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International Ecommerce Q&A With Robert Belgrave

Next Wednesday,  18th September, sees Blueleaf launch their first DigiBix event. DigiBix is an ongoing series of breakfast events developed exclusively for ecommerce professionals. It’s an environment for like-minded professionals to come together to discuss, learn and share stories

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Say Bonjour to Laura Ashley France

Laura Ashley’s quintessentially British style does extremely well globally. It’s true that style knows no boundaries and the iconic Laura Ashley look is very popular with our European companions.

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What's your customer journey?

Understanding the different ways that customers approach your company, the decisions they make and the feelings they experience along the way can be an essential part of any web project. Identifying each of these gives us important insight into the best design, navigation and content for your customers.

So, what are the typical stages of a customer journey? Well, just as there's no such thing as a 'typical' company, equally there's no such thing as a 'typical' customer. The example shown however, fits many.

  • Purchases often start with a research phase, increasingly conducted online. Our learning from this is that your site should cater for customers who want to browse quickly and you need to blow their socks off with the way you show your products/services
  • Following this primary research the next step can often be to experience the product in the flesh, especially if it's a high value item. Featuring a prominent store finder on your site helps customers get to you. You could also include a stock checker so they're not disappointed when they arrive. Once in-store, giving web access to customers via a mobile site or terminal helps deliver a joined up experience. Acknowledging that they may not be ready to buy in-store is also important, so sending them away with something like a discount voucher for use online can encourage purchase
  • The customer's next step may well be further online research. Your site now needs to get customers easily to the products they're interested in, quickly delivering as much information as possible and allowing them to spec the product and add any extras, before of course helping them checkout
  • Hopefully we're at the purchase stage now. Give your customers as much confidence as possible in your online security before you ask them to type in their card details – show trust logos, design your checkout to work quickly and seamlessly, and tell them know about delivery and returns
  • The journey doesn't end there. Once they receive their order, encourage them to share their hopefully fantastic experience socially, review the products and give them clear information on how to contact you with any queries



This is only the tip of the iceberg for customer journeys, but hopefully it will have given you a flavour of the power of these pieces of work. Fully understanding all the ways that customers come to your business and all of the different routes through to making a purchase can pay dividends when planning a website.

It's the only way to ensure that your new site caters for every customer at every stage of their journey.

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The Power of Free Shipping

In this current economic climate, exceptional customer service is winning customers and improving customer retention. Providing excellent service however, like free shipping, for example, increases costs and the challenge is to find ways to please the customer without destroying the bottom line. There are some amazing stats in this infographic on the effect of Amazon Prime on people's habits. Amazon Prime is a service offered by the retail giant that guarantees free service for a yearly fee. Take these with a pinch of salt, however as you can bend stats to your will and of course people who sign up for Prime will be more inclined to spend more overall as they are more engaged.

Amazon Prime Infographic power of free shipping

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Analytics: are you tracking more than you should?

Google Analytics for a long time has allowed us to exclude certain tranches of traffic from ever appearing in our reports. What's important of course is making sure you are excluding everything you need to, not just the standard stuff. Standard exclusion - your office traffic

An example of this would be to exclude your internal office traffic. You know the kind; marketing bods updating the website, bosses checking it's how they want it to look and so on. How do we do this?

First, login to your profile. I'm assuming that you're using the new version of the Google Analytics interface.

  1. Click the cog wheel to access your settings
  2. Click on the filters tab
  3. Click on +New Filter
  4. Fill it in as per the screenshot. Exclude, traffic from IP address, Equal toGoogle Analytics exclude traffic from office
  5. And now just fill in your IP address (IT should be able to tell you) or go to Google and search "what is my ip address" and it will tell you what to fill in. Please note if you're at home it's not worth doing this most of the time because home IP addresses tend to change every few days.
  6. Now go to your standard reports to add an annotation on today's date, so that you know when you added this exclusion Annotations in Google Analytics

Now, is that it? No it isn't. This is just a pretty basic step to exclude your office IP address traffic from your profiles - both internal traffic and your agency's traffic - giving you more accurate reports help you make better decisions and give you better averages. But there's some other stuff you need to be aware of.

The sneaky stuff

The really sneaky things are the items that you might not get told about. We were talking with one of our clients recently and saw that their average bounce rates had shot up, but traffic was still about the same, as were their online sales. How is this possible?

A bit of digging later revealed the sneaky stuff. The internal IT department had started monitoring the website. Normally this isn't a problem as a lot of services use a 'ping' which just checks the server, it doesn't access the website. What we saw here though, was a tool that was checking and downloading the home page of the site every single minute.

Now for those who understand bounce rate, this basically means I landed and left immediately (visiting exactly one page) - it had a 100% bounce rate and was triggering hundreds of visits a day. This was significant and having a large effect on the bounce rate.

If you go into Audience > Technology > Network this is where we spotted a lump of traffic coming from a particular hostname and so excluded the traffic in the same way as before.100% bounce rate, 1 page per visit, zero time on site. Massive efect on the averages.

Hostname producing poor Google analytics averages

The lesson here is to never ignore a shift in a metric that is significant. There will be a root cause of this shift that needs to be found. What this particular one was doing was not only inflating actual real traffic sources, but had concealed a significant drop in traffic from a very important referrer to the site - something we can now action to get this traffic back up.

Beware the sneakies!

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For your viewing pleasure...

...introducing the Blueleaf showreel starring Team Blueleaf during a normal day in the office! It showcases some of our clients and the work we've done for them as well as taking you on a tour of Blueleaf HQ. A huge thank you to Soup Creative who have produced this for us. We love it! Did you know that the music was written especially for us, how ace is that!

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