Category Archives: CHC_talks


What is your exposure?  Should you pay for your website’s security?

So far throughout our series we have talked about how wonderful it is to have a strong, smartly designed website and how you should embrace the digital world and invest in all kinds of digital opportunities. Just like everything else, the sun cannot always shine. So what risks are we undertaking with our online presence? What problems can we encounter? And how can people take advantage of our honest endeavours?



The biggest risk to any SME currently is GDPR. At the moment it remains an understated regulation, with little to no claims being brought to fruition. If this status-quo remains – tremendous! There is little to worry about. However, this is not the approach to business that the regulators have been touting. With a fine of 4% of global turnover or £20 million (whichever is higher), it’s eye watering!

So what’s the deal? Put simply, you need to tell people what data you’re using and storing, ask for permission to use it, promise not to do anything naughty with it, keep it secure and, if they ask for it, give it to them or even delete it. If you do that, the world will remain a happy place.

Specifically, what this means is that you must have a cookie/privacy policy explaining what you use people’s data for. You must get express permission to use data, usually via a check box at the point of submission. You must do everything in your power to keep the user’s data safe (think encryption and firewalls). Lastly, you must be able to locate all the data you have on a user, provide it at request and delete it if they ask you to.



Just like your computer, a website can be infected with something like a virus. Amongst a myriad of options, hackers are prone to taking advantage of old versions of CMS applications like WordPress, Joomla and Magento. If you have one of these and it is outdated, scan your website as soon as possible!

Most of these hacks come in three forms:

Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is most commonly associated to spam emails. The attacker will set up a page to take payments. Specifically with websites, this can be masked to look like your own checkout page or like a third party checkout page. Essentially the hacker is trying to take payments on the back of your reputation.

Viruses and malicious code attacks come in all shapes and sizes. Some will quietly sit there stealing user data and sending it back to the hacker. Others will be more obvious. Most notably, they can replace your site with their own “you’ve been hacked” page.

UI redress is very sneaky approach to hacking, the attack involves the hacker rebuilding the links in your site to go to another domain. Your site will look the same, but clicking a link will take you to the hackers intended destination.



As frustrating as it is to have to implement and pay for these measures, there are layers of protection that you can put in place to protect your business online.


An SSL certificate will ensure you encrypt the transfer of data back and forth from your website hosting to the visitors computer. This will secure data that is entered on the site – such as payment details on your website’s checkout page. With GDPR putting emphasis on protecting customer data and with browsers like Google Chrome exposing unsecure sites, this will become more and more important in the near future.


Firewalls & CDN
A firewall is a fairly well known concept, but put simply, it is a layer of security that will allow good safe traffic to your site, and will not allow bad or automated traffic to get through. Without this, the risk is a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. This means someone has set up a bot or script to rapidly and repeatedly load your website. The server which hosts your website, is very much like any other computer you have used. If there are too many applications running or too many actions, it will freeze or crash. The repeated requests to load your website cause the server to fail and shut down. This is a very quick and easy way to cause problems with people’s sites – and because of this, it happens quite frequently.

A CDN – or Content Delivery Network – does some handy things as well. First and foremost, it makes your website faster. Its original purpose is to reduce latency in transferring data across very large distances. We talked about this in the need for speed section of an earlier post. To remind you, it localises your website across the world – meaning Bruce in Brisbane, Australia doesn’t have to wait while your website data is transmitted from Georgia in the USA. The side effect of this, is that it becomes very difficult to find the original version of your site – and hacking something you can’t find is pretty much impossible.


Say you have taken all these actions, there are still some people out there that may look at your site as a challenge. If that happens and they destroy your site, the safest bet is to have a back up. If nothing else, this is cost effective, quick to implement and gives you piece of mind. Our backups occur daily, so the worst case scenario is that you lose a days work.



Analysing what works and what doesn’t

Last week we looked at digital applications, which for some, may feel like a bitter pill to swallow or may just be completely out of budget. So where should you spend your money? How do you choose where to invest and what tools can you use?

There is no direct ‘second best’ to utilising artificial intelligence to conduct the mundane operations of the website, but you can still do the same jobs manually. First, you need to get the basics right to make your work worth it.




Ensure Functionality
It sounds obvious but regularly checking that everything on your website is actually working is a great way to maintain a successful presence online. The internet is a changeable beast and although your website may have been the bees knees in 2005, routine updates and changes to how internet browsers work can make your site completely unusable. Keeping your site working and functioning well should be your first priority, and minimum requirement.


