Affiliates know that there are plenty of advertising methods out there to make them some money. But for those new to the field, or those who are more practiced in a particular program, starting a new campaign can be an intimidating experience if they don't have the right information.
One of the Web's most underused advertising programs is the pay-per-view (PPV) method. Even though it's been around for a few years, it hasn't quite caught on the way PPC or CPM advertising has. The method is largely misunderstood by the uninitiated, partly because many people have preconceived notions about the term, "pay-per-view".
So, what is PPV advertising?
The most common misconception about PPV ads is that they are the same thing as impression-based ads like CPM. If anything, a more accurate explanation of PPV is that it is something of a combination between PPC and CPM advertising. With PPV, every time someone views the page that houses the ads, you get paid. Advertisers and marketers get paid per view, as opposed to after a set number of views, but it requires no action by the users like PPC advertising does.
Another way to define PPV advertising is that it is essentially adware, in a not-so-illegal way. (In fact, the majority of PPV networks are verified by eTrust.) Usually what happens is an exchange of services, where users agree to be shown ads and, in return, receive free "gifts" like screensavers, games, etc.
In a lot of ways, PPV is among the most targeted and cost-effective advertising methods available on the Web.
How does PPV work for me?
For marketers, the process of establishing PPV ads is similar to the way they use Adwords, by choosing a URL destination and then bidding on keywords or URLs.
Users who download the necessary adware will see a new window or tab pop-up that features your landing page every time they perform a specific action (usually searching for a term or going to a URL destination). Each time that ad pops up, you get paid.
This allows advertisers the ability to establish very specific targets for their ads, and since you base your campaign on keywords and URLs, it's much cheaper than bidding on PPC ads.
Typically, you'll see PPV ads costing anywhere from .015-.02 cents per view, but you do get paid every single time someone sees the ad.
The one flaw of this advertising method is that because it comes in the form of a pop-up, there is a high probability that users will simply click it away as soon as it shows up, which could be detrimental to conversion-rate numbers. The upside here is that you don't lose a lot of money since it is such a cheap way to advertise online; making up your ROI is much easier with PPV advertisements than most other forms.
How can I get started with a PPV campaign?
The act of launching a PPV campaign is quite easy. As long as you know your intended audience, setting it up is nothing more than getting started with an affiliate network that specializes in PPV advertising and bidding on your desired keywords and/or URLs.
Naturally, optimizing your campaign takes a little more work. The key to establishing an effective PPV operation is to remember that you're interrputing this user's intended Web experience, so you need to get to the point as quickly and efficiently as possible to capture his or her interest.
Some best practices include providing a landing page that fits in the pop-up window (750x550 pixels), keeping your landing-page message simple and to-the-point and considering the addition of audio (or video) on your page that will intrigue users.
It's also important to monitor keywords and/or URLs and not continue to bid on those that aren't working.
Here is a list of affiliate networks that offer PPV advertising:
While PPV advertising may not be ideal as one's only method of making money, the cheap cost of starting and maintaining a campaign -- as well as the highly customized targeting abilities -- make it a great addition to any marketer's strategy.
Videos can add another dimension to almost any website – they can be informative, instructional and even fun.
But to get the most out of your videos, one must analyze what types of videos are the most successful in terms of your business goals – as well as the metrics that make them successful.
Video commerce solutions provider Liveclicker has announced a new product called Custom Insight, which enables retailers to analyze and compare online video data in order to identify which types of videos perform best.
"Our team highly values the knowledge we are able to gain from Liveclicker's advanced analytics, and we're looking forward to drilling down even deeper with the addition of Custom Insight," says Jon Schroeder, Video Director for Crutchfield. "Being able to compare custom categories of videos unique to our business, by conversion-based metrics, is critical to our content strategy and how we choose to format our e-commerce videos."
Custom Insight allows marketers to quickly answer complex questions about videos, such as the most effective video lengths, formats and content. Marketers can also compare different categories of videos with key performance metrics such as conversion rate, average order size and dollars-per-video-view.
The solution is available within the LiveClicker Video Commerce Platform, which is an enterprise SaaS application that is built specifically for commerce.
MailChimp has announced the launch of a new desktop application to help email marketers manage complex list segmentation.
Hairball is an Adobe Air application that allows users to import their MailChimp account data onto their desktop computers and build as many segments as they’d like within the offline app. After the list segments are completed, Hairball re-syncs with MailChimp online and creates new static segments inside the application for sending campaigns.
Hairball has been tested with lists of up to 10 million email addresses and for accounts with over two years sending history. The application was created in part to meet the needs of MailChimp’s largest senders – currently sending over 40 million emails each month.
Larger retailers that desire deeper analytics and multiple storefronts for their Social Commerce stores can now consider two new solutions from Payvment.
The social commerce provider announced general availability of both – Payvment Premium and Payvment Platinum – which are designed to increase social discovery and customer engagement. New features of the social commerce apps include:
Advanced analytics – Provides data that includes social interactions (likes, comments and Tweets) on a product-by-product basis, allowing merchants to evaluate the impact of promotions.
Automated and product-specific social promotions – Allows for posts to be scheduled, and also run promotions with product-specific coupon codes.
Centralized management of customer conversations – View all customer interactions and respond to shopper inquiries directly from the Payvment dashboard.
Multiple storefronts and administrators – Manage up to five storefronts from a single dashboard, with global controls and analytics by store or across all stores. Also includes a unified view of product performance across multiple stores.
Both versions also include the existing features of the free Payvment application. Payvment Premium is available for $29.95 a month or $299.95 per year. Additionally, the custom solution for larger retailers – Payvment Platinum – is priced by quote, and includes an unlimited number of storefronts, account administrators, training and customer support.
A new partnership between news distribution service PR Newswire and Web content management solutions provider Ektron has lightened the load for many Web publishers. The pairing will integrate PR Newswire's press release publishing and social media monitoring into Ektron's current platform to create "a more seamless news distribution experience."
Simplifying Content Distribution
PR Newswire Sync is an add-on module included in Ektron's content management system (CMS). Those working in communications and using the Ektron solution will be able to publish their press releases simultaneously on both PR Newswire and their Ektron-powered websites, a change that will help to diminish, if not totally eliminate, manual errors while also making work easier for those in charge of managing content on a corporate website.
PR Newswire Sync works by constantly monitoring an organization's PR Newswire account. This continual surveillance means that whenever a news release is published through PR Newswire, Sync will automatically take the content feed and publish that content on the publisher's site, with all links and formatting intact. It will even go as far as URL-aliasing the release's title, adding keyword metadata for search engine optimization and including a summarized version of the release to the organization's home page. In effect, it does three different jobs for a company's online content manager all at once.
Keeping an Eye on the Social Web
In addition to Sync, the company is also releasing the PR Newswire Listening Dashboard, its social media monitoring counterpart. This add-on allows users to monitor the conversations about their brand or company on multiple online and social channels by studying keywords and search strings. This allows Ektron's users to "better determine campaign success and adjust communications strategies based on the findings from the PR Newswire Listening Dashboard."
These modules can be attached to any website powered by Ektron. For more information about PR Newswire Sync and Listening Dashboard, click here.
Top 5 Signs That Your Website Sucks
Small business owners may not have the resources to invest heavily in their web presence and finding solutions to problems can be like finding a needle in a haystack. You know something’s wrong but don’t have the faintest idea how to fix it. Is it a technical issue? Are your ads not performing well? Don’t know what kind of traffic you’re getting? Website problems can fall into a myriad of categories. So if you think your website sucks, a) it probably does, and b) you should read on.
1. You Aren’t Getting Traffic
You’re excited about the big, expensive job the design team just finished on your site. It looks like a million bucks! Well it’s a shame it isn’t making you a darn cent. Just because it exists doesn’t mean people know about it. Announce it to the world by submitting it to reputable directories and sharing your useful content with others on social bookmarking sites (you do have useful content, don’t you? If not, I’ll cover this later). You can even do some link exchanges — provided the sites you exchange with are reputable — just to get your site crawled early on. Further optimize it for search engines by following good SEO practices, building quality content and generating inbound links from other sites. Once you do that, you’ll need to monitor progress with web analytics software. Google Analytics is free and it has a slick interface. And we know you like pretty things seeing as how you broke the bank on your web site design.
If you’re looking for high ROI, invest your own time in learning search engine marketing. Better yet hire a qualified SEO firm if you have the budget for it. Don’t settle for quick-fix promotional ideas. Build long-term exposure and a solid reputation by attaining high rankings, keeping email/newsletter lists, targeted ad placement and social media participation.
2. You Have Worthless Content
What defines worthless content? Without knowing what topic your web site covers it’s tough to say, but if you have nothing that sets you apart from your top competitors then I’d say you aren’t in good shape. If you don’t know what kind of content people are looking for on the Internet today, take a peek at what’s popular on social bookmarking sites. Observe some of the story titles on the front page of Digg.com:
* “Guinness Stout Beef Stew Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day”
* “In Move to Digital TV, Confusion Is in the Air”
* “Kim Jong-Il Interprets Sunrise As Act Of War”
* “Automatic bacon dispenser?”
* “The 5 Best Obama Photomosaics on Flickr”
Words I would use to describe these topics, in order, are: seasonal, informative, satirical, comical, and trendy. This information is popular because it’s appealing in its uniqueness and is relevant to today’s market. To set yourself apart from your competition, you need to get creative. If you’re the kind of person who had trouble painting by numbers, then hire someone creative. Professional copy writers can be well worth the investment. Create free tools your customers will want to use; write funny or interesting commentary in a blog about your industry; put a new spin on a traditional product or service or offer seasonal discounts. Create a comprehensive F.A.Q. on your site that covers topics your competitors don’t.
Take the time to beef up your content. Be innovative – don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Use the top competitor in your field as a measuring stick.
3. You Have No Call-to-Action
Poor promotional language can have a sabotaging effect if visitors aren’t drawn to your conversion pages. A conversion page is any page that acts as the final step in a visitor submitting a form, making direct contact or purchasing a product online. Obscuring those pages or confusing the visitor on where to go next can make them leave your site. Internet users have a short attention span – give them a clear direction when navigating your web site.
