The success of sites like Amazon and TripAdvisor has led more and more of us to seek the insight of customer reviews before buying. This trend is spreading fast, and throughout industries not previously known for their online presence.

Gaining a provable business reputation using customer reviews can make the difference between success and failure in some industries. And yet, few companies make the relatively small investment required to achieve it.

If service is your strength, prove it

Let’s say you are in a field not normally known for customer reviews. What’s your current point of difference against your competitors? Most businesses would prefer not to compete on price, so you’re probably aiming to offer a clearly superior product and/or exceptional service.

So you advertise. You say you are good, and that your team provides great service, but what proof can you offer, and where? One or two testimonials on your website may help… but what about 5,000 credible online reviews that back this up?

The fact is that we only experience service when we actually buy, so positive endorsements by customers could arguably be the most powerful support for your proposition.

If you don’t ask, you’re less likely to get

There are ways to ask your customers for a review following a purchase, and at Ark Advance we help our clients set up the system that best suits their market (e.g. Trustpilot or Google Reviews).

People generally like sharing their opinions, but they want it to be easy. While statistics have shown over decades that consumers share more bad service stories than good ones, this balance can be tipped by politely and proactively prompting your happy customers to share their thoughts.

Whatever tool you use to collect your reviews, ensure that you make it:

The ability to give as much or as little feedback as they want is key. Some people just want to give a star rating, others will leave a short comment, while still others want to fill that comment box to the maximum number of characters. A stepped approach is best to capture all the information on offer.

Regardless of whether the feedback is good or bad, your customer has done you a favour. Showing your appreciation will help them feel good about the overall experience.

Obviously, nothing raises suspicion faster than the deletion of less favourable reviews. Although not ideal, a problem raised by your customer in public is a chance to show that you can fix it quickly and graciously.

The beauty of setting up a tool on your own site (rather than relying on third party platforms) is that once a few customers have left their thoughts, others are more likely to follow suit. In sites with well-established feedback forums, there can even be something of a club among loyal customers, which can then be a focus in marketing for repeat business.

The cost to set up a review tool within your website are relatively minor. However, few businesses make the investment; perhaps because they fear it, or still think it’s not the right fit for their sector.

If you back your team and your product, then why not gain the advantage by collecting reviews and displaying them to your potential future customer? This collection of data could be the thing that makes you stand out against the rest.

Canvas Factory’s mission is to make photo printing easy and affordable for everyone. The business believes shoppers should be able to buy cheap canvas prints without sacrificing quality and craftsmanship.

But in such a competitive industry, it is imperative for a company like Canvas Factory to be able to hold trust at all levels and all stages of the buying journey. That’s why Canvas Factory started collecting reviews with Trustpilot.

Their focus on customer satisfaction has helped their Australian team achieve an amazing 9.4/10 rating on Trustpilot, from over 2,600 reviews.

To better understand how the business uses reviews to increase customer confidence and boost marketing efforts, we spoke with Tim Daley, Founder and Managing Director at Canvas Factory.

How Canvas Factory uses Trustpilot to build trust

When Canvas Factory started exploring review solutions, they were looking for two things: a licensed Google Review partner to gain more visibility via Seller Ratings and Rich Snippets, and a platform that would be recognised globally.

Working with Trustpilot has allowed Canvas Factory to get more visibility earlier in the journey. Having reviews displayed right on SERPs (search engine results pages) means customers who plan to purchase a product will be provided with as much information and user-generated content as possible, before they’ve even landed on the website.

In addition to displaying reviews on search, Canvas Factory also showcases its Trustpilot rating and customer reviews at every stage of the journey. The website’s homepage and product pages all include reviews in order to boost customer confidence and reduce scepticism throughout the journey.

Canvas Factory’s homepage

One of Canvas Factory’s product pages

The company also chose to add the Trustpilot trust mark in their customers’ shopping carts. This helps reduce cart abandonment and generally increases conversions.

Customer reviews front and center on Canvas Factory’s checkout page

Canvas Factory understands how important it is to showcase their reputation on social channels too. Today, 59% of consumers visit the brand’s social media account(s) once a week or more before making a purchase, and 87% of consumers trust an ad more if it has a Trustpilot logo or rating.

Tim explains:

“Sharing and posting reviews is key to amplifying trust signals to Canvas Factory’s current and future customers. The Trustpilot platform has been used to visually share reviews across the site, post reviews on social media, for broad based advertising and also to integrate reviews into email campaigns. This increases the brand’s visibility and offers consumers a chance to create dialogue, while placing the brand and products into their purchase behaviours.”

