Top E-Commerce Trends to Watch in 2017

Every year, e-commerce trends change, whether it’s improvements in logistics, product discovery, or brand building. If you want to keep up with the times in online commerce, you have to adapt and evolve, and be more innovative and updated on trends over your competition. To benefit even more, you need to be aware of the implications; embrace the newest trends, and implement them accordingly and change the way you do business.

Mobile, and omni-channel approach

The shift to mobile has been steady over the past 5 years and we have witnessed a complete change in the way users shop. In 2016, mobile traffic has overtaken desktop as the primary way to purchase

It is true that most session on ecommerce sites come from mobile devices, but revenue by device is biggest on desktop. Still, a very large chunk of customers isn’t very comfortable or happy with mobile purchases. And over half of them have privacy and security concerns, and prefer purchasing on a PC.

The (simple) solution to overcoming this gap, instead of treating customers as two different groups – mobile and desktop customers, is the omni-channel approach – designing a brilliant UX and creating a seamless experience across all devices. This is important because even though smartphones might have the lowest conversion rate of any device, according to a new research done by Wolfgang Digital, people are making searches on smartphones and making key purchasing decisions, then actually buy over desktop.

Artificial intelligence and big data for personalized experience

Crafting a perfect customer experience is the main goal of every e-commerce website. And as data-availability is significantly increased, marketers can easily target customers based on personal info and behavioral data, which makes achieving this goal a lot easier. Amazon, for example, has become great at offering highly personalized experiences, that go beyond “one size fits all” product recommendations, and for customers it is becoming the new norm of service expectancy.

Personalization and customization of the user experience are becoming the vital difference between competitors and key factors for lower cart abandonment rate. Online retailers are becoming aware of this, and embracing the new trend.

2017 seems to be the year of big data and AI. Shopify, as a platform has some of this very basic personalization built into the platform, but, understanding this even further and leveraging personalization and big data tools could really level up your game. Also, understanding your customer further leveraging tools like MixPanel and CrazyEgg can help you with targeting, messaging, and marketing to customers via the various advertising platforms.

Loyalty and Rewards Programs

Improved buying experience and customer loyalty play a major role in the success of every business. Unfortunately, customer loyalty is becoming harder to maintain, since almost half of the consumers would switch brands for a coupon.

One way of providing better and more convenient shopping experience is the introduction of mobile payment. Mobile payment apps are becoming more popular as smartphone users get used to using digital wallets and contactless payment.

The added bonus of mobile payment apps is the opportunity to collect customer behavior information on a personal level. These shopping preferences can be used to create highly personalized promotions and rewards for each and every consumer.  The result is build strong relationships that are beneficial for the e-tailer and the customer, and also, present an excellent way for creating a long-term loyal customers base.

Delivering to your customer

Online shopping standards have been raised once more in the last few years with the significantly faster and shorter delivery times. Online shopping customers are becoming less and less patient and demand to have the product(s) delivered as soon as possible. And thanks to Amazon Prime who began the trend, flexibility of delivery options is becoming the new standards.

The majority of retailers now offer next-day delivery for orders made before 10pm. But the prediction is that same-day delivery will continue to rise in 2017. Another efficient way of cutting delivery times that is also gaining popularity is the integration with drop-off point providers.

Many online retailers are willing to make the take the steps to making delivers faster and more convenient because delivery options and speed are becoming key ecommerce differentiators. And the truth is that almost one third of consumers are willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. Worth it, right?

Leveraging Online Chat for Conversion and Customer Feedback

Another combination of personalization and AI delivers a new way of shopping and communication with customers – chatbots. Chatbots are automated AI-led messenger services that allow website visitors engage with your brands via instant messaging. The smartest chatbots can discover what the customer wants, and suggest products, place the order, answer customer service questions, and much more.

Since consumers are beginning to get familiar with speaking to machines, brands are looking to use this to their advantage, and east the shopping experience for their customers. The reality is that chatbots are not yet perfected, and still undergo development, but soon enough they might start to become how we first interact with brands on their websites.

Convenient product returns and automated processing systems

We are all aware that the shopping experience doesn’t end with payment nor product delivery. And with online shopping, the lack of physical contact with the products before purchase can result with as much as 33% of returns, especially for apparel.

Stores like Zappos already offer free returns and a customer-friendly no-questions-asked policy. For a great number of customers, product returns can be a deciding purchase factor. And over half of online shoppers desire a complementary return shipping and simple return process in order to feel confident completing a purchase.

But complying to this new standard might not be so hard. Newer software solutions integrated directly into the online store allow shoppers to go back to the same site where they made the purchase and quickly process a return. This new software can also communicate return inventory to the warehouse and provide detailed analytics to the retailers.

