Friday, 28 July 2017

Venice Beach Bike Hire & Digital User Journey's

To celebrate my daughter finishing her GCSE's, we planned a 'once in a lifetime' family road trip around California.

After witnessing breathtaking natural beauty in Yosemite Park and pushing my fear of heights by looking out from Glacier Point, our travels took us further south west to the coast at Venice Beach.

Now this place is pretty mad. Artists selling their creations along the boardwalk, shops renting surf boards and street art decorating the gables of apartments generally available to rent to tourists. Add to this the sheer volume of people and you start to gain an idea about the energy levels and chaos here.

This got me thinking. In amongst this chaos, how can a person selling services stand out from their neighbouring competitor.

Well here's my journey on selecting a bike to hire for the boardwalk ride from Venice Beach to Santa Monica.

Much like gaining attention at Venice Beach, making your business standout online is challenging. The principals of selecting a service/business whether physical or online are much the same. Here's a few basic reminders based on my experience...

// Positioning
If you're not visible, nobody can can find you. The bike hire company I used is situated on the boardwalk, you couldn't miss it! Can your business be found in Google listings when people search for a key service you offer? Whether using Search Engine Optimisation listings or Paid listings, you need to be found before anything else can happen.

// Branding
Does your branding represent the services/products you offer? Is it unique? Or is it still that logo a nephew knocked together 5 years ago and you've just run with it... your branding must make you stand out from your competition and be unique to attract attention. Muscle Beach Bike Hire with its bright orange bikes, literature and shop front certainly did that.

// Price Point
Venice Beach bike hire pricing was pretty standard at all the rental shops I looked at. This is not by accident... have you compared your price point to competitors, they certainly had. This is so important especially if you are offer a service that can easily be compared to a competitors.

// Service
So once I'd selected the shop, I went inside only to be met by your absolutely typical surf/beach 'dude'... who was amazingly friendly, passionate about what he was doing/slightly mad and knew his product. Once somebody has found your website, are they greeted with an image that truly represents your business? Does the content express your knowledge and passion for what you do? If your services are represented in a mediocre manner, the response rate will reflect this.

// Product
After finishing our ride up to Santa Monica, we returned our bikes delighted with the experience. No issues with chains coming off, punctures or the bikes being in disrepair... phew! Sometimes it's not so easy to know whether your service is up to scratch. Is your service as good as you think it is? Do you ever ask your clients for feedback? Hmmm...definitely something I need to look at doing.

// Cross Selling
As we had such a great experience hiring out our bikes using the Muscle Beach Bike Hire Company, we didn't hesitate to use the same place to hire out surf boards... again the service was superb, unlike my surfing!

If you want to create a user journey that will help your clients firstly find you, then engage with you, Swimming Hippo can help.

Call 01386 841449 or email for more information.

Swimming Hippo
Digital & Creative Agency

Branding // Website design // Search Engine Optimisation // Google AdWords //  Email Marketing

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Google AdWords. Does anyone actually click on those?

Google AdWords. Does anyone actually click on those?

Over the years I've been asked numerous times whether anyone actually clicks on Google AdWords, Googles' sponsored link advertising facility. Well I usually answer by confirming that this is Googles' main source of revenue stream, in 2016 89.5 Billion US Dollars were generated through AdWords, so yes people do click on them. (

Now, how well they work depends upon techniques used when setting the account up and in management of the account.

One of the key requirements with any set up is to make sure that your Ad Campaign is segmented correctly, so when recently setting up a hotel campaign, we made certain that each 'Ad Group' holds within it several adverts relating to that group.

For example, an Ad Group was set up for 'Weddings', this group holds adverts based around topics the hotel specialise in; Country Weddings, Historic Wedding Venue, Weddings in the location of the hotel, etc... Doing this provides you with greater control over which adverts will show when selected search terms are used to activate them.

It also allows for greater control over ROI data.

Understanding your ROI (or Return on Investment) is critical to successful management of Google AdWords. If you have to ask yourself whether your current campaign spend is successful, you should maybe ask a few questions about the quality of its management.

Google AdWords has a facility called Conversions. Setting up Conversions will certainly help you achieve clarity on business generated from your campaign. If set up well, this facility can tell you which advert is causing the most conversions or actions on your site. An action can include the viewing of a page or even monitoring of a button click - so the Weddings Ad Group mentioned earlier is linked to two conversions, firstly how many people have viewed the Weddings Page and secondly how many have clicked to download a Weddings Brochure.

Real data tracking, nothing hidden.

These are just two elements of setting up an effective campaign, there are many more.

