Month: May 2013

4 Tips for Real-Time Social Media Monitoring


Companies and brands are adopting social networks at unprecedented rates. According to a recent survey NetBase ran with our partner J.D. Power & Associates, 48% of online consumers are taking note – and fully expect companies to listen and thus improve their products and consumer experience from this feedback. As a result, it’s more critical than ever to be not only equipped for proactive social listening to take in these opinions, emotions and behaviors, but also for in-the-moment marketing that allow companies to course correct and diagnose issues. Every marketer needs to understand what consumers are saying online about their brands, their competitors, and more. Keep reading for 4 tips on enabling your team to be in-the-moment:

1. Have a monitoring solution and plan in place before launching a big campaign.

During the 2012 World Series, Taco Bell launched a promotion promising free tacos to customers whenever a player from the San Francisco Giants or the Detroit Tigers successfully stole a base. Using the NetBase Insight Composer in their social media command center, the Taco Bell team was able to track the buzz and net sentiment for the campaign in real-time. As a result of being ready for real-time monitoring, the team saw the subsequent positive spike in both volume and positive sentiment created by the promotion. When the promotion was announced on October 26, 2012, Taco Bell’s impressions surged from 4,700 to over 3.8 million over a 3 hour period.

Taco Bell Social Media Monitoring

2. Gauge micro-changes in your brand’s sentiment and share of buzz.

Unfortunately, what promised to be a fun way to engage baseball-watching Taco Bell fans during a high-profile social media event, turned into a potential disaster when natural disaster Hurricane Sandy took the Northeast, quite literally, by storm.  On October 28, 2012, the Taco Bell digital team watched another massive spike in impressions, from approximately 1,000 to over 800,000 in 2 hours. This time, NE fans were complaining and worrying that Hurricane Sandy would prevent them from taking part in the promotion and getting their free tacos.

Taco Bell Giveaway TweetTaco Bell Giveaway Tweet


3. Act quickly when things don’t go according to plan.

Taco Bell acted quickly and issued a statement announcing that they would make good on the promise of free tacos, and ensure that those affected by the hurricane would still get to enjoy the free treats from the promotion.

Taco Bell Free Tacos Hurricane Sandy

4. Remember: it’s about engaging your fans – and keeping them coming back for more!

Correspondingly, they noted another positive spike in mentions and sentiment for their brand. During the period of October 23-29, 2012, the brand saw an 852% increase in mentions, and of those mentions, there was a 1,705% increase in positive mentions. By combining speed and accuracy with their social strategy, Taco Bell was able to monitor their consumer sentiment and empower the team to react instantly; saving the campaign, enhancing their brand image, increasing fan loyalty and selling more tacos.

Understand what your customers are saying, where they are talking (geographically and on which digital channel), what they are doing and how they are feeling is becoming a critical best practice for marketers.  This requires breaking down silos, and implementing new processes, policies, technology and skill sets (meaning everyone from your copywriter to lawyer need to know how to work together).  Are you ready to be an in-the-moment-marketer – the time is now!

Learn how to listen to your customers for better marketing ROI.

Watch the tutorial—Focused Listening: How to Effectively Listen to Your Audience for Better ROIand learn how to structure your listening program, report your findings, and act upon your findings from key audiences. Plus, you'll see how to find the personas of your “influencers”, and create targeted content that engages them directly. Activate trial now.


5 Steps for a Successful Website Redesign


Website Redesign ProcessLast week I discussed 4 signs it's time to redesign your website. If you considered those and are now ready to tackle website design, read on.

To get the best possible return on investment from your web redesign, it’s important to keep the process thoughtful and goal-oriented. When you work with a designer, you need to establish the main reason – or endgame – for the changes. Perhaps you want to make your online checkout process simpler, want more leads or need to change your site’s architecture.

Don’t move forward until you clearly understand what you want to achieve with the redesign, and have the right data to support your decision. Why? Because your goal is the foundation upon which all other decisions will be made. Without this foundation, your site will crumble. Once you’ve pinpointed your goal, don't miss these critical steps.

