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Use Search Query Performance Report To Reduce Extra Spend

Although broad match keywords should be only be used sparingly, there are many instances where you will find the need to use them. In such cases it is a good idea to look at what terms Google matches your ads to and what terms are getting clicked on.

Search Query Performance Report

In the new Google AdWords interface this is relatively simple. When you are in the keyword tab select a few broad match keywords or select all, and click the ‘See Search Terms…” button and select show all. This will pop open a new window with a list of the terms that trigger your ad. From this list you can check of specific keywords and select exclude. You have the ability to exclude terms on the campaign level or ad group level. These keywords will be added as negatives to you campaign or ad group depending on what you selected.

search-query-data

Bottom Line

Best practice is to run this every two weeks or so, especially if you are constantly making changes to your campaigns. You will find that you are shaving off significant chunks of your spend which you can reallocate to better performing keywords.

Get Your Products Listed First On PriceGrabber

Being a new merchant on most comparison shopping engines can be frustrating because when you have no click through history or ratings your products show up pretty far down on the page. There some tricks you learn along the way, here is one that can be helpful for comparison shopping engines that group merchants offering the same product on to one page. PriceGrabber is the first to come to mind.

Product Research

The first thing to do is research your product category and look for trends on how the search results are displayed. You are looking for this:

PriceGrabber: First Result From Group Of Sellers

PriceGrabber: First Result From Group Of Sellers

Most consumers will click on the first result, that’s where you’ll want to be.

Top Placement

In order for PriceGrabber to show your product with the first results of grouped merchants, you’ll need to make sure that you are using the same SKU as well as brand name spelling. If you have the same info, you’ve done it, you will now be in the first result.

Stick Out

Now you are on the first search result, you’ll want to try and get you products to stick out from the other merchants on the pages. You can do this by adding your logo or a discount promo message.

PriceGrabber: Compare Products Page

PriceGrabber: Compare Products Page

Track Sales With Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking

Google Analytics is a very powerful and free tool. It’s as good (if not better) than some of the enterprise tracking tools out there.

Standard Tracking

The standard Google Analytics tracking pixel will get you all the basic data such as visitors, page views, referring source and keywords. This is essential for any website, especially an online retailer.

You can get the code for this sample Google Analytics standard tracking pixel from Analytics Settings > Profile Settings > Check Status (top right), or copy from here and replace the UA-XXXXXXX-XX with the ID from your account on the same page.

<script type="text/javascript">
	var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www."); document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
	try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXXXX-X"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}
</script>

Setup Conversion Goals

The next thing you’ll want to do is set up conversion goals. For an ecommerce site, the primary goal will be a customer’s purchase. However, you can set up additional goals like customers who used the contact form or signed up for your newsletter or mailing list.

You can set up a Goal under Analytics Settings Profile Settings Goal Settings. In the first section fill out the requested fields as follows (see screenshot below):

  • Active Goal — Yes
  • Match Type — Generally use Head Match
  • Goal URL — For the goal page “http://www.jxtgroup.com/thankyou.html” enter “/thankyou.html”
  • Goal Name — This can be anything you choose
  • Case Sensitive — Better leave unchecked unless you know what you’re doing
  • Goal Value — If your goal has a set price, enter it here. Otherwise, leave it at 0.0.
Google-Analytics-Head-Match-Goal-Funnel

Google Analytics -- Goal Set Up Section 1

In the next section, you will need to outline the pages that a consumer must go through to place an order. I have used the page names from Magento Commerce as an example. The first step will generally be required, the best place to start will be your shopping cart page. You can assign any name to these pages.

Google-Analytics-Goal-Funnel-Pages

Google Analytics -- Goal Set Up Section 2

In Google Analytics, there is a section with many reports on your goal funnel. you can see your conversion rate as well as a Funnel Visualization. This will also help you see where people are dropping out of you checkout flow.

E-Commerce Tracking

Tracking your sales is by far the most important part of this guide. Without knowing where to attribute your sales you won’t know where your ad spend is being effective and where you you are losing your pants. Google Analytics’ ecommerce tracking allows you to track data such as purchase quantity, items ordered, product category, sale referring source and much more.

