549

Future of Video Advertising

499

ROI 3800%

Worth the click.

Check out 37 Email Stats to Blow Your Mind, published by Business2Community.

Best:

  1. email is 40% more effective at acquisition than Facebook
  2. ROI 3800%
  3. 78% of Gmail is read on mobile devices
446

Hamilton Won More Than Twitter

My piece from the Washington Post 9.17.2016, based on a case I wrote for Darden.

Hamilton Won More Than Twitter

The big idea: Lin-Manuel Miranda has become a household name, thanks to his musical “Hamilton,” which has grossed more than $75 million and won 11 Tony Awards. But before it moved to Broadway, Miranda and his backers needed to figure out how to promote the show and engage the audience online. It seemed only fitting to dominate social media as no previous show had, considering “Hamilton” was a mix of modernity and history, gaining acclaim for featuring a cast that represented the racial diversity of 2016 America, with characters who pushed boundaries by retelling history via hip-hop. They needed to make its story accessible to more than those who could afford a Broadway show.

The scenario: Stacey Mindich, the producer, organized an “Influencer Night” during the show’s preview performances. She invited executives from Silicon Valley and digital media experts to the show and asked them for feedback and online strategy tips. This interactive media board of advisers ranged from Mashable COO Mike Kriak to Amazon’s head of online advertising Jason Nickel. But her greatest influencer turned out to be Miranda himself.

The resolution: A strategy was developed to leverage Twitter as the most widely available way for followers to touch the secret world of “Hamilton” and feel included. Miranda used Twitter to connect a broad cross-section of people who love rap, history and theater by soliciting fan art and poetry. He responded to questions one on one and treated his followers like pals. Using 140 characters at a time, he created a special digital club that kept fans engaged.

Hundreds of celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Jennifer Lopez took to social media to declare their adoration for the musical and for Miranda. Comedian Jimmy Fallon simply stated, “HAMILTON is a game changer.” Musician Alicia Keys flamboyantly used emojis and hashtags, “#wearelimitless!! #unboxable #canyoutelli’mintoit?” Backstage selfies of celebrities began to dominate social media.

They also successfully created buzz around “Hamilton’s” lottery for 21 10-dollar seats. The impromptu #Ham4Ham live performances were engaging thousands of people on social media with each release.

By the numbers, the “Hamilton” YouTube channel has more than 100,000 followers, and “Hamilton” has more than 250,000 followers. Miranda personally has more than 500,000 Twitter followers.

He engaged directly with fans on 65 percent of Twitter posts, via tools such as retweeting and commenting, so fans came to love him even more. Miranda’s Twitter feed is brimming with insight, connection and interaction with the online world. He tweets about celebrities, but he also makes personal comments about everything from his hair to his lunch.

Through these channels, the show created platforms not only to promote the play but also to create a visceral connection to thousands who will never set foot in the Richard Rogers theater.

The lesson: However, social-media buzz is only worth so much. The real winners in “Hamilton’s” financial equation have been ticket resellers. Before the show launched, they were charging a 42 percent premium over face value. As it turns out, boosts in ticket resale price correspond directly to the musical’s promotion on mainstream channels such as a feature on the CBS news program “60 Minutes” and a Grammy performance. The show’s 16 Tony nominations resulted in 11 Tony Awards on June 12, 2016. By the end of June, both StubHub and Ticketmaster were selling second-row orchestra seats for Miranda’s final show, July 9, 2016, for almost $10,000 each.

There was no direct correlation between specific social-media activities and ticket price sales. But mass-market exposure such as awards shows and guest appearances drove up prices.

No doubt, social media helped the traditional exposure of things such as TV appearances. But without television, the ticket resellers would not be netting $240,000 a week.

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See the original at the WP site

539

SEO + PPC = SEM Harmony

Anna Crowe wrote this sponsored post for Search Engine Journal on behalf of Bing Network, and I found it to be a good summary of the current marketplace with useful suggestions.

