Shopping Cart Software


July 2013

Measure Your Success Using Revenue Per Visitor

 by zack on 27 Jul 2013 |
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  Today we’re going to talk about a very important, but often overlooked metric: Revenue Per Visitor. RPV for short, this metric is probably one of the most helpful yet least understood metrics around. It averages out the revenue you’re producing according to the number of visitors your ecommerce store is getting. In other words: RPV= total revenue/# of visitors. And while many might consider RPV a poor man’s version of conversion rate, it’s important to note that this composite metric can measure your success with valuable insights that simply aren’t offered by any other isolated statistic. To begin with, RPV is an important number because it lets you know exactly how much each customer is worth to you, on average. While it is important to view customers as individuals and note their own special snowflake-like value, it’s also necessary to calculate how much capital they’re bringing in, especially in comparison to the amount they’re costing you. After all, if you’re spending more on average to get a conversion than you’re making on the average conversion, you’re losing money on almost every purchase. That means that RPV is vitally important to adjusting your overhead costs, as well as honestly assessing the success of your business. If you have a particularly low RPV, you know that you’ve got some work to do. You need to be attracting more valuable customers, or at least work harder to upsell some of the visitors you’ve already got. That means RPV is automatically your measuring stick for every lead generation effort you’ll ever undertake. The goal with driving traffic to your site is not just to acquire visitors, but valuable visitors. That is, enough visitors who are going to make high dollar purchases that validate what you’ve spent on advertising. A high RPV combined with a low cost per conversion rate can handily justify your marketing budget. If your newest battery of diversified marketing campaigns is costing you $24.00 per conversion and your RPV is sitting around $25.00, you’re just barely treading the water on your overhead costs. You need to better target your customers, increase prices, or cut overhead costs; or possibly do all three. You’re missing out on a lot of profits somewhere in this equation, and you’d never know if it weren’t for your careful monitoring of the RPV. Why RPV is more important than conversion rate Don’t get it twisted, conversion rate is very important. RPV however gives conversion rates a lot of context that their missing when measured in seclusion. This is because different conversions are for different amounts of revenue, they vary in product quantity and price, and a high conversion rate doesn’t necessarily mean higher revenues. To exemplify, imagine a series of customers making low dollar purchases, your conversion rate is raising accordingly, but your revenues aren’t exactly skyrocketing. Taking conversion rate as the end all and be all of your metric analysis can be very misleading in regards to your bottom line profits. It’s for that reason that RPV and other more specified metrics like it are so valuable. Another useful aspect of the RPV metric is its propensity to tip you off to big problems with either your marketing campaigns or your website itself. If you see a sharp decline in revenues per visitor it could be indicative of a vast migration of lurking non-buyers to your site. This is a marketing problem that should be addressed as soon as possible. You want valuable traffic, not a bunch of window shoppers. Alternatively, if you’re still receiving tons of traffic but your RPV is dropping off you may have an issue with your CTA button, an add to cart clicking error, slow page load times, or any number of other UI difficulties. You’ll need to take a test run through your sales funnel and find out exactly where the problem lies. RPV combined with A/B testing, can also be an excellent indicator of what changes you can make to your site that promote conversions or cause them to decrease. Manipulating single factors during a testing phase and measuring the effect on RPC can show dramatic results in the overall value of the variables you’re changing. As always make sure you allow that testing phase to last at least a week, and don’t end it before both variants get at least 100 unique visitors each. This seemingly superfluous metric can actually be quite helpful whenever you want to measure your success, and should be a mainstay on every serious marketer’s metric measurement dashboard. For more information about vital metrics to measure, check out our comprehensive 2-part post series on the subject, or contact Ashop support and see about setting up your own dashboard for your online store. 

