Tags Posts tagged with "information"

information

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Collecting data about shoppers is essential for ecommerce businesses. Demographic, social, and behavioral data provides insights to merchants for marketing campaigns, product improvements, and to offer better customer service.

However, when not implemented correctly, data-centric strategies can do more harm than good.

Below are four common mistakes ecommerce merchants make when dealing with customer data.

Not Talking with Shoppers

Technological advancements in behavioral targeting and analytics enable you to collect data and activity without direct communication with shoppers. These days, you can determine whether shoppers like a product without talking to them or asking them to fill out a survey.

And while being passive with your data collection efforts is fast and convenient, doing it too much can alienate shoppers.

That’s why it’s important to collaborate with them. Gather insights by actually communicating with your shoppers. Let them share their information through surveys or quizzes. Direct your customer service representatives ask questions. Assist shoppers while on your site.

You don’t always have to rely on algorithms to passively gather information. Sometimes it helps to connect with shoppers directly.

Letting shoppers in on your data-gathering efforts strengthens your relationship with them. It makes shoppers feel that you care about them. And from a data standpoint, actual conversations or survey results can supplement the information you already have, enabling a more complete view.

Poorly-integrated Systems

I’ve addressed system integration here previously, in “How to Integrate Cloud-based Platforms.” Not integrating your apps correctly can lead to wasted time, data loss, and inaccurate reporting.

Prevent that by having an “integration first” mindset. Your shopping cart, email marketing software, site analytics, and all other programs should seamlessly integrate with each other to facilitate the flow of data.

Proper integration enables you to quickly gather the information you need, to analyze and take action.

There are many ways to integrate apps. Some companies hire developers to work with software APIs. If you’re a small business and don’t have the budget to hire a developer, look into app integration services such as Zapier or IFTTT to connect your software.

IFTTT

Being Too Aggressive

If you’re using any type of analytics or big data solution on your site, you likely know a great deal about your visitors. You know what they like, where they’re from, and how they behave. And while it may be tempting to immediately use that information to deliver tailored marketing messages, being too aggressive with your personalization strategies can alienate visitors.

For example, I once visited an apparel site, signed up for an account, and looked around without buying anything. Later that day, I started seeing remarketing ads with the products I viewed all over the web, and on top of that, I received reminder emails with the same products.

It was too much information for me, and it ended up turning me off instead of converting me into a customer.

To avoid this, set a frequency cap on your remarketing ads so they don’t appear everywhere. Also make sure that you’ve gathered enough data about your visitors to determine the right messages and channels to market on. Don’t emphasize every platform or channel. Instead, ask what’s the most effective way to reach a consumer. Are Facebook ads the best way to go, for example, or should you send an email? Should you serve up mobile ads? Make sure you have sufficient data to answer these questions before launching your campaigns.

Not Comparing Information to Other Data Points

Not comparing information to other data streams can lead to incomplete or incorrect insights. You may assume you know what your visitors are thinking based on social media data, but your live chat logs, email open rates, and website traffic could be offering a different view.

It’s important that you examine and correlate information across multiple sources so you can create the best campaigns and determine the most effective courses of action.

In the case of the apparel site, if it had analyzed my email behavior together with my site activities, it might have derived insights on when and how to send me email promotions. It may have ended up converting me instead of turning me away.

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The use of customer data can help you make smarter decisions that can improve your store, enhance the shopper experience, and increase conversions. When used incorrectly, however, data can waste resources and alienate your visitors.

Below are four ways that ecommerce merchants commonly misuse data.

Collecting Unnecessary Data

Big Data analytics and reporting tools can put a lot of information in your hands, but that doesn’t mean you should collect and track every single metric. Hoarding data is time consuming and expensive. Don’t waste space and bandwidth collecting information that isn’t essential in your business.

Unnecessary data can create noise that slows down the analytics process. Gathering and analyzing information you don’t need can distract you from the metrics that matter.

Additionally, collecting too much data can create security headaches. Remember, the best defense against breaches is to not have data to steal in the first place. If you don’t need it, don’t collect it.

