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Much like Google Analytics, Facebook has already expanded the scope of their website’s metrics and analytics abilities to better serve business needs. The first program, called Facebook Page Insights, gives information about the content you share on your Facebook Page, along with other insights that help you track your overall page progress.

Their second program gives you information about your followers, and is called Audience Insights. This amazing tool can show you increasingly detailed data about both your audience and your target audience, such as interests, lifestyles, and demographics. Both of these insight programs can go a long way in helping your business.

What data is available?

Facebook Page Insights is divided into six sections:

1. Overview: basic breakdown of how well your posts have gone over, with total amount of likes per week compared to previous weeks, as well as the reach and stats on your last five posts.

2. Likes: how many people like your page. You can see organic versus paid, and the total number of times your page was liked.

3. Reach: how many people saw your post, whether they engaged or not – and divided between organic versus paid. You can see how many people served activity from your page with mentions, check-ins, and posts in addition to yours. There are charts on further data, including page unlikes or reports of spam.

4. Visits: how many times your page, and additional pages such as photos, were viewed. Also includes the actions people took, and if they came from a link outside Facebook.

5. Posts: gives a breakdown of when your fans are active, the reach of various posts, and interactions such as comments. You can compare stats of your posts with your competitors, or compare various types of your posts against each other.

6. People: breaks down the demographics of your audience, including gender, country and city, and language. Additional data is provided for viewers or engagers within the last 30 days.

How to use these?

These insights can be invaluable for several uses:

Analyze your audience: use the demographics to better understand the basics of who your target audience is, and what they enjoy.

Analyze your posts: see which types of posts receive the most reach and engagement. If one type (photos, status updates, or links) is wildly popular, repeat the success. If something is wildly unpopular, try to minimize those posts.

Boosting posts: if you decide to pay for post ‘boosts’, the data on those becomes important to making future boost decisions. Use the data to hypothesize why certain boosted posts increased viewership: type of post, topic of post, or another factor.

Use the insights pages: while you can download a more thorough analytics report, you are probably better off sticking to the on-screen data. It is less overwhelming, and can get you to the right decision without giving you a headache.

Remember the data is specific. The success that your post finds on Facebook might not be replicated on other social networks; keep that in mind when assessing the data.

Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights lets you choose between three potential audiences: the entirety of Facebook, people connected to your page, or a custom audience made up of your current customers. The insights are divided into the five categories below, along with how you can use them:

1. Demographics: same information as above, but additional information is added, such as education, relationship status, education, job role and household size. Being able to compare your audience with a more specific audience can show you at whom to target your products. It can also show what products will not find an audience – for example, dating apps with an all-married audience.

2. Page Likes: the top pages people in your chosen audience like in different categories. This is helpful for scoping out potential competitors, and better understanding of what topics interest your audience.

3. Location and Language: again, similar to above, but the information is for the group you have chosen – not just connected to your page. This helps if you have campaigns or products targeting specific locations.

4. Facebook Usage: how often your chosen audience connects to Facebook, and on what kind of devices. Again, this helps better understand audience engagement.

5. Purchase activity: shows past purchase activity of your chosen group – are they heavy buyers in a specific industry? Also shows how they shop – online, in store, etc. If you have a brick and mortar store, but see online shopping is king, you might want to look into that option.

The better you know your target market, the better you can campaign. Both of these tools offer powerful insights into your audience. Like all data analytics, they help you better your business – and your marketing strategy.

Predictive analytics is a very exciting and hot topic in the online world, especially for ecommerce. When analyzed correctly, you can predict a slew of ideas: from what products will be most popular with customers before they are even launched, to the maximum price customers will spend on an item, to optimizing customer services before concerns become issues. Here are some of the greatest benefits of big data for online retailers:

1. Customer Engagement and Revenue Increases

Your customers engage with your site in different ways – some prefer a newsletter, others will click on a promotion, and still others might prefer liking and following a social media post back to your site. Predictive analytics helps you look at all the variables connected to generating engagement from your customers to complete that conversion, and get them involved.

Several vendors, such as Alteryx and Lattice, offer ecommerce sites models that will track and understand customer behavior. As your site grows, these models can be shifted along with your objectives. Often the easiest way to help grow with your customer is to track what they are buying, how they rate it, comparing their purchases against similar purchases by other customers, and see what items they put in their carts in real time. If you have a past history for customers, you can better predict what they might also consider purchasing – or what new customers might enjoy, based on their current cart.

