Email Marketing Tops Online Selling Methods

Email marketing is consistently a leader when compared with other forms of generating sales online. Once again, a new study of 1,100 businesses – mostly in the UK – has found that email marketing is much better in terms of generating sales than other forms of digital marketing.


Graph showing impact of email marketing


The results of the study show that 68% of marketers thought that email marketing was good or excellent compared with only 32% of them thinking that social media marketing was like that. In other words, email marketing is thought t be twice as good as social media marketing.


Search marketing came a close second to email marketing and content marketing wasn’t far behind – but remember that organic search depends on content, so the two are inextricably linked. The worst performer in terms of generating sales – as always – was display advertising.


Apart from the fact that email marketing has won the popularity poll – again – these figures also confirm another obvious feature. The most popular forms of marketing are those  which are content heavy. Social media, mobile and display advertising tend to be short snippets of information to fulfil the requirements of those kind of media. But the elements at the top of the poll are those which tend to have long forms of content.


Not only is this a sign that many businesses need to concentrate more than they do on email marketing, it is also confirmation that long form content is the one that generates most sales. But then you only have to look at the Reader’s Digest from 30 years ago to know that. They discovered that a 21-page sales letter sold more subscriptions than a 7-page letter.


It is time to write more not less if you want to generate more sales online.



Email Marketing Tops Online Selling Methods

Where is your website in the buying cycle?

Diagram showing the buying cycle


Visitors to your website fall into three broad categories – those who have never heard of your business before, those who know of you but don’t know everything that you sell and those who know exactly what they want to buy. So, the question is, which kind of person are you targeting with your website?


If your website is full of “buy now” kind of material, you are going to miss out on the people who have never heard of your business and don’t know what they want from you anyway. Yet, if you focus on building trust and credibility, you lose the people who want to “buy now” because they have to wade through several pages to get to what they really want.


These days, people give you seconds, indeed less than a second. If they cannot match the web page to their current desires and expectations they click away to find a site that can. People perceive this as quicker than wading through one website. Of course, perception and reality are often different things, but it means that with the way people now use the web, online businesses need to have multiple web experiences to match the variety of expectations.


So, for the people who have never heard of your business before you need a web page or site that builds trust and credibility, long before you even mention what you might have on sale. For the people who know about you, but aren’t aware of everything you sell, you need to raise awareness – which is where a good on-site search engine comes in, as well as email marketing. And for the person who knows exactly what they want, you need to land them on a direct, “buy now” page, otherwise they get annoyed with you and look elsewhere in the future.


When you build your web pages do you consider where your visitors are in terms of this buying cycle? Are you targeting people who know what they want, or people who have no idea that you have a solution to their needs? Whether people are at the start or end of the buying cycle will determine what kind of web experience they are expecting. If you offer a “one size fits all” website, you will miss all your targets.



Where is your website in the buying cycle?

Quality content should be central to your business

Quality or Quantity for Social Networks?There is a lot of rubbish on Facebook. Indeed, there is a lot of rubbish on the Internet generally. However, new research shows that it is the quality content on Facebook that has been fundamental to its success. The study conducted at the University of New York, looked at how Facebook had managed to create such a sense of community. It found three measures which have combined to make Facebook the powerhouse it is today.


The three elements were the quality of content, the quality of the system and the exchange of social information between people. In other words, what this means is if you have a really good, quality system that allows people to share good information on a personal level then you have the makings of a successful virtual community.


Now, I know, this is all common sense. But it is the first time that researchers have put numbers and data to the notion. The research shows that the quality of the information is a vital ingredient in making Facebook a success as a virtual community.


It is a reminder that in spite of the desire to do things quickly or cheaply, at heart people still want quality.


The study confirms that quality content is what people are looking for online. And that means if you want your website to succeed then it is content quality that you should concentrate on.


But what is Content Quality?


The quality of your content is dependent upon several factors. Firstly, your audience. What is high quality to one group of people could be low quality to another audience. Equally, it depends on circumstances; what people perceive as high quality on their small mobile phone screen could be very different to the kind of quality they expect on a nice, big HD monitor.


In practice this means understanding your audience and their circumstances. Check your analytics more to find out and ask your audience what they expect from you.


