Beyond the Blinders: Unseen Opportunities in SEO Meet Magento New York 2014 Talk

This Meet Magento New York 2014 talk is "Beyond the Blinders: Unseen Opportunities in SEO" by Seth Dotterer. Search has fundamentally changed how consumers consume and how marketers market.

The average US adult now spends half their time online. Online is pulling attention span from TV, radio and print media.

Buyers are revolting against traditional marketing channels.

Web consumers choose organic content - no one is clicking on banner ads, and most click on organic, not paid search results.

1 out of every 2 consumers say they don't trust ads.

Great marketers engage early - get people at the awareness and exploration stages, don't just focus on targeting at the purchase point.

Many consumers now start their shopping experience by researching on Pinterest.

Customers strongly prefer the unpaid web. 90% of search budgets are going to 6% of the traffic.

Manage your content across all unpaid channels - Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Stop crowding the register (that's what everyone is doing, and you don't have their budget) - don't target people at the buying stage - back up and target them before they're ready to buy.

Working with Magento Extension Providers at Meet Magento New York 14

This talk is from Karen Baker from Web Shop Apps, entitled "Working with Magento Extension Providers". Badly written extensions have literally caused eCommerce businesses to fail.

The Magento ecosystem consists of Magento itself, design agencies, individual developers, technology partners.

There are several types of extension providers:

  1. Domain experts
  2. Innovators
  3. Custodians - selflessly look after things
  4. Hackers
  5. Copiers

The current Magento extension marketplace is Magento Connect.

6505 extensions in Magento Connect, 33% increase since 2012. 15 extensions called Shop, 9 extensions called One Stop Checkout. 132 extensions with Ajax in the name. Half of the extension providers on Magento Connect only list free extensions.

1/3rd of extension authors on Magento Connect have “Mage” in their name, and that needs to change.

When you filter out the bad actors on Magento Connect, you come up with list of top extension providers, and when you look, none of their extensions are easy to find on Connect.

There's a top 6 Magento Connect providers producing 1 in 5 extensions on Connect.

Of those top 6 Magento Connect providers, only 1 is innovating, other 5 are copying, and Magento should stop this.

Fundamental problem of Magento extensions is that copying an extension and providing bad support is order of magnitude easier than innovating.

Bad extension authors cheating the Magento Connect system are hurting the extension authors that want to innovate.

The Magento extension market is $50mil+, and a lot of bad people that are stealing code is making that money. By taking that money out of the Magento ecosystem and into bad actors, it hurts the entire Magento ecosystem - those that aren't innovating, that are just stealing code are hurting our ability to innovate.

Magento ecosystem gets too focused on the code sometimes, and forget about the merchant. Focus on the merchant.

If something that

How to fix connect:

  • Make it plug & play
  • Give it structured format for pricing, support, etc
  • Zero tolerance approach to copying
  • Consolidate
  • Community curation
  • Quality
  • Encourage innovation
  • Revenue model for Magento - without revenue, they have no way to invest in cleaning up Magento Connect

Magento should be open and inclusive, not a clique-y club.

We need to improve engagement with merchants, collaboration between agencies, extensions and on boarding need to be simplified. There needs to be trust with extensions, and we need a faster speed to market.




Hacking Magento: Creating an HTML5 Canvas Customizer on Magento Bundles - Meet Magento New York 14 Talk

This Meet Magento New York 2014 talk is Hacking Magento: Creating an HTML5 Canvas Customizer on Magento Bundles by Philip Jackson. When consumers control the features of a product, they have control over the process.

Customization vs personalization: customization is unique, has unlimited choice, is made to order. Longer turnaround, lots of planning. Personalization is prefab, limited choice under an existing SKU, shorter turnaround, could be purchased on impulse.

In the next 5 years, 20% of eCommerce transactions will contain a customization step.

In the 1590's commerce had a large shift with market segmentation and emergence of customer choice. Niche products, especially in home appliances.

Customers are more likely to engage with a brand and convert when customization is available. The time spent in customizing a product develops a connection with the user, which makes them more likely to order.

Current generation product customizers should use HTML5 canvas that generates a PDF for web-to-print.

Raphael and Fabric.js were evaluated - Raphael was built in 2008 and not very well maintained, so Fabric.js was used.

Update: Philip has uploaded his slides to Slideshare.


