What does the future hold for chatbots?

Chatbots are becoming one of the most common ways for brands to make themselves more available to their customers. Chatbots can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This allows your business to have meaningful, personalised, one-on-one interactions with a limitless audience – with no drain on your human resources.

But what does the future look like for chatbots?

The global chatbot market is set to exceed $7.7 billion by the year 2025. In a survey of over 800 business decision-makers from around the world, over 80 percent said they already used or are planning to implement chatbots by 2020.

Bots aren’t something to be ignored.

Chatbots benefit businesses and customers

Consumers want information as quickly as possible and are turning to technology to help. Consumers are looking for the most direct line between their problem and a solution. This is where bots come in. Bots can provide this line in a place where consumers already spend most of their time: messenger apps.

For the first time ever, people are using messenger apps more than social network apps with over 5 billion active monthly users. Bots allow consumers to ask brands questions – in the same way they would ask their friends – in a platform that is completely familiar to them.

No more website enquiry forms with uncertain response times. No more tedious phone calls spent selecting from a list of options – none of which ever seems quite right. Answers are given to consumers pretty much instantaneously.

The benefits of using chatbots don’t stop with the consumer. Bots present an excellent opportunity for companies.

Brands can gain real insight into what their customers want and need. This allows them to offer the same customers personalised offers and answers to their queries.

Chatbots can also save businesses a huge amount of time and money by providing immediate, automatic responses to consumers’ queries. This allows you to serve a greater number of people, while increasing productivity and decreasing costs.

But there’s still room for improvement…

The stakes are high to get messaging right. Consumers now have control. Any annoying, unhelpful or irritating messages from brands can lead to customers opting out, blocking or unfollowing the brand.

Currently, it is all too common that bots lack a clear purpose, forget what you’ve said or don’t understand conversational context. This needs to change to keep consumers engaged and loyal.

This change is coming with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of artificial intelligence. Currently, NLP has issues with detecting the meaning or nuances of messages due to either spelling and grammatical errors or lack of context.

In an effort to change this, scientists at MIT are developing technology that takes in visual, situational and linguistic information. This technology learns more like a baby than a machine. For brands, this is a step towards chatbots which are capable of understanding and accurately responding to complex queries. The upshot is a drastically improved customer experience.

Chatbots are more than just a customer service tool

As well as being used on a customer service basis, brands are increasingly finding new uses for bots:

  • CNN uses bots to keep users up to date with major news stories
  • HP bots allow users to send photos and files to your printer
  • Mastercard bots make it easy for consumers to check on account transactions.

Skincare brand Pond have recently launched an AI powered chatbot. By combining AI technology with their own clinical research data, the bot provides users with matches to the right skincare products for them.

We are still only scratching the surface of what a chatbot-enabled future may look like. But we can be certain that chatbots are here to stay and will impact both businesses and consumers alike.

How will 5G change the way we do business?

We considered the evolution, application and safety of 5G in the first of our 5G blogs. But how might 5G technology change our work environment?
Not only will the technology supporting your work-life speed up, but you’ll begin to communicate differently. The way you think about projects may change and your office will become more connected than ever.

If your work speeds up, you can get more done. If you can become more efficient and extend your capacity, you’ll inevitably save costs and drive business growth.

5G technology drives mobile business

Working remotely

5G technology will transform the way we communicate at work. Almost instantaneous connection will enable employees or teams to work remotely. This clearly has a wealth of benefits that will allow businesses to become more agile.

Many businesses already manage remote teams. However, communication lag can often be frustrating, slowing progress significantly. With 5G networks established, this will no longer be the case.

Remote teams will be able to set-up quickly and communicate seamlessly with office HQ. Video calling will be high quality and access to files stored on shared networks will be quicker.

5G technology on the move

Working while travelling is likely to become much easier.

If you’re a regular train-commuter, you’ll relate to those who bemoan the problems of using wireless devices on board. Connection is often weak, and devices regularly drop in and out of the network.

However, with the integration of 5G into our travel networks, your train seat will become your office.

