tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/site-search Latest Site search content from Econsultancy 2017-05-02T14:22:35+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69037 2017-05-02T14:22:35+01:00 2017-05-02T14:22:35+01:00 Four digital commerce lessons from fashion retailer Bonobos Bart Mroz <p dir="ltr">Many upstart ecommerce brands have great products and great ideas. But winning market share is no walk in the park. To win in the world of ecommerce, digital execution has to be flawless, and there has to be something distinctive that keeps customers coming back to buy.</p> <p dir="ltr">The site’s user interface is probably the top make-or-break factor, but there are other keys to success as well. </p> <p dir="ltr">One young brand that has impressed me since its debut a few years ago is Bonobos, a men’s apparel brand that has grown from zero to $100m of revenue in just one decade. Since it started back in 2007, Bonobos has been doing a lot of things right and pioneering strategies that have proven to be effective.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. Design product pages strategically</h3> <p dir="ltr">Each product page on Bonobos' website has a clean, elegant design – on both desktop and mobile versions. With <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-25/smartphones-overtake-computers-as-top-e-commerce-traffic-source">45%</a> of ecommerce traffic now taking place through mobile, it’s non-negotiable to design product pages to be mobile-friendly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Each pair of pants is professionally photographed, and, even on a small screen, Bonobos has made it easy to navigate and toggle between different colors. The product info is prominently displayed, with links to a fit guide and FAQs nearby.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5805/bonobos_homepage.png" alt="" width="700" height="414"></p> <p dir="ltr">When the customer is ready to buy, the website allows the customer to enter shipping and billing information all on the same page, meaning they can complete a purchase in just a couple clicks. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5806/bonobos_mobile_site.jpg" alt="" width="200">  <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5807/bonobos_mobile_site_2.jpg" alt="" width="200"></p> <p dir="ltr">This is important, because many ecommerce websites require that same information to be entered over the course of multiple different page loads, making it more likely that the customer will abandon the cart and the company will lose the sale.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Play to your strengths and do one thing really well</h3> <p dir="ltr">Bonobos got its start because one of the founders, Brian Spaley, had a knack for tailoring men’s pants and creating a comfortable waistline. The concept was unique, and it ended up being the company’s main value proposition.</p> <p dir="ltr">The takeaway for aspiring ecommerce brands is that it pays to start by doing one thing really well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Bonobos sells all sorts of men’s apparel, including shirts, shoes, ties, jackets, and more. But if it had started producing all of that back in 2007, the company might never have taken off like it did. Bonobos did one thing really well and built a brand around it. That simplicity informs the whole brand, and it even helps simplify customer service too.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides, whenever you are ready to scale your product offering, it’s a lot easier to convince people to buy your shirt when they’re already loyal customers of your pants. Invest early in creating a handful of flagship products that will attract and retain a cult-like following. You can always build out from there.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Leverage customer service as an opportunity for customer experience </h3> <p dir="ltr">Bonobos has also excelled in the area of customer experience, specifically customer service. It’s rooted in an entirely different philosophy about what customer service can achieve for the company.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whenever a customer has an issue with a Bonobos order, there’s no 1-800 number that sends customer calls to a contracted offshore call center where agents might not even be familiar with the product.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rather, customers interact through phone, email, or even chat with highly knowledgeable in-country staff — Bonobos calls them “Ninjas” — who expertly and meticulously handle each customer. The idea is that customer service isn’t an operational expense, but rather a business investment.</p> <p dir="ltr">So instead of being a nuisance, customer service issues are a second opportunity to engage customers in a highly positive experience with the the brand. </p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5808/bonobos_customer_service.png" alt="" width="200"></p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. Use stores as touchpoints for product discovery and customer experience</h3> <p dir="ltr">Unlike traditional companies, whose business model focused on attracting as many customers as possible into a physical store and later shifted to include online buying options, Bonobos and other upstart brands are native to the online environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">But Bonobos recognized early on that the convenience of online shopping wasn’t enough to win business. Many customers still want to feel, see, and try on products as well as receive individualized attention from a Bonobos staff member.</p> <p dir="ltr">So in 2012, Bonobos opened the first Guideshop, where customers can experience products in-person instead of just through a screen. The Guideshops function as an uncrowded service hub where customers make appointments, return any past purchases, try on new items, and complete purchases, which then get shipped directly to their homes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the ecommerce era, we can expect to see more brands take this “reversed” approach, which mitigates a lot of fixed costs (particularly the cost of renting and maintaining a storefront) early on, when companies are more focused on hiring staff, developing initial supply chains and operations management, and overseeing product manufacturers.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5809/bonobos_shop.png" alt="" width="650" height="418"></p> <h3 dir="ltr">A retailer for the new age of retail</h3> <p dir="ltr">In the world of retail, few things have had as democratizing an effect as ecommerce. The old status quo has been turned on its head, and a new age of discovering and buying new products is finally upon us.</p> <p dir="ltr">For aspiring ecommerce entrepreneurs, building a company is a long, hard journey, but now is still a good time to get into the space. Look to companies like Bonobos that are pioneering new business strategies and making waves by designing environments — both digital and physical — that make shopping a delight.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em>For more on this topic, see:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68893-four-digital-priorities-for-retailers-in-2017/"><em>Four digital priorities for retailers in 2017</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68216-six-iconic-retailers-and-their-digital-transformation-journeys/"><em>Six iconic retailers and their digital transformation journeys</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68642 2016-12-16T15:00:00+00:00 2016-12-16T15:00:00+00:00 How machine learning has made Google search results more relevant Nikki Gilliland <p>According to a <a href="http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/" target="_blank">new study by Searchmetrics</a>, the move has paid off.</p> <p>Here’s a bit more info on RankBrain and what’s happened since it was introduced.</p> <h3>What is RankBrain?</h3> <p>RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that uses <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64743-predictive-analytics-machine-learning-and-the-future-of-personalization/">machine learning</a> to better understand exactly what people are looking for when they type a search query into Google.</p> <p>If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it doesn’t understand, it can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly. It can also update itself over time, applying its conclusions about how and why people search to future results.</p> <p>In other words, it is designed to decipher complicated, vague, or poorly worded long-tail queries to deliver exactly what the user is looking for.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2454/rankbrain.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="476"></p> <h3>How has it impacted search results?</h3> <p><a href="http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/">Searchmetrics recently analysed the results</a> of 10,000 keyword searches on Google.com to better understand what high ranking pages have in common.</p> <p>Overall, the results show that search results are now more relevant than ever before. But even more interesting, it also concluded that the techniques marketers use to artificially boost their search rankings are becoming less effective.</p> <h3>Five things that prove Google is more relevant</h3> <h4><strong>1. Search results show greater semantic understanding</strong></h4> <p>According to Searchmetrics, higher ranking search results are significantly more relevant to the search query than those lower down, however, this is not simply based on an analysis of matching keywords.</p> <p>Now, search results show a greater understanding of the semantic relationship between the words in search queries and the content shown in results.</p> <p>While positions one and two tend to be reserved for top brand websites, those in three to six are said to be the most relevant.</p> <p>My own Google search confirms this, with the third result giving me exactly the answer I was looking for. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2455/Google_Search.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="674"></p> <p>Interestingly, the second result (which also answered my question) is from a lesser-known publication, confirming that relevance does indeed appear to trump even more recognisable sources.</p> <h4><strong>2. Word count is increasing on higher-ranking pages</strong></h4> <p>Searchmetrics found that while word count is increasing (due to results being more detailed and more holistic) - the amount of keywords is not.</p> <p>Again, this is because Google is trying to interpret the search intention, not simply match keywords. </p> <h4><strong>3. Bounce rates are rising for top ranking results</strong></h4> <p>Bounce rates are usually considered in a negative light, but when it comes to search results, a higher bounce rate indicates that Google is doing its job.</p> <p>In its analysis, Searchmetics found bounce rates have risen for all positions in the top 20 search results and for position 1 have gone from 37% in 2014 to 48%.</p> <p>This suggests that users are being directed to the right result, meaning there is no need to look or search elsewhere.</p> <h4><strong>4. Backlinks becoming less important for ranking</strong></h4> <p>As content relevance grows in importance, other factors like backlinks are becoming less so.</p> <p>This is also because of the rise of mobile search queries, with pages viewed on mobile devices often being ‘liked’ or shared but rarely linked to.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2456/Mobile_search.JPG" alt="" width="450" height="460">  </p> <h4><strong>5. Google is prioritising relevance over optimisation</strong></h4> <p>Finally, Searchmetrics found that the URLs for pages that feature in the top 20 search results are around 15% longer on average than in 2015. </p> <p>This shows that Google is better able to identify and display the pages that answer the search intention rather than merely displaying highly-optimised pages, with longer URLs more likely to be buried deeper within websites.