web domains

Domains – Which Ones to Buy

Domains and the world of commerce online can be a bit of a minefield. Rules, trends and algorithms are always shifting and improving, so it can be really hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with a quick recap!

A Brief History of Domain Names…

The ‘domain name’; the URL that is registered to your company, creating the online address in which your business lives. In every country there is a domain authority, in the UK it is Nominet, in the US it is ICANN. These look after the domains introduced for their region (‘.co.uk’ and ‘.uk’ for the UK, ‘.com.’ for the US, and so on). Domains were originally designed to give a hierarchy to countries online, although this has evolved over time, this hierarchy still exists to an extent. Google, for example, uses domain names to order information; some domains having more weight than others.

  • .COM: Originally intended for global commerce, ‘.com’ was quickly adopted by the US in place of ‘.us’. ‘.com’ is still, technically, intended for commerce, but has heavy American connotations to go with it.
  • .CO.UK: This domain, used for UK businesses, is to be supplemented with ‘.uk’ in the coming year for ease and to fit in with global trends.
  • .ORG and .EDU: There are many, non-country-centric, domains also in use. For example, ‘.org’ is reserved for non-profit organisations and ‘.edu’ for education.

So, as you can see, it is important to pick the right strategy when considering your domain names.

Strategy…

Search Engines should be in the forefront of your mind if your business will operate in different countries. If your business is confined to one country or region, securing domain names is pretty straight forward, as there will only be a few that you need to secure. However, if you are going international, you have a bit more to consider.

Basically, if you want to go international you have to consider whether you want to take up the domain names associated with the new territories you are looking to do business in. This has implications, the biggest ones being cost, management and autonomy over the websites that exist in each territory and how that can affect your brand.

In the end it comes down to whether or not the acquisition of the domain names is going to benefit you in the long run. This decision can be made easier by working out what your competitors are likely to do. Are they likely to pick up your domain in this country? If they do, will it significantly affect your business?

The fact is, there is no definitive answer until you consider your business intent, where your customers are, how global your product is, how niche you want to be. .io for example can used as a UK territory (as it’s a British Indian Ocean Territory) and on-trend branding, and more easily associated to hack domain names where the concatenation of the domain name helps give your website an indemnity in its self e.g. or identified with digital business because of the I (input) and O (output) binary connection – right nerds? We tend to always recommend the .co.uk and ‘.com’ as the place to start, as this is recognised by and serves most countries and if someone does remember your website address, its likely they’ll plum for .com. As for region specific domains, it has to be right for you and your business. It takes a little research and a well thought out strategy for your growth.

Where to Start…

 The first thing to do is check who owns your domain name, and whether the other iterations are available. You can do this here: https://www.whois.com/whois. Its of major importance because it’s the legal ownership and if your business is online. You don’t want to be held captive to a disgruntled ex-employee. Once you know this, you can go to the drawing board and have a think about what domain and SEO strategy works for you!

best domain name extensions dot uk

2018 – Year of the ‘.uk’ Domain

The ‘.uk’ domain name has been around for a little while now. It was introduced as far back as June 2014 as a compacted replacement for the more common ‘.co.uk’. Although it has been around for a while, it is only now, nearly 4 years later, that this abbreviated domain name is becoming widely implemented. When companies like the BBC are moving over to ‘.uk’, you know it’s here to stay! It’s time to grab your ‘.uk’ domain.

Why was ‘.uk’ introduced in the first place? Well, apart from it being shorter, and therefore a bit quicker to type, the main reason for it’s introduction was to bring us in line with what other countries were doing. France, for example, use ‘.fr’ and Ireland use ‘.ir’. But regardless of the domains origin, the fact is ‘.uk’ is now being widely used by low and high-profile companies alike, don’t get left behind!

Sure, popularity and efficiency are two good reasons to buy up your ‘.uk’ domain. However, there is another extremely good reason to claim your domain as soon as you can. Many companies, of which you may be one, make sure they are in possession of every related domain ending under the sun, when it comes to their business. If you are not the owner of an available domain ending, there is nothing to stop your competitor snatching it up and claiming huge chunks of your internet traffic and, subsequently a chunk of your business.

