Web-Feet.co.uk Blog

Customising search terms in Magento 2

Posted on November 15, 2017 by

Introduction to Magento 2 Search

Magento 2 search can sometimes be suboptimal when more than one search term is used. Your initial reaction might be that the search engine isn’t very good. However, using data collected from the Magento 2 admin and using some experience, the platform offers some great flexibility to customise and therefore optimise search results. The end result can be a much better user experience for your site visitors and hopefully a better conversion rate. To find out more, read on.

Considerations

Before we dive in, there are some key considerations before you start trying to customise your search within M2.

Understanding user behaviour

Offsite search

First, we need to take a step back from the M2 website under consideration and look at how the visitors arrive at your website in the first place. If you are using Paid Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation for organic search, then the ‘searching’ has most likely been done BEFORE the visitor arrives at your website. Hopefully, they’ve landed on the right page to meet their needs. In other words, these users are arriving at the website on the product page they are looking for. As such, Magento search is less critical to this type of user. What is critical is ensuring you have a good Digital Marketing strategy to ensure these potential buyers are finding your products through search and landing right where they need to in order to purchase.

Onsite search

Everyone else that lands on your site, through more generic search terms or through your efforts to promote your business and products/services, may be better considered a ‘browser’. They land on your site because they are interested in what you have to offer but might not have a specific product or service in mind. This is the main target audience for optimising your on-site Magento search terms.

We’ll get into a specific example shortly. For now, I’ll show you how to find where you customise search terms in the site admin. So, when you are logged into your M2 admin, click on the Marketing tab and then under SEO & Search you will see ‘Search Terms’ – as highlighted in the image below. Select this option and it will take you through to the Search Terms page.

Menu path to select search customisation

 

The Search Terms page in the Magento 2 admin

When you select the option above it will open the Search Terms page, as shown below.

Magento 2 search screen

The purpose of this page is two-fold. First of all, it’s where all your user intelligence is to be found in terms of what people have searched for on your website. This is actual, real-world data and therefore a potential gold mine in terms of understanding users search behaviour. This page will show you the most recent search queries, how many results that query received and how many times it’s been used. You can filter the data by Uses so that the most frequently used search terms are shown at the top. Not only can you see popular search terms you can also see mis-spellings and other such data which you can use to provide a better visitor experience. There are two key opportunities here;

Mis-spellings

Within the search queries used, you may find things like common mis-spellings or people searching using singular (eg. fridge) when your products are only listed in their plural form (e.g. fridges), and vice versa. This is your opportunity to catch these and redirect them to the actual search results (products) they were looking for rather than no results which can be frustrating and result in visitors leaving your website.

Products or Brands you don’t stock

If visitors are searching for products or brands you don’t carry, rather than give them zero results in the search, redirect them to a Magento landing page that can offer them alternatives. This would be like going the extra mile if you were face to face with the customer. It shows understanding, great customer service and may result in a sale when otherwise the visitor would have just moved on.

Creating Your Custom Search

Here’s an example below of how the search term ‘black fridge’ returns unexpected results. Because we have two words in the search, Magento treats these as mutually exclusive. So, in this case, ‘black’ is being weighted higher than ‘fridge’. So items in the database that are ‘black’ are being listed above those that are ‘fridges’, the search terms are not being used collectively because that’s not how the search works in Magento. This makes sense if you think about it but also, Magento has provided loads of customisation options, which is the purpose of this blog post of course. It should also be noted that you can also ‘weight’ product attributes in Magento in order to optimise search too – that however is outside of the scope of this article.

To deliver better results for this search term we can set up a custom search term within the M2 admin. More on this below.

Search results for black fridge before

Having determined that this search terms doesn’t work as we’d like it to, we can add this as a search term in the admin as described. In order to do this, we need to determine a destination URL so that we can effectively override the search and direct that specific term to a specific page. Below I’ve selected the ‘Fridges’ category from the main site navigation. Then I’ve used the search filter on the left to select just the black fridges. This sends me to the page URL as shown below. Copy this URL to your clipboard and then we will use it to set up our custom search.

 

Filtered search for black fridges

 

If you now go back to the site admin you can create a New Search, this will display the following information. All we need to do is add the search query (in this case black fridge), select the Store View we want this search to apply to, and then add the redirect URL which we copied above. Click save. Please note that if the search query already exists in the database you will need to search for this on this page and then edit it – this only applies if you get a message to say that your search term already exists. As mentioned above, you can also set up a custom search for products or brands that you don’t carry. So if there’s a brand you don’t carry but you have some great alternatives – redirect that search term to a Magento landing page suggesting alternatives. You may make a sale when otherwise the visitor is just going to leave and go somewhere else. It’s also a great opportunity to share your knowledge with your visitors because you may have a much better alternative, this is your opportunity to say why.

add new custom search term

If you now go back to the main website and carry out the same search as before, you will get the results as shown below. Perfect!

customised search for black fridge search term

Search Synonyms

Search synonyms in Magento 2 is another way to customise search. This is a way to link related search terms but only applies to single words. If you have a single word search term that is commonly misspelt, you can link these by creating a Synonym. You do this by creating a list of words, separated by commas. When anyone searches for any of these words, they will all be linked to the same search results. These are especially useful for single search terms that can be misspelt. For anything else, there are the custom search options above.

How to Video

Here’s a video with a step by step guide that shows you how to do everything I’ve talked about above.

In summary

Successful websites are as much about the experience as they are your products and services. You want to get your visitors to what they want quickly and with as little friction as possible. This is why Magento 2 has these really useful features that allow you to fine-tune your visitors’ search experience. Now you know how this works it’s well worth spending time regularly, fine-tuning this part of your website.