With the same bandwidth and frequencies experienced in our place of work, you’ll be far more productive and far less irritated. Internet connection will be immediate. Working with large files won’t be a problem and email or instant messenger services will be just as effective as they are in your office.

And what about driverless vehicles?

It is usually impossible to work while driving. But if our cars do the driving for us, this frees us up to focus on other matters. 5G technology integrated into our vehicles may even support our work. These vehicles will carry out searches and sync with our mobile or video chat networks.

Find out more about the future rise of autonomous vehicles in our first 5G blog.

5G mobile vs desktop

Currently, a large proportion of B2B work is executed on desktops and laptops. Desktops are often more reliable than our mobile devices. They connect with ease and give us better access to the internet, shared networks and other applications.

However, the launch of 5G mobile will revolutionise the way we think about B2B work. Connections are quicker and more reliable. Bandwidth is larger, and interactions become seamless. As such, there is no reason why we cannot carry out B2B work on mobile devices at the same standard as desktop.

5G holographic video-calling

In our blog 5G technology is coming… But what does it mean for you?, we discussed how 5G will better support virtual reality (VR) technology.

A particularly spectacular use of 5G to merge digital into reality took place towards the end of 2018 at Vodaphone’s Future Ready conference in Newbury.

Iris, a huge football fan, was given the opportunity to take part in the UK’s first live holographic phone call using 5G. Iris was excited to ‘meet’ her idol, Steph Houghton – England and Manchester City Women’s Football Captain.

The immediacy of the call and hologram allowed Steph and Iris to chat, appearing side-by-side as if they were in the room together.

What might this mean for business interactions? Imagine a world within which your global business calls happen in holographic fashion. Your partners on the other side of the world can simply tap into your hologram network and work with you side-by-side. This will have huge consequences with regards to the way you relay information and convey your messages.

The Internet of Things at work

The Internet of Things refers to devices that can go online. The speed and breadth of connectivity created by the Internet of Things will help to make our workplaces more sustainable.

Thanks to 5G detection systems, we will also notice better air quality, any dangers, and we might even be able to put the kettle on from the comfort of our desks…

With more basic or methodical tasks handled by your 5G AI systems, what will this leave room for? Perhaps you’re a creative person who doesn’t have the opportunity to exercise this impulse? Or maybe you’re a great critical thinker and you’ve missed the chance to think deeply about the processes in your workplace?

We expect these skills to become more commonplace at work, helping to drive business growth as well as personal development. In terms of agency-life, this can only mean great things for our clients!

Managing your personal life with 5G

Juggling your personal life with work can be tough but we think 5G could help. With video calls able to connect you reliably and in real-time to your caller, appointments may become more video-focused. Clearly this isn’t appropriate for every problem but could certainly benefit medical patients with straightforward requests.

Providing you have somewhere private to make a call, you can manage your appointments from your workplace – saving you the time and hassle that disrupts your working life.

Read our first 5G blog, 5G technology is coming… but what does it mean for you.

5G technology is coming… but what does it mean for you?

As the UK begins to launch its first 5G networks, we explore the impact of 5G technology.
Find out how 5G works, where it will be, whether it will replace technology we’re accustomed to and if 5G is safe.

A remarkable application of 5G technology

As 5G integration begins, we found this case study particularly amazing…

In March 2019, a patient in Beijing, China, was given a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) implant. This was to help reduce the tremors that result from Parkinson’s. The surgery began at 9am, using the tools you might expect to see during such a procedure. The catch? The surgeon operated from 3,000 kilometres away in Hainan.

This was China’s first attempt at 5G-enabled surgery and the procedure couldn’t have gone better. With the help of China Mobile and Huawei 5G technology, surgeon Ling Zhipei conducted the three-hour operation by manipulating surgical instruments through a 5G network.

Ling told CGTN: “The 5G network has solved problems like video lag and remote-control delay experienced under the 4G network, ensuring a nearly real-time operation.”

Where else will we notice 5G integration?

We will notice the impact of 5G in various ways. Initially, we will notice that websites load faster. Film and video will load and download quicker. Games will no longer lag. Communication between devices will speed up.

