5 Top Tips To Optimise Your Landing Pages

Optimising your landing pages can ensure users stay on your site for longer, interact with your content and most importantly convert into customers! Well thought out landing page content is not only essential for e-commerce websites or companies running PPC campaigns, but every business with an online presence.

Follow our top five tips to ensure your landing pages provide the best possible experience for your customers:

1. Start with the fundamentals


A great online experience starts with a great website, so before you look to optimise your landing pages make sure your site provides the best possible foundation. With mobile now contributing to 45% of all e-commerce traffic in the UK*, it is essential to ensure your pages are scalable to be read on mobile devices, as a failure to address this is likely to impair your rankings on Google, not to mention being detrimental to user experience.

Speak to your developer or SEO consultant about ensuring your site speed is not slow, by minimising the size of image files and scripts in the back-end, as studies have shown that slower page load times result in an increase in site abandonment*. Make sure consumers can see all of your great content quickly when they come through to your site.

Consider the accessibility of your content – is your text big enough? Do you sell internationally, if so, is it easy for consumers to navigate between different languages/currencies? If you sell products online, make sure consumers can easily access information about Deliveries and Rreturns, as  your website often serves as your first opportunity to provide great customer service.

2. Do your research


A good place to start is by looking at how users are navigating through your site. Which pages are the most popular? Which pages are people leaving without having made any interaction? Heat mapping software like Hotjar enables you to see how users interact with your pages, from the percentage of users scrolling down the page, to the areas of the page they typically hover over, to the most popular links. Tools like these will enable you to identify areas of improvement, and where the hot spots are to put the most important information or calls to action.

The next logical step is to look at your competitors. Which companies are currently ranking for your target keywords? Do they rank for their homepage or a specific landing page? Look at how the page is structured, and how easy it is to navigate through the site. Don’t just look at your direct competitors, be aspirational – look at the brand leaders in your industry and sites of other brands you know sell well, as you can pick up some inspiration from them too.

3. Make the most of your campaigns

Don’t just consider your landing pages in isolation, as they form a key part of any campaign. Make sure your sales messages are communicated across all marketing channels – from PPC ads, to emails and even offline media like print ads. Consistency is key; you want customers to be able to instantly locate and recognise your offer, to generate the best return. ASOS have done this particularly well with their seasonal offers.

They promote their campaign through PPC ads:

Campaigns PPC

Which is consistently communicated via email marketing campaigns:

Campaigns Email

Which follows the same design as their landing pages:

Campaigns Landing Page

Be sure to track your campaigns using custom landing pages or tracking URLs, so you can see how they perform and improve on this over time. Ensure you capture customer data wherever possible to broaden the reach of future campaigns, for example offering customers a discount in return for them signing up to your newsletter.

4. Keep it simple

Keep it simple

Make sure your content is easy to digest, by breaking up text with eye-catching images, illustrations or graphics (see more information about how important imagery is on a website here). Consider the fact that users in the UK read left to right, and ensure the most popular content is ‘above the fold’ (the segment of the page you can see without having to scroll down). Be clear on what makes your business unique and display this at the top of the page.

Calls to action are vitally important – make sure it’s immediately clear what you want users to do – be it to view a particular page, make a purchase, submit an online enquiry or call you. Ensure these stand out in their positioning and the colours and language you use. Consider how you can add a sense of urgency, such as an online countdown to the end of a sale. Make enquiry forms as short as possible; you have a short space of time to capture the customer’s interest, so don’t give them any reason to drop off the site.

5. Build trust


Finally, consider how you can prove your unique proposition – do you have any awards/accreditations/customer testimonials you can use to inspire trust in customers? Make sure these are displayed clearly, and ensure you build a culture in your business where you are asking customers for feedback – to both improve your site and campaigns, and provide positive reviews to encourage new customers to buy into your business.







The Creare Digital Health Check: How does it work?

There are many website testing tools out there but our very own Digital Health Check aims to make analysing digital marketing performance accessible to all audiences – not just web developers.

We try not to bombard the user with technical jargon, instead we try to give guidance on some of the major factors that affect how well your business’ website performs online. Not just from a search engine perspective but also for users and general online visibility through social channels.


Our desktop check centres around the performance of the website for visitors using ‘desktop’ devices such as laptops or computers rather than mobile devices.

The critical aspect of this test is SPEED. The web is large and life is far too short to wait 5 seconds for a homepage to load.

How can I score better?

  • Make sure your server is as fast as you can afford
  • Use smaller files on your website – images and scripts should be optimised so they are as small as possible for the visitor to download to their browser
  • Ask your web company whether there are any problems with your website – are you loading / showing too much data on your homepage?
  • Ask your hosting provider whether they can implement caching for your website to speed it up
  • Use the Google Page Speed insights tool to see some technical data as to the problems


What if I score 0?

If you score 0 then your website does not meet our threshold for speed and as such this should flag up with a warning message.

Due to visitors being less tolerant of slow-loading websites and search engines using website speed as a ranking factor this should really be high on your priorities to resolve.


Almost half of the population now browse the internet more on their mobile devices than on Desktop machines. Search engines recognise this and have taken measures to ensure that they favour websites in their mobile search rankings that display correctly on mobile devices.

How can I score better?

  • Ensure your website passes the Google Mobile Test
  • Ensure that the speed of your website on mobile devices is as small as possible


What if I score 0?

If you score 0 then in all likelihood users of your website will struggle to navigate / read your website on a mobile device. You should have a word with your web design company


All websites need content, and by content we mean something to read or something to look at.

Although there are cases where a homepage can get away with simply being a picture or a a few lines of text, the majority of websites that perform well in search engines tend to contain a lot of useful information.

How can I score better?

  • Stick to typical formatting for your layout of headings and paragraphs
  • If possible, try to include imagery or video content to help improve the time users spend on your website
  • Ensure that you have clearly titled and described your website with meta information

(This is important as the title and description are used as your first introduction to a visitor searching for your products or services on the web.)

What if I score 0?

In the digital marketing sphere “content is king”. If the website in question is scoring 0 then it is either doing things a little differently to the norm or has some urgent issues to address.


