Thought About Creating an LMS Platform? Why Now Is the Perfect Time

Businesses have been severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdown and planning for the future has never been so important as it is now.

This is a good time to look at how you can make your processes more efficient, get your marketing campaigns ready for when the lockdown is lifted and give your employees the tools they need to hit the ground running.

One area you should look at while you have some time is how you train and update the skills of your workforce, whether it’s to provide a better service for customers or when learning about a new product or service.

A Learning Management System or LMS, designed for use online, can be used for a wide range of educational and training programmes in your business. The great news is it’s easier to get up and running than you think.

Why You Should Invest in a Learning Management System

According to elearningindustry.com:

  • 68% of us prefer learning in the workplace.
  • 58% of employees prefer to engage with self-paced learning.
  • In the US, 42% of businesses found that providing online learning increased their revenue.

What is an LMS?

A learning management system or LMS is a piece of software in your business infrastructure that allows you to create and post training courses for your staff and track how these are used. It’s a learning website within your business that employees at all levels can access and there are numerous platforms to choose from.

Depending on the type of business that you run, training modules could include everything from 1-minute explainer videos to more intensive and in-depth management training modules. You might even want to include gaming and other ways of learning new skills.

The Benefits of an LMS

  • It gives your employees instant access to learning materials that could make a big difference in their performance and productivity.
  • An LMS reduces the cost of inhouse training by providing a range of bite-size and more in-depth training that employees can access in their own time.
  • You can track everyone’s learning and build new content to further improve performance based on feedback.
  • For employees, it offers a clear path to not only find the information they need but to help build their careers.
  • LMS delivers a more knowledgeable workforce at every level including management and leadership and delivers greater customer satisfaction.

How to Implement an LMS for Your Business

Like any online service, creating and implementing an LMS requires careful planning and thought. The first step is to look at the type of learning you want to include for your business and how you need to organise it effectively.

As with any kind of content you place online, every learning module needs to have a purpose and a specific intended outcome. A lot of this will depend on the size and complexity of your business as well as which sector you operate in.

If you are a medium to large size company, for instance, you may well have different sections that require different levels and types of training. A smaller company might sensibly have a more generic output that is aimed at everyone.

You also need to consider what type of media you are going to include. Video is a powerful and engaging tool for online learning but can be expensive to produce. Animated sequences for 30 second or 1-minute how-to guides have come down in cost over the last few years. Other options are webinars and written pages with interactive content as well as gamified learning.

How this content is all going to be centralised into one learning system and how employees access it will also be vital. You might even want some content, for example, product demonstrations and explainer guides, to be available to your customers.

How We Can Help

Choosing the right software to implement your learning management system is important. There are some 500 different products on the market at the moment.

We create custom LMS websites based on Lifter, LearnPress and LearnDash that allow you to implement innovative and engaging learning for your business. Our expert team will work with you to develop the best strategy, organise your learning material and bring everything together to build a system that is easy to use and maintain.

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Starting an E-Commerce Website: 5 Important Tips to Remember

It’s easy to set up an e-commerce website. You can have your site live with products ready to buy in a matter of hours. Anyone can do it.

Creating a successful e-commerce site, however, requires a few extra qualities. You need to have focus. You need to have a plan. You certainly need plenty of energy.

Above all, you need to commit.

Why? Many see e-commerce as a get rich quick option and then get downhearted when a) no one comes to their site and b) they make no money at all.

According to failory.com, e-commerce businesses have a failure rate of about 80%. That’s not surprising because you don’t have to put a lot of financial investment into building an online store. Platforms such as Shopify nowadays make it pretty cheap to get started.

People get sucked into the notion of ‘if we build it, they will come’. This is generally not the case. Once you’ve built your site, the major part of your work will go into building your customer base.

1. Finding the Right Niche

Niche is a big buzzword in the world of ecommerce and other ways of making money online. It can often be misconstrued as a product or service for sale that few people have thought of but which has a potentially decent sized customer base.

In fact, a niche is all about finding the right focus for your e-commerce store.

You may be lucky enough to have your own product to sell online in which case you’re niche is already sorted for you. If you are getting products from elsewhere, however, narrowing your range can help focus your marketing activity and improve your chances of success.

