Archive for the ‘Online Marketing’ Category

#CactusChat is Alive! Get your eCommerce Marketing Questions Answered in Real Time

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Cactus Facebook ChatWith just under 50 days left until Christmas, is your eCommerce store ready for the holiday shopping season? Before you fall prey to holiday myths, ask our Internet Marketing experts on the critical and crucial questions that make your Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas sales zoom. Join us on Thursday, November 14th for a live chat!

If you thought last year was busy, imagine having nearly one week less in between Black Friday and Christmas to market, sell, and ship. Just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year make for a much shorter holiday shopping season than last year’s 32 days; but don’t let that stop you! Last year, many retailers were promoting holiday sales well before Halloween. This year should be no different, as merchants eagerly attempt to snag as many pre-holiday sales as possible.

So how do you beat last year’s performance with even less time? Where do you find reliable answers to your internet marketing questions?

On Thursday, November 14th at 3pm EST, Solid Cactus’ Internet Marketing experts will host a live chat on Facebook to answer your questions. Questions can be sent in starting today through Facebook, Twitter, comments below, or email fbquestion@solidcactus.com.

Experts from our Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and Email Marketing teams will be on hand to address, answer and debunk your questions. Here are some examples of common myths that we’ll also be covering:

  • Do you need to make any changes to your comparison shopping feed when adding gift cards to your site?
  • Why are meta tags valuable in making your organic listings stand out for the holidays?
  • How do negative keywords reduce your PPC budget?
  • Is it possible to send email blasts too often during the holidays?

There are three ways to participate: you can send in a question in advance, the day of, or simply be a spectator.

  • RSVP to the Facebook Event and attend the day of.
  • Follow @SolidCactus on Twitter for highlights from the live chat.
  • Email your question to fbquestion@solidcactus.com.
  • Bookmark this post for a live Twitter feed, which will be posted to this URL as the event goes live.

Oct
21
2013
AUTHOR
JustinTroutman

Another Day Another Update: Say Hello to Google’s Hummingbird

Monday, October 21st, 2013

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If you’re a savvy internet user, chances are you’ve heard the buzz surrounding Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update. Hummingbird is designed to now handle more complex search queries, enhancing Google’s ability to understand the meaning between complete phrases and word combinations, rather than just specific keywords.  The algorithm update focuses greatly on Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is an enormous encyclopedia that houses more than 570,000,000 concepts and relationships, allowing Google to associate with your search queries.  This change in Google’s algorithm is the largest since 2001, and affects 90% of all searches. Hummingbird is Google’s answer to the changing way people are using search engines.

Are Keywords Dead?

Absolutely not, keywords are still a relevant and useful metric when creating content, but marketers should consider optimizing for audiences and user experience rather than just keywords. The main goal of the algorithm update is to deliver the most relevant results, faster.

Hummingbird relies on a more advanced knowledge graph, which allows Google to do comparisons and add filters, resulting in more accurate search results.

It is important to keep in mind that Hummingbird is putting more emphasis on context, rather than individual keywords. With the ability to now understand entire phrases and questions, it’s not a bad idea to keep this in mind when producing content.

What Is A Knowledge Graph?

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The knowledge graph allows Google to search past simple keywords and links to determine what to show in search results.  Instead, Knowledge graph allows Google to understand the relationships between many things, which allows Google to answer complex queries, like the example shown in the graphic above. Knowledge Graphs is hands-down one of the biggest components found in Hummingbird, and just the beginning of more advanced search.

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User Intent

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Hummingbird is designed to understand conversational language better than it once previously did, and strive to understand the users’ intention and what exactly they are searching for. Hummingbird allows Google to understand full questions more quickly, in order to identify and rank answers to those questions from indexed content.  These types of conversational searches have become a huge driver in the type of searches people are commonly making, and Hummingbird provides much better results to accommodate these requests. As users’ are searching for more specific phrases and conversational sentences, Hummingbird focuses on users’ intent by answering these questions. In the past, rankings were generally decided around generic keywords, such as “Smartphone “, whereas now more people are searching for, “Where can I find the best priced Smartphone?”

Will This Change SEO?

In a way yes, but for the most part, Hummingbird should help sites that have a content strategy and high quality content. However, it is likely that SEO will evolve just as the way people search has evolved. Hummingbird is not the end of SEO as we know it! Instead, it’s vital to continue producing original, high quality content, and pursuing high quality back links. Guidance still remains the same, and the same signals that have been important still remain important. Hummingbird is just merely a new way for Google to process everything to produce better quality search results for you, the user. If you have original, high quality content, and you’re still pursuing relevant, high quality websites to link back to you, then Hummingbird should not impact your rankings in any negative way. Hummingbird should improve your rankings, just as they should have after Penguin and Panda rolled out of the Google Zoo.

What Do Brands and Online Businesses Need to Do?

