Archive for the ‘Online Shopping’ Category

EBay As The Next Amazon

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Colin Gillis, the Director of Research at BCG Financial, is publicly predicting that EBay will continue its meteoric rise and it will be on the backs of mobile devices. As of now one third of mobile devices access EBay or its property PayPal. That is a tremendous statistic and if true does indeed bode well for the ecommerce site. EBay and PayPal have been at the forefront of mobile developments and the company does show a continued emphasis in that direction.

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One of the main goals for EBay is to change their image from that of an auction company to one where someone can buy anything. This is good for the digital marketing agency. Amazon is currently the leader in m-commerce, where people go on their mobile devices to be able to buy anything. To gain this ground EBay will offer discounts and promotions. The agency can use this as another outlet for its clients to sell their wares online. EBay is also more willing to offer Facebook integration so for the digital marketing agency there will be symmetry. If EBay is not currently used as a vendor, then a strategy reevaluation would behoove the brand that sells online.

2013 Could Be the Year eBay Takes on Amazon for Real

Bing’s Scroogled Campaign Falters

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Bing has been escalating its anti-Google tirade the past week. The campaign has been renamed to be Scroogled, and it seems to have refined its message to be that Google is not clear about which search results are ads and which are not. Regardless of speculation about the effectiveness of this campaign, the education marketing company needs to pay attention to how it is received by the public because that may move the needle on search engine market share.

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Danny Sullivan, the editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land, has a new essay where he parses the Scroogled campaign and makes some predictions for the public at large. The crux of his findings are that Scroogled is correct and Google should be much more transparent about which of its search returns are paid for and which are organic. The real problem is Product Listing Ads (PLAs) which are all paid for but some tricky shading makes some of them seem organic.

Despite the accuracy of the Scroogled campaign’s claims, there is a reason why it will not make much difference. There is no clear alternative because Bing engages in similar behaviors. The campaign is also registering only among the crowd that already knows and watches for these things. Reaching out to SEO experts will not change the market share for search engines. The problem is ultimately how shopping searching is being done and nobody wins at that game.

Bing Shopping As A Poster Child For Consumer Confusion About Ads

Product Reviews Are Preferred Recommendation Engine

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

A panel conducted by ConsumerSearch found that this holiday season most shoppers will be using online reviews as their primary tool to decide which products to buy. Behind reviews ranks online wish lists such as the ones Amazon has compiled. In third place will be discussion with friends on social sites such as Facebook. Another study found similar results: reviews ranked above the other options but they were all outperformed by looking for discounts and deals.

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The lesson for the social media agency is about online reviews. Not only is it important to provide testimonials but it is one of the main, if not the the main, driving force for sales this holiday season. The challenge is making these testimonials known. The brand could offer deals to customers that write a review. Even encouraging a review may be a good way to make them happen. Deals and discounts are great, but across the board it is the testimonial people want. It is not only important for online retailers to have testimonies - education companies need to have reputable online reviews as well. It might be a challenge for the education marketing company to get good online reviews for clients, but it is well worth it.

Reviews Turn Social Media into Gift Guides

More Good News For Pinterest

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Pinterest’s rapid growth has now made it the third largest social network. It recently passed LinkedIn posting a 145% increase in daily users since January 2012. This remarkable growth is not the only reason Pinterest’s growth is exciting. There are also an increasing number of metrics that point to Pinterest as the best driver for sales and traffic to sites off of the network.

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Boticca.com, an online jewelry vendor, says customers coming from Pinterest average $180 on their purchases. Users coming from FaceBook, however, average $85 purchases. Women’s Health magazine says 25% of its referral traffic comes from Pinterest. Convertro, a marketing analytics firm, says the above anecdotal evidence is typical. By the end of 2012 Q2 Pinterest represents 17.4% of all social media based revenue.

Gabe Donnini, a Data Solutions Engineer at Chitika, has a survey of some metric systems for the social media agency’s presence on Pinterest. Donnini then offers his take on the important Pinterest metric’s the agency needs to observe. Re-Pins Per Pin is akin to shares or retweets on the other social networks. Clicks Per Pin is the most important because t measures how often people are leaving Pinterest for a web site, where the conversions take place. Another important metric is the Average Visit Duration. This helps the agency measure which pins are generating interest and might be on the cusp of providing clickthroughs.

Pinterest needs to be a part of campaigns run by the social media agency. Some products will lend itself better to a visual base campaign and some not so much, but Pinterest is for now the best place for generating sales when there is a visual component to be emphasized.

Pinterest best driver for sales

Pinterest Is Still Valuable for Brands

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Not only is Pinterest growing in popularity, but it also boasts a better conversion rate than when a customer finds a product on a different social network. The reasons are still not entirely known, but there is speculation. The social media agency needs to take its clients onto Pinterest and possibly even use that as the main social network as its platform. Users are able to use Pinterest to share onto FaceBook and Twitter, so a focus on Pinterest does not leave the other networks in the cold.

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One of the concerns with Pinterest is the domination by women. That number is changing though. From January to March the percentage of men on the service rose from 20% to 28%. Most of these users are making a decent income. Almost half make between $25k to $50k each year. The next largest group resides in the $50k to $75k income bracket. One thing to note, however, is that a product’s pin is twice as likely to be shared if it does not include a price.

The most important data to consider is about the percentage of internet purchases derived from the main three social networks. FaceBook is still dominant but its dominance is slipping. From the second quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012 the percentage of referrals from FaceBook fell from 89% to 82%. Twitter’s relevance dropped precipitously from 10% to 1%. Pinterest seems to be the network stealing those numbers as its share rose from 1% to 17% of all purchases referred by a social network.

The social media agency needs to develop a Pinterest strategy. This strategy would also help on the other networks as images become more and more important to a brand’s attempts to recruit sales and conversions.