Why engaging with customers helps Canvas Factory grow as a business

Canvas Factory chose Trustpilot as a review platform because of its openness. The business really believes it is essential for all customers to be able to give and share feedback, both positive or negative. Collecting honest feedback allows Canvas Factory to gather consumer insights, identify areas of developments, and engage with existing customers.

The team communicates with customers through Trustpilot reviews: Canvas Factory tries to keep all customers happy and satisfied by addressing issues quickly, as today, 95% of unhappy customers return if the business resolves the issue efficiently.

Example of negative review

“Both the marketing and customer service teams use Trustpilot as a director indicator of how the brand is doing in being consistent with its values, character, and culture,” says Tim.

“Trust is such an important brand asset for us. It supports product and service improvements along with growth and revenue, and allows us to deliver a seamless customer experience.”

“The Trustpilot team have worked closely with us throughout the process, from strategy through to implementation, to ensure that we achieve success with our review strategy. This has been done through regular business reviews, strategy meetings, and A/B testing guidance to ensure that the platform delivers solutions driving results.”

As Canvas Factory continues to grow and improve, they’ll use Trustpilot reviews to continually improve their service, demonstrate their value to new, potential, and existing customers as well as boost sales and revenue.

If you’d like to learn more about what Trustpilot can do for your business, you can get in touch with us here.

Recently Google reduced the number of ad slots it was allowing in its desktop search environment. Gone are all the slots on the right hand side. What remains are those at the top – with an extra slot for some queries – and some at the bottom.    

That means fewer ad slots are now available for the same number of advertisers. And that means click costs are sure to head upwards. Here’s my take on how the typical Kiwi business owner can navigate through this change.

#1 Become a price setter not a price taker.

You are currently one or the other. Most people are “price takers” who take the price they are given with a gulp. They have no idea how many phone calls they get from those clicks. Nor do they track actual closed customer sales based on the click that started the sales process.

In their situation, $4.00 per click “sounds” super expensive and they grudgingly see their credit card charges from Google in their statements each month.

Compare those people to those who smile with glee when each click occurs. These people are the “price setters”.

They know exactly how many clicks they need to create a lead and how many of these go onto become customers. For every dollar they invest with Google advertising, they see ten, twenty or a hundred dollars in profit. They actively seek ways to divert funds from poor performing marketing channels into their Google advertising.  

Forget about $4 per click; they could pay $8 per click and still be making lots of money. They will bid up their clicks to put financial pressure on the rest, who struggle to make their advertising work at $4. In most cases they live at the top of the search results, and the recent change has only positive effects for them. They rub their hands with glee as they see their competition being all but obliterated from view, leaving searchers to focus their attention on what is left – the price setters and their super sized ads.  

#2 Focus on the “profit” – ie, conversions – of your clicks

As a business owner, think of clicks vs conversions as the equivalent of revenue vs profit. Your clicks are revenue – they drive the volume of traffic through your website. And seeing yourself at the top of the search results is nice, just as looking at a fat figure at the top of your P&L report is nice.  

But we all know that’s not the real goal. Phone calls, submitted quote requests and contact forms are a lot closer to the bottom line of profit. These are the website actions that fuel the growth of a company.  

Price setters always have above-industry-standard website conversion rates. Their website is a “conversion engine” that magically turns clicks into calls and form submissions. A good result for the week is not ranking well for their chosen keywords; it’s learning that the recent change to their website landing pages have increased Quote Request completion by 30%. Same traffic, same cost – and 30% extra results.

#3 Know that 1 is the most dangerous number for business owners.

Dan Kennedy talks about this a lot. Here are some examples of where the danger lurks:

– One person in your company can only do one particular kind of work.

– One customer accounts for the majority of your sales.

– One supplier manages all of your IT and telecommunications needs.

– One marketing channel – think Google AdWords! – delivers more than half your leads.

For some people the recent Google AdWords change is merely a problem – but for others it could be dire. Let’s imagine your business is built on the sole marketing tactic of paying for clicks at the lowest possible amount on the right hand side of the desktop search area.  

Now these ad places are gone.  

Your business growth is stalled, at best. Maybe even ended.   

So don’t rely on Google paid advertising to deliver all your leads. There are many effective online marketing strategies that don’t have Google as their focus. Spread your love and minimise your risks!

And remember that Ark Advance can help you achieve this goal. Since 2002 we’ve supported all kinds of Kiwi and Australian businesses to effectively manage the marketing of their website. Contact us today to see if our services fit your situation.