1. Establish key metrics.

In order to track and measure the success of your redesign, you need to establish targets (small goals) and measurable benchmarks. Consult your site’s metrics – such as those related to SEO, user engagement and e-commerce – both before and after the redesign to track the effectiveness of your efforts.

2. Update website assets.

A smart website enhances your company’s brand. As you plan your redesign, determine which keywords drive the most traffic to your site so you can incorporate them. Additionally, take note of any assets (such as web copy, images and whitepapers) you want to migrate to your new site, and revamp them if necessary.

3. Define your target audience and develop personas.

Before you can appeal to your target audience, you have to know who they are. One way to bring your audience into focus is to develop personas that represent your sites primary visitors. Customer personas make it easier to ensure your brand and website will engage and appeal to the audience you wish to attract. If you’re not sure how to create these personas, a marketing agency can help.

RELATED TUTORIAL: How to Understand Your Buyers

4. Test new designs before launch.

The best chefs in the world try out their creations before placing them in front of a customer. Before you launch a redesigned site, you should do the same thing. The benefit of pre-launch testing is that you learn about what works and what doesn’t so your web developer can help you implement any last-minute changes.

5. Launch when your site has the least traffic.

Contrary to popular opinion, the best time to launch a website redesign is when you expect the least traffic. This way, you can work out any kinks with minimal damage. You should also lay plans for promoting your redesign. As time goes on, work with your site’s developer to conduct audits, monitor errors and populate data.

A website redesign is a big task. By taking a thoughtful approach to the process, and avoiding the temptation to take shortcuts, you can ensure the time you put into a redesign will translate into a big ROI and improved bottom line.

Learn how to redesign your website for better performance. 

Watch the tutorial—B2B Website Redesignand learn how to provide an easy, intuitive way for visitors to engage with your content. After watching, you'll be able to create a concrete, sure-fire plan for improving your website. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


4 Best Practices for Mobile Email Marketing


Mobile Email MarketingWe’ve known for a while now that mobile is a critical factor in all things marketing. This is particularly true for email marketing today. Between October 2010 and October 2012, mobile email opens increased by a whopping 300%

According to Litmus Labs, 42% of the email client market share is on a mobile platform such as iPhone, iPad or Android.

ExactTarget reveals that 56% of consumers with a smartphone have purchased something as a result of an email message. This is a worldwide phenomenon, with USA email open rates trailing those of Europe, but growing quickly.

You may be doing a bang-up job on designing and writing emails to support your direct marketing effort—but if you aren’t designing email for the mobile device, you may be missing some real opportunities.

1. Pass the gauntlet of mobile email viewing.

There are five stages of mobile email viewing. You must craft your email to move the customer successfully through each stage:

From line: who sent the email? If the reader isn’t interested in the from line, s/he will skip or delete. Some people won’t open email if they don’t recognize the sender, so it’s important that your from line is easy to understand. According to the Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC), 73% of subscribers click “Report Spam” based on the content of the from field.

Subject line. The ESPC notes that 69% of subscribers decide whether to send your message to the spam folder based on the content of the subject line. For mobile viewers, you need to keep your subject line short and sweet–35 characters or less.

Preview pane (also called the preheader). Your call to action should be in the preview pane, because this is the next decision point for the reader. A compelling call to action here may tip the balance in your favor. You have about 85 characters to work with here.

Viewport. If you have crafted each of the preceding steps carefully, the subscriber will open the email. But you’re not home free yet—if the best part of your message falls below the “fold,” forcing the user to scroll down to see it, you may yet lose your customer. Make sure the most important content is right up front and remember how small that screen is. Consider using bullets, borders or background colors to encourage the subscriber to scroll down.

Scrolling view. Now the subscriber is scrolling down to read the complete message. Stick with clear and concise verbiage and make answering the call to action easy and obvious—a big button with clear wording such as “Get Your Free Upgrade” works well.