Our top tip: If a particular product area is too competitive, you may find it difficult to rank on search engines which can make it difficult to get people to your store. Check who is also selling your line of products and what your chances of outranking them are.

2. Choosing Your E-Commerce Platform

There are numerous e-commerce platforms available that offer subscription services depending on the level of seller activity you are likely to have. Many of these such as Shopify offer an extended free trial so you can try them out.

The key here is to choose the platform that works for your business model and delivers what you are looking for. Check reviews and the type of ecommerce site that gravitates to each platform and try to match it your offer.

3. Building Your Site

In a rush to go live, many newbie e=commerce entrepreneurs throw their content up on the site and then are disappointed when customers don’t come flooding in.

The planning stage of any website is vital but it’s even more important for e-commerce. That includes making sure you have quality content, attractive images and well-developed user experience or UX model for your site.

  • Does your site look professional?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Do you offer different options to buy?

4. Getting People To Your E-Commerce Site

Once you are open for business, the truth is that your work has only just begun. Getting people to visit your site is going to take a large marketing effort and there are many approaches you need to take.

The first is to ensure that all your pages are search engine optimised so that they can be found on sites like Google. This is not just a simple case of putting in certain keywords. SEO takes time and effort and it often doesn’t see an effect for months.

Other options are going to be including content like blogging to improve your online visibility as well as engaging with social media. You may also want to try approaches such as pay per click advertising which can deliver more immediate results.

5. Commit to Outstanding Customer Support

Trust is a key factor in e-commerce. Customers have to feel comfortable using your site as there are, unfortunately, plenty out there who are willing to take advantage.

Part of this comes from having high levels of security for checkouts but it’s also about the customer support you provide.

That means having, for instance, an easy to understand returns policy as well as a helpline that is responsive and customer-centric. Get this aspect of your e-commerce business spot-on and customers will return again and again and recommend you to friends and family.

Get it wrong and you can expect your business to suffer.

Choose We Are Innovative

If you want an experienced partner with several years of e-commerce development success as you start your business, the team at We Are Innovative can certainly help. We work with platforms such as Magento, BigCommerce and WooCommerce and have a proven track record of producing high-quality sites that hit the mark.

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5 Reasons Your Current Website Isn’t Attracting or Converting Visitors

If you’ve got an attractive looking website and a bunch of content uploaded, you may be wondering why customers aren’t visiting in greater numbers and, when they do, why they aren’t converting to sales.

Here we take a closer look at 5 reasons your website appears to be stagnating and what to do about it.

1. Your SEO Isn’t Working

In the old days of the internet, SEO was almost all about throwing in your main keyword as many times as possible and getting spurious inbound links from various spam blogging sites as you could find. Hit the right numbers and you usually ended up near the top of the rankings.

Thankfully for those who prefer good content, Google algorithms have become a lot more sophisticated in recent years.

This means that SEO is a nuanced practice that takes thought and effort. It not only means you can’t flood your content with keywords but that the content also has to be of high quality. You can’t link from any old site to get incoming link brownie points, you have to choose reputable locations that have a decent ranking themselves.

Also, you need to focus on design aspects like the speed of page download, whether your site is mobile friendly and how seamless the user experience is.

2. You Don’t Harness the Power of Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool when used in the right way. We see so many business websites that don’t, for example, have social media sharing tools on them. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get your page content out there. People love to share and buttons on each page improve the chance of that happening.

We also find that businesses use platforms like Facebook and Twitter in the wrong way. They are more concerned about pushing services or products than actually engaging with their audience.

To boost visits to your website, you need to carefully think through your social media strategy – what platforms you are going to focus on, what you are going to post, how do you measure interaction and what do you want the endpoint to be?

3. It’s All About You

Content is really important, especially on the main pages of your website. These service pages should be designed for one thing only and that’s to get customers to buy your product or hire your service.

All too often businesses talk about themselves on these pages. They say things like: ‘We have this to offer’ or ‘we have this or that sort of function’.

What they talk less about is what benefit their product or service is to the customer. If you are not converting on your website, it may be that you’re not offering the solution that your customer is looking for.