Measuring the interest in Pinterest

Time to Reevaluate Clickthrough Rates

Friday, April 27th, 2012

The debate over the value of clickthrough rates (CTRs) is heating up. Always looking for a new and better metric has been the firm comScore and now there is a new report to back up its argument. The new study contends that there is almost zero correlation between clicks and conversions. Instead of looking to CTR, the social media agency ought to instead look at hover time and ad viewability.

Clickthrough Rates

This new study only measures the metrics for display advertising. Even though there are other types of ads, display ads dominate the market so the flaw may not be significant to the study’s findings. The scope of the study is quite large: 263 million impressions over nine months and 18 advertisers.

An average of 31% of the impressions were never seen partly because they were below the fold. On some websites that number was as high as 91%. The study then measured four metrics on conversion rates. Clicks showed a correlation of .01, which is not at all close to significance. Gross impressions fared better but a still anemic .17. Viewable impressions was .35 and the top performer was ad hover/interaction at .49.

Of course, there has been mounting evidence for years, 2008 was the first serious criticism of CTR, and yet the click remains the measure by which prices and charges are given to advertisers. The social media agency may need to wait until TV-like metrics are finally deployed for internet viewers.

Clicks Don’t Correlate With Conversations

Google’s Trusted Store Badge

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Google is rolling out a new icon on search results. Certain vendors will appear in search results with a medal immediately to the left of where the URL is. The medal icon is Google’s tip to the searcher that the site is a trusted store. A trusted store is supposed to make customers more at ease for ecommerce by demonstrating the site adheres to certain standards for customer protection including purchase protection.

Google Trusted Store Badge

To qualify for the status there is an application process. The business must then turn over a range of data to Google so the process is fair, not arbitrary and consistent among all the qualifying vendors. At the moment not all qualified stores are showing up with the badge, ostensibly so Google can test click results for the badges and not badged results. Google does say that participation in the program will not affect ad rankings in the AdWords process.

This is another good development for the social media agency. A small badge that can help users know firms have been transparent and satisfied certain criteria will helps users become more confident. As they have more and more beneficial experiences with ecommerce, then their overall willingness will also increase regardless of the ‘trusted store’ status of vendors. This is also not part of any new trend for unwilling vendors. The internet is increasingly making every business more transparent and this process should be encouraged. Overall it makes marketing in the internet more important, helping the social media agency.

Google Tests Trusted Store Program With AdWords

Google Offers Now Comes with Rewards

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Google is retooling its Offers programs to come with better incentives and to better collect data about offline purchases. For now there are only a few participating partners and only MasterCard is the cooperating credit card. Users register a credit card and when the requisite number of purchases is made Google will put money on that card. An example is the partnership with Sonoma Chicken Coop. When a registered customer makes two purchases, then he will find an $8 credit on his credit card bill.

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The past few months have seen a drop-off in the daily deals market, as people are either consider them tired gimmicks or the market is saturated or both. However, this new incentive is a boon for the social media agency. The new incentive is likely to increase customer participation even if it is merely because of the novelty.

The other benefit of this initiative will be in the data accumulation it helps Google collect. The largest problem with online selling has always been the offline component. This program will help bridge some of that divide and make them coexist in a manner that can be measured. Google will be able to better see what people are buying and what motivates them to do so. That data will then be able to trickle down to the social media agency and help make conversions. It is possible brands will also find the reinvigorated user base receptive to the offers as an advertising vehicle.

Google Gives More

Online Consumer Reviews Are Well Trusted

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The social media agency should be encouraged by the results from the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey. Only 15% of respondents had said they did not use the internet to find a local business and 16% said they use the internet every week to do so. The ratio of that split was similar to the split when asked about using online reviews to determine if a business is a good one to visit. 27% regularly use online reviews and 24% never use online reviews.  Most consumers, 67%, read between 2 and 10 reviews each week and only 7% said they read more than 20 each week. The final result is that 58% of customers trust a business that has an online review of it posted and these reviews are trusted by 72% of people as much as they trust personal recommendations.

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Social media agencies need to be more focused on cultivating positive reviews than ever before. Part of this mission will require the social media agency to be more attuned to being present on sites that easily collect reviews and allow them to be searchable. Brands will then need to encourage customers to leave reviews. It may be possible to offer discounts or some exclusive item for reviewers. The temptation will need to be resisted, however, to leave fake positive reviews or to encourage positive reviews. A rumor of deception will take any good will among those that have had positive experiences and prevent any gains from positive reviews. Positive reviews only gain such a premium in a world where they are trusted.

Trustworthy Customer Reviews

Customers Do Care About Data Collection

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

A study produced by Forrester Research shows that customers do care and are increasingly concerned about data collection methods. More than 37,000 US and Canada residents were surveyed and more than 70% said they were concerned about sensitive data such as social security numbers and credit cards. The number drops to less than half when it is about phone numbers and the results finally taper at 17% when the data in question is about online reviews. Customers are able to discern qualitative differences about types of data.

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The age of the customer is also relevant to the concern about data collection. Almost half of 55-64 year olds are concerned about data collection of their online behaviors. The percentage of 18-24 year olds concerned is a third. These numbers are increasing when compared on the long view from year to year.

The most important issue for the digital agency is that almost half of customers have cancelled a purchase because of something they read in an online privacy policy. This is the easy lesson for the digital agency. Customers do read these and do make use their privacy as a factor in deciding with whom to shop.

Brands need to be careful what they do with data. They need to be vocal about what is done with their data and they need to be careful to abide by those statements. It is too easy these days to run afoul of the right person with the right Klout score if privacy concerns are handled haphazardly. The SOPA protests should reaffirm the power of symbolic protest on the internet when privacy is concerned.

Data Collection Concern