In July 2018, Google announced its top tool to improve cross-device tracking: Google Signals. This feature is found within Google Analytics and gives companies an idea for how much their audiences overlap and which campaigns need cross-device support the most. For the past year, the feature has largely been in beta. However, it is now commonly found and used in many Analytics interfaces.
Let’s take a deep dive into Google Signals to learn how you can use it and apply its insights to your marketing campaigns.
What Are the Capabilities of Google Signals?
Google Signals is meant to enhance your current analytics usage. Many of the benefits of Google Signals are already available within Google Analytics, but Signals improves upon the data and capabilities that you already have. The top four benefits, as explained by Google, include:
Remarketing with Google Analytics: brands that create remarketing campaigns can now launch cross-device promotions.
Advertising reporting features: Google Analytics will be able to collect more information from the behavior of users.
Demographics, and Interests reports: Google Analytics will be able to collect additional information on various demographics and interests of users.
Cross-device reports: Google can model the behavior of different user types to better help develop campaigns to target different audiences. These models are user-based rather than session-based.
The key to Google Signals lies in users who have turned on Ad Personalization. None of the Google Signals features are available for users who do not turn on Ad Personalization. This means that the data will only be collected from part of your audience. The users who do not turn on this feature cannot be remarketed to and you will not be able to better understand their demographics.
However, Google estimates that enough users have turned on Ad Personalization to the point where the sample size collected from this group reflects the entire body of web users. While you may not be able to reach your entire remarketing audiences, you can trust the reporting that Google Analytics presents to you.
How to Activate Google Signals
You can turn on Google Signals within the Analytics interface. The whole process can be completed in less than a minute.
Sign in to Google Analytics.
Click on the Admin cog.
Follow the navigation Property (middle column) > Tracking info > Data Collection.
Click on the section related to Google Signals (currently in a blue banner at the top).
Click Continue and then Activate to turn on this feature.
You can manually disable Google Signals easily. Google uses a toggle that you can click on or off to collect data from users. If you need to stop collecting data or pause the collection for a short period of time, you can do it in this section.
You can see a screenshot of the path to the Google Signals section of Analytics below. This is what your Analytics page will look like once you have turned this feature on.
What Insights Can You Take Away from Google Signals
Once you are familiar with the features and reports of Google Signals, you can apply these insights to your data analysis. Below are a few use cases for Google Signals that you can follow to improve your overall digital marketing efforts.
See Where Your Device Use Overlaps
What percentage of users access your content from multiple devices? This feature will provide immediate insight into how people engage with your brand. You can see the percent of users who access each device and the percentage that use multiple features.
For example, a brand like Indeed might have a high overlap rate because users like to search for jobs on their mobile devices and then apply for them on their desktops. This is because they have access to their resumes and can edit and attach their cover letters easier. With this information, Indeed can develop a plan to make saving jobs across devices easier or work on a campaign to encourage more people to apply for jobs on their smartphones.
See Which Campaigns Have the Most Overlap
One of the biggest issues that marketers have is tracking assisted conversions, or conversions that moved consumers to buy but weren’t necessarily the first or last touch. Cross-device reports can prevent brands from cutting certain marketing channels and losing an important part of the consumer journey just because they don’t drive immediate sales.
Recapture Customers With Cross-Device Remarketing
Move customers deeper into the sales funnel with remarketing across different devices. For example, your user clicks on a paid ad to your website while on the bus. The scroll through your pages and consider your brand. Then they become distracted when the bus reaches their stop. Your remarketing ad brings them back to your website when they see it later on their desktop. At this time, your user is more focused and ready to make a purchase, turning a top or mid-funnel customer into a bottom-funnel converter.
Learn How Specific Personas Behave
Because the data collected from Google Signals is user-based rather than session-based, you can better understand how your audiences behave. This, paired with better demographics and interests reporting, allows you to line up different behavioral patterns with different profiles. Brands can better create campaigns for specific target audiences based on their behavior and change the campaigns based on audience response.
For example, a brand might create a cross-device remarketing campaign for less tech-friendly audiences that prefer to use their desktops for purchases.
Discover Other Analytics Tools and Capabilities
While the Google Signals feature is a valuable tool for better exploring your audiences and their behavior, it is only one part of your data ecosystem. The vast majority of marketers have a disjointed data process. Each individual marketing channel has its own reporting and data.
At Trinity Insight, we want to take that a step further. We work to grow your data maturity so that all systems are connected together and centralized in one platform. If it sounds complex, it isn’t for you. You will benefit from looking at one centralized information source that you can base your decisions off of.
For the past 10 years, consumers have demanded more visual content. Thousands of blog articles and think pieces have been published about the benefits of visual content, encouraging brands to use photos and videos in their digital efforts. However, visual content comes at a cost: more images and large videos create slow site experiences – particularly on mobile devices. Adding the very thing that your customers want ends up driving them away. Almost half of all consumers say they are less likely to buy from a slow-loading site and are less likely to return.
Site speed is only one issue with using visual content on mobile devices. Brands also need to optimize their images so they are better found in mobile search. While many of the principles of image optimization transfer from desktop, there are a few specific considerations that brands need to be aware of.
Follow this guide on optimizing images for mobile if you want to improve your organic rankings and mobile traffic. We will review the current industry best practices so you can make your visual content work for you.
The Role of Visual Content and SEO
Unless you are publishing a photo essay or basing the content around a specific photo, images are often considered an afterthought in the content creation process. They are something to add to the SEO checklist and are often added once everything has been written, edited, and approved. However, visual content still plays a valuable role in search.
Visual content is a traffic driver. A valuable chart or image can rank highly and bring organic traffic to your website through Google Image Search. Some websites reap the benefits of high traffic levels to certain pages for years because of clearly created charts or graphs. If you only pick the same five stock photos that everyone else in your industry uses, then you likely won’t see a big bump from Google Image Search.
As you can see below, the top ranking images are clear header images driving traffic to informative pages or infographics that answer the user’s question.
Images also tell Google crawlers what they are looking at. Google is able to see how your visual content ties into your overall message. While Google’s system can’t actually see the image, it can pull information that you provide to determine its value. Plus, Google’s tools get more advanced every year. The crawlers are getting better at reading images and assigning value to them.
Finally, visual content impacts the user experience. Slow loading pages and bad images cause high bounce rates. Google notices these bounce rates and notes that your content is not providing valuable information. The result is lower rankings and less organic traffic, despite the fact that your written content may be useful. Users only have so much patience for poor images.
Make Sure Your Image is Clear at All Sizes
The first step toward optimizing images for mobile is ensuring clarity and sizing. Even if your images are ranking highly for various terms in Google Image search, your audiences likely won’t click on them if the content is vague, blurry, or weirdly-sized. From a user standpoint, you stand to isolate audiences by using images that look unprofessional or unclear. All of the hard work you put into developing a website on your Macbook can go to waste without considering the mobile ramifications.
Never assume that the devices or operating systems will be intuitive enough to load your images correctly. Something that looks stunning on the latest iPhone model could be cropped terribly on an Android device. You want to review your images across multiple devices and choose content that is clear and valuable regardless of how it is rendered.
The shape isn’t the only part to consider with your visual content. You also need to consider the size. Will the images be legible on incredibly small screens? Make sure potentially small graphics (like avatars) are still clear once they’re shrunk down. If not, you need to simplify your visuals.
You can see that we use clear avatars for our profile photos that are recognizable across all image sizes.
Consider How the Image Will Impact the Content
Good images are meant to strengthen your content. They emphasize a point, break up ideas, and highlight the overall brand. Too often, content creators get caught up in stock photos and site requirements to really add images that are assets to the text. This makes the content unshareable on image-driven social channels (which is pretty much all of them) and can even turn audiences away with a poor image experience.
Slow loading images can lead to blank screens. While you might think you’re creating a mobile-friendly experience by choosing a vertical image, audiences can grow annoyed when the text is loading but the image isn’t. Slow loading images also frustrate readers when their page starts skipping up and down as the images load.
When you are choosing your content, make sure you select images that actually benefit the reading experience. Each image should have a distinct purpose.
Another trick you can follow for optimal image selection is creative cropping. If you see an image you like, crop it to only get the information or visuals you need. This draws the reader’s eye and helps them focus on what is important.
Compress Images for Faster Loading
If there is an image that you love for your website but it is also massive, look up image compression tools. There are dozens of free options on the web to choose from. You can upload an image or PDF and software will remove as much unnecessary information as possible without affecting the visual experience. In many cases, these tools can remove up to 90% of the information, without you or your readers noticing a difference.
Also, in the age of mobile image optimization, it is still better to start with a large image and condense or compress it. Small, low-quality images can easily get stretched out or look blurry to the point where they need to be replaced.
Follow Traditional Image Optimization Best Practices
Once you have improved your sizing and image selection processes, make sure you are still following the traditional best practices for SEO image optimization. Use alt-tags and title tags to describe your images, add keywords to your tags to help search engines, and consider readers who are visually impaired or unable to access your content.
Optimizing images for mobile requires many of the same steps as optimizing images for desktop. However, brushing up on these best practices and checking to make sure your team knows what to do (and why it needs to be done) can help you present your content in a unified and effective manner. At the very least, it will prevent you from having to backtrack and clean up after a staff member who created content without factoring image SEO into the publishing process.
Optimizing Mobile Images for Ecommerce
The vast majority of this article has focused on image optimization for a lead-generation page or a blog. However, images are just as important (if not more) for eCommerce brands. Along with these best practices, check out our other guides for sharing valuable visual content on your eCommerce site. You can also read about sending feeds to Google and third-party shopping sites so your images sell your products and grow your eCommerce sales.
For example, TripAdvisor encourages reviewers to share photos, but they make sure their images are professional and easily viewed across all devices.
Develop Style Guide Standards for Site Images
As you go through the process of optimizing your images for mobile and reviewing the visual content on your website, develop standards for your visual content that your content team can follow when selecting and publishing photos moving forward. This ensures that all of your images maintain the same quality and have the best chance of helping (rather than hurting) your SEO.
Once you have a set of mobile SEO image guidelines in your style guide, you can run an audit with your previously uploaded images and work through your old content to make sure each image is up to code. Many SEO site audit tools will pull a list of images and their sizes to show you whether or not they are indexable. You can work through the list of past images, resizing them, replacing them, or updating them so they show up in Google image search and create a positive experience for your mobile users.
Get Your Gameplan
At Trinity Insight, we take a full-body approach to SEO. We look at page optimization as well as your content strategy to see how your technical SEO elements hurt or hinder your content creation efforts. You can’t have one without the other, otherwise, your SEO efforts will continue to flounder.
If you have a large backlog of images that are hurting your search efforts, contact our team or sign up for a free audit of your website. We can identify the scope of the project and the extent to which your images may be hurting your search efforts – among other things. You can take steps today to create a better image experience for site visitors which can lead to better leads and sales.
Google is making email more interactive. Instead of sending static emails where users can only click through to your website or download an app to get more information, Google wants to make it possible to access information, take actions, and receive updates all within one email body.
These email improvements come as an extension of Google’s accelerated mobile pages (AMP) program. Google initially debuted its AMP program in 2015 as a way to speed up mobile pages. Today, tens of millions of domains are AMP enabled and render mobile pages in a matter of seconds. Now, Google is applying its AMP to email, giving developers the power to create an email experience that we have never seen before.
How is AMP for Email Different?
There are two main benefits of AMP for email: interactive functions and immediate updates. With interactive functions, users can click within the email and complete tasks without having to leave the Gmail interface. This is significantly different from most email formats, where users click on any link and are immediately brought to a website.
For example, with the current email process, if a customer is asked to take a survey, a new window will open and reload as soon as they click on anything. A slow-loading page or the hassle of having a whole new window open can drive some customers away, decreasing engagement rates and lowering the number of completed surveys. With the new AMP email system, the responses that customers select will be submitted and the email will thank users for participating.
Google isn’t entirely altruistic in this feature, or anything else it does. This has the added benefit for Google of keeping users on a Google-based product, extending the amount of time they spend on Gmail. It also works to create a better Gmail experience over other providers.
The second key benefit to AMP email is the immediate update option. One of the biggest challenges with email is that content quickly grows stale. Departure times change, locations of events are moved, and items run out of stock. The result is unhappy customers who either miss the memo on the new content or get annoyed when you send multiple follow-up emails with the right information. AMP for email will automatically update recipients, so they never have to worry about seeing incorrect or old information in their email bodies.
For example, if the launch was scrubbed or the launch time and date was changed, the Kennedy Space Center would be able to update the email notification to reflect the latest information.
How Can You Benefit from AMP for Email?
Almost any company in any industry can benefit from AMP email. An impressive 93% of B2B brands use email marketing to connect with customers. Furthermore, more than 59% of marketers say email communication is their biggest source of income. If you use email marketing for your brand, then this is a game changer. If you have stopped email communication and switched to alternative marketing options, then AMP for email might make you reconsider. Here are five ways AMP for email is changing the game.
Keep Your Sales Information Relevant
If you run timely sales with limited inventory for your eCommerce brand, then you need to consider AMP for email. Brands like Groupon, which only run sales for a few hours and have a limited number of items, can highlight disappearing items that are likely to sell out. When these items do sell out, they can change their emails to other items that are also popular.
Too often, brands like Groupon are wary of putting popular items in their email communications. It creates a bad experience when customers click on an advertised item only to discover that it is sold out.
Additionally, this feature has been energizing the hotel industry. When a specific hotel deal or room rate sells out, the email can change to reflect other options in the area. The customer isn’t disappointed.
Allow People to Make Reservations Within the Email Body
If you run a service-based business, rather than a product-based company, you can still use the AMP for email feature. Users will be able to make reservations right within the email rather than leaving to visit a new page. They can select times and submit their appointments with only a few clicks.
Too often, users click to make a reservation and then are faced with a barrier to log in or register. It is easier to bounce than to try and remember various usernames and passwords.
Collect Survey Data Within the Email
We touched on this earlier, but the information is just as relevant. With AMP for email, you can collect survey information without asking customers to commit to a lengthy process. When customers click on a survey link, a new page loads. They are faced with the decision of whether they should close the window and keep checking their emails or commit to this new activity. It is not uncommon for users to bounce instead of moving forward.
Most feedback will also result in better feedback. User fatigue will be lessened because an AMP email survey is more dynamic and interactive.
Make Email Updates Instead of Sending Corrections
Everyone has made mistakes or had to change the information of an email. Maybe you put the wrong start time for an event or forgot to add information about parking. Instead of sending a follow-up email to your customers, you can update the existing email with relevant information. This way your users won’t have to toggle between emails in order to find out which one has the most accurate information.
Send Fewer Emails
Most people feel like companies send them too many emails. Half of consumers say they receive too many emails from brands and marketers, while 30 percent of consumers say they would prefer to hear from a brand about once a month or less.
Many marketers get nervous at the idea of sending fewer emails. When each email signifies revenue, then pulling back, in theory, means reduced profits. However, when you look at , the most effective email marketers have been the ones who are strategic and don’t mass blast their lists.
Segmentation has made it possible for marketers to send fewer emails to smaller lists and drive better results. This is the same goal as Google’s AMP for email. Google wants to make sure the emails in user inboxes are useful and relevant, driving customers to take action rather than tuning brands out.
How to Take Advantage of AMP Email
Google announced AMP for email in spring of 2018 and is just now starting to roll out this feature for mass use. Currently, Google lists a three-step process to add AMP features to your email content:
Develop your emails to contain AMP features. Google cautions users to make sure to handle authentication requests appropriately.
Test your emails to make sure the appearance and behavior match your strategy.
Register with Google to approve your AMP emails and to start sending them out.
Because you need to register with Google and follow the company’s processes to add AMP email features, this is not going to be a feature that brands embrace overnight. Most businesses that use email providers like Constant Contact or MailChimp will likely continue to use static emails until AMP email becomes commonplace for most providers. However, if customers like the AMP features that pioneer email marketers add, then more brands might start using these options until they become commonplace.
Improve Your Email Response Rates
Are your email response rates flat or declining? You may not need Google’s AMP for email technology to make a difference. Talk to our email marketing specialists about how you can get more people to open, read, and take action from your emails. We can help you maximize your email marketing impact.
This is the next part in our Best Practices series for eCommerce usability. Over the past month, we have covered topics ranging from product pages to the shopping cart and checkout processes. It’s not uncommon for well-meaning web designers to hurt their eCommerce efforts by overdesigning pages or missing small details. We wanted to create a guide for designing your site so that you can show off your products in their best light. When you take away barriers to buy, your customers will have no reason to bounce.
The final part of our Best Practices series covers category pages. These are the backbone of your eCommerce site and serve as a bridge between your homepage and product pages. Check out these 10 best practices for using category pages to move customers deeper into your sales funnel.
Make Parent and Child Categories Equally Selectable
You need category pages along with subcategory pages. You can see right here on how to make a positive e-commerce module, as generally some people want a high-level view of a category before they narrow down their search. Most customers use this as a solution for when they can’t find what they’re looking for or want to browse different options.
Let’s use the example of someone shopping for dresses online. A customer likely won’t know that they want an A-line dress or a maxi dress, they just want to see what products you have and if they look cute. By creating a clickable “dress” category page, your customers can look at all of your dress options and then filter down the information based on what they’re interested in.
For example, ModCloth has a diverse spread of dresses, and many customers add dozens of items to their wishlist. Their high-level category pages encourage browsing, not unlike looking at items in a brick-and-mortar location. Without this parent category, your customers will get annoyed and bounce rather than looking in each subcategory until they find what they need.
Give Customers the Ability to Filter
Your category pages give customers a high-level location of where they want to be, and your filters can help them narrow their options until their search results are more manageable. Let’s use the dress example again. When staring at hundreds of dresses in the high-level category page, a customer can narrow their search results to a few dozen by limiting the price, size, length, and even color. With just a few clicks, she can focus on the best dresses possible for her needs.
Once again, you can around with ModCloth to see this in action. They have more than 300 dresses on their site, but that number drops to 99 when you filter by size. It drops again down to five if you filter by color. With these filters, it doesn’t matter what the dress category is because the customer found their best options with just a few clicks.
Add Subcategories Multiple Times As Needed
This is one of the more contested tips when it comes to category pages. Some marketers argue that showing the same subcategories under your main categories will confuse customers, but studies have found that people actually find what they’re looking for faster.
For example, if you were looking to buy boys pants, would you go to the pants category first or the children’s clothes category? It’s unfair to assume that all of your customers think like you and will follow your same train of thought. By placing boys pants under both the pants and the children’s category, you increase the chances that customers will find what they are looking for.
Remember, your customers likely aren’t studying your categories like a map. As soon as they find what they want, they are going to click. This is particularly important for brands with dozens of categories, subcategories, and even further child categories underneath that.
It’s up to you to decide whether this creates unnecessary clutter, especially if you have multiple subcategories that can go to multiple places. However, it may be worth implementing usability testing for this to see how your customers react.
Make Your Categories Obvious for Users
Don’t let your brand get in the way of usability. It’s all too common for eCommerce brands to create “cute” category names that they think are witty but really confuse customers. Your category pages should correlate to how new customers view your website.
There are certain pages that every website has that internet users expect to find. Pages like “contact us” or “about.” When customers can’t find what they’re looking for, or when it takes a few extra steps to get there, they are going to get annoyed with your site.
The same concept applies to the colors of your products. Is “cloudy sunrise,” supposed to be blue or orange? And if orange, what kind of orange? Clearer labels will sell better than overly-branded content.
Make Sure Your Product Images Are Consistent
We’ve touched on the importance of having unified branding on your photos in regard to product pages, but this advice bears repeating: if you have multiple photography styles for your products, your customers will think less of your brand. Plus, you’re setting your site up to sell certain products that are displayed well while putting other products at a disadvantage.
It’s worth the investment to take your own product photos instead of relying on your vendors to provide them for you. While you can use some vendor photos in your product pages, make sure the category image has your branding. Otherwise, your website will look like an eBay search results page.
Display Product Reviews on Your Landing Pages
The goal of UX is to create a funnel for customers to move through your site to the products they want. While you can’t always predict what customers want, you can highlight the top options on your site. If you want to guide customer clicks, include the number of reviews and star rating for products on your category pages. People are more likely to trust items with several reviews and will click on your highest-quality items.
Consider this data: products that have 50 or more reviews convert at 4.6% higher rate than those that do not. However, customers only read one to three reviews before making a decision.
The travel site Viator highlights reviews in all of their tours. Few people are willing to take a risk on a new tour or low-rated tour, so the top tours get booked quickly and their reviews pile up.
Display the Price
Along with displaying reviews, display the price as well. Don’t force customers to click on products that might be out of their price range. If you’re going to let customers sort, make the price obvious. By displaying the price, you are actually bringing customers closer to the items they want to buy instead of requiring them to look at every product option on your site.
Make the Customer Path Clear
This is a small step you can take to make the customer navigation process easier, especially for people who aren’t sure about what they need or where to look for it. Adding a navigation path explaining how customers reached a certain place makes it easier for people to backtrack or get their bearings.
Turn to REI for examples on both the clear customer path and multiple options for accessing subcategories. First, you can clearly see the path to reach your narrowed search results: Columbia > Men’s Clothing > Rain Jackets. However, that isn’t necessarily the path most people will take to get there. You can get the same results by searching for Rain Jackets > Men’s Jackets > Columbia. It doesn’t matter how customers find the content, all roads lead to high-quality results.
Promote Latest Arrivals to Loyal Customers
If you differentiate your results between new and returning customers, consider adding a feature to your category pages that display the latest arrivals to returning customers. These are people who already trust your brand. They wouldn’t have returned if they didn’t like what you have. Instead of trying to push your best sellers and highest-rated items, showcase some of your new and fresh arrivals. When your loyal customers buy these items and review them, they can turn into your best sellers that new customers love as well.
At the very least, you can add a New Arrivals filter to your product listings like Dillard’s.
Make Sure Your Pages Load Quickly
Online stores for Amazon and Walmart have trained customers to expect hundreds of results immediately. Your customers don’t want to choose between two options, they want to see dozens of products and then filter them based on their needs. If you have a slow load speed, your page might load four results and then sit half-finished for the next five seconds while the remaining items load.
Prioritize site speed for a better UX, improved SEO, and higher conversion rates. Remember, 47% of customers expect your website to load in under two seconds. Hold your feet to the fire and keep your load speeds up.
Your category pages are just one part of the customer journey through your site, but they are easy to lose in the middle of the funnel. Without your category pages, there’s no way you would see the sales you currently have.
If your category pages need some TLC, you’re not alone. We work with eCommerce brands of all sizes to improve their user experience. Start with a 25-Point User Experience Checkup so you can see where your pages need improvement and how you can update your website to drive results.
Google I/O is the company’s annual developer conference held in Mountain View each year. The I/O stands for input/output, but is also a nod to the idea of “Innovation in the Open,” part of Google’s executive vision. This year marked the 12th I/O conference, and by now journalists, industry professionals, and tech fans hang on bated breath to see what updates Google has in store for the year. There is a lot to sort through for everyone, but what is relevant for search professionals?
If you missed this year’s I/O, we have you covered, here are seven takeaways that you need to know from the Google I/O 2019.
Search Console has a New Speed Report
One of the most talked about SEO features discussed during the Google I/O 2019 conference is a new website speed report for the Google Search Console. Speed is the top factor that customers take into consideration on any given website. Three-quarters of users say speed has a significant impact on the user experience. Site speed beats out navigation (66%), screen fit (61%), and ease of use (58%) for customer demand. With that, it only makes sense that Google would adjust its Search Console to highlight the importance of a speedy website.
With the new speed measurement tool, webmasters will see the customer search experience sorted into three buckets: slow, average, and fast. The name of the game is simple. You want the vast majority of your experiences to be fast. This tool will allow you to click into your slow and average buckets to see what went wrong and what is slowing users down on specific pages. As you start to fix errors on these pages, you can watch your site speed improve and the number of poor experiences decreases.
Google currently has a form open here if you are interested in becoming a tester for this new tool.
PWAs Are Coming to Desktop
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) were developed as an alternative to mobile websites or smartphone apps. They are meant for people who want to have an app-like experience on their phones without having to download something.
PWAs benefit brands because users enjoy the mobile experience more and there is less pressure to convert users with a download. The popularity of PWAs is such that all major browsers will now support PWA installation.
Brands like Twitter and Spotify have seen significant growth because of PWAs, and this move to the desktop will help brands create a more unified experience across all devices. Instead of creating different desktop, mobile app, and PWA interfaces, brands will be able to use PWAs for the vast majority of engagements.
Google Lens Can Now Recognize Menu Items
Lens is a visual search tool that can recognize animals, text, celebrities, and shopping items. During this year’s Google I/O 2019 keynote, the company announced that Lens will now be able to “read” menus and pull up information on them. This makes it easy to read reviews and learn about specific foods.
For example, you can highlight a cheeseburger at your favorite diner to look at photos and read the reviews about people who enjoyed it. Alternatively, you can lower-rated menu items when you’re in an unfamiliar place.
This feature will drive restaurant owners to push customers to leave more reviews – and more specific reviews of what they ate. It’s not enough for a restaurant review to cover the cleanliness and service, people want to know specifically what is good to eat. This feature could also change search in helping specific items show up in search results. Even if you don’t run a dedicated burger joint, your restaurant name could rank highly for “best burgers in [city]” if your customers order the burger on your menu and rate it highly.
Customers Are Getting Greater Cookie Control
As part of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) law, websites are required to disclose what information they collect from customers, how they plan to use it, and if the information is saved. This is why so many websites from across the web are suddenly asking if you will accept their cookies. While Google acknowledges that this step toward consent is in the right direction, the vast majority of people still have no idea what cookies are and what it means to reject or accept them.
Cookies help track everything from email logins to ad preferences, so users really have no idea what is good for them. Per an announcement on the Chromium blog:
“To browsers, all of these different types of cookies look the same, which makes it difficult to tell how each cookie is being used — limiting the usefulness of cookie controls.”
Many people simply clear all of their cookies on a regular basis, which creates a clunky web experience when users try to do something simple like check their email. Google is working to improve cookie controls so users can clear certain types of cookies while keeping others.
Google is also prohibiting the practice of fingerprinting, an underground tracking option that is nearly impossible to block.
Live Caption is Coming to Android Q
Google I/O 2019 introduced fans to the third beta incarnation of Android Q. While this announcement alone isn’t really enough to get SEO professional excited, the latest beta does come with an interesting new feature that makes Android devices more accessible while also boosting audience engagement: Live Caption.
Live Caption provides real-time continuous speech transcription for your phone. This includes phone calls and video calls, but also online videos, podcasts, and other recordings. Google intended this to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but the update also reflects our current state of smartphone use.
More than 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound. This is a statistic that has been echoed by other popular content creators like Mic and PopSugar. When companies add subtitles to their video content, the number of views and the length of the average view goes up. Oftentimes, viewers keep the sound off because they aren’t sure they actually want to watch the video yet or because they can’t turn the sound on in a public place (like employees watching videos at their desk or commuters watching on the train).
While Live Caption will definitely cut down on miscommunications and provide a service for the hard of hearing, it can also have a significant impact on the analytics of marketers and search professionals. More people will be interested in your content and tune in when you are speaking because subtitles are added automatically.
Google Home is Now Part of Google Nest Hub
Another hardware addition that Google introduced is the Google Nest Hub Max, which will be the future of Google Home. This is a $229 smart display with a built-in speaker and camera, which has been upgraded to focus more on privacy and security settings. For example, the faces collected via camera will not be transferred across the web, limiting the hacking or abuse of facial recognition software.
Interestingly, Google used this space to introduce Face Match, a counter to Voice Match, which detects and recognizes specific household faces. This is an optional feature that will send you specific notifications from your Google account. For example, if you have a work meeting later in the afternoon, Google will only remind you of that, not your kids when they check the weather.
If Face Match grows in popularity, this could continue to make SEO even more personalized. One device could pull results based on the needs and interest of individual family members. Instead of one search experience fielding all queries from the family, each family could have its own experience from the same device and without having to log off and on again.
It is easy to get so focused on the SEO updates that you start to ignore the non-marketing aspects of the Google I/O 2019 conference. However, something simple like Lens or Live Caption can have just as big of an impact on your search results as the new speed feature in the Search Console if you know how to take advantage of it.
Clients often ask us whether they should invest in paid search efforts or put more money into SEO. They seem to think that SEO and SEM are either/or strategies that are independent of one another. However, SEO supports paid search efforts, while paid search provides valuable insights and guidance for the SEO team. If you want to maximize Google exposure to increase traffic and sales, then you need both. Here is how paid and organic search efforts overlap.
4 Ways Paid Search Helps Your SEO Efforts
If you have focused exclusively on SEO to promote your website, then PPC marketing is about to give you a windfall of data. If you have operated your SEO and PPC efforts in isolated silos, then it’s time to marry the two for better information spreading across your marketing efforts.
Discover Better Keyword Research and Targeting
Google Ads is essentially a free keyword research tool for your SEO team. They can see what keywords perform best and what makes people click to your page. Some SEO teams use Google keywords results to identify low-hanging fruit. What keywords have high CTR and conversion rates, but low organic results? This is a great place to start to buffer SEO efforts and focus your work.
Tap Into a Steady Stream of Content Ideas
One of the best tools you can use to come up with landing page ideas and blog content is the search terms tab in the keyword section. This shows exactly what people are typing in to reach your website. If you predominantly use broad and phrase match keywords, you may be surprised by how people are finding you.
Most paid search experts check this column at least weekly to see what their top terms are. This allows them to and add poor match results to negative keyword lists to prevent wasted clicks in the future.
More customers than ever are typing complete sentences and long-tail keywords into Google. This is only going to increase with voice search tools like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. In fact, 57% of Amazon’s sales come from long-tail terms. It’s time to look into your search terms and turn these keywords into content.
Most of the keywords in this section won’t require much adjustment to become ideas. If someone lands on your site with the phrase “how can I grow closer to my boyfriend,” and you write advice columns, you have your next idea. You can even pull some of your top performing keywords and base ideas off of them in your next ideation session. The possibilities are endless.
Learn Who Your Top Competitors Are
Google Ads allows you to get a clear picture of where you stand in the auctions and who your top competitors are. Your search team likely keeps an eye on these other bidders, but your SEO team can benefit as well.
Use this information to see where your competitors outrank you in paid results and how they compare organically. What can you do to stand out and reach new audiences? What do your competitors have from an SEO standpoint that you don’t have? If you want to go after your competitors to maximize Google exposure, use this tool to see what you’re up against to overtake them.
Learn More About Your Target Audiences and Personas
Google Ads and Google Analytics provide more data about who is visiting your website and what they are getting out of it. If you are developing brand guidelines and a content strategy for SEO, consider using the data from your PPC efforts to create profiles on potential customers.
There are a variety of tools you can use within the ad interface to do this. You can look at specific audiences that Google divides users into. You can look at specific demographic information like age and gender, or you can look at demand for certain products and services and the people who buy them. Use the mountains of data that Google provides to create reliable, accurate target personas.
4 Ways SEO Improves Your Paid Search Campaigns
While PPC is predominantly used to help SEO with ideation and strategic planning, marketers can see almost immediate monetary improvements from working with the organic search team. You can’t maximize Google exposure in paid search without organic efforts.
Improve Site Experiences for Customers
Our clients often try to use paid search as a crutch in the short term while their website is getting updated. Their logic is that they can still maintain or improve their traffic levels through paid ads until the organic search traffic kicks in. Unfortunately, this is a costly misconception. Sure, you can drive traffic to your homepage and landing pages through PPC, but if your audience hates what they see, they are going to bounce.
Bad content, slow loading pages, and questionable design all drive people away, and the likelihood is slim that they will return. Almost 80% of customers say that they would not return to a poor or slow loading website. Read this post on website theme to get the idea how important it can be.
A good site experience through strategic SEO makes customers want to stay on your site and increases the chances that they convert. You can win over new customers through paid search and convince them to turn them into loyal direct or organic customers in the future.
Increase Clicks Alongside Organic Listings
SEO and PPC are not exclusive strategies. You can’t separate keywords that you want to rank organically for and keywords that you want to support with paid ads. In fact, ranking highly for certain keywords organically can actually help your paid search efforts.
In 2012, Google reported that having an organic listing on the first page lead to more incremental clicks. About half of the clicks for ads when your organic listings are at the top of the rankings are incremental, but this jumps to 82% and 96% for listings that are in positions 2-4 and above five.
What does this mean? Essentially, your paid ads don’t steal from your organic search results, but rather your organic results encourage customers to click on your ads. Why? When audiences see multiple listings, they associate quality and relevancy with your brand. They don’t think you have a questionable website that paid to be at the top of the content. Rather, your site must be valuable if Google is ranking it so highly organically and promoting an ad.
Use your organic results to build up your paid search ads. You will appreciate the higher CTR and higher ROI that comes with it.
Enjoy Higher Quality Scores
The value of quality scores is debated across marketing circles. Some decry this number as a vanity metric while others point out the correlation in performance and cost for results with higher scores. As recently as 2018, Larry Kim insisted that quality scores impact your cost per click. Ads with higher quality scores have lower CPCs but the same rankings, while ads with lower quality scores had to pay more for the same exposure.
Remember, it is in Google’s best interest to get you to click. The company would rather lose a few cents and get the click over no click at all because of poor results from a high bidder. This is why Google promotes brands that are likely to have better success rates.
Quality score is determined based on the quality of the ad copy, the relevance of the ad text, the historical performance of the keyword, and the landing page quality. If you have a strong landing page experience with top SEO best practices, you are already nailing that part of the quality score. Google will be more inclined to raise your scores and give you more exposure and results without your having to spend more.
Increase Your PPC ROI
All of these SEO efforts work together to improve your paid search ROI and maximize Google exposure. Higher quality scores result in lower CPCs, better site experiences lead to lower bounce rates, and creative copy sells customers on your products. With a combined SEO and PPC strategy, you should start to see your conversion rate increase in your paid search efforts, driving your ROI up. You can stretch your marketing efforts farther because you’re being strategic about how you spend, not just where you spend.
You don’t need to be an expert in both SEO and PPC to have a successful marketing campaign. Consolidating your efforts through one organization increase communication and helps you develop a unified strategy where your PPC efforts help your SEO and vice versa.
Call us today and grill our team on how you can maximize Google exposure through SEO and PPC. Or request a free digital advertising health check to see how your efforts stack up against industry best practices. Either way, you are taking the first steps toward better paid and organic search results.
One of the most critical areas to optimize within your user experience is without question the PDP, otherwise known as the Product Detail Page. This is the “money page” on your site – the page that does the selling and takes the customer from research and evaluation to purchase.
Few digital marketers get excited about eCommerce product pages though. Owners and executives who manage tens of thousands of products see these pages as essential for driving sales but incredibly tedious to maintain. From detailed product descriptions to high-res photos, it is easy for good product pages to become stale or repetitive without a site manager who is focused on quality.
Your customers will likely only look at a few product pages while they shop, but the information they find is incredibly valuable to them.
More than 75% of customers rate product specifications as incredibly important when online shopping.
Additionally, 98% of customers have been dissuaded from buying a product because of incomplete or incorrect content.
If even a few of your product pages aren’t meeting your quality standards, then your company is leaving sales on the table.
Follow these nine best practices to develop product pages that engage customers and really sell your products.
Balance Branding With Information in Your Copy
Some brands get hyper-creative when they develop their product names or descriptions, choosing titles similar to paint swatches than actual colors most people recognize. Instead of selling something that is light blue, they call the color “early morning mist.” While these descriptions are engaging and in-line with how you sell your products, your customers expect you to clearly describe what the items are in ways anyone can figure out.
Not only will this make your product descriptions and titles more effective (increasing customer knowledge and interest) clear copy will also give you a search boost because of the targeted keywords and informative language.
Let Patagonia serve as your example. They certainly sell the idea of going outdoors with the best gear, but they are also clear about the items that they promote.
Create Unique Product Descriptions
It should go without saying that your product descriptions need to be unique to your brand, not copied from a vendor — especially not without their permission. However, this is common enough that it bears repeating.
Also, remember that your product descriptions are read by actual customers, not just search crawlers, so focus less on keyword stuffing and more on creating content that sells.
Brands managers who want to go above and beyond with their content will develop engaging product descriptions that resonate with customers and keep people reading. They don’t see product descriptions as a burden for the content team or an SEO means to an end.
See below how lush sells an idea while providing information. Customers want to relax in citrus-luxury and know exactly how to do it.
Develop Guidelines for Your Product Images
Like your brand style guide, you should have a photography style guide for your products. This ensures product quality, but also product unity. Each product should be shot in the same light, with the same size ratio and the same online layout.
If you develop and sell all of your products, great. You should have no problem creating a unified model for your product images. However, this gets tricky when you sell items from dozens of vendors. It’s not uncommon for brands on a budget to accept the product images from vendors to save money on photography costs. As a result, one shirt might be featured on a white background, while the other is advertised on a model. The quality of one is higher than the other and customers are going to have a harder time objectively comparing the two.
Let’s put it this way, you want to look like a professional eCommerce business, not a third-party marketplace. If your categories look like eBay or Google Shopping results, then it’s time to unify your product images.
Show Multiple Images and Angles
Another way eCommerce brands keep their budget low is by only showing one or two images per product. What these retailers save in the short-run they will pay for in the long run with lower conversion rates and sales. Your first image wins over customers, but they want to see more. They want to know how the image looks from different angles and see if there is greater context for its size and weight.
Camping World’s pages need improvement. They took one image and then photoshopped the different rug colors to create different photos. Plus, some brands have their logos plastered all of the product images, while other photos just have the products.
Display Product Alternatives and Recommendations
Your product pages are meant to fill a need that your customers have. You should do whatever you can to offer solutions and guide shoppers to complete the sale. One way to do this is with product recommendations.
Showing similar products helps customers figure out what they need and what their options are. If they are on the fence about a product, they might find the perfect fit in your recommendation section.
You can also use your recommendation section to cross-sell items. A retailer can promote accessories or shoes to go with prom dresses, while an outdoor eCommerce store recommends additional camping gear for customers looking at tents.
Product alternatives increase the chances that a customer will convert, while product recommendations increase the average ticket.
Timberland actually uses both recommendations and alternatives. As you can see, they promote other jackets, but also hiking boots and work shoes to shoppers.
Give Customers Product Customization Options
Your customers have specific features in mind with the items they want. While you can’t accommodate everyone, you can showcase various customization options and choices when selling your products. These options address customer concerns and give buyers more control over the items.
Your customizations don’t need to be complex. Couch guitar straps nails it. They offer wallets with snaps or wallets without. This way customers who find the color and model they like aren’t detered by a snap (or lackthereof).
Your product pages are there to lower the risk factors when buying something from your brand. Why not add different details, add-ons, and color options to give people a strong sense of control?
Engage Your Customers on Your Product Pages
Ideally, you would dedicate at least half of a resource to customer engagement and encouraging buyers to review their items and share insights on your product pages. You may decide that this falls under the customer service umbrella or lives at the meeting point of customer care and marketing.
More than 90% of customers don’t trust items that lack reviews, and the more reviews a product has, the more customers trust it. Typically, a customer reads one or two good reviews and then reads the negative ones. They want to see what the worst case scenario is before they buy. Knowing this lowers their perceived risk and motivates them to move forward with the purchase.
There are multiple information points that existing customers can provide to promote your products to new buyers, a few include:
A star rating of the product and their satisfaction with it.
Information about the sizing (whether it runs small or runs big).
Ratings for the quality of the product and value.
Images of the product in customer homes or offices.
Reviews and advice for how to use the product.
If you have someone on your team dedicated to asking customers to share this information, then you can build a steady stream of fresh content on your product pages, boosting your SEO. You will have new images, engaging copy, and advice that sells new customers on your brand.
Ad ModCloth, for example, customers can upload photos of the items they bought. This helps customers see how the items fit, what events they are appropriate for, and how to accessorize them.
Consider Adding a FAQ
One of the benefits of involving your customer service team in the product page process is gathering insights and questions that they likely field all day. You can use these questions to improve your product descriptions or you can create a frequently asked questions section on your product pages.
FAQs instill more confidence in customers. They show how you anticipate and address concerns that past buyers have had. Plus, a FAQ section takes the burden off of your CSRs. If they have fewer calls with questions they can spend more time with customers solving their problems.
The best place to go for FAQ examples is travel sites. From Expedia to Royal Caribbean, these brands have to address dozens of concerns ranging from food to local activities. The more questions they can answer, the greater a chance of getting a booking.
Improve Site Load Speed — Especially for Images
Look at your Google Analytics data to see how many product pages, on average, your customers look at before they buy.
You may discover that your customers are scrollers, moving to the second, third, and even fourth page of product search results.
You may discover that your customers compare two or three items to make the best possible choice, causing them to toggle back and forth between the same few pages.
Whatever the behavior pattern, slow load times will push customers away. It only takes one or two slow-loading pages to annoy shoppers to the point where they find another brand to buy from.
These best practices highlight some of the most important aspects of your product pages. They won’t fix every problem on your website, but they will help you start to develop your product content with customer care in mind. Strong product pages reflect your company’s values and quality, so don’t brush them aside as a technical necessity.
This post is a continuation of our eCommerce best practices series. To read other parts of the series, check out our best practices for shopping carts and your checkout. If there is a part of the eCommerce user experience that you would like to know more about, don’t hesitate to reach out to our user experience team directly. Check back soon for the next chapter in this series.
Welcome to the fourth part of our best practices in eCommerce series. In previous articles, we discussed landing page design, checkout processes, and cart optimization. In this piece, we will review eCommerce homepage UX.
The homepage is the basis for your entire eCommerce website. It is often the first page you design and the most viewed page in your analytics. Despite this, the homepage is often overlooked. We tend to take for granted that the homepage looks fine and only needs minor updates to products, offers, and sales. However, there’s much more to it. Keep reading to learn why you should care about eCommerce homepage user experience (UX) and how you can optimize yours.
Why Should You Focus on Your Homepage UX?
We often focus on optimizing landing pages and creating better experiences for users who hit these URLs directly. After all, driving traffic to landing pages can reduce confusion and friction in the buying process, increasing conversions. However, the vast majority of your site visitors likely aren’t going to land on a niche page. The first page they will see is your homepage.
According to SEMrush Traffic Analytics, almost half of all retail traffic comes direct, with the vast majority of these site visitors typing your homepage into the address bar.
“This can be explained by long-term brand familiarity, repeat visits for regular purchases, and good brand awareness — this is what all the leading websites have in common,” Anna Lebedeva explains for SEMrush.
Your homepage customers are your loyal customers. They know to go directly to your website because they are familiar with your brand, love what you do, and want to explore more. This means it’s in your best interest to create a homepage that brings these loyal customers in and makes them want to convert.
Your homepage is also the first impression that your brand makes with new visitors. When people find your site through organic search, friends, or social media, they will make snap judgments about your website within the first few seconds of landing.
Through web user data and eye tracking research, we know that customers form first impressions about your website within 1/10 of a second of seeing it. Within 2.6 seconds, customers see something that most influences their opinion. All this is to say that your homepage UX needs to be really good or you could drive away potential customers.
Saying you need a good homepage is one thing, but actually developing a strong design is another. Below are six tips you can use to guide your homepage design to win over new customers and convert loyal ones.
1. Choose Function Over Fashion
Before you consider any element of your homepage UX, remember to prioritize function over fashion. It can be tempting to embrace the latest design elements that catch your eye on other websites and jump in with complex videos and graphics; however, you could end up confusing your audiences. People could become distracted, frustrated, or even motion sick just looking at your homepage.
Focus on the function of your homepage first. Tie all of your design elements back to your overall goals. This will prevent your design team from going overboard and creating something a large part of your audience can’t use.
2. Welcome Loyal Customers Who Are Signed In
In earlier parts of this series, we discussed how customers are likely to bounce if you require them to create an account. One of the best ways to reduce friction is to allow people to check out as a guest. As Neil Patel puts it, “I’d rather have more conversions including guest checkouts than to have less conversions and a few extra membership signups.”
However, if you are building your membership base and encouraging people to create accounts, incorporate ways to show the account value to your customers. One way you can do this is by simply greeting signed-in members on your homepage. People love reading their names and this greeting makes people feel exclusive. They will feel like they are getting a better deal or seeing better products than non-members.
Footlocker is a strong example of this. Their sign-in request acts as a VIP portal. This way, signing in isn’t a chore, but rather an opportunity for loyal customers to set themselves apart from the rest.
3. Make Your Shipping Thresholds Clear
There are a few universal questions that customers will have about your brand. New customers want to know where your shipping thresholds lie and if they meet their expectations. For example, 91% of customers say they would consider buying from a brand again if it offered free shipping. Additionally, only 25% of customers say they are willing to pay more for fast shipping, a number that continues to decline.
Make your shipping threshold clear as a way to bring customers in. Even if your threshold is high, most shoppers will tend to focus on the word “free” over the actual dollar amount they need to hit.
Look at how DSW displays its shipping threshold. Not only is it placed clearly on the homepage (without distracting from their top offers), but it also encourages customers to become VIP and create accounts. If you are spurred by shipping costs, the solution is simple: become a loyal member and the shipping fees disappear.
4. Test Different Items to Promote
Look at the demographics of people who land on your homepage. What percentage are returning visitors? What percentage are loyal customers? This data can help you determine which items that you promote on your homepage. If you look across the retail spectrum, you will likely see three sets of items across various homepages:
Bestsellers: these are popular products and crowd favorites. They have several reviews from years of sales. These products can win new customers over because they have a proven track record, reducing the risk of trying a new brand.
New Releases: these are the hot and exciting items that just landed on your website. Your loyal customers love these items. They regularly visit your website and eagerly await new items that they haven’t seen before.
Collections: these are groups of items that go together. If you are trying to create a look or define your brand, share these items. Collections are meant to elicit feelings and creating experiences for shoppers about your business and products.
If you look at Sur la table’s homepage UX, you can see a few of these different items in action. You can see their latest collections selling customers on the idea of Mediterranean dining by the seashore, then hitting loyal customers with new items that align with their brand design. These images make you want to click deeper into the website.
5. Add Call to Action Events
You might not think that small calls to action would have a big impact on your homepage UX, but they can help drive new customers deeper into your retail experience. Think about this from a human perspective: what do you do when you enter a new place for the first time? This could be a retail store, or airport lounge, or restaurant. You immediately look for guidance on where to go. This is why stores like Starbucks have big “Order Here” signs and retailers display information about different departments. Your website is your room, and you need to orient customers and send them in the right direction.
Look at how JCPenney displays items on its homepage. There are Shop Now icons on several images, but the eCommerce brand also uses arrows to encourage users to click. These icons are small, but they are more effective at encouraging customers to click than simple labels would be.
6. Focus On Your Customer Navigation
In the same way that customers respond to CTA buttons telling them what to do, your navigation improves your homepage UX by guiding customers to the right department. This is most often where designers get carried away with the fashion of a website and forget the function. They assume that site users can figure out where your navigation menu is and tuck it away in the corner.
If you want to see how your customers navigate your website without a clear navigation bar, set up some user testing that records how customers click around your site. You can watch videos of customers on your landing page and see where they get tripped up. If the vast majority of users bumble around until they find your navigation, you need to make it more prominent.
For example, Bath & Body Works doesn’t have a complex product line. They’re not a department store with thousands of SKUs. However, they still have clear navigation at the top of their website. They design it to match with their brand but also guide customers to their body products, hand soaps, and home products.
How would you rank the user experience on your homepage? Is your website easy to use and optimized with these best practices, or does it need work? If you want to review your homepage UX and other elements of your eCommerce brand, sign up for our free 25-point user experience checkup. We can look at your website objectively and make suggestions for improvement and growth.
Your company has two choices: market harder or market smarter. If you choose to market harder, you need to increase your budget and grow your audience each year. The other option is to market smarter. This involves improving your targeting and strategy to better reach potential buyers. It also involves improving customer service to improve retention.
Marketing smarter allows you to market harder. You can improve your ROI and then reinvest the money you save into additional channels. One tool that strategic marketers can utilize is a single customer view (SCV), which pulls data from multiple sources to create a unified experience across channels and devices.
Editor’s Note: some professionals refer to a single customer view (SCV) as a single view of the customer (SVC). These acronyms are interchangeable for the most part, and we chose the use the SCV option for clarity.
What is a Single Customer View?
The single customer view (SCV) was developed in response to our multichannel digital world. For years, marketers struggled to reconcile how customer conversations and engagements that started on one channel turned into conversions on another one.
Marketers would lose customers on mobile devices who switched to a desktop.
They would lose customers who started on social media and then reached out to the call center.
This disconnect results in incomplete analytical data, duplicate results, and bad customer experiences.
SCV utilizes existing data from multiple sources to marry various customer engagements and create a single view. With this information, an unresolved customer complaint via email is solved when a customer calls into the center or visits a store. Brands can also lean the different paths customers take in the customer journey to learn how they can improve the process and invest in better solutions.
Each company has its own level of data maturity, or the strength of connections and communication across channels. Companies with level one and two data maturity levels are most at risk of losing customers because of these disconnects and a clear lack of a SCV.
“Customers expect that retailers know their preferences, order history, contact history and all interactions with the brand – both for the specific customer and their household,” Dave Cherry at Cherry Advisory, LLC tells Forbes. “Without [SCV], retailers may make costly mistakes that negatively impact service, conversion and loyalty.”
Essentially, customers expect your brand to have a high level of data maturity because other companies are already providing them with the experience that you can’t.
A Single Customer View Improves Customer Service
If you want to see examples of differentiation of customer service across multiple channels, tweet at a handful of brands and see how they respond. Some social media teams have the ability to solve customer complaints. They can cancel orders or change bookings right from Twitter. Meanwhile, other teams just direct you to call the customer help line. The latter option doesn’t provide customer service at all. Web users could save time cutting out the twitter feed and just call after looking up the number online.
Unfortunately for these laggard social media teams, more customers than ever expect quality customer service on social media. More than half (54%) of customers prefer social messaging over phone or email for customer service and it costs an average of six times more to solve a customer problem through a call center instead of through social media.
The communication and resource problems on social media lie in departmental differentiation. A company might outsource its social media with direction from the marketing department while its customer service team is run by another department through another company in another state. There is no unified experience or real strategic planning.
Developing a single customer view (SCV) creates a cohesive process for addressing customer service concerns regardless of the channel. Furthermore, customers can bounce from one channel to the next without quality changes or disruption.
A Single Customer View Increases ROI Through Better Targeting
While brands might focus on customer service opportunities when they start developing their SCV models, there are additional benefits both to the customer and the brand. Knowing your customer means knowing how they want to interact with your brand and what they need.
A clear picture can help you improve your brand messaging, give you a better idea for when to market to your customers, and hone your marketing efforts to reach likely buyers instead of relying on mass broadcasting.
Internally, a clearer picture of the customer improves your marketing attribution. Google Analytics tries to reconcile the customer journey through its Top Conversion Paths view, but this data is often lacking and unclear to someone who doesn’t have an experienced analytical eye. With a SCV, you can clearly see which channels are most responsible for sales and improved customer care. Plus, you can see which channels are essential in the buying process, offering assists that push customers along the sales funnel until they are ready to buy.
With better marketing attribution, you can allocate your budget to for better targeting. With better targeting, you get the right message in front of the right customers at the right time — increasing your conversions and sales.
What Does a SCV Contain?
Brands can develop their own single customer view in a variety of ways. Your team needs to determine which information is the most valuable to audiences and what can help your team track shoppers from one platform to the next. A SCV typically pulls three kinds of data:
Transaction data: essential customer service information related to past and pending transactions, customer communication history, and interaction history with the brand.
Demographics: physical demographics like gender, age, and geo, interests, lifestyle, income, and buyer persona.
Behavioral patterns: data relating to how and when they buy, what types of items they need and how they use them, which social channels they use, and how they communicate with the brand.
Brands looking to develop a single customer view need to focus on collecting good data instead of excess data. Just because you have hundreds of data points on a customer doesn’t mean you have valuable information — especially if you are so overwhelmed by the volume that you can’t make strategic decisions. Additionally, brands are often so focused on collecting data internally that they ignore third-party data sources that can help close gaps in customer information and paint a more valuable picture.
Without careful planning, you could have an incomplete or inaccurate SCV.
Evaluate Your Data Maturity to Build a SCV
At Trinity Insight, we constantly strive to market smarter through improved data services. We believe that winning marketers need to be data-obsessed and know how to navigate our increasingly analytical world.
Start by taking our five-minute self-assessment to see how your data strategy stacks up and let us help you if your data maturity level is lower than you would like.
Email marketing continues to be one of the most lucrative digital strategies for eCommerce brands. The average ROI for every dollar invested in email marketing is $38 in return, according to Salesforce. Furthermore, developing advanced email campaigns is easier than ever. Almost half of all eCommerce brands use some for of marketing automation to segment, generate, or send emails.
While email marketing is a powerful tool for eCommerce brands, not every company is fully maximizing its digital efforts. If you are still developing your email strategy or want to make improvements, this guide will help. Use our checklist of 20 ways to improve your eCommerce email marketing performance to grow your sales and engagement.
Improving Segmentation and Targeting
1. Clean out your email lists. It’s not enough to have an impressive email list with thousands of addresses that you blast daily. Make sure you are sending the right emails to the right people. Delete disengaged emails and focus on the quality of the emails, not the quantity.
2. Let customers set their email preferences. If you’re sending a few emails per day, your customers can get burned out on your content. Instead of a full unsubscribe, let your audiences decide what emails they want to receive and how frequently they need them. It is better for your customers to receive a few targeted emails instead of none.
3. Know the buying patterns of your target audiences. Each segmented audience has its own buying patterns. Some are more likely to buy at certain times of the month while others only want steep discounts or deals. Use data and a single customer view to learn what makes a shopper likely to buy.
4. Consider investing in AI or software tools that segment customers. Modern automation allows you to segment customers like never before. Between demographics and user behavior, these tools can curate dozens of lists and update them in a matter of minutes. If you want a more advanced email process, consider investing in a system that segments customers for you.
Netflix regularly sends recommendations based on what you watch.
Engaging Lost Customers
5. Email dormant customers. Send discounts or offers to customers who haven’t been to your website or made a purchase in the past few months. Maybe they just need a reminder to come back to your brand.
6. Send replenishment emails based on customer use. If you sell items that customers need but regularly run out of (like pet food, contacts, body wash, etc.) put your buyers on a replenishment schedule. These emails remind people to restock before they run out, or worse before they have to buy from one of your competitors.
7. Set up alerts for in-stock items. Whether you’re teasing a new release or temporarily out of certain items, let customers know when the products are ready to buy. Set up an email alert button on your product pages to bring back customers who couldn’t get what they wanted earlier.
8. Remind customers about their wish lists and loved items. If you allow customers to create wish lists or favorite items to return to later, use this engagement to bring customers back. Send emails whenever there is a price drop or limited inventory to try and spur action.
9. Reward customers based on their loyalty status. If you have a loyalty program, send emails with specific offers for loyal users. Show how special your customers are by immediately letting them know that this is an exclusive offer.
Nationwide brings customers back with monetary offers.
Updating Your Email Design
10. Add your branding to your confirmation emails. Transaction and confirmation emails have incredibly high open rates. Use this space to share brand content, entice customers to keep shopping, or reward buyers for their loyalty.
11. Involve your content team in your eCommerce email process. Email marketing doesn’t just generate sales. It also serves as an opportunity to build brand loyalty and communicate with customers. Invite your content and design teams to get creative with the email content to create enticing, brand-building messages.
12. Don’t forget your preview text. Marketers often focus on their subject lines without thinking about the preview text. Use these first few words to further hook recipients and make them want to click.
13. A/B Test your email designs. If you’re not ready to commit to a new design or form of brand messaging, A/B test it. Let your customers decide what they like and don’t like from your creative team.
Bank of America tries to share content through its email communications.
Building on Your Marketing Efforts
14. Include your referral program in your emails. It takes two seconds to forward an email on to friends. Encourage recipients to forward the content and reward them if their friends make a purchase. This helps you grow a referral program with minimal effort for your customers.
15. Make strategic recommendations to customers. If you based your retargeting emails off of past purchases, develop a strategy to encourage customers to take action. Make compatible recommendations and cross-sell suggestions to enhance the products that customers already bought.
16. Encourage customers to leave reviews. Another way you can grow future sales and improve product pages is with customer reviews. Send emails inviting customers to review their purchases a week or two after they receive them. Be clear that they will only have to answer a few questions to complete the review process.
17. Learn from your past experiences. Study the performance of your email strategy to see which content types work and which ones don’t. Challenge yourself to beat your past successes.
Penguin Random House uses emotional hooks to bring people back to check out their books.
Other Best Practices
18. Consider a mobile-first approach to email design. It’s 2019 and more than half (55%) of emails are opened on smartphone devices. If your metrics match or exceed this number, you may want to consider a mobile-first approach to email design, or at least focus your efforts more on how your mobile emails look.
19. Fight to stay out of the spam filters. The spam filter is your biggest enemy. If your subject lines seem too aggressive or follow similar patterns as spammers, then your messages could get filtered away. Quality content and engaging subject lines should minimize this risk.
20. Follow all FTC guidelines for email marketing. This includes having a physical address in your email body, letting customers unsubscribe, and honoring their subscription requests. The fines aren’t worth ignoring the CAN-SPAM Act.
Every company has strengths and weaknesses in its email marketing efforts. We can help you improve upon your strengths while identifying your weaknesses. Take our email marketing maturity assessment to see how strong your email performance is and start your improvement journey today.