Use your web analytics software again to find out what pages visitors are landing on first. If your home page gets the most traffic, make sure there are clear links to your sub-topics. If inner pages are your most popular landing pages, find out if the traffic is targeted. Once you know the type of visitor and the specific page they land on, then you can start marketing your content more accurately.
The bottom line is to always make clear why, and how, visitors can buy your product. Don’t get too cute with multiple steps, options or convoluted language.
4. You’re Getting Traffic But No Sales
Are you sure the traffic is relevant? If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign, ensure your ads are geo-targeted properly and your ad text or landing pages appeal to your customers. For organic search engine placement, have you done keyword research and analysis before optimizing your content? Look at your web stats and see where your visitors are coming from. What keywords were they searching for when they landed on your site? Are the referring sites relevant to your industry or topic? How much time does the visitor spend on each page? Sales won’t come if your visitors aren’t interested in what you’re selling. This is why preliminary keyword analysis is so important to search engine marketing.
If you’re running ads it’s always good practice to experiment with different ad campaigns. If you put all your eggs in one basket you run the risk of losing out on potential revenue. Elements of your ads that you can change are:
* Ad text
* Landing page
* Specific network your ads are shown across
* Topics on which you focus the campaign
* Geo-locations targeted
Remember, it doesn’t pay to skimp on initial product/market research and analysis.
5. You’re Getting Relevant Traffic But No Sales
This problem could signal a technical error or navigation problem with your site. Make sure you thoroughly test all functionalities on various web browsers and systems. Submit test forms. Do a link check to spot possible broken links. Is your web hosting service reliable?
If you’ve ruled out technical issues as the cause then turn your attention to the content and customer base. Has your market taken a downturn? Can the lack of sales be attributed to the poor economy? Have you fallen behind your competition in product quality, selection or pricing? Does your web site’s navigation system confuse users? Your web site is the first line of contact between the business and potential customer, but it’s not the only step you need to worry about. Telephone operators or online payment systems can present their own issues.
Tips to Market at Flickr
Ready to shine on Flickr? Here are some tips on how to go about it:
1. Build up a portfolio of quality photos. Most Flickr users have an eye and taste for quality. Many of them will certainly ignore email marketing efforts based on poor photos. Hire a photographer, buy the best camera, or capture images powered by enchanting concepts. By whatever means possible, half of the email marketing challenge is solved when the photos are there.
2. Tag for searchability. Flickr, like almost all online community sites, rely heavily on search tags to bring results to users. The most appropriate keywords should be used as descriptive tags to bring in the target audience. Further to this, keyword analysis should be conducted, to appropriately modify tags to suit the search patterns of users.
3. Organize photos properly into collections, for ease of access by users, who can click on the photo galleries based on themed groupings descriptive of actual content.
4. Grab attention with attractive thumbnails. From the photo collection, the best images should be selected as thumbnails, those tiny visual teasers that lure users to peruse the rest of the collection.
5. Regular photo updates. As in blogs and websites, frequently refreshing content builds reputation for being a reliable and consistent source of fresh images, with the possibility of being visited more often or linked to by other blogs and websites.
6. Treat Flickr as a social media playground. That means joining relevant groups and sharing tips, news and photos with the community. This builds relationships and reputation, and widens email marketing coverage further.
Summing up how to make email marketing work in Flickr, it takes nice quality photos, the will to keep going by regularly updating fresh content, and socializing with the Flickr community, to really reap the rewards of the email marketing campaign.
14 Steps to Good Business Website Design
How important is Website Design? Your Website needs to look professional and trustworthy in order to create buyer confidence. A poorly designed Website will cost you sales.
So where do you need to start ?
1. Choose a Domain Name
A domain name is the web address of your website (i.e. www.bizhelp24.com). All websites must have a domain name before they can go live on the Internet.
If you have an advertising budget to promote your business, then it is beneficial to choose a domain name that is the same as your business or gives people an idea of what you sell. Alternatively, if you do not have a large budget, it may be more beneficial to use a domain name that includes a ‘keyword’ so that when people search for something specific your site has a better chance of being found.
For example if your site is about relieving back pain, a domain such as ‘www.backpainrelief.xxx’ will be more likely to show up in searches.
Either way, you need to use a name that benefits your long-term business aims, and not something that is restrictive. E.g. ‘wellheeled123.com’, might be a clever name for a business that sells exclusive shoes. But if that business then diversifies into other products, the website name is no use anymore.
2. Design Your Home Page
The Home Page is probably the most important page. It’s the first page your visitors will see, so you need to make a good impression. On this page, you should communicate who you are and why you have a website. You want to make sure that your message is clear and not lost in many long paragraphs. Try to divide your text into sections that you can mark with headers in a larger font or using bold text. Don’t underline text as this can make it look like a link.
One of the most important aspects of the text on your home page is the “Call to Action”.
“Call to Action” is the text that tells your visitors what you want them to do next. Do you want them to call and schedule a consultation, visit your shop, or just browse the other pages in your website? Make this command prominent by changing its color or increasing the font size.
Also consider uploading an image or two onto your Home Page. A colorful image will help to captivate your visitors and they will be more likely to continue browsing your site.
You need a simple Home Page that clearly communicates your website’s purpose and goals.
3. Design Your About Us Page
The About Us page of your website should be used to reveal a little more about yourself or your business. Consider any additional details that might be important to your customers.
You should also consider having a Map of where you are located. Having a Map on your About Us page creates a very professional feel for your website and makes your small business look big.
If you do not operate out of a physical location, think about other things that your customers would find interesting about your business. Perhaps you have an exciting company background that you could share or more details regarding the services you offer.
Whatever you decide to write, remember to keep the text in short paragraphs.
4. Design Your Contact Us Page
You are now getting very close to having designed a good 3-page site. The last element that all websites should have is a Contact Us page.
Include the best way to contact you directly on this page. Make your phone number or email address prominent on the page, perhaps with different font styles.
Make sure to keep this page simple though, as you don’t want your customers to get distracted by other content. Ensure each page in your site has something valuable to offer. Don’t design ‘Pretty, But Useless’. Let’s step back and realise that a web page exists to provide something that’s useful or interesting to visitors. If your page doesn’t have that, then you must fix that problem before you worry about how to present it.
What are you offering to your visitors? Why is it worth their time to visit your site? Focus on that before you move on to how it should look.
5.Keep Advertising Ratio 25% or Less
Amazingly, I see some sites that are almost nothing but ads. We know that no one would turn on the telly if it were just adverts, or buy a magazine if it were just ads and no articles. By the same token, a website also has to have more than ads if it’s to be successful. If you are running ads on your website, then you should ensure that the ratio to editorial is no more than 25% to 75%. Your visitors came to your site to see what YOU had to offer.
If you have affiliations and partnerships that are relevant to your site, then by all means include them. Don’t do what I saw recently on a website for a large fabric retailer where the web designer had put her friend’s Aromatherapy Massage practice in as a link. It’s not professional.
6. Don’t Distract With Blinking/Scrolling Text Or Auto Play Video/Audio
Animation and sounds are distracting. How can anyone concentrate on reading what’s on your site when there are things flying around the page? It’s like trying to read a newspaper when someone’s poking you in the shoulder repeatedly.
Scrolling text does nothing to serve the visitor. If it’s on a site it’s because the site owner thought, “Let me show how cool I am.” Don’t design the site for yourself, design it for the people who will actually use it.
If you have relevant audio or video on your site, make it so the visitor can play it when THEY want, not at start up.
7. Don’t Use Image Backgrounds
Full Image backgrounds mean “amateur”. A site like this can also have extremely slow page-loading times. This is NOT a professional image, and will turn visitors away.
8. Put Thought Into Organization
Think about what content you have and how it should be organized. This is just as important as what your site looks like, so spend time on it. You are not doing your visitors a favour if everything is thrown up higgledy-piggedly, and they have to leap about the site looking for what they want instead of being informed.
9. Minimize Clicking!
This is so important. Put as few clicks between the visitor and the information as possible. Clicking around will make the visitor abandon the site and go elsewhere
10. Limit Page Length To 2 Screens
This is where it gets a bit difficult. While you should put a lot into the design to limit clicking, you should also avoid going too far in the opposite direction by putting too much on one page.
You should normally limit a page to 2 screens. Articles by their nature, like this, are exceptions to that rule.
11. Include a Navigation Menu on Every Page
Always include a menu on the page. This allows the visitor to start all over again at ‘Home’, or to click on another page that interests them.
Don’t put navigation links only at the bottom of pages, because then users will have to scroll down to the bottom to get to them (unless your pages are very short).
12. Website Readability
A line of text should be no more than about 600 pixels wide. What does THAT mean ? Well it means that your website page should be no wider than say the middle two thirds of your monitor screen. The reason that newspapers and magazines are printed in columns is to make the lines short, so after you read one line, it’s easy to find the start of next one when your eyes flick left.
The problem with wide layout is that the content will be too wide to read easily for those visitors with really large screens as the content expands to fit the screen (or window).
13. Use Contrasting Colours with Text
It is hard to read light text if it is on a light background, or dark text on a dark background.
There are also some combinations that just don’t work. For example I came across a website just yesterday that insisted I try to read a bright green font on a bright red background. I persisted only because the company owner was seeking my advice and help.
14. Seek Advice
If all this seems too much to take in, remember you can always call in the professionals. A good designer will take all of the above into account, and much more if he or she is considering the area of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your website. He wants it to work for you. There are many companies around who will do all the above and much more; for just a few hundred pounds.
Ready your call centers and have operators standing by; Google has released a bid-per-call advertising feature.
While pay-per-call services have been around for quite some time, adding a bid for placement component to phone call advertising is definitely a new dimension. If phone calls serve as a lead source for your enterprise, you'll want to sit up and take notice.
A combination of an ad's Quality Score and max cost-per-click (CPC) bid currently determine Ad Rank (which influences ad position). With bid-per-call however, the bid placed for phone calls and the phone call Quality Score also will now also factor into the Ad Rank. Since higher ranked ads are more likely to be seen, they can generate more phone calls and clicks.
