Author Archives: Nasri Majdalani

Another Christmas has passed, and many around the world went through a short period of stress over the perfect gifts they wanted to buy for their loved ones. In the near past, e-commerce seemed like a perfect solution to gift shopping because it looked like eliminating the stress of going to a store and physically picking out a gift for a family member, amidst large crowds wanting to do just the same.

Because shopping has evolved on the internet, most of the Christmas chores are now being done online, but it seems even then people are still very stressed out over buying the perfect gift while it can only take a few clicks and item names being types in search bars. What’s going on then?

 

Desperate clicking

It’s not necessarily guaranteed you will find the items you want online if not available in a store. Even with websites like Amazon offering so much, people sometimes find themselves frustrated not finding gifts online and they become aggressive and impatient with their clicking/browsing. This behaviour takes place just as much when a website is taking time to load, due to a heavy-trafficked server or slow wifi at home.

Meanwhile, analytics at the retailers‘ offices are showing company bosses that consumers are desperate to find what they want with little time left before Christmas eve. This gives them a chance to get better for the following year.

Confused navigation

Through its analysis of data, an analytics company identified a series of different attitudes based on mouse movements and visitor behaviour patterns. Of these mindsets, ‘disorientation’ proved one of the most troublesome, with many shoppers appearing confused and erratic in their movements across a page or ecommerce site.

This ‘disoriented’ mindset is a key sign that Christmas shoppers have lost their sense of direction and are thinking of abandoning a site. Could this be due to the ‘festive fatigue‘ that cripples many at the end of the calendar year, because work deadlines get overwhelming before the holidays? According to research, average conversion rates are as much as 40% lower for consumers with a predominantly disoriented mindset.

If a retailer’s analytics highlight that numerous customers are suffering from disoriented behaviours, it’s likely that a site’s navigation is not providing a clear enough path from browsing to checkout. This can hinder customer loyalty, result in ‘shopping cart’ abandonment and ultimately cost a company valuable Christmas sales.

Understanding the consumer

Where as those with a disoriented mindset don’t know where they are going on a website, exploring visitors simply don’t know what they want. Instead of navigating to the product or page they want – or taking the time to actively compare products and make a decision – ‘explorers’ simply wander around the site as they would when tiredly shopping in a high street store. These visitors are keen to make a purchase and can be a great source of sales, but only if a retailer’s website is capable of converting them.

Around Christmas, online retailers should expect to see a spike in traffic from those with an exploring mindset, as customers start to browse for possible presents and psychologically window shop for ideas. If retailers are to make the most of these visitors, they must tailor their content to bring the calls to action to the forefront of the site, simplifying the buyer journey. Offers and deals are also a great way to convert these ‘explorers’ from window shoppers to genuine customers.

With Christmas now over for another 12 months, should retailers spend more time in the next year understanding ‘festive fatigue’? Shoppers are partly at fault in all this for leaving gift purchases so late, but this behaviour will never change.

We can only hope retailers begin by looking for solutions to help make next Christmas shopping experiences that little bit easier and stress-free. To appeal to this mindset, online retailers must reclaim the notion that shopping online is the easy alternative to going in store. By using a combination of customer data and appealing design, retailers can make Christmas shopping great again and minimise the potential for festive fatigue.

 

How was YOUR Christmas shopping this year? Will you try starting your shopping earlier next year?

Las time, we wrote about the future of our homes in Canada and how acquiring upcoming gadgets could help improve our living standards inside four walls. The conversation remains by looking at how long it may take Canadians to fully adopt the technologies it require to make their homes ‘smarter’.

From what we understand, it will be a number of years before Canadians take the leap of faith if they choose to. Many are not interested in technologies and want to carry on with their normal lives as they always have. However, the interested ones remain cautious and are keeping an eye on things. They will make adjustments and purchases if it feels convenient.

That being said, the many companies who are behind the smart homes have still not finished fully developing “the vision of seamlessly connected homes“, so the problem doesn’t only rely on the consumer!

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home have made life easy for many Canadians and Americans. They are gadgets very much relied upon and as first expected, became a hit and are feature household items across the countries. The issue mentioned above seems the addition of many softwares and devices which consumers are not ready for, and could make them feel like their home would then control them!

But what’s the downside we can take from all this?

Owning technology never means you are completely safe. Hacking is always a threat so users need to tread carefully with gadgets they own, even though hacks are not usually their fault. Consumers who set up devices for their smart home need to apply as many security features as they can, as well as updating and resetting passwords often. Companies will recommend you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to any outside wireless threat.

At the end of the day, if you are very concerned about security, you are better off not purchasing any devices as you are not obliged to. Some people get excited about making their homes more ‘high-tech‘, but at the same time know how to keep them secure. These things are not for everybody!