 

The rapidly changing ecommerce field requires alertness and quick response to the latest trends. Sometimes learning on the go can be hard to do on your own. But we are always here to help you adapt and grow because heated competition, new rules of play, pricing strategy and customer experience on the retailers’ side, and customers’ expectancy on the other, may make it more difficult for brands to hold their leading position and loose out. These are some of the major trends to shape ecommerce now, so pay close attention and decide where you want to be in 2017, fast.

facebook ads b2b lead generation

Turning Up B2B Lead Generation Volume with Facebook Ads

Lead Generation is crucial in B2B marketing. They are a source of prospects, and eventually customers by which businesses can increase revenue and grow. While it might not be obvious because Facebook is not a “business” tool like LinkedIn is, you can still leverage advanced targeting techniques and its 1.86 billion monthly active user base. Because of this, Facebook is one of the most powerful tools to use for B2B Lead Generation in order you increase awareness about your products and grow prospective clients.

However, for that to happen, you must optimize your Facebook Ads for B2B lead gen. You can use following techniques to achieve this goal. Here’s how to go about it.

Track Your Conversions by Installing the Facebook Pixel

A good way to optimize the impact of your ads and eliminate waste in campaigns is tracking the leads you are generating. You can do this by tracking your lead conversion metric using the Facebook Pixel.

It’s pretty straight forward, go to the Facebook Pixel tab in your Ads Manager and click the Create a Pixel. Then, choose a name that best represents your business because you can have only one pixel per ad account.facebook pixel creation

Setting up General Targeting Options

When setting up B2B Lead Generation campaigns through Facebook, you’ll need to come up with a set of demographics information. This might seem really basic but it’s important to mention because targeting your ads to different industries and geographic locations can impact campaign performance. Even the creative to different segments of your customers might be important, as well as gender of your prospective audience.

Precise Interests and detailed targeting options allow you to further refine your targeting. This is available in the “Audience” section of ad set creation. You can use professional filters like job title, employer, industry, company size, degree level, seniority, among many others to effectively seek out the roles who are most likely to submit a lead or purchase your products or services.

facebook audience targeting options

Custom Audiences Based on Existing Lists

Facebook allows you to target specific people with its ad platform. This targeting can enable you to maximize the impact of your ad campaigns by marketing directly to a specified section of your B2B market.

In addition, you may always have people in your existing customer database or a lead list who has not purchased yet. Custom Audiences allows you to target these audiences specifically. A Custom Audience is a Facebook ad audience that you create from an existing list.

To create a custom audience, go to Campaigns and find the Audiences button listed under it. Click on the tab and select Custom Audiences, then Customer List. This function lets you upload a CSV or TXT file list of customer emails you’ve gathered, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs.

create facebook custom audience

Facebook then matches this data with information on user profiles, allowing you to target specific people.

Create Lookalike Audiences to Match Your Ideal B2B Customer Profile

Facebook allows you to create Lookalike Audiences as well. Lookalike Audiences allow you to match a customer profile similar to your Custom Audiences. For example, you can create a Custom Audience of existing customers and the Lookalike Audience will target users who match those same characteristics and would likely have a higher propensity to purchase.

We use lookalike audiences quite a bit in our campaigns to find SMB customers for clients because of the expanded reach it gives us.

Retarget Your Ads For Another Opportunity to Convert

Using retargeting would be a great way to drive up conversion rates and increase lead generation for B2B. Prospective clients can always come across the site via press, SEO or some form of earned media. Putting retargeting campaigns into place help keep your brand top of mind to those people while they are in consideration mode.

You can conveniently install a Facebook retargeting pixel on your site, go to Custom Audience and select “Website Traffic” option. You can target your ads to all people who visited certain pages of your website while excluding others. This targeted marketing can help remind the decision makers the reasons your product makes sense and give them another opportunity to engage with your business.

Using Lead Magnets to Get B2B Leads

In some cases, using a Lead Magnet could be a great option to generate leads from a B2B campaign, leveraging offers, incentives, or a free trial. You can provide high-quality content gated content with the submission of an email address to access it.

Lead Magnets can include things like a webinar, eBooks, white papers, checklists, case studies, guides, etc. They can be used to entice a visitor to engage, without singing up as a customer. Providing a simple email capture or something a little more targeted can be a great way to generate B2B Leads.

