Tags: online marketing

How an Amazon App Stole Sales from inside Big Box Stores

How an Amazon App Stole Sales from inside Big Box Stores

Beyond • December 12, 2011

Amazon’s new app seemed to be a win-win for everyone. It gives a 5% discount up to $5 on the purchase of some of the most popular holiday season gifts, such as toys, music, DVDs and electronics. All the consumer has to do is visit any store where the merchandise is on sale, enter the barcode into their smartphone by image or text and then buy it from Amazon to receive the discount. What Amazon is proffering as a great deal for consumers is actually a bum deal for the brick and mortar retailers who have had a customer walk into their stores, pick up a product they want and then go buy it elsewhere. In the razor-thin profit margin world of big box retailers this is exactly the sort of “unfair competition” that can drive them to bankruptcy court. Big Box Stores Compete with Ghost E-tailers Big box stores such as Best Buy have long complained of their locations being used as hands-on demonstration centers by the online e-tailers. Customers regularly visit the store, check out comparable equipment, engage the sales person in a conversation about the products’ features and characteristics, then go home to order it from an e-tailer at a lower price. The big box stores are thus being placed in a bind as the much higher overhead of sustaining a brick and mortar series of retail outlets around the country obviate them from being able to match the e-tailer’s selling prices. After all, some e-tailers are essentially ghost or shell operations that are little more than order-taking centers for merchandise that gets drop-shipped. They don’t even have to have as much as a warehouse, just a website and a phone. Skip the Sales Tax, Save 10% The e-tailer advantage goes much further than low overhead. Most e-tailers, including Amazon, don’t collect state or local sales taxes. A customer in Birmingham, Alabama can skip the 10% sales tax altogether by ordering from an e-tailer that is conveniently located in Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon where no sales taxes are levied. The only detriment to buying from an e-tailer is if a large or heavy product has to be shipped to the buyer at considerable cost, but even this is often circumvented by waiting until the e-tailer offers a limited time free shipping offer. Facing this extent of “uneven playing field” it is a wonder how the big box stores manage to stay in business at all, and many don’t: The retail landscape and malls across the country are scarred by the presence of empty locations where Circuit City, Computer City and other big box stores once thrived. Amazon Crossed the Line The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) did not stand idly by but called Amazon to task for its blatant sales misappropriation. RILA’s members are especially galled by the ease at which a customer could actually complete the transaction right away but not through its own checkout counters, thus using “brick and mortar stores as showrooms to then purchase merchandise online from inside the store.” The reality is that anyone with a smartphone can do that anyway with any e-tailer. Just walk through any large electronics store on a busy weekend and you’ll see customers doing just that. However, RILA believes Amazon crossed the line by actually offering a special discount for the specific action and cried foul. The jury is still out on whether such blatantly anti-competitive practices will be allowed to continue by a Congress that seems stunned by the enormity of the legislative challenges it faces and replies with chainsaws when surgical scalpels are required… if it responds at all.


