What payment processor should I be using?

There are a number of extra considerations when opening an e-commerce site over a regular site that doesn’t handle interactions. One of these is the choice of payment processing provider. The payment processor is basically the intermediary between your website and the merchant bank account, they authorise payments with the banking network and manage the transfer of funds from the customer’s account to your own.

The workflow basically works like this:

Checkout process > Payment processor > Banking network > Payment processor (funds received > Settlement to merchant account

There are costs attached to handling any payment so it’s important to make an informed decision when choosing a provider. Costs can be incurred by the following:

  • Transaction fee (generally a fixed charge)
  • Interchange fee (a variable percentage, dependant on card used)
  • Drawdown charge (cost of settling funds to your merchant account)
  • Management charge (monthly cost from payment processor)

The rates you receive will be dependant on the quantity and value of the transactions. The general rule of thumb is that the more business you’re doing, the lower overall rates you’ll pay per transaction – simple economies of scale. To this end it’s worth shopping around and trying to compare based on your estimated sale profile. This may get more difficult with some providers as they’ll potentially need to know the breakdown of credit / debit cards, these can carry different charges.

Often new sites start with Paypal as it offers a very easy integration path for nearly every possible platform. Paypal has no management fee for the account and the costs vary depending on the amount of business you’re doing, however there are some extra considerations when considering Paypal.

  • Paypal normally has higher transaction charges so you’ll keep less of the total transaction value
  • Buyers have greatly increased protection which puts you at increased risk enforced buyer protection, it’s made intentionally easy for buyers to raise a dispute and a refund
  • Online shoppers are lazy, it’s a fact. People like to pay by Paypal as it means they don’t have to find their card. Details and addresses are normally saved on their device and they can checkout in seconds.

In the UK, you’ll commonly come across the following:

  • Worldpay: great prices for larger customers, well established.
  • Shopify: an obvious choice if you use the Shopify platform, tight integration with related services
  • Paypal: Extremely easy integration, well liked by customers, more expensive per transaction
  • Stripe: A great option for new stores, keen rates with an option for no monthly cost / PAYG
  • Sagepay: A good choice if you use Line 50 or another Sage solution as you can pull payments into your accounts package

If you need help getting your online store live, or would just like some advice regarding payment processing agents, please get in touch. We’ve handled a wide variety of integrations from individual products to high turnover stores with thousands of products.

Pay Monthly Website Plans

Dark Cherry Creative commence

We’ve seen a big swing this year towards monthly subscription schemes for websites rather than the traditional single up-front payment. There are a few reasons for this. The most obvious is the reduced effect on cashflow; with the current climate, many customers are being somewhat more conservative with their expenditure and looking to manage their outgoings in a more structured and predictable fashion. A monthly payment is a far easier pill to swallow than a large 4 figure up-front bill for some companies. Continue reading “Pay Monthly Website Plans”

Backlinks for SEO, why less can be more

It’s common knowledge that the more backlinks a site has, the better it will rank, right? This was certainly the case 10 years ago where you could outrank your competition by simply building thousands of links of any old sites.

Over the years, Google has gotten wise to this sort of behaviour and the (then) head of search at Google, Matt Cutts, launched the Penguin and Panda updates. These were aimed at reducing web spam and low quality websites. Sites that existed for the sole reason of providing backlinks, such as spam-filled directories, were the first to go. Similar link farm websites and “blackhat” related sites followed.

The aim of all this is that Google want to rank a site by the quality of its content, not by how much they spend buying links and spamming their way to the top. Low quality sites should not rank, and Google would prefer they didn’t exist. This all seems fairly reasonable, and to a large degree, it was successful.

Backlinks are still hugely important if you want your site to rank well. It’s seen as a vote of confidence or an endorsement over the content of your site from a third party. A good quality backlink might be a link from a popular / high quality site that’s closely related to your own, a low-quality link might be a random mention in a specialist directory or an unrelated link on a low-quality website.

Despite Google penalising websites that buy links or spam links to their site all over the internet in an unnatural fashion, you could previously still rank well by having lots of low-quality backlinks. As long as they’re built in a natural way and not considered spam they would still add some “link juice” to you site.

Recently however, Google’s John Mueller stated that the total number of backlinks now has no bearing on how well a site ranks. John had the following to say:

“I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. From my point of view, I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site, or the total number of domain links to your website, because we look at links in a very different way.”

The total number of links “doesn’t matter at all”. This means a site with a single strong backlink could potentially rank better than a comparable site with lots of low-quality links. The lesser links would simply be ignored.

This is important as lots of SEO agencies will focus on building large volumes of links in an effort to get your site ranking higher. This change could mean their efforts will be in vain, and the thousands of pounds you pay per month could see very little return.

Do you pay a company to handle your search visibility? Do they build you piles and piles of links every month? If so, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what they’re doing or how you’re spending your advertising revenue.


How to get the best out of open networking?