This comes down to the old marketing features vs benefits debate. You need to focus on benefits at least 70% of the time in your content. What can you achieve for your customer? How will it change their lives?

4. Your Content is Static

Search engines love sites that have new content. If you simply upload your service or product pages and haven’t added any new information in months or even years it can affect your ranking.

The easiest way to create new content for your website is to have a regular blog. This not only keeps your site live but gives you the option of targeting certain keywords that attract more traffic. It also gives your audience more information to share on social media which can increase visibility.

5. You’re Making it Difficult to Buy

Finally, one of the biggest barriers to online conversions is a clogged up sales funnel. Ideally, you want to make it as easy as possible for your customer to hit a page and then buy your product or hire your service. Too often, we see sites where the navigation is too complicated or pages lack a clear call to action.

If you are struggling to convert customers, start going through your site to see where you may have inadvertently set up barriers to buying. Changing these might make a big difference to your conversion rate.

Contact Us

If you have a site that is not attracting customers or converting them in large enough numbers, the team at Innovative will run an audit and help you understand where things can be improved.

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How to Get Organic Inbound Links and Improve Your SEO

SEO can be a complicated business. There are so many strands to it that businesses often get swamped by the options and spread their resources too thinly with diminishing returns.

One constant mantra from marketers when it comes to optimising your site for platforms such as Google is the importance of inbound links.

Here we take a closer look at what these are and ways to get other sites to link to you organically (in other words, without you having to pay them) and, hopefully, improve your ranking.

What Are Inbound Links?

Any link to your website from another site is called an inbound link. If you have lots of interesting information on a particular page, someone might read it, write an article of their own and use your content as source material, embedding a link to your page.

Why Are They Important?

Search engines see inbound links from other sites as an important indicator of authority The more you are linked to by reputable sites, the more it should improve your ranking.

How many sites do you need linking to you to see an effect? Well, this is a slightly nebulous concept because there is no set rule that X amount of inbound links will achieve X steps up the ranking. All we know is that it makes a difference.

5 Ways to Get Inbound Links That Work

There are several ways to get inbound links. You could, for example, ask partners and suppliers to your business to link to you. You can, in certain, circumstances buy links from other sites though we don’t advise this as it can be expensive and not achieve the results you are looking for.

The best way to encourage inbound links include:

  • Create great blog content: Having a blog on our website allows you to build a catalogue of great content and, more importantly, a readership. This could include options such as how-to guides, the latest news associated with your business or opinion pieces that get people thinking. The more interesting content you have, the more people are likely to link to you.
  • Guest blogging: Many online journals and industry sites are always on the lookout for great content and will usually allow you to have at least one link to your website in any blog. These sites tend to have strict guidelines for content creation so make sure you read through these before producing anything.
  • Design infographics: Infographics are some of the most shared content on the internet and having a few on your site can certainly help inbound links. They tend to work best for lists or step by step information such as this one called Understanding Viral Content Marketing.
  • Provide useful resources: Resource guides are relatively long pieces of content that give links to sites across the internet on a particular subject. For example, you may produce a 50 link guide to the best online resources for buying a home. These kinds of pages are often seen as a one-stop-shop for information which people are happy to link to.
  • Use social media: While you are not strictly creating content for inbound links, getting your posts in front as many people as possible is vital. The best way to do this is to include social media sharing buttons on your blogs, infographics and other content. In other words, make it easy for people to tell their friends and family about the stuff you have created.

Inbound linking strategies are not a one-off activity. They should permanently be part of your overall approach. At Web Design Southampton, our expert team can help you build your website content so that it naturally attracts more links of this kind and improve your SEO at the same time. We can also help you with a content creation strategy that works over a long period of time.

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Celebrating The Color Run 2012 in Nashville

Trending colours for summer web design projects

If you’re planning to revamp your website with us this summer – or perhaps are about to commence work on your first ever business website – then why not consider adding a totally on trend new shade to your design? Picking a trending colour can give your new site a contemporary, modern appeal. A pop of colour can work wonders to inject new life into a design, even if you’re only making minor cosmetic changes so read on to find out what this summer’s hottest shades are set to be…

Coral pink

The popularity of coral pink isn’t likely to be constrained to summer as it is the official PANTONE colour of the year for 2019. According to the hue heroes at PANTONE, this colour (Living Coral to give it its official title) is said to “energize and enliven”. It’s described as optimistic and joyful, is nurturing, represents modern life and nature, linking closely to the coral reef. Thanks to its many qualities, this is an on-trend selection for a range of industries and can pair well with other shades to create a website design that is fresh, inviting and welcoming.