Many inbound marketing and sales platforms like HubSpot effectively use lead magnets.useful content as tools to harvests leads for businesses. Their strategy is simple, create something unique or useful; offer it to your audience and get valuable contact information and in return

As an example, here is a recent example of a “A Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat for Business” from HubSpot

snapchat for business hubspot

snapchat for business hubspot form

Just like Hubspot and Salesforce you’ll want to make it easy for the visitors to download the lead magnet from your landing page.  in exchange of their email address, and if required, their demographic data, phone number etc.

Rather than try to get a lead to buy a service or product, create an ad that promotes an offer of a free trial of your product or something else that they’ll find valuable. This is your lead magnet. And it could be a great way to build your emailing list beyond your current customer base.

Bonus: to effectively reach entirely new prospects with your incentives, target your ads based on people’s work categories or major life events. Navigate to the More Demographics button and select your best demographic-defining options in the popup menu that follows.

Facebook Lead Ads for B2B Lead Generation

You can also use Facebook’s Lead Ads using the ad creation tool, like other ads. Facebook Lead Ads give you the ability to gather information from potential customers just like web lead forms. You can collect information like name, email address, phone number as well as customized questions. (e.g “How much do you spend on advertising monthly?”)

If you want to iterate through lead forms quickly, Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to collect the information without building new landing pages and creating tons of copy. The contact forms appear natively on Facebook and Instagram. You can easily use them to sign people up to newsletters for drip marketing campaigns or in a direct B2B campaign funnel.

I know, this was a ton of information, but, given everything form the ability to target via demographic information, precise interests (e.g. job title), and leveraging lead magnets, Facebook gives you all the necessary tools. You will be able to generate tons of B2B leads, find scale, and do it efficiently. With Lead Ads you can do this even quicker by testing and iterating through forms on Facebook And Instagram natively. With all this, there’s no reason not to build in some of your B2B Lead Generation budget into Facebook.

Have you used Facebook for B2B Lead Generation? If so, would love to hear your ideas in the comments. If your looking for help getting Facebook Advertising for B2B set up, reach out and our team would be glad to help! And, remember to follow Visible Factors on Twitter.

7 Organic Ways to Boost Your CTR

Click-Through Rate (CTR) is one of the most important metrics when it comes to online marketing and advertising. It can be pretty difficult to increase CTR, depending on the method you use. And, increasing conversion rates can dramatically increase the revenue your business drives. These methods also differ based on the marketing channel, whether its paid or organic, or how much brand awareness you have out there. As you start to figure out what message works best for your target audience, you start to understand what makes them click, literally. Here are a few organic ways you can try:

1.    Improve on Shortcomings

Start by analyzing the performance of your content and keyword focus. There’s no need to touch top performing pages, content, and keywords can, as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, reverse that process and look at your content with the worst performing CTR and try to understand whether it’s the messaging, the keywords, ad titles, etc. You have to analyze this and look for ways to take the worst performing CTR and make them top performers as well. Depending on the magnitude of the traffic and clicks your getting, you could increase it 10x.

2.    Get Creative with Titles

A common mistake marketers make is stuffing keywords in the titles of pages. While it is an effective SEO practice, it doesn’t work if you put it there blatantly rather than organically. The focus here is on organic, so make sure the title reflects the content on the page. If the keyword fits naturally in the title, then go for it. Otherwise, be creative with titles. This will give you a better chance of capturing the attention of your target audience.

3.    Write for Humans

Believe it or not, but content is still the king when it comes to SEO. If you want to attract clicks, you have to provide content that offers value to the readers. The savvy customers of today aren’t likely to buy from you just because you promise to offer the best quality in the market. They want you to demonstrate how you can solve their problems. For this, you need to come up with content that is relatable and more importantly, written for human readers and not just for SEO robots. Pick a specific perspective to write from and you are good to go.

4.    Offer Lists

Did you know you have close to 40% greater chance of getting clicks if you number your points? That’s right, offer your content in the form of a numbered list and you will attract clicks more effectively. In fact, that’s the reason why this article features numbered subheadings! Coming back to the point, offering content in digestible chunks rather than large blocks of text will be more effective. Therefore, break the content down into a numbered list!

5.    Be Meta Savvy

You have to leverage the meta title, keywords, and description to generate maximum traction for your content. The key to making this work is following the ideal template for your page titles. To ensure optimal engagement, start your title with a number followed by an adjective and then the subject of the article, for instance 7 Organic Ways to Boost Your CTR (and you did click on this post, right!). For the description, use words that capture the attention of your prospects, for instance premium or incredible.

6.    Build an Emotional Connect

SEO is not just a science, there is a lot of artistry going on behind the scenes. You have to tap your artistic side and try and build an emotional connect with your audience. You can do this by adding an emotional hook to your content. Try and influence your readers’ emotional side and this will help you build a connection with them on a more personal level. They are more likely to be engaged by your content and also trust your brand if they feel this connect.

