Optimising your ecommerce store for the mobile-first index

In March 2018, after a long digital drumroll of anticipation, Google announced that it was rolling out mobile-first indexing. What does this mean for your SEO? In short, if your ecommerce site isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re losing out on a huge source of traffic. Source: Google After much research into the way people are now interacting with search engines, the conclusion is that there has been a marked shift towards mobile. In typical Google fashion, what searchers want, searchers get. So, it was decided that mobile would be a top priority. But how dramatic has this turn towards mobile been? The answer is definitely substantial enough to warrant this new shift in Google’s priorities. According to this Statista report, in 2018, 52.2% of all web traffic comes through mobile channels. While that is indeed significant, it is not the most telling fact about the current state of mobile traffic. What is even more noteworthy is the steady pace with which this form of traffic is increasing. The same Statista study shows a rise from 50.3% the year before, which built on 35.1% in 2015. This is not a trend which is fly-by-night. As you already know, when it comes to eCommerce, the success of your business depends on keeping up with search engine best practices and ranking criteria. These best practices can help you boost your ecommerce search traffic. With this in mind, you simply cannot afford to ignore mobile-first. Before I tell you how to adopt this for your eCommerce store, it’s necessary to explore what mobile-first indexing entails. Let’s dive in. What is mobile-first indexing? In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing refers to a method of search engine ranking that makes use of the mobile version of websites to organize SERP items. Google looks for relevant data to decide how best to answer the questions their searchers are asking. If the army of crawling bots find relevant information on your site, you may be moved up the ranks. In the past, Google rankings were based on desktop versions of websites. With mobile-first, the move is towards crawling and indexing mobile sites, rather than their desktop companions. This means that websites must be responsive and suitable for use on mobile, or mobile versions must have the same comprehensive content as the desktop. If you are breaking into a cold sweat as the realisation dawns that all your SEO efforts have been concentrated on your desktop site, take a deep breath. As Google has said, the move is gradual, and will not happen without notification in the Search Console. If they deem your site ready for the move over to mobile-first indexing, you will receive the following notification: Source: Google It’s important to note at this point that the Mobile-first index is not a separate index. Google continues to only have one index, as it always has. The shift means that the mobile version of websites will be prioritised, rather than being a move towards an additional type of indexing system. But how can you optimise for this change? 3 key steps to mobile optimisation 1. Switch to one responsive website As Littledata recently outlined on this blog, moving to responsive web design can be a very good move. What is this responsive design I speak of? Quite simply, it refers to web design that works well across a range of platforms. It prioritises user experience to ensure that the person interacting with your site is able to navigate it with ease, regardless of which device they use. A major perk of this is that whomever is in charge of the upkeep of your store does not have to monitor two (or more) different versions of your site. They have one site to take care of which will, if intelligently-constructed, work for an optimal user experience. If you do prefer to keep things separate, make sure that you pay attention to the mobile version of your site, rather than it merely acting as a subsidiary of your desktop site. As we will look at in step 3, it’s not a given that your SEO efforts will migrate over to the mobile version without some cognisant intervention on your part. 2. Get speedy Hopefully, page loading speed has already been a major priority when it comes to your SEO efforts. Sales in the eCommerce sphere are highly dependent on being able to keep your shoppers engaged and open for conversion to a sale. If your page does not load quickly enough, your customers will not stick around. Note: Check out these case studies on HubSpot for examples of how the speed of your site can affect your profit margins. When it comes to mobile-first however, page load speed is even more integral to your success. It is most certainly a top priority for Google in terms of how they allocated their ranking positions, and should be for you too. Luckily, there are numerous methods to both test and increase your page load speed: Start by looking at what Google’s very own Search Console has to offer. Through their Webmaster Lab Tools, you’ll quickly be able to see how well your site is performing and whether you need to step up your game. Third party tools such as Think With Google can be excellent accompaniments to other Google Analytics tools when it comes to deciphering how your site is faring. Ensure that your web design is not slowing down your whole operation. If you don’t have the technical knowhow yourself, get a developer to run an audit to see if your server speed, content configuration, or baseline coding is placing any obstacles between your users and an instantly-loading page. 3. Ensure your SEO tactics are still powerful If you have spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that your desktop site is fully ”SEOd”, make sure that your efforts carry over into the mobile iteration of your eCommerce store. Here’s a very brief checklist: Is all that beautiful content you created crawlable in the mobile version of your site? Those titles and descriptions that you put so much effort into? Make sure all your metadata carries over! Is the mobile version of your site verified with Google’s Search Console? Some final tips As an eCommerce shop owner, your concerns are not only getting customers to your site, but ultimately converting them. When it comes to mobile, there are specific trends that CROs are highlighting when it comes to transforming your customers into paying ones. In this comprehensive analysis by Shopify, they take an in-depth look at a study done by inflow on Mobile Conversion Optimization Features used in Best-In-Class Retailers. What is particularly useful in this report is what they refer to as a don’t and a do in terms of what is currently leading to optimal conversion rates for eCommerce business owners. As a parting gift, I’d like to share these two insights with you as ways to bolster your own efforts. In summary: Say no to hero slider images. In-depth research into mobile conversion rates has illustrated that customers are less than moved by them. Usher in the age of the top navigation menu. A relatively unused feature in the eCommerce world, all the data is pointing towards its efficacy in terms of mobile conversion rates. The takeway... Point 1: Don’t panic. Google will notify you if they’re switching you over, and will prioritise sites they deem more ready. Point 2: Start thinking with an on-the-go mindset. Make sure your store’s UX for mobile is as streamlined as possible. Make sure that your SEO efforts have carried over. Point 3: Don’t stop at optimising your mobile site for traffic - optimise for conversions too. Understand what will compel mobile customers to a sale. Good luck!   This is a guest post by Charlie Carpenter. He is the co-founder and CEO of Kite. He is a mobile advocate with over ten years of industry experience. After working for large and small agencies for many years, he co-founded Kite; a software solution for print-on-demand, zero inventory merchandise, and personalised photo print goods. As well as an entrepreneur, Charlie is a seasoned product strategist with experience of various types of digital projects which include: Responsive and Adaptive Websites, Mobile & Tablet Apps, Hybrid Apps, Cross Platform App development. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter.

