South Korean e-Sales - $1Trillion+
You know I’m often writing about emerging markets and other regional revenue opportunities, especially as regards local alternative payments. ZDNet.com has just published results of 2012 e-commerce sales for South Korea, and they took off last year to an all-time high - 1,144 trillion won which is USD $1.05 trillion – we’ve heard the word trillion tossed around with all kinds of negative connotation in recent days, but here’s a trillion that’s a good marker, and do in large part to increased B2B transactions.
An almost 15 percent jump from 2011 to 2012 – not bad for a lagging global economy. According to Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), this was a broad increase, with online transactions increasing across all categories.
The B2C sales increase was more modest, but still improved 6 percent to USD $18.1 billion.
A really interesting stat for those of you innovating in the software solutions arena, C2C sales ballooned over 20 percent to USD $10.9 billion so start thinking about platforms that can tap into that burgeoning activity, and make sure to implement responsive design for all those mobile devices in use there.
Talk to me about converting South Korean traffic.
Color Psychology in Web Design
Do your color choices really influence user behavior on your website? Does it make any difference what colors you use in your Web design?
How do you choose color: is it according to a company logo, the products you sell or the industry you are in? Is it more a matter of personal preference - yours, the marketing department’s or the business owner’s - or is there a specific strategic intent behind your selections?
Man has always been fascinated with the idea of color, and the analysis of users’ reactions to color now on Internet sites continues to drive much behavioral research.
Many designers choose to begin their designs working only in black, white and varying shades of gray. Color can emotionally sway or bias people one way or the other, particularly when it comes to logo and marketing design, so it's a good idea to begin a design project without using color, and then experiment with various combinations later.
Color brings into play the natural "argument" between right-brain and left-brain thinking, shifting focus from the visual and perceptive functions of the creative process to a more inspirational, non-verbal methodology. While it's good to be creative and emotionally inspired, there are some stages of design where logic should be in control.
Most people grow up having a certain "feeling" about each color in the crayon box. Those emotions are either imparted to us through our own experiences with each color and what it means to us as individuals; or is fed to us through our parents, teachers and mentors who share their ideas about color with us. However, there is a certain structure of color symbolism that most people will agree upon, whether they realize its influence on them or not. Once you understand how color works and what it can do, you will better understand how to use it in addition to all of the textures, patterns and illustrations you use to bring your design together as a cohesive production.
What Colors Will You Use?
Beyond the basic emotional response that comes from each color in the spectrum, there are marketing values associated with each as well. Green represents money, which in turn makes consumers think about making a purchase. Orange represents value - a good deal, a great price - and encourages consumers to look no further and buy the item immediately. There are other colors associated with different consumer responses; however none of them are set in stone.
The colors you choose and use in your design should represent something, and should never just be plucked out of the air at random. The success of your design and its impact on visitors and customers will depend on the colors you choose in relation to the items or services you are attempting to sell. Colors should harmonize and complement each other, not clash or create a jarring response. Gain more understanding of each of the colors and the effect of each on your website users, how they can positively and negatively influence individual behavior, and improve your design work!
Research color psychology in design on the ‘Net and incorporate some of this thinking in your site redesigns, and as your joins improve, make sure you can convert every visitor with their preferred local payment method – for guidance and information in capturing every potential join in your traffic, talk to me about your marketing plan.
Now get busy!
NEW! Pinterest for Business: How to Get Started
Pinterest announced in November 2012 that it was open for business-to-business…
I know you've heard of Pinterest; it’s not the third most popular social networking site. This has to be the latest, greatest, most unique social media networking website to hit the Internet since Facebook. If you don’t know, Pinterest works on the premise of sharing pictures rather than making posts or sharing other text-based content. You can create a description of your picture and your picture can be a picture of words, but Pinterest revolves around the idea of "pinning" pictures to an online board, much in the way that someone would pin notices, information or things they like to a bulletin board. Remember bulletin boards?
A lot of marketers and purists claimed that Pinterest would remain marketing-free, that it would be a by-the-people, of-the-people and for-the-people-type structure that wouldn't open up room for business marketing efforts. However, that day has now come, and now businesses are invited to stop by, create an account and set up shop.