Our first “Social Media” test looks at your Facebook profile. We pick up your Facebook profile from the links that reside on your own website.

Facebook, for a long time now has been a great tool for businesses using it to promote themselves and project their products and services onto the millions of daily users.

A well-used Facebook profile can do wonders for your online digital presence, even if Facebook in itself does might not directly affect your performance in other parts of the web – why would you want to not advertise in-front of their 1.5 billion active monthly users?

How can I score better?

  • Use your profile regularly – post often and get involved with the community
  • Cultivate likes and recommendations through other channels
  • Ensure that your profile is as complete as it can be (phone number, description and all other business information)
  • Ensure the link from your website is correct and that you also link back to your website from your Facebook page

What if I score 0?

If you are scoring 0 then it is very likely that the linking between your Website and Facebook page is not set up correctly or cannot be followed by our Health Check tool.

Check that your web developers have added a link to your Facebook profile page and that it is correct.


Much like Facebook, there are hundreds of millions of active users on Twitter and it’s a great marketing opportunity if you can get it right.

A well-maintained Twitter account can help to attract new and repeat visitors to your website and can help create a culture around your brand.

How can I score better?

  • Tweet more
  • Follow more people
  • Gain more followers
  • Engage with your following

(It’s as simple as that)

What if I score 0?

The linking between your Twitter account and your website might not be set up correctly.


Although not really used as a personal social media platform (at least not as much as Facebook / Twitter etc), Google+ is still important for a number of reasons – especially for Businesses.

One of the best and quickest ways to improve your digital presence is to set up your Google My Business page. This is essentially a Google+ profile for your business and can help make you appear in Google’s search engine very quickly for relevant phrases in your area.

How can I score better?

  • Ensure all company information is present and correct on your profile
  • Add extra information such as Opening Times and Photographs
  • Gather Google+ Reviews and try to keep a high average rating

What if I score 0?

Ensure that your Google+ link from your website is correct and verified and that the page in question is a Google My Business page.


Visibility is a slightly more complicated test where we combine a number of factors that determine how well your business website might perform in search engines.

We do not specifically look at the rankings of your website but the strength of some common ‘ranking factors’.

How can I score better?

  • Ensure your website is accessible to search engines
  • Set up Google Analytics on your website
  • Ensure that your Digital Marketing company are “building authority” in a natural way (i.e. not creating spammy links to your website)
  • Try to have your website mentioned on other websites that are in some way relevant to your own business

What if I score 0?

If you’re scoring 0 the best thing to check is to ask your web company whether your website is reachable by search engines.

Overall Rating

Our overall Digital Health Check score is weighted in a number of ways – it’s not simply an average of all your scores but a balancing act.

We try to score websites based on the severity of the problem and their impact on both the user experience and that of major search engines.

Retail Checklist: Ten Steps to Improve Customer Service in Preparation for the Holiday Season

For many retailers, the holiday season is the highest revenue generating time of the year. Yes, it can be a stressful few months, but for those that are prepared and equipped to handle the added pressure, it can actually be “The most wonderful time of the year.”

At the centre of the season is the consumer. Your customer. The success of this season lies solely on their shoulders: the what, where, why and how much they decide to buy, or not. A retailer’s ability to meet customer’s needs, keep them happy, and turn a seasonal shopper into a regular customer plays as large a role in retail success.

BizRate recently conducted a survey of 13,000 people of different age groups and genders to see why they chose one retailer over another. Bizrate Insights Vice President Hayley Silver shared the results, which revealed that shoppers most value “customer support,” “product met expectations,” “on-time delivery” and “design of site,” for eCommerce stores.

The following retail checklist offers tips on how to improve customer service for both online and in-store consumers. It includes some tactics you may already be familiar with, but may not have used in some time. Other tips may be new to you, but are proven methods in retail that provide that invaluable one-on-one level of support today’s consumers demand.

  1. Stay on top of inventory levels to improve customer service. When customers make the decision to buy, the best way to serve them is to have that desired product in stock. Staying on top of your inventory levels ensure you can deliver. Through your retail management platform, when levels get to your preset reorder number, a supplier order is automatically generated to replenish your stock levels. When the numbers are going the other way and certain stock isn’t moving, the holiday season is the best time to discount that stock in order to make room for products customers want to buy. Having your inventory, sales, and purchasing data tied directly to your accounting system within your retail platform allows you to quickly run profit and loss statements and other accounting reports at any time, continually fine-tuning your operations throughout the season.
  1. Use inventory reporting to keep customers happy. Mistakes happen, especially during the holiday rush. If an order was lost during shipping, your inventory reports will tell you if you have a replacement product in stock. If the warehouse sent out an incorrect product, your inventory report will show the discrepancy to identify the error, potentially before the customer does. Then you can be proactive by contacting the customer to correct situation.

“Tracking stock levels is really important for us as we sell different quantities across so many different channels – we never want to let customers down by being out of stock – Brightpearl makes sure we don’t.” Daniel Rios, Technical and Operations Specialist, Paper & Tea

  1. Multichannel management to serve customers wherever they shop. Do your regular in-store customers like to shop online for the added convenience? Having all your sales channels – in-store, online, eBay and Amazon stores – tied to together offers numerous ways to better serve your customers. Sales orders automatically update inventory levels across all channels. Pricing can be managed centrally, so if you discover a competitor with a lower price, information which is easily found through eBay’s advanced search functionality, you can adjust accordingly to stay competitive. Offering the ability to buy online but pick up in the store is becoming more popular among shoppers, and as the days wind down to the holiday season, this option could really save the day during last-minute gift buying.
  1. Your Suppliers play a key role in improving customer service AND cash flow. Going back to monitoring inventory levels, having a solid relationship with your suppliers can benefit your customer in many ways. If you have a banger sales weekend, leaving you unexpectedly low or out of a certain product, drop shipping from your supplier to your customer to deliver product before your stock is replenished. You may list a lower sell-through item in your catalogue but may not stock it, knowing that if a sale comes through you can drop ship to the customer or get same-day delivery from your supplier. This enables you to direct that cash elsewhere versus having it gather dust on the shelf. Freeing up that cash flow allows you to spend it in ways the benefit your business, from hiring additional temporary holiday staff, to marketing and advertising, or other on products with higher sell-through rates.
  1. Simplify and improve your deliveries with cloud-based solutions. Third-party ecommerce solution providers such as ShipStation in the U.S. and Scurri in the U.K. integrate directly into your retail management platform and popular shopping carts (Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce), automatically assigning a carrier for each shipment based on your pre-defined criteria. This increases efficiency over manual entry, providing real-time tracking for both you and your customer. Letting shoppers know exactly when their package is set to arrive is of value at any time, but especially during the holidays. These services also enable you to analyze the performance of each carrier, continually fine-tuning your delivery system to meet and exceed customer’s needs while monitoring costs to improve your bottom line.