Websites need to keep providing their users with quality, engaging, and shareable content. As SEO seems to become less about keyword data and more about engagement, high quality content that is helpful, relevant and conversational should help sites be successful with Hummingbird. The three most important tips to keep your website Hummingbird friendly aren’t too much different from current SEO best practices:

  • Create high quality, engaging, and 100% unique content.
  • Focus less on keyword volume, and more on conversational tone.
  • Have a well-rounded marketing strategy that delivers a clear message to your user.

Build a Loyal Facebook Fan Base with “Get Me Likes” from Solid Cactus

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Get Me LIkes is a great way to build your Facebook fan base by offering your shoppers an incentive in exchange for a like.

Get Me LIkes is a great way to build your Facebook fan base by offering your shoppers an incentive in exchange for a like.

Building a base of loyal customers is something that every eCommerce store owner strives for. Repeat customers who spread the word about your business to their friends and family is a priceless form of advertising.

One way of building brand loyalists is to take advantage of the most popular social networking site today, Facebook. If you’re like me, you probably spend a great deal of time every day going through your news feed seeing what your friends are up to, “liking” Facebook pages for your favorite businesses and posting pictures of what you just had for lunch.

Facebook is a community, and it’s one that your business should be a part of. If you’ve been putting off creating a Facebook page for your eCommerce store, why not take a few moments and do it now. With the holidays just weeks away, it’s more important than ever to have a Facebook page for your customers to “like” so you can market to them for little or no cost.

Once you setup your Facebook page, you need to get your customers to “like” it. There are some simple things you can do to get the ball rolling:

  • Email Your Customers – It’s that simple! Send out an email blast to your customer list letting them know you’re now on Facebook and invite them to come over and “like” your page. Let them know that by being a part of your Facebook community they will be the first to know about special fan deals, Facebook only offers and other incentives reserved just for your followers.
  • Add an Icon – Add the Facebook icon to your website that clicks through to your Facebook page. I know I’m one of these guys who looks for the social media icons on stores and websites so I can click through and be one of their followers. Typically icons are placed either in your store’s header, footer or underneath your navigation bars. Don’t forget to include the link on your blog as well!
  • Email Signatures – You and your employees probably send out a good amount of email each day. Take advantage of that by adding a link to your store’s Facebook page in your email signature. These days, a link to your Facebook page is just as important as a link to your website.
  • Speak it! – If you have an auto attendant that greets callers when they dial in, consider adding a “be sure to visit us on Facebook” line to your script. Another way to get the word out it to ask your customer service representatives to remind customers on each call to head over to Facebook and give your page a “like.”

Once you’re Facebook fan base starts growing, it’s time to keep them engaged. I recommend businesses post to their company’s Facebook page at least once a day. If you don’t have the bandwidth to do that, post at least three times a week or talk to us about our managed Facebook service.

When it comes to posting, you want to create unique content that your visitors will find helpful, informational, and fun! You want your posts to grab your follower’s attention so they will engage, comment and hopefully share with their network of friends.

One word of caution with content… don’t oversell! Nobody likes to see every post from a business be a sales pitch. Sure you can announce new products, share a demo video and promote the big sale you’re having, but don’t over do it. Take time to post about the group of employees who went bowling last night, the pizza party you had for the warehouse team, a great review you got from a customer and fun things going on within your company.

It’s important that you continually keep growing your fan base so your reach spreads. The ideas I shared above are great for kicking off your new Facebook page, but you need to keep that momentum going year round, and I’ve got just the thing that can help.

Straight out of the Solid Cactus development lab is a new product designed to help grow your fan base, appropriately called “Get Me Likes.” This is a feature I’m really excited about, as it’s a cost-effective way to get current and potential customers to become one of your Facebook fans.

Here’s how it works. We install code on your store that teases visitors, in an unobtrusive way, to give your Facebook page a “like” in exchange for a coupon code they can use right away. They click on the little teaser window, it opens up, they click the “like” button and they’re given the code. Once they close the window, the widget disappears and it won’t prompt them again.

You get a fan, your fan gets a discount, and you get a sale!

What can be better than that?

If you’re running your store on Yahoo! Small Business, Network Solutions eCommerce, Monster Commerce or 1ShoppingCart Stores, we can install Get Me Likes for only $199. We have three different standard versions you can choose from, or for just $399, we can style Get Me Likes to match the unique look and feel of your store.

Like I said earlier, there’s no better time than now to start building your fan base so you can market to them during the holiday shopping season. Watch the demo video below, and contact us at 1.888.361.9814 to have Get Me Likes installed on your store.

See you on Facebook!


Scott Sanfilippo is co-founder of Solid Cactus and spends way more time on Facebook than he will admit. When he’s not posting pictures of what he had for lunch, you’ll find him sharing his decades of eCommerce experience with our top clients to help them become successful online.  Click here to become one of his Facebook friends.

Oct
18
2013
AUTHOR
Jeff Stolarcyk

The Creeping Doom of “Black Friday Deals Week”: How to Plan Your Holiday Marketing Calendar

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Puppy Christmas present

Don’t let Black Friday scare you. Look at this little black Christmas puppy!

