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Social Sign-On Could Be a Boon for Retailers

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Preference for Facebook as an all-around login grows

Online retailers, as well as other publisher sites that want to encourage visitors
to register and sign in as a way to gain information about them, would do well
to consider social sign-on, which allows internet users to carry a login from
Facebook, Twitter, Google or a similar site elsewhere on the web without
having to fill out forms and go through the hassle of a full registration process
at each site they use.

Research has shown that making the registration process easier, and giving
users options for signing in with any of several different logins, increases sign-
ups and conversions. And Facebook, with its massive reach, has become the
leading choice for users.

An October 2011 study from social retail recommendations

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Filed under Social Media

Tablets and Smartphones Used for Shopping In Store

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Tablets and Smartphones Become
Holiday Shopping Assistants

The majority of online purchases still made via desktop

This holiday season, consumers are consulting mobile devices for help
checking off items on their shopping lists more than ever before. Thanks in
part to the growth of tablet device ownership among US households,
consumers are using mobile devices for product research, online shopping and
to help make decisions while in brick-and-mortar stores. According to a Google
holiday shopping study conducted by Ipsos OTX, 77% of tablet owners plan to
use them this holiday season for shopping.

The Google study indicates that tablet owners have a higher likelihood of using
the devices for online shopping than smartphone owners. When it comes to
using mobile devices for in-store shopping though, roughly half of both
smartphone and tablet users said they are very or extremely likely to use their
devices—perhaps surprising given the typical tablet’s inability to fit into most
people’s pockets.

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Filed under Marketing, Mobile

TV Mobile Viewed More than Print

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US adults spend more time with mobile than print
magazines and newspapers combined

Despite an increasing fixation with all things digital—including online video
viewing—US adults are still watching more and more traditional TV, whether
it’s live or recorded on a DVR or DVD, eMarketer estimates. The average adult
consumer spends 4 hours and 34 minutes each day watching TV and video on
a traditional television set this year, up 10 minutes from last year.

Time spent with the internet and mobile phones was also up—by 7.7% and
30%, respectively—and while adults are spending less time than last year with
radio and print publications, the increases to TV and digital also mean an
increase in total time spent with media, to 11 hours and 33 minutes.

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Filed under Marketing, Mobile

An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics

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Which metrics should I be tracking in my inbound marketing?

This is one of the top questions we hear from busy marketing managers and business owners

who must often navigate the world of marketing analytics entirely on their own.

Analytics programs can give marketers amazing insight into their marketing campaigns, but this

wealth of data comes with a cost. There’s just so much information – and so many possible

combinations of metrics and reports to track – that many marketers get overwhelmed trying to

make sense of it all.

Adding to the challenge, companies often use several programs that report marketing metrics,

such as a web analytics package, a blogging platform, email marketing software, paid search

advertising platforms, and social media monitoring services. This means the data from one

program often has to be analyzed alongside data from another platform to track campaign

results all the way to sales.

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Filed under Analytics

Five predictive imperatives for maximizing customer value

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Applying predictive analytics to enhance customer
relationship management


Whether you call solving the business problems related to customer
profitability “customer relationship management” or just good business,
you know that strengthening customer relationships is imperative for
business success for one simple reason: customers drive profits.

In today’s increasingly global and competitive marketplace, customers
have more options available to them than ever before. Many analysts
and journalists, in fact, are calling this a “customer economy.” Attracting
customers cost effectively and meeting their expectations for selection,
price, quality, and service are essential to a customer value strategy. It is
equally important, however, to identify and retain profitable customers,
and increase their value over time. This requires the ability to anticipate
customer needs and present attractive offers in the right way, at the
right time. The companies who can do this will be the companies that
thrive in the customer economy.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Merry mobile Christmas: m-commerce takes off

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As shoppers hunt down bargains and gift ideas for the holidays, it will be hard for some to remember a time when they couldn’t pull out their smartphone and hunt down a store location, compare a product’s price, or scan customer reviews.

It’s only been a short while since smartphones and tablets such as Apple’s iPad arrived on the scene in a meaningful way, but already these devices are having a profound effect on how shoppers behave and how retailers communicate with them.

Mobile shopping only makes up a tiny fraction of retail sales, but it is accelerating at a brisk pace. Last year, about 3.8% of all ecommerce sales were made on mobile devices, according to John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM Coremetrics.

At the moment, mobile has grown to a 9% share of all online sales, but that number could rise to about 15% to 16% of all ecommerce sales over the holiday season, Squire said. The growth is even more impressive when you think that online sales are also accelerating.

