Out of ‘Site’, Out of Mind?

How often are you sending out your email campaigns? Email frequency is going to vary by customer, seasonality and a variety of other factors, of course, but at a minimum you need to be communicating with your customers at least once per month. If you let more than a month go by without contacting your users they forget about you and your site is no longer in the forefront of their minds. When they are ready to make a purchase you are ‘out of site, out of mind.’ Additionally allowing a large gap in between sends will often result in a large number of unsubscribes when you resume sending because customers have forgotten about you. In fact you should email as frequently as you can as long you can add tangible value to your customers.

Value can be measured by keeping track of a few key performance indicators:

Open Rate – Are your customers opening the email, or is it left in a lonely folder
somewhere

Click through Rate – Are they interested enough in the content to click through your
email to visit your site

Unsubscribe Rate – Are you too clingy? Are they requesting an email restraining order
by Unsubscribing? You don’t want to be forgotten, but they also
need a chance to miss you

Conversion Rate – Are they not only clicking through your emails, but purchasing items
once they arrive on your site? Are you getting into their heads AND their wallets?

Keep track of these metrics and you’ll get a sense if you are adding value or not. If you email too frequently, open rates, click through rates and conversion rates will decrease and unsubscribe rates will increase. We like to see open rates around 20%, click through rates around 10%, unsubscribe rates under .75% and conversion rates about 5%.

“How do I know what my Conversion Rate is? I have no way to track this, do I?”
Obviously you have not talked to Christina because this is her favorite tip for clients!

Check back next week for the answer to this question and many more.

Facebook to help companies direct ads to you using phone numbers and email addresses.

Ok, I know it sounds a little creepy but give me a chance to explain before you decide.
So here’s how it works: First of all it’s important to notice that this service is only currently available to all “managed” advertisers, meaning the ones who receive support from Facebook, meaning those that are paying Facebook. That being said, say you walk into a Best Buy and decide that you want a new TV, so you bring it up to the checkout at which the cashier asks if you would like to participate in their rewards program. You say sure cause it seems like a good idea (which it very well may be, this is not meant to be an attack on Best Buy), they give you a form to fill out that asks for the basics, name, number, address, email address and your favorite kind of marsupial (ok maybe not that last one). You get your little card and coupon and they get your information. Now this last part is important because one of the stipulations of this program is that companies can only use email address, phone numbers, etc that they have already acquired legally. Now the next step is that these companies will now upload their list to Facebook and upon doing so the information will be hashed so that Facebook itself won’t be able to collect info and sell it or something. At this point the utility will match your info from the list to your Facebook account and then allow the companies to choose to include you in a targeted ad campaign. In this case you may now see a Best Buy ad over to the right of the screen (where the ads exist now). That’s basically it, there is of course a little more to it like companies will be able point ads at specific demographics depending on what information you have given them. Keep in mind Facebook swears that there will be no ability for companies that have found you to harvest anymore information that you do not offer them.
As a marketer and a Facebook user I personally think this will be a pretty cool thing. Sure I am not crazy about seeing ads on Facebook because I go on to use it primarily for social purposes, but let’s face it, they’re a public company now and need to make money (badly at this point), so we are going to see ads. At least this way I will be seeing ads from companies that I actually might be interested in. And it will be great for advertisers to grow their list and target people that they want to, and that at least some point, cared enough about them to shop with them and give up some info.
Sure, there are always people buying lists and spammers getting you’re email addresses, but if you think about it, those people that would use a bought or stolen list would be spending money to reach people that may not have even heard of them. Not to mention there are already ads there anyway, why not see some that might get you a deal at your favorite restaurant or marsupial supply store.
As always if you need any help with this or any other web marketing stuff drop us a line at Marketing@tli2.com!

It’s getting to be that time again (even if we hate to see the summer end)

This is going to be a hard blog post to write because of my love for the warm months and summertime fun (it’s a rough day for me when I have to put the golf clubs and fishing poles away). However what I have to say is VERY important. The holidays are coming and with them come family, friends, food, fun and for many of our clients, the busiest sales time of the year.