Open Networking Advice

Well, first of all, what is open networking?

Open networking is the point of a networking event where you can usually move around the room and freely meet other attendees.

From my experience of open networking online, I have benefitted more when I’ve joined groups with break out rooms (smaller groups of people) or multiple 1-1 break out session, and this is because there can be a relevant topic of discussion set but also a time limit! This allows all participants to speak with equal time and get their pitch, message, and critical information across.

Some of us can arrive at an online networking event or any networking for that matter without a strategy. This could well be perceived as over the top, but without it could result in time wasted on our behalf, and as business owners, that isn’t something we can afford.

The meetings without a break out rooms can be easily dominated by what my colleague refers to as Chatty Kathy, the people merely attending for a social chin chat session or the worst offenders who listen to me until it’s time to leave kind of people.

If you find yourself on a meeting of this style and don’t feel as though you were able to deliver your online networking strategy to its full capacity, I would be asking if there is a list of attendees available and if it could be emailed to allow you to connect directly and organise 1-1s with the people whom you can help and build relations with away from the meeting.

My strategy is to arrive with a pre-written or memorised elevator pitch, with clear and precise information about my business and the referrals I would like. I would have already requested a list of attendees and highlighted my potential 1-1s or preferred conversations. With the outcome of setting at least one 1-1 shortly following the event.

So for me, the way to get the best out of open networking, especially online, is by doing our homework before attending events, having a clear strategy, a highlighted list of primary attendees, and always making sure you connect with them on Linkedin to be able to grow the relationship through the content you publish.

It’s also worth mentioning online networking can be easier to attend in the sense of no commute, less time required to book on, and attendees are vetted and therefore can be a real minefield to find the events you would happily visit again but do be persistent in your search, and most of all don’t spread yourself too thinly and feel as though you need to attend all of them. Be on the lookout for a manageable number of meetings where you think you can deliver your knowledge and skillset within your sector regularly.

They allow you to ultimately build your network and surround yourself with your target audience or strong referral partners.

Business Goals and New Year Resolutions

We’ve all done it! Eaten too much, drank too much so we start with the New Year resolutions and we aim too high too quickly!

“I’m going to never have a takeaway again”

“I’m not touching alcohol all year”

“Daily walks are my new thing”

That’s great but are they realistic? If you miss one day or moment where you don’t do what you set out are you going to give in? There’s a high chance of it. Why not just cut down the number of takeaways? Or perhaps say I’ll aim to do 2 walks per week. That way you don’t set your self up to fail but also can be encouraged by progress rather than deflated if your day goes wrong.

This can be the same with business goals.

“I’m going to post everyday on social media”

“I’ll write 5 blogs a month”

“I won’t work after 6pm”

Break your business goals down in to achievable bite sized tasks. You could perhaps spread them over a achievable time frame.

The small bite size and time frame approach will then become the bigger achievement you were originally aiming for. Just without the increased opportunity of not completing them.

Remember Rome was t built in a day and there is no need to pile the pressure on yourself or your team to gain quick results.

Make the goals achievable!

Are Facebook Likes Important?

Are Facebook like important?

Remember, when everyone chased Facebook likes?

It was deemed a success to have as many Facebook likes as possible. It was a success metric.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It’s very much a vanity metric.

At Dark Cherry Creative, we always recommend our clients ignore the number of likes to a page but focus on their content quality.

We would rather have 50 engaging page likes than 7,000 likes knowing they are not our target audience.

When we mention the target audience, we determine whether they would require a service or product you offer. Do you know your target audience? For example, they could be male, 20-35 years old, living in Essex. We found ours by looking for similarities in our client database. Once you know this information, social media is a potent tool, and your focus shouldn’t be on ‘getting likes’.

Focusing on where your target audience ‘hang out’ and implementing your content strategy will be far more advantageous than asking everyone you know to share a like for like or other like gaining techniques.

It was only last week a member of our team had a conversation that started with, “I’ve watched from afar, never liked or engaged with your content, but it was so useful and made me realise I needed your help.”

Being consistent and being there for your audience while providing insightful and knowledgeable content is a compelling attribute to any social media channel.

Don’t focus on how many likes you have but focus on the content you release and how often you do.

If you would like to speak to our team about social media and how to maximise your potential, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Website essentials checklist

All websites are different, but here are some essentials that should be common to all sites, make sure you’re doing all of these before you go live! We’ve covered some of these in more detail elsewhere so consider this more of an overview.

  • Clear purpose / product
  • Hooks to draw visitors deeper into your site
  • Accurate descriptive meta data for each page
  • Working links – check them all!
  • Content should be visible within 3 seconds (max) on all devices
  • XML sitemap
  • Valid SSL certificate
  • Links to your social accounts
  • Check it looks good and works well in all common browser types
  • Legal bits in your footer, privacy policy etc
  • Google Analytics – you want to know how many visitors you’re getting, right?
  • Working Favicon (the small picture in your browser tab). It’s only a minor visual touch but every site should have one!