“We love ShipStation! This was probably the first automation systems we took on as a small company. We initially did all shipments by hand. We were just starting out and didn’t know any better. Then in Christmas of 2012 our sales really took off, and we were swamped! Not to mention we went a little crazy trying to do all these orders by hand. So we Googled something like “magento shipping integration” and that’s how we found ShipStation. It was love at first sight.” Connor Hartnett, Founding Manager, F&V Lighting

  1. Increase the monitoring of your store’s shopping cart abandonment rates. People get finicky during the holiday season. It’s important to know the difference between a dropped sale because a shopper changed their mind, and a potential problem with your checkout process. Ecommerce shopping cart solutions like Magento will notify you when customers abandoned the sale, and then send them email notification reminders to finish the sale. These can be customized messages to contact your store if there were issues, enabling staff to personally resolve them, even by taking orders over the phone if need be, which offers that personal touch. Tracking if a customer abandon a cart from their mobile device, but completed it on their laptop, could indicate potential friction with your online store from a mobile device, an area you’ll now know needs improvement to better support mobile shoppers.
  1. Take advantage of real-time customer information to better suit their needs. Your CRM has a wealth of information you can use to improve customer service. Filtering by product type and amount of sales by customer, and viewing how they’ve interacted with your store enables you to send personalized one-to-one email messages. These could include a coupon to shop online or bring them back into the store, to invite them to a customer appreciation shopping night, or simply say “thank you” for their continued business. It’s a way to differentiate you from your competitors, where shopping is a pleasurable experience and not simply a lowest cost pursuit.

“Customers can be tracked, tagged, emailed and updated in no time at all. This has streamlined my sales and lead generation by making it easy to communicate with current and potential clients.” Laura Rudo, CEO, Evolve Beauty

  1. If you’re not yet using social media to improve customer service, what are you waiting for? Earlier this year, our partner Creare wrote a great blog post on how to use Twitter for customer support, including an eye-opening statistic: of the consumers who post a complaint on social media, 42% of them expect a response within 60 minutes and 32% expect one within 30 minutes. Closely monitoring your social channels will enable you to quickly address and resolve issues with online customers, or even a shopper Tweeting about waiting in a long line in your store. Use these channels to provide another service by sharing your store’s product expertise through helpful blog posts on the latest trends, tips, and recommendations. Butterfly Twists has a lively and active blog if you’re looking for inspiration.
  1. Small touches can go a long way in creating a welcoming in-store customer experience. Holiday shopping for many is a hectic experience. Having helpful, friendly and knowledgeable staff on the floor can make a world of difference to shoppers. The BizRate survey showed that shoppers of the Baby Boomer and Senior generation stated that service, “they have treated me well in the past,” was most important to them, even over price. Offering a cup of tea or warm cider and a place to rest for busy shoppers is a nice way of letting them know their patronage is appreciated. To help them with their shopping list, turn to your sales reports to see which product lines are selling well, then feature them in eye-catching displays that make buying easier.
  1. A well thought out efficient returns strategy benefits your bottom line and your customer. It’s critical, especially during the holiday season, that your return policies are clearly messaged within your ecommerce store and your physical store. When your returns system is running like a well-oiled machine, products can be added back into inventory quickly, ready to be sold to the next customer. Closely monitoring returns will red flag potential defaults with a product. If you notice a spike for a specific SKU, you can put a hold on a product to prevent future customers from receiving faulty items. At the same time, expediting exchanges ensures your customer receives the replacement product quickly.

According to eMarketer, U.S. retail sales for November and December is predicted to grow 5.7 percent over 2014, reaching $885 billion. This is the biggest increase in retail sales since 2011. Keeping your customers happy through this year’s holiday season will enable your retail business to benefit from what is expected to be, quite a wonderful shopping season.

To learn more on ways you can prepare your retail business for the holiday season, download ‘The Ultimate Retail Guide to the Holiday Season 2015’ today.

This guest post was written by Brightpearl. Brightpearl are a partner of Creare who provide multichannel retail management software.

How to Encourage Comments on Your WordPress Blog

Writing, managing and maintaining a well-read blog could be one of your biggest and best business assets. But how do you get that engagement? How do you create a conversation with your audience and woo them into giving you their thoughts, opinions and experiences?

We’ve put together 5 simple steps that you can easily put into action in order to get those comments flowing on your posts. Take a look and see what you think. I’d love to hear your views…

The Journey of Building a Website

What happens after a website order form has been signed and money has exchanged hands is a mystery to many people who have bought from various digital agencies in the past, but it really shouldn’t be.

We thought it would be useful to tell you how it works at our end so you know what to expect if you decide to take the plunge. Welcome to our guide to journeying with Creare through a web project. Enjoy!


  1. So first things first, your dedicated Project Manager will call to introduce themselves. They will confirm with you the details of your website and talk you through how it’s all going to work.
  1. From the information collected by your Business Development Manager we shall then get to work designing your homepage.
  1. The homepage will take us anywhere between seven to ten days to complete and once it’s ready, we’ll call you to take you through it. The initial homepage that we design for you is normally un-coded so you will see it as a PDF.

It’s worth noting this is a really important part of the process to get right, as it will then form the structure of your site moving forward.