 

2018 is slowly approaching which means many things get an upgrade/update. Technology has not only invaded our personal and professional lives, but now taking over our homes in more ways than we can imagine.

What does it do then?

It will open the front door and turn on the porch light when you approach it at the end of the day. It will know exactly how low to dim the lights when you’re in bed, watching Netflix. It will update you on the weather and traffic conditions the moment you wake up, and remind you about your kid’s after school schedules in the evening!

 

Can you even sleep better in a cold home? Yes, a smart home will adjust your thermostats automatically based on time and outside temperature; when you’re out of town, it will monitor water leaks, help you check on your house remotely via a security system synced to your smartphone and will even automatically turn lights on & off to make it look like someone is actually around when you’re actually on a beach holiday thousands of kilometres away.

If all this sounds like music to your ears, you should know that having a smart home is already within your reach, with very little work to do, to put it together.

In Ottawa, real-estate developer eQ Homes changed its decade old business model to exclusively start building technologically advanced homes at the start of this year. The company has seven communities in development at the moment, from Greystone Village to Manotick.

eQ Homes’ marketing manager Tobin Kardish commented, “I’m not going to say someone’s purchased a house from us because of that, but there’s a whole bunch of different decisions (that go into buying a house). You could be looking at us versus builder X and Y. People shop by square footages, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, certain things like, is there hardwood or granite countertops? Let’s say everything is equal. You might be leaning towards us a little bit more because we offer these things standard in the house that you don’t have to buy after the fact.”

What are ‘those standard things’ that Kardish speaks about? They include the Nest smart thermostat, a hub that connects multiple devices as well as automated lighting by Lutron. For an additional cost, home buyers can include a smart garage-door opener and front-door lock, a smart water shut-off valve and more lighting options! eQ Homes offers a package upgrade that is now worth $6,950 plus HST — a portion of your current home’s cost, which could $300,000+.

In the high-end housing market, connectivity plays a big factor in the prices. Roberto Campagna, owner and president of Roca Homes, fielded his first smart-home request around 2010. It started with automated shades and drapes for his homes’ windows and evolved from there.

Most of his homes now involve some connected element, whether it’s audio, video, security, lighting or HVAC. “Our approach is holistic. How do we want to complement the overall design?” Campagna added.

This kind of technology is meant to have a functional and almost futuristic aesthetic to a home. In parts of homes, a tidy look makes it even better, such as having one switch for multiple lights.

What does the current, general consensus in Canada say about all this? Many are already getting the gadgets such as Google Home and Amazon Echo to make their lives slightly easier, but going beyond that? We’ll write about it in the follow up in two week’s time!

Every year is a little crazy on social, and 2017 has been no different for Facebook. From now up until Christmas, we will try to bring predictions as to what to expect in 2018 for other platforms, given what we have seen this year, and even now.

As communication technology advances and becomes more complicated, augmented reality is making strides forward, and Facebook being at the front of the race. As Mark Zuckerberg even stated on his personal page not long ago, his company is spending plenty of its time on developing this technology further, because it could be at the forefront of our society by 2020 (see Oculus). As we are seeing now, video is the most popular content form and we are evolving from it. While text and photo content is still very prominent, how relevant will it be in the future?

Now, we are talking about seeing a cartoon version of your friends and even family by just wearing a headset! At the rate virtual reality is developing, we soon won’t even need to bother being physically around them.

We have discussed messenger’s evolution and use in a recent post on our Facebook page. It has integrated with PayPal, allowing transactions and payments to be made through a conversation and a couple of clicks. Facebook is trying to turn Messenger into an e-commerce bot (because new trends), but it is not yet a very popular decision with most of its users, because we simple want to use Messenger to… speak to our friends!

In addition to “e-commerce”, paid ads are becoming more common and necessary for businesses to promote themselves, and several features are being added for all types of transactions facilitators to take place. Businesses will be able to focus a new kind of effort on Facebook as a marketplace rather than just a social media platform to advertise in.

This will not only apply to Europe and North America. Facebook intends to make all these features available worldwide, and will want to expand and innovate in ways that we never thought would be possible five years ago.

 

 

 

It’s almost all done on the phone now. Laptops and desktops are being used a lot less, since our portable devices allow us to do most of the things we need without the use of a physical keyboard; which brings us to Google searches and SEO – how do we make it better on mobile?

As we know, websites now need to be fully optimized on mobile; that’s where they are mostly looked at, and if SEO isn’t implemented for the mobile version of your site, you lose conversions and slip down the Google ranks. So what are some good ways to better it?

 

Before you begin anything, make sure you audit your website’s compatibility for smartphone, and see where the errors are. If a user is having trouble navigating your site on their cellphone, they’re out and will not return. Some important things to look at are plugins, font sizes, and the positioning of page elements. There may be some areas for improvement.