So don’t get caught unprepared! Start implementing your changes now so they are ready when the time comes.

Other than making sure your site is running correctly (duh), here are a couple of very important areas to make sure you have rocking and rolling:

 

Product Pages:

Make sure your product pages are ripe with reviews, have pleasing photos of your products, and please please please have big colorful and properly located call to actions (add to cart buttons).

 

Checkout Process:

Have a very clean, easy, and fast checkout process. Have you looked at your abandoned cart numbers recently? Almost everyone that I have looked at these numbers with are shocked to see how many people have picked out their purchase and start to go through the process to buy and end up leaving before finishing. These abandonments are very often lessened by doing a few alterations to your checkout process, so get together with us or an expert and take a good hard look at what can be done to improve this VERY important area of your site.

 

Triggered Emails:

Triggered Emails are great for business. They have a vast array of functions that are all really powerful. You have your review request email sent after a purchase (of course you want to allow a bit of time for delivery) that are great for building up your review section and passing on the words of happy customers (and also great for “mending the fences” with people that may have had a less then satisfactory experience). There is your gift certificate emails, great for bringing in customers, new and returning. Of course the most important triggered email is the abandon cart email. I cannot stress this one enough, this email quickly pays for itself. It is sent a day or so after someone leaves the checkout process without finishing. It sends a gentle reminder to let the customer know that they have left something in their shopping cart and provides a link back to checkout process. These emails have an average of a 15% conversion rate and, in some of client’s cases, over a hundred thousand dollars is missed revenue!!! This is free money people!!! So if you don’t have triggered emails you should very strongly consider having a nice template made that relays your branding and styles to assist in your online business. You are seriously missing out if you don’t.

 

Email Blasting/Newsletters:

Have a great template put together and get the word out about sales events, new products and reminders to get holiday shopping done ahead of time. Sure, not everyone reads every newsletter, but plenty of people take a look, and if you’re offering something special there is a good chance for you to drum up some solid business.

 

Remarketing Ads

These little babies are a great way to spread the word of holiday sales, upcoming events, new products and so much more. They are fairly inexpensive and very much worth your time to get set up.

 

I have very rarely seen a website that is perfect for ecommerce, and I have often seen sites that could stand a lot of improvement. I said it before and I’ll say it again; Now is the time to make sure your ready to have a great holiday season. So get together with us soon and let’s make sure that while you’re enjoying the festivities with your loved ones your website is busy working away and making you the money that your company relies on!

Let’s talk! Marketing@tli2.com

Google Shopping Goes to a Pay to Play Model

If anyone has been paying attention to tech news, this story has probably been one of the biggest to hit the virtual newsstands. Google has announced they will begin testing a pay to play model to replace their current “organic” search standards for shopping online. This is big news, and I’ll tell you why.

First let me how explain how it worked up until recently. Let’s say your planning a camping trip next month and when going through your gear you realize that your tent you used to use in college will no longer accommodate you and your new family. So you decide to take a look online and see what’s out there. So you hop on your laptop and Google “tent”. You’re probably going to get a result that looks a bit like this:

The top left and smaller right column are populated by paid Adwords (as in someone has paid Google to be placed there) ads. Both areas are clearly marked as ads in grey text above them. Within the tan box below the Adwords you would see a few products, these are paid products listing. Underneath the product listing ads you will have your organic results including an area defined as “Shopping results for…” in this case, “tent”. Up until May 31st these results could be anyone’s product listing provided your product is relevant and you’ve done your SEO homework, no money needed to be dished out to Google. Pretty cool right? Provided you have submitted your data feed you may even get a little picture of your product next to the info. Well I am afraid this is no longer the case.

Type in “Tent” now and you’re going to get results that look something like this (Google says it will be experimenting with a few different looks along the line):

Again you start your results with AdWords text ads at the top left and down the smaller right column. However now you’ll notice that, rather than having separate Product listing ads and Google Product Search, they are combined into the single Google Shopping box. Finally after all this you will see the organic Web Search listings. The difference is this: You must pay Google to appear in the Google shopping box, no more freebies.