Bid-per-call uses a maximum cost-per-phone call (Max. CPP) to determine the highest price an advertiser is willing to pay for each user that manually dials the Google forwarding number within ads showing on desktop or tablet devices. Google did note that bid-per-call does not apply to ads shown on mobile devices and that any phone calls generated from the ads shown on these devices will incur a cost-per-click (CPC) charge.
Advertisers that meet minimum click and call thresholds will need to use a Google forwarding number when setting up Call Extensions, so that the Adwords platform can measure when a call to the business takes place. Call reporting is available directly within Adwords. Advertisers can see summaries of completed calls including phone-through rate (PTR) and phone call cost on ad group and campaign level. There are also details for each call available including call time, duration, and area code.
Tips to Get More Video Viewers
Videos have become a very dominant tool in communicating with readers and the public. It is also not costly to produce. But the problem occurs once you upload it on your website. You do not just display the video in your homepage; you should also consider the other elements involved. It is not about SEO and how to get people to your website. This article will give you tips on how to make people click on the “play” link once they arrive on your website.
The following tips are the best practices gathered through the years. These calls to view techniques will hopefully benefit your site conversion:
1. Give visitors a compelling reason to watch the video
The title should be well-thought out and focuses on the benefits. It can come in the form of a “how to” title. Using words like “powerful”, “funniest”, and “best” may sometimes be appropriate as well, depending on the video. If a well-known personality is featured, be sure to mention his/her name in the title as well.
2. Integrate color changes in the border
This is a very simple trick and no one really knew about its impact until some tests were done. By “lifting” the video off the all-white webpage background, the video stands out in itself and it looks more important. Views can increase to as much as 20%.
3. Choose the graphic image for the video carefully
When people look at a collection of videos, they scan through a lot of images and will only click on the most interesting ones. Most marketers take the easy way out and use the opening shot of the video as the graphic. If it is not compelling, substitute it with another image that may be taken from within the video itself or from another related source.
4. Describe the video
Make it a point to describe the video on the graphic image to strengthen its appeal. The message gives them more reason to watch the video to find out what it contains. Be sure to choose a color that is complementary to the background while being easily readable at the same time.
5. State the length of time
Most people think that videos usually last 3-5 minutes. And indeed, this is usually the case. But there are also web videos that last up to 9-10 minutes or more. People don’t want to open lengthy videos so if yours is a short one, place it on the graphic image.
6. Include the video bar
Finally, the video bar makes people feel in control. Don’t take it away for any reason because it lets the user set the volume, pause, play, and reply as they want.
By now we all know that social media is an integral part of online marketing, but sometimes this marketing avenue can lack for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the time nor resources to keep up with its demands.
A solution may have arrived from email marketing provider iContact, which is now offering an all-in-one digital marketing platform. The solution enables businesses to directly publish, schedule and track social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter, either as a stand-alone campaign or integrated with an email campaign.
“Social networks continue to grow and transform business communications, yet businesses have lacked the insight and capabilities to utilize these channels to their full potential,” says Jeff Revoy, chief product and marketing officer at iContact. “iContact’s new social media marketing solution provides valuable insight into which channels, content and messages resonate most with key audiences. We are providing the foundation for businesses to have more meaningful social media interactions with their customers and constituents.”
Through the iContact solution, businesses can publish without logging onto Twitter or Facebook, monitor social analytics such as likes, comments, clicks and retweets, as well as schedule posts to be sent out at various times of the day.
The new solution is currently available to the public, and the company also offers a free trial.
Web marketers are still trying to discover the most effective methods for mobile advertising. Now, there is evidence suggesting that the future of mobile marketing may lie in rich media ad units.
Jumptap recently released the data gathered in its MobileSTAT Report for September 2011, and found that current trends show rich media ad units dominating standard media in terms of click-through rates (CTRs), the primary method of measuring user engagement with mobile ads.
After reviewing over 300 million campaign impressions for a number of major Fortune 1000 advertisers running "both rich and standard media with similar creative and advertising," Jumptap noticed that rich media ad units saw a significant lift in CTR over their standard media counterparts.
The rich media format is seen as a great way to "inspire interaction" between consumers and a brand, and the dramatic rise in smartphone and tablet adoption by the general public has helped to increase the efficiency of these advertisements.
Among the companies that saw greater CTRs with rich media ads were:
- A major retailer, who saw a 337 percent lift over standard ad units
- A luxury auto manufacturer with a 357 percent lift
- An advertiser for a new theatrical release, 340 percent lift
- A quick service restaurant, 455 percent lift
- An athletics manufacturer, 214 percent lift
- A consumer electronics company, 362 percent lift
Android Remains on Top
Other findings released in the MobileSTAT report include figures that show Android still dominating the smartphone market with about 47 percent of smartphone owners using Android devices, the same number as August. Jumptap also reported "a 50/50 split" between mobile Web and app traffic by users accessing the internet on mobile devices, with Android leading app traffic and feature phones offering more mobile Web-based traffic than smartphones. Finally, advertisers named location-based targeting as the most popular method for trying to reach consumers on the Jumptap network.
What is the universal language? Some may say love, while others may say math, science or money. But who would have guessed . . . online shopping?
According to recent research from service provider Pitney Bowes Inc, online shopping is a global habit, with 93 percent of consumers in ten different countries making online purchases, and 49 percent doing so within the last month.
The countries that were studied include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The findings reveal that although some aspects of online shopping may differ culturally, the hobby is truly international, and is continuing to grow even further with the rise of better technology.
For merchants that are considering going global, the first question should be, "Which country is next?" Retailers may find that the most success could come from Germany, South Korea or the U.K., which are the top countries for online purchasing at 98 percent. However, even Canada – the country with the least amount of online shoppers – may not be a bad choice, since research shows that four out of every five of the country's consumers (82 percent) make online purchases.
Additionally, one of the biggest standouts from the survey came from China, where consumers are actually more likely to make purchases online than in-stores for every category other than computer hardware and software and jewelry and accessories.
Internationally Wanted Features
How can merchants make their site internationally friendly? By following best practices, because statistics reveal that international shoppers expect four basic things from e-commerce sites: 71 percent want competitive prices, 42 percent desire a broad selection of products, 35 percent simply hope for an easy checkout as well as low shipping and taxing costs.
Although all of the previously stated features are important to online shoppers, the weight of the importance significantly varies depending on the country that the consumer is from. The ease and speed of online checkouts is more important to consumers in Germany and South Korea at 59 percent, while the French, at 37 percent, are more interested in the ability to track an order. Furthermore, 20 percent of consumers in China and South Korea desire accurate delivery-date estimates, while 36 percent of Chinese consumers also want a clear and easy-to-understand return policy.
And while shopping may be an international hobby, cultural differences require specific types of communication, depending on the country. The study reveals that more than half (59 percent) of consumers still think that e-mail is the king of business-to-consumer communication. However, 25 percent would rather receive information or promotions in catalogs or through direct mail, and 4 percent prefer text messages and social media.
Brazilian consumers, at 72 percent, prefer email communications, while Australians (33 percent) have the highest preference of receiving information through catalogs and direct mail, followed by Germany (31 percent) and the U.S. (30 percent). Furthermore, South Koreans prefer text messaging at 13 percent, followed by Japan (12 percent) and China (9 percent). Social media communications is mostly wanted by the Chinese at 11 percent, followed by Brazil and South Korea at 5 percent apiece.
Other noteworthy statistics for merchants include reasons for shopping cart abandonment, such as high shipping costs (67 percent), additional fees (47 percent) and delivery time (39 percent), as well as a list of the top online product categories that include books, videos and music (58 percent), computer hardware and software (41 percent) and consumer electronics (38 percent).
“Given today’s economic situation, international e-commerce is becoming even more enticing as U.S. products are becoming more attractive and affordable for international buyers,” says Jay Oxton, president of mail services, Pitney Bowes.“ However, to be successful, retailers need to ensure they can offer a simple and seamless online shopping experience, and have a clear understanding of consumers’ purchasing, shipping and communications preferences in each market.”
This study shows that e-tailers should be thinking big. According to these statistics, global domination is definitely not out of reach – it is actually just a few clicks away.
How many "Likes" and "Shares" did your last blog post receive, and what kind of impact will they have on your company's bottom line? If you have ever wondered how effective your social media campaigns really are, you are far from alone.
Concrete numbers in relation to social's return on investment (ROI) can be hard to nail down. However, Crowd Factory’s new Social Marketing Suite aims to take some of the uncertainty away from social media measurement.
The company has just released updates that include analytics designed to help businesses measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns, as well as to better enable Web marketers to evaluate the virality, impact and traffic of their blog posts.
The new social metrics include the following features:
Social Reach and Social Impressions – View how many people were exposed to a campaign through social sharing, and monitor social impressions – which is the number of potential views from shares.
Share Rate – This metric provides a measurement of campaign virality by showing what percentage of campaign visits generate shares.
Clickback Rate – The percentage of people that clicked on shared content.
Influencers – View the social reach and impressions that are attributed to an individual influencer.
Social Lift – Analyze how much impact social sharing had on overall campaign traffic by viewing the percentage of website or campaign visits that resulted from shared content.
Total Profiles – Look at insights from completed social actions, as well as how many social profiles were generated from all Crowd Factory social campaigns.
Other features of Crowd Factory's new Social Marketing Suite include social marketing applications that allow companies to embed social elements into marketing such as videos, emails, registration pages, e-commerce sites and ads – with built-in analytics that track, measure and optimize these programs in real-time.
Attention, WordPress bloggers: Your ship may have just come in.
According to Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, there are more than 63 million WordPress sites in the world, and about half of those are actually hosted by WordPress itself. But for such a large number of bloggers (15 percent of all websites on the Internet, says Automattic), the actual returns have amounted to little more than compliments and publicity.
However, WordPress has just taken a big step toward changing that by partnering with Federated Media Publishing to offer ads to millions of WordPress blog users. The deal was announced at the Web 2.0 Summit and will allow all WordPress blog users – no matter the size of their audience – to participate in Federated Media’s advertising network.
Although bloggers will not have the ability to choose which individual ads will be displayed on their site, they will have the choice of ad themes.