Pinterest announced in November 2012 that it was open for business-to-business. It also released a more specific Terms of Service policy for business owners and marketers than it has for just regular folks. Apparently the business community contributed a high volume of quality content, prompting Pinterest to embrace it as a part of their growing community…
In their statement they cited, "great ideas, content and inspiration" that came from retailers sharing information about products, grocery stores sharing recipes, and collections being made available by the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, we can probably already predict that these stellar examples of effective usage in pinning interesting items to various boards will ultimately be the exception and not the rule. TOS aside, you can bet your bottom dollar that businesses will be abusing this new opportunity before year's end ?
Convert or Start Over
Those are your two options for establishing your business account. If you already have a personal Pinterest account that you have been using to promote your business, you can either convert that personal account to a business account or just grab a brand new account and start over from scratch.
Business pages and personal pages will essentially look the same; they will just be governed under a different set of terms, so you don't need to completely start over in order to get the full effect of this new opportunity. There are some definite advantages to converting your current account to the business model:
• Bonuses that come from identifying yourself as a business - including educational/tutorial content to help you improve your experience.
• This is just the beginning - Pinterest will continue to evolve its foray into business accounts and by converting early on, you will have access to it all.
• Opportunity to grab new features (statistics? advertising?) and try new resources as they come available.
• It's easy - if you are a business you should just do it. So, do it.
How to Convert Your Account
Here is a simple step-by-step guide that will help you to easily convert your current personal Pinterest account into a business account. The Pinterest website has an extensive FAQ and set-up tips guide that can help you if you have specific issues or problems.
Visit business.pinterest.com and choose "convert your existing account" from the options.
Choose a business type and update your personal/business contact information.
Fill in new section: Profile Information. Not required, but will help others find your page.
Read the agreement in the Agreement section and agree to it if you agree with it. Once you accept the terms just check the "convert account" check box and press the button to change.
How to Set Up a New Account
Another simple step-by-step guide; this time to help you create a brand new Pinterest account for business. You can choose this method if you have never had a Pinterest account before or if you need to start all over again.
Visit business.pinterest.com and choose "join as a business" to get started.
Fill in your profile information and add a profile image.
Click to start your new account. Pinterest will walk you through the verification process, help you add links to your current website to increase interaction, and get access to tutorials and other tips.
Pinterest: What Works
While you are at business.pinterest.com, it is worth your time and effort to visit a special section entitled, "What Works," and view the outline that will help you to create an effective presence for your readers. It covers four specific sections including:
• telling the story of your brand.
• how to build a community.
• sending traffic to your website.
• analyze your presence to improve results.
The tips included in the "build a community" section will be most helpful, as there is a different and unique approach involved at Pinterest than at any other social media network. If you can develop a solid community that follows your pins on a regular basis, you'll be able to start sending traffic to your website in no time.
The other sections are also very useful, particularly to those who are new to Pinterest. This is a fantastic opportunity to tap into a growing resource and reach potential customers who otherwise might not have been exposed to what you have to offer. Take advantage of all the buttons and widgets provided to help link your website to your Pinterest account and integrate them into the rest of your marketing campaign for the best results.
Be sure to monitor your time spent on these social networking sites – you must measure the ROI on your time, or the time of your staff, and determine if the expenditure and effort is justified by the return - just remember, the return is not necessarily increased revenue although that is a great measure, but may include improved brand recognition, increased traffic, customer interaction, community building for future viral efforts, list and data building and a myriad of other cumulative marketing assets.
You spend a lot of time and money finding and attracting customers and it’s a never ending process. Even more important is keeping customers happy and returning. One element of your successful site you must not forget is your payment options – if you are attracting customers to your site that cannot pay, you are losing money every day. There is a cost associated with every surfer who lands on your site; make sure you offer a familiar comfortable method of payment for all of them. Please write me with any questions about the best high-risk rates in the adult space, local global billing capability and secure confidence-inspiring customer marketing options.
Now get busy!
Local Global Payments
I just finished an alternative payments article for Xbiz World yesterday, and in my research I came across some really novel survey results – I thought I would post some of them here and would be interested in your comments – whether you were surprised by the results or whether they are in line with what you would expect. I’d also like to know if anything here confirmed your current marketing efforts, or caused you to pause and consider something you might change.