</p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>With the introduction of RankBrain, there's no doubt that Google is taking AI and machine learning more seriously.</p> <p>According to CEO, Sundar Pichai, it is just the start. He recently commented that "be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play, you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.”</p> <p>Undoubtedly, it could shape more than just search in 2017.</p> <p><em><strong>Further reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><strong><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/" target="_blank">15 examples of artificial intelligence in marketing</a></strong></em></li> <li><em><strong><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68496-10-examples-of-ai-powered-marketing-software/" target="_blank">10 examples of AI-powered marketing software</a></strong></em></li> <li><em><strong><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67384-how-machine-learning-is-changing-online-retail-for-good/" target="_blank">How machine learning is changing online retail for good</a></strong></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68610 2016-12-08T10:00:00+00:00 2016-12-08T10:00:00+00:00 How six retailers are using gift guides to inspire online shoppers Nikki Gilliland <p>But are these features really that helpful? Or are they just a way of fleshing out email editorial or pointing you towards the most expensive items online? </p> <p>(Forgive me - what’s Christmas without a healthy dose of cynicism.)</p> <p>Here’s how top retailers are using gift guides to inspire Christmas shoppers this year.</p> <h3>Firebox</h3> <p>Firebox is a brand that’s built around the premise of gift-giving.</p> <p>I mean, you might buy a bottle of scorpion-infused vodka for yourself... but you’re probably more inclined to get it for someone you mildly dislike.</p> <p>With a ‘Gift Finder’ tab as well as a separate one for ‘Christmas’, Firebox is clearly about helping consumers find what they’re looking for all year round.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2157/Firebox_Gift_Finder_1.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="424"></p> <p>The 'Christmas’ guide is nicely designed, separating categories into ‘Gifts for Her, Him’ etc. as well by different price ranges.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2158/Firebox_Guide_2.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="602"></p> <p>However, I actually prefer the standard Gift Guide.</p> <p>Mainly because it allows you to filter by personality type, including ones like ‘Procrastinator’, ‘Outdoorsy’ and even ‘Dirtbag’.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2160/Firebox_Gift_Finder_3.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="528"></p> <p>It’s a simple feature built on the brand's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67434-four-brands-with-a-brilliantly-funny-tone-of-voice/" target="_blank">humorous tone of voice</a>, but it's very effective. </p> <p>Why Firebox hasn’t created a Christmas themed one - for the ‘Scrooge’ or ‘charades cheater’ in your life - is beyond me.</p> <h3>Disney</h3> <p>I'm not sure whether a gift finder is necessary for a retailer like Disney. Surely it's already quite niche?</p> <p>Anyway, the 'gift finder' is prominently displayed with a dedicated tab on the homepage.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2179/Disney_Gift_Finder_tab.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="533"></p> <p>The tool itself turns out to be a pretty basic <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68070-eight-examples-of-fashion-ecommerce-product-filters-good-bad" target="_blank">filtering system</a>, allowing you to sort by categories like 'Movies and TV' and price.</p> <p>Very simple, but I guess it's helpful for narrowing down the options.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2180/Disney_Gift_Finder.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="694"></p> <h3>John Lewis</h3> <p>While it has curated various other categories, such as ‘Luxury Gifts for Him’, this year John Lewis has also designed an interactive gift finder.</p> <p>It allows you to first choose between eight different kinds of gifts, before helping you to narrow it down further by price.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2161/John_Lewis_gift_finder.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="438"></p> <p>The concept seems quite cool at first. However, the categories are quite specific, which means that if you fail to identify with things like ‘glitzy’ or ‘warm and cosy’, it’s a bit useless.</p> <p>That being said, the tool itself is pleasing to use, automatically filtering products as you go.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2162/Glitzy.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="774"></p> <p>The only other bugbear is that the results are a bit jumbled, with no option to sort by 'low to high' or type of item.</p> <h3>ASOS</h3> <p>I recently mentioned how ASOS is nicely <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68606-six-examples-of-christmas-email-marketing-from-fashion-retailers" target="_blank">promoting its Christmas gift guide in emails</a>, focusing on budget instead of category type.</p> <p>This approach is effective, and definitely helps customers to narrow down that huge array of options available on the site.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2163/ASOS_gift_guide.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="615"></p> <p>There’s nothing majorly original or impressive about it otherwise, and you could just use ASOS’s regular filtering function in the same way.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2164/ASOS_gift_guide_2.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="609"></p> <h3>Harrods</h3> <p>The Harrods Gift Guide is located in the site's dedicated Christmas section.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, it has a focus on luxury, but overall it’s a bit lacklustre.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2173/Harrods_Christmas.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="578"></p> <p>Essentially, it just curates items into simplistic categories like ‘Gifts for Girls’ and ‘Stocking Fillers’, before allowing you to sort and filter further.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2174/Harrods_gift_guide.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="668"></p> <p>Nothing majorly inspirational, unfortunately, which is a shame when you compare the experience of shopping for gifts in the Harrods store.</p> <p>The results do include a prompt to remind customers about Christmas delivery dates, however, which is a helpful touch.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2182/Christmas_order_dates.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="544"></p> <h3><strong>Pandora</strong></h3> <p>Pandora is yet another example of a drop-down filter being promoted as a gift guide.</p> <p>Despite looking Christmassy, and being highlighted on the homepage, there's oddly no 'Christmas' option for the 'What Are You Celebrating?' question.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2181/Pandora_4.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="496"></p> <p>It's also quite basic to be honest.</p> <p>There is an option to add gifts to a wish list, which is handy for anyone who might want to shop around and come back again later.</p> <p>Or, if you're using the guide to sneakily leave hints for your other half. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2178/Pandora_3.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="630"></p> <p><em>More Christmas-related articles:</em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68552-why-lidl-s-xmas-social-price-drop-campaign-is-no-turkey/" target="_blank">Why Lidl's Xmas 'Social Price Drop' campaign is no turkey</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68540-how-four-uk-retailers-are-giving-consumers-the-vip-treatment-this-christmas/" target="_blank">How four UK retailers are giving consumers the ‘VIP’ treatment this Christmas</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68595-three-musts-for-online-retailers-to-prepare-for-the-last-minute-rush/" target="_blank">Three musts for online retailers to prepare for the last-minute rush</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68465 2016-10-31T12:13:14+00:00 2016-10-31T12:13:14+00:00 Eight features to appreciate on Fat Face’s new ecommerce site Nikki Gilliland <p>On an initial browse, apart from being an improvement on the old site, nothing majorly impressive stands out.</p> <p>However, there are a few features that are worth a mention, which certainly contribute to a winning user experience overall.</p> <p>Here’s a roundup of the new site’s best bits.</p> <h3>Seamlessly integrated video</h3> <p>The decision to include such a large video on the homepage is a bold move.</p> <p>However, seamlessly integrated into the page, it does not feel intrusive. In fact it could easily be mistaken for another image.</p> <p>Thankfully, it's also very fast, taking zero time to load.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0840/Video.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="648"></p> <h3>Predictive search</h3> <p>Fat Face's former site had a massive problem with its search function, often returning irrelevant and frustrating results.</p> <p><em>(For more on this topic, read <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66658-24-best-practice-tips-for-ecommerce-site-search/" target="_blank">24 best practice tips for ecommerce site search</a>)<br></em></p> <p>Now, it is predictive and fast, providing users with both identical matches and related items.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0841/Predictive_search.JPG" alt="" width="750" height="693"></p> <h3>Visible availability of products</h3> <p>It might seem like a small feature, but the ability to see how many items there are in a category can be very helpful in aiding the customer journey.</p> <p>The fact that this is visible at a glance and as part of each filter option is even better.</p> <p><em>(Read up on best practice for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68222-ecommerce-product-filters-best-practice-tips-for-a-great-ux/" target="_blank">ecommerce product filters here</a>).</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0842/Drop_down_filter.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="452"></p> <h3>Imagery &amp; zoom</h3> <p>The product pages include a large selection of images, with thumbnails on the left hand side.</p> <p>The most pleasing part is that these automatically move up as you click through, meaning you don't have to move your mouse.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0843/Side_imagery.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="484"></p> <p>Another thing I really like is that the images also pop out (by clicking the cross at the top right of an image).</p> <p>What's more, you can zoom in even futher.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0844/Double_tap_to_zoom.JPG" alt="" width="428" height="247"></p> <p>This helps to give the user a real sense of how the product looks and feels in real life - which is still one of the biggest drawbacks of the online shopping experience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0845/Zoom_feature.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="472"></p> <h3>Prominent and helpful reviews</h3> <p>As well as being prominently displayed, the reviews section includes a decent star rating system to give customers greater insight.</p> <p><em>(You can read more on why you need consumer reviews <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9366-ecommerce-consumer-reviews-why-you-need-them-and-how-to-use-them/" target="_blank">in this article</a>)</em></p> <p>Likewise, the extra 'true-to-size' feature is a nice touch.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0846/Prominent_reviews.JPG" alt="" width="775" height="582"></p> <h3>Product descriptions using images</h3> <p>Fat Face now includes illustrative designs on the product pages for its coats and jackets.</p> <p>Nicely combining visual elements with helpful product descriptions, this draws the user's attention to the item's best features.