One thing they will expect is a website that functions well – the “System Quality” outlined in the New York study of Facebook. Equally, they expect your material to be written well or produced well so that it matches the expected purpose. If you are producing a DVD, for instance, and the quality is only good enough for a 7 inch screen, you’ll find that you could end up with several returns. But if you are producing the same video and know it will only be watched on a smartphone, you could be congratulated for not doing it in HD because that saves bandwidth and speeds viewing. The result would be a quality experience.


So, check these questions to work out what will be perceived as quality:



  • Who will the audience be for this item?

  • What will they expect?

  • How will the audience be viewing this item?

  • What feedback have we had on similar projects in the past?

  • Can I test it before publishing?



Focusing on the who and the how, though, is essential in ensuring you produce quality content. The time taken to do this reaps rewards in visitor numbers and repeat visits to your website – as Facebook ably demonstrates. Yes, there might be a lot of rubbish there, but there is also a lot of very good content and it is that which the research shows is fundamental to the success of the network.


At a recent talk I gave, I was asked what would be the single most important person a website owner could engage. “A professional writer,” I said, “Someone who can provide you with well-written, quailty material.”

People do what other nearby people do

towel and it reflection in the mirrorYour website probably has all sorts of things on it you want people to click on or do. You might want them to download something, sign up for your newsletter or press a “buy now” button. But how do you convince people to do these things?


The answer is strangely revealed in some new research about the use of towels in hotels.


In this study, researchers from the University of Luxembourg wanted to see if there was a way they could encourage people to use fewer towels in a bid to make the hotel more environmentally friendly.You will probably have seen notices in hotel rooms that say things like “If you wish to re-use this towel, please hang it up; if you want fresh towels, place towels in the bath”. However, it seems that such signs are not that encouraging – people notice them but still like fresh towels every day.


In the Luxembourg study, however, the researchers compared two different notices. One said “75% of people in this hotel re-use their towels” where the other said “75% of people who have stayed in this room re-use their towels”. Guests who stayed in the rooms with the room specific notice reused towels 40% more often, resulting a real drop in laundry bills for the hotel.


So what is the psychology of this? It is known as “provincial norming” – which basically means we tend to adopt the behaviours of the people closest to us, people who are in “our province”.


On your website this behavioural effect can be used to good impact. Instead of saying “you might also like these” when you refer people to another page, use your analytics data and say things like “64% of people who read this blog post, also went on to read this one”. Or on a sales page, something like “72% of people who bought this item also went on to buy this product too”.


In other words, rather than using generalised “people liked this”, be more specific to the actual page that people are on. This will lead to “provincial norming” kicking in and more people doing the things that you would like them to do.


Email is the best revenue generator

For guaranteed ROI, there is no better digital communications channel than email finds The Adestra/Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census 2014. Furthermore, email is also the best channel in which to focus the budget as it’s proven to bring in the sales – one third of marketers now enjoy 20-50% of sales directly attributable to this channel. Yet most marketers rate their own campaigns results a lowly ‘poor’ or ‘average’.


Email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of return on investment, with 68% of companies rating the channel as good or excellent. This marks a 3% increase since last year, while the previously highest ranked digital marketing channel, search engine optimisation, dropped 8%.


Graph showing that email is siuccessful


Marketers are also deriving more revenue from their email marketing efforts. On average, companies are attributing 23% of their total sales to the email marketing channel, compared to 18% in 2013 – equivalent to a proportionate rise of 28% in just one year. However, companies are spending just 16% of their marketing budget on email.


The report also finds that email send volumes have risen, despite previous census results that pointed towards a slowing of growth. The proportion of companies sending more than one million emails per month has doubled since 2007, while the proportion of companies sending more than 100,000 emails has risen from 32% in 2007 to 50% this year. This shows that as more emails are sent through targeted, personalized and automated programs, they become more relevant – and increased relevance equates to more revenue.


Steve Denner, director at Adestra, says: Yet again we can see that email is an extraordinary channel for delivering ROI. The danger for buyers of marketing technology is that they increase spend on email assuming continued growth in return. The danger for vendors is that they attempt to capture a greater proportion of the budgets available without providing real return.


