’re guaranteed to be seen.

 

  1. Integration to CRM programs

It makes sense for some businesses to integrate their email marketing component with a customer relationship management (CRM) application, which can make your three marketing components – contact lists, content and results – a lot faster and easier.
Mailchimp provides a connection to other websites and services, which you can plug in to your account, and they are so easy to use because there’s no need to learn about programming or coding.

 

The newest integrations, of which there are more than a dozen in Mailchimp, allow you to add subscribers, sync data, import content and see how successful your campaigns are. As an example, some of the integrated systems include Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Shopify and PayPal.

 

It’s a brilliant way to learn what your customers are purchasing and then progress to creating more email campaigns customised to their interests!

 

  1. Stylish and customised email templates

You can truly design an appealing email campaign with a large variety of Mailchimp’s templates. There’s a choice of three ways to go about it – working with a basic layout, a pre-built theme or a template based on the message you want to communicate.

 

One of the best things about this particular feature is that for e-commerce retailers, you can actually showcase and sell products this way. You’re not limited to what you want to put across, and it can be anything from presenting special discount offers to offering vouchers and special packages to loyalty consumers.

 

These features, plus more within the platform, is why you use Mailchimp as a primary email marketing service, but here at WK Digital, we can help you apply all of that and guide you. If it helps your business grow, then we are at the forefront of making that happen.

Why You Shouldn’t Rule Out eCommerce for Your Business

Ecommerce is an invaluable tool for any business. Not only does it reduce, or completely eliminate, overheads associated with a physical storefront, it also creates an entirely new customer base through national and international shipping. With an online store at your fingertips, customers from all over the world can purchase your products at the click of a button. The possibilities are endless, and open to every type of business imaginable.

All you need is a website, a product, and the right mindset to present it to the world. It’s time to embrace thinking outside the box and start putting round pegs into square holes. Think differently is what we’re are saying!

 

BUT MY PRODUCTS ARE TOO BULKY TO SHIP!

 

If you sell bulky products such as fridges, furniture or exercise equipment you may be tempted to forgo ecommerce due to the various challenges associated with shipping them. Due to their size, such items cannot be posted by regular means and must generally either be hand delivered by your business, or sent via courier. Both options are entirely feasible and utilised by countless online businesses to great effect.

 

Websites such as Appliances Online offer free delivery of fridges and other large appliances to their customers by dispatching their own trucks from their warehouse. Obviously this isn’t an option for everyone so websites like Gym and Fitness ship fitness equipment to customers and charge for delivery based on the postcode of the buyer.

 

If you’re worried about charging for delivery, don’t be. Customers who purchase products online are generally prepared to pay for reasonable shipping – it’s all part of the experience, and the trade-off for being able to shop from the comfort of your couch.

Of course, there are always more creative methods such as factoring the cost of shipping into the total cost of the product itself.

 

MY PRODUCTS ARE TOO UNIQUE / CUSTOMISABLE TO SELL ONLINE

 

The uniqueness or customisability of your product should never be a barrier to utilising the advantages of ecommerce. While it can present a problem for instant purchasing, there are many ways this can be positively presented through an online business. For example, take a look at RedBubble, a website that prides itself on selling unique, customisable products. From T-shirts to posters and home décor the options are endless, and most allow the customer to customise the item to their preferred taste. Posters, for example, have multiple prints, sizes and materials to choose from. Other examples include Spread Shirt, which allows the customer to create custom clothing and Pimp My Fridge for customisable fridges.

 

Alternatively, if your product has too many options to realistically list, you can provide a price range and then offer the customer direct communication through an email form or phone number, to enquire further. Using an ecommerce store front as a lead generation tool is a clever way to upsell your products too.

 

WHAT IF I DON’T SELL A PHYSICAL PRODUCT?

 

This is no obstacle. When it comes to online shopping, services are products – it’s just a matter of how you package them. Services can be displayed and purchased like any physical product; the only difference is what the customer receives. In fact, services have multiple advantages over physical products. They have no manufacturing costs, they don’t need to be stockpiled or ordered and they don’t require shipping. You have complete control. You can offer as much, or as little, in each package as you like.

 

Websites that utilise this to great effect sell services such as content for everyday things like LinkedIn bios, legal services, and streamed movies and TV shows.

 

Whether you sell bulky objects, unique and customisable products, or intangible services, ecommerce can help you do it. The options are infinite and the only limitations are the ones you impose on yourself.

Domain Ownership: How to Keep Your Domain in YOUR Name

Kicking off your first website or online business is a huge challenge. There are countless pitfalls to avoid, and plenty of chances to make a mistake. Thankfully, thousands of people have trodden that path before.

Learning from the mistakes of others is a clever move. There are a number of steps to securing the full rights to your own domain name and website, and we’ve broken it down right here.

The Dos of Domain Name Ownership

  • Choose your own domain name.

This comes with the heavy caveat that you do so with advice from an expert that doesn’t have a vested interest. If you know someone who works in search engine optimisation (SEO), ask them for assistance choosing a name. If you don’t, do your own research or find a cheap freelancer with the basic knowledge to help you out (consider a site like Fiverr.com).

  • Definitely ensure that your details are accurate and kept up to date.

There are plenty of horror stories of people who have paid for their domains for several years, then got a new credit card that cannot be charged. If your email address is still active, that’s fine – most providers will be more than happy to chase you for payment. However, if it’s not, you’re in trouble.

  • Set up auto-renew.

Set up your account to auto-renew if your finances aren’t too tight. That way, you can be sure to stay in business. Some agencies will take care of this for you if the domain is registered with their account.

The Don’ts of Domain Name Ownership

  • Don’t entrust your domain name to someone who doesn’t deserve that trust.

Sometimes it’s a great option to allow your web agency to handle the entire process, from purchasing the domain name, to building your site and handling the ongoing hosting. However, it’s important to maintain some security. Reputable agencies will always hand your domain name back when you choose to move on.

  • Where possible, own it yourself, under your own account.

Your website is your online presence, and your domain is the front door. Agencies come with an immense amount of useful expertise, and should certainly be trusted to manage your account. However, much like a real estate agent, its best if you retain the ownership rights to your own property.

  • Be wary of letting your domain expire.

If you can, pay for a couple of years upfront. Register with an email that you regularly check. There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing control of a domain that you’ve invested in for several years, and being forced to shell out thousands of dollars to a reseller or, worse, a competitor. This is especially relevant in Australia, where despite the existence of legal barriers to registering and owning domain names unrelated to your business, the practice of domain-camping is widespread.

Tips for a Great Domain Name

When choosing your domain name, you want to get it right the first time. Once your site is indexed, attracting traffic and earning backlinks, you certainly don’t want to have to start over and go through the messy business of redirects and lost site value.

One of the most important things you need to consider is SEO. While Google applies considerably less weight to domain names nowadays, it can still provide you a significant boost in the early stages of your site. Use keywords related to your industry, location or business name.

Avoid unnecessary characters in your domain name. In other words, don’t make the mistake of hyphenating your business name. Keep it simple, and related to your business.

Buy either a .com domain or a local country-level domain, such as .com.au. There are advantages to more local domain names, especially as Google continues its industry-leading drive to deliver the most relevant, local content to people using their search engine.

The Upshot

Your domain name is absolutely essential to your continued online presence. In order to maintain a continued online presence, keep the domain in your name or work with an agency that you trust. Agency expertise is valuable, but your property is your property. You don’t give your accountant your power of attorney, so don’t give your agency the right to use and resell your domain name. If things ever go pear-shaped, you’ll be glad everything is in your name.