Here is a sample Google Analytics ecommerce tracking pixel. Note the comments in the JavaScript code. There are two parts, one for the order info (order number, total, city, state zip etc…) and one for the product information (model, description, quantity, price etc…) — the second part must be looped once for each item in the order. Ahain, make sure to replace “UA-XXXXXXX-X” with your ID.

<script type="text/javascript">
	var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>

<script type="text/javascript">
	try {
	var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXXXX-X");
	pageTracker._trackPageview();

	// Main Order Info //
	pageTracker._addTrans(
		"1234", 		// Order ID
		"Mountain View", 		// Affiliation
		"11.99", 		// Total
		"1.29", 		// Tax
		"5", 		// Shipping
		"San Jose", 		// City
		"California", 		// State
		"USA" 		// Country
	);

	// Loop Once Per Item //
	pageTracker._addItem(
		"1234", 		// Order ID
		"DD44", 		// SKU
		"T-Shirt", 		// Product Name
		"Green Medium", 		// Category
		"11.99", 		// Price
		"1" 		// Quantity
	);
	
	pageTracker._trackTrans();
	} catch(err) {}
</script>

Note: One limitation of most analytical software is the inability to track phone sales.

Boost Your Conversion Rate By Simplifying Your Checkout Process

Express Checkout

One of the many ways to boost your conversion rate is by simplifying your checkout process. Here are some ideas.

Guest Checkout

If you don’t have the ability for a consumer to checkout without registering for your site, you’ll want to think about setting it up. Some consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they don’t have to sign up and register. If gives the feeling of being in the express checkout lane. Zoom Zoom.

One Page Checkout

Consolidate pages, try to fit your complete checkout flow into one or two pages. The fewer clicks, the fewer people drop out of the flow.

Vital Information

Try to remove all unnecessary questions from your checkout process. Only ask for information pertaining to the purchase (i.e. billing and shipping address), skip all the “where did you come from” and “where are you going” type of questions.

Lower Spam Complaints On Your Email Marketing Campaigns

As people get more and more spam emails every day, it becomes harder for mechants sending to opt-in email lists. A large majority of people who subscribe to your email won’t open it when you send it. Some will hit the Spam button from their email service provider. If enough people do this, you will find your outbound emails landing in junk boxes. Here are some quick tips to prevent this.

Email Subject

Your email subject should be designed to motivate the consumer to open the email. Oftentimes merchants will put the full content of the email in the subject. This can sometimes lower your open rate which will in turn lower your click through rates.

If you send emails often, it is a good idea to start your subject with your brand name so the consumer will recognize your brand right away.

Fresh

Keep your subscriber list fresh. Only send to people who have recently signed up for your emails. Someone who signed up recently is more likely to remember your company and will be less likely to click on the Spam button.

Make the unsubscribe link the first thing people see when they open your email. It should not look like part of the email and should be separated from the rest of your content.

Image Credit: Rocket88

Automate Back-Office Processes & Improve Your Margins

Shipping Process

Sometimes as a small business owner you can be so engrossed in day to day operations that you don’t have time to think about long term strategy. It is vital to strategize and think about your company’s future.

One of the many things you can do to help your bottom line is automate back office processes. By automating processes or setting procedures for how different scenarios are dealt with you can save time and money.

Say you are printing your orders for your warehouse staff who then pick, pack and ship the items. They now need to either pull up the order in your system or create a shipping label by copy and pasting or typing the name and address into your shipping software. You can eliminate a few steps of this process by creating a queue in system where all orders that are ready to ship will sit, when the warehouse staff is ready they can packing slip with a bar code which can be scanned into UPS or FedEx and automatically pull in the customers information. This can be accomplished by working with your shipping carrier to hook up your system and do a lookup by order number. You can get a cheap barcode scanner for $50 online or just type in the order number.

By no means is this an extensive bible on the subject, but just an example to help you start thinking about your business processes and what you can do to streamline them. The sky is the limit.

Use Google Checkout To Boost Click Through Rates In AdWords & Base

If you use Google Checkout in conjunction with Google AdWords and Google Product Base (Product Search), you have the ability to connect the accounts in the settings section. When you connect the account Google places a Google Checkout logo on your ad in AdWords. In Google Product Search they show the Google Checkout logo next to your listing and they give the consumer the ability to filter search results by merchants that accept Google Checkout.

