Posts filed under 'Content Marketing'

Ecommerce Blog Dashboard (Excel Download)

Many ecommerce sites have blogs as a means to drive traffic, help with SEO, drive new visits, engage with customers, make sales, increase credibility and more. All of the goals can fit into two silos: engagement and driving revenue to the site. The two depend on each other – the better the content the more potential people will click through to the site and purchase.<

I built a dashboard for measuring the success of these two silos on a monthly basis. Check it out:

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Measuring engagement has multiple facets. How well does your content attract new visitors, get people to come back, bring in others via social sharing and just be all around worth reading? The top left column pulls in those metrics of measuring how engaging the content is by using comments, shares and likes as a proxy for quality. Likewise the first row of bar charts shows the count of visits, days since last visit and page depth – pulled from Google analytics, over the last 4 months. Seeing these trended out gives you an idea if your content is getting better or worse over time – same with the line social graphs in the bottom row.

Next, how well does the blog get people to buy from your site? The first step to driving a sale is to get people from the blog to the site, so the Visits to Website line graph and the Blog to Site CTR shows how many, and with what frequency people are clicking through. The middle chart on the middle row shows overall revenue and per visit value.

A dashboard is only as good as the actionable insights one can glean from it. This dashboard shows (the numbers are all made up mind you) that last month the content got better – people commented more, shared more and Liked more. The next step here would be to pull the All Pages report for the month and see what kind of content resonated so much, and then make more of it.
Despite less traffic overall the quality of traffic to the site increased as Per Visit Value increased – too bad not more people aren’t clicking through to the site, maybe more links to the site could help that. Were the links to the site product pages, category pages, the homepage?
More questions: Did the new visits this month convert? The count of visits from last month were higher, was there a theme of content that you stopped using this month? Anyway you can add onto the content that drove the spikes in visits from previous months? How does your cadence of posting affect the volume of traffic?

Download the Ecommerce Blog Dashboard in Excel.

Add comment July 31st, 2013

Making Online Campaigns Live Long Term

Too often marketing campaigns that brands create are too short lived online. It takes too many resources to do an initial push and drive traffic to landing pages that will just eventually be torn down. There are instances where this makes senses, like a valentines day themed promotional page but most of the time it’s costly, risks losing followers and squanders potential.

I think there are three reasons that campaigns are forgotten so soon – online is treated like a physical retail store with limited space, too many campaigns live on social media which is inherently fleeting and traditional marketing departments incorrectly assume that if it doesn’t take off at launch it never will.

An advertising campaign in a physical store is different – there is limited space and a store can have only one look at a time so you better make it the latest and greatest. Online you have infinite space for unlimited landing page designs and concepts. Why limit yourself with arbitrary end dates?

A campaign that involves inviting people to pin to Pinterest, “tweet to win”, upload to Instagram, create a board at Polyvore or interact with a Facebook status update has a ticking expiration date the moment it’s posted (studies show social media lasts on average as little as 3 hours). To get the most out of a campaign build it in on your owned domain where it can have a long life, use social to let people know about it initially and then let people continually discover it as time goes on.

Not everyone is interested in a campaign at the same time. For most things we all fall into the mass market, we wait to see what the reviews say, what makes the best-of lists, becomes cheap and is widely adopted. But each of us is an early adopter for some specific category or genre. I am the first in line for Tim Armstrong’s latest but am the biggest laggard for the latest cool restaurant. The problem is that brands obsess only about the launch and as soon as its launched they’re off to the next sexy thing.

  • It takes time to gain inbound links and crawl up in search rank, Google is designed to work in favor of content that sticks around.
  • More time will give you an opportunity to collect data and from new insights.
  • Use broader keywords in the content with a more evergreen perspective in mind.
  • Give those early adopters on social media time to recommend it to the masses who choose to wait and haven’t decided to take the leap yet.
Life Span Of A Link From This Site

Life Span Of A Link From This Site

Just because something doesn’t take off right away doesnt mean its not worth sticking with – especially online, it doesn’t take much effort to design something to last.

Add comment January 28th, 2013

Content First, Product Second

Usually the product is built first and then the idea of creating content starts with a blog, Facebook page and everything else in an effort to find customers. It turns into a struggle trying to make a content creation and curation strategy. Why not come up with the content first and then build the product?

I’m a fan of the book Lean Startup which promotes the idea of creating a Minimum Viable Product as a strategy for fast and quantitative market testing of a product.

From Wikipedia:

“A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. It is a strategy targeted at avoiding building products that customers do not want, that seeks to maximize the information learned about the customer per dollar spent. “The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Whats more minimum than content? Content allows for the least amount of effort to test a product idea. Especially if the product is a consequence of a cause or purpose that the audience is rallying around. Once you have an audience built, and have continually collected their feedback, then you already have your customers.