Additionally, collecting too much data can create security headaches. Remember, the best defense against breaches is to not have data to steal in the first place. If you don’t need it, don’t collect it.

Determine your store’s key performance indicators before collecting any information. A good way of doing this is to examine each metric and ask yourself whether it’s just “nice to know” or is something that you can actually act on. For instance, while it may be nice to know that a particular customer has a high Klout Score, that metric probably won’t do anything for your bottom line. It’s better to not bother with it.

Key metrics vary from one business to the next. For most ecommerce sites, the important metrics usually include conversion rate, traffic sources, and on-site browsing activities.

Using Data to Justify a Decision or Hypothesis

When it comes to data collection, many merchants fall into the confirmation bias trap, wherein they interpret the information to confirm their existing beliefs or to justify their decisions. Using data this way causes you to ignore information or results that aren’t in line with your beliefs, and could result in you missing opportunities.

Say a company has so much faith in its new marketing strategy that when website traffic improves, the staff deems the campaign a success without looking at the conversion or retention rates. If the staff had ignored initial biases and looked at the big picture instead, they could have identified flaws and found ways to correct them.

The key to addressing this is to have an open mind when interpreting information. This can be difficult, especially when you’re too close to your business. Consider a third-party specialist who can remain objective, to help make the right decisions.

Ignoring Qualitative Information

Numbers can produce many insights, but focusing solely on that data can create an incomplete view of your company. The best data strategies make use of both quantitative and qualitative information. Go beyond the numbers to get the pulse of your customers by collecting feedback through social interactions, customer service logs, surveys with open-ended questions, and more.

Numbers can produce many insights, but focusing solely on that data can create an incomplete view of your company. The best data strategies make use of both quantitative and qualitative information.

Qualitative information can complement and validate the hard numbers.

Creeping-out Shoppers

Most retailers do this inadvertently when they’re trying to customize the shopper experience. A certain amount of personalization can provide value and convenience to users, but you also have to draw the line between cool personalization and creepy.

For instance, sending emails with tailored product recommendations is a good way to increase conversions. But you have to be careful with how you execute it, so that you don’t appear too intrusive. The same goes for remarketing banner ads.

Pay-per-click advertising is a staple of ecommerce marketing that can play a key role in increasing site traffic and sales when managed well.

Pay-per-click advertising can also be very expensive and labor intensive as marketers seek to find the best combination of ad copy, audience, keywords, and bids. Even the most seasoned PPC buyers seek new and better ways to convert. What follows are three ways to get more from PPC.

1. Get Better Information

Thanks to tools from PPC vendors, like Google, and the availability of great web analytics data, the PPC marketer has many ways to get good information about how well ads are performing and, thereby, make decisions that can lead to better click-through and conversion rates.

Try Google’s new contextual targeting tool, which is in beta at the time of writing. Navigate to “Tools and Analysis” in the AdWords’ administration panel and select “Contextual targeting” from the drop down menu. The tool allows marketers to enter a query and find contextual matches. The tool also provides bid suggestions and a prediction of where in the search engine giant’s advertising network PPC ads would be likely to appear.

The contextual targeting tool can help identify query phrases that will provide a better return on investment.

The contextual targeting tool can help identify query phrases that will provide a better return on investment.

Similarly, Google AdWords’ Placement Tools — also in the Tools and Analysis section — makes suggestions about where in the Google ad network PPC ads can be placed. Finding effective sites outside of Google search engine results pages can be a good way to boost ROI. Excluding site that don’t make sense is also a way to improve.

A third Google tool, “Ad Preview and Diagnosis,” lets marketers preview ads in the context of a search engine results page, providing a snapshot of the competition as well as the ad’s appearance.

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The ad preview tool from Google can provide hints to why an ad is or is not performing.

The ad preview tool from Google can provide hints to why an ad is or is not performing.

2. Set Better Expectations

Pay-per-click ads need to set realistic expectations so that when a user clicks there are no surprises. One popular tactic is to actually include a price in the PPC ad. This way shoppers know how much the product costs, and will presumably click only when they have genuine interest.

