Drive relevancy with the unexpected

Today’s empowered consumer will only invest time in messages that communicate relevancy and drive value, and it’s up to brands to woo customers in order to win their business. In a crowded inbox – 269 billion emails are sent and received each day – uninspiring emails will be tossed into the trash without a second thought.

As marketers, it’s our duty to understand customers and treat them as individuals. And while context in email marketing is king, it’s easy to forget that surprising and delighting customers can also make a lasting impression.

5 tips to blend randomness with relevancy

1. Play with context

Email is your go-to touchpoint for customer interactions, and while it’s important to feature your product offering, it’s more important to showcase your intelligence and understanding of customers; these qualities drive brand credibility and loyalty respectively.

By leveraging rich customer insights – such as buying behaviour and location – you can contextualize messages, tying the customer journey back to the individual’s environment.

Irrelevant messages make email recipients likely to not only ignore email, but to take negative actions such as marking it as spam. Communications that ooze brand personality and resonate with customers are proven to maximize their engagement and prompt them to take the desired action.

A great way to contextualize your email marketing is by sending weather-related messages to contacts based on a live forecast. For example, you can recommend products that complement the weather in real time: barbecues when sunny, raincoats when drizzly and accessories for your snowman to don when the blizzards set in.

With the right level of insight, retailers can use weather rules to populate emails with smart, relevant content that incites emotion and maximizes engagement.

British Heart Foundation does a stellar job of this by sending emails to participants who’ve entered its MyMarathon campaign, letting them know when the weather’s good for a run.

2. Exceed customers’ expectations

To foster genuine advocacy, brands need to continually push the boat out. Today, simply delivering on your brand promise isn’t enough; you need to overdeliver in a meaningful way. Giving subscribers something when they least suspect it can truly enhance their experience.

  • Surprise sign-up gift – thank subscribers for joining your mailing list with a surprise gift. It’s common practice for brands to use incentives as a prop to lure people in at the sign-up stage. However, the positive effect can be greater if you hold back and surprise prospective customers once they’ve joined your list; for instance, by sending them a coupon for £10 off their first order. Subscribers will feel like they’re getting something special for nothing – a gift rather than an exchange for data.
  • Out-of-the-blue freebie – offering a free product (i.e. a sample or voucher to redeem in store) to lapsed customers can awaken their love for your brand. To strike the perfect balance between relevance and randomness, thank the recipient for the last purchase they made using historical ecommerce data. It’s a great talking point and by making someone’s day, you’ll hopefully generate some great exposure for your brand through positive social posts and word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Rewards for feedback and reviews – to make customers’ experiences more memorable, surprise them with a gift for their feedback.

3. Celebrate random holidays

While it’s common practice for brands to email customers over popular holiday periods – such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day – your messages run the risk of getting lost in all the noise, endangering your engagement metrics. However, capitalizing on a holiday that isn’t as widespread can give you a competitive advantage in a quieter inbox.

In 2009, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba adopted ‘Singles Day’ – an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration – as a prime online shopping event during what’s considered a traditionally low volume sales period. Driving relevancy to the millions of singletons in China, Alibaba made a colossal $25.3 billion in sales on Singles Day 2017. This goes to show that brands can popularize unfamiliar holidays and make significant gains.

There are many weird and wacky holidays throughout the year, from ‘Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day’ to ‘Bicarbonate of Soda Day’ (which is on 30th December, if you’re interested).

When applying randomness to your email marketing, it’s important that the topic still resonates with customers. Make sure your holiday of choice:

  • marries up with your brand’s personality
  • provides a topic of conversation that inspires social sharing
  • drives customers to take your desired action

Download our full cheatsheet to get tips on our favorite random holidays – which include dress up your pet day!

4. Employ game mechanics

For an email to draw people in – over and above visual appeal – you need to invite them to participate and connect with you in an innovative, playful way. Gaming urges subscribers to interact beyond the bounds of a simple call-to-action, which can be uninspiring by comparison.

Capitalizing on the relevancy of the message can spur people to take an action; for example, associating the game with customers’ previous behaviors (sign-up, purchase etc.) makes an exchange of their time more appealing. You’ll need to ensure the game has that fun-appeal and is benefit-driven, otherwise subscribers won’t view it as worthwhile.