Does your website make your phone ring? If it does, or if it should, then this product is for you.

This is how it works.

We set up a unique phone number just for you and link it to four places.

  1. First, we ensure it directs the caller to the right place – your office, call centre or mobile phone.
  2. Then we link it to your Google Analytics account. That way we can link the call back to the traffic source.
  3. For those buying clicks from Google we can allocate the number at a keyword level. Then we link it to a notification system so that if you don’t answer, you will receive an email advising the missed-call number (assuming it isn’t Caller ID blocked).
  4. Finally we link it back to a special online portal for your reporting.

So what’s the benefit? Here’s one possible scenario.

Let’s say that each month you buy Google clicks for $5.00 from about 50 keywords. While engagement is good your Google Analytics reports tell you you’ve had no Contact Us page conversions. But you are getting phone calls.

That creates a problem. You know Google Adwords campaign isn’t working as well as it could, but you can’t just pause it in case you silence the phone.

With call tracking, your problem’s solved. You can identify the keywords that drive calls, allowing you to silence the wasted spend on those that don’t.

Here’s another scenario. You are not sure how well your office is dealing with the large number of phone calls it receives during the week. You think some are being missed, but you are not sure. Now you visit the reporting portal and see that a large number are being missed during lunchtime when the phone is diverted while the receptionist is at lunch. Armed with this knowledge, you can now adjust lunch periods to avoid this and track the drop in missed calls.

Scenario 3: Occasionally the office is not manned and you are not sure if people bother to leave a message when you are out. Now you will receive a notification telling you who failed to get their call answered – even if they didn’t leave a message – so your sales team can follow up.

Given its benefits, Call Tracking is remarkably affordable. Plans start at $95 a month with bundled minutes. Talk to your account manager to learn more or complete a Contact Us request.

Albert Einstein typified as a sign of madness “doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different result.”

Does that describe your online marketing plan for 2016? Complete the same tasks as 2015 but with the hope of some other result?

This article will seed some ideas to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. But as we all know it’s very easy to slip back into old ways. The “same” can be so much more comfortable than the “new”. I experienced this earlier in the new year when starting a new training plan for my running.

Late last year, for some deranged reason, I signed up for a trail running event in May that has me double my existing max distance in some remote parts of the North Island. I began the plan doing what I had always done before, but with a bit more distance to spice things up. Very early on, my knees made it known that this wasn’t going to work. More of the same wasn’t an option.

Not wanting to give up too soon I happened across a podcast from a guy who helps middle-aged souls like me achieve running goals just like this. First task he sets me is to strap on a heart rate monitor with an alarm set for 180 minus my age. It was a low number.

Within five minutes of my first run this annoying thing starts beeping away. I was still running on the flat. I kept running, thinking it was an error. But no – more beeping and I’m forced to walk until it settles down. I end up walking about 30% of my running course. I had been running much too fast.

Apparently, the path to running long is building a sizable aerobic base. This occurs at a much lower heart rate than I was training at. Ends up there was no way my body could have built the base the way I was training – no matter how hard I tried. I had to slow down to eventually go long.

This translates well to the land of online marketing. There are many tasks that with even 1000% effort will never achieve the result you want if what you’re already doing isn’t effective. Let me outline a few examples in the four areas of online marketing that we optimise – Acquisition, Engagement, Interaction and Conversion.

Acquisition – increasing the number of visitors to your website.

Let’s start with Google and, specifically, being seen by more people for what you do rather than who you are. Fortunately, how much advertising you buy from Google will have no influence on how they rank your website in non-advertised space.

Adding more images to your website has little to no effect here either. Nor does running keyword ranking reports every month to see where your site ranks for certain keywords compared to your competitors.

The only way to reliably improve your ranking is by updating your website with new content in the areas in which you want to improve your rankings, and that Google can find and index.

Simple as that.

Find the keywords you are not ranking for, write good content on them, and you are well on the way to seeing a positive change.

Engagement – reducing your bounce rate, increasing pages per session, lengthening overall vist times.

Here the issue can be a lack of focus. Engagement is not about improving the content on every page of your website. It’s about improving it on just the ones that are super important.

The first page people see sets the tone of the session. Your Google Analytics reports will show these as your “Landing Pages”. Work on reducing their bounce rate as a priority. If you cannot entice your visitors to look at one additional page then all engagement bets are off.

Let’s say, for instance, you invest hours updating the images of your product catalogue. Unless visitors make it past your home page (assuming that’s their initial landing page) then you’re wasting your time. Spend the effort instead on your home page first.