Helpful Hints for a High Converting Landing Page

 by zack on 26 Jul 2013 |
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    Just like the design, color, layout, and imagery used in a website can manipulate a viewer’s emotions, so to can well written copy. There are a few highly touted strategies in this regard. In no particular order, they are: urgency, scarcity, free content, and testimony. Urgency-We’ve all seen this one before. “Buy now, before it’s too late!” Or how about this Ticketmaster staple: “You have 5 minutes to complete this order, or your tickets will be sold to someone else. Someone who doesn’t want to see Cher as badly as you!” Yeah, I’m paraphrasing a bit. Artistic license, okay? Still, you see the point. Using text to create a sense of urgency in the customer is an effective way of speeding up conversions. If time is money, then you want people to take the minimum time to type inover their credit card information. It’s like you’re getting paid twice.  Use incendiary color elements to aid in the illusion of urgency. Red text can be a powerful motivator, just think back to how mad it made you when your exams in high school came back all marked up like they’d been in a knife fight. Scarcity-Since we’re already bringing back memories of high school for this illustration of textual power, try to bring your thoughts back to economics class. Think back to the old supply and demand curve. If the supply goes down, what does that do the demand? It’s a simple psychological trick, but if you let it be known that there isn’t an overabundance of the resource you’re selling, the demand for said resources is certain to rise. Scarcity creates value, and it’s as simple as that. Convince your clients that supplies are running low, and pretty soon your overstock will be cleaned out entirely. Free content-This is another concept that’s oft repeated in all of our marketing tips, but repetition isn’t conducted for its own sake. We repeat this a lot because it’s such a potent strategy: give your customers free content. Offer additional value to your call to action at no extra charge, and you make the customer feel smarter for buying from you. They’ve just gotten what they call a bargain, the best they’ve ever had! The Who would be proud. "Buy today and receive a free eBook." "Purchase now and get free entry into our exclusive online webinar," and etc. Make sure you offer something of value to your customers at check out, and if you can’t do that, be sure to try and upsell them with similar products after the checkout process. You’ve got to try to remain helpful even after the conversion is made. That’s how you keep client’s loyal. Testimonials-Once you’ve got a loyal customer, you might be able to garner some feedback from them. Positive feedback is often considered some of the most powerful advertising you can get your hands on. Glowing customer reviews of your product or service will convince other consumers to give it a try. Having these inconspicuously displayed near your checkout might just give the client who’s on the fence an extra push that they need to make that final purchase. Content structure Headlines-Headlines are a fairly complex business, considering how concise they’re supposed to be. There are, of course, hundreds if not thousands of different formulas for writing attractive headlines for your landing page. The difficult part is deciding what strategy is right for your product and your landing page. If you’re using a long-form sales letter style, you can really push the length limits on your headline. Cleverly using conjunctions and punctuation marks to extend your sentences so that you may mention all the information you need. For example:   A lot of text and none of it's wasted. You know specifically what you're in for based on this text and you know you won't waste too much time. However, there are a few things wrong with such a long headline. It's very specific and communicates a benefit, but it's also very long and it makes some pretty bold claims. For most ecommerce products, this isn’t a winning strategy. Instead, you’ll want to follow a few simple maxims that mirror many of the other tactics we’ve already discussed. Keep it short and simple- You’re not trying to confuse your customers into buying, you’re trying to convince them. Highly specified niche markets can get away with longer headlines, but for the most part wordiness is frowned upon. Keep to your point and be as succinct as possible. Rather than going on and on about the benefits of your product or service, use effective word choice and stick with syntax that’s packed with meaning. For an example of powerfully crafted yet very terse writing, indulge me in a brief aside and think about Ernest Hemmingway. The great American author was a true master of bringing out the maximum amount of emotion from his reader’s with the minimum amount of space taken up. Here’s a famous example of an extra short Hemmingway story. This message apparently started as a bet with a group of writers. Hemmingway claimed he could make a compelling and emotional story using only 6 words: Ironically enough, this example though it is fiction, is technically still a sales headline. Not a particularly advisable one though. It’s probably best not to depress your audience. Still, it goes a long way in showing what great writing is capable of in less than 10 words. Specificity is key- Though you’re trying to keep things short and simple,           don’t let that stop you from discussing exactly what you want to get across. Use your headline to tell customers precisely what they’re here to see, and why it’s beneficial to them. It may feel like this is asking a lot, but remember that effective word-craft can pack a lot of meaning into a small space. Look at this example of an effective headline for usability testing.   See how that works? A big headline advertising service and some small follow up text explaining the need for said service. It’s short, sweet, and specific. Two simple sentences that succinctly explain “what” and “why,” in such a way that doesn’t leave any room for confusion. That’s everything you want from a headline. Also note that the banner is a soothing shade of blue, drawing a serene sort of contrast between the background and the bold white text. It clearly accomplishes the goal of informing the viewer of a need, while simultaneously putting them at ease, because there’s a solution to the problem, and it’s “never been easier.” Scarcity again- Use your headlines to introduce an element of exclusivity to your product. If you’re offering something that a customer can get anywhere, why exactly would they decide to come to you? However, if this product is only available from your online store, that makes you the single producer in all the world of this particular valued quantity. Suddenly your offer seems that much more attractive.   Believability- Don’t promise the moon. If your headline is too over the top no one is going to take it seriously.  So be honest, and ignore the impulse to embellish. Beyond these 4 maxims, you’ll want to make sure your headline includes a well-researched keyword or keyword phrase. Other successful tactics you could try are: Including numbers: “5 tips to… 3 ways to ensure… Top 10 things to do in…” Use loaded language to describe your products: Free, How to, Top rated, Number one Action verbs: buy, subscribe, download, etc. It’s what you want your viewer to do.   Landing Page Web Copy Virtually everything that we’ve covered with the headline can go double for the web copy. You still want to be brief, express a sense of exclusivity, urgency, and credibility. You should utilize your copy to bring more attention to the ways that your product or service can benefit the reader. That means taking the subject from your headline and breaking it down to specifics. Use familiar language that doesn’t get so fancy it turns readers away. Rather keep to your point and don’t waste a word. Each sentence should build on the previous one, and all of them should be illustrating one of three things: a customer’s need for the product or service, a feature of the product or service that meets that need, or a benefit that your product or service provides the customer. Once you’ve fully established the relevance of what you’re selling, it’s time to sell it. And for that we use Calls To Action. CTA’s You know the scene in the movie where the hero flicks the cigarette onto the ground, and the gas blazes up, and the entire building explodes while he walks away in slow motion, usually wearing sunglasses and a sweet leather jacket? That’s what your Call To Action is like. It’s your landing page’s climax, the primer that builds into the explosive excitement that results in conversion.   Crafting a high converting call to action is like boiling down your landing page to its base elements, and putting it in a compact form designed to convince a user to convert. Think of your landing page as coal and your CTA should be the diamond composed of all the landing page’s compacted elements. Your CTA needs to be urgent, express unique value, it should stand out from the rest of the page, point to a clear course of action using active verbs, (click here, subscribe now, etc.) and above all it must be relevant to everything else that your visitors have just read. A landing page is a difficult project, but the rewards for doing one right are well worth the effort. You can have all the traffic in the world, but without a high converting landing page it’s all just a drain on your bandwidth. So stick to the fundamentals and keep up with the Ashop blog for more helpful hints about all things ecommerce.  