2. Remember that users tap and swipe, not click.

Always remember that mobile users are working with touch screens. They tap on links and swipe to see more. They don’t click or use a mouse or a keyboard. Your interactive elements should be large enough so that people can easily tap them on a tiny screen, even if they have “fat fingers”:

  • Keep buttons at least 44 pixels square for easy tapping
  • Keep links and buttons to the center or left for ease of use
  • Separate links so the user doesn’t inadvertently tap more than one simultaneously
  • Avoid hovers and other interactive user interface elements
  • Never say “Click Here” because mobile users are tapping

3. Optimize your layout and graphics for mobile.

The iPhone, which represents 24% of email opens,

scales messages down. Stick to a single-column layout, as double-column becomes hard to read on a small screen. Use large text sizes for the same reason. Use contrast to increase legibility—but don’t leap to an extreme, such as white type on a black background, which is difficult to read. Keep buttons extra large to be tappable even after shrinking, and use texture to make buttons more appealing.

Use large photos, both for their visual appeal, and also because they translate well to both mobile and desktop environments.

4. Leverage responsive design.

Responsive design is a set of techniques used to make a layout readable and usable on any screen and any platform on which it is displayed. Use of fluid grids, fluid images and media queries allow “smart” messages to sense what kind of device is being used to display them, and adjust accordingly. A message that is displayed on a desktop as 600 pixels wide with multiple columns will recompose itself dynamically to become 320 pixels wide and single-column. In today’s multi-platform, multi-device environment, responsive design is the only way to go. RELATED TUTORIAL: The Mobile Web & Responsive Design

Learn how how to drive more email opens, clicks, and conversions.

Watch Laurie Beasley's class on Email Marketing Best Practices now, and discover advanced tips to make your email marketing more effective. From creative and offer to list building and timing, this class covers what you need to know to take your email marketing to the next level. Get instant access now—FREE.


4 Signs It’s Time to Redesign Your Website


Website Redesign

Did you know the design of your website may be holding your business back? When visitors find a website difficult to navigate or use, or they simply think it is ugly, they have no qualms about taking their money and loyalty elsewhere. A website redesign can help your company gain the competitive edge you desire in order to attract new business – and keep it.


Here are the most common signs you may need to consider refreshing your website:

1. Lack of responsiveness.

In the past, you only had to worry about how your site looked on a computer screen. However, with the plethora of mobile devices that can access the web nowadays, you need to make sure your site’s design is responsive to any platform – from a desktop PC to a smartphone. If your site is annoying to navigate on smaller devices, it’s time for a redesign.

2. Outdated information.

Websites need more than just correct information to gain new visitors; they need regular action. If you don’t update your site as often as you know you should, a website redesign provides the perfect opportunity to remedy the problem.

3. Long load times.

A website that takes too long to load is a turnoff, especially with the smartphone crowd. It shouldn’t take more than five seconds for your site to load.

4. Visitor loss.

If you’ve noticed that visitors never navigate past your home page, or if they’re declining in numbers, it’s time revamp your site’s content. This is particularly true if your site holds no SEO clout.

Learn how to redesign your website for better performance. 

Watch the tutorial—B2B Website Redesignand learn how to provide an easy, intuitive way for visitors to engage with your content. After watching, you'll be able to create a concrete, sure-fire plan for improving your website. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


4 Steps for Creating an Effective Website that Visitors Love


Website Visitors LoveIn my last post, I explained the importance of website usability. In this post, I explain what it takes to make a website so easy to use that your audience will love—and return to again and again because the experience is simple, painless and quick. Let's dive in and explore 4 steps for creating an effective, usable website—that is to say, usable by the people you are targeting.

1. Identify your target audience.

As with everything in communications and marketing, creating a website that is tailored to your audience first requires identifying that audience. Most businesses are clear on who they are targeting, but may not have considered all aspects of how users will use their website. Rather than hoping that your customers will do what you want them to do, you must guide them to the desired action through website design.

