Smart Insights Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:22:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Makes Great Ecommerce Websites Great? Part 1. The Home Page Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:45:45 +0000 5 examples of retail home page good practice

Great ecommerce websites are likely to be based on personal preference. But many would agree there are common practices for persuasive design that should be tested, if you’re not using them already.

In this post, I take a look at a range of less well-known small to medium business ecommerce websites where I have deconstructed the practices to suggest a shortlist of ‘must have features’ for the homepage. It’s part one of a series of posts, next I’ll be looking at category pages. Of course, in a blog article there is a limit on what can be sensibly covered. See the relevant Smart Insights guide for more details.

Home page feature 1. Clear Navigation covering sufficient product categories

Browsing is a core user activity on the home page. So your site menu / navigation should be simple enough to be clear to the user, yet allow them a more comprehensive choice of browsing than top-level categories alone. For example has a very clear top level navigation – womens, mens, kids etc. It then breaks out the top categories into sub-category options along a left hand menu. In addition there are clear navigation options for the advertised sales products, so allowing the user a wide choice in how to navigate the site. home page

Home page feature 2. Ensure On-Site Search is prominent and sufficiently sophisticated

Search is another key home page behaviour. Users today are less patient than they ever were, particularly if they are in the ‘Hunter’ stages of the conversion path i.e. ready to convert. Ensuring that they can get straight to the product they want with no confusions or diversions can mean a large difference in conversions therefore ensuring that your search box is a clearly visible navigation option as soon as they hit your site is a good call!

However it’s not just the visibility that’s important- it’s also the functionality. Providing a search option that churns out 200 results with no further way of filtering adds complexity and reduces conversion rates. So ensure that you take steps to make your search more user friendly through predictive search suggestions and filtering options on search results pages as seen below on

lifeandlooks on-site search from home page

Home page feature 3. Define strong Value Propositions and personalised customer service messaging

Many great home pages are now using personalisation to really ‘hook’ their customers- this is back to old school sales techniques. If you can build a rapport with your customer, you are more likely to achieve a sale. And if you can show the customer what it is that they are looking for (right time, right place) even better! The likes of House of Fraser welcome you by name when you arrive on their site – and if they don’t know your name they have a likable ‘Hello Stranger’ quip.

Smaller ecommerce websites are continuing to increase their usage of customer service messaging nicely too. In the below example some small customer service touches such as detailing free delivery and returns work well. Remember it is a customer that converts, not a web page!

customer service messaging on home page

Home page feature 4. Use distinct Calls to Action for primary paths

Too many website designs rely on customer interpretation of their prompts rather than having a very clear call to action. Customers are not mind readers! Make your call to action so clear that it leaves them no choice but to understand the message and then the visitor will need to resort to the menu less often. I came across this nice example recently from uk website MoodByMe- a website that allows you to customize your very own cashmere clothes, which they tell us clearly on the home page. Multiple times:

moodbyme homepage calls to action

Your home page is one of the most important pages on your website to get right. Not only is it your ‘shop window’ it is also a high footfall area. A snapshot of 10 Ambition Digital ecommerce clients shows that on average 17% of a websites’ page views will be concentrated on the home page. So show your home page some love and ensure you create a better ecommerce website!

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How to re-engage lapsed customers using email marketing? Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:45:05 +0000 A case study of re-activation of lapsed customers with Marketing Automation and Gamification: An email marketing case study from CarDelMar

The well-known marketing rule that investing in acquisition of new customers is six to seven times costlier than re-activating past customers suggests the value of investing in reactivation campaigns. In the omnichannel world we live in,  a wide range of possible methods are available to re-engage those who have lapsed, or if you prefer, are ‘churned’ buyers. Among the most effective methods is surely re-activation by email marketing. In this case study we present how optivo helped the German online car hire broker CarDelMar with an automated reactivation campaign, which was designed and carried out using the software of email marketing service provider optivo.

The challenge of inactivity

Previously, CarDelMar had been sending out fortnightly newsletters with information on exclusive discount campaigns, useful tips on booking reservations and introductions of new rental agencies. As is usually the case with new relationships, the beginning is “all roses”. Subscribers are excited about pretty much anything that was sent their way and the opening and click-through rates are correspondingly satisfying. But the honeymoon period is soon over, the spark is gone and the interest begins to wane. More and more subscribers simply stopped opening the newsletter after some months of subscription. Sounds familiar? This is a rather common occurrence in the email marketing industry; the opens naturally trail off and clicks fade away over time. However, with a well thought-out re-activation strategy you can prevent growing apart from your customers and remind them again that you are truly unique.

An automated project with a conceptual approach

The main objective for the project was to re-engage no longer active subscribers. We developed a campaign with three main areas of focus, that is: visibility of the campaign in the inbox, a multilevel approach and some attractive content. The resulting idea was a multilevel gamified campaign that picked up on the company’s slogan “Compare Cheap Car Hire Worldwide” and is called “CarDelMar world-tour”. In this case subscribers are invited to choose one of three continents to travel to. After choosing the continent of choice, the subscriber sees a photo of a tourist attraction and has to guess which city it is located in.


