We recently wrote about how awesome the new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology is for improving page load times on your website. Well, yes it is, but something to bear in mind that we’ve just come across. Google recently wrote a blog post about how to set up Analytics on your AMP pages only 4 days ago, which quite frankly is a little slow since we’ve been using AMP technology for well over 4 months now and it has never been on our radar that this wouldn’t be tracked by default out of the box. Anyway, we’ll let this one slip.
The crooks of it though is that you’re probably not including tracking on any of these AMP pages that you’ve implemented which is a tad annoying. From a WordPress perspective, make sure you’re using the AMP Analytics plugin which will add Google Analytics tracking to your AMP pages when they are loaded by web browsers and Google. You could be missing out on a significant amount of tracking data when tracking the performance of your campaigns. For anything non-WordPress related, you’ll have to get into the tech to implement this manually within your web application which is certainly going to be a tad more time consuming. Drop us an email if you need any help with getting this set up on your own websites and web applications.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film, The Matrix, firstly, go out and buy a copy and watch it, it’s an awesome film. The first in any series is always the best. Now you understand the title of this blog post. Let’s put this into perspective;
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
I sometimes feel like talking in riddles like this when speaking with people about how to grow an ecommerce business as the underlying problems stunting growth are rarely technology focused. Sure, technology may be an issue and need improving, but technology didn’t get there by itself.
You see, the challenges most businesses face when it comes to growth is actually nothing to do with technology or understanding or anything external for that matter. Information is free, if you have the time you can learn anything from cooking to rocket science from the many MOOCs that are available from Universities around the world. Likewise, the problem doesn’t lie with budgets either as I can guarantee that if for every £1 you gave me, I would give you £2 back, you would bite my hand off and empty your wallet without question.
The underlying problem is what Spoon Boy (he really needs another name doesn’t he!) was talking about. It’s about perspective, specifically how you perceive things VS how they actually are. It is how you perceive the challenge and how you deal with the problem which ultimately decides your fate. Do I go to McDonalds or go to the gym? It’s all a choice. And choices start in your head.
There are a few good books that I always recommend people to read, firstly because they are awesome and will help to expand your mind, but also because these types of books help you to think differently about a problem. Instead of seeing everything as a challenge with a never ending amount of barriers stopping you from progressing, instead, think differently about the problem and solutions will manifest. When you have already decided on a solution before you have articulated the challenge or problem, you’ve already lost. Outline where you are going, what you want to achieve and let the team of experts you surround yourself with recommend the best solution. It is your job to allow this process to happen, or not.
As a business owner or marketing manager you are likely extremely swayed about website design and development based on how it looks. I am here to explain to you why this is no-where near as important as you think it is. This is not to say that this isn’t important, it is, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. When making decisions around technology, what you really need to be asking the questions about is technology, frameworks, scalability and adaptability. All of the technical aspects you probably would prefer not to get too involved with as this is what you pay the web guys to take care of, right?
Unfortunately, the reality is that when you ignore these key aspects you end up with an all fur coat no knickers solution which is going to cause you tremendous pain in the long run. Trust me. It is often at this point where we pick up projects, when they have gone seriously wrong in the past when these aspects have been ignored, often because you asked for a pretty looking website or made a decision based purely on how something looks or made a cost-based decision. Here is when we pick things up and straighten things out which is a costly process.
Below we’re going to talk through many of the aspects you need to be asking questions about before you even start to think about the design of your website. When you get the below aspects right from the outset, you can make your website look any way you desire. And most importantly, you can chop and change the look of your website on a daily basis should you wish as you have the flexibility to do so without being restrained by poor technologies.
Platform and Content Management System
It is essential that your website is powered by a leading Content Management System. A platform which allows you to control most of the aspects of your website yourself, without requiring a developer to implement changes. For 99% of businesses out there you have two choices really, WordPress or Magento.
Poor quality web hosting is going to harm the success of your business. It’s cheap for a reason, it’s restrictive and not that good. Leading web hosting has security built in, is regularly maintained and is backed up in a remote location should anything go wrong.
I can promise you that if you don’t take cyber security seriously, your website will be hacked into at some point. A pretty looking website which can be hacked, deleted and changed by an unauthorised person trying to do your website harm is no good to anyone.
Back End Frameworks
A framework is essentially a set of rules for how things are implemented. A back end framework is all around how the server side code is implemented to ensure the code is easy to maintain, easy to extend and easy to work with in general. Think of a back end framework as a separation of concerns, read up about MVC if you’re really interested. Using the correct back end framework for your website ultimately determines how successful your website project will be or how many problems you will face in the future.
Front End Frameworks
Just like back end frameworks, front end frameworks deal specifically with how your website looks on the front end. Just as with all frameworks, you need to work within the limits of the framework which is why getting this part wrong can result in simple changes not actually being so simple in the end. Discuss this with your web developer about how things are built to understand the potential pitfalls further down the line.
Plugins, Themes & 3rd Party Solutions
When using any kind of 3rd party solutions as part of core functionality on your website, it is absolutely essential to make sure these are chosen with quality in mind. Cheap and free is like this for a reason, it’s likely absolutely awful and will cause you many problems down the line.
