Conference

5 Trends in eCommerce Marketing in 2011 from Top Retailers US

Three weeks ago on March 15, 2012, I gave a speech at eCommerce Search and Sales event in Sao Paulo on trendsetters in eCommerce marketing in the US and Europe.

Over the last year, I observed through my research from 3rd party industry publications, sessions attended at various search marketing events and personal experience what leading retailers do. I singled out 5 key patterns, which cover natural search, conversion optimization and leveraging new traffic sources or emerging shopping channels. Most US retailers that enjoy steady growth do:

  1. Grow organic search visibility, to enjoy free traffic
  2. Reduce noise and steps pre-checkout, to boost conversion
  3. Tap into impulse buys of “on the go” last minute markets, to leverage emerging shopping situations and trends to bring new sources of traffic or to expand shopping experience for loyal customers (multi-channel)
  4. Tap into discovery buys to capture leisure, commute shoppers
  5. Cater to local needs, but deliver by local means, while expanding global coverage, yet capturing one country at a time.

I am going to expand on each strategy, the rationale behind it and implementation examples (download the deck to follow the takeaways.)

1. Grow organic search visibility

It is a no brainer what good SEO can do for your bottom line, at times at a fraction of cost of paid search. Natural search if done right and from the beginning is there for you to perform consistently and will not run out due to budget overspend. For new, small, upcoming merchants, natural search helps to level the field while competing with big guys. And for large retailers it can provide tons of savings and healthy ROIs and a potential for world domination in search rankings.

It is no wonder that smart retailers, big or small enjoy healthy shares of traffic from natural search. And when, I say healthy, I mean more than 25 % of total traffic. And when I think about organic search, I think of Google as a real estate broker for marketing of your goods & services free of charge as long as it is of value. For good value, you get customers or share of traffic, for sloppy job you get nothing. Natural search is free traffic, but you still have to work for it, especially in lieu of ongoing algo updates. Just for the last 12 months, only Google had about 11 Pandas, 1 freshness major update and many more, while for last month of March, it went through 50 search quality changes! A load full of stuff to consider! Yet, those changes are opportunities to spot, not mere changes to deal with.

To do be present in search engines effectively and even diversify your traffic sources, trendsetters leverage new emerging and current evolving opportunities: rich snippets, universal search, integrating social behavior into site experience, producing fresh, unique content that is worth a share, or a pin or a tweet and making site mobile friendly, all of those are key drivers of micro conversions, which ultimately result in more buys.

Rich snippets are an amazing way to increase click through rates by drawing attention to your listing. It is a low hanging fruit too. Google and Bing support product, prices, events, persons, and recipes.

  • For example, Best Buy implemented rich snippets mid last year and enjoyed 30 % CTR from Google within the a few weeks. Others, as shared at SMX 2012 in San Jose, implemented rel=author & rel= publisher tags, and enjoyed 5-10 % traffic lift within the first 2 weeks, while aggregating 15-30 % total. Though, rich snippets are not a novel idea, not everyone in ecommerce leverages them.
  • For universal and blended search, Advance Auto Parts comes to mind with its videos (product and how-to’s) on product pages, YouTube, Facebook, beautiful video map, as it enjoyed increased conversions for product pages, especially for 1st time visitors, and extended its reach & sound sharing engagement of how-to-videos. I am sure these efforts considerably reduced their costs per leads. You can even scale it up to enterprise level with video publishing platforms available in the market.
  • Or a small retailer, Oyster.com launched its business with SEO and quality content as key ingredients of its product strategy. It has a solid site architecture, quality, original, engaging content, creative copy and great linking & social media integration. Just look at their traffic, which is 50 % free. Brilliant!
  • Fab.com, though behind the subscription site, has a beautiful integration of social into the experience, incentivizing its customers to share and get cash within 2 clicks as simple and as smooth as part of the shopping experience. No wonder, Fab.com enjoys 61 % traffic from Facebook vs. 6 % from Google. It also leverages well its blogs, and has lots of viral links. 40 % are actively engaged with their favorite brands via Facebook and say they are actively shopping on the social network. Bing also favors twitter links and authority signals quite a bit in its algorithm, so tweeting links up, makes a difference.