7.    Create Effective URLs

It’s quite simple to come up with a generic URL for your landing page or web pages. However, according to Microsoft, you can get 25% more clicks on your pages if your URL describes the content of the page. This is easier when you are using WordPress or a similar website management platform. Make sure all new blogs and posts you create have a descriptive URL that gives the visitors a clear indication of what they can expect to find on the page.

These 7 simple yet highly effective organic ways you can use to boost your CTR. Keep in mind that you have to combine these tips with SEO and other online marketing techniques to generate the results you are looking for. The key to making this work is creating effective content and writing for humans instead of SEO robots. Appeal to readers on a personal level using an emotional hook and they are more likely to connect with you.

Mobile-First SEO Planning and Strategies for Startups

Woman on mobile device looking for local listings

Startups often have issues gaining traction on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general, so trying to make sense of the differences between desktop and mobile SEO can be painful. And, gaining real traction in search engine rankings and getting organic search traffic can feel impossible. There are so many sites that have had more time to tinker with their SEO, more time to produce high-quality content, and more time to build the links that drive the results. How do you even begin to think through your company’s SEO strategy for Mobile at that point?

One Step at a Time

It’s not impossible for a startups to get momentum and increase rankings on Google. You just have to take it one step at a time. Google’s new announcement they will be splitting the Mobile and Desktop search indexes, with mobile being the primary index is a major part of this. The key takeaway is it will be a pure mobile index focusing on “pure mobile content” to differentiate them. The good news is, the best practices of title tags, url structures, etc. are all still the same.

Becoming a Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile-optimized pages are obviously going to play a part here, and having a site that is responsive is the key to this all. Web pages on smart devices like iPhones, iPads, and on various mobile OS’ like iOS and Android should be just as attractive as your main, desktop site. All of the functionality and usability should basically be the same, obviously scaled down for these devices and mobile operating systems. Using responsive web design, you can create a site that shares the same HTML across all devices and allows CSS to decide how to render it properly. .

You Don’t Need New URLs

The days of m.website.com are over, thank god! Now that we have responsive web design to render the sites appropriately, you don’t need to create a separate URL for your Mobile Website, and your Mobile SEO won’t be affected by it. This is a big part of the new mobile algorithms and indexes, in that responsive sites will benefit more from Mobile SEO Signals. Having responsive sites will allow you to make sure all of the content is the same, on all the same URLs, and thus, not confusing users or search engines.

Mobile Pages Need To Load Faster

Page speed is even more important than it ever has been. The main thing here is understanding what is putting the most stress on the mobile internet connection of your user. Using smaller image sizes and videos will decrease the data needed and time to download a page, which is especially important for Mobile SEO. Image optimization techniques are extremely important, and things like leveraging web fonts vs. text in images and removing unnecessary resources will decrease page load times.

Bounce Rate is Even More Important Now

You have to take into account mobile visitors are likely to be limited with slower processors, battery life issues, and much slower internet speeds. When searching, all of these things will be prohibitive and the more optimized for these things, the more likely a user to purchase or stay on your site. This keeps bounce rates from mobile low. the answers to their search queries quickly, they will likely leave your site, which means your bounce rate will be lower. Bounce rates are a general SEO signal, but, the above items mentioned will impact bounce rates from search engines even more via mobile devices.

The Important of Mobile & Local Search

Most of the content people search for while on their mobile devices is going to have local content. This could because they are starving and looking for a restaurant in their area (I know I’ve done this!), because they need to find a gas station, or maybe a flower shop. Think about all the use cases where people are looking for businesses or products and it shouldn’t surprise you that the research supports this.

People are generally performing mobile searches for availability of a product, the pricing, store hours, among other things. Your website will have to take this into account to optimize your mobile SEO for local search. Understanding the intent, how they search for these local businesses or products will help you craft better titles, urls, and content.

Small businesses can be very targeted by included locations, phone numbers, zip codes, etc. For example, if we use the flower shop example above, I have done this specifically where I have done a search like “flower shop near me” and “flower shop in <city name>” when I wanted to get flowers for a special occasion.

Mobile-Friendly QA (Quality Assurance)

After keeping all of this in mind, there are tools and resources at your disposal to make sure your doing all you can. Google has a mobile SEO guide to help guide you along the way and a tool that allows you to test if your website is mobile friendly. Also, because page speed is so important, run a Google PageSpeed test to make sure your page load times are low. These tools and resources and free and will give you feedback on how to address and fix issues you may have.