Interaction – taking visitors one step closer to conversion.

If you sell services, interactive content can be a critical. Examples include free eBook downloads, registrations for free audits, online calculators and product demonstrations.

Our own website has a Free Stuff section that IMHO shows how it’s done. Each freebie moves prospects closer to the sale. A common mistake is plastering the website with phone numbers and contact forms, hoping this will drive up the conversion rate of the site – when in fact a lack of interactive content is holding things back.

Conversion – convincing the visitor to become a lead or to purchase a product.

Last but not least is the bit that makes all your work worthwhile – the conversion. Quote requests, contact us completions, booking requests, orders – all those fantastic notification emails that we just love to see arrive.

You can waste time here by jumping straight into fixing up the Conversion parts of your site, while avoiding any work in the Engagement and Interaction areas. Yet we rarely see websites with amazing conversion rates that do poorly with engagement. Or, similarly, with no Interaction content but a steady stream of leads. Work spent in these two areas first naturally leads to growth in conversion activity later.

I’m not saying that following my advice will make your life easier. My runs – even at a much lower heart rate – are still a challenge. But at least I know the effort is in the right direction, and with time the results should come. Follow the points in this article and the same will apply to your online marketing for 2016.

If you would like a more customised approach to your situation for 2016, complete our Contact Us page and we will be in touch.

Behaviour > Site Speed

If I can stream a whole Netflix episode at home with no problems, then why does your website take so long to load?

Hopefully this is not a question your prospects are pondering. With services like Netflix and Lightbox we are consuming more bandwidth than ever and our expectations for responsiveness of the web is only increasing. So how do you know what you can do with your website to keep up with the speed crazed users?

Thankfully Google Analytics is here to help.

Just head over to the Site Speed reports found in the Behaviour area of the tool and you will see what Google thinks of your stats. It’s a simple race: the faster you can make your website, the better. Google helps with some suggestions for both your mobile and desktop site.

As buyers we all know when it is time to “tell” rather than “sell”.

This weekend I met a salesperson who knew the difference between the two. My eldest daughter, Maddy, is in the early stages of looking for a new Apple iMac computer. So we ended up at one of the hundreds of Apple retailers in Auckland. It was picked because it was near a cafe we planned to go to for lunch afterwards.

We started in front of some shiny Apple screens not knowing exactly what we were looking at. Now fortunately for us, we managed to flag down the right salesperson. She sauntered over and started to gently ask Maddy a few questions. Questions about what she wanted the machine for, the applications she would be running and how long she expected to spend using it.

The salesperson brought with her a small piece of paper showing the product specs of the range. After a short chat, she pointed out the ones would be ideal and why. I then asked the “Dad Question”: why wouldn’t she buy the cheapest of the two? The assistant did a great job of explaining the technical differences in a way that we both could understand.

And then she said nothing. No fancy close. No whipping out a handheld computer to tap in stuff to give us a special deal. Just handed us her card and told us which of the two we were in front of. Advising us to have a play and get a feel of what we were considering.

And considering it, we were. Spending over $3,500 takes a bit of time to digest. So we left knowing more than when we arrived and with a feeling that this business: (a) could help us, and (b) knew a lot about how to match the right iMac to the right Apple purchaser.

As I said before, there are probably hundreds of Auckland retailers who sell Apple products but after that simple exchange these guys would now be at the top of our list.

Effective lead nurturing helps you get to the top of the list your prospects have for what you sell.

Here’s how to get involved.

#1 Produce great content to capture your prospect’s attention – and their email address.

We all head to the Internet when researching that next chunky purchase. We will trade our email address along the way for content that will make our search so much easier. Think value, not necessarily volume.

Automatically most people think “eBooks” here, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We have a customer who created a very simple MS Excel calculator plugin that was extremely valuable for his prospects. When they registered to get it for free, which many hundreds did, it solved a very complex calculation in a jiffy. This same theme permeated their very comprehensive and expensive software product which these prospects were ideal customers for.

#2 Talk to them as long as it makes sense.

Maddy will need her new computer before March. I would guess that a three month consideration period is usual for a computer like this. Deciding on what car to buy could take a lot longer, and likewise deciding which graphic designer should design your next logo may be faster than picking a car but longer than buying an iMac.

Let’s also assume that all decisions that should be made by prospects: will be. So there’s an ideal time period to say what you need to say while people are considering. Leave it too late and the purchase would have been made and the relevance lost.

#3 Givers gain.