Differentiating your current content through rich snippets on SERPs, leveraging universal search & making your content worth sharing or part of social discovery allows capturing more traffic into the store. While, making your site SEO friendly and focusing on fundamentals can potentially double your total traffic within a few months; going the advanced route in resonance with algo changes from SEs might bring opportunities to dial up the effectiveness of other traffic sources: direct, social and mobile and even boost your other demand generation initiatives.

2. Reduce noise and steps pre-checkout

Once you got all that traffic to your pages, you want to waste no time to get them buy. Reducing noise and steps pre-checkout is the second best practice that distinguishes top performers and results in more orders.

The speed and simplicity of how you go about your funnels makes a difference. The less steps you have, before the checkout and within, the more captured traffic is to be converted. So remove extra steps, pages and clicks.

When shoppers landed on your pages, chances are very likely they know what they want to buy and now dealing with “which” one to choose dilemma. Your job to reduce the steps & thinking process for this part and provide enough information upfront as needed.

As needed is key here, that you will want to test, while “as much as possible” can overwhelm people and even concern search engines. Studies have been done that proved too many choices thrown at the customer slow the decision making process.

Some SEOs in the industry, also claimed that reducing the number of search results/product options might boost search results pages quality in terms of traffic and visibility.

  • Evo.com found that customers have to compare products while still in search for a perfect item, hence high abandonment of shopping carts. So they added a compare tool and color swatches right in the search result pages, which both increased conversions and sales.
  • Shopstyle.com, a lead generation site, converts people within 2 clicks on their category and search results pages. Implementation via the vertical slider is awesome from the user experience and friendly for SEO. It also addresses well pagination and duplicate content issue. Moreover, it has no product pages. You convert through the quick-look hoover. Love it.

Simplicity drives the highest profits. It also delivers joy while shopping. Polish your funnels, check if you have too much info and too many links, and streamline those as well for bots so that they do not waist time either. Go many times through your funnels to understand how much time it takes to buy. The less time users and bots spend on your pages, the more cash your estore generates, working like a money making machine.

3. Tap into impulse buys of “on the go” markets

Once you have customers flying through your funnels and placing orders or sharing deals on your site, don’t you wish to have them literally fly and shop at the same time?

With 49 % of all smartphone users researching and actually buying on smartphones, going mobile is necessary not to lose even the sales of loyal customers. It is also a great channel for new users and opportunity to steal competitor traffic:

  • 51% more likely to purchase from a retailer when it was mobile friendly,
  • 40% would visit a competitor’s site instead due to a disappointing mobile experience.

Yet, smart retailers study even deeper what mobile shopping can be all about. Travel category sites dominate mobile. 85 % of frequent flyers use smartphones and adopt mobile shopping, per Internet Retailer.

Mobile shopping loves travel. It thrives on the conditions occurring in travel situations; we might have to make last minute reservations, change of plans, experience airplane delays.

Mobile also syncs well with a spontaneous shopper, who happens to get free time or wanting something right there and now, thus playing up on the instant gratification we all are used to.

And, lastly, retailers that have been active in this channel early on, also saw some synergies among the channels, or marketing initiatives.

It is also noted that email coupled with mobile works like magic. It triggers the attention of shoppers on the go to act on the impulse to take care of that. A beautiful pairing.

  • Hotels.com, which I am a good customer of, doubled their mobile bookings in 2011. They also tapped into the specific segment that only shops last minute on the go. So, now, they feature deals that are exclusively available on mobile app in situations when minutes matter. Last week I was in New York, and got plenty of emails, 4-5 on last minute deals during my stay, just in case. Noteworthy, if we look at the email marketing effectiveness for Hotels.com on Compete, we can confirm the high growth rates from 71% up to 255%, and stellar performance in driving traffic.
  • Last minute booking is highly desirable and growing segment, in such a way that entire app businesses is showing up. Example, here with HotelsTonight, providing deals on that given night only and yet, you still get a deal. Isn’t that great, you are stuck in a city and do not want to pay high rates at the hotel you stayed in or go wherever the airline that messed up sent you? You have a place where offers bid for your business right here, right now.
  • Fandango, a movie reseller site, benefited from a single feature on its app, “Go Now” that allows to make a decision to watch a movie within mins if you happen to have an urge and the time, nearby.

