Highlands and Islands Postage

Isn't it time to "Take the High Road"?

We're often asked if our shipping matrix can handle "Highlands and Islands", as many of our customers use couriers that charge extra to reach the more "further flung" areas of the United Kingdom. Of course, our answer is a resounding "YES" - our shipping matrix can handle banded shipping right down to an individual street level for the UK - but we're very much aware that the days of charging more to customers based on their postcode are seriously numbered.
 
In recent months there have been a number of high profile cases, including complaints about Halfords and Lloyds Pharmacy, that have prompted a response from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in First Minister's questions
"The level of charge that Richard Lochhead has outlined today is shocking. Certainly based on what he has said today, it seems vastly out of proportion and, yes, I am in full agreement that excessive charging for parcel deliveries is unacceptable."
It certainly feels like shipping is becoming a "postcode lottery" with little more than a few miles separating standard and exceptional areas in terms of pricing and some courier treating the "Highlands and Islands" like a trip "North of the Wall". Shipping isn't just about postcodes though - here are some tips from the Gravit-e team on making your shipping matrix better reflect the real costs of shipping.

Use a weight matrix

Your Gravit-e system can calculate the total weight of an order and you can create multiple shipping bands based on weight. Light parcels may not attract the same charges as larger items with your courier and you can reflect these lower charges in more competitive shipping for customers.

Use a sliding scale for charges

If you don't want the hassle of maintaining a fine-grained set of weight bands, think about using the "Scaling" option in your Gravit-e shipping matrix instead. With Scaled shipping charges, you can start with a lower initial charge and then increase the charge based on weight up to a ceiling value. Some customers may still receive higher charges, but you guarantee that you are only charging what is required.

Offer Free Shipping on Larger Orders

Everyone loves free shipping - consider offering free shipping on larger orders even if they are heading to one of the more outlying regions of the UK. Your Gravit-e shipping matrix can be configured to offer free shipping based on a variety of factors including order value.

Improve the Accuracy of your Postcode Matrix

As we mentioned above, sometimes it is a matter of just a few miles between what is considered "Highlands" and what isn't. You aren't restricted to working with just the first part of the customer's postcode - consider using the full postcode in your shipping matrix to make shipping costs more accurate and make sure you're up to date with what charges your courier has in each area.

Take the shock out of shipping costs

One of the most common places to lose a customer during the checkout process is when you add shipping charges to their basket. When charges are high, you're at extra risk - customers hate the "bait and switch" routine.
 
Gravit-e lets you pre-select shipping rates that are previewed to your customer in their shopping basket, fully calculated based on the customer's basket contents. There's no reason for the customer to get a nasty shock during checkout and no reason for you to risk losing their order.
 
Overall, whilst there's nothing we can do from behind our desks at Gravit-e to change the shipping costs for customers in the Highlands and Islands of the UK, we're definitely doing all we can to make sure our customers can treat their customers as fairly as possible and make sure that shipping charges are calculated fairly.

5 SEO Rules to Live By

5 SEO Rules to Live By Google may have fingers in many pies, from mobile phones to self driving cars, but their core business is still their search engine. Processing an average of 3.5 billion searches worldwide every day, Google dominates the search market and has even found itself acknowledged by the Oxford English Dictionary as the verb to search the Internet. ( A “Bing” meanwhile, is defined as an old Scottish word for “a heap of waste from a mine” ). But users would be quick to abandon Google if it stopped giving them good answers so maintaining their market dominance necessitates that Google maintain the quality of their search index. Accordingly Google have invested a huge amount of time and money in building a team dedicated not only to improving its index, but also to protecting it. They are on a crusade to ensure that their search engine remains the first choice for any Internet user and their primary enemy is anyone who is trying to position a site in a better position than the one it "deserves" according to their algorithm.  Under the auspices of this "Web Spam" team Google have released numerous updates to its index, the most famous codenamed Panda and Penguin, and the ramifications of these continue to be felt by businesses today. Google is still releasing new iterations of these updates as well, and adding more update projects to its schedule. Tracking Google updates has become a daily task for webmasters and SEO consultants, with whole web communities dedicated to analyzing and discussing what Google may, or may not, be doing. All of this makes agreeing an SEO plan a daunting task for any business. Whether your building your plan in house or using a third party agency/consultant, how can you possible predict what tactics and techniques Google may decide are “bad practice” in the future? The good news is that you don’t actually have to be a psychic (or work for Google) to predict that. Looking back over a decade or more of SEO best (and worst) practice, we’ve compiled a list of simple rules that you can check any SEO plan against to avoid engaging in tactics that may do more harm to your website than good. RULE 1: If you can automate it, it's probably SPAM. Google believe in a "human generated" Internet. Any content, link, or page generated by a machine alone is likely to be classed as SPAM at some point in the future. This also includes downloading content from another site or provider and regurgitating it on your own website. The days of cheap "affiliate" sites that could reproduce a manufacturer or supplier's content but with generally better structural SEO are almost completely dead.  RULE 2: If you're doing it "because its good for SEO" or "good for Google" but not "good for the user", it's probably SPAM Anything done to a website purely to help it position better and that has zero benefits for the end user is probably a SPAM tactic. Whatever you do to your website, whether you do it under the banner of SEO or not, should be done to improve the experience for the user. Google wants to deliver its customers to websites that give them a great experience - if that's you, they should position you better. RULE 3: If you are paying a unknown third party for something, it's probably SPAM Anything that promises links, clicks, or traffic from undefined sources in exchange for money is either a straight out con or more SPAM (unless we're talking about a clearly paid for advertisement).  Google don't have a problem with you buying advertising from them or from anyone else - but they don't like to see links, social media updates, or blog posts that are made to look organic but have really been bought and paid for. If you’ve paid for links in the past, check your Google Webmaster Tools Control Panel and consider disavowing any links that may be penalizing your website. RULE 4: If someone tells you it will "trick" or "trap" Google, it's probably SPAM No matter who it is you are talking to, if they tell you they've figured out something Google doesn't know about its own system... then they're wrong (or soon will be). The problem with any SEO "trick" is that Google gets to hear about them pretty quickly. Even a technique that actually works will almost invariably engineered out of the algorithm in very short order. At best, the benefits are real but transitory. At worst, those real benefits become real penalties if Google think you've been trying to abuse the system. RULE 5: If someone told you about it in a SPAM email, it's probably SPAM. Sadly the snake oil SEO salesmen of yesterday still exist today and they're still shilling their wares via email, social media, and good old-fashioned cold calling. If a company is resorting to SPAM email to get your attention, how good do you think their SEO is really going to be? Shouldn't they be living handsomely off the customers who find their website organically? Hit delete and move on. It’s too late… I already did something that I think is SPAM Don’t worry, all is not lost. Clean up your act and apply for reassessment from Google. It’s simpler than you fix and Google won’t “hold a grudge” against a site that has made mistakes in the past. Contact us to find out more about cleaning up bad SEO and removing a Google penalty.