2018-12-05

Getting started with Universal App Campaigns

With 3.8 million apps available for Android users and 2 million apps in Apple's App Store, it can be tough for an app developer to stand out among the competition. But with Google's Universal App Campaigns (UAC), developers have an opportunity to market their mobile apps with targeting options based on audience demographics and behavior. It all happens automatically -- as long as you set up the campaigns correctly. In this post I take a look at how you can put machine learning to work for you, using the power of Google’s Universal App Campaigns. Campaign set up Getting started with a UAC is relatively easy. The three steps are to identify an audience, ensure conversion tracking is set up correctly, and relevant text, video, and images are available for the campaign. The two major actions for UACs are to find new users who will install the app or those who will perform an action inside the app, such as making an additional purchase. One the UAC is set-up, it is eligible to show on Search, Display, YouTube and the Play Store. The initial setup is straightforward. The advertiser only needs to provide four lines of text with images and with machine learning, Google decides which combination to show to a particular user. Goals When you consider goals for your UAC, the install action is an obvious one regardless of the app category. Targeting options includes people who are likely to install the app or who are likely to install it and perform in app action. It is up to the advertiser to determine what a valuable action looks like and ensure conversion tracking is set up before launching a campaign. In-app actions, or goals, or can be either success actions or proxy actions. With a success action, the app user makes a purchase inside the app, upgrades the service, or signs up for a paid subscription; something that generates revenue. Assuming success actions happen at least ten times a day with users, the system has enough data to identify and target the right audience for your UAC. If volume of success actions is low, there is not enough data for machine learning to make decisions. In that case, the advertiser can identify a proxy action which is a behavior that is likely to lead to success action. An example of this is someone who added payment information to upgrade service but did not follow through with upgrading. Or it could be tracking which of your users share incentives with their network. Advertisers need to think carefully about what a proxy action truly is. When it it is too early in the funnel, it includes people who are less likely to convert and not a good representation of those who will later perform a success action. If a mid funnel behavior is identified as a proxy action, rather the the top of the funnel, it may better represent people who are closer to converting so it is more likely to later result in a success action. Conversions Setting up and collecting conversion data is a crucial piece to success because these campaigns look at past searches, browsing behavior, and other apps used to determine who is most likely to convert. Before launching a UAC, ensure this conversion tracking is set up correctly or your will not be measuring goals that matter. For e-commerce sites, the primary conversion is clearly to drive revenue in the form of an in-app purchase or perhaps subscriptions. With luxury retail, it is especially important to have conversion recording correctly because of the multiple touch points. And Shopify users can use the Littledata reporting app to gain even more insight on the user journey through that platform. Measurement and optimization There are immediate metrics to monitor - app installs and in-app purchase - but there are also long term considerations such as the customer lifetime value (CLV), that should be part of your overall strategic marketing plan. A single user who makes a purchase provides direct revenue. If they refer someone to your app, that is considered indirect revenue. The first number is clear-cut revenue and easy to measure. The second is one that you determine based on your internal data, meaning what type of behavior and interaction with customers generally leads to a sale. The value of both of these actions contribute to the CLV. Lifetime is the length of time they interact with your app. If they install the app and use it to buy things over the course of a year, then stop, their CLV time period is one year. Once you have identified your CLV, use this value to set your target CPA and optimize it based on performance. Decide what you are willing to pay for a success action and what you will pay for a proxy action, knowing that number will likely change over time. As data comes in from your UAC, you can compare the lifetime value of your different customers through segments. Segments help you uncover those customers who purchase every couple months compared to those who only make an initial purchase. Those the make multiple purchases represent segments with a higher value. Drilling into data with segments allows you to see who gives you the best return for your investment. This level of detail helps you identify how much you paid in your UAC for to acquire each type of customer so you can adjust accordingly. Review what you paid initially for the type of users that you bring in and compare that to their lifetime value. Are you investing your budget in a UAC that brings in users that generate recurring revenue? When you bid strategically based on a lifetime value, you are not overly focused on short-term transactions. It is less expensive to keep a customer than to acquire a new one so you want to think in those terms. What next? Decide on UAC goals that make sense for the purpose of your app. What should users do in addition to downloading the app and what behaviors indicate they are getting close to a conversion? Gather assets - text, video, and image - that are enticing for users and ensure conversion tracking is setup properly. Without proper conversion tracking, you miss out on the data you need to determine success. Monitor performance of your campaigns, and if you run an ecommerce site, track a wealth of data with the Littledata app. Think about the CLV and optimize your campaigns to reach the right users rather than any users. Your bottom line is generating revenue so keep that in mind with every UAC. With careful planning and well managed campaigns, your app can stand out in a crowded marketplace.