So how much do you pay and how does it work? Well it’s not quite set in stone yet, there is no hard date but Google says that it should be official sometime in the fall. Google also says that it will work very close to the way Product Listing Ads works now where merchants don’t bid on keywords but instead bids on how much they are willing to pay if their listing appears and is clicked on or a sale is produced. Google is offering two incentives to get merchants going:

• All merchants that create Product Listings Ads by August 15 will receive 10% credit for their total PLA spend through the end of the year
• Existing Google Product Search merchants will get a $100 AdWords credit if they fill out a form before August 15

So what affect will this have on shopping online? It hard to say but there are many feelings floating around out there both positive and negative. Some think that this will provide a serious advantage for bigger companies that are able to bid a lot higher than the little guys. Some think Google can be trusted to keep it fair and that it is not really that different then what is going on now. Some think that this is pushing Google into a more AOL-like model where you’re getting more and more trapped in the Google universe. Personally I don’t see this being a great thing but I am willing let it play out and give Google a chance, I suppose I don’t have a choice!

Google provides more information and as always if you need any help with this topic or anything else web-wise drop us a line!

Check this out. A few tips for your checkout process.

Your checkout process is one of the most important parts of your e-commerce site. Some statistics say that up to 56% percent of checkout processes are abandoned, 56%!!!!!! Imagine if you owned a brick and mortar shop and half of the people that brought items to your checkout counter decided that they didn’t want to buy all the items that they picked out right before handing you their debit card.

So why do people leave? They obviously found what they were looking for. They took the time to read your product descriptions and clicked add to cart. They are ready to buy and start the checkout process and then poof, they are gone.

I am going to give you a few tips to help keep them in the process until it is done and the order is done.

First of all, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Nothing turns people away like checkout processes that have page after page after page of stuff to fill out. Don’t ask for information that you don’t need. Sure it would be nice to know every thing about your customers but the fact is that you will scare more people off by asking too many questions. Why do you need to know my age, sex and favorite color? Keep it simple, quick and easy.

Make your call to actions easy to see. The continue button should be bright, big and friendly.

Take away unnecessary navigation options. Guide them by not giving them many distractions. I would suggest removing any side and top navigation any search options or email sign ups. Basically present them with only the task at hand, finishing their order.

Have a progress bar. Let people know where they are in the process, it’s much easier to stick with a process if you know the end is in sight. Plus reassurance that there will be a final step of confirming the order information before being charged puts peoples’ minds at ease.

Make sure your security seal is visible and up to date. As we hear more and more horror stories of people’s personal information being stolen online, folks are definitely more soothed by seeing a security seal that is up to date and prominently displayed.

Lastly, and I have talked about this before, make good use of triggered emails. If you don’t have a confirmation email (an email sent to a customer to let them know that their order has been received) then you’re in trouble. Most people have confirmation emails but in addition to that you should consider having an abandon cart email (an email that is sent after a few days of someone leaving the checkout process reminding them that they still have something in their cart).

I strongly urge everyone to setup a checkout goal funnel in Google Analytics and then use the funnel visualization report to see where people are falling out of your checkout process. This will really give you a great insight into where your checkout has issues. You should set up your “goal” to the “order sent” page and have the steps be the pages you have leading up to it starting with your “view cart” page. You will be able to see not only how many people are leaving the checkout process but also which page they are leaving from and where they are going. A useful tool indeed, and really, if you are in e-commerce YOU NEED THIS.

It’s likely that most checkout processes could use a little work, so keep these tips in mind. If you need some help or an extra set of eyes to take a look at your site, drop us a line at Marketing@tli2.com

 

FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS. CHANGES, PART THREE.

