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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 (  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.


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.


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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