Remember, Google and Search Engines are really focused on delivering the best possible user experience. They want to make sure everyone searching is finding what they need efficiently, tehrefore, you will be rewarded if you do the same. Focusing on building a user friendly and highly usable site that is fast, responsive, and not resource intensive for mobile devices is going to win at Mobile SEO.

Have you seen a difference since Google has started to make the shift to a Mobile and Desktop search index? What Mobile SEO tactics are you implementing?

Don’t have a Mobile SEO Strategy for your business? Time to start thinking about this and let us build an SEO Program that will grow your organic search traffic like our past clients. Our team is focused on tactical and actionable feedback to grow your business.

Reducing Bounce (Rate) Is The Key to Conversion Optimization

Reducing Bounce (Rate) Is The Key to Conversion Optimization

Most companies we talk to don’t have a ton of experience with conversion rate optimization and how to effect it in a positive way. Especially as a retail brand taking their products online, it can be overwhelming to understand things like traffic sources, conversion rate, exit pages, etc. And, even as we talk to startups, there are many situations where we find companies are frantically searching for a secret silver bullet to solve for increasing revenue or signups.

Once you dig down though and focus in on the most important conversion metrics, you start to focus in on the things that are most important and come to one singular goal of increasing conversions. (revenue, signups, user growth, etc.) And, as you start to dig into conversion funnels, you realize the most important thing is digging in, to reduce people bouncing from a given flow.

User acquisition is only the first step, keeping a visitor on your site, and making sure they make it through conversion funnels is quite frankly more important because for every person you bring into the top of the funnel, your metrics will look better across the board.

In order to reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates, you should here are a few things to focus in on.

Page Load Time:

You only have a few seconds to tell people what you’re selling or why the should join your community because, our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter. No one will wait for a page to load, images to load. Generally what I find is, a page should load within a 3–5 seconds and time to interact (tti) with a page should be within a couple seconds. The TTI can make a huge difference in the conversion rates and in some cases, orders of magnitudes of difference for online retainers, especially.

Site Navigation and Experience

People want to be able to move around a site quickly, find what they want, and checkout. In order to do so, creating an easy to navigate site that leads the customer down the path of conversion is important. Creating several means of getting through to the next page, navigating them through a flow, or making sure there are multiple points to convert are a big part of this.

As an example, once someone is in the checkout flow, we really want to make sure that they stay in the flow to purchase the products they have chosen. In order to do this, we remove the standard site navigation items and footer navigation. This removes the ability for someone to start clicking around and either (a) forgetting to come back or (b) second guessing their decisions.

In Landing Pages and lead generation forms, especially when it comes longer form content, we have multiple methods to generate a conversion, whether it’s an email sign up or two calls-to-action, at the top and bottom of the page.

Simplicity (or, too many calls-to-action)

Along the same lines of navigation and experience, simplicity of experience is a big part of this. Sure, this could be tied to the last one, but, it’s just as important. Do not be afraid of whitespace, and I mean lots of it. Keeping a focus on creating a clean looking site experience that leads customers where you want them to go. The more you add to the page the more you take away from the singular focus that you have started with. when you’re trying to get someone to buy something, sign up for something, or even just read more content, when you start pushing people down multiple paths and types of calls-to-action, the more confused they will be.

Along the same lines, the color palette of your site can make a huge impact on this. Having a main, secondary, and tertiary set of colors allows you to focus your actions. Primary action colors should focus on your primary conversion elements will allow people coming to your site to look for those subconsciously. Secondary and tertiary colors for site links, other form buttons, secondary actions (e.g. primary is checkout, secondary is email sign up) should be more subtle will be apparent but not detract a customer from the main conversion action you want them to take.

Anything Broken…period.

One of the biggest sins I have seen in the last few years was an e-commerce site who had broken reviews links or links that led to specs or reviews of a different product. No matter how great we are at online advertising and seo services, we still would never be able to increase revenue, because people could not find the information they were looking for. Even worse. possible customers were led to a different product all together and links that were 404’s. Having any of these issues is going to increase your bounce rate and reduce conversion rates.

Obviously in the above case, the bounce rate from reviews pages was ultimately higher than any other page on the site. Reducing the above issues, 404s, broken images, links, or anything broken for that matter will naturally increase the conversion rates and reduce bounce rates.

What are your thoughts? Do you have tips around optimizing bounce rates and increase conversion rates? Let us know in the comments or follow us on twitter, @visiblefactors to keep the conversation going.