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0848/Product_descriptions_design.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="415"></p> <p>It's a shame the retailer hasn't made more of this.</p> <p>This section feels a little hidden - and it could definitely be included across other categories, too.</p> <p>As well as being helpful for customers, these images could create more consistency and greater brand identity across the site.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0849/Product_descriptions_design_2.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="433"></p> <h3>Free delivery prompt</h3> <p>The checkout process on Fat Face is fairly standard, however one thing that stands out is this nice prompt for free delivery.</p> <p>'Wait!' creates a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65348-how-to-increase-conversions-by-creating-buyer-urgency-fear-of-loss/">sense of urgency</a>, and the amount needed to qualify encourages the customer to keep shopping.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0851/Free_delivery_prompt.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="551"></p> <h3>Nearest store search</h3> <p>Lastly, the store finder is very easy to use, instantly bringing up results based on area or postcode.</p> <p>Including comprehensive store details, such as maps and store services - this feature could also do with being promoted more prominently elsewhere on the site.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0852/Find_a_store.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="596"></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68330 2016-09-27T10:20:00+01:00 2016-09-27T10:20:00+01:00 An in-depth analysis of how Expedia converts visitors into customers: Part one Duraid Shaihob <p>One of the largest travel sites in the world, Expedia and its subsidiaries (which include Hotels.com, Trivago, HomeAway and Travelocity) help millions of travelers find flights and hotels every month.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/">Conversion rate optimization</a> is a major concern for a business as large as Expedia’s.</p> <p>When you’re dealing with tens of millions of transactions every year, even a 0.2% bump in conversion rates can translate into millions in extra revenue.</p> <p>For obvious reasons, there’s a lot you can learn about CRO best practices and innovations by understanding how Expedia turns visitors into customers. </p> <p>Paul Rouke, Founder &amp; CEO at PRWD previously wrote about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64681-is-booking-com-the-most-persuasive-website-in-the-world/">Booking.com being the most persuasive website in the world</a>, and after using Expedia for the first time, I think it also deserves to be ranked among the best in the business.</p> <p>In the first of two posts, I’ll do an in-depth teardown of Expedia.com and show you how it converts traffic coming in from two different channels - organic search and direct type-ins.</p> <p>Part two, due to be published next week, will focus on traffic from <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-search-marketing-ppc-best-practice-guide/">PPC</a> and social (organic and paid).</p> <h3>Expedia: Then vs. Now</h3> <p>Expedia was founded in October 1996, which makes it one of the oldest travel sites online.</p> <p>Here’s how the site looked like at launch:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9491/expedia_1996.png" alt="" width="800" height="573"></p> <p>The site did not even have a search box when it was launched, let alone a flight booking facility. </p> <p>This is a far cry from the slick, conversion-optimized website that greets you today:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9492/expedia_1.png" alt="" width="800" height="446"></p> <p>If you’ve hung out on any CRO focused websites, a few things about the Expedia.com site will jump out immediately:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>Highly noticeable CTAs:</strong> Both the “Search” button and the top “Hello bar” are in a bright shade of yellow.</p> <p>This grabs attention as soon as you land on the site, especially when contrasted against the blue/gray colors.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> <strong>Non-intrusive navigation:</strong> The navigation menu doesn’t necessarily grab attention. Instead, the entire focus of the site is on the flight/hotel booking area.</p> <p><strong>3. Distinctive notifications:</strong> The notification icon in the top navigation menu has a distinctive red color and a clear “alarm” icon.</p> <p>You can’t really land on the homepage without noticing it.</p> <p><strong>4. Above the fold:</strong> All the important information - booking a flight, checking out different deals , etc. - is above the fold.</p> <p>In fact, you don’t even have to scroll down the page to book a ticket or a hotel room.</p> <p>There are plenty of other tactics Expedia uses to grab and focus user attention, as you’ll see later.</p> <h3>How Expedia Converts Visitors in Different Scenarios</h3> <p>As a large travel site, Expedia gets its users from search, social, referrals, direct type-ins and paid channels. </p> <p>How Expedia tailors its user experience for visitors coming in from each of these channels can teach you a lot about CRO.</p> <p>For example, on Expedia’s Twitter handle, the company promotes <a href="https://viewfinder.expedia.com/">its blog</a> instead of the main website.</p> <p>It also promotes its other social channels such as Snapchat through pinned tweets and custom logos.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9493/expedia_twitter.png" alt="" width="800" height="472"></p> <p>This is very different from the company’s Facebook page where it promotes its main site, Expedia.com:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9494/expedia_twitter_2.png" alt="" width="800" height="527"></p> <p>Below, I’ll breakdown the user experience for different channels and show you how Expedia maximizes conversion rates for organic search, social, and direct traffic.</p> <h3>Scenario #1: Direct Traffic to Expedia.com</h3> <h4>The Situation</h4> <p>Imagine that you’re a 35-year-old man from Texas. For an upcoming anniversary, you want to treat your wife to a vacation in New York.</p> <p>Since you’ve seen dozens of Expedia ads on TV, you decide to give Expedia a try to book flights. </p> <p>Thanks to the constant advertising, you have strong recall for the Expedia website. So instead of search, you type in Expedia.com directly into your browser.</p> <p>Here’s how Expedia turns such a user into a customer:</p> <h3>The landing page</h3> <p>When you land on Expedia.com, this is the page that greets you:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9495/expedia_landing_page.png" alt="" width="700" height="384"></p> <p>Four things to note here:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>The default open tab is flight + hotel “Bundle Deals”. </strong></p> <p>This is more profitable for OTAs (Online Travel Agencies - like Expedia or Booking.com) since they get to sell not one but two products - a hotel and a flight.</p> <p>It’s also better value for customers since they can often get bundled deals. </p> <p><strong>2. “Hello Bar” promotes sign-ups</strong></p> <p>You’ll notice that there is no “sign-up” button anywhere on the homepage.</p> <p>To find this link, you have to click on “Account”, then “Sign-in” to get to the login page.</p> <p>The only other sign-in prompt is at the top of the page on the yellow Hello Bar.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9497/expedia_3.png" alt="" width="800" height="256"> </p> <p>This is something Expedia shares with most of its subsidiaries.</p> <p>For example, here’s Travelocity’s navigation bar:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9498/expedia_5.png" alt="" width="800" height="241"></p> <p>And here’s Orbitz’s navigation:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9499/orbitz_nav.png" alt="" width="717" height="261"></p> <p>Clearly, this is a strategy that’s working for Expedia.</p> <p><strong>3. The notification icon in the navigation menu</strong></p> <p>This icon tells visitors about the “My Scratchpad” feature.</p> <p>This has been a big part of the conversion rate optimization push at Expedia. I’ll show you how it works later.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9500/expedia_notification.png" alt="" width="645" height="207"></p> <p><strong>4. The app download incentive</strong></p> <p>Expedia offers customers points for using its service, called “Expedia+ points”.</p> <p>You can redeem these points for tickets and hotel rooms on the platform (you can also donate these points for cash to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for charity).</p> <p>To incentivize downloads of the Expedia mobile app, the company features a banner for the app on its homepage. Plus, it gives you 3x more points for using the app.</p> <p>Clicking on this text banner takes you to <a href="https://www.expedia.com/app?mcicid=USTriple2">a landing page that promotes the mobile app features</a>, reviews, etc.</p> <p>Expedia also gives users a $25 off coupon for the first hotel booking through the app.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9501/expedia_coupon.png" alt="" width="800" height="304"></p> <p>These incentives can compel new users to try out a new app.</p> <p>In fact, research shows that besides recommendations from family and friends and personalized offers, such one-time offers are one of the biggest reasons for trying out new apps.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9502/bar_graph.png" alt="" width="859" height="509"></p> <p><a href="http://skift.com/2014/12/19/what-travels-top-ceos-have-to-say-about-consumers-mobile-habits/">As per Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshah</a>i, roughly 40% of Expedia’s users are booking across multiple devices.</p> <p>Incentivizing mobile app downloads with coupons and reward points is a big part of the company’s strategy to capture users on smaller screens.</p> <h3><strong>Using Expedia's search tool</strong></h3> <p>Let’s say that instead of flights + hotels, you only want to book a flight ticket from Expedia.</p> <p>So you click on the ‘Flights’ tab and enter your preferences:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9503/expedia_search.png" alt="" width="700" height="380"></p> <p>Note that you can also select ‘Add a Hotel’ and ‘Add a Car’ to expand your search beyond flights.</p> <p>As Expedia starts the search process, this is what you see:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9504/expedia_6.png" alt="" width="800" height="439"></p> <p>Take note of three things here:</p> <p><strong>1. A progress bar shows the status of the search</strong></p> <p>This is a neat UI/UX touch that not only cues in visitors to the status of the search, but also discourages people from abandoning a lengthy search.</p> <p><strong>2. The “Price Alerts” modal on MyScratchpad</strong></p> <p>As soon as you start the search, a Javascript modal box pops up telling you that the “search has been saved in your Scratchpad”, and that by clicking the bright yellow button, you can “Get Price Alerts”.</p> <p>What is the Scratchpad? Think of Scratchpad as a digital notepad for planning your travels (Expedia even calls it that in its marketing docs).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9505/scratchpad.png" alt="" width="800" height="446"></p> <p>This “digital notepad” keeps track of all your searches and gives you the option to get fare alerts for a particular search. </p> <p>More importantly, this scratchpad retains its information even as you move across devices.</p> <p>This means you can start your search on your laptop, then switch to the smartphone and still find all your old searches.</p> <p>As Expedia’s CEO explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>So ScratchPad is really a framework that we’ve built. We are going to take it across devices as far as push notifications.</p> <p>You can imagine appending searches. If you’ve done a bunch of flight searches, you might be able to append them, send them to your wife, share them socially.