Marketing is not an exact science. Despite all of our experience and great instincts, some things just don’t work. We need to be prepared to make adjustments and try something new. Fortunately, for one ecommerce client, we have Google Analytics data to help us make informed business decisions. Data is helping us drive a rebranding effort for his ecommerce site.
We optimized his website a year ago. We did keyword research, then updated every product description, caption and alt tag field using these keywords.
Google Analytics reports and competitor research helped us decide to rebrand
The data from Google Analytics (GA), the web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic, has helped us make an important business decision to rebrand. We’re moving away from our current sustainable, organic ethos and stepping up to a more dramatic, sophisticated approach to the way we present our entire product line.
Project plan includes updating website and entire photo inventory
Our project plan includes photo editing our entire inventory and updating our website with a new color palette. We’ll need to revise our social sites and our MailChimp template to showcase our new focus. We plan to be more aggressively using our social channels, tracking our efforts and learning from them. We will be creating personas–our ideal clients—what they look like and how they spend money. Our project plan includes Facebook advertising (PPC), which we’ll manage closely. We may ultimately reach a completely new audience, including commercial rather than just our current residential clients.
Google Analytics rolled out in 2005, and it keeps getting better
The information that GA delivers in real time is critical for companies that want to measure the effects of their marketing campaigns. Our report tells us our visitors are coming mostly from Google, how long they’re staying on each page and what paths they’re taking through the site.
The good news and the bad
- Our bounce rate is fairly good—under 50%, which means that our users are staying on the site for up to two minutes before “bouncing” off.
- Users are drilling down through several layers of pages on the site.
- Despite the growing use of mobile, the majority of our visitors are coming from desktop computers.
- Even with increased traffic, most of our users are new—not return visitors. Not good–we all want to be building a community around our products and services.
Courting returning online shoppers to create community
Shoppers know that we rarely buy on the first pass. We visit, then look around to see what the competitors are offering. We may/not return to purchase that original item. But if we like that site, we bookmark it and return. We want to court that shopper.
Google Analytics: A free tool to help track your digital marketing effectiveness
Think of your website as command central. Social posts, email blasts and other activity should drive users back to your site. Your website, then, measures the effectiveness of all of your digital campaigns that promote your products/services.
Sometimes we forget how effective case studies can be. Rather than just telling your audience what you do, this is an opportunity to actually demonstrate your ability to effect change, to showcase your expertise, to document how you’ve successfully helped your clients increase sales.
Let’s revisit a case study from more than a year ago
In the original article, we took a look at how one small Napa Valley business owner used two simple online tools to significantly increase his revenue. Now more than a year later, those same two online tools have actually doubled his revenue, month-over-month.
Bill Ryan has lived in St. Helena for more than 40 years. He retired years ago after a long, successful career in sales and marketing management positions at Beringer. Bill’s a busy guy. An avid fisherman, he writes a weekly fishing report for the Napa Valley Registerand a monthly column for the St. Helena Star. Bill also has a little mobile notary business. When we met, I wondered why a marketing guy’s only form of advertising was a pathetic bumper sticker that said “Notary”.
A simple website to dramatically increase Bill’s visibility
A simple website would be easy and inexpensive to develop. It would dramatically increase his visibility for prospective new clients—especially visitors to Napa Valley who might need to notarize documents while they’re here. I eventually wore Bill down. We collaborated on content, scheduled a photoshoot, identified and uploaded images, purchased and set up a domain and launched St. Helena Notary on the Go within just a few weeks.
Next up: Leveraging the power of Yelp
When I asked Bill why he wasn’t on Yelp, he didn’t really have an answer. His is the kind of business for which Yelp can be effective, so we created a Yelp page and uploaded a few images. Yelp won’t work without reviews, so Bill began asking his clients for reviews. For some, he follows up with an email, thanking them for their business — this is Relationship Building 101, and it’s been extremely successful for Bill.
The results: Bill’s business has doubled month/month as he’s increased his visibility
Bill’s client list includes a fair number of regular corporate clients, lots of old friends and neighbors. Increasingly, however, he’s getting calls from people around the country–New York, Washington DC, Portland, Dallas and LA. They’re either on their way to Napa Valley or already here and need to have documents notarized. They find him through Google or Yelp and love his 5-star reviews.