"FM is the perfect partner for us to offer opt-in, premium advertising to WordPress users for the first time ever," says Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic. "FM has years of experience in bringing together leading brands and top bloggers and will now bring that experience to our network of tens of millions of bloggers and hundreds of millions of readers."
The ad options will be available to WordPress bloggers in the first quarter of 2012.
Strategies for making your Fan page a success
* Make your Fan page a resource
Consider your customers interests. What information do they need? Post articles and links to useful information on your wall. Your Fan page is an opportunity to showcase yourself as an expert. Provide these things for your customers and they will return to your page again and again.
Interact with customers. Make use of all of the Facebook tools. Respond to comments. You may not want to list your entire product line. A sample on your fan page could lead new customers to visit your website for more. Spamming is always a bad idea, but targeting offers to customers who show interest can lead to increased customer loyalty.
* Be human
Pictures and personal information put a face on a company. As long as you present an image that enhances your business, personalizing your Fan page is a great way to get followers.
* Be present
Fill out your profile completely. Keep article, photo and video content current. It’s not enough to throw up a page and be done with it. Make sure to respond to customers who become fans. Create a group for your business. You can also participate in groups related to your business.
Facebook moves fast. Don’t be afraid to try the latest thing. Explore webinars, and other interactive media as options to improve business relationships.
Creating Facebook fan page is great first step toward integrating social media into your marketing plan. Don’t forget to provide links from your website to your Fan page. Make sure to connect your Facebook fan page to other social media so your network will grow. In no time your Fan page will be the central hub of your successful online marketing campaign.
Perhaps brands should be focusing their social media efforts on Twitter users.
According to a study from Chadwick Martin Bailey, Twitter users are more likely to read brand tweets, as well as recommend and buy from brands that they follow. The study reveals that Twitter users are the most frequent Internet users, with over half of the Twitter-user respondents claiming that they go online more than once per hour, compared to 34 percent of Facebook users and 29 percent of overall online users.
The findings also conclude that Twitter users are more interactive with the brands they follow, with 79 percent following fewer than 10 brands, 75 percent never “un-following” a brand, 64 percent following a brand because they are a customer, 84 percent actually reading brand tweets, 23 percent tweeting about brands and 60 percent willing to recommend a brand after they have followed it.
And this Twitter “loyal-to-brand” trend may be in its early stages, because 38 percent of the survey respondents have only been on Twitter for six months or less. Additionally, 57 percent of respondents claim to interact with brands more this year than last year.
Further statistics reveal that Twitter users under 35 are more likely, at 26 percent, to follow brands than older users – compared to 17 percent of 35- to 49 year-olds and 13 percent of users that are 50 and older.
And while half of Twitter users are more likely to buy from a brand after following it, this doesn’t mean brands can send out boring Tweets. So get your creative juices flowing, because 67 percent of followers are expecting unique content from the brands that they follow.
Video is a big part of many online marketing campaigns. However, reaching a global audience with video can be difficult, largely because of language barriers in crucial markets. So, what's the solution?
"Subtitles are a very effective way to broaden your Web audience by conveying the business' marketing message in multiple languages," says Stephen McCluskey, CEO of Vzaar, a video platform company that specializes in providing service to e-commerce sites.
Upon recognizing the potential value of including multi-language subtitles on a company's video content, Vzaar got to work on developing a way to introduce them into its platform, thus enabling e-commerce and online marketers to easily target videos to consumers around the world. This potentially eliminates the need to go back and reshoot or re-record audio for videos set to be distributed globally.
"Subtitles are a must-have for online businesses looking to reach audiences across the globe," says McCluskey.
But Wait, There's More!
There are also some other perks to utilizing subtitles in online videos that may not be as readily apparent. For instance, there are some consumers who prefer reading information over hearing it, or those who may be somewhere where audio isn't appropriate, such as work or a subway car. Subtitles also provide an avenue for these customers to be exposed to a brand's video message.
For users, including subtitles on a video is a simple process, as Vzaar's clients are able to upload subtitle files by clicking an icon in the "video management area" and then selecting the languages they want to include. Visitors viewing the videos will be able to choose the language in which they want to view the content.
Even the most talented Web designers can use a little help from time to time, and Adobe Photoshop plugins are an exceptional way to streamline the creative process and increase productivity.
One of the best and most well known to consider is Filter Forge, a high-end plugin that allows designers to generate textures, create visual effects, enhance photos and process images.
The company recently released the third and final beta test stage of Filter Forge 3.0, which introduces a flexible user interface with resizable panels that allow users to customize the sizes of the rendering preview, the filter editing area and the script editing window in the Filter Editor. Also included is an improved Bézier curve editor that allows users to select and adjust multiple curve points simultaneously.
The beta testing is open for anyone and no registration is required. It offers a fully functional 30-day trial version of the Filter Forge 3.0 Professional edition, and all registered Filter Forge users can get a free beta key that allows them to use the beta version until the end of the beta period. Users that find and report bugs will be rewarded with free copies of Filter Forge, which will be granted after Filter Forge 3.0 becomes commercially available later in the fall.
While we’re on the subject of fabulous photoshop plugins, here are some more to consider:
Divine Elemente creates a bridge between Photoshop and WordPress and is geared toward designers, bloggers and anyone who knows Photoshop but doesn’t want to hand-code a WordPress theme. Its main purpose is to convert a design from Photoshop to HTML/CSS/PHP code and provide a marketplace to share or sell works. The cost is $199.99.
Imagelys Picture Styles provides a way of creating an unlimited number of professional quality graphic images in a minimal amount of time. Designers can create seamless backgrounds for Web design, wallpapers and seamless textures for 3-D modeling. The product ships with more than 1,400 premade seamless textures, allowing artists to produce truly amazing results without a lot of effort. Cost is $49.95.
Tintii takes full-color photos and puts them through the process of “selective coloring” or “color popping”, highlighting the objects of interest while maintaining their vibrant tones and draining the rest to black and white. Tintii does the tedious work for designers by use of its color detection engine, putting the creative tools at the artist’s fingertips to fine-tune edging, grayscale mixing and nonlinear saturation decay. Cost is $19.99.
DiskFonts provides a fast and intuitive way to manage, preview, compare and install fonts inside Adobe Photoshop CS5,CS4,CS3 and Creative Suite (AI,ID,FL,etc.). Users display a text sample with fonts from their hard drive (uninstalled fonts), browse FontExpert groups and install new fonts, then can add fonts to the Favorites icon and Bookmark them, even viewing fonts on the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices to compare them from different subfolders at the same time. Cost is $29.
Eye Candy 6 renders beautiful effects for a wide range of graphic design tasks from Web interfaces (Glass, Perspective Shadow) to logos (Bevel, Brushed Metal, Extrude) to titles (Chrome, Fire). Presets adapt to fit the current image size, making slider tweaking unnecessary. The result is that designers can spend much less time in Photoshop. Cost is $249.
Snap Art 3 turns photos into artwork in a wide range of styles including oil paint and pencil sketch with a single click. Refined stroke placement in version 3 gives the effects a more natural look than previous versions. Cost is $199.
The digital world of ebooks is about to get a lot more attractive. Amazon just announced that several new features, including HTML5 support, will be arriving in Kindle Format 8 (KF8) – the upcoming file format that will replace Mobi 7. Folks, gone are the days of the black and white ebook.
KF8, which will roll out to Amazon’s latest generation e-readers and reading apps in the next few months, provides publishers the ability to develop digital publications that require rich formatting and design functionality. The file format will be an ideal fit for children’s books, comics and graphic novels, cookbooks and even technical and engineering books.
The KF8 format adds around 150 new formatting capabilities including fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars, Scalable Vector Graphics (SCG) and much more. A list of the most important enhancements in KF8 can be found here.
Amazon’s Kindle Publisher Tools (including KindleGen 2 and Kindle previewer 2) do not currently support KF8, but Amazon expects availability soon. Amazon noted that all currently supported content will continue to work – e.g. .mobi files. Information on how to update existing titles to take advantage of KF8 capabilities will be available in the upcoming update of the Kindle Publishing Guidelines.
NetSuite OneWorld, the world's first cloud-based ERP solution for global companies, was updated yesterday with the release of its newest version.
OneWorld is the brainchild of cloud-based financial/ERP software suite provider NetSuite.
The 2011 version of OneWorld includes automated intercompany management to accelerate and increase the efficiency of the "close process," and it also streamlines compliance with expanded support for international taxation and audit reporting.
"NetSuite OneWorld 2011 delivers slice and dice insight for every user, with real-time OLAP style multi-dimensional analytics, and new SuiteCloud developer enhancements which further enable the mobilization of ERP within global enterprises."
Among the newest features to the 2011 update of NetSuite OneWorld are:
- Broader international business management
- New global financial consolidation and management features
- Advanced back-office ERP capabilities
- Real-time multi-dimensional analytics
- Enhanced CRM
- SuiteCloud platform support for the latest Web development standards
OneWorld has long been one of the world's most frequently deployed cloud-based ERP solutions for companies that need to manage complex, mission-critical business processes. Currently, over 10,000 companies and subsidiaries are dependent on NetSuite.
Gartner recently named NetSuite as the fastest-growing financial management systems vendor in the world.
More information about NetSuite OneWorld 2011 can be found here.
Nothing severs the trust that users have for a website quite like hidden viruses that infect their devices. To prevent this potentially disastrous situation from happening, GeoTrust has announced its Web Site Anti-Malware Scan, which is a cloud service that identifies malware to protect website visitors and owners.
Malware can come from many different places, such as a site owner that installs a program that mistakenly turns out to be malware, or from hackers that like to exploit website vulnerability. However, this problem can be reduced by using GeoTrust’s Web Site Anti-Malware Scan, which automatically and daily checks up to 50 Web pages for well-known and new malware strains.
"Web site owners and visitors alike dread the idea of downloading hidden malware and want to be sure they don't get hacked,” says Fran Rosch, VP of Symantec Trust Services “By working closely with our channel partners to develop a solution tailored to their customers' needs, Symantec is maximizing the resources of the channel while positioning its partners to provide an innovative yet simple and affordable security option for web site owners."