Increasing your SEO opportunity by thinking outside the box

Many times, as companies, we get so laser locked in on “ranking #1” for our keywords that we lose focus on the real KPIs that matter: conversions, revenue, traffic.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this in our SEO engagements where people are so focused on a ranking of a keyword or set of keywords. It takes a minute to get people to understand what is truly important. The true goal is never ranking #1 for something or even ranking top 10 for example. Usually, it’s generating revenue, leads, traffic, engagement, etc. Focusing on this is the most important thing, not where a specific keyword ranks.

Along with that, it’s important to think outside the box. Creating a content program or finding new traffic opportunities for the business can create new opportunities to connect with customers.

And, speaking of content, one of my favorite measurements of this was a company I worked with who was worried about blog traffic converting. Think about it this way, if you have a blog with 100 visits that converts 3% of the time but a site that only gets 10 visits and converts 30% of those visits, you’re net conversions is still 3 for each one. If your goal is converting users to paid customers, it’s important to understand your traffic sources.

Similar to rankings, it’s important not to think so narrow minded about the opportunity. Thinking broadly about topics and thinking outside of the box could present growth were the business previously didn’t have it.

Content is an amazing example because you can find so much new opportunity on your SEO efforts. Creating content for SEO purposes not only increases your traffic and long term conversion (albeit at a lower rate), but, if you’re running retargeting campaigns, you’re creating a broader audience by pixeling users that come to your blog for education.

You can also take a look at competitors and understand what they are doing to increase their SEO Opportunities. Are they creating a blog? are the growing their blog content constantly? Maybe another opportunity is creating a resource center for your customers to educate them on products, services, etc.

A company like OnDeck, for example, could create a “small business loan knowledge base” and create a resource center for all terms related to small business loans. At the same time, a company like Luxe Valet could create a “parking costs” or “valet costs” resource that shows parking costs, meter costs, or average valet rates across the U.S. and educate visitors while increasing brand reach, and possible conversions for search terms like “parking costs in los angeles”.

Again, the key here is understanding the opportunity, mapping it out, and finding ways to reach new visitors and hopefully convert them instantly or over time, using other methods like email marketing and retargeting.

Would love to hear more about how you look for SEO opportunities and think outside the box for content. Leave a comment below!

Our team has grown SEO for companies like Blue Bottle Coffee and Ticketmaster. Inquire more about our SEO services and we can help you grow as well!

Email Marketing: You’ve got subscribers, what’s next?

We’ve run into a couple instances where our clients are sitting on a large list of email addresses or are starting an email program and just want to blast everything out at once. Recently, a member of our team pointed this out to me and it was a really interesting conversion. Based on that, we thought it would be important to talk about how to get value instantly, without overwhelming yourself and your subscribers.

One step at a time.

There’s an old saying, “you need to learn to crawl before you walk”. It holds true here because before you start implementing a hundred different strategies, it’s important to find out what is working. What I mean is: start somewhere and start small.

Start with a test email, you can format it in a way you think might be the first of a Drip Marketing or CRM campaign, but, there’s no need to set up automation immediately. First, try to generate some feedback. You can do this by testing. The key is, start small and send a couple test emails to see what type of response you get.

Don’t send it to everyone!

So, speaking of starting small. If you have a list of 500 subscribers or 25,000, it doesn’t matter, sending the email to everyone can cannibalize your audience and limit your ability to test. Consider segmenting out the list if you can, and, if you can’t, just split the list out into chunks so you can do the above, test and iterate.

Generally, the biggest the list, the lower the percent of users I want to send an email to. For example, a list of 500 I would break into 25%-50% tests of 125-250 people, where as a list of 25,000 I might break out into 10% chunks. The more subscribers the more data you can extract.

An example of this that we have right now is around 20,000 subscribers that we’ve split into an email sent to 5% at first, then two 10% segments to be sent the following 1-2 weeks. From there, based on the data, we will be able to learn about how our customers are responding to the emails being sent and can adjust the program going forward.

In many cases, you won’t have to do more than a couple tests on larger lists to find what you want. The key is not generating a ton of unsubscribes, having a really low open rate, or worse, report to spam.

Figure out your benchmarks

Along with not breaking anything, you’ll be able to benchmark some data. As an example, with open rates, when sending out your first email, you can test a couple subject lines and iterate on that with a second email. Once you find a good industry acceptable or higher open rate, you can then put that line in the sand and use that as a subject line for future emails.

You can do the same with templates, content, and design by iterating through your emails and understanding the click through rate and engagement with them.

The key is, again, finding your benchmarks and iterating through them.

Once you take these basic steps into account for an existing list or a new list your starting to build on your email marketing program, you can be way more effective. Also, you’ll find yourself to be way more efficient when iterating through campaigns because testing methods will be nailed down.