The Effectiveness of Search

SEM is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels. But does SEM really help drive traffic to your site?

It’s a question many search marketers have heard from clients 🙋, especially since SEM is taking up a large chunk of marketing budgets.

With so much of our time being spent optimizing for user experience and so much of our work measured on conversions, SEM has become a major part of our marketing roadmap — a new way to optimize your brand without leaving your desk.

Understanding the success of your search campaigns is a must for any business looking to drive traffic to their website. To better understand the effectiveness of SEM, let’s look at the research.

In An Overcrowded Space, SEM Finds Your Niche

SEM’s effectiveness is dependent on how strategic you are in your roadmap.

When your tasks and goals are clearly defined, and you have a little wiggle room for experimentation, SEM will be a consistent lead generation for your business.

“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.” — Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Quick

Take a look at these case studies to investigate how SEM can be a lead generator.

Teri Merrit discusses how Marriott International used SEM and SEO to drive demand and customer engagement to book group meetings. By setting growth metrics and tracking the analytics, they exceeded their total booking revenue, received a high conversion rate of 14%, and increased online submissions by 84%.

In 2015, Seer Interactive had 76,587 incremental conversions on Bing Ads for all their clients. One of their clients generated $461,159 in revenue from just Bing Ads! I’m not surprised because Bing has seen a massive 35% click growth year over year.

No, this isn’t magic. It’s the work of a great SEM strategy. Some industry experts would argue that it isn’t SEM itself, but rather improvements from the business as a whole. As you can see from above, the proof is in the numbers.

Search Ads Drive In-Store Sales

For businesses who want to see in-store sales, search ads seem to work the best.

Consider case studies like this one from Century Novelty. Utilizing Bing Shopping Campaigns Century, Novelty saw an increase in revenue by 1237% and return on investment grew by 20%. This isn’t shocking, as 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queried only through Bing.

Or, look at this study from Pinterest and Oracle Data Cloud. Together, they measured in-store sales of 26 different Promoted Pin categories. The results? Promoted Pins drove five times more incremental in-store sales per impression.

And, of course, Facebook recently launched several new local advertising options. French retailer E.Leclerc tested a Local Awareness campaign, and they saw 12% of clicks on their Facebook ads were then followed by an in-store visit within a week.

Chobani even saw a 9% increase in sales by utilizing SEM and SEO on multiple search engines.

As you can see above, research has proven that a strategic approach to search ads can not only build awareness but improve your bottom line.

SEO + PPC Create SEM Harmony

It is beneficial for a business to combine the powerful forces of SEO and PPC together if you need to produce results at a faster rate.

The reason is that new SEO tactics take time; since you don’t know what to expect from your competitors or the SERPs, you are inclined to create an SEO strategy for long-term growth.

With a PPC strategy, you know what lies ahead. Growth and lead generation require less time.
The combined efforts of SEM creates benefits in other ways too; it’s best to start with an idea and experiment to see what works best in your niche.

Let’s take a look at a few case studies:

  • Maryland Tub & Tile partnered with G3 Group to restructure their PPC campaigns and overhaul their SEO strategy. The combination of paid search and organic resulted in 325% increase in traffic.
  • Hedges & Company saw a 30% increase in sales from organic traffic and a 68% increase in PPC traffic with an automotive client.
  • Through targeting more relevant keyword terms, A/B testing, and creating content that attracts links, Digital Third Coast increased organic conversions by 49.4% and gained 851 view-through remarketing conversions for Olivet Nazarene University.

The SEM strategy you create impacts the overall goals of the business. When deciding what tactics will fill your marketing calendar, be specific; test until you discover what is most effective for your brand.

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See the original SEJ article

 

501

Paid Traffic to Paying Traffic

Practical tips by Neil Patel; from headlines to offers, there’s an art to converting traffic.

The Simple 3-Step Process to Converting Paid Traffic Through Email Marketing

Most entrepreneurs who invest in paid traffic make one very critical error: They don’t know how to convert that paid traffic into profit!