Virtual Reality

Because 5G is able to reflect reality far more accurately than 4G, virtual reality (VR) development will accelerate. We can create these worlds already but 5G will transform the experience. The increased speed and bandwidth of 5G will allow the VR industry to expand rapidly as it becomes integrated into our phones, cars and computers.

Autonomous vehicles

The launch of the autonomous vehicle into the mainstream has long been promised. These vehicles rely on technology that can respond not only at the same rate as, but quicker than a human. Previous technology has closely mimicked human reflexes but ever so slightly missed the mark.

Thanks to 5G, vehicles are now capable of matching and succeeding human responses. These intelligent machines have sensors that will react to road infrastructure as well as other vehicles, people, animals and objects.

This will likely make roads safer. If a car breaks suddenly, for example, the vehicle behind will respond instantaneously. If a vehicle is set to overtake you, your vehicle will respond accordingly to prevent a crash. From preventing road tragedies to circumventing congested areas, 5G is set to transform travel.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

It’s difficult to imagine our future roads supporting autonomous vehicles without smart city integration. And guess what – 5G can help with that, too. The Internet of Things (IoT) describes devices connected to the internet. When these devices are online, they can gather information and communicate with other devices.

Smart city technology is designed to blend with our current state of living. There are myriad ways to make a city smarter using 5G, including:

  • keeping track of issues such as floods or faulty streetlights
  • improving public safety
  • creating greener buildings and spaces
  • running smart street lights
  • managing traffic
  • monitoring air pollution
  • detecting chemical leaks.

Our homes will also integrate with this smart landscape. 5G IoT will improve such factors as home security, household chores, home connectivity and energy-use.

Will 5G replace WiFi?

If 5G brings the speed and connectivity we’ve been waiting for, what does that mean for the future of WiFi? As far as we can tell, WiFi isn’t going anywhere and there are several reasons for this.

  • There are billions of WiFi-only devices used every moment of every day by a diversity of people
  • Businesses rely on the availability of WiFi connections as part of a multi-connectivity scenario
  • The WiFi market is officially growing, not shrinking.
  • 5G technology will be owned by operators. As such, you won’t be able to build or buy your own 5G point of connectivity.

We expect 5G and WiFi to work side-by-side to provide ultimate connectivity and coverage.

Is 5G safe? Depends how you feel about coffee…

Bristol is set to become an early-adopter of 5G in the UK. More than 5,000 people (at date of publication) have signed a petition urging Bristol City Council to switch off the 5G network due to health implications.

As with 4G, people are anxious about radio-frequency (RF) radiation and its alleged association with cancer.

However, this radiation has been deemed safe for human exposure by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the U.S. National Toxicology Programme. The World Health Organisation categorise RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” – the same category they apply to coffee and talcum powder.

When will 5G arrive in the UK?

EE is Europe’s largest 4G provider and is predicted to mirror this success with its 5G network. So far, EE have launched 5G in six cities, including London and Manchester. Ten more will be granted access later this year. EE will continue to grow the network in 2020.

O2, Vodafone and Three UK are also working on their 5G offering. Again, larger cities have been connected first, with more set to benefit throughout the year.

Realistically, we probably won’t see widespread 5G connectivity until 2022 at the earliest. However, with initial integration already taking place, the race is on to expand and embed 5G nationwide.

Find out how 5G will change the way we do business.

What are the advantages of a summer internship?

An internship can be a fantastic way to get experience and ‘try before you apply’ for jobs. Businesses benefit from internships as new people bring fresh ideas, skills and insights.

Here Cameron Graham shares his experiences of learning on the job this summer as an intern at AB.

Real-world experience

I’m a 3rd year graphic design student. To prepare myself for the ‘real world’, I wanted to get some real-world experience in a creative environment.

There were a number of things I wanted to take away from an internship at AB.

I was keen to get involved in working with real clients. I was also keen to get feedback from experienced designers.

An intern works at a computer
Intern Cameron Graham

Part of a team

I have never felt so welcomed into a team like I did at AB. From the moment I walked through the door I was drowned in tea and coffee and treated like I was part of the team.