Written Content
Earlier in our blog series, we saw how quickly visitors will drop your website if it is slow but what we didn’t discuss is that you will have the same result if your content is not engaging and clear enough. It is important to deliver a clear and digestible message right off the bat to avoid a high drop off rate.


If you dive into complex, detailed and heavy content about what you sell, prepare see a high drop off rate from your site visitors. Likewise, if you don’t say enough or explain why you deserve someone else’s money then you won’t see a great conversion either.




A/B Testing
How do you decide what colour to make the buttons on your website? We have seen it debated hundreds of times. Should it be bright red to catch your eye? Should it be blue to match the brand colour? Or should it be purple because that’s Susan’s favourite colour?


People care about these choices because they have an impact on the effectiveness of a website and on your business. The best option then, is to try them all. Applying a quantifiable result to which colour performs best allows you remove people’s natural bias.’ This is A/B testing. It allows you to test two variables against each other and implement the variable that performs the best.


Most commonly, this happens by splitting the traffic 50:50. Half will see a red button and the other half, a blue button. If the red has a higher click-through-rate, your choice has been made. Next week, test the red against Susan’s purple, the highest click-through-rate wins.


A/B testing can be done on anything – the phasing of ‘About us’ text, hero images, navigation structure. Defining what makes these better than the other is often not a straight line, so start with simple choices and move on slowly.


If A/B testing sounds a little too technical to implement, you can go back to the basics with your website’s analytics. Google analytics offers a great deal of insight into user behaviour. For instance, what pages are most popular, how long users spent reading your content and where they came from. An hour reviewing your analytics will offer good insight into what content your visitors enjoy most and which pushed your visitors into your sales funnel. Then it is a case of creating more of the same type of content with small new twists.


Your review will give you an idea of what future direction is going to work best for you. If this seems obvious, you’ll be surprised to hear that “less than 30% of small businesses use website analytics, call tracking, or coupon codes [and] 18% of small businesses admit to not tracking anything.” Assigning a means to analyse what your website does, learning from that and enacting change is going to give you an advantage over a lot of your competition.





We have talked a lot about automation and analytics in making smart investments. Here are a few applications that you can ‘rent’:


Hubspot have created a free CRM that we think is actually pretty great. It will track users on your site and if they are a contact that has entered their email address, then you will see everything they do. You can set up some lead scoring, a chat bot and email automation. However, these come at a price so you’ll need to fully commit to using them. If you are spending the budget, you’ll need to consider if this is the best use.


Crazy Egg offers in depth analytics of your website including heat maps and videos of users’ use of the site. If you are keen on finding out why your site is not converting users into customers, this is a good first stop.


Lastly, MailChimp offers automated emails that can distribute your news and chase abandoned shopping carts. Again, this can be pricey – especially if you are using a few of these services in conjunction – so think carefully about where you will use your budget.


What is the main difference then between a cheap website and a mid-range or big budget site? Most often, the difference comes down to how smart your site is. There are two main approaches to this. First, it could be very well designed, intelligently selling your story, USP and product or service. It is a smart site because it is smartly designed to provide a strong user experience and high functionality. The second approach is to utilise your website to act as a brain and make decisions for you. Sometimes called “AI”, “automation” or “machine learning,” they are all essentially software applications.


It’s this second approach that we would like to focus on in this blog, looking at how smart websites such as these can be a benefit to a business and increase its sales. Strategic IC say that companies that automate lead management see a 10% or more bump in revenue in 6-9 months time and PwC named AI one of the eight essential technologies in business (Huffington Post). There is increasing evidence to suggest that more and more businesses are beginning to invest in AI and automation, but what exactly is it? And how can you implement it? We’re diving in head first to lay out a few of our favourite approaches to automate your sales funnel.



If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to implementing AI, user tracking is a safe bet. Before you can begin to utilise more clever applications, you need to be able to uncover who your users are, what journey they are taking through your site and why. You can do this by using free or low cost solutions such as Google analytics, Crazy Egg or more sophisticated technology built into the site itself, but either way, the point is to try to understand how people are using your site and what information is most interesting to them. Once you know this, you’re in a good position to make decisions on where to spend your budget, what to test and what to optimise. More importantly, you’re in a better position to understand the point at which you should reach out to close a deal.



Let’s say that you are a fashion brand and you have sold a nice blue jacket to a customer. Wouldn’t it make sense to show that customer the matching blue shoes on their next visit to your site? This is the basis for variable content. If you can track your users and know what they are interested in, then you can trial showing them blue shoes, blue trousers or blue sunglasses. Essentially you are showing your customer more of what they are interested in and less of what they are not, increasing you’re the likelihood of making a sale.