To gamify your email marketing strategy, explore activities that are all about chance:

  • Puzzles – encourage subscribers to unlock potential offers/win gifts
  • Spinning wheels – let customers gamble for discount types and amounts (i.e. percentage, money-off)
  • Online board games – prompt players to roll the dice in an attempt to win different prizes and advance various stages to enter exclusive competition draws

These techniques can enhance your KPIs – such as click-to-open and conversion rates – and boost revenue. What’s more, encouraging interaction in email can have a positive impact on your deliverability; email clients such as Gmail will attribute higher engagement rates to your domain, improving your sender reputation and inbox placement.

5. Shake up your subject lines

First impressions matter. The subject line is the first prompt for subscribers to either open, ignore or trash your email; 50% of recipients open emails based on subject line alone, whereas 69% report emails as spam on the same basis.

So, how do we incentivize the reader to open? Should the subject line mirror what’s in the email or should it just be completely random? Although some marketers opt for something outlandish that catches the reader’s eye, the subject line should echo the email’s contents, otherwise it could be damaging to click-through rates.

Brands are increasingly adopting subject lines based on context. By leveraging your real-time customer insights, you can drive out-of-the-blue messages with a well-timed tease that rouses interest and triggers those all-important opens.

People’s attention spans have, in the past, been likened to that of a goldfish. And the sheer volume of email traffic makes it an even tougher job for marketers to grab the reader’s eye. The key is to tap into those powerful emotions and feelings: urgency, curiosity, excitement and joy. To achieve this, you’ll have to be data-driven, original and conversational.

Download our cheatsheet for a deep-dive into contextual and captivating subject lines.

Give randomness a go!

As busy, always-on individuals, we’ve no time for meaningless communications. Today’s savvy consumers want to be treated like individuals through conversations that are thought-provoking and original. Don’t neglect your indispensable customer insight – which is your greatest asset – in place of a flat, uninspiring email strategy. Driving relevance on the premise of being unpredictable will win consumers over, every time.

For more insights into driving relevancy with the unexpected, download our cheatsheet here.

 

The post Drive relevancy with the unexpected appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Looking Beyond Keywords: How to Drive Conversion with Visual Search & Search by Camera

Posted by Jes.Scholz

Let’s play a game. I’ll show you an image. You type in the keyword to find the exact product featured in the image online. Ready?

Google her sunglasses…

What did you type? Brown sunglasses? Brown sunglasses with heavy frame? Retro-look brown sunglasses with heavy frame? It doesn’t matter how long-tail you go, it will be difficult to find that exact pair, if not impossible. And you’re not alone.

For 74% of consumers, traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient at helping find the right products online.

But much of your current search behavior is based on the false premise that you can describe things in words. In many situations, we can’t.

And this shows in the data. Sometimes we forget that Google Images accounts for 22.6% of all searches — searches where traditional methods of searching were not the best fit.

Image credit: Sparktoro

But I know what you’re thinking. Image SEO drives few to no sessions, let alone conversions. Why should I invest my limited resources into visual marketing?

Because humans are visual creatures. And now, so too are mobile phones — with big screens, multiple cameras, and strong depth perception.

Developments in computer vision have led to a visual marketing renaissance. Just look to visual search leader Pinterest, who reported that 55% of their users shop on the platform. How well do those users convert? Heap Analytics data shows that on shopping cart sizes under $199, image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate. To put that in context, that’s behind Google’s 12.3% but in front of Facebook’s 7.2%.

Not only can visual search drive significant conversions online. Image recognition is also driving the digitalization and monetization in the real world.

The rise of visual search in Google

Traditionally, image search functioned like this: Google took a text-based query and tried to find the best visual match based on metadata, markups, and surrounding copy.

But for many years now, the image itself can also act as the search query. Google can search for images with images. This is called visual search.

Google has been quietly adding advanced image recognition capabilities to mobile Google Images over the last years, with a focus on the fashion industry as a test case for commercial opportunities (although the functionality can be applied to automotive, travel, food, and many other industries). Plotting the updates, you can see clear stepping stone technologies building on the theme of visual search.

  • Related images (April 2013): Click on a result to view visually similar images. The first foray into visual search.
  • Collections (November 2015): Allows users to save images directly from Google’s mobile image search into folders. Google’s answer to a Pinterest board.
  • Product images in web results (October 2016): Product images begin to display next to website links in mobile search.
  • Product details on images (December 2016): Click on an image result to display product price, availability, ratings, and other key information directly in the image search results.
  • Similar items (April 2017): Google can identify products, even within lifestyle images, and showcases similar items you can buy online.
  • Style ideas (April 2017): The flip side to similar items. When browsing fashion product images on mobile, Google shows you outfit montages and inspirational lifestyle photos to highlight how the product can be worn in real life.
  • Image badges (August 2017): Label on the image indicate what other details are available, encouraging more users to click; for example, badges such as “recipe” or a timestamp for pages featuring videos. But the most significant badge is “product,” shown if the item is available for purchase online.
  • Image captions (March 2018): Display the title tag and domain underneath the image.