With GeoTrust’s service, website owners receive detailed alerts that pinpoint malware infections, allowing for the problem to be solved before it gets out of hand. The solution also provides a GeoTrust Web Site Anti-Malware Seal, which ensures a safe site to visitors.
6 RSS Steps to Syndicate Your Feed
1. Apply Feed Reader Syndication
Some notable feed readers are Google Reader and MyYahoo!. All you have to do is, add a subscribe button on your blog and personalize it for the common types of readers available.
2. Include an Email Subscription Box
This is one of the quickest ways to get all the updates and latest information. Feedburner and Feedblitz provide email subscription capabilities and metrics. Visitors can simply enter their email address in the input box and subscribe to your blog’s RSS Feed. All the latest news and articles will be directed to the specified email.
3. Submit RSS Feed Directly To Major Search Engines
All the major search engines have made it really simple to submit your blog’s feed. All you need to do is log into Google, MyYahoo! and MyMsn and submit your blog feed to them. This is also one of the easiest ways to get your blog indexed by searchbots.
4. Ping Search Engines
There are a number of pinging services available online where you can enter your blog or feed URL and ping the search engines. A pinging service like Ping-O-Matic gets your blog indexed at multiple websites like Technorati, Feedster etc.
5. Use PHP Syndication
Statistics prove that RSS Feeds are useful in pulling a large number of visitors to a blog. Today no blog is complete without an RSS Feed option. Even Twitter, the micro blogging site provides an option to subscribe to individual RSS Feeds.
Without a doubt, the rapid growth in Internet use around the world provides great opportunities for publishers and marketers; however, as it continues to expand quickly, it also presents a few roadblocks. Getting accurate data on relevant metrics about audience size and engagement can be difficult.
Adobe is looking to quell this issue with the immediate availability of Adobe AudienceResearch, a brand new audience measurement tool for publishers and digital marketers that allows them to see "certified metrics on the size and engagement of digital audiences for websites, mobile applications and digital magazine editions."
These valuable metrics are acquired and organized by Adobe SiteCatalyst, the company's very own online analytics application. Publishers will then be provided with crucial information that will help them attract advertisers. All customers currently using SiteCatalyst will receive AudienceResearch for free.
In addition to the release of AudienceResearch, the company also unveiled the Adobe Audience Certification Program. This program is what allows regular publishers to become Adobe Certified Publishers, which simply means that Adobe has certified all of their digital audience data to ensure that it meets specific criteria regarding the accuracy of the data collection and reporting. These publishers will be able to "contribute their data to the AudienceResearch tool."
Much of this has to do with Adobe's recent Media Ratings Council (MRC) accreditation for their SiteCatalyst metrics. The company earned this certification by providing innovative methods of auditing site impletentations of SiteCatalyst and cleansing and certifying raw site traffic to give advertisers and publishers a highly accurate view of digital audience metrics.
What helps set AudienceResearch apart is a census-based measurement of metrics that are generated by counting all relevant traffic, which is "a method considered more accurate and representative of actual traffic and behavior than panel-based methods." The more traditional panel-based approach monitors the behavior of just a small group of volunteers (and then uses the data gathered to create estimate metrics), but now Adobe offers its Certified Publishers the ability to reject this controversial method.
Publishers can now equip their direct sales teams with these highly-accurate and certified metrics (some of which are accredited by the MRC) to show to advertisers as they "make media planning decisions."
"AudienceResearch has the potential to provide the industry with reliable, cross-channel currency for measuring digital audience size and engagement," says Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Adobe's Digital Marketing Business Unit, "Bringing greater confidence into the digital advertising planning, buying and selling process."
Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution provider CFI Group has announced Online Reporting Studio 2.3, which features various enhancements including deeper analytic capabilities and improved performance.
Features from the updated CEM include better usability such as a scrollable time-option filter, expanded tabbed forms and improved sample management. Other new capabilities include user-defined labeling of KPIs, an exportable priority matrix, word cloud hyper-linking of customer comments with context drill-down, customized charting, user-defined ranges for dashboard dials, as well as performance improvements that are designed to support advanced analysis and a growing user community.
“We’re very pleased about the enhancements in the latest release from CFI Group,” says Robin Gomez, director of consumer insight for GSI Commerce. “The Online Reporting Studio is a critical management tool for understanding how we are performing for our customers.”
Online Reporting Studio is a major part of CFI Group’s CEM platform. It provides clients with access to satisfaction measurements and operational data so that managers can understand the impact of decisions on customer satisfaction and financial performance.
Google has announced a new feature for its Google Analytics product called Flow Visualization, which, not suprisingly, is a tool for visualizing visitor flow.
On its blog, the company says that many users have expressed interest in a product that will provide "better ways to visualize and quickly find those insights about how visitors flow through your sites." The Google Analytics design team opted not to build individual path analysis, but rather came up with Flow Visualization to make it easier for marketers and analysts to better optimize their visitor experience "by presenting the ways that visitors flow through their sites in an intuitive and useful way."
The tool works by showing users site insights in a graphic, which allows them to instantly understand how visitors are "flowing" across pages on the site.
Flow Visualization is split up into two different services. The first is Visitors Flow, in which the graphics in question can be viewed by traffic source, or any other dimensions, and allow site owners to track a visitor's journey, including where they drop off. The graphics will provide instant insights into how many visitors are on and interacting with the page.
Google Analytics provides high levels of interaction with these visualizations, allowing users to do things like highlight different pathways or see information about specific nodes and connections. This helps owners to address crucial, specific questions, "such as 'How successful is my new promo page?'"
The feature even allows users to focus more precisely on one node by "exploring the traffic." Owners will be provided data on all of the visits that lead to that node, as opposed to just those that come from "top sources in the Visitors Flow." Paths can also be traversed forwards or backwards.
Goal Flow is the other part of Flow Visualization, and it provides users with graphical representation of the ways in which visitors flow through specific "goal steps" (and where they dropped off). Goal steps are defined by site owners to represent important pages and page groups that are of highest interest to the site. This allows users to see exactly how visitors arrive at pages of interest by selecting that page and visualizing backwards; these "reverse paths" should help owners find the best choices for suboptimal placement of content.
Forward paths can be visualized as well, which helps users see which pages are most visited from goal steps or "to see visitor flow leakage that a site owner might be unaware of."
"These two views are our first step in tackling flow visualization for visitors through a site," says the Google Analytics team on their blog.
Flow Visualization was announced yesterday at the Web 2.0 Summit. Google Analytics hopes to release other types of visualizers in the coming months.
5 Useful Website Design Tips For A More Reader-Friendly Site
One of my favorite things I like to do when I’m online is browse the Internet, and check out other marketing websites. I’m an avid reader, so when I come across a well-designed website that appears to have an abundance of quality content, I’ll usually spend a few minutes on the site reading that content.And if the site provides a pleasant reader experience, I’ll bookmark it and visit it again.
However, it takes a very special website to capture my attention. And unfortunately, most sites fall far short of my expectations. As a result, I rarely bookmark websites. No, more often than not, when I visit a website, I click away after just a second or two.
Why? Because in my opinion, many websites just aren’t what I would call reader-friendly. In fact, they’re just the opposite. They provide a lousy reader experience.
Following are five things that ruin my reader experience:
1. Too Busy Web Pages
Have you ever visited a web page that was so busy and overcrowded your eyes didn’t know what to focus on? The tragedy of these types of web pages is some of them probably have content that readers would be interested in.
But the web pages are so doggone clutttered and disorganized, visitors can’t find what they’re looking for – or are too frustrated to even try.
When you design your website, arrange items in a neat and orderly fashion. Space things out. Because when it comes to website design, a little white space is a good thing.
Also, if you don’t already have one, install a sitemap. The following website will allow you to quickly and easily create your own sitemap right online:
In addition to a sitemap, installing an internal search box will also improve your visitors reading experience, as well as assist them in finding the information that they’re seeking. This is especially important if you have a large website with lots of pages.
If you would like to learn more about installing an internal search box on your site, TechSoup has written an excellent article on the topic, titled Adding a Search Engine to Your Site Is Easier than You Think:
2. Reverse Type
I’m absolutely amazed at how many websites I’ve visited that are written in reverse text. What’s reverse text? Reverse text is light colored or white text on a dark or black background. If used correctly, reverse text can produce an impressive visual impact.
The problem is many websites don’t use it correctly. And if you have a whole web page of reverse text, it’s extremely difficult on the eyes.
Why? Because according to readability studies, reverse text is not suitable for reading because of its poor legibility even in normal lighting conditions. It’s hard on the eyes, and just not reader-friendly. That’s why newspapers, books and magazines have always been printed on white paper with black text.
When designing your website, it’s best to use black text on a white or light-colored background, for optimum readability. However if you decide to use reverse text, use it in moderation.
3. Huge Blocks of Text
Internet users are notorious scanners. They’ll scan your text first, before deciding whether or not to actually read it. That’s why you should always break up your text into short, reader-friendly paragraphs.
When I come across a web page that has these huge blocks of text, (ie, paragraphs that never seem to end), I won’t even waste my valuable time trying to read it. I’ll just click away, and leave your site.
And if I feel that way, you can bet other visitors to your site feel the exact same way. Again, always break up your text into short paragraphs. In addition, use bullets and subheads whenever possible. They help break up your text, so that it’s easier to read.
Remember what I said earlier? Internet users are notorious scanners. That’s why subheads and bullets are so important.
4. Tiny Font Sizes
Do you remember the nearsighted cartoon character, Mr. Magoo? He always walked around with his eyes in a permanent squint, trying to visually decipher things that were right in front of him.
Well, that’s exactly how I feel when I visit some websites. I find myself squinting like Mr. Magoo, because the font size is so tiny. When that happens, guess what? Click…I’m outta there.
Do your readers a favor, and stay away from tiny font sizes. Stick with the standard 12-point font size, whenever possible.
Conversely, it’s not a good ideal to use overly large font sizes either. It’s just not reader-friendly. Another thing, use ALL CAPS and fancy fonts in moderation.
5. Excessive Bold Type and Highlighting
The other day I was browsing the Internet doing research, when I came across something that caught my eye – but not in a good way. It was a web page, and it was absolutely hideous. So, what made it so hideous?