2018-10-31

10 possible reasons Facebook disapproved your ads

It happens. Every now and then, Facebook disapproves ads when they violate the platform’s terms and conditions in some way. When this happens, you, of course, want to know exactly why so you can avoid ad disapproval going forward or make appropriate adjustments to a recently disapproved ad. It’s how we learn. Most ecommerce sites have a huge Facebook presence for both branding and sales. Whether you're selling directly through Facebook with BigCommerce and advertising for those products, or running FB ads for a Shopify plus store or any other kind of website, here are 10 possible reasons Facebook disapproved your ad. This article will describe each reason in detail to help you determine why Facebook rejected the proposed ad, and how you can avoid these issues going forward. Reason #1: A non-functioning landing page There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on an ad only to be directed to a web page that doesn’t function. How annoying would it be if you can’t click on the “Contact Us” tab because the tab wasn’t linked to the right web page? How frustrating would it be if a video in the landing page wouldn’t play? If your ad leads users to a non-functioning landing page containing poor navigation or broken links, Facebook will disapprove your ad. To prevent a non-functioning landing page, you or your web developer should conduct a thorough examination of the landing page to ensure it’s easy to navigate and to ensure it contains no broken links. Reason #2: A landing page that doesn’t match the ad content More commonly known as clickbait, ads promoting content that doesn’t match the landing page violate Facebook’s advertising policies. Clickbait is deceptive, promising users one thing but then giving them something completely different and unexpected. Facebook is especially cracking down on clickbait ads in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the prominence of “fake news.” To avoid disapproval because of clickbait, make sure your ad content accurately indicates what users will see on the landing page. If you're having trouble figuring out which ads to run, try creating user personas to understand your customers, then create and optimise ads based on those personas. Are you advertising to the right buyer personas? Reason #3: Inappropriate or offensive ad content Ads that contain profanity, sexual innuendo and discrimination are considered inappropriate or offensive and will be disapproved. Since the earliest age a user can join Facebook is 13, the network strives to foster a family friendly environment that everyone can enjoy. If your ad contains inappropriate or offensive content, consider altering the ad and the angle you want to take to deliver your message. Reason #4: Content encouraging illegal or unethical behavior Facebook is not the platform for you if your message involves promoting illegal or unethical behavior, for example, promoting spy and malware products. As previously mentioned, Facebook is focused on family friendly experiences. Ads that promote negative behaviors will be disapproved without a second thought. Reason #5: Third-party infringement Whether intentional or unintentional, sometimes ads infringe or violate a third-party’s copyright or trademark. If it does, and Facebook disapproves it as a result, you may only be required to make a slight alteration. For instance, if your ad contains a copyrighted photo, you may only need to change the photo. To avoid third-party infringement, create original content for all of your ads rather than taking, for example, an image for your ad from a stock-photo site. In addition to complying with Facebook’s policies, doing so will also make your ads unique to your brand. Reason #6: Misleading or false content Content that is false or misleading will not be tolerated, as it qualifies as “fake news.” It may be tempting to make claims about products or services that are untrue in order to build interest. But authenticity and truthfulness are essential for establishing trust and credibility with your customers. Make sure there is nothing in your ad’s text or creative that is misleading or false. For example, if your ad has the title “Kim Kardashian reveals her fitness secret,” but takes users to a landing page that only contains promotions for weight loss pills with no mention of Kim Kardashian or her fitness secret anywhere, this ad would be disapproved. Reason #7: Prohibited products or services Facebook’s Advertising Policies list all of the products or services it prohibits. Prohibited items and services include: • Surveillance equipment • Payday loans • Counterfeit documents • Tobacco • Unsafe supplements • Adult content, products, or services • Weapons • Marijuana If your business revolves around selling or promoting any products or services from this list, Facebook advertising is not for you. Reason #8: Low-quality or disruptive content If your ad contains slow loading pages, broken links, or poor grammar, Facebook will disapprove it. Yes, poor grammar is truly a reason for ad-rejection! Facebook has a standard it tries to maintain across the platform, and a big part of maintaining that standard includes putting out high-quality ads. To avoid submitting low-quality or disruptive ads, carefully review your content to make sure it looks polished and professional, as well as provides a seamless experience with no disruption. Reason #9: Disruptive animation that plays automatically Video ads that play automatically, taking away a user’s decision to click or not to click, are disruptive to the user experience. Soundless video ads that play automatically are acceptable if the quality is exceptional. But flashing animations or loud and obnoxious ads are not conducive to Facebook’s standards of quality and will be disapproved. Reason #10: Controversial content for commercial purposes This reason is especially important in light of the recent focus on misuse of the Facebook platform in political sectors. In one instance, Russian troll accounts distributed politically divisive ads, and in another, the Cambridge Analytica data firm deceptively collected information from over 80 million profiles to deliver manipulated messages during the 2016 US Presidential Election. In response, Facebook is not pulling any punches for controversial ad content. Ads highlighting issues like abortion or gun control for financial gain will be disapproved. What to do if your ad is disapproved Luckily, Facebook recognizes that no one is perfect and offers you two options if your ad is disapproved. Option 1: Edit your ad. Option 2: Appeal Facebook’s disapproval decision. There are three steps to Option 1: Step 1: Read the email your advertising account received when your ad was disapproved. Step 2: Edit your ad per the instructions in the email. For instance, you may be required to edit your ad’s text, images, or call-to-action. Step 3: Save your changes and resubmit your ad. If you choose option two, you can complete an Appeal a Decision form. By doing so, you’re requesting that Facebook review your ad once again to consider the possibility that a mistake was made in the decision to disapprove your ad. This option is appropriate if it isn’t entirely clear whether Facebook’s justification for disapproving your ad matches its Advertising Policies. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. If your Facebook ad gets disapproved, simply use it as a growing experience and you will succeed.   This is a guest post by Anna Hubbel, staff writer at AdvertertiseMint, a Facebook advertising company. Hubbel writes on various topics, including social media, digital advertising, and current events.

