Archive for January, 2009

PuddleDuckers Out and About

This is the first in a series of photos of PuddleDuckers enjoying the great outdoors. Our first set of photos come from Noelle Doohan of Tory Island, Co. Donegal, showing her children Ríonnach, Caoilte and Cobhlaith out and about on the wild Atlantic coast of Donegal.


March Breeze on Tory Island

On the ferry to Tory Island

On the ferry to Tory Island

Thanks Noelle for allowing us to show off your great photos.

If you have any photos you’d like us to include in future posts, please email us at [info AT puddleducks DOT ie]

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Tuesday Push: IGOpeople – Networking for the Real World

The Tuesday Push is back. I was a spectator when it was running last year and it’s great to take part this year. The Tuesday Push is a way to highlighting innovative Irish tech startups and giving exposure to their service or product.


Today’s push is for IGOpeople – a social network made up of Individuals, Groups and Organisiations. I have joined for PuddleDucks as an organisation and I’m looking forward to some open engagement with customers. I think IGOpeople has the structure to support extended conversations with you communities.

I also have a Facebook Fan page for PuddeDucks. I prefer the IGOpeople interface for engaging with people who sign up for your network. I also preferthe terminology. I am a little embarrassed at having to call people “Fans” on Facebook – joining your network on IGOPeople or being Followers is much more grown-up.

As I say i have joined as PuddleDucks as an Organisation. I also think I should join as an individual so I can join in the chat without carrying the business responsibility on my back.

Overall I am impressed with IGOpeople and would advise anyone to join. After all, the more the merrier – the larger the community, the better the debate.

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Irish Blog Awards Nominations


The nominations for this year’s Irish Blog Awards were released last week. I was surprised and pleased to see that the PuddleDucks Blog had been nominated in two categories – Best Blog of a Business and Best Newcomer. We are delighted to be in these lists with all those excellent blogs. I’ve only been blogging since last year and I’m still getting the hang of it but I must say that blogging has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. As well as the benefits for PuddleDucks from blogging, I have also met lots of interetsing, supportive and generous people in the blogging community in Ireland.

I know this is not the short list, it is not even the long list but even so, it’s great to be included in the list and I’d like to say a big thanks to whoever nominated us. 


Best Blog of a Business – Sponsored by

Bobby Buckley Gardens:
Denise Cox’s Blog:

Ice Cream Ireland:
No More Art Notepad:
Moore Groups Blog:
Declan Shalvey:
Cully And Sully:
The Cycling Blog:
IIA Blog:
Curious Wines:
Limerick Business Blog:

Nice Day Designs:
Echolibre Blog:
Pure Play:
Developing EWrite:
Robin Blandford:

Krishna De:
Peter Donegan Landscaping Weblog:
Keith Malone Wedding Films:
Sabrina Dent:
Security Watch:
Argus Car Hire:

Contrast | The Blog:
The No Nonsense Blog:
Puddleducks Blog:
Find a Conference Venue Blog:
Blacknight Blog:
Brightspark Consulting Dublin:

Weeno Blog:

Best Newcomer – Sponsored by

Robert Franics Wine –

Happiness Machine:
The National Lottie:
Alan Costello:
Circa: Now!:

This Is What I Do.:
Ninth Level Ireland:
Ciaran’s Blog:
Trust Tommy:
Kanchi Blog:
Joe Scanlon:
Fireworks And Mash:
Stony River Farm:
Every Day Is Election Day :
The Sexy Pedestrian:

Blog Of Revelations:
Red Lemonade:
Greenme Home Page :
Kyle Tunney Photography Blog – Ireland:
Maxi Cane:
Turbotricity – Domestic Wind Turbines:

I Have Grave News:
Messy Chef:

Story-lah? Half-irish, Half-singaporean, Half-cut:
Glitter See, Glitter Do:
Lidl Treats:
Cool Sites:

Lee Munroe’s Blog:
Guess List:
Garibaldy Blog:
Clasheen By Nicola Brown:
Ophelia Ford:

The Daily Squee!:
Nick Thinks:
Northern Notes By Gary Mckeown:
Chancing My Arm:
Developing Ewrite:

Northern Notes By Gary Mckeown:
The Irish Economy:
Annette Dunlea Literary Blog:
Mum Lives On:
Colm Brophy:
The Irish Sentinel:
The Unemployed Blog:

The Anti-room:
Bloom Blog:
Swear I’m Not Paul:
Worth Doing Badly:
Katyboo’s Weblog:
Party Down And Go Fuck Yourself:

Rosemary Mac Cabe:
Reverting To Type:
Profoundly Superficial:
Fitzys Cloud:
Ronster Munch – Blog:

Le Craic:
Sinful Origami Paper:
Who’s That Girl?:
Ten Lizard Tongues:
Beyond The Boardroom:

An Cathach:

The Blog Awards (like the Web Awards) are the brainchild of Damien Mulley, the kingpin of the Irish blogging community. The awards ceremony takes place in Cork on February 21st. I’m really looking forward to attending (sure it’s only down the road!) and meeting some great people there.