Capturing your prospect’s attention is the top task after they have traded their email address for your content..

Just a quick refresher: now is not the time to sell, but to tell. And the “telling” part focuses on helping the prospect through the decision-making process. Those that sell complex services have a distinct advantage here, especially when there’s a lot that can go wrong with a poor decision. Think “complex software purchases that never go live”, i.e. business rebranding exercises that actually reduce sales rather than increase them. Situations like these where the risk of a negative outcome can be quite high.

Any content you can offer here to help people avoid these steps will be well received. Drip-feeding it to people in manageable chunks of email ensures you remain at the top of people’s minds as the time of consideration continues.

This leaves you with the task of managing who gets what and when. Thankfully there’s a range of technology to make this a breeze.

#4 Dissolve the complexity with the right technology.

So you are drip-feeding snippets of highly valuable content to possibly hundreds of prospects who are “considering” what you offer. Some are more active than others at this and could be clicking the links in your messages with a frenzy; others could be a bit more passive. The rest flit between the two states while receiving the series of messages you provide.

Somehow you need to isolate those who are keen to buy, possibly for some telemarketing activities, and respectfully and gently nurture those who are still pondering their choices. Thankfully there’s a range of lead-nurturing technology that can make this mind meld act a relatively simple task.

We support a range of tools that do just this. You can start from just $10 per month and head northwards. The more you pay, the more complexity you can manage. However most starting out have quite simple needs so the low-cost technology is usually a starter.

Our experience doesn’t start and end with the tools. We have expertise in creating the content to get the system started AND the messages required to keep the momentum going to the successful end.

Follow these steps and you should end up with a pipeline packed with prospects slowly moving further along their decision-making process.

Contact us today to learn how to design a pipeline like this for your business.

Back in February Google released a note explaining that come April 21 they would take the mobile friendliness of websites as a “ranking factor”. Then in March the Sunday Star Times  interviewed me on the subject. As you can imagine, I had definite opinions that I was happy to share!

Chris Price Sunday Star Times


So what does it all mean?


Based on emails from Google warning customers with non-mobile websites of the upcoming change, it definitely means something. But exactly what, nobody’s yet sure. We’ll be watching the keyword rank reports of our clients with keen interest to see what turns out.

For e-commerce clients in particular, buying a new mobile friendly website is a big ask. So our early advice is to take a wait-and-see approach by monitoring the amount of mobile traffic you receive and its growth curve.

If the initial percentage is low – lets say below 15% – and the growth curve is relatively flat, then your upgrade path could be a way off if – and this is the big IF – your search term rankings don’t tank in the meantime.

However, if your percentage is 35% plus, and the growth curve is steep, and your conversion rates begin to suffer for traffic hitting your non mobile website, then you might want to bite the bullet and make the upgrade.

More on this as it develops.

We’ve all read those articles on what to do to achieve unbounded success online. Well this time I thought I would go with the opposite view. What to do when it’s not going well. Maybe the order book is looking a bit light. Or you start the week with a calendar full of white space without a prospect appointment in sight.

This is the time for quick results and a solid return on any marketing investment. When prospects call us at this stage we know we have to apply proven tactics that work quickly to turn things around. All while delivering the greatest return on their money. No pressure, eh?

Here I outline five of the many tactics we apply, and why each has made the list. Note that the order in which you apply these tactics is important. If you skip one or apply a few out of sequence, our experience is that the overall result is doubtful.

So let’s get started.

Strategy #1 – Clean up your traffic8207554

In its current form and given its current content, your website will need a certain type of traffic to make it work – that is, convert visitors into leads.

Let me explain the “current form” part a bit more. We all know that in deciding which pages to rank over others one of Google’s key criteria is page content. (If you’re not convinced, reading their guide to “Search Engine Optimisation” will remove all doubt.)

This principle also applies to your website’s ability to convert visitors into leads. Content matters. A lot. Your content will hopefully convert a certain type of visitor – perhaps not all of them, but certainly those who like what you have written.

So the task remains to find this group, show it your content, and hope they convert. And because it’s always easier to fix one thing at a time we surmise that the
content will do its job, IF we can find the right audience.

Therefore we need to “clean up” your traffic to locate this group. I define “dirty traffic” as website visitors about whom you have no idea why they came visiting. The non-paid part of the Google search engine – commonly called organic traffic – could contain these people. Google’s no help here because it doesn’t reveal the keyword search terms these visitors used to arrive at your site – so you have no idea what they were looking for. What’s more, some struggling websites struggle to rank for the terms their prospects use.

