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Top 5 Q4 Mistakes Made By Online Retailers

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2014-10-23 12:31:36



Crowds for black friday

Just like many Brick and Mortar retail stores, Online retailers bank on big performance in Q4 to bolster their overall sales performance.  According to Internet Retailer, in both 2011 and 2012 online retailers earned on average 35% of their yearly sales in Q4 (http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/04/01/several-major-retailers-grow-online-sales-faster-amazon).  With so much riding on a short period of time, it’s important to make sure you avoid the common mistakes that commonly prevent online retailers from maximizing their Q4 sales.

1. Not getting promotional campaigns prepared ahead of time.
As Brick and Mortar retail stores prepare their Black Friday and pre-Christmas promotions months ahead of time, online retailers must be prepared as well.  While there may be time savings from not having to prepare printed materials and TV ads, trying to come up with sales, graphics and taglines at the last minute will have your promotions looking unpolished and falling flat.  Start early, know what discounts you plan to offer, plan your promotional calendar and create graphics and taglines enough ahead of time to allow for revisions and polishing.

2. Not being prepared for aggressive price competition.
Be prepared for your competition to offer some great deals.  Create a flexible plan that will allow you to be quickly responsive to the market, and put some effort towards past research with an eye towards anticipating what your competitors are likely to offer.  You’re not going to be the only merchant offering discounts and promotions, so make sure your promotion is unique and appealing.

3. Not leaving enough room in the budget.
If you’re working with an annual budget, make sure to leave some extra for Q4.  Not only are sales likely to be higher, traffic will be higher, and cost per click of paid online advertising will be higher.  The last thing you want is to run out of budget just as sales start to heat up.  Additionally, if you have budgets set in your campaign settings, make sure they’re high enough to cover the extra demand.

4. Not monitoring data close enough.
Predicting your target market’s buying behavior can be difficult, and adding in the unpredictable actions of your competition means that Q4 plans rarely go off without a hitch, and some campaign outperform or underperform wildly.  Make sure you’re set up to gather sales data as granularly as possible, and keep a sharp eye as the data comes through, so you can maximize what’s working and cut your losses on what’s not before it’s too late.

5. Making large scale website changes.
The first four mistakes involve not doing certain things, but there is one big aspect that you want to take it easy on in Q4 – making big changes to your website.  Even with careful planning and excellent execution, there is risk involved with any big web project.  A day or two of down time or functionality loss can result in a much bigger hit to the profits in early December than it would during your slow season, and during certain days of Q4, a few hours can earn as many sales as are earned in multiple days other times of the year.  If you’re planning a big website overhaul, it’s best to wait until after the Holiday rush.

 


How Google+ Local Works with Google+ Business Pages

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2014-02-17 17:29:25


google-places-plus-local-maps

Google+ Local vs Google+ Business Pages

Navigating the complicated Google+ landscape can be a confusing ordeal for businesses – particularly local businesses.  The Google+ label encompasses a number of different products that are related, but not as connected as one might think.
Google created Google+ to be a social network along the lines of Facebook – for sharing information like posts, images and videos.  Initially, Google+ was only available for individuals – not businesses.  Just as Facebook had done, Google then created Business Pages, so companies and brands could represent themselves on Google+.   To this extent, Google and Facebook business presences are similarly managed – an individual creates an account, and can create or become a manager of a Page that represents a business.  The individual can then use that Page in a similar manner that they would use an actual profile – such as creating posts and sharing images, that are shared as if from the business itself, not publicly tied to the individual.
The Google+ confusion comes in with the addition of Local information.  Google migrated their Google Places listings into new listings called “Google+ Local” pages.  Google+ Local pages are for physical business locations – they have addresses, phone numbers, and display maps of the business location.  They also allow the Page manager to post business information, posts, photos and videos – the same things that can be posted on Google+ Business pages.  Herein lies the confusion.  It’s a very good idea for a business to have a Google+ page as a part of their social media strategy.  If the business also has physical locations, it’s also important to have Google+ Local Pages for those locations, to have a good presence in local search results, providing accurate, detailed contact information.  However, there’s actually no way to link together a Google+ Business page and a Google+ Local page.  This leaves a local business owner in the difficult position of figuring out how to manage their Google+ presence for their business.  If you create a Google+ Business page, you will not be able to show in local search results or display contact information.  If you create a Google+ Local page, you will have to create a separate page for each individual location and duplicate all information shared if it’s applicable to the company overall and not just one specific location.
The best practices: If you have a business that is nationally focused or online only, create a Google+ Business Page and not a Google+ Local Page.  If you have a local business with just one location, create a Google+ Local Page and not a Google+ Business Page.  If you have a location-based business with multiple locations, create Google+ Local Pages for each individual location, and consider also creating a Google+ Business Page for overall company social interactions.

