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Vapor Guys

In 2009, I had an eCommerce business called Vapor Guys (electronic cigarettes and related accessories). Most of the marketing for the business was web based, and the business was profitable inside of 3 months.

There are two things to keep in mind regarding our audience at the time. First, I knew that I could leverage sales from impulse buyers given the nature of the industry. The other thing to keep in mind is that there are consumable items that are sold in addition to the e-cigarette that users need to re-order such as e-liquid, atomizers, and batteries.

A Brief Overview of the Site Design

I designed the website in a way that was completely different than any of our competitor’s sites. I made sure that page real estate, especially for the index page, was laid out in a way that would encourage specific behavior. The same techniques that brick and mortar stores used to set up their displays (such as at a grocery store checkout), were used to ensure that impulse buyers had easy access to products and promotions that would entice a sale at that time or in the near future.

Two Ways that I Created Urgency & On-line Sales

Time Sensitive Marketing
My first goal was to get traffic to the site as often and efficiently as possible. To achieve this, I frequented a number of message boards and social networks where I answered a lot of questions for new and existing e-cigarette users. In the process of answering questions, I would also provide specific time sensitive coupon codes for tracking purposes.

In addition to using coupon codes, I also encouraged the users I interacted with to subscribe to our RSS feeds, which I used specifically for rolling out special offers. Depending on what we wanted to accomplish, the offer might only be for the next three hours, that day(s), or a future date.

Inventory Tickers Rock!
Once the prospective buyer arrived at our site, and more specifically the product page, they were able to see our inventory &#8212 in real time! If they were on the verge of running out of supplies, displaying a low inventory was just enough to encourage them to buy at that point.

The aforementioned techniques have been overly simplified for the purpose of this article, but that is the gist of what I did to convert my on-line marketing efforts to sales. There were a number of other follow up techniques used either at the point of sale or after the sale to create incentives and motivate both another visit and purchase, but I’ll discuss that in a future post!

3 Tips to Improving Customer Relations on Twitter

While customers will still make a phone call or send an email when they have an issue or need support, they are utilizing social media more and more to address their needs. How does this shift in behavior impact your business? Well, it impacts it in several ways.

First, you have to take into consideration that if they are using social media to communicate with you, you can make an educated guess that they may be doing so for one the following reasons:

  • It’s more convenient.
  • They may expect a quicker response.
  • They are upset and want others to know it.

It is very important to realize that with this shift in behavior, should also come a greater urgency on your part to be responsive. This means staying on top of your social media channels to potentially address issues that could impact your business/brand negatively.

A recent article published on business.com highlights 3 ways to improve your customer service on Twitter:

  1. Better Listening
    Social listening is crucial when you’re looking at customer service. According to Conversocial, 37% of tweets mentioning retailers are customer service related. Yet, only 3% of users use an @mention. This means your business needs to monitor the network more closely than just by your username and handle.
  2. Increased Response Rate
    Managing the negative impact of a disgruntled customer can be crucial on networks such as Twitter. While not every brand mention may solicit a response, your business should aim for a high response rate. The average response rate to customer service mentions, according to Simply Measured, was 42% with the best response rate for an account being 75%, though getting above 60% is considered high.
  3. Faster Response Time
    Without the right resources, the response time can suffer. With an average of just over 5 hours, customers are left waiting for a response. On a fast-paced and ever-changing network such as Twitter, a slow response time may not be meeting the expectations of customers and causing your service to suffer. According to The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect to receive a customer support response within the hour, but only 10% of dedicated customer service accounts have an average response time of less than an hour.

You can read this article in its entirety here.

While this article was geared towards Twitter, this practice shouldn’t be limited to it. It’s important to closely monitor every social network that you have a presence on.

This also means that you should carefully consider which social networks will benefit you most before registering for them. The last thing that you want to do is frivolously register for every popular social media channel you can think of without taking into consideration the management aspects. One of the most valuable tips to take with you, is that you’ll want to ensure that you have the resources available to stay on top of your business on social media. If you don’t, it can really have a negative impact on your business.

Marketers, Have No Fear — Your Leads Are Not Wasted!