As you increase your predictive analytics abilities along with generating customer engagement, you will certainly find a mirrored increase in revenue.

2. Pricing Management

Predictive analytics can analyze price trends along with sales information to help you determine the right prices at the right time to maximize profit and revenue. Previously, retailers used the A/B testing to set prices for different products and attempt to find the perfect price points.

The new approach uses various sources to support real-time pricing, such as customer activity, competitor pricing, desired margins, historic product pricing, and more. Based on this model, the price for a given product and customer can be predicted at any time. Remember that pricing management should be monitored closely, as it is an ongoing process and could suffer from automated price changes.

3. Better Targeted Promotional Launches

Without getting the word out, no customers will know about your blow out sales. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get promotions right – until predictive analytics. Segmentation and targeting are important for online merchandising, according to 98 percent of fast-growing merchants, so it is important that you have the right tools. Predictive analytics takes data from multiple sources to figure out a personalized promotional plan, for use either with individual or segments of your audience.

Some examples of successful promotions include Macy’s, which used a solution from SAP that helped target registered online users of the merchant’s website. Within 3 months, they saw an increase of 8 to 12 percent in their online sales by combining browsing behavior within product categories and sending targeted emails for customers in each segment.

4. Fraud Minimization

A reality of business, especially ecommerce, is fraud. Luckily, predictive analytics can help reduce losses from fraud. Solutions such as IBM’s SPSS suite let you analyze browsing patterns, purchasing patterns and payment methods to spot fraud. This technology has a long way to go, as 84 percent of predictive analytics suite owners do not use this as a primary use; however, anything that can help reduce fraud, can help give you peace of mind.

5. Better Customer Service

Your customer service levels can shine with the addition of predictive analytics. Oftentimes retailers have more questions than answers on this subject, such as whether to offer both phone and email lines, how many representatives are needed, how to prioritize a high-value customer, etc. Using a model built specific to the needs of your company help you answer these questions and more. After a certain amount of time, the model will be shaped, and able to give you better predictions – without blowing the bank on more expensive auditors.

6. Supply Chain Management

Predictive analytics helps understand customer demand, to more effectively manage the overall supply chain. This includes planning and forecasting, sourcing, fulfillment, delivery, and returns. If a retailer can better predict the revenue from a specific product – say in the next month – it results in better inventory management, optimized use of the available warehouse or storage space, better use of cash flow, and avoiding out-of-stock notices for items.

Keep in mind that predictive analytics tools will not do the work for you! Without a question to answer, you will just be plugging data in and receiving no insights. These tools can increase your revenue dramatically – so when in doubt, do your research. Predictive analytics technology is crucial for success in today’s ecommerce world.

Of all websites, ecommerce sites stand the most to gain by using A/B testing. It is the method of choice for anyone trying to get the most out of their site – as evidenced by some of the ecommerce sites that do heavy A/B testing (Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy to name a few). The potential for A/B testing is enormous in large part to the amount of variables you can play with: landing pages, copy, search ads, even search results, pricing, and product images.

Because the conversion goal is not an indirect metric, but a direct sale, it is much easier to measure the impact of the changes on an ecommerce site. If one change leads directly to an increase in revenue per visitor or average order value, you have directly affected the company bottom line.

What is A/B Testing?

Simply put, it is a way to test your audience’s preferences, with the end result hopefully being a conversion. While the testable variables are limitless, the two versions must be presented simultaneously for real world testing.

Say you are testing your “add to cart” button. Page A keeps the same button you have been using; this is called the “control”. B, or the “variable”, will have the new design to test. Divide your live traffic between the versions, and direct them to page A or B. After an appropriate amount of time, you can see which version worked better by measuring which button generated the most conversions.

Multivariate Testing

If you feel you are beyond the split testing level and want to explore deeper, multivariate testing might fit your site. While similar to the A/B set up, it is more complicated, and possibly a longer testing duration, with multiple variables being tested at once to give more specific results.

This sounds great in theory, but you might be wondering, how can I apply it and what results can I expect? Here are four tried and true ideas:

A. Call-to-Action Buttons

The buy button is one of the most important buttons on an ecommerce site, and therefore the most important test. If your button is not working, it may be because it is not noticeable, motivating, or clearly marked. Here are some elements to test:

Button color and size: Size matters. Larger and brighter buttons can increase conversions by 53 percent.

Button placement: Try bringing the button closer to your pricing, as TaylorGifts did, to increase clicks by 10 percent.

Button text: Does your button say “Buy”? Is there a limited time offer you can mention in this space?

B. Pricing, Discount, or Shipping Strategies

There are pricing strategies you can test that help nudge a casual window shopper into a conversion. For example:

End prices with a .97, .98, or a .99: Read more about the psychological testing behind changing prices, and test accordingly on your site.

Design of price: You can change the layout and design elements where you show the pricing. Is it to the left, to the right, close to the buy button? Do you have a link to the return policy or size charts?

You can also test the design of your shipping or discounts.

C. Product Display and Search Results

How do you choose the products on your homepage? When you show search results, should you list them in alphabetical order, or bestsellers first, or lead with new items? What product categories do you show in the menu? These are all questions A/B testing can answer.

Even slightly changing the mix on your product pages can lead to an increase in revenue. Similarly, you can test the default order of search results, or number of results to show visitors. Within these, test whether showing user reviews increases revenue or decreases revenue, by confusing with too many choices.

D. Checkout Page

You get your visitors close to finalizing a purchase, and they abandon their shopping cart at the final page. Things such as requiring a login before they can checkout or not including surprise costs until the very end such as tax or shipping can turn shoppers away. While this is annoying, by running checkout page A/B tests you can minimize shopping cart abandonment. Things to test include:

Including or excluding a seal/badge: Let your tests decide which is best for your site.

Remove unnecessary input fields and provide an overview of the order: See if linking shipping and billing addresses, not requiring a login, or continuing a view of the order helps with conversions.

Along with the suggestions above, there are A/B testing tools available online. Some favorites include Google Analytics, Optimizely, and Unbounce. Your ecommerce site can only improve with testing, so do not be afraid to delve into all sorts of options – with or without additional system support!

There are many ways that big data can help you optimize sales. Today we will discuss data drill downs, or the narrowing in to more detailed information by focusing on a specific topic. In particular, using data drill downs to increase your sales.

When used correctly, data drill downs can aid your marketing campaigns immensely by helping you focus in on the who, what, and where your products will sell best. Most of you use email marketing for your e-commerce sites, which is exactly what these six drill downs optimize. The following specifications are most useful for understanding the performance of e-commerce products in terms of sales, quantity, average order value, and unique purchases:

1. Top Selling Locations

If you sell worldwide, start your analysis at the country level. The point of this exercise is to find out in which locations you are generating the maximum sales, so you can direct tailored marketing efforts at those sites. Obviously your budget is not infinite, so it makes sense to find out where your items are already doing well, and increase that success.

Target around 5-10 cities in total at the international level, but remember that advertising at this level is expensive. Cost per acquisition tends to be especially high, so do your homework and find the top locales before you move on to a deeper products analysis. Find the states that are the best sellers, and the cities within those states: in California, you might see Los Angeles is the highest selling location, so you can disregard marketing to other CA cities.

2. Top Product Categories

Once you have found the top selling locations, now find the top selling products. You probably have dozens or hundreds of categories on your website, but not every category will earn equal sales. Apply the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your product categories.

Look within those top 5-10 cities, and, using your analytics tools, note which product categories in each city are your biggest sellers. There is no point trying to market categories that do not sell already!

3. Top Selling Products

Once you have those categories, the next data drill down is to find the top products in each category. As before, you probably have dozens or hundreds of products in each category – but only some earn the greatest sales. Again, the 80/20 rule comes into play: 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of products. When you find the top sellers, promote those within the appropriate markets.

4. Top Performing Traffic Sources

As before: you have your top selling products in each category. Now you need to find what traffic source is responsible for its sales. Look within each city’s top products, and see the origins of your customers. For example, if you see that the top traffic source is Google and the medium is organic, you know that you can improve the performance of your product by improving the organic search – i.e. your SEO. You can also stop promoting via PPC or Facebook ads if those are not the top sources.

The main point of this exercise is to focus on the mediums that are working to bring you customers, and stop spending time and money on the marketing campaigns that are not helping.

5. Top Landing Pages for Conversion Funnel Analysis

When you find your top traffic sources for best selling products, next find the top landing pages. That way you can optimize them to further improve sales, using funnel analysis.

