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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

At EMAKERS, we are frequently invited to share our knowledge, experience and insights. Find our latest thinking, tips & tricks, important service announcements or public presentations below and sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social media to stay tuned.

A broader selection of our presentations is additionally published on our presentations page. In 2019 we are planning to conduct a series of original and uncut video interviews with experts and technology providers.

HOW IMPORTANT IS A ‘DOTCOM’ DOMAIN NAME TODAY?

Last week on founderdating.com a question was asked about the use of a .com internet domain name versus alternatives such as .be, .nl, .eu and exotics like .io. Most internet entrepreneurs don’t save money on domain names. They fix a domain name for each idea and only then start developing their idea. But today more often than not .com is already taken. Do you change the name? Or are other domain names an option as well?

According to W3Techs, in January 2016 a good 49,7 percent of all websites used a .com domain name. The next one in line was .ru (also the largest increase) with 5,1%(!!). The country-specific extensions .nl and .be respectively gained 1 and 0,3 percent. The popularity of the more generic .eu extension was 0,5% and the (for example) specific extension .gent didn’t even make 0,1%.

Top domain names January 2016 according to W3Techs

Top domain names January 2016 according to W3Techs

Popularity of an extension doesn’t equal success

In Belgium, the results of the second edition of the Becommerce Cross-Border Summit were announced in November 2015. They then concluded that the Belgian e-commerce market (in the B2C segment) is dominated by foreign players. Amazon.fr, 3Suisses.be and Bol.com were in fact at the top of the list.* Typically: only one of those three uses a dotcom domain name.

The Dutch Twinkle100 gives an overview of the two hundred biggest online retailers of the Netherlands regarding turnover. The edition of 2015 was led by Ahold (ah.nl, etos. Nl, gall.nl and bol.com), RFS Holland Holding (create2fit.nl, fonq.nl and wehkamp.nl) and Zalando. Here two out of three are pure Dutch players and they all promote, except Bol.com, their .nl domain name.

So, a .com domain name isn’t required.

Google.be or Google.com?

Findability probably is the utmost important success factor for online sales. Although website visitors will increasingly discover your website through channels such as Facebook or Pinterest, findability mostly means findability through Google.

Google ‘recognizes’ different types of domain names. There are among others the gTLD’s (generic Top Level Domains) and ccTLD’s (country code Top Level Domains). In the context of the earlier described Belgian and Dutch market, .com (gTLD), .be (ccTLD) and .nl (ccTLD) are the obvious examples of this. Within the interpretation of Google, the country specific ccTLD’s are probably more relevant for the user when he or she is in that specific country. If you use google.be (to which you automatically will be directed, when you are in a specific location within Belgium for Google), a .be extension will gain ‘extra points’ from the browser giant based on a suspected relevance.

So Google implicitly says that, when you aim at the Belgian market with your products, you best use a .be domain name. There are of course other factors, on top of the registered extension, that have an influence on the final search results.

International domain names

For companies who aim at an international audience .com remains the most obvious choice, as stated at the beginning of this article. However limited availability seems to cause other domain names to be increasingly accepted.

Each company, private person or organization, established in the European Union or in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway can for example register a .eu- domain name. This type is considered by Google as an abovementioned gTLD (such as .com, .net or .org). Start-ups also increasingly use the .io extension (originally belonging to the British Indian Ocean Territory) also unofficial a gTLD according to Google. Google for that matter says it doesn’t make a difference in priority between the different gTLD’s.

Tips for choosing a good domain name

The main rule for choosing a good domain name is that it has to be easy to remember and that typing errors have to be avoided as much as possible. How? For example, limit the length of your domain name (here, between 7 and 15 is the rule of thumb) and use words that actually feature in the dictionary. (The length of a domain name is by the way limited to 63 characters.) Try giving your intended domain name to someone through the telephone a few times to check if it appeals.

If your company name is already taken, you can combine it for instance with a generic word. If you run a transport company, try vermeulentransport.be. In advertisements you then can use, for example, capital letters to improve the readability: VermeulenTransport.Be. Avoid at all costs to use hyphens in the domain name, since Vermeulen-transport has to be pronounced as “Vermeulen Hyphen Transport”.

A domain name is not case sensitive. You can use numbers, but we advise against that. Just like ‘hip’ spelling and the use of double letters in subsequent words.