It’s all about value

According to a Deloitte study, almost half of all consumers say they will shop for holiday gifts online — a double-digit increase from last year. This makes the Internet the No. 1 shopping destination, now tied with discount stores, for the first time since Deloitte added the channel to the annual study.

One of the main reasons is that consumers say they can find more competitive prices online, and increasingly these consumers realize smartphones and tablets are another tool they can use for this research.

Within the next five years, more than half of U.S. consumers will be actively using their mobile devices regularly for shopping, according to a recent study by L.E.K. Consulting.

This activity will drive m-commerce sales to about $31 billion by 2016, estimatesForrester Research. The figure represents a compounded annual growth rate of 39% from 2011 to 2016.

Couch commerce

To look only at sales receipts, however, misses the broader influence mobile is having on the retail industry.

Take Thanksgiving. Much has been made of retailers such as Toys ‘R Us and Walmart Stores kicking off their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving evening. But many retail analysts expect the shopping will begin long before the doors open at Toys ‘R Us at 9 p.m.

Last year, the busiest days for mobile shopping was Thanksgiving, and this year the volume is only expected to increase.

So all those complaints about the millions of Thanksgiving dinners being ruined by the early start of the Black Friday madness miss the point that many Americans are already doing their holiday shopping in a tryptophan-induced haze from the comfort of Grandma’s couch.

“People aren’t really waiting anymore,” said Claudia Lombana, a shopping specialist at online payments service Paypal.

Better experiences

Another reason why m-commerce is accelerating is retailers are simply providing consumers with better experience. Most retailers have improved their mobile sites and some have developed applications to make it easier to shop.

There also has been a lot of attention paid to improving the way email displays on mobile phones, said Heather Blank, vice president of Strategic Services at Responsys. This includes increasing the font size of the emails to make them easier to read on smaller screens or making the call-to-action buttons bigger so they are easier to click, she said.

“The assumption is that people are going to be saving emails and referencing emails as they shop,” Blank said. Typically, about 10% of emails are viewed on a mobile device, but during the holidays that number could rise to 20%, she said.

Email remains a powerful tool for retailers, according to Blank. Last year, 89% of the top online retailers increased the number of promotional emails they sent during November to December compared with the earlier months.

And retailers have more tools at their disposal to make these emails more effective, according to IBM’s Squire. For example, retailers can tailor email messages to the types of products a customer is likely to be interested in, or they can send fewer emails if they detect recipients are leaving the emails unopened.

More valuable consumers

SMS text messaging is another area of focus, according to Blank. One reason for this is that consumers who opt in to email or to receiving texts from a retailer are likely to be a more valuable consumer.

This gives retailers permission to engage in promotional events that they might not with a broader audience. For example, Williams-Sonoma is not a retailer known for aggressive sales or deep discounting, but the company can provide special offers to their customers who opt-in for text messages. These deals help improve the relationships retailers have with these loyal consumers.

“There is tons of data that show multichannel customers (those who shop online and in brick-and-mortar stores) are more valuable,” Blank said. If you layer in that a consumer has opted to receive messages from a store and are also affluent enough to own smartphones and tablets, a portrait of an extremely valuable consumer emerges.

Look for the QR codes

This holiday season, you’re also likely to see more store signs and mailings that incorporate QR codes, which can be scanned by a mobile phone to redirect shoppers to a website. Retailers are using these codes for special contests and to provide shoppers with more information about products. For example, a shopper at Macy’s may be able to scan a QR code near a piece of Martha Stewart cookware and see a video of Stewart demonstrating how to use the product.

JC Penney is giving its customers an opportunity to attach voice messages to their presents using QR codes.

The codes, which the retailer calls Santa Tags, take a few steps to step up, but some gift givers are likely to appreciate the ability to add an extra touch to their gifts.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how well these products serve the consumer.

According to mobile ad network Jumptap and Comscore, nearly a third of mobile device owners have made a purchase with their device. Tablet owners are even more likely – about 63% of tablet owners say they have made a purchase with their device.

Gabe Donnini, a data solutions engineer at Chitika, a data analytics company for online advertisers, points out, though, that a one-time purchase is not enough to keep mobile sales growing. It has to become a “repeat, ingrained behavior,” but he sees the utility of the platform driving consumers to mobile.

“Mobile is empowering consumers to make good purchasing decisions,” Donnini said.

And at the end of the day, that’s what consumers want: the knowledge that they scored a great deal.

Filed under Marketing, Mobile

The Bid Management Recipe

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Bid management is a catch-all term for a group of technologies that will look after certain “automateable” portions of
PPC ( campaigns for you. For very large campaigns this may be the only way to
give it the attention it deserves, but even smaller campaigns will generally benefit if the system is set up well.