Your right to a ‘.uk’ domain

Now, here’s the good news. If you have the rights to the ‘.co.uk’ version of your domain, then, providing you registered it before June 2014, you already have the legal right to the ‘.uk’ version. However, this is only valid until June 2019, so get in there as soon as you can! There are also ways to acquire the rights to your ‘.uk’ domain via ownership of other address endings…

  • UK: If you own the ‘.org.uk’ domain for your business then the rights to your ‘.uk’ domain should be awarded without too much trouble if the .co.uk.’ domain is available. (Your ‘.org.uk’ must also have been registered before June 2014).
  • .ME.UK: If ‘.me.uk’ is what you use, then you can acquire your ‘.uk’ domain providing both ‘.org.uk’ and ‘.co.uk’ are available. (Again, pre-June 2014 registration is required).

If you are thinking about moving over to ‘.uk’, do make sure that your SEO rankings remain stable, and that Google is informed of the changes. If you would like any more information or guidance regarding ‘.uk’ or any other domain based issues, get in touch with us, and we will help to find the right solution and how to migrate your domains and emails safely.

Privacy protection laws

GDPR is Coming – What Does It Mean for You?

What is GDPR?

General Data Protection Regulations is what it stands for. Cybercrime and misuse of data cases are becoming more and more common; data protection has very quickly become an important issue. The general public are increasingly aware of the potential threat when it comes to their personal data and therefore the expectation for businesses to have a good strategy when it comes to protecting that data is higher than ever before.

The GDPR will come into enforcement on May 25th, 2018. It will be enforced throughout Europe, and aims to give citizens more control over their personal data (this includes names, addresses, phone numbers, bank and credit cards, e-mail addresses and IP addresses), and to create a uniform standard of protection across the continent.

This will change the way businesses collect, store, record and process personal data on a global scale, despite it being an EU specific law.  If ignored, this law can see a business fined up to £17.5m, or up to 4% of your WORLDWIDE revenues PER INSTANCE. So – are you taking notice now?

How It Affects Your Data Storing Practices…

Basically, the new GDPR is designed to ensure that businesses only collect essential data; it must be legitimate, explicit and specified. If you are a company that deals with sensitive data, here are some practices that you will need to ensure are being implemented and adhered to:

  • All data must be lawfully and transparently processed.
  • The data collected must be limited to only what is essential and relevant to your business.
  • All data must be up to date.
  • ‘Maximum security’ conditions must be applied to the processing of personal data.
  • The identity of an individual must only be available when their information is being processed, and only when they have given permission.
  • “The right to be forgotten”: All personal data should be able to be deleted on request.
  • You must have a clear and visible complaints procedure.
  • Data on minors (under 13) can only be held with their guardian’s permission.
  • ‘Opt in’ replaces ‘opt out’.

Does your company comply with all of these? If not, then maybe it is time to review your data processing protocols. If you are not sure, why not take a look at these 12 tips on how to prepare for these new regulations.

GDPR is about protecting personal data so does that mean it affect’s business data?

The short answer is yes. It might be there are some express exceptions to the rule when it comes to blanket email addresses, but essentially, if you have an ability to track down an email address to a person then its ‘personal’. Why run the risk? Read more here.

GDPR After Brexit

 You may have picked up that GDPR is indeed and EU law. As we know, the UK is not going to be part of the EU for too much longer. The government has confirmed that it intends to bring the GDPR into UK law after the EU break, so fear not, if you change your practices now, they will still be relevant once we are on the other side of Brexit.

e-Commerce Stores and Payment Gateways

Most e-commerce systems process payments outside of the business by way of platforms such as Paypal, Worldplay, SAGEpay and Stripe. This makes them PCI compliant. However, if your payments pass directly through your network, i.e. if credit card and bank details pass through your system, you may be in breach of your compliance. If there is a breach of such sensitive data in your network, you may be liable to fines. Make sure you check this out!

What can e-blueprint do for you?