The entire web page written entirely in bold type, which is a crime in itself. But even worse than that, the page was highlighted in yellow from top to bottom.
Can you imagine that? It looked like a big mustard sandwich with ants.
Unfortunately, I see this all too often on websites. You should always use bold type and highlight in moderation, and only to emphasize certain words, sentences or paragraphs.
In closing, I hope you’ll take these reader-friendly website design tips to heart, and apply them to your website, if applicable. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Because if your visitors have an unpleasant reader experience, chances are, they won’t be coming back.
The hottest ticket of the fall was to the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and it was there that enterprise-level phone conversion optimization company and call tracking solutions provider Mongoose Metrics announced the launch of its QR Call Tracking solution.
QR (Quick Response) codes are rapidly growing in popularity as more and more consumers begin purchasing smartphones. Recent studies indicate that about two-thirds of all potential consumers have been in contact with QR codes, and about one-third have used them.
Marketers, for their part, are finding many innovative ways to incorporate these bar codes into their campaigns, and now Mongoose will allow these them to integrate QR codes into call-tracking campaigns, as well.
Mongoose Metrics claims that their technology will "maximize conversions via Web and mobile devices," as QR Call Tracking will immediately connect smartphone users and advertisers "at the right time in the buying process," and also provide the advertisers and marketers with behavioral data.
Whenever marketers attach QR codes to advertisements to link users to content on the Internet, they are also be able to drive a number of phone-based actions like email, SMS and simply connecting a mobile device to the Web. Mongoose Metrics will add another layer of depth to this process by integrating these bar codes with call tracking technology. Combining these technologies will help marketers "understand the behaviors of their prospects." The idea being that if a markter and/or advertiser knows what drives conversions, they can refine and optimize their QR efforts to continue to increase them.
More information about QR Call Tracking can be found here.
By 2015, companies will generate 50 percent of Web sales from social media and mobile applications, according to Gartner Inc.
The future of e-commerce was discussed at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where it was concluded that since the number of mobile phones is starting to pass PCs, customers will start to use mobile browsers and location-based applications as the main type of interaction.
"E-commerce organizations will need to scale up their operations to handle the increased visitation loads resulting from customers not having to wait until they are in front of a PC to obtain answers to questions or place orders," says Gene Alvarez, research vice president at Gartner. "In time, e-commerce vendors will begin to offer context-aware mobile-shopping solutions as part of their overall Web sales offerings."
Furthermore, according to Gartner, 80 percent of North American and European online sellers will expand to other countries by 2013 – including Brazil, Russia, India, Africa, Japan and China. This growth is due to the expansion of the Internet, which has created new sales opportunities throughout the world.
"The increasing availability of access to the Internet via PCs, laptops and mobile devices is creating new sales channels in countries, because entry barriers are lowering, thereby increasing the number of online shoppers," says Mr. Alvarez. "By entering these countries via an Internet sales model, organizations can establish a presence in locations without having to create a physical sales location."
It is safe to say that the Internet has created vast opportunities for retailers, which will continue to grow as technology evolves. In addition, businesses should be prepared to take advantage of location-based applications, which provide a new marketing avenue for businesses to push personalized and local content to mobile devices, therefore driving sales both on and offline.
Email marketing and list management company MailChimp has had a busy couple of days.
On Wednesday, MailChimp announced that its services have been integrated with Donor Tools, an online donor management suite. The Donor Tools package is used by nonprofit entities like charities, churches and various other organizations "to manage the logistical gymnastics of running a not-for-profit enterprise."
This integration will feature a two-way sync between the two services so that users can efficiently keep current records in both databases, segment lists using Donor Tools tagging and take more control over donor-focused emails.
MailChimp will now be available with any Donor Tools account.
The company will also be integrating its service with Web publishing platform ExpressionEngine to launch a new product called ChimpanzEE. The pairing will make it easy for users to integrate email marketing right into their ExpressionEngine-powered websites. It will provide a variety of new tools and features, such as member subscription and the ability to create and send campaigns, and it can all be done without ever having to leave one's site.
ExpressionEngine's tagging system will be the heart of ChimpanzEE; by simply including one EE tag, a user can create sign-up forms that are associated with any of his or her MailChimp lists, incorporate all of his or her merge fields and completely customize the design via CSS.
ChimpanzEE also helps keep track fo list health. Users will get a full analytic look at their lists through built-in reports, including the total subscribers, unsubscribes, new sign-ups, activity levels and engagement.
Other features include basic list management (like adding and removing subscribers) and custom email templates.
Finally, MailChimp unveiled the OnStage application, "a collaborative email campaign editing solution." By providing a single location for MailChimp subscribers to display their email campaigns before sending them out, OnStage streamlines the feedback process to allow "for quicker and closer collaboration between colleagues."
This new feature aims to do away with the unpleasant review process associated with email marketing campaigns, and it will do so (in theory) by letting the email creators present an initial draft to all of their bosses and colleagues at once. Afterwards, all involved can discuss the content of the email in the "Peanut Gallery" and provide real-time critiques and changes; the participants can even make annotated changes, so that the creator can see exactly what to change and how they want it done.
The end result will be a "to-do list," which will go back to the creator, who will make the changes on the list. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary.
OnStage is a free service for all MailChimp users.
E-commerce provider MarketLive has released a report that examines the third-quarter performance data from more than 100 retail sites, as well as provides tips for the upcoming holiday season.
The MarketLive Performance Index Volume 16, Q3 2011 Update: Anticipating the Holiday Rush, reveals that online retailers have seen increases in traffic and revenue during the third quarter. The findings include a 16-percent increase in visitors, 18-percent increase in revenue, 5-percent increase in conversions and 15-percent increase in the “1-and-out” rate (the percentage of visits ending after one page).
"It will be critical for merchants to find ways – beyond just slashing prices – to engage holiday shoppers who are likely to research and shop heavily online,” says Mark Pierce, MarketLive CEO. “Those who succeed in doing that will see larger gains in conversion and sales."
The report also includes some 2011 holiday strategy tips, including:
• Promote preseason bargains to encourage immediate and early bird shoppers, also emphasize the scarcity of popular items.
• Highlight customer service initiatives by promoting site-to-store purchasing and providing detailed information about delivery cutoff dates.
• Use social media to connect with shoppers on-the-go and tell them about is store offerings.
List Building In The Age Of Twitter
Andy Warhol got it wrong, he meant to say 15 seconds instead of 15 minutes! That lower number seems much more appropriate in the fast moving world of Twitter, the souped up mass online messaging tool that never quits or takes a breather. But how effective is Twitter as a list building tool?
Recently, one well-known Internet Marketer deleted his Twitter account which had over 25,000 followers, saying his messages or tweets were no longer being read and the response rate was next to nil. While this seems a little drastic, for SEO reasons alone it would be very foolish to delete a Twitter account with that many subscribers.
However, does this marketer have a point? Do your tweets get read or are they lost in the endless flood of other tweets quickly passing through the system. There is probably a lot of unread tweets flowing in our cyberage wasteland and the effectiveness of tweeting has diminished drastically as countless marketers plaster this latest medium with their marketing sales pitches.
So is Twitter an effective list building tool or not? Yes and no, it would all depend on how you approach the situation.
Twitter is a quick and effective way of building a large list of contacts which you can send messages to in a spam-free way. Lists with millions of followers is not unknown – thank Ashton Kutcher. Even for the online marketer and webmaster, Twitter can be an effective way to build a list of contacts very quickly.
However, the real issue remains, are your messages or tweets being read? Sadly, in many cases, because of the transitory nature and the sheer volume of tweets – your messages are probably not getting read or are not seen by as many people as you would like to see them. Therefore, one could argue about the effectiveness of Twitter as a list building tool; what’s the point if your messages are not making contact with your followers?
The key to success here is the same as with any list – you have to build a loyal group of followers who are eager to read your messages. It’s the relationship, stupid.
Besides, many people forget that Twitter is also one of the most popular web sites on the net, so having your messages and more importantly your links on this popular site is a “must-do” for webmasters and marketers. For SEO reasons alone, Twitter is extremely important. Your links are indexed by the search engines, especially if your Twitter profile is seen as an Authority Account with lots of influence.
With this fact in mind, here are some simple Twitter list building tips:
1. Make sure you build an attractive Twitter Profile targeted to your audience.
2. Place links to your Twitter Profile from all web sites and other social media sites/accounts.
3. One effective way is to use a Twitter bookmark on all your relevant content and pages.
4. Attach a link to your profile in all forum posts and email signatures.
5. Use your Twitter account as your main tool for contact with tech/customer support.
6. Add your Twitter Profile to your marketing articles and blog posts.
7. Offer free ebooks, courses and special reports to anyone who re-tweets your messages.
8. Become active within Twitter, link to other related Twitter profiles and build a strong presence.
Having said all that, I haven’t used Twitter much, except for SEO link building purposes. I find most messages or tweets do get lost in the constant flow of tweets. If a tweet falls in cyberspace, and no one reads it, is it really a tweet?
Then again, as an online affiliate marketer I have found other list building methods much more effective than sending a tweet. At the moment, one of my most effective list building techniques is at the opposite end of the spectrum, one that’s totally anonymous and invisible. If you’re into affiliate marketing you’re probably already using this technique; simply promote or pick affiliate products/program which have a cookie attached to them, when someone clicks your link they are “cookied” with your affiliate ID. I like picking affiliate programs which have at least a 90 day cookie, you can quickly build up an invisible list of prospective customers and if they buy within 90 days, you are credited with the commission.
Of course, one could always combine this affiliate list building method with your Twitter account/followers, which would be extremely effective if anyone ever bothered to read your tweets and click your links. Now if everyone could just spare 15 seconds, you have a very slim possibility of becoming both rich as well as famous.
14 Website Design Tips That Will Help You Convert More Prospects Into Buyers
1. Make sure your website loads quickly
Nothing is more annoying to visitors than a website that take forever to load. You may have the greatest website in the world, but if it takes too long time to load, visitors aren’t going to hang around to see it.
