Once the boon of every retail business, Black Friday has taken quite a P.R. hit lately. And for good reason. What was once a fun early-morning adventure for bargain hunters has become a chaotic, frustrating and painful ordeal. Could the experience be any worse?
You’ve probably heard about camping/sporting goods retailer REI boycotting Black Friday, and others have followed. M
any have finally said “no” to being open on Thanksgiving Day.
On the consumer side, many of us already skip Black Friday—you surely know people who consider a 4:00 a.m. trek to the mall to be the very definition of insanity. Even the latest data from the National Retail Federation suggests that 45% of shoppers won’t do any on-site shopping over the 2015 Black Friday weekend.
Meanwhile, according to the NRF, online sales are once again expected outpace overall growth, increasing between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion in November and December. And on that fateful Friday, online sales casually peak around noon, not 7:00 a.m. At the very least, that’s a stark contrast to camping out on a sidewalk to save some money on an off-brand TV.
There’s a lesson here, and it speaks to customer experience. While most retailers will continue to do brisk business on Black Friday, the shift to online shopping is a direct response to a retail experience that leaves a lot to be desired.
Simply, consumers want something better. Maybe it’s a better price. Maybe it’s knowing when an item is in stock. Maybe it’s a more efficient and time-saving way to shop. Maybe it’s something far less frustrating. Maybe, with a good cup of coffee and a favorite playlist, it’s an experience that’s actually—gasp!—enjoyable.
Good businesses know this. If you’ve ever shopped on a fast, well-designed site with a silky smooth interactive interface built for ecommerce, gorgeous images and an intuitive shopping cart, it’s hard to imagine ever going back to the bricks.
Experience matters. This year, make sure your site isn’t the online version of Black Friday.
A few weeks back I was privileged to speak on a panel for the Madison chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA.) My panel mates were Barb Hernandez, president of BCHOnPoint, and Melissa Johnson from Shoutlet. We’d been asked to talk about measurement…how PR and Marketing professionals can measure the success of their campaigns.
Melissa offered some great insights about social media, and how the Shoutlet platform provides the ability to see who is most actively engaged with your social media content.
Barb talked about the Barcelona Principles, which focus on the importance of setting goals prior to any campaign so that success can be measured.
My focus surrounded using your website as the focal point for measurement, ensuring that you are tactically setting a baseline within your analytics so growth can be measured.
None of these tactics are earth-shattering. But it seems as if putting success measures in place can get back-burnered when planning an exciting campaign. In this time of significantly reduced budgets, and scrambling to cover important campaign costs, measurement should be leading the way of any campaign strategy…if you measure it, and it’s successful, it makes sense that more budget will be put toward future activities. An added benefit is allowing more informed decision making because you have the metrics to support you.
A good example comes from a client that BCHOnPoint and InMarket Success recently worked on together. This company is an online retailer that has great products and impeccable service but, due to the deep advertising pockets of their closest competitor, could not move the needle to successfully compete.
By looking within their analytics, and performing keyword and competitive research, we were able to identify many areas where our client could increase focus. Increased revenue was the obvious objective, but we were able to suggest several new ideas where their competitor was not focusing, and perform additional tactics that would drive more customer acquisition and retention:
Rankings: what could we do to get our client to rank higher in search results? Moving from position 10 to one has a significant impact on clickthroughs from the web, thus driving more new traffic and customers.
Social media: Where could we most effectively run promotions that drove new business? Social media is a great place to attract and retain customers by providing information and promotions. Providing a socializing area, like a blog, or placing campaigns where customers are socializing on Facebook will have a positive influence on retention.
Mobile: What type of mobile application would attract customers? This customer had an element of cooking with their business, and many of the questions coming in through their on-site search were about cooking the products. Providing a mobile application tool to instruct the customer on cooking methods was a big hit.
Publicity: What kinds of publicity would drive customers to social media or the mobile application, and keep them coming back for more? Then ensuring that all of the publicity used the keywords that supported the growth strategy.
I’m happy to say, after working with this client for 12 months, the results were amazing. Position one is a lofty goal, but we were able to achieve and maintain it on several keywords through content optimization, blog development, and a concentrated effort to improve links from quality sources. Their Facebook page and blog are driving significant interest, and we are expanding the mobile app to a new platform right now. Keyword-rich publicity around all these tactics continues to drive new interest.
Most importantly, the marketing budget to continue with these efforts could be justified by the results, and our strategy provides them with structure for their future budget planning.
