OSCE at Work in Ukraine

SEO round table at the OSCE

SEO round table at the OSCE

Now there’s a couple of more acronyms for you. The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) held their annual round table in Vienna on May 12th where I presented (via Webex) an insight in to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO Roundtable at the OSCE Webex Image

SEO Roundtable at the OSCE Webex Image

This was part of a contract won last month to conduct an SEO audit for the OSCE website, which I have to say I am looking forward to with utter enthusiasm. ‘I bet you say that about all your gigs’ I hear you say? Often I do, but that’s because I enjoy my work, but this digital SEO strategy piece genuinely excites me.

The OSCE is an organisation which is clearly forward thinking where many similar organisations are completely unaware of the ‘Power of SEO’. In particular, the power to influence and potentially change behaviours through informative online articles and content. Eastern Ukraine is currently experiencing unrest on a deadly scale and the digital space is laden with propaganda built to confuse an audience. The OCSE is in a prime position to set the record straight as a recognised official organisation and a ‘go to’ place for reliable and unbiased information.

SEO strategy is built around three main areas:

1. Website Architecture: This is how the website has been built and whether the Content Management System (CMS) itself is able to react to the SEO requirements every website need to be able to promote. The CMS needs to be able to be easily ‘read’ by search engines. It also needs to be user friendly for today: Site upload speeds and Mobile Responsive Designs are just two examples of priorities for Search Engines

2. Content is King: This has been consistent since SEO began. If the content is interesting then Search Engines want to serve this up to the public. Content includes images and video as well as the written word

3. Links: Particularly from Social and the ‘noise’ created by people talking about a subject through Social Media channels. Pretty much all links are valuable but links from Social noise have particular value as Search Engines see this as ‘trending and current’

The OSCE do a great job and helping them to project this online genuinely excites me. The SEO round table at the OSCE is just the first of many digital strategy pieces ahead.

You may also be interested in Social Media & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in Conflict

Social Media and SEO in Conflict

Social Media & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in Conflict

Social Media & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in Conflict

Relton Associates has been supporting NATO and the USMC to deliver Digital training to their various teams over the past year with great success.

First came NATO’s exercise ‘Trident Jaguar’ in spring of 2015 followed by exercise ARRCade Fusion in Latvia in the latter part of the year. Both exercises focused on Social Media monitoring, gathering information and influencing within the sphere of operations.

Using Social Media monitoring tools to identify various conversations, positive and negative, around specified keywords and topics. Here’s some of the reasons why NATO is looking to monitor topics on social media;

  • their adversary will use social media; to confuse the population, spread propaganda and to influence others…and it is crucial you know what is being discussed online, what they’re trying to achieve and gather information
  • to measure whether your intended message has ‘reached’ its Target Audience and whether it has been carried even further (sharing or re-tweets are good examples)
  • to ascertain what topics and conversations are trending and relevant to a population within your area of operations to determine if you want to join conversation or not

By monitoring social media: you are able to identify individuals & groups to influence, message or even just inform, because you have identified a ‘thirst or need for information’.

Early in 2016 Relton Associates has been working with McKenzie Intelligence Services and New Century in supplying training to elements of the Iraqi Military in Bagdad, on behalf of the USMC. In the battle to crush ISIS (Daesh) it is clear social media and influencing online perceptions is critical to the success of the Iraqi Military…an

Iraqi Flag at IGFC training for using Social Media and SEO in the Conflict

Iraqi Flag flying at IGFC – training in Social Media and SEO in the Conflict

d the Iraqi Military is embracing this with gusto.

Relton Associates also supported in training Iraqi Officer’s and troops in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Audience Analysis for Targeted messaging, how to use GoPro and other lessons relevant to winning the battle against ISIS (Daesh).

Social Media monitoring is regularly carried out by some of the biggest global brands. Christmas 2015 saw John Lewis use a social media monitoring agency to measure the success of their predominately twitter focused Christmas Advert. Companies are now using Social Media monitoring for various reasons.

Namely to manage Brand Reputation and to measure success of their various campaigns

If you would like to know more about Social Media monitoring why not drop us a line?

3 click Amazon Feedback Secret for positive feedback

The 3 click Amazon Feedback Secret all top performing stores share

The 3 click Amazon Feedback Secret all top performing stores share

Top performing Amazon stores aim for top levels of Customer Feedback – after all, your 98% feedback is no use if your competitors are winning BuyBox and customers, because they’ve achieved 99%.