In a WorldPay global research project, respondents were asked at what time of day they were most likely to be purchasing online:
12am - 6am --- 10%
6am – 12pm --- 16%
12pm – 6pm --- 30%
6pm – 12am --- 44%
…and the global online peak is 8:45pm. If you are engaged in behavioral marketing, launching new campaigns, sending daily deals or announcing special sales or free shipping incentives, this information may have you planning your blasts around usage.
This question of respondents surprised me at first, but it just shows how in-depth research efforts can really drive marketing decision making. Where the customer is physically at the time of purchase also is a key factor. We know that the global adoption of mobile handsets and smartphones is having a major impact on our eCommerce spending, survey results indicated 95% of online spending worldwide still occurs at home. …And this also explains why 64% of us still make our purchases on our home PC.
Distribution of purchasing by location; where consumers said they shop:
Living Room – 54%
Bedroom – 43%
Study – 35%
Dining Room – 14%
Kitchen – 10%
Garden – 5%
Bathroom – 3%
Garage/Shed – 2%
Now here is a statistic that is dear to my heart ;-) As a specialist in alternative payments, it was reassuring to note that 61% of global respondents have more faith in a website that offers a great choice of payment options. Reinforcing this number was the result that 33% of ‘heavy' global shoppers used alternative payments at checkout.
Employers may be interested to know that 29% of respondents made purchases at work. 46% watch television while they shop online. 36% of ‘heavy’ global shoppers have used a smartphone to purchase online.
You will also want to note these special results related to why customers return to a site and remain loyal customers.
The top reasons for returning to a site for repeat business:
Reassurance that personal and financial information is secure – 75%
Payment fraud control and checks – 66%
Product and Service guarantees and warranties – 57%
Provide unique payment options that enable customers to join and purchase anonymously, protecting their personal and financial information. Enjoy the best high-risk adult processing opportunity and offer alternative payment methods. A key point for me is that I don’t want to replace anything a Merchant is using now, I just want them to add coverage and diversify their billing portfolio.
It is surprising to see how MUCH consumers in emerging markets will spend online.
I’ll wrap this post with some information on Brazil and Russia, because these are two markets I can help you monetize – do you even accept credit cards from Brazil and Russia?
Brazilians spend an average of 27% of their disposable income online. Only 37% of the population currently has online access, so think ahead and establish yourself in the Brazilian market now. 67% have concerns about online security, so make certain you reassure potential customers on this commonly held fear. Make sure your site is mobile optimized for your Brazilian visitors, because 50% now have a smartphone and this will surely spur eCommerce growth. Be sure to check your navigation through a transaction as a customer, easy navigation and a speedy payment process are valued aspects of your site.
Russians are spending 18% of their disposable income online. Only 48% of the population has Internet access, and fully 74% are concerned about security issues. 50% own a smartphone while only 13% buy online with their smartphones, and 17% own a tablet while only 7% buy online with their tablets. This is a growth area as 57% intend to use their smartphone or tablet for an online purchase in the next twelve months. Like the Brazilians, Russians are looking for multiple payment choices and a fast payment process.
Take a good look at your payment options – if you are not sure, find out what you are really offering on your geo-targeted pages – I think you might be surprised. If you have some trouble finding answers LMK and I’ll help you find them.
Be sure to read the November Xbiz World showcasing alternative billing.
Increasing Product Sales
Are you selling to consumers or do you work in B2B sales? There are certain objectives that you can easily overcome that will help to increase sales. Virtual sales for digital content, services or member-access type websites are fundamentally different from a product-based business. Just considering concerns that include shipping, customer satisfaction with the items, sales tax, product returns, international customers, appropriate payments and other issues that only affect product sales, digital sales vs. hard good sales really are two different animals.
How can you ensure that your customer focus today will increase your product sales and improve your overall customer satisfaction? Let’s discuss the ways that you can use these methods and ideas to increase and improve your product sales business.