AdWords

AdWords-Google-Checkout-Badge.jpg

Google Checkout Badge: AdWords

Checkout

Google Checkout Badge: Product Search (Base)

Google Checkout Badge: Product Search (Base)

Bottom Line

Even if only 1% of your customers use Google Checkout, the boost it gives to your click through rate on these marketing channels makes it worth spending time on the integration.

5 Tips To Manage Your Affiliate Network Effectively

Affiliate Program

Affiliate Networks can be a great marketing channel if you work it right. Here are some tips to help you out.

Manual Approval

Most affiliate networks give you the ability to automatically approve anyone who applies to your network. While this may save you loads of time, it is better to be safe than sorry and manually approve/deny each application. This will save you from dealing with fraudulent publishers later on.

Communication

It is your responsibility to sell youself and your program to the affiliates. They get hundreds of emails a day and have no clue who who are. You will want to communicate clearly why they should advertise your brand. Once they join your program, it is a good idea to email them updates about your program on a monthly basis.

Data Feed

If you are an ecommere site and have product to sell it is a good idea to utilize a datafeed. Most affiliate programs offer use of a datafeed, some charge a setup feed, in any case it is generally worth it. This gives your affiliates the ability to use your data how they need.

Clear Policies

It is extremely important to have clear program guidelines so that you don’t run into any issues with your publishers. For example it may or may not be in your best interests to allows publishers to advertise your brand name in Google and traffic directly to your site. Whatever your views on such a scenario should be clearly explained in the policies of your program.

Coupon Codes

Coupon code sites are a big part of affiliate marketing. These sites essentially gather coupon codes from all ecommerce sites and advertise coupon codes in conjunction with your brand. If you have the ability you should create exclusive coupon codes for a lot of these coupon sites.

Bottom Line

Keep your offering fresh and make sure that you are giving the publishers the tools they need to work with. Communication is key to your success and have patience while your program builds up.

How To Track Your Phone Sales By Referring Source

Old Telephone

Anyone who runs an ecommerce business will tell you that it extremely hard to track where their phone sales are coming from. Some online retailers have upwards of 35% of their sales coming in over the phone. How do you keep track os these sales from an advertising perspective? What campaigns/keywords are not performing well? Here are two ways to track telephone sales properly.

Multiple Phone Numbers

High Level Tracking

The easy way to track phone sales on a high level is to get multiple phone numbers and set you website to display a different phone number based on the refering source. For example if  someone came from Google, show them one number — when someone come sfrom Yahoo, show another number etc… Now everytime someone calls you know where they originally came from.

Depending on your phone system, you should be able to display which line the calls come in from and then have your sales people enter a referring source into your system as they put the order through for the customer. As your system aggregates this info, you will know what your ROI is. Keep in mind that this can get as granular as you’d like, but it will be a pain to manage this for very many keywords/phone numbers. This solution works best at a very high level of tracking.

Tracking ID

Granular Tracking

If you have an in-house developer and would like more granular tracking, this is for you. Every time a unique visitor comes to your site generate a unique session ID and store their referring source in your database. You will then want to display this session ID on all pages of your site. The ID number should be short and easy to tell your sales representative over the phone.

When your sales reps take an order over the phone they should ask the customer to read them the session ID (call it Phone Tracking ID or something easy) which they will then input into your system with the order. Once your sales screen has this number it should mimic the customers cookie and send the relevant order info to your tracking pixels. When it does this, the customers original referring source as well as keywords or any other data that you track with the session ID will pass through and your will be able to see your ROI on a very granular level.

Bottom Line

If you just want tracking by channel or have very few campaigns, the first option is easy to set up and will work well for you. If you like granular data and have the development resources to go crazy, go for the second option.

Measure Your Campaign Performance With Impression Share Report

Impression Share Report

Impression Share Report

Are you getting the most out of your keywords? Of the 100 people a day who search for Blueberry Pie, how many see your ad? There is an easy way to find out.

Under the reports section in Google AdWords, when you run a Campaign Performance report, it gives you the ability to select additional columns to add to the report. One of those columns is Impression Share (IS) Percentage Report. Just check of the option and run the report, you will now see a column showing what percent market share you are reaching. Additional columns are Lost IS (Rank), Lost IS (Budget) and Exact Match IS. More info on these columns can be found here.