Five Cool Digital Marketing Stories for January 2015

graphic image of a newspaperPost-festivities, the world is back to normal. Thank goodness. And as usual, there are all sorts of thrilling things happening in the wonderful world of the interweb.

5 digital marketing tales for 2015

Here are five of my favourite content creation, copywriting and digital marketing stories for January 2015.

Forget B2C / B2B – we’re all human

I’ve always been baffled by the B2B / B2C distinction. After all, everyone’s human. When you’re marketing to an organisation you’re communicating with a human being, not a corporate entity.
I’ve never felt there was any need to treat the two groups differently. So it’s great to see The Guardian reporting the borders between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing are disappearing at last. In their opinion marketers should be working H2H, human to human. Which is nothing less than common sense.

New Consumer Contract Regulations for online business

Blink and you probably missed it… but new consumer regulations came into play in summer 2014. They apply to anyone who buys from you online, away from your premises (if you have one) or otherwise remotely. The new rules cover digital content as well as products and services, and they replace the old Distance Selling Regulations. So what’s the score?

  • You must make it ‘perfectly clear’ when the customer places their order that they’re expected to pay for the goods, service or content
  • You have an absolute maximum of 30 days to deliver the goods once the contract has been made
  • The old 7 day cooling off period, during which the customer could change their mind, now only applies to contracts dating to before 13th June 2014
  • There’s a new 14 day cooling-off period which means customers can cancel their order within two weeks of a. agreeing to buy services or content or b. receiving the goods
  • Once they’ve notified you of their decision, they have 14 days to return the goods to you
  • Once you receive the returned goods you have 14 days to refund the customer

It’s a good idea to comply because:

  • It keeps your customers happy and helps you generate loyalty / repeat business
  • More people buy stuff online in Britain than anywhere in Europe and the trend shows no sign of slowing.
  • Customer satisfaction levels in Britain have fallen for the third time in 18 months
  • 55% of happy customers tell others about their experience – which is what you want as many people as possible to do
  • Get it wrong and the regulators – Trading Standards and the Competition and Markets Authority – could make life difficult for you

Want to know more? I tried the government’s website but the regulations are described in purest gobbledegook, which just isn’t worth bothering with. Here’s the fine detail, sadly not in anything like plain English but a tiny, weeny bit better than the government’s anti-communications.

17 things to do to improve sales conversion

For a very long time visitor numbers were what digital marketers cared about most. It’s all very well being chuffed to bits because your website gets zillions of visitors. But if none of them convert to paying customers, they’re worth bugger all. Can you improve sales conversion? Yes, you can, and conversion analysis is set to be bigger than ever in 2015.
Here are 17 ways to improve your website conversion levels.

  1. Make the customer benefits of your product or service crystal clear, prioritising them over the features
  2. Give people all the information they need to make a sensible buying decision, no more and no less
  3. Explain yourself clearly in plain, simple language
  4. Write content informed by best direct marketing principles and practice to maximise your chances
  5. Make sure you’ve included strong calls to action
  6. Make buying simple – the more complex you make the process, the fewer people will bother
  7. Provide a good choice of ways to pay
  8. Make it easy for people to ask questions… and answer their queries immediately
  9. Provide a comprehensive on-site FAQ
  10. Describe your stuff properly, in the right level of detail for the majority of your audience
  11. Put the finest detail deeper in your site and make it easily accessible to the relatively few nitpickers who like to examine it
  12. Make sure your site loads nice and quickly. You want it to load as fast as shit off a blanket, pardon my French!
  13. Is your website responsive? Does it display properly on small screens and mobile devices? If not you’re missing a massive trick…
  14. Check regularly to make sure you’re in the best possible competitive position – look at what your competitors are doing, how, when, how frequently and where
  15. Make certain your images are the best possible quality… and the smallest possible file size
  16. Test changing your content to see if it improves conversion. Sometimes expressing an idea in a different way is all you need to boost your conversion rate. Test one change at a time or you won’t know which change has made a difference
  17. Follow the new distance selling rules

Dare you get involved in predictive analytics?

It’s a Big Data thing: it looks like predictive analytics is the latest big data-inspired marketing catchphrase. It’s all about marketers using the monumental amounts of real-time data collected from consumers plus ‘consumer insight’ to to predict the future.
Hm. You can probably sense my scepticism. A quarter of a century in the direct response marketing sector and I’ve never seen a marketer predict punters’ behaviour to any measurable level of success. You might know better, in which case I’d love to see your stats – less talk, more evidence please.
Anyway, back to the subject. Here’s an example. Take the data that flows from loyalty programmes. Retailers use it to analyse past buying behaviour – the reliable bit – but they also use your data to try to predict which promotions you’re most likely to take advantage of. The same goes for data about web browsing behaviour, where predictive analytics can deliver a more personalised online experience. Assuming you want such a thing. I’d rather enjoy a bit of serendipity and keep my data to myself.
In an online landscape where consumers are becoming increasingly wary of ‘Big Brother’ watching them, even if it’s just their shopping habits being scrutinised, predictive analytics is a risky business.
I think consumers should have the chance to opt out. I don’t want my data collected or used, but there’s currently no way to stop it. How come, when it’s easy to put a stop to cold telesales calls and direct mail? A simple yes / no box on Google’s search page would be a good start. Why isn’t it happening?

The worm turns – What will you get in return for your privacy?

Following on from the rise of predictive analytics and the reduction in personal privacy, some experts feel we may as well give up trying to beat them and join ’em instead. As an excellent article in The Guardian says:

“A generation of people today have no concept of privacy. Their love of self-expression, the need for free online products and the desire to connect with each other have proven far more seductive than the idea of maintaining privacy. In a time when credit card information, GPS signals, Fitbit data and cookies collect and share anonymous data continuously, it is a battle that few can fight.
We face a choice. We can either collectively fight to maintain the little secrecy we have or flip our thinking and focus on what we get in return. From smart cities and automated personal assistants such as Siri to crowdsourced medical research, 2015 will be the year we shift focus from fighting for privacy to leveraging what we get in return.”

Businesses like Google and big retailers make a vast amount of money from users’ data. What do you think your data is worth? A one-off sum of £10 or £1000? £500 a year? Surely we deserve compensation?

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