Bid management systems can be expensive. Off-the-shelf systems are available and some agencies will use their
own technology. The information here will give you all the basic starting points you’d need to be able to understand
what’s involved and what you’d need if you wanted to set up a system yourself.

The Ingredients:

To make this work you’re going to need:

Conversion data in AdWords

A database or spreadsheet to store your data and apply formulae

An ability to get data out of AdWords, and put new bids in on a regular basis

The first of these comes from conversion tracking (
Tracking-vs.-Google-Analytics-Goals). Make sure you’ve got this set up and running well for at least a month before
you start. The more conversions you get per day, the better this sort of system will perform.

For most campaigns, Excel will suffice for the second requirement. A good bid management system will have its own

dedicated database, storing daily stats over a long timeline. But at the most rudimentary level you’ll be able to do a
csv export from AdWords Editor.

The final section will also depend on either AdWords Editor, or using Google’s API. If you use AdWords Editor then
you’ll need to be willing to go through this process manually on a regular basis.

The Instructions

At the most basic level, there will be a formula that will give you an optimum cost per click to pay.

Assuming: CPA = Cost / Conversions

Then: CPA = (Clicks x CPC) / (Clicks x Conversion Rate)

Then: CPA = CPC / Conversion Rate

So: CPC = CPA x Conversion Rate

The amount that you can afford to pay per click on a keyword is the conversion rate multiplied by your CPA target. If
your CPC is any higher, then you’ll go above an acceptable CPA. If your CPC is any lower, then you’ll miss out on
sales that would be within CPA target.

If you run an e-commerce campaign, then you may prefer to target on a Cost of Sale rather than a fixed CPA target.
Each keyword will have an average order value associated with it. Choose your Cost of Sale percentage (e.g., 15
percent) and adjust the formula to the below:

CPC = Average Order Value x CoS x Conversion Rate

You’ll want to consider how long a date range you use for the conversion rate statistics. Too long and you lose the
effect of changes in conversion rate (e.g., you may have improved your landing pages or it may be a better time of
year). Too short and the data quality may be less acceptable.

The Difference Between Average CPC and Bid

Due to the nature of Google’s auction, there may well be a difference between the CPC you pay and the amount
that you bid.

Never worry about this.

The nature of an auction (even a quality score influenced one) is that your optimum bidding strategy is always to bid
your true value. Consider the scenarios:

1. You bid your true value, but the competition means you pay less. In this situation you’ve paid lower costs than
you intended, so you assume that by increasing the bid you might get more traffic and still pay an acceptable
amount. But…

2. You bid more than your true value expecting the amount you pay to rise accordingly. The amount you pay will
only increase if you go above another advertiser that you were previously below. You were below them before
with your true bid, so to go above them now will mean paying above your true bid, which means you’re now
losing money.

Auctions are very good at making sure this all ends up right, so your bid should equal your target average CPC.

Bid = Average Order Value x CoS x Conversion Rate

Low Conversion Rate Keywords

Not all of your keywords will have enough data to make this work. Choose a boundary level of monthly conversion
volume, and apply this formula to keywords above that level. This will help avoid the situation of tripling bid on a low
volume keyword just because it converted once, and will avoid setting bids to 0 for keywords with no conversions in
a period.

You need to compensate for these keywords. Just because they have a low total conversion volume doesn’t mean
they don’t work. So now your formula gets split into two parts: high volume and low volume keywords.

First you need to filter in AdWords for just your low volume keywords (based on this conversion volume threshold –
what number you choose is up to you and will depend on the size and volume of your campaign).

Look at your overall CPA (or CoS) for these keywords. They may be better than your high volume terms or they may
be worse. Your high volume terms should compensate accordingly.

If your low volume keywords have a worse CPA than your high volume terms, then you need to target a lower CPA
on your high volume terms, to give yourself some leeway with spend. If you run your high volume terms exactly on
target CPA, then your low volume material could pull you over that limit. So knock the bids down on your high
volume stuff until the low volume areas perform correctly. Use a multiplier in your formula to do this. To reduce by
10 percent, use a multiplier of 0.9

Bid = Average Order Value x CoS x Conversion Rate x Multiplier

Handling the Low Volume Keywords

Dealing with these keywords is something you’ll need a completely different style of system for. You can consider
position targeting or CPC targeting, but the aim is still to get CPA in total as close as possible to target.

You won’t be able to do so on a per-keyword basis for these, so one option is to use the formula we’re building, but
do the calculation across all these keywords, rather than keyword by keyword. This should give you aggregated
stats that keep these keywords showing, but get you close to your CPA target.