Email clearly generates fantastic results for those who are making the time to adapt their marketing practice to the changing expectations of their customers. Marketers who are taking the time to plan and execute email campaigns with personalization in mind are seeing the highest returns on their programs. Among marketers who have built campaigns incorporating advanced segmentation, 33% of those would rate their email ROI as “excellent” as opposed to just 13% of those not doing it.


One proven way to boost ROI is to make use of functions such as personalization, automation, dynamic content and mobile optimization. The report shows that there is a trend where email ROI increases markedly with increased use of email platform functionality.


Yet the report does show things aren’t all rosy. Email marketers rate their own campaign performance poorly – 58% said their own campaign results were ‘average’ or ‘poor’. So there are still huge areas for improvement in this mature communications channel.


For a copy of the Adestra/Econsultancy Email Marketing Industry Census 2014 click here.


To get expert insight into the findings from the census organizers – register for the free webinar here.


Web Links to Be Banned by EU

A person draws a series of links connecting in a network of referrals, representing a well search engine optimized website or an organization of connected peopleShocking news has reached me this morning from a friend who works at the EU. He tells me they are drawing up plans to ban all links on the web. Within a year from today it will be illegal to include links on any web pages or blogs you produce without prior permission from the owner of the links.


It follows on from the EU ban on cookies, which has led millions of web pages asking you to click on a pop-up item confirming you agree to links. It is part of the EU clamp-down on privacy. The legislators in Brussels have argued that linking to someone else’s website is a similar invasion of privacy and therefore no links should be included in web pages without the prior permission of the owner of that link.


The initiative, drawn up secretly over the past year, is known as the Actual Permissions Required In Linking (APRIL). According to my friend in the know, an announcement was due to be made yesterday, but the press release had not been signed off in time. So the announcement has been delayed until today.


However, because I had been told in advance I contacted the Federation for Online Open Linking (FOOL) to find out what they thought. They told me: “This is a disaster. It undermines the entire purpose of the Internet. We may as well close it down and go back to pen and paper.”


Looking at the EU’s plans, though, I suspect that is not going to happen. Rather like the EU Cookie Directive which effectively means that every website currently shown in the EU is illegal, the APRIL directive is unlikely to have any significant impact.


I suspect, though, it will lead to a major new industry in gaining link permissions, which could rival the entire SEO industry in terms of size and importance. Perhaps I will be able to report on that in exactly one year from today.


See other stories which I published on 1st April:


For more information on this story please click here.



Web Links to Be Banned by EU

Why you need to redesign your web pages

Design your website intelligentlyMost web pages include lots of “furniture”, such as branding, navigation, images, advertising and lists of other useful things you might want to look at. Indeed, when we land on a plain text web page we tend to think it is something from the dark ages of the early Internet. These days we expect colour, graphics, video, useful links and so on.


However, new research suggests this could all be working against us, as website owners.


Neuroscientists at University College London have identified a phenomenon they are calling “load blindness” – the more information that we see, the more we don’t see it. This is a particular problem in certain professions such as being an airline pilot or a surgeon, where lots of visual information has to be processed. However, it is clearly also an issue for web pages.


What the researchers found was that when we are presented with lots of information in one go, our awareness for that information decreases. Indeed, the scientists found that the impact was the equivalent of turning the lights down to dim – we just can’t see as much.


The problem for web designers, though, is how do you include all the necessary information without leading to “load blindness”?


When you only have a small amount of information presented, added extras lead to distraction. So if you design a simple web page with one banner advert, for instance, the advertisement distracts the visitor, leading to loss of attention on what you might be wanting them to read. However, if you overload the page with extra “furniture” the distraction level appears to drop – therefore suggesting that you might get more engagement. But this new study suggests the opposite – it implies that your visitors don’t actually see as much as you think they do. The overload of information is effectively closing their eyes to what you want them to see.


What this study is really suggesting to us as website owners is that we need to think carefully about the pages we produce. Too little visual information can lead to distraction, too much visual information can lead to load blindness. Either way, many web pages could be getting traffic, but not actually having the required impact. It could explain why bounce rates are so high, on average; people simply do not see anything when they land on the pages because there is too much to see.