Sprucing up the campaign with the mechanics of fun

Strategically implemented game mechanics can help to engage both enthusiastic and even passive subscribers better. The concept of adding some fun to communications in order to grow user interaction of course is not new, but the idea of “gamification” takes reward-based engagement to a higher level. Ideally, a nice incentive is included, to make your customers’ efforts worthwhile. CarDelMar’s reward for correctly guessing the city the car is travelling through, was a chance to win a free car rental for one week – an attractive prize, which ensures a higher likelihood of customer engagement.

A multilevel approach for optimal results

The car hire broker’s campaign includes altogether seven mailings, depending on the reaction of the subscriber as well as automatically sent reminders, follow-up mails and a confirmation mail for the participation in the sweepstake for the free car rental. That way you can assure that the subscriber will notice not only the game-related mailings but also the following regular newsletters.

CarDelMar managed to run a highly targeted and automated campaign parallel to regular communication. A five month inactivity period can be used to switch the subscriber from receiving regular communication to receiving the re-activation campaign. Thanks to transaction emails and target groups the only effort that needs to be done is to regularly announce a winner of the prize, everything else runs automatically.

Immediate effect through targeted emails and regular testings

The re-activation campaign from CarDelMar proved to be a success right from the start: With the correct approach, a clever email marketing software and the right incentive, CarDelMar was able to reactivate 7% of all initially inactive subscribers. Furthermore, the gamification emails achieved an opening rate of up to 62%, which shows the effectively implemented playful component, the value of using an attractive incentive and the effect of a multilevel approach.

Kristina Sievers’, Online Marketing Manager at CarDelMar, commented on the successful campaign saying: “We are very pleased to have been able to re-engage so many inactive recipients using an automated re-activation campaign. optivo provided us with first-rate support, in the form of the crucial and precisely tailored marketing automation software.”

International acknowledgement

Besides achieving remarkable results in numbers, CarDelMar’s campaign also attracted attention from the renowned US-based marketing research firm MarketingSherpa. They awarded it with the top prize in the category “Build and Cleanse-Ecommerce” as part of the prestigious “MarketingSherpa Email Award”.

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8 practical tips to increase E-commerce sales Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:01:00 +0000 Examples from big brand Ecommerce sites which smaller businesses can test

The web has transformed the way people compare and buy everything from fruit to flat-screen TVs. The demand to be able to shop online has fuelled a race to join the likes of Amazon, with small independent e-commerce retailers springing up on a daily basis. But it’s important to remember that increasing sales doesn’t necessarily have to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds; small improvements can make a big difference, and even the biggest organisations may be losing revenue unnecessarily.

This post features eight of my top tips for maximising e-commerce sales and includes good practice examples from some of the most successful e-commerce sites.

Tip 1: Remove dead ends

Your site should have no dead ends. Full stop. This should be the first rule of thumb. Every page should be designed to channel visitors to the right product, service or sales representative, even if they’ve already converted previously.

Asos includes a prominent primary ‘continue shopping’ call to action, and other products too.


Sainsbury’s includes additional products on the right-hand side.


Groupon includes extra offers on the right just in case the visitor is no longer interested in the main deal.


Tip 2. Cross-sell your products and services

Cross-selling is very important and the most successful companies all tend do it very well. For example, have you ever queued up at a supermarket and decided to take up their offer of a chocolate bar? This is a common industry tactic to encourage customers to spend more money, and it works online too.

amazon cross sell

Amazon promotes its extended warranties and ‘Amazon Instant’ service to a customer who is viewing a Blu-ray player product page.


John Lewis promotes products based on previously viewed items on the basket page because it’s their last chance to increase the basket value order.

john lewis basket

Berry Bros. & Rudd promotes its storage service on product pages because many of the wines are collected.


Amazon offers a wrapping service within the checkout process. Amazon also promotes their credit card through their e-commerce site.

amazon gift wrap

Amazon also promotes their credit card through their e-commerce site


The king of cross-selling, Amazon encourages multiple buys that increase total basket value

Tip 3. Build, protect and promote your reputation

There’s a saying, ‘reputation is everything’, and it’s true; especially online, where competition is fierce and sites like make it easy for visitors to review a company’s reputation. It’s therefore key to build trust from day one, and keep it there by gathering regular customer feedback.


John Lewis is famous for its ‘honest’ reputation, which is supported by product warranties.


John Lewis also provides help guides to stop people abandoning technical or awkward products.


Kia is so confident in the quality of its cars that the website displays independent customer feedback; some of which is in real-time.


Loan company Zopa prominently displays its awards and respectable reviews.


Dyson is famous for its innovation, led by founder James Dyson, and promotes this reputation via a website video.

Tip 4. Show off customer footprints

Remember that visitors not only consider a seller’s reputation but the product reputation too, and many people use ‘external conscience’ when comparing products online (a subject that’s covered, along with many other user insights, in this Box UK user experience white paper).

For example, Thomas may like the sound of Product A more than Product B, but finds there are no comments for A but 78 positive reviews for B. After considering his options he decides to add Product B to his basket. Thomas was not willing to risk a product that may not have been bought by other people so he used ‘external conscience’. This behaviour is common so encourage customer feedback and show off those customer footprints!


John Lewis promotes products bought by other customers, includes customer ratings and highlights warranty details.

amazon real time

Amazon uses real-time customer data to display currently viewed products.


Best-sellers are popular with visitors.