If this is you, then pay attention: You cannot expect a positive ROI or a sustainable advertising campaign unless you learn how to master the art of converting paid traffic. While there are dozens of ways to convert paid traffic into profit, I’m going to focus in on just one: email autoresponders, meaning a computer program that immediately provides information to prospective customers, then follows up with them at preset time intervals.

If you put in the work on the front end and create a high-quality email autoresponder sequence, you will be able to convert paid traffic with almost no effort at all. While this may sound like an impossible task (if you have never created an autoresponder sequence before), it is actually a lot easier than you think.

So, here are three simple steps to creating an epic autoresponder series that will allow you to generate massive amounts of income . . . while you sleep. Sound like something you are interested in? Here are the steps.

  1. Make customers an offer they can’t refuse.

The first step to converting paid traffic through your email autoresponder sequence is to make your audience members an offer they cannot refuse. Specifically, offer a high-quality, free giveaway. You want the giveaway to be a no-brainer. You want it to be irresistible.

Creating a giveaway like this is actually much simpler than you think.

The key is, first, to know your market, figure out what one problem they want solved more than anything else, then create a giveaway that solves that problem. There are dozens of places where you can find the information you need to create your offer. Browse through books in the Kindle store related to your niche. Check out Reddit or Quora to see what questions people in your target market are asking.

For example, if you are in the health and fitness industry for men, you may find some of the biggest problems your market is asking to be:

  • How do I lose weight without losing muscle?
  • How can I gain muscle without spending thousands on a crazy diet?
  • I don’t have time for the gym; how can I stay healthy?

The list goes on and on. Based off these problems, you could create any one of the following giveaways.

  • A free video series titled How to Shred Belly Fat without Losing Muscle
  • An ebook titled Bodybuilding on a Budget: How to Gain Muscle, Get Huge and Turn Heads without Expensive Diets
  • A pre-recorded webinar titled Shredded in No Time: How to Get and Stay Lean for the Man on the Go

Pretty simple, right? Like anything in business, creating your irresistible offer is about identifying a problem and providing an effective solution.

  1. Craft compelling headlines.

Once you have successfully created a giveaway that people want and need, the next step is to create compelling headlines that actually generate a high open rate.

It doesn’t matter how good your giveaway is. If people sign up for your autoresponder series and then receive emails with poorly crafted headlines, they will take their free resource and promptly run for the hills.

While writing amazing headlines is a skill that can take years to master, you can get started today by keeping a few things in mind. First, you want to make sure that your headline is neither too long nor too short. Six to ten words seems to perform best.

It is important to realize that you only have a few words to pique your reader’s attention, get your message across and earn the open. Make sure that you utilize one or all of these six tips (in no particular order) to maximize open rates.

  1. Your headlines are specific and useful: People know what the email is about and what to expect.
  2. You clearly identify yourself: Make sure that in the first couple of emails the audience is very clear who is emailing them.
  3. Your headlines stand out: Use numbers, symbols and capitalization to grab the reader’s attention.
  4. Your headline is timely: Relate your headline to a recent event or issue pressing on your audience members’ minds.
  5. Your headline has a call to action: For some reason, people respond well when they’re told to do something. Use your next headline to bark out orders.
  6. Your headline is tested: Always split-test headlines to see what clicks (no pun intended) with your audience.

 

     3. Ask for the sale.

The final piece to the puzzle is to master the art of offering value and know when to ask for the sale. You want to make sure that (at least) the first week or so of your email series is dedicated 100 percent to giving value without asking for anything in return.

This will build trust with your audience members, increase the open rate on future emails and make them more likely to purchase from you whenever you actually do ask for the sale.

Providing value in your emails is pretty simple. Just continue to help your audience solve problems related to the problem that you solved in the giveaway. I recommend that you send at least four emails that are 100 percent value-based before you ask for the sale.

And when you do ask for the sale, it is important that the product you offer solve a problem similar to those you have been solving in the email series. If your series is all about how your audience members can grow their business through content marketing, but you then offer an online course devoted 100 percent to Facebook Advertising, you are going to lose sales.

