October 25, 2007
Here’s a fun story about Queen Bee Creations.
They’re a hot company here in Portland that makes tres cool bags (amongst other things), and they’re growing like crazy. They desperately needed a new website to support their burgeoning business, and no off-the-shelf e-commerce system could do the job right. Besides requiring 100% creative control over the presentation of their site, they needed a system for managing retail and wholesale customers, tools to match their manufacturing and fulfillment processes, and a platform that would scale with their business through the holiday season and beyond.
That was eight weeks ago, and today they’re open for business. We couldn’t have done it without a great client, or the kick ass design team at Fresh Fruit.
And we definitely couldn’t have done it without UpSale, the e-commerce platform we built specifically for growing retailers who need sophisticated tools and a high degree of customization. We’re excited by how quickly it let us build the Queen Bee site, and with two more sites coming down the pipeline, it’s turning out to be everything we hoped it would.
Anyhow. Enough self promotion. Queen Bee Creations has gorgeous products and is run by fantastic people, and I’m thrilled we were able to work with them on this project.
May 23, 2007
I still think the basic premise of Kozmo is valid — satisfying the instant gratification urge by delivering stuff to you in under an hour. It’s just finding the right group of people who are willing and able to pay a premium for commodity items, and who reflexively turn to their computer when they want something.
Hmm. Sound like anyone you know?
April 19, 2007
Building an e-commerce site? Want to figure out what features to focus on? Jakob Nielsen has a quick Top 10 list for “high profit redesign priorities,” backed up by a rather shocking amount of research on the subject. Granted, you’ll have to pay for the in depth reports, but the summary is free.
- E-Mail Newsletters
- Informative Product Pages
- High Quality Photography
- Product Differentiation and Comparison
- Support for Reordering
- Simplified Text
- Catering to Seniors
- Gift Giving Support
- User Testing
March 20, 2007
Alright! Looks like Google is beta testing a pay-per-action advertising system. This is a good thing for online businesses that generate money through visitors actions on their website — checking out a shopping cart, signing up for a mailing list, that sort of thing.
This is the logical next step in online advertising.
We started with pay-per-impression, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is displayed on someone’s web page. This isn’t particularly favorable for advertisers, because they’re paying whether or not someone is paying attention to their ads.
The solution to that problem was pay-per-click, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is clicked on. That pretty much guarantees that the person who clicked found something compelling in the advertisement, which provides advertisers a really great way to figure out what ads were most effective, and ties the cost of their advertising directly to the public’s interest. The downside for advertisers is that click through doesn’t guarantee a conversion, and so a really great ad would end up costing a heap of money if the website didn’t fulfill the user’s hopes and dreams.
Which brings us to pay-per-action, where an advertiser only pays when someone clicks an advertisement AND follows through with a particular action — like checking out a shopping cart, or signing up for a mailing list.
I dig it. Right now is a probably a great time to get into pay-per-action, because there aren’t many businesses competing for keywords and placement, so there’s probably some good deals to be had.
December 4, 2006
“Jellyfish, TheFind and MyTriggers … are taking advantage of what some executives say is increasing discomfort with the pay-per-click model, which has grown more expensive as marketers bid more aggressively for premium space alongside search results. On these new sites, advertisers typically pay only when someone actually buys something or when users view an ad, as will soon be the case with TheFind.”
Instead of cost-per-click, these new shopping comparison sites charge per conversion. Jellyfish, in particular, is doing something very cool: merchants bid for placement for specific products (like iPods or snowshoes), and a significant part of their bid is credited to the shopper as a discount on the item they purchase. It’s a good deal for merchants because they can control exactly what their conversion costs are, and it’s a great deal for shoppers because they save a little extra cash.
November 15, 2006
Well, Black Friday is right around the corner. Over a third of the adult population in the United States is shopping online this year — that’s almost one hundred million people buying gifts on the Internet.
If you or your e-commerce clients are gearing up for the holiday shopping season, it’s not too late to get in on the action. For example, check out our Google Holiday Package — give us an hour of your time, and we’ll put your best products in front of millions of shoppers. It even comes with a cash back performance guarantee.
In fact, we offer performance guarantees for all of our marketing services, and incentives for web developers, designers, and agencies who consider outsourcing their search engine marketing efforts.