Predicting Conversion Rate

In some markets conversion rate will be static. In others it won’t. You will need to have some idea how your
campaign is likely to behave.

Most retail campaigns can expect conversion rates to rise just before Christmas. Most B2B campaigns can expect
better conversion rates (assuming that you can track them!) shortly before a new financial year begins. So your
conversion rate over the last month may not necessarily be a solid predictor for your conversion rate over the next

Similarly, average order values change. If you go into sale, then the average order value from the last 30 days may
be too high compared to what people will likely pay over the next few days.

Predicting average order value isn’t too tricky: you know your schedule of offers and promotions. If you know you’ve
got 10 percent off across all products, you can simply reduce the average order value by 10 percent until the figure
compensates. Use a factor I’m calling VA (Value Adjuster).

Bid = VA(Average Order Value) x CoS x Conversion Rate x Multiplier

Conversion rate is a trickier beast to handle. Unless you have several years of data it could be really difficult to
predict. So now you need a new function, CA (Conversion Adjuster). This function has to do a couple of things:

Take last year’s conversion rate over the coming week and index it against that year’s conversion rate over the
previous 30 days. So if last year saw that next week’s conversion rate was 20 percent higher than the previous
30 days average, then the CA function should provide you with a 1.2 multiplier.

If last year’s stats aren’t available, it should provide the same analysis across similar campaigns in similar

If there are no similar stats to use as benchmarks (e.g. if you build this system in house) then you’ll need to use a
best estimate. The trend of conversion rate can be very similar to the trend of search volume in some markets.
Use Google Insights to get that annual trend (you won’t be able to do this keyword by keyword, so choose some
high value representative keywords) and make the trend changes a little more conservative (better safe than
sorry when guessing these numbers). You won’t be able to automate this process, so I suggest having a
secondary database (or spreadsheet) with a weekly or monthly index.

Bid = VA(Average Order Value) x CoS x CA(Conversion Rate) x Mutliplier

In Use

Getting every major keyword into the highest position that you can afford will work wonders on your campaign.
Whether you do this via spreadsheet calculations and upload into AdWords Editor, or with a web-based application
integrating with the API, if your campaign has a lot of conversion data then consider implementing a system like this.

If you buy an off-the-shelf system or sign up with a technical agency you’ll get a more sophisticated system than the
one I’ve described here. The predictive powers will be better, and it will better deal with low volume keywords.

Techniques like using different timelines for different keywords, or predicting stats for new keywords by using similar
ones that already exist in the campaign will all help to improve performance even further. Even if you don’t have
access to these, do your best to get these techniques in place.

I’ll leave you with a chart showing the results of these techniques in action. The line represents revenue / spend, and
the bid management was implemented at the start of November on a campaign that was already well run manually.

How to Schedule Dayparting on Google AdWords

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Last week, I looked at some research from Google into where and when people are using tablet devices such as
iPads (
The research showed that tablets are a multi-tasking device that rarely leave the home, but are used in different
ways at different times – which may change the ways and means you deliver campaigns to those devices.

Yet, this is actually true of all market behavior and all businesses have specific time periods in which they are more
profitable than others. So, as promised, here is a guide to setting up dayparting on your Google AdWords

To Everything (Even AdWords) There is a Season

My neighbors in Champagne Valley, South Africa run one of the areaʼs most successful tourist attractions: the
Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey Center. Every day (except Monday and Friday) at 10:30am (weather permitting), Greg
and Alison McBey entertain and educate dozens of visitors with their descriptions and demonstrations of the habits
and flying skills of their birds of prey. I asked Alison about their decision to hold only five shows a week.

The McBeys discovered that Monday and Friday mornings couldnʼt deliver profitable crowds to their shows. On
Friday mornings, weekday tourists are already returning home, while weekenders havenʼt yet arrived. Reverse that
for Monday mornings. Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday, on the other hand, their shows are

And why 10:30am? In the summer, the sun generally burns off the morning clouds by 9am, and the thunderstorms
donʼt start until noon or 1pm. Out of 168 hours in a week, Falcon Ridge discovered its 5 most profitable hours – and
built a successful and mostly stress-free business out of that discovery.

How About Your AdWords Account?

Chances are, your AdWords account is working too many hours for its (and your) own good. You might object that
your AdWords account is a totally passive entity once youʼve set it up, and that itʼs no skin off your nose if it runs
24/7. Thanks to automated processes, you get to sleep while AdWords works on your behalf.