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How to do Business Online – Securely

I attended an interesting seminar on Online Security on Thursday last in Dublin. The seminar was organised by the IIA and had speakers from AIB Merchant Services, Realex, IPSO, MasterCard and TrustWave.

Rather than going through the presentations one by one, I’ll list the 3 main issues and topics I took away from the event.

1. PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

PCI DSS is a security standard that lists requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other critical protective measures. The standard is intended to help organizations proactively protect customer account data. It is a standard that all online retailers need to educate themselves about as they will need to comply with the regulations in the near future.

There are 4 levels of online merchants – measured on the number of card transactions they process annually. We fall into level four.  All retailers in levels one to three should be compliant by now, as the deadlines have passed. There is currently no deadline for level four merchants. But talking to experts at the seminar, the opinion is that the deadline will be set around September 2009. So it is the responsibility of online merchants to get to know about the standard and become compliant with it. My view is that it is better to be compliant sooner rather than later.

To become compliant the merchant needs to get assessed by a PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). There are a number of QSA’s in Ireland – see here for the worldwide list and search on Ireland. Rather than wait for the deadline, we plan to get assessed and passed as soon as possible and publicise the fact that we are PCI-DSS compliant. This will give potential customers even more added assurance that we are a secure shopping site.


2. 3d Secure

3D Secure is an extra validation step in the customer’s purchase process that the card merchants are encouraging online retailers to implement. I have used it myself when shopping with some sites. The issue I see with 3D Secure is that it has some benefits for the retailer but very little for the online shopper. We were also told at the seminar that the extra step of inputting the 3D Secure password can cause up to 15% of customers to abandon their purchase – as they are confused by the extra requirements for further validation information. We (at PuddleDucks) simply cannot afford to lose 15% of our potential sales so we will not implement 3dSecure for the time being. We will wait until it becomes more widely available and an advertising/education campaign is undertaken by the card providers.


3. Chargebacks

Chargebacks are reversals of credit card transactions back to the retailer e.g. if a fraudulent (e.g. stolen) card is used online, the transaction is approved and the merchant (like us) dispatches the goods. Once the card is reported to be stolen the card issuer (the bank!) then comes back to the merchant and will recoup the transaction amount along with a processing charge. Luckily we have never had a chargeback imposed on us. The main thing for online retailers is to be vigilant regarding unusually large orders, strange selection of items, overseas orders, orders at unusual times, an order where the card is issued by a bank in once country and the customer is located in another country, etc. The number one rule is to be very careful – even if the transaction is approved by the bank this is not a guarantee that you will get the funds. And I learned that you can get chargeback up to 180 days after the date of the transaction.

Overall an interesting and informative seminar. Thanks to Irene at the IIA for organising it.

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Prize Draw on our Facebook page

We now have 40 fans signed up to our Facebook fan page. I’m using the page to update folks about offers, news and new stuff on the site. I like it so far and I plan to use it more in the future to get some discussions going and offer some special products to fans.


To encourage more people to join we are running a prize draw at the end of January for a €50 gift coupon to use on the PuddleDucks site. We are also currently offering free shipping within Ireland to all our Facebook fans. All you have to do is to go over to the page and join.

I am going to do some reaserch on how other business use their Facebook fan and group pages, see what works for them and what does not work and I’ll post my findings here.

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Our January Sale

Pop over to the PuddleDucks webite now for some great January Special Offers.

Included in the offers is a special introductory offer for the new Extra Tough Jacket and Dungarees Sets for €49.99.

Extra Tough Set

Extra Tough Set

The offers are valid until the end of January.

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Looking forward to 2009

Last week I wrote a post looking back at 2008. Now to look forward and set goals for the New Year. I hope I’m not too late as over 5% of the year has passed already.

  • Expand the PuddleDucks range. Include more of the products that are successful and remove products that are not so popular with our customers.
  • Review enable the site. Allow customers to enter reviews on the site and by text.
  • Expand the number of shops, schools and creches we supply.
  • Create more professional looking newsletters. Maybe change email supplier from Constant Contact.
  • Blog more often. Find an audience – write content that appeals to the demographic of our customers i.e. parents of young children.
  • Try Ebay again – I have experimented not very successfully with Ebay for selling single items. I’d like to try it again and maybe create an Ebay store this time
  • Improve performance and Return on Investment on  Online Advertising with Adwords and Facebook.
  • Get better organic Google results by concentrating on website content.
  • Find opportunities to get coverage by creating and sending interesting Press Releases.
  • Create a number of surveys and send results of at lease one in a Press Release.
  • Expand our Facebook Fan page, get some interaction going, give fans reason to be fans and provide offers and one-off deals to members.