A simple website and a Yelp page are doing their jobs
These very fundamental online assets are responsible for Bill’s dramatic month/month revenue growth at an extremely modest cost.
Including an actual client in a case study provides validity, but if there are privacy issues, don’t. But do provide details. Show how you helped a client solve problems, increase revenue, streamline operations, open up new marketing channels. Questions about incorporating case studies into your marketing plan? Give me a call!
It’s the holidays, with brands working overtime to leverage the most wonderful time of the year. I’m on the hunt for the best holiday ads of 2018. I look for messages that are simple and compelling, that leave us deeply touched with the spirit of giving and the importance of spending the holidays with people we love. In the meantime, a couple of my all-time favorites.
Apple, as always, rocks the best ads, and we can learn a lot from their campaigns
Apple ads are sleek, smart and creative, often using stark black and white images to tell their stories. The overarching message, of course, is that these beautiful products are elite. If we buy them and spend the next few years sucking up to Apple’s Genius Bar, we’ll become part of this elite community. Last year’s ad, featuring two dancers in a winter snowfall, was simply breathtaking. This ad is called Sway; its tagline: Move someone this holiday. The dancers are actually husband and wife dancers who met in a New York dance audition!
A Polish ad may be the best Christmas ad ever
This ad belongs in my pantheon. It begins with a nice older man as he orders a book online and receives the delivery of “English for Beginners”. He practices his English aloud as he goes about his daily routine—on the bus, during breakfast, in the bathtub. He stares at a rubber duck and carefully enunciates, “I love you. You are perfect”.
He labels his dog, his knife and fork and his toothpaste with post-it notes. He continues an imaginary dialog as he eats his dinner. Watching TV can be a great learning tool, and he picks up phrases from American action films. “Go ahead, make my day.”
The arrival of a suitcase explains his language lessons
One day a suitcase arrives, and we begin to understand why he’s learning a new language. We watch as he carefully packs, and we follow him to the airport, across the sea and into the warm embrace of his son at the front door of his London home. When his little granddaughter emerges from her bedroom, he kneels down and gently says, “I am your grandpa.”
This wonderful ad is by Allegro, the most popular online marketplace in Poland. According to their spokespeople, “For years, we’ve strived to make Allegro the largest e-commerce platform in the CEE (Central and Eastern European) region, and to our customers, bring joy, touch the heart and cause a smile.”
I’ve watched this ad more times than I’ll admit, and I’m not alone. It went totally viral and has been viewed more than 15 million times. Allegro clearly touched a lot of hearts with this wonderful ad.
Looking back, it seems that we’ve endured a year of endless crisis; lies and chicanery; fires, floods and shootouts. Too many people have lost more than they can bear. Yet the new year brings a promise of optimism and hope. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday and new year.
Are you rethinking your marketing program for the new year?
Is it possible that anyone these days is unaware of our current online privacy frenzy? Facebook got busted for sharing millions of user data accounts with third-party vendors. The result? Thousands of lawyers are busy whipping up new privacy policies that none of us reads, yet must agree to before we can access a staggering number of websites.
When Mark Zuckerberg spent five hours with Congress, he talked about things like cookies, privacy and his opening up Facebook data files to third-party vendors.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Facebook’s policy was inadequate and confusing. Broad agreements haven’t kept pace with the increase in data fields and the information that makes up user profiles.
- Lindsey Graham: “Most Americans have no idea what they are signing up for because Facebook’s terms of service are beyond comprehension.”
2. Regulation is coming
There’s a growing appetite for imposing laws to govern the behavior of Facebook and other social-media companies. To think that these companies will police themselves is laughable. One more thing: If you think that other companies aren’t indiscriminately using your data, you’re being naïve. Facebook is just the one that got caught.
3. Say hello to the Facebook monopoly conversation
Facebook is the world’s biggest social-media platform, receiving more than 87% of digital advertising revenue in 2017. The most popular alternative to Facebook? Instagram, also owned by Facebook. Lindsey Graham again: “Contrary to Mr. Zuckerberg’s assertion, Facebook is a virtual monopoly and monopolies need to be regulated.”