  1. Once you’ve been presented the homepage, we would need sign-off and/or feedback from you within 48-72 hours, at this point we will also need all the items mentioned in step one. Then the exciting bit – once all of this information is collected we can then schedule the development of your whole website!
  1. When you’re in the diary, our Project Manager will call you to confirm the schedule and arrange a presentation date for the final site. We love to invite our clients to the Creare office for the presentation, it gives us a chance to meet you and it gives you a chance to see where your project has been built.
  1. From the day we present the site, you’ll then have approximately five days in which to check everything and ensure all the information is captured correctly and the call to actions are clear.
  1. Happy? Once you’ve sent us your email/signed approval of the site, we start the process of putting it through our rigorous Creare standards check. This checking process makes sure your site works effectively and efficiently. Our standards are high, the best in the market in fact, so you can rest assured that your site will be top of the range.
  1. Once the checking process has been completed, the site will then be set live to allow time for Google to ‘cache’ the new website.

When Google caches a website, it basically saves a copy of it allowing visitors to access this copy if there was ever an issue with your server. Clever stuff!

  1. After your site has gone live, you will receive a call around 30 days later to see how you and the site are getting on and for us to offer any additional help, advice and support. This is the perfect opportunity to pick our brains about ongoing online marketing. Now that you have a brand new, shiny and effective website, you want people to find it so together with our in-house SEO team, we will be able to work with you to provide a tailored solution that will help your business grow through its online presence.

Maybe you want to see how your current website is performing or you want to get a better idea of words and phrases your prospects may be searching for online, why not try the Creare Digital Health Check? It’s a free tool that takes your URL and checks your whole site for everything from its technical ability to its strength of content and social links. Have a go.

Useful Planning Tips When Purchasing a New Website

If you are considering upgrading your website or commissioning an agency to design and develop a new site for you, stop! There’s some preparation work you can do first that will help your project run smoothly enabling you and your developers to ensure a timely launch date.

Before deciding to have a website designed, you need to decide on and set aside your ongoing marketing budget to promote your website. Why? Two reasons…

  1. Your website needs to be structured with the right pages in order to accommodate your online marketing. For businesses targeting a local area, this may mean a number of pages need to be created that showcase specific services or, for a business selling online, specific product and brand pages that attract the right sort of clientele may be crucial. It really does depend on your business goals.
  2. Secondly, there’s no point having a great looking website that never gets found. By setting aside a monthly budget for marketing, you are giving your site the best possible chance of generating maximum return on investment.

In advance of your meeting with your chosen agency, have a think about the following questions. They’ll save you some time and make the meeting more productive…

Your USP

What is it that makes you different, what are you promoting, why should I pick up the phone and call your company, why do people buy from you?

Website Structure

What you are trying to achieve, who’s your audience, how many pages do you need, do you want to be able to manage the content yourself or do you want your developer to look after that for you?


A fact that often gets missed relates to content. What content do you have available, can it easily be uplifted to put onto the pages of your website, do you want any animation or video to create interest, do you have written content is it ready or will you require content to be written and do you have a need for updated photography?

Shopping Online

If your site allows customers to buy online, how many products do you have, how are you uploading them and what shipping methods and rates do you want to offer?


How would you like your customers to contact you? What vital information needs to be captured on the initial enquiry?

Once you have got to grips with the information for these questions, remember that you need to get some information back from the agency too…

  • What you are getting for your money?
  • What’s the timeline in which you need to collate the above information to ensure a smooth process?
  • When will you need to be available to sign off designs?

By being fully prepared for this new business venture, you will not only make sure your site is delivered in a timely fashion, you will also be making sure that the site is fit for purpose and meets your businesses needs.

Work with your Agency/Developer and you assigned project manager. Together you both want the best looking and the best performing website. Don’t be intimidated if you’re not technical savvy, that’s why you have appointed a professional. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable and confident with the process and most importantly enjoy it! This is a really exciting moment for your business and its future.

Happy creating!

Local SEO: More Than Just Page 1

Local SEO: More Than Just Page 1

The term SEO is often confused with some sort of technical wizardry which displays a website at the top of Google. However, there are so many accompanying factors that you need to take into consideration when building your brand visibility. Check out my top three contributing factors below…

1. Quality

As a local business owner, you want to relay to your customer the quality of the service that you can provide. So why would your website be any different? Leaving your position in Google to one side for a moment, we need to observe how your website is representing your company. Let’s look at a few important factors:

  • Does your website load in an appropriate amount of time? The worse case scenario is a potential customer leaving your slow-to-load website behind in a rush to find a better provider.
  • Does your website captivate your audience in the right way? The content needs to be engaging, the imagery needs to represent your business and there must be clear calls-to-action.
  • Is your website mobile responsive? The fact remains that a site which performs on a mobile will capture better engagement from your mobile users.

Whilst I asked you to leave your rankings in Google to one side, let’s revisit them for just one minute. I mention load time, mobile usability and overall website quality above. Did you know that Google takes these factors into consideration before deciding where to place you in their results page? They do. And if you have no idea whether your website has that all-important quality factor – check out where you stand with a free digital health check.

Creare's Digital Health Check Tool
Website quality is key.

2. Awareness

A website provides your business with a digital presence, but creating awareness is part of a much larger spectrum. At one time a two-page spread in a local directory was enough to spread the word but there is so much more to consider when you want to become a recognised brand. If you’re unsure whether you are advertising your business to its full potential, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you utilising branded social media channels? From Facebook and Twitter, to LinkedIn and that all important Google+ you can spread awareness of your company to masses of users.
  • Have you considered email marketing? Whilst your website may capture a potential customer, you should aim to regain their interest and perhaps their business with some content-driven email marketing.
  • Is your brand consistent? The design of everything from your website to your business cards should be reflective of your brand values.

And whilst I don’t mean to harp on about Google+ in this post, it can be a really important platform for local listings of your company. Ensuring that you have a verified Google+ page, with all of the relevant address details, may result in a maps listing for your company. See the possible results in the snapshot below:

Creare's Map Listing Result An example of Creare’s presence in a local search.