2018-07-17

Abandoned cart email tactics that actually work (with steps and examples)

The number one reason for shopping cart abandonment is that online shoppers are simply not ready to complete the purchase yet. That’s something marketers have little control over. However, there is one thing you can control: the smart use of abandoned cart email flows. The average rate for documented shopping cart abandonment in 2017 is as high as 69.23%. But adjusting for technical performance and improving the checkout funnel can increase conversions for 35.26%. That’s $260 Billion worth of recoverable profit with through check-out optimization and better follow-up emails! No ecommerce owner wants to face cart abandonment. The customer has been so close to making a purchase, yet for some reason, your chance for profit slipped through your fingers. Don't worry though, the loss isn't final yet, because with the help of sales recovery tactics using email marketing automation software, you can win your customers back. SaleCycle reports that around 31% clicked abandoned cart emails proceed to finish their purchases. The series of emails after cart abandonment is substantial because some clients leave their carts unintentionally. Reasons like site time-out, complicated check-out, or a website crash may have interrupted their purchase. Here are the top three email strategies to win back abandoned carts! 1. Set up the right abandoned cart email sequence The right email sequence triggered at just the right time makes a tremendous amount of difference. Marketo recommends a series of three emails scheduled as follows. I've included some actual email examples to help illustrate the points. Send the first email within an hour of cart abandonment You have to drive your clients to continue with the purchase before they leave their computers. The first email aims to address technical glitches. Don’t sound pushy, just aim to help the client just in case the abandonment is not intentional. Below is an example of a gentle reminder for the first email. Send the second email after one day This time, you have to create a sense of urgency. The cart abandonment email below by Grove informs the client that the cart will expire soon. You may also talk about fleeting discounts or stock availability. And send the final email after 48 hours This is your last chance to win your client back so give it your best shot. You can give incentives like free shipping, bonus items or an additional discount. Here's an example of a final abandoned shopping cart email that works extremely well. It comes from the ecommerce site for Aéropostale. 2. Use catchy, personable email copy Your success in re-directing your clients to the shopping cart starts at a smart subject line. It will dictate if your client clicks on your email. So, craft subject lines that drive receivers to click on. One example is this email subject line by Helm Boots: These will look great on you The words strike empathy and curiosity. It gives a sense of compliment which will compel the receiver to click on. Not so different from what a friend would tell you in real life while actually shopping in a store!   Appeal to your clients through creative wordings and graphics. It helps to know your buyer personas so that your copy will be more fitting. Use words that your clients can easily relate too. Humor is also a great way to spice up your content. The email below by Chubbies is clever, cool, and compelling. The visuals and wordings charm their target customers who are carefree and adventurous. 3. Use multiple, eye-catching buttons and links The email above by Chubbies also aced this up. It has three active links that direct the client back to the cart. The title, the main image, and the CTA button at the end of the copy are all clickable. Notice also that all the clickable elements stand-out from the rest of the copy. This makes it easier for your client to notice and click on your CTAs. The button below is cleverly worded. It has a distinct color and size you can’t miss. The copy further explains which elements are clickable in a friendly way. The CTA button is already clear but the added explanation guides the clients on the next steps and avoids confusion. Conclusion: Even before you start these top three tactics to get your customers back, you need the data to know which of your customers have abandoned their carts. Data analytics and triggers do this for you. They provide the information as to whom and when abandoned carts happen. The first step in solving your marketing problems is to identify what the problems are. Data analytics and triggers help you identify these glitches so you’ll know what to do next. After you have accurate data about who’s abandoned their carts, set up an email marketing automation software to automatically send your email series through behavioral triggers like shopping cart abandonment. Then drill down into analytics about every ecommerce checkout step to see where you can improve. With the correct data, effective automation software, perfectly timed emails, topnotch copy, and striking CTAs, you can leverage your losses into profits. You can gain back a part of the $260 Billion worth of recoverable earnings - and start to increase your add-to-cart rate too!   This is a guest post by Kimberly Maceda, a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. Kimberly writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation. Activetrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses.