Berry Bros. & Rudd has an excellent approach to customer feedback, with FAQs, and detailed customer comments and profiles, which can help reassure visitors (e.g. ‘that person is from my area and likes the same wine as me. I trust her judgement’). Up-and-down voting also filters out unreliable comments and promotes the best.


Wowcher displays a ‘Bought’ statistic next to the sales percentage, reassuring visitors that other people have bought the product.

Tip 5. Target key personas

Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket. Identify the different visitor types via user research, choose the most valuable and target them with relevant content on key pages, such as the homepage and landing pages.


John Lewis displays a variety of product types on its homepage. Focus isn’t placed on a single product or products for a given occasion or gender but instead the bets are spread, e.g. between furniture, technology and fashion. Special occasions, such as pancake day, are also made use of.


Impulse buyers are a common visitor type. John Lewis acknowledges this fact by targeting them with ‘Online Exclusive’ products.


Promoting new or featured products is likely to appeal to ‘gadget geeks’ who enjoy buying the latest technology.


Promoting ‘fanclub’ brands like Samsung or Apple is another good idea.

Tip 6. Don’t forget the finer detail

You’ve done very well to get visitors to your product page, but the tough bit is getting them to click the ‘add to basket’ button. Achieving this goal is easier if you display useful product details and highlight the most important, such as price, delivery and offers.


John Lewis displays the latest stock levels. If it’s low, the chance of a purchase increases.


Ebay promotes the offer rate, number of sold items, RRP, and uses clear photography.


Berry Bros. & Rudd includes a lot of detail, making it easy for visitors to compare products and make an informed choice.

apple photography

Apple includes beautifully crisp photography on its website.

Tip 7. Remove checkout ‘registration’

No visitor enjoys registering for an account, so why risk losing their custom by forcing them to? It’s much like asking a store customer to fill out a form before taking their money. It’s better to make the first step pain-free and give them the option to create an account later. Removing this requirement should be one of the first changes to your website as it’s likely to drive up your conversion rate.


Apple allows visitors to continue as a guest.


John Lewis explains why email is necessary, and allows visitors to create password later.

Tip 8. Conduct usability testing

My last tip is to conduct regular usability testing on key aspects of the website experience such as the checkout process, common user journeys, and forms. There are different types of testing which can deliver quantitative and qualitative results, ranging from low-cost rapid remote testing through to moderated lab-based testing.

Due to this flexibility there is no reason why some form of iterative improvement through user testing shouldn’t be a key part of your digital strategy (my blog post on usability testing mistakes can also help ensure you get the most from your testing activity). Because, ultimately, it’s important to remember that you are not your customer.

Summary of E-commerce site comparisons

I have to admit; two of my favourite websites are two of the most successful: John Lewis and Amazon. John Lewis has created a site that not only looks beautiful and has a great user experience but, like Amazon, has a powerful sales strategy behind it. Amazon’s site is market-leading when it comes to conversion techniques, such as ’1-Click Ordering’ on mobile and the ‘Was this review helpful to you?” question.

Although both of these companies invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in conversion rate optimisation, it’s important to remember that building a strong reputation, listening to your customers and providing useful details can be achieved for next to nothing, so follow this best practice and put your e-commerce strategy on the path to success.

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In-depth: A fashion brand CRO case study Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:45:00 +0000 How golfing brand Lyle& Scott achieved a 48% Increase in Revenue Per Visitor

Throughout its 140 year history Lyle & Scott has built a global reputation for distinctive, beautifully designed, high quality knitwear, combined with the brand’s solid authority and presence in the golfing sector.  The company is committed to developing new and exciting products, making them available to customers across multiple channels. The Lyle & Scott website ( now retails in over 50 countries worldwide making ecommerce one of the major components of the company’s sales structure. This case study shows how they increased the vital revenue per visitor KPIs by following the AWA Digital Ecommerce CRO process.

CRO project background and objectives

Lyle & Scott’s objective was to increase the conversion rate of the Website. The ecommerce team wanted to augment online sales by increasing revenue per customer.

The ecommerce team had built a substantial customer database and were already mining the data, optimising it by creating new segments but felt that there was room to improve once those customer reached the website.

Will Dymott, Head of Ecommerce at Lyle & Scott explained the opportunity from CRO this way:

“Whilst our conversion rate was good we felt there was room to improve it further…

[Editor's note: For quantifying CRO and marketing investment uplift we have this conversion optimisation return calculator for members and if you need to compare your current conversion rates with what others are achieving over desktop, tablet and smartphone see this conversion rate average by platform blog post].

After a rigorous selection process Lyle & Scott chose AWA digital for the conversion rate optimisation project. AWA were selected because of the company’s proven track record, understanding of the retail sector and outstanding reputation in CRO.

The objectives for AWA digital were as follows:

  •  To convert more customers online
  • To increase average order value
  • To deliver on AWA’s guaranteed 20% online sales uplift

Furthermore these objectives needed to be delivered whilst respecting the established Lyle and Scott brand guidelines and working with a busy and stretched e-commerce team

Will Dymott said: 

“I gave AWA a clear objective, and knew that by increasing our revenue per visitor by even a modest amount they would not only pay for themselves, but had the potential to add significant value to the bottom line.  