Combining these together, you can see powerful functionality. Google is making a play to turn Google Images into shoppable product discovery — trying to take a bite out of social discovery platforms and give consumers yet another reason to browse on Google, rather than your e-commerce website.

Image credit: Google

What’s more, Google is subtly leveraging the power of keyword search to enlighten users about these new features. According to 1st May MozCast, 18% of text-based Google searches have image blocks, which drive users into Google Images.

This fundamental change in Google Image search comes with a big SEO opportunity for early adopters. Not only for transactional queries, but higher up the funnel with informational queries as well.

kate-middleton-style.gif

Let’s say you sell designer fashion. You could not only rank #1 with your blog post on a informational query on “kate middleton style,” including an image on your article result to enhance the clickability of your SERP listing. You can rank again on page 1 within the image pack, then have your products featured in Similar Items — all of which drives more high-quality users to your site.

And the good news? This is super simple to implement.

How to drive organic sessions with visual search

The new visual search capabilities are all algorithmically selected based on a combination of schema and image recognition. Google told TechCrunch:

“The images that appear in both the style ideas and similar items grids are also algorithmically ranked, and will prioritize those that focus on a particular product type or that appear as a complete look and are from authoritative sites.”

This means on top of continuing to establish Domain Authority site-wide, you need images that are original, high resolution, and clearly focus on a single theme. But most importantly, you need images with perfectly implemented structured markup to rank in Google Images.

To rank your images, follow these four simple steps:

1. Implement schema markup

To be eligible for similar items, you need product markup on the host page that meets the minimum metadata requirements of:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability

But the more quality detail, the better, as it will make your results more clickable.

2. Check your implementation

Validate your implementation by running a few URLs through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. But remember, just being valid is sometimes not enough. Be sure to look into the individual field result to ensure the data is correctly populating and user-friendly.

3. Get indexed

Be aware, it can take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled. This will be helped along by submitting an image XML sitemap in Google Search Console.

4. Look to Google Images on mobile

Check your implementation by doing a site:yourdomain.cctld query on mobile in Google Images.

If you see no image results badges, you likely have an implementation issue. Go back to step 2. If you see badges, click a couple to ensure they show your ideal markup in the details.

Once you confirm all is well, then you can begin to search for your targeted keywords to see how and where you rank.

Like all schema markup, how items display in search results is at Google’s discretion and not guaranteed. However, quality markup will increase the chance of your images showing up.

It’s not always about Google

Visual search is not limited to Google. And no, I’m not talking about just Bing. Visual search is also creating opportunities to be found and drive conversion on social networks, such as Pinterest. Both brands allow you to select objects within images to narrow down your visual search query.

Image credit: MarTech Today

On top of this, we also have shoppable visual content on the rise, bridging the gap between browsing and buying. Although at present, this is more often driven by data feeds and tagging more so than computer vision. For example:

  • Brahmin offers shoppable catalogs
  • Topshop features user-generated shoppable galleries
  • Net-a-Porter’s online magazine features shoppable article
  • Ted Baker’s campaigns with shoppable videos
  • Instagram & Pinterest both monetize with shoppable social media posts

Such formats reduce the number of steps users need to take from content to conversion. And more importantly for SEOs, they exclude the need for keyword search.

I see a pair of sunglasses on Instagram. I don’t need to Google the name, then click on the product page and then convert. I use the image as my search query, and I convert. One click. No keywords.

…But what if I see those sunglasses offline?

Digitize the world with camera-based search

The current paradigm for SEOs is that we wait for a keyword search to occur, and then compete. Not only for organic rankings, but also for attention versus paid ads and other rich features.

With computer vision, you can cut the keyword search out of the customer journey. By entering the funnel before the keyword search occurs, you can effectively exclude your competitors.

Who cares if your competitor has the #1 organic spot on Google, or if they have more budget for Adwords, or a stronger core value proposition messaging, if consumers never see it?

Consumers can skip straight from desire to conversion by taking a photo with their smartphone.

Brands taking search by camera mainstream

Search by camera is well known thanks to Pinterest Lens. Built into the app, simply point your camera phone at a product discovered offline for online recommendations of similar items.