So the only reliable way forward is to buy traffic using Google AdWords for the keywords you think your prospects will use.

That’s the easy bit. Making your money deliver a really clean group of visitors is a lot harder. Fortunately, you don’t need to test hundreds of keywords at the outset – you can just start with a few.

Then, once you have tapped into some “clean” traffic, you need to decide where to send them. Which brings me to Strategy 2.

Strategy #2 – Master your first impressionfirst-impression

So the prospect sees your ad, clicks, and is best sent where?

Anywhere but your Contact Us page. Last month we completed a website re
view for a new client and discovered that their web optimisation company had been sending all their paid advertising traffic to that page.

The client supplied a $10,000 minimum home furnishings service for the renovation market. Their website contained pages and pages of great pictures showcasing their work. But those pictures remained hidden from their paid traffic – and 85% promptly left without looking any further.

Strategy #3 – Cover all the content bases

Once you’re sending your search traffic to the right page, you need to ensure it includes the right content. Take our home furnishings client above. Their visitors clearly expect to see lovely pictures of homes that have benefitted from their service.

Don’t skimp here. Provide lots of content. Make the pictures great – poor photography hurts your brand.

Once you have included the “must have” content, add content that shows your point of difference. For instance, you may be a design agency that crafts solutions specifically for the professional services market. Or an architect who only works on build projects on Waiheke for over $5 million. Or a lawyer who works on divorce cases for professional males between 40 and 55 years old.

Our home furnishings client had a great reputation backed up by lots of testimonials. Also, their sales process was low pressure and delivered by experts. Finally, they were experts in producing custom solutions that their competitors found too hard.

Presenting this “differentiation” content can take your prospects of success to a new high. In fact, the only thing that could hold you back is not applying Strategy 4.

Strategy #4 – Ask for the “Goldilocks Commitment”goldilocks

The classic sales mistake is to either ask your visitor to to commit to too much too early, or fail to ask for an
y commit at all.

Let’s go back to home furnishings. Pointing visitors at the Contact Us page was definitely asking for too much commitment too early.

But when you looked through their gallery of photos, the opposite mistake was being made. There was no reference to their smart showroom or how to book an appointment with their sales team.

Presenting the right commitment choices to your audience at the right time is an art. It’s one we’ve been practising for over 10 years now, so we know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, it takes two or three visits to achieve a commitment from a web visitor. Therefore, you need to…

Strategy #5 – Play the long game

Thankfully, there are are an array of smart online marketing tools to help you recycle your clean traffic enough times to ensure it converts. Remarketing and email marketing are among them.

Remarketing is an easily set up Google product that lets you “follow” your non-converted website visitors as they browse the web, presenting targeted banner ads to them. You’ll need a range of banner sizes to display and someone to help you build your target audience. You can also choose the frequency at which your banner ads are seen, allowing you to hit the sweet spot between visibility and annoyance.

Email marketing is the stalwart of online marketing. It’s been going so long that many forget the reason for its longevity – it works. The main challenge is providing content that the customer deems worthy of giving you their email address. Every year the bar is raised higher.

So there you go – my five strategies to fix a failing service marketing solution. We have seen clients use these steps to transform a system that hasn’t delivered a lead in 10 months to one that delivers every month.
Call us for more information, or if you’d like help applying these steps to your business.

Every quarter we ask our customers the same two questions:

· Firstly “how likely are you to refer us” on a scale of 1 to 10 ( 10 being every opportunity I have )
· And next, please add any other non-compulsory comment in the free text field.

We then put the answers through a formula derived from Net Promoter Score. You may already use this in your business; if not, here’s a link that tells you how it works. You calculate your final score by adding up all those who give you a 9 or 10 as a percentage of your total respondents. From this you then deduct – as a percentage – those who scored you 6 or below. So if 40% gave you either 9 or 10 and 10% gave you 6 or below, your Net Promoter Score would be 30%.
The theory is that a wide range of businesses ask the same “how likely are you to refer” question, so you can benchmark your results against those of others. For instance, for New Zealand businesses – courtesy of Customer Monitor – we see:

· University of Auckland +18%
· Total Professional Services +11%
· Dentist / Doctor +14%
· Banking +12%
· Insurance -10%

This quarter we achieved +60%. It’s a great score, and your comments provided an interesting list of ideas for how we can improve even further. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Winner of the $200 restaurant voucher: Alan Singam from Les Mills New Zealand. The next survey will be in June.

