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A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

In the fast placed world of social media and its relationship with your online business there is a new rising star. Pinterest is becoming more and more popular with internet users and retail companies.

So what is Pinterest?

Simply put, Pinterest is a place to share pictures. But it does go a bit deeper than that. So a user makes an account (currently you must be invited or sign up for a invite waiting list) using their Facebook or Twitter account, (which you can disconnect later if you wish) Pinterest looks to see if any of your friends are using Pinterest and adds them to your “follow” list. You can also choose to follow more people/companies as time goes on. Your “boards” are essentially categories in which you post or “pin” pictures, say, of your products with a short comment. Your followers will either see your pins on your company’s page or on the “home” page that feeds in all followed users pins. Once a pin is made users have the ability to “like”, which simply adds to the tally of “likes” under the picture and depending on their settings, shows up on their Facebook and/or Twitter account. A user can also comment on the pin and/or “re-pin” which takes the picture and adds it to their own board, allowing their followers to see it.

Pinning it.

So there are a few ways to pin. You can simply upload a photo from you computer, easy enough, but what if you want to pin a picture you are looking at online, do you now have to download the picture then upload it to Pinterest? Nope, they have that covered, when you sign-up (or later if you want) you install a small program whose icon sits next to your bookmarks. Whenever you see an image online that you like and would like to add to one of your boards you simply click the “pin it” icon and all the images on the page pop up for you to choose from and you add your comments and poof, it is added to your site for all to see. The final way, and one I think all retailers should have, to pin an image is to have a button on your product page (like the Facebook or Twitter button) which allows any visitor to pin it to there own board.

Why should my company join?

Why not? Any way that you can get your products more attention should be done, right? Right. This is especially true with the pin it social button. It is all well and good to post products to your own boards but the real viral power comes when people pin them to there own board. Your Facebook friends probably already know about a lot of your products but when they pin them to their own boards it allows a whole new group of people to see your stuff. When their friends re-pin and their friends re-pin you have just exposed potential thousands of new people to your products.
When someone pins a picture or product to one of their boards they not only can link to your site but can also include a price. Not to mention these links will vastly improve your SEO, the more links out there to your site the better.
Another great SEO benefit is that, unlike other links such as Facebook, your analytics will be able to tell you exactly which product interested a potential client, giving you a good idea which products should be displayed prominently on your site.
Another great idea is to hold a contest. Challenge your clients to get the most re-pins or to show the best picture of one of your products in action. Handing out a 50 dollar gift certificate to the winner may be well worth the exposure that the contest generates.

Where do I go from here?

Check it out for yourself! Or drop me a line at Cburkle@tli2.com. I will be happy to give you some advice, set you up with an account or apply a pin-it button to your product page, trust me it will be well worth it.

 

New Years Resolutions

The team at Timberline would like to extend a thank you to all those that worked with us though the holiday season! We know everyone was busy as people do more and more of their seasonal shopping online. In the doldrums after the holiday rush it is almost hard to remember how much we were all scrambling to make sure everyone was prepared to accommodate their respective clients. Perhaps this relatively slow time would be best used reflecting on the past month or so. Time for some new years resolutions! Maybe less sweets, more gym time, or throwing that pack of smokes in the garbage? That’s up to you and your version of Jiminy Cricket. What I would like to suggest is a bit different. I am encouraging you and your co-workers to take a look at the past year of business with emphasis on the end of the year. What went right? What went wrong? What would you have liked to have that you just didn’t get going? There is no time like the present to get started and your friends at Timberline are standing by to help you reach your goals! So drop us a line at marketing@tli2.com and we can start the progress train a’rolling. Make that wish list and let’s work together to ensure that we not only have as good of a year as last, but we increase productivity, efficiency and income! We hope that everyone had a happy, safe and fun holiday season and we look forward to working with all of you throughout the upcoming year!

Is Your Email Branding Consistent?

You work hard on your image on your website, but if you’re like many people, the branding on your emails may have slipped by unnoticed. Email design is important, it sets the tone. Your emails don’t just convey your company’s message they also help to build engagement with your brand. We now offer an Email Overhaul package where we’ll review all your outgoing email templates (abandon cart, wishlist notification, etc.) and will unify the branding for you to ensure that they are consistent and match your website look and feel. Email Andy today to find out more details on the Email Overhaul package and get started.

Thinking about a site refresh?

Read how long-time customer SERRV did just that- and the impressive results that followed!

We’re proud to announce the recent launch of the new shopping site for our long-time customer, SERRV, a $9.5 million fair trade network connecting thousands of artisans in developing countries with customers and volunteers across the United States.