If you point Lens at a pair of red sneakers, it will find you visually similar sneakers as well as idea on how to style it.

Image credit: Pinterest

But camera search is not limited to only e-commerce or fashion applications.

Say you take a photo of strawberries. Pinterest understand you’re not looking for more pictures of strawberries, but for inspiration, so you’ll see recipe ideas.

The problem? For you, or your consumers, Pinterest is unlikely to be a day-to-day app. To be competitive against keyword search, search by camera needs to become part of your daily habit.

Samsung understands this, integrating search by camera into their digital personal assistant Bixby, with functionality backed by powerful partnerships.

  • Pinterest Lens powers its images search
  • Amazon powers its product search
  • Google translates text
  • Foursquare helps to find places nearby

Bixby failed to take the market by storm, and so is unlikely to be your go-to digital personal assistant. Yet with the popularity of search by camera, it’s no surprise that Google has recently launched their own version of Lens in Google Assistant.

Search engines, social networks, and e-commerce giants are all investing in search by camera…

…because of impressive impacts on KPIs. BloomReach reported that e-commerce websites reached by search by camera resulted in:

  • 48% more product views
  • 75% greater likelihood to return
  • 51% higher time on site
  • 9% higher average order value

Camera search has become mainstream. So what’s your next step?

How to leverage computer vision for your brand

As a marketer, your job is to find the right use case for your brand, that perfect point where either visual search or search by camera can reduce friction in conversion flows.

Many case studies are centered around snap-to-shop. See an item you like in a friend’s home, at the office, or walking past you on the street? Computer vision takes you directly from picture to purchase.

But the applications of image recognition are only limited by your vision. Think bigger.

Branded billboards, magazines ads, product packaging, even your brick-and-mortar storefront displays all become directly actionable. Digitalization with snap-to-act via a camera phone offers more opportunities than QR codes on steroids.

If you run a marketplace website, you can use computer vision to classify products: Say a user wants to list a pair of shoes for sale. They simply snap a photo of the item. With that photo, you can automatically populate the fields for brand, color, category, subcategory, materials, etc., reducing the number of form fields to what is unique about this item, such as the price.

A travel company can offer snap-for-info on historical attractions, a museum on artworks, a healthy living app on calories in your lunch.

What about local SEO? Not only could computer vision show the rating or menu of your restaurant before the user walks inside, but you could put up a bus stop ad calling for hungry travelers to take a photo. The image triggers Google Maps, showing public transport directions to your restaurant. You can take the customer journey, quite literally. Tell them where to get off the bus.

And to build such functionality is relatively easy, because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many open-source image recognition APIs to help you leverage pre-trained image classifiers, or from which you can train your own:

  • Google Cloud Vision
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • IBM Watson
  • Salesforce Einstein
  • Slyce
  • Clarifai

Let’s make this actionable. You now know computer vision can greatly improve your user experience, conversion rate and sessions. To leverage this, you need to:

  1. Make your brand visual interactive through image recognition features
  2. Understand how consumers visually search for your products
  3. Optimize your content so it’s geared towards visual technology

Visual search is permeating online and camera search is becoming commonplace offline. Now is the time to outshine your competitors. Now is the time to understand the foundations of visual marketing. Both of these technologies are stepping stones that will lead the way to an augmented reality future.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 4 months ago from tracking.feedpress.it

How retail marketers can drive innovation with email marketing

It began slowly about a decade ago, with Linens & Things closing in 2008, Circuit City in 2009, Blockbuster in 2010, and Borders in 2011. Now, it seems like every other day we hear news of yet another retail store closing, or moving entirely online (like Linens & Things did).

Part of this change is due to the ‘Amazon effect’, or the idea that consumers can get anything they want, when they want it – no need to trek to a store’s physical location. According to eMarketer, more consumers are turning to Amazon to research products before they buy instead of Google. The times are a changin’ indeed.

Want to learn how Movable Ink helps leading retailers create amazing experiences?

Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.

 

But let’s look at the numbers. It should come as no surprise that ecommerce is the biggest driver of retail sales growth in the UK. According to eMarketer, UK retail ecommerce sales will rise by 14.2% between 2017 and 2021, driven mainly by mobile commerce.

So, despite what many have deemed a “retail apocalypse”, consumers will continue to spend both in store and online. But the way that consumers are spending is changing, and retailers need to adapt to survive.

Movable Ink Co-founder and CEO Vivek Sharma said it best in his article, The Retail Bubble: How to Survive and Thrive with Digital Innovation:

This is about more than square footage, financial missteps, or the ebb and flow of natural business cycles. This is simply another chapter in the never-ending narrative of creative destruction leading to digital innovation.