Varnish Cache and its usage in the real world Meet Magento New York 2014 Talk

This talk at Meet Magento New York 2014 is Varnish Cache and its usage in the real world by Ivan Chepurnyi. Varnish is a way to accelerate sites such as Magento websites by caching as much content as possible.

Varnish is controlled by VCL - the Varnish configuration language.

vcl_recv is the entry point for a customer request, and you can detect a customer segment based on cookies and serve a specific type of content for that segment.

vcl_hash builds the cache hash for a page - it gives the possibility to serve different content based on customer device type, detected customer segment, etc.

Secret of successful Magento Varnish integration is in 4 key components: headers, cookies, Javascript and browser storage.

Varnish is all about communication via headers - specify cache TTL from Magento in headers.

Cookies connect dynamic actions, shopping cart, etc., in Magento and Varnish.

Javascript is used to serve dynamic content via AJAX calls.

Browser storage should be used to minimize AJAX calls.

There's a framework that already caches basic pages in Magento, and you can easily add your own page type. Ivan has released the code on GitHub at


Two Approaches to Responsive Web Design: Pure and Hybrid - Meet Magento New York 2014 Talk

This Meet Magento New York 2014 talk is Brendan Falkowski's "Two Approaches to Responsive Design" presentation. Adaptive vs responsive - adaptive design serves a specific size; you basically have 2 sizes - small screen and large screen. It doesn't support both tablet and mobile well.

Adaptive layouts don't work well for new or 'in between' screen sizes - i.e., the iPhone 6+ screen size isn't served well by adaptive layouts.

Responsive proxy sites are a good middle ground - build a mobile-first responsive design on an m-dot site, keeping a separate desktop site until you're able to change your desktop site.

Dynamic serving involves looking at the user agent and other data and dynamically serving only the items needed for the user's screen size and device type.

Responsive design with server-side components blends responsive design with dynamic serving.

Badly written or blocking JS/CSS can derail search spiders.

Some RESS implementations use MobileDetect or WURFL frameworks to implement RESS.

RESS's biggest impact on UX was navigation - being able to serve completely different navigation menus to different devices allows for better usability and easier design.

Magento responsive sites can be and are fast - focus on the things that are important on the frontend and your site can be fast.

Responsive has a lower total cost of ownership since you're only maintaining one codebase.

Retina images are tricky - the best approach for now is a plugin called picturefill. #mm14ny

IRCE Workshop: Two Approaches to Responsive Web Design: Pure and Hybrid

This is IRCE workshop Two Approaches to Responsive Web Design: Pure and Hybrid, presented by Brendan Falkowski, Founder - Gravity Department. You can find Brendan on Twitter as @Falkowski.

There's a lot of ways to talk about responsive design, but from a frontend aspect, responsive web design is:

  1. Fluid grid
  2. Flexible content
  3. Media queries

You deliver the same HTML to every device, and the CSS customizes the view.

There is some waste with responsive design - it serves desktop-specific bloat to all devices, slowing mobile browsing.

Mobile first is a reaction to this design, but designing for the weakest devices first.

Responsive can be slow - but blame the implementation, not the technique.

Most current responsive sites are rushed, and are underperforming - not due to responsive design, due to implementation.

Adaptive design is any variation in response to the environment - for instance, providing enhancements to store locator by adding a 'find by GPS' button.

Most companies choosing adaptive layout aren't ready to modify their desktop site and are using it as a shortcut vs mobile-first responsive design.

A user's context and goals shouldn't be inferred by their device's characteristics.

M-dot + t-dot sites means you have three codebases - expensive and annoying, discrepancies create a bad user experience. Broad changes incur massive technical debt.

Build a mobile site that's fully responsive, mobile-first, and use it to eventually replace your desktop site.

Dynamic serving inspects the user's device, and returns a different site depending on what platform they're on - serve different CSS, basically.

Responsive Design with Server-Side Components - RESS - blends fundamentals of responsive with some dynamic serving. One RWD site with different component variations being served.

No platforms support component-driven variations today.

RESS is the only bridge between responsive design and delivery optimization.

RESS is good for SEO because Google now executes CSS and JS when crawling sites.

Resizing your browser usually won't trigger RESS variations, so it's hard to tell if someone's using RESS.

RESS survey - 326 people using RWD, only 17 using RESS.

RESS can break caching or CDN technology - so technology hasn’t caught up with RESS yet.

RWD !== Proxy (m-dot) sites !== Dynamic Serving !== RESS. Can't compare apples to apples.