A Timberline partner since 2005, SERRV has created a website to support and supplement their catalog sales of unique gift, home decor, clothing, jewelry and other items made by artisans and farmers in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe.  Serena Sato, Directory of Marketing at SERRV, says the process of working with Timberline and CommerceV3 to revamp their website was a pleasure from start to finish.

“I can’t say enough good things about Timberline and Deb Brisson [Timberline’s VP of Software Development],” Sato says.  “She’s done an amazing job, and our new site is a huge improvement over the old one.  Deb helped us problem solve, take advantage of opportunities, and even agreed to be on call when issues came up.  We could not have done it without her, for sure!”

The SERRV redesign features several improvements to the site, Sato says: “We now have more flexibility in how to categorize products.  For instance, we can use one, two or three tiers, which makes it much easier to navigate.  Also, CommerceV3 cross-sell options now allow us to use that field to focus on our artisan stories, which we’re really excited about.  Images are now nearly double the old size, which makes a huge difference in the look and feel.  The new redirects have also helped us a lot, as has the ability to do top and side navigation.  And we love the zoom, which highlights the hand-crafted quality of our products.  Though we’re a non-profit, it’s really important that our customers see us not just as a charity site, but as a purveyor of high-quality products.  In so many ways, the capacity of the new site has helped us display our products and our story in a manageable, flattering format.”

Sato reports excellent results for the new SERRV site when comparing sales from October 2010 to October 2011, including a 22 percent increase in individual consumer order sizes; a 30 percent increase in individual consumer purchases; a jump to just under 50 percent of orders coming in via the new web site, a slight increase over 2010; and a 12 percent increase in wholesale store orders, with nearly 60 percent of those orders coming in via the new web site.

Deb Brisson adds, “Working with Serena and the rest of the SERRV team was fantastic.  They are all very smart, driven and focused on producing a high quality shopping experience.  Due to the complexity of their pricing and business rules, we spent a lot of time up front determining how to structure their data so that each of their different customer types would see the appropriate display, product and pricing information.  We did this by heavily utilizing the CommerceV3 customer group and promotion tools, a very robust strength of the platform.”

If you’re ready to take your online sales to the next level, find out how to get started with CommerceV3 or Timberline, please contact me, Sharon Rogers.

 

Get Out of the Import/Export Business

Many of the businesses we work with here at Timberline Interactive (and CommerceV3) use email service providers (ESP) like Bronto to send out their email marketing campaigns. The last thing any time-strapped creative director or marketing manager needs is to spend time exporting subscribers from their store, and uploading them to an ESP… And rightly so: their time is better spent creating better emails, more refined target segments, and everything else that makes their email marketing channel a success.

So we cut out the middleman, and leveraged Bronto’s sophisticated API to be able to directly import new subscribers from anywhere on your CommerceV3 site: checkout, catalog request pages, “my account” member signup forms, and (of course) your standard email newsletter signup. Any information collected on the pages can be brought over to the subscriber’s record in Bronto, allowing you to take advantage of Bronto’s segmentation capabilities by geotargeting, signup source and whatever other relevant segments you might conjure up (now that you’re not spending all of your time exporting/importing csv files).

Ready to streamline your website’s integration with your ESP? If you’re on the CommerceV3 platform and working with Bronto or another ESP, contact us here at Timberline Interactive, and we’ll discuss what what your integration options are.

Socialize your Email Marketing Campaigns

Socialize your Emails Part 1
by Kathie Ross

Rarely do you see an email marketing campaign these days without social links. They have become synonymous with email campaigns. There are many different ways to use them and to promote them.  Some of which are:

  1. Join Us and Like Us links
  2. Share with your friends links
  3. The big trade – offering something for liking them on Facebook, etc ( I will talk about this in a later blog post)
  4. Community involvement with a twist ( I will talk about this in a later blog post)

The most common way is to use the social icons as ways to get customers to “Like” or “Join” the social community. This allows companies to communicate with their email recipients in many different ways. It will also help the company to go more viral in their approach thus getting more followers, more email sign ups and ultimately more purchases.  Over time I have collected some of my favorite designs. It’s fun to see the style that each company puts into their individual email – the branding of their social programs.

Following are some of my favorites:

Join/Like:

Socialize Email Marketing

Social Email Marketing

Social Email Campaigns

Socialize Email Campaigns

Facebook and Twitter in EMail

Facebook and Twitter in Email

Promote Facebook in your Emails

Icon for promoting Facebook in your Emails

Social Icons for Email

Social Icons for Email

SWYN (Share with Your Network) Share icons allow companies to get their email recipients to pass on their email campaigns to anyone in their Facebook, Twitter or other networks:

Socialize Your Email with Share Buttons

Socialize your Email with Share Buttons

Socialize Your Email with Facebook Buttons

Socialize Your Email with Facebook Buttons

The examples above are great ways to get started with socializing your email. In the next blog post I will follow up with some further examples of getting new followers.