Responsive design is key for all devices. It’s the best way to ensure your site can be opened anywhere you like, as even the same user can switch from a laptop to their phone and will want to have the same experience with whatever gadget they use. It’s a lot of work for many screen sizes, but certainly doable.

One of the biggest problems users face on their phones, the webpage load time. If it’s very slow, the home screen button will be pressed and that person is not likely to visit again; and these problems are more frequent than we think! Some factors to look in for these issues can lie with unused scripts, non-compressed files and needing to optimize images.

Optimize your website for local searches. It’s almost certain that people in your area will need your product or services, so make sure you’re able to get their attention before reaching out to the rest of the city. Google offers some free tools to help with that, and it likely doesn’t take a lot of work.

You also need to optimize for keyword searches, for both text and voice. Siri used to be treated as a ‘joke’ because people thought it was funny for a random voice to answer them when they asked for something, but will now because a major SEO tool for businesses, especially on mobile. This may be a little more challenging to optimize for, but at least you are prepared for the now and future. Eventually Alexa and Google Home will be SEO tools for voice!

Finally, Google has another service called Accelerated Mobile Pages that allows for faster mobile pages. They don’t look any different from other programming softwares, but the pages will just load much faster than the average. This would normally lead to a better user experience and visitor retention. Start using it now before it becomes too popular and crowded.

So, Twitter… another interesting change recently, which is slowly hitting all the millions of accounts globally – we can now tweet in double the characters we have been used to for so long. Even though many have not appreciated this update, we need to give it the benefit of the doubt and convey even more information in one go. Twitter is important for communications in all areas that surround us on a daily basis, and people who make a living out of using Twitter can really benefit from this. But as we know, very well, Twitter is not all serious matters – it can be used in many light hearted ways!

Getting an extra 140 characters means that in a link sharing world, we can now post more than one in a tweet – it saves a bit of time publishing one tweet per link and can be good for brand’s promotional agendas. Journalists covering major news can present information in more detail, and use less thread space.

In bilingual countries, two separate tweets for two languages can also be time consuming, so why not 2-in-1? Brands that are based in Eastern Canada can now tweet in english and french within the same composition!

On a less serious note, people who use Twitter for a laugh can write their jokes using breaks and annoy their followers in a light hearted manner. Oh, and emojis! They are used so often these days and there’s also more space for them now. It’s useful for brands trying to get creative or for a human being to properly express themselves!

Want to tweet song lyrics in longer form? Now you can! Artists and also their followers can express themselves using their songs in a more meaningful way.

How do you plan on using Twitter with 280 characters? 😀 Let’s hope we’ll be thanking Jack Dorsey soon.

As we have mentioned many times before in previous blogs, social media is important and an expected activity by almost every brand in the market. The biggest problem here is managing the brands on all the platforms they are present in, and where to dedicate the most time to.

Social media is the modern communication channel and also drives revenue when used really well.

When we look at the retail industry, which is changing drastically, social media still plays a big role, especially when your friends are involved with reviews of merchandise they have bought at the store. Even then, with e-commerce emerging, brands are using social to encourage customers to purchase online. We’ll get to this in a minute.

It seems that websites have been making an important comeback lately, especially that they can now be optimized for mobile, and brands should not forget to include links to social as well as testimonials on social on their website. If businesses see many positive tweets or Instagram posts about their brand, they’ll make sure to show it on their website as a means of saying “Hey, we’re not the only ones who think our products are good – they do too!” That then can influence an online purchase. Although influencers are not always trusted, having customers use a specific hashtag to express their thoughts is much more authentic and trusted.

Social media is a powerful engagement tool, for users to communicate with one another and brands to communicate with current and potential customers.

As mentioned in the last blog, paid ads are becoming more expensive and not necessarily reaching more people. Authentic, organic content that is boosted for a couple of dollars can be helpful, but you need to show the public that you are curating that content. The same goes for consumer-generated content.

Previous blogs have discussed how Facebook algorithms have been changing to disable a bit of organic reach from business pages, a change that is not going down well with users but leaves them (and us) with no other choice sometimes. Just as it is another source of revenue for the social giant, many companies active on social have to start investing small amounts of money in order to keep getting the visibility they need, but without the creative wisdom of their marketing staff.

Although platforms other than Facebook offer different form of paid ads and billing options, this blog will explain the options we have and how much they cost. Many of you may have seen them by now, but it is a reminder of what’s out there, especially for new users.

Cost-per-click (CPC) – a billing option in which you pay for an ad placement when the viewer clicks on the ad.

Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) – a billing option for every 1,000 impressions of an ad.

Cost-per-view (CPV) – a billing option for every time someone views your ad. Some platforms also consider interactions with an ad as a view (such as clicks on the call-to-action buttons, cards or banners).