Mobile and last minute offers exemplify the reality that lots online shoppers became very savvy in finding deals, comparing prices and will not settle for less. Mobile, plus instant consumption also reflect the reality of on the go lifestyle. So, if you keep waiting on how far those trends go, without engaging today, you will potentially miss on a new kind of a shopper or even lose a bunch of loyal customers that happen to add mobile to their options to shop for your brand.

4. Tap into discovery buys

Discovery buys are usually the opposite experience with users, shopping in a cozy place vs. on the go. They are also not planned, known; yet if you can engage the user fully in the experience and provide proper tools and merchandising, you can cash in and draw a significant share of all purchases.

Discovery buys emerge in situations when customers cannot engage into searching for the right item as it might be new to them or hard to do, like shopping for art. Or they have to defer the process of buying it, given its high price tag. Or they simply have no time, but have a general idea what would be best and would act on it if matched per expectations.

Tapping into discovery buys requires creativity and it allows finding new ways to shop for your audience, discovery buys can lead to marginal adds-ons to sales.  Some retailers already doing that by exploring curated merchandizing, also known as breaking their inventory into collections, themes, or make me a match site features, and also exploring coach commerce, or tablet shopping, with about 63 % of US retailers planning site redesigns to benefit from the trend, as eMarketer claims.

  • Art.com launched “Inspire my discovery” and “Find my image” visual search feature, and noticed that customers that use those, spend 2X more and convert 75 % faster.
  • Wine.com gets 6 % of all traffic from iPad and enjoyed increased spends from tablet shopper and even 20 % of revenue on the last day of Xmas.

Other retailers start paying attention to a common 50 % share of iPad in relation to all mobile traffic, a growth worth cultivating.

Tapping into discovery shopping experience is an ongoing trend, with ample room for creativity from the user experience and art of merchandising. Tablet shoppers are enthusiastic and happy about shopping.  With the number of tablet owners expected to skyrocket over the next few years, these shoppers are among the most important market segments to merchandize for.

5. Cater to local needs, deliver by local means

In a situation when you conquered your home base and ready to cast a wider net at international markets, you better be ready to spend lots on infrastructure to build it for each country. That is what top retailers from US do when they have their sights on shoppers of Europe.  You have to be an early entrant there to succeed. You also have to look deeper, segment by country.

There are specific needs and conditions for each country that must be met to be relevant there. Trendsetters focus on a hot category around a very specific niche and take over, or win over one country at a time, building custom marketing, merchandising, and fulfillment.  They also understand that the time and investment needed to build trust and break adoption barriers, because the payoff eventually will be much bigger due to the 1st comer benefit.

  • I was in Toronto, Canada in February and was amazed how condensed the city is and how many people are in the downtown. No one drives in the city and it gets rather crowded, there are thousands of great restaurants, you do not need to cook. I could live with that! Yet, it is perfect for grocery delivery business or restaurant delivery, Justeat.ca. UK, especially, London is also displaying the same conditions. In fact, Tesco, a UK retailer already dominates that hot category and is expanding it to Eastern Europe.
  • Easter Lauder also targets by country, yet providing global inventory, yet it still markets differently and is honoring country specific payment options to foster adoption.

In the past, some retailers tried to scale and approached Europe as one whole market, quickly learning that only country specific segmentation; country specific demand and shopping preference by category will work with all that fragmented infrastructure. And once you are in and accepted, you are there to rip the benefits of expansion.

So, to do effective eCommerce marketing, you can leverage natural search, new traffic sources and new shopping behavior trends & conditions by:

1. Investing into content production of items, worthy sharing every day

2. Reducing noise, barriers to buy

3. Feeding impulse buys, convert the always connected shopper: on the go, coach, in transit

4. Tapping into discovery buys, make your shoppers a match in heaven

5. If expanding markets (segments, countries), thinking and delivering local (as Romans do).

The list of strategies identified is not exhaustive; yet, some retailers only focus on 1-2 and make a difference. Imagine if you get all five strategies on the roadmap within your team!