It is not the extent of the information that is the problem – you can have web pages with thousands of words on them. It is the amount of visual information that can be seen in a glance that is the issue. Too much “furniture” on your web pages could mean that people simply do not see what you want them to see.


Most businesses could collapse in the next decade

Let’s face facts: the digital world is fundamental to all businesses. Even if you sell offline or operate mainly in the “real world”, the digital world has an impact on your business. Whether it is for communications, such as email, or as a starting point for buyers researching your business, the Internet is central to customers.


The problem is that most businesses themselves use the Internet as a “nice-to-have” and not as central to their business. When I speak to Chief Executives and point out this difference they nod their heads in agreement. But then they say it is “impossible” to change their business to focus on the Internet because it would involve too much change.


Now, though, they are in for a shock. The highly respected consultancy firm Forrester has said that unless businesses make this change they will “face an extinction event” within the next decade.


Graph of Forrester Research


They are saying this because their latest research shows that only 21% of companies have a clear vision for the future use of digital within their business. That’s in spite of 90% of firms agreeing that digital will revolutionise their sector within the next 12 months….! And they are not the only consultants sounding the warning bell – just three months ago Capgemini published their own research suggesting that businesses simply have to make the Internet central to their company, regardless of their sector or industry.


According to Forrester, businesses are now just “bolting on” the Internet to their existing business structures. But what is required, they say, is a complete “re-set” – a fundamental shift in the way businesses are structured and run. Business leaders I meet are totally unprepared to do this because of the seismic shift required. Yet the warning from Forrester is stark: do it or die.


When you look at successful businesses online they are mostly businesses which focus their firm on the Internet – Google, Facebook, Amazon for instance. But it is not just technology-based companies like these online startups which have embraced digital as central to their business. Back in 2012 Starbucks transformed itself into a digital centric company.


Business leaders, used to a non-digital world, find it hard to make the transformation necessary. So, what is the solution? The first step must surely be to conduct an immediate review of the kinds of people setting strategy and plans for your company. The data from Forrester and Capgemini both point to the need to use the services of those “digital natives” in central roles in your company. The future of your business could well depend upon giving the strategic reins to your grandchildren.


Forget search engines - they are wasting your time

Search engines – where would we be without them? How would you find anything? Goodness me – how on earth would we cope with business these days if we had to go back to using a library…? It is difficult nowadays to imagine a world without search engines. Most of us spend about an hour of our time each day using a search engine like Google.


For us as websites users, they are fantastic. And for website owners, trying to get traffic and people to know about us, search engines are vital in attracting visitors. Everyone wants to be “number one on Google” for example. The power of search engines in gaining business is demonstrated by the global multi-billion pound “Search Engine Optimization” industry which has gathered pace in recent years. Even though Google’s own data on billions of website visits shows that on average only 27% of people end up on a web page as a result of search engines, most website owners still focus on SEO as their central online tactic.


Now there is new research which shows it really is not the good idea that we might think it is.


The well-respected Pew Research Center has found that for media sites the engagement that people have with a website is much, much lower for search engine derived visitors than for people who come direct. It also showed that visitors arriving from social media such as Facebook were also among the least engaged.


Infographic: Direct Visitors Are the Gold Standard for News Websites | Statista


You will find more statistics at Statista


On this website, my analytics show that the bounce rate is highest for search engine traffic and the amount of time spent on the website is highest for direct traffic who also read more pages per visit. Looking at several clients’ analytics, I see the same pattern.


Search engine traffic does not engage.


And what do you want – do you want mere traffic, to boost your ego, or do you want engagement to boost your bank balance?


Gaining search engine traffic may be a good thing, of course. It can produce visibility, it can remind people you exist, it can be valuable in getting recognition. But if it is not leading to the engagement levels you need, then you really ought to think again.


The data are clear – search engine visitors are curious, where direct traffic is really interested. And that’s what you need.


So how do you get interested, direct traffic? You focus your main efforts on offline branding, getting your products, brand name or company recognised in the “real world” so well that people type your website name in to the address bar in their browser or “bookmark” you because they love you.