Those of you with a sales background will know all about lead scoring. Simply put, lead scoring is how close someone may be to purchasing what you sell. A sales person, for instance, may estimate that a potential client is 80% likely to buy what they are selling. If you are tracking what a visitor does on your site, then you can assign a value to everything that they do. For example, if they spend 5 minutes on the homepage, it’s worth 10 points. If they download that eBook, 30 points. Perhaps they sign up to your e-mail list, that’s 20 points – and so on.


What’s the point of this? If your website has a brain, it can keep track of the visitors overall score and, if your visitor reaches 40 points, it can trigger your website to respond with an automated action such as sending an email to that visitor about a new product.



How many emails do you send a day? I am willing to bet it is a fair few. If someone has left a product in their shopping cart on your website or a user has expressed an interest in your service, do you want to have to send an email to follow up? As someone who is dyslexic, this is an impossible task! I hate spammy content, but in these instances the email automation is reaffirming the customer’s interest, demonstrating that your business has the ability to support and nurture its customers.


If you are clever about it, you can make these emails seem as though they are very personal and written for the person receiving them. Again, Strategic IC has done some in-depth research showing “businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.”



Chatbots do almost exactly what it says on the tin. They are robots that will chat with online users on your behalf. Some merely start the conversation before handing the user over to a real person and others can be significantly more intelligent (if you have the budget). You can map out a vast array of possible paths for a conversation and subsequent replies that would make sense. Then you can plug this data into a chatbot AI and let it do all the hard work!


So there it is. That’s digital applications in a nutshell. Next week on the blog, we’ll talk more about where to spend your money when you’re looking to invest in digital.




CHC Talks | Budget Solutions

This week we’re taking a look at budget solutions that can help you get the most out of your website, at a lower cost. If you missed our first blog in the series, definitely go back and check it out to find out if your business truly needs a website.



We have seen a big rise in DIY websites in recent years. Services such as WIX and SquareSpace offer anyone the opportunity to get up and running online at a low cost and relatively quickly.


There is most certainly a place for these kinds of websites. Most often, we recommend this option to young start ups who are operating on a shoestring. If you just need a destination page and to prove a concept, then they are great. You can build them yourself quickly and, with the right eye, they can look excellent. Where you will struggle is adapting to top end requirements to drive more customers through your doors. You’ll be limited by the infrastructure and constraints that these services operate within. If you’re considering building your own website, it’s worth looking back at our blog (‘Advice from a developer: Can you build your own website?’) that will help you decide if it is the right path for your business.



We are not suggesting that every business must find enterprise-level digital budgets, but we need to think more carefully about where that money is being used. EConsultancy highlights that “for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.” This makes sense if we are trying to build our customer base because we look at trying to spread the word to more people. However, this doesn’t make sense if we stop to think about increasing our ROI. Yes, getting more eyes on your product or service is great, but getting more customers is better.


With this in mind, we urge you to consider a strategic landing page. Marketo have reported that strategic landing pages are used by 68% of B2B businesses to acquire leads. They are essential mini-sites and therefore can be put together at a lower cost but, in addition, will allow you to track the success of the campaign and your efforts.



Another lower budget solution is to utilise interactive content on your social media channels, on your website (if you have one), in your emails and anywhere else you have an online presence. Content Marketing Institute shows that 53% of content marketers are using interactive content in lead generation efforts.


Interactive content is defined as: “content that requires the participants’ active engagement — more than simply reading or watching. In return for that engagement, participants receive real-time, hyper-relevant results they care about.” In other words, this type of content encourages a back and forth between the creator and the audience and, as a result, you can hold the attention of your audience for longer. Examples include surveys and polls, video, infographics.


Time Magazine estimates that you have approximately 8 seconds to capture a user’s attention online, which is increasingly difficult to do using conventional content such as a written blog. The use of video, on the other hand, will allow you to show the personality of your company and talk directly to your audience. We’ll come back to this specific type of content later in our blog series, but the benefits of video are countless. First and foremost, it will build trust between you and your audience. If you don’t have the budget to invest in security measures for your website, video will show the faces and personality behind your company letting your audience know they are dealing with real people behind the brand.


If you’re already utilising these lower budget solutions, come back next week when we will discuss the digital applications that make the difference between a cheap website and a mid to big budget site.




CHC Talks | Websites


To kick off our blog series, we would like to take a deeper look into websites, addressing the question: does a business need a website?