Bonus:

Search marketing, where it is going, the old, the new and the basics

Attending SMX West this week brought quite a number of enlightening experiences: opportunities to get feedback from customers, catching up with people in the industry, learning something new and building new connections.  The ability to reach out and connect to people within the same industry is priceless -as it opens up new doors into sometimes, – surprising interests. 

From the attendee perspective, my favorite session was “The Economics of Search” – where all presenters shared solid expertise and insights on how the search engines business is being progressing and what economic fundamentals apply to make search marketers (advertisers and publishers) more successful. 

Michael Schwarz from Yahoo! Research shared his fundamentals – that he believes hold true:

A) in order to be successful as a search engine, there should be no tradeoffs between revenue and satisfying users and advertisers  

B) in order to be successful as an advertiser, one should be able to discriminate well between the values of search and display ads:

  • Search is for direct revenue and display ads for branding
  • Search is about current intent and display is about demographics
  • Search is spot market, display contracts
  • Search is more mature and available for small advertisers as rates start from 5 cents, display is older and very expensive, but holds opportunities when technology will make it more cost effective and audience effective (better targeting)

Hal Varian, Chief Economist from Google shared his advice on estimating the value of the click from the marginal cost perspective in order to make economic sense in the bidding race.  An advertiser’s profit directly depends on the value of the click, its number and cost. At the same time, what matters most is the marginal cost for every additional click you buy. If you do a simple formula that distributes those values, you will be able to actually see what makes sense -since all three variables will be depicted “in action”.  Also, on average, incremental cost per click (ICC) is always at least 15-20 % higher than a CPC (cost per click)  – thus it makes a difference to pay attention to it to win the bidding game.

Peter Coles, Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School revealed his predictions on mobile search growth – even with 1 search per mobile device per month in 2010 means you could generate $2.3 billion in mobile search revenue worldwide. 10 monthly searches means mobile search will be greater than PC search. 

Thinking of search marketing in the above mentioned terms – from the economics standpoint – makes it so exciting! See more excitement on the similar impressions at SEOmoz blog.

Online Market World Conference 2007: My Top E-Commerce Sessions to Attend

I am back to San Francisco, the city that still (and always) enjoys the sunshine, attending the Online Market World Conference, a full-blown event to cover the entire e-commerce lifecycle. It was almost surreal this morning to come from the yellow-and-orange-and-wet Seattle, into a sunny caught-in-the-summer-weather of San Fran – felt like I escaped from the seasons! For the rest of the week, I am looking forward to learning more about the latest and greatest in the e-business and meeting the folks in the industry that did that (eBay, PayPal, Forrester Research are among the biggest players).

So far, at a glance, the “must attend” sessions for me are:

(1) Driving Customer Acquisition and Conversion Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing (will cover the best known cases of integrating product reviews and social media).
(2) and How Analytics Affects Planning Processes (this session claims to reveal how to deploy analytics to affect the planning processes across the organization, in other words being more intelligent about your decisions).
(3) then later in the day, I am looking forward to learn how to Improve Customer Acquisition Through Analytics, through analyzing existing customer behavior and going beyond – understanding new customers. See the magic in numbers!
(4) Customer Lifetime Value – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You – sounds rather appealing with its promise to share the methods of utilizing business intelligence to fine-tune customer retention strategies.
(5) Understanding the Business Customer - claims to cover the dos and don’ts strategies while working with B2B audience.
(6) of course, I could not let the session on Improving Commerce Site Effectiveness Through Analytics and Multivariate Testing go without my notice – revisiting the tactics of driving online sales is the knowledge that is worth hanging onto by any marketer these days.
(7) The Future of Online Advertising - should be a good recap on whatever happened to online advertising (how it evolved and where it is heading towards) within the last year that we missed while paying attention to everything else!
(8) Common Mistakes That Drive Customers Away - is a great session that will help to get back to reality and understand the buyer decision process and why it stops at some points.
(9) and finally, International Payment Options and Optimization - seems to be rather hot – as it spills the beans on the remaining international payment challenges and what the industry is doing about it.