CRO implementation

AWA digital implemented its 5-step Conversion System. A proven methodology created by the company that comprises 5 key stages: tool set up, diagnostic, triage, optimisation plan, and creative execution. As a full-service conversion optimisation and analytics company, AWA digital handled the project in its entirety, developing a complete test plan – including hypotheses, wireframes, graphic design, copy and web development.  Very little input was required from Lyle & Scott throughout the process.

Stage 1 – Funnel analysis and tool set up

Each time a customer attempts to make a purchase on the website there are a number of steps they need to take in order to complete the order.

Funnels helped AWA see these processes easily by giving a visual representation of the conversion data between each step.  AWA analysed 6.8m user sessions and segmented up to 53m data points. This gave them a deep understanding of visitor flow through the site, specifically looking at the difference in behaviour between people who bought and those who didn’t.  The analysis allowed AWA digital to:

  • Determine what steps were causing customer confusion or trouble.
  • Highlight any bugs, browser issues and other technical nuisances.
  • Decide what research would be required to understand why visitors were dropping out of the sales process.

Stage 2 – Diagnostic review of website

AWA digital used a range of voice-of-customer tools – including interviews with store managers, online surveys and moderated usability testing. Exploring the psychology of a Lyle & Scott customer gave the team a better understanding of why they weren’t converting. As an established and globally recognized golf brand, the AWA team drilled down on specifics which included a survey of golf club members chosen to test drive the site.  The results revealed clear differences between multi-buyers and one-time buyers.

As part of the deep-dive analysis, the team also visited Lyle & Scott’s London stores to observe customer behaviour and interview managers about perceived brand positioning. They needed to understand why customers preferred Lyle & Scott over competing brands.

Stage 3 – Identification of conversion killers

AWA deployed its prioritization process (Triage) – to identify the key conversion killers. These included a poorly converting category page with too many choices, the location of the search filters, a high checkout drop-off rate and too little emphasis given to order-builders.

This is the new category page:


Stage 4 – Testing strategy

The team prioritised the various sections of the website for the first round of optimisation. The evidence pointed to the category and basket pages being key optimisation opportunities rather than the home page. Having gathered and compiled the information, the team made its recommendations. AWA digital then created an optimisation plan that was agreed and signed off by the Lyle & Scott ecommerce team. 

Stage 5 – Split testing

Before launching split-tests the team got feedback from usability testers previously recruited in the diagnostic phase. This process enabled the team to gather necessary feedback on proposed wireframes and designs before launching their split-tests. Incoming traffic to the website was then distributed between the original site and the different variations without any of the visitors knowing that they were part of an experiment.

This next screen capture gives an example of the product page after optimisation.



[Editors note: To see more best practices for different types of retail site page templates, check out our new 115 page Ecommerce design "Bible"].

Project results

At the time of writing AWA’s split-tests have shown a increase in revenue per visitor of over 48%. This came from just two split-tests, with the first delivering over 19% increase and the second 30%. This gave an ROI -  £19.55 of additional sales for every  £1 spent with AWA digital.

Will Dymott of Lyle & Scott gave this assessment of the project overall

“The AWA team have done a tremendous job for us and we are delighted with the results. By using  AWA to do all the heavy lifting the project was delivered with very little drain on my team’s time. Bottom line is they guaranteed a 20% gain in revenue per visitor and that’s exactly what they delivered – and more. We are beginning to see the huge impact this has had on our business and we are looking forward to working with the team on the next phase of optimisation.”

Lyle & Scott have extended their contract with AWA digital for a further round of customer research and optimisation.

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Pinterest marketing techniques to increase your followers [Infographic] Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:30:00 +0000 Quick ideas to increase your followers

With over 70 million Pinterest users, which grew by 58% in 2013, then it’s definitely a social media platform to evaluate to see if it fits your business and demographics. See our in-depth Pinterest marketing guide by Rhian Simms and Liz Edwards for more details.

In sectors where visual identity of products is important Pinterest can be influential:

Did you know that ‘a Pin is repinned on average 10x compared to a Tweet, which is typically retweeted less than 1%?’

If you are fairly new to Pinterest and looking to grow your Followers to share your boards, then here are some practical steps:

  • Use high impact, high quality, colourful images – those with medium lightness are 20x more likely to be repinned.
  • Comment on the most popular pins to be noticed.
  • Give positive comments about those you are mentioning.
  • Use other social media platforms and offline channels to promote your presence and promotions on Pinterest ie. tweet your pins and competitions.

The infographic gives more great tips on how to be repinned and be noticed.

Pinterest Followers




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Reviewing content effectiveness with Google Analytics Content Groups Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:30:23 +0000 A tutorial showing you the options to set up this new GA feature

When Google Analytics launched in 2005 it democratised web analytics with its feature rich offering, since then Google has worked hard to add new features to a product that is now considered a viable alternative to most enterprise level web analytics tools. But until recently GA lacked a key feature that many of it’s competitors have had since the first half of the last decade, that is the ability to group content at the session level.

Grouping content has lot’s of applications, for retail sites grouping categories and products is important, for media sites, different types of stories and today all businesses need to know which types and formats of content are supporting their content marketing.

Other tools around the time of Google Analytics’ launch, such as HBX, dealt with this very well but Google, with its URL based content reports and lack of segmentation couldn’t deal with it without some rather involved configuration at the account level.