Top performing stores need top performing feedback.  The high levels of positive feedback achieved by top performing stores may seem unreachable to some sellers – after all, however wonderful your service is, there will be the odd chirpy customer how rewards you with a 1/5 and then there’s occasional mishap in despatch and shipping…. So if your feedback is languishing below 95%, you might think that 99% is an unachievable target – that is, unless you share the ‘3 click Amazon feedback secret’ of managing your feedback.

A Relton Associates survey of low performing Amazon stores – stores with feedback levels of 92% or less, found that 80% of the feedback impacting on that score was totally avoidable and could be removed in 3 clicks using standard Amazon processes.

The key factor affecting the seller’s feedback level was found not to be performance, but knowledge of Amazon processes.  These sellers were just not managing their feedback.  If low feedback rates are affecting your store’s performance, and you would like to find out how to use ‘the 3 click Amazon feedback secret’ removal process, then why not drop us a line to find out more

Happy New Year from Relton Associates

New Year Resolutions…not on your nelly!

New Year, New Resolutions…not on your nelly!

2015 was a fantastic year and 2016 is going to be even better. It’s only January 8th and so far a lot has already happened…

Royal Mail have purchased NetDespatch, a very shrewd move indeed and giving them instant competitive advantage. More importantly giving our clients another edge.

Also, a nice surprise from UKFast, the leading hosting company gave us a nice surprise for our client for 2016…credit for not using all our pre-arranged package. There’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling that comes from working with ethical and morally grounded companies like UKFast.

We at Relton Associates are building on the success of 2015 and continuing to do what we do best. Just a few BIG achievements for 2015 were:

  • Increasing one of our client’s Amazon store sales from £0 to £1/2 million with strong margins. We’re also leading against our competitors Customer Service (feedback) and delivery metrics. We know this because we were invited to join Amazon’s new 24 hour delivery promise in BETA where competitors weren’t.  Automation with a little bit of heart and soul was key to our success. Next stop for January 2016…going International!
  • A new client, NATO came on to our radar who we served with Social Media strategy and analysis. Monitoring brand reputation and advising on actions to take. We’re looking forward to working more closely in 2016
  • We also provided key note speakers to various events including IBM and online brand reputation management and even got involved delivering lectures to Universities across London

In the first quarter of 2016 we will be delivering new website builds, digital marketing plans, new service developments and working with some new clients, namely the US Marine Corps.

Roll on 2016, roll on more success…watch this space.

Relton Associates go International with IBM and CIM image

Relton Associates go International with IBM and CIM

Relton Associates go International with IBM and CIM

Relton Associates provided a keynote speaker for IBM at a Cyprus Institute of Marketing (CIM) event on December 9th 2015. Covering ‘All things Digital – Creating Business Strategy built around analytical data and results’.

There’s nothing more satisfying then delivering a talk on a topic so close to our hearts, and helping CMO’s, CTO’s, CDO’s and Marketeers from all walks of business with some creative ideation that positively increases the bottom line.

Relton Associates go International with IBM and CIM Agenda

Relton Associates go International with IBM and CIM Agenda

The biggest satisfaction is seeing lights go in fellow marketeer’s heads as your speaking. Seeing your audience frantically writing down something that has caught their attention. This particular talk was based around KPI’s and case studies, real examples of success. Above all, it removed some of the ‘cloak and dagger’ mystery around how to achieve results in various areas of digital marketing. Especially how to measure success, and not just through traditional KPI’s which focus on sales. We also looked at Brand Reputation Management and how to control and influence where and how your brand appears online. This included Social Media and what is being said about your brand (and how to influence it positively), and, how to stop your brand’s products appearing on Amazon and other market places should you not want them there.

Sometimes you’re not sure if your audience are engaged and whether the case studies presented are anything new. On this occasion we were rewarded by guests taking pictures of the presentation which is extremely encouraging. Evidence that what you’re bringing to the table is relevant, understood and above all ‘useful’.

If any of the mentioned topics are of interest to you why not drop us a line?

SEO and Social Media Case Study

SEO and Social Media Case Study

The purpose of this Blog is not to preach about how Google or Bing ranks results related to Social Media Activity per say, but to give you a simple case study on what has worked. James Arthur’s (X Factor winner 2012) official website originally held 9th Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) within Google Search, naturally it should have ranked number 1 with ease. So we made some changes:

Improved the META data – Improved the META Title, added a META Description and a few keywords. Using keywords like; James Arthur Official Website in all the META information. This additional information specifically added with the visitor in mind, confirming they were in the right place, if it was James Arthur they were looking for (and of course search engines).

Content – We also added additional content, rich in copy and easy for search engines to crawl in the form of an ‘About’ [James Arthur] page.

We ‘tagged’ the pages content. Images and Internal links were tagged with similar keywords (as the META information] within relevant content. The internal links gave search engines another signal they’re in the right place and more to relevant ‘stuff’ to crawl.