How to Overcome Black Friday Chaos

Posted on November 8, 2017 by

 

The 24th November is right around the corner, so if you haven’t started to plan your Black Friday marketing campaign yet, you’d better start now. The biggest event in retail is here in a couple of weeks, so now’s the time to make sure you really satisfy your customers on Black Friday, even if you are a small commerce business.

If you are not quite sure how to start creating a successful Black Friday marketing campaign, we’ve got some tips which can guide you through the process.

Revise the data from previous year

Revise what you did last year. Check which promotions worked well, which products made the biggest profit and which keywords were the most searched for. Were your customers mostly women? Or teens? Avid golfers? Whoever your target market is, make sure you specifically target them in your Black Friday marketing campaign.

Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring your website’s performance, and the standard version is free for businesses to use. Speak to one of our digital marketing specialists to find out more about how Google Analytics can help your business.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Get your Black Friday email marketing campaigns ready. People will receive hundreds of emails during the build-up to and on Black Friday so you have to make sure your email stands out. Make it clear and catchy.

Subject lines – try to think of a subject line that will capture the recipient’s attention. This has to reflect the content of your email. If you are sending out an email about the new HP printers being half priced you don’t want to say ‘Win the brand new iPhone 8’ just to encourage people to click on it. Information like this is spam, and will encourage people to unsubscribe. Make sure the information you are sharing is relevant and beneficial to the recipient and add some creativity.

Use personalisation – people like to see they are valued customers. If John keeps buying protein shakes every month, let him know when they are on offer.

Email doesn’t have to be just plain text – the era of plain text emails is over. You can now get creative and make your emails engaging. For example, use GIFs – they are a great way to engage with customers.

Social Media

Companies use social media to boost brand awareness and communicate with customers. Make sure your social media content is rich. Whatever promotion you send out in an email campaign, don’t forget to share it on social media too. All of these different avenues come together to form a cohesive marketing campaign, which delivers a clear and consistent message.

Many companies have now connected their e-commerce stores to their social media accounts, encouraging customers to share your products and services, helping to boost brand awareness and advertise your business.

Invest more in ads

Many purchases on your website will come from a search on Google, so it’s important to make yourself more visible around Black Friday.

If you’re not using it yourself, you’ve probably at least heard of PPC, paid search or Google AdWords. They’re the results at the top of Google with the little green ‘ad’ next to them. PPC is a great way to get your business in front of your potential customers. Make your ads pop up after people search for products similar to yours and enable your ads to reach out to more people. You can target people in certain cities or regions, or even up to a certain distance from your store. What’s more, you only pay once they actually click on your ad.

You can also advertise on social media. For example, if you’ve got a number of customers following you on Facebook and Twitter, make sure you boost your posts to reach more people. You don’t have to spend a fortune, even a small amount like £50 can get you thousands of impressions! You can be in total control of your advertising by choosing how much you want to spend and how long you want the campaign to last for.

Make sure your website is ready for Black Friday

According to IMRG, the UK’s industry association for e-retail, online spend on Black Friday 2016 was £1.23bn which was 12.2% more than in 2015. More people shopped online than in stores which means that your website has to be ready to handle a lot of traffic. Some tips on how to prepare for high traffic:

Cache your website content
The content on your website can be either static or dynamic. Static content is cacheable and dynamic content is uncacheable. Make sure you cache everything you can. Images, CSS, JavaScript or large objects like downloads have an impact on the speed of your website if they are not cached.

No more error messaging
If your customers are in the middle of purchasing products and the page is taking a while to load, they certainly don’t want to see ‘an error message’ popping up! This will convey a negative site experience, and potentially put them off making the purchase altogether. Instead, think about how could you make the waiting time a bit less painful. For example, you could use a gif that appears while the page loads – if it’s something funny they might not even realise they are waiting slightly longer than usual.

Magento 1.x updates stopping

Mobile responsiveness is key

More people are switching laptops for phones or tables. Shopping on a smartphone is very convenient and quick. However, there are some companies that still haven’t optimised their websites for mobiles. Make sure your customers have a chance to shop faster, make your website fully responsive this holiday season!

Make it longer than a day

Although Black Friday is a one-day event, the past few years showed that companies were offering discounted products longer than that. Customers now expect to see sales from the beginning of the week. Last year data from the UK’s industry association for e-retail IMRG shows that £6.45bn was spent over the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21 – Monday 28 November 2016). This doesn’t mean you should put your whole store on sale for a week, but do think about it strategically – maybe start the week off with 10% off Monday, 20% off Tuesday leading to a big sale on Friday.

Smooth returns

It’s happened to all of us. You really want to buy something but as soon as you do, you are not that sure anymore and simply want to return it. Especially during Black Friday, people will often purchase items based on their price and then regret their decision. Make sure the process of returning items is as smooth as the buying process.

Also, don’t forget that your return policy has to be in a visible place on your site. Consider placing it not only in your terms and conditions, but also under the product description or in the shopping cart.

Last but not least – don’t forget about your employees

Events like Black Friday and the Christmas period can be very stressful for employees. Showing them appreciation doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Bring some snacks and drinks at the end of the day and let them know you wouldn’t be able to do this without them – it’s the little things that count!

 

If you need some help with creating your Black Friday marketing campaign, make sure you Contact Us today.


Top Tips for Content Creation

Posted on October 23, 2017 by

content creation blogging

“On average, people consume 285 pieces of content or 54,000 words every single day” – Hubspot

Content marketing is more competitive than ever.

In 2017, many businesses are putting out original pieces in a bid to entice, delight and satisfy customers. According to Hubspot, each person consumes 285 pieces of content per day, or 54,000 words on average. With more pieces of content appearing every day, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to get noticed online.

What is Content Marketing?