The retail landscape will continue to evolve, and it’s up to retailers to embrace digital strategies that create better customer experiences if they want to thrive in this brave new world.

There are many ways retailers can elevate customer experiences both online and offline to meet their business goals. Here are three of the ways they can make that happen with email marketing, along with specific tactics for each.

1. Strengthen loyalty programs with personalized experiences

Email is essential for a successful loyalty program, but many brands aren’t taking advantage of it. Too often, email content is an afterthought. There are so many opportunities to surprise and delight your customers using a sophisticated campaign, especially for your loyal rewards members. Here are a few ways that marketers can strengthen their loyalty programs with email.

Display 1:1 real-time spend and rewards points for every customer

Complicated rules and difficulty redeeming points can often be the downfall of any loyalty program. So keeping it simple is important. According to a study by Colloquy, the number one reason consumers give for continuing to participate in a loyalty program is that it’s easy to understand (81%).

Help customers see the big picture with data visualization

The use of data visualization in marketing, like infographics, has skyrocketed over the past few years. And it makes perfect sense— graphics are more engaging and visual data is easier to digest. According to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, the human brain can make sense of a visual in less than 1/10 of a second.

So, incorporating data visualization into your loyalty program emails is a no-brainer. And it’s not as much work as you might think.

Add authenticity with user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a fresh, relevant way to market your products and services. And while the concept might not be new, the ways that marketers are leveraging UGC totally are. Consumers are now content creators, uploading and sharing images of their favorite products and services as a testament to their brand loyalty. And the sheer volume of digital content has grown exponentially thanks to platforms like Instagram and YouTube that encourage social sharing.

You can add user-generated content to your loyalty emails by displaying a live social feed, like Twitter or Instagram, in the body of your email. It’s the best way to showcase real customers using your products, adding authenticity to your emails.

2. Drive revenue with personalized promotional emails

Personalized experiences make for better retail marketing experiences because they’re incredibly effective for getting your customer’s attention. It’s also a huge priority for most marketers. And yet only 40% of consumers report seeing any kind of personalization at all. Here are just a few ways that retail marketers can improve those experiences with relevant offers.

Use contextual elements like geo-targeting and weather personalization

Meeting your customer where they are at the exact moment they open your email makes your email content both relevant and helpful. This type of contextual marketing lets you promote offers based your customer’s location or weather conditions, no matter where they are when they open your email.

This is also a great opportunity to drive foot traffic to any brick-and-mortar store locations by providing a local map with the stores nearest to each customer, and providing relevant store hours too.

Leverage customer behavior like browsing history and cart activity

Each of your customers is different, each with unique preferences. If you serve them an email based on their past interactions with your website, they’re far more likely to convert. Behavioral marketing lets you leverage those interactions – whether its browsing history on your website or items left in their shopping – to create email content that speaks to each individual. You could even offer product recommendations based on recently browsed products.

3. Enhance the productivity of every campaign

Productivity is a major challenge for most retail marketers – lean teams, tight production schedules, and limited resources all factor into this. Here are a few ways retail marketers can take advantage of their existing content to create great, on-brand experiences in email.

Repurpose your content

Email marketing is ideal for repurposing your best content. If your company has a blog, pull your best blog content into your welcome email series to get it in front of your new customers fast. For retailers, this might be a blog post featuring best-selling or most popular products.

And don’t forget about images – take advantage of any product images you have on your website by pulling them into your promotional emails for a seamless, experience that’s on brand.

Use time-targeting

Time-targeting is a tactic for sending multiple offers with just one email send, thus saving retail marketers tons of time. It’s ideal for promoting a new offer every day, like many retailers do in their Black Friday emails. Time-targeting builds excitement, drives urgency, and gives your customers something to look forward to.

Want to find out how Movable Ink is helping leading retail brands accomplish all of this, and more? Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.

The post How retail marketers can drive innovation with email marketing appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 6 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Is Australia the land of opportunity for your retail brand?

Australia has a resident population of more than 24 million and, according to eMarketer, the country’s ecommerce sales are predicted to reach A$32.56 billion by 2017. The country’s remote location in the APAC region means that unlike European countries or the USA, traditionally there have been a lack of global brands sold locally.

Of course, we also know that many expatriates, particularly from inside the Commonwealth, have made Australia their home and are keen to buy products they know and love from their country of origin.

All of these factors present a huge and potentially lucrative opportunity for non-Australian brands wanting to open up their new and innovative products to a fresh market, or compete for market share.