Other options for grouping content in Google Analytics

Although, it has always been possible to group content at the page view level by using the content drilldown feature or report filter in what is now the ‘All Pages’ report, this isn’t terribly helpful because the base metric used is page views (or worse still, unique page views) and trying to establish content popularity based on page views instead of sessions or visitors is like declaring that a minor celebrity has a high-profile based on the total number of column inches written about him or her as opposed to the total number of people doing the actual writing; it’s not wholly inaccurate but you can do a great deal better.

There are other workarounds that employ either advanced segmentation, custom variables, event tracking or goals but they each have their different advantages and disadvantages which arise from them not being specifically built for this purpose:

  • Advanced segments afford a greater degree of analytical control and flexibility but for non premium GA users they are subject to the vagaries of GA’s sampling so making the data flimsy in some situations.
  • Goals are more accurate in context of data output but they are limited to a single metric – that being sessions.

So with the introduction of content grouping in December 2013 it seemed as though the problem was resolved but indeed, though very good, Content Grouping is not without its own limitations.

To begin with you will find the option to configure Content Grouping at the ‘View’ level of the Admin section in GA. Here you will immediately notice the main flaw, namely that only a maximum of five content groups that can be configured (ten would be a better number), that means you will need to be judicious in deciding which content to group. That said, you can create sub-categories in each group so all is not lost.

Which content should you group?

This depends on the kind of site you have, broadly speaking there are two options, either by page type or based on the nature of the content itself.

If you’re running an e-commerce site then you might prefer to group content by page type e.g. list page, product details page etc. In most cases this will better reflect the customer journey and do more to help you understand the level of engagement at each of the key steps in the on-site customer journey.

If you run a publishing site or similar you may prefer to group content by subject matter since page type may be less relevant e.g. news, weather, etc. The main issue here is that there will doubtless not be enough content groups to cover off all the areas you would want to group so you would have to be clear about which are the most important areas of content – maybe there will be a way in which several areas can be rolled into one content group.

How to set up content grouping

The content groups themselves can be configured in different ways. There are three configuration options:

  • 1. Using the tracking codecontent-grouping-1
  • 2. ‘Extraction’content-grouping-2
  • 3. A set of rules definitionscontent-grouping-3

It is possible to configure the content groupings using one or more of these options and you will need to consider each according to your site.

  • You may prefer to use the tracking code option if you have a set of content that has a URL structure which doesn’t change or is the same as the URL structure in other parts of the site.
  • You may prefer to use the extraction method if you simply want to group content according to a folder within a URL. Here, you may need to have a basic understanding of how Google Analytics uses regular expressions in order to maximise this.
  • You may prefer to use a set of rules definitions if you need to apply a slightly more complex filtering process e.g. instances where you may wish to include content that includes one element of a URL but not another.

The benefit of the second and third options is that they don’t require any changes to be made to the GA tracking code and so there is no dependence on developer time. On the other hand if your GA code is managed by a tag management system (see the Smart Insights guide to tag management) this will be less of an issue.

To access the configuration area from your GA reporting UI click on the ‘Admin’ button in the top right. Under the ‘View’ section on the far right select ‘Content Grouping’
and from here you will then be presented with the three configuration options shown above.


…don’t forget…

When setting up Content Groups you should remember that like goals, data is only collected from that point onwards, in other words it isn’t collected retrospectively.

You should also remember that while you can switch Content Groups on and off you cannot delete them. You can however edit them but if you do this in such a way that they start tracking different content or the same content with a different URL element (perhaps after a site rebuild or redesign) then you should make a note in Google Annotations on the day that you made the configuration change to help remind yourself why the data output might have changed. This last point is particularly important because if there is no recollection of the change being made it could cause a great deal of pain and wasted time when running an analysis that crosses over the date when the change was made.

What happens next?

Once you’ve set up your content groups and data begins to be aggregated within them there are a couple of ways which you can view the data.

  • 1. Go to the All pages report in the ‘Behaviour’ reporting menu. Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. Here you will see the normal report but you will also notice that Content Grouping is now presented as a new Primary Dimension offering. by clicking on the drop down you can then select the content group you’d like to view.content-grouping-5
  • 2. An alternative and more powerful option would be to create a custom report using the content groups.

Content Groups + custom reports = better insight.

The main problem with the standard Content Grouping reports in that the primary reporting metric is page views or unique page views, this is at odds with the primary reporting metric for most sites which is usually sessions. Because of that it’s not really possible to calculate conversion to a specific content group using these two different metrics. The solution is to create a custom report.

Creating custom reports

If you’ve used up all five content groups then you will be best off creating one tab for each content group in your custom report. The example below shows this.


You can then apply the metrics for each group, beware that there are some limitations in terms of which metrics you can use and you will not necessarily know which metrics this applies to until you’ve viewed the report and seen whether or not data has populated, but as an initial indicator some revenue metrics will not work. Page value should be fine if you have an e-commerce site.

You can then use the various charting functions to interpret the data and draw your own insights from it.

In summary, to use content groups I recommend you:
1. Identify which types of content you want to group.
2. Configure your content grouping in the admin area under the ‘View’ section.
3. Wait a few days or weeks to gather enough data.
4. Create a custom report to help in analysing your new data.