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience” – The Content Marketing Institute

The keyword here is valuable. Content marketing isn’t just about throwing any piece of content out there. The content creator’s job is to give the readers or viewers content they want to consume, providing information that’s highly relevant and of value to them, whether it’s presented in the form of a blog post, an article, an infographic or video.

content creation video

What is content?

In web marketing, ‘content’ simply means a piece of information that’s available electronically.

As a rule of thumb, good content should be interesting, shareable and valuable to your target audience. It also has to be digestible information that’s presented in a useful and accessible way.

It can be written or visual, and there are hundreds of different types of content available online. The most common types of content we see online usually fit into one of the following categories:

  • Infographics
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Memes
  • Guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

Don’t worry – content creation doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Infographics, blog posts and short videos can be created by businesses of all sizes on both big and small budgets, and are relatively simple and straightforward to produce. Guides, whitepapers and webinars are often more time consuming and will require more research, effort and expertise. The type of content you choose to produce will depend on your target audience, type of business and time available.

You may wish to include a range of types of content within your content marketing strategy, or just stick to one or two – there are no rules and you should do whatever works best for your business and your target audience.

Below we’ve included some of our top tips for content creation, based on our own content marketing strategy at Web-Feet!

1. Utilise content creation tools

For the graphic designers and videographers among us, producing an infrographic or short video is a breeze. For the rest of us, it can be hard to know where to start and what tools to use. Thankfully, there are some fantastic content creation tools available online that are completely free, accessible and easy to use.

Canva (below) is a graphic design tool we use for internal marketing at Web-Feet. It’s fantastic for creating high quality infographics and images for social media or blog posts. You can use it to create high-quality and visually engaging templates using your own branding. These can be saved, so you can use them again for future posts or campaigns without starting again from scratch. It’s pretty straightforward and user-friendly, and you can connect multiple social media accounts, making content distribution easy.

content creation buffer

For creating videos to be shared on our YouTube channel, we use the cloud-based online video editing tool WeVideo. WeVideo enables even the least skilled video editor to get to grips with creating high-quality videos, which can be embedded within a blog post (like below) or shared via social media.

2. Brush up on your written English

Writing skills are important when it comes to producing great content. It’s all about effective communication – you need to get your point across to your readers clearly and concisely to keep them engaged.

Your tone, style and the quality of your written work also reflects your brand: a sloppy piece with poor grammar and spelling that hasn’t been proofread doesn’t send across a good message to your readers. In fact, it can be very irritating so read and put people off your company altogether!

Keep your tone clear, consistent and representative of your brand.

If writing skills aren’t a strength in your team, there are some great online tools out there to help. Download the Grammarly Google Chrome extension to eliminate grammar errors and polish your written work.

It’s also a good idea to ask somebody to proofread your work, as even those with the strongest writing abilities can be blind to their own mistakes!

3. Take advantage of data

Content driven by hard facts and data is often the most successful. Many companies will spend lots of money doing research and gathering their own data, which is fantastic if doing so is within your means.

However, you don’t need to spend loads on research in order to produce great content, as there is a world of data out there ready to be taken and turned into a great marketing campaign. Government data is a fantastic source of free, trustworthy data that encompasses a variety of sectors, from business and the economy to health and the environment.

When you use an authoritative data source, your business takes on some of that authority, giving your brand a unique voice it doesn’t normally have. This can enable you to use that data to create something unique, valuable and interesting.

4. Use a Content Calendar

A content calendar is a great tool for planning ahead, making content creation much easier. Use it to plan around seasonal events and dates that are relevant to your business, and let it guide your overall content strategy. Come up with some content ideas and use your content calendar to create a backlog for future marketing campaigns.

You can find out more about planning content and download a free content calendar in our blog post Marketing Planning: Do you know your key dates?

content creation calendar

5. Think carefully about content distribution

Before clicking post or send, think carefully about who you want to target. Knowing your target audience will help you to decide not only the type of content you’re creating, but also where you will place it and how you will spread the word.

Content marketing is about more than just creating your content: it’s also about utilising the best tools out there to promote your valuable content in order to attract and retain customers. Below are three marketing tools that we use at Web-Feet, either for our own marketing or on behalf of our clients.

Buffer

For posting infographics and sharing blog posts on social media, we recommend using Buffer. Buffer is a free social media management platform which enables you to manage multiple social media accounts from one page. You can add content to a ‘queue’, selecting the time, date and place you’d like your content to be published. This means you can plan in advance, setting time aside to create and upload content Buffer which will then trickle your content to your followers.

You can also download the Buffer app to a smartphone or tablet, enabling you to add content to your queue away from your desk and on the go.

Hatchbuck

We also distribute content, such as blog posts, via email. For this we use Hatchbuck, which is a fantastic all-in-one sales and marketing automation software. We love Hatchbuck because of its wide range of features: not only is it a great CRM system for storing contact details, but you can also track leads and prospects, helping you reach out to the right people and stay on top of your marketing strategy. It’s essentially a tool which streamlines your marketing and sales strategy into one place, which makes it a great fit for many businesses.

MailChimp

MailChimp is another marketing automation service that’s popular with businesses of all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have the added bonus of a built in CRM system and functionality that Hatchbuck offers, but it’s a great and affordable alternative if you’re looking for a straightforward email platform. MailChimp is responsive on mobile devices and tablets via an app, so you can use it whilst on the go.

To find out more about the Content Marketing services we offer at Web-Feet, including content creation, then Contact Us today.


Magento 1 vs Magento 2

Posted on October 5, 2017 by

Magento 1 vs Magento 2

Magento 2 is the latest version of the most popular ecommerce platform in the world. Currently holding 14% of the market share for ecommerce platforms, it’s safe to say the Magento upgrade has been a pretty big deal for ecommerce businesses.