#1 - Free Shipping
You have all purchased a product online. So the question may be, have you ever left a shopping cart simply because the item plus the taxes and shipping costs just made the purchase undesirable? We've all been there and usually we remember which sites had expensive shipping costs and avoid them like the plague. Adding free shipping or following the Amazon.com model of free shipping for qualified items that total $25 or more as an incentive to buy more products is a great way to offer a visible service and discount to your customers. You know we all like getting something for free and shipping is one of those intangible things that we can't see, but certainly required if we're to receive our products. Free shipping should always be the slowest delivery method. Make sure to offer shipping options via FedEx or UPS that will get the product there in 3-day, 2-day and next day increments for those who want it fast and are willing to pay.
#2 - Quality Products
If you are simply fulfilling items that other companies produce on your behalf, you don't have much quality control at your primary point of business, but you can control the items you sell or purchase for sale. Test the products, search out and read online reviews and certain you are selling the best quality available for your customers. Sure, some people want cheap items that aren't built to last and don't expect them to last, but that's what dollar stores and Wal-Mart are for - that's not your business. If you want to build a solid reputation within your target demographic as a quality company that sells quality products, you've got to do better and sell items that you know will satisfy your customers and make them happy with their purchases and coming back.
#3 - Customer Satisfaction
Naturally our next focus will be customer satisfaction. If you are offering products that aren't up to your customers' standards - that break, fall apart or just simply don't work, you need to do something about it. Some customers will demand a refund, but others will just quietly grumble about it, make a mental note about it and never make another purchase from you again. They might even go online and post a few dissatisfaction comments or negative reviews. There are some simple items you can add to your website that will help keep you informed about overall satisfaction as well as issues with specific products and give your customers a way to let you know about it before you burn that bridge forever. Adding the option to review or rate a product on your own site is a quick and easy script that can be installed in minutes. If you are sincerely worried that customers won't be reasonable in their complaints, you can ensure that all reviews must be approved first. However, if you are that concerned, why aren't the alarms going off inside your head already about the products you are offering and concerned about? Don’t always be fearful of a negative post; how you respond to a negative post can have a very positive effect on the perception of your customer service.
#4 - Customer Service
Every business, whether operating B2C or B2B, and whether selling products or virtual items and services, should have a solid responsive customer service department. Your customer service agents should always be available, including holidays, weekends and even in the middle of the night. You want to ensure that your customers have a phone number - preferably a toll-free line - that they can call any hour of the day or night to call and ask questions, make complaints or ask for assistance. Some customers don't like to use the phone, so make sure you offer online options, such as e-mail forms for contact, live chat services and anything else you can think to add that will give them a way to easily contact your staff.
#5 - Return Policy
You should have a simple and easy to follow return policy for all your product sales, and this as well as customer service access should be highly visible throughout your site. Studies show that a clear and lenient return policy will help customers feel more confident in a seller even before they order. In fact, nearly half of all shoppers surveyed in some recent eMarketer.com research stated they would make more purchases and recommend those sellers more often with an easy to understand return policy. Straightforward return policies don't just build customer loyalty; as stated above, they help to make new visitors more confident in making their initial purchase from your website.
The eMarketer.com survey also questioned respondents on what three issues were most important to them with regard to customer satisfaction. Easy checkout was the first concern, followed by a business that offers a wide variety of product choices. The third most significant concern was shipping. Out of the five important issues we’ve discussed here, shipping was listed as #1 because it is a top consumer concern. Examine your shipping department to ensure that products are handled and shipped quickly and that customers have a choice when it comes to shipping costs and delivery time. Think about the things that are important to you when ordering products online – free or discounted shipping, easy returns and exchanges, online tracking is a big one for me, and availability of pictured products is a big one – people hate back orders – and live customer service is a big one too.
Providing convenient preferred payment options is also essential to your success. Review your gateway, your dominant traffic regions and locales, and tailor your methods of payments for instant customer recognition. Not everyone uses VISA and MasterCard, or may prefer not to – don’t limit your possible sales – multiple payment methods can greatly improve your conversions and sales. Contact me with any questions about payments – consider me a resource for the straight scoop whether you've worked with me or not.