3. Trust

Often, you gain the trust of your customers after the first meet and you hope to see recommendations spread across the local area. However, you need to consider how important earning the trust of your potential customer base is. I have mentioned Google+ as an awareness tactic above, but now we’re going to focus on reviews. Utilising this page as a review platform is the perfect method of capturing a desired customer, right from the result of their local search page. Whether your potential customer uses keyword or brand based searches, Google can filter in the reviews and/or star rating that you have, which is a major trust signal from the very beginning. But here are some top tips for using this review platform:

  • Is the information correct? From your business name to your opening times, every piece of company data on this page should be correct and up to date.
  • Are your reviews genuine? Placing fictitious reviews on your own Google+ page, all of which are a five star rating, is extremely obvious. Leave it to your happy customers!
  • Have you spread the word? You could choose to send a follow up email to your satisfied customers with a link to your Google+ page, asking for a quick review of your services.

And check out how this data can be pulled through from your Google+ page below:

Creare Google+

Concluding point? Local SEO is so much more than page one results. It encompasses everything from quality to brand building to trust signals – all of which can be easily achieved by your business. 

Questions To Ask Your Digital marketing Agency

A digital marketing agency should have the dedication and know-how needed to boost your business profile in the ever-expanding online world.

Of course, this will come at a price, so to get an idea of whether you’ll be getting your money’s worth, you’ll want to approach your initial meeting armed with a set of questions to help calculate your return on investment. These quick queries make a good starting point.

How will you improve my search rankings?

Your digital marketing agency should be able to provide a detailed strategy on how they will boost your search engine optimisation via various online techniques. From the coding of your website to regular content plans and a sound social media approach, the experts you’re working with need to know their SEO. If not, find someone who does.

How do you avoid Google penalties?

Google penalises some websites for acting unethically with their SEO (for example, plagiarising content from other websites or using spam-like techniques to drive traffic) or failing to follow webmaster guidelines. This can be crushing for a company that wants to boost its online profile rather than hinder it. An amateur agency will be stumped by this question, so it’s a good one to ask if you’re seeking a professional, reputable and trustworthy digital marketing approach.

Can you guarantee rankings?

If the answer to this question is anything other than no, then your digital marketing agency is leading you on. They may be confident that they can boost your profile for a particular search term, but there really are no guarantees – competition is fierce and constant, especially in the world of SEO. Instead, your digital marketing agency should be able to tell you what they will do to give you the best possible chance of rising through the search engine ranks.

What reports will I get?

Any digital agency worth their salt will keep you updated with regular reports and updates on how particular digital marketing campaigns are performing. These should be detailed, containing various different stats from which you will be able to calculate your ROI.

Can I help support the SEO?

Your digital agency should reply to this one with a resounding YES. The more information you can give them about your company, your industry and the types of customers you are looking to attract, the better understanding a digital marketing agency will have of an approach that is tailored to your individual business. Working collaboratively is often the key to online success.

Do you have any more suggestions? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @creare.

Tips for Improving Your Online Shop

Maintaining an online presence and an online shop is no longer a quirk of business or a tech-trend; it is a necessity for survival.

Between 2011 and 2013, UK shoppers spent an extra £23bn online, and forecasts predict that the share of online retail sales will rise from 2012’s figure of 12.7 per cent to 21.5 per cent or even higher by 2018.

The figures underline the reality that the way we shop is, if not going through a revolution, certainly experiencing a large-scale overhaul as digital business takes hold. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past fifteen years, you’ll know that retail success no longer depends on physical stores.

Below are a few guidelines to take into consideration to maximise the impact of your online store.

  1. Images for substance and sparkle

More than a visual of your product, images offset text to bring balance and a more professional look to your page. Graphics allow you to present product stats in a more engaging and animated way than prose permits. Analysing sales each time you upload product images can give you a good idea of which pictures work best for your webpage.

  1. Develop customer trust

Your online shop showcases your company’s image; so present your best side. Include customer testimonials to establish yourself as a reliable firm. Use genuine correspondence that outlines how your service has helped the buyer; a comment stating how your product has promoted or helped a client will go further than a message describing your product as “amazing”.

  1. Qualify yourself

Let readers know that you are the best company for them by outlining your credentials clearly. Highlight key skills and background information in bullet point form, or integrated into a stylish paragraph that introduces your company as a solution-holder for clients.

  1. Flag up special offers

Most people know the online domain holds the cheapest deals, so special promotions should be clearly displayed. Make customers know they’re getting a good deal, so incentivise with lower rates made available when a certain amount is spent. Keep the shopping cart near the top of your page, as users tend not to scroll down the page too far – make sure the checkout remains clear and easy to identify. Rewards points and loyalty schemes are great ways of giving customers a tangible reason to bring repeat business and spread the word about the benefits of spending money at your store.

  1. Customer segmentation, targeted promotions & merchandising

From gender and age to interests and spending habits, the behaviours that make your customers unique should be factored into your marketing. Consider what data you want to collect, how it will be gathered and develop methods of data analysis for segmentation. You should also establish effective communication among relevant departments in your business to use this segmentation to best effect. The process should enable you to target smaller preference-specific consumer groups with relevant information and merchandising so that individuals find what they are looking for quicker and more easily.

  1. Be open and honest

Without a human to speak to, measures need to be taken by your online store to make processes clear, thereby promoting customer confidence. Ensure charges are not hidden but remain highlighted throughout a transaction. The checkout path must be completely linear – without sub-steps going to a previously shown page – so that customers are not confused or left thinking that there has been an error on the site. Give priority to delivery/returns policy and procedure to make sure people know where they stand at all stages of the purchase.

  1. Log customer behaviour

Harness the Internet’s forensic potential for tracking. CRM applications is an example of customer service software that will let you see how much time has passed since a customer last visited your online shop, and what they bought. You will be able to use this knowledge to suggest other items or services, giving your customers a streamlined experience and a personalised feel.

  1. Build a subscription base

Forge and reward customer loyalty by establishing a subscription list through which you can launch your company’s latest news and float special offers. Simply cataloguing client emails will allow you to send notes of thanks in the follow up to purchases to enquire about customer satisfaction. Many companies now use text messages to convey this extra token of customer service that will make the buyer feel more involved, cared for and ultimately more likely to return for business in the future.