RELATED TUTORIAL: B2B Website Redesign

2. Determine what your audience is looking for.

Be very clear about what you want users to do on your site. You may have more than one kind of user, and the different users may be looking for different things when they arrive at your site. What stage of the buying cycle are they in when they arrive? There are several sources of data open to you that can help determine what the users’ goals are:

  • Support call data
  • Field surveys
  • Speaking with current customers
  • Analyzing web traffic patters on your current site
  • Look at referring data from search engines and other sites

3. Set goals for your site.

If your website isn’t designed with specific objectives in mind, it’s unlikely to fulfill your expectations. Here are some typical things you may want your site to achieve:

  • Sales
  • Awareness
  • Support
  • Lead generation

If you are a non-profit charity, the list might look like:

  • Donations
  • Awareness
  • Volunteers
  • Education about the charity’s focus (such as heart disease, childhood hunger or animal rescue)

It’s fine to have multiple goals, but map them out before you begin development (or redevelopment) so that you can influence how users behave on the site.

RELATED TUTORIAL: Measuring What Matters: Analytics Tips for Success

4. Understand how users interact with the site.

Understand how users currently use your site (this is an ongoing effort). A friendly site will anticipate what users want to do and make it easy for them. There are a number of different tools that can be used to gather this information, including:

  • Eye tracking
  • Web analytics
  • Focus groups
  • Individual user Q&A session

Here’s a short list of online tools you can use for analysis. Some of them are free:

  • Google Analytics: Google makes a complete set of web analysis tools available for free. These tools can tell you who visited your site, how long they stayed, which pages they looked at, and how long they stayed on each page. They can also tell you where the visitors were referred from, what they do while on the site, and much more.
  • Google Content Experiments: Formerly known as Google Website Optimizer, this tool compares how different web pages perform using a random sample of your visitors. Up to five different versions can be tested, allowing you to define what percentage of your visitors are included in the experiment and choose which objective you’d like to test.
  • Autonomy Promotes/Optimost: This allows you to leverage real-time data sources from social media, customer feedback, web comments, call center calls and more to define the best keyword bid strategies for online advertising and improve campaign elements to be more effective with the target audience. It also consolidates all of our social media and unstructured customer data to allow higher conversion rates.
  • ClickTale: This in-page analytics program records every visitor’s mouse move, click and scroll to reveal how they use your site, including heatmaps that show where your visitors’ eyes move on the screen and also analyzes where and why visitors leave your conversion funnel, allowing you to increase conversion rates.
  • UserTesting: This service uses real visitors to test your site for usability.
  • CrazyEgg: Tests eye tracking and heat maps on your site to understand where users’ eyes move to on each page. If their eyes are always going to a lower-value area instead of to the sweet spot where the sales happen, you’ll want to change that!
  • AttentionWizard: Also tests eye tracking and heat maps.

In the next post in this series, we will explain some of the techniques introduced here, such as eye tracking, and provide some examples to illustrate how and why these techniques can be used to turbo-charge the value of your website to your business.

Learn how to convert more visitors into customers with better usability. 

Watch the tutorial—Convert More Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics— and discover proven best practices for maximizing website conversions. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


Comparison Shopping Engines: The Underdog of Marketing Channels for Online Retailers


You’re an online retailer. Business is OK, maybe good, but it can be better. You’ve been exploring new marketing channels that can potentially boost your brand exposure and increase your revenues. If this is you, consider the viability of the often overlooked and under appreciated online marketing channel: comparison shopping engines (CSEs).

They’re essentially sites where thousands of retailers pay to list their products because of the massive amount of shoppers they attract. Basically all of the major CSEs function on a Cost per Click (CPC) model, where a retailer will pay a CPC, typically from $0.20 to $1, for every time a shopper clicks on a product listing and is linked back to the retailer’s website.

Shopping engine marketing is a proven marketing channel for online retailers, especially with the meteoric rise of Google Shopping. CSE campaigns are practically essential on the road to maximizing your business’s online presence and are a big-time business commodity when it comes to the crucial and highly lucrative Holiday Shopping Season.