High Converting Landing Page Design Tips

 by zack on 25 Jul 2013 |
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There are so many different aspects to a successful sales funnel, that the final step of reeling in a conversion often gets overlooked. Landing pages are the final destinations for your customers on the circular sales cycle. You need to make sure your landing page is on point. That of course, means that it’s visually appealing, unhurried, and high converting.  The anatomy of a web page is always a complex and sensitive subject, cut a landing page is particularly fragile in its design needs. Check out these web page design tips, authored in order to build the perfect high converting bottom to your sales funnel. Keep it simple This is one of those points we’ll keep on hammering in at every opportunity, because of its easy utility and it’s almost universal appeal. Only a very small section of the population wants to view anything complex during their web surfing.  Make sure that you facilitate the needs of the majority. Your landing page is a map to the bottom of your sales funnel. It’s in your best interest to provide the clearest and most concise directions possible. That means limiting your text, product images, banners, and any other real estate sponges you might be fond of. This brings us to the importance of properly utilizing blank space. Part of keeping a landing page simple is not overcrowding any of the important visual cues you’re giving your visitors. Leaving areas around the important parts of your landing page blank serves to emphasize their importance. It’s like an oasis in the middle of the desert. All around you’ve got sand, so naturally the watering hole surrounded by lush greenery is blatant and oh so appealing. It might feel like wasted space, but think of it instead as a gigantic encapsulating exclamation point. Laws of the Landing Page Though leaving the blank space around your important messages might lead the horse to water, but how do you make it drink? You get the horse drinking by providing it with its favorite beverage. In other words, give your visitors exactly what it came for. Your landing page is at the bottom of your funnel, and it should correspond with whatever actionable items brought your visitors to it. Be certain that your landing page is relevant to their needs. No one wants to buy a pair of sandals when they clicked on an ad for winter footwear. Make certain that your customer knows immediately that the page he or she was directed to is the one that will serve whatever needs brought him or her there. Landing Page Design There are a lot of different options for a landing page’s layout. In general, you want to go with what works. Check out other site’s in your niche, and see what they’re doing. What do you like about their landing pages? What don’t you like? Compile a list and make sure to imitate (not copy) their successful features and avoid those which you found unappealing. Take care to note what sort of colors your competition is using; we’ll talk about why this is important a little further into our discussion. As far as interesting ideas for your layout goes, you could follow a Fibonacci sequence. This is a common mathematical term that describes a spiral pattern that’s seen all throughout the natural world, and it is proven to be an aesthetically pleasing formation to the human eye. Here is an example of how a web layout might look if fashioned according to the Fibonacci spiral:   You can imagine how attractive a bold headline in the upper left corner, along with some small text, and a large image on the right, would be. It’s a pattern that human beings find innately attractive, and as of now, it’s not an often copied pattern. So it could serve your purposes well.  Of course, this isn’t the only option for an attractive landing page, but it is a notable example of something interesting to consider when drawing up your initial design plans. Color  Color is a huge part of what makes a landing page stand out. Colors have odd and sometimes unexpected effects on human psychology. We’ve touched on this point briefly in a former post, but it’s worth going over here in greater depth. Certain colors evoke a variety of interesting emotional responses from human observers. The reason I asked you to note the colors your competitors are using earlier, was so that you can benefit from the knowledge of which colors are already attracting customers within your niche. The topic of color choice is extremely subjective. Different marketing experiments show varying degrees of results in this regard. You can know that red is a color that incites appetite, anger, and energetic action, but that doesn’t mean that one of your visitors might equate it with heat, passion, and romance instead. Depending upon what you’re trying to sell, different color schemes can either help or hurt your cause. So be mindful of what you’re goals are and how the color scheme will compliment or conflict with them. Here’s a general guide to color schemes and emotional responses:                                 Directional Cues These are the markers you leave on your page to direct your visitors to their next actionable item. A directional cue can be something as simple as an arrow pointing toward your CTA. Or something more subtle, like an image featuring a tunnel toward that same CTA. You can even use images of people or animals staring in a certain direction to attract attention toward that path. Either way, the eventual goal for every directional cue is to direct your viewer to their next course of desired action. So strategically place these markers around your page to create a sort of quasi-visual hierarchy. If you combine this with effective design, as well as interesting and well placed images, you’ll be able to manage your visitor’s eye contact with your web page. Shapes As we already established while discussing the Fibonacci sequence, certain shapes and patterns have a way of appealing to the human psyche. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how effective shape management on your landing page can create specific impressions in a client’s mind. Squares and rectangles are the most commonly used shapes for web design. They nicely box in important information, and section off one item from another. No landing page would be complete without at least one rectangular area rationed out for a few product/service features or benefits. These are the most utilitarian, and frankly the most useful of any shapes you can possibly use on your landing page. However, they are also the least sexy. This is why we need to discuss these next two shapes. Triangles are basically arrows, dynamic and sexy arrows. I’ve already discussed arrows and the ability to direct attention. What I haven’t discussed is how arrows, aka triangles, are some of the most mysterious and attractive shapes available. Long considered a mystical formation, triangles draw associations to the pyramids of Egypt, Euclidian geometry, Pythagoras, and the creepy Freemason symbols on the backs of dollar bills. It’s a shape with a mythic history and a prolific role in web design. These three pronged visual missiles can be a very powerful addition to your site and are always an elegant, eye catching option for any landing page. Similar to the spiral pattern, circular shapes have a way of drawing our attention inwards. Funnels, tubes, tunnels, and rabbit holes all have the circular shape in common, and they all have the capability of pushing a consumer toward conversion. You have to be careful with circles though, and all non-square shapes really. Don’t just spread them willy-nilly throughout your landing page. If you’re going to use a circular element, it must either be a single occurrence, or precisely placed in multiple locations. Otherwise your page will be too crowded and it’ll end up looking like a bowl of cheerios. Ironically enough, that’s not the most appetizing prospect. Shape placement should be sparse and sensible. Keep an overall aesthetic vision in mind whether you’re dealing with circles, squares, triangles, rhombuses, or trapezoids. Imagery As far as powerful visual appeal goes, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about the imagery you’ll use on your landing page. The goal here is to be bold and grab attention, while still complimenting all of the other visual effects we’ve already discussed. You can do this with attractive but unobtrusive backgrounds, with vivid product images, or with other sorts of pictures that illustrate something about your product or service. Traditionally effective imagery consists of things like landscapes, attractive people (men or women) performing some sort of activity, and especially popular are pictures of babies. Something about a baby really fires off signals in the reptile part of the human mind. We’re just hardwired to respond to a defenseless baby. Probably an evolutionary remnant from when they were getting jacked by dingoes and scary jungle cats back in prehistory. Whatever the case may be, babies are a very cute and very visually appealing image that you could include to bring up those mushy maternal instincts in your client’s. After all, seeing a baby makes you remember the instinctual need to provide for your progeny. What better way to do that than purchase a much needed product or service? This concludes our discussion of the visual elements of a successful high converting landing page. Check back next time when we’ll discuss the content and textual elements that every landing page needs to ensure mass conversions from their visitors.  