Consider all these issues as you examine your current business model. ‘Be the Customer’ and take a tour through your products and ask yourself if they are easy to find, if the site is easy to navigate, if the search results are relevant and if items are easy to put into the shopping cart. Find out how much it would cost to purchase and ship an item to a specific address and ask yourself if you would be willing to pay that much for the item in question. Sometimes it's the most simple things that mean the most. Today's shoppers have lots of demands and expectations, but sometimes sticking to the basics and getting them right is what will separate your business from the competition.
JoeD Returns to Europe
I’ve missed the EU shows the past few years – ironic, because it all started for me at the first Eurowebtainment Berlin Show back in 2001 and I’ve always enjoyed great productivity there. There is still immense opportunity in the European markets, especially as they come together within the Euro Zone and develop more commonality in terms of payments and financial communication. Cultural considerations across the continent are still an important factor in your business decisions, but conversion is becoming better and easier for the Merchant and most convenient for the user.
One of the foundations of a successful e-commerce profit model centers on the impulse purchase, and while credit card adoption continues to grow across Europe, a majority of EU users still cannot or will not use a credit card online. Credit cards may remain the most popular payment methods for program owners, but certainly other methods have grown in popular use the last few years. Direct Debit for one, but also all the virtual account types and cash payments.
While credit card billing in Europe can certainly produce significant joins, revenue and profits, in a market that will grow larger that the US market in short order, less than 30% own a credit card, and even fewer surfers will actually use one for personal expenditures online - it’s just the way things are.
I’ll be at the Amsterdam and Prague shows over the next week and a half, and I love to talk about traffic and conversions by all methods possible. You know I am generous with knowledge and contacts and an important fact to remember is that these joins are already in your current traffic. If you offer only credit card payment these surfers are unable to pay you – and regardless of what anyone may claim - no matter what processor you are using, only a combination of billers can convert all your traffic – if you are using only one or two billers, you are unable to convert all the possible transactions in your traffic because you have surfers unable to join.
I can offer a menu of solutions for you to choose from, the best value proposition in the adult space, and tell you how best to combine billers in your cascade - If you just add these payment methods to your already existing solutions – the missing elements in your billing mix - you can significantly increase your global revenue.
I can tell you how to do it. Write me to meet in Amsterdam and Prague and join the V3 Webmaster Access billing panel on Sunday. Convert every possible user. Don't let any joins escape.
Write me for details and let’s meet at the EU shows!
Your Cascade Must Include Alternatives
You know I'm always searching for unique and novel ways to help businesses excel and generate more revenue online. Successful e-commerce is hard work typified by continuous innovation and experimentation, and helping customers feel comfortable right through the payment process is essential to this continued success. Emerging markets are having a significant impact on our traffic trends, and catering to their needs and desires and enabling familiar secure payment options with which they identify should be a primary focus in order to maximize your revenues. Don't leave ANYTHING on the table! You got them on your site, now complete the transaction.
Do you offer Paypal EU, Ukash, Smart-Cheque, Sofort, ELV, Giropay, iDeal, and Astropay which covers South America including Brazil?
Let your users pay with cash!
Did you know 51% of women and 40% of men still desire personal anonymity online? There remains a fear of divulging personal data because of credit card fraud and identity theft, and some are still reluctant to have it known they’ve joined an ‘adult’ or ‘cheating’ site.
How many of your surfers abandon you on the payment page?
Do you provide anonymous global and cash join options?
What percentage of your attempted credit card joins end in decline? 5%? 10%? 20%? Concerned with scrubbing and declines?
Cascade to anonymous and cash payments for the ultimate join salvation.
Write me for details and let’s meet at the EU shows!
Using RSS Feeds to Your Advantage
We see RSS feeds are everywhere these days. We see them on blogs, news sites and other types of content. Affiliate programs offer RSS feeds as a part of their promotional tools, and Web developers use them as a way to increase awareness and visibility of their sites and pages. Utilizing RSS feeds as part of an overall marketing campaign used to be a high priority. Today, many webmasters take these feeds for granted, relegating them to an included "aside" that appears automatically in their WordPress program, but nothing that they really pay much attention to when marketing their sites.
