Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Does your website have static cling?

What is Bounce Rate: It is the percentage of users who are exiting your site upon landing on a single page and not continuing to any other pages during that site visit.  If a user hits your home page and leaves without digging into your site content that is considered a "bounce".  This rule applies to any page on your site a user lands on, whether it's bookmarked or found through search.

Internet marketers use bounce rate to determine whether certain pages of your site are communicating properly.  A higher bounce rate means there is much work to be done in improving the content on your site, whether it be an informational site or an eCommerce site.  There are factors to  look at that on a page by page basis that will affect your bounce rate, and in some situations a higher bounce rate might actually be okay.  A page that is bookmarked on a news site that is updated daily with stories and such may have a higher bounce rate.  eCommerce sites should not apply the same line of thinking.

Static Cling for eCommerce:

We, as internet marketers, need to be passionate about bounce rate.  You want a lower bounce rate on eCommerce sites - mainly because the end-goal would be getting your users to click that magic "add to cart" button and completing the sale.  If this is not ocurring on your product pages and your bounce rate is high you may want to assess the following information:
  • Does the user know WHAT you are selling?  It is clear they have landed on a product page and can EASILY purchase?  If you are selling, be sure that you product pages communicate that effectively.
  • Does your product's description provide enough information to assist the user in making the decision to purchase.    If you are selling an item that has many applications or uses, this should be spelled out in your description.  For example - if you are selling glue, and this glue can be used on wood, plastic, metal, etc - your product description should reflect that and not leave any unanswered questions the shopper may have.
  • Can the user/shopper easily figure out HOW to buy this product?  Is there a clear "add to cart" or "buy now" button or link?  In most cases, this should be found above-the-fold (meaning the user does not need to scroll to find it).  This is not always possible, and may not prevent the sale, but it's a good general rule of thumb.
  • Is your price point competitive?  People shop around - and the internet is the easiest way to price compare products before making a purchase.  If a user lands on your page and finds your product to be overpriced - the user/shopper will "bounce".
  • If you are running AdWords, is your campaign set up properly and effectively optimized?  Be sure if you are paying for site traffic that they are not bouncing quickly.  If you are advertising on specific keywords, be sure the user who has searched on that keyword is finding EXACTLY what they are looking for when they land on your site.  Use negative keywords to increase the value of your click-through-rate (CTR).  If you sell glue that only works on wood and not on plastic - remove the search traffic for "plastic glue" by adding negative keywords.  Also be sure your landing pages for your ads allow your user to find what they have searched for immediately.  Preferrably the user will land on the product page where they can immediately make a purchase.
At home, we use Bounce to get rid of static and stickiness on our clothing.  On the internet, we do not want bounce, we want our search traffic to stick, and we want our users to find what they are looking for.

If your bounce rates are higher - throw away that fabric softener or static guard and start digging into why your traffic is not sticking on your site.  Be sure if it is an eCommerce site you are checking your bounce rate at the product level and start working on improving the shopping experience for your user, by making it easy to make a decision to purchase, and then even easier to actually make that purchase on the spot.

These are just a few of my thoughts.  I'm sure you have your own sticky points to ponder about bounce rate, and I'd love to hear them!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LinkedIn Networking Group

LinkedIn Groups... Useful or Useless?

Just a short post to share my insight...  

LinkedIn Groups if properly managed can be a very effective tool for sharing information and insights on a particular subject matter.  Within these groups, you can network with folks, post related jobs, invite group members to events, share blog posts and discuss relevant topics.

The other thing you can currently do is post spam in group discussion boards.  This drives me absolutely batty!   I have been spending endless hours digging in to Facebook as viable tool for marketing businesses online and additionally - what toolset and features are available to business owners, and how to appeal to demographics, etc...

So I turned to the group in LinkedIn thinking I could gather up some useful morsels of information - only to find spam after spam after spam post - and sprinkled in there was a post to the effect of "Does anyone at all post anything related to Facebook on here"?  As I read through the thread on that post, I found the answer to be... well... "No".  So along comes my next experiment...

Social Media Experiment #2

I have created a new group in LinkedIn called Facebook Information Sharing Group.  I have enlisted the help of a new contact whom I have made through my networking in recent weeks.   He has graciously agreed to help me manage this group.  It is my intent to gather up all kinds of people from all industries who currently use Facebook for business or who want to use Facebook for business - and start sharing revelent information. 

I hope you'll check out this new group - join it - connect with me and others, and share real and viable information and experiences you have had related to doing business and networking for business through Facebook.