Conversion Conversations

 by zack on 22 Jul 2013 |
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As an ecommerce marketer, your number one priority should always be to maximize the conversion rates of your online store. That means you need to focus on your online conversion optimization. This is the final step in your sales funnel, and in many ways, the most important. Too many times misguided marketing “experts” will put too much effort into generating traffic for a site, and not taking the time to convert it once it's there. Traffic is important, but if you’re not making money off of a high volume of it, then that’s a resource wasted. Today’s post will cover the most common and effective methods of converting your traffic into finalized sales. SEO vs. Conversion Optimization Generating traffic generally receives more attention than improving conversion rates for a few reasons. It’s flashier, it’s harder to do, and it’s the first step in the process. The first step is usually the most difficult to take, and requires the most energy to gather momentum. Converting traffic into sales isn’t as glamorous as increasing your overall reach, but it is far more necessary, and much more profitable. Not that SEO itself isn’t an extremely important part of the ecommerce process, but it does end up getting a disproportionate amount of coverage because of its complex and mysterious nature. The end of the argument however goes to conversions for the simple reason of a higher ROI, or Return On Investment.   The ways that search engines work change often and rapidly. That means SEO techniques have to move along with them quickly. That also means that the home page you spent thousands of dollars optimizing so you could be on the front page of Google’s search results has to be maintained to keep that position. This is a constant cost and one that you’ll have to revisit throughout your ecommerce career. However, being on the front page of Google doesn’t necessarily guarantee you any incoming income. Getting the traffic is only half the battle. That’s where optimizing your landing pages for conversions comes in. And the best thing about it is it’s a single event. You only have to optimize for conversion ONCE. If you’ve designed a landing page that sells, chances are it’s always going to sell, without the need for many changes or updates. Sure, you might feel the need to reassess your look and see if you can improve your copy from time to time, but by and large if you’ve found a successful formula, you’ll keep using it.   In other words, your traffic optimization cost will remain somewhat constant, especially if you’re investing heavily in PPC advertising. Your conversion optimization cost, on the other hand, will be a single payment that continues to give you increased profits long after you’ve made the investment. How to Optimize Conversion Rates: Science and Art     Conversion optimization has often been described as both science and art. Science because there are some specific formulaic processes to follow that have historically and statistically been very successful in creating conversions. It’s also considered art, because there is a great deal of creativity involved in convincing people to part with their money. The art exists mainly in the created content; the science dwells in the extensive testing and format of a successful landing page.   So what are the steps in the scientific part of this process? Well like any good experiment, yours will begin with a hypothesis.  You’ll need to come up with a stated purpose for your test. In this case, you’ll be working toward an X% increase in the conversions on your landing page. You’ve got your goal, now you’ll be making an informed guess, (based on market research using analytic metrics as well as customer feed back) as to what factors you can manipulate on the page to achieve your aims. Based on this assumption, you’ll develop a few different variants of your homepage, each altered in some specified way according to the factors you’ve decided to manipulate, and then you’ll record each page’s results.   When running multivariate tests, you want to make certain that your results are comprehensive enough to gather valid results. That means  leaving the testing phase in place for at least one solid week, preferably two. You also want to make sure that you have no less than one hundred unique visitors to each page variant before examining the final results.  Landing Page Design There are also certain rules you need to follow when building a high converting landing page: Simplicity, visibility, and visual appeal. You’ll need to make your call to action simple. An oft-used tactic is to put a short bulleted list in front of the CTA to remind your customers of the most attractive benefits and features of your product. Directly after the small but persuasive list, you insert an uncomplicated yet compelling call to action. Visibility means the customer should know where to click at a look. Your page should be organized, not too busy, and easily assessable the first time anyone looks at it. If they have to search where to click in order to place an order, you’ll lose quite a few conversions along the way. Visual appeal is as simple as it sounds. This ties in with the other two, for the reason that simple visibility is already visually appealing. But still, don’t skimp on the landing page’s design. Make it look bold, professional, and colorful without appearing convoluted, confusing, or complicated The art applies to the different variants. There is literally no limit to the different types of landing pages you can make. However, you’ll want to make each variant in a single test very similar in order to separate individual factors on the landing page. This way you can test their effectiveness in isolation. Making vastly different variants will give you an idea of which style is more preferred by you customers, but you won’t know what exactly makes it that way. The final steps in your scientific method will be to gather feedback from your conversions, and add an additional offer. People are naturally excited after a purchase. They’ve just used their hard earned resources to buy something they want that’s just for them. The human body has built in reward systems to incentivize this behavior. After your customer has made their purchase, you need to take full advantage of their lingering excitement and endorphin rush by doing at least one of the following: Suggesting similar products or services. Offering the customer a chance to describe their experience: what they liked, what they didn’t like. Anything that will give you a better idea of how to set up the bottom of your sales funnel. Asking for an email subscriptions. Promoting your social media pages. Give them something for free: (ebook, newsletter, tutorial video, etc. As long as it’s quality content you build your own value in the customer’s eyes.) Finally, you need to record your results and develop case studies so that you can compare future online conversion optimization efforts. These case studies will become golden insights for your business plan as time goes on. The more data you have to work with the less you’ll have to rely on intuition, and when trying to make money, it’s always better to rely on data. If you follow these simple steps, you’re sure to glean insights on how to best set up your landing page to bring in the maximum number of online conversions.   

Metric Measurement Mishaps

 by zack on 20 Jul 2013 |
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So in the last post we established how important it is to keep track of relevant marketing metrics. We even went so far as to suggest a few of which most every marketer should take note. But what happens when you’re tracking too many metrics and not drawing any relevant conclusions? Or worse, what if you’re reading data the wrong way? Metric measurement can often be as misleading as it is helpful. You need to make sure that you aren’t going about the process in the wrong way. Today we’ll talk about some common mistakes in metric measurement, and how you can avoid them. No one likes a cluttered desk. There’s not enough space for you to work or think effectively. An orderly organized workspace is essential to productivity. Why would your online interface be any different? Too many metrics can just provide clutter to the marketing metrics dashboard. You’ve go to effectively prioritize the metrics you’re tracking, and in order to do that you’ll need to classify different metrics and order them by relevance. Now what determines relevance exactly? The bottom line, as usual, is profit. You want to always keep that in the back of your mind. This can come in very handy when doing the initial pruning to your crowded dashboard. The “vanity” metrics that marketers like to track can make you feel proud of your efforts, but they don’t actually do that much for your bottom line. CEO’s and CFO’S should be much less concerned with how a marketing department is performing, and much more concerned about how their campaigns are effecting sales and profits. Vanity Metrics These vanity metrics can include a lot of different categories. Even the metric we recommended yesterday, Reach can be considered a vanity metric. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t track this metric. Instead just prioritize it at a lower level than some of your other more relevant metrics like conversion rate or cost per conversion. Reach is still an important part of your sales strategy, but it’s only important inside of the marketing department and doesn’t really inform you of anything useful once you’ve moved farther along in the sales funnel. Instead focus on pursuing metrics that measure business outcomes and improve marketing performance and profitability. If you opt for metrics that sound good and impress people, you’ll lose sight of that all-important bottom line. Other examples of vanity metrics include things like content impressions, or Facebook “Likes.” If you’re working within a marketing department and don’t have a lot of pull over the entire process, you might also want to be careful of which metrics you choose to share with your superiors. To clarify, cost per advertisement can be very helpful to a marketing department, but sharing these kinds of metrics with someone who pulls the purse strings can give the impression that marketing is a money pit, and an excellent place to cut overhead. Beyond vanity metrics there are some other pitfalls marketer can fall into when it comes to metric measurement. Here’s a common example. One of the most prominent metrics commonly cited is lead quantity. On the other hand, barely 50% of marketers opt to measure lead quality. Concentrating on quantity without also evaluating quality can lead to campaigns that look good on paper but don’t result in higher revenues. Efficiency vs. Effectiveness The tendency is to focus more on efficiency than effectiveness. Many marketers will find these terms familiar, but for the uninitiated: efficiency metrics show how many things you are doing, while effectiveness metrics quantify how well you are doing things. It’s easy to focus on efficiency because it shows that you aren’t just twiddling your thumbs and marketers love to prove that they’re being useful, but the metrics that matter more are the ones that show results in your bottom line. Effectiveness metrics are, predictably enough, more effective in that regard. Use efficiency objectives to improve the inner workings of independent departments, not to develop overall strategy for your marketing or sales plans. The person in your organization in charge of marketing should be the most concerned with efficiency metrics. If you’re one of those DIY employers, then let these stats sit on the back burner until you have the time to address them. In the meantime, put more of your attention on the effectiveness metrics that provide a glimpse of what’s working best to bring in the most money. If you insist on measuring efficiency metrics, then before you do so establish a clear connection between efficiency efforts and sales results. If you can clearly mark that path, you’ve turned and efficiency metric, (traditionally seen as a liability or waste of time,) into an effectiveness metric, (relied upon heavily by upper management.) Eyes on the Prize Metrics unrelated to your goals are a waste of time. Use your marketing goals to determine your choices on which metrics to track. Are you trying to build buzz around your brand? If so, then tracking social media metrics like Facebook likes or Twitter followers might be a good decision. However, Social media metrics are notoriously unreliable and difficult to quantify, because it’s hard to measure your influence outside of social media exposure.  Metrics in isolation are never as useful as multiple metric measurements. Cross examining metrics against one another is a great way to increase validity. If you find out that 30% of your site’s traffic is coming from a certain source, let’s say Twitter. That’s great. You’re social media marketing efforts are paying off. Pat yourself on the back. Wait a second… Look at this other metric over here that says approximately 0% of those leads are converting. Now we’ve isolated a problem. Our content is doing great, but further down the sales funnel we’re messing up. Let’s take a look at the Bounce rate. What do you know? It’s off the charts. It looks like our landing page is irrelevant.   See there? A single metric looked like good news, add two more and you’ve unveiled disastrous hole in the sales funnel. Never be satisfied with easy answers. Look deep into your metrics before coming to any hasty conclusions. Another way of looking at your effectiveness/efficiency marketing efforts should be seen through the lens of outcome vs. output. Your outputs are your efforts: what you’re doing to get noticed. The outcomes are the actual results. So you may be running a targeted email/social media campaign and tracking the clickthroughs and interactions with your content. The campaigns are your outputs, but the measures you’re taking are insubstantial outputs. The only reason that clickthroughs and engagements are important is because they lead further down your sales funnel. You ultimately want to track conversions. Keep the clickthrough and interaction metrics handy to prove connection between campaign and conversion, but keep your focus on the prize: successfully converted leads. It’s all a matter of perception. Your perception to be precise. You need to discover which of your metrics are important to your bottom line and focus mainly on those. Gather information about other metrics as they become relevant to your secondary or tertiary goals. Always pay attention to the metric measurements which are most concerned with your actual outcomes. 

