(718) 690-7302 [email protected] Google AdWords, Google Shopping, Facebook Ads Management

Blog

How To Manage Your Price Comparison Data Feeds

3338900345_f3b4b1b774

What’s The Problem?

Every eCommerce business wants to advertise on as many channels as possible. When it comes to comparison shopping, you will want to syndicate your products to the top shopping engines. The problem is that every comparison shopping engine has a different data feed format and category structure. This creates an extra headache for the business owner. You have no choice if you want your products on their site…

The Many Solutions

Depending on the size of your company and your skill set, you have many different options ranging from hacking scripts and full service management.

D.I.Y. Style

  • Download your products into Excel and copy and paste until you got it right. Any business that means business cannot do it this way. It is too time consuming and you won’t be able to update it often enough.
  • Hack together some scripts to automatically create the files for each CSE. You get bonus points for automatically uploading to each CSE via FTP.
  • Use a third party self service tool to syndicate your feeds self service style. MerchantAdvantage is a great desktop tool for this, it is priced at $695 per month with no limits on websites, products or CSEs.

Third Party Syndication

Use a third party system to automatically create and syndicate many feeds from one file that you upload. This is ideal for smaller eCommerce sites with approximately 5-10k products. Here are some companies that provide this service:

  • GoDataFeed — Plans available for $50/$75 per month, with a 5,000 SKU limit.
  • SingleFeed — Plans starting at $99 per month, with a 100,000 SKU limit.
  • VersaFeed — Plans starting at $195 per month, with a 10,000 SKU limit.

Full Service Syndication & Managment

I would suggest using a small but reputable agency to syndicate your feeds, they are generally prices better than the big guys but give you a lot of personal attention. Here are a couple of such companies:

Another option is to go with a full service management solution from one of the big guys. I’ve had pretty good success with ChannelAdvisor specifically.

Do you have any experience with any of the companies listed above? Do you know of another company that provides such a service? Please let us know in the comments.

Photo Credit: alles-schlumpf

Twitter Tool: PHP Auto-Follow Script

UPDATE: This is no longer supported by Twitter.

Twitter LogoI found this script on webupd8.org that will help you jump-start your Twitter campaigns. You can run it on any PHP server as a standalone file. What it does is search for anyone who mentions a relevant term. Just copy and paste the code below and change the following:

  • enter_your_twitter_username_here // Example: eCommerceCircle
  • enter_your_twitter_password_here // Example: imnottellingyou
  • enter_the_search_term_to_follow_here // Example: iPod Touch

You can upload to your server and just load the page from time to time or set up a cron job to do it automatically. Keep in mind that Twitter has follower/following ratios in place and that at most you cannot follow more than 1.5 times the amount of people following you as well as a 1,000 follower a day limit.

<?php
// Twitter Auto-follow Script by Dave Stevens - http://davestevens.co.uk

$user = "enter_your_twitter_username_here";
$pass = "enter_your_twitter_password_here";

$term = "enter_the_search_term_to_follow_here";

$userApiUrl = "http://twitter.com/statuses/friends.json";

$ch = curl_init($userApiUrl);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $user.":".$pass);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);

$apiresponse = curl_exec($ch);
curl_close($ch);
$followed = array();

if ($apiresponse) {
 $json = json_decode($apiresponse);
 if ($json != null) {
  foreach ($json as $u) {
   $followed[] = $u->name;
  }
 }
}

$userApiUrl = "http://search.twitter.com/search.json?q=" . $term . "&rpp=100";
$ch = curl_init($userApiUrl);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $user.":".$pass);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
$apiresponse = curl_exec($ch);
curl_close($ch);

if ($apiresponse) {
 $results = json_decode($apiresponse);
 $count = 20;
 if ($results != null) {
  $resultsArr = $results->results;
  if (is_array($resultsArr)) {
   foreach ($resultsArr as $result) {
    $from_user = $result->from_user;
    if (!in_array($from_user,$followed)) {
     $ch = curl_init("http://twitter.com/friendships/create/" . $from_user . ".json");
     curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $user.":".$pass);
     curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
     curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS,"follow=true");
     curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
     $apiresponse = curl_exec($ch);

     if ($apiresponse) {
      $response = json_decode($apiresponse);
      if ($response != null) {
       if (property_exists($response,"following")) {
        if ($response->following === true) {
         echo "Now following " . $response->screen_name . "\n";
        } else {
         echo "Couldn't follow " . $response->screen_name . "\n";
        }
       } else {
        echo "Follow limit exceeded, skipped " . $from_user . "\n";
       }
      }
     }
     curl_close($ch);
    } else {
     echo "Already following " . $from_user . "\n";
    }
   }
  }
 }
}
?>

Boost Your ROI & Get Your Money’s Worth From PriceGrabber

PriceGrabber.com LogoPriceGrabber is one of the top-tier Comparison Shopping Engines, they command 5 million unique monthly visitors (it jumps up to about 8 million during the holiday season). Out of all the different shopping engines, I have seen the best ROI from PriceGrabber. Here are some ideas on how to boost your performance on PriceGrabber.

PriceGrabber Traffic Chart: Compete

Product Categorization

The hardest part about syndicating products to all the Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE), is categorizing products properly according to each individual taxonomy. When you invest the extra time and categorize everything correctly, you will definitely see a boost in your click-through rate and conversions. If you have a large data feed you should consider mapping your categories to the corresponding category on PriceGrabber.

Merchant Logos

When a customer comes to a page comparing product prices from 10 sellers, the merchant logo option will help your listing stick out. Logos are not free though, PriceGrabber charges an additional $0.10 per click logo listings. However, like everything else in life: you get what you pay for. Logo listings have historically show higher conversion rates than products listed without them.

Merchant Reviews

It is imperative to maintain a positive rating on PriceGrabber as well as all CSEs. Not all customers shop by price only, sometimes a customer will pay a few dollars more to purchase from someone with a higher rating than you. The best idea is to push your customers to review their purchase.

PriceGrabber is one of the few CSEs that offer the ability to have your products listed with a Featured Seller status. You will need to talk to your PriceGrabber account representative to get pricing information and sign up for it. In the categories that I have tried Featured Seller product listings I have seen a boost in conversions, although I’m not sure what kind of performance it would have in a heavily saturated category such as digital cameras and iPods.

PriceGrabber-Featured-Seller

Does PriceGrabber work for you? Tell us in the comments.

Cheatsheet: How To Create AdWords Campaigns Easily

Here’s a quick tip that comes in handy when you are marketing a brand of products that has a similar name to other products or services on the web.

If you want to advertise Apple, Inc. products but are having a hard time coming up with a comprehensive list of keywords, this may work for you. Add the keyword Apple as a Broad Match term with an exact negative of [Apple]. At the same time add negative terms for anything that comes up on a Google search for the term Apple that you are not advertising. For example you may add these as Negative Keywords:

tablet
tv
new york city
bank
trailers
rumors
ipod
store locator
  • tablet
  • tv
  • new york city
  • bank
  • trailers
  • rumors
  • store

This accomplishes the same as building out a huge list of Phrase Match terms but with much less work. Google will look at the Broad Match terms you have listed and show ad for all of them after cross checking and excluding all your Negative keywords. Keep in mind that this may cost slightly more than running a long list of Phrase Match terms. Best thing to do is run your campaign this way for 2-4 weeks and then look at the keyword list that Google actually showed your ads for — now you can just check off the good ones and add to your campaign for a lower CPC.

Image Courtesy: zenera

Tips & Tricks On How To Use Twitter For eCommerce Marketing

Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds every day. By the last count Twitter.com had 58 million visitors worldwide during the last month. In addition, they just signed major deals with Microsoft and Google to supply them with a firehose of all Twittering Tweets.

Twitter Tools

You are only as good as the Twitter tools you have. Here is a brief rundown of the best Twitter tools for keeping track of your brand and interacting with your customers.

Brizzly

Brizzly allows you to control multiple Twitter accounts from the same interface without having to constantly log in and out. Some of the great features it offers that are helpful with managing an eCommerce site’s Twitter account are Groups and Saved Searches. Although Twitter.com offers the ability to save searches, it is much easier to skim through the results and answer them inline on Brizzly. The Groups feature can help you segment your follow list by category so that you can more clearly see what’s happening in your Twitter world.

Brizzly is in private beta, and can be accessed by invitation only. I have a few invites to give away, please leave your email in the comments for a free invite.

Brizzly Twitter Client Screenshot

Screenshot: @Remiel

CoTweet

CoTweet is the Twitter tool of choice for many large corporations such as Pepsi, Starbucks, Microsoft and many more. CoTweet has some unique features that cater to companies with multiple people posting from a single Twitter account. Their core features are multiple Twitter accounts, multiple users managing a Twitter account, CoTags, saved searches, and scheduled Tweets.

From within CoTweet you can give access to multiple users to manage your Twitter account, the best part is that you can set up CoTags which CoTweet will append the initials of the person Tweeting to the Tweet. They generally add CoTags in this format “^MK”. This helps avoid confusion and helps your followers identify who said what.

CoTweet also allows you to schedule Tweets for a specific time, this is ideal for when you are unable to post manually but would like to keep your followers updated.

CoTweet Twitter Client Screenshot

Screenshot: vincentgallegos

HootSuite

HootSuite has pretty much the same major features as the others, however it sports a more desktop like client interface with multiple tabs and columns for follower updates, saved searches etc…

A unique feature that HootSuite offers is the ability to auto post Tweets from an RSS feed. This is great if you have a company blog that you would like to automatically post the updates to Twitter.

HootSuite Twitter Client Screenshot

Screenshot: cambodia4kidsorg

TweetDeck

All the above Twitter tools are web-based, TweetDeck is a desktop application that works on the Adobe AIR platform. Like HootSuite, it has a multiple column interface for easy following. The good thing about TweetDeck being a desktop application is that it has notifications built into it. It can pop up a message when your company is mentioned on Twitter.

TweetDeck Twitter Client Screenshot

Screenshot: merilyn_j

What To Post

Having a great tool is only half the battle. How you use it, can impact your results in a major way. The best use of Twitter is to update with a mix of Marketing/Promotional tips, helpful tips, and interact with other Twitterers.

Marketing

Post Tweets with special coupons, promotional content and deals exclusively for your Twitter followers. Give people a reason to follow you. Try not to post only promotional content and links to your site, make sure to include a healthy mix of other content as well.

Transparency

Let your customer base see the human side of your company. Post small updates that may make someone smile. Talk about your brand and what it stands for. Post helpful tips relevant to your industry.

Customer Service

Interact with your followers and potential customers. Say good morning and help fellow Tweeple with their problems. Providing help to someone who is not a customer, may turn them into one. Become an authority in your industry.

Usage Examples

Here are examples of companies using Twitter. Learn what you can should and shouldn’t do from them.

Woot

Woot posts links to their ‘daily sale’ every and blog posts on their company blog. They currently have over 1.4 million followers and they use this channel as a natural extension to reach their already loyal following.

Comcast

Comcast says they care, and it seems that they really do try to help anyone who voices their frustrations with the cable provider on Twitter. They scan Twitter for anyone who mentions ‘Comcast’ and will reply and help you out pretty much instantaneously. There are the naysayers (that may be correct) who say that you shouldn’t have to go to Twitter to get customer service.

Zappos

No post about Twitter and eCommerce would be complete without Zappos. When Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh breathes on Twitter 1.45 million people hear him. Aside from that, it is ingrained in the Zappos corporate culture to Twitter, they even host a mashup site where you can see all Tweets from Zappos employees.

Bottom Line

A dollar spent keeping an existing customer happy is the best dollar spent on marketing your brand. Use Twitter to interact with customers to provide a satisfying shopping experience as well as to promote your latest deals.

List Your Products Free On ShopMania

ShopMania LogoShopMania is a Price Comparison Engine a la PriceGrabber and Shopzilla that let’s you list your products for free if you put a seal on your site that says ‘Listed on ShopMania’. In addition, they also offer premium accounts where you pay a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) like on the other major shopping engines. The premium accounts include more features such as ability to feature a ‘Deal a Day’ or get your products listed higher.

In the past I would not have recommended ShopMania just because their traffic was so low, but it seems that they are picking up steam now and with the holiday season kicking into gear you may as well take advantage of their free accounts.

Shopmania Traffic Report

Visit ShopMania

How Can eCommerceCircle Help You?

3 Months!

As of today eCommerceCirlce.com has been live for 3 months. While this may not be such a long time, I’d like to ask you to help me in my journey and improve this blog.

Help Me, Help You.

How Can I Help You?Please look at the topics I have covered so far on the sitemap and let me know what your favorite article was. In addition, please let me know what type of articles would you like to see in the future..?

Thanks,
Michael J. Kaye
eCommerceCircle

P.S.

If you would like to contribute to eCommerceCircle, please contact me at michael [at] ecommercecircle [dot] com.

10 More Essential Magento Extensions For Your Store

In a previous post we featured 10 really cool and useful Magento extensions for your store. Here is another selection of 10 more great extensions.

1 – Layered Navigation Pro

Layered Navigation Pro allows you to customize the look and functionality of the layered navigation/search filters on your Magento store. You can use sliders, images, multiple check boxes etc… In addition this extension uses AJAX to load the new search results in real-time and you change your selection.

Layered Navigation Pro

Extension Page | Demo | Price: $99.00

2 – Google Maps Store Locator

Great for eCommerce sites with multiple brick and mortar locations. Very easy to set up, just enter all store locations and Google Maps latitude and longitude coordinates and your done.

Google-Maps-Magento-Store

Extension Page | Price: $125

3 – Visualize Your Attributes

Adds the ability to display attributes with icons instead of drop down lists, radio buttons and check boxes.

Visualize Your Product Attributes

Extension Page | Price: $49.00

4 – IDEALIAGroup LightBox

This extension will install a wonderful and ready-to-use LightBox widget in your Magento store.

Magento LightBox Image Display

Extension Page | Price: FREE

5 – FreshBooks Integration

This extension allows you to import your Magento Orders in real time into your FreshBooks account.

FreshBooks Integration Magento

Extension Page | Price: $19.00 per Month

6 – Shop By Manufacturer

This is an alternative the the Shop By Brand extension we featured in our original Magento extensions post. It has all the basic features need to shop by brand but is not as feature rich as the other one.

Shop-By-Manufacturer

Extension Page | Price: $29.99

7 – Order Editor

This extension enables you to edit order information in-line without canceling and creating a new order. Does not allow editing of any fields that would affect order total.

Extension Page | Demo | Price: $69.00

8 – Facebook Connect Social Shopping

This extension adds the ability for your site visitors to connect with their Facebook friends without leaving your ecommerce store. They can recommend items to their friends or ask advice about specific items on your site.

Facebook-Social-Shopping-Extension

Extension Page | Price: FREE

9 – Twit Your Products

Take advantage of Social Media and add the ability for your customers to send products to Twitter with a customized Tweet.

Twitter-Twit-This-Product

Extension Page | Price: FREE

10 – Vertical Navigation

Don’t like the default horizontal menu? This extension switches your store layout to use a vertical menu bar.

Vertical Navigation Menu

Extension Page | Price: FREE

More From This Series: Magento Extensions

How To Restrict Your Ad Position In AdWords

There is a cool feature in AdWords that allows you to restrict your ad to specific positions. This comes in handy if you know that a certain position, say position #3, has had the best performance historically. Here is how to set up Ad Positioning:

Step 1

In the Campaign Settings, under Position Preference you can turn on the ability to mange your position preference and have AdWords automatically manage maximum CPC bids to target a preferred position range.
Google-AdWords-Position-Preference

Step 2

When you edit keywords in the Keywords tab, you will now have the option to select positions you’d like to restrict your ad to. It will let you select one position (i.e. #3) or a range of positions (i.e. #1 – #4).

Google AdWords Position Preference Selection

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that if according to Google’s algorithm your ad should show up in position #4 and you set your ads to display in position #3, your ad will not display at all. Use it when you have the data to back it up, when you know that any clicks from other positions will not bring enough conversions.