The Pew Research Center study shows that people visit a news website because they already know about it from the real world. If you are a subscriber to The Times, for instance, did you subscribe as a result of a search engine visit or as a result of real world engagement with the newspaper? Do you visit the BBC website because you searched for a news item, or because you know and respect the BBC brand?


We tend to visit our favourite media sites because of pre-existing real world engagement. And it is the same with business. When people engage with a brand in the real world they become more likely to engage with the company online.


So, if you put all your eggs in the search engine basket you may well be attracting more visits than your competitors who do not do such good SEO. But at what cost? You might be getting lots of disengaged visitors. You can produce great statistics which massage your ego and show that you are indeed Number One on Google. But being “number one” doesn’t always pay the bills. What matters is that you engage people. And this research confirms plenty of analytics reports that engagement mostly comes from direct visits. And that means offline branding should be our priority, with SEO being lower down the list.


NOTE: I am not saying that you should not do SEO – I am just asking you to question the level of priority you place on it.


Websites dominate for shoppers

Where do you go to buy things these days? The chances are you use a variety of sources – local shops, out-of-town retail parks, town-based shopping centres and, of course, the Internet. However, increasing amounts of evidence show that the starting point for our purchases is the web, with Google being our “number one” place to go to start our shopping journey.


webshopping


The latest piece of research comes from the incentives company, Parago. They found that the majority of shoppers begin their decisions about what to buy on the web. It means that if you are not using your website as central to selling, you are missing out – big time. Only for groceries, building supplies and pet supplies do people choose a retail store as the first port of call – though second on the list is either Google or Amazon for those shoppers.


But look deeper into the figures. They show that your products and services need to be found on Google – but that you also need to be on Amazon and have your own retail website too, if you are to pick up the most shoppers. Indeed, even for subscription services, people prefer to look for you on Amazon than in social media.


The study also found that the time taken to buy something is now down to 2.25 days. That suggests that if you don’t follow-up website visitors immediately, then you are losing out on sales because the decision to buy will have already been made if you wait more than a day or two to contact people.


In other words, to sell these days you have to be fast and you must have the web as central to your sales process.



Sainsbury"s results show how not to sell

PricingSainsbury’s have announced the first drop in sales in nine years. The company’s trading figures show that they sold 3.1% less in the first three months this year than for a long time. Indeed, in many previous quarters, Sainsbury’s had increased sales.


The figures from the company are being dressed up in fancy rhetoric about the recession and the fact that people have to budget when they are facing rising electricity and gas prices. Sainsbury’s is also very keen to point out it has retained market share.


But the real issue is price. Well, not price exactly, but focusing the buyer’s mind on price.


Indeed in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live this morning, the Sainsbury’s boss, Justin King, said in response to a question about prices that people prefer value – and then went on to explain how Sainsbury’s provided lower prices with its “Brand Match” scheme and with its “own label” items. Even though the boss wants to suggest that price is not the only factor he seemed unable to stop himself from focusing the listener on price.


This is the fundamental flaw in thinking at supermarkets. When people are not focused on price they do not consider it to be a priority. When the shop focuses the customer’s mind on price, it becomes the number one priority. Simply by focusing our minds on price the supermarkets take the price issue from relatively small consideration, to the number one factor.


Consider the claim by Sainsbury’s that is the prevailing economic issues of the past five or six years that are part of the conundrum. Possibly. Yet in those restrained economic times we have seen, for instance, Ferrari have record sales and Apple continue to sell highly expensive phones and computers with no discounting. Neither of these companies focus the mind of their buyers on price. Instead, they focus on quality and the psychological attachment between the product and the individual. Once that takes place, people find it easier to find the money.


Indeed, in my book Click.ology on page 71, I explain how discounts often work against you. Essentially, when you focus people on prices they have a psychological motivation to try to “beat you”. They want to find an even cheaper version; it becomes a game.


In supermarkets you can see this happening every day. People walk up and down aisles trying to save a penny or two. Yet if they are buying expensive jewellery they rarely do comparison shopping, justifying their over-priced and expensive purchase on other factors.


Sainsbury’s needs our sympathy, though. They are forced into focusing on price because their competitors do the same. It needs a brave supermarket CEO to stop the price comparisons in order to get customers focused on other issues.