Each RWD strategy has trade-offs.

Google supports 3 approaches for mobile design today: 1) RWD 2) Dynamic Serving 3) Proxy sites (separate URLs for mobile and desktop)

Google's suggestions hit at pitfalls in each approach. Proxy sites force you to compete against yourself. Splits your page-rank.

Incorrect/incomplete proxy/m-dot sites penalize your SEO rank. Only 4.5% of IR 500 gets this right, and it hurts their SEO

Apple’s new hand-off technology to move from phone to tablet to desktop is going to make mobile-specific sites look very bad.

SEO industry wants “desktop SEO” and “mobile SEO” to sell 2X as much work, but search engines don’t like this. Google mobile search prefers responsive design.

People make websites slow, not responsive design. Almost all sites are slow today (RWD or not), and they don’t have to be slow.

You need a frontend gatekeeper to keep your site fast - no matter if it’s responsive design or not.

Brendan showed how fast different sites are, and disproved the 'Magento is slow' and 'Responsive is slow' arguments by showing how 3 of his best-practice-following, fully-responsive Magento-based sites are faster than 99% of the sites on the Internet. The quality of your implementation drives your performance.

IRCE Workshop: Smarter Bidding Boosts an E-Retailer's Returns from a New Google Ad Format

This is IRCE workshop Smarter Bidding Boosts an E-Retailer's Returns from a New Google Ad Format, presented by Tom Novellino, CEO - Metaverse Corp. and Dave Schwartz, General Manager, Product Ads - DataPop This session is about Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are being converted from PLAs to "Google Shopping Campaigns" by August.

PLA's have grown to > 25% of Metaverse's PPC revenue.

Feed quality and the data in your feed to Google really matters for product listing ads.

Make sure you understand what services your paid search agency provides for PLAs - uploading feeds? Bid management? Feed management? Reporting? They should be doing all of those things for you.

PLA Growth opportunities:

  • Optimize your feeds
  • Tie content in feeds to search terms
  • Use your paid search results as your guide
  • Segment your products to manage bids for better ROI
  • Considering segmenting by margin or price
  • Must switch to Google Shopping Campaigns by August, which allow for more granular feeds for bid management
  • Conversion optimization - review bounce rates on traffic vs paid campaigns

Active PLA Management

The feed is your ad experience - so make sure your feeds provide a great experience. For instance, keep your product titles in the feed to less than 25 characters, with product names targeted at search keywords.

Changing your product titles so they fit the format generalized color + brand + category see massive improvements - 239% revenue lift, ROAS increased 107%, CTR increase 16%, clicks increased 81

Most of your competitors are getting Google PLAs/Shopping campaigns wrong, so there’s a lot of opportunity for smart retailers.

New Google Shopping campaigns let you see all of your feed fields in AdWords and it introduces custom labels. You can annotate your feed with 5 additional labels about your product, such as:

  1. Price Range - 0-50, 50-100, 100+
  2. Margin levels - <25%, 25-50%, >50%
  3. Sale product - Yes, No
  4. % Discount - 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%+
  5. Inventory levels - In, Out, Low, Distressed

Some retailers are even pulling social data - items that are being pinned a lot, liked a lot, shared a lot on social platforms - into their custom labels.

What should I do next?

  1. Look at your feed
  2. Find your top sellers
  3. Test some copy variations
  4. Control your account structure

Analyze PLA and SEM data to identify gaps - target high performing SEM queries in PLAs, and identify keyword expansion opportunities.



IRCE Workshop: Rounding up the Whole Story: Google's Search Tweaks

This IRCE workshop is Rounding up the Whole Story: Google's Search Tweaks presented by Jeff MacGurn, Senior Vice President, Earned Media Services - Covario and Seth Dotterer, Vice President, Marketing & Product - Conductor Inc. If you're out of the search marketing world for a year, you're horribly behind - Google made significant high-level changes in 2013.

Panda is a learning algorithm, like no other. It updates on a monthly basis and can affect a page or spread to an entire site.

Google has said that "low quality content on part of a site can impact a site's ranking as a whole".