People are busier than ever and today’s customers know that if a service doesn’t meet their expectations they have multiple platforms for broadcasting it to the world before they go elsewhere for what they need. This concept is magnified online where your clients can disappear with a click of the mouse. Ensure that maximising the customer experience is top of your agenda to build a solid client base and stay ahead of the online competition.



Quantitative Inventory Optimisation: How To Anticipate Future Demand

There can be very few things more valuable to a small business than the ability to anticipate future demand and optimise their inventory accordingly. The goal is to hit the sweet spot between excessive amounts of stock at high storage costs and dangerously low levels risking an array of stock-out problems. Whilst this sounds simple, getting it right is far from easy.

Inventory forecasting is the data-driven method for future proofing your business. With the right tools in place, you can run your business at much higher levels of efficiency, accelerating your growth and profits.

There are multiple different methods for inventory and demand forecasting. Some rely on expert opinion, or ‘qualitative assessment,’ whilst others rely on data deduction, ‘quantitative’. The majority of large retail networks depend heavily on this statistical method of forecasting demand to optimise their stock levels.

A forecast is traditionally considered that which has 50% likelihood to be above or below the future demand as observed through sales. This sounds complex, but it is easily worked out by comparing the absolute difference between an original forecast and the actual demand observed later on.

Brightpearl and Lokad write that for all the forecasting your business may do, it is the stock levels themselves which are the true forecasts made by the business, since each stock level is itself a “direct anticipation of the future.”

So how can you make sure your physical inventory levels match the upcoming levels of demand? A good way to start is to get measuring.

It stands to reason that you can’t expect to improve your inventory efficiency without closely measuring it first. As we have established, your stock levels are a forecast in of themselves, so start here.

Once you look at what you’ve measured, you can begin to assess the quality of your forecasting. You could do this by calculating the actual amount lost (not the percentage lost) due to the inaccuracy of your anticipations.

In truth, it’s never as simple as this. Not least due to the problem of asymmetry when considering optimum inventory levels. The cost of not having enough stock to fulfil an order often far exceeds the cost of storing the extra stock, so companies which highly prioritise customer service will often over-stock to compensate.

In order to get around this problem, more diligent companies measure the adequacy of the stock levels against the target service levels (where those service levels implicitly represent the financial trade off between the cost of inventory and the cost of stock-outs), rather than against the actual cost.

But what about when it comes to reordering? Firstly, to avoid leaving reorder points to guess work (since they are quantile forecasts) you must keep a record. As we previously mentioned, you can only optimise what you measure.

You must be vigilant when taking into account ‘lead times’ – the amount of time between the placing of an order for stock and it becoming available to you – in order to hit the optimal reorder point. Reorder points must cover the entire lead time, because no stock can arrive sooner that this lead time. The total demand over the duration of the lead time is known as the lead demand.

Lokad and Brightpearl write: “the reorder point should only cover the lead demand but only with a certain probability as defined by the service level. If the service level is set at 95%, then reorder point should be as low as possible while maintaining 95% chance of being strictly larger than the lead demand.”

So by now we have recognised that reorder points can be interpreted as quantile forecasts, but we do not quite have the tools to measure the accuracy of these forecasts. Since certain quantile judgement has been used, classical accuracy formulas cannot be used to measure them. In this case, the pinball loss function could be used.

Whilst beyond the scope of this blog post (you can read about it here), essentially the pinball loss function provides you with an understanding of the relative values of different options with your inventory. It cannot be directly used to quantify company costs, but provides a great way to compare options.

So now you’re set up with the introductory knowledge you need to tackle the optimisation of your inventory. It’s no mean feat, and should be considered an ongoing process, but getting it right will set you apart from your competition. If you want to know more, check out this exceptional white paper “Quantitative Inventory Optimization: How to Anticipate Future Demand.”

Remember, be flexible and always be measuring.

This guest post was written by Brightpearl. Brightpearl are a partner of Creare who provide multichannel retail management software.


Where Can I Find Images For My Website?

In recent years images have become a vital content tool when it comes to creating a website.

However, finding images that you can use on your website can be a daunting task. The first stumbling block for many website owners is the uncertainty over whether or not an image can be used. This is a totally understandable reservation to have, as nobody wants to be on the bad end of a copyright claim.

So before we start, lets take a quick look at the most common licenses that you will come across when it comes to sourcing images:

Public Domain 

These are images in which the intellectual property rights attributed to the image have expired, or the owner of the image has released them into the public domain free of charge. Put simply, these images can be used any way you see fit.

Creative Commons

These images could be attributed to several available Creative Commons licenses. Some licenses require a credit to be given, whereas some allow the image to be used as long as it is unchanged. You need to ensure that you read the license attributed to an image before you use it, and follow the correct procedures where appropriate.

Royalty Free

Now, the name of this one can sometimes be deceiving. Just because it says ‘Royalty Free’, doesn’t mean that the image can be used for free. Simply put, it means that once you have purchased the image you can use it as many times as you want.

Rights Managed

With this license, the image can be used a limited amount of times. If you want to use the image more than the amount defined within the license, you will have to pay for the privilege.


There are numerous other licenses available online and ultimately it is down to the individual to ensure that they follow the correct procedure. However, if you are ever unsure, hold off using the image and email the owner or service to clarify – it is better to be safe than sorry.

It is also worth pointing out the importance of ensuring that you have the right account for the service that you are using. Some image services offer accounts for organisations whereas others don’t, so make sure that you have signed up for the type of account that is in keeping with your project and the work that you are going to be undertaking.

So, now that we have briefly covered the legal side of things, lets take a look at our top picks for sourcing images.



Shutterstock lets subscribers download a certain number of photos per day during the length of a subscription, for which you sign up for and will have to pay a fee. For example, as a one-month subscriber you can download 25 images per day.


iStock is another paid service that offers millions of royalty-free images. There are two different types of subscription services, the ‘essentials subscription’ and the ‘signature subscription’, that can be paid for either monthly or yearly. iStock also offers a pay per download service that offers credits for downloads.


Flickr is a site that continues to grow in popularity everyday. It is relatively simple to use; simply search using the creative commons license for free images and ensure that you provide attribution and a link back to the source.