Working to a live brief

I worked closely alongside the design team, who mentored me. This helped me to develop my own experience and abilities.

The brief I was given was to build a set of logos for a new client. The client was in need of a brand refresh to help their master and sub brands feel more coherent.

I enjoyed helping each brand get its own identity while keeping a coherent feel. I gained valuable feedback for my designs, which helped me develop the ideas I had presented.

Pitching to a client

I was also given the opportunity to visit the client and learn more about the business, which helped develop the project further.

We then had to present the ideas to the client themselves, and I assisted the senior designer in doing this. The experience I have gained really will help me in the future.

Trusted from the get-go

I have gained a real insight into the creative industry, as well as learning to understand strategy and structure in the creative business.

I thought I might end up being the tea boy for two weeks! However, AB made me feel like an integral, valued part of the business. They put their direction, trust and confidence in my abilities from the get-go.

More 4’s ‘Devon and Cornwall’ shows how a narrator can make or break a narrative

With stunning scenery and fascinating stories, More 4’s series Devon and Cornwall should have been a winner. But every week the voiceover triggers rage and fury from viewers.

Last night’s episode was no exception. Why? Because every letter ‘h’ is dropped. Harbour becomes ‘arbour, hills ‘ills and home ‘ome.

Every week’s episode seems to send our collective blood pressure soaring.

In this case, the narrator is so distracting that some viewers are simply turning the telly off.

As filmmakers, we need to take note. After months of careful planning, researching, budgeting, scheduling, filming and editing, the voiceover alone can make or break a film.

Regional accents in other languages

We recently created a set of films for Caterpillar and recorded five different language voiceovers. The ads were released online in English, French, German, Italian and Dutch.

Caterpillar have brand guidelines in place for the kinds of voices that should represent them. For the UK version, narrator and actor Dean Andrews was the perfect fit. Listening to him read our script we knew he sounded genuine and warm.

But when it came to the other languages we weren’t so confident in finding voiceovers. We didn’t know enough about regional accents to say which voices sounded right or wrong.

We used the brand guidelines to choose the tone, texture and timbre of the voices. At the recording sessions, we worked with directors and voiceover artists who were fluent in each of the languages to make sure the accents and the emphasis were correct.

We had to trust that these teams would get it right for us and our client. We double-checked the results with Caterpillar’s Europe teams before we launched the ads in a digital marketing campaign.

We wanted to make sure the focus of our films was on the story we were telling – and not the storyteller.

Got a film project in mind?

We’d love to ‘ear from you! Contact us for a chat about your requirements.

A content calendar of key dates to help kick start your planning

It’s time to upload a blog. But the clock is ticking to come up with a concept, write the copy and upload something that is in line with current trends and your content strategy. The answer to solve this last-minute panic is to use a strategic content plan.

The benefits of a content calendar

Whether it’s for social media, web or print, content calendars help you plan, schedule and create a strategy behind your content. Like your to-do list, your content calendar will be a way of organising your content.

Not sure where to start? We have designed a handy diary to help you begin planning your content…

A content calendar listing key dates in 2019

Key dates and events

Our content calendar lists key dates to consider for your 2019 content. It would be a shame to miss the marketing opportunities that Easter offers or to miss World Animal Day if these are relevant to your audience and objectives.

Here are just a few of the events that we have featured in the content calendar:

  • World Environment Day: 5th June
  • Father’s Day: 16th June
  • World Smile Day (Say cheese!): 4th October
  • London Marathon: 28th April
  • World Food Day (Yum): 16th October
  • Black Friday: 29th November

Your content calendar

Creating and scheduling your content around key dates that are relevant to your industry creates resonance for your audience. Rather than broadcasting news, you’re joining in the conversations that your audience are already having.

Here are just a few details to consider adding to your content calendar:

  • Company or industry-related events
  • Deadlines for ad designs, sales you are holding or offers that you wish to promote
  • Holidays that may affect your target audiences’ purchasing habits.

Download our content calendar to begin organising and creating your content for 2019.

 

Can voice search drive ecommerce purchases and sales revenue?