</p> </blockquote> <p>For obvious reasons, this is good for conversions. </p> <p><strong>3. “Why shop with us” benefits list</strong></p> <p>OTAs have a big problem on their hands: they have no real way to differentiate themselves. </p> <p>It doesn’t matter whether you go to Travelocity or Booking.com or Expedia - you’re still going to buy the same end-product - a flight ticket or a hotel room.</p> <p>The only way travel sites can differentiate themselves is through the quality of their services, better prices, and low fees.</p> <p>This is exactly what this section hopes to accomplish - by telling users exactly why they should choose Expedia over competitors.</p> <h3>Booking a Flight</h3> <p>After selecting a flight by clicking “Continue”, you will be taken to another similar page to select the return flight.</p> <p>Once you’ve selected the flight, Expedia prompts you to book a hotel as well to get steep discounts:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9507/expedia_booking_a_flight.png" alt="" width="800" height="260"></p> <p>Combined with the default open tab on “Flights + Hotels”, this is another example of Expedia’s core strategy to upsell hotels along with flights.</p> <p>After you click through, you’ll be taken to the checkout page.</p> <p>Lots of interesting things happening here:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9508/expedia_booking.png" alt="" width="800" height="439"></p> <p><strong>1. “Best value flights” prompt</strong></p> <p>This prompt (note the green color and the checkmark) congratulates you on selecting the right flight.</p> <p>Then it asks you to “book now” so you get the best possible price.</p> <p><strong>2. Correct flight departure</strong></p> <p>In my case, I’m landing at LGA but departing from EWR.</p> <p>Expedia helpfully warns me about it - in highly noticeable red text, no less.</p> <p><strong>3. Hotel prompt</strong></p> <p>Once again, Expedia upsells a hotel package.</p> <p>There’s a simple reason for the aggressive upselling - <a href="http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-01-12/news/69704913_1_hotel-segment-hotel-chains-market-share">hotels offer OTAs 10-15% margins</a>, vs. just 5% for flight bookings.</p> <p><strong>4. “34 people book a flight…”</strong></p> <p>This prompt acts as social proof - one of the foundational principles of persuasion - by showing that there are plenty of others (34, to be exact) who’ve booked the exact same flight.</p> <p><strong>5. Upsell for Expedia credit card</strong></p> <p>Yet another upsell, this time for an Expedia Voyage credit card that will not only help you score great travel deals, but also get you 25,000 Expedia+ points.</p> <p>Since the user is already somewhat committed to the purchase, this is a good place to upsell this credit card.</p> <p><strong>6. Best Price Guarantee</strong></p> <p>Expedia “guarantees” the best possible price (<a href="https://www.expedia.com/p/info-other/guarantees#1">here’s the page explaining how</a>).</p> <p>In fact, if you find a lower price than Expedia’s, the company will pay you the difference and give you a $50 coupon.</p> <p>Again, this helps assure customers that they’re getting the best possible deal.</p> <p><strong>7. “Best Value”</strong></p> <p>More pats on the customer’s back for picking the flight that offers the best value.</p> <p>Expedia wants to make you feel that you were smart enough to pick the right flight (and not that Expedia picked the flight for you).</p> <p>Giving the customer agency this way can help improve conversion rates.</p> <p>After reviewing the price, you can continue the purchase by clicking the appropriately named button - “Continue Booking”.</p> <p>On this page, you’ll be asked for the passenger details.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9509/expedia_passenger_details.png" alt="" width="800" height="633"></p> <p>Besides the points noted above, a few more things stand out here:</p> <p><strong>1. Sign-in prompt</strong></p> <p>Expedia wants to convert more of its browsers into users. To do this, it offers customers bonus “Expedia points” for signing-in. </p> <p><strong>2. “Prices not guaranteed” </strong></p> <p>This can serve both as a warning and an incentive.</p> <p>It tells users that the prices shown on the page are not “guaranteed” until they actually book it.</p> <p>So if they want to lock in the savings, they better finish the booking process fast.</p> <p><strong>3. No navigation bar </strong></p> <p>Like the previous checkout page, the only navigation link here is the “Sign-in” button.</p> <p>All other navigational elements have been removed to focus on converting users.</p> <p><strong>4. “Breadcrumbs” navigation</strong></p> <p>This navigation menu helps guide users through the checkout process. Note the use of icons next to the text.</p> <p><strong>5. “Secure transmission”</strong></p> <p>A gray lock icon and a security declaration helps reassure customers that their data isn’t going to get lost - a big concern after the number of major companies losing customer data after breaches (most famously, the Target data breach).</p> <p><strong>6. Hotel upsell</strong></p> <p>Notice that in this upsell, Expedia gives you an exact figure for how much you can save on hotels by booking it with your flight tickets.</p> <p>Giving exact figures works better since they sound more “real” than rounded figures like “50% off”.</p> <p>In the case of pricing, for example, the lack of “roundedness” <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/678484?searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dthis%2Bnumber%2Bjust%2Bfeels%2Bright%26amp%3Bacc%3Doff%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone&amp;resultItemClick=true&amp;Search=yes&amp;searchText=this&amp;searchText=number&amp;searchText=just&amp;searchText=feels&amp;searchText=right&amp;uid=3739696&amp;uid=2134&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=70&amp;uid=4&amp;uid=3739256&amp;sid=21106111788201">improves conversion rates for rational purchases such as flight tickets</a>.</p> <h3>Paying for the flight</h3> <p>After you enter the passenger details, you’ll be taken to the payment page. This is the moment of truth - every step in the customer’s journey has been leading up to this.</p> <p>Expedia uses this page to maximize its earnings by heavily promoting an upsell: a $20 travel insurance policy.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9511/expedia_paying_for_the_flight.png" alt="" width="800" height="459"></p> <p>Keep in mind that Expedia doesn’t charge a transaction fee to users.</p> <p>Whatever money it makes, it makes through upsells and by charging hotels and airlines a commission.</p> <p>By pushing an insurance policy, Expedia can dramatically increase the amount of money it makes from every customer.</p> <p>How it promotes this offer is an exercise in conversion optimized design. From clever use of color to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/">smart copywriting</a>, Expedia pulls out all the guns to get people to buy more.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at everything Expedia is doing here:</p> <p><strong>1. Fear of Missing Out</strong></p> <p>FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a well documented psychological phenomenon where people are compelled to do something just because it might not be available later.</p> <p>Expedia takes advantage of that by boldly asking customers to not “Miss Out” on this deal. A clock icon and red text adds to the effect.</p> <p><strong>2. Loss aversion</strong></p> <p>On the surface, this list of reasons looks innocuous enough. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll notice how they all focus on negativity - loss, sickness, medical emergencies.</p> <p>This plays into <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion">the psychological phenomenon of loss aversion</a>, where people are motivated more by losing something than making new gains.</p> <p><strong>3. Purchase affirmation + negative opt-out</strong></p> <p>Here, Expedia makes “Yes” the default choice. It also phrases the purchase as protection (“I want to protect my trip”) and not as insurance.</p> <p>The statement - “Expedia protects over 1 million flight travelers a year” - works as social proof.</p> <p>If 1m people are buying insurance every year, surely they all can’t be wrong?</p> <p>Also note the checkmark next to this statement. The choice is also highlighted by clever use of color - green is frequently <a href="http://adpearance.com/blog/color-theory-and-landing-page-buttons">associated with wealth, renewal and stability</a> in color psychology. </p> <p>To opt out of buying the insurance, you have to click a radio button with a negative choice.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9512/expedia_insurance.png" alt="" width="800" height="150"></p> <p>By vocalizing the negative choice, Expedia makes it sound much less appealing.</p> <p>This is a tactic frequently used by marketers to push more users towards the positive opt-in. For example, here’s a pop-up on Copyhackers:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9513/copyhackers_messages.png" alt="" width="800" height="510">v</p> <p>Interestingly, the font for the opt-out button is slightly smaller than the font for the opt-in.</p> <h3>Testimonial </h3> <p>Effective use of testimonials is one of the best weapons in any CRO’s arsenal to push conversions.</p> <p>Here, Expedia not only uses a testimonial from a real customer, but also gives an exact value of the monetary benefits from the insurance.</p> <p>Combined, these design choices help push Expedia’s conversion rates for this upsell much higher.</p> <p>The actual payment form is surprisingly sparse:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9514/payment_details.png" alt="" width="750" height="478"> </p> <p>The only visual element are logos of different payment providers. Expedia includes a total of six logos - far beyond the usual two or three logos.</p> <p>This gives customers the impression that they have multiple payment options to choose from, which can give <a href="http://www.retailtechnologyreview.com/articles/2009/05/06/476-survey-finds-that-merchants-are-losing">a small boost to conversion rates</a>.</p> <p>Scroll down further and you’ll be asked to enter your email address to receive booking confirmation:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9515/booking_confirmation.png" alt="" width="750" height="465"></p> <p>The only thing of interest here is that Expedia checks the “Join Expedia+” checkbox by default.</p> <p>Just so you aren’t sore about it (and to make the membership more appealing), it offers you 56 Expedia+ points to push you to sign-up for an account.</p> <p>Once you’ve entered the payment information and clicked “Continue Booking”, you’ll have the flight ticket in your account.</p> <h3>Scenario 2: Organic Traffic Teardown</h3> <h4>The Situation</h4> <p>The Texas man who wants to gift his wife a weekend for two in New York city now heads over to Google instead of Expedia.com directly.</p> <p>He types in a query - “flight tickets to New York”.</p> <p>On the first page, he finds a search result from Expedia that looks promising:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9516/kayak_search_results.png" alt="" width="750" height="508"></p> <p>Let’s take a look at how Expedia converts this search visitor into a customer.</p> <h3>The landing page</h3> <p>This is the landing page from a search for “flights to New York” on Google. A few things deserve our attention:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9518/expedia_new_york_fights.png" alt="" width="750" height="321"></p> <p>The landing page is customized for the query.</p> <ul> <li>The lowest possible price ($98) is shown first to convince visitors to stick around.</li> <li>The landing page lists three reasons for choosing Expedia - tons of hotels, guaranteed low prices, and free 24 hour cancellation.</li> </ul> <p>Scroll down a bit further and you’ll see a list of flights to New York from different cities.</p> <p>Things to note here:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9519/expedia_options.png" alt="" width="750" height="333"></p> <p>1. The share button is a small drop down menu.</p> <p>The button blends into the background and doesn’t really attract attention.