But it’s not just non-Australian retailers who are at an advantage here: Australia was late to the ecommerce party because native, established brands were trading well without it. Subsequently, Australian retailers’ ecommerce technology stacks are much more recent and not burdened by legacy systems. This makes it much easier to extend, or get started with, best-of-breed technologies and cash in on a market that’s booming. To put some of this into perspective, Magento’s innovative ecommerce platform currently takes 42% of Australia’s market share and the world’s first adopter of Magento 2.0 was an Australian brand.

The GST loophole

At the moment, local retailers are campaigning against a rule that exempts foreign websites from being charged a 10% general sales tax (GST) on purchases under A$1,000. And in 2013, Australian consumers made $3.11 billion worth of purchases under A$1,000.[1]

While the current GST break appears to put non-Australian retailers at an advantage, Australian-based brands such as Harvey Norman are using it to their advantage by setting up ecommerce operations in Asia to enjoy the GST benefit.

Australian consumers have also countered the argument by saying that price isn’t always the motivator when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

It’s not a place where no man has gone before

Often, concerns around meeting local compliance and lack of overseas business knowledge prevent outsiders from taking the leap into cross-border trade. However, this ecommerce passport, created by Ecommerce Worldwide and NORA, is designed to support those considering selling in Australia. The guide provides a comprehensive look into everything from the country’s economy and trade status, to logistics and dealing with international payments.

Global expansion success stories are also invaluable sources of information. For instance, it’s not just lower-end retailers that are fitting the bill, with brands like online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter naming Australia as one of its biggest markets.

How tech-savvy are the Aussies?

One of the concerns you might have as a new entrant into the market is how you’ll reach and sell to your new audience, particularly without having a physical presence. The good news is that more than 80% of the country is digitally enabled and 60% of mobile phone users own a smartphone – so online is deeply rooted into the majority of Australians’ lives. [2]

Marketing your brand

Heard the saying “Fire bullets then fire cannonballs”? In any case, you’ll want to test the waters and gauge people’s reactions to your product or service.

It all starts with the website because, without it, you’re not discoverable or searchable, and you’ve nowhere to drive people to when running campaigns. SEO and SEM should definitely be a priority, and an online store that can handle multiple regions and storefronts, like Magento, will make your life easier. A mobile-first mentality and well thought-out UX will also place you in a good position.

Once your new web store is set up, you should be making every effort to collect visitors’ email addresses, perhaps via a popover. Why? Firstly, email is one of the top three priority areas for Australian retailers, because it’s a cost-effective, scalable marketing channel that enables true personalization.

Secondly, email marketing automation empowers you to deliver the customer experience today’s consumer expects, as well as enabling you to communicate with them throughout the lifecycle. Check out our ‘Do customer experience masters really exist?’ whitepaper for some real-life success stories.

Like the Magento platform, dotmailer is set up to handle multiple languages, regions and accounts, and is designed to grow with you.

In summary, there’s great scope for ecommerce success in Australia, whether you’re a native bricks-and-mortar retailer, a start-up or a non-Australian merchant. The barriers to cross-border trade are falling and Australia is one of APAC’s most developed regions in terms of purchasing power and tech savviness.

We recently worked with ecommerce expert Chloe Thomas to produce a whitepaper on cross-border trade, which goes into much more detail on how to market and sell successfully in new territories. You can download a free copy here.

[1] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

[2] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

The Local SEO Playbook To Increased Visibility And Customer Acquisition

Columnist Thomas Stern discusses five essential components of local optimization that increase online exposure and drive offline traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.

The post The Local SEO Playbook To Increased Visibility And Customer Acquisition appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 2 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Setting Local SEO Expectations: 3 Points To Hit Early And Often

When it comes to providing SEO for local businesses, it’s crucial to set realistic expectations. Columnist Jenny Foster discusses three points she likes to drive home with clients to ensure a strong relationship and a smooth campaign.

The post Setting Local SEO Expectations: 3 Points To Hit Early…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 2 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Distance from Perfect

Posted by wrttnwrd

In spite of all the advice, the strategic discussions and the conference talks, we Internet marketers are still algorithmic thinkers. That’s obvious when you think of SEO.

Even when we talk about content, we’re algorithmic thinkers. Ask yourself: How many times has a client asked you, “How much content do we need?” How often do you still hear “How unique does this page need to be?”

That’s 100% algorithmic thinking: Produce a certain amount of content, move up a certain number of spaces.