  • Avoid creating duplicate content page-level and site-wide.
  • Provide high-quality, original content that uses natural language to speak the language of the consumer
  • Monitor high bounce rates and low visit times to eliminate or revise non-essential content or pages
  • Promote high click through rates from Google results by amplifying relevancy - page titles, page snippets, etc.
  • Monitor inbound link quality to critical landing pages and encourage social sharing
  • Build regular visits to Google Webmaster Tools into your SEO Maintenance schedule on a weekly basis - respond quickly to any email notifications from Google
  • Understand that Penguin targets unnatural links - new content and social activity won't trigger a recovery, but it will help to build a completely natural backlink profile.
  • Leverage structured markup to ensure branded resources are optimized for carousels, images, knowledge graph, author or publisher tags
  • Seek out new opportunities to promote ask and answer content in other social venues; Quora and Walfram Alpha
  • Certify YouTube channels are optimized for the brand
  • Implement authorship markup
  • Implement headline, alternativeHeadline, image, description, datePublished and articleBody in your Article markup
  • Create device agnostic content that speaks the language of consumers

A common thread throughout many sessions has been that social sharing and social signals have replaced generic back links as the most important ranking factors.

Don't use your own internal language when defining your SEO strategy and target keywords - speak the language of your customers. i.e., don't target "youth apparel", target "boys clothes" and "girls clothes".

The way retailers organize their marketing team is broken - don't break things out as search marketing team, social marketing team, content marketing team. It's all interrelated and should be one team working towards one goal and one set of metrics.

Brands try to buy their way to online customers, but only 6% of  traffic comes is paid. 65% comes from organic+referral+social. Optimize your organic, referral and social traffic.

Your content has dual identities - great content optimizes for your site and for web discovery.

Many shoppers go to Pinterest and start shopping there first, and then use social signals to determine which of a few products to buy.

Don't look at just SEO, social, content management as separate teams and concepts - bring it all together as web presence management.

Web presence management:

  • Audience - everyone currently targets people at the register; very qualified and likely to purchase. Problem is, everyone's chasing these users.
  • Buyer's journey -  there's much less competition early on. Catch buyers when they're developing interest and information gathering.
  • Market to personas - talk to your potential customers about things they might be interested in. Separate out your potential buyers into separate personas - what audience are they? For instance - foodies, dads who grill, engaged couples, summer homeowners. Worksheet to build your personas:
  • Create a web presence management team, and technical, content, leadership and product stakeholders interact with that team.
  • Engage - don't just put the content on your website; get engaged socially. Be active about going out and pulling visitors into your site.

Next steps: change your organization to break down these silos; change your title - take SEO out of your title.




IRCE Workshop: Growing a Paid Search Program Year after Year

This IRCE workshop is Growing a Paid Search Program Year after Year, presented by Jim O'Brien, Chief Marketing Officer, ThinkGeek and George Michie, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Scientist - RKG. A personal aside - I'm a huge Thinkgeek fan, and even have a sticker of their mascot, Timmy the monkey, on my laptop, so I'm excited for this session.

Thinkgeek wants to capture demand from everyone who's searching for a geek interest - search is about connecting to people who are already searching for topics related to their products.

Thinkgeek search objectives:

  • Capture demand for anyone searching to related items - they may not even know about Thinkgeek or be looking for a product yet
  • Manage product feed and related campaigns effectively
  • Drive new customer growth via non-brand
  • Bid to set efficiency target and minimize budget caps
  • Continually optimize search tactics in changing landscape

Growing paid search is all about the fundamentals:

  • Optimize ad creatives for CTR and conversion rate
  • Use seller ratings - make sure your Google seller ratings appear on your Google ads
  • Ad text: feature promo, first line punctuation, unique selling proposition. First line punctuation allows them to move part of your first line into the headline when there's room.
  • Grow Google+ Followers and make sure it appears on your Google ads, as it adds legitimacy.

Paid search campaigns should be developing new keywords all the time.

Use your internal product data, such as internal categorization, to set your bids and manage your AdWords campaigns.

Plan your holiday or other peak season pay per click advertising strategy well in advance. Budget by day for peak times.

Plan your holiday/peak season PPC budget and strategy out on a per-day level in advance, then review daily during the season.

Thinkgeek takes an Agile-like approach to PPC during peak times, including daily standups and frequent adjustments.

Don't look at just calendar dates when planning holiday season PPC campaigns - base it on when Black Friday and Cyber Monday falls.

Google Product Listing Ads make up 50%+ of non-brand budget for pay-per-click.

Submit high quality product feeds , including the most relevant attributes such as size, material, intended age range, special features and other specifications. Include details about the item's most visual attributes such as shape, color, etc.