Meaningful Metric Measurements for Your Online Store

 by zack on 19 Jul 2013 |
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It’s no secret that the Ashop blog has a vested interest in metric measurement. It’s a huge part of our online store creation platform. However, there’s a reason we built it that way. Learning what your business is currently capable of and where it’s losing ground is something that’s never before been available in such specificity. With the advent of metric measurement, it’s now possible to closely scrutinize customer habits and behavior to such a degree that a business owner can draw valuable insights and enact powerfully targeted marketing campaigns based thereupon.   However, it can get quite complex in very short order. You can track literally hundreds of different metrics, not all of which are created equal. This can end up crowding your dashboard and leaving you more confused than illuminated. Because metric measurement can be diversified to such a large degree, today’s post will focus only on the most important metric forms and functions which every ecommerce impresario should be assiduously observing. Measuring Metrics is Important This might be a no brainer for you if you’re already reading this post, but it’s worth briefly mentioning why exactly we choose to track the different data sets that make up our metrics. One thing that stands out pretty quickly, without metrics all you have to go on strategy-wise is your feelings. While this can be a very cathartic situation when it works out, it is more often very frustrating because it lacks grounding in real-world mathematical fact. The stark truth when it comes to marketing is data beats a gut feeling 100 times out of 99. The difference between the two? Numbers don’t lie. They can mislead, but you can never draw the conclusion that 500 visitors to your site per day is greater than 501. Without the basic traffic measurement, you’re just guessing how many people came for a visit. This is a simplistic example, but it illustrates the overarching point: metric measurements are necessary because we have to base strategy around fact. Measuring metrics gives us more to work with than just cost and profit. How to Best Use Metrics As a rule, it’s smart to track everything, that way if you want to narrow down your results or filter them into specific and unique metrics you can. While it’s smart to have it all on record, you don’t necessarily need to review each metric with the same frequency or at the same level of detail. Doing so would almost certainly be a waste of time and effort. Not all metrics are created equal, so you should learn to segment the ones that are most useful to you and your business. Tracking conversions for example is very useful, especially when combined with another filter like unique visitors. If you filter conversions with unique visitors, you can then compare that number to the total amount of each metric and find out how well you’re selling to your unique visitors as compared to return visitors. If the number is abysmally low in comparison to the overall conversion rate amongst all of your visitors, then you know that the site isn’t as appealing to first time visitors and needs to be adjusted for a more universally appreciable experience. And don’t worry if some of these terms seem like jargon right now. We’ll be covering them in more depth below. Which Metrics should I track? Let’s start simple. It’s a good idea to know how much traffic you’re getting, but in isolation it doesn’t really give you many valuable insights. However, if you know how much traffic you’re getting, and where it’s coming from, these nameless numbers start to look a little more like customers. Traffic Sources are important metrics that allow you to view where your visitors are coming from. There are three types of traffic sources: Search traffic-measures how many of your visitors are finding your site through a search engine. This number can be improved through proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, or through PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. Referral traffic-measures the rate at which you’re receiving traffic that’s clicked through your content shared on social media, or from other outside sources. It’s often very difficult to increase this type of traffic, but it can be done through virality or the effectiveness of content. Direct traffic- measures the number of people who’ve typed your web address directly to their URL. More often than not, these are repeat customers, and they need to be converted to sales. Armed with the knowledge of where your traffic is coming from you can better focus your advertising, and learn which of your sales funnels is the most profitable.   Another good metric to track is Visitor Conversion. This is the number of your visitors that are actually purchasing something from your online store. This metric is most useful when it’s segmented by new and returning visitors. This is because new and returning visitors have very different expectations of your site, as well as wildly varying behavioral habits. You can use the visitor conversion rate to measure your landing page’s effectiveness. Is it visually appealing enough to keep a customer interested? Does it work well enough on a functional level, so as not to frustrate a visitor? If you’re lacking in either department a low new visitor conversion rate will let you know. Returning visitors already like your site, but if they’re not converting you’re still missing something. You’re either not being valuable enough to convince them that they should buy your product, or perhaps your checkout system isn’t in an area of high visibility, and it’s easy for them to forget that you’re selling something. The value you provide is key to converting return visitors. This goes back to your content strategy. Are you an informative resource for your customers? Does your site provide them with useful free content that serves as a hook to your conversions? You need to do your best to make your web page a helpful hand to your niche market.   The next metric measurement you’ll want to stay on top of is the Bounce Rate. It’s the amount of visitors who land on your page, only to navigate away in fairly short order. It’s frustrating to have a visitor’s attention for only a second and then have them immediately bounce away from your influence. What does this say about your site? Are you doing something terribly wrong? It could be. You’re obviously grabbing traffic that doesn’t want what you’re selling, or that doesn’t think your site is professional/reputable/attractive enough to warrant a closer look. So this could be a design and functionality problem, but if you’re still getting a healthy number of conversions from new visitors, it could be that you’re improperly targeting keywords or some other aspect of your marketing plan. A high bounce rate could mean that your visitors got to your site while looking for something completely different. Pay attention to which pages have high bounce rates, and examine the traffic sources among visitors who bounced. If they’re predominantly from search engines, you’ve probably improperly targeted a keyword. If they’re from direct or referral sources, you might just have an ugly or dysfunctional site. Another similar metric measurement for you to observe would be your Exit Pages. These are the pages on your site where visitors are abandoning ship. For whatever reason you’re losing your grip on their attention in these specific areas, you need to figure out why and rectify the situation. Otherwise, you’ll continue to see all that potential revenue slip through your fingers. Unique Visitors are the number of distinct individuals that visit your site. This does not include repeated visits from the same individual. Basically it means your new customers, well new visitors. They aren’t customers until they convert, but we can be hopeful, can’t we? This is an invigorating statistic when you see an upward trend in its growth. It means that whatever you’re doing is working. However, if you aren’t attracting many new visitors, or if your growth is completely stagnant, then it’s time to revisit your content strategy and come up with some new ideas. Search engine traffic usually accounts to a great deal of your site’s total visitors, and search engines index certain pages that are found to be useful or relevant to different search queries. The Indexed Pages metric lets you know which of your pages have been indexed by search engines. This information is very useful to you because you can find out where you need to work at increasing conversions. These indexed pages are drawing a lot of unique visitors into your site, so why not add in some CTA’S in order to drum up some sales? You might also be interested in the total number of individuals you’re able to influence with all of your resources; meaning everyone in your customer database, with all of its contained sources: social media, email address, etc. In other words, the total number of people you can contact in one way or another. This metric is called your Reach. It’s good to know your reach because you know the absolute limit of what your company is capable of doing. You won’t convert anyone that’s outside of your reach, so if your goals outstrip your current reach, you know it’s time to broaden your efforts. With these basic metric measurements you’ll be well armed to make valid judgments about your business and marketing model. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a good start on your way to gaining a complete understanding of how your sales funnel functions, and where improvements need to be made. Join us next time for a few examples of some common mistakes people make with measuring metrics.  