It should be a lesson to us all, though. The more you focus people on price the more they will want to beat you down even further. The more you focus on the psychological connection between the product you are selling and the customer, the less concerned they become about prices.


In other words, do not commoditise your products and services. It is a route to problems.


What missing flight MH370 tells us about your website

Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777Malaysian airlines flight MH370 has been missing for over a week now and newspapers, radio and TV are full of people speculating about it. Indeed, almost anywhere you go people are saying “what happened to that flight is such a mystery”. Radio and TV presenters are keen to tell their interviewees “please do not speculate” and then spend the next three minutes in rampant speculation.


Fact: 350 tonne aircraft that are 64m long do not vanish. Even the magician David Copperfield who made an aircraft disappear did not actually, really do it. It was a trick…! Gosh…!


Human beings are not daft. We know that magicians trick us. But actual passenger jets vanishing? Now that’s not a trick.


So, it is against all logic and we have no information that makes any sense. That means we speculate.


Indeed, throughout the web today you can find all sorts of speculation as to how David Copperfield made a jet plane “disappear” or how he “vanished” the Statue of Liberty. Only David Copperfield and his team actually know how he did it, the “solutions” found on the web and in magic books are merely suggestions.


Similarly, throughout the Internet today you can find all sorts of “explanations” for the disappearance of Flight MH370. Yet only the pilots on board the plane actually know what happened. The rest of the so-called expert opinion is mere speculation.


Indeed, this morning on the radio I heard two real experts – they had both worked in senior positions in air traffic control – coming up with completely opposing views as to what had really happened to the missing plane.


The fact is we do not know.


So why do we speculate?


That’s an evolutionary factor. In order to adapt to our environment we need to test it. We need to poke around and see what works and what doesn’t work. We need to be “scientists” testing the world around us and seeing how we can fit it. That means our brains seek to explain everything, to make sense of the world so that we can operate effectively within it. In other words, speculation is a necessary part of the survival of our species.


And what on earth does this have to do with your website?


Well, it’s the impact of a vacuum of information. If you stop posting material for a while, your visitors will speculate. If you drop off their radar on social networks, they will begin to speculate. If you stop emailing them as regularly as previously then they will speculate.


In other words, if you do not keep your website up-to-date, if you do not constantly maintain your social media presence then your target audiences will automatically speculate. They will say things like “they are no longer in business” or  “they have moved on to do different kind of things” or “they are no longer interested in us as customers”.


When you stop communicating, people speculate.


World Wide Web - is it really 25 years old?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and World Wide Web Consortium.World Wide Web – three words, huge impact. It is so much an every day part of our lives these days that it is hard to believe it is only 25 years old. Or is it?


Today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is amongst many people celebrating a quarter of a century of dramatic progress. But it isn’t really 25 years of the web.


The 12th March is the date on which Tim Berners-Lee submitted a paper suggesting the use of hyperlinks to connect pages of content. However, it was not until August 1991 that he actually turned his notion into a functioning website. Even then it was only text-based with no fancy formatting at all. The first websites as we know them today were not created until May 1993, because it was not possible to include any kind of graphical formatting until that time.


So whilst it is true that the paper that heralded the web was put forward on this day 25 years ago, it is only 21 years since the web as we know it was created. And even then, it didn’t look anything like the web we have today. Just take a look at how Google looked on its début in 1998.


Google in 1998


And if you think they haven’t moved on a lot, take a look at one of my original websites from 15 years ago…!


gjoldwebsite


Things have moved on, not just in design terms but in functions. After all, when the World Wide Web was first proposed a certain Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and originator of Facebook had not even started school. At just four years old he was still probably playing with Lego, blissfully unaware that there was developing technology that he was going to master.


Even though the commercial web we use today did not really arise until 1996, a lot has happened in the short lifetime of the idea that is the World Wide Web.


So what will happen in the next 25 years? The person who is going to revolutionise our world again is probably in a nursery school right now, hands deep in a sandpit. Maybe it is your child or grandchild.


One thing is for sure, though, in 25 years time we will look back at the websites we have today and laugh at how simple and relatively useless they all were.