Read More
Why Video Is Dominating the Market and How You Can Get in on It

Why Video Is Dominating the Market and How You Can Get in on It

Beyond • December 6, 2011

If content is king, then video is queen…and anyone knows that a queen always trumps a king. So it comes as no surprise to see video content take a giant surge when it comes to successful multimedia marketing that gets results. From small time bloggers’ reviews of hauls that have magnetized a growing cult-like audience, to giant e-commerces, it’s clear that video is where it’s at. Take e-commerce giant Zappos, which was one of the pioneers a few years back in sourcing great original videos that both highlighted their news-worthy company culture and previewed their products with SEO rich keywords. In 2010, the company created over 60K product videos, with numbers expecting to reach 100K by the end of this year. So why does video work? Think of the Home Shopping Network…those late night infomercials that have you hooked. The power of video lies in that you can “see” what you’re being offered. There’s an appeal of not relying on static graphics and descriptions; rather, you’re as good as there. There’s also a sensory appeal. Your eyes and ears are filled with changing visuals and sounds, keeping you hooked, keeping you entertained and curious. But videos aren’t just for e-commerce based businesses. Videos are really the one tool that translates to success across ANY business. Whether you’re doing a product video, showing service results, interviewing customer reviews or offering tips or a personal introduction. You simply cannot go wrong with video…if you do it right. Tips for Best Videos Content – Just like with text content, video content needs to have some sort of scheme. Start off by creating an editorial calendar for your video content just as you should be doing for your text content. Keep in mind that producing an entire video from start to finish is a more consuming process that involves at least a small team, as opposed to just one person writing content. With that in mind, pace your content schedule out accordingly, especially if you’re a smaller team that has other priorities. For this type of team, one video every week is ideal; a video every two weeks is realistic, and a video every month should be the minimum. Each video should start with a script. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? Do a competitor analysis to see what others are doing. Pick up on their successes and avoid their mistakes as you watch other videos as a consumer would. Technical Style – You can create a video without equipment and you can’t create a good video without good equipment. If you’re serious about videos, you absolutely have to invest in the equipment. You’ll need a good camera, lighting props, reflectors and video editing equipment, including a program and preferably an Apple computer (which includes a wonderful iMac movie editing program). If you’re on a smaller budget but can afford to splurge a little per video, hire a college student to edit the videos. I’ve seen the difference an amateur edit offers versus someone who knows what they’re doing. Trust me when I say it’s worth the investment. Going back to style, a video should never just be a straight shot. Consider angles, background, lighting, voice overs, themes, etc. The more dynamic, the more successful your video will be. All videos should range between 1-3 minutes. Anything more and you’ve likely lost your audience. How to Distribute Your Videos Aside from posting your newest videos up on your homepage (not any subpages), you should be marketing all video content across social media channels and plugging it in your email marketing campaigns and press kits. Tip: Scan the Competition with Redux, a curated content platform for videos. Use Redux to see what’s out there in your field and gauge your competition. See what’s being done right, what’s attracting a crowd and comments, and what turns people away…and then apply the strategy to your own video marketing efforts.


Read More
How to Generate B2B Content

How to Generate B2B Content

Beyond • December 5, 2011

One of the biggest challenges B2B companies face today is creating content their prospects want to interact with. You have built up the following on Facebook and Twitter, but how do you keep those fans and followers engaged? This post will serve as a brief, yet informative guide on how to generate B2B content that gets responses. Tell a Good Story Whether it’s cuddling up with a novel, or gathering around the tube for a movie, everyone loves to take in a good story. A good story has a way of resonating with people and compelling them to share it with others. So what is your story? What are you all about and what motivated you to get into the business? The answers to these questions could serve as the perfect background for your story. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with email, your website or social media, learning how to tell a story in your marketing can help you craft dynamite B2B content your audience really cares about. Be a Valuable Asset Is your B2B content truly valuable to the people you want to consume it? Will it help them save or make more money? Does it showcase your knowledge as an expert? For the sake of your marketing efforts, I hope that you have indeed made generating value-added content a priority. So many marketers overwhelm their audiences with jargon and nonsense that slacking off just a little bit in the interactions you have with your users could have dire consequences. B2B prospects don’t have time for the fluff, so leave it out of your content. Focus on delivering information that establishes you as a valuable resource in their minds. Get with the Times In many cases, the quality of a given piece of content is a matter of subjectivity. What one reader finds a waste of time could be viewed as worth its weight in gold by the next. In any event, you want your B2B content to be as engaging as possible no matter who encounters it. And even though traditional approaches will always have their place more or less, it has become clear that certain types of content are more effective at engaging than others. For example, many people these days are likely to embrace a well composed video more than an article conveying the exact same message. The point is, marketers can no longer afford to waste the time of their audience with boring B2B content. Generating quality B2B content on a consistent basis is hard work. The good thing is that the bulk of that hard work is simply coming up with a sound strategy. B2Bers are increasing their spending on content marketing. If you’re going to stretch the budget for it, you might as well do it right.


