Excessive Shipping Costs – Top Reason for Shopping Cart Abandonment

I love Guinness.

However, ever since an Irish friend has recommended me to try Beamish, I’ve been asking about it in every grocery (and liquor) store around. Unfortunately, to no avail…

Finally, I’ve decided to look for it online. Luckily, I was able to find an online store — located within just 50 miles from me — that carried it. “Wow! How terrific!” I thought.

I added a four-pack to my shopping cart, and proceeded to checkout. Having reached the “Enter Zip for estimated shipping” field, I’ve entered mine, and oh my… Here’s what I’ve seen:

Did you know that 7 to 9 out of 10 online shopping carts get abandoned? Yes, between 70% and 88% of online customers leave the shopping cart without completing their purchase! And guess what the main reason is…

Per Forrester, the top reason for online shopping cart abandonment is excessive shipping costs with 44% of consumers dropping out under the shock of that “shipping and handling” field [more here]. ComScore echos these findings, revealing that as much as 55% of online customers abandon their shopping carts when shipping costs made “the total purchase cost more than expected” [more here