RSS feeds are an important resource that can be used in bigger and more important ways - they should not be overlooked. This article will focus on the many ways that you can use RSS feeds as a promotional and interactive tool that will help to increase your traffic and your profits with very little work on your part. Once you understand RSS feeds and gain a better appreciation for how they work, you will be able to use them to your advantage.
Promotional RSS Feeds
Let's begin with the most profitable way to use RSS feeds - as promotional tools. You can instantly use RSS feeds provided by sponsors and affiliate programs to help add more content and value to your website and, of course, as a means to push your traffic toward conversion. This section will outline a couple of examples where RSS feeds can be used, but like any other tool, once you start using them you'll find even more ways to apply them to your overall business model and continue to benefit from them.
Most people automatically think about blogging when they consider RSS feeds. After all, blogging is where RSS feeds really made their mark. Blogs are a great place to use sponsor-provided RSS feeds as they provide an instant source of fresh content to keep your visitors entertained, informed, and coming back for more on a regular basis. This is also the easiest way to implement the use of RSS feeds into your business model.
It is important to note that when using sponsor-provided RSS feeds it should be taken into consideration that hundreds or even thousands of other webmasters will be using these same feeds on their blogs and websites. Duplicate content can sometimes be an issue with search engines and particularly blog engines, but there are ways to tweak these feeds to maximize their potential and reduce your risk of being penalized by the engines. Like anything else, once you get these tricks down pat, you'll be able to easily make even these sponsor-provided RSS feeds appear to be unique enough to get credited by the search engines.
For best results you should make sure to use RSS feeds from at least three to four different sponsors. This will give you a good mix of content and prevent your blog from becoming redundant with the same type of content, same sponsor links and same promotional offerings. You will definitely still want to make changes to the posts on the individual post pages, but having a mix of sponsor content on your blog will definitely make it easier to please the search engine bots. Another advantage to this is if one of the sponsors you are using suddenly stops updating their feeds, you'll still be getting a steady stream of content from the other sponsors you are using.
In between all the sponsor-provided RSS feeds, you should also be writing your own original posts to mix in between the sponsor posts. This will help give your blog an original look, feel and sound - use your own voice, create a personality to post "as" in your blog, and make it fun. You are selling a product - get excited about it. Take current events and put a relevant spin on them to use in your posts. It might even help you get a boost in the search engines and at the very least Google Blog Search, which can help your popularity and overall traffic drive. Just make sure the items you use are relevant to what you are selling - you don't want to "bait and switch" your traffic. All that does is burn bandwidth, waste time and cause your visitors to leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
How many posts should you make each day? Starting out with a single post from a sponsor and a single original post is a great way to launch your blog site. As you layer in extra sponsor-provided posts, you should be sure to add additional original posts to balance it out. Another tip to remember is that the search engines love consistency. Wordpress and most other popular blog programs allow you to set posts up in advance. Schedule your posts at the same time each day with equal space between them. For two posts, schedule them for 9am and 9pm; for four posts, schedule them for 3am, 9am, 3pm and 9pm; and so forth. The more consistent and equally spaced out your posts, the better.
LINK LIST & GALLERY SITES
While many of today's webmasters look at link list sites, thumbnail gallery sites and movie (video) gallery sites as a bit "old school," these sites are still widely used and relevant - if done right. You can upgrade the formula of these sites, modernize them with bits of new technology and maximize their potential. Adding in RSS or XML imported feeds is a great way to bring in more content to keep your visitors happy and coming back for more. In most cases, with a solid plug-in, you can build the content-end of sites like these and never touch them again, yet they would still get updated regularly with fresh photos, videos and links.
Automating the process is a real time-saver and a great way to build up the volume of your business. If you don't have to mess with updates every single day, you can add more and more of these sites to your business network, handle more niche-specific, targeted traffic and increase your conversions. Many sponsors have content feeds that are designed to work with these types of sites, including a thumbnail image, link to a gallery and short description - very easy to just plug-in and move on. As the sponsor adds new galleries, your feed will get updated because the script will automatically check the feed for new content.
There are other ways to use this always-updated sponsor content, such as adding the feeds themselves into the sidebars of your pages. What this does is (1) give your visitors more content to check out; ( 2) give you more opportunities to push your visitors to sponsors for commissions; and (3) gives the search engines more text and links to spider and associate with the relevance of your page. With this type of content, blogs are best, however it can be done with link lists, TGPs, MGPs and other types of industry-specific free sites.