Sound interesting? Answer a short questionaire about your business, and let’s get the ball rolling.
November 1, 2006
Life just got a little easier.
If you upload bulk product lists for Google Base, you can now add AdWords data to the file. Which means if you’ve automated the creation of those product lists, you can automate the creation of targeted ads specifically for those products. Why is this a good thing?
Highly targeted ads are the secret to making AdWords pay off. Say, for example, your store sells jackets. If you buy an AdWords campaign for the keyword “Jacket” you’re going to drive a huge amount of traffic to your site … but how many of those visitors will actually buy the jackets you have? How many of them were looking to buy a jacket in the first place? Not many. With that approach to advertising, you’re going to spend a lot, and you’re not going to get much in return.
Product targeted ads are different. If you sell the North Face Denali jacket, and you buy AdWords campaigns for the keywords “north face denali jacket”, and your ad mentions that you sell the North Face Denali jacket at a good price … the majority of the people who click on your ad are going to be people who want to buy the jacket. Higher conversion rates means higher ROI, and that’s exciting for Internet retailers.
Thanks, Google, for making my life that much easier (and my customers that much happier).
October 18, 2006
If you’re looking for a Skype-friendly handset, check out IPEVO. The shopping experience was very simple — a limited number of attractive products at good prices. They shipped our order within 5 hours of receiving it, without any special rush delivery instructions.
That wouldn’t be surprising if it were a small, eager startup, but that isn’t the case — it’s run by a publicly traded business that operates one of the largest shopping portals in Taiwan. Good job.
(I’ll review the handset when it arrives)
October 12, 2006
eWeek is reporting that a standard has been submitted for how product data is sent to price/product comparison search engines, like Froogle and Shopzilla. This is a good maneuver — I currently maintain about 20 modules for transmitting product information to these web sites, all of which require regular attention as the submission methods and file formats change.
I’m not going to hold my breath for the implementation, however. It’s a great idea for simplifying the lives of e-commerce developers, but comparison search engines are still immature and extremely competitive. My guess is that if the standards stick, it’ll take a year for it to be really useful for developers — after the big sites all decide to get on board.
Regardless, I’ll lobby for anything that makes my life easier!
October 5, 2006
A lot of people pay a lot of money for a lot of bad advice for higher rankings in search engines. It seems like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a breathless search engine consultant, touting MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TRAFFIC and REALLY AWESOME BUZZWORDS.
These are the New Internet Hucksters.
Now, search engine optimization and marketing isn’t completely worthless — I’ve seen healthy improvements that can come from embracing a few simple practices when building your web site. The point is that they’re simple practices, and only a piece of the much larger marketing puzzle.
So, how can you spot one of the good marketing gurus, and dodge the hucksters?
Hucksters focus on your website. Gurus focus on your competitors. Chances are, you’re not the market leader .. so you better start paying attention to the dogs leading the pack. Where are they advertising? What products are they promoting? What’s on the front page of their web site? Who links to them? Terribly ugly web sites can see a significant improvement in sales after they start emulating the other practices of the market leaders, without updating a single line of code.
Hucksters focus on traffic. Gurus focus on sales. Why? Because traffic is expensive, and sales make you money. Here’s an example: Lets say you sell shoes. To drive traffic to your site, you buy advertising around the word “adidas.” Very visible … very expensive … and most of your visitors probably aren’t interested in buying what you’re selling. Instead of “adidas,” focus on the people who are shopping for a pair of “adidas Campus ST” shoes, which you conveniently have in stock at a reasonable price. Focusing your marketing on specifically what you’re selling is the path to sales, not driving the hordes to your doorstep.
Hucksters tell you about your market. Gurus listen. Unless your consultant has experience in your market, don’t let them tell you people’s buying habits or industry trends. A guru will listen to your experiences with your customers, and use their expertise to figure out the best ways to reach them. And this leads directly into the next point:
Hucksters sell an easy solution. Gurus take the time to understand your problems. Retail is not easy. Managing a store is not easy. Understanding customers is not easy. Making a profit is not easy, and becoming a market leader is damn near impossible. A guru will help you figure out a long term strategy, and knows that it takes more than a few hat tricks to make your business successful on the Internet.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is a huckster.