PR and Marketing professionals can make a good case for their budgets and resources by simply asking the question “What is the goal of this campaign and how will we measure success?”
The amount of data available within Google Analytics is amazing. It’s not uncommon to spend an hour or two digging around in your Google Analytics reporting and then leaving scratching your head, with no clear action items or next steps. Data overload! While it can be fun to poke around and dig into the depths of your website data, time is money. Less time analyzing analytics can result in more time to improve your website.
Here are 5 tips to help Optimize your Google Analytics Analysis:
1) Search (Hey it’s what Google Does Best, Right?). Google Analytics keeps improving. This time next year we may not be able recognize the Google Analytics interface. Over the years I’ve relied heavily on the Google Analytics navigation to find a report, which requires several levels of clicking and sometimes stumbling around. On the upper left corner of Google Analytics you can type in the name of a report and the user friendly interface will make several suggestions which really speeds up the process. I think this search field is often overlooked.
To quickly access the search- simply press the [S] key while on any Google Analytics Page.
2) Customize Your Dashboard. Once you dig in and find that amazing report that you know you will want to use again and again… Add the report to your dashboard. Then drag and drop to organize your dashboard to your preferences. Bonus tip..Google recently announced that you will be able to share your Google Analytics Dashboard.
3) Create Shortcuts. Shortcuts allow you to produce important reports with a single click. Shortcuts save your settings so you don’t have to configure a new report each time you open it. Any setting you apply to a report stays applied in a shortcut until you manually change the settings. To create shortcuts, go to the Shortcuts menu under the Home tab of your dashboard
4) Keyboard Shortcuts. This little known feature can really speed things up. Over the years I have manually tweaked the date field countless times. With a simple keyboard shortcut you can change the date range. Press “d” and then “y” to change the date to yesterday… press “d” then “m” to set the range to last month. There are many other keyword shortcuts that take a second to learn but can save a great deal of time over the long run. Press [shift]+[?] to view a list of all of the keyboard shortcuts available.
5) Browser Bookmarks. Sometimes its nice to open a few tabs in your browser to view various reports side by side or to tab between. Create a bookmark folder like “Google Analytics Reports”.. then bookmark the reports you use most often. In most browsers you can chose to open all pages within a bookmark folder at one time(Firefox> Open All in Tabs). By doing so, you could open up several reports at one time, all in separate tabs, instantly.
Do you have any Google Analytics tips or shortcuts? Leave a comment!
One great feature of Google Analytics is the ability to make filters and dig in deeper to analyze traffic data. Google Analytics recently launched some new filters around mobile and social. Use these new filter fields for improved data analysis and for more refined and targeted reporting views. I particularly like the mobile filters. To see all of the documented filters go here.
Well, that might be taking it a bit far. But, gone are the days of brochure websites that just provide information about you and your products. Your website should be more than paying for itself in lead generation, whether for retail sales or new business leads.
In our economy, your marketing dollars have never been more critical to your success, and spending them wisely means knowing that they are producing results. What used to be “just another channel” has now become the hub for all of your marketing efforts. Why? Because it’s measureable, you can see results immediately, and you can make informed decisions on how to spend your marketing dollars.
Take the example of a mid-sized company with a standard brochure website. The site says who they are and what they do, but doesn’t connect these things with their marketing programs.
They write press releases, but don’t link them to the products they offer.
They have product information, but no context about how these products are used.
They email customers, but don’t have corresponding pages on their site that support the emails they send.
This is a typical situation where the website is a postscript rather than a lead generation tool. The site content needs to support each outreach program so potential customers have context and more information when doing their research.
Using these examples, an integrated marketing program would:
Perform keyword research to understand how potential customers are seeking the products they offer.
Post the press release on the site, using these keywords, with links into the products it discusses, and supporting testimonials and case studies for the reader to get context and learn about successful implementations.
Create a landing page on the website for each marketing activity. The landing page will ensure potential customers have clicked to the right place, offer expanded information about the subject or promotion, and contain a form to collect contact information so a follow up can be done from your sales team.
Make the site content tell a story. Ensure that each product description ties to a corresponding implementation or case study.
What’s great about using this best practice is that it’s entirely measureable. Using web analytics to track marketing activity extends across online, print, and broadcast activities. By creating that special landing page link back to the site, you will immediately know the impact of your message and be able to predict an outcome. And, most importantly, know what’s successful.
Watch for my next post that discusses the importance of CRM software and how integration with it can provide another valuable measurement in this equation