Read More
Facebook Dominates amongst India’s Social Media Users

Facebook Dominates amongst India’s Social Media Users

Beyond • December 5, 2011

According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the online market in India is expanding by approximately 5 million users per month! With a citizenry approaching 1.2 billion, the Indian market seems to be facing a future of nearly infinite internet growth, as barely 10% of all Indians are currently online, leaving the other 90% as future prospects. This online revolution seems to be as powerful in the country’s countless remote and tiny villages as it is in the major metro areas. There are more internet users in these small, dusty towns than there are in the three largest Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkatta combined. Exponential Growth This virtually exponential growth has proven to be a powerful draw for the attention of Facebook’s strategists and their efforts in India have resulted in Google’s Orkut losing their prime position last year as Mr. Zuckerberg’s creation increases its market share by a stunning 85% per year. According to Facebook\'s vice president for mobile partnerships and corporate development Vaughan Smith \"India is our third largest market in terms of number of users… we think that India will pass first Indonesia, which should happen soon, and then the US.\" Facebook is doing everything possible to establish itself as the social network of first choice throughout India. Much of Indian internet access will continue to be on mobile devices and Facebook’s recently announced collaboration with Taiwan’s MediaTek will embed access to the social network into a wide variety of very low priced smartphones targeted for the developing world. Given MediaTek’s partnership with the leading Indian mobile brands Spice and Micromax, the expansion of Facebook’s dominance over social media on the subcontinent may be unstoppable. Young & Male The social network is well on the way to achieving or even surpassing its currently lofty goals as it presently has nearly 40 million users and continues to boom. More than three quarters of all Indian Facebookers are between the ages of 18 and 34, a lucrative demographic segment for online marketers. Indian brands are taking full advantage of the massive number of Facebook users in the country, with the local MTV boasting almost six and a half million followers, telecom giant Tata Docomo standing at over four and a half million and Kingfisher Airlines lording over two and a half million fans. Social networking seems to be firmly ensconced as a preference of the younger generation. The older segment of the population still seems to be impervious to Facebook’s charms, as just 5% of all Indian users are over the age of 44. While Facebook’s gender distribution in most Western nations is just about evenly split, there is an enormous skew in favor of males in India, with just 28% of the social network’s users in the vast nation being female. Serious Privacy Issues Remain There are challenges to Facebook’s domination of the Indian online social market, and the most significant may be the country’s government. The Home Ministry has demanded to monitor Facebook posts amid fear that the social network could be used by terrorists to coordinate attacks. In adherence with India’s Information Technology Act, websites and service providers are obligated to turn over to government security agencies all information on private accounts, including passwords. This data handover does not require a court order and can be implemented solely on the determination of a Ministry official. The prospect of having their government privy to every word typed anywhere on Facebook could have a chilling effect on ordinary Indian citizens as the legislation enforced to prevent terrorism could be misused to spy on every aspect of their online lives. With a market the size of India and the spectacular growth rates being experienced, Facebook will have to overcome the heavy hand of the country’s government in order to profit massively from its subcontinent operations. If the social network can strike a balance between government edicts and their users’ privacy issues, then Facebook should easily conquer India.


Read More
Content Marketing: How to Succeed, What to Avoid

Content Marketing: How to Succeed, What to Avoid

Beyond • December 1, 2011

Even the best of us make mistakes. Unfortunately, making mistakes with content marketing can be costly for your efforts. This is even true when you’re working with great content. Believe it or not, but there are several high quality articles, blog posts and videos sitting idle online. There is even more material that never stood a chance of going anywhere. When it comes to content marketing, knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing what steps to take on the road to success. No Game Plan Creating great content can be exhausting. So much so that when the creation part is done, you may find yourself eager to move on to the next project and be done with it. Marketers from all walks of life fall into this trap, but it is probably one of the worst things you can do. Before creating your content, you must have a comprehensive strategy to accompany it, one that sees it making the biggest impact possible. Publishing your finished content is one thing. Nurturing and maximizing its potential is something entirely different. Failing to Take Full Advantage Are you doing everything you can to make a splash with your content? If you even have to think about it, the answer is probably no. You must commit yourself to the actual marketing if you want to get the most out of your content marketing efforts. This doesn’t mean you have to jump on every bandwagon that has come along, but doing things such as submitting your work to social bookmarking sites, sharing on social networks and including it in your email campaigns can go a long way in increasing its mileage. Targeting the Masses Maybe you are trying to reach hundreds of people with your message. Perhaps your message is aimed at thousands. No matter the size of the audience, you will fail at content marketing time and again if you are targeting the masses, rather than a specific segment. Hamilton Jewelers isn’t wasting time marketing its luxury jewelry pieces to everyone. Its efforts are focused on a well-to-do audience that is more likely to take those pieces off the shelves. This is the same targeting approach you should take with your content marketing strategy. Being Too Aggressive Treating content marketing as another sales tool is a big mistake several marketers are making. Sure, generating conversions and driving sales may be a part of the ultimate goal, but if you go into the situation thinking these are the only things that matter, you’ll probably end up with more fruitless bounces than you do conversions. Content marketing is more about being useful and helping the person consuming it than it is about selling. It is this type of value that will convince them to come back. Simply realizing this is half the battle. Giving up Too Early Content marketing can be tough, and success is not something that occurs overnight. It could be months or even years before you accomplish your goals and start seeing the kind of results you’re after. Expecting instant gratification, too many marketers get discouraged and throw in the towel when the good results don’t come right away. Just look at all the abandoned blogs, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles collecting dust on the web. Stick with the program, be willing to put in the work and you will find that a solid content marketing strategy can work wonders. Getting the most from your content may not be easy, but it can be accomplished with the due diligence. Know of some good content marketing points we missed? Feel free to share them in the comments.