Canvasing Successful Content Strategies 2:

 by zack on 17 Jul 2013 |
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Welcome back to Ashop’s 2-part post series on putting together a successful content strategy. Last time we asked the question: what is content strategy, and what are some of the research intricadies involved? Today we’ll continue to discuss research, but we’ll also talk about the meat of your project: content development, distribution, and scheduling.  So let’s hop right in and figure out how to turn insights from your market research into money in your pocket. Take Stock of Your Assets: After taking a thorough look at your target audience, the next thing you need to do is take an inventory of your own assets. Do you have some white papers? Some online tutorials? A few sales letters? What exactly have you offered so far in terms of content? And in what mediums? Did you get any positive feedback from these early attempts? Any negative feedback? You need to get a blank sheet of paper and write down as many questions for yourself as you can possibly think of. Write down questions until your brain is dead and your hand is aching. Then start answering them. Don’t feel like this is a task you have to tackle alone. A content strategy is a collaborative effort that needs to be handled by a team of people who’ve got a direct hand in any of the campaigns that are involved. You’ve got employees, so use them. If you don’t have employees, then check into some of the outside contractors that are available for a variety of marketing related services. Market research is a booming field and there are entire firms of content strategists dedicated to helping you meet your marketing objectives. A few good places to look are The Warrior Forum,, and WickedFire. Speaking of the marketplace, one thing you’ll really need to do is research your competition. You need to find out where they are finding their customers, how they are engaging with them, and most importantly, you should find out what kind of content they’re using. If you can find a type of content that they’re lacking, you can gain a significant competitive edge. For example, say your competition is doing well with a newsletter, a blog, and a few eBooks that they give out for free in exchange for contact information. Perhaps you also notice that they don’t have any video media at all. This could be an opportunity for you to develop a series of helpful video tutorials. You can really use this opportunity to one-up your opposition. If you’re providing more media at a higher level of entertainment and expertise, you're sure to snag some stray conversions from your competitors.  Planning Your Content Development: After you’ve finally conducted all of your research, you can begin the next phase of your content strategy: planning. This is the nitty-gritty of your content strategy. You’re deciding exactly what you’re going to do in order to meet your marketing objectives. To begin with, you’ll have to refer back to your research and find out where the holes in your own inventory are, as well as those in your competition’s content. Use these insights to inform your next course of action, which will be deciding what kind of media you’ll be distributing. This again comes down to asking questions. Are you planning on using long form sales letters? Videos? Emails? How many different kinds of media are you looking to put out there? The options range quite widely, and some might work better than others depending on who you’re targeting. Here’s a basic pointer, you’ll want to have an opt-in page that’s search engine optimized for sure. Do your best to market this page well. Advertise it in email blasts, on your home page, across social media; at least make sure there’s a link to it in most of the materials you release. This page is where you’ll aim to convert most of your leads, so spend some time developing it and connecting it to various sales funnels. Since we’re on the subject of sales funnels, now would be a good time to start thinking about distribution. Any content strategist worth their salt needs to know where the best spots to deliver content to their customers will be. Everything should link back to your website, and eventually to your opt-in page. The main goal here is always to gain conversions, so make sure there’s an easily identifiable method for anyone examining your content to purchase your product or service. Next, go back to your research and find out where your customers and potential customers are the most active online. You’ll want to market there. This could be on a social media platform, YouTube, search engines (via PPC advertising), email, and much more. Decide on the most appropriate paths of distribution based on your goals for that particular piece of content. If you’ve done your research correctly, you should have a good idea of where your customers are spending most of their time online. Scheduling a Strategy: The next thing you’ll need to do is set up a schedule. Put together an extremely detailed calendar. Beyond just having the date, you’ll need to include what kind of content you’re working on, the title of said content, where you’ll distribute it, when you plan on distributing it, what keywords this content will target, and what the goals for this particular material are (gain conversions, build buzz, etc.) After you’ve put this calendar together you need to share it with anyone involved in the project. It should be a document stored on a cloud platform. This way you or anyone else with the need to do so can access and edit it from anywhere. With universal location access, you can make any adjustments required to your content strategy on the fly, without having to waste time micromanaging. Once this calendar is done, you’re basically all set to do the actual work. All you’ll need to do is carry out the orders that you’ve created for yourself. In other words, you just have to follow your strategy. Stick to the plan and all should be well. If you do the homework on this thing ahead of time, most of your content should write itself. You’ll know the niche inside and out, and you’ll have all the tools you need to succeed. So don’t skimp on the research, and schedule every tiny detail. If for some reason, things don’t go according to plan, go back to the beginning and figure out where you went wrong. There’s always room for improvement, so don’t feel like you have to stick to the same template. Experiment and have fun with your strategy. After all, if you’re not having fun, then what good is all that money you’re making?