4. Solving content woes with artificial intelligence
Finding and eliminating hate speech from the network is one of the hardest problems to tackle, but artificial intelligence can help solve the issue in 5-10 years. Facebook has said before that its staff focused on sensitive security and community issues would grow to 20,000 people by the end of the year.
5. Facebook has no idea how much damage has been done
Lawmakers wanted to know what groups besides political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained user data.Facebook doesn’t know how much data was harvested, bought and sold. Legislators and most users believe that Facebook hasn’t done enough to prevent its tools from being misused.
6. Zuckerberg did better than expected
Zuckerberg’s performance apparently won over investors and a few lawmakers.
- Zuckerberg’s performance ostensibly went a long way towards restoring trust of investors and legislators. Shares of Facebook rallied 4.5% after one of the company’stoughest weeks on record.
- Facebook has a significant mess to clean up. What can they do to ensure that data remain safe? They can’t guarantee anything. Facebook needs to be accountable, demonstrating to users that they’ve improved and their systems are better.
Facebook has apologized and promised to self-correct; is that enough?
Many users have closed down their accounts. Others are apprehensive, looking for Facebook to step up and be accountable, becoming the model for responsible cyber citizenship. Trust can erode a relationship. Their ability to protect user data will have serious implications for Facebook’s future.
Remember the baby boomers?
They were the big proud, vocal generation who made things happen. A powerful force for creativity, innovation and change. But the boomers are so over. They’re dying and running out of money, their purchasing power significantly diminished.
They’ve been replaced by the millennials, who are now the nation’s largest living generation. Research suggests that millennials have an estimated $200 billion worth of spending power, but reaching this audience requires a different approach than what we used to reach the baby boomer market. Millennials are more digitally connected than any group in history, and they expect a more personal relationship with the businesses they support.
- An estimated 91% of millennials are regular Internet users. No surprise here–they’re connected 24/7.
- Because millennials are so tied to their connected devices, some have begun referring to this demographic as Generation FOMO–Fear of Missing Out.
- They use a combination of smartphones, tablets and laptops to access the web for everything—information, shopping, reinforcement, entertainment, news and social media.
- Millennials don’t want to be told, they want to be spoken with, to make a personal connection. They want to know about the people with whom they’re going to be working.
- Think immediate information delivery and impatience. Millennials have been raised on social media. They’ve been trained and have come to expect short answers with even shorter waiting times.
- They’re skeptical. Millennials google everything to check for accuracy.
- They don’t do anything without validation, asking their friends’ opinions, relying on market research and reading reviews before purchasing.
A big misconception about millennials: They are young and immature
While the demographic still skews young, they are growing up and many now have children. Remember that their tastes and needs will evolve, just as they have for the boomers and other generations. Staying on top of these changes is going to be important.
Another misconception: They avoid traditional media formats like TV and magazines
- Magazines are reemerging among millennials as the preferred screen for beauty categories; the group views magazine reading as a luxury or reward.
- It’s an oversimplification to suggest that millennials don’t watch TV. They are powerfully drawn to TV for big events, sports, premieres and finales.
- Millennials are motivated by a desire to engage in social conversation (FOMO).
Reaching the millennial market: Cause marketing
One way to reach millennials is by aligning your brand with a cause. Millennials love social issues and are likely to select brands and products that support them. Think TOMS Shoes, for instance, which millennials love—buy a pair of the fun, comfy TOMS and they give a free pair of shoes to a needy child.
Most important, if you want to get the attention of millennials, you’ll need a multichannel online presence that is authentic and inspires trust.
If your online presence isn’t compatible with the needs of millennials, it may betime to update your website and integrate your messaging across your all of your online channels. This demographic is here to stay. Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing: Writers and digital marketing specialists.
A new client’s website was nine years old and she wanted help showing up in search engines. I explained that search engines discriminate against those sites that haven’t been adapted for mobile devices. She was sabotaging herself with her current site. “Zoe” was talking about a little enhancement; I was talking about starting over. A nine-year old site is really not redeemable.