Read More
The Quest for Online Marketing Relevance

The Quest for Online Marketing Relevance

Beyond • December 1, 2011

It took a bilingual employee to explain to the execs at GM Canada that the Buick LaCrosse was failing in the quarter of the Canadian market that speaks French, as in the local Quebec patois the name refers to a bizarre (and very naughty) act. It doesn’t take a linguistic misunderstanding to sink a brand, as even the most minute insensibility to cultural or behavioral norms can torpedo your entire online promotional strategy. In the email and social media marketing world where the customer calls the shots and the brands have to bend over backwards to accommodate them, establishing and maintaining relevance has not just become an important factor, it may be the most important factor. Marketing 78 Rpms to Gen Y You wouldn’t market 78 rpm vinyl of Enrico Caruso crooning Neapolitan love songs to Generation Yers, so why approach any of your customers with products, services or a marketing strategy that is essentially just as irrelevant? The primary identifying characteristics of each customer segment need to be taken into careful consideration and the promotional blueprint drafted to suit in order to successfully achieve your online marketing goals: Income – One of the primary characteristics is how much disposable income is available within the segment. If your customers are among the millions hard-hit by the economic slump and foreclosure crisis, your brand can show itself to be relevant by offering affordable, white label versions of more expensive products, and focusing on the necessary staples rather than the luxo-bling line-up. Age – Identifying your customers by age is indispensable to crafting a relevant strategy. A young customer will be able to identify with your musical reference to T-Pain while a middle aged customer might think it’s a brand of ibuprofen. Gender – It may be fashionable in our enlightened age to want to believe that the differences between the genders have been erased as a messy remnant of an expired chauvinistic era, but market research invariably concludes that men react in very different ways to promotional messaging than women. Geography – Variances in culture are not limited to international or inter-linguistic categories, as there are ample differences within the United States based on geography. The prototypical Los Angeleno is fundamentally different from a New Yorker, while a resident of Baton Rouge is another breed altogether. Surnames Are Not a Cultural Determinant A warning to marketers: America is the world’s greatest melting pot of cultures therefore no certain determinations may be made based on the racial or national background of your customers based upon their surnames. It would be completely erroneous to believe that a Rosenberg will not eat pork; a Lakhanpal will shun beef; or an Al-Temiyat won’t quaff a beer. There are millions of Americans who carry their heritage surnames several generations removed from emigration, thus may have no real grasp of their traditional culture. Listen to the Cyberchatter Your quest to have your brand be as relevant as possible has to center on feedback. What are your customers telling you through your customer service communications, social network comments, and email marketing responses? If you’re not listening to the problems and praises consumers are discussing about your brand, you’re on the fast-track to irrelevance. There are ample online services that allow you to easily monitor the cyberchatter about your company that is going on outside of your own communications channels and that input can be just as valuable to fine tuning your relevance marketing strategy as the customer who fills in a complaint form on your website. PC or Mac? An inherent part of feedback is to analyze and comprehend what a customer’s previous behavior is telling you. If they’ve been buying Mac software for ages you shouldn’t be offering them a discount on Windows programs; if their primary browsing and purchasing centers around baby items, they’re not going to be in the market for singles cruises; and if they’ve been shopping for mobility scooters then they’re not going to be prime skateboarding candidates. Savvy brand marketers understand that the online promotional messaging has to be honest, conversational and trustworthy, as well as completely relevant. Customers are no longer looking for “suppliers” but good friends they can trust.