Set rules that tag products with dynamic Adwords labels, and then use labels such as price range, if it's on sale or not, if it has free shipping or not, in your bid strategies.

Use RLSA's to customize your search ads via retargeting.

Geotarget your bids to specific regions - for example, segment on rural vs urban, high income areas, etc.



IRCE Workshop: Boost Conversion without a Social Cast of Thousands

This is the IRCE workshop Boost Conversion without a Social Cast of Thousands, presented by Michael Lee, Senior Vice President, General Manager - Epsilon, Susan Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Plum District and Jai Rawat, Chief Executive Officer, Founder - ShopSocially. Leveraging social media can be challenging, and measuring ROI can be difficult.

The big 4 social channels are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. Each are used differently:

  • Facebook - nonpaid (engagement) and paid (acquisition)
  • Twitter - customer conversation (engagement) & reach
  • Pinterest - brand engagement (outside of the transaction)
  • Instagram - brand engagement (outside of the transaction) & acquisition.

Facebook tactical execution

  • Active page management through non paid posts and content
  • Paid advertising against lookalike audiences, with full-tracking implemented
  • Quarterly sweepstakes that requires a like to drive engagement

One retailer's Facebook results:

  • Grew new acquisition 30% year over year
  • Decreased churn to 1%
  • Increased revenue per subscribed 2x
  • 150,000+ Facebook fan acquisition

Encourage users to submit their own images to build your social presence.

Your social strategy should be 2-pronged: 1) acquire new customers via social 2) transform existing marketing in other channels (SEO, PPC, etc) with social media.

Connect with the right fans on social - not just freebie-seekers, but intense fans in the center of your target market. Free ticket give-aways may generate a lot of likes, but they don't stay engaged with your brand.

Use social profile data to better target and personalize your offers to each specific user, which can improve your ROI in all of your other marketing channels.

Social login increases user engagement.  51% of consumers use social login. 84% of social login users will share a positive comment about your brand. eCommerce sites absolutely need social login.

In 2013, Google changed their official SEO blog to replace the word “back links” with “sharing” as the key SEO ranking driver.

Realtime social buzz legitimizes your products.

Move beyond customer reviews to photo testimonials shared with a specific hashtag.

Include a flyer with a hashtag in all of your product shipments and encourage users to post photos of them with the product.

True social engagement via social buzz on product pages gave one retailers a 15% increase in conversion rate.

Add realtime social buzz on your site to help improve engagement, conversion rate and SEO rank.

Social media marketers for eCommerce shouldn’t think as B2C, but instead C2C - encourage customers to share their experience.

Marketing via paid social media marketing is expensive - it requires more money and more resources (as it's high maintenance and requires dedicated resources). Bringing social into eCommerce is less expensive, has a proven ROI and customers do the marketing work for you.

IRCE Workshop: 10 Most Important Components your Social Presence Needs

This IRCE workshop is 10 Most Important Components your Social Presence Needs, presented by Sarah Evans, Owner - Sevans Strategy. Great content makes people want to share, care or swear.

What does great content look like? Your readers will tell you. 80% of people will read your headlines, but only 20% of those people will read the rest of your content.

Great content is trustworthy, credible, interactive, actionable, emotional, unique or relevant.

Great content is portable, personal and participatory.

Good social content needs a:

  • Editor
  • Creative Director
  • Copy Editor
  • Photographer and Videographer
  • Senior Writers
  • Monitoring and analytics

Oftentimes all these roles are performed by 1 person, but you should have someone, anyone, look at your content before you post it.

Treat great content with the reverence it deserves - create a list of all the tactics you apply to your greatest content, such as encouraging people to share with reddit, link your post to an answer in Quora, Yahoo Q&A, build it into slides and post it to Slideshare.

Define your style. Your content should stick to a well-identified, well-developed brand image. Define how your headlines appear, what your teaser/subhead looks like, what your front page photo looks like, what photos you add, etc.

At a conference, host a giveaway + Twitter chat on Twitter using a brand-specific hashtag. Provide a pre-recorded daily recap, on-scene announcement videos, live blogging, Tweeting and Facebook to build your social presence.

Commit to 5 to 10 posts per day (total across all social channels) + email + social shares to build your social brand.

Most content creators have to throw away up to 1/3 of the content they generate each day. Create like mad - generate lots of content.

Quotes, questions & quips are the #1 content method that spreads fastest via social media. Convert these quotes to images that are easy to share.

Check Reddit for emerging news and trends - Reddit often has news 24-72 hours before the mainstream media.

"If you like it then you should have put a filter on it" - the instagramization of content.

7 apps for creating great visuals from your phone:

  • Phonto
  • Over
  • News Booth
  • Whims
  • Phoster
  • VSCOcam
  • Screenshot

You should be posting more photos - be careful with photos on Twitter, because they interrupt the feed/text, but use Instagram, Facebook photos and occasional photos on Twitter.

Great written content gives people more without making them ask. Recommend other content you've created, links to import site tags within the article, etc.


IRCE Workshop: A Year Later: The Impact of Enhanced Campaigns

This is the IRCE workshop A Year Later: The Impact of Enhanced Campaigns, presented by Adam Garcia, Director, E-Commerce Marketing - The Walgreen Co. and Aaron Goldman, Chief Marketing Officer - Kenshoo. This session is basically about the change Google made last year that no longer allows you to exclude mobile and tablet from your ads - you have to submit bid adjustments instead. Before this change, Walgreens has targeted ads and bids down to the specific level of, for instance, AT&T iPhone users.

Walgreens findings from the changes to Enhanced Campaigns:

  • Lost control over device & OS targeting
  • Single URL - all platforms get the same URL, so your landing pages have to be responsive
  • CVR dropped
  • CPC remained flat

You should check your data to look at what devices and screen sizes your PPC traffic are using.

Key takeaways from the experience Walgreens has had:

  1. Non-desktop devices are the primary players
  2. Prioritize adaptive/responsive design - move it up in your roadmap
  3. Test, test and retest - if you haven't tested adjusting your mobile bid adjustments, do so!

Consumers use smartphones and tablets to research and validate purchases. When consumers use their mobile phone in a store generally are checking price data.

42% of brands say they are very behind consumer trends with multi-device shopping. Only 5% say they are ahead of the trends.

If you've maxed our and optimized your Google AdWords campaign, add Facebook ads - your direct ROI on Facebook may not be great, but many major brands have seen an increased ROI on AdWords once they added Facebook ads.

Optimize your post-click experience - make sure you have an adaptive, responsive site.



IRCE Session: Neuromarketing: Where Science Meets the Visuals of Web Design

This IRCE session is Neuromarketing: Where Science Meets the Visuals of Web Design, presented by Kurtis Morrison, Vice President, Client Services - EyeQuant and Jered Goodyear, Manager, E-Commerce & Digital Marketing - Epson. You have more that one brain - sort of. Many things become effortless and automatic - system 1 processing or 'the fast brain'. Thoughts at the conscious level, system 2 processing, require effort and involve logic and reason. Most of the time we're using both systems, and both are involved in decision making. System 1 is faster, so by it's nature, when we communicate as marketers, we're speaking to the system 1 brain first.

Your system 2 brain can override your system 1 brain, however it's rare - generally your system 1 brain makes a decision and your system 2 brain rationalizing what your system 1 has already done.

The language of the fast brain - very self-centered; very visual. The fast brain is a black and white thinker - it uses contrast to make decisions. The fast brain is very emotional and likes very simple things. The fast brain wants clear, concrete, tangible things.

Applying this to web design:

  • Capture attention early
  • Validate the user is where they should be
  • Create clear, compelling and appropriate value propositions
  • Use appropriate imagery
  • Stimulate emotion
  • Ensure attention is in the right place

One common lesson - make sure your site-wide promo banners don't drag attention away from your product benefits and call to action - this happens more often that you realize.




IRCE Session: Conversion Drivers: Go Beyond the Like to Make Social Work for Retail

This is IRCE session Conversion Drivers: Go Beyond the Like to Make Social Work for Retail, presented by Nicolas Franchet, Head of Retail, E-Commerce, Global Vertical Marketing - Facebook and David Atchinson, Senior Vice President, Marketing - Zulily. Facebook is building systems to help brands drive discovery, personalization and ROI on social.

Facebook is launching multi-product ads - Facebook ads featuring 3 products in one ad unit.

Measuring cross-device ROI is challenging. 67% of users start shopping on one device and continue on another.

The future of shopping is personalized discovery across devices.



IRCE Session: Beat the Competition by Personalizing Content and Communication

This IRCE session is Beat the Competition by Personalizing Content and Communication, presented by Amy Larson, Vice President, Digital - The Children's Place and Rama Ramakrishnan, Founder & CEO - CQuotient. Children's Place goal is to provide a great product at a great value with great service.