Who was her audience? “Everyone” is the wrong answer
Zoe had a fairly extensive collection of blogs on her site, and as I read through them I wasn’t getting a clear sense of who she was, which is a problem. But more importantly, I didn’t have any idea who her audience was. When I asked her about this, I knew what her answer was going to be: “Everyone is my audience; some of my readers are 16, I have grandmothers reading my blogs as well as industry professionals.” Wrong answer. This is marketing 101—everyone is not your audience. As a small business owner, you really can’t be successful without identifying the niche that really is your audience.
Time to create personas
I explained to her how we were going to create personas. I wanted her to think about whom she visualized when she closed her eyes and pictured a typical client. I wanted her to describe that person for me. I wanted her to be making an emotional connection with that person, to think about that client when she was writing a blog. The scope of our work together included keyword analysis, a new website, a newsletter and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). For PPC, especially, identifying a persona and keywords is critical to the success of a campaign, but it’s also important for her website’s landing pages.
Personas help define our audiences
By understanding demographics, we learn to communicate more effectively with our audiences. Facebook’s powerful advertising appeal lies is its ability to drill down to the details of people’s lives. Every Facebook field that we fill out provides data for someone to mine. For Zoe, as with most of us, we well may have more than one persona. And for each of these, we’re going to create a comprehensive persona based on the following information:
- Age and gender.
- Communication preferences. How do they get their information? Text, email? Do they hate telephone calls?
- Technical experience and background. Do they love instructional videos or prefer to read directions?
- Job title and major responsibilities.
- Education, ethnicity and family status.
- Pain points or frustrations. Important clues for how we can help them solve problems.
- Industry and working environment. A quiet office or the emergency room.
- Biggest challenges and how they deal with them.
- Shopping preferences. Favorite stores or online?
- Food and drink. Favorite area restaurants and bars.
- Persona names and photos. Giving your personas names and uploading photos provide an identity.
- Interview real clients to discover what they like about your product or service.
I encourage my clients to develop case studies and post them to their websites, social media and anywhere else where they have a forum. Real-life stories provide compelling insights into how we successfully help our clients solve problems. This is one of my own case studies.
“Oliver” found me on Yelp—the app we love to hate–but it can also be a legitimate source of new business. Oliver fled a boring corporate career and began designing and selling furniture made from reclaimed teak wood. Everything is sustainable—he’s created processes for sourcing old structures in Indonesia, disassembling them beam by beam to create the materials that will become his beautiful furniture. He has a Berkeley showroom and sells furniture online.
Here’s the problem . . .
Oliver had built a fairly steady stream of online sales from his e-commerce website. A year or so ago, he upgraded his WordPress site with enhanced visuals and navigation. Once he rolled out the new site, that online sales stream completely dried up. He gave this enough time to confirm that this wasn’t just seasonal or a little economic downturn.
Our goal: Restore online sales
Our goal was to restore online traffic and sales, so we began troubleshooting his site. We peeled back the layers and found that there were more than 20 WordPress plugins that hadn’t been updated, and these were creating conflicts. A vast array of plugins is one of the things that makes WordPress so powerful, but they’re not all compatible with each other, and they need to be upgraded. As we cleaned up the infrastructure, we kept finding anomalies and bugs, and a simple project grew more complex.
Keyword research, image labels and alt tags
Along the way, we did keyword research to identify those words and phrases that our audience might be keying into search fields to find us—this helped us know what words and phrases to be using in our content. We labeled every single image, created alt tags and descriptions for literally hundreds of product pictures. We finally rolled out the upgrades, and we’re all delighted that our client is starting to get online orders again.
We added a monthly newsletter to the marketing mix
We began doing a monthly newsletter in MailChimp. We keep this simple, highlighting three products and including a promo code so we can track responses. We’re getting an astonishing 45-55% open rate, a high click-through rate and conversions with our mailings. The newsletter is easy to turn around and looks great; the ROI on this makes it easy to include this in our marketing plan.
Up next: Pay-per click advertising
Our website blues aren’t completely over. We still find issues that befuddle us, but among us, we solve the problems as they arise. With the website stabilization, we’re planning to add Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising to our marketing mix. We’ve identified a budget, and we’ll carefully monitor our campaign, adjusting as we go, to make this another component of our marketing program.