To a certain extent, the speed of your website is determined by how much you are paying for your web hosting. You cannot expect the speed that you experience on Google, Facebook and Twitter when paying budget web hosting. It’s just like buying a car, the more you pay, the faster it goes. Sure, there are optimisations and tweaks that can be made at the server level to further improve performance, although in the grand scheme of things these are a bit like spoilers and go-faster stripes on cars, they help, but aren’t going to do much on a Peugeot 205.
Control and Flexibility
You want to be able to edit as much as possible on the website, right? Well this hugely depends on the technology you’re using. Certain frameworks will give you more control for you to edit things yourself, others will restrict that control meaning that you have to pay a web developer every time you need to make a change. A costly process over time.
You want your website to work seamlessly across all devices, right? Well this again doesn’t just happen by magic. This is a conscious decision and requires strategic planning to make sure that your website performs in the way that your customers expect.
Only now do we start to think about the user experience on the website. Why are people using your website? What are they aiming to achieve? How easy is your website to navigate? What do people like about your website? What do people dislike about your website? How can things be improved on a regular basis to improve performance? It’s all of these questions you need to start asking about your website and business as a whole.
Once you know what your website visitors are looking to achieve, how are you meeting their needs through the content that is available on your website? Are you still dealing with common queries for products and services over the phone? It is this type of content that at the very basic level could be handled by a more sophisticated setup on your website. Think differently about content. Content is not for Google and SEO, content is for your users.
Now we come onto the branding aspect. Once you have all of these aspects above in place, now it is time to start looking at how your website actually looks. At this point, once you have all of the above items in place, you can make the website look and feel any way you like. Get any of the above items wrong and you will extremely restricted based on what you can or can’t do at this point. You see, the branding aspect is the icing on the cake for website design. No matter how good your website looks, if your key ingredients are rotten, your website isn’t going to perform and your website visitors are going to be able to see straight through that.
There is a lot more to website design and development that you may first think. Never assume that your web development team is going to be doing everything right. If you ask for a pretty website, that’s what you’ll get, a pretty website that has been built poorly and doesn’t perform. When you ask a web development team for a website that achieves your business goals, you’ll get a well-built platform for you to work towards your goals much faster. The choice is yours, never skip over asking the difficult questions about website technologies.
Sorry, I’m calling it. Businesses purchasing subscriptions to companies that are offering free data at a hugely premium price need to stop paying for this now. Stop wasting your money. Hell, give it all to a charity of your choice, it will be better money spent.
The company I’m talking about, for anyone working in digital will be well aware who this is, but for legal purposes let’s just call them a fictitious name which bears no resemblance to any company or person which happens to have a similar name, EnquiryForensics.
The offer for these types of companies is that you can “See who is looking at your website”. In summary, no you can’t. The only information that these types of companies generally provide is information that someone in Company X was looking at your website, then joining this data together with generic contact details for this company or publically accessible contact information for various staff within this organisation. This does not tell you who specifically is looking at your website. There are a whole host of data protection issues with tracking individual user website usage which is why services like Google Analytics are obliged to anonymise certain aspects of the data.
So beware, any company trying to sell you access to a tool or service which can show you who is looking at your website in a company, it is likely a snake oil salesman or company. You can generally get whatever data that have completely for free, and here’s how.
Google Analytics is Awesome
I’m not going to go into depth about Google Analytics. In summary though, Google Analytics tracks over 560 points of data for every website visitor and when you know where to look, you too can start to see how valuable this data is.
Identify the Companies Looking at your Website
Simple. Within Google Analytics, go to the following report: Audience > Technology > Network. This report will show you the companies who have been looking at your website, which can be extremely valuable for any type of B2B business as you can then feed this into your outreach pipeline and support the work your business development manager is doing on a daily basis. Look;
It’s all there. The companies who have been looking at your website which you can filter through to your hearts contempt. For any companies listed within here which are SMEs, a quick Google search for the company name and check on LinkedIn will soon allow you to identify the relevant person to speak with in the company who could be interested in your products and services.
Even better, you can then begin to filter down by looking at these individual companies and see what pages they viewed on your website too, so that you get a better understanding of what they are looking for.
The key here is not to be too creepy though when you reach out to these people.
All in all, you rarely ever need to pay for premium services and tools which allow you to identify who is looking at your website. With a bit of know-how, you can have access to all of this type of information for free.
If you want to find out how Google Analytics can help your business, get in touch.
Blogging is a core part of any digital marketing strategy which is why we talk about this on a regular basis to businesses. We’ve already produced a Really Simple Guide to Blogging, so have a read of that resource once you have finished reading this blog post.
We get asked a lot about how important is blogging, really? Well I thought it was worth putting a few numbers behind this to put this into perspective about why we talk about this so much;
As you can see from the data above from our own website, when looking at the Blog and Resource pages which drive traffic to the website, this accounts for almost 40% of website traffic. Now to put this into perspective, imagine if you currently aren’t blogging on a regular basis. You are missing out on an enormous amount of traffic to your website. Assuming you aren’t blogging, by starting blogging based on these figures you could grow traffic to your website by almost 70%, imagine a 70% growth in traffic to your website. Pretty awesome, right?
Sure, things are a little more complex than this in the real world and for ecommerce websites this split is likely to be significantly different, but hopefully this gives you a few figures to highlight the importance of blogging. Get in touch if you would like to talk to us about how blogging can help boost your digital strategy.