FYI... If you are not on LinkedIn - you should be!   Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Artichokes & Social Media

Artichokes!  I could eat them every day of the week and never get sick of them!  

I am passionate about artichokes and will eat them no matter how they are prepared.  (Though my favorite is simply steamed and served with lemon butter.)    I must brag... I make a mean artichokes french!

I even have artichoke plates - and I don't believe in single-use appliances or things that are frivolous and take up too much space to be used twice a year.  And - I do use them often...

Social Media Experiment:

So... I got to thinking - I've been working with Social Media a bit and expanding my knowledge on ways to network - so I created a silly page on Facebook dedicated to Artichokes.  It was really just something I tried for fun, and I just created it last night.  

But I'm interested in testing out my networking capabilities and expanding my network of friends through a common interest.... artichokes!

13 fans in 24 hours!  People really do love artichokes, and they are finding my new page!  How exciting!

Not really a work related post, but it will be a great exercise in the power of social media and how people with common interests find each other.  If you know someone who loves artichokes - then pass it on!

Bon Appetit!

~~~~~~~~~~~ Follow Up ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's been about 48 hours since I created the artichoke page (not quite yet), but I'm averaging about 1 new fan per hour which is cool.  Hope to keep it up.  Connecting with folks all over the world.

Here are the 3 ways people are finding the page so far:

- Through the game applications I added to my page that I know are high traffic applications (Hatchlings and Scavenger Hunt) - Since my Artichoke page is just for fun, I thought this might be a great way to drive some traffic and hit a few artichoke lovers along the way.  (I was right!)

- People are seeing it on their friend's walls after they become a fan and coming and checkin' it out!  (And I'm making new friends left and right!)

- And... believe it or not -people are actually searching in Facebook for "Artichokes".  Well how many people would really do that?  I did, and all I orginally came up with was a band called "The Artichokes" - so I decided to create my own.  I guess there are other people out there as goofy as I am about this unique food.

I am enjoying this project - it's a nice diversion... and something fun to test out.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

7 Minutes of Awesomeness!

This is probably one of the coolest YouTube videos I have ever seen.  Wanted to share it and hope you'll pass it on.  It's just over 7 minutes of awesomness and really demonstrates the power of YouTube combined with the power of passion and humanity.  I'm suprised Oprah never caught on to this...

Imagine if everyone in the world did a project like this...

Projects that Drive you

I make my living as an Account Manager at an Internet Marketing Firm in upstate, NY, and I am VERY passionate about my clients and helping them make their small businesses succeed online.  I love what I do, and take great pride in the little successes along the way that lead to long term relationships.

BUT... These past few months, I have been given the chance to work on some thing I have been  truly passionate about.  Our company's new web site. Working with Charles Broersma, the founder of our company, has been a challenge.  I mean that in a good way... because he is demanding, and probably more passionate than I am - but we have a great working relationship and we get 'er done!

In a previous life I worked as a project manager at another web development firm, where I was overseeing custom site development, and all aspects encompassing that from RFP responses, scope and budget development, team member selection and managment, risk mitigation, and so on - and I loved all of it.

My work now is somewhat different - in that my days in the hands-on development and input for direction of a new site being built from scratch does not happen any longer.  I now get the sites AFTER they are built and launched, and then run with them, developing strategies for my clients to make their new sites the best they can be, get them optimized, ranked and ultimately drive traffic and sales to result in new customer relationships for them.  

Shown here is a snapshot of the current site... soon to be a memory... This site development project has been exciting for me working with Charles to develop a message for the site, and then coming away from that with a concept - after several iterations and a few headaches here and there (mostly for Charles).  I miss the days of creative input & last minute stresses, trying to dot every "i" & cross every "t".  

Puzzled yet as to what the new site will look like?  Wait and See!

So here we are at the 11th hour and the site is due go live in the next 24 hours.  There are press releases to get out, email blasts to send and meta tags to be updated.  Final quality control check and few last minute tweeks and then we are good to go!

I remember the days of all the final details of a new site launch.  My favorite was a PBS site I worked on that was a complimentary piece to a documentary.  Warrior in Two Worlds.  When you are so passionately involved in a site's success there is a huge amount of excitement and anticipation that goes along with it's launch.

It's been a fun journey, and very rewarding - gaining the acceptance of my peers on this new project and having a team review that was very positive this afternoon.  I am mentally exhausted - yet exhilerated... and Ready!  

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what what is ahead.  - Phillipians 3:13

Friday, January 9, 2009

Waking the Passion in 2009

Short post today:

We are now 9 days in to 2009 and I've been searching for my passion this year...  It finally dawned on me that I never truly lost it (at least not all of it).  My year has started out on a rough note personally, however, I am letting go of control of that and turning it over to my higher power.

What I CAN focus my passion and energy on is what I am good at - my job.  I was reflecting last night on the things I've accomplished for my clients so far this year already and was suprised at how long the list was.  

Mind you - some of the items on my list are still "in progress" - but I'm feeling pretty accomplished this week.  I've got online virtual tours in the works, optimized AdWords campaigns, email campaigns, new product feeds, press releases, testimonials - and much much more.  

The most exciting project - my company's new web site is being redesigned and should hopefully be up and running VERY soon.  So check out the old one before it goes away because the next release is going to blow it out of the water - THAT I am passionate about.

I will probably repurpose my blog in 2009 as I find my focus and set some goals for the year - so stay tuned - I'm hoping for an exciting year professionally.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Passion Bug

Passion is in fact contagious - even when you don't think you want it.    The word contagous as defined by Google means "easily diffused or spread as from one person to another", as in a contagious grin.  Well I haven't had too many contagious grins this past week - but I can tell you that passion IS contagious.

I know this to be a fact because my 2009 has started out with zero passion - very lack luster and dull.  I will say, I had my vision of what 2009 could have become for me personally - and was very passionate about the road I was going to take to get there.  I was on a road to self discovery - a road which to me was very scary and very exciting all the the same time.  I am by nature a very passionate person, but when you lose something that you value most in life, it challenges you to dig deep and re-evaulate your passions in life.

There were 4 things in my life that I was very passionate about until last week.  Those 4 things were my relationship with God, my family (including my children), my career, and my most valued personal relationship with my best friend.  I was pretty balanced in my passion for each of those things and though some require more effort than others, these 4 things kept my life in balance and kept me very focused on the year ahead and what I had hoped to accomplish.

What's interesting - is when you lose one of those things that you are so passionate about - it throws your entire balance off.  I haven't lost my job, I haven't lost a family member, and I haven't lost my faith in God - though I'm pretty upset with Him right now.  So I had this even scale - a balanced life and now find my scale to be completely tipped in one direction and lacking passion because I lost my best friend (or I should say he chose to lose me).

I for one - do not function well when I don't have passion in my life.  And these days I am struggling to find it.  Here's where the viral effect of passion comes in...

I have had a bad several days to say the least - in losing probably the most valued relationship I have ever had in my life.  My family (passion #2) is the best around - and decided it best to invade my home, not for a day, but for the weekend to keep me occupied.  The bottom line?  I have a nicer TV than my mother, and both of my brothers and my sister-in-law are big football fans.  I am not passionate about football.    THEY are passionate about football and wanted to see the game in on a big screen (and on some level were probably thinking they didn't want me to sit home and pity myself).

So the family shows up with bags and bags of food and snacks (along with their pillows and personal effects for the overnight visit) and the invasion had begun.  It's all good.  I sit with them, though I'm not really watching the game - not passionate about football, though I used to be. I ask an occasional question - who's playing, what's the score, was that a first down? blah blah blah without much real interest in the game.

Now my brother and sister-in-law just moved back east from San Diego - so they of course were rooting for San Diego in what turned out be an exciting OT game (though I went to bed at halftime) - through which there was much yelling and screaming at my house.

Sunday rolls around and we are watching the playoffs again.  This time I go to the store and get food to make snacks for my family - I'm happy to have them there.  I have to admit now that there has been much yelling and screaming that by the time the second game has come on - the passion my family has exuded for the game has rubbed off on me and I find myself yelling at the TV.  

So in the end - I'm grateful to my family for coming over and sharing their passion for football with me, and while I'm not jumping on the wagon as a football fan, I am happy to be reminded that there are things in life to be passionate about, even the simple things like football - and I just need to now figure out what my new things are.

It's those little things in life that we are passionate about that lead us to other passionate people and give us things to look forward to.  For now, I look forward to this coming Sunday.  As my family was leaving this past Sunday they informed me they'd be over again at Noon this coming Sunday to share some more passion for football.

As for me, I now need to find a way to fill this huge void in my life, a relationship I was completely passionate about.  I will temporarily fill it with the other 3 things in my life I am most passionate about, but the void remains and seems to grow bigger every day.  After some time, I'm sure something will take its place, but I suspect that will take quite some time or may never occur.

I will continue my search and in the mean time will take pleasure in the things that those closest to me are passionate about, as seeing that passion does bring me joy.