Unsplash is a simple site to look at. However, they have a really great collection of fantastic high-res images that are updated every 10 days and can be downloaded for free.


Pixabay offers users use of a rapidly growing database of public domain images. These images can be included on your website without any attribution to the source.


Pexels is another great source for free images. The website is updated daily with 10 new, high quality images and the license for each image is also conveniently located to the right.

Bonus source – Your own images

An option for image sourcing that is often overlooked is to create them in-house. Whether you have a photographer on the team or you create the images personally; they are free and you own the rights, so it is well worth giving it a try.

And there you have it. Happy sourcing!

Your buddy building your website could be your first step towards business disaster

Don’t mix business and pleasure.

I am always intrigued by the answer to this question “Who built your website?” and the all too common answer “Oh, this guy I know built it for me…”

The follow up question – “how’s your website working for you?” (cue sharp intake of breath from small business owner and a look of embarrassment at their current online offering). Why is this? Why not fix it? The answer is simple; it’s always difficult to properly critique the efforts of a friend, relative, or the friendly web developer down the road you met down the pub.

You probably choose them because they were doing you a favour, saving you some money, getting your website knocked up quickly and now you’re stuck with an online shop front that doesn’t look very good and worse still, doesn’t work hard for you in driving traffic that could convert into valuable new customers.

The proliferation of what I call ‘web-co’; thousands of independent, one man band web designers who in the mid to late 2000’s created a huge graveyard of poorly built, horrifically designed websites which fester like relics in time. What’s more, the huge variations in service level, price and quality has left thousands of small business owners skeptical over whether they should ever trust a web designer again.

Does this sound like you?

Unfortunately in this increasingly digital world, your online presence is not something you should leave to chance. You need to work closely with a reputable web design company which has the expertise to help you build and manage your online brand, ensuring potential customers can quickly identify with your business and reach out to contact with an intention of making a purchase.

Here are my top tips to make sure you aren’t left with a new relic for the online graveyard:

  1. Check out some of their recent work, do you like the style of website they build?
  2. Does the web developers own website look any good?
  3. How do they rate on Google reviews?
  4. Do they use open source platforms for development such as WordPress? Important if you do ever want to move to another web development agency.

Don’t fall foul of the ‘guy down the road’ trap. Obey the good old rule to never mix business and pleasure.

Creares Advice Centre is full of helpful tips, tricks and advice to help your business succeed online. Take a read here.

Brands Bashed By Google #Mobilegeddon

April 21st 2015 saw the dawn of ‘Mobilegeddon,’ Google’s new search algorithm that penalises websites failing to offer mobile users an easy and enjoyable browsing experience.

The change saw many businesses drop search rankings due to sites that don’t make the most of responsive designs or take into account the high percentage of internet users on mobile devices. Here are some of the big brands that have already been affected…

The AA

While it does have an optimised mobile website and has earned the mobile friendly tag from Google, the AA lost some visibility due to the non-optimisation of pages for a number of  key terms, especially those relating to insurance. Without mobile optimised landing pages for many of its insurance products, the user experience is harmed.


Next experienced a 38% drop in mobile SEO visibility after Mobilegeddon, likely the result of poor technical implementation of their mobile site. The retailer’s online home fails to  respond correctly to a number of mobile devices (including Android and iOS phones).


While Barclays have a mobile website on their root domain, the bank directs users to a series of non-mobile landing pages for several high volume terms. This poor usability practice  is repeated throughout the Barclays site, leading to a number of ranking drops for high volume terms.

British Airways

British Airways has lost some visibility due to a series of poorly optimised pages, including those related to particular travel destinations. The site therefore appears below two of its rival operators, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates, when searching for certain holidays.

Sky Vegas

Sky Vegas lost a quarter of its mobile visibility in the week after Mobilegeddon took place, much of which appears to be attributable to slots related terms. For the term ‘slots’, Sky  Vegas fell from position two to position 11, whilst for ‘online slots’, it fell from position two to position seven.

Google were being serious with this change. Even the big guys haven’t escaped. Is your website mobile friendly? Use our Mobile Friendly Checker to see.

How to Create a New Post in WordPress

It’s no wonder so many companies decide to use WordPress for their websites. Creating an eye-catching blog post using its CMS is a piece of cake once you know how to do it. For those unfamiliar, here’s our five-step guide.

Step 1: Enter the dashboard

The dashboard is the central hub from which you can edit your WordPress website and add new content to it. In most cases you can access it by adding ‘/wp-admin’ to the end of your sites URL and logging in with your username and password.

Once you’re here, take a look down the sidebar on the left of the page and locate ‘posts.’ Hover over it and select ‘Add New.’

TOP TIP: For a web page that includes timeless information such as contact details or staff bios, create a page rather than a post. While posts are listed by date in the style of a blog or rolling news website, pages are static and can be reached via a permanent link in your sites navigation bar. For example, many company sites include an ‘about’ page with a designated section on the site, separate from blog posts containing relevant news items.

Step 2: Write your post

You will be taken to the text editor page, which is where you can enter the text and media you would like your new post to feature. Your post title should be entered into the narrow text box at the top of the page, and the main body of the post entered into the larger box below.

Two tabs on the top right of the text editor, ‘Visual’ and ‘Text’, select whether you would like to edit your post in a ‘preview’ mode (Visual) or as HTML (Text). While the latter option provides more versatility, Visual mode is easier to navigate and therefore more suited to beginners.

Step 3: Add images

Posts with images are much more engaging than ones comprised of block paragraphs. Add your images by first selecting the ‘Add Media’ button on the top left of the text editor, then uploading any images you wish to include and selecting them from the media library.

Take the time to carefully label each image you upload with titles, captions, alt text (the text your viewers will see when they hover over your image) and descriptions: this will improve your sites SEO (search engine optimisation), and once you have a large bank of images uploaded, it will also make them easier to find using the search function in the media library.

When you have decided which image you want to use, move the cursor on the text editor to a space you’d like the image to fill, select the image you want to use from your media library and the size you want it to appear, before hitting the blue button labelled ‘Insert into post’.