Read More
Landing Pages Explained: What, Why and How

Landing Pages Explained: What, Why and How

Beyond • November 30, 2011

Scenario A: A political group was relaunching their website and one of their primary aims was to have that site help the group generate money. After months of back and forth discussion between group members, one ace politician known for generating money strongly recommended they optimize their landing page. “What’s a landing page?” they asked. Scenario B: A giant Los Angeles based PR company needed to increase their client’s mailing list. They kept scratching their heads about it, wondering what would work best. The fact remains that while their team was highly intelligent, neither they nor the client was web savvy. They also didn’t know what a landing page was, why it mattered or how it could transform their campaign. For a political organization that survives on donations, it’s critical for them to use every tool possible to allow the widest monetary stream. A PR company needs to know marketing inside and out. The success of their client’s mailing list signup depends on how easy it is for site visitors to navigate to a signup form. So What Exactly Is a “Landing Page”? A landing page is essentially what page a person “docks” at when visiting your site. It’s the final page that requires a call to action. It’s often only associated with e-commerce sites, but every single company that has a web presence and hopes to attract customers needs to understand the blueprint of a landing page. When you’re in a physical establishment, there are signs and guides everywhere to help direct you where you need to go. In a digital world, it’s a lot more confusing, and well-drafted landing pages used strategically through email marketing, social media or home pages act as “guides” to get your customers where YOU want them to go. Once there, a landing page needs to be simple to understand with a clear call to action. It has to still “sell,” so you can’t get lazy when designing one. You have to utilize strategic marketing ideas, market research…in essence you have to understand your audience, what they want and what drives them, in order to get what you want from them. Whether it’s the sale or a mailing list sign up, you have to make it simple and worth their time to give you want you want. How Should I Design My Landing Page? Follow these tips to ensure you boost your landing page for maximum performance. Focus on one thing at a time – You may have a great product or service, but tooting all your offers at once only distracts and confuses your customers. The more time they have to weigh the options, the less likely they’ll pick one. Try focusing on just one thing at a time. Stay on point – Just like you shouldn’t be offering too many things at once, you also shouldn’t be filling your landing page visitor with too many details about you or your company. Again, be very specific. Don’t create a series of directions by linking them to other areas of interest. It’s a crumb trail they’re likely to follow, leaving the landing page offer completely forgotten about. Refer to point 1 here and focus on one campaign at a time. Remind them of the benefit – What is your customer going to get out of the transaction? What does signing up get them? Perhaps you can offer a free PDF, a discount or some other benefit or access that offers value in exchange for the sell or sign up. Make it easy for them to act – Respect that your end user is busy and doesn’t have time to sign up or hunt for the transaction point. Make it easy for them by being very clear where they have to sign up or how they can make a purchase. The more they have to look, the more steps they have to go through, the higher the chances that your campaign will suffer and likely fail. Keep graphics simple and in step with the tone of your site and service/product. Too many graphics are distracting. The wrong kinds of graphics or “boring” graphics don’t entice customers to bite, and too few graphics doesn’t inspire confidence or a sense of vision for where you’re going or what you want them to feel from the transaction.