Google Shopping Results

Figure 1. A Google Shopping Results Page

Getting Started with Shopping Engine Marketing

If you want to get started with shopping engine marketing, the first step is to assess your resources. Not all retailers are compatible with comparison shopping engine campaigns either because they don’t have the time to manage them, the personnel to spare for management, the funds to allocate towards a CPC budget, or the expertise. Additionally, a given retailer must have a solid amount of products to list on CSEs, and this may be around 500 total but you may end up listing less, depending on the specific CSE. Take a step back and evaluate your business’s readiness to undertake a significant marketing campaign by:

  1. Assessing your budget: Can you allocate around $2000-$3000 a month for your CPC budget? You may find yourself spending significantly less if your product listings don’t get a lot of traffic at first, or contrarily, you may exceed this when your product listings eventually blow up and attract a lot of shoppers.
  2. Setting aside the time: To offer a clichéd simile, a comparison shopping engine campaign is like a baby you must nurture regularly, but when it grows up, the results will be very rewarding. Ideally, you will manage your campaigns every day so you can make required alterations as quickly as possible. The more diligent and consistent you are with your management, the more efficient and cost-effective your campaigns will be.
  3. Allocating the manpower: Since they’re a time commitment, you need to dedicate employees to manage your CSE campaigns. The expertise will come with time and research, but typically one employee will probably be able to handle all of your campaigns (typically 2-6) if that is he/she’s primary responsibility.

This may seem more like a burden than a financial boon, but the same criteria holds true for diving into any new marketing channel. You may question why to even bother with CSEs. Well, the reality is that many online retailers either neglect CSE campaigns or manage their existing campaigns poorly. This really leaves some valuable, rather open real estate for a given retailer to make a significant impression in.

On top of it, most CSEs, particularly Google Shopping, allow you to micro-manage your listings at the product level, and this allows you more control over your desired ROI. Most importantly, CSEs are a unique online marketing channel that, with effective management, will not only increase traffic to your website and attract new customer audiences but also directly function towards increasing revenues.

CSEs: Multi-Channel Marketing

One of the great features about shopping engine marketing is that it inherently does not limit you to just one channel as a means of driving relevant traffic. Online retailers can choose to have just 1 campaign or potentially 8 or 9. Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla,, Nextag, and Amazon Product Ads are all prominent CSEs and they all attract different audiences that have different purchase behaviors.

Comparison Shopping Engine Revenue Rankings

Figure 2. Q4 2012 CSE Revenue Rankings

After assessing your compatibility with CSEs, the next step is setting up a merchant account. Here are a couple links for setting them up:

Components of CSE Campaigns

There are 2 primary components to CSE management and 1 secondary. Here’s the overview:

  1. Data Feeds: After setting up your merchant account, you’ll need to send the CSE your inventory information. This is your data feed, also known as an xml feed, shopping feed, or product feed. You can typically export your feed to a CSE via your store platform, whether it’s Magento, Volusion, Shopify, Yahoo! Stores, or Netsuite. Each CSE, however, has their own unique data feed specifications.
  2. Bid Management: After setting up your account and depositing ad spend into a CSE, managing your bids is an essential part of your CSE campaign that needs to be done regularly, if not daily. This aspect alone, especially given the fact that Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, and Shopzilla allow for product-level bidding, makes CSEs a unique marketing channel in that the merchant has the lion’s share of control over its profitability.
  3. Site Optimization: Because receiving clicks on a CSE will direct the shopper to your home store, you need to ensure that your site is conversion rate optimized (CRO). Like with any new marketing channel endeavor, your efforts may be in vain if your website depreciates your credibility so much that you miss out on a potential conversion.
Shopzilla Bidding Page for Merchants

Figure 3. Shopzilla Bidding Page for Merchants

Ensuring Long-Term Success

Like with any process, CSE campaign management will become systematic and more efficient the more you do it. Like I said earlier, a retailer will miss out on the benefits of shopping engine marketing either because they don’t have the expertise or the resources, but expertise will come and tangible results are worth the time and budget investment.

Don’t be overwhelmed, exploring new marketing channels will have a learning curve no matter which route you take.

Learn how to convert more visitors into customers with better usability. 

Watch the tutorial—Convert More Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics—and discover proven best practices for maximizing website conversions. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


5 Brands Using Pinterest Right and How to Learn from Them


Ask any marketer and you hear the same thing: Pinterest matters. What’s less clear, however, is exactly how. While we’ve all heard that Pinterest drives traffic, reinforces a brand, builds consumer interest, and increases community, few companies know how to get it to do those things for them.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at five brands using Pinterest best today—from what they’re pinning to initiatives they’re launching—to see what we can learn from their Pinterest marketing examples.