2018-06-21

How to implement a successful mobile marketing strategy

Mobile as a marketing strategy isn’t a new idea to anyone, but the landscape is changing quickly. Back in 2015, Google told us it would be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. More recently, in early 2018, they stated that page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches middle of this year. As consumers change their behavior on mobile devices, this greatly impacts our strategy as marketers. We now need to be visible on all devices, all the time. What do all these changes mean for marketers? Whether you're a solo AdWords consultant or a member of a digital agency, it's essential to stay on top of consumer trends in a way that is measurable and repeatable. In this post I break down how to develop a data-driven mobile marketing strategy that can easily scale with your online business. Mobile search has changed As consumers, we are research-obsessed. We want to know everything we can about an ecommerce product or service so we can make informed decisions. And as more of us search for seemingly minor things and do so on a small device, advertisers have the opportunity to be present in those micro moments. With an increase of searches on mobile devices (and with mobile searches already having bypassed desktop searches several years ago) we need to be present across the entire consumer experience, making the customer experience a business priority regardless of our brand or business size by providing a seamless experience on every device. Analyzing data with a last-click attribution model misses some of these mobile moments. Assumptions have changed along with search behaviors. In September 2015, Google shared that “near me” or “nearby” searches on Google had grown 2X in the previous year, but the use of that phrase has since declined. People still want results that are near them, but the assumption of today’s searchers is that Google knows the location of the searchers and where to find what was searched because people are using their devices throughout the day. Increase of use for “open now” and “tonight" and “today” travel-related terms indicate people are seeking information on their device. What this means for brands Does your strategy consider these trends and adjust to changes in consumer behavior? A mobile experience leads to a brand impression. People expect a consistent experience every time they interact with a brand. If your site does not deliver and does not deliver quickly, they will quickly leave. Regardless of which channel they used to get to your site, the mobile experience must be as seamless as the desktop experience. What this means for Google AdWords As mobile use continues to increase and consumer behavior changes, we need to better align our PPC efforts and use an attribution model that addresses all steps of the journey. With AdWords, we can align our marketing strategy to mobile use with mobile search ads, mobile display ads and app ads on mobile devices. Each option offers slightly different features. Text ads can display on any device. The primary difference with ads on mobile vs desktop is more ads per page on a desktop and only a couple on a mobile device. Because the first couple ads take up most of the screen on a smartphone, advertisers need to be in the first or second position because that is all that will display. Impatient searchers will not scroll down on their device to your ad in position four. On the Display Network, you can be more creative with ads, adding images and videos to the mix. Although image sizes that work on desktop computers will also work on mobile devices, aim for a smaller size of 320 x 50 when possible, keeping the layout of smaller screen sizes in mind. The third option for mobile ads are appearing on mobile apps, which are part of the Display Network. App promotion ads have a goal of driving downloads. Campaigns with only app promotion ads are eligible for phones and tablets; they are not on desktop computers. Bid adjustments With your AdWords campaigns, set bids on mobile devices that are aligned with your goals. As mentioned above, many will not scroll down the search results page on a smartphone to view ads so may want to increase these bids. This is also important for branding goals; you need to be at the top to be seen. When determining mobile bids based on ROI, identify ROI for desktop versus tablets and devices. That way, your adjustment is based specifically on the mobile value of conversions. Keywords In any AdWords campaign, the key to success is selecting the correct keywords. But you can go a step further and use the keyword tool to also see mobile trends for your selected keyword over the previous year. Use these findings to inform your bidding strategy. A subjective approach is to view your keywords in the eyes of your users. Are the keywords in your campaigns ones that you would type into your mobile device? Although more people use voice recognition to search, there are still those who type in their request. Since typing on a small screen results in typos, you want broad match keywords in your campaign when targeting mobile users. Make sure these keywords include action-oriented terms. Some people may surf their device out of boredom while standing in line, but many search to find information to make a decision. You can capture these early clicks with an attribution model other than last-click. Mobile URLs Google provides an option of using mobile URLs in ads to customize the mobile experience, but if the mobile URL is the same as the Final URL in AdWords, adding it does not impact mobile performance. This is designed for people who have different pages for mobile users. AMP pages An open source initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) solve the issue around slow landing pages to make them faster for mobile. Business that have used them find a much quicker loading time and a more engaging experience. You can also use the AMP version of your website in this option for final URL Bid strategy Take advantage of machine learning with a Smart Bidding strategy in your AdWords campaigns. It considers the multiple signals around device type and browser for auction-time changes, offering more targeting than we could do manually as an AdWords account manager with simple bid adjustments. Monitor device performance with this strategy and prioritize mobile traffic if it does particularly well on devices. Attribution models In all AdWords campaigns, regardless of device, many advertisers use the last-click attribution model, which is not ideal for any campaign, including those targeting mobile. It gives all the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint - the last click - which misses out on how other interactions influenced the decision to convert. If you have enough data in your account, utilize the Data-Driven Attribution Model. If it is not available to you, consider one of the other options besides last-click attribution. The right reporting for mobile marketing Before you target mobile users with advertising, check first that your site performs well on mobile devices if you do not plan to have a mobile specific URL. Start with a quick test for mobile speed to see if you are at risk of losing traffic. Next do a quick SEO check of your site which is based on Google’s guidelines, which is also relevant to paid traffic. For all your campaigns, not just AdWords, you need to consider metrics such as sessions by device type for general site behavior and conversions once a campaign is running for a while. To minimize manual work for reporting and analysis, use a Littledata report pack which pulls in data from Google Analytics to offer automated reporting on customer touch points, providing data you need without the manual labor. And remember your mobile users are on the go, so any advertising needs to cater to them in the moment!   Want to know more? Get in touch with Tina's agency, 360 Internet Strategy, and follow her on LinkedIn.