 

 


Alert - Google Place Listings Update

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2014-02-13 00:37:29


Dear Local SEO Clients,

We are contacting you as a courtesy to inform you of an upcoming change with Google Place Listings.  Feynman Group has recently learned Google is giving current business owners 3 weeks to update and save their Google Place listings. If you have received an email from Google, please be advised that this was not a scam, and in fact Google is requiring some Google Place page owners 3 weeks to make the required verification.   It is unknown how many business listings were effected and how widespread this issue is. We advise you to contact your Account Manager at Feynman Group if you would like assistance with saving or verifying your local listing within Google.

Google map user and location divide

To read more information please click here

Sincerely,

Sarah Whitt

Online Marketing Manager


Do's & Don'ts for Picking your Next SEO Service

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2014-02-04 16:49:05


Do’s & Don’ts for Picking your Next SEO Service

Those of us whose business is operated through or in conjunction with a website are probably very familiar with the unsolicited email offers to “Increase Your Online Presence” or any number of variations on this theme.  Sometimes it sounds pretty appealing to get a little help, especially when your experience with Search Engine Optimization is limited, and your time is even more limited.  But, many of these messages seem too good to be true, full of vague assertions, or just a little too fishy.  To help with your decision-making, here are some Dos-and-Don’ts of SEO service evaluation.

Don’t: Pay attention to numbers some SEO sales person is giving you.  “Your URL score is a 27,” “Our proprietary evaluation algorithm scores your site at 4 out of 10,” “Your website has just 497 backlinks” – these are all statements that mean very little.  Without knowing your website objectives, your target audience, and your competitive landscape; a SEO analysis of your website will fall flat.

Do: Look for a SEO analyst who’s interested to hear your objectives before offering up analysis, data, and scores.

Don’t: Feel the need to “Submit” your website everywhere.  Offers to submit your website to hundreds of search engines are pretty much worthless these days; search engines will find and crawl your site on their own as long as it’s structured correctly.  There are a couple of directories still debatably worth submitting to, but if this is even a selling point, you’re not getting a good advice.

representation of seoDo: Look for an SEO analyst who will look for structural issues and crawl-impediments specific to your website.

Don’t: Agree to any link exchange requests, or engage in any paid link building campaigns.  Link building is not the same as it was a year ago, and doing it wrong can cause more harm than good.  Gaining links to your website is best done naturally.  Exchanging or paying for links is no longer a good way to go.

Do: Focus on building good content, and a website that offers the most value possible to your customer base.  Look for a SEO analyst that will help you make sure your content is positioned in the best way possible for search engine consumption.

There are many legitimate SEO service providers out there who are knowledgeable and can help you with your website.  There are many more who try to make a quick buck with vague or irrelevant promises.  Choose carefully who you want to work with and always put your user experience first.

 

 


PPC Testing and Data Analytics

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2014-01-13 19:05:30


PPC Testing and Data Analytics

Tracking the right data, data analysis practices, and testing strategy will make or break your search engine marketing campaigns.

One of the most important things that you have to do to maximize your Search Engine Marketing campaign profits is to give yourself access to the right data. The key word in that previous statement is “right” – gathering data is usually fairly simple, but having the right data makes all the difference. Here’s how to make sure you have the right data:

 Step back and consider the primary goals of your business as a whole, and make sure these goals are what you’re tracking results for in your PPC and other search engine marketing campaigns.

 Make sure you’re tracking conversions or other actions, or both, specifically enough. You need to know which keyword, match type, ad text, and landing page produced your result action.

 Assign the proper value to each action. What was the order value of the conversion? What is the lifetime value of that customer? How much is a newsletter signup, a request for information, or an account creation on your site worth to you over the lifetime of that customer?

 Test. Once you have a campaign in place, the work has just begun. You’re missing out on the data you need to constantly improve your campaigns if you’re not testing – new keywords, ad variations, landing page variations, bid strategies, geo-targeting – virtually every option available should be tested regularly so that your campaigns can move with the marketplace. If you don’t have all of this data available to you, or it seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Keep it simple, and get creative. Understanding the importance of these pieces of information is the most important step – even if you have to use estimated values and assumptions, use them, and replace them with firmer numbers as you get more data collected.

testing and data analyticsRemember, too much data can be as harmful as not enough data. Analyze your key data points, and don’t get caught up in numbers that you can’t control or don’t really affect your bottom line. Gather data that’s as statistically significant as possible – if this means keeping your tests simple to ensure that your sample sizes are large enough, then do it. There’s a lot of buzz around multivariate testing right now, but sometimes a simple A/B test will give you much clearer, actionable results.

Only with the proper data (and proper analysis of that data) at your disposal can you have the tools you need to shape your search engine marketing campaigns into the profitable business generating channels they can be.

 


It Isn't Too Late to Mobilize Your Website

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2013-12-12 17:53:23


Looks like this “mobile” thing may be catching on after all.

For years, online marketers have been touting the rise of mobile devices, and the importance for all website owners and operators to prepare for the influx of customers accessing their content from mobile devices.  At first, the predicted increases didn’t pan out, turning out to be much lower than expected.  This had an interesting effect in the world of website owners – some of those who rushed to build mobile-friendly web experiences felt like they weren’t receiving returns on their investment, and some of those who didn’t jump on the mobile bandwagon felt a sense of vindication that they hadn’t blindly followed the latest trend.

