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June 2010

Should I be suspicious - finding opportunities

If you have a business website - and which business nowadays hasn't? - I hope you have a way of tracking your web visitors. Where do they "land", how did they find your site and also, if they used a search engine to find the answer to a question: what search phrase did they use that made them click on the link to your site.

All important data, although I know some business owners (of small, medium and large businesses) only measure the hits and visitor numbers. The detailed data from your web tracking software is a true treasure trove to find opportunities, even niches, for your business.

Connecting phrases to better/more information

Since our first web page went live we've been using Statcounter web tracking software - IMHO still way better and detailed than Google Analytics, especially for small businesses.

With Statcounter you can have a multitude of projects - all with their own simple tracking code - to fine tune your marketing and detailed insight in certain specific projects.

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Two things about Statcounter that really stand out is it shows the path each individual visitor takes through your website, page by page - including exit links (even to other sites) and the exact place in the search results your visitor found the "entry page" (or landing page).

When is the last time you had a proper look/insight in the most common search phrases your web visitor uses to find your site? Have you ever done something with this extra knowledge to improve the experience of your visitor and therefore the result/ROI of your website/webmarketing?

In September 2007 we published a simple post on our FAQ blog about restoring an original parquet floor, including sanding tips and products to use. Main reason for this post was an article in a trade magazine about the different sanders available for hire for the DIY-er.

This post quickly became one of the better found "pages" of our whole "web-presence". This rather short post presented us with a new opportunity: targeting DIY-ers and home-owners who discovered an original parquet floor in their home and who are looking for tips/advice/products to restore this valuable floor.

We extended the information from the original blog post and created a new specific page on our "static" main website: "7 Easy steps to repair/restore your original parquet floor", added recommended products underneath it with links to our secure online shop and we made sure we added a link in this popular blog post to the new guide - our first wood floor guide. The blog post is not longer the most popular, the 7 steps are now plus the number of orders for the recommended products went from hardly any to 8 - 10 orders per month (and is still an ongoing profitable "line").

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Our next step was to turn the "7 steps" into an even more extended guide which can be purchased as E-guide. Our first "digital" product as wooden floor retailer - another "niche".

Due to the result of our first digital guide and the popularity of another blog post: how to install your own floor, keep it simple this information was also extended and beginning 2009 turned into an E-book too. The popularity and profitability of this new E-guide made the decision to turn it into a proper paperback easier. The paperback has now replaced the E-guide and is doing even better (not just for sale on our own website but also through Amazon.co.uk and .com plus any other book retailer - online or off-line).

Keep checking = keep finding opportunities

Above are just two examples of opportunities we found in our own web statistics, showing us what visitors are truly looking for, what the problems/pains are they need solved.

Your web visitors use words/phrases you might never have thought of in your SEO improvement sessions. It only needs a single word or combination of words in one of your blogposts or webpage to give you an indication (because the post/page keeps being found time after time) where the next opportunity to improve/grow your business/range is. Then extend the information on that page so your visitors receive more/better information to solve their problem/pain and your ROI increases almost without any extra effort.

Ongoing process

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Of late parquet floor restoration features high and frequently in our web stats. From next month onwards we are extending our services to include parquet floor restoration in the Kent area - which also means we're turning from a 2 "man" band into a 3 "man" band. A big step for a small business but a decision made easier because of our own web statistics: there's a real ongoing demand for both products and services to restore original parquet floors.

What about the blog title?

Yesterday I almost laughed out loud when I read the following search phrase that brought a visitor to our website:

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Nowhere on our website do we talk about installation prices, but as you can see above, combinations of words of the search phrase lists our website high on the search results (which is good to know) plus it gives us an idea for what to write in our next blog post: how to select your professional fitter. (And it gave me the idea of this blog post here)

What opportunities will you find in the treasure trove your web statistics can be?


Is the UK turning into a dumping ground for the EU?

We keep our contacts up to date with news on products, methods, regulations etc. And our suppliers do the same fortunately. Communication is important when running a business, so everyone knows which products are changing, are new - or improved - or will be discontinued.

Or so we thought.

Going green

With the last shipment from our regular Dutch supplier the box of one type of products contained the manufacturer's April newsletter, proudly announcing: we're going green! Not just their products but also their house style; green labels, brochures, website and all.
The newsletter is in Dutch, but that's not a problem for us, as you might know we originate from The Netherlands.

The translation of the main news is as follows:

"Starting from 1st July we will only supply products to the professional floor fitter which comply with the VOC regulation (OPS-wetgeving) but keep/establish the same quality and end-result ... we love to help the floor fitter to establish a Volatile-Organic-Compound-free result."

We frequently use and recommend two of the products that are now definitely disappearing from their range and which are all replaced with greener ones. We decided there and then after reading the news we would not re-stock these two products and inform all of our contacts through our newsletter.

News travels fast.....

Partly unbeknown to us various floor-fitters, retailers and even wholesalers in the UK are subscribed to our newsletter - nice to known of course and good practice: best way to keep an eye on your competitor, read their newsletter.

Within an hour after emailing our newsletter to around 1290 contacts we received a phone call from the UK rep of the manufacturer, a bit angry too. Where did we get this news, several of his clients in the trade had been calling him to confirm "our news" and one had even be so kind to forward our newsletter to him.
When I explained it came from the manufacturer's own (Dutch) newsletter in a box with their own products I was told the following amazing - to me - statement:

yeap, but that's just for the Dutch and Belgium market where this VOC regulation has been ratified by the industry, not for the UK market.

I questioned him about this VOC regulation being an EU regulation and wasn't the UK part of the EU? To no avail, here the regulation, according to him, is apparently not ratified by the industry and non-green products in that regards are therefore still available.

He then went on to tell me I should email everyone again to inform them of this, I told him I would insert a note on the blog post about the same subject, which I did. I used his own words and also repeated that once our own limited stock is gone, it's gone and will not be replaced with new "old" products from this manufacturer.

Green, with a difference?

This rep was not happy, and I was left wondering about the green pat on their own back by this Dutch manufacturer.

My impression is they are - with right - proud to comply with the new VOC regulations and help protect the health of the professional floor fitters and the environment by innovation products that are greener but still do "what is says on the tin". Their whole marketing/brand is being turned green for it.

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However, and here's the snag, what about the health of professional floor fitters and the environment of countries where the industry - en mass - has not ratified this tightening regulation.
Here in the UK there are plenty of companies/manufacturers voluntarily complying with this regulation - see the same blog post about another replacement product we introduced.

Inconsistency never works for a brand - you are either green, brown, red or whatever statement you want everywhere, or you are not. You can't have it both ways. You'll be "found out" and very quickly nowadays.

This also makes me wonder the following: if the UK is lagging behind in ratifying and complying with these new green regulations there is a very big risk that the UK will be used as a "dumping ground" for other EU manufacturers for their non complying products. Not sure this EU regulation was meant this way.

And not sure how you can use green marketing in one country but decide to forget all about it in another, just because it's not enforced (and therefore more convenient for the bottom line?).

Can you be a different shade of green in different countries?


Web Marketing with Ed Rivis - new seminar

Highly recommended (I've been to the first one):

From the desk of Ed Rivis:

After my last one day seminar in London on 15th April I’ve decided to run another two seminar days before my kids break for the summer holidays.

If you’d like to spend a day with me either near Leeds on 13th July, or near London on the 14th July then pre-register and get a chance to buy one of the first 50 tickets for the hugely discounted price of £97+vat (instead of £997+vat.).

Click here to register

via www.edrivis.com

When you go, say hi to Ed from me!