Depth can beat breadth - Amazon is the 'everything' store. Other eCommerce retailers win by knowing their core customer + product category better.

If someone opened an email last week, should I send them a direct mail piece tomorrow? Use this data!

Lots of people know email open rates - you should know what % of their email list opened at least 1 email in the last week or last month?

Collect data - but more importantly, use that data.

Personalization should cover everything - the entire customer experience:

  • Product recommendation & merchandising
  • Offers, coupons, deals
  • Creative - ads and banners displayed to the user
  • Location & timing of marketing messages

Don't personalize for just some customers - every customer. For most customers, we have a very weak signal of what they want, because the average customer shops with each brand just a few times a year, and the majority haven't visited your site recently. So, gather as much data as you can - start with your web logs and traffic data - look at what they search for, look for what categories they focus on, do they dwell on specific price ranges. Then look at your email data - what subject lines do they open on the most, do they click through mainly deals? What device do they first open an email on?

Look at the product data of the products the user views and purchases - look at the title and descriptions that resonate well with each visitor.

Mine product review data - look at the reviews the user has left, and also the review data for the products they've purchased.

Group data between customers - link customers with similar tastes.

Putting product personalization data to work - first, emails. The best items chosen for each individual based on your data should be promoted in each email. Your creative in each email should be personalized as well.

Dynamically insert content into the email based on historical personalization data + the time and date the email is first opened, the device it's first opened on, etc.

Realtime personalization at the time the email is opened.

Personalize product assortments based on this data.

You can put personalization data to work in direct mail as well. Determine who you should send direct mail to and when. Help you reduce the amount of direct mail you need to send.

Depth can win over breadth - but you have to use your advantage.

Data is foundational, but only if you something with it.


IRCE Session: Make the Most of Your Traffic: Maximizing Conversion

This is the IRCE session Make the Most of Your Traffic: Maximizing Conversion, presented by Karen Van Ert, Director, E-Business Consulting - Zeon Solutions and Lauren Wright, Marketing and Merchandising Manager - Cooper Safety Supply. Research your current data - Google Analytics, etc., then develop some ideas of what you might want to change. Before moving into split or multivariate testing, perform user testing. This will help you see why consumers are doing what they're doing now. Also check with your customer service team and see what people are asking.

One conversion rate test led to a revenue increase by 220%.

Some tests have even helped increase organic search ranking.

There are multiple ways to look at improvements. Don't look at just conversion rates while optimizing - if your conversion rate increases 50% but it's because you drop your prices and your average order value plummets, that's not a success.

Test around video and all image displays, test on-site search optimization (zero results pages, low converting terms, etc), test the number of products displayed on each page.

Test regularly - seasonal changes impact conversion rates.

Know your goal and monitor ad spend, traffic, conversion rate and AOV together.

Always consider consumer intent.



IRCE Session: How the Video Experience is Transforming the Way People Shop

This is the IRCE Featured Address, How the Video Experience is Transforming the Way People Shop, presented by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Chairman & Founder - Joyus. Joyus made their default experience shop by video instead of shop by product.

78% of consumers watch at least one online video per a week.

Video accounts for 50% of mobile traffic.

Content and commerce convergence is here - provide excellent video content.

Shopping at Joyus is video-focused. Video player is the product page, with a carousel on the side that allows you to add the product currently discussed in the video can be purchased.

Use product videos to give how-to content, show different looks, etc. Don't use it just to show different views of the product.

Video commerce is about the art of Selling Special. Video is a way to focus the customer's attention. It works best for a curated selection, not an overly wide selection.

Video-first commerce requires great merchandising, finding hero products, trusted expertise, product-led selling.

Find hero products. Make sure it's a solution to a real problem your customers face. Provide a way for customers to discover new brands and products. Make sure these products are unique.

Establish credibility, trust & affinity with the right expert in your product videos - again and again. Use the same expert in your videos - it establishes a connection between the customer and the expert in the video. They'll come back and buy more because they establish trust for that person.

It’s better to bring your best product experts in to your product video project and then train them on the on-camera skills. Authenticity is important.

Videos should feature 1-4 products max, showing the best product first, with 3 unique selling points. Single product videos outperform. Keep them to 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

Measure video ROI through revenue per video. Some of the best videos take 1-2 years to mature.