2018-04-19

Google Analytics 360 versus the free version

We often receive questions about what customers get when they upgrade from the free version of Google Analytics to Google Analytics 360. The quick answer is that you get a lot - the possibilities are literally endless - as long as you're a big, data-driven company willing to put energy into customer engagement and marketing. Google emphasises that their enterprise analytics are designed to help large companies, like major ecommerce sites, create better customer experiences. But what does that mean in practice? There are a lot of details to understand if you're thinking of transitioning to the big paid version of Google Analytics. The main differences lie in how each product deals with the volume of data and integrations that they have available by default. I've broken those differences down into three categories: Data Collection, Data Sampling and Data Sources. Data collection In short, Google Analytics 360 allows for a faster, smarter, larger data collection. With unlimited hits per month and up to 200 custom dimensions per web property. Features Google Analytics (free) 360 Suite (paid) Hits per Month up to 10M unlimited Custom Dimensions/Metrics 20 Per Property 200 Per Property Calculated Metrics 5 Per View 50 Per View Properties per Account 50 50+ Views per Property 25 25+ Roll-Up Properties No Yes Data Freshness 24 – 48 hours 4 Hours   Data sampling and limits As your web traffic grows, Analytics 360 lets you get more out of both sampled and unsampled data sets. Compared with the standard version of GA, you get better reporting on large amounts of data. Understanding how data is sampled in Google Analytics will help you scale the smart way. Features Google Analytics (free) 360 Suite (paid) Report Row Limit per Day Yes Yes Standard Reports Pre-Aggregated 50K 75K Sampling in Ad-Hoc Reports 500K Sessions per Property 100M Sessions per Property Custom Tables No 100 Custom Table Report Row Limit per Day No 1M Rows Unsampled Reports No Yes Unsampled Report Row Limit No 3M (for download) Data sources The 360 Suite makes it especially easy to pull in data from a wide range of advertising platforms and sources, including non-Google products like Salesforce. For some of our enterprise customers, especially large ecommerce sites with a focus on PPC lead gen and retargeting, the ability to seamlessly integrate with DoubleClick is itself enough to make their 360-buy worthwhile! Features Google Analytics (free) 360 Suite (paid) AdWords Yes Yes AdSense Yes Yes DoubleClick Campaign Manager No Yes DoubleClick Bid Manager No Yes DoubleClick For Publishers No Yes Custom Data Sources Yes Yes Query-Time Data Import No Yes Salesforce No Yes BigQuery No Yes   Additional perks (GTM 360, beta testing) In addition to the above benefits, being able to connect Google Analytics to other Google 360 Solutions like Google Optimize 360 and Google Tag Manager 360 is a big plus. As an added perk, Analytics 360 clients often get early access to beta programs for testing and product feedback -- getting directly involved with product development to suit their needs -- plus first-hand support from Google. Google 360 can be purchased directly from Google or through a sales partner. We don't currently sell the 360 Suite ourselves, but we’ve been a certified Google Analytics Service Partner since 2015, including Google Tag Manager and Google Optimize certification, and have extensive experience with custom tagging and reporting. Plus, we built the Littledata app around those analytics best-practices. Our larger consulting clients get the most benefits out of our enterprise plans, which include automated analytics audits, unlimited access to app features, custom setup and reporting, and a dedicated account manager to help ensure deep, accurate tracking. Whether or not you've already upgraded to Google Analytics 360, we highly recommend getting in touch to make sure you're able to use this powerful tool to its full potential!

2018-02-28

Black Friday discounting increases next season’s purchasing

I knew Black Friday had reached ‘late adopter’ stage this week when a company I’d bought fencing panels from - fencing panels – emailed me their holiday season promotions. But the real question is whether all these promotions serve to drive customer loyalty or just attract bargain hunters? At Littledata we looked at aggregate data from 143 retailers who participated most in 2016 Black Friday, versus 143 retailers who did not. For the first 23 days of November 2017 – before Black Friday – the median year-on-year increase in sales was 13% for those pushing discounts the previous year, versus only 1% growth for those avoiding Black Friday discounting *. Our conclusion is that retailers who discounted most heavily on Black Friday 2016 saw a lasting benefit in extra sales a year after the sales period. However, we don’t know whether these extra sales were profitable enough to pay for the seasonal promotions. Another possible explanation is that higher-growth retailers are more active in marketing Black Friday, but in either event the discount season has done them no harm over the following year. In a follow up post next week we’ll compare the peak discount trading – and see if on average these same stores increased their participation this year or reigned it back. Looking at 2016, it seems Black Friday was bigger than the year before for our cohort of 270 UK retailers – but at the expense of sales later in the season. Yet in the UK we are not close to US-levels of hysteria yet, where a much greater proportion of the last quarter’s sales are done on that weekend. The other interesting question is what sectors does Black Friday affect? Reflecting back on my 2016 post, it may be a surprise that the biggest boost of over 100% average increase in sales comes for Health & Beauty stores; whereas technology and computer stores on average saw a boost of 40% for the week. (The graph shows the difference with the average sales volumes in November & December, by sector, for 3 selected weeks.) And perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by those fencing panels: business and industrial sites saw a big boost too! Interested in tracking online sales activity for your own site this holiday shopping season? Littledata's ecommerce analytics software provides accurate data and automated reporting to help you track promotions and drive conversions and customer loyalty. * The statistical detail I took a group of 573 retailers we have tracked for at least 2 years, and looked at the ratio of Black Friday weekend sales (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to the 2 month average for November and December. Those in the top quartile (trading 2.6 times above average during the Black Friday season) were deemed to have participated; those in the bottom quartile, showing a dip in trading over that weekend were deemed not to have participated. I then looked at the year-on-year growth in revenue between November 2016 (first 23 days) and the same period in November 2017, for the discount versus non-discount group. A t-test between the groups found a 18% probability that the two groups had the same mean, not allowing us to dismiss the null hypothesis.  