If you are looking to gain instant traffic to your website and be able to carefully monitor the success of your campaign, why not call Swimming Hippo on 01386 7647417 or email

We work directly with Google when setting up your campaign.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ecommerce Growth Predicted for 2017

In 2016, the UK ecommerce market was worth 133 billion pounds, that's a colossal figure.  IMRG predicted a growth of 11 percent during 2016, the actual figure was 16 percent.

This growth is expected to continue in 2017 by a predicted 14%. Will the market out perform expectations again? This kind of growth opportunity is difficult to ignore.

At Swimming Hippo we have been helping companies to set up ecommerce sites for over 10 years using bespoke software. However over the last few months, we have changed direction and selected Shopify as our preferred platform.

Shopify provides many key features in it's most basic form such as:
  • Bespoke design templates accepted (key for design freedom)
  • Easy editing facility for products and content
  • Stock management
  • Postage management
  • Seamless cart experience 
  • Multiple gateway payment systems
  • 24/7 support
  • Full order management
  • Detailed reporting
In addition, Shopify fully integrates with MailChimp, the email marketing tool Swimming Hippo have been using when creating and broadcast promotional emails for over 2 years.

This means that powerful smart email facilities can be set up to enhance your clients shopping experience. If you have purchased online no doubt you will have experienced some of these enhancements. For example if a purchase is made, an email can be automatically sent a few days later asking the purchaser if they would like to leave a review or quietly nudge a client that has abandoned a product in their cart, maybe emailing them a discount incentive if their purchase is completed.

Combining these platforms will provide you with expanded facilities for you ecommerce site or future site.

Swimming Hippo produced the new Cadventure Vectorworks ecommerce site using Shopify, take a look here at the end result:

'Swimming Hippo recently delivered the second of Cadventure's online stores. Our new Vectorworks software store has a complex structure and they worked hard to create an attractive and functional consumer site. We are very pleased with the end result as Swimming Hippo went the extra mile to help us achieve our goals.'

Elaine Lewis, Managing Director

If you are interested in developing a new or existing ecommerce website or reviewing your digital marketing to promote the site, don't hesitate to call Joseph on 01386 764747 or email

FaceBook: @SwimmingHippo
Twitter: @swimming_hippo

Friday, 6 January 2017

Art Shape Charity programme

The Art Shape Charity programme runs arts courses and projects with a specific focus on disability issues and social inclusion. Using the Shopify platform, Swimming Hippo are converting Art Shape's current website to an eCommerce website allowing for online purchases. 

Are you considering a new website or eCommerce project in 2017?

Why not give us a call on 01386 764747 or use our contact form.

Care Check Email Marketing

Care Check provide fast and quality DBS and DS criminal record checks to employers in all industries and charities. Care Check hope to achieve more enquires through their online application with a new website design.

'From first meeting with Swimming Hippo to discuss requirements for our new website they stood out from the crowd, friendly, professional and most importantly fantastic design skills!' 

- Charles Eason, Managing Director of Care Check

Care Check service multiple markets with DBS checks. Swimming Hippo have increased enquires from these market sectors using data and visual segmentation techniques as part of an email marketing campaign. 

'Swimming Hippo have helped us enormously with our email marketing needs and taken the hassle out of creating campaigns ourselves and the worry out of using mailer companies who’s data we cannot necessarily trust!' 

- Charles Eason, Managing Director of Care Check

Are you considering a new website project or email marketing campaign in 2017?

Why not give us a call on 01386 764747 or use our contact form.

PVCR New Website Design

PVCR has an aim to recycle and manufacture new PVC products derived from materials destined for landfills and process them to a quality fit for reuse into manufacturing. 

Creating a second website with Swimming Hippo was an easy decision, guided by the excellent design and technical support provided during the build of the first website. The web analytics depict such a good performance for the first website, why would I change a winning formula?’ 

- Kate Wheatstone, Digital Marketing Manager, REHAU Ltd

Are you considering a new website project in 2017?

Why not give us a call on 01386 764747 or use our contact form.

Vector Works E-Commerce

Vectorworks is a line of 2D/3D design and BIM software solutions that allow designers to take their ideas from concept to completion. Using the Shopify platform Swimming Hippo have added a second shop to the Cadventure website enabling customers to buy Vectorworks products online.

'Swimming Hippo recently delivered the second of Cadventure’s online stores. Our new Vectorworks software store has a complex structure and they worked hard to create an attractive and functional consumer site. We are very pleased with the end result as Swimming Hippo went the extra mile to help us achieve our goals.’

- Elaine Lewis, Managing Director

View the finished website here

Are you considering a new website or eCommerce project in 2017?

Why not give us a call on 01386 764747 or use our contact form.