2. Have a crystal clear identity
Have you ever landed on a website and didn’t know what it was about? How did you feel? You didn’t like it did you? And I’ll bet you probably clicked out of there pretty quickly. Well, your visitors don’t like it either. Don’t let your visitors have to try and figure out what your website is all about. Make it crystal clear, right from the beginning. Having a big, descriptive headline on your home page is an excellent way to announce what your website is about. Also, choose relevant keywords for your pages, as opposed to trying to trick people just to get eyeballs. Keep your keywords relevant to your web pages.
3. Keep it simple
Don’t worry about trying to impress with all kinds of unnecessary whistles and bells. (Does anyone really need flash?) Focus on usability, sales and conversions. Simple website designs convert.
4. White space is a good thing
Stay away from clutter. Have a clean, user-friendly site that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Remember, white space is a good thing. Also, if your website has a lot of content and/or a lot of pages, add a search box, to make it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.
5. Have compelling copy that sells
Ultimately, conversions come down to sales copy. If you don’t have the ability to write effective sales copy that sells, hire someone that does. It’s well worth the investment.
6. Don’t give prospects too many choices
While variety can be a good thing, giving your prospects too many items to choose from can often backfire. Why? Because giving prospects too many items to choose from can confuse them. And confused prospects don’t buy. Limit product options to no more than three choices.
7. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your content
Remember, out of sight, out of mind. Keep your website in the uppermost of prospects minds with your content via newsletters, RSS feeds, etc.
8. Update your content regularly
Give visitors a reason to return to your site with regularly updated content. Besides, search engines like fresh content also. So updating your content regularly will help with your SEO efforts as well.
9. Use strong call to action language
Tell your visitors what you want them to do. If you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, tell them. If you want them to buy something, tell them. Don’t ever make your visitors have to guess what you want them to do. Tell them.
10. Make your website readable
Do you remember the nearsighted cartoon character, Mr. Magoo? He always walked around with his eyes in a permanent squint, trying to visually decipher things that were right in front of him.
Well, that’s exactly how I feel when I visit some websites. I find myself squinting like Mr. Magoo, because the font size is so tiny. When that happens, guess what? Click…I’m outta there. Do your readers a favor, and stay away from tiny font sizes. Stick with the standard 12-point font size, whenever possible.
Conversely, it’s not a good ideal to use overly large font sizes either. It’s just not reader-friendly. Another thing, use ALL CAPS and fancy fonts in moderation.
11. A picture is worth a thousand words
If you sell physical products, make sure you have clear pictures of those products to help close the deal. People enjoy looking at pictures of things they’re considering buying. More importantly, using pictures ogf products has been proven to increase conversions.
12. Avoid reverse type
I’m absolutely amazed at how many websites I’ve visited that are written in reverse text. What’s reverse text? Reverse text is light colored or white text on a dark or black background. If used correctly, reverse text can produce an impressive visual impact.
The problem is many websites don’t use it correctly. And if you have a whole web page of reverse text, it’s extremely difficult on the eyes. Why? Because according to readability studies, reverse text is not suitable for reading because of its poor legibility even in normal lighting conditions. It’s hard on the eyes, and just not reader-friendly. That’s why newspapers, books and magazines have always been printed on white paper with black text.
When designing your website, it’s best to use black text on a white or light-colored background, for optimum readability. However if you decide to use reverse text, use it in moderation.
13. Make the buying process easy
Make it easy for prospects to get from your home page to the product page or the checkout page. Don’t make your prospects jump through hoops, clicking thru page after page after page to give you their money. Or else you’ll lose them.
14. Display your contact information
The trustworthiness of your website – or lack of will have the greatest impact on your sales conversions, and ultimately, the success or failure of your site. If you sell products directly from your site, it’s important to display your contact information, as opposed to using a contact form. If privacy is a concern, you can use a service like The UPS Store for a physical shipping and mailing address.
Seven Things That Customers Look For in a Website
If you are doing business online, consider your website as your main product and your readers, your customers. You can’t always think that people really spend their time and money on your website so it’s essential that you make a periodic audit to figure out if your customers have really meet their needs and not just reach out to them through social media and blogging.
People are diverse but when it comes to the internet, we all look for a few things in selecting who to follow, trust, and patronize. The following is a list of seven essential things that every web site should have:
1) Ease of use
Your website should not be confusing or hard to navigate. Web customers typically look for simple things: your products, information about you, your blog, your contact page. These should always be prominent and easy to find, as should any other information or links you want people to follow. The font should be easy to read and the links should be keyword-rich and easy to spot.
2) Clarity of content
Your content, including the call-to-action, should be easy to understand. This applies to every single page of your website. If your readers can’t understand you, they will leave.
First, your website should definitely have a dedicated contact page with a contact form, e-mail address (avoid free email addresses like @gmail or @yahoo) and a physical location and phone number. Credibility also includes not only on-page content like testimonials and comments, but also third-party validation in the form of Twitter followers, Facebook fans and awards or certifications. The quicker readers are able to discover that you are a thriving business vouched for by other people, the sooner they can make the decision to trust you.
This applies to your site design, to your product and to your content. If your site doesn’t look interesting, people are not gonna waste their time looking on it. If you’re like every other business in the market, why should your readers listen to you?
5) Participation / Ability to give feedback
If your customers can’t reach you easily, they’ll give up. If they contact you but don’t receive a speedy respond, they’ll leave and either forget you or damage your credibility. So provide an easy way for customers to interact with you and give them as many options as you can
handle: phone number, social media, contact form, and blogging are some of the most popular ones. People will likely trust and be loyal to you if they see that you are open and are always available.
Remember that every single person you interact with or sell to is unique and has his or her own expectations from your product and services. No one likes to be referred to as “Dear Customer” in an e-mail, and everyone likes offers and products about subjects that are of special interest to them! So get to know your customers, store the individual information they share with you and use it to build personal and lasting relationships.
Readers and customers want to be sure that any and all personal information provided to you will stay confidential and not be sold to third parties or misused. If you are selling products, this means SSL security. If you are asking for e-mail addresses for a marketing list, this means respecting your readers’ privacy. If you are connecting with people on social media, this means discretion on your part about any and all personal interactions.
The growth of the mobile Web has also spurred the recent growth of visual search. Superfish, a company that develops visual search technology, is looking to capitalize on this industry growth and has recently concluded the beta testing and general availability of Superfish Visual Search for the Web.
Visual Search for the Web is a resource intended for developers who want "to quickly and easily add consumer product comparison functionality to their browser add-ons, extensions or toolbars."
The technology employed analyzes an image algorithmically in order to deliver similar and identical images in real-time without requiring text tags.
Following the beta testing, the company released case studies of the various test participants (there were 12 total), including Surf Canyon, a browser add-on that adds an intelligence layer on top of Google, Bing or other SERPs, and FastestFox, another add-on that increases user efficiency and makes "common Web browsing tasks" more convenient.
"Superfish is squarely focused on the end-user experience," says Surf Canyon CEO Mark Cramer. "They add a great new feature to Surf Canyon that our users enjoy, fits in perfectly with the core functionality of our app, and we don't have to dedicate any time to manage/maintain it."
In the end, this is a great feature because it gives browser add-on developers a way to monetize their work, as extensions are traditionally a free feature for users. Superfish Visual Search for the Web, however, will deliver immediate revenue to developers, because for every user click on a similar product displayed by the solution, the developer will get some kind of commission.
"We previously relied on Amazon affiliate links to monetize FastestFox," says FastestFox CEO Yongqian Li. "Superfish provides a new avenue for monetization. The financial benefits are great, but I am especially pleased with the way it has helped me deliver even more value to my users."
Digital marketing and multichannel e-commerce company Acquity Group has unveiled its summary of the 2011 Mobile Commerce Audit of top online retailers "to identify companies and industries on the leading edge of mobile initiatives" in the United States and European Union.
The annual audit, which has been conducted since 2009, aims to analyze the mobile campaigns of the Web's top e-commerce retailers. Acquity Group started by looking at some top online retailers and then determined a final pool based on specific considerations, such as when multiple brands exist under one company or when a company will feature both retail and non-retail sites (of which only the retail sites were looked at). They ended up auditing 535 sites.
During the study, six different mobile operating systems that reflected the 2011 landscape were looked at: Apple iOS, Android, webOS, Blackberry OS v.5, Blackberry OS v.6 and Windows Phone 7. A retailer's mobile site was tested on each OS.
Companies were judged by points that reflected their "successful adoption of an m-commerce site." For instance, a retailer received one point if they had a mobile-specific site or two points if a mobile site is optimized for a particular device.
Acquity Group compared the data found in the study with the numbers from 2010. Currently, 37 percent of sites are compatible with mobile browers, which is up from just 12 percent last year. Also, 26 percent have downloadable apps, while only 7 percent did in 2010. About 18 percent of the companies studied have both a mobile site and a downloadable app.
In all, approximately 26 percent of the retailers looked at had sites that rendered "properly" on all six operating systems, and about 21 percent of the sites followed the m. subdomain standard.
Interestingly, though 11 percent of sites were optimized for the iPhone in 2010, only 9 percent are now.
In the end, Acquity Group conluded that "2011 was the year that mobile truly took hold - and took off" because of massive gains in the number of retailers with mobile sites and apps. The market most affected by this surge in mobile usage is the ticket industry, which saw the highest percentage changes from 2010. "Simply put, a company in this industry cannot maintain a competitive edge without offering ticket purchase & management on mobile devices."
As far as mobile apps are concerned, industry leaders iOS and Android still held a firm command, with very few companies having options for Blackberry or webOS.
The study concluded with a list of the top ten m-commerce websites, included below:
Facebook fans can now make purchases within their newsfeeds with new intelligent inventory control technology from social commerce provider ShopIgniter.
This in-stream technology allows brands and retailers to quickly promote products, deals and complete secure transactions – both inside a business page and inside a fans’ newsfeed.
Merchants can use the in-stream purchasing feature as a unique way to build social product promotions. They can launch any product simply and quickly, display timely product information – like quantity remaining, as well as provide suggested items to consumers in the event of a sellout.