This will be my final installment of our “changes to Facebook” series, admittedly a bit later then I promised but alas we all get busy from time to time. In this final chapter I will discuss Ads and the Admin page.
On the users page in the top right corner a feed (or ticker) will be generated based on social content, such as “Larry Jones likes YourCompanies post”. It is a simple way of spreading the word to friends of fans, of course the challenge lies in posting content that your fans will “like”.
Sponsored stories act a bit differently. They come to fan’s homepages, mobile devices rather then appearing on the ticker.
There is also something new called the “log-out experience” wherein a user can chose to logout through your company’s Facebook page and be taken to a website of your (the company’s) choosing. Personally I don’t see a giant benefit to using this function, but I suppose it can’t hurt.
In place of the “Deals” from the old Facebook we now have “Offers”. They will appear in the newsfeed and can be a sponsored story but don’t have to be. You company will define the terms of the offer (availability, deal, etc) and fans will click to redeem via an email sent by Facebook. Offers are a great way to sell some products and get more fans that want to receive these offers, and they’re free!
The final bit of this blog is about where the magic happens, don’t worry, I don’t mean in an “MTV Cribs” sort of way, I am talking about the Admin page. I find it to be pretty intuitive in its operation however here’s a few important things that can be controlled from this page. First of all you can of course manage your content and users. You can create ads and offers. From here you will have the ability to share Facebook posts and email other users. There are some handy graphs and stats that if used properly can provide some interesting insights to how your page is being received. You will have the option to request Facebook for a name change. In the messages area messages can be turned off if you don’t want fans or non-fans writing on your timeline. You can reply to messages via the admin page however you cannot message individuals first.
My main advice with the admin page is to explore it for a bit and become aware of all the options and functions of the new Facebook.
So what is my final take on the Facebook timeline? I think it’s got its pros and cons. I think that there is some great potential for advertising and getting your brand established. I certainly wouldn’t rely on it solely to promote your company but I do think that any company serious about making their presence known on the web should definitely spend some time making sure that their Facebook page is attractive and populated.
Thanks for reading and as always your friends here at Timberline Interactive are always happy to help with any of your web business needs so don’t be shy, drop us a line at Marketing@tli2.com

FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS. CHANGES, PART TWO.

Hope you all had a chance to read the previously posted blog entitled “Facebook for business. Changes part one”. If not I suggest scrolling down and checking that one out first.

In this post I intend to pick up where I left off on the Timeline and talk about Friend Activity, Pinned Posts, Larger Story Layouts and Milestones.

Friend Activity will appear at the top right of the timeline under your Apps. This is where the visitor will see the number of their friends that “like” the page as well as a sampling of their profile pictures and featured friend’s comments. This area will be shown to friends and non-friends alike and will always occupy this spot, no tags required.

Pinned Posts will appear on the top left of your Timeline under the Profile image. You can “pin” any post on your timeline to this top spot and it will stay there for 7 days. I strongly encourage these posts to have calls to action, deals, sales, links etc. Another interesting note is that these posts can appear to users targeted by location.

Larger Story Layouts (or starred posts) are interesting to play with as they typically grab a little more attention as they occupy both sides of the Timeline. Again I would encourage calls to action, links deals and so on. I would also encourage the use of these larger stories to instill your branding. Use nice big photos and videos, highlight recent activities and events. Show off some new products!

Milestones are similar to highlighted (or starred) posts. You are able to define the event, location, date, story and image or video. The admin of the page must be the one to set up a Milestone and once created it will create a date link of the Timeline sidebar.

I hope this second installment has been helpful and I realize that I am breezing through a lot of different topics fairly quickly but I wanted to give everyone a brief overview. If you have more detailed questions remember you can always contact us at marketing@tli2.com. Stay tuned for the final installment coming early next week!

Facebook for business. Changes, part one.

As many of you may know, Facebook is under going yet another change. While it’s available now if you’re ready for the switch, on March 30th all business Facebook pages will be forced into the new “Timeline” format. Now, there are going to quite a few changes and in an effort to keep these blogs from taking up your entire morning reading I am going to cover these changes in a couple (two or three) separate installments.

So today I am going to go over the Profile and Cover Images and Apps (formally known as “tabs”).

The Profile Image is the smaller image that appears on top of the cover image (banner image) in the bottom left hand corner. First of all the image needs to be square. It should be able to stand alone, as it will appear by itself often, but should also work well with your cover image.