Read More
The Top 5 Ways to Create a Successful Online Startup

The Top 5 Ways to Create a Successful Online Startup

Beyond • November 23, 2011

Every freelancer or consultant working in the creation of online content has met this client: The one who is convinced that the simple act of placing a website, video or podcast on the internet will by some form of magic cause it to be viewed by millions of people. Instead of focusing efforts on driving traffic to the content, they expect that they’re doing the online equivalent of placing a Super Bowl commercial. The truth is that unless you’re marketing a cold fusion flux capacitor plug-in to your DeLorean, whatever you’re selling has already been done by others, likely with larger budgets and more experience. When a Google search for Bird Feeders brings up 6.5 million results, the question that remains is what your startup can bring to the web that will rise above the fray. Here are the top five ways to ensure that your online startup will soar instead of stink. 1. Don’t Even Think of Skipping a Business Plan Starting any venture without a business plan is tantamount to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Even if you are not seeking to raise capital, a business plan allows you to visualize the various aspects of your startup so that you can complete an accurate competitive analysis. You may find through your research that your concept to market maple syrup-soaked snuff has already been done… and failed. 2. Niche Down & Down It can confidently be stated that there is no such thing as horizontal marketing on the internet, as it’s all narrowly vertical if not outright niche-y. If your desired market segment is already dominated by multi-billion dollar brands, you can be secure in the knowledge that confronting them head-on results in one success for every several million crash-and-burns. Niches and sub-niches are where the accessible online markets reside. If your field is crowded with velvet snow shovel covers, try hand-knitted versions. If those are already on the market, niche down to hand-knitted personalized covers. 3. Realistically Budget for Your Website Most startup entrepreneurs vastly underestimate how much it costs to have a professional website created. Sure, anyone can download a shareware HTML editor and have at it, but the results will be embarrassing. Hiring a web designer can be an expensive process, especially once sophisticated technologies like HTML5, Java and ActiveX gets involved. It’s not unusual for a top-notch website to cost over $100,000 so either scale your expectations way down or buy a winning lottery ticket. 4. S.E.Woes Google has been fighting a pitched battle against the search engine optimization (SEO) crowd, and the Googleplex is winning. By hitting the SEO practitioners with rapid-fire barrages of Googlebot algorithm updates, successful SEO strategies are expiring faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriages. Creating unique, interesting, erudite, value-focused content is the only effective and timeless SEO strategy. If someone arrives at your office guaranteeing a #1 Google position in exchange for cash, either show them the door or better yet call the police. 5. Turn $1 into $40+ with Email Marketing Pay per click placements such as Google AdWords can be effective albeit expensive, as not everyone who clicks through to your website will convert. Coupons are great if you can afford to sell your product for less than 25% of retail, but unfortunately that is impossible for most startup companies. A much more affordable, efficient and profitable alternative is email and social media marketing where you can efficiently reach your customer base and engage them in the types of two way conversations they prefer. With the Direct Marketing Association stating that every dollar invested in email marketing brings in more than forty dollars in profit, it’s the best promotional channel available to any company whether startup or mature. Although you may be convinced that your octopus flavored granola bar is going to be the next big snack item, you can’t expect the world to beat a path to your tentacles. The three Ps of effective business planning, practices and promotions will give your startup company the best chances of success, no matter what you’re selling.


Read More
Online Marketing Ethics: Google’s AdWords Mortgage Scam

Online Marketing Ethics: Google’s AdWords Mortgage Scam

Beyond • November 22, 2011

With millions of distressed mortgage holders in the US, it was inevitable that criminals would start to prey on them through every scam possible, and one of the most popular has been to place specious online ads. These mendacious ads would promise mortgage help and then rip off the homeowners. The US government is working with Google to shut down these shameful scams, a signal that the Wild West Web days when anyone could advertise just about anything without compunction may be swiftly coming to a close. 85 Mortgage Scams Terminated The US Office of the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) is currently working on a criminal investigation involving Google AdWords’ acceptance and placement of hundreds of mortgage modification scam ads. The government agency is collaborating with the Googleplex in terminating over 500 web advertisers and agents operating 85 mortgage scams through the application of powerfully deceptive advertising on a very large scale. Many of these criminals were so devilishly inventive that they even adopted names that were similar to actual government agencies and Photoshopped official-looking seals and logos to reel in their unsuspecting victims. Homeowners Lost Their Money & Property Through these devious online ads the homeowners are informed that instead of marching inexorably towards foreclosure, they could stop paying their mortgages outright and even ignore calls from their lender. In exchange for a considerable up-front fee, the scammers would allegedly work through the US Home Affordable Modification Program to lower the mortgage payable. Instead, most of these schemes diverted both personal data and mortgage payments directly to the criminals, and in some cases even transferred property deeds without the homeowners realizing that they’d been scammed. The progression from a click on an online ad banner to losing your home to criminals was often staggeringly quick. Google Has Already Forfeited $500 Million Google has already agreed to write a check for half a billion dollars to the US government for accepting AdWords placements from Canadian pharmacies selling scriptless prescription drugs to American citizens. In light of that settlement, Google announced that they would be implementing everything “from extensive verification procedures, to automated keyword blocking, to changing our ads policies” in order to stop rogue advertisers. A Future of More Restrictive Enforcement The need to stop rampant online ad scams is both real and pressing since with the majority of Americans essentially living on the Internet, the US government has a powerful responsibility to protect the legal interests of its citizens. On the other hand Google and the other online ad networks can claim that holding them responsible for the illegal activities of their advertisers is somewhat akin to suing a telephone company because a criminal telemarketer used their lines to call up marks. However, the online industry has proven repeatedly unable or unwilling to police itself, as is witnessed by the fact that after years of Google insisting that its YouTube is free of copyright-infringing content, there are still millions of clips and even outright complete movies and television shows available for viewing. Legislation currently working its way through Congress would place severe restrictions on this sort of content and points to a future of more restrictive overall online legal enforcement. To avoid the heavy hand of the government, the onus is on you to act ethically when promoting your brand through email and social network channels. Your online marketing message should strive to live up to the Rotary Club’s famous Four Way Test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better relationships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Adopting a policy of adhering to the strictest possible ethics is truly the only legitimate way forward for any email and social media marketer. Everything possible must be done to encourage the consumer to have trust, confidence and respect for your brand, and tactics that as much as border on the illegitimate must be shunned at all costs.