But you and I know it’s complete bullshit.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the algorithm. You should definitely chase it. Understanding a little bit about what goes on in Google’s pointy little head helps. But it’s not enough.

A tale of SEO woe that makes you go “whoa”

I have this friend.

He ranked #10 for “flibbergibbet.” He wanted to rank #1.

He compared his site to the #1 site and realized the #1 site had five hundred blog posts.

“That site has five hundred blog posts,” he said, “I must have more.”

So he hired a few writers and cranked out five thousand blogs posts that melted Microsoft Word’s grammar check. He didn’t move up in the rankings. I’m shocked.

“That guy’s spamming,” he decided, “I’ll just report him to Google and hope for the best.”

What happened? Why didn’t adding five thousand blog posts work?

It’s pretty obvious: My, uh, friend added nothing but crap content to a site that was already outranked. Bulk is no longer a ranking tactic. Google’s very aware of that tactic. Lots of smart engineers have put time into updates like Panda to compensate.

He started like this:

And ended up like this:
more posts, no rankings

Alright, yeah, I was Mr. Flood The Site With Content, way back in 2003. Don’t judge me, whippersnappers.

Reality’s never that obvious. You’re scratching and clawing to move up two spots, you’ve got an overtasked IT team pushing back on changes, and you’ve got a boss who needs to know the implications of every recommendation.

Why fix duplication if rel=canonical can address it? Fixing duplication will take more time and cost more money. It’s easier to paste in one line of code. You and I know it’s better to fix the duplication. But it’s a hard sell.

Why deal with 302 versus 404 response codes and home page redirection? The basic user experience remains the same. Again, we just know that a server should return one home page without any redirects and that it should send a ‘not found’ 404 response if a page is missing. If it’s going to take 3 developer hours to reconfigure the server, though, how do we justify it? There’s no flashing sign reading “Your site has a problem!”

Why change this thing and not that thing?

At the same time, our boss/client sees that the site above theirs has five hundred blog posts and thousands of links from sites selling correspondence MBAs. So they want five thousand blog posts and cheap links as quickly as possible.

Cue crazy music.

SEO lacks clarity

SEO is, in some ways, for the insane. It’s an absurd collection of technical tweaks, content thinking, link building and other little tactics that may or may not work. A novice gets exposed to one piece of crappy information after another, with an occasional bit of useful stuff mixed in. They create sites that repel search engines and piss off users. They get more awful advice. The cycle repeats. Every time it does, best practices get more muddled.

SEO lacks clarity. We can’t easily weigh the value of one change or tactic over another. But we can look at our changes and tactics in context. When we examine the potential of several changes or tactics before we flip the switch, we get a closer balance between algorithm-thinking and actual strategy.

Distance from perfect brings clarity to tactics and strategy

At some point you have to turn that knowledge into practice. You have to take action based on recommendations, your knowledge of SEO, and business considerations.

That’s hard when we can’t even agree on subdomains vs. subfolders.

I know subfolders work better. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Let the flaming comments commence.

To get clarity, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will this change, tactic, or strategy move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Breaking it down:

“Change, tactic, or strategy”

A change takes an existing component or policy and makes it something else. Replatforming is a massive change. Adding a new page is a smaller one. Adding ALT attributes to your images is another example. Changing the way your shopping cart works is yet another.

A tactic is a specific, executable practice. In SEO, that might be fixing broken links, optimizing ALT attributes, optimizing title tags or producing a specific piece of content.

A strategy is a broader decision that’ll cause change or drive tactics. A long-term content policy is the easiest example. Shifting away from asynchronous content and moving to server-generated content is another example.

“Perfect”

No one knows exactly what Google considers “perfect,” and “perfect” can’t really exist, but you can bet a perfect web page/site would have all of the following:

  1. Completely visible content that’s perfectly relevant to the audience and query
  2. A flawless user experience
  3. Instant load time
  4. Zero duplicate content
  5. Every page easily indexed and classified
  6. No mistakes, broken links, redirects or anything else generally yucky
  7. Zero reported problems or suggestions in each search engines’ webmaster tools, sorry, “Search Consoles”
  8. Complete authority through immaculate, organically-generated links

These 8 categories (and any of the other bazillion that probably exist) give you a way to break down “perfect” and help you focus on what’s really going to move you forward. These different areas may involve different facets of your organization.

Your IT team can work on load time and creating an error-free front- and back-end. Link building requires the time and effort of content and outreach teams.

Tactics for relevant, visible content and current best practices in UX are going to be more involved, requiring research and real study of your audience.