Canvasing Successful Content Strategies Part 1

 by zack on 17 Jul 2013 |
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You hear the slogans all the time. Content is King! Content strategy is an essential element to ecommerce success! So on and so forth. What you don’t hear is the truth: Content development and the strategy behind it are complex, overwhelming, and constantly in frustrating flux. It takes a great deal of hard work and an even greater amount of collaboration between disparate content strategist specialists across a large variety of different fields. It’s also imminently necessary for any online business looking to be competitive in today’s marketplace. A comprehensive how-to manual for constructing a coherent content strategy is going to be a Melville novel’s worth of dense reading. However, the scaffolding of any content strategy is going to look surprisingly similar. Much like a comparison between the inner workings of a professional athlete versus a clerk at your local grocers, content strategy skeletal systems can vary wildly, but they all have basically the same structure. So let’s attempt to draw a broad outline of what content strategies are, why they’re necessary, and how to go about creating one. What is Content Strategy? First things first, you’ve got figure out what you’re dealing with here. A content strategy consists of all the material you’re putting out to engage with your customers online, as well as the methodology you’re using in your content development’s implementation. To put it another way, it’s the conversations you’ll start, the media you’ll distribute, what you’re offering to your customers, and the hook that will get them interested enough to give you their hard earned cash. Beyond that, it’s a renewable resource. It is an organic process that lives and grows with your brand. If properly structured at the beginning of your ecommerce venture, your content strategy will be a cyclical process that’s revisited every time you add a new goal to your “to do” list. A content strategy is a marketing playbook that you consult before every big game. It’s a living constitutional document designed to adjustably govern your ever-expanding ecommerce empire. It’s everything you need to know about what you’re saying, and how it’s going to interact with consumers. Needless to say, it’s pretty damn important. But let’s break it down into specifics. Why Do You Need a Content Strategy? To put it simply, because preparation is everything. You need to go into an online marketing situation with a clearly defined plan. You need to know what you want to say, how it will be received, and what to expect in terms of sales and conversions. Everything about your business depends on advertising, and content is the number one way of meeting your marketing objectives. More now than ever, online consumers are expecting something for nothing. The trick most content strategists would recommend is to give them something for free, and give them the impression that you don’t require anything in return. Because all you really want is their attention. Once you’ve got that, it’s a matter of time before you figure out the correct combination to the lock on their wallets. A crafty content strategy is one that perfectly places you to grab your ideal targeted consumer’s attention, and gives them all of the incentive they need to purchase your product or service. You need to develop a content strategy, because if you don’t, you’re flying blind in an extremely complex and competitive world. So saddle up, it’s a bumpy ride from here on in. It’s time to figure out how to start building a savvy and successful web content strategy. How to Build a Content Strategy: Content strategies are like lengthy college research papers, dissertations, or final theses. The key word there is research. You’ve got to take a fine tooth comb to everything regarding your niche, before you even think about putting together a hypothesis. You need to be intimately familiar with your market, your company’s place within the market, your product, your competition’s product, the content you’ve already produced, your competition’s content, your current audience, the people you’re looking to reach out to, their wants, their needs, and their online habits as well. To meet all of your marketing objectives, you’ve got to haul all of that data in and pour over it like a translator who’s discovered an ancient Sanskrit text. If that doesn’t paint a clear picture in your mind, then let’s just say you need to do quite a bit of reading, rereading, writing, and rewriting. Don’t get me started on proofreading. Unfortunately, this isn’t a section we can just gloss over. You’ve really got to get a handle on all of these different sets of data. The first place you want to start is the market. You’ve got to figure out who you’re trying to sell to, and what they’re like. That means demographic research. One of the best ways to approach this is through metrics tracking and multivariate testing. You’ve got to see where your site’s visitors are going, what they’re spending the most time on, and where it is that you’re losing their attention. A full suite of ecommerce metric tracking software like the one that Ashop provides can be very helpful in this regard. You also need to analyze in depth as many customer profiles as you can. That means looking at any social media data that you possess. Look at your followers on Twitter; check out who likes you on Facebook. Learn what their interests are, and where your company fits in with those interests. Take a broad outlook in this regard, and try to find common denominators across the wide variety of your followers.   That’s all the tips we have time for today. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of our post series on content strategy, in which we’ll discuss the complexities of scheduling, distribution, content types, and other important aspects of planning successful content development.  

3 Awesome Examples of Twitter Marketing

 by zack on 12 Jul 2013 |
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  The last two posts in our series have illustrated what a powerful venue Twitter advertising can be. It’s an excellent way to engage your audience online, and gain greater influence by increasing the amount of Twitter followers for your business. It’s also incredibly easy to generate targeted marketing campaigns. However, one thing we haven’t covered is what a successful Twitter marketing campaign looks like in practice. Today we’ll be discussing some famous examples of companies with wildly successful Twitter advertising campaigns. Ones that put together interesting and creative content that's easily distributed to their mass of Twitter followers. In so doing, they accomplished several important goals. They built brand awareness, consumer loyalty, and most importantly they produced higher profits. Taco Bell One thing Taco Bell does well, (aside from making food that somehow becomes tastier, the later at night it’s consumed) is advertise. Even going back to the 90’s, they had a highly memorable campaign featuring a Spanish speaking Chihuahua. These days the commercials are still funny, but the real story is their customer interaction. Taco Bell uses humor and speedy reaction time to build up their online presence and popularity. There are entire websites dedicated to recording Taco Bell’s interactions with its Twitter followers. This is obviously a good thing for building buzz around the brand. Taco Bell exemplifies a few of the concepts we’ve discussed in the past two posts. One is effective Twitter targeting. The Mexican food magnate spends a great deal of time searching for popular hashtags. Once they’ve picked up on a popular message they start riding its coattails into further prominence. On the surface this is a risky proposition, as most companies that tried to keep in touch with trending hashtags would probably be poorly received. What separates Taco Bell’s social media network strategy from the rest, is its popularity among youth and the effective use of humorous content in its advertising.   In the above screen grab, you get an idea of some of the snappy online commentary available @TacoBell. What’s more though is you can see the amount of user interaction that they engage in. They do this very well. These lighthearted interactions are never delivered in over-the-top sales speak. They come from a down to earth humorous voice that’s approachable, relatable, and fun. Using humor is a powerful tool on its own, but Taco Bell doesn’t stop there. There are a few examples in which they promote exclusive content, and engage other gigantic brand names with their Twitter account, like this special offer for adding them on Snapchat: Or a quick conversation with carbonated drink giant, Pepsi: This is an example of lending a helping hand, and dually promoting both brands. It's one aspect of social media marking we've discussed in our previous posts that Taco Bell excels at. Here we have one brand reaching out to another, and both of them reap the benefits of increased awareness. Though this next example isn’t exclusive to Twitter, it does show how offering free content can build brand loyalty. Providing a fan of your food with a customized speedo takes true dedication, and really illustrates to the public at large that this company cares about its customers. Taco Bell doesn’t have a monopoly on humorous social media presences though. There are a couple more examples of deft handling of a Twitter advertising account. Skittles As if anyone needed another reason to buy Skittles. The Mars candy corporation’s rainbow colored standout utilizes offbeat humor and massive consumer interactivity to achieve their brand awareness goals.  Their off-the-wall comments and strange demeanor may not universally cater to everyone’s sense of humor, but it’s hard to argue with the results they’ve gotten.  The Skittles account has over 100 thousand Twitter followers. That’s a lot of contacts, and plenty of loyal customers. With an impulse buy brand name like Skittles, about the highest measure of your success is how many people are talking about you at any given point. Skittles consistent interaction with its consumers ensures that the level of engagement stays very high. That means there's a large portion of the populace with Skittles on their minds, and that section is that much more likely to grab a bag on their way out of the grocery store. Part of this success is from bringing the funny, but that’s only a part of the greater whole that Skittles really nailed. They found their own unique brand voice. They set a goal of figuring out what you would expect to hear from a rainbow flavored candy, and bringing it to you in all of its abstract glory. Because of this sedated distinctiveness, Skittles is able to bring a level of authenticity to its customer interactions, one that translates into genuine affection for the brand name itself. For whatever reason, people respond to the quirkiness that Skittles puts out. To see a clever illustration of how their offbeat attitude generates interactivity, check out their newest "Smash the Rainbow" campaign: Speaking of quirky… Old Spice Old Spice takes quirkiness to a whole new level with some of its psychotically wacky advertisements. The Best of Terry Crews Old Spice commercials video compilation on Youtube, for example, has over a million hits. The brand features hilarious and dysfunctional advertisements, designed to appeal to an over the top sense of masculinity, and it doesn’t do a shabby job. One thing that Old Spice has in common with Taco Bell is there excellent use of Twitter to build awareness, with consistent and humorous messages. The two of them have even teamed up for a bit of comedically combative back and forth. However, where Old Spice has been truly revolutionary is getting their Twitter followers engaged with their content. This is made abundantly clear by the personalized video responses they’ve been sending to people who've tweeted them. Take a look: The above example is a personalized response to popular blogger, Perez Hilton, sent by the Old Spice Twitter team. This was brilliant on a couple of levels. One, because Perez has a ton of Twitter followers, and he promptly retweeted the message. Two, becuase how exciting is it that you might get a video response from a highly popular and instantly recognizable television character? Customer engagement rose to viral levels almost instantly.  This brings up another good point, if you can get a celebrity endorsement, that's a lot of free Twitter advertising. So try to connect with a wide array of people, you never know who might be interested in your service. This particular campaign boosted Old Spice buzz into the stratosphere. The videos totaled close to 6 million views, with over 22,500 different comments. As far as consumer engagement goes, it doesn’t get much better than that.  As these three companies show, there are plenty of different ways to successfully build your brand using social media networks. Humorous, helpful, and interactive content are all powerful methods to do just that, and these household names all illustrate that perfectly with their Twitter marketing efforts.  