You don’t have to be a basketball fan to have heard of the Ball family. LaVar Ball and his sons regularly make headlines. There’s no coincidence here–LaVar is constantly working it. Oldest son Lonzo is an NBA rookie who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. His other two boys, LiAngelo and LaMelo are both future NBA prospects, though they’ve taken a detour and are currently playing in Lithuania. LiAngelo was on a trip to China with the UCLA basketball team, arrested for shoplifting and suspended for a year.
LaVar thought the suspension was too extreme
LaVar pulled his kid out of UCLA and sent the two younger boys to some kind of Lithuanian league—apparently there was little interest in sticking around a prestigious school like UCLA to get an education. Note that the shoplifting was in China—a communist country with a terrible human rights record. LiAngelo could have spent the next 20 years in isolation. A year away from college basketball was a gift.
If you talk to any sports fan, commentator or coach they’ll tell you that LaVar needs to shut up and let his kids play ball. LaVar Ball’s endless commentary has made him one of the most polarizing figures in sports today. Most of us find Ball’s constant boasting about himself and his sons offensive, especially those of us who were taught that if we’re really great, people will know that by our actions.
Big Baller Brand embraces endless self-promotion
You may/not be aware that Facebook has a video platform, and LaVar and his sons are one of the channel’s most popular reality programs. They also have their own sportswear label, Big Baller Brand, and they’re using Facebook to market themselves and their products.
Here’s what we can learn from the Big Ballers
The Ball family has created multiple Facebook and Instagram pages for all of the individual Ballers and the Big Baller Brand itself. They also leverage Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Facebook Groups linked to their Pages to further expand their brand reach, along with the Facebook Watch show. Facebook lays out a basic playbook for how Big Baller Brand has utilized Facebook ads. This is what we can learn from them.
- They installed the Facebook Pixel to see how successful their ads were, and how close customers came to purchasing an item from the Big Baller Brand online store.
- The Balls used Facebook Ads Manager to build and deploy ads on Facebook.
- They created textbook-perfect ads—a clear call-to-action, crisp images showcasing specific apparel items and links to that featured item.
- Built Engagement Custom Audiences in Ads Manager to target known fans, such as those who have interacted with one of the Ball Family Pages or have watched their videos.
- Created lookalike audiences to expand the reach of the campaign to send new ads to people with similar qualities to those completing purchases on bigballerbrand.com.
- Deployed remarketing techniques to retarget fans who visited the online store but didn’t complete a purchase.
If you’ve done Facebook advertising or are just beginning to experiment with it, you’ll see that this is a comprehensive effort to boost a Facebook campaign strategy.
Remarketing is key: You’re reaching a vulnerable consumer
Remarketing focuses on those who may have gone to the Big Baller store, put a product in their carts, but failed to complete the purchase. This segment is more than a warm lead; it’s red hot. It’s a potential customer who is vulnerable—he’s been to your store, is familiar with your merchandise and liked at least one item enough to add it to the cart. There’s a good chance that, with a little nudge, he might be convinced to go back and complete the purchase. One thing that would help him decide? Tell him that it’s almost sold out, that there’s limited inventory, or only 4 items left.
This formula has been very successful for the Big Ballers
Facebook advertising success is going to depend on how much time and money you are prepared to spend on this effort. But this process has driven results for the Balls. Their Facebook ads drove:
- A 17.76% purchase lift during the campaign
- A 16.9% conversion lift
- 140,000 outbound clicks to the BBB online store
Keep in mind that we’re dealing with celebrities here—a young athlete with a promising future and a father who never misses an opportunity to get in front of a camera—so the numbers are going to skew high. Nevertheless, this is a good Facebook marketing strategy that any business can replicate.