SEO and Social Media case study

SEO and Social Media case study screenshots

Lastly, and what I believe was the most effective, was updating and refreshing the Facebook Social Media Feed to James Arthur’s website. At the time (2014) the connection between his Facebook page and his site was not updating, so we fixed it. Re-connecting the live feed confirmed the relevant and official Social Signals needed.

All of the above changes are simple, they’re all recommended by search engines like Google and all basic housekeeping for good SEO. Anyone within your business who has a basic understanding about the Content Management System they update will be able to implement them.

However, Google in particular seems to be working hard to make SEO less important, dominating search results with Paid Advertising…but that’s another post!

Amazon Shakes up its Shipping

Amazon Shakes up its Shipping

Amazon Shakes up its Shipping

Are you ready for Amazon’s shake up of marketplace shipping?

Amazon has always been surprisingly generous with marketplace sellers shipping schedules – but signs are that Amazon has woken up to the competitive disadvantage of slow shipping and guess what? They’re getting ready to shake up market place shipping!

Shipping timeframes are pre-set in Amazon – order with a standard shipping option from any marketplace seller and your shipping window will allow 8 days for your order to reach you. Choose Expedited and your shipping window may be up to 4 days!  This has allowed Amazon to offer much faster shipping times than its marketplace sellers – it’s also allowed lots of sellers to trade on supplier stock without holding stock.

Although many good sellers will beat Amazon’s pre-set shipping timeframes hands down, customers’ perceptions of the platform are arguably set by the pre-set shipping schedules.  This isn’t what buyers want – and it isn’t what marketplace sellers want either!

Perhaps Amazon has woken up to customer demand for faster shipping – after all, why stick to a marketplace if you can buy it somewhere else and have it shipped in half the time?  Perhaps Amazon has also realised that it can’t stock and deliver every product in the universe and so need to facilitate speedier shipping from the platform.

We can expect to see Amazon offering high performing sellers more shipping options and better shipping speeds, enabling them to match Amazon Prime and meet customer needs which will include both 24 hour and 48 hour shipping options.

A client of Relton Associates who operates using Seller Dynamics middleware with Net Despatch (essential tools if you want to offer your customers this type of substantially enhanced customer service) is currently participating in the Beta trial for these new marketplace-shipping options.

For sellers, Amazon’s shipping shake-up will mean even more reasons to watch those metrics as these may be the gateway to gaining access to improved shipping options.  It will certainly hand the advantage to sellers able to offer fast order turnaround and reliable shipping, so reliable stock data and despatch automation are a must. For buyers, it will mean improved delivery choices on a wide range of products.  In other words, music to the ears of both buyers and sellers in the run up to Christmas!

Brand Reputation Management on Amazon and eBay

Brand Reputation Management in Market Places

Keeping control of your brand in e-commerce marketplaces

You can sometimes come across some very poor brand images browsing the internet. You’ve just seen one you can’t get out of your head. It’s small, low resolution, badly lit and …oh no, it certainly doesn’t comply with your brand guidelines! In fact, didn’t you discontinue that particular pack variant in 2009?

Product images for your brand can proliferate on online market places such as Amazon and eBay which are now significant sales channels. Not only can they damage the hard work you’ve put into developing and managing your brand, they can also damage your (and your distributors) SEO due to the massive weight given to online market places trumping your own brands organic results. this type of intense pricing competition drives down your RRP and can in turn devalue your brand. What’s worse, if listings link back to you (I’m looking at you, Ebay), they can generate hundreds of spammy links that further impact on your Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERP’s).

But don’t despair – this is a situation that you can actually control. It just takes a little extra vigilance and a more detailed knowledge of how online market places operate. After all, it’s no more in their interests to have brands badly represented on their platform than it is yours.

First you have to make a strategic choice about your brand reputation management in market places and on the web in general.

Do you want your brand to appear in online marketplaces? After all, in a competitive marketplace, you may feel a presence on these channels is a must for your brand while allowing your distributors to sell here supports their business models.

But just because you’re happy for your brand to appear in online marketplaces doesn’t mean you need to lose control of it – you can manage how your valuable Intellectual Property (IP) – AKA your Brand – is presented by resellers.
Amazon enables brand owners to register IP over their brand. This lets you control all Amazon listings for your products and the barcodes associated with them. You can ensure that multiple listings of differing quality does not emerge for your products, and you can dictate which images and copy are displayed. You still need to be vigilant and put in place regular monitoring to ensure new ASINs are not generating with your brands products/EANs…but at least Amazon will take swift action when you identify any misuse of your IP.