Voice search and ecommerce seem to be unhappy bedfellows right now. But the potential for driving future revenue through this channel can’t be ignored.

The user experience in voice search isn’t yet optimal for making purchases. This means users don’t appear to have a high level of trust in the channel when it comes to spending money.

But it’s estimated that revenue generated through smart speakers alone will more than quadruple by 2022 to $17billion. This isn’t surprising given the exponential growth in unit sales across the globe.

Putting voice to the test

In a recent Forbes.com article, a publisher tested 5 voice assistants – Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby. They tested queries related to ordering books in the New York Times bestseller list.

Queries started with ‘I want to read’, ‘I want to listen to’ and ‘I want to order’.  Just 43% of the queries were recognised. Forbes estimated this could mean around $17million in lost revenue.

The results from this study seem inconsistent with Google’s report that the assistant can accurately interpret 95% of queries. In this test, despite it yielding the best performance of all the digital assistants tested, Google Assistant still only managed to answer correctly in 72% of the tested commands.

Brands who are ready to chat

For ecommerce sales to grow, there’s still work to be done to improve the overall accuracy of user interactions. Voice assistants will need to deliver a consistent experience that meets human expectations (which, by the way, are as high as we would expect from other humans).

Virgin Trains, as you might expect, are early to the party. They were the first travel provider to create an Alexa skill that allows passengers with Amazon Pay to book advance tickets.

The reviews have been largely positive from passengers who find it easy to use and a helpful addition to their lives.

Similarly, both Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have empowered users to add items to their trolley through an Alexa skill. In this instance, the shopper can review their trolley on a screened device before the final purchase is made, so it’s not a start-to-finish purchase entirely through voice.

So, will voice search alone ever be a top source of ecommerce sales for a business?

The answer is yes, it probably will. But there are some points to consider.

1. Complex and significant purchases will still require a screen.

It’s unlikely that voice search will ever deliver complex or significant purchases. This includes the sale of products that typically have a long customer journey to purchase such as cars, houses and major holidays. The reason I say major holidays is that I can see short breaks or repeat bookings of previous destinations booked through a voice assistant in the near future. So, if you provide weekend breaks and target young professionals, getting an Action on Google or an Alexa Skill should be in your marketing strategy for 2019.

2. As the accuracy of query interpretation grows, so will trust.

As users see that their conversational expectations are being accurately met, trust in the communication medium will grow. One stat from TheInformation.com estimated that only 2% of Amazon Echo owners have made a purchase using it. Part of that reticence to say ‘buy’ is due to sharing private information through this channel, but also trust in the information that’s being returned.

3. The shelf will always be invisible through voice.

Users will have to rely on their listening skills to assess whether or not they are purchasing the right product. This is probably going to be less favourable when researching product options than visual, screened options. However, in the earlier example of purchasing a book, a shopper can ask for exactly the title they are looking for, probably having seen or read about it elsewhere. The role of the voice search is to locate the item and purchase it with minimal effort. For transactions of this nature, I predict that sales will grow exponentially over the next 12 months.

60 years of Barbie: what could your business learn from the world’s most famous doll?

Barbie is 60 years old. What’s her secret to a long and successful global career? We think Barbie’s marketing strategy has a big part to play. Here are some of her top tactics that every business could learn from.

Work with influencers

Barbie launched her first celebrity look-alike doll in 1967 with a plastic-fantastic version of Twiggy. Cue lots of press coverage showing the British model holding up her plastic model.

Since then there have been dolls in the form of well-known athletes, artists, scientists and others. The celebrities reinforce the image of a brand founded by and for successful, inspirational women.

Use PR opportunities to generate content and coverage

Barbie certainly knows how to steal the limelight. She has generated column inches for a range of PR activities:
• Andy Warhol painted her portrait in 1986
• She launched a fashion show on the catwalks of New York in 2009
• She made the front cover of Time magazine in 2016 with the launch of new body types.

Be strategic when it comes to social media

Instagram saw the launch of @barbiestyle in 2014. The photos feature ‘lifestyle’ shots of dolls and accessories. Each photo generates thousands of likes from among 1.9 million followers.