RELATED CLASS: Pinning for Profit

1. Whole Foods Market

The national supermarket chain focusing on natural foods and often linked with a more luxury lifestyle, Whole Foods Market has over 100,000 followers on Pinterest.

Whole Foods Pinterest Account

What Whole Foods Pins: Whole Foods keeps 54 boards, with topics ranging from straight culinary (“Eat Your Veggies”) to kitchen-related (“Super HOT Kitchens”) to more lifestyle-centric (“We’re Used to Reusing!”). All the boards fit within the Whole Foods brand, amplifying it to followers as well as casting a wider net to those who will find the company’s pins interesting.

The Lesson: Take a page from Whole Foods and think outside the obvious when it comes to pin topics. If you’re an automotive manufacturer, pin more than cars, for example. Think also about topics that fit with your brand’s aesthetic and values: travel, luxury, affordability, etc. The broader your topics, the broader the audience you can reach—just make sure the topics fit with your brand.

2. Martha Stewart

As the name synonymous with home decorating, cooking, and entertaining, Martha Stewart has over 150,000 followers on Pinterest. What’s more, her corporate account, Martha Stewart Living, has two times that many.

Martha Stewart Pinterest Account

How Martha Collaborates: Like Whole Foods, Martha Stewart Living hosts a variety of group boards, including boards from guest pinners. The guest boards feature a particular blogger who creates the pins for a given length of time.

The Lesson: Enlist the help of bloggers to do your pinning for a week, and you both benefit. You get curated pins; the bloggers gets additional exposure.

RELATED CLASS: How Pinterest Can Help Your Brand

3. Bare Minerals

Cosmetics company Bare Minerals boasts more than 15,000 followers on Pinterest, despite having only 11 boards and under 300 total pins.

Bare Minerals Pinterest Account

What’s Its Secret? With the launch of new products, Bare Minerals hosted what it called the “Pin It to Win It” contest. Users could enter to win one of 10 $50 gift cards or the grand prize of one $500 gift card simply by following the brand, setting up a themed board following the company’s directions, and tagging its pins with #BareMinerals and #READYtowin.

The Lesson: Contests are powerful on Pinterest. Use them to generate user pins, broaden your reach online, and create more engaged fans. As Bare Minerals shows, the prizes needn’t be extravagant—but they do need to be something followers want.

4. West Elm

Home goods retailer West Elm draws 126,000+ followers on Pinterest, all of whom find interest in the brand’s 53 boards that range from “Dream House of the Day” to color-focused “Aquamarine.”

West Elm Pinterest

West Elm Contests: West Elm makes its Pinterest sweepstakes even easier for fans than Bare Minerals does—entry to its latest contest is as simple as following the brand and repinning five of its pins from the “Sweet Dreams Sweepstakes” board.

The Lesson: A simple contest is still powerful. At the end of its sweepstakes, West Elm will have new followers, as well as an exponential spread of its brand on one of the most powerful referral networks.

5. Relish Magazine

While smaller than the other brands mentioned in this roundup, food publication Relish Magazine, with its 5,000+ Pinterest followers, demonstrates blogger engagement well.

Relish Magazine Pinterest Account

How Relish Works with Bloggers: Not only does Relish Magazine keep a board of “Food Bloggers We Love,” but it also enlists top food bloggers as guest pinners.

The Lesson: Figure out your target demographic (in Relish Magazine’s case, foodies) and find a way to incorporate it into your Pinterest strategy. Food bloggers pinning for Relish Magazine give the magazine more exposure and influence, enhancing its brand and bringing in new readers.

Learn how to use Pinterest to drive referral traffic and boost brand awareness.

Watch How Pinterest Can Help Your Brand, and walk through the necessary steps for getting up and running on Pinterest. You'll discover how to leverage the network to drive significant referral traffic, and learn exactly how to create pins that people will love, share, and visit. Get instant access to now.


Why You Should Care About Website Usability


Website Usability is ImportantThis is the first posting in a series about what it takes to make a website so easy to use that your audience will return again and again because the experience is simple, painless and quick.

There are a number of definitions of website usability. Dr. Peter J. Meyers, president of, defines it as, “… the science of making technology work for people.” What a concept—technology in service of human beings instead of the other way around! That’s exactly what a website should do: enable your visitors to access the information, service, or product they want as quickly and easily as possible. As simple as that sounds, it takes some serious thought and planning.

Before you go through the process of evaluating your current website (or planning a new one), it’s important to understand why usability is so important. In a nutshell, it impacts your bottom line. The fallout from poor website design is enormous:

  • 85% abandon a site due to poor design
  • 83% leave because it takes too many clicks to get what they want
  • 62% gave up looking for an item while shopping online
  • 40% never return to a site because the content was hard to use
  • 50% of sales are lost because visitors can’t find content

Remember—it’s the unhappy customers who complain the most frequently about their experiences. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, while around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Multiply that 20 people by the number of followers the complainers have on Facebook and Twitter—and you can see the problem.

It’s well worthwhile to plan for usability before designing a website. The cost of fixing a poorly designed website is greater than just the time and money involved in the fix. As you can see from the statistics above, by the time you get around to fixing a site, you have already lost potential business.

RELATED TUTORIAL: B2B Website Redesign

There’s another aspect of usability that may not have occurred to you when thinking about website design. In 2006, the National Federation of the Blind sued Target over its website. The NFB contended that Target’s website was a “place of public accommodation,” and therefore came under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As such, the suit claimed, the website had to be made usable by the visually impaired. Target settled out of court in 2008, setting up a $6 million fund for claims. Target also reworked the site to accommodate visitors using screen reading software and other aids. This is a serious consideration for an eCommerce site, but needs to be considered by other kinds of sites as well.

Come back next Tuesday, May 21 as I share 4 steps for creating an effective website that visitors love.

Learn how to convert more visitors into customers with better usability. 

Watch the tutorial—Convert More Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics— and discover proven best practices for maximizing website conversions. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


How to Create the Perfect Small Business Social Media Team


Social Media TeamSocial media can seem overwhelming. Let’s face it, if you are running a business, you are really busy running the business, right? Have you ever thought, “I just want someone else to do it for me!” You’re in luck. Just like other projects in your business you can train your staff to use social media to create relationships with your customers and get your business out there.

Here’s how to get your team ready for the social media front lines:

1. Start with a recruiting session.

Depending on the size of your team, you might be able to hand select this team or you could ask for input from your managers. Be strategic. Look for passionate, tech savvy people who are skilled communicators.

Tell people what you are doing and why. Try a script like this.

"Our vision for 2013 is to reach out to more fans, build partnerships and attract more people to our brand. We are getting on Facebook and are looking for passionate, tech savvy team members who want to join us."

2. Plan a training session.

When you have a handful of people committed to your social media team, schedule a training session. These meetings are most effective when everyone can see the same screen. If your team is local, your training session could be done in training room with your computer screen projected. If that is not an option, use an online webinar service provider with screen sharing options. The best free resource for screen sharing is Skype or

3. Create your presentation.

Cover each of these topics:

  • Your purpose. The most effective way to use social media is to build relationships with your customers. Your purpose might be to create a community of fans who love what you do and happily spread the good word.
  • Set frequency expectations. Plan to have a few posts each day. Depending on the size of your team that might mean that one person posts one time per day or maybe just a couple times a week.
  • Set content expectations. The biggest social media question is “I’m on Facebook and Twitter, what do I say?” You really have to know your target customer but use “e-cubed.” E-cubed is educate, empower and entertain. Consider your ideal target fan and brainstorm posts that they would find educational, empowering and entertaining.
    1. You are a commercial interior designer. Your target is decision maker at a development company. They might find “how ‘green’ design innovations are impacting the bottom line” educational and empowering. Post that.
    2. You have an antique furniture shop. Your target is an interior designer. It might be entertaining and educational to know the history of the piece or it might be empowering to know how to restore the piece. Post that.
  • Determine your ratio between relationship building and self promotion. A common issue to address beforehand is how much relationship building posts you want in comparison to how much self promotion would you like to see. I recommend the 80/20 rule - 80% relationship building and 20% self promotion. That ratio will help you achieve your goal of creating communities of fans who love what you do and happily spread the good word.
  • Give admin access. Giving your team members admin access will allow your team to create posts as your business rather than their personal profile. Your fans will only see your business profile picture instead of the individual person’s picture. If you would like to know who the post came from and to encourage ownership, ask your team to type “-their name” after each post. To set up admin access you will need their personal email address that they use to login to Facebook and they will need to “Like” your business’ Facebook page.