It’s not a nice feeling being lost alone in the New Zealand bush. I first experienced it many years ago when hiking around Mt Tongariro. I had just arrived from the UK and was keen to experience the New Zealand outdoors. I joined the trail at 1pm midway up the ski road, hoping to walk around the mountain in two days.

No map, no compass – just a desire to follow the poles. You guessed it. In about five hours I was lost. And for the first time I experienced that deep-seated panicky feeling – what  had I got myself into? Fortunately, I managed to walk out the next day after a very cold night in my tent. The sound of cars driving up the mountain guided me back to civilisation. It put me off tramping for a long time.

That was until a couple of years ago when I decided to take just me and my mountain bike out to Riverhead Forest just west of Auckland. I had a small scrap of a map and the hope that if all else failed my phone and Google Maps would be my back up.

Fail again – no road signs, no cell phone signal and back to that terrible lost feeling of panic. I was riding up and down deserted forest roads in the late evening hoping to find my way out. A one hour ride took four – I  was so pleased to get back to the car.

Which would make my heading back to Riverhead a second time only last week sound totally crazy. But this time things were different. Now I had swapped a bike for some running shoes – for a slow plodding trail run – but more importantly, the scrappy map was replaced with a Garmin handheld GPS.

I had loaded the Garmin with some New Zealand maps and created my own track. The plan was that it would all guide me and my spaniel for all of the planned 14 kms. I’d designed a trek involving one big loop back to the car. All going well I hoped to experience a panic-free mix of forest road and trail.

I set out from the car park just a bit nervous. I had packed spare batteries for the Garmin. The manual said it would last for 16 hours but to be honest my confidence was not that high. Water was sloshing around by the litre in my pack and there was enough food for a small family gathering. You never know.


Well it worked.Path across labyrinth


I followed that small Garmin track pointer up and down roads, through gorse-lined paths and even down the occasional mountain bike trail, which had me questioning its thinking. But Mello and I kept going. We crossed rivers, splattered through some mud – yes even in February – and returned to the spot where we’d started. All with just one bar of the battery used and food hardly touched. Success!

Buoyed up, the following week I plotted another trail and headed off exploring again. This time into the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ space that had confused me proper a while back on a mountain bike. Now the triangle was no match for my super satellite technology, and I made it back safe and sound. Technology had tamed the beast.

For the business owner, improving your website’s performance is like navigating my ‘Riverhead maze’. Each month we help business owners who have become “lost” in their web marketing reports. It seems you receive the information but don’t know where to look and what to follow.

I hope none of you have a feeling of dread quite like mine, lost in the bush. But you do mention being frustrated, confused or simply intimidated.

Most of you do what I did after my first experience at Tongariro. You avoid the issue as much as you can. There’s not much to lose when you head out into the bush alone. However if your company is avoiding online marketing while your competitors are lapping up the openings – the strategy comes with  sizable lost opportunities.

Thankfully there is a  ’business Garmin’ you can use to guide you through the online marketing maze.


Your guide through the maze? Google Analytics.Google-Analytics2


Unfortunately, just like the Garmin GPS I bought, Google Analytics comes with a relatively steep learning curve. To make my Garmin do what I wanted I trawled through numerous how-to’ videos on YouTube. I sent a few support request emails to Garmin. And I created some test “tracks” around my neighbourhood to ensure it worked. All up I probably sank a good 10 hours into the thing before it became useful.

Google Analytics is not as difficult to drive as that but there is still a learning curve. Unfortunately, for some business owners this curve is too steep and they give up. That’s a shame. Persevere, because once properly configured, our Google analytics account will be your true north. It will guide you along the right path to online marketing success.

For instance, it will uncover gems like how much your Google Advertising is really worth compared to what it costs. The pages of your website that perform and those that fail. If your email marketing raises or lowers the engagement of those on your list. Whether the time you spend on social media translates into sales or is just “noise”.

For the business owner, these are bigger problems to solve than “can you get me back to my car before the light fades and my water runs out?” (That is unless you are stuck in the New Zealand bush at 8pm with the light fading, no food or water and no idea where you are!)

Call us today to learn how to make sure your business marketing doesn’t get that desperate. We help business owners like you navigate to their own online marketing success using Google Analytics.

Last month I turned 50. It’s a scary number and a time when I can see why others head into their own personal crisis. You definitely get the feeling the clock is counting down rather than counting up.


Anyway, to soften the blow I decided to feed my passion for mountain biking and head off to the Redwood Forests of Rotorua. This time for a change, and as a birthday present to myself, I thought I would invest in three hours of coaching from Annika – a local guide and expert rider.