GDPR is daunting but following a few steps to ensure you and your staff are aware and manage personal data securely, transparently and with the care and intent it should be used i.e. to the benefit of the individual then you are a lot further on than most. We can simplify some of this. Here is what e-blueprint can do for you:

  • Help audit your online data processing and ensure your clients personal data is secure.
  • Re-engage your customers and supplier databases held on your CRM for re-opt in to how you communicate and market to them.
  • Help you to re-engage and check your email database and the data you hold.
  • Provide cookie opt-in’s

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call or send us your enquiry.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

e-commerce lead generation tools

Choosing the Best Lead Generation Tool for Your Business

Finding the right lead generation tool, or indeed the right combination of lead generation tools, can be difficult. It is especially difficult when there are so many tools out there with so many applications, algorithms and variations in effectiveness. Where do you start? Well, hopefully we can give you some ideas here.

So, you are about to dive in and snap up a new lead generation tool. But before you do ask yourself these questions…

What is the level of visitors to the website already and what activity is driving them to your website.

There is a belief in lead generation that you have a glut of hidden customers engaging with your business, they are interested, but they aren’t buying. It is virtually impossible to glean live information about who is using your site without a lead generation tool, like Lead Forensics for example, to dig up this information for you.

Lead Forensics can catch up with these users in a couple of ways. If the users are new, fresh leads, the tool can alert you, and after that can quite easily research the company of origin and the correct person to open communications with. Alternatively, if a web hit comes from a consumer that you have already engaged, you can track back to see when they are on your website and what they looked at, which gives you some vital insider information to get ahead and approach the lead. But here’s the thing; you’ll need to work out the excuse for tracking down and engaging with them. The thing is, you must ask yourself, how can you better engage with prospective customers and still be natural about it?

Analysis is useful and interesting. The tool covers touch points within your website to resources, key niche services, blogs, white papers and products. This helps to see what is garnering interest on your site and what is not. What money you have spent well, and what you haven’t.

But, is the website traffic you are receiving big enough to justify the expense of a tool? This is the important question. This is what you have to weigh up before you take the plunge!

Are you making the most of the tools that you have now?

If you considering increasing your conversions, you need to review the tools you have and the conversion you already get. It generally benefits a business to use a combination of tools; you certainly should be if you are dealing with quite heavy traffic!

This is the combination we use: We have Google Analytics to review trends of the past and the content users are looking for. We cross-reference this with the goals and conversions websites receive. We then take it a step further and engage with Google Tag Manager, to find out the most important interactions such as ‘button clicks’ on application forms and other in-page analytics; this helps to understand what users are doing on your web pages. There’s also a Google in-page analytics tool. This highlights which content gets the most customer attention.

All of these are free tools! They are a really good place to start in terms of analysing the effectiveness of the content on your site.

Also, when considering implementing new tools, it is worth noting that, with GDPR coming in this year, you may need to change your data handling practices, paying particular attention to your ‘opt in’ as opposed to ‘opt out’ system.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought!

How to close your leads loop?

 Lead Forensics goes some way in determining the source of your traffic. What can be frustrating is trying to work out what advertising channel is the most effective. Most likely, it is a multi-channel process, so you will need to look at Google’s attribution modeling report to find out what works best.

Ruler Analytics provides some great insights into both your first click traffic source, and the last click source, when an action like a sale or a form is completed. In addition, it closes part of the marketing loop by assigning telephone calls to the source of traffic. This enables you to pick up the offline sales. These can be fed into a marketing channel to give you a fairer appreciation of where traffic comes from and at what point calls, enquiries and sales take place.

 Some actionable points for 2018:

  • Firstly, ensure you have all the basic Google analytics tools in place.
  • Experiment with tracking all your online marketing with UTM codes and Google Segments
  • Look into the usability of your web page and ensure it is at optimum accessibility. Video User Testing is a great tool when it comes to working this out.
  • Make sure that there is a plan in place for your website development, and that it is being actioned.
  • Look at the other tools (Ruler Analytics or Lead Forensics, for example) for more detailed insight.
  • Try some A/B testing. This helps increase conversion rates.
  • Engage the customers you have.
  • Ensure that your e-mail marketing and engagement protocols are in line with your GDPR legal requirements.