Barbie is smashing it on Instagram but it might not work for everyone. As we always tell our clients, you should be selective and strategic about which channels you use and how you use them. A social media account is a lot of work so you need to know that it’s worth it.

As the Barbie team posted on a recent picture: “Wanna know an Instagram secret? These photos take forever to set up!”

Create a community of advocates

Barbie fan club launched in 1961 with a newsletter, membership card and magazine subscription. Happy children fell in love with the dolls and spread the word to their friends. And thus the cult of Barbie spread across the playgrounds of the world.

Use special days as hooks for your key messages

We’re always encouraging our clients to generate content around relevant national and international days. This year Barbie has created a set of dolls for International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March).

This portrays them as a brand that is relevant and reinforces their key message of inspiring girls.

Wanna be a successful 60-year-old?

If you’d like some support to help grow your business or product, get in touch with our friendly team. We’d love to hear about your projects or products.

How to sell more with eCommerce

In a world where everyone is too busy, anything and everything eCommerce is still one of the largest growth sectors and everyone seems to be trying it.

Almost anyone can give it a go. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You don’t even need to lay a finger on the goods themselves. It’s fast and easy. The question is how can you be better than everyone else? Fortunately, it’s actually fairly straightforward, as long as you have an open mindset that is!

5 tips for easy revenue growth

Hopefully, you’re using one of the mainstream eCommerce CMS that are available such as Shopify, WooCommerce (WordPress) or Magento. These platforms are some of the best in the industry and are continuously moving forward in line with industry trends helping you to grow and focus on your business. If you are, great, take a look at my quick tips below to find out how to improve your chances of increased revenue generation.

1) Assess the competition

Take a look at your competition. Is there anything they are doing better than you? Why not place an order with them and examine their customer experience? There could be special offers they only send to the customer on the delivery note. This will also give you the opportunity to see how they are packaging their products. Are they marketing on their packaging? Or perhaps they’ve included a discount code on your next order? This is a great customer retention technique and this is what you need to be thinking about if you want to get ahead of the competition or at the very least compete with them. Find out what they are doing and do it better!

One of the key drivers in eCommerce is revenue generation and because of this, it is also a very fast-moving industry, so, if you want to get ahead or even keep up with the competition you must also move quickly in all areas including administration, shipping, new products and of course new technologies and marketing techniques.

One of the most important areas you need to be speedy in is almost anything to do with the customer. If your customer wants to ask a question and you only have a telephone number or a contact form, that might be enough to put them off asking the question. If they know that your competitor has live chat on their website they will simply go and ask them instead. Then all your competition needs to do is send them a simple link to the product they were looking for and boom! You just lost a sale and, perhaps more importantly, all the word of mouth recommendations that might come from just that one customer.

2) Channel Networking

If you’re not selling on eBay or Amazon you are missing out! Find out if your CMS can connect directly to an Amazon or eBay account. With Shopify, you can easily install an app that will export all your products to the platform for you. Not only that but you will also be able to manage customer messages and any product modifications you’ll want to carry out for SEO to ensure your products show up well in searches.

Connect up your Social channels like Facebook and you’ve got a marketer’s dream. You’ll be able to tag your products in posts and ads, giving your customers an easy and direct way to go straight to the product they are interested in.

3) Email: eCommerce’ best friend?

Email is the cheapest and arguably one of the most effective marketing tools in the eCommerce toolbox. Don’t be perturbed by the GDPR hype. As long as you give the customer the option to opt-in to and give them a clear explanation of the usage of their email address and do not automatically add their email address to your list then you are pretty much good to go.

What about order confirmation emails or invoices?

Promotional emails are different from transactional emails. Transactional emails are those that are required to run an eCommerce business and include, but are not limited to:

  • Order confirmation
  • Purchase receipts or invoices
  • Account confirmation
  • Password recovery
  • Shipping notifications
  • Return or exchange confirmation
  • Service cancellations and product refunds

Transactional emails also require permission, however, they are essential to you running your business so the customer will have to either opt-in to your terms and conditions or simply not purchase from your company.

Help your emails help you!