Holistic Content Marketing Helps All Marketing Channels

home-office-336378_1920

Content is king. We’ve been hearing this for years, and, to this day it is still the truth. But, the type of content and mediums to promote it have been different and can vary. But, while I was working with one of our clients on marketing strategy, I realized how important it can be to their business.

I like to think about things holistically and how each channel helps each other. I’ve proven this method to work really well when put to use with clients, companies I’ve started, and/or advised. As an example, just creating an infographic doesn’t mean it’s going to drive traffic and awareness. But if you know people are searching for the information included, that bloggers want to use that content, etc. it could drive more than you even expected.

Having a holistic plan and more than just a single use for your content can be a huge win for the company. There are many ways this can work. If you’re an e-commerce company or retail business moving online, this can go a long way in terms of driving down your blended CPA.

As an example, you could be a retail or e-commerce company that sells a variety of name brands or major brands. You might be thinking of how to educate the customer on why they should be Gucci shoes over something like Steve Madden. You might want to do something like”Why high end brands are more cost effective than cheap ones in the long run.” (or something a long those lines). While putting the content together you could do some industry research about the longevity of a pair of high end shoes vs. a pair of cheap ones. Doing a full study and putting a few charts together would really help educate the customer.

What this also does is creates a relatable and personal feeling for your brand to the online shopper. Writing that post tells them you’re looking out for their best interest. Educating the customer here is really the goal and hopefully this post achieves that with the data and facts you’ve provided.

Along with educating the customer, they might have needed that last tip to just convert them to a new customer. Reading the content might have made them go “okay, im sold, I’m here, where do i buy them.” Another thing, assuming they aren’t ready to purchase just then would be to browse the site for more content or more products, to really validate the brand. Whatever the case, you’re providing a resource customers are interested in. Along with customers, bloggers and journalists could be interested in this, promoting this content could lead to multiple people writing about it citing your content.

They might not only be interested in it, they might actively be search for this. For example, I might be googling “steve madden vs gucci pricing” or many long tail variations of this. I might be really concerned about spending $500 on a pair of shoes vs. $79 and not truly understand the difference in the craftsmanship and quality. After understanding this, the customer could be sold (as mentioned above). The great part is, by creating this post, you’ve driven organic search traffic to your site and now you might have possibly converted that customer.

Okay fine, that might be a perfect world scenario, but, that isn’t the only way to convert them. There are two other methods that could potentially lead to a customer buying from you in a more cost efficient manner.

One of those is methods is retargeting. You just got a new user to visit your site through search traffic, them clicking a link in facebook, or a blog post that cites your content. Again, the key here is now this piece of content is already being used in many ways. But, now you’ve got a visitor to your site, that’s being retargeted and will be reminded of your products. Converting this customer over time will be way more cost effective than paying for Adwords or Facebook ad clicks. (that’s not to say we don’t want you to do them, we highly recommend it as well.)

Finally using this content to help email marketing efforts is just another method to help drive new conversions, as well as repeat revenue from existing customers. The first and simplistic thing you can do is have an email / newsletter sign up on your site. The person that came to the site might be so interested in the insightful piece of content you created that they might be interested in more content from you. Also, if they get to site and they find the content interesting but don’t take any action, you can have a modal window (aka pop up) appear on the site that could catch their attention, a service like Picreel will achieve this for you. Here is an example of how we’ve used it on David Kind‘s Blog (p.s. they are one of my favorite companies!):

picreel-signup-david-kind

Now that they have signed up, you can continue to market to them over email through a welcome series, newsletter series, and continue to promote content, the brands, offers, etc. from your company.

Speaking of that newsletter, the blog post you created, we’re coming back to it here because you might have customers that didn’t know the difference or would be interested in it. Or people who have signed up to the newsletter or welcome series that have yet to convert. You can highlight this content (or any other content you create, for that matter) within this newsletter and yet again use it to you drive a new conversion or repeat revenue from existing customers.

Finally, using services like Taboola or Outbrain, you can use this content and promote it using low cost advertising on a variety of content sites that might be relevant to your brand. An example of this is companies like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club, who I see all the time when I’m reading about one of my beloved Chicago Sports teams. Here’s an example of how they use the ads to drive customer awareness and also new customer acquisition:

dollar-shave-club-harrys-taboola-ads

With all the methods we just listed above, you just drove down your blended CPA. All of this was done with one single piece of content used across various channels and mediums.

Now, I know that was a lot to cover, but, think about it. The possibilities are endless with content. So you should be mapping it out and creating an entire content strategy for your business and not just creating blog posts for the sake of creating them. Think about all the different ways you can use this content to drive new traffic, new users, new conversions, new leads, etc.