Blueberry

This deep, purple-hued blue is also very much on trend for summer but unlike its Living Coral counterpart, has more corporate echoes making it a great choice for a whole host of website designs. The deep blue also pairs well with lots of lighter shades, so you can play around to create an eye-catching contrast. A crisp white is a classic choice but, if you want a bold website, you could pair it with pops of lime green, used as an accent for things like buttons, headers or menu items.

Ancient Grain

This colour, as its name suggests, is the colour of golden wheat. It’s more neutral and muted that Coral Pink but not quite as bold as Blueberry either. Because of this, it’s a perfect partner to brighter, zestier shades and can be put to work on a very elegant, classic web design that won’t quickly appear dated.

Violet

This luscious purple shade has been around in trending circles for a while and is a previous PANTONE colour of the year. It’s rich and luxurious and lends itself to a whole host of sectors, from fitness to fashion or food. This colour is also a great choice for any design or branding project as it can be paired with a wide selection of other shades including orange, white, blue or magenta.

Which colour will you incorporate into your new site design?

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How important is local search?

How important is local search?

When it comes to SEO, there is a temptation to focus almost exclusively on the main search results. For many businesses, directing resources at a local search campaign may actually make more sense.

If you aren’t yet convinced that local SEO is a worthwhile use of your SEO budget, read on to discover exactly how important local search is.

1. Local search leads to local visits

Any businesses with a physical bricks and mortar location can benefit from local search. Why? Because it has been proven time and time again that a local search typically leads to a local store visit. That means if you’re looking to increase footfall to your shop, bar, restaurant, hotel or other business premises, it’s critical to be highly visible when local customers head online.

Two often cited research studies confirm this opinion:

  • 90% of search users will choose a search engine when they need to find local information
  • Local search has a high purchase intent with just 7% of non-local search leading to purchase within 24 hours, compared with 18% for those looking locally
  • Half of those who carry out a local search on a mobile device will visit a physical store within 24 hours

2. Local search visibility is linked to mobile and voice search visability

Mobile search volumes have exceeded desktop search volumes for a couple of years now making it the standard when it comes to search rankings and optimisation. Naturally, given that we turn to our smartphones more when we are out and about and away from our desks, a lot of mobile search is locally focused. The same goes for voice search – 63% of consumers try voice search when driving because they need local information.

Investing in local SEO and prioritizing local visibility is therefore an investment in mobile and voice search too.

3. It’s more competitive than ever

If you’re guilty of having neglected local search SEO in favour of traditional SEO, then it should be even more of a priority for you today. As smaller businesses have found themselves unable to compete with national firms for traditional search rankings, they have flocked to local search in order to at least win local business and/or capitalise on mobile and voice search trends.

Competition has been made harder still by the fact that the local search pack has shrunk over the last few years, so there are now fewer spots up for grabs on page one than ever before.

All of this means that if you haven’t invested in local search before now, time is of the essence. Fail to use local optimisation tactics going forwards and you might find that you’re missing out not just on mobile traffic, the higher purchase intent that comes with local search and voice traffic – you may be unable to get a footing on Google at all.

Need help getting your local SEO campaign off the ground? Contact us to find out how we can help.

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Online shop - Digital tablet

Google rolls out new Google Ads formats for retailers

With Black Friday just a few short weeks away, it’s fair to say the holiday shopping season is well and truly upon us. With that in mind, Google has launched two brand new Google Ads formats which it says it created specifically for retailers to help them sell more in the seasonal sales period.

The two new Ads formats are Video in Showcase Shopping Ads and Shoppable Image Ads – which is a pilot for now but is expected to roll out fully over the next several months into 2019.