Prices in PPC ads can boost conversion rates, since they prevent some “window shopping” clicks.

Prices in PPC ads can boost conversion rates, since they prevent some “window shopping” clicks.

There should also be a one-to-one relationship between the PPC ad copy and the landing page that ad promotes.

This PPC ad's copy is echoed on the landing page.

This PPC ad’s copy is echoed on the landing page.

3. Change Fearlessly

Any number of outside forces — such as overall trends, changes to Google’s algorithms, or even the time of the year — can impact a PPC campaign’s success. So marketers need to be willing to make changes fearlessly.

If a campaign that had been performing well, enters a slump, gather the information necessary to make a good decision, and be willing to make any changes necessary. If a favorite ad that generates lots of traffic is not making enough conversions to break even, cut it and move on.

Being willing to make rapid changes as new and better information becomes available is a good way to get more from PPC.

In Conclusion

Gathering better information, setting proper expectations with ad copy, and being willing to change any part of a PPC campaign are all ways to potentially improve click-through and conversion rates. But remember there is no magic elixir and some techniques will work better for one advertiser than another. So be sure to keep looking for good PPC resources, such as “5 Tips for Increasing Pay-Per-Click Conversion Rates” and “How to Optimize a Pay-per-click Landing Page,” two previous articles on that topic.

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The AdWords interface is cluttered and hard to understand. A colleague of mine put it best when she said that AdWords is an enterprise tool. Unless you’re a regular user of the AdWords interface, you may not be aware of the insights available in the Dimensions tab.

Where Is The Dimensions Tab?

The Dimensions tab is in the main tabbed navigation inside AdWords. Here’s a screenshot with the tab highlighted.

The Dimensions tab is in the main tabbed navigation inside AdWords.

The Dimensions tab should be viewable by default, but if not, click the down arrow on the right of the tabs and check it.

Information in the Dimensions Tab

Now that you’re in the Dimensions tab, look at the “View:” dropdown box to see how many ways you can look at your data.

Look at the “View:” dropdown box to see how many ways you can look at your data.

  • Conversions. You can see by conversion name or conversion category. This is helpful if you have more than one type of conversion, such as a phone call, form fill, or purchase.
  • Labels. If you regularly label keywords and ads, this will help you to break out the performance by label, in AdWords — no need for an Excel pivot table.
  • Time. This is the biggest opportunity for most advertisers because it’s immediately actionable. You can see performance by day of the week, day, week, month, quarter, year, or hour of day. Day of the week and hour of day are my favorites because they match up with bid modifiers — see “Pay-per-click Ads: Importance of Bid Modifiers.”For example, if you see that cost and conversions from midnight to 5 a.m. are terrible, you can add a negative bid modifier so you aren’t bidding as much during those hours. Or maybe performance is good from noon to 1 p.m. (during lunch hour). You can boost bids during that time.
  • Destination URL. Here you can evaluate the performance of your different landing pages. You can determine, for example, if category pages perform better or worse than specific product pages in the same campaign.
  • Geographic. This is my preferred report for knowing which geographic areas are performing best for me. As you can see in the image above under “Most Specific Location,” many results are reported all the way to the zip code. However, if you want to see data by state or metro area you’ll need to pull the report into Excel and do a quick pivot table. Like the Time information, you can match up this data with your geotargeting to set bid modifiers.

There are several more reports to look at, but those five areas present data that can quickly be acted upon to improve results.

Taking Action

To set your bid modifiers, go to the Settings tab of a campaign. It will look something like this.

Go to the Settings tab of a campaign to set your bid modifiers.

You have the option of setting bid modifiers in three different categories: Locations, Ad schedule, and Devices. The example above shows the Devices category; the campaign is using a negative bid modifier of 50%. This takes the default bid (whether keyword level or ad group level) and multiplies it by a -50% when entering an auction on a mobile device. So if the regular bid is $1.00, the bid for a mobile search is $0.50. Bid modifiers can range from -100% (essentially turning that targeting method off) to +300%, which effectively quadruples your bid (percentages can be funny like that).