Talk to us about getting ‘all your ducks in a row‘ for 2018.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Voice activated devices

SEO for Voice Activated Devices

Voice activation is no longer ‘the future’. Voice activation is here, and now, and it works. We have seen voice activation soar in popularity over the last two or three years. Whether it’s through our phones with applications like Siri, or through purpose built devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, voice activation search technologies are fast becoming part of the landscape of everyday modern life. In fact, some studies believe that voice searches will make up 50% of online searches by the time 2020 comes around!

Although, in most cases, this does not mean you have to completely overhaul your SEO strategy, you are going to want to consider a little tweaking. Here are a few tips on how to best optimize your business for voice activated searches.

1. Language

Most likely, the SEO you currently use on your site is based on the keywords you are most likely to see typed into a search bar. However, people speak in very different to way to how they type.

Essentially, when people are searching via voice activation they use more casual language, and speak in long form. Therefore, in terms of SEO, you need to think about implementing phrases and longtail keywords as opposed to just short search terms.

For example: Where one might type ‘best pizza near me’ into a search bar, into a voice activated search you might say something like ‘where can I get the best pizza near me’. Have a think about how your customers speak, and implement this into your SEO strategy accordingly.

2. Microdata

Microdata are those little details that make it easier for search engines to understand what your business is, and what each page contains. This is ever more important with the genesis of voice searching.

So, if your site is missing locations, prices, menus, opening hours, phone numbers or e-mail addresses, you might well be missing out on a simple way to optimise your search stats.

Not sure how good your microdata is? Why not check with Google’s Data Testing Tool?

3. Mobile Friendly

Most voice activated searches are still being made through our mobile devices. So, if your site is not already mobile compatible, then now is the time. If you are not sure how mobile friendly your site is, then Google has a handy test for that too: Test My Site.

These are 3 great starting points to get your business SEO ready for the age of the voice generated search. There are plenty of other strategies you might want to consider, get in touch with us and we would be happy to advise you on how best to optimise your content for speed, search engines and other market places online.

Powerful Email marketing techniques

Powerful e-mail marketing techniques to build a loyal audience

Remember, those lost relationships?! Take action and get them back!

Download e-mail marketing tips and ebooke-mailing marketing is often an overlooked way to do this. If you already have an email address or business card it stands to reason you have had some contact with that person already and formed a good impression (unless you’ve bought an email list of course… and therefore do not collect £200 and do not pass GO!).

Think of all that time and effort you have put into building your contact database. It’s probably a mix of customers from the distant past, active customers or people that you’ve engaged with at networking groups. It’s also likely that as time goes by you’re failing to act on and re-engage with these people. Does it feel its all getting a bit awkward to talk with these people again? …well that’s a judgement call for you but remember, there was a mutual interest there at some point. Review those relationships and think about whether you have something meaningful to say to these people again and you will be starting a key re-marketing process.

People are typically a forgiving bunch and understand how hectic our lives can be. People do also remember people so it’s likely they would be happy to be contacted by you, even if some years have gone by. If you’re got something to say, look to re-engage with people that you’ve met in the past. Re-start your relationship and offer them something that you think might help. A little helpful knowledge may just be the starting block to help build your reputation as the ‘go-to’ business for your service or product… Download our simple emarketing ebook which gives you a simple process to how you might start.

e-mail marketing for businesses

Your business will broadly fit into two categories online; e-commerce product based sales or service based, professional services (we’re classifying social, enterprise and charities etc. all under ‘service’):

emails and e-Commerce based websites:

If you are running an e-commerce website customers may have bought from you and you’ll have quite in-depth information about the type of things they have bought. Use this knowledge to infer what else they might like to buy. You’re in a good spot, you know you have something people want, now its time to develop and re-market to those customers. What you don’t have is a relationship with that person, so it’s likely they’ll forget you even if they love what you have sold to them because its just another shop and people are so price focussed shopping online. But you do have to have the building blocks in place to build that relationship. Download our free ebook to read more detail on these e-marketing techniques for e-commerce shop owners and build your relationship with them.