The key defining feature of Magento 1 is it’s flexibility. Users can create stores with a variety of functions using pre-made extensions or by utilising the coding skills of their developers. This flexibility leads to a better shopping experience, with plenty of useful features and innovation opportunities for both B2B and B2C businesses. This is one of the key reasons why Magento is so popular.

However, despite this flexibility, Magento 1 is not the most user-friendly platform. It lacks performance optimisation, mobile-responsiveness, and some admin capabilities that every online store needs. These essential features aren’t part of the Magento 1 package and would need to be developed by a skilled Magento developer. There have also been many complaints of Magento 1 running slow, which isn’t ideal for an ecommerce site.

To address these issues, the Magento team designed an upgraded platform: Magento 2.

Magento 2 comes with features that make it a better platform overall. The major changes for Magento 2 include the following:

features of majento 2

Improved UX

The admin panel of Magento 1 is notoriously difficult to navigate and not user friendly. Thankfully, the team at Magento decided to address this issue head on with Magento 2.

One of the most obvious changes and welcomed to the second edition of Magento is its brand new admin panel. The new admin interface is designed to help reduce the time managing the online store. It’s a lot more user-friendly and easier to get to grips with.

Magento 2’s administrative improvements and new capabilities include:

  1. Improved product creation: The new step-by-step product creation tools allow you to add products to your store up to 4 times faster than in Magento 1.
  2. Improved data view and filtering: Admin are able to customise the new grid-style admin panel so important business information can be accessed quickly. The personalised admin panel is designed to increase productivity when managing products, orders, and customer data. This means you are welcomed with a clean, de-cluttered user interface that offers the information you need. Magento has also added the ability to quickly filter data based on any of the attributes that have been enabled in your data view.
  3. Admin navigation improvements: Overall the admin interface is cleaner and less cluttered. Menus are more organised so that finding the page and functionality that you are seeking is much simpler. These improvements lead to a smaller learning curve and quicker productivity for administrators.
  4. Data safeguards: Magento 1 was designed for a single user admin to be manipulating product data at a single time. This is troublesome for larger sites that might have multiple administrators to work on product data simultaneously, thus making your team more efficient and allowing you to more easily keep your store’s products up to date. Magento have addressed this issue with Magento 2.
  5. Product videos: Adding videos from YouTube or Vimeo is now very simple and supported by Magento 2. This offers a great opportunity to properly merchandise your products and add some engaging video content to your site.

The admin interface of Magento 2 also now includes drag-and-drop layout editing, meaning users don’t need extensive coding knowledge to modify an online store’s appearance. This means you can create a beautiful online store in half the time.

Streamlined checkout

The majority of Magento 1 stores had to alter the checkout process in some way to make it more user-friendly. Now, better checkout options are built into Magento 2. This means every store built with Magento 2 will by default have a more intuitive checkout process.

The checkout process in Magento 2 is more streamlined, making it quicker and easier for customers to go from adding items to their cart to completing an order. It’s highly customisable and requires fewer complicated steps and customer information. Reducing the checkout time is huge for reducing abandoned carts and increasing conversions, so this is a great improvement for both customers and business owners.

Magento have also simplified customer registration by allowing customers to create an account after ordering instead of during the checkout process. When a customer goes to checkout, they are brought to a default guest checkout screen where they enter an email address. If this matches an existing customer, they are given an option to checkout faster with saved information. Guests can create an account in one click from the order Thank You page. These features which simplify the order process encourage customers to return to your site and make purchases. Fewer confusing choices and fewer forms means a significant increase in conversions as customers focus on what matters: finishing the checkout process.

The new checkout also includes order details on every step, offering greater transparency to help put your customers at ease. The order summary in Magento 2 now includes product photos. This reduces ordering errors which cuts down on returns and increases buyer confidence that leads to higher conversions.

 

the benefits of magento 2

More mobile-friendly

As more and more customers are shopping on smartphones and tablets, mobile responsiveness is key to improving sales. In fact, 50% of online transactions are now performed on mobile devices. The Magento team recognised this and made mobile responsiveness a priority for Magento 2.

Magento 2 comes with new responsively designed and SEO-friendly themes, integrated video features and a streamlined checkout. These all improve the look and function of Magento stores on mobile devices, thus encouraging mobile sales. A much more streamlined, mobile-friendly checkout and faster performance will result in a much higher conversion rate for your mobile shoppers.

The new admin panel is also responsive and touch-screen friendly so you can manage your store on the go. This enhancement ensures easier control and configuration of the online store. This is great for merchants who work with their CMS via iPads or tablets – make changes in the office, on the train or at home.

Performance enhancement

Magento 2 was designed with performance in mind. The developers behind Magento have achieved this through utilising the following technical improvements:

  1. Ajax cart: Magento 2 uses JavaScript to add items to the shoppers cart without reloading the entire page, putting less load on your hosting hardware resulting in a more responsive experience and a faster checkout time for your shoppers.
  2. Cache: Magento 2’s improved caching system stores commonly accessed page elements to serve them faster to your visitors, and now includes support for caching technologies like Varnish (a popular HTTP accelerator).
  3. PHP 7: PHP is the programming language that Magento is built with. Magento 2 is optimised for PHP 7, which provides superior performance to previous PHP versions.
  4. Hosting environment improvements: Magento 2 includes new features and functionality that allows you to more easily spread the demand on your hosting infrastructure over multiple servers, which makes handling large traffic spikes much easier.

Magento 2 will run an average of 30% to 50% faster than it’s predecessor. Faster site speed encourages more user interaction with your site and more products added to your site’s cart, leading to more sales and fewer abandoned carts.