Video in Showcase Shopping Ads

We all know that a picture speaks a thousand words but when it comes to shopping and tempting online consumers, that’s truer than ever. Add video to the mix – which is consistently named as the most shared content format and the one that drives the most engagement – and you have a recipe for success.

Google’s new Video in Showcase Shopping Ads gives retailers another outlet for their video content. Showcase Ads are a multi-image Shopping format which when clicked on, take the user to a landing page with images, products and product descriptions. The new addition sees Videos taking pride of place – the video is displayed in the featured image position and then, once clicked on, will play in full at the top of the landing page.

Advertisers that have Showcase Shopping Ads already running can use this new format option right away.

Shoppable Image Ads

Consumers will often search for pictures online, using Google, before they make an actual real world purchase – this happens in around a third of cases, says the search engine. Shoppable Image Ads give retailers a chance to make a connection with the consumer when they perform that image search, not just on Google but on selected third party publisher sites too.

When used on a third party site, such as a blog, a Shoppable Image Ad will trigger a carousel of products once clicked which are all similar to what is displayed in the image. A food blogger for example could post a picture of a tablescape and a user clicking on the Shoppable Image Ad would then see a list of similar crockery or cutlery available to buy.

When viewed in Google search, the Ad is a large unit with the products contained within the image bearing a price tag. This format is undergoing pilot testing but Google says it will ramp up significantly in the coming years.

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Lots of christmas presents on a table

Six ways to ensure the most successful sales season ever – as outlined by Google

Six ways to ensure the most successful sales season ever – as outlined by Google

Halloween might have only just been and gone but Fionnuala Meehan, VP EMEA, Google Marketing Solutions has taken to the search engine’s blog to outline six ways that retailers can make this their most successful holiday shopping season ever.

With turmoil on the high street, trying a few of these Google-suggested approaches could see your seasonal sales campaigns off to a much needed flying start. Read on to discover how to put Google’s advice to “think laterally, act local and keep on going until the party’s over” mantra into action right now.

1. Think like a shopper

This might sound like an obvious piece of advice but, it might actually be something that is missing from your paid search campaign strategy. Google says that some retailers are guilty of focusing on the very obvious keywords that support the festive season with other products being overlooked – potentially to the detriment of your bottom line. Creating a campaign for batteries for example could well net you a host of extra sales with a spike 24-30 December each year. Tailor your adverts and budget to appear when demand is at its seasonal peak.

2. Start now, finish later

The sooner you switch on your seasonal ads, the sooner you will start to make sales but, avoid the temptation to switch them off too early. It actually pays to leave ads live longer than you may think, with Google revealing that almost a quarter (20%) of shop traffic in December actually happens six days after peak season. Keeping your ads live a little longer than conventional wisdom dictates mean you’ll be perfectly placed to benefit from that unexpected shopping surge.

3. Try remarketing

If you don’t normally run remarketing campaigns, the festive season is a great time to dip your toe in the water. Research shows that 41% of those shopping on a mobile device will bounce from your ecommerce store without making a purchase – but cash conscious consumers could well simply be shopping around and comparing deals so investing in remarketing ads makes sure you stay in the running by staying visible.

4. Show inventory levels

If technical possible, be transparent about how much stock is left – 41% of online shoppers want retailers to do better when it comes to sharing inventory information. In the run up to Christmas this is especially important as this gives the buyer the confidence that the item they want to gift is in stock and will arrive on time.

5. Don’t neglect local ads

Local search is still lucrative at this time of year so don’t forget to have a locally focused campaign up and running too. This is especially important if you have a physical store location or your product is stocked in a local retailer’s store as 85% of those performing a local search visit a physical store within 24 hours.

6. Try new formats

Shoppers have proven themselves to be open to purchasing from new retailers and Google recommends that as an advertiser, you take a leaf out of their book. This means making an effort to try something new, such as one of the new seasonal ad formats just launched.

Need some more help ramping up your sales activity this holiday season? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you maximise seasonal sales opportunities.

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Easy ways to increase your social media engagement

Tactic 1: pay for it

One of the things you’ll first need to remember is that platforms like Facebook give business Pages very little organic reach – because they want to encourage brands to pay for things like boosted posts and Facebook ads. Without any budget behind your Facebook updates, the majority of your posts won’t even reach user News Feeds.

Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that Facebook would be changing its algorithims so that users saw posts from friends and family rather than businesses – while this means that fewer people will initially see your posts (and could be a cause of your low engagement) creating great content that drives authentic and meaningful interactions will help you into News Feeds where other brands may struggle.

To begin to show that value and get the process started, consider putting budget behind boosted posts and ads, at least in the short term. This will get your best content in front of users, ensuring that you start to earn genuine interactions, likes and shares. In turn, this begins to signal to Facebook that your updates are deserving of a place in News Feed.

Bottom line? The number of likes, shares and comments your posts receive dictate how well placed they are in News Feed. To earn those likes and shares in the first place, you’ll have to pay for at least some exposure.

Tactic 2: use video

Facebook’s own research shows that hands down, video drives more interactions and engagements than any other form of content. If you haven’t yet started to incorporate video, doing so should result in happier engagement metrics.

Facebook explains, … live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers…”

Tactic 3: Host a competition or giveaway

Everyone loves the thrill of a competition or potential to get something for free – harness this with a giveaway. You’ll often see influencers teaming up with other influencers to host competitions for fans, with the caveat being that you must like, comment, tag and share to go into the prize draw. Even if you don’t want to team up with other brands or influencers (which can extend your reach by giving you exposure with new audiences), you can still host a giveaway where entrants are required to tag a friend or comment to be in with a chance to win.

Need more help getting your social media marketing on track? Contact us to find out about our affordable, effective social media services.

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A beginner’s guide to online reviews as their importance soars

How important is local search?A beginner’s guide to getting-to-grips with online reviews as their importance soars

The latest research on online reviews has highlighted just how vital they are to business success, especially as an ecommerce retailer or local business. The updated Local Consumer Review Survey discovered that more than eight in ten (85%) of local consumers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. Simply put, online reviews are the next generation of word of mouth recommendations with experiences of strangers valued just as much as those of friends and family members.

As well as being so valued by consumers, having a strong review profile can also help to build trust in your brand, with around 7 in 10 shoppers said to feel like they can trust a business more if it has positive reviews.

Beware though, the majority of shoppers read around seven reviews before they feel comfortable trusting a business and around half of consumers want to see at least four-star reviews before parting with their cash.

If you are new to online reviews, you’ll need to start actively embracing them. To help you get started on the path to a strong (and profitable) review profile, follow our tips for beginners:

1. Make it easy for customers to leave a business review

To build a strong review profile, you’ll need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review. This can feel daunting at first but, the importance of online reviews shows no signs of diminishing so you need to embrace it.

Google and Facebook are the two most trusted sources of online reviews so it makes sense to start there. You’ll need to manually turn on Facebook reviews – go to your business Page, then click on edit Page. Next, find add tab and from there, scroll down to reviews or recommendations.

For Google, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business listing. Go to google.com/business to do this. It’s also worth registering for industry-specific review platforms such as TripAdvisor if appropriate.

Two often cited research studies confirm this opinion:

2. Make a review request part of your sales process

Over half of shoppers will leave a review if asked to do so – the tricky part can be remembering to incorporate this request into your existing sales and after care process. If you have transactional emails set up already, it should be easy to add a review request option to automate the process. Otherwise, you could use a tablet in store, send emails manually, include a request on invoices or receipts or packaging inserts.

3. Be responsive

The volume of reviews you receive is a local SEO ranking factor – but so too is how responsive you are. You’ll need to get into the habit of responding to reviews quickly and practise this for both good and bad reviews. Not only is responding to all reviews a good thing ranking wise, it also shows customers that their feedback is appreciated.

4. Develop a strategy for dealing with negative reviews

It is inevitable that you will receive a negative review at one time or another so formulate a strategy for dealing with them ahead of time. The number one rule is not to respond in kind or attack the reviewer for their views. If the review is grossly unfair or untrue, most review platforms will have a process for requesting reviews be removed. You will need to prove that the review isn’t genuine however so you can’t take this route for every negative review you receive.

While it can be distressing to receive a poor review, it’s worth keeping in mind that consumers expect to see the odd two or three star review as entirely five star ratings can seem false.

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