Fast forward another couple of years, and things really get interesting.  According to Walker Sands, for the last two quarters, mobile traffic has reached almost 30% of overall internet traffic (http://www.walkersandsdigital.com/Walker-Sands-Mobile-Traffic-Report-Q3-2013).  This is an 67% year over year increase, and up from 10% as recently as May 2012.

What does this mean?  It means the rise of mobile traffic is already here, and still growing.  It arrived slower than some initially predicted, which made the problem worse for some website operators – it lulled them into the thinking that becoming mobile-friendly wasn’t a high priority.  But what business can afford to turn away almost a third of its potential customers?  Not many.

Percentage of Website Traffic Coming From Mobile Device

Source:http://www.walkersandsdigital.com/Walker-Sands-Mobile-Traffic-Report-Q3-2013

Building a mobile-friendly website is actually an over-simplified idea – mobile devices are diverse.  There are tablets and phones with a wide range of display sizes, iOS and Android operating systems, multiple App platforms and marketplaces.  The key turns out not to be to become “mobile-friendly,” but to deliver your content in the proper flexibility of formats so that as many potential customers as possible have the best user experience possible.  There is no “one size fits all” solution – it depends on your content, your customers, and your objectives.  In some cases, it’s possible to re-vamp existing websites that are not conducive to mobile consumption, creating alternate versions simplified and re-sized to be a good fit for mobile devices.  In other cases, a better option is to take the opportunity to upgrade your entire web experience, creating a flexible website that takes advantage of the advances in web design and programming to deliver content ready for consumption from any device.  Whichever path is right for your business, the clear imperative is that you must deliver content optimized for mobile devices if you expect to grow or even retain your market share.

Posted by :Sarah Whitt


Google Remarketing - Step by Step Guide

by Patrick Sequeira

Posted on 2013-10-09 18:18:29


Google remarketing

Remarketing is a great way to reach out to potential customers that you already know are interested in your products or services to keep your company top of mind. Google AdWords has a simple remarketing solution that’s easier to set up than you might think.
If you use the internet at all, you’ve almost certainly seen remarketing ads – banner ads advertising websites you’ve recently been to, or products you’ve recently looked at. What may seem like a complicated technology best suites to programmers and computer scientists, is actually pretty straightforward using Google Remarketing.

Google Remarketing Best Practices

Before we go through the set-up steps, there are some best practices to consider when creating your Google Remarketing campaigns.

Try not to be too intrusive. People like to see things they’re interested in, and to be reminded of things they may have forgotten in the fast paced internet world, but they don’t like to feel stalked. Don’t use ad copy that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone views a pair of jeans you sell, you may be tempted to deliver ads that say “These jeans are awesome, why didn’t you buy them?!?” Even if they know you’re targeting them because they’ve been on your site already, actually saying it makes people uncomfortable.

Offer something. If someone was on your site and didn’t buy anything, showing them the same item they already didn’t buy again and again may just get on their nerves. But, offering them a 10% discount to come back may just help them make their decision.

Avoid ad fatigue. Set daily impression caps per audience member, and create multiple ad variations. Rotate new ads in and out as time goes on. People stop paying attention to ads they’ve seen too many times already.

Now for the campaign set up steps. Google Remarketing ads are set up directly in the AdWords interface, so you’ll need to have an AdWords account and be logged in to get started.

Step 1: Create a new campaign. Retargeting campaigns should always be separated from other search or display campaigns, because the behavior and performance will be quite different, and you’ll want precise control of budgets and settings.

Step 2: Within the Networks and Devices option, select only Display Network, and then only Specific Reach. This limits the display to the specific networks and audiences you specify.

Step 3: Create an ad group. This should represent the type of customer you want to target; it could be anyone who visited your site and didn’t purchase anything, or to be more targeted, someone who visited a specific category or product on your website.

Step 4: Select Image ad, upload your image, and don’t enter any keywords or placements. You’ll create your audiences used for targeting later.

Step 5: Enter your default and Display Network Bids. If you’re not sure where to start, it’s a good idea to start low and work your way up until you get the traffic you want.

Step 6: Create your audience. In the left navigation menu, select “Shared Library,” directly under “All online campaigns.” Under Shared Library, click Audiences.

Step 7: Click the New Audience dropdown, and select Remarketing List. Name the list something meaningful, such as “Men’s Shirts Visitors.” Duration defaults to 30 days, which is usually about right, but depends on your specific purchase cycle length. Click the Create new remarketing tag radio button and then save.

Step 8: Click on your new tag to copy the html code. This code then needs to be placed in the body of your website, on every page that you want to remarket these ads to – in our example, on every page within the Men’s Clothing category would be a good idea. This adds everyone who visits a page with this tag on it to the audience you’ve just created.

Step 9: Wait until your new audience has 100 members (your tag has been shown to 100 different website visitors) and your Google Remarketing ads will begin displaying.

Posted by: Sarah Whitt


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