Sometimes referred to as "landing pages," setting up a hub network filled with niche-specific, highly-targeted Web pages can be a great way to use these RSS scripts and feeds. A hub page is the primary page where all of your content, free sites, mini-sites and teasers are all located. Sometimes a hub page is like a home page, other times it's just a page within the network that ties everything together. It is sort of like a site map if you think about it, just designed to be more visually appealing and set up with sales and conversions in mind.
Sponsor-provided feeds are a great content source for these pages as well. You can utilize RSS integration scripts to add some dynamic content in with all of the other static links and images. You can also add in an RSS feed module, which allows you to offer a self-updating content section. These tools will help boost your relevance in the search engines by making it appear as if you are hand-updating your pages every day, and also by providing fresh, relevant content that will help boost your popularity among visitors.
How to Properly Use RSS Feeds
In addition to all of the tips included above for site-specific usage, there are some guidelines that you should remember about using RSS feeds in your website. First, don't just go out and start grabbing RSS feeds from other websites. Some sites offer free use of their RSS feeds because it works to boost their link popularity with the search engines, but other sites do not like other websites using their feeds. This is particularly true with commercially-based websites. Your best bet is to contact the site owner direct if you are in any way unsure if you are allowed to use their feeds on your website.
Another thing you need to know is that you are NOT allowed to change or alter the RSS feeds that you get from sponsors or from other websites in any way if you are going to use them on your website. Making changes to the feeds is like taking the content out of context. Have respect for the sponsor or site owner and leave the feed as-is - even if that means providing a link to their website. If you don't want to link back to them or use a particular image or logo, then don't link to them at all - it's that simple.
Basically when it comes to using RSS feeds on your website, it all boils down to common sense. If it doesn't feel right - don't do it. If you have any questions or aren't 100% certain - ask someone before you do it. Sponsors will drop you and you could lose all of your commissions and sales if that happens. It's better to be safe than sorry - your mother was right again.
More information on the proper use of RSS feeds soon...
Google+ for Business: Get in the +Game
Google+ is the latest of the large social networks boasting over 90 million users. However, despite its huge growth since its launch back in June 2011 and the big Google name behind it, Google + still can't quite compare to Facebook's 800 million+ global users, or even to LinkedIn's 135 million+ members.
Google+ is a free-for-everyone social network that invites individuals to register and share all sorts of things including photos, discussions, video conference calls and more with other users. Like other social network programs, Google+ wasn't really designed initially for businesses. Following its launch, many marketers scoured the network for ways they could use the new tool to market their products and services.
Google+ Business Pages
Fortunately, just a few months later in November 2011, Google+ made "business pages" available to users. Now marketers and business owners can create pages for their companies and coordinate those efforts under the Google umbrella, including Google Ads for advertising and Google Analytics for tracking it all with one customizable system. On the day that Google+ business pages were announced many bloggers, marketers and business owners began poking around to see how they could be used to their advantage.
Unfortunately, with nothing else to judge it by, many looked at it merely as "another Facebook" or "Google's answer to Facebook" and didn't look beyond the basic parameters of what they'd come to expect from a social media network. However, they would soon discover that Google+ is a completely new platform that can be used in unique ways. This post will give you an overview of the social network, show you how to effectively set up a fully optimized business page and use it to reach consumers within your target demographic.
From the moment you hear that Google+ is a social media network that is powered by Google, you get a sense that this could be oh-so-much-more than other social programs.
Similar to other social networks, Google+ invites businesses to create pages that they can use to communicate directly with consumers through the use of multiple tools. Individual users can interact with business brands in a number of ways: they can show their interest through the use of Google+ Circle, share a specific business page with friends or family in their own network and directly respond to content posted by the company.
Branding, Tagging and Engaging
However, there are distinct differences between Google+ and other social networks. For one, Google+ has played an influential role in Google's search results, making it a key element in any marketing strategy. Individual users can +1 (endorse, support, etc.) a brand or page as well as the updates posted by the company. They can also tag the brand in photos that they upload, make comments and engage with company representatives through the network. The Google+ Hangouts feature even allows companies to interact with their fans and customers via live video conference calls.