2017-11-24

How to dramatically increase revenue with Refersion and affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing consistently outperforms other channels for ecommerce businesses. In this special guest post, Refersion's Robert Woo shares essential tips about how Littledata customers can get a piece of the action. Affiliate marketing is a powerful channel to drive sales, but is surprisingly overlooked by many small and medium-sized businesses. In a 2016 report by Heinz Marketing, referrals made the most positive impact on revenue for businesses, by far. As business owners know, the easiest sales come from customer recommendations to their friends and family. Especially for SMBs, word-of-mouth is often the backbone of how they acquire new customers. Now here’s another statistic: when customers come through affiliate channels, their average customer revenue is 58% higher than other channels. In other words, not only is it easier to get more customers via word-of-mouth, if they are referrals, but those customers also spend more. As you can see, getting into affiliate marketing is a double win for your business. But it can seem tricky to get started. The traditional way of doing affiliate marketing Online affiliate, or referral, marketing is as old as the internet. Here’s how it traditionally works: Research various affiliate networks that are accepting new merchants (that’s you). Pay a fee to join one (as high as $5000). Use this network to find affiliate partners to market your product/service. Pay out a commission to these partners. Pay out a monthly fee, and a portion of these commissions (15 to 25%) to the affiliate network. In this traditional way, you can see a clear trade-off for the benefit of joining an existing network. While you’ll have immediate access to many publishers waiting to market your product, there are a lot of fees for this privilege. So much so that for smaller businesses often find it hard to make a good profit from this model. On the other hand, you could start your own program up from scratch. But while you’d save a fortune in fees, the big trade off is your time investment. It takes time to put an affiliate marketing program in place. From creating a portal for your affiliates to use, to finding these influencers in the first place, to getting the hang of the metrics you need to monitor; it can all be a lot, especially for SMBs with a small team devoted to marketing. The better way, for Littledata customers Luckily, we here at Refersion have made it easy and affordable to forego joining an existing affiliate network and start your own. What we do is help businesses take a 'hybrid approach', taking the best of both worlds, making running a program cheap and simple. The best part? We’ve now integrated with Littledata to make data analysis even more insightful, so your business can easily maximize the ROI of your in-house affiliate marketing program. Used together, Littledata and Refersion are a supercharged toolbox for ecommerce entrepreneurs who have always wanted to launch a referral program, but was afraid to commit the time and energy. With Refersion, you can set up your business to start taking advantage of affiliate marketing in less than ten minutes. Connect your online shopping cart, create custom affiliate emails and coupon codes, and quickly find the right publishers to work with in the Refersion Marketplace. And if you’re already a Littledata customer, you’ll know that you can get all your affiliate marketing metrics and analysis in your dashboard and reporting. Don’t leave money on the table With the rise of ad blockers, many types of online marketing have taken big hits. But affiliate marketing isn’t subject to this limitation. Don’t ignore one of the best channels of getting new customers and higher sales! If you want to learn more about Refersion, watch this short intro video on how it all works. Ready to take the plunge? Here’s a special signup page for Littledata customers. Get a 14 day free trial today! Robert Woo is a Marketing Manager at Refersion.

2017-11-06

The end of the ecommerce 'thank you' page

For two decades the ecommerce customer journey has stayed roughly the same. Customers browse, add to cart, checkout, and then see a page confirming their purchase: the 'thank you' page. That last step is changing, and this is no small change as it threatens to break how many sites measure purchases. Ecommerce stores that stop using a final 'thank you' page without adjusting their analytics setup accordingly are in danger of getting inaccurate purchase data, or even losing track of shoppers altogether. In order to help our customers get ahead of the curve, we've gone through a number of test cases to find short and long term fixes to this issue. But first, a little history. In the old days... In the early days of ecommerce the biggest barrier during checkout was trust. Retailers paid to be certified as ‘hack-proof’ and customers wanted to make quite sure when and how their money was taken. Fast forward twenty years to today, and in the developed world most consumers have transacted online hundreds of times. They are familiar with the process, expect a seamless user experience, and confident that when they click 'buy' their payment will be taken and the products delivered. Online shoppers are so confident, in fact, that an increasing number we observe don’t even bother waiting for that ‘thank you for your order’ page. That page is becoming redundant for three reasons: Almost every checkout process captures an email address to send an order receipt to, and the email acts as a better type of confirmation: one that can be searched and referenced. Seriously, when was the last time you opted to ‘print the confirmation page’ for your records? Many retailers are forced to compete with the superb customer support offered by Amazon. This includes refunds for products that were ordered in error, and quick handling of failed payments. So from a customer's perspective there’s little point in waiting for the confirmation page when any issues will be flagged up later. Which leads to the third reason: as retailers improve the speed of checkout, the payment confirmation step is often the slowest, and so the one where customers are most likely to drop out on a slow mobile connection. This is no small issue, as mobile revenues are expected to overtake desktop revenues for ecommerce businesses globally this year. What does this mean for ecommerce sites? The issue is that for many sites the linking of sales to marketing campaigns is measured by views of that ‘thank you' page. In the marketing analysis, a ‘purchase’ is really a view of that 'thank you' page - or an event recorded on the customer’s browser with the sale. If customers don’t view the page, then no sale is recorded. If you have ever been frustrated by the lack of consistency between Google Analytics and your own payment/back-end records, this is the most likely issue. A dependency on viewing the 'thank you' page brings other problems too: a buggy script, perhaps from another marketing tag, will block the recording of sales. This is another source of the type of analytics inaccuracy which the Littledata app combats automatically. How to adjust your ecommerce tracking The short-term fix is to tweak the firing order of marketing tags on the 'thank you' page, so that even customers who see the page for fractions of a second will be recorded. Sites with a large number of marketing tags will have the greatest room for improvement. But in the long term, as this trend continues, the analytics solution is to link the marketing campaigns to the actual payments taken. This removes the need for the customer to see any type of 'thank you' or confirmation page, and also removes discrepancies between what your marketing platform tells you was purchased and what actually got bought. This is known as server-side tracking. The good news for those of you on the Shopify platform is that our Shopify reporting app does this already - and solves a lot of other analytics problems in one install. For those on other stores, please do contact us for advice. The Littledata team has worked with ecommerce businesses to set up integrations with Magento, DemandWare and numerous custom platforms. Not only can we help fix your analytics setup for accurate tracking, but our app then automates the audit and reporting process for all of your sites going forward.