Mary Meeker, the Kleiner Perkins venture partner who publishes a yearly report on the state of the Internet, released her annual Internet Trends report in June—a total of 355 PowerPoint slides. Her report covers online trends in sectors ranging from media and healthcare to China and India. A few key trends in retail and e-commerce:
- A withering brick-and-mortar landscape as Amazon/e-commerce grows. Amazon, in particular, is proving to be a formidable foe, inflicting deep wounds on brick-and-mortar retail chains. “Store closings may break a 20-year record” according to a 2017 estimate by Credit Suisse. The report estimates that more than 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores may close in 2017. “Barely a quarter into 2017, year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008,” according to Credit Suisse. Unless you’re just crawling out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that Macy’s has closed 68 of its stores nationwide, resulting in the loss of 10,000 jobs. In March, Staples announced they were closing another 70 stores. J.C. Penney, Bebe, Target and nearly a dozen other retailers have announced store closings.
- Online sales grew again in 2016, rising 15% percent year/year. Retail sales clerks may be losing their jobs, but your UPS driver is keeping busy; parcel deliveries in the US have been steadily increasing over the past six years and rose 9% year/year in 2016.
- Walmart is sprinting to catch up online. Brick-and-mortar behemoth Walmart, which has had relatively lackluster impact online despite past investments, rapidly accelerated its e-commerce efforts this past year. It acquired Jet.com in August 2016, and already this year it has bought or invested in Shoebuy, JD.com, Moosejaw and Modcloth.com. Walmart’s e-commerce revenue grew 63% year/year last quarter. Walmart is, of course, trying to unseat Amazon, and the stakes are high.
- The new retail is mobile-informed. Retail isn’t really dead; rather, it’s evolving. Warby Parker, Lowe’s augmented-reality experiment with Google to help consumers locate items in-store, and Amazon itself opening up self-checkout retail stores as examples of ways retail is evolving to meet the needs and expectations of mobile-enabled consumers.
- Retailers are taking advantage of online-offline feedback loops. Other examples of hybrid online-offline commerce experiences include MM.LaFleur, which offers both online and in-store personal shopping advice and incorporates that information back into its bento-box-style e-commerce operation, and shirt retailer UNTUCKit, which incorporates online and offline feedback into its brand experiences.
- Location-driven advertising is becoming more targeted and accountable. Location-targeted ads from Google Nextdoor and xAd and Uber’s in-app ads powered by Foursquare are examples of how ad delivery and the ability to track outcomes are changing the dynamic between online marketing and offline commerce. Google has tracked more than 5 billion in-store visits globally, and just last week introduced its store purchases tracking solution to link ad clicks to physical transactions.
The landscape is rapidly changing
Since Meeker’s report came out, Amazon purchased Whole Foods, and there’s a lot of speculation about how this one’s going to turn out. Jeff Bezos is a pretty smart guy—remember when Amazon used to sell books? That was a lifetime ago. But can he merge his huge online empire with the luxury, high-touch food operation? I rather suspect he will figure it out. He may find a way to completely reengineer it. An editorial in Sunday’s SF Chronicle from Alice Waters was a plea to Bezos to find a way to quit trucking produce cross country and calling it local. To start focusing on fresh and local, building relationships with local farmers to bring the most nutritious and cost-effective food to his new markets. And let’s not forget that Amazon is now building brick and mortar stores—there’s a new one opening soon in Walnut Creek, among other locations.
A different kind of department store emerges
As we watch a traditional store like Macy’s falter—and if you’ve ventured into one lately, you understand why—another kind of department store is rising. Anthropologie has opened two flagship stores in the Bay Area—one in Walnut Creek, the other in Palo Alto. With many different departments under one roof, these qualify as department stores, but they’re a new-concept store, complete with bridal, home and garden shops and a high-end restaurant. Once their customers come through their doors, they don’t want them to leave.
People still want the personal experience of shopping
They like the first-hand experience of seeing and touching what they’re going to purchase. The new Anthropologie stores are packed with eager shoppers with money to spend. The key ingredient may be that their demographic is millennials. We’re also seeing that there’s a place for the combined online/brick and mortar presence. Savvy online eyeglass provider Warby Parker has two stores here in the Bay Area. They understand that glasses are now an accessory; people want a number of pairs to match their outfits and their moods. Ordering glasses online works, but it’s still a bit of a crapshoot. Being able to actually see what those specs look like is a better experience. There’s still demand for brick and mortar, but retailers have to be clever about how they package their merchandise.