An article on HubSpot really resonated with me as I’ve been on both sides of this coin. If you’re a marketer that is frustrated with your sales team, then here’s some good insight for you to consider.

So you’ve spent a ton of time and energy building the sales funnel for your sales reps, but they are not closing the deals. Don’t be discouraged!

Assuming that you have done a good job with Leads Management and you have a nice flow of qualified leads, all hope is not lost. The main reasons that your sales team are not working your leads are:

  1. They do not see the leads as being high quality.
  2. They are being overwhelmed with leads and can’t work them all.

In the event that sales is on target with determining which leads are low quality, kudos to them! If this is the case, they are maximizing their efforts on leads that have the best chances of closing.

If the issue turns out to be the fact that they simply can’t keep up with all the in-bound generated leads, then kudos to you! Do not stop what you are doing!

5 valid points on lead generation that you should take into consideration:

  1. Your sales team will be working leads that they feel are the strongest. Providing them with enough options gives them more room to pick and choose the leads they think are the best to close.
  2. If your sales team is working hard to close deals, but they’re coming up short, then chances are they are not identifying the high quality leads. Step up and help them identify the strong leads and don’t get fixated solely on the number of leads you’re generating!
  3. Ensure the leads that you are sending are ready for the sales team. Do your due dilligence to nurture the lead until it is qualified and ready to be sent to sales.
  4. Keep building the funnel, regardless if the leads are ready for sales or not. What’s not good for February may be great for April! Nurture the lead!
  5. When you are consistently generating leads, you are more engaged with your audience and they are talking about you. This is a good thing!

You can read the article in it’s entirety here.

Measure Social Media ROI with Ease

How can we see ROI within our social media marketing campaigns? Well, it’s actually very simple! In a recent article on Mashable, Todd Wasserman explains the 5 Dead Simple Ways to Track Social Media ROI:

1. Coupons and Offers

If you offer a coupon solely on Facebook, then you know with 100% accuracy that every coupon that customers cash came from Facebook.

2. Call Tracking Phone Numbers

Relatedly, another idea is to provide unique call tracking phone numbers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to learn which channel drives the most leads and conversions.

3. Conversion Measurement

Conversion Measurement lets advertisers track the behavior of people who click through an ad. If a customer clicks and then goes on your site to register, then you have proof that the ad was at least effective for that.

4. Google Analytics

This won’t tell you what people are buying, but at least you can see if traffic is coming from Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to your website.

5. Look at Overall Results and Then Work Backwards

Perhaps the simplest way to calculate ROI is to look at your overall sales and then attribute a boost at least in part to your social media advertising or activity.

Don’t Forget Landing Pages!

While these are all great points, I would also add that landing pages are a great way to measure social media ROI. In the same way that you can use unique coupons and offers for each social media site, you can very easily set up unique landing pages that correspond to a specific social media site. Additionally, these techniques not only apply to social media, but they can and should also be applied to more traditional forms of advertising such as Print and Radio.

Social Net Speech Is Protected? Not So Fast!

Steven Greenhouse, a writer with the New York Times, reports that many of the blanket restrictions on employee social network activity are illegal. There has not been any new legislation cited, but the National Labor Relations Board is simply applying old laws to new technology.

National Labor Relations Board

…workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.

So what does that mean?

In Greenhouse’s article, several cases of termination have been over-turned and forced employers to re-instate their former employees. Those cases correlated the nature of the termination to be against a worker’s right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution.

On the other hand, termination of employees who could not prove to the board that their infraction had been in fact, discussion of work conditions, were affirmed. Personal venting, being offensive or crude is not protected by the National Labor Relations Board.

Many view social media as the new water cooler,

said Mark G. Pearce, the board’s chairman, noting that federal law has long protected the right of employees to discuss work-related matters.

All we’re doing is applying traditional rules to a new technology.

It’s still a very slippery slope for both sides. Employers want to keep a good reputation, and employees want their rights of speech protected. Until further legislation moves forward, the safe bet is to be careful of what you say to whom you say it.

That’s called tact.

Click here to read the full article.