The way things panned out illustrated how all good coaching experiences work.


First up, a bit on me and my riding style. I am not the fastest nor bravest of riders. I ride for the benefit of long term health rather than short term excitement. So if there’s a jump or a steep drop ahead I’ll scoot around the edges just to be on the safe side.


However, on saying all that, with the clock counting down I thought it was time to scoot a bit less and push the excitement levels up a little notch.


I got onto Annika from her website via a Google search (surprise, surprise!) Annika is about half my age and rides a bike worth twice as much as mine. She enters the same type of events I do. The key differences being she ends up on the podium and has had a good few hours of rest before I turn up at the finish.


We met in the carpark and I told her I wanted to learn how to ride faster around corners and dare to do the occasional drop off. (Think of a drop off as a step down between 30 cm to a scary 300cm.) She listened and then followed me as we rode to the trails from the carpark.


After 20 minutes of following me she pulled us to a stop. Apparently, learning how to corner would have to wait – there were more urgent matters to work on.


First up, there was a problem with how my bike was set up. My seat was too far back and my handlebars were too high. By riding alongside she could see how my back was the wrong shape and my knees were not above the pedals properly.  So while I waited, she got out her trusty tools and in 10 minutes the adjustments were made.


We continued on. Riding felt weird, but in a nice way.


Then we came to our first hill and she chatted away while I panted and struggled to keep up. We stopped, and again she adjusted the seat to move me forward as the adjustments were still not right. However, now I was pushing down with the proper amount of force with my legs and things became a bit easier.


Nevertheless, the hill became steeper, my breathing harder and frustration was growing. When were we going to do the cornering thing? Fortunately, things flattened out and she rode behind me as the trails moved into the classic winding, well-groomed state they are in Rotorua. Annika stopped us again and explained how my legs needed to be straight and my ankles fixed with my heels down. (Apparently, I have bendy legs and even bendier ankles.)


Onwards we pedalled with Annika yelling in her lovely Swiss accent, “straight legs”, “keep those ankles fixed”, “straight legs”. After 30 minutes of this I was starting to get it right. Just.


So an hour in and no cornering. But things were OK. We were making progress and I could feel a bit more confidence growing in my riding. Another hour of the same, with lots of yelling from Annika, and progress was being made.


We finished with her explaining how to ride down drop offs so deep that they would have easily classified themselves in the “ride around at all costs” group. And no, I couldn’t have attempted them without mastering the bits we covered way back at the start of the session.


So how does this experience relate to a success experience with an online marketing coach? 


Firstly, the process your coach follows can be more important than the actual knowledge they impart. Annika had her way which started with ensuring the bike was set up properly AFTER watching me ride it on live trails. Once this was completed then she could move on. Without this, I couldn’t have attempted the things I did later on in the day.


We start out our online coaching process in a set way too. With us, it starts with a focus on Google Analytics. If we can’t get past this stage then we can’t proceed any further. It’s a methodology that has been used successfully dozens of times before.


Secondly, what you want may not be what you need. An astute coach should be confident enough to tell you this and ensure you get the most from your time with them. Customers come to us wanting to drive more traffic to their website. Frequently, we find out that’s not the problem. There can be tons of traffic but few conversions – and improving the site’s conversion rate is where we need to invest their money.


I booked Annika wanting to corner faster. I couldn’t do this without changing bike fit and my overall stance by straightening my legs and locking my ankles.


Thirdly, a good coach will see failure as signposts to more learning ahead, not reasons to hit the panic button. My first attempts at riding down some steep drop offs with Annika were quite comical. I was either too fast or too slow, or both. Luckily it wasn’t too deep so I just picked myself and my bike up from the floor and walked back to try it again.  We didn’t give up – Annika just took out her iPhone, shot a video of my next attempt, and showed me what I was doing wrong so we could fix it.


Failing to get Google’s Paid Advertising to work is not uncommon. Good clean traffic being placed on exactly the right landing page, but still no conversions coming through. With my riding I stopped falling over by leaning forward more. With AdWords it could be about re-working the landing page copy to better match the desires of the visitor.


And finally it’s a lot easier if you have fun along the way. Seeing me disappear into the blackberry bushes for the umpteenth time in my failed attempts kept a smile on both Annika’s face and mine.


Here at Ark we enjoy what we do. Sometimes it’s tricky work that requires a sizable amount of left brain thinking but we still try to make progress something to smile about.


Why not contact us today and see if our coaching style suits your online marketing needs.