These top 9 are my picks to engage into. Let’s see which one of them makes the deepest impression.

BTW, if you cannot attend and still want to get a piece of the informational pie, check out a free report on e-commerce trends 2007/2008 provided on the event site. Obviously, you will have to share some info to get it, but should be worthwhile.

Come to Portland to Attend InVerge 2007 – The 1st Interactive Convergence Conference

Inverge 2007? Portland, OR? Next week, Thursday and Friday of September 6-7, a new conference is launched by one of the internet industry evangelists – Steve Gehlen. Inspired by the ideas of Convergence Culture and Wikinomics, “Inverge”, “invergence” is a newly coined term that took its roots from the concept of convergence of digital marketing and human interaction. In other words, it represents “interactive convergence”, thus “invergence”.

Why attend InVerge 2007? Inverge 2007 is a multi-disciplinary interactive marketing conference, happening in the Pearl District of Portland, OR (which has the best restaurants in the city on every corner, charming with its urban style and bringing lively crowds of urban professionals to mingle). Join your fellow marketers and advertisers for a 2 day experience of sharing ideas and expertise. Check the list of the attendees and plan your networking opportunities. Review the event schedule and choose the topics you would like to brush up on. Browse through the speakers bios and see who you would like to connect to.

Myself, I think I would definitely check out the panel on a new Nike ZOOM footwear interactive television campaign featuring panelists from Nike, Wieden+Kennedy and Ensequence with Stephanie Otto moderating the session.

The main presenters featured:
– Joshua Green, Research Manager, Convergence Culture Consortium, MIT talking about Convergence Culture and New Media Logics
– Jeff Yapp, Executive Vice President, MTV Networks
– Chris Van Dyke, President & CEO, Nau (see recent Fast Company feature) highlighting his groundbreaking “webfront” concept that integrates the best of e-commerce with traditional bricks and mortar shopping and Nau’s digitally centric approach to storytelling and brand building.
– Slate Olson, Senior Brand Connections Manager, Nike
– Renny Gleeson, Global Director of Digital Strategies, Wieden+Kennedy
– Lori H. Schwartz, SVP & Director, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab, Interpublic Group
– Catherine Ogilvie, EVP & General Manager of the San Francisco Office, Edelman sharing her insights on brand development and who actually does contribute to its value
– Stephanie Otto, CEO / Principal, Brainstorm Communications, Inc. (interactive TV pioneer)
– Dalen Harrison, CEO, Ensequence (interactive TV platform) talking about interactive TV and its future
– Adam Richardson, Strategy Director, frog design sharing his insights on product management and its shaping into managing complex systems
– Ken Papagan, President & Chief Strategy Officer, Rentrak talking about the need for behavioral measurement of media consumption by platform
– Jason Stoddard (Managing Partner) and Ken Brady (VP, Asia), Centric, Agency of Change
– Marcelino Alvarez, Senior Interactive Producer, Wieden+Kennedy (panel)
– Bill Barnett, General Manager, Entertainment Media Works expressing his insights on how to squeeze your advertising budget
– Mark Deuze, Professor, Journalism and New Media, Leiden University (The Netherlands) sharing his thoughts on consumer generated media
– Aimee Viles, Director of Creative Services, Ensequence (panel)

The best part – the conference was timed to coincide with a number of cultural events happening in Portland during the same week to make it a fully enjoyable experience of professional networking and cultural exploration. A paid Full Conference Pass to Inverge 2007 provides you with a full access to MusicFestNW and vouchers to 3 Time-Based Art Festival events, while the First Thursday Gallery Walk is complimentary already!

To register, visit InVerge 2007 site. Have Fun! I know I will.