The latest Magento version can handle up to 39% more orders per hours with 66% faster add-to-cart times that Magento 1. It can also better handle many catalogue pages without slowing down, with a nearly instant server response time for catalogue browsing.

Magento 2’s improved functionality also means it can handle more traffic. Magento 2 can manage 10 million page views an hour, whereas Magento 1 can only process 200,000. This makes it ideal for large stores and able to grow with an online business.

In addition to all of these fantastic new features, updates within Magento 2 are designed to work a lot quicker, making it easy for Magento users to take advantage of new features as they’re released.

Key payment integrations

As we’ve mentioned, Magento 2 integrates a lot of popular extensions so stores have better functionality out of the box. This includes payment gateways like PayPal and Braintree. These are payment platforms the majority of Magento users choose to integrate anyway, so having them already integrated into Magento 2 makes it a lot easier for store owners.

Magento 2’s integration with PayPal means customers do not need to re-enter payment information such as a billing address as this is handled by PayPal, another development which makes the checkout process smoother and quicker.

There are also integrations with Worldpay and Cybersource to increase payment security, so customers can rest assured that their payments are safe and secure.

So, Magento 2 – have you been persuaded to transition?

Web-Feet have certified Magento developers who are eager and ready to help ease this transition. Let us help give your customers the benefit of Magento 2’s new features.

Although some have reservations about moving to Magento 2, it’s clear this platform was designed to provide a better experience for both customers, store owners and administrators. It maintains the flexibility Magento is known for, but with improved features.

What’s more, soon Magento 1 security updates will be stopping, so all Magento ecommerce site owners will have to move over to Magento 2 sooner or later.

If you’re thinking about moving your ecommerce site over to Magento 2, or creating one from scratch our team of expert Magento developers are here to help.

Contact Us


Proximity Marketing for the Tourism Industry

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

On average, we check our phones a whopping 150 times a day. This offers a huge number of opportunities for savvy marketers to target us with products.

Marketers know that providing personalised content to end users is critical to increase engagement. We are constantly bombarded with information, which makes filtering what’s important or relevant to us hard. One thing’s for certain – users will engage with content much better when this is done for them.

This concept isn’t new and is used increasingly in end user communications. However, what’s been missing in the past is the physical or location based element to this puzzle. Many websites contain lots of useful information but filtering through this to get to the information you need – especially on a mobile device – is often cumbersome and frustrating.

Bluetooth beacons solve this problem.

Beacons broadcast content that is specific to a physical location. This means that end users get access to what’s relevant and useful to them specific to wherever they may be – whether they’re at an airport, in a hotel, at a tourist location or a shop. Considering ‘near-me’ searches have doubled in the last year, the location specific content has become more important now than ever. It’s expected that 70% of retail companies will use beacons over the next 5 years.

Take a minute to think about the possibilities that beacons offer and you’ll realise powerful this concept is – to be notified of location specific content. Imagine standing outside a famous landmark and receiving a notification on your smartphone, alerting you to a nearby cafe along with a 25% discount – you’d probably swing by and purchase something, wouldn’t you? Offers, maps, and other important information can be all broadcasted via Bluetooth beacons, making the possibilities endless.bluetooth beacons

These beacons enable you to create micro-moments with your customers: these are critical touch points within the consumer journey which, when added together ultimately determine how that journey ends. Micro-moments are all about anticipating your customers needs in a specific physical location, and taking action to provide them with the information they need. Do they need directions? Tourist information?

All the technology exists today to make these location specific micro-moments possible, but it can be hard to know where to start.

This is where Coaster CMS comes in.

Coaster CMS is a next generation, beacon enabled Content Management System. It has been built from the ground up to make the management of content easy for the website owner. It’s beacon enabled with support for both Kontakt and Estimote beacons, and has innovative features that make it the perfect platform to build both static and location based content.

As Coaster CMS was built from the ground up to make use of beacons, it allows different content to be displayed at different times of day. Imagine being able to not only build amazing static and location based content, but also choose the times of day, day of week, or even hour of the day, that different content is displayed – pretty handy, right?

Even if you aren’t ready to move directly into location enabled content, Coaster is an extremely capable CMS in its own right. As such it future proofs your content and serves as a platform to build location based and time specific content as and when you are ready to deploy beacons.

Bluetooth proximity beacons are a technology that will revolutionise our use of the internet, so contact us today to find out how you can make use of this technology now and get yourself ready for the Physical Web.

Coaster CMS is a next generation CMS built from the ground up by Web-Feet, an innovative digital agency based near Southampton in Hampshire. Being an agency we serve the needs of our clients and Coaster reflects this by combining the latest technology but with a focus on usability.

To read a bit more about Beacons in tourism;

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/ibeacons-event-industry/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/yorkshire-wildlife-park-ibeacons/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/beacon-installation-gatwick-airport/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/ljmu-beacons-use/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/lighthouse-city-guide/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/beacons-levis-stadium/


Setting up the Kontakt Gateway + Location Engine with Proximity Beacons

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

Promotional graphic of Kontakt Location Engine

Introduction

This article will detail how we set up and used Kontakt’s Gateway + Location engine with Bluetooth Proximity Beacons – We’ve worked with Kontakt’s range of Bluetooth Proximity beacons for a while now but it was some time ago that we received our Gateways but never got around to setting them up, until now! Part of the reason for this has been that we’ve been really busy on customer projects and the other is because we thought it might take a while, this couldn’t have been further from the truth as it turns out.

So, we’ve set two Gateways up at our offices in Southampton in the UK and these are both subscribed to Kontakt’s Location Engine. Here’s a summary of how to set them up and what you can do with them. But first…

What is a Kontakt Gateway?