Readability; It’s Not Just for Writers

I grew up a colloquial writer. It was one of my favorite things to do; to write how people speak, to write how people think. Often times I believe that the words we are using have become ineffective, useless in this world of “txt u l8r” and those blog-writing jargon cannons, foaming at the keyboard.

After reading Sabina Idler‘s article: 8 Guidelines for Better Readability on the Web my faith in the lost art of “wordsmithing” was restored and my conviction never stronger. Okay, okay. It may not be that dramatic. But still, if you’re not paying attention to this list, then you’re not being effective with your content.

Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Choose Fonts Wisely
  2. Font Size & Line Spacing Are Important
  3. Use High Contrasts
  4. Keep Lines Short
  5. Keep Paragraphs Short
  6. Get Straight To The Point
  7. Don’t Use Jargon
  8. Use Highlights, Lists, and Images

Click here to read the full article.

No Matter How Big You Get, You’re Still Accountable

Scott Monty is no slouch. He’s the global head of social media at Ford Motor Company, and checking out his personal blog is the easiest way to get some insight into how the world of social media works.

Monty wrote an article about the the out-lash Instagram received after changing the wording in their privacy policy and terms of use.

The short version is simple:

Instagram gave its users the idea that it would be using their photographs for advertising without compensating them in any way. And the response from its users was a unanimous “Awww, heck no!” The anti-tin-foil-hat truth is, the language used in the changes was not much (if any) different than the other major social media sites. They can’t sell your photos outright. However, Instagram and its affiliates responded to maintain accountability for their actions.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stated,

It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear. To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

After careful consideration of the opinions and feelings of its user base, Instagram’s Systrom updated their blog days later,

Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.

Like ’em, hate ’em, or indifferent, the company has at least let its users know that they are listening to feedback, and are continuing to find a middle ground that suits both parties’ interests. These actions confirm; no matter how big you get, you’re still accountable.

6 Big Myths About SEO

Michael Mothner, founder and CEO of Wpromote.com, writes an article to bring you up to speed on the what’s what of Google SEO. Chances are, what you think about how this behemoth scores data is outta date!

“In the world of online marketing, misinformation abounds–and it gets compounded exponentially by an incredibly dynamic and rapidly evolving world.”

  • Myth 1: Metatag Descriptions Help Your Rankings
  • Myth 2: The More Inbound Links, the Better
  • Myth 3: PageRank Still Matters
  • Myth 4: Google Prefers Keyword-Rich Domains
  • Myth 5: Websites Must Be ‘Submitted’ to Search Engines
  • Myth 6: Good SEO Is Basically About Trickery
Read the full article here.

Wpromote’s Mike Mothner Talks SEO on “Your Business” on MSNBC (Search Engine Optimization)

Why Running Ranking Reports Is a Fool’s Errand

Jill Whalen, from Highrankings.com, posts an article advocating a Galileo-type paradigm shift for most web professionals. Rankings do not matter. Search results are personalized by location, cookies, and previous browsing and search history. So, that means no matter what search ranking your SEO professional is reporting to you, there’s no way for anyone other than the person searching at the keyboard to see how the results unfold. Don’t buy into the “rankings!”


Because they don’t actually exist.

“The fact of the matter is that for many years there’s been no such thing as ‘a ranking.’ Oh, sure, there’s the ranking that a keyword had when someone clicked to a page of your site, but just because that page showed up #1 or #2 or #10 for one person doesn’t mean that anyone else saw your page in the same position in the search results. Someone else may have not seen your page show up at all.”

Read the full article on Highrankings.com

Write a Perfect 15-Second Sales Pitch

Forbes contributor, Carmine Gallo, explains how he writes the perfect 15-second sales pitch. He explains that by creating a “Message Map”, which is a visual representation of your brand or product, you can define the most important aspects of your message and fine tune it to a well formed 15-second “elevator” pitch.

In his article, How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds, Gallo explains that there are 3 steps to creating a message map:

  1. Create a Twitter-friendly headline.
  2. Support the headline with three key benefits.
  3. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples.

Watch his video below for details on how to do this for any product or brand: