March 29, 2018

Don’t Tell the Media: Retail is Alive and Well

It’s rare to go a full day without reading a headline in your email inbox or on a news site highlighting the rapid demise of the retail industry. Many brands that have become household names are undergoing massive business restructuring or shuttering their doors altogether. Shopping malls that once served as go-to destinations for many communities are experiencing increasing vacancies. The perception largely driven by the media is that brick and mortar retail is a sinking ship, but what is the reality? Deloitte set out on a nearly year-long study to better understand the state of retail as it stands today and the driving forces behind recent changes. And what did they find? The silver lining.

 

Despite the onslaught of negative press, retail is still growing and in many places, thriving. Backed by a stable and growing economy, consumer confidence is at an all time high. Experts predict that in the next five years, online sales will grow 11.7 percent annually, and in store sales by 1.7 percent.1 That’s healthy growth across the board.

IBIS World Projected Retail Growth

Deloitte found that a big contributor to the success of brick and mortar stores actually comes down to income. Today, shoppers in lower income brackets prefer to to buy in physical stores. As the wealth gap continues to widen, more and more Americans are losing their discretionary incomes and landing in this low earning bracket. The purchases they make will likely be in person, so brick and mortar stores stand to benefit the most from this change in the distribution of wealth.

 

With this in mind, here are a few marketing priorities to consider:

 

1. Fine tune your customer acquisition strategy

Yes, you know a lot about your customers, but are you investing into the right channels that will lead them (and other audiences who look like them) to make a purchase? As mentioned previously, even details like household income (HHI) play a significant role in the way people shop. Consumers with a low HHI may compare prices online before ultimately going into a nearby store to make a purchase. Your marketing dollars should be aligned with these behaviors. For many brands, it may be time to reevaluate how consumers search, and ultimately buy. Find an agency that can help you understand the unique features of your most profitable audiences, and then identify the right mix of channels to activate them. Small optimizations on the front-end can have a big impact on long-term growth.

 

AMP Agency Customer Journey Mapping


2. Make it easy for consumers to compare prices and find inventory at nearby stores

Eighty-one percent of consumers do online research before making a purchase.2 Whether shoppers are becoming more cost conscious or simply cost aware, the fact is they are more informed than ever before. Retailers should leverage local ads to motivate store visits. Solutions like Google’s Local Inventory Ads and Brand Showcase Ads allow shoppers to quickly locate information on the products they’re looking for as well as their availability in nearby stores. Google also has a feature that allows advertisers to adjust bids for individuals with a certain income range (from the top 10% to the lower 50%), who live within a certain geography. If you’re a multichannel retailer who sells discounted items, you may want to increase bids for searches that originate in an area in the lower 50% household income level. To measure the impact these ads are having on driving purchases in stores, check out Google’s Store Visits tool. Store Visits uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure the number of people who click or view ads and later visit a store.

 

3. Build superior storefront shopping experiences

The digital and physical shopping experience shouldn’t be planned in silos, rather they should be developed as a consistent end-to-end experience. Forty-two percent of in-store shoppers search for more information while in a physical store3 and savvy retailers like Sephora are combining digital elements into their physical stores to make it easy for shoppers to explore, find and purchase the products that are right for them. Discount retailers like Marshalls are making the physical shopping experience more social by encouraging store visitors to share their unique finds with their social networks using the hashtag #marshallssurprise.

 

Marshalls Surprise


4. Leverage partnerships to grow awareness and sales

Brands and retailers often market to the same consumers, so by working together, their power is magnified. With ecommerce set to experience double-digit growth over the next five years, digital co-op investments are a great way for brands to increase their exposure online and drive sales across channels. The right agency can help you identify, manage, and measure the outcomes of these opportunities.

 

While the Retail industry is alive and well, we are seeing a massive shift in the way multichannel retailers operate to meet the changing needs of their consumers. And let’s not count out pure-play e-tailers. Amazon is working hard to turn low income shoppers into loyal customers. Individuals who receive government assistance can qualify for a reduced $5.99 a month Prime membership, and EBT cards can now be used to pay for qualifying groceries. We expect that as brands compete more on price and free shipping becomes more universal, consumers from all income brackets will begin to make more purchases online.

 

As Socrates once said, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

 

Here’s to building the new.

 

You can access a copy of the Deloitte study, The Great Retail Bifurcation, here.

 

1 IBIS World

2 GE Capital

3 Google, Ipsos

 

August 1, 2017

Product Pages + FlixMedia = More Sales

As consumers continue to buy online, retailers are under more and more pressure to refine their sites to convert to sales. However, the average conversion rate for most e-comm sites is still hovering around the 3-4% mark globally.

While there are a myriad of reasons of why someone would leave your site before buying, one of the main causes is usually attributed to not delivering the product information they were seeking. This can be solved through optimizing your product pages with more in-depth information, such as images, videos, and consumer reviews.

Given that updating an e-comm site to add this content usually requires integration between the UX, creative, development and marketing departments, it can take a while to get changes made. Enter Flixmedia, a UK-based company who is the leader in product page optimization*.

Flixmedia has made it easy for retailers to quickly add in enhanced product information to their site pages. Using existing assets, they are able to seamlessly incorporate product imagery and videos into the product page. They also use innovative technology in their dynamic hotspots, giving consumers an opportunity to interact with the product.

Why are we so obsessed with Flixmedia? Because they produce results. Adding interactive hotspots has resulted in increasing conversion rates by 28%. Adding imagery and videos to product pages has grown Add to Cart rates by an average of 23%. Don’t spend all that time and money driving traffic to a site that doesn’t convert. Optimize your product pages to give consumers the information they are looking for and leave that 3-4% in the dust.

*Full disclosure: Flixmedia is owned by our same parent company, Advantage Solutions

July 24, 2017

Content Marketing: Being Honest and Keeping Your Friends

I just read a Content Marketing article which discussed whether Content Marketing needs to be rebranded now that it’s been a buzz term in the industry for a handful of years. For those of you that know me, I absolutely loathe forced marketing lingo. I’d like to think that many people see right through it, but maybe I’m overestimating the “BS” meter than people are born with.

With that said, imagine ourselves in a professional situation. Let’s assume we're colleagues and we’ve come across one another at various events and we have a cordial professional relationship. At an industry event, I turn to you and say,“What are your thoughts on leveraging a synergistic approach to acquiring palliative hydration?” Translation: “Do you want to go grab a beer with me?” Of course, you wouldn’t want to get a beer with me, because I’ve just outed myself as a giant arse.

For some reason, I feel that marketers are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. I get it. Our job is trying to sell things, but whether we’re trying to sell something to fellow marketers or the general public, a certain level of honesty needs to be involved. This notion is especially true in the case of content marketing.

Content marketing is pretty simple. Employ a value based entity with the desired outcome of positive absorption (Non- jargon translation: Write stuff that people want to read that provides them with value). Google has figured this out. Organic rankings are no longer filled with fluff results from SEO’s overstuffing keywords and manipulating the latest algorithms. Sure, there is still an art to SEO, but organic rankings are now based on Google’s machine-based algorithms, aka robots, who ignore all the cheesy jargon.

And while we are on the topic of cheese, let’s talk about a real life example. If you’re a brand that wants to sell more cheese, try positioning yourself as the ultimate authority on cheese. Answer all of the questions people have about cheese in a useful and valuable manner. Google will see you as being a purveyor of valuable content. People will start thinking of you as an authority on cheese and they’ll trust your brand more than the brand that just tells you that their cheese is the best, and then talks about how great their founders are. If you don’t tell them which kind of cheese pairs best with Pinot Noir, somebody else will.

What it comes down to, is that agency folks need to be honest with brands. Content about mission statements or awards is not what converts. People are generally not interested in anything aside from what they’re typing into a search engine at that specific moment. Be their buddy and give them an answer they’ll feel good about. Do your research to figure out what people are looking for. You just might be rewarded with free organic traffic for years to come.

January 9, 2017

The Poetry of SEO

Someone recently asked me if there are any similarities between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and poetry. At first it seemed like a forced question—a half-hearted attempt to connect two unrelated pursuits in order to make sense of a narrative that appears otherwise pretty jagged. That narrative being, of course, my life—as I’ve recently made the sharp and odd detour from freelance poet to SEO Coordinator in an ad agency. But I’ll tell you what I’ve found so far: poetry and SEO share more than you might expect at first glance.

“The right words in the right order”

This is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous definition of poetry, praising a tasteful economy of language. But think about it—is there a better description of SEO? A great title tag requires a hailstorm of googling for search volume and competition: consider all possible synonyms, with plurals, singulars, and mix the words around in every conceivable order until you hit that magic balance where the most highly-searched, relevant words and phrases that other companies aren’t using enough are perfectly placed in the right spot in the tag.

Working within Constraints

A few areas of SEO thrive on some pretty hard and fast limitations. Particularly in Meta Data, where Best Practices require Title Tags under 60 characters and Meta Descriptions under 155 characters. That means you better come up with something pretty compelling, ideally with choice keywords, in under the length of a Tweet. Poetry likewise has a long history of limitations, from the constraints of formal poetry (where there are strict rules on rhythm, rhyme, number of lines, and in some cases even subject), to the bizarre experiments of Dada (the great Dada writer Georges Perec penned a whole novel completely excluding the letter “e”).

Works on Multiple Levels

Good SEO satisfies two very disparate crowds: real live searchers and search engine crawlers. It takes great skill to speak the language of the people while playing by the complex rules of the search engines. In a similar way, memorable poetry is satisfying on the surface level while rewarding those who reread for another level of deeper meanings.

Although, as far as I know at this point, search engines don’t seek out the same things that lovers of poetry do—but I wouldn’t put it past Google to incorporate a taste for verse in its SERP algorithms.

 

 

August 6, 2014

Search & Social State of the State

At AMP, everyone has an insatiable intellectual curiosity that drives us to create innovative solutions for our clients, our agency and the advertising industry as a whole. That's why we're constantly reading and staying up to date on industry trends, news, etc. 

Read below for recent updates within the search and social marketing realm and our thoughts on these changes.

SNAPCHAT ADDS GEO-LOCATION FILTERS 

In early July, Snapchat added geo-filters by location to its platform. For example, if you're taking a photo at Disneyland, you'll be able to swipe right to see art related to the amusement park. Read More on Mashable

  • Why it's important: Snapchat has rolled out new features constantly in the last few months to encourage more sharing. Updates like this one give Snapchat users another reason to open the app to see what geofilters are around them, share with friends and show off their savvy selfies.
  • Implications for marketers: This definitely opens a door for more branding on the platform. For example, Soul Cycle has a specific filter for when users are in the studios. Not to mention that Snapchat is adding an outlet for revenue and paid media space with these filters.

SOCIAL E-COMMERCE AHEAD 

social ecommerceTwitter and Facebook revealed that they are listening and are looking for a way to seamlessly integrate purchases into social with Twitter acquiring a new company and Facebook testing a 'buy' button for instant purchases. Read More on AdAge.

  • Why it's important: Currently, social media isn't an e-commerce platform and advertisers are using direct response ads on Facebook to reach a targeted audience. The fact that Facebook and Twitter are testing native e-commerce technologies would mean a new way to use the platforms.
  • Implications for marketers: Every day, we get questions from clients and prospective clients asking how we are tying social efforts to ROI. Rolling out various e-commerce functionality within social media would make these actions much easier to track and further prove value for social media investment.

APPLEBEE'S HANDS INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT OVER TO FANS FOR A YEAR

The brand is handing it's account over to the neighborhood with a campaign called #Fantopgrapher. Fans will have to opt in to less Applebee's access their account, but anything tagged #Applebees will be up for grabs and posted to the account with a branded frame crediting the user. Read More from AdWeek.

  • Why it's important: Because the brandsaw an opportunity based on a current social action and made something real out of it. The chain claimed that there are 779,000 photos tagged with #Applebees being shared organically already and they are harnessing that power with a campaign.
  • Implications for marketers: This takes UGC to a new level and gives consumers 100% share of voice in the brand's conversations. It will be interesting to see if a campaign like this encourages more UGC and uses of the hashtag over time.

GOOGLE WEBMASTER ROLLS OUT ROBOTS.TEXT TESTING TOOL 

This new Google Webmaster Tools feature allows you to see if your robots.txt file has any errors. You can test to see if new or existing URLs are allowed to be crawled based on how your robots.txt file is set up. The tool has the ability to show you what directive in the file is causing the URL to be blocked from a crawl. Learn more about this tool on Google Webmaster Central.

  •  Why it's important: Web marketers know that one of the first steps to driving organic search traffic to a website is to ensure indexation of the important pages in search engine databases. The great thing about this tool is it simplifies the process of making sure your robots.txt file is not blocking content from being crawled by search engine spiders.
  • Implications for marketers: This tool can now be a part of a monthly maintenance check to make sure the site is open for a crawl.

GOOGLE UPDATES LOCAL SEARCH ALGORITHM

Codenamed 'Pigeon'? by Search Engine Land, Google released  an algorithm update to provide more useful and accurate local search results.Read more about the algorithm update:

  • Why it's important:  Local results are now ranked using 100s of 'traditional'? signals that are used to rank typical web results. The update will allow users to gain more relevant results as the signals leverage more precise proximity information.
  • Implications for marketers:  With any Google algorithm change, the understanding of how results are altered and what new tactics should be employed to gain increased visibility are pending.  Stay tuned for our formal search POV.

GOOGLE ADWORDS INTRODUCES DYNAMIC SITELINKS

Dynamic Sitelinks are the latest ad snippet from Google AdWords. They are automatically generated based on the searcher's activity and point to relevant content on the advertiser's site. Read the official announcement here.

  • Why it's important:  Clicks on these sitelinks are free but advertisers have no control over the text of the links; however, advertisers do have the ability to disable dynamic sitelinks from appearing under their ads.
  • Implications for marketers:  This rollout is an interesting blend of organic and paid search results.  Since the links will be based on search activity and free to the advertiser, it should be seen as just another relevant path for users to follow to land on your site.  AMP will be monitoring the performance of Dynamic Sitelinks over the next several months.

What's your perspective on these updates? Share a comment below.

March 25, 2014

Hasbro: Edison the Elf

During the 2013 Holiday season, we teamed up with Hasbro on a quest to make every kid a true believer in the Kringle himself. It may have seemed like a lofty goal, but the numbers showed otherwise. We discovered that between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012, approximately 50,000 people searched 'Is Santa real?'

With that number in mind, we created a simple online experience that allowed kids and parents to take a sneak peak at life in Santa's workshop and some of Hasbro's best holiday toys. We started by inventing a host. A lovable tour guide named Edison the Elf, the top, toy-builder-tester-player and Hasbro-elf in the North Pole. He showed users a day in the life of a fun-loving elf, earning an honest living in Santa's workshop.

After launch, we drove significant traffic to the experience with a paid search campaign around 'Is Santa real.' While we can't truly quantify the number of believers, we can tell you that the kids who searched 'is Santa real' in 2013 received quite the reason to believe.

Thanks, Edison. 

February 27, 2012

Why Search Marketers Should Leverage Google's Ad Enhancements

The results you receive on Google's search pages seem to change with every query. As a search marketer, understanding this changing ad landscape is crucial in maintaining relevancy and gaining cost efficiencies. In recent years, Google rolled out extension options to expand Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad formats for a better user experience. By pioneering these features, Google has improved relevance for the user as well as performance for advertisers.

The AMP search team took a proactive approach to evaluating these Google creative enhancements by testing them among our client campaigns. Shortly after leveraging Google's extension options, their value was clear. Campaigns experienced rocketing click-through rates (CTR) across all extension types. New creative treatments such as SiteLinks, Product, Location and Phone extensions delivered far more specific and relevant results to search queries. As a result, click volume increased substantially while Cost Per Click rates (CPC) lowered as well. Let's just say it was a win win. On Location Extensions alone, test campaigns experienced CTR's 400% higher and CPC's 25% lower than when the ad format was not showing. For that reason, the AMP team quickly incorporated Google's ad enhancements into our standard campaign best practices.

Undoubtedly, Google's ad enhancements have revamped the aesthetics and functionality of paid search ads. While competitors, such as Bing, have been trying to catch up, Google remains the leader in creative options. The ease of implementation and tracking has made these features even more appealing for advertisers while relevance has become a better experience for searchers. Better products have translated into higher revenue for Google, a pretty simple business model that continues to work.

Relevance remains fundamental to effectively delivering the service of search results to its customer base, whether those are searchers themselves or advertisers. Google's deep understanding of this component continues to drive the company to evolve and improve its product offering. As search marketers, it is critical to stay on top of these new releases while also being proactive in testing and measuring. Believe us, it will pay off!

December 4, 2011

Search Engine Giant Baidu to Invest Millions to Launch the SEO industry in China

China is getting ready to take on SEO in a major way and is ready to invest major dollars towards a fast growing industry according to the latest report released by Nasdaq. Baidu, the biggest search engine in China which holds a massive 84% market share is reportedly investing as much as $470 million dollars now through the end of 2015 into search engine optimization (SEO).

Baidu plans to develop an industry which will train as many as 100,000 new search engine specialists as part of the game plan. The ultimate goal is to help both small and larger companies expand and grow their businesses through adaptation of SEO. With 485 million users in China, there is a huge opportunity for growth in an emerging market and Baidu (www.baidu.com) expects that by planning the adaptation of SEO, it will help raise awareness and increase usage for its online paid advertising services.

This news is certainly quite interesting. It's pretty amazing how much the SEO industry has evolved over the years versus what it used to be at the very early stages. What used to be an underground, rarely talked about approach to simply making websites rank higher in Google, has transformed to a whole new level of mainstream.

The demand for SEO in the United States has been growing fast, as competition keeps growing and getting tougher. Search engine marketing is a crucial element in 2011 and will continue to become even more important throughout the years, no matter what type of business you operate. Baidu is recognizing the need and wants to set the standard in China. And with such an enormous market share, I have no doubt they will accomplish what they intend, while creating thousands of new jobs in the industry.

April 24, 2011

What's New In Social Media this Week?

Check out some of the top headlines and interesting articles from the week in social media'?¦

Facebook Expands Safety & Security Tools(Mashable)

Just a day after security firm Sophos sent Facebook an open letter addressing privacy issues, Facebook has introduced a suite of new safety features. Read more'?¦

Why People Do & Don't Use Location Apps (ReadWriteWeb)

Connecting with people, finding places liked by friends and tracking personal travel habits over time were listed as the primary reasons people who use location based social networks like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Google Latitude do so in a survey published by Portland, Oregon digital marketing firm White Horse. Read more'?¦

5 Ways Facebook is Changing Search Marketing (iMediaConnection)

Make no mistake about it: Google is still the dominant force in search engine marketing. But as Facebook continues to grow in size and influence, it is significantly affecting how consumers are accessing information and how marketers' dollars are being spent online ' and Google is definitely taking notice. Read more'?¦

The 5 Qualities of Highly Effective Community Managers (Mashable)

Less than three years ago, community managers were a rare group of employees most often found at technology startups. Today, the role of community manager is common at companies of all sizes ' from startups to multinational corporations. Read more'?¦Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)?
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Paste as Plain TextPaste from WordRemove formattingInsert custom characterOutdentIndentUndo (Ctrl + Z)Redo (Ctrl + Y)Help (Alt + Shift + H)

Check out some of the top headlines and interesting articles from the week in social media'?¦
Facebook Expands Safety & Security Tools(Mashable)
Just a day after security firm Sophos sent Facebook an open letter addressing privacy issues, Facebook has introduced a suite of new safety features. Read more'?¦
Why People Do & Don't Use Location Apps (ReadWriteWeb)
Connecting with people, finding places liked by friends and tracking personal travel habits over time were listed as the primary reasons people who use location based social networks like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Google Latitude do so in a survey published by Portland, Oregon digital marketing firm White Horse. Read more'?¦
5 Ways Facebook is Changing Search Marketing (iMediaConnection)
Make no mistake about it: Google is still the dominant force in search engine marketing. But as Facebook continues to grow in size and influence, it is significantly affecting how consumers are accessing information and how marketers' dollars are being spent online ' and Google is definitely taking notice. Read more'?¦
The 5 Qualities of Highly Effective Community Managers (Mashable)
Less than three years ago, community managers were a rare group of employees most often found at technology startups. Today, the role of community manager is common at companies of all sizes ' from startups to multinational corporations. Read more'?¦
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April 24, 2011

What's New In Social Media this Week?

Check out some of the top headlines and interesting articles from the week in social media'?¦

Facebook Expands Safety & Security Tools(Mashable)

Just a day after security firm Sophos sent Facebook an open letter addressing privacy issues, Facebook has introduced a suite of new safety features. Read more'?¦

Why People Do & Don't Use Location Apps (ReadWriteWeb)

Connecting with people, finding places liked by friends and tracking personal travel habits over time were listed as the primary reasons people who use location based social networks like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Google Latitude do so in a survey published by Portland, Oregon digital marketing firm White Horse. Read more'?¦

5 Ways Facebook is Changing Search Marketing (iMediaConnection)

Make no mistake about it: Google is still the dominant force in search engine marketing. But as Facebook continues to grow in size and influence, it is significantly affecting how consumers are accessing information and how marketers' dollars are being spent online ' and Google is definitely taking notice. Read more'?¦

The 5 Qualities of Highly Effective Community Managers (Mashable)

Less than three years ago, community managers were a rare group of employees most often found at technology startups. Today, the role of community manager is common at companies of all sizes ' from startups to multinational corporations. Read more'?¦Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)?
Toggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z)
FormatFormat?
UnderlineAlign Full (Alt + Shift + J)Select text color?
Paste as Plain TextPaste from WordRemove formattingInsert custom characterOutdentIndentUndo (Ctrl + Z)Redo (Ctrl + Y)Help (Alt + Shift + H)

Check out some of the top headlines and interesting articles from the week in social media'?¦
Facebook Expands Safety & Security Tools(Mashable)
Just a day after security firm Sophos sent Facebook an open letter addressing privacy issues, Facebook has introduced a suite of new safety features. Read more'?¦
Why People Do & Don't Use Location Apps (ReadWriteWeb)
Connecting with people, finding places liked by friends and tracking personal travel habits over time were listed as the primary reasons people who use location based social networks like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Google Latitude do so in a survey published by Portland, Oregon digital marketing firm White Horse. Read more'?¦
5 Ways Facebook is Changing Search Marketing (iMediaConnection)
Make no mistake about it: Google is still the dominant force in search engine marketing. But as Facebook continues to grow in size and influence, it is significantly affecting how consumers are accessing information and how marketers' dollars are being spent online ' and Google is definitely taking notice. Read more'?¦
The 5 Qualities of Highly Effective Community Managers (Mashable)
Less than three years ago, community managers were a rare group of employees most often found at technology startups. Today, the role of community manager is common at companies of all sizes ' from startups to multinational corporations. Read more'?¦
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