</p> <p>Obviously, shares are not a big source of traffic for Expedia for users coming in from search, which is why it has muted the button.</p> <p>2. As with the landing pages we saw above, Expedia pushes its Flights + Deals over flight-only deals.</p> <p>The reason is simple enough: OTAs make more money from hotel bookings than just flight bookings.</p> <p>3. The highest possible discount is highlighted in the section headline without any information on the flight’s date, hotel type or airline.</p> <p>The sole purpose is to get users to click through to the next page.</p> <h3>Using flight search</h3> <p>Once you initiate the search, you are greeted by a page similar to the one you saw above:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9520/expedia_flight_search.png" alt="" width="800" height="453"></p> <p>There are two design elements here that I want to highlight.</p> <p>Firstly, if you’ve made any previous searches on Expedia, you can “turn on search notes” in your Scratchpad to see how prices have changed since your last search.</p> <p>Secondly, a small but hard-to-ignore pop-up box in bright yellow informs me that “4043 people are shopping for flights to NYC on Expedia right now”. How is that for social proof?</p> <p>But before I can look at the search results, a pop-up shows on screen:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9521/expedia_pop_up.png" alt="" width="800" height="434"></p> <p>This pop-up warns users that ticket prices are set to rise in the next few days.</p> <p>The way it is phrased makes it sound like it is merely doing a service to users - warning them about an impending price change.</p> <p>However, from a CRO perspective, it is clear that this warning is meant to drive conversions, not just warn users.</p> <p>Two things you should note about it:</p> <p>1. Instead of giving a vague “prices are about to rise!” warning, it gives an exact figure for the expected price rise - 55%. This makes the warning sound much more believable.</p> <p>2. The price rise is time bound. Instead of saying that prices are going to rise “in the next few days”, Expedia tells you the exact number of days (six) before the impending price rise. </p> <p>Together, this compels more users to take action since prices will go up by more than half in less than a week.</p> <p>Also note the pop-up at the bottom - more social proof!</p> <h3>Selecting the flight</h3> <p>After you select a departing and a return flight (I’m picking the very first one), you’ll see a pop-up promoting a hotel + flight offer:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9523/expedia_hotel_and_flight_offer.png" alt="" width="800" height="308"> </p> <p>Again, Expedia pushes the flight + hotel deal since it’s better for Expedia as well as customers.</p> <p>The booking review page is similar to the page we saw earlier.</p> <p>Note the congratulatory message at the top - a subtle push to persuade users to finish the purchase.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9524/expedia_booking_review.png" alt="" width="750" height="372"></p> <h3>Paying for the flight</h3> <p>After entering the passenger details, you’ll be taken to the payment page. This is similar to the page we saw above.</p> <p>There’s the same upsell for travel insurance along with the customer testimonial, conversion focused design and persuasive copywriting:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9525/expedia_confirmation.png" alt="" width="750" height="392"></p> <p>After entering your credit card information, you can hit ‘Complete Booking’ and wrap up the purchase.</p> <h4>See you next time...</h4> <p>So far, we’ve seen how Expedia creates an optimum customer journey for users coming in through organic search and direct.</p> <p>This leaves two big acquisition channels - social media and paid traffic.</p> <p>As mentioned, the second part of this analysis will be published on Econsultancy's blog next week.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68084 2016-07-15T12:01:00+01:00 2016-07-15T12:01:00+01:00 The week's news in digital (in five minutes) Ben Davis <h3>Amazon testing programmatic creative with video ads</h3> <p>Amazon has been testing personalised video ads, created automatically using graphics templates to combine imagery and text.</p> <p>Graeme Smith, MD of Amazon's software development centre in Edinburgh<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36773409"> told the BBC</a> "...potentially anywhere you can see a video is potentially somewhere you could consider running personalised video ads, right across the internet."</p> <p>Retargeting by retailers often involves <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67516-four-video-campaigns-that-used-dynamic-creative/">slideshow style dynamic content</a> - it will be interesting to see how sophisticated these Amazon video ads are in comparison.</p> <h3>Amazon Prime Day was big</h3> <p>Prime Day on 12th July, Amazon's second annual sales event designed as summer's answer to Black Friday, was the retailer's "biggest day ever", <a href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/20fb0de0-4906-11e6-8d68-72e9211e86ab.html#axzz4ESpNIBCk">reports the FT</a>.</p> <p>Global orders were up 60% on last year's Prime Day. No figures were given by Amazon, though Prime Day was declared its busiest day of the year.</p> <p>Sales included 90,000 TVs and more than 215,000 rice cookers. 2015's inaugural Prime Day, you might remember, was <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68058-has-amazon-prime-day-2016-made-up-for-2015-s-primedayfail/">a bit more of a mixed bag</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6939/prime_day_deals_tech.PNG" alt="prime day" width="615"></p> <h3>ASOS introduces one-hour delivery slot</h3> <p>DPD has helped ASOS offer a one-hour delivery slot. Nifty.</p> <p>With so many ecommerce businesses looking at same day delivery in the wake of Prime, this increased flexibility on a named day is another way to nail convenience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7145/DPD-Precise-Hour-Select.png" alt="one hour slot" width="200"> </p> <h3>Pokémon GO - where do we start?</h3> <p>This week has seen the augmented reality game take the press by storm.</p> <p>Daily checks are needed to understand number of downloads (7.5m in the US as of early this week) and the impact on Nintendo stock.</p> <p>On Thursday, the app was released in the UK (users no longer have to engineer a US workaround).</p> <p>Interesting developments include proposed advertising within the game, with brands able to sponsor PokeStops.</p> <p>There has been some criticism of the game, including the 'appearance' of Pokémon in inappropriate locations (e.g. Auschwitz), as well as its request to access all of a user's Google account data (since fixed).</p> <p><em>You might like:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68059-should-pokemon-go-give-marketers-hope-for-augmented-reality/">Should Pokemon GO give marketers hope for augmented reality?</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68060-what-brands-can-learn-from-nintendo-s-digital-transformation-and-pokemon-go/">What brands can learn from Nintendo's digital transformation and Pokemon GO</a></li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/6955/pokemon_go-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="pokemon go" width="470" height="264"></p> <h3>Chatbots fail 'new Turing test'</h3> <p>The Winograd Schema Challenge is a new and tougher Turing test, which chatbots must ace to show they are capable of common sense understanding.</p> <p>Here's an example question from the test:</p> <p><strong>The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big (small). What was too big (small)?</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Answer 0: the trophy</strong></li> <li><strong>Answer 1: the suitcase</strong></li> </ul> <p><a href="https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601897/tougher-turing-test-exposes-chatbots-stupidity/?set=601902&amp;utm_source=MIT+TR+Newsletters&amp;utm_campaign=d3b0ca882f-The_Download_July_14_2016&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_997ed6f472-d3b0ca882f-153860737&amp;goal=0_997ed6f472-d3b0ca882f-153860737&amp;mc_cid=d3b0ca882f&amp;mc_eid=fea291110e">MIT Tech Review reports</a> that the programs entered into the challenge were only a little better than random at choosing the correct meaning of sentences.</p> <p>The best of the bunch scored 48%, with 45% possible at random. 90% accuracy is required to take home the $25k prize.</p> <p>It was notable that Google and Facebook didn't enter - perhaps there is still a little way to go?</p> <h3>Nissan launches semi-autonomous driving</h3> <p>Two weeks after a driver died in a crash <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68019-all-the-week-s-digital-news-in-five-minutes/">whilst his Tesla car was on autopilot</a>, Nissan has launched ProPILOT, a similar semi-autonomous function.</p> <p>Pushing a button on the steering wheel will keep a vehicle a fixed distance from the car in front, without any input from the driver.</p> <p>The driver is still required to have their hands on the wheel, and Nissan EVP Hideyuki Sakamoto <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nissan-selfdriving-idUSKCN0ZT0NC">told Reuters</a> "These functions are meant to support drivers, and are not meant as self-driving capabilities".</p> <p>ProPILOThits the market next month in the Nissan Serena minivan.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7142/148020_1_5.jpg" alt="PROPILOT" width="615"></p> <h3>Marie Claire to retail on the high street and online</h3> <p style="font-weight: normal;"><a href="https://www.derwentlondon.com/news/article/tottenham-court-walks-flagship-store-for-new-beauty-and-wellness-brand">Marie Claire will open a beauty store</a> in London at Tottenham Court Walk.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">The magazine has created a new brand, 'Fabled by Marie Claire', which will also sell online and deliver through Ocado.</p> <h3>Woz to headline Festival of Marketing</h3> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Apple co-founder and inventor of the PC <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68057-steve-wozniak-co-founder-of-apple-to-headline-festival-of-marketing-2016/">Steve Wozniak will headline day one</a> of the Festival of Marketing in October in London. <a href="http://www.festivalofmarketing.com/buy-a-ticket?_ga=1.123039373.762110302.1450191097">See the site for tickets</a>.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6957/Woz-Head-Shot-3.jpg" alt="woz" width="400"></p> <h3>EU continues to pursue Google over competition law</h3> <p>The EU Commission has launched a third anti-trust proceeding against Google.</p> <p>Critique of Google Shopping and Android is now followed by criticism of Google's third party site search product (Adsense for search), which doesn't allow ads from Google competitors. </p> <h3>Phrasee one of the first to receive VC funding post-Brexit</h3> <p>Finally, a bit of a shout out to Econsultancy blog favourite Parry Malm (see his <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/authors/parry-malm/">virally good articles about email here</a>).</p> <p><a href="https://phrasee.co/">Phrasee</a>, Parry's startup <a href="https://phrasee.co/why-we-took-on-1m-in-phrasee-funding/">closed a £1m funding</a> round this week, one of the first to do so post-Brexit vote.</p> <p>As we wait to see the impact on Britain's tech and startup scene, this is some cause for optimism at least.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67870 2016-05-24T11:19:35+01:00 2016-05-24T11:19:35+01:00 Why ASOS is still leading the online retailing pack Paul Rouke <p>The reality is the core user experience of ASOS has changed very little over the years and for good reason – it’s an exceptional example of delivering an intuitive, persuasive, streamlined browsing and buying experience.</p> <p>What continually surprises me is how many major retailers still haven’t built some of the core foundations that ASOS did years ago.</p> <p>In this article I share what I feel, in my experience, are things which not only make ASOS exceptional, but should also provide inspiration for other retailers.