Visible Factors is always here to help when you need a Content Marketing Strategy for your company. And, we’d love to hear your thoughts about content marketing below in the comments.

Top 5 Conversion Metrics: How and what to track

Obviously conversion metrics can vary from company to company, but, overall there are metrics that are always important to track. Understanding where traffic is coming from and whether it’s converting will help you make better decisions about where to invest resources and dollars. At the end of the day knowing those metrics help you build and grow your business.

Knowing this, we’ve built a list of give metrics that we are always tracking, in no particular order:

1. Conversions (including conversion/tracking pixels)

I’ve walked into many situations where conversion/tracking pixels are incorrectly installed, tracking incorrectly, and in some cases counting multiple conversions per conversion. (i.e. pixel is firing >1 time for every time someone completes a transaction). These issues can lead to a complete misunderstanding of your traffic and how it’s actually doing.

Fixing conversion pixels gives you a really solid foundation. Our team usually won’t start spending money on online advertising until this foundation is solid. This usually gets some of our client partners upset because, as startups, they want to move as fast as possible, but, we’re pretty adamant about this.

Most ad channels will have documentation on how to install pixels. For example, Google has an entire guide to setting up tracking for adwords and Facebook has document on setting up their new “Facebook pixel” for tracking and conversions. (this is different from previously used conversion pixels which will be switched out in mid 2016).

Once you have this set up correctly, you can effectively understand metrics on a per ad channel basis. Furthermore, having funnels tracked across the board will give you info on all of your traffic sources.

2. Traffic Sources

While you’re building traffic to the top of funnel, you need to understand that traffic. You’re going to want to drive traffic from a variety of sources at first to see what works and what doesn’t. I tend to mix into give major channels:

– Direct & Brand: This is a mix of direct visitors and people searching for terms around your brand. For example, if someone was searching google for “visible factors” we would bucket this into direct & brand.

– Organic Search: Organic search traffic, or SEO, can be extremely important to almost every business. Understanding people that come to your site based on content, services, or products offered will help you understand your user/customer better.

– Paid Search: I keep paid and organic search separate because of the intent. Usually people clicking on the ads having a higher intent of conversion. Also, if you get a lot of blog traffic, organic search traffic might not convert as high as paid search.

– Online Advertising: I tend to bucket social ads, retargeting and direct display advertising in a different bucket than paid search as well. Again, the intent and targeting is different. In many cases, because of the targeting, our reporting will differentiate display and social because of our goals.

An example of this could be us using Facebook ads to target individuals who are interested in fashion brands so we can get them to like or convert on a client’s brand. On the flip side, we might use display advertising to increase visibility and qualitative metrics around the brand to get people to discover them. Increasing brand metrics won’t convert as high as a paid search or even paid social visitor, but, what it will do is provide an impression or someone that will pick up a retargeting pixel and convert that way.

3. Bounce Rate (per source)

Understanding Bounce Rate by traffic source is something that can help you understand your traffic better. By understanding your traffic sources and the intent of each, it better helps you understand how to speak to them. Also, differentiating different sources like organic search and organic search from a blog will help you diagnose concerns about your traffic. Blog traffic will not convert at as high a rate as direct commerce traffic and will have a higher bounce rate. A simple example of this is something I’ve seen before, a high bounce rate on a site from a single traffic source because of a mandatory email gate. Removing the mandatory email gate reduced the bounce rate, we were still able to collect email addresses and conversion rate went up. Win, win, win.

4. Return Visitors & Retention

Retention and re-engagement are important because it can dramatically drive down your customer acquisition costs. You can track this by looking at cohorts of users over periods of time. If you have some questions about this, check out Andrew Chen’s post on Cohorts and Revisit Rates.

5. Customer Acquisition Cost

Ultimately, this is the metric that is most important because, whether your selling a product, offering a service, or a content/social product, you need to understand the cost of acquiring customers and users. I usually like to have a CPA view that looks at traffic sources separately, per ad channel, and/or a blended CPA. Once you have this type of view you can understand how effective your marketing efforts are.

This isn’t the comprehensive list, these are just 5 things I think are important to consider. For paid marketing specifically, I like looking at ROAS and ROI to understand profitability of campaigns. Ultimately, we want to turn our client ad dollars into a profit. And, for social/content channels and growth, we like to look at cohort usage deeper.

Overall, as I mentioned initially, every company is different and it’s important to recognize what  metrics are the most important for you to track. Defining this really drives how you look at the items I mentioned and how you track them specifically.

Let us know what metrics are your top conversion metrics below in the comments. And, check out how we can help with Online Advertising Consulting.

Page 1 of 612345...Last »