It’s a small USB powered BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) + WiFi device that allows you to track and monitor BLE devices via a cloud interface or API (Application Programming Interface). Effectively real-time Bluetooth scanning that allows you to also connect your BLE beacons to the cloud. The Gateway works directly with the Kontakt Location Engine via a monthly per unit subscription.

What is the Kontakt Location Engine?

The Kontakt website says that ‘the Location Engine is an API that empowers you to build BLE based asset tracking solutions cheaper and faster’. In my view, it’s actually more than this because it doesn’t just allow you to track assets unless you consider people assets – which in many cases they are but I’d prefer to call them people.

It’s also more than an API because it’s actually a very nicely thought and well-presented web interface that gives you access to a broad range of live and historical data based on the movement of BLE enabled devices. Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, it also allows you to set triggers and then actions based on how BLE enabled devices move, say into or out of range of a Gateway. These triggers and actions can be linked to IFTTT  which makes it a really powerful tool.

What does a Kontakt Gateway + Location Engine do?

In practical terms the device allows you to track, monitor and collect data on assets and people via BLE devices. The Location Engine adds the ability to perform real-time actions based on this data.

Setting them up

So each Gateway has a micro USB port for power, one is provided with the unit, but be warned, it’s pretty short (30cm). Don’t worry however as any micro USB cable will do. At this point, you have 2 options for connecting the Gateway to your local wifi network. The first is via the Kontakt app (you will need to be the owner of the device in the Kontakt panel), the other is to connect the device, via USB, to a PC. Both are pretty straightforward – you basically just need your network SSID and password details. Once the Gateways have been updated with your wifi details the LED on the top of the device will show green once it’s been through its startup cycle.

Don’t forget that the gateways each need a subscription to the Location Engine, you have a couple of options here, quarterly or yearly, the latter attracting a discount.

Creating a venue

In order to make use of your Gateway, you need to create a venue. In my case, I set one up called ‘Web-Feet Office’. You then have the option of uploading a floor plan. A good place to create a nice looking floorplan is Roomsketcher. Once you’ve done that, you apply some dimensions in the Kontakt panel for scaling purposes (each Gateway has a range of about 50m) so that the location engine software can apply the appropriate scale radius zones for the Immediate, Near and Far ranges of the beacons. This is so that you have an accurate depiction of the associated ranges of each beacon and nearby devices.

Adding the Gateways to your venue

Now you’ve uploaded the floorplan you can place your beacons, virtually on the plan to reflect where you have placed them physically within the room. It’s really easy to move them around within the panel, just drag and drop. Nice!

Live Streaming data

So you have your Gateways powered up, connected to your wifi network, your floorplan uploaded and your Gateways virtually postioned on the plan. Now you can start streaming live location data. Click on the big green button to start live streaming data to the screen (it will be paused by default). Please note however that the data is still being collected in the cloud, it’s only the streaming of live data to your screen that is paused.

Screenshot of live streaming data in the Location Engine
Live streaming on the Location Engine. The number of devices for each proximity range is displayed in each zone.

Once you’ve started live streaming data you will see how many devices (I’ll explain why I say devices and not beacons shortly) are within range of the Gateways, split into 3 concentric circles to signify the Immediate, Near and Far perimeters. This is standard beacon terminology by the way. You have full control over switching each zone on/off on screen depending on what you want to see. If you click on any of the proximity rings, you will see on the right of the dashboard panel a list of the devices that the Gateway can see in real time. This will be either the 4 character identifier for Kontakt beacons or a MAC address if it’s another Bluetooth device, such as a mobile phone or another non-Kontakt beacon.

You can give the devices an alias if you want to make it easier to identify them in the panel. To do this you can just click on the link next to the device and add the alias. This is something I would recommend doing at the outset as much as possible as it makes the data more valuable that way – especially when assigning triggers and actions, more on this later.

Right now your Gateways are set up and busy collecting data which is being stored on the Kontakt cloud.

Analytics

There are quite a few options within the panel to analyse the data being collected by the Gateways. Here’s the data you can report on.

History

This allows you to select a timeframe and then see which BLE devices were within range of a Gateway during that period. You can see by Immediate, Near and Far for each Gateway and filter accordingly.

Dwell Time

This doesn’t strictly show the dwell time for an individual beacon but actually shows you the cumulative total of BLE devices within the specified time period for a Gateway in each of the 3 proximity ranges, Immediate, Near and Far. This allows you to see, up to a minute by minute timeframe how many BLE devices were in the range of a Gateway and how that changes over your selected timeframe. It should be noted that the actual specific dwell time on a BLE device by device basis is available via the API.

Screenshot of device dwell time by gateway
Dwell time for one gateway, hour by hour for a 24 hour period – shows total number of devices stacked by Far, Near and Immediate proximity

Heatmap

This data is actually very similar to the data presented as Dwell time but isn’t broken down by Immediate, Near and Far – just the total number of BLE devices within range of each Gateway during the specified timeframe.

Screenshot of total BLE devices per gateway over 4 x 15 minute period
Shows 2 x gateways on the horizontal axis and then 4 x 15 min periods with total BLE devices in range during that time as a ‘heatmap’

Connections

Connections provides you with a complete list of other BLE devices that were near one Gateway but in the perspective of another BLE device. For example: Let’s say that there is a Gateway in a meeting room and there was a meeting scheduled by me at 10:00 am for everyone who would like to join. If say a manager would like to know who attended my meeting, by going to connections, they can search for me (my beacon) and see what other devices were reported by the Gateway at 10:00 am.