It’s very easy to get tunnel vision when building / checking your own site. From personal experience we know it’s essential to get a second set of eyes on the site before you push the button. There’s only so far you can go with checking your own work, after a while your brain stops checking what’s in front of you and merely remembers it.

Once your site is live, it’s time to get it found by people and start building pageviews. We can help put together a launch plan for you – we’re experts in utilising the power of social media to launch a new site. We can also get you started with PPC (Pay Per Click) to give your site that initial kickstart.

Get in touch to see how we can get people onto your site.

Helping Tradesmen get their Evenings back

What if we said we could help you gain back your evenings and family precious time?

Yes! Not just one day a week, but all the times you have kicked yourself for having to work on evenings or weekends when your family are either out having memorable experiences on their own or stuck in because you are always overloaded with admin work.

The team at Dark Cherry Creative recently got an in-depth demonstration of a remarkable piece of technology called ServiceM8. To find out more about ServiceM8 in the UK, we recommend speaking with Lisa from Software Buddy.

We were blown away by how this can help busy business owners in the construction sector and share this with our clients.

We have recently launched a new website for our client, ESC Solutions. Matthew won’t mind admitting he wasn’t getting the most out of his old website, and he certainly wasn’t getting the most out of the opportunity to link his website and diary up to his contact forms on his website.

His new website now syncs with his diary in service mate and allows clients to book appointments with him, saving Matthew a great deal of time arranging meetings.

Service mate helps with more than just appointment scheduling. It also allows users to create an online quoting system to reply to your potential clients with up to date pricing and estimates for the work they require!

At Dark Cherry Creative, we see our clients’ real potential to achieve by hooking their new or existing websites up to such a fantastic product and time management solution.

Let’s get you those precious moments back with the family or do things you much prefer, too, rather than slaving away in front of the computer until the early hours.

If you would like your time back and learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact the team, and we would love to help.

Perhaps you already have ServiceM8 and want to hook it up to your existing website. That’s something we can also do!

Social leads, there’s “mortar” come..

Yes it’s another construction industry related heading pun!

The serious message here however is that we can help you grow your client base within your trade using our social media expertise. For anything services related, like construction, social media is a hugely important tool. We’ve covered how we can take control of your social media accounts and offer a management service to engage with your audience and gain you referrals + customers, however you can further accelerate your impact using a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign.

As the name suggests, PPC is paid advertising whereby you pay for each click on your advertisement. Unlike advertisements of old however these are extremely targeted posts aimed at people specifically looking for your business. We can drill down to specific areas and customer types to target only the sort of business you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for an instant impact and a surge in customers, PPC is a great way to build your customer base quickly. We’ll work with you to ensure you get a return on your investment with full monthly reporting and insights provided.

We offer pay per click services on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, the platform you choose very much depends on your business. Book a meeting with us and we’ll help talk through your options and work out how we can best help you get started with PPC advertising.

Building your website on solid foundations

Building websites Properly

We work with lots of companies in the construction industry, from new one-man bands to larger firms that are already established. One thing we’ve noticed while working in this sector is that the company website is very often overlooked.

It’s common to see either DIY attempts or instant-pages created with a page builder system. A web presence is essential, however having an unprofessional home-built offering can actually do more harm than good.

If a customer visits your website and finds it doesn’t work in their browser or sees a page with spelling mistakes it has a very serious impact of the perceived professionalism of the company. From when a customer visits your website you’ve generally got in the region of 5 seconds to capture their interest and reassure them that your site / company is credible for them to read any further.

We offer website solutions that can work for all levels of business and budgets, from new start ups to larger companies with an existing website. A site should be viewed as an investment, one that should not be overlooked. Often 2-3 new clients are enough to pay for the website, at which point it’s simply an additional source of leads which will continue to pay dividend.

Likewise, think about the potential lost income from having an insufficient website offering.

Get in touch and we’ll be happy to talk to you about how we can give you a web presence to be proud of, that generates legitimate leads and new business.

Don’t hit a brick wall with your social media

So you’ve set up your business; got an email address, website and set up your social accounts, what now?

Take a look at your newly created Facebook business page, are all the likes from family members with nothing else going on? This is the most common way people go about setting up their social presence, yes it’s better than nothing but it won’t generate any leads for your business.

Social networking is a hugely important tool for generating leads for your business, it has rapidly displaced traditional customer acquisition methods like the Yellow Pages or leaflet drops. The first place people turn when they need construction related services is social media, recommendations come from friends, family or neighbours etc.

It’s critically important to have your social profile set up and set up properly, but without engaging with your customers and publishing content, information and updates it can look like your page is no longer maintained or just simply not used.

If you’re new to social media and need a helping hand, reach out to our team and let’s have a chat about how we can get your business in front of new customers.