Cybersquatting

You’re of course terror-struck when you find out that your competitor is the owner of a web domain with the name of your company or brand. Cybersquatting means registering a domain name which is identically to or resembles the brand or a business name that belongs to someone else, meaning to harm someone or to unlawful benefit from it. At www.sidn.nl, www.dnsbelgium.be and whois.net you can check who has registered the domain name you had in mind, respectively for an .nl, .be or .com domain name.

Example: results of the availability check of the Amazon domain name

Example: results of the availability check of the Amazon domain name

When it turns out your competitor has pinched your domain name, it’s very probably you can still obtain it through legal actions. You then better let yourself be advised by a specialized lawyer. Also, when your domain name is in the hands of an unknown person in bad faith (you’re offered for example to buy the domain name for a large amount of money), then the law will probably be at your side.

Sometimes a well-known domain name is also abused to attract visitors to their own website. Your name will then for instance be registered with an obvious typo.

Where do you look for your clients – where do clients look for you?

If you can obtain a .com domain name as a company, you’d better don’t hesitate. In the more probable situation where your .com domain name is already taken, there are sufficient alternatives.

Always choose your domain name according to your target audience, target markets practical guidelines such as you could find in this blog.

* In the Becommerce Cross-Border Summit top-10 only two Belgian players were found: Colruyt Group and Proximus. Though Amazon.be is registered, it’s not registered by the internet giant. Bol.com is also accessible through the .be version, but explicitly communicates using the .com domain name. Bol.nl is taken by a provider of fuels.

FROM WEB SHOP CART TO SALE: FIVE PRACTICAL TIPS

In your web shop you try to seduce your customers into buying your products. When a visitor places an item in his shopping cart, only one aim remains: to make him or her pass the cash register. Just like in a physical shop however, a visitor of your web shop will then be confronted with various potential drop out moments.

You smoothly guide your customers to the cash register by removing obstacles and by increasing the purchase motivation. Five practical tips for the desktop version of your web shop. (There will be a sequel for the mobile version.)

At least offer the possibility to buy as a ‘guest’

In the year 2016 many web shops still force their customers to make an account before they can complete the order. Sometimes it’s even the first step of the ordering process. New web shop visitors experience that as an exaggerated commitment: they actually just wanted to buy 1 specific product from your web shop. Existing customers sometimes can’t remember their password, which might make them interrupt their purchase. An easy alternative is to make an account using third parties, such as Facebook or Twitter. Of course this is convenient for some of the customers. However at least 15 percent of the web shop owners explicitly reject such a function, for instance because they don’t trust the privacy practices of those social media websites. The best alternative – and a minimal functional exigence for your own e-commerce channel – is to give your customer the possibility to continue the purchase as a ‘guest’.

In a world marked by stress of choosing, in most situations it’s expedient to offer two of the three abovementioned possibilities at most. Get to know your target group and carry out extensive tests using the different options for your customer base.

gastaccount-coolblue

Example guest account option as offered by CoolBlue

Avoid excess boxes to fill in or select

The basic rule is to make the customer fill in as few boxes as possible. The more complex a form seems, the bigger the chance a potential customer will drop out. That’s why you also put the easiest questions first (first and last name, address,..) and only afterwards the more complex (payment) questions. Some companies even fully choose for payment at delivery or afterwards, to bridge payment obstacles.

Of course you’ll be needing certain details. Try, if possible, to fill in previously known customer details, for example based on the ‘autofill’ function. Most websites set up their forms as the traditional addressing of a letter. However for you it’s probably relevant to first ask the customers’ postal code, after which often the name of the city and street can be filled in automatically.

You want to offer your customers the best options for his or her personal situation, on the other hand you want to have a maximal percentage of customers who fully complete the order process. Carefully balance the added value of each box against a concise form with limited options. A complete range of payment and delivery options for example can sound like a good idea, but has to be well tested for your specific target group. Today, a ‘click & collect’ delivery option combined with home delivery usually suffices, with or without (or rather with) a default or express delivery time. Concerning payments, credit card payments are traditionally the default option. However in Europe, payment through the current (debit) account caught up with the latter. Examine in advance the current online payment options in the market where you are located.

voorbeeld bezorgopties

Example easy choice delivery options by AO.com

Be transparent and gain confidence

You definitely also do this yourself: before pressing the pay button, you check all details again. You probably also have had doubts right at the end, for example because you didn’t know the provider or the payment method. When your customer began the ordering process starting at the shopping cart he expressed an intention to trust you. It’s your job to keep it that way.