Timeline

Timeline shows which devices were in range – Near, Immediate or Far – of any Gateway

This is the most detailed view available in the Analytics suite and lists each individual device that is in range of any Gateway for the specified time period, broken down by Gateway. This is a good example also of how an alias is really useful for a Kontakt beacon – see top to entries whereby both my beacon and Taylor’s beacon are in range of both Gateways for the entire period being displayed. Beacon NyTM however was in range of Gateway S14li for the entire period but only in range of Gateway MMaoZ during the period 11:45 – 12:00 and 12:15 – 12:30

Screenshot of the Timeline output in the analytics panel
Timeline shows each device on the horizontal axis and how it was detected by our two Gateways during the selected period.

Triggers and Actions

Triggers are a really powerful feature of the Gateway + Location Engine. They are also incredibly easy to set up. First of all, you name your action – in this example, I’ve set up a trigger called ‘Beacon detected’. You then choose the type of trigger – this can be ‘Beacon detected’ or ‘Beacon lost’. In this exampl, I have used ‘Beacon detected’. Executor can be Cloud, Gateway or Proximity SDK. This allows you to define what part of the solution triggers the action and for this example, as I’m using the Cloud based features, it will be the Cloud. The tracking ID is the ID of the Kontack BLE beacon I want to use to trigger the action. You also configure the proximity range that you want to use for the trigger (this is obscured in the screenshot by the Type drop down). In this case I’ve set this trigger to ‘Near’.  Finally, the source ID is the ID of the Gateway that you want to use to trigger the action. This is all you have to do to set up a trigger.

Screenshot of where you set triggers up in the web panel
This is where you set up your triggers within the Location Engine web panel

Once you’ve set up the trigger, you can click on the tab to assign an action to it. In this instance I’ve created an action called ‘Stewart entered office’. So basically, this is a beacon that’s assigned to me and the trigger is set up so that when I come within ‘Near’ range of the (specified) gateway the action is triggered. The action in this case is to Send HTTP request. The content of the request is to trigger an IFTTT action. Kontakt have a useful guide on their website explaining how this works – you can see it here.

In this case the IFTTT action is to simply send an email when the action is triggered informing the recipient that the action has been triggered (and Stewart has entered the office).

Screenshot of assigning actions to trigger
This is where you set up the actions associated with the triggers you’ve set up in the web panel

The Location Engine API

I want to mention this specifically because the data that is presented with in the Location Engine web panel is only a subset of all the data that is available via Kontakt’s API. The data presented via the web panel is designed to show enough data to provide a really robust, useful and cost effective solution straight out of the box. It’s also pretty easy to set up. This means that there is a whole lot of additional data and analytics that can be accessed using the API. This would require a developer but also offers a whole lot more customisation options. That’s outside the scope of this article however.

Summary

Kontakt has produced a really solid solution with the Gateway + Location Engine. It’s a very powerful solution that’s really easy to set up and make use of straight away. The ability to track assets, set up alerts and trigger actions as well as collect data offers opportunities that would otherwise be very expensive or very difficult to set up. With a huge amount of additional capability available through the API many more complex solutions are possible.


Marketing Planning: Do you know your key dates?

Posted on September 14, 2017 by

A marketing plan is crucial for any business.

If you don’t have a cohesive marketing plan, you’re more likely to slap content together haphazardly.

This approach is risky, and you are unlikely to get the results you want.

A marketing plan will help you to regularly engage your customers with content that’s both relevant and interesting.

When developing a marketing plan, it’s important to keep in mind important dates and events throughout the year. Seasonal planning will guide your marketing themes, which will in turn keeping your content fresh and focused.

Developing a marketing plan also helps to get your team’s mental cogs turning early on, providing inspiration for great content during brainstorming sessions.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a marketing plan yet. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to effectively plan your marketing strategy by:

  • Mapping out the structure of your marketing calendar
  • Planning your campaigns ahead of time
  • Adapting your marketing strategy to events

Create a marketing calendar?

A great way to start your plan is with a marketing calendar. An up-to-date marketing calendar is a fantastic and widely recommended tool. Not only can these record key dates and events, but can also be used to plan blog posts, email marketing strategies, and social media topics for the year.

Having an easily accessible marketing calendar in the workplace, either physically or online (i.e. Google Drive), also helps to open up channels of communication between members of the marketing team.

The whole point of a marketing calendar is essentially to get organised, save time and reduce stress during busy periods.

If you’re a super busy person then don’t stress – Web-Feet have created a marketing calendar free for you: download here

Choose a platform

Google and Microsoft both have online tools for creating calendars that are integrated with Google Mail. These calendars can be very useful, allowing you to set recurring events and reminders, which can be useful for scheduling newsletters, social and blog posts.

At Web-Feet, we often use spreadsheets which can be shared with our team on Google Drive. Spreadsheets are more flexible and allow you to access lots information at a glance, but you will lose the functionality of the online calendar platform. We recommend choosing the platform that best suits your business needs.

Remember your key dates

The annual events, holidays and celebrations that take place throughout the year present different marketing opportunities for different businesses. For many businesses, these dates often coincide with their most busiest and most critical times of the year.  You’ll be able to create future content and campaigns around these general themes and ideas.

Start by listing events that you know will come up throughout the year. These can include:

  • Holidays and seasonal events. Christmas, August Bank Holiday, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Seasonal sale events. Black Friday, Boxing Day sales, etc.
  • Charity and National Awareness events. Movember, Bike Week, Mental Health Awareness Week, etc.
  • Sports, arts and cultural events. Wimbledon, Glastonbury Festival, Royal Ascot, etc.

All of these dates can offer unique opportunities for a variety of business sectors. However, not all events are suitable marketing opportunities for all businesses.

The key thing here is to keep it relevant – if you’re a tea company or a cafe which serves afternoon tea, then National Tea Day on 21st April would be a perfect opportunity to market your business. If you sell children’s shoes, then the school holidays will be important dates to include in your marketing plan.