4. Develop social media guidelines.

Require that every team member read, sign and adhere to your established social media guidelines. You are allowing your team members to communicate with fans on your behalf and want to make sure they uphold the brand standards, represent your business in a favorable light and maintain ongoing contact with you regarding concerns or progress.

You are busy running your business. Put these steps in action to lead your team to your social media goals: reach out to more fans, build partnerships and attract more people to our brand.


Facebook Reach Insights Reporting Bug: 3 Examples


Thought your Facebook reach was down?  It was just a bug!

The social media marketing sphere has been filled with complaints from brands that their reach has diminished over the last 7 months. According to some, it was a plot from Facebook to force page owners to pay to reach their fans. These disgruntled voices were so loud, Facebook was forced to contradict the rumor and take action to demonstrate good faith.

Even Techcrunch was confused—posting conflicting articles confirming and denying the rumor within the same day! It’s been pretty hard for the rest of us to know where the real truth was.

The truth was actually much simpler than what everyone seemed to think. Facebook reach was never really down, but the way it was reported within Facebook insights was. And, all of this confusion was due… to a bug!

On February 22nd, Facebook announced a bug that had been affecting reach reporting in its page insights. Actual reach was not affected, but stats were inaccurately reporting lower numbers.

Facebook has been rather vague on the actual effect of the bug they’ve just killed. According to Facebook, page owners should expect:

  • Total reach to stay the same or increase for most Pages
  • An increase in paid reach if you ran News Feed ads
  • An increase or decrease in organic reach, depending on many factors such as the composition of your fan base, when and how often you post and your spending patterns
  • A change in metrics computed from reach and impressions, such as engagement rate and virality

So, thanks to that (not so clear) explanation from Facebook, the real question is whether or not your Facebook reach is really up.

The short answer is yes. But the reach metric that has been increased is not the organic one—it is the viral one.

Based on a sample of more than 3,000 pages of all sizes, between February 21 and March 8, organic reach has remained steady, but viral reach has increased by 200% on average—a pretty significant change.

Between February 21 and March 8, based on a sample of more than 3,000 pages, the monthly viral reach statistics have gone from the equivalent of 100% of fan bases to almost 300%.

So, should you expect your organic reach to be the same, and your viral reach to have tripled? Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The bug was only affecting certain types of impressions (for example, paid impressions in newsfeed or impressions of shared content); the effect of that bug fix on your page statistics will vary greatly on your content strategy, posting frequency and type of engagement you were getting.

To illustrate how big this difference can be, I’ve chosen 3 different pages from the sample: one very (very!) active page about politics with good engagement (600,000 fans), one page of a charity with normal posting activity and very (very!) high engagement (230,000 fans) and one page of an e-commerce brand with normal posting activity but pretty low engagement (1M fans).

Our active political page has seen an increase in organic reach of about 15% and viral reach has increased by more than 739%.

Our charity page had no increase of organic reach and 1,000% for viral reach.

Our e-commerce brand page also had no increase in organic reach and 135% for viral reach.

In a nutshell, most pages won’t see an increase in organic reach and all pages will see an increase in viral reach, but the magnitude of the increase will highly depend on the level of engagement that page was getting on its posts.

However, one thing is now confirmed, the decline in reach that most pages have witnessed at the beginning of September 2012 was mainly due to that bug. And since it’s been fixed, reach has gone back to its pre-september level.


If you are curious about how your page reach statistics have been affected by this bug fix, you can check it out on the free Facebook Page Performance Barometer we used to extract this data.

Have you noticed an increase in your organic or viral reach since the end of February? Let us know in the comments!

Do you want to grow your Facebook audience?

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