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Beware of spam when analytics reports increased we...

Beware of spam when analytics reports increased website referrals We all know that link building is hard work, but one of the best ways to improve your position with search engines and increase your web traffic. When looking at your analytics, an unexpected bump in referrals is great news - you've obtained the holy grail of web marketing... the truly organic traffic generating link! Or, maybe you haven't ... Working with our customer's analytics recently we've seen a sharp rise in referral spam - the use of web "robots" to generate click throughs to your website so that the site generating the spam appears in your analytics. The spammers are hoping to trick you into thinking that they are generating good quality traffic and, as a consequence, get you to pay money for some of their traffic generating services. It's a straight-forward "bait and switch"; the referral spam makes it look like you're getting a good thing (even though you're not) and so you pay up in the hope of getting an even better thing. This is what we'd call a "black hat" marketing technique and definitely something that we would never engage in. That doesn't stop us from being impacted by referral spam though. By generating false hits to your website, referral spam is artificially increasing bounce rate, decreasing conversion rate, and causing lots of other "ripple effects" through your valuable analytics data. How to Block Referral Spam If you're receiving large amounts of referral traffic from a source you don't recognise or trust, you can prevent them from appearing in your analytics data by following these steps. Log into your Google Analytics account Click the "Admin" link in the top toolbar. In the "Views" column, created a new view (we'll retain your original view so that we can always get back to our unfiltered data) In your new view, click the "Filters" link (further down the "Views" list) Click "Add Filter" and then select/click/enter: "Create New Filter" Any name (but we'd recommend the name of the domain you are filtering out) Then click "Custom" --> "Exclude" Select "Referral" in the filter field Enter the spammer's hostname into the Filter Pattern field Save your filter Your view is now ready and will start collecting data. Unfortunately, the filter will only collect data moving forwards - there is currently no support for a retrospective filter from within Google Analytics itself.

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Does remarketing really work?

Does remarketing really work? KissMetrics have released details of a study that has a potentially shocking outcome for anyone running a display advertising or remarketing campaign - 70 to 100 percent of your remarketing budget may be being completely wasted. The study, documented for Kissmetrics by Igor Belogolovsky of Clever Zebo in San Francisco, used simple A/B testing to assess whether or not display adverts were really generating conversions. Doing this involved splitting the advertising into two halves. 50% of the time, the normal advert was displayed. The other 50% of the time, the normal advert was replaced with a "public service announcement" for *Smokey the Fire Bear* that, when clicked, took the customer to Smokey's site. The tests ran for about a month on the Quantcast advertising network and the results were astonishing. 980 conversions where attributed to the customers real advert. 871 conversions where attributed to Smokey the Fire Bear. What does this mean? In short, it means the sales being attributed to the remarketing campaign had nothing at all to do with the remarketing campaign. The problem here is with "View Through Attribution", a metric that attributes sales to an advert if it was displayed to the customer, is used to calculate ROI on display advertising and remarketing campaigns. In the example above, we can clearly see that 871 sales were attributed to an advert that didn't advertise the company in question and didn't link through to their website. The same test run on Facebook's Exchange network had an even more stunning result. The real adverts were attributed 662 conversions. Smokey the Fire Bear delivered 641 conversions. What should you do to make sure your display advertising and remarketing are really generating revenue? If you're working with an SEO or cost per click marketing provider, and are running display advertising or "remarketing" campaigns, here are some steps you should take to make sure you're getting the best ROI Find out what options there are for tracking the effectiveness of the campaign. Be aware that "View Through Attribution" may be painting an incorrect picture and make sure that you are looking at Click Through stats as well as other stats when considering ROI. Consider a third party tools, like Converto(http://www.convertro.com/), that can help you make sense of attribution where you customer may have had multiple "touches" from you, your brand, and your advertising - especially if you have different campaigns from different providers If you budget will allow for it, consider running your own version of the "Smokey the Bear" test to verify which networks and campaigns are delivering value and which aren't.  

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When we talk about margins we mean pounds and pence, not pixels. We believe your website should be giving you a measureable return on investment. When did your web company last sit you down and tell you how to grow your business?

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