Try not to stick to the obvious dates – local events, celebrity birthdays and popular TV shows may provide unique marketing opportunities and generate interest in your products and services!

Remember: To protect official sponsors, some events (particularly sporting events, such as the Olympics) have strict rules regarding the commercial use of the official name and logo.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid running a marketing campaign around that particular event – you just need to be careful. The best way to get around this is through adopting a creative approach – you could use relevant, witty hashtags and emojis to allude to a particular event (we have some great examples in our ‘Key Dates 2017’ below!)

I’ve got my marketing calendar sorted – now what?

Once you’ve got an idea of the key dates and events your business is keen to target, it’s time to think about the types of campaigns you can run around the particular theme. Try and plan this in advance, so if necessary you can run your campaign during the build up to the particular event.

The type of campaign you choose will depend on the event chosen, your business and what resources you have.

We’ve listed some marketing strategies below, with some examples of how these strategies can be put into practice.

Social Media 

Social media is a great way to engage with your customers. Integrating social into your marketing calendar can be as simple as joining in the national discussion with witty captions, hashtags, emojis or running a competition on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Social media is also great for giving customers a sneak peak into all the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that goes on in your business. Not only are these strategies good fun, but this also helps to increase engagement and brand awareness. Instagram is a great platform for giving customers an insight into what goes on internally – feel free to follow our own Instagram account @webfeetagency!

Idea ? If you run a gift shop, spa, florist or beauty brand during Mother’s Day, you could hold a photo competition, where followers were asked to share their a picture of their entry, tagging your brand and using the relevant hashtag. The best photo winning a prize (that would work as a suitable Mother’s Day gift).

Paid Advertising

It’s a given that some products will sell better at certain times of the year. Therefore, it’s important to consider which events may trigger an increase in sales, and to create a marketing campaign around that event. If customers are likely to have a heightened interest in a particular product, you want to stick it in front of them as best you can.

Idea ? Imagine you’re a kitchen equipment shop during The Great British Bake Off – consider running a PPC campaign around KitchenAids during this period of time. This could also work for baking equipment, novelty aprons, etc.


Email Marketing

An email marketing campaign is a great way to target customers directly. You could send out E-shots via a CRM system such as Hatchbuck with themed templates, links to blog posts and themed discount codes for products.

Idea ? Le Tour de France is on and you sell bikes – advertise your products through an E-shot (perhaps a yellow or Alpine inspired template?), offering a discount at the checkout with the code ‘letour2017’.

Blogging

Blogs are a fantastic way to increase traffic to your site and generate interest in your brand, and can be easily integrated into your marketing strategy. At Web-Feet, we strongly recommend that all websites have a blog and post content regularly.

Blogs can be easily shared by your followers, fuelling discussion on your social media pages which can attract new customers. Consider posting a collection of themed blog posts about a current event that’s relevant to your business.

If you already have a successful blog on your own website, consider guest blogging for an online publication in an area that is related to your business. As well as increasing brand awareness, they may provide a link through to your website, which can increase your referral traffic and position in the Google search rankings.

Idea ? You sell outdoors clothing and camping gear and it’s festival season – ‘5 Things Everyone Should Take to Glastonbury’ and ‘The Ultimate Guide to Glastonbury 2017’ might be good ideas for blog posts.

Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope it can give you a few ideas to adapt to your business

Key Dates for September – December 2017

To help you get started with your marketing calendar, we’ve put together some of the key dates in the UK for the remainder of 2017.

September
6th – Back to School?
15th – London Fashion Week?
15th – 24th – Southampton Boat Show⛵

October
16th – October Half Term?
29th – Daylight Saving Time ends, clocks go back⏰
31st – Halloween?

November
1st – Start of Movember?
5th – Bonfire Night?

December
25th – Christmas Day?
26th – Boxing Day?
31st – New Years Eve?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a good starting point for a marketing plan.

If you’d like to have a chat about our services with one of our Web-Feet marketing experts, then please Contact Us today.


13 Myths and Misconceptions of SEO

Posted on July 11, 2017 by

Search Engine Optimisation is one of the most talked about, searched for, and read about topics for internet entrepreneurs.

Myth 1: SEO is a Scam

Due to the nature of the internet it is very easy for anyone to claim that they are an SEO ‘guru’. This has made many webmasters skeptical of bringing an SEO into their employ for fear of being ripped off, or worse having their site blacklisted from Google.

Continue reading →


Emoji Push Notifications Boost Marketing Engagement ?

Posted on April 21, 2017 by

emoji

We all ❤ emojis.

Whether they’re used in texts  tweets or adding a bit of magic to our Instagram posts, emojis are everybody’s favourite messaging trend. According to the Telegraph, they’re the fastest growing language in history in the UK.

Their growth in popularity is driven by our love for emojis and the emotions they evoke.

But beyond their novelty purposes, can emojis help mobile marketers engage with users?

Continue reading →


You Can Now Submit URLs to Google Directly from Search Results

Posted on April 11, 2017 by

Google has been gradually shifting its various services straight into its search results for easy access. Google has now introduced its dedicated URL submission feature, which can be found directly in the core Google search results page.

The tech giant has updated Search to include an easy-to-access URL submission form, which can easily be found anytime you search for ‘Submit URL to Google.’

url google search results

This latest addition works just like the regular Search Console submission form but enables easier and quicker URL submission to Google’s index. It’s a smart interactive tool that’s been placed in the most convenient location.

To submit a link, all you need to do is fill in the blank space with you page you want to index and complete the ‘I’m not a robot’ reCAPTCHA safety feature.

Google will then review the page and decide whether they want to index the URL so other people can easily find it in their search results. This doesn’t necessarily mean your URL will be listed or included in Google’s rankings, but it makes getting noticed by Google that little bit easier.


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