What you need and what resources you have are going to impact which tactics are most realistic for you.

But there’s a basic rule: If a website would make Googlebot swoon and present zero obstacles to users, it’s close to perfect.

“All other things being equal”

Assume every competing website is optimized exactly as well as yours.

Now ask: Will this [tactic, change or strategy] move you closer to perfect?

That’s the “all other things being equal” rule. And it’s an incredibly powerful rubric for evaluating potential changes before you act. Pretend you’re in a tie with your competitors. Will this one thing be the tiebreaker? Will it put you ahead? Or will it cause you to fall behind?

“Closer to perfect than my competitors”

Perfect is great, but unattainable. What you really need is to be just a little perfect-er.

Chasing perfect can be dangerous. Perfect is the enemy of the good (I love that quote. Hated Voltaire. But I love that quote). If you wait for the opportunity/resources to reach perfection, you’ll never do anything. And the only way to reduce distance from perfect is to execute.

Instead of aiming for pure perfection, aim for more perfect than your competitors. Beat them feature-by-feature, tactic-by-tactic. Implement strategy that supports long-term superiority.

Don’t slack off. But set priorities and measure your effort. If fixing server response codes will take one hour and fixing duplication will take ten, fix the response codes first. Both move you closer to perfect. Fixing response codes may not move the needle as much, but it’s a lot easier to do. Then move on to fixing duplicates.

Do the 60% that gets you a 90% improvement. Then move on to the next thing and do it again. When you’re done, get to work on that last 40%. Repeat as necessary.

Take advantage of quick wins. That gives you more time to focus on your bigger solutions.

Sites that are “fine” are pretty far from perfect

Google has lots of tweaks, tools and workarounds to help us mitigate sub-optimal sites:

  • Rel=canonical lets us guide Google past duplicate content rather than fix it
  • HTML snapshots let us reveal content that’s delivered using asynchronous content and JavaScript frameworks
  • We can use rel=next and prev to guide search bots through outrageously long pagination tunnels
  • And we can use rel=nofollow to hide spammy links and banners

Easy, right? All of these solutions may reduce distance from perfect (the search engines don’t guarantee it). But they don’t reduce it as much as fixing the problems.
Just fine does not equal fixed

The next time you set up rel=canonical, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using rel=canonical to make up for duplication move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: Not if they’re using rel=canonical, too. You’re both using imperfect solutions that force search engines to crawl every page of your site, duplicates included. If you want to pass them on your way to perfect, you need to fix the duplicate content.

When you use Angular.js to deliver regular content pages, ask yourself:

“All other things being equal, will using HTML snapshots instead of actual, visible content move my site closer to perfect than my competitors?”

Answer: No. Just no. Not in your wildest, code-addled dreams. If I’m Google, which site will I prefer? The one that renders for me the same way it renders for users? Or the one that has to deliver two separate versions of every page?

When you spill banner ads all over your site, ask yourself…

You get the idea. Nofollow is better than follow, but banner pollution is still pretty dang far from perfect.

Mitigating SEO issues with search engine-specific tools is “fine.” But it’s far, far from perfect. If search engines are forced to choose, they’ll favor the site that just works.

Not just SEO

By the way, distance from perfect absolutely applies to other channels.

I’m focusing on SEO, but think of other Internet marketing disciplines. I hear stuff like “How fast should my site be?” (Faster than it is right now.) Or “I’ve heard you shouldn’t have any content below the fold.” (Maybe in 2001.) Or “I need background video on my home page!” (Why? Do you have a reason?) Or, my favorite: “What’s a good bounce rate?” (Zero is pretty awesome.)

And Internet marketing venues are working to measure distance from perfect. Pay-per-click marketing has the quality score: A codified financial reward applied for seeking distance from perfect in as many elements as possible of your advertising program.

Social media venues are aggressively building their own forms of graphing, scoring and ranking systems designed to separate the good from the bad.

Really, all marketing includes some measure of distance from perfect. But no channel is more influenced by it than SEO. Instead of arguing one rule at a time, ask yourself and your boss or client: Will this move us closer to perfect?

Hell, you might even please a customer or two.

One last note for all of the SEOs in the crowd. Before you start pointing out edge cases, consider this: We spend our days combing Google for embarrassing rankings issues. Every now and then, we find one, point, and start yelling “SEE! SEE!!!! THE GOOGLES MADE MISTAKES!!!!” Google’s got lots of issues. Screwing up the rankings isn’t one of them.

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Reblogged 3 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it