Video Interaction is Key
The Google+ Hangouts feature is really what separates Google+ from any other social media network. Giving business the ability to engage consumers live from their Google+ business page, allows them to hear directly from individuals in a way that they've never been able to do before. Seeing your customers face-to-face, hearing their questions, comments and complaints directly through video chat not only helps businesses to improve their products, order fulfillment and customer service, but also helps to establish relationships with the people who buy their products. Having the ability to see and talk to customers direct is an advantage that was previously only available to local brick-and-mortar store owners. Google+ makes it possible for Web-based businesses and large national brands to enjoy the same opportunity online.
One of the unique features of Google+ is that companies (business pages) can't add people to Circles until their page has been mentioned by the individuals or added first. What this does is prevent business owners and marketers from infiltrating a Circle and spamming their product or services to consumers. Consumers instead "invite" the company reps and marketers to participate in their Circles, thereby creating a truly targeted marketing opportunity for brands.
Believe it or not, getting started with Google+ is a very simple process. In just three easy steps you can be on your way to using this brand new social media network to reach out to customers, clients and potential consumers as a part of a well-rounded online marketing campaign.
#1 - Start With a Gmail Account
Your best bet is to use the same gmail account that you use currently for accessing Google Analytics and AdWords for your business. This helps you to keep everything business-related all tied in together in one easy-to-access place and makes it easier to use these other tools to track your Google+ progress.
If you haven't already set up a gmail account for your brand - do so now. Your best course is to choose something like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to further identify your business with your account. Currently your marketing team will all need to log-in via this address, however Google+ has already announced that they are working on a multi-administrative support system and easy ownership transfer for businesses.
#2 - Create Your Google+ Business Page
The next step is to visit Google+ at https://plus.google.com/pages/create and click on the option to create a Google+ page. If the option is not available to you yet, you may need to contact someone at Google to see what you need to do to be eligible. Google is rolling out these business pages options on a gradual progressive scale, so some small businesses may need to wait before they are able to join and start using their accounts.
Just follow the steps that are presented in the creation wizard and select the options that are most appropriate to your business. Choose between Local Business; Product or Brand; Company, Institution or Organization; Arts, Entertainment or Sports; and Other. Fill in your company information, such as the name of your page (which should be your company name or brand), your website address, the category or industry that your business goes under and any special classifications, such as 18-and-older users only, etc.
#3 - Customize, Optimize and Promote Your Page
Once your page is set up with all the basic information, it's time to customize, optimize and get ready to promote it! Use your company logo as your image, describe your business and what you do and take some time to really optimize your page to establish a solid first-impression experience for your visitors. Add links to informative content that will be useful to your consumers and really flesh out your business page before you begin to promote it to your customers. Sharing fresh content on a regular basis, interacting and responding to your visitors and optimizing everything you do with the goal of generating leads and converting your traffic goes a long way toward effectively using your new Google+ business page.
Take advantage of social sharing buttons to connect visitors to all of your Web and social media pages to other parts of your marketing network. Social sharing buttons make it easy for your visitors to share your posts with friends, but they also provide a quick call-to-action point that you can use to increase overall conversions. Increasing your click-through rate for visitors coming from social media pages or other marketing sources will help to boost your overall success. The more comfortable your visitors become with clicking on links or buttons to interact with your site, the more comfortable they will be with making a purchase, registering for more information or joining your website.
The Future of Google+
Google+ is really just getting started, so if you can get in now and build your business page and use it effectively, you'll be able to fully use it to your advantage. There are many unique features of Google+ that you won't find in other social media networks. Making sure you use these original tools and methods to their fullest should be a top goal with this or any marketing campaign.
Once you have established a presence at Google+, the next step is to monitor your traffic and find out if it’s really working for your business or not. Tweaking your listing, adding more content and interacting with the network more frequently might be required in order to get the desired results, but you'll never know what's working and what isn't unless you stay on top of your statistics. If you don't have an analytics program or service monitoring your network traffic, get one right away.
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Stats Source: http://www.entersekt.com/russian-roulette.php