Add comment December 26th, 2011

Creating Content For SEO Thats Not A Blog

Once you start optimizing your existing ecommerce pages for SEO you realize how important it is to create more content. Considering you should only be focusing on a handful of keywords per page, you quickly run out of pages when looking at the thousands of keywords available that you could rank for – so you settle for head terms with the most volume of searches.
The challenge is that there are just so many queries to rank for – 25% of queries every day have never been seen before and over 50% of queries have more than 3 words.
Blogging is usually the first thing that comes to mind to create more content that can drive more traffic from long tail keywords that you aren’t covering with the existing pages of your site.
My point with all of this is that by focusing on optimizing only your existing pages (or in many cases only your most popular keywords) and creating more content with just your blog, is a micro way of thinking about organic search and how it can grow your revenues.
Creating more pages on your site should be a bigger emphasis. One product or category page can be duplicated several times, with only the important on-page SEO content changed. For example, lets say you have a category page full of winter coats. Currently all it is optimized for is winter coats. Make that same category page multiple times and with each version focus on a different important keyword – water proof winter coats, winter skiing coats, fur-lined winter coats, etc and for each version include those keywords in the URL, metadata, page title, alt tags and copy. All of these pages can be linked to from copy on other pages in the site but they don’t need to be included in the site navigation, their sole purpose is to be navigated to from a search engine. From the user experience perspective, it’s seamless – they search for water proof winter coats, click to your site and according to all the copy on that page, they see what looks like a buch of product that is specific to what they are looking for. They don’t know or see that that same page exists in multiple iterations.
Considering the biggest challenge to blogging is thinking up what to write about, simply making more product pages on your site is a simple way to create more content and drive more organic traffic.

2 comments October 22nd, 2011

Video Conversion Funnel

There are a lot of reports about the positive effects online video has in increasing engagement and conversion rates. I think it’s still one of the most under-utilized tactics for ecommerce sites. There are different kinds of videos that can be used for different purposes, just like different kinds of content for each stage of the conversion funnel.

Brand awareness: This is your typical commercial. Usually you have to pay money to get people to watch these. Hopefully you can make something compelling enough that people will enjoy and want to share with their friends.

How to: These are videos not specific to your product but that answer the questions people search for. Lowes does a good job with this, if you Google “How to Install a Glue-Down Engineered Hardwood Floor” Lowes is right there  with helpful content related to their products and services. Lowes isn’t pitching their product, they are earning attention instead of buying it.
These videos are also huge for driving organic traffic; Youtube is the worlds second largest search engine. According to some reports, videos “stand about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page in the index.”

Category Education: Videos don’t have to only live on product detail pages. Videos on category pages can explain collections and broader use cases than on just the individual product level.

Customer Service: Videos can go a long ways to help users navigate a site, answer questions about the assembly or use of their purchases and answer customer service centric calls like how to return a product. All of these types of videos save money deflecting calls from customer service call centers and make customers happier that they don’t have to call.

Product video: The traditional product video explaining the use of the product. Missing from a lot of these videos is showing the product in context. Too often product videos are done inside a beige studio with a stale person showing all the product features. There is a much bigger branding and emotional aspect that these videos could capitalize on by showing the product being used in its intended setting with people who reflect the aspirational style of the customer.

The most focused on types of videos are the brand awareness and product videos, but there are a lot more opportunities in between.

Add comment October 13th, 2011

Content Marketing Segmentation

The traditional advertising model is to use interrupting content to capture attention, but with the saturation of advertising and increasing ability of customers to ignore it, the question now is: ‘How do you become a part of the content?’ How do you weave into someones experience in a way that adds value rather than detracting from that experience? A business must be present when the customer wants them to be, not when the business wants to be. How can a business engage with people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives by exchanging value instead of just sending a message? A hyper-targeted, relevant, engaging content marketing strategy is the answer.

When starting up a content marketing strategy I think the content can be segmented into two kinds of content: discovery content and acquisition content.

Discovery Content

This content is used post-stimulus: after the user sees a commercial on TV, a friend mentions something to them or a need is discovered – like the wheels on the car are starting to get bare. It’s the online pre-shopping research that, according to a study by Google, 84% of shoppers now do before deciding to buy. The main objective of discovery content is to allow the business to be found when people initiate this pre-shopping behavior.

Its the content that comes up in organic search results when people ask questions like: “best (your category here)”,  “(your category here) reviews”, how to, where to find, etc.

What life situations happen that would arouse a new need in your customer’s life? They are now in the market for what you sell because _____ happened. Make content that helps them solve that need that just appeared. The old product has worn out, they’re going on vacation, they’re used it up, getting married, graduating from school, got in an accident, etc.

Mediums include: product demo videos on Youtube, staff picks on your site, blogs posts that answer questions/explain how to, Facebook status updates that promote good reviews.

Acquisition Content

This content is where the marketer comes in and creates compelling creative that holds the person’s attention and adds credibility along the path to conversion. Content that builds interest, desire and trust. Beautiful photography, good design, going behind the scenes, personalized/optimized landing pages, replying to questions, aspirational stories, relevant curation and filtered recommendations. This is the content that fills news feeds, email subscription lists, rss feeds, twitter streams and the stuff that gets shared.

You meet the customer post-stimulus with discovery content and then you date a while with acquisition content in the hopes of someday getting married at the sale. No one gets married the first time they meet or on a first date, it’s a process that takes time and trust. And then after marriage you work to have a happy one.

1 comment July 8th, 2011


Hi, my name is Zach Olsen, internet marketing professional, web entrepreneur & proud dad. Read more...

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