Basically, take the top landing pages, and then analyze them using a funnel to see where the conversions take place – and where you have a drop off. When you find that drop, segment this funnel by applying all of these 14 advanced segments for conversion funnel analysis:

  • All traffic
  • Organic search traffic
  • Paid search traffic
  • Direct traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Email traffic
  • Mobile traffic
  • Tablet and desktop traffic
  • New users
  • Returning users
  • Branded search traffic
  • Non-branded search traffic
  • Social media traffic
  • Performed site search

Once you know the reason for the drop off from one step to the next, and the page(s) to be optimized, you can move on to the A/B tests.

6. Top Performing Keywords

This is particularly useful if you run search marketing campaigns (paid or organic). Targeting top keywords will improve the sales of your best selling products even further!

In conclusion, drill downs can be particularly useful if you want to improve sales, but do not know where to start, or do not have the budget to throw together a large marketing campaign. Use these drill downs to narrow in on what is working where, and optimizing your campaigns and landing pages appropriately. Within a very short time, and with very little other work, you can boost your already best selling product sales even higher.

If you have an e-store but no analytics system, you are like a submarine without sonar: blind, with no destination or direction. Measuring the behavior of your visitors is crucial to understand what does and does not work. Beyond the metrics of traffic, conversion rates, and average order value, you should delve deeper – what products are popular, where your visitors came from, how long they stayed on each page, and the ROI on your marketing campaigns.

Because these answers are not going to appear in plain language, I have listed my favorite analytical tools you will need as an ecommerce site-owner. Below you will find seven popular and trusted analytical solutions tailored for ecommerce purposes in random order:

1. RJMetrics

RJMetrics is a SaaS (software as a service: you license it on a subscription basis, and it is centrally hosted) business intelligence and analytics solution with an emphasis on ecommerce. One benefit is that it brings a number of analytical and marketing tools under one roof, integrating them seamlessly – and making it easier to gather data and make inferences. You can see which channels bring you maximum ROI, better understand your customer’s behavior, and find the most and least profitable segments.

RJMetrics also goes above and beyond by suggesting things you can do to improve and grow your e-retailer. If you are just beginning your ecommerce site, this tool offers a variety of excellent tutorials to get you started on the right path.

2. Clicky

Clicky offers real time analytics, in an easy to use format – easy enough that you can use it even if you have no experience. The main benefit is being able to react and effect changes on your site to real time events. Clicky lets you compare snapshots of time on your site – such as the last 30 days or even last year. It also comes with a Twitter analytics tool which helps you monitor what people are saying about your company online.

The downside to Clicky is that it does not offer data on time spent per page, page views per visitor, etc. It also has poor event tracking capabilities. That said, it is great for a business on a budget.

3. KISSmetrics

For a comprehensive ecommerce analytical solution, KISSmetrics is the tool for you. It centers on increasing customer acquisition and retention rates, known for being particularly good at building funnels that are easy to interpret. One unique feature is path report, which highlights the most common paths taken between first visiting your store to a conversion, helping you find a funnel you did not even know about. It also provides in-depth information and suggestions on layout choices and their effects on conversions, as well as the marketing options for your store.

KISSmetrics is excellent at tracking customer behavior over time, revealing trends and tendencies. However, it does not offer real time tracking except for live view, and is more expensive.

4. RetentionGrid

Similar to KISSmetrics is RetentionGrid. RetentionGrid presents the data information in easy to understand color-coded graphs. They also provide suggestions to access different segments: in other words, what kind of marketing will work best, as well as which campaigns will have the best results depending on the visitors you receive. They integrate with Shopify, Tictail, and Bigcommerce, and also offer an app to connect your store on the go.

5. Piwik

Instead of discussing Google Analytics, I would rather point out Piwik. It is an open source alternative to Google Analytics with practically identical feature sets, providing all the utilities needed to gain an insight into your site performance and measure goals. With a client list including Forbes, T-Mobile, and Sharp, Piwik makes a serious case against its more expensive competitors.

Depending on your budget, you can download free or paid versions. Both offer a variety of benefits, including ecommerce tracking (including products, orders, cart updates, product and category page views), and advanced ecommerce reports, which includes ecommerce activity logs (detailing visits that led to conversions, abandoned shopping carts, etc). This is an excellent choice for users that want a quick, easy to learn, and free analytics tool.

6. Webtrends

Webtrends was a pioneer of this industry, getting its start in 1993. Growing steadily in capabilities, their tool is one of the most widely used analytics systems out there. It is available in a tier model, suitable for all sizes of business – small to enterprise. It has an easy to interpret storyboard mode, and tracks social media.

However, it is still high in price, and has no free version available. If your business is growing quickly, and you want a data analysis tool that will grow along with it, this might be the tool for you.

7. Adobe Analytics

Adobe’s analytics tool rivals Google’s when it comes to a system for a large company. This giant is one of the fullest feature sets for monitoring visitors, with an intuitive interface that is easy to use. It expands as your company grows, and offers benefits such as a mobile app, real time data reports, and advanced segmentation capabilities.

However, this is a pricey system to start out with, and only gets more expensive as your site grows. If you are just starting up, you might want to look into a budget friendly system – but for big businesses, this is an asset you will need.

Is there a data analytics tool you love that I missed?

As the saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Attributed to both Peter Drucker and W. Edwards Deming, this sums up the theory behind big data analytics: to run your company successfully, you need to pull insights from the data your company accumulates. But what does big data actually mean?

First incorporated into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, big data is all the rage with marketers and data analyst firms. You might be asking, “Is big data just a fancy name for analytics?” And while they are similar, in that big data seeks to pull intelligence from data and apply it to a business advantage, there are three key differences that crop up in the commonly repeated definition: volume, variety, and velocity.

1. Volume

Big data is comprised of big volume. It is estimated that there will be at least 110.3 exabytes of data created per month in 2016, compared to roughly 75 exabytes per month in 2012. More data crosses the internet every second than was stored on the entire internet just 20 years ago.

The benefits gained from the ability to work with such large amounts of information are obvious: the forecasting ability of a company is more effective when run against 3,000 sets of data rather than 30. As the database grows, the applications and architecture needed to support the data should be reexamined and evaluated. Often the same data can be re-evaluated from other angles, with new intelligence offering new insights.

2. Variety

Another important feature of big data is diversity within the types of data collected. Big data takes the form of messages, updates, and images posted to social networks; GPS signals from phones; a raw feed from sensors, and more. Although the large range of data sources gives an equally impressive range of conclusions, this also means the data rarely falls into neat, sortable genres, ready for processing or integration into an application.

Concurrently, the main sources of this data are themselves relatively new: Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter in 2006. The same holds for smartphones and other mobile devices supplying this data: they are so ubiquitous, it is hard to remember that the iPhone was only launched in 2007. Although the databases frequently used to store this information is, of recent years, ill-suited and outdated, the steadily declining costs associated with computing (memory, storage, processing, etc.) mean that data-intensive approaches are becoming more economical.

3. Velocity

The speed at which data is collected and analyzed is frequently more important than the volume. Real-time or nearly real-time information can make the difference when fighting for the edge over a competitor. The internet and mobile era means that the ways we deliver and consume products and services is increasingly instrumented, generating a flow back to the provider. Those who are able to quickly utilize that information, online or by accessing customer’s mobile phones with geolocated data, gain competitive advantage – especially in ecommerce.

It is vital to note that equally important to the amount of data accessed are the insights drawn from the set. For example, in ecommerce sites, the four main uses of big data analytics are:


Increase efficiency by alerting you to merchandising efforts that are not effective, and products that are not selling. For example, you may have a shirt in five colors, but only two colors are being purchased.


Increase conversions by tracking down and analyzing successful sales transactions.

Increased purchases:

Increase the amount of purchased items by suggesting similar and complimentary products to ones your customer is purchasing, in real time.

Inventory management:

Manage your inventory more efficiently by easily discovering and eliminating items that are not selling, and increasing inventory of items that are flying off the shelves.


In the end, the far-reaching nature of big data analytics is both messy and specific. While the tools you need are there, remember that without a question or a problem to solve, you will figure out nothing – and wind up with a whole lot of random information. Pick a real business problem first, then use analytics to guide your implementation. Only with direction can you narrow down all of that big data!

We have talked a lot about the future of SEO and ways to optimise your site, your landing pages, and navigate the sometimes-confusing waters of Google SERPs. Today I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: how to handle going into the new year, what your SEO focus should be, and what you can expect.

SEO is expanding, and your knowledge surrounding those basics needs to expand as well – which is why I suggest that 2016 is the year you challenge yourself, and tackle a new SEO skill. Push yourself to see what you can learn and incorporate in interesting ways; do not be afraid to ask for help, or to struggle at the outset. As you push through and advance your skill set, focus on the ways you can innovate; someone will always come up with an easier way to do things, but innovation will set you apart from the crowd.

Three topics I am particularly interested in following in 2016:


Personalization has always been a part of Google search, but will be more important then ever this year. When a user logs into Google, previous activity – such as IP addresses, previous searches, and geographic location – is taken into consideration when Google displays their SERPs. The change in their search results is termed personalization.

This means the results can vary between logging in and being logged, out, from different countries, even from browser to browser. SEOs need to take this data into account when analyzing search and rank. On the plus side, if you rank well for one query you will usually rank well for others. When Google believes your site is preferable to the other options in the results, they will display you more prominently throughout.

When doing your research, remember that loyalty is an important factor in successful personalization: engaging with users and creating campaigns that help them remember your brand will increase your rank even within personalized results.

Link Building in 2016

Link building is the red-haired stepchild of the SEO world: everyone does it, but no one wants to talk about it. The entire world of link building changed drastically after Google released the Penguin algorithm in 2012, which was instrumental in identifying sites that purchased links. Many SEO claim that link building is dead, but even in 2016 it is very much alive. It has simply evolved, and so must your link building tactics.

Instead of automating your process with directory links and article submissions, you need to build organically. Look for opportunities within your network, content research, social signals, and brand recognition content. When building your campaign, it is important to find links that drive traffic, not just attract search engines. Identify hot topics to build guest posts, and run marketing campaigns to highlight them. Work within social media to build a brand that inspires customer loyalty and mentions – especially from other brands.

Content Marketing

While Penguin had the first impact on content marketing, the latest algorithm from Google has effectively changed it completely. RankBrain is an AI that attempts to “understand” the context of the content on any given website, eliminating the use of keyword density in favor of figuring out the intrinsic value of a site for searchers.

There are two types of content marketing: on-site and off-site. Content onsite should engage users, be relevant and well-written, and drive social media shares across various platforms. Beware of using too many ads above the fold, or poorly placed ads – these can be penalized by Google. Offsite content should be well researched guest posts that target your direct market. Be picky which blogs you contribute to; if it looks like a blog is selling links, they will fail under Penguin.

Always curate your content into categories, and keep related content available to users for better engagement on social media. Nurture your relationships with other blogs and bloggers in your or a related industry, and build links through them, as well as trading guest posts. Use competitor analysis and Google Trends to consistently learn the new keywords and phrases for emerging market trends. Try expanding to sites such as YouTube or SlideShare, and uploading branded content.

A few other potential topics to look into:

  • keyword research and grouping related topics and intent
  • coding
  • competitive research
  • reputation management
  • local SEO
  • international SEO
  • video SEO
  • how pages on a site interact

The point is, start learning and keep learning – because there is a lot to know in the world of SEO. Keep improving, and if you find something amazing, share it with me. As much as SEO changes or does not change, if you can learn and adapt, then your SEO has a successful future ahead of it. Challenge yourself in 2016!

Landing pages are an overlooked tool in your search marketing arsenal. These are not to be confused with your homepage; instead, landing pages are separate but related to your core pages, simplifying the main themes to increase conversions. In order to be successful pages, you must spend time on refining them – just creating a landing page does not mean it will work.

Why do I need landing pages?

The truth is, you do not necessarily need them to be successful. However, if you drive traffic via PPC ads, multiple channels, or affiliate links, landing pages can help separate incoming traffic. Here are a few benefits to consider:

Audience filtration. Use the pages to separate incoming traffic based on where they found you. By connecting outside links to pages specifically tailored for that audience, you can get your message across very quickly to the correct consumers. Since landing pages require immediate action, you also quickly separate truly interested parties from casual clickers.

Easy A/B testing. Using landing pages makes it easy to conduct A/B tests. By creating two separate but similar pages, you can measure the impact of your marketing channels, the influence of design varieties, and more, to see which resonates better with your audience.

Visitor data. Using landing pages gives you objective data about your audience, such as bounce rate, conversions, and total visitors. These are key points to use when measuring ROI for a campaign, as well as campaign success.

Higher likelihood of conversions. Landing pages are by nature short, sweet, and contain a simple call to action that naturally drives conversions. If you stick to the basics and tailor them correctly, your pages will drive higher conversions than your normal homepage.

Now that you know why to build landing pages, here are the best practices:

A. Find the Right URL

The first thing to do is pick a custom URL for your pages. If you want to host these on your own domain name to give it an authority boost, you should create descriptive tail-ends to your landing page URLs such as “/twitter-promotion” or “/facebook-offer”. While tempting, do not fill the tail-end with tons of keywords – you will likely be penalized!

If you are running multiple inbound campaigns, it is easiest to separate them from your domain and give each one a custom URL. This way you will easily be able to tell which of your leads is the highest performing. Be sure to install Google Analytics script on each landing page, so you can monitor its progress.

B. Branding is Key

Throughout all of your pages, landing or home, the key component to keeping visitors from bouncing is consistent branding. No matter what page they are looking at, it should be recognizably yours. If someone clicks through from a dedicated link, any discrepancy can be jarring, and prevent them from becoming a conversion.

Focus first on keeping the core message and feel of your brand constant between all pages before turning your attention to details such as font, color scheme, layout, and message content.

C. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

Keep the design of the landing pages simple. The simpler the design, the more effective the page. You have other platforms, such as your website and social media, to explain your capabilities, play around, and share additional information.

The landing page should instead be kept as minimal as possible. Keep your message concise and to the point; do not have additional clickables or images. Streamline your design for the singular goal of making conversions. The conversion generally comes as a form users fill out with names and email. Remember, the easier to complete the form, the more likely users will follow through. Instead of requiring names, addresses, and email, try first names and emails only.

D. Copy that converts

Most importantly, you need to have compelling copy that convinces visitors of your message. Take your time to tailor each page’s message specifically for the target audience visiting it. Above all, do not copy and paste between pages! Keep the message consistent and feel free to use a template, but always write unique copy for each page.

You can use the A/B test between pages to see which kind of messaging is the most persuasive for your unique audience.

E. What is the payoff?

You have to decide the motivation, for both you and the visitor. In the user’s case, what is their motivation for filling out the form? Content? A discount? Make sure you communicate their incentive compellingly.

As for you, what do you do with their information? Subscribe them to a newsletter? Follow-up individually? Have a plan in place before launching your landing pages.

Above all, remember to update your pages regularly! As you learn more about what works, your marketing channels, and your target audience, keep your pages updated and optimized to get the most of your audience.

As I wrote about in my last post, optimizing your e-commerce is necessary if you want to see any organic traffic from SEO. While more time consuming than for an average blog, if you put the time in, you will be rewarded for your efforts. In fact, if done correctly you can double your online sales – without tweaking any other part of your marketing plan. Here are a few best practices to consider:

A. Address Your Out-of-Stock Items

When you run out of an item, you should take several steps:

1. Leave the page up. If the item is temporarily out of stock, leave up the page so you do not lose traffic. Do not delete, direct away from, or hide the page.
2. Offer alternative items. Link to relevant products on your site, such as newer models, the same product in other colors, similar products from another brand, and products matching price and category.
3. Inform users when it will return, either on site or via email notification.
4. Offer to backorder the product. Give a time estimate and send out when it gets in; if they really want it, users usually will not mind a short wait.

B. Deal with Expired Products

First and foremost, do not delete these pages! It is detrimental to your SEO, and customers who bookmarked these pages will get an error message, with no redirection to your site. Here are a few alternatives that will assist with keeping your SEO rankings:

1. Redirect. Set up a permanent 301 redirection page to the newest model of an obsolete product. If there is no new model, redirect to a parent category full of similar items.
2. Reuse. Reuse URLs if you sell products where model number and specifications are not important.
3. Delete. If there is nothing similar to the item, delete the page with a 401 status code, which tells Google that page is permanently gone.
4. Keep for research. You can keep important pages for customer research, but mark the item as permanently out of stock.

C. Create SEO for New Products

Setting up your website architecture and internal link system is key. Link your home page to all the categories, and then product pages link out from categories. Do not forget to link between the parent category and product pages; all of this will help Google crawl and index your content quickly. Also, spotlight new products on your homepage, which will also help get them ranked and indexed.

D. Leverage Internal Site Search

Optimize your internal search engine to help your customers navigate and prevent sales losses:

1. Enable tracking, and see what is popular. Use the search record to see what keywords people are searching within your site, and calculate the revenue they accrue. Also check what searches are most popular – this shows which products are profitable, and if people are not finding certain items.
2. Use a click tracking tool. Tools like Crazy Egg or Google Analytics will show you where visitors are on your homepage, category pages, and products. It can help you see where conversion problems happen, so you can fix the process.
3. Use site search in your keyword research. See what keywords visitors are searching for, and use those to boost your SEO, find new products, identify popular products, and overcome problems with search.
4. Test it! Type some of your keywords into search and see what they pull up. Use this to fix inconsistencies and broken links.

E. Manage Internal Architecture

Internal link building helps with SEO, but you need internal architecture to increase rankings. This takes time to plan and make user friendly; try some of the following ideas:

1. Navigation: offer customer parent-category level navigation.
2. Links: link product pages to other category-relevant products.
3. Breadcrumbs: leave links so users and Google can navigate up a level to the parent categories.

Even for an e-commerce website, SEO is an important marketing component to get right. Sure, getting the basics right might not bump you up to the number one spot in the SERPs, but getting them wrong will certainly hurt your rankings – especially if your competitors have done them correctly. You might be thinking that by simply listing products on your website, the search engine traffic will automatically roll in. Not so. You have to put some work into optimizing your site for SEO, more so than for blogs or simple five-page company sites. Today I am going to go over the biggest errors that might be keeping you from reaching your target audience and gaining more organic traffic.

1. Poor URL Structure

One of the most ignored aspects of on-site SEO, URLs are also one of the most important. Too often companies use ecommerce platforms that insert random letters and numbers into the URL of their products, instead of creating a keyword friendly, or “speaking”, URLs. It is very important to customize each product’s URL. See the difference between Store 1’s anonymous URL and Store 2’s speaking URL:

Store 1
Store 2

Store 2 gives you a much clearer idea of what you are clicking onto. Having relevant keywords in the URL not only influences your ranking in the SERPs, but lets customers and searchers know what to expect when they click on the link. Long URLs full of numbers and gibberish look like spam, which is a turn off. Also, if the URL is picked up by another website and reposted, important keywords will be present in the anchor tag if the URL is used as the anchor text. Putting keywords within anchor text that point back to your website is the main driver of getting to the top of SERPs.

2. Duplicated Title Tags

Another common mistake made by retailers is duplicating titles. This can happen because of copying and pasting text from another page, duplicating a page to quickly create new product in their platform, or simply because they do not know better. What should be done is creating unique tags for each item, even they are all from the same brand. Think that is too difficult? Try the “brand-model” title tag formula”: Brand – Model – Item Type. For example, “Nike Air Huarache” or “Marmot Limestone 4 Person Tent”.

3. Lack of Product Description

I have often found this error while on clothing and gift store websites: a product page with no description whatsoever. Unfortunately, not having a description means your product will never make it to the top of the SERP. Be sure to add a description to every product page.

Obviously, the more unique content you come up with, the better the SEO for your page, but be mindful of what you write. Aim for descriptive content that helps users make purchasing decisions, like talking about the benefits instead of features, or telling a backstory on the product. Try not to overwhelm them: too much content can be a turn-off, so test what word count aids with purchase conversions. Above all, do not copy from another website, even the manufacturer! Search engines penalizes websites that use previously published content, even for the same item.

4. Copying Descriptions from the Manufacturer

I cannot stress this enough: always create unique content for your pages, even for product descriptions! If you keep the original text from the manufacturer, search engines will not only kick your page down in the results, but could also ban it entirely. If there are portions of your inventory you simply cannot write unique descriptions for, consider putting a NO INDEX meta tag on those pages to keep them out of search results. It is better to keep your SEO in good standing than suffer from poorly optimized product pages!

5. No Product Reviews

Product reviews are also content, but user generated, which makes them more interesting for a number of reasons. Primarily, product reviews contain unique content; they might also contain keywords you might not have thought of. If you are receiving regular reviews, your pages are constantly adding fresh content, and Google ranks fresh content higher in results. Other benefits include higher conversions rates and sales, as customers trust products more than advertisements. The more positive reviews a product has, the greater the chance it will sell.

6. Missing Metas

Many retailers ignore meta descriptions, to their detriment. Meta descriptions are important not only to search engines, but also to customers. Even if your page shows up in the results, it will not get clicked on if there is no information around it! Giving accurate descriptions helps customers find the best page for their search; remember to keep it simple and explain why the page is relevant to searchers.