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10 Examples of Effective Mobile Business Apps Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:01:27 +0000 What can the best business apps on the market teach us?

Business Apps

A great mobile app adds that little something extra consumers just don’t get from a desktop or mobile site.  Offering instant information and efficient access to products, an app can increase loyalty by providing the consumer with an immediate handheld solution.  A well-designed app well allied to a wider integrated multi-channel retail policy can offer both consumers and brands with huge benefits. Here are 10 inspiring business apps that do just that.


Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 13.29.02The Debenhams mobile app offers customers a simpler alternative to the department store’s desktop and mobile sites, allowing them to swiftly shop the full Debenhams collection.  The app enables users to scan barcodes while shopping in-store to check for sizes and prices as well as read other customer’s reviews of the item.

Also available for download on Android.


Zappos’ mobile app offers users the opportunity to manage their accounts and track their orders on a map, it also saves searches and notifies users when their desired products come back into stock. The use of push notifications means customers do not forget about purchases and are reminded when stock becomes available.

Also available for download on Android.

Domino’s Pizza


An effective app for ordering food that offers a built-in pizza tracker allowing users to keep an eye on what stage their pizza is at in the preparation and delivery process. Consumers can quickly order tailored takeaway meals and effortlessly pay while Domino’s has effectively cracked the age-old problem of customers calling up to find out where their pizza is.

Available to download for iOS and Android.

EDF Energy

EDF Energy

EDF Energy’s app enables users to manage their electricity and gas accounts on their smartphones as well as quickly submitting meter readings by uploading a photo of the meter.  The recently updated Self Service feature also allows users to request paper copies of their bills as well as altering their direct debit amounts and offering energy saving tips. EDF’s app makes it easy for consumers to keep on top of their utilities and an eye on their outgoings.

Available to download on iOS and Android.



Autoglass app users can instantly diagnose the damage to their windscreens or side windows to find out what work is required to fix the glass.  A full overview of branch locations can be displayed on a map and users are given the opportunity to choose where they would like the work to be carried out along with an estimate of how long it will take and how much it will cost.

Available to download on iOS and Android.



ASDA app users can shop and pay for groceries on their smartphones as well as instantly adding items using a barcode scanner.  The app automatically syncs shopping lists across devices and enables users to shop from their Favourites, view ASDA’s petrol price at their closest petrol station and find their nearest ASDA store.  Additionally, the app makes use of a popular recipes suggestion feature to aid users with their grocery shopping.

Available for download on iOS and Android.



One of the most downloaded shopping apps in the world, the Amazon app enables users to shop the full selection of Amazon products and purchase items on the move.  The app uses push notifications to alert the customer when their parcel has been shipped and delivered, keeping them in the loop with their purchase and the brand’s name regularly popping up.  Amazon also offers a shareable wishlist feature with its app, encouraging family and friends to buy gifts through the retailer.

Available to download on iOS and Android.


Just-Eat Just-Eat’s easy to navigate mobile app enables users to search for a takeaway using their postcode before ordering and paying with their chosen method.  In 2013 downloads of the app increased by 500% while Just-Eat predicted that the app would reach 41.9 million smartphone users by 2015.

Available to download on iOS and Android.



Customers can use thetrainline’s award winning mobile app to check train times, plan journeys and buy tickets on-the-go.  Mobile visitors are prompted to download the app for free before accessing the site. It allows users to book tickets in advance, browse the best fares available, save favourite and past journeys and also allows users to pick up tickets from stations across the country.  First launched on App Store in October 2009, the app has since been downloaded more than six million times.

thetrainline can be downloaded on iOS and Android.



Using the easyJet app customers can search, book and manage flights as well as check-in and download their boarding passes onto their smartphones.  Overall customer reviews on App Store and Google Play demonstrate they are impressed with the speed and function of the easyJet app, particularly in comparison to Ryanair’s much less popular counterpart which is regularly criticized for its slow loading time and unreliability.

Available on iOS and Android.

What Benefits Can Apps Deliver For Brands?

These well well-designed apps all sit within a well-considered multi-channel marketing and operations strategy and therefore they are able to offer a host of benefits to consumers, including time savings (Amazon and ASDA), advice and guidance (ASDA recipe suggestions), fast and efficient problem resolutions (Autoglass), delivery and stock notifications  (Domino’s, Amazon, Zappos) and instore interaction (Debenhams).

These perceived improvements to the customer experience deliver significant benefits to the brands involved including…

Repeat purchases, cross sell and upsell

ASDA’s use of favourites and recipe advice are worthy of note. While the favourites listings on the app is helpful and generates brand affinity by offering time savings and a more personalized shopping experience, it also allows ASDA to push repeat purchases and highlight promotions. Its use of recipe advice is also dual edged: it offers useful advice to consumers thereby improving the brand experience and saving time on online shopping, but it also allows ASDA to push new products and back up wider ecommerce promotional activities.

Permission marketing and brand affinity

Zappos’ use of push-notifications to inform consumers that products are now in stock are a prime example of permission marketing. Due to the fact that the customer requested a product update, this second stage push to sale is seen as a service and a gentle reminder, rather than as an unwanted direct response call to action.