Do you remember where you were on Thanksgiving 2010? Maybe eating dinner and watching football with your family. Probably inside a Sears or Kmart, locked in combat over deals and doorbusters.  2010 is the genesis point of modern Black Friday Deal Creep, a marketing phenomenon that sees marketers desperate to ‘win’ the Black Friday weekend endless attempt to outgame and pre-empt their competition by walking back the start of their sales.  Over the past three years, other retailers – both brick and mortar and online – have followed Kmart’s lead and started launching their big, limited-quantity sales on Thursday. This year, even venerable Macy’s is considering it.

It should have been a slow, orderly erosion, but this summer saw several big box stores running successful ‘Black Friday in July’ or ‘Summer Black Friday’ email campaigns, and even, just recently, a ‘Cyber Monday in September’. Consumerist has evidence of ‘Black Friday’ sales dating back as far as February this year. No. Really.

The gradual inclusion of Saturday, Sunday, Cyber Monday and, most lately, Thanksgiving Day, into the savings behemoth that is Black Friday has transmogrified the shopping holiday into ‘Black Friday Deals Week’.

What does that mean for you, online small business retailer? As much as I might hate to admit it, it probably means an adjustment to your holiday marketing plans. Here are a few tactics you might want to consider:

  1. Thanksgiving Day Deals – While it’s still a good idea to save your best deals for Friday or Monday, having a sale up and running and visible on Thanksgiving Day is a good idea, especially if it’s something you can ‘set and forget’ the night before.
  2. Change It Up – Vary your deals to keep people coming back. Run the gamut of promotions – discounts, free shipping, BOGO, flash sales – variety will help attract shoppers back to you during the weekend.
  3. Make Deals Feel Like Deals – the longer a sale lasts, the less urgency shoppers feel about participating in it. Have a new sale or group of deal items every day (or at least on Thursday, Friday and Monday)
  4. Email Early, Email Often – Start launching your holiday email campaigns on Wednesday and send frequent reminders throughout the week. The volume of email sent during this weekend is huge and open rates go down because of the influx of messages. Sending daily during the ‘deals week’ is not too much, especially if you have varied promotions throughout the weekend.
  5. Don’t Forget Free Shipping Day – A few weeks after ‘Black Friday Deals Week’, Free Shipping Day is the final day for ground shipping before Christmas and if you can accommodate a free shipping promotion, it’s an easy marketing win for you that will get you increased visibility and attract shoppers with an enhanced sense of urgency.

How are you preparing for the ever-expanding holiday deals season?

Embrace Internet Culture to Increase Audience Engagement

Monday, October 7th, 2013

If you attended our “Marketing That Works Together” webinar, you may have seen this little fuzzball in our presentation deck. You might have even wondered if there was a story behind its inclusion.

We’re no strangers to using cute animals and Internet humor in our presentations here.  There’s also this little guy, for instance (from another webinar deck):

Our whole team here at Solid Cactus understands the value of tapping into Internet culture and leveraging it to get attention. We’ve given talks devoted to that very subject, in fact.

Web culture runs on an attention economy and, perhaps fittingly, its attention span is seconds long. Look at your Facebook feed and you’ll see proof of this in action. As a result of that short attention span, the Internet runs on image memes and animated GIFs, and there are certain varieties of this content that are surefire hits: pictures of cats, animated GIFs of cats, pictures of animated GIFs of cats and animated GIFs of pictures of cats.

I came perilously close just now to describing memes as “digitally transmitted units of lexical currency” but I’d rather try and talk about the power of memes in a way that won’t make all of our eyes glaze over. Did you watch Breaking Bad on Sunday? You probably did. Do you know other people who watched it? Odds are, you can talk to them about the episode by using verbal shorthand, phrases like “stevia” or “Marty Robbins,” for instance. It’s easier to have that conversation because you’re starting from a shared point of reference. That’s what memes are – a shorthand that conveys a shared experience.

When thinking about how include web culture in your communications, the best place to start is considering your audience. We knew most of the attendees at our webinar would be web-savvy and active on social media – we wanted to share something with them that reinforced that we are, too. The image also set the tone for the webinar – we want to share good, actionable information with you, but we also want to keep a light, fun and welcoming tone. Our Webinar Cat sends that message to our audience in a way that the audience is receptive to. And of course, the multiple balls of string representing each of our marketing services ties back into the central idea of the presentation: that multiple marketing channels all feed back to one central source.

Webinar Cat also has a little bit of history at Solid Cactus. Our team originally used him in a presentation we gave at a local college a few years ago. Again, our audience were digital natives who were strong social media users (college students) and we wanted to do something that felt audience appropriate. Everybody here on the Internet Marketing team loves our unofficial ‘mascot,’  so when we brought our webinar series back, we all agreed that he’d be a great addition to our deck. We hope you liked him, too!