Read More
WordPress Steps It Up for E-Commerce Businesses

WordPress Steps It Up for E-Commerce Businesses

Beyond • November 21, 2011

For WordPress enthusiasts who long ago discovered a beautiful, easy to use platform, nothing became more frustrating than its ultimate limited functionality when it came to e-commerce. GetShopped changed that by offering one solution as an alternative to DIY e-commerce websites. WooCommerce WooCommerce – If you want a thoroughbred online shop, WooCommerce recommends you give them a shot. A common frustration with WordPress themes is that you only get to see a live preview, but rarely can really test drive it yourself. WooCommerce alleviates the worry by offering both: A 14 day live preview that you can try out to see if it’s something that works for you as well as a free download after a brief registration. So what do you get with WooCommerce? You get administrative control and reporting, shipping and tax is sorted out for you along with an easy mode to track customers and orders. You also get product and inventory control, marketing and promotion help, payment gateways (like PayPal and credit cards) and theme options (depending on which package you choose). Cost ranges between $70 for a Standard Package to $150 for a Developer Package and between $100-$200 for Enterprise Themes. If you’re a beginner running the shop on your own, your best bet is a Standard Package, which gets you what you need but doesn’t include layered Photoshop files or advanced functionality – options that you’d really only use if you knew how to manage this already or were to hire help on the side. For someone who wants the options, Enterprise is the right choice. You don’t get bonus themes but you do get Photoshop and advanced functionality. Having the option to tweak your site to suit your preferences, especially aesthetic ones, is really a critical factor that determines whether your shop is going to attract customers or not. A great design will always get the customers…assuming it’s paired with a great product. Cart66 Cart66 – A plugin rather than a complete theme like WooCommerce, Cart66 stands out by not only catering to e-commerce business owners but also to those interested in selling subscription and digital content/services. For those not interested in complicated design implementation, Cart66 is an attractive feature that lets users plug in e-commerce aspects anywhere; so rather than designing the site around the trade you have the trade mold to the content/products already on your site. But if you do want to change the appearance of your page, you’re still able to do so through CSS. The admin side of business is made pretty easy too. You can set your currency, choose “sell to” countries, sort out tax, manage sales reports and track inventory. The cost ranges between $89-$299. A free version is available but doesn’t allow for analytics or subscription sales and has limited payment modes, among other disadvantages. Shopp Shopp – Also a plugin, Shopp lets you get your e-commerce store started quickly without all the complicated programming that traditionally goes into a non-WordPress site. Although the plugin allows you to customize style sheets including your site’s theme, catalogs and receipts, there’s no mention of order tracking, price coding and inventory management – which is a major drawback to an otherwise adequate plugin. Cost ranges between $55 to just under $300. Shopp might be best for those with a little more programming and site navigation experience; it’s not designed for beginners. Experience is another necessity in using this plugin, otherwise you’re going to end up with an amateur site. Which One Should You Choose? An e-commerce project is not like any other web project. It involves a lot of time and commitment, market research, sales and a considerable investment in time. You can do it for less with WordPress, but it’s better to really do your homework and study each option. Think about all the pros and cons, your needs and how you want your store to grow in the years ahead. Once you have a thorough blueprint, you have a better idea for how to forget a path. Here, you’re better off taking your time and doing it right the first time, rather than jumping from platform to plugin, leaving you disheartened with the project and with a loss in profitability.


Read More
1 2 3 4 5 7