</p> <h3>Site-wide, immediate visibility of its USP</h3> <p>Long before most retailers realised the importance of communicating their unique selling points site-wide in a high visibility area, ASOS had featured three banners underneath its primary navigation.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5154/UVP_header.PNG" alt="" width="595" height="94"></p> <ul> <li>Ensure the messages stand out visually and attract attention.</li> <li>Make it clear there are distinct messages.</li> <li>Use colour/design touches to draw particular attention to the primary message you want to communicate at any one time.</li> <li>Make it clear if the message is clickable to find out more.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing</strong><strong>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Use icons to provide visual clues to differentiate the messages.</li> <li>Ensure you communicate your USPs across devices – don’t hide them when you simplify your mobile UI, visitors still need to be persuaded.</li> </ul> <h3>Streamlined navigation experience</h3> <p>For as long as I can remember, ASOS has had an incredibly simple primary navigation bar.</p> <p>The reality is, it offers every visitor a simple and relevant first choice to start exploring the huge product range.</p> <p>ASOS was also one of the early retailers to provide <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65357-mega-menu-design-trends-in-ecommerce-2011-vs-2014/">a mega menu</a>, but not just <em>any</em> mega menu – it has always been tailored to suit a range of buyer types and expose a wide range of the brand areas i.e. Marketplace.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5155/Screenshot__2_.png" alt="" width="594" height="405"></p> <ul> <li>Simplify the primary navigation to reduce the choices visitors have in order to start exploring the product range.</li> <li>Provide structure and clarity of the types of navigation categories visitors have to choose from.</li> <li>If you have new-in and/or sale items, provide quick access to these areas.</li> <li>Use cookies to store which core category a visitor spends most time in, and when they come back to your homepage URL, redirect them back in to that category (this is a subtly executed spot of personalisation that ASOS provides).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing</strong><strong>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Repeat key USPs at the bottom or in the side of the mega menu.</li> <li>Introduce imagery to attract attention to core categories or relevant/seasonal ranges.</li> </ul> <h3>Continually communicate UVPs and USPs throughout the user journey</h3> <p>Not content with making its USP messages “pop” off the page in the header, ASOS has never been shy about repeating these message throughout the user journey.</p> <p>It’s something that another brand I admire, AO.com, also embraces, and I’ve detailed in-depth how it does this previously in my article titled: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66768-ao-com-the-best-ecommerce-experience-available-online/">AO.com: The best ecommerce experience available online?</a></p> <p>So many other retailers simply don’t do this – they feel that as they have a USP bar in their site-wide header, that is enough and they don’t want to waste precious space repeating these messages in important real estate on core shopping pages.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Explore ways of using subtle animations as visitors scroll down a page to draw attention to key messages (ASOS does this on its homepage with the flying plane).</li> <li>Consider ways to repeat a key message in a highly visible part of the product page (ASOS does this under the product price).</li> <li>Add a key message aimed at persuading visitors to purchase in the bottom of the mini-basket.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5160/UVP_in_mini_basket.PNG" alt="" width="562" height="377"></p> <ul> <li>Promote key messages in the shopping basket, whilst ensuring you don’t take the focus away from checking out.</li> <li>Utilise different visual techniques to draw attention to messages, such as simple, common iconography (remember people typically spend 99% of their time on other websites).</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5161/UVP_in_basket.PNG" alt="" width="593" height="384"></p> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Repeat key USPs at the bottom or on the side of your checkout pages.</li> <li>In addition to promoting USPs in the site-wide header, introduce a section within the footer which communicates core brand messages.</li> </ul> <h3>Provide a simplified, persuasive, non-committal way to begin building up your desired products</h3> <p>Wishlist functionality has been one of the out-of-box features for retailers since the late 1990s, but almost every retailer in 2016 requires visitors to register/sign-in to use it.</p> <p>For over five years, ASOS has allowed visitors to start adding items to their “saved items” without any mention or request to create an account or sign-up.</p> <p>Not only does this provide a seamless browsing experience for visitors whether they are logged in or not, but ASOS has always made “Save for Later” a core action it wants visitors to take.</p> <p>Back in 2010, James Hart (the then Ecommerce Director at ASOS) told me that the site literally sees hundreds of thousands of “saves” made every day.</p> <p>Most retailers tend to see wishlists or saved items as a nice to have but very much a low priority focus area for visitors during the browsing experience.</p> <p>ASOS is the complete opposite for good reason.</p> <p>It knows the importance of the commitment and consistency principle, which has been proven to demonstrate the increased probability of a purchase when people make a smaller initial commitment to lead up to the actual purchase.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5162/Screenshot__1_.png" alt="" width="595" height="451"></p> <ul> <li>Don’t force visitors to have to register or sign-up in order to use the save/love/wishlist function – use cookies initially, then encourage visitors to sign-up so they can access their list across devices.</li> <li>Don’t hide away the wishlist/saved items area – encourage visitors to use this functionality and visit this area, giving it similar prominence to your shopping bag.</li> <li>Allow visitors to save items directly from the product listing pages – don’t just provide this on the product page.</li> <li>Within the wishlist/saved items area, allow visitors to move products to their shopping bag, or scroll through individual product images without having to go to the product page.</li> <li>Integrate the wishlist/saved items area in to the shopping basket to encourage increased average order values and average order quantities.</li> <li>Make saving for later an integral part of the mobile browsing experience.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Introduce a section at the bottom of your browsing pages which promote the items in your saved items area, in addition to the typical section showing recently viewed items.</li> </ul> <h3>A focus on simplicity throughout the core user experience</h3> <p>Starting from the primary navigation but moving in to filtering product listing pages, the redesigned product page template, through to the shopping basket and checkout forms, simplicity is the name of the game.</p> <p>Why reinvent the wheel when you can just deliver the essentials really well<em>,</em> <em>then</em> adding in layers of engagement and persuasion to differentiate and keep visitors coming back?</p> <p>ASOS has embraced the approach of utilising white space to provide clarity on the core functions that visitors are looking for, with the product page being a primary example.</p> <p>The product page also provides an excellent example of encouraging visitors to browse through the available images within the big arrows.</p> <p>It sounds simple because it <em>is</em>, and it’s this simplicity that people really want in the vast majority of cases in all my years of experience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5164/product_page.PNG" alt="" width="596" height="560"></p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Focus on delivering a smooth checkout process – <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64669-21-first-class-examples-of-effective-web-form-design/">form best practice</a> is your best friend, yet for many retailers, that friend is nowhere to be seen – including the often unfriendly error messages when things go wrong.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Streamline <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63444-ecommerce-best-practice-the-basket-add-what-is-it-and-how-should-it-work/">the add-to-bag experience</a> if visitors haven’t selected a size or colour, rather than displaying an error message alert box which visitors have to interact with in order to make a selection. <a href="http://www.very.co.uk">Very.co.uk</a> does this extremely well and I know that it performed significantly better when it was A/B tested against the current ASOS approach.</li> </ul> <h3>What do you think?</h3> <p>Thanks for reading and I hope it has provided ideas and opportunities which you can build in to the foundations of your ecommerce experience.</p> <p>So what are the highlights of the ASOS user experience for you? What areas do you feel it could improve upon?</p> <p>Which other retailers do what ASOS does but more intuitively or more persuasively? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67351 2015-12-21T14:04:00+00:00 2015-12-21T14:04:00+00:00 Top SEO tips for your international financial services websites Emily Mace <p>Templates can be an effective way to manage your website structure in multiple markets, but you do need to consider the international SEO implications.</p> <p>Read on to find out more, or for a full overview of this topic book yourself onto Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/international-seo-ppc-digital-marketing/">SEO, PPC and Conversion: International Strategy Training</a>.</p> <h3>Disclaimers: visibility without impact</h3> <p>One of the most important things for many financial service websites is a disclaimer about financial product performance.</p> <p>Many financial service sites like to make these visible as the footer on all pages of their sites as it’s an important statement. However, from an SEO point of view this isn’t best use of either page real estate or of wording on pages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0218/financial_services_disclaimer.png" alt="" width="650"> </p> <p>If your site design has gone down the route of having pages which rely on image based cards to draw people into content on the site, this can skew how the search engines see the content on your pages.</p> <p>For example, having six promotional cards on the homepage and no text except the footer means that the only text the search engines can see on your page is the disclaimer. </p> <p>A solution to this is to include a link on the footer to these important messages about regulatory compliance and privacy policies.</p> <h3>Navigating your links</h3> <p>Another common factor within the financial services industry is the need to have websites targeted at different markets.</p> <p>There's a lot of difference between the needs of a financial adviser and those of a private investor, so it’s common to have a different website for each set of needs.</p> <p>If you then add in that you may have two or three websites for each local market in which you are working, this can create a large number of links to different sites, different URLs and different languages.</p> <p>Handling these correctly will help to improve the performance of your website internationally.</p> <p>However, handling these incorrectly can lead to your <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/seo-backlink-masterclass/">backlink profile</a> becoming skewed by a high percentage of links from websites within your organisation.</p> <p>Providing a language drop down box is the accepted way of allowing visitors to move between the language variations on your site, and with sub-options you can use this to make sure that your users are not only able to find the right site for their location but also their needs.</p> <p>When creating these links it is worth considering the implementation of ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63955-what-are-nofollow-tags-and-when-should-they-be-used-in-seo/">NoFollow' attributes</a>.</p> <h3>Don’t duplicate  </h3> <p>As mentioned above it is likely that you have different websites for different types of investors and financial professionals.</p> <p>However, the investment and financial products you offer are unlikely to be that different from one investor type to another. This creates an issue in terms of how you serve content to these investors without creating masses of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66981-two-examples-of-how-google-penalised-resellers-for-duplicate-content/">duplicate content</a>.  </p> <p>There’s no right answer here but it’s likely that a portion of the content will have to be different to communicate to the different investor types you are targeting with each site, this will identify the content as individual and will assist with your SEO ranking.</p> <p><em>For more on this, read Econsultancy’s post on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65463-how-duplicate-content-is-damaging-rbs-and-natwest-s-seo/">how duplicate content is damaging RBS and Natwest's SEO</a>.</em> </p> <h3>English is not universal</h3> <p>It might be tempting to think that as English tends to be used as the business language around the world it’s okay to launch your website into different markets in English.</p> <p>However, if you consider that people are looking to invest with you and this necessitates a level of trust and confidence in your brand, it is definitely worth localising your content into the language of the market you targeting.</p> <p>Firstly, this contributes to the user experience but, secondly, from an SEO point of view you will likely catch more local searches by using a local language than if you only have content in English.</p> <h3>What’s in a domain name?  </h3> <p>There are three choices here, a country level domain (ccTLD), a .com domain with sub folders and a .com domain with sub domains.</p> <p>A country level code will automatically associate with the country of that code, for example, .de is a site for Germany and .se is a site for Sweden.</p> <p>This will result in lots of domains being needed but can have a positive impact on search results and from a user point of view creates a domain which looks like it’s specifically for them.</p> <p>If you are marketing in Russia and China this can often be better for the search engines in these countries (Yandex and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/baidu-search-best-practice-guide/">Baidu</a>).</p> <p><em>Burberry's .de German site</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/0222/Screen_Shot_2015-12-21_at_12.20.58.png" alt="" width="700"></p> <p>As previously mentioned, when using this approach you will need to be careful with links to other sites in your company so that you don’t end up with lots of links from your group becoming a large percentage of your backlink profile.</p> <p>A .com domain (or other top level domains like .org) can be associated with any country and if you have sub folders on here such as yoursite.com/de/ you can target these to your chosen market.</p> <p>This aligns all of your content to the main domain and can allow for some SEO benefits, as work done on your main domain will benefit all of the sub folders.  </p> <p>A subdomain such as de.yoursite.com is also associated with your main domain name although the SEO benefits are slightly reduced compared to the sub folder approach discussed above.  </p> <p>There are pros and cons of all of the different approaches here, so the solution you choose should be right for your business and technical set up.</p> <h3>Hreflang tags: reaching the right audience wherever they are</h3> <p>'<a href="https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en">Hreflang</a>' tags are a great way of letting the search engines understand which version of the site is for which market as you can target both languages and countries in these codes.  </p> <p>These tags are especially useful if you are new to a particular market, as it is likely that your original main website might outperform the new site in the search engines.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8ce9jv91beQ?wmode=transparent" width="615" height="346"></iframe></p> <p>Hreflang tags are also useful for letting the search engines know that localised content on your sites is not actually a duplicate content issue but instead content which is targeted to a specific market.</p> <p>For example, if you have a funds page in German which appears on three websites, one for Germany, one for Austria and one for Switzerland, this tag will help you to explain the different targeting to the search engines.</p> <p>It will also help to ensure that Google serves the right version of the content to each of these countries in the search results, so that your Swiss visitors don’t end up on the Austrian site.</p> <h3>Google search console</h3> <p>Finally, make sure you set up each version of your site in Google Search Console and you have geo-targeted these correctly so that you reach your correct audiences.</p> <p>If you are taking your global website template into international markets make sure that you keep the SEO of your sites in mind and avoid falling into any of the pitfalls mentioned here.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67084 2015-10-26T16:09:00+00:00 2015-10-26T16:09:00+00:00 What could the Google-Yahoo AdSense partnership mean for marketers? Ben Davis <h3>Reach more potential customers with AdWords</h3> <p>12.7% of US search queries go through Yahoo, according to ComScore.</p> <p>That means AdWords could reach a significantly larger audience.</p> <p>Yahoo sites will be automatically included in the Google search network, so there's nothing extra AdWords customers will have to do to target this audience.</p> <h3>Bing Advertisers should keep their ears to the ground</h3> <p>It seems Yahoo is inching out of its partnership with Bing Ads. Either party can terminate their deal as of October 21 2015.</p> <p>This proposed deal between Yahoo and Google does not specify how much of Yahoo traffic will be shown AdWords as opposed to Bing Ads.</p> <p>51% of Yahoo search traffic will still be served by Bing and its search products, but if the deal goes ahead and both ad platforms are in play at the same, Bing Advertisers will be keeping a close eye on performance, to see if specific sectors or devices suffer.</p> <h3>Some sectors may see greater opportunity with AdWords</h3> <p>Take a look at <a href="https://everything.yahoo.com/">Yahoo Everything</a> and you'll see that Yahoo has websites dedicated to a range of sectors, with particular emphasis on finance and sports.</p> <p>AdWords customers keen to tap into Yahoo Finance, MSN Money or Fantasy Football website audiences (among others) will be eager to see what impact this deal has on their campaigns, whether on CPC or conversion.</p> <p>A study by ComScore found that searchers on the Yahoo Bing network spend 6.8% more money online than those searching on Google - an encouraging statistic.</p> <p><a href="https://www.further.co.uk/blog/who-what-and-when-profiling-google-yahoo-and-bing-search-demographics/">Google Analytics data analysis from Further</a>, shown below, shows the index of interest for search engine users. As you can see, there are a variety of over-represented interests amongst Yahoo searchers, including DIY, sports and pets.</p> <p>It should be pointed out that this analysis was performed on website organic search referral traffic, aggregated from mainly B2C Google Analytics accounts, which may naturally have more accurate Google referral data.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8214/Screen_Shot_2015-10-21_at_11.38.34.png" alt="index of interest - searchers" width="615"></p> <h3>Older, female searchers are over-represented among Yahoo users</h3> <p>The two charts below are again taken from research by Further.</p> <p>They suggest that advertisers targeting women over 45 may see their AdWords campaigns perform better if such ads are indeed served via Yahoo's AdSense for search.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8215/Screen_Shot_2015-10-21_at_11.37.33.png" alt="index of age - search engine users" width="615"> </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8216/Screen_Shot_2015-10-21_at_11.37.13.png" alt="index of gender" width="615"></p> <h3>Gemini users could be affected</h3> <p>Gemini is Yahoo's current ad platform allowing the purchase of search ads within Yahoo websites.</p> <p>It has generated low CPCs due to a lack of competition and relatively engaged users compared to other channels.</p> <p>See the chart below from Shareaholic showing how Yahoo searchers compare to others for time and pages on site, as well as bounce rate.</p> <p>Although Gemini may not be as easy a platform to manage as AdWords, those marketers already successfully using it may be forgiven for being suspicious about what will happen to their campaign metrics.</p> <p>Gemini also has a range of product, image and video ads. It will be interesting to see whether these will eventually defer to AdWords.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/8213/Search-Engine-Post-Click-Engagement.png" alt="post click yahoo engagement" width="575" height="460"></p> <h3>Europe is unaffected</h3> <p style="font-weight: normal;">The service agreement applies to the US and 20 other countries but not to the EU. So, marketers focusing on Europe should pay little heed.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Anti-trust proceedings within the EU against Google seem to be the reason for the region's exclusion.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Indeed, the agreement still includes stipulation that either party can renege if EU proceedings have a material impact on this non-EU Google-Yahoo partnership.</p> <h3>The deal may not yet happen</h3> <p>Google and Yahoo tried a similar deal back in 2008 but it was rejected after a Department of Justice anti-trust ruling.</p> <p>Regulators will review the details this time around but both parties are apparently confident the service will go ahead.</p> <h3>If it does go ahead, Yahoo's revenue could be set for a timely boost</h3> <p>If half of Yahoo's search ads were served by AdSense, this could boost Yahoo search revenue by about $200-$400m a year.</p> <p>Google will "pay Yahoo a percentage of the gross revenues from AFS ads displayed on Yahoo Properties or Affiliate Sites," and Yahoo will pay fees for web and image search results displayed.</p> <p>Currently, according to Google's website, AdSense For Search publishers receive 51% of the revenue recognised by Google. It's unclear if this will be the case for Yahoo or whether they will have a separate agreement.</p> <p>With Yahoo down 6% net income in Q3, YoY, (at $946.9m), the coffers could be set for a timely boost.</p> <p>See the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/topics/search-marketing/">Econsultancy Search Marketing topic page</a> for more on the latest Google developments and best practice.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/66870 2015-09-01T09:32:00+01:00 2015-09-01T09:32:00+01:00 How High Street brands can avoid errors with their store locators Philip McGuin <p>Online locator services (store or branch finders), are extremely important elements for any brand that operates over multiple locations.</p> <p>They’re found on the sites of most High Street retailers, hotel chains and any other brand that has some sort of ‘bricks and mortar’ distribution channel across one or more location.</p> <p>Store locators are also an important aid for local search.</p> <p>A significant proportion of users, particularly those that are further down the purchasing cycle, append or prefix their searches with a geographic term, such as a town, city, region or country.</p> <p>For example, a search for 'hotels' can easily expand into searches such as:</p> <ul> <li>“hotels in New York” / “New York hotels”</li> <li>“hotels in Manhattan” / “Manhattan hotels”</li> <li>“hotels in Times Square” / “Times Square hotels”</li> <li>“hotels in USA” / “USA hotels”</li> </ul> <p>This search behaviour puts the spotlight on how brands structure and deliver their location pages.