Service Based Websites:

When you don’t have sell something online, what are the other techniques to gain engagement? Your opportunity to collate customer email addresses is limited. You’ll need to create a more natural tool for building your email database and with this a better way to understand what your customers want. Its much more likely people will be using your website for reference after a referral, through Social Media or finding you ‘blind’ via Search Engines. In which case the percentages for engagement are stacked against you… potential customers may visit you but you’ll be none the wiser* when or who has visited unless you capture their email address. To do this, develop some content that solves a problem these customers have or even an online tool that helps users get answers to their questions. You’ll need a mechanism to allow them to access the tool, either by sending a username and password or by collating the information in a free download or access to that tool by submitting their email address to you. Both routes are great ways to target people and build an audience because you’ll start to understand what they want. You see this technique used here in this blog and hopefully you find the content valuable and be open to receiving the next update?! This is a really simple technique that can be repeated across your website.

Download your free copy here:

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This download details tips and practical guides to help you through the early stage minefields of email marketing! We are creating a very niche newsletter based on email marketing tips. Which we are encouraging you to join by adding your email address above. You can download the guide once you’re signed up to the list; you’re very welcome to (unsubscribe at any point – best practice and all!).

*Talk to us about more advance tracking methods to measure your marketing.

Brand custodians for the International Tennis Tournaments

Protecting your identity and reputation is a cornerstone for every business. With our experience developing brands we thought we’d look to outline some key considerations and actions you can put in place to stave off any unforeseen mishaps.

  • Clean, consistent design focuses your customer’s attention on specific parts of the page, helping to ease them through your content and any buying process!
  • If you are e-commerce based, at least 3-5 shots of your product – from different angles – help customers make potentially tricky online purchasing decisions.
  • Colour has a massive emotional effect. If people can only see the colours you use from a distance, they’ll already be making subconscious decisions about you and what you do…
  • Good, clear typography tells your customers EXACTLY what you want them to do.
  • Bespoke imagery shows people you’re serious about your business, and prepared to invest in it.

Businesses that go through the thought process with their brand development save the time and expense of having to compromise and make changes to fit in with a certain media or settle for something that is less than perfect. When we prepare company logos for their sponsorship packages for events like Northern Vision’s International Tennis Tournaments, the biggest issues arise from poorly executed branding. The extra time and wasted expense clients have to go to shoehorn an established but poorly prepared logo across the myriad of materials such as newspapers and livery to email marketing and a variety of website space, means that in some cases the branding just doesn’t stand up. The most robust logo’s manage the transfer across materials and convert well across the various platforms and when translated to pure colour such as white. The logo’s that make the most impact are simple, clear and work (are recognisable) across a variety of use.

When your company is in the position to show off to the world, first impressions count, the fundamentals of a strong logo are key. However, it’s not just the logo so much as the thought process behind the brand that helps establish your business’s story and how well that is showcased to the world.

Key factors to creating your brand:

  • Design your logo that reflects your business culture and customers. Colour palettes, fonts and icons will all have an affect and can illicit a negative or positive emotional response.
  • What’s the story behind the brand? What are the key messages about you that people will like? Is your company workforce on board and does it resonate with your customers?
  • Test out your logo across a variety of media, so it works in print, online and on signage. Do you know the spot colours, pantones and RGB values for your colour palette. Is that documented in your brand guidelines?
  • Make sure you know whether you fonts are web safe or can be reproduced and are licensed for your use.
  • Extend your branding and see how it works across stationery and other advertising.
  • Develop your key brand messages across an advertising campaign and target audience.
  • Does your brand have a tone of voice in print and for audio? How well do your messages play out well on the radio?
  • Test the strength of those messages with key focus groups.

The basics are to get a solid business identity from the get-go. Whether your ready to launch into full advertising campaign or just starting with your business identity. If the core assets are prepared well, you’ll save your business that cost many times over and when it comes to it, relax in the fact it’ll always look good.

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