The Cover Image is the large banner-like picture that appears at the top of the homepage. Unfortunately there are quite a few restrictions as to what this image can be. First of all the max image size is 815px width by 315 px height and a minimum size of 399 px wide. If you exceed the max or don’t meet the min Facebook will resize your image. Next you can not have any calls to action, that means no prompting to “like” the page, share the site or visit their website. You can have no contact info and no pricing or discount/sales information. You should stay consistent with your branding and can certainly have logos, taglines and product images but that is about the extent of the advertising you can do with this image space.

Apps used to be called tabs, and you can make your own, find premade ones online or just use those provided by Facebook. The thumbnails for the Apps are located beneath the like and message buttons on the right below the Cover Image. The thumbnail images are customizable at 111 by 74 px (anything smaller will appear centered surrounded by whitespace) with a 1 px internal border and, when clicked on, will expand to take up the entire page at width of 810 px. On the homepage up to four thumbnails will be displayed next to a drop down menu display your remaining (up to 12) Apps. The first (leftmost) thumbnail will be photos and cannot be changed from being in the first position, however you can choose what photo is featured in the thumbnail. The second will be, by default, “likes”, however, you can choose to place it anywhere in the order that your Apps are displayed, this goes for all other Apps as well. Basically you can choose the order of appearance of your Apps, with the exception of the first, being photos.

One of the unfortunate changes made to the Apps feature is that you can no longer set a default landing tab (App). Whereas before you could set your page to take visitors directly to the “like us” or “become a fan” page, now visitors will be taken right to the homepage. You can send out links to take people directly to an App but general visitors (like someone that used the search bar) will be taken to the homepage. The reason that this is unfortunate is that people when people are taken directly to the “become a fan page” is much more likely to do so than when people have to click on the thumbnail to get there, thus hurting your ability to network. You can have a lot of fun with Apps, using them to make games, client stories, recipe books and so much more.

In a few days I’ll have another post up to take you further down the Timeline. I hope this one was helpful and I certainly strongly encourage EVERY business to make a Facebook page as social media is a very powerful marketing tool, and in the kingdom of social media Facebook is king.

As always, if you need some help setting up your new Facebook timeline or need any help with your business website and marketing contact us at marketing@tli2.com , also don’t forget to check out and “like” us on Facebook! www.facebook.com/timberlineinteractive

The Only Audit You’ll Ever Ask For

Websites should be attractive, consistent with your company’s branding, and designed to sell. Sometimes a few little tweaks to your look and function can make a big difference in how well you are serving your clients.

Everyone wants their website to look top notch. Who wouldn’t? We all want to be represented in the best possible light. But let’s be honest, there will always be someone out there that has a newer, more creative, fancier looking site. Keeping up with the Joneses is tough on the internet, and constantly doing full site redesigns is not only difficult but expensive and time consuming. Now I am not saying a total overhaul is never a good idea, certainly if you haven’t had any major design changes in 5 years it’s probably time to invest in one. Short of starting from scratch lies a different option.
.
It’s very difficult to judge your own website (or any visual representation of yourself or company), it’s often either one of two extremes. You either can’t stand it so much that you can’t see the positive aspects or you love it so much that you can’t see the flaws. That’s why on occasion it’s a really good idea to do what we like to call a “site audit”. Don’t worry we aren’t talking about the IRS rummaging through your files. All I mean is having a professional take a detailed look at your site. We look at your general visual design as well as the functionality, searchability, and how well it is selling your products. After doing so we provide a detailed report of recommended changes, why we suggest them, and an estimate on the amount of time it would take us to implement these changes. You certainly are not obligated to make these changes, or you may just pick one or two for now and keep the rest as a wish list!

A few of the areas that we will take our magnifying glasses to will be:
Basic visual design
Navigation functionality
Checkout processes
Search engine optimization
Product page organization
And much more

We have had quite a few of our clients take us up on this opportunity and make some of our suggested changes much to their benefit in profits and traffic. Don’t get left behind, drop us a line at marketing@tli2.com!

a pinteresting update

Our beloved client April Cornell added the Pin It button to their product pages and within the first day reported a major spike in sales! Way to go April!

See the blog below (two down actually) to learn more about Pintrest. Don’t hesitate to contact us at marketing@tli2.com if you have any questions!