Trust of course principally is about actually meeting the minimal requirements concerning online safety. Customers expect the connection to be safe and the personal details to be saved encrypted. Therefore make sure the order module has the right certificates and also check the policy of the partners with whom you cooperate. When you meet those minimal requirements, clearly demonstrate that by using the right hallmarks and textual additions. References to information on the return policy of a web shop, the safety of customer data, contact channels of the customer service, manuals or ‘frequently asked questions’ also increase a feeling of safety.

voorbeeld vertrouwen

Example Loaf.com: we are a friendly company, after placing your order this is still the place to be

Trust is also partly gained by being completely transparent towards your customer. Clearly communicate where he or she is in the ordering process and what the next step will be. From which moment it’s a ‘purchase with payment obligation’? You visually support your customer with live feedback. When a box is filled in correctly for example it immediately features a little green tick next to it – and in case of mistakes a little red cross. Other examples of visual support are the right national flag while filling in an international phone number or a form for the credit card details which resembles the credit card itself. Finally make sure the customer doesn’t have to scroll all the way up again to check the content and the price of the shopping cart with his or her order(s). Don’t only show the name of the product here, but also the selected options or versions such as size and color.

voorbeeld creditcard

Gumroad example input screen credit card

Ordered as a guest? Make sure registration is extremely simple

When your customers order as a guest, you probably receive almost all necessary details to (still) make an account for them. Such accounts offer your company much (marketing) value. Clearly show this option on your confirmation page, accompanied by an enumeration of the customer advantages. You can for example offer the option to online consult the order history and order status, make returns easier (or more advantageous), promise to periodically make interesting offers, extend the warranty especially for registered customers – and of course make the next order go smoother.

This registration function can be paired to the e-mail address that you probably already asked during the ordering. You proactively offer your customer a password so he or she only has to press the save button, or you allow him or her to choose a password by showing a single completion form. Asking for more information for marketing purposes has an inhibiting effect so you better save that for later. That way you can gradually work towards a complete customer profile.

Don’t hesitate to include the button to make an account in your e-mailed order confirmation as well.

Follow up

In fact there are two possible outcomes of the ordering process: either your customers order, or they drop out. In both cases you should actively follow up the customer.

If your customer orders, then of course you follow up with a confirmation of the order, if possible mentioning the expected delivery time and other supporting information. Maybe you even want to make them order additional products before a certain time, free from delivery costs. After delivery you can further follow up your customers by asking them to rate the service and/or place a product review on your website. Such reviews help other visitors of your web shop during their selection process. You can possibly choose to reward the review with a small gesture, for example a discount on a future purchase.

Following up customers who dropped out is of course a more sensitive point. There are various reasons why someone possibly drops out. They hesitate and want to further orientate on the purchase first, the final price is too high, they want to compare prizes with other providers, the ordering process is too complex, they are distracted during the ordering process,… Technical problems can also end in a drop out. Depending on when your customer has dropped out, you probably have already gained some useful customer data. Do you have an e-mail address? Then an e-mail stating you have saved the shopping cart and saying he or she can finish the order with a simple click could be rewarding. This is called remarketing. Google also offers remarketing services by showing the products that are visited on your page within the Google Display Network.

To conclude

The ordering process is probably the most important process of your website. Big companies like Amazon.com almost make a science out of measuring the effects of minimal changes and then optimizing the ordering process. If you don’t have time to manage your ordering process in detail, then at least ask your e-commerce partner for a clear description of the ordering process, including the choices that were made. Review this process at least once every six months based on new insights and site statistics.

More information?

Relevant key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • the percentage of customers who start a purchase and actually successfully place an order, preferably made insightful for each following ordering step;
  • the so-called ‘cart abandon rate’: number of dropped out persons divided by the number of customers that started a purchase;
  • the average value of your shopping cart;
  • the average number of items for each shopping cart.

I’m very interested in your personal experience concerning ordering processes. Leave your remarks below or share them with me through Twitter (@savermeulen). In a next blog there will be tips for the mobile web site.

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EMAKERS cooperates with various sector organizations and is an active member of VOKA (Flemish network of companies) and Feweb (Federation of web agencies).

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