If I get all that done then I’ll be happy.

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Splishing and Splashing in the Garden

5pm yesterday afternoon.  The rain had finally stopped but our front garden looked like a lake.  Jake just couldn’t help himself.  And when he found out we had a new product to try out there was no stopping him.  Our little PuddleDucker might be getting older but the lure of the puddles is still with him!



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Puddle Links

This is the first of our link posts. Here I will include interesting links connected to parenting, outdoor play, family days out and just about anything else I come across.

Competition to name the new baby Giraffe at Dublin Zoo

Children need more outdoor play and it’s even good for the eyes.

Heard of Nature Deficit Disorder ? Well, neither had I. Seems like it’s a real issue in the States. And like a lots of things maybe it’s heading this way too.

Red Branch– great organisation promoting a healthier lifestyle for kids.

And lastly, the next in our series of Songs about Rain – it’s the Beatles with Rain from 1966.

Read more about the background to the song and video here.

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Measure Return on Investment on your Online Ads

The great thing about Online Advertising is that you have all the data to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of the campaign. This is a huge advantage over offline advertising in a newspaper or magazine where this level of measurement is just not possible. For an ecommerce business, the best way to measure the ROI is to calculate the Cost per Sale i.e. how much you are paying to get one sale from the online advertising campaign. The method I user to calculate this is outlined below.


In a recent post Seth Godin says that being able to measure the cost per sale negates the idea of having a set advertising budget. As long as you can acurately measure the cost per sale of the online campaign and compare it to a threshold based on your average order size the investment can in effect be unlimited.

I had previously posted about trying out a Facebook Ad campaign back in October and comparing it to our ongoing Google Adwords campaign. I gathered lots of data at the time but didn’t calculate the Cost per Sale. So in the Christmas shopping period I ran another Facebook Ad campaign and here is how I worked out the cost per sale for it and for Google Adwords.

1. Get the average Cost per Click

This can be obtained online from Google Adwords and Facebook Ads Manager. The cost per click for our campaigns was:

Google Campaign:  €0.30

Facebook Campaign: €0.42

2. Get the Percentage Conversion to Sale

Get this from Google Analytics.

Google Adwords Conversion Rate = 3.03%

Facebook Ads Conversion Rate: 1.35%

3. Calculate the Clicks to get a Sale (CTGAS)

Calculate this from the Conversion Rate. For example if the conversion rate was 5%, this would mean that the Clicks to get One Sale is 20. Or to put it another way – on average for every 20 clicks we will get one sale. So for the conversion rates above:

Google  Adwords CTGAS = 33

Facebook Ads CTGAS = 74

The formula is CTGAS = (100*Coversion Rate as a Percentage)/100

4. Finally Calculate the Cost per Sale

This is calculated by multiplying the Clicks to get a Sale by the Cost per Click

Google Adwords: 0.3 * 33 = €9.09

Facebook Ads: 0.42 * 74 = €23.68

Analysis – are they worth it?

For PuddleDucks our average order size is approximately €60. From this, we need to ask oursleves how much we are happy paying for a sale from the online ads – taking into account 1) markup and profit 2) covering operating costs 3) you may get repeat orders from the initial sale 4) you may get word of mouth orders from the initial sale. This is a soft number and I have decided that for us it’s €14. That means that if the cost per sale of our online campaign continues to come in under €14 we’ll continue to run it. In Seth’s blog post he says that Amazon had a similar threshold of $33 – but we’re a little smaller than Amazon!

On this criteria our Google Adwords campaign will continue but the Facebook campaign will not. During 2009 I will continue to measure our cost per sale for Google Adwords and keep trying to keep it as low as possible by changing keywords, adjusting cost per click, changing landing pages and the ad text. I’ll also try out Facebook Ads again on a limited basis and see if I can get the Cost per Sale down.

More thoughts on Facebook Ads: 

They will always have a higher cost per sale than Google Adwords due to the mode that the user is in at the time of click. For Google they are in a search mode – looking for a product or service. For Facebook Ads the user is going through their normal Facebook stuff when they happen to see the ad. So the Facebook Ad is akin to Banner Advertising really – although it is better targeted than normal banner advertsing due to the demographic selection you get when setting up the ad. So Facebook Ads will show a better ROI than Banner Ads but not as good as Google Adwords.

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