Third party purchase requests

Amazon’s use of wishlists enables consumers to create lists of desired purchases. This then not only generates repeat purchase activity, but also enables people to share lists of presents they’d like for special occasions. Both of these increase sales, and third party interaction.

Customer service resolutions

One of Domino’s pizzas biggest problems historically was people phoning their shops to ask when their order would be delivered. The new app resolves that problem by telling people when they can expect their delivery.

To Sum Up…

The truly great apps are part of an integrated marketing and operations plan.  So when developing an app for your brand it is paramount to ensure that this it is integrated with other areas of the business, once all that is in place you need to consider the best way for it to offer an effective resolution of a customer pain point while also offering a solution to a specific pre-existing problem in your business that is unresolved by desktop or mobile sites. Do all that, and your app will be the cherry on top of your digital marketing strategy.

Autoglass, Domino’s and EDF Energy will all be speaking at Smart Insights Digital Impact 2014.  To book your ticket click here.

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Marketing Opportunities From Mobile Apps Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:15:47 +0000 Do you have an app strategy? 5 options for reaching and engaging your audience  through mobile applications

Mobile App Marketing Opportunities

The growth in popularity of mobile apps

In January 2010 Apple announced that 3 billion apps had been downloaded in the 18 months following the launch of the AppStore. Growth has since increased month-on-month and shows no sign of slowing down.

Mobile Apps Marketing Opportunities

Source: Statista: Number of Downloads from the Apple App Store

  • Number of apps available to download from Apple App Store as of June 2014 = 1.2 Million
  • Number of apps downloaded from Apple App Store as of June 2014 = 75 Billion
  • Average number of downloads per iOS app = 62,500

Popularity of apps by operating system

Mobile Apps Marketing Opportunities

Source: Google Play Top Free Apps (correct as of July 2014)

Top free apps on Google Play July 2014 show that communication services Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp Messenger have overtaken Facebook as most popular apps.  It is surprising to note that Facebook has dropped to fourth position having been pushed down the rankings by a game.

Mobile Apps Marketing Opportunities

Source: iTunes Chart Top Free Apps (correct as of July 2014)

Games dominate a majority of Apple App Store’s most popular apps in July 2014.  Facebook is surprisingly low down ranking at number 13, 7 spots below messaging service WhatsApp.

Mobile app strategy options

I think the main mobile app strategy decisions are:

Q1. Are apps a strategic priority for us?

The goal of apps for most organisations will be to increase awareness and sales, or for publishers revenue from advertising or subscriptions.

For many companies, this won’t be a priority because they will have to put budget into higher priority areas such as improving the experience on site or in their social network presence. Owing to volume of users reached through these other platforms incremental improvements here are likely to give better returns. But the figures presented above show the potential benefits of apps to marketers in reaching audiences and potentially in selling apps, although the latter will be generally limited to publishers or specialist software developers. For these types of organisations, apps are likely to be a priority.

Q2. Do we build our own app and/or leverage existing apps?

Creating an app is only one of the marketing options – advertising and sponsorship options may be a more cost-effective method to build reach and awareness of a brand. A good example of sponsorship fit is the Canon Sponsorship of the excellent Guardian Eyewitness phototgraphy app. We also have the new in-app advertising including iAds from Apple and Google Adsense equivalents (made possible through its acquisition of the AdMob network) although I’m not sure of any results from those yet.

Q3. Free or paid apps?

Retailers will generally offer free apps offering choice and convenience in return for loyalty. Brands offering entertainment will likely also go the free route to increase customer engagement. But for publishers or software houses, a freemium approach of free app showcasing the serivce and paid app for improved features or content is the standard approach.

Q4. Which category of application to target? 

As you would expect, accessing social networks and music via apps is popular, but for most organisations, you can see from the chart below that Games and Entertainment are the main options as of May 2013.

Mobile Apps Marketing Opportunities

Source: ACMA: Putting the ‘Smart’ in Smartphones

Popularity of Mobile App categories 2014

Mobile Apps Marketing Opportunities

Source: AppBrain: Most Popular Google Play Categories 

Entertainment apps narrowly edge ahead of lifestyle apps on Google Play, with education closely following and music and audio surprisingly low down.

Mobile App Marketing Opportunities

Source: Statista: Apple Most Popular Apple App Store Categories June 2014

Games rank highest as the most popular category on the Apple App Store, leading by a margin of over 9%.  It is interesting to note that lifestyle and entertainment apps place 4th and 5th respectively.

Q5. How to best promote mobile apps?

Your options for marketing apps are illustrated well by this chart of preference for finding out about apps for smartphones which shows that the most popular methods of app discovery are

  •                1. Searching the app store
  •                2. Recommendations from friends and family
  •                3. Mention on device or network carrier page
  •                4. Email promotion
  •                5. Offline mention in TV and print.

Q6. How to refine apps in line with feedback.

The success of apps is very dependent on feedback in the App stores and the need to fix bugs and add enhancements to compete shows the need for an ongoing development cycle with frequent updates. A whole new area of app analytics and new solutions will no doubt develop but a challenge with apps similar to that of Flash apps before them is that measurement functionality needs to be specified in advance. Careful review of hurdle rates for % user base who are using the app or its different function is going to be a KPI here.