One word of caution: Bid multipliers can get out of hand quickly. If you have a bid modifier on location, time of day, day of week, and device, you can end up with some really high bids (or really low bids if the modifiers are negative) once the modifiers start multiplying.

In short, the Dimensions tab is a treasure chest of data about your AdWords performance. You can learn which geographic areas produce the highest value customers or know what time of day gets you the most traffic and then optimize your efforts so that these high value areas receive the budget and bids they deserve.

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Amazon allows other retailers to sell products on its marketplace, where millions of interested shoppers visit daily. This creates an opportunity for sellers — large and small. It is possible to start selling on the Amazon Marketplace in a matter of hours; the barrier to entry is very low.

The key thing to remember is that Amazon is not just an online retailer. Rather, its site has become an ecommerce marketplace wherein millions of shoppers can buy from thousands of merchants. The volume of business done on Amazon means that it can be a significant sales channel for just about any online retail business.

To get started selling on the Amazon Marketplace there are a few things online merchants need to do.

Prepare Your Business Information

Amazon is a respected ecommerce brand. It makes sense that the company would want to know a bit about the sellers it allows in its marketplace. Each new Amazon Marketplace seller will need to create a business account and a seller profile.

For the account setup, a retailer should be prepared with basic contact and company information, including:

  • A brand name shown to shoppers — for example “Widget Store”;
  • A legal business name — for example “Widget Store Company, Inc.”;
  • A customer service email address;
  • A customer service phone number;
  • The physical location from which items will be shipped;
  • Bank routing number;
  • Bank account number.

In addition to this information, a seller should be prepared to choose which types of shipping services to offer, including expedited shipping, and how shipping rates will be calculated for the buyer. Specifically, will shipping rates be a flat rate per shipment, per item, or per pound? Will shipping be based on the item’s cost? To choose the best shipping method, have a good idea of what shipping your products will cost. Fortunately, this information may be updated later.

If a shopper in the Amazon Marketplace wants to learn a bit more about a seller, that shopper can view the seller’s profile. Thus, this is another section that potential sellers will need to prepare.

A good profile will have:

  • A logo — aim for about 120 pixels wide;
  • An “about” section used to describe the seller — this is one of the seller’s chances to market;
  • A shipping information section, including information about carriers and shipping times;
  • A return and refund section;
  • A privacy policy.

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Detailed seller information for Musicians Discount Warehouse, which sells musical instruments on Amazon.

Detailed seller information for Musicians Discount Warehouse, which sells musical instruments on Amazon.

Prepare Your Product Information

Amazon needs to know a few things about the products sold in the marketplace. For each item, have a universal product code (UPC) — you won’t be able to list an item without one — and a stock keeping unit (SKU).

Amazon will also need some product information, including:

  • The product name or title;
  • A Product description;
  • Product specifications in the form of bullet points;
  • A product image;
  • A list of related keywords or search terms;
  • The Amazon category in which the product should be included.

If a product is already listed from another seller, Amazon prefers to use the current image and description. Having the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) for a product that is already available in the marketplace can expedite the listing process.

Amazon will accept the product information in XML, text, or via a desktop or web-based product submission tool.

Create the Seller Account

Once a seller’s business information and product data is prepared, creating the account and posting the first batch of products goes very quickly. Amazon will review the account, and products will likely go live on the Amazon Marketplace in a few hours.

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Spying on the competition may not be the most highbrow thing to do, but it’s extremely effective. Think of it this way: There are several companies that do what you do. If you want to know what works, you could review your records and see which products or pieces of content have done best. Or you could multiply all that by how many competitors you have, and use their work to find out what gets the best results.

This gets even more attractive when you realize how easy it is to spy — i.e., gather information. Here are eleven tools to make your content espionage successful. Most of them will also give you insights into how to improve your own site, and information about what your audience is interested in.

1. Google Alerts
Google Alerts are a fast, easy way to keep track of anything new on the Internet for a keyword, product name, person’s name or company.