“In-stream checkout gives brands and retailers a competitive sales edge, especially when integrated with the other merchandising and promotional capabilities of the ShopIgniter platform,” says Alan Wizemann, chief product officer at ShopIgniter. “The newsfeed is an excellent channel to offer impulse products, time- or inventory-limited items or highly desirable promotional products. We have taken extra care to ensure our software delivers a secure and elegant experience for our customers’ end consumers.”
By offering in-stream products that are customized for specific consumers, a social commerce store can not only increase conversions, but also provide a reason for consumers to “allow” the application – giving merchants access to consumer’s email, social graph, influencer and direct transactional data.
The in-stream checkout can either be integrated with a fully-transactional social store, or stand alone for daily deal products or impulse-buy items.
Do you know what users think of your mobile website? Feedback and analysis platform iPerceptions has released a solution to help websites with a mobile presence find out.
iPerceptions' Mobile Website Feedback randomly selects visitors of participating mobile sites and invites them to take a performance survey. Then the survey provides site owners with instant post-experience feedback.
This data is important, especially since mobile website usage is on the rise. The feedback can help business owners understand the effectiveness of their mobile channel by providing information that identifies mobile website visitors, reasons why they are visiting the site and what the biggest barriers of the site are.
“Mobile websites are a completely different animal,” says Claude Guay, President and CEO of iPerceptions. “The mobile channel introduces unique challenges for websites - such as longer download times, significantly reduced screen sizes and platform cross-compatibility problems. With this in mind, it is easy to see how mobile website visitors’ experiences could differ considerably in comparison to the experiences of traditional website visitors. By collecting feedback on both of these platforms and analyzing the results separately or in conjunction with one another, companies can gain unique insights and much-needed perspective.”
The mobile survey is optimized for most mobile devices, including smartphones, feature phones and tablets. After respondents submit their feedback, site owners can view the data within the iPerceptions portal.
LinkedIn has announced Talent Pipeline, a new solution that aims at helping companies efficiently recruit talent, all in one place.
The solution is a one-stop shop for recruiters to track and stay connected with all of their talent leads, from any source. However, the solution won’t be available until the first half of 2012, and, it will only be available to those with either a standard Recruiter seat license or to those that purchase a new LinkedIn Talent Pipeline seat.
To use Talent Pipeline, recruiters must import leads and resumes, which are then automatically connected to their LinkedIn record and are able to be searched, tracked and shared across the team. Then, leads should be connected to their profiles with up-to-date data and insights from LinkedIn – like recommendations, activity updates, shared connections, groups and more. New tools will also be available for tagging and tracking sources and statuses, which will help recruiters manage talent in the pipeline.
The solution will also provide search filters that will allow recruiters to search by status, activity conducted on a lead, as well as the data that the team has created, such as tags and notes.
Additionally, Pipeline reports will help users manage recruiting, including reporting on leads for a specific role, top sources of leads and the status of leads in the pipeline.
Gartner has predicted that by the year 2014, a many as 75 percent of Fortune 1000 companies will offer public application programming interfaces (API) as a means of disclosing a range of materials, from media content and product catalogs to commercial transactions and medical records.
An increase in API usage will mean that IT managers will demand more control over how API traffic is managed.
Mashery, a provider of API management technology and services, plans to meet this issue head-on with its annoucement of the Mashery API Control Center, a platform designed for flexible routing and management of global API traffic, both in the cloud or on a site. The platform, which is the first in the industry, is run out of a single, powerful dashboard that provides highly scalable and comprehensive insights into API performance.
The Control Center will allow companies to "mix and match" between APIs run in the cloud and those on other premises based on security, speed and control requirements. This eliminates the need for companies and IT managers "to make an all-or-nothing decision between running APIs in the cloud or behind their own firewalls."
For each API, managers can choose one of two different deployment options. The first is Mashery Local, a new version of the company's traffic manager that operates entirely inside a corporate data center under the full control of IT managers. The other is Mashery Cloud, which is made up of two independent, global, enterprise-grade API distribution networks that offer four levels of failover and redundancy. The Cloud networks are operated by Mashery.
What drives more in-store sales – branded keywords or generic keywords? According to a 13-month long study from search marketing agency GroupM (part of the WPP group), 86 percent of buyers who purchase in-store use generic terms on search engines to inform their purchase decision.
“The Web is influencing more than $1 trillion of in-store sales, and search is the number one online channel for driving that revenue,” said Chris Copeland, CEO, GroupM Search. “This new understanding of the retail shopper represents a behavioral shift. The intent shown in search provides brands an opportunity to maximize their online revenues and encourage and cultivate greater in-store sales.”
Copeland may be a little bullish on the “behavioral shift” as everything I have seen indicates that generic terms have nearly always driven more activity. There is a lot of good information in the report however (read From Intent to In-Store: Search’s Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile) including that in-store buyers click on organic listings and show a greater propensity to click on a generic link, at a rate of 144 percent over the general shopper. Perhaps its time to ramp up those SEO efforts.
Additional insights available in the report which warrant some attention include that more than 5 percent of traffic measured to an advertiser’s site is store locator activity, and 10 percent of shoppers report using tablets during the retail shopping experience.
The use of meta description tags as a method of optimizing a site's placement in search engines has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. If nothing else, it's not considered nearly as important as it once was in SEO.
Google, by far the world's largest search engine, says it does not take meta descriptions into account in its algorithm at all. Bing, its biggest compeition in the United States, is a bit more ambiguous about its use of meta descriptions as a ranking/relevance signal but it's safe to say that the tag no longer carries the influence it once did. Meta descriptions still play a role in the user experience, but how do search engines treat them? Let's find out.
In order to get an idea of how meta descriptions are treated by Google and Bing, Website Magazine developed a study that looks at various keywords and the results the queries yielded on each search engine. After studying the top ten listings for each keyword on each engine, we crunched the data to see which websites utilized meta descriptions and how those meta descriptions were treated by Google and Bing.
The three keywords searched were "holiday coupons," "Florida golf vacation" and "new Chicago restaurants." We then looked at each site to see if it included a meta description, and then how those descriptions were attended to in the search result description. Exact matches are noted when the content of the meta description is rendered verbatim in the search result description; "partial" matches are when just part of the meta description is included in the search description with other content; and if the content of the meta description does not appear in the search description, it was, obviously, not considered a match at all.
On Google, nine of the top ten websites appearing in the search results for "holiday coupons," or 90 percent, included meta descriptions. Just four of the nine sites with meta descriptions listed at Google, about 45 percent, had exact matches of the meta description used by the sites themselves. Of the remaining, two (or 22 percent) were "partial" matches, including the top result, and three, or 33 percent, didn't match at all. The number of exact match meta descriptions on Bing was a bit more positive. A full 90 percent included meta descriptions on their pages, but of those nine, eight (or approximately 89 percent) were exact matches. The other one was not a match at all.
- Google: 90 percent of top 10 results included meta descriptions. 45 percent were exact matches, 22 percent were "partial" matches, and 33 percent did not match.
- Bing: 90 percent of the top 10 results included meta descriptions. 89 percent were exact matches and 11 percent did not match.
Florida Golf Vacation
Google's top 10 results for "Florida golf vacation" saw a full 100 percent of websites using meta descriptions. What's more, only one, or ten pecent, did not match the site's description tag with the search result description. Interestingly, while the other 90 percent saw the meta descriptions match the search result descriptions verbatim, the vast majority (78 percent) were cut off in the search results - as a result of utliizing too many characters within the meta description of the page listed on the search result page. It is important to remember that Google limits descriptions to 156 characters; so definitely craft a description that fits within that limitation. The results were very similar on Bing. Again all of the top ten results included meta descriptions in their coding, and 80 percent of them were word-for-word matches with the search result descriptions. As far as meta description limits go on Bing, you're allowed 150 characters to have your whole message displayed comfortably. This means that, assuming you're going to be optimizing for both major search engines, 150 characters should probably be your max.
- Google: 100 percent of the top 10 results included meta descriptions. 90 percent were exact matches and 10 percent did not match.
- Bing: 100 percent of the top 10 results included meta descriptions. 80 percent of them were exact matches and 20 percent did not match.
New Chicago Restaurants
Like the others, this keyword yielded promising results on both engines, at least for those who are adamant about the use of meta descriptions. On Google, nine of the top ten results featured meta descriptions. Of that, 45 percent were exact matches with the search result descriptions. Just one did not match and the other 45 percent were "partial" matches, meaning some of the content from the meta description was included in the search result description. Bing also saw a full 90 percent of the top ten results with meta descriptions in their code. Over half (56 percent) of those were exact matches, while 33 percent were partial matches and just 11 percent did not match at all.
- Google: 90 percent of the top 10 results included meta descriptions. 45 percent were exact matches, 45 percent were "partial" matches and 10 percent did not match.
- Bing: 90 percent of the top 10 results included meta descriptions. 56 percent were exact matches, 33 percent were "partial" matches and 11 percent did not match.
What Does It Mean?
It seems that, if nothing else, websites continue to use meta descriptions because, well, "Why not?" it seems they aren't being penalized for including them, and when you customize the meta description tag, you have an opporunity to control the degree of appeal for users.
The numbers on both search engines were eerily comparable, although this was definitely compounded by the fact that many sites made an appearance in the top ten spots on both Google and Bing. If anything, Bing appears to be slightly more likely to include a verbatim rendering of the meta description in the search result description, but the difference is marginal, at best.
The Sunrise Period is setting, with only 10 days left for IP holders to apply to register or exempt themselves from a .xxx domain.
The Sunrise Period is a window to apply for a .xxx domain, which is available to trademark holders that are inside and outside of the adult industry, however it ends on October 28th.
The next period, Landrush, is only available to the adult entertainment industry. It starts on November 8th and lasts for 17 days, it supports those who don’t qualify for Sunrise A, but want to secure a .xxx domain before General Availability.
"The response to .XXX Sunrise has been fantastic with applications for .XXX domains under both Sunrise A and Sunrise B exceeding expectation by several fold,” says Stuart Lawley, CEO of ICM Registry. “Protecting trademarks after Sunrise could prove more difficult, expensive and time consuming, so we are eager to make sure brands and IP holders do not miss the opportunity to safeguard their digital property during this exclusive window."