</p> <p>There are many brands that are making some fundamental errors when it comes to ensuring that their location pages are able to serve these location-appended searches.</p> <h3>The store locator process</h3> <p>The structure for store location pages typically follows a relatively simple customer path.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/eucfVHq.png" alt="" width="902" height="251"></p> <h3>Homepage</h3> <p>The homepage is the first customer touchpoint for the location finder. It is crucial in driving traffic, SEO authority and facilitating the start of a seamless consumer experience.</p> <h3>Store search page</h3> <p>The search page allows visitors to select their criteria for a specific location. Search pages are typically broken down into two types of pages: quick search or advanced search.</p> <p>On some location finders, this could be as simple as finding the nearest location to a particular town, city or postcode. However, some brands allow users to define particular criteria, such as in-store facilities (free parking or additional services particular to that location).</p> <p>In the case of Asda, below, users can filter results based on facilities such as petrol stations, 24 hour opening, currency exchange, pharmacies and photo processing.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/oX0McLk.png" alt="" width="996" height="628"></p> <h3>Store results page</h3> <p>The results page displays a list of relevant store locations with the following information:</p> <p>⦁    Map location.<br>⦁    Store name.<br>⦁    Address details / directions.<br>⦁    Postcode proximity.</p> <h3>Store page</h3> <p>The store page is a page specifically designed for each individual store. The store page sits at the heart of the SEO strategy and is used to drive rankings on local terms and phrases.</p> <p>This is a very typical approach for a location finder service, but it is the implementation of the technical elements behind this structure that is preventing many brands from optimising their presence in localised search.</p> <h3>The SEO authority flow</h3> <p>One of the most important SEO considerations for local search is in ensuring that individual location pages are indexable. However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of user functionality or usability.</p> <p>One of the key errors that many brands make is that their store locators are often displayed in a dynamic format in an iframe or through JavaScript.</p> <p>Usually this is generated based on postcode and, as no two postcodes will generate the same result, the pages are unique to that one single user query.</p> <p>However, this format hinders SEO authority flow and indexing, with search engine algorithms unable to display these dynamically generated pages.</p> <p>To overcome this, many brands have created manual directories, with specific pages created for each and every store/branch location.</p> <p>These pages are fully indexable, ensuring that they are visible in search.</p> <p>This puts those brands in a much stronger position to rank for keyword searches that are appended with a geographic term (city, town, etc).</p> <h3>Creating indexable location pages</h3> <p>Having the correct domain strategy and URL structure is extremely important for successful indexing by Google.</p> <p>Generally, store locators should be kept on a subdirectory within the main domain, rather than on a subdomain. For example:</p> <p><strong>www.YOURURL.com/store-locator rather than http://stores.YOURURL.com </strong></p> <p>This is because in a directory structure, the maximum authority possible will be directed to the pages, whilst maintaining the site structure.</p> <p>It is also recommended that a URL structure makes use of location related phrases and terms. For example:</p> <p><strong>www.YOURURL.com/london </strong><br><strong>www.YOURURL.com/london/covent-garden </strong><br><strong>www.YOURURL.com/stores/london/ </strong><br><strong>www.YOURURL.com/stores/london/covent-garden</strong></p> <p>These approaches provide a uniformed structure and allow for multiple locations within one city or region.</p> <p>There are a number of examples where brands have successfully implemented a solid URL structure with indexable location pages. These include:</p> <p><strong>Hertz. Search Phrase = Hertz Leeds</strong></p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/7NwxjzR.png" alt="" width="936" height="139"></p> <p>In this scenario we see a multi-location, multi-national car hire provider has categorised pages firstly by country (/uk/) followed by city (leeds).</p> <p><strong>Argos. Search Phrase = Argos Headrow  </strong>     </p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/RaKIJjZ.png" alt="" width="926" height="140"></p> <p>In this example, Argos has removed the city directory and instead opted to list stores by name (in this case, Leeds Headrow) under the /stores/ directory.</p> <p>Using this structure, Argos also provides a manual A-Z directory of stores.</p> <p>Not only does this allow users to search for locations manually, it also follows best practice guidance for search.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/bZZIjXP.png" alt="" width="828" height="819"></p> <p>Conversely, there are a number of prominent examples where brands have not implemented a logical and indexable location URL structure.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/pBWhTgq.png" alt="" width="893" height="195"></p> <p>In this case, the search phrase 'Homebase Leeds' provided a result that was not even indexed by Google. This has serious implications for both local search and customer experience.</p> <p>This search phrase would be indicative of a consumer that is strongly considering a purchase in-store, and the website is failing to fulfil that request due to some basic URL structuring problems.</p> <p>Whilst the Google search result for this page does return data from Google My Business, there is no page on the Homebase website with the store’s information.</p> <p>However, Argos does rank for the phrase “Homebase Leeds” due to Argos’ concession within that Homebase branch.</p> <p>This highlights the relative weakness of Homebase’s URL structure and local search strategy.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/uEZuo39.png" alt="" width="1007" height="652"></p> <p>BHS provides another example of a poorly considered store locator directory.</p> <p>In a search for “BHS Bristol”, the first result delivered directs users to BHS' home page and it's not until the second result where we see information in organic search that actually pertains to Bristol. </p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/ApSf7n6.jpg" alt="" width="568" height="364"></p> <p>We can see that the URL structure contains a string of numbers which appear to relate to a particular city or region.</p> <p>This results in an extremely inconsistent user experience and this is reflected in organic search results.</p> <h3>Best practice for location search placement</h3> <p>Placement of the store locator is also a very important factor in providing a positive customer experience.</p> <p>Generally, a user looking for a store locator should be considered as an engaged user, in the sense that enough interest has been generated for the customer to be interested in finding out more about the product or brand, or to make a purchase in store.</p> <p>Therefore, it is important to make the store locator prominent.</p> <p>Many brands still place their location finders at the footer of a website, where it is often difficult to find.</p> <p>This poor practice has been phased out somewhat, as brands become more sophisticated at integrating online and offline (through initiatives such as click and collect), but it is still in use.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/6705/image001.png" alt="" width="775" height="181"></p> <p>Typically, store locators are found at the top of a page, but there are a number of different approaches being adopted.</p> <p>One such approach is a ‘rollover’ or ‘hover’ store finder. This provides a postcode search, but only when the user moves their mouse cursor to the store finder.</p> <p><strong>Marks and Spencer</strong></p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/PtVBVVT.png" alt="" width="974" height="239"><br><strong>Superdrug</strong></p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/VMlEWHi.png" alt="" width="580" height="277"></p> <p>This approach has the advantage that it is not intrusive on the design, and it provides easy access to the search facility.</p> <p>However, it is typically limited on the number of filter options available and it also passes limited authority through to the locator pages, which has SEO implications.</p> <p>One way around the latter is to create a rollover option that contains a static link to the main store locator. This approach is adopted by Greggs.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/3R9udQI.png" alt="" width="924" height="553"></p> <h3>The anatomy of a good store page</h3> <p>Ensuring that users can find a location is one part of the challenge, but providing them with the content that they need is the ultimate aim.</p> <p>Many users may just be looking for a store telephone number of opening hours, whilst others may be looking for more detailed information.</p> <p>Of course, with search engines also rewarding the latter, it is important to optimise your location pages to provide a quality user experience.</p> <p>Hertz is one example of a brand that optimises its location pages well.</p> <p>The car hire sector is one where geographic search is extremely important, and locations are a key customer touchpoint (ultimately, this is where the transaction is completed), so quality location pages are a key part of Hertz’s search strategy. </p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/4sj0xfG.png" alt="" width="1084" height="571"></p> <p>Hertz provides a number of user-friendly elements that aid the customer experience and support conversion. These include details of specific services offered at that location, USPs, optimised local content, interactive maps and social integration.</p> <p>We see similar strategies adopted by Asda, another brand to which the location is a significant customer touchpoint and, in most cases, the point at which the transaction is completed.</p> <p><img src="http://assets.econsultancy.com/public/imgur/xMUqI1P.png" alt="" width="939" height="510"></p> <p>We see similar levels of localised content, although in this case it is much more focused around the local community.</p> <p>We also see specific services, opening times and an embedded map appear prominently.</p> <h2>Takeaways</h2> <p>Location pages are an important component of the customer journey for any multi-location brand, but many are still failing to ensure that they are delivering the experience and the results that their users expect.</p> <p>We have written up a guide for optimising store location pages <a href="http://www.stickyeyes.com/intelligence/download-your-free-store-locator-optimisation-guide/" target="_blank">on our website</a>, but our key findings are:</p> <h3>Ensure that your URL structure is logical and consistent</h3> <p>Adopt a logical and consistent directory structure for your pages and, where possible, avoid dynamic URLs.</p> <p>These cannot be indexed by search engines and this potentially hampers your search marketing strategy.</p> <h3>Make your store locator easy to find</h3> <p>Your store locator is a way to easily serve an audience that is already engaged with the brand or product, so why hide it?</p> <p>We’ve gone well past the point where online and offline were competing sales channels so make it easy for your online visitors to visit you offline.</p> <p>Don’t hide your store locator in the footer. Make it prominent.</p> <h3>Make your location page useful</h3> <p>Your location page isn’t just about delivering directions and opening times. Try to add useful content to really engage your users.</p> <p>For many brands, the store or branch is the key sales touchpoint, so sell your store as much as you sell your brand or product.</p>