Google Alerts are a fast, easy way to keep track of anything new on the Internet for a keyword, product name, person’s name or company.

Google Alerts has been around for years. It works as well as ever and it’s a snap to use. Go to Alerts, enter your competitor’s name, or a keyword, or the name of a competing product. Choose how often you want to receive an update and which email address you want the update sent to. And that’s it. Google will send you alerts when new content appears on the Internet that matches your query.

2. Majestic SEO

Majestic is a well-known SEO tool, but it can also help content marketers. Use it to see how many backlinks your competitors have, plus where those backlinks are coming from, how they were accrued over time, and what anchor text leads visitors to the site. If your competitors are guest posters, this is an essential tool to find out where they’re getting published.

3. Topsy
Topsy is an excellent tool for picking blog post topics or for seeing how much interest there is in a keyword.

Topsy is an excellent tool for picking blog post topics or for seeing how much interest there is in a keyword.

Want to know which tweets, photos, videos or links have gotten the most activity recently? Topsy to the rescue. This social media monitoring tool will also tell you who’s most influential for a given keyword. That’s handy information if you want to invite someone to co-host a webinar, write a blog post, or review a product. You can also see which topics are trending.

4. Spy on Web

Any affiliates reading this are in for a treat. SpyonWeb.com lets you know all the niches your competitors are in, and all the websites they own. Just type in their URL, Google AdSense or Analytics code, or IP address and Spy on Web will dish on all their other sites. Because it will also tell you which sites are hosted on the same IP address, this tool is worth a visit if you do any shared hosting.

5. Spyfu

Spyfu is well known among pay-per-click users, but it is helpful for anyone with competitors online. Spyfu will show you which keywords your competitors are advertising on, their rank, and roughly how much they spend per day. It also reveals keyword information, keyword-ranking difficulty, and which keywords are driving the most traffic to your competitors’ sites. There are free tutorials if you want to become a power user.

6. HubSpot’s Marketing Grader

Do you like distilling things down to one number? This is the tool for you. The marketing grader reviews websites and social media activity, compares it to a series of marketing checklists, and delivers a grade accordingly. It’s a clever way to create a marketing to-do list fast, and a nice concise way to rank how your competitors are doing without getting into the details.

7. WooRank

This is another tool that will give you a single number for each site, but it goes into significantly more depth than HubSpot’s tool. You can get a report on any site for free, but getting the action steps to improve it will require signing up for a 7-day free trial. If you’ve got the time, and want to do a more thorough comparison of your competitors and the opportunities for your site, this is a good place to start.

8. QuickSprout
See traffic stats, social media presence and more with the free QuickSprout tool. It will give you a clear idea of what you need to improve first.

See traffic stats, social media presence, and more with the free QuickSprout tool. It will give you a clear idea of what you need to improve first.

This is another tool that will give you a to-do list of how to improve your website and search engine rankings. It also lets you compare your site to three other competitors. While it’s similar to the prior two tools, I’m including it because it’s nice to confirm the information these sorts of tools give us.

9. Google Trends
Would you have guessed Salt Lake City is the US capital of searches on “write a book”?

Would you have guessed Salt Lake City is the U.S. capital of searches on “write a book”?

This is another tool that’s been around for years, but it’s still as valuable as ever. Google Trends will be especially helpful to location-based businesses, because it’s one of the few tools that will show you which cities or regions are most interested in a given keyword. If you happen to do on-the-road training, or perhaps want to do a book tour, a visit to Google Trends is a must.

10. Fanpage Karma
Fanpage Karma is a very handy tool to compare one Facebook page against another.

Fanpage Karma is a very handy tool to compare one Facebook page against another.

This tool can compare one Facebook page to another in terms of fans, growth, engagement, interaction, and service level. It’s a good way to gauge customer service responsiveness, and how well your competitors are staying on top of their social media work.

11. SharedCount

Want to find out how much social media attention a page has received, but can’t see any social media icons to give you counts? Head over to SharedCount and paste in that URL. You’ll see all the stats for that page in an instant.

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