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Digital to account for 75% of all marketing spend in 5 years? [Infographic] Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:45:19 +0000 Get in the game - don’t get stuck on the sideline

More than a third (35%) of senior marketing professionals believe that digital marketing will account for more than 50% of marketing spend by 2019, according to a new report from Accenture.  37% feel it’ll account for 75% or more of all budget.


Accenture’s research is based on survey responses of nearly 600 executives in 11 countries conducted between November 2013 and January 2014.

My immediate question when I saw this headline for the report is what is “digital investment”? Is this just online advertising rather than actual marketing? We have to guard from a lazy “TV 2.0” mindset towards digital where we move ad spend, literally online. Thankfully the report is more broadly focussed on using digital to orientate around a consumer – so all’s good!

What’s behind the positivity about the future of digital? With the Accenture report stating that:

42% of marketers feel that analytics and working with metrics will become a ‘core competence’ in marketing over the next five years

Is this the result of increased focus on analytics and measured effectiveness? A growing confidence that the proof is in the pudding?

The findings suggest that CMOs are currently finding themselves short – the four key insights from the report from our perspective:

  • Analytics – hiring digital talent is critical especially regarding technical and analytical skills os off the back of CMO satisfaction of internal analytics falling to 49%.
  • Mobile alone will account for 50% of the marketing budget by 2019.
  • Digital budgets will account for more than 75% of the marketing budget.
  • Marketing will become an on-demand information function (according to 34% of respondents) and merged with IT 26%.

What is it that winning CMOs do?


According to Accenture, winning CMOs lead and transform the marketing role from a digital perspective, transforming the enterprise as result.

  • Embrace the full omni-channel customer experience.
  • Integrate channels with real-time analytics and then act on the insights.
  • Invest in agile technologies and cloud-based services.
  • Re-orient the marketing operating model and integrate new talent to harness digital innovation.
  • High performing CMOs harness the potential – 86% of high performing companies use analytics to direct focus and impact, and 80% provide a consistent customer experience.
  • The rise of the CDO to drive ‘digital transformation’, Chief Digital Office of course, changing the dynamic since it means only 1% of respondents see the CMO driving digital in the future, 35% see the CEO driving change.
  • Test, learn and “fail fast” where digital technology is concerned – 30% of CMOs feel that they lack critical technology or tools to drive digital integration.
  • And – a fascinating rise of the re-importance of email with 58% stating it as an important tool.

Do we believe it? The logic is sound but actions speak louder than words. Currently, Procter and Gamble direct only a third of their budget to digital marketing, although they have stated that they intend to increase this as it looks for more efficient marketing strategies, an approach also adopted by SABMiller and Pernod Ricard. Unilever, with brands such as Dove and Marmite, directs a mere 17%, so there’s some distance to go.

How do you get started and get into the game?


It’s a key and important question – here are three great start-points in the report:

  • Reverse engineer marketing initiatives around desired outcomes—which aren’t always sales transactions.
  • Empathise with your customers. This is the key insight – people not digital. Evolve marketing initiatives to engage, share and help your customers, rather than target, capture and convert them.
  • Engage customers in an ongoing dialogue instead of individual transactions. Treat your customer as a continuous relationship that covers the whole spectrum of sales, service, retention and loyalty.

Here’s a full summary in infographic form:


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Facebook Ads Product Guide: Free Download [@SmartInsights alert] Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:18:45 +0000 A handy guide to the size specs and range of ads available on Facebook

If like the rest of us you are continually flummoxed by the myriad of ad types on Facebook, let alone the idea size dimensions for mobile, desktop newsfeed and right-hand side, help is at hand.

The nice people over at Facebook For Business have given us permission to publish their Facebook Ads Product Guide. You can download it here totally free-of-charge.

>> Download the Facebook_Ads_Product_Guide  <<

You’ll find other guides online but most are pre-April 2014 when lots of changes were made.

Ad size specs

The aim of this guide is to introduce you to the various ad types available but also give advice on how best to drive awareness and engagement whether by video, image, offer or plain old message.

It will show you the ad types for driving clicks to your website, driving people to your store with an offer, to your mobile or desktop app, responses to an event or to get more likes for your Page.

It’s a really handy guide for ad sizes and will even give you recommended sizes for images as well as the number of characters allowed in different types of update.

Home page ads

What I particularly like about it is that there is no mention of the “Boost Post” option. This guide is for grown-up, savvy marketers who are using Facebook advertising most cost effectively and properly considering targeting options (which you’ll only really do through Power Editor).

The guide also explains the different types of social information that can be surfaced to people whose friends have connected with your Page.

Types of social information

I hope you find this really useful. I spend half my days ranting at the terrible ads that surface on my own timeline. Brands that are wasting money with poor targeting, dreadful copywriting and questionable images. Smart Insights have more recommendations and ideas on how to improve the quality of targeting and creative in the Facebook Marketing guide I have written for Expert members.

Just because you happen to have a personal Facebook Profile does not make you a good Facebook marketer. The advertising side alone is a whole technical artform in it’s own right and one that changes on a very regular basis as Facebook rolls out new opportunities and changes.

A little plug for me if you’d like some help with Facebook marketing

I’m in the process of setting up a digital agency called The Digiterati. Facebook marketing (and training in Facebook) will be one of the services we are offering. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information.

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