Step 4: Categorise and tag your post

Categorising and tagging your posts properly will improve your website, allowing users to find relevant content easily and improving your SEO.

To differentiate between categories and tags, it helps to think of your website like a book. While categories are like chapters that divide your site into its most fundamental concepts and themes, tags are the common words and phrases that might be found on an index page. For example, if a website about British wildlife included a category called ‘mammals’, its tags might be more specific terms such as ‘field mouse,’ ‘hedgehog’ and ‘badger’.

In order to assign categories to your blog post, you must first create them on the dashboard tab labelled ‘Categories’ (right under the ‘Add New’ link you clicked to reach the text editor). When you’ve done this, simply select the relevant categories on the right of the text editor page. Tags are easier – just type in the ones you want to include in the tags field. Between five and ten will do the trick.

Step 5: Preview and publish

When you’ve written your post, added images and chosen relevant tags and categories, check that you’re happy with how your post looks on your website by selecting ‘Preview’ on the top right of the text editor page. If you’re not, you can go back to the text editor and make the necessary changes; otherwise, all that’s left to do is hit the big blue ‘Publish’ button.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created your first post using WordPress.


Guide: 10 Tips for Successful WordPress Posts

Do you really understand how to make a successful WordPress post? Read this guide for our top tips.

Used by millions, WordPress is expanding every day. Its user-friendly nature has allowed many new businesses to fast track their presence on the web and countless bloggers to establish a unique voice within their industry.

While WordPress offers a professional platform, you still have to put in a great deal of work to engineer content that is going to be consistently read in a way that builds the audience you crave. Below are ten techniques you need to be employing to maximise the reach of your blog posts:

Opening lines

Your post’s headline is the main pitch that sells the rest of your blog post. Make an attention-grabbing header and try to sustain its impact through the first lines of your blog post. A good way to start the post’s body is by posing a question – it makes you sound open and friendly and gives readers a direct opportunity to respond.

For example: ‘Can you build a successful blog with just one piece of writing a month?’, or ‘How do you get more people to read and share your content?’

A powerful statement will equally entice readers to continue investigating what you have to say. Alternatively a short anecdote is great for setting the scene – this should be a small story presenting a situation to which the reader will relate, or posing a problem to which your blog post will eventually find a solution.

Give something to your readers

Do not use your blog posts just to boost your SEO or as a way to funnel promotions down your readers’ necks. A blog’s primary role should give something to its audience – content that readers should find useful and engaging. Learn about what things your readers like by engaging with them in the comments sections, or by emailing contacts individually. Writing tutorial blogs or beginner-friendly advice are good ways to win the trust of, and to expand, your readership.

Make it yours

Avoid republishing someone else’s content on your blog. Rather, if you want readers to be aware of content that is not yours, provide a link to the content’s location. If you haven’t devised your content yourself, you should be offering more points of interest or a twist on the original concept.

Use widgets wisely

In WordPress a ‘widget’ is a small icon that sits in your sidebar. Whether it links to a Facebook ‘like’, a Twitter follow button, a short biography or information snippet, these little pathways have the power to add functionality and dynamism to your blog. Beware, however, if your blog has too many different feeds, updates and links to recent tweets, viewer fatigue will set in pretty quickly. Reduce your sidebars to the essentials by going into Appearance and Widgets and removing all the redundant items that threaten to undermine the calm and collected appearance of your cause.

Be on trend

What are people talking about now in your industry? Whether it’s the latest Jeremy Clarkson controversy, how the England cricket team is tumbling out of the world cup, or your office’s interpretation of the Harlem Shake, harnessing the cultural zeitgeist in your blog posts shows your finger is on the pulse. Be careful not to link every new blog to what’s going on, at the risk of being gimmicky, but this technique done properly will offer your readers familiarity and an easy way in to your content.

Organise permalinks

You’ve put your heart and soul into content for your site, so you want the major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to be picking up your creation. There’s a lot you can do to make this happen – signs you can put out to help point out what’s important to the search engine giants.

The built-in WordPress permalink field at the top of the editing page allows you to revise your links before you publish them. Take out unnecessary words and design your description with keywords in mind, ensuring that the final text is attractive to read.

For example: Myblog.com/10-tips-for-becoming-a-better-surfer



You need compact permalinks that provide a concise outline of your post for search engines to understand, and this will help you rank a keyword that you’d like your page to be associated with.

Paint a thousand words

Images will enhance the look and feel of your page, but they should also be complementary to the content you have put up as well. They also work towards search engine optimisation. Keywords that you attach to your image’s caption and alternate text fields create text that appears when someone hovers the cursor over the image. Make sure the alternate text accurately describes the image you want to show, as this is what your readers will see if the image fails to load.

Moving pictures

A video provides a third dimension to the content you’re putting out. It’s a great way to strengthen links with existing audiences, as well as an effective means of giving new viewers a quick presentation of your blog’s personality. To embed a link to your YouTube video in WordPress, just start a new line in your post editor and paste in your link. The video will automatically appear in your post.

Have a landing page

A landing page acts as the face of your site and is your chance to present what you are about without the distractions of menus, sidebars and related iconography. Many premium themes will have a template-landing page complete with plenty of white space to build a frontage for your domain. A landing page lets you direct visitors to the most important part of your site, in a way that makes the reader feel they have chosen to go where they are being led.

The bottom line

A footer on your WordPress site will enable you to give a copyright message or publicise a link to an important associated page. This can be expanded to a full content section through many premium themes, where you can host a short bio or links to popular posts or pages. When people scroll down your page, they’ll be expecting to see who is behind your site, so be ready with a potted explanation of who you are and what you do so that readers are engaged with this space.

A great example is the one that can be found on WordPress itself:

WP Image

Even if you have devoted yourself to formulating ideas and opinions that will revolutionise modern society, they will fall flat unless equal attention is paid to how your information is presented.

Effective blogging calls on skills that need to be developed over time, so try not to be too overwhelmed by all the myriad possibilities when it comes to communicating your message in a way that works for you and your audience. You will have a more productive – and enjoyable – experience if you take your learning pathway slowly, recognise that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and invest time in experimenting with different methods and media until you start to see the desired results.