Article Archive by Gerard Tollefsen

October 24 2008

Convenient and Simple Shopping for E-Commerce Sites

by Gerard Tollefsen

Today more than ever, sales are harder to come by and you should make sure you are not losing sales because your e-commerce site is not user friendly.  When you look at some of the most successful e-commerce sites, the overwhelming trend is that their shopping carts and buying processes are simple and easy to use.  Every year more people are relying on the internet to find and buy products and the new “converts” to online shopping often have a healthy dose of skepticism about the process.  They may have finally accepted the concept of buying a product online, but if they get too far out of their comfort zone, they will abandon your shopping cart in a heartbeat.  My wife is a perfect example of this new “online shopper”.

She recently made an online purchase for my parent’s anniversary and I asked her why she chose the company she decided to purchase from.  Not surprisingly, this company was not her first choice, but she decided to buy from them because it was easy and fast.  Initially, she was in the process of buying from another site, but dropped out of the ordering process because she got confused with all of the steps involved.  The site had a product she wanted, she started to make the purchase but in the end another company got her order!  When asked what confused her, she said there were too many steps and she became frustrated “with the whole deal”.

While some of these tips may seem over simplified, here are some ideas to keep in mind to ensure you don’t lose sales because your site isn’t user friendly:

  1. Do not require the shopper to register before they make a purchase.  Instead, allow the registration process to be optional.  Most people shopping online, once they find what they are looking for just want to place the order and get moving.  While capturing customer data is important, it is still trumped by sales and shouldn’t be an obstacle to gain a new customer.
  2. Keep the order screens clean and simple.  There is nothing wrong with having a small section of “related products” to show the shopper as they are finalizing their order but if you bombard them with 20 other product “specials” all over the page this can confuse the shopper.
  3. Provide a clear and simple pre-confirmation page, showing all products being purchased with taxes and shipping (if applicable), so the shopper knows exactly what they will be charged before they click the “Place Order” button.  This is an important step to instill confidence in the shopper that they are only being charged for what they purchased and allows them to review the order before they checkout.
  4. Provide the shopper an online confirmation page and online receipt and make it clear that the receipt is printable.  People expect a hard copy receipt when they make a purchase at their local store, it shouldn’t be any different when they purchase online. If they provided their email address during the order process, send a back up email confirmation and receipt to their email address.

These are just a few ideas to consider when streamlining your site’s ordering process.  The main objectives are convenience, simplicity, and user friendliness.  By doing so, you can help avoid customers getting frustrated with your site and buying from another company!

October 3 2008

Leveraging Google Analytics to Optimize Your PPC Campaign

by Gerard Tollefsen

When managing a Pay-per-Click campaign it is important to remember that continual optimization of the campaign is critical to success.  Keywords you thought would be perfect to drive qualified traffic to your site when you first launched a campaign may turn out to be poor performers.  Certain geographic locations that logically would make sense to target your ads may be out performed by locations you didn’t think there would be a big demand for your product or service.  An excellent way to discover what is working with your campaign and learn about new opportunities is by analyzing the data from an analytics program.

Here at MoreVisibility, we leverage the data from Google Analytics to help optimize PPC campaigns and expand our knowledge of how customers interact with our client’s websites.  With this knowledge you can optimize campaigns for greater success.  Here are a few examples of how you can leverage the data from Google Analytics to optimize your PPC campaign:

  1. First thing is to set up goals in Google Analytics so you can track specific metrics and compare the data from your paid campaign in relation to the traffic coming to the site organically.
  2. Conversions are very important, whether for e-commerce sites or lead generation sites.  Review the keywords that result in conversions both from the organic traffic and from your paid ads.  Remove keywords from your campaigns that are not producing, so you can allocate more of your budget to keywords that have a track record of success.  Create a test campaign where you can experiment with new keywords.  Over time, keep the keywords you see generating conversions and remove the poor performers.
  3. Analyze where the traffic is coming from.  Is there a specific geographical location that drives more conversions than other locations you are targeting?  For example, you may have a national campaign, but Google Analytics shows that traffic from Florida converts at a higher rate than the campaign as a whole.  If so, think about creating a separate Geo-Targeted Florida campaign and allocating a specific budget to target the customers in that area.  This can give you additional flexibility when determining the most efficient way to spend your advertising dollars.
  4. Lastly, look at the relationship between the keywords you are running in the PPC campaign versus the keywords that drive organic traffic to your site.  You may find there are keywords people search on to find your site that you are not running in your paid campaign.  This is an excellent way to expand your PPC keyword list and discover new keywords you originally didn’t think to include in your campaign.  In this way, you are constantly optimizing the campaign and growing the keyword list based on successful keyword research.

Remember, managing a PPC campaign is an every day task.  Optimizing the campaign is critical to your success and using an analytics tool, like Google Analytics, can bring new insight through real world (real time) data, and help you develop a high performing search engine marketing campaign.


September 16 2008

Testing and Refreshing Ad Copy to Optimize PPC Campaigns

by Gerard Tollefsen

I’m always surprised companies do not test or refresh their ad copy on a regular basis.  It is not enough to simply make changes to your ad copy during the holiday season or when you want to run a special promotion (10% Off for the Month of May!).  It is important to tailor your message during the holiday season, especially for online retailers who rely on holiday sales, and that message is probably different than the rest of the year, so it makes sense to have different ad copy running during the holidays.

In addition, you probably do not offer a special discount all year round, so a “10% Off” promotion dictates special ad copy as well.  However, testing and refreshing ad copy should be a continual process in search engine marketing.  It’s quite helpful that Google (and your target audience) provide the test platform you need to make the right decisions about choosing the most effective message.

At MoreVisibility, we create multiple ads for every campaign and rely on real time statistics to show which ad copy is effective and which is not.  Regardless of the time of year or the promotion you are running, you should create multiple ads for your campaigns and continually test their effectiveness.  Google makes this campaign optimization process very easy, because you can set your campaigns so the best performing ad is displayed more often while you rotate multiple ads. 

As you see that one ad is outperforming another, create new and fresh ad copy and replace the poor performers with these new ads.  Reset the Google settings in your campaign to rotate your ads equally so you can start to gather click-thru data on the new ads in addition to the best performing ad you kept active.  Once you have enough quantifiable data, change the settings in Google to optimize the ad delivery and see if any of the new ads become your new best performer.  By doing this testing and refreshing of ad copy, you can zero in on the best marketing message that will drive more traffic to your site and keep you focused on optimizing your campaigns.

The bottom line, do not rely on the time of year or a special promotion to dictate when you change your marketing message in your Pay per Click (PPC) campaigns.  The better option is to allow your potential customers to tell you what works and what doesn’t.  Continually adding and testing new ad copy will provide you with the best feedback a business can have: unsolicited customer feedback!

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