True. Iʼm not arguing that your campaigns need to rest. Instead, I invite you to explore the AdWords Dimensions tab
to discover if your account is hiding any negative-ROI hours of operation.

Just as Falcon Ridge realized that Monday and Friday mornings werenʼt worth the effort, you may find some of your
campaigns losing money on a predictable and reliable basis at certain hours of the day.

Hereʼs how to check:

From within your AdWords account, select a campaign and navigate to the Dimensions tab. Click the View:Time
button and select Time:Hour of Day from the Drop Down Menu.

Youʼll see a data table something like this one:

Hour 0 means midnight to 1am, Hour 6 means 6-7am, etc. Youʼll notice that from 2-5am, this campaign has spent
over $400 on clicks (almost 300 of them) and generated absolutely no conversions. Thatʼs a pretty good indication
that it should be shut off during those hours. Hereʼs how to do that. Go to the campaign settings page and scroll
down to “Advanced Settings” and click the Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling link to expand that

Click the ‘Edit’ link next to Ad Scheduling: Show ads all days and hours to show the scheduling chart (below).

In basic mode, as shown above, you can turn the campaign on or off during any given 15-minute time period.
Clicking the “Bid Adjustment” link gives you the option to lower or raise bids, in addition to just switching the
campaign off. Letʼs keep it simple for now and just turn the campaign off between 2 and 5 am each day.

Click Running all day in the Monday row to bring up the following dialog box:

To turn the campaign off between 2 and 5am, change the box to look like this:

Get the second row to appear by clicking “+ Add another time period”. Then copy the Monday settings to all days,
click the “OK” button, and youʼre done. Your new schedule looks like this:

If youʼre happy with the way it looks, click the “Save” button at the bottom left to apply your scheduling changes.

If you want your AdWords account to fly like an eagle, make sure you arenʼt acting like an ostrich when it comes to
the Dimension of Time of Day. Otherwise, you might fall victim to the sly fox who does pay attention to these metrics.

Advanced Time of Day Optimization

My colleague Joel McDonald takes time of day several steps further. If youʼre a high-volume AdWords user, and

your productivity depends on what your visitors are doing during certain hours of the day (their day, not yours), you
might want to take things a step further than simply day parting (the technical term for what we just taught you to

Falcon Ridge has to take into account just one time zone. But if your business is national or global, itʼs always
10:30am somewhere. Fortunately, AdWords gives you the tools to manage multiple time zones – if you know where
to look and how to deploy them.

For example, letʼs say that you know that people only search for your product during work-hours – their work hours
– not yours. A savvy advertiser in the Eastern US time zone might run ads only between 8am and 9pm to
accommodate all 3 time zones in the continental US.

Much better than nothing, but itʼs still a bit messy: their ads are showing too early in Sacramento and too late in
Providence. To solve that problem, you can use a “campaign cloning” procedure to run three identical campaigns,
each one targeting a different time zone. That way, you wouldnʼt be wasting a single hour of productive advertising
time, no matter what your prospectʼs time zone.

Filed under AdWords, Tips

2012 Trends: Social Media Metrics Take Center Stage

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Marketers still focusing on soft metrics, can’t gauge

From the early days of the internet, the prospect of detailed metrics fueled the
promise that online advertising could yield unprecedented insights about
customer preferences and behavior. That promise has only partially
materialized. True, online channels provide feedback that offline media cannot,
but marketers are still grappling with how to make this input work toward the
bottom line.

They may have a long way to go. The Econsultancy report “The State of Social
Media 2011” noted that 41% of marketers surveyed had no return on
investment figure for any of the money they had spent on social channels as of
October 2011. Further, only 8% could attribute ROI for all their investments in
social media. The survey sample was primarily UK companies, with some
representation from other territories.

A 2011 MarketingSherpa study noted that only 20% of US agencies and
consultancies surveyed said their clients thought social media marketing was
producing measurable ROI. However, 64% said clients were confident that this
form of marketing would eventually deliver a return and were willing to
conservatively invest in it.

In August 2011, the top method used to measure the success of social media
marketing campaigns was tracking the numbers of people linking as friends,
followers and “likes,” according to a Chief Marketer survey. Much further down
the list was tracking incremental sales attributable to social media.

In 2012, marketers will need to focus more sharply on hard metrics to gauge
digital and social marketing ROI. They will be pushed in this direction by
economic and competitive forces, and by rising expectations from internal
stakeholders who are more interested in the bottom line than in creative
experimentation. Up until now, marketers have been content to dabble in
digital and social marketing out of curiosity or peer pressure. But as stakes get
higher, these media will have to provide concrete business benefits.

Filed under Metrics