Cost per action/conversion (CPA) – a billing option for when someone completes the action you specified when optimizing the ad. Actions can include downloading an app, signing up for an email newsletter or making a purchase directly from the ad.

Cost per like – another billing option for every like obtained through the ad campaign or like given to an ad, photo or page.

The most commonly used options are CPC, CPM and sometimes CPA. They would be the ones most worth investing into as it is easy to track ROI.

What about the bidding? There are generally two options available; automatic and maximum.

Maximum bidding lets you decide how much you’re willing to spend to reach your objectives, while automatic bidding does it all for you according to your budget. Note that other platforms have other forms of bidding.

Next, how do you want to structure your budget, day to day or over an entire campaign? You have an option to choose either. However, there is always a minimum required to spend on a daily basis depending on the platform.

The amount you actually pay is determined by what’s needed for you to beat a competitor and have your ad placed. Each platform will charge you 1 cent higher than your competitor if you have the higher maximum bid. In general, the price you pay for social media ads is smaller than your maximum bid.

You don’t pay for the placement of your ad. You only pay when the user takes the action specified for your campaign (impression, click, like, etc.).

Have any more questions you’d like to ask us for your business? Feel free to reach out!

This week’s blog is set to discuss a new and emerging trend in social media marketing, resulting from the unfortunate change of algorithms with social networks, preventing Facebook pages (especially) from getting the organic reach they want on their posts. Welcome to “growth hacking“!

Growth hacking has become a new concept in the last year or so that businesses are trying to use to ‘cheat’ the system and find new ways to grow their social media accounts to get conversions. Before paid ads and post boosts became common, it was easy to reach all of your following every time you posted something. Now, you’d be lucky to reach half organically. These paid options want to guarantee a bigger reach if you show the money, but we’re unsure how well it really works in terms of ROI.

 

1. Money for Likes

Whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, businesses and personal brands are now spending money to look like they have bigger numbers supporting them. However, these new followers and likes are not necessarily genuine and; going through a list of likes can see you being followed by strange looking accounts.

Buying yourself a fake following can immediately destroy your credibility after having spent so much time and effort building it initially, so why be so desperate to hurt your budget for a bigger number? If you are caught doing that, you can also get punished by the main networks.

Data insights are crucial to the strategy a business takes with social, and fake data will ruin all important metrics which will be hard to fix later on. Your business will likely respect you more if you conduct digital affairs in an honest manner. Is cheating morally and financially really worth it?

2. Team Instagram

There is a somewhat witty way to ‘cheat’ on Instagram, without spending money or feeling guilty of looking good. IG’s algorithms work in a way where engagement is key to success. So in this case, groups of people all agree to support each other’s pages by constantly liking and commenting on photos. Team effort can eventually lead to victory.

But here comes the problem. This means only a specific network of people are showing you love, while millions of others probably aren’t aware of what’s going on, or these posts won’t be visible to them, so the reach is again limited, and not great for metrics.

3. Twitter Favourites

Twitter has seen an interesting change lately, where just like Facebook, tweet likes of accounts you don’t even follow appear on your news feed, simply because someone else you follow liked that tweet. Half of newsfeeds are filled up with that, and the best tweets can get additional likes and retweets from many other accounts that don’t follow them. Twitter’s algorithms fortunately still favour organic reach, which is a huge plus for everyone involved and should make the most of it while this system is still around.

The only downside to this is ultimately the financial side, as it may not count for much at the end if businesses aren’t selling products/services at the end of it.

Play by the rules of the game, even if they don’t necessarily appeal to you. Cheat and you’re in trouble if you get caught!

Modern day content marketing means businesses and personal brands need to publish as much quality content as possible to stand out, and that generally leads to an overload of content on social media and the internet. It is much harder to get noticed unless quality meets quantity.

So what are some ways for you to make your articles go viral?

1) An intriguing title

Let’s face it – human beings do not have much patience with content these days, so you’d be silly to think every article gets clicked on. Want to capture attention? The title needs to be very captivating, and about a subject the user can relate to, in order to get your click.

 

2) Visuals

Graphics are going to become more and more popular. The human eye generally prefers something colorful to look at, and written content alone doesn’t always attract attention, but visuals do! Make it a habit to include them in the featured image and in the article as well.

3) Release

Once the article has been published on your website, make sure it’s also a headline act in all the social media feeds you use. When it comes to Twitter, tweet it out as many times using different hashtags and messages, all relating to the same story. These can be scheduled or done spontaneously.

4) Pay up?

Because of social media’s changing algorithms, businesses have a lot less joy reaching out to all their followers for free. It’s almost necessary to spend money if you want any kind of content to reach in the hundreds if not thousands of users. If you feel your article hasn’t received the traction it deserves, sometimes spending between $5 and $10 to ‘boost’ the post could be key in getting results.