Why We Marketers Should Adopt Another Segmentation Tool – Personas from User Experience Design

The best discovery from last week was stumbling upon Steve Mudler’s session at Webvisions on personas . It almost feels like the more I learn, the more is out there still awaiting for discovery. Two weeks ago, I was rambling on the database marketing and its behavioristic approach to segmenting. I was thrilled and motivated to learn as much as I can about it. Last week, my attention radar caught the concept from the user design (scenario design) field – creating “personas” to segment potential customers and be able to communicate better with them, while resonating with their specific challenges. “Personas”, as a market segmentation tool does bring: focus, empathy, consensus, better designs and communications.

If I narrow down to the two major benefits of this technique, I would mention its flexibility and applicability to real life situations we marketers face and its fundamental psychological truth about discrepancies of people’s words and actions.

The greatest part about creating “personas” is that it allows segmenting your market while you engage into the limited market research initiatives. Let’s face it – most of the time, we (marketers) have limited budget and resources (people and time) and there is so much that we could do but we cannot afford….How do you find out what your potential customers will want and to what they would respond to if you only have 4 weeks, 4 people and no budget? You can only interview a small number of people, you can do so much as opposing to engaging in the ideal long and steady market research process that we learnt from the books or that is feasible if a specialized agency does it for us for a good sum.

Well, we have “personas”! Steve Mudler actually shares his expertise on it in his book ” The User is Always Right”, As an example, creating personas becomes a good segmentation alternative in the real life situation where you are developing a channel for a newly developed product or a “newly-is-still-in-development- product-that-is-has-to-sell-in-6-months”. There are three primary approaches, based on the type of research, scope and analysis performed:

• Qualitative personas (based on interviews, as an example)
• Qualitative personas with quantitative validation (interviews and surveys)
• Quantitative personas (surveys, data from the CRM systems, etc.)

Thus, it allows you to apply this technique to any scope of research that you are doing. Flexibility makes it a good model.

Another useful disclaimer that all of us – marketers performing research should always keep in mind is that what people say is not what they necessarily do. What they say is important as it reflects their goals and attitudes as well as perceptions and aspirations of being seen in a certain light. What people do is just as important, since actual behavior can reveal more about people than what they say. Behavior reveals patterns around which you can design your product or communication strategy. Again, the perfect combination of promise and action, if those are consistent – you got your answer and you are on the right track, if those are conflicting, you have to test your hypothesis again or change it completely.

Web 2.0 Expo, Day 2 and Day 3, Experience Takeaways

It took me 2 days to get into my normal routine after such a whirlpool of knowledge sharing and social networking using traditional and web technology methods. Instead, I am still catching up with all the people I met. However, I thought I would quickly put my notes in this post. So what happened within those 2 days and what and who inspired my curious mind?

I. Behavioral Targeting, a session led by Basem Nayfeh, explored the world of web analytics and database marketing that allows to target your customers based on their behavior. It is not a new technique, but I was happy to see how pronounced the topic becomes. The complexity and at the same time, the solutions it brings are worth exploring by every marketer in any given organization. It allows to make a pause and ask a question where consumer attention is and follow it. Paying attention to customer steps on your page or online allows to be an effective marketer. An interesting fact that 60 % of content is posted by someone “we know”, “you know”, exemplifies well that our social behavior does not change dramatically on the web. Behavioral segmenting is intelligent segmenting and qualifying people based on their actions: (searches made, product interests, articles they read, navigation, geography, keywords, workplace attributes). Behavior is captured and targeted message is delivered, new knowledge about your product is discovered, etc.

II. Web Analytics and Internet Marketing Solutions session by Akin Arikan touched upon similar topic. He also shared a free whitepaper that illustrates well the major points on how to optimize your online marketing campaigns. The Web Analytics Recipe Cards provides an overview on how to maximize the number of qualified leads captured online, maximize online and offline revenue and increase brand awareness. Another document that is worth reading, shared by Unica, summarizes how today’s marketers can anticipate, understand, help their companies profit from the web transformation.

III. Social media discussions were quite popular and interactive. I am “delegating” this topic to Jeremiah and Mario, as lots of coverage can be found at their prominent blogs: Marketing Nirvana and Web Strategist.

IV. The best part of the entire event for me was meeting a number of brilliant people. The social aspect of the conference attendance left the most satisfaction. People who make a difference in this industry being in either big or small companies is the biggest asset of web.2.0 revolution and evolution. I had a lot of fun meeting people at the expo, at the after event parties and during live upstreaming opportunity with Podtech. The combination of knowledge and social capital gained definitely exceeds the projected ROI. Web 2.0 expo 2007 is money and time well spend.

V. (Added on April 29, 2007)
And I also wanted to express my joy and thanks to Marcelo Paiva who volunteered to help me fix my style sheet issue when I discovered it at the event. I still cannot help but smile every time I see my new blog design! People would point me out that due to some coding my blog content would show up crookedly in Firefox. This was rather embarrassing since most of the web 2.0 crowd uses Firefox and while sharing and introducing myself I had to make a disclaimer. Not any more! Social media got another outcome of connecting people that might never be due to geographies and other restrictions. If it were not for Jeremiah’s live blogging and video casting at the event, I would never have a chance to get fast help and collaboration right away. Moreover, we used Skype to do virtual collaboration and remote desktop access tool VNC to fix the problem! This was a very empowering experience, collaboration on the user level where you get the same results as if you work in big corporations with virtual teams, but here you use basic web 2.0 tools that enable individuals!
Marcelo also created my new logo, which I find rather a perfect fit. Talking about branding on one’s feet and Skype!
Finally, we discovered similarities in professional interests (user design, marketing, CRM, segmentation) that allowed both of us developing another value-add professional connection, which we completed via registering it at LinkedIn. :)

Web 2.0 Expo Day 1, Knowledge Nuggets and More Inspiring People

Day 1 was so good: the energy of people I met and the knowledge I got kept me so invigorated and excited throughout 18 hours of stimulation.  Before the next wave of events hits my “ship”, I wanted to set in stone the nuggets for Day 1 at web 2.0 expo.

I. Web Technology

Google Analytics and all the magic you can do with this free tool was shared by Brett Crosby. Get your web metrics into the order, get your data and make your site more effective, analyze your marketing campaigns ROI.(Example: Paris Hilton Commercial, was produced normally in a ad agency, but distributed through the web (YouTube). The effect is beyond what a TV ad of the same caliber can do. Due to the viral effect, people actually went online themselves (control of content/infomation consumption) and watched it on average of 6 times. Where else do you get such coverage, reach and ROI? It was cheap to place on the web!) The package is free, delivers on the promise and can make a difference in your web communications. Spend a few minutes and learn more how you can optimize your web site. You do not need to be a statistician to get the maximum benefit. (I am going to deploy it for my blog and once I have enough experience I will share my recommendations).

  1. Google Analytics = track your traffic and ROI on marketing campaigns
  2. Google Webmaster Tools = know your audience and optimize your site
  3. Google News = free way to make images searchable
  4. Google Maps
  5. Google Earth
  6. Google Catalogs = upload your catalogs, get the content out, make it discoverable
  7. Google Website Optimizer = great tool to track PPC, does not hurt organic search (was considered during the development stage), you can even start your free multivariate testing to learn more what your audience is doing on your site and how to make them do what you want them to do!

II. More Web Analytics

Avinesh Kaushik shared his insights on how you can test the effectiveness of your site, optimize your conversion rate based on real feedback from your customers! I must confess, it was the best session so far, as much as, Avinash promised at the start. Using Multivariate Testing, marketers and web strategists can expose their customers to variations of web site design (multiple pages produced automatically by a tool) and get feedback (behavioral feedback!) on what works and what does not to arrive at the site that generates sales or delivers what you want your audience to do on this site. Most companies do not know why their customers come to the site. Avinesh’s golden rule is testing, testing, and more testing. One cannot get the same information on what works through the traditional focus groups, surveys and interviews of the customer base. “Customers yell out problems and do not provide solutions”. At the same time, our bosses think that they represent the customers and know how the site should look like to deliver the best and their decision influences the final product that might not be user-friendly at all. Even if it does, it could be not as optimal in delivering to the bottom line. Even the userbility testing is not as effective. “They way we do userbility is isolating a sample of people in a room, putting a bunch of devices on them and ask them to act normal. People do not act normal in such conditions and they would be extra cautious, biased or wierd.” You can get the basic ballpark, (maybe, maybe not) on your testing. With multivariate analysis you are measuring the entire consumer experience, even when they are shopping on your site in their pijamas. Little Ajax script is all you need to get your testing set up. It creates variations of your site for further testing. You can test all the ideas you have, not just 2-3.