However, on eBay, there is no central listing for each product so it is much more difficult to control listing quality. It is also a less transparent platform in that you cannot find detailed information on sellers and contact them. This is my suggested methodology for controlling re-sellers activity on Ebay:

• Compile a list of known resellers and contact them ask them to enforce brand guidelines. Be ready to provide images and content for each listing in order to support the reseller in meeting your guidelines.
• If retailer doesn’t respond and does not amend listings, report to Ebay’s VeRO programme as infringing your IP.

On the other hand, perhaps you’ve decided that you don’t want your brand to appear on online market places at all! This is an easy situation to deal with as all market places are geared up to help you protect your IP and you can act very quickly. However, in order to maintain good relationships with resellers, you should contact them advising them you’ll be withdrawing your product from listing on specific platforms (eg Amazon, eBay). You should also provide a timescale within which this will take effect.

Once you’re ready to remove your brands from key platforms, you need to submit a formal request through their IP departments. For Amazon, this takes the form of an infringement of IP request listing all ASINs which infringe your IP, supporting this with trademark registration details. For eBay, it takes the form of a submission to the VeRO programme, cataloguing all Ebay listings which infringe your IP, again supporting this with trademark registration details.

Whichever route you choose, it’s vital to put in place monthly monitoring to ensure that new listings featuring your IP are actioned as soon as they appear.

…and don’t forget, while you make these Strategic decisions about how and where your brand appears, these decisions will impact on distributors and resellers. You must ensure wherever possible they understand and comply with your guidelines, preferably before they make a commitment to marketplace selling. For instance, ensure that your terms and conditions to resellers include clauses enabling you to restrict their right to sell on online market places.

Now you should be able to sleep at night, knowing that your brand is safe!

Julia Brooksbank

Relton Associates

Enough amount of blogging

How much Blogging is the right amount?

How much Blogging is the right amount?

For my first Blog I feel the need to talk about blogging. Why…because I’ve been having an internal debate with myself about ‘how much blogging’ is the right amount of blogging. The debate didn’t take too long to be honest and I came to a conclusion rather swiftly.

I will be blogging only when I have something interesting & topical to blog about, something useful & empowering to say, or, I’m in the mood for a really good rant! With that in mind hopefully you will find my blog posts relevant, worthy and even fun to read. Just as important, google and other search engines will also like my content and hopefully you will ‘find them’ through the search engines. Search engines love good quality content.

Blogging is an excellent way to boost your websites SEO (Search Engine optimisation) and you should probably blog more often then I intend to…if SEO is one of your main goals. My goal is to not just SEO focused though. The aim of my website is three fold:

1) Build a website myself – I have project managed the build of many websites, some bespoke, some with ‘off the shelf’ CMS (Content Management Systems) and some very large and impressive e-commerce stores…but I have never done it myself from scratch and I wanted to learn (sign of a true digital geek apparently).

2) To grow my Digital Consultation business – I have a portfolio for Branding and ‘off-line’ marketing but not for online. What better way to show your understanding of the digital landscape then by presenting them in the format which mirrors what you claim you can do for someone else.

3) To empower visitors with information about the Digital World – Nothing frustrates me more then an SEO company that charges you £10K per month for work I know costs £500. Hopefully I will be able to pass on some of my learnings to you, my visitor, on many of the digital marketing and acquisition channels.

Having said all that, it is nice to have a platform to express yourself and the businesses ideas…what can possibly go wrong?

Automation on Amazon with Net Despatch - a UK First

Automation on Amazon with Net Despatch (first for UK)

First in the UK for Amazon product despatch automation. In the next couple weeks we’ll be launching a first in the UK which will streamline the warehouse fulfilment process and save our client a lot of time.

With a new ‘plugin’ supplied by Net Despatch to our middleware, we’re able to automatically allocate postage to each order from pre-defined package rules (less chance of human error). This creates automated package labelling printed straight from the printer ready for Royal Mail to scan and send (includes Royal Mail’s QR codes and easily scannable labels).

Not only that, but it also automatically allocates tracking numbers to all orders, allowing you to mark all orders as ‘despatched’ en masse from the middleware dashboard. This process is applicable to all the client’s marketing channels. These marketing channels include; Amazon, Magento stores [x2 websites] and eBay.

Another big benefit is it gives ‘real time’ despatch information. If the order’s been cancelled we know immediately and can then manage our customer service far more accurately and with speed.

No more: multiple printing of labels, manual intervention, manually marking products as despatched, typing in addresses or inputing of tracking numbers. Now that has to be good news!

I have a very good feeling life’s about to change in the warehouse and they’ll wonder how they ever managed without it!