Adwords Position Reporting

It’s no secret that those paid search ads at the top of google search results get the most attention and the most clicks. Eye-tracking heatmap studies have long identified this “golden triangle” as the area where online shoppers focus.

If you’ve ever wondered just how big a difference there is between and average AdWords position in the top yellow box (typically 1-3) or down right side (usually 4 or more), now you can find out.  The new segmenting option in AdWords allows you quantify just how big a difference placement can make. Top vs. Side stats can be readily accessed inside AdWords:

Select the Campaign, Ad groups, Ads or Keywords tab
Click the Segment button in the toolbar above your data
Select Top vs. side from the drop-down – you’ll see the results in rows beneath each of your ads.

New position reporting in Adwords

We’ve seen top ad placement clickthrough rates over 10 times greater than right side placements. Suddenly, that slightly higher bid seems a lot more appealing, doesn’t it? It’s certainly worth examining your data, and looking at ways to optimize your bidding and take advantage of top placements. With a significant lift in clickthroughs, those higher bids may pay for themselves before you know it.

Optimize email for mobile devices

According to a report from Knotice over 20% of retail email is opened on a mobile device. This number has certainly grown since Q4 2010. Are your emails optimized for a mobile device? According to Kathie Ross of Email Energetics you should follow these tips in the design of your email:
1. Include pre-header text at the top that is clickable
2. Include link to mobile version which is a text version.
3. Top navigation should be text links
4. Use alt text on images

Presenting, by Popular Demand, the Tracking Parameter

We often get questions about tracking parameters. Specifically, people wonder about what tracking parameters are, how to add them to urls and how to use the parameters provided by Google Analytics.

First, just a quick overview on why you should care about tracking parameters.   The bottom line is that without tracking parameters, many campaigns are very difficult to track.   Tracking parameters allow you to tell your reporting engine how to show tracking data in reports.  They allow you to give the data in your reports the names that make sense to you, and to group the data in your reports into units that make sense and are actionable.

Like many things in the internet space, understanding tracking parameters is simple once you know it, but sometimes you need someon to give you a foundation of understanding before you can internalize the
knowledge.   That’s what I’ll try to do here.

To start, you’ll want some vocabulary.   Tracking parameters are a specific kind of query string parameter.   A query string is a part of a url. A url is the tech term for a web address.

Now, let’s dive in…

These are all urls:

http://www.commerceV3.com/
http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php
http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php?q=dayparting
http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php?q=dayparting&sort=asc
http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php?utm_campaign=email&utm_source=NovemberRemail&utm_content=full

Of these 5 urls the last three have query strings.   A query string starts with a question mark and contains one or more name-value pairs.   The name
value pairs have a parameter and a value.    Let’s look at these in more depth.

http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php?q=dayparting
http://www.commerceV3.com/index.php?q=dayparting&sort=asc

The first url above has one parameter, “q”, whose value is “dayparting”.   The second url has two
parameters, “q” and “sort” with values “dayparting” and “asc” respectively.   You will notice that the name value pairs are separated by ampersands.

Generally speaking, query strings pass specific information to the hosting server (the server that has the file that you are requesting with your web browser) so that the hosting server can deliver specific
information back to you .

In the case of Google Analytics, tracking parameters are added to the url to talk to javascript on your webpages that in turn talk to Google so that your Google Analytics can understand the visit better and report on it in a useful way.

There are 5 parameters used in Google Analytics.

Utm_medium
Utm_campaign
Utm_source
Utm_term
Utm_content

I won’t go into what these parameters correspond to in GA reporting (let me know if you want that and I’ll do it in another post.)

How to add Google tracking parameters to your urls.

The key is that each url should have only one question mark.   The question mark says to the server “ my query string parameters start here”.  Having more than one question mark can cause errors.

If your url does not have a query string parameter you need to add one at the end of the url and then put your name value pairs.

http://www.commercev3.com/

could become

http://www.commercev3.com/?utm_campaign=email&utm_content=banner

http://www.commercev3.com/blog/eric/

could become

http://www.commercev3.com/ blog/eric/?utm_campaign=email&utm_content=banner

If your url already has a question mark, you need only to add your tracking parameters as name value pairs.
You start with an ampersand (to say, “here is another parameter”) and keep going.

http://www.commercev3.com/?q=workshops

could become

http://www.commercev3.com/?q=workshops&utm_campaign=email&utm_content=banner

http://www.commercev3.com/blog/eric/?sortorder=asc

could become

http://www.commercev3.com/ blog/eric/? sortorder=asc
&utm_campaign=email&utm_content=banner

Did you see how the two examples I gave end in a slash, “/”?   Adding the query string is easy in
these cases, you can just add it at the end.

However, not all urls do.   What do you do if yours doesn’t? Unfortunately it depends on the case and I’ll need to explain why.

To understand the slashes in urls,  it’s helpful to remember that urls are requests to a webserver for a file.   The slashes give a path to the information you are requesting.  They indicate which folder (aka directory) the file lives in.   There is a master folder called the root for your domain name that holds all the other folders.   It can be found either by typing in the domain name

http://www.commercev3.com

or by typing the domain name with a trailing slash

http://www.commercev3.com/

Beyond that, all the other folders are specified using slashes for each level you go in.

http://www.commercev3.com/blog/eric/

specifies that I am looking for a file called within a folder called “eric” within a folder called “blog” which is found at the root.

No file is specified in that request.   That’s OK. Most servers have a default file they will serve if no file is specified.  However, sometimes there is a file request.  This is the last thing you need to know (I think).

File names end with a suffix.   A file suffix starts with a period.  Common file suffixes for web files are

.htm
.html
.php
.asp
.aspx

If your url ends with a file name, you can simply add the question mark and your tracking parameters.

http://www.commercev3.com/index.html

could become

http://www.commercev3.com/index.html?utm_campaign=email&utm_content=banner

Generally speaking the order of your parameters does not matter as long as you are following the proper syntax of starting your query string with a question mark and separating your name value pairs with
ampersands.

Here are a couple of common examples of using Google Analytics tracking parameters to get reports on common campaigns:

Ad Center CPC Destination URLS:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=[the keyword for this link if you are using keyword level destination urls or
‘default’ if not]&utm_campaign=[your campaign name]

Email:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?utm_source=[mailing name]&utm_medium=email&utm_content=[the specific link if you’re interested in reporting on that]

First Thoughts on Google Plus One

Have you heard about Google Plus One  (+1)?    Google launched it earlier this month and seems to be poised to push it.  For example, it’s front and center on Google Ad Innovations currently (great site which makes a great default homepage, by the way:  http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/index.html), and it’s a very logical play for Google as they embrace social.

 

Here’s what I love about it

Plus 1 brings social media to where eCommerce people really need it – Search.   Social is here to stay and there’s no doubt that social connections are going to continue to influence ecommerce buying decisions more and more. Plus One puts Google in an interesting place in this dynamic.  It allows them to leverage the unique selling proposition of the adwords platform – very powerful psychographic targeting capabilities via keywords to have gain a foothold in social.

I also really love that the Plus Ones you see are only of those people whom you know.   That makes the recommendation much stronger in my opinion and it makes Plus One much more useful to me.  That’s pretty cool.

So I think it’s an interesting and smart play by Google  …  um, good for them, but “So what?”     Can you as a marketer jump on this and make a huge difference for your brand?

I don’t think so… not yet.

 

What I don’t love about it

1) You have to have a public Google Profile to Plus One something.   It’s pretty easy to do, but the problem is that few people have done it and I’m not sure that people will be compelled to do it.  What’s the upside for them?   It seems to me that there isn’t an immediate payback for doing so.  On Facebook you get to hear about the lives of people – long lost friends, neighbors, family, etc.   People share stories.  Plus One is a lot less rich.

But perhaps this isn’t at all what Plus One is trying to be.

I guess it’s a bit like Amazon ratings… people DO seem to do those…but the difference is that they are talking to the whole world and not just their friends.   I think that stage is the attraction and incentive.   Imagine if the only reviews you saw on Amazon were those by your friends.   How often would that be useful?

It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg problem with Google Plus One.   I suppose if I were to start really seeing value of commentary from friends, I would be inclined to pay back that Karmic debt.   At this point, however, I’m seeing nothing.

Maybe Google is big enough to overcome this.   I feel like they have been patient in the past with new offerings.   They put something out there and learn… They continue to innovate and find new ways to bring value and in time the offering is really compelling.  Gmail was like that,  Adwords didn’t start as the leader in it’s space, Analytics has gotten better year after year and looks to be poised for a great leap in 2011.   Maybe Plus One will just take time.

But the bottom line is that it is NOT super important to most marketers at this time.   There just isn’t a population there yet.

 

That said, what is the downside of promoting Plus One on your website?   There is very little investment for you as a website owner to do so.   Sure, not alot of people will use it, but it probably does behoove you to get in the game and start seeing what Plus One is and how it’s being used.   My understanding is that data will be available with Google Webmaster Tools (which in turn is becoming more integrated with Google Analytics).  It’s Google, after all – they are always worth watching.

Besides that, the other trick is to be great in the other things you do.   Have a great product, have incredible customer support and get Plus Oned.  That’s a piece of cake, right?