2017-08-30

Custom reporting for marketing agencies

Are you a digital marketing agency looking for new reporting solutions? As our agency partnerships continue to grow, we thought it would be useful to outline how Littledata's custom reporting helps forward-thinking agencies cut down on reporting time, visualise data and improve performance for their clients. The marketing landscape is complex, but your reporting doesn't have to be overly complicated. With such a wide range of channels and sites to track, many agencies struggle to find the best analytics tools. To you we say: Welcome, you've finally found a solution that both simplifies and enhances the reporting process. Smarter reporting and accurate analytics Do you produce regular campaign performance reports in Excel or Google Sheets for your clients? Have you rejected other reporting solutions as being too rigid or complex for your needs? Then Littledata’s custom reports could work well for you and your clients. We automate the data fetching and calculations you currently run manually, and display the results to clients in a streamlined web app. We'll even show you the most important metrics, and report on key changes - automatically. One key advantage over tools such as Tableau, Data Studio or Chartio is that you can define a template report and then roll it out for many different web properties (or segments of websites) with the click of a button. Compared with other solutions you may have considered we also offer: Full support in data setup, report design and client onboarding Branded report packs for your clients and customers Complete life cycle data on your clients' customers, from marketing attribution to repeat purchases (including for subscription-based businesses) 1st line support to end users Flexibility to calculate any metrics (using Google Sheets in our processing pipeline) Comparison to industry benchmarks for sales, marketing and web performance - or create private benchmarks amongst your own client base Actionable insights for any online business to improve marketing ROI and increase conversions, whether one large ecommerce site or a series of micro-sites Integration of Google Analytics with Google Search Console data for powerful SEO reports We’re also open to discussions about white-labelling the Littledata app. This type of partnership works best for agencies with at least 20 clients ready to take advantage of our intelligent analytics tools. Please contact us if you’d like a demo, to see how this has worked for existing customers, or to discuss a particular client’s needs. Get ready to love your analytics :)

2017-08-09

How to choose between free and paid marketing channels

This is a guest post by Patrick Rauland, co-founder of the Lift Off Summit, a free virtual conference for growing ecommerce businesses. When someone starts an online store they usually look at their bank account and if they have money they go with ads. And if they don't they go with free marketing channels. And while this makes sense it isn't the best way to think about marketing and getting traction for your store. In this post, I break down the real differences between paid marketing channels and free marketing channels to help you figure out the best route to help your growing online business reach the next level of success. The Free Channels There are a lot of free channels you can use. Just to name a few there are: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Content Marketing Facebook pages Twitter Instagram Pinterest Video marketing (YouTube) And all of these can drive traffic to your store. But you have to start building an audience on these channels first and figure that out before you start driving serious traffic to your store. This can be especially hard on some platforms like Facebook that suppress organic page posts and instead display ads. Another problem is that these strategies usually take a lot of time. One of the most effective channels for my personal blog is SEO. But it took years to get enough organic traffic. The Paid Channels There are just as many--if not more--paid channels. Here are a few: Facebook Ads Instagram Ads Twitter Ads Pinterest Ads Google AdWords Affiliate Marketing Influencer Marketing What all of these have in common is that they can help you speed up the growth of your brand & store. Speed Up Growth Building something from scratch is hard. It's hard and it's slow. Even if you have a compelling message you might only get that message in front of a few new people each day. And only a fraction of those are ready to buy your product today. Ads let you target the perfect audience. Facebook especially has robust targeting let you target interest, ages, genders, and locations. And you can target users at any point along the customer journey. Whether they've seen your site, visited a specific page, joined the newsletter, or added something to the cart. When you can target the perfect audience you're much more likely to make the sale. If you need 100 visitors to your website to make a sale. You might only need 50, 25, or maybe if you're really good just 5 visitors to make a sale with ads. With ads you don't just pay for leads. You pay for hot leads. What About Costs? The cost of running ads can actually be quite low. I interviewed Facebook marketing expert Megan Adams for Lift Off Summit, she made a really good point about starting small and testing the results: “In the beginning…start with $5 a day and see where that takes you. Or $100 a campaign.” Amber Turril, Chief Funnel Operations Strategist at White Coat Digital said: “You can start a $5/day campaign on Facebook and see where that goes. Or $10/day on Adwords.” For $5 a day. That's $125 a month. A very reasonable amount. Even if every single click-through fails you still learn something. You can tell which ads had the most compelling message based on their click through rates. You can try different copy & different images to learn what call to actions are the best for your audience. And then apply that to your eCommerce site improving the conversion rate site-wide. Break Even First All of the platforms can show you the ROI on each of the ads. And with your first ad you're likely to have a negative ROI - meaning you lost money on that ad. And that's okay. You're going to have ads that under perform. It may take you a few weeks or maybe a month to get to the break even stage. And breaking even is the goal for someone just getting into ads. Turrill continued: “Will that one dollar turn into two dollars? It will. But first go for break even. And then go for that positive return on investment.” Paying on the Backend I've mostly been talking about ads so far - partly because they're what everyone thinks of when they think of paid marketing channels. But also because they amplify what you're already doing. There is another strategy though. You can leverage someone else's audience entirely and after each sale you can pay a commission. That means there are no upfront costs. I'm talking about affiliate marketing & influencer marketing. If you have a product that people are willing to promote (and if you don't you should evaluate what you're selling) then reach out to influencers in your space. Who is in your industry that knows your potential customers. They should know their wants, needs, and desires. And they should already have an audience. If they understand your industry and they have an audience give them an affiliate code. And you can give them a commission on any sales made with their affiliate code. I interviewed eCommerce entrepreneur Pippin Williamson for Lift Off Summit and he said: "At it's core it's really other people saying good things about you." And I think that's why this channel works so well. It's a natural extension of word of mouth. The Three Ways to Grow In eCommerce there are three ways to grow: Get more customers Get your customers to purchase more (higher average order value) Get your customers to purchase more often And when you're a brand new store it's basically just one: get more customers. That's why I'm such a big fan of the paid channels. They obviously have a cost to run. And you should always work on organic methods like SEO & content marketing. But while you're gearing those up start playing with ads. You'll usually see immediate results and can continue to grow & tweak. Patrick Rauland is a public speaker, author, and blogger. He creates eCommerce content for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com. He loves helping people start their own businesses and take control of their own financial future.

2017-06-20

Complete picture of your ecommerce business

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