The World Celebrates 25 Years of the Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and World Wide Web Consortium.


Today, people everywhere are joining Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee in wishing the World Wide Web a happy 25th birthday. Everyone is encouraged to share birthday greetings on social media using #web25. Select greetings will be posted on the official anniversary site webat25.org.


Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web Foundation and the World Wide Web Consortium are asking people to take action to protect and enhance the open Web in 2014. W3C will convene experts at a symposium on the future of the Web in October (w3.org/20), whilst the Web Foundation is spearheading the Web We Want movement (webwewant.org), a global campaign to ensure the legal protection of Web users’ rights in every country.


Recalling his tweet during the 2012 Olympics, “This is for Everyone”, Berners-Lee said:


The official Web at 25 logo“The Web’s billions of users are what have made it great. I hope that many of them will join me today in celebrating this important milestone.  I also hope this anniversary will spark a global conversation about our need to defend principles that have made the Web successful, and to unlock the Web’s untapped potential. I believe we can build a Web that truly is for everyone: one that is accessible to all, from any device, and one that empowers all of us to achieve our dignity, rights and potential as humans. Tell us about your dream for the Web with #web25.”


The Web has transformed society in a very short time. However, difficult challenges lie ahead:


  • How do we connect the three in five people around the world who are not online?

  • What fresh, inclusive solutions can avoid a fragmented Web?

  • Our ability to have a say and organise collectively online is under threat from censorship and surveillance, whilst anyone online is threatened by cybercrime. How can we meet needs for online freedom, privacy, and security?

  • Globally, fewer than 10% of key government datasets are free to re-use online, drastically limiting Web-powered innovation. How do we unlock the power of open data?

  • The Open Web Platform must be capable of expanding to meet industry demands across many connected devices. How do we tackle the challenges raised by such diversity?

  • How do we promote a rich ecosystem of innovation for the long-term, rather than less fertile walled gardens?

Please:


  • Send birthday greetings via #web25

  • Join Tim Berners-Lee’s Reddit AMA, 12 March, 19.00 GMT

  • Join the Web We Want Campaign (webwewant.org), co-organized by the Web Foundation, and participate in events and actions in your country or community to defend users’ rights on and to the Web.

  • Attend or watch the live stream of W3C’s 20th Anniversary Symposium, 29 October in Santa Clara, California, sponsored by Intel.

For more information, visit webat25.org, webfoundation.org or w3.org










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Get people to press buttons on your website

Keyboard with click here button, internet conceptHave a think for a moment – just how many buttons and links have you pressed on today on your travels around the web? The chances are you have clicked on hundreds of them, often without realising.


We love clicking on things. It is what the Internet is all about – us doing things, taking part, interacting. Pressing buttons and “Click Here” signs is the very stuff of the web.


But new research implies it is much more beneficial to businesses than we might think. Indeed, if you incorporate some kind of button clicking into your ordering process you can increase the perceived value of what you are selling.


The study asked people to say how much they would pay for certain food items. Then they were shown images of a variety of food items. Some of these images had a button which people were invited to press. When they did so it made a noise. After they had seen all the images the participants were asked to select two of them which they had previously said they would pay similar amounts for. Having done this the people in the study were then asked to select just one of the pair. They chose the one that had the button. Even though the items were foods they were happy to pay the same amount for, the presence of the button led to the final selection.


In other words, the items with the buttons had a greater perceived value than those without the buttons. Yet the buttons did nothing other than play a random noise.


What this really suggests is that the interactivity helped. It was the involvement of the participants which appeared to increase the perceived value.


The study does not mean you need buttons making random noises on your website, but it confirms that you need interactivity.


For instance, if you sell an ebook to download from your website you could have the same item in two sizes – European A4 or American Letter size. Not only does this make people perceive they have a choice, it also gives them something to do – some interactivity. However, the ebook is (other than page size) identical – clicking the button does not change the content…!


You can also use this on your blog. For instance:


Click Here to Read More about Website Engagement Click Here to Discover Social Media Pros and Cons


I could, of course, have simply provided some links to other articles – but the interactive buttons can help increase engagement.


What this study really tells us is that interactivity is good. It helps people increase their perceived value in what you are offering.