Twitter Targeting: Hashtags and Other Tools

 by zack on 11 Jul 2013 |
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Much of the entrepreneurial anxiety surrounding the use of Twitter for businesses is associated with these hip little things called Hashtags. I say “hip,” because they just randomly started appearing in Facebook, a completely different social media network. What’s even funnier, they became so popular that Facebook decided to start using them too.   For those unfamiliar, hashtags are useful little punctuation marks that make it easy to create communities and join discourse in the Twitterverse. They’re like topic headings that you can search for. In other words, hashtags are phrases that people can rally around like banners for all sorts of reasons; everything ranging from simple conversations, to activism, to product marketing. Any tweet that contains a particular hashtag will appear whenever said tag is searched. For example, if you were looking for a fun mobile application, you could enter "#androidgames". Then you could browse through the resulting tweets for awesome mobile game recommendations. You can turn anything into a hashtag. All that’s required is the # (hash) symbol in front of some text. The space bar acts as a delimiter, so treat the entire hashtag as a single word, even if it contains multiple words within. There’s also very little in the way of established etiquette for hashtags. They can be placed at the end of your message to be used as filtering tools, like so: Or, to be particularly contextually clever, you can use them mid-sentence: You can even use them to be obnoxious: But don’t do that. It’s obnoxious. Of course, this can all be a bit difficult to process at first. My inner-grammarian is screaming for spaces between words. However, once you’ve gotten the hang of it you can make better use of the social media network in all sorts of ways. You can create your own conversations where anyone can join, while only burning through a few their coveted 140 characters. Alternatively, you can join conversations that are already in progress, and more effectively target your audience that way. Targeting Speaking of targeting, it’s one of Twitter’s most powerful functionalities. To effectively target people in your niche, you’ll need to do a search of popular hashtags that fall within your niche. Choose or create a simple and easy hashtag based on your research. Try to pick one that is getting or will get a lot of impressions. Impressions are user interactions with your tweets. They can be either mentions, retweets, or replies. Then add it to the bottom of your tweets. Anytime someone searches that  hashtag, your tweet will be in their results. If you've correctly crafted your content, then it will offer them something they want. Simultaneously, it will be offering you their attention, which is definitely something you want. Everybody wins. However, Twitter targeting isn’t something that’s limited to hashtags. There are plenty of other distinct ways to target your niche. Here are 5 of our favorites. 1. Keywords in timeline Twitter has a timeline that’s available for marketers to peruse in order to insert their advertising in ways that make contextual sense. This feature, available only in Twitter’s “Ads UI” or “Ads API” paid services, helps you target consumers based on their recent tweets and tweet engagement, that is to say which tweets they’ve interacted with. This will help you find out what your customers are currently interested in, and how to appeal to those interests at the correct time, using the same keywords that they’ve been using themselves.  This is all part of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets program. 2. Interest Another Ads UI/API feature, targeting by interest, lets you choose a set of interests that you’d like to target. Any user that shares these interests and matches some additional filtering will receive a promoted tweet from your account. This can also be adapted to mimic your followers’ interests as well as your own.   3. Geography This one is pretty much self-explanatory. You can further narrow down your promoted tweet targeting by isolating it to a specific location. If you’re trying to break into a new market in a foreign land, this feature can be abundantly helpful. 4. Gender Maybe you’re selling fancy French perfumes online, and maybe it’s smarter not to market Chanel no. 5 to men. Some products are quite simply gender specific, and you don't want to waste time with people uninterested in your advertising. It might still build brand awarenes, but it also leaves a bad taste in their mouths. 5. Device Differentiating your marketing efforts between mobile and stationary devices (i.e. phones/tablets vs. desktops/laptops) is an absolute must for today’s online marketers. Just look at these stunning statistics detailing mobile Twitter use: That just seems like too much movement for your thumbs, but  I suppose you can’t stop progress. Twitter  marketing makes targeting so easy that anyone with internet access can become a fairly competent social media marketer in a matter of weeks. You’ve just got to put the legwork in, do your research, and effectively manage your databases. Look to sell to people at the right moment in the right setting. Not because it’s always necessary, but because it’s always more effective than just guessing. Check back next time as we delve into some awesome examples of big-time brands that conduct successful Twitter advertising campaigns.
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