Websites have been our business for over 10 years and we have built and designed them in all shapes and sizes during this period. And yet, we assumed that at this stage, the vast majority of businesses would have website. But, we were wrong!


According to Blue Corona, less than two-thirds (64%) of small businesses have a website citing “cost (26%), irrelevance to industry (27%), and social media (21%) as key reasons behind their decision not to have a website. Further to this, their independent research shows that 60% of medium sized businesses do not have a website, and of those 60%, 30% cite cost as the reason why, and 35% feel their operations are too small to warrant a website.


What makes this even more shocking is how little is actually spent on a company website. Again, Blue Corona reports that more than one quarter (28%) of small businesses spend less than $500 on a website. So the question remains, is a website truly worth the money? Or are these companies right to save their budget to invest elsewhere?


Considering cost is a significant factor in a business’ choice not to have a website, it seems only appropriate to address what having a website means monetarily to a company. Putting aside the number of daily Internet users that could contribute to your company’s income, money spent online is on the rise. For instance, Shopify predicts that by 2021, global retail e-commerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion. In other words, the amount of money spent through e-commerce sites will increase significantly in just a few years.


Upon first look at these figures, I wondered how relevant they are for a company like us. After all, we do not sell products, we’re not in retail, we predominantly make B2B sales and less than 8% of total B2B product sales are closed directly through the Internet. Yet, the way we do business is changing. E-commerce Platforms’ recent research demonstrates that B2B e-commerce sales are expected to outgrow B2C e-commerce sales as soon as 2020. In a fast-changing climate, we will have to prepare for the future if we want to safeguard the survival of our business.


Regardless of what you sell, it seems that more and more business will be conducted through the Internet; the face of which, is your website. If you are cutting corners on your digital spend, what does that mean? Clearly, making do without a website is an ideal that is becoming archaic, but what about budget solutions or continuing to use that website you built back in 2001?



You may have told yourself that you got a good deal; after all, you haven’t had to invest any further and seem to be doing just fine as you are. But we would suggest it’s time to take another look, and consider how the digital landscape has changed.



Mobile Internet browsing in 2001 would be considered unusable and illegible in 2018. Now, we carry what would have been previously considered marvels of technology in our pockets every day. The iPhone 6 is 32,600 times faster than NASA’s best computer when they sent a man to the moon!


It is no longer good enough to have only a mobile version of your website. Users now demand that your website is not only highly functional and well designed on mobile, but that it is responsive across all your devices. Sweor states “57% of all mobile users will not recommend a business if their mobile website is poorly designed or unresponsive.” Your website must provide users with a seamless experience, by looking good and performing functionally well. Even meeting this criteria can still mean your website falls short; your site is expected to be fast – really fast. Google’s data shows “mobile websites that load in 5 seconds or less will end in a viewing session that’s 70% longer than their slower counterparts.” This is especially worth considering for the notoriously slow e-commerce businesses. Hosting Facts estimates that 45% of all e-commerce will be conducted on mobile devices by 2020, compared to just 20% in 2016.


You can have a great product or service, but it is becoming clear that unless your website is providing a good user experience, your customers won’t stick around to find out.



It is also worth noting that website security has started to play a bigger role in the digital landscape. You will most likely have heard of the big hacks and data breaches from Equifax and Sony but this is, in fact, a very common occurrence. Google highlights that 250,000 web logins are stolen each week and website hacks increased by 32% in 2017. This has lead to 18.5 million sites that are infected online at any time; with over 40% of cyber crime attacks targeting small businesses.


In addition, it is becoming clear that online users are increasingly aware of the security of a website. Blue Corona finds that 84% of people will not make a purchase if they are dealing with an unsecured website. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are making a big push to highlight insecure websites to these users. For instance, you will notice that your domain bar will turn red or green, say ‘not secure’ or show a padlock to make it clear to users if the website is or is not safe. This, in turn, has put pressure on website owners to purchase and install an SSL certificate. If you don’t have one, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a malicious business owner, and yet it is something that the big players in Internet browsing are making a priority.


A good SSL will cost you anything from £70-£200 per year. Throw in some additional security measures like a firewall, malware scanning and back ups, and you can easily double that budget. Optimising your site to be really fast will take a developer two weeks of testing and adjusting – just like tuning up a race car – which will also come at a cost.


Website security and mobile optimisation are two small but important pieces in your website. If you’re seriously considering spending $500 or less on a website, it is worth pausing for a moment to weigh up what you are getting for that price. Could you be throwing away money on something that will do more harm than good to your business? If cost is your biggest problem, then come back next week where we’ll look at some budget solutions on the blog!