Build your promotional email subscriber lists, segment and tell your customers where they can find the best deals for the product they are interested in on your site.

When you send your emails make sure you time them right. Let’s face it, emailing your customers to tell them you’ve got a “limited time offer for tonight only” at 10 am when most people are at work will give them plenty of time to forget your message and dismiss your email.

Instead, try sending when people are most likely to be in the mood for making a purchase, perhaps 7:38 pm is an effective time? Think about the barrage of the emails they’ve just received from other retailers and after everyone has had their dinner and are likely to be letting their guard down would be far more effective at grabbing some impulse orders.

Let’s hope your checkout process is easy, super-fast, seamless and takes advantage of all today’s payment technologies such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or even Shopify Pay.

4) Quick and smooth checkout

A super-efficient checkout flow will help reduce the volume of customers that abandon the checkout process at this crucial point in the customer purchase journey. The goal is to remove as many sticking points from the process as possible. Forcing the user to create an account could put new users off at which point they might just go elsewhere. Give the user a choice to either create an account or checkout as a guest.

Eliminate anything that is not essential to continue with the customer’s sale, giving you a better chance of converting the user to a customer. Once you have the customers essential information, you could always go back to them with a post-purchase follow-up email asking for a review of the product.

This not only gives the opportunity to capture some valuable user-generated content but it also gives the opportunity for the customer (who, after receiving the product now trusts your company a little more than they did before they placed the order) to give you more information about them.

5) Customer Loyalty

Loyal customers are the best, they are the ones that will tell their friends about you and what you do. They are the ones that keep you going during the quiet periods. They are your bread and butter – look after them like gold dust and beware, they will leave you as soon as they find something better unless you give them a reason to stay.

Get to know them personally. Try calling a selection of them every month just to check in and see if you’re still cutting it for them. Use this as an opportunity to find where you can improve.

Don’t just leave it there. Ask them for feedback on the website too. Create a pop-up form and ask simple, quick open questions: “What do you think about the website”, “How could we make things better for you?” etc. Customer feedback is invaluable, and you can get it for next to nothing.

Website Pop-ups? Really?

The more pessimistic amongst us will be saying something along the lines of:

  • “Pop-ups are spammy”
  • “They’re annoying”
  • “Pop-ups are tacky”
  • “They are too aggressive”

Something along those lines? Well, you’re right on all those points, however, they are renowned for amazing conversion! Ultimately, every website and it’s users are different and you should ideally run experiments with an optimisation tool such as Optimizly or Google Optimise to really find out what works best for your customers.

Website optimisation tools are one of the best ways to truly find out what works on your website for your customers. Make sure you always have at least one experiment running. Sometimes it can take time to get a definitive answer to your experiment. The more traffic you have coming to your website, the faster you’ll get the results.

Don’t give your customers any reason to leave you, be quick at everything from shipping to answering their enquiries and never take them for granted.

Everything is Cute

Last year I was lucky enough to visit Japan. One of the standout things you notice when you are there is how cute everything is. Literally everything! From the Harajuku girls on Takeshita Street with their Lolita pigtails and dolly dresses to public transport and food. Even Buddhist deities sport cute knitted bobble hats. ‘Kawaii’ the Japanese culture of cuteness is a deeply ingrained part of everyday life.

Kawaii is believed to be a response to the rigid culture of post-World War II Japan. It began in the 70’s when schoolgirls started a youth movement expressing their individuality by developing a childlike style of writing. Advertisers soon caught on and from there it became a worldwide phenomenon. Hello Kitty and Pokémon are the most stand out examples of how huge this has become.

There may be sinister sexist undertones to this sweet innocence as traditionally, women are required to be demure and submissive. In my opinion, adult women dressed as children does nothing to progress gender equality.

But there is still a lot to love about this adorable and innocent way of expressing yourself. It provides a happy gentle and harmonious escape from Japan’s famously stressful work culture and relentless rule following.

From a creative point of view, it hits the inspirational jackpot Everywhere you look, you are charmed, amused, horrified and excited. Usually all at once. Kawaii focuses on a light-hearted and charming way of communicating. Sounds good to me. I’ll take that.