Avinesh is planning to publish a book in the near future, called “Web Analytics, An Hour A Day” (which I will definetely read!). You can even pre-order it at Amazon.com. All the proceeds (100%) will go to local charities.

III. Great ideas from the Keynote

Keynote was very well put together and this video called Digital Ethnography by Michael Wesch launched the discussion. I could not help but share this video, it illustartes so well the evolution of the web and though, I am not a geek, it stimulates my mind and heart. 

There was lots of fun speeches at the keynote and Richard MacManus covers it well on his blog.

My favorites were 3 launch pad ideas:

Spock.com = allows you perform human search! You can now get the full scoop! (My KGB roots make me so excited about this one! :))

Npower.com = finally, a web 2.0 application for intraverts! and people who care a lot about personal growth, allows to measure your actions towards your goals, incorporates training and coaching knowledge with a web 2.0 capabilities of interactivity and user content generation. Unfortunately, I have no URL for it to share.

IV. Social Mingle Afterwards

It was a lot of fun to explore web 2.0 social mingle scene and parties afterwards. The best part is to meet the personalities and simply personable people to close the day. Special thanks to Jeremiah, other Podtech crew and Mario for being hospitable hosts! Anytime, you are in Portland, OR, please let me know and I will show the city at its best and I am very good at it!

Attending Workshops at Web 2.0 expo – Community Evangelism

I started my Sunday morning with a workshop at Web 2.0 expo on Community Evangelism with Deborah Schultz and Anil Dash. I thought I can get away without much effort of focus on a Sunday morning and I did not bring my laptop. Well, once you see Jeremiah Owyang running around with a camera video-streaming live the event and Mario Sudhar liveblogging, one cannot get away from the energy those folks generate.

What are the takeaways from this workshop? Why should we care about community evangelism? Here are the ideas that Deborah and Anil shared with us.
Community Evangelism is an ideal customer referral program made feasible to execute via various web technologies like blogs, forums, podcasts and other social sites. It allows companies reaching their customers and transform transactional customers into loyal ones through building the relationship, making an emotional, personal connection.

Persistence and awareness are the key to maintain relationships online. If you ventured a blog for your company, you engage into a social contract, a sort of committment to ongoing conversation with your customers. This implies a continuous sharing of value content. You expand your relationship with a customer into a more enriching experience.  Continuity of a two-way communication process provides for creating meaningful life moments that your customer records in his/her memory. A good example would be books, CDs, movies that we buy or get as gifts from other people and might never read, watch but keep being attached to them as they connect to someone we care about. Connectedness, continuity and non-disposability = all due to the value of a relationship that carries it through.

Awareness is not just about notification. Providing your customers with a control to chose how they get information about the product and services – this makes your communications effective. Why? Think about products people absolutely love: iPod, TiVo, Wii. They empower consumers to be in control when to consume content, service, product. So, do the same with your marketing communications to make them more effective – provide those in RSS, blogs or other format that your customer can choose to control both in the reception phase and content scope.

What’s Evangelist? He/she is a

  • customer advocate
  • educator
  • among the people interacting with the community where they live
  • human face of the company
  • cross-functional, not just a marketer
  • a foil for the company

Human skills needed to be successful as a community evangelist:

  • listener
  • connector
  • catalyst
  • critic
  • partial geek
  • detective
  • diplomat
  • juggler
  • driven by relationships
  • approachable
  • intuitive
  • inquisitive

Pursue evangelism with passion, be present where your customers are mentally and physically. Use what you got and have fun!

P.S. I just found out how messed up my blog looks like in Firefox! Tried to contact technical support and it is temporary closed! What do I do? I have to fix it, otherwise it is simply embarrassing.

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