Effective videos have 0.5% - 5% video view conversion rate, $0.50 - $2.00 revenue per view.

30-60% completion rate on video - once a user commits to watching a video, they tend to finish it.

55% of users will watch the video no matter what product or host - they find the video entertaining.

Capture maximum video ROI via aggressive distribution - distribute your video to as many places as you can.

Editorial partnerships drive reach for your videos.

Distributed & real-time shippable video player is critical to success - this way when video is embedded on other sites, users can buy directly from the video.



IRCE Keynote: Connecting with Consumers by Giving Them What They Want

This is the IRCE keynote, Connecting with Consumers by Giving Them What They Want, presented by Niraj Shah, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder - Wayfair is #45 in the Internet Retailer Top 500.  Listen to shoppers to decide what to do next.

Be customer-service focused. Enable customers to choose how to interact and find your products.

Many customers don't know what they are looking for until they see it, so you need to marry inspiration with selection.

Visual navigation matters.

Customers love deals and savings - especially daily sales that offer more value in a curated format at a rapid pace.

Everyone shops differently - don't look at customers as just one group. Segment your customers. Some shoppers are shopping for a specific need. Some shoppers are looking to discover something new and unexpected. Practical purchases vs individualization vs inspired impulse shopping.

Meet customers where they are - customers are incredibly busy and have more demands on their attention, so get them started engaging with your brand on their smartphone.

Get personal - produce individualized shopping experiences - quicker access to items that customer will like.

Get engaged in social media on Pinterest and Instagram.

Use the Top Pins API on Pinterest to offer another way to explore your product assortment.

Social & community engagement comes out of true interest, and truly interested users become repeat customers.

Instagram is Wayfair's fastest growing social channel. Connect with customers in real time with compelling images from events, blogger conferences, trade shows, etc.

Listen and take action - make real changes to the business based on customer feedback.

One of your eCommerce metrics should be customer enjoyment of their experience with your brand. 

Change things continually to keep improving the customer experience.

Customers are asking for more personalization and a better mobile experience.

IRCE Session: Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter

This IRCE session is Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter, presented by Ryan Bonifacino, Vice President, Digital Strategy - Alex and Ani.  Foundation for success - centralize digital under one department. eCommerce + Analytics tie into digital marketing and social media, and all three should be generating usable analytics and data, sharing that data and making decisions based on that data.

Get your relationships working in a healthy way - you don't want CMO and CIO fighting each other for budget. They should be working together.

Research heavily and define rules and roles - CIO, CTO and CMO should all work together.

Build a knowledge base of potential partners and vendors.

Brands should bring in the best agencies that can provide expertise in each specific niche/need of digital.

Each digital team member at Alex & Ani tracks one other eCommerce retailer and tracks what technologies they use, what they're doing.

Bring in really smart, innovative people to your company to speak with your team to keep them informed on what's going on.


IRCE Session Recruiting Bloggers as Affiliates: Why—and How

This is IRCE session Recruiting Bloggers as Affiliates: Why—and How, presented by Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer - All Inclusive Marketing and Carrie Rocha, Blogger -  Bloggers have an established, third-party credibility with loyal, engaged audiences with creative positioning extending brand reach.

Keep in mind FTC rules that bloggers must disclose if you've paid them or provided them with a giveaway, etc. Make sure you realize you will lose some brand control.

Bloggers need to have a personal connection with your brand. Bloggers are seen as a subject matter expert, so they don't want to do anything to risk that, so they focus on their mission first, money second. 

Find bloggers by searching on your target keywords, and then look at their level of engagement with their audience. 

Bloggers are looking for reliable brands to work for - quality products, accurate information, high-quality customer service.

Every blogger has a unique audience - don't send an email blast to all potential bloggers, connect with them with an email/offer tailored to them and their audience.

Bloggers share contact, connections and experiences with each other.  If you provide a great experience, the bloggers will talk and other bloggers will want to work with your brand. 

Measuring blogger ROI: traffic, gross revenue, new/existing customer ratio and long-term-customer-value. Also look at brand engagement - tweets/RTs, comments, shares, etc. Share metrics with your blogger affiliates.

Bloggers measure success by looking at what their readers say - readers response and engagement via comments, shares and sales. Opened communication channel with brand for future projects.

As a personal aside - retailers, please remember that bloggers are a business - don't expect them to work for free, and treat them professionally.