Keep your emails congruent, and offer as much value as possible.

Conclusion

Converting paid traffic through an email autoresponder sequence is not easy. But it is one of the best ways to start generating passive/residual income while building your brand and creating customer loyalty. If you can master these three steps, your business, and your marketing will never be the same.

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See the original article at Entrepreneur.com

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Shopping is Viral

Helpful mobile commerce info from HuffPost

Click. Buy. Done. These ‘M Commerce’ Statistics Show That Smartphone Shopping is Viral

Just ten years ago, if someone had tried to sell you on the “mobile shopping experience,” it would have likely resulted in a bit of laughter and disbelief. But today, the ecommerce industry caters to smartphone shoppers. In fact, mobile commerce (also referred to as “m commerce”) has become a staple to this industry. Search engine giant Google has even created an algorithm that penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly to users, an event that was referred to by many as “Mobilegeddon.”

Yep, it’s true, 4G LTE powers a great deal of the online shopping experience these days. According to a Marketingland report, nearly 55% of all web traffic that streams into the top sites comes from smartphone handsets. But is m commerce really this much of a game-changer for ecommerce as a whole? The short answer is: Yes.

Smartphone Shopping is Trendy

More than 1.2 billion people use their smartphone to access the internet daily, according to a Trinity Digital Marketing publication. About half the population of the United States is connected to the web directly from their handset, so it’s no surprise that large marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are cashing in on the m commerce shopping craze by offering convenient one-click shopping options.

The truth told, people like the convenience of mobile shopping. A Nielson report finds that 60% of online shoppers use their smartphone to find a product first. If that same product is able to be purchased in just a click, you can imagine the health of the conversion rate when such convenience is offered to the consumer.

One-Third of Ecommerce is Mobile Driven

Attesting to the validity of the m commerce industry are the hard facts. A recent Internet Retailer report finds that about one-third of ecommerce is driven by mobile shopping. In certain markets, like Asia, the growth of mobile commerce has been exponential, with some regions reporting as much as a 250% in growth over the past 24 months.

At the present, mobile commerce takes in around $100 billion per year in the U.S. This number is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead at a steady pace. The leading Mobile 500 retailers experienced a 68% growth in 2015, according to the IR report cited above, a tally that amounted to $3 billion in total. In the years to come, expect this surge to continue.

Mobile Shopping Apps To Become New Norm

In the near future, more people will rely on mobile shopping than desktop or tablet options. A late 2015 Forbes report estimated that mobile shopping apps would exceed $280 billion in generated sales in 2015, representing a $100 billion increase from the same time in 2014. Compound that with the present day, about 14 months after this report was published, and you’d have a healthy $350 billion or more coming in from mobile shopping apps in 2016.

2016-08-22-1471910299-316259-2.png

According to a Stanford study on mobile commerce, a large amount of spending is coming from millennials. About one in two millennials have downloaded and used a mobile shopping app in the past two years, with the most popular device being an Apple phone.

Over 2 Billion Mobile Transactions Predicted by 2017

To put the health of mobile commerce into better perspective, an Invesp report predicts that more than 2 billion mobile commerce transactions will take place from Q1 of 2016 through Q4 of 2017. Currently, about 19% of all ecommerce transactions are processed via a smartphone handset, a number that’s set to increase to 27% by 2018.

2016-08-22-1471910336-4867973-3.jpg

The iPhone is still the conversion leader in mobile commerce, generating an average conversion value of $117.16. Meanwhile, Android devices generate an average conversion value of $111.70, and Windows devices take in about $100.91 per conversion.

At the present, roughly 15% of shoppers use their smartphone to make purchases, nearly double the meager 8% that did in 2014. By Cyber Monday of this year, 56% of shoppers will buy at least one gift for a loved one from their mobile phone.

Mobile Shopping Statistics

  • Over 59% of smartphone users research products from their handset before making an online purchase.
  • 76% of smartphone users rely on their handset to find a store to make a local purchase at.
  • 30% of global ecommerce sales will come from smartphone users by the year 2018.
  • Mobile devices drive over half a billion in sales during Cyber Monday, a number that will continue to climb.
  • The preferred shopping method for smartphone users is via a shopping app.
  • Mobile commerce will rake in over $90 billion in sales in the U.S. by the year 2018.
  • Over 50% of smartphone shoppers say they will rely on a digital wallet to make purchases this year.
  • 75% of mobile shoppers redeemed coupons when shopping over the past three years.
  • 84% of mobile shoppers rely on smartphones to help them when making a purchase at a brick and mortar store

Amazon Rakes It In From One-Click Shopping

Amazon has got the m commerce shopping format down pat. They lead the industry in mobile sales, and a big reason for that is their convenient one-click check-out option for Prime users.

A Business Insider publication finds that mobile shoppers spend more time on Amazon (100 minutes on average) than competing sites like Target (20 minutes) or Walmart (14 minutes) combined. What’s more, customers come back to Amazon over six times per month, also more than both Walmart (two and half times) and Target (two times) combined.

2016-08-22-1471910378-7268582-4.png

When the holidays come around, Amazon grabs about 70% of the market share from mobile shopping, explains Marketingland. The sheer dominance doesn’t stop there. A Mobile Strategies report explains that 61% of consumers who use a smartphone as their primary shopping device only shop at Amazon. In addition, 93% of all mobile shoppers already are Amazon members.

Mobile Commerce’s Healthy Future

The future of mobile commerce is very bright. By the year 2020, Business Insider predicts that 45% of all ecommerce will come from m commerce. As illustrated by the chart below, this represents about $325 billion per year of an estimated $700 billion annual haul.

2016-08-23-1471910417-1458159-6.png

As one-click payment options and integrated mobile shopping carts become more advanced, the playing field will level out. Ultimately, mobile will become the new face of ecommerce. As the aforementioned information concurs, one day, desktop shopping will be as much of a memory as dial-up internet is today.

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Check out the original source for graphics and more links: Huffington Post

794

Title Case & Hard Numbers

Two particularly usesful tips from FastCo.

4 Data-Backed Strategies For Writing Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

Required reading for anyone who writes email and wants to up their subject-line game to make sure the recipient reads it.

Even though many of us complain that our inboxes are too full, email is still one of the most popular ways to communicate. The average person sends and receives 123 emails each day, and that number is expected to grow over the next three years, according to the technology market-research firm Radicati.

With all of that volume, your best chance of being read rests in your subject line, says Anna Holschuh, a data engineer at the email platform provider Yesware. “We often make split-second decisions about dealing with email, and it’s easy to disregard a message based on a subject line,” she says.

Yesware’s data scientists analyzed 115 million emails for a full year to identify email subject-line strategies that work and those that don’t. “We looked specifically at most and least used words and formats in comparison to most and least effective,” says Holschuh.

“Quick question” is a highly used but poorly performing subject line.

With an average open rate of 51.9% and an average reply rate of 29.8%, Holschuh and her colleagues identified some important trends:

Avoid Questions

Got a quick question? Think twice before shooting off an email because it could reduce your chances of getting a reply. “Quick question” is a frequently used but poorly performing subject line, says Holschuh. When a question or question mark was used in the subject line, the open rate dropped from 51.9% to 41.6%. In addition, the reply rate dropped from 29.8% to 18.4%.

“Questions put people on the spot, and you’re asking a lot of an already busy, stressed-out professional,” says Holschuh. “You’re asking them to do work without providing value up front.”

“If the recipient is familiar with you or if you add context to your request on why it benefits the other person, it could be a different story,” she says. “But cold emails that put people on the spot don’t do well.” Instead of asking, “Are you the appropriate person?” for example, do your research up front and save the person’s time, says Holschuh.

When a greeting was used in the subject line, reply rate dropped down to 48.1%.

Skip The Personal Greetings

Greetings in subject lines, such as “hi,” “hello,” and “howdy” seem conversational and familiar, but they tend to reduce the open rate, especially when you don’t know the sender, says Holschuh. When a greeting was used in the subject line, it dropped down to 48.1%. In addition, the reply rate dropped to 21.2%.

“The technique was used to dupe people into thinking that the sender was an old friend, and it was overused,” says Holschuh. “It could be that our brain now recognizes these subject lines as an early warning sign of a sales email, and we delete the emails to avoid that first time we expected a personal email and were wrong.”

Save personal content for the body of the email instead of putting it in the subject line, Holschuh advises.

Use Numbers

Questions and greetings don’t do well, but there are other things you can do to catch the recipient’s attention. Subject lines with hard numbers have a higher open and reply rate, according to Yesware. The open rate increased to 53.2% and the reply rate went to 32%.

“We believe it’s the case because in this age of data, people like numbers and hard facts,” says Holschuh. “Metrics also offer credibility, and we saw that including numbers boosts open and reply rates.”

And Use Title Case

An unexpected finding was the use of capitalization. When senders use title case—for example: Subject-Line Story versus subject-line story—emails had a higher open and reply rate. Title case had an open rate of 54.3%, while lower-case subject lines dropped to 47.6%. The reply rate with title case bumped up to 32.3%, while lower case fell to 25.7%.

“It provides a sense of authority of what you’re talking about versus an informal tone that’s implied with all lower-case letters,” says Holschuh.

 

Stephanie Vozza

http://www.fastcompany.com/3062538/data-backed-strategies-for-writing-subject-lines-that-get-your-email-read

393

Influencers Try Video

Interesting piece below on LinkedIn.  The company’s push to have ‘influencers’ publish content has been moderately successful, this is an argument for adding video to the repertoire.  Goals for LinkedIn: (a) increase average users’ time on their site, (b) provide new opportunities for ad revenue.

Why Videos Can Increase User Engagement on LinkedIn?

Facebook and Twitter have been going all out in the digital video space acquiring streaming rights and looking to create interesting video content. On the other hand, LinkedIn finally seems to be trying to catch up with this new trend. The company recently added new features to its platform where viewers can watch 30 second videos posted by “influencers”. These videos are expected to be crisp and to the point, while addressing a specific question or issue. The company has reached out to a small group of “influencers” who will post these videos. Consumption of videos online has increased significantly in the past few years, with YouTube reporting 50% year on year increase in videos watched on its platform. As LinkedIn finally jumps onto this bandwagon, the new feature should help the company to increase user engagement on its platform. Marketers are shifting their ad spending towards digital videos and LinkedIn should be able to grab a share in this growing video advertising market, driving revenues in the long term.

Growth In Digital Content Revenues To Be Driven By Video Services

According to a new study from Juniper Research, consumer spending on digital content will reach $180 million by 2017, 30% higher than last year’s figure of $130 million. This growth will primarily be driven by migration into streamed video services, as broadcasters look at original content to build a competitive edge. LinkedIn is working towards positioning itself as the “go to” place for professional networking and updates. As such, video streaming on its platform that contains expert views on trending issues can drive higher user engagement. According to a 2015 eMarketer study, digital video viewing (outside of television) among U.S. adults grew at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of nearly 40% between 2011 and 2015, from 21 minutes in 2011 to nearly 1 hr and 16 minutes in 2015. This indicates the high level of engagement of users while watching videos online. For the last three years, growth in watch time on YouTube has increased 50% year on year and the number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% since March 2014. These numbers clearly indicate that videos are engaging users on the internet much more than textual posts. LinkedIn can tap into this trend through this new feature.

Ads and Marketing is a significant segment for Linked (according to our estimates), accounting for nearly 20% of its current valuation. Two key drivers of this segment are LinkedIn’s average monthly unique visitors and monthly page views per LinkedIn visitor. We expect both these drivers to increase steadily over our forecast period as the company adds new features on its platform.

As LinkedIn moves towards becoming a Microsoft company, an enhanced platform with new features is being expected by its users with the combined expertise of both companies. While the professional networking platform is behind its competitors in introducing video content, this beginning will help the company retain users and increase the time they spend on its platform.

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check out the original article for Trefis graphics

450

Require Logins. Remember IA.

I’ve edited this article slightly to make it more clear.  Some decent quick B2B e-commerce tips below.

B2B E-Commerce Should Take a Page From Amazon’s Book

It’s been 20 plus years since e-commerce emerged and we’re still only seeing the tip of the business to business (B2B) e-commerce iceberg.

One sign that it’s still early days is the recent release of Internet Retailer’s (IR) inaugural issue of its B2B eCommerce 300 list. This list tracks leading B2B e-commerce company revenues.

While the estimated 2015 revenue quoted in the list — over $547 billion — suggests a more mature market, there’s still plenty of room to grow.

While each can be considered a form of e-commerce, let’s narrow the focus to how companies sell directly through their primary e-commerce site in order to compare with the more established business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce space.

Using the data from the report as a base, we can estimate a worldwide 2015 revenue of roughly $205 billion from B2B primary e-commerce sites and marketplaces, in comparison with the overall 2015 B2C e-commerce revenue of over $341 billion in the US alone.

While not a perfect comparison, it does suggest B2B eCommerce hasn’t progressed as quickly as its B2C counterpart.

Selling through one’s own e-commerce site suggests a greater level of maturity than outsourcing to a third party marketplace: it’s an indication that a company is trying to develop its own capabilities. Of the top 100 companies on the B2B 300, 50 of them derive at least a quarter or more of their online revenue on their own e-commerce sites and 21 of those sell half of their online revenues through their own site(s).

This suggests that revenues generated through a company’s own e-commerce site(s) aren’t as high as one might expect. While some might dispute that point, for the purpose of this article we are going to assume it’s valid and propose some better practices leveraging Amazon’s expertise.

Taking a Page (or Two or Three) from Amazon’s Book

Gated Product Information

A striking area for improvement is the login requirement of many B2B companies e-commerce sites. Requiring a login to view detailed product information seems onerous at best.

Having built an early B2B e-commerce solution in the late 90s targeting industrial distributors, it surprises me that companies still feel the need to hide their product information behind a gate. Amazon doesn’t limit access to product information and excluding certain, very specific product information, neither should B2B companies.

At least eighty percent or more of product information should be accessible to anyone. Removing barriers to reviewing product information is in a company’s best interests as it helps educate and inform prospective customers.

Displaying certain information, such as customer-specific pricing and available inventory, only to the relevant audience makes sense. But this is easily handled using a list price and/or a “request a quote” function and the term “In Stock” for the general public.

Whether the gated approach reflects the company’s own thinking or a lack of capabilities in the e-commerce solutions being used, it’s a problem that needs to be solved.

Information Architecture

B2B companies would also do well emulating Amazon when it comes to information architecture, taxonomy and usability. How a business organizes and presents information is highly relevant to getting people to use it.

Yes, B2B is often more complex than B2C. This will require more work in delivering a superior experience, but the customer experience has to be front and center, whether you’re B2C or B2B.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t receive the attention that it should in most companies. As with many things, Amazon does this extremely well so there should be no issues with companies benchmarking against known best practices.

Leaving In the Details

One last area where B2B companies can learn from Amazon is the immense detail in the product detail page (pdp).

Facilitating a buying decision online with minimal to no human intervention and numerous exit points is a challenging process. While each of the previous points chips away at people’s ability to complete an online transaction, the lack of rich product content on the product detail page probably has the greatest impact.

It’s precisely here where a customer is making their decision on whether to add the item to their cart. When they don’t, it’s often because they can’t cross the purchase decision threshold due to lack of information.

Amazon really has mastered the art of the product catalog, so again, for any company looking to benchmark, why not do so against the best in breed?

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Check out the original article by Bill Davis

 

496

Niche for Your Brand

Anna Crowe wrote this sponsored post for Search Engine Journal on behalf of Bing Network, and I found it to be a good summary of the current marketplace with useful links to case studies.

The Effectiveness of Search

SEM is considered one of the most powerful marketing channels. But does SEM really help drive traffic to your site?

It’s a question many search marketers have heard from clients, especially since SEM is taking up a large chunk of marketing budgets.

With so much of our time being spent optimizing for user experience and so much of our work measured on conversions, SEM has become a major part of our marketing roadmap — a new way to optimize your brand without leaving your desk.

Understanding the success of your search campaigns is a must for any business looking to drive traffic to their website. To better understand the effectiveness of SEM, let’s look at the research.

In An Overcrowded Space, SEM Finds Your Niche

SEM’s effectiveness is dependent on how strategic you are in your roadmap.

When your tasks and goals are clearly defined, and you have a little wiggle room for experimentation, SEM will be a consistent lead generation for your business.

“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.” — Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Quick

Take a look at these case studies to investigate how SEM can be a lead generator.

Teri Merrit discusses how Marriott International used SEM and SEO to drive demand and customer engagement to book group meetings. By setting growth metrics and tracking the analytics, they exceeded their total booking revenue, received a high conversion rate of 14%, and increased online submissions by 84%.

In 2015, Seer Interactive had 76,587 incremental conversions on Bing Ads for all their clients. One of their clients generated $461,159 in revenue from just Bing Ads! I’m not surprised because Bing has seen a massive 35% click growth year over year.

No, this isn’t magic. It’s the work of a great SEM strategy. Some industry experts would argue that it isn’t SEM itself, but rather improvements from the business as a whole. As you can see from above, the proof is in the numbers.

Search Ads Drive In-Store Sales

For businesses who want to see in-store sales, search ads seem to work the best.

Consider case studies like this one from Century Novelty. Utilizing Bing Shopping Campaigns Century, Novelty saw an increase in revenue by 1237% and return on investment grew by 20%. This isn’t shocking, as 25% of clicks on Bing Network are queried only through Bing.

Or, look at this study from Pinterest and Oracle Data Cloud. Together, they measured in-store sales of 26 different Promoted Pin categories. The results? Promoted Pins drove five times more incremental in-store sales per impression.

And, of course, Facebook recently launched several new local advertising options. French retailer E.Leclerc tested a Local Awareness campaign, and they saw 12% of clicks on their Facebook ads were then followed by an in-store visit within a week.

Chobani even saw a 9% increase in sales by utilizing SEM and SEO on multiple search engines.

As you can see above, research has proven that a strategic approach to search ads can not only build awareness but improve your bottom line.

SEO + PPC Create SEM Harmony

It is beneficial for a business to combine the powerful forces of SEO and PPC together if you need to produce results at a faster rate.

The reason is that new SEO tactics take time; since you don’t know what to expect from your competitors or the SERPs, you are inclined to create an SEO strategy for long-term growth.

With a PPC strategy, you know what lies ahead. Growth and lead generation require less time.
The combined efforts of SEM creates benefits in other ways too; it’s best to start with an idea and experiment to see what works best in your niche.

Let’s take a look at a few case studies:
  • Maryland Tub & Tile partnered with G3 Group to restructure their PPC campaigns and overhaul their SEO strategy. The combination of paid search and organic resulted in 325% increase in traffic.
  • Hedges & Company saw a 30% increase in sales from organic traffic and a 68% increase in PPC traffic with an automotive client.
  • Through targeting more relevant keyword terms, A/B testing, and creating content that attracts links, Digital Third Coast increased organic conversions by 49.4% and gained 851 view-through remarketing conversions for Olivet Nazarene University.

The SEM strategy you create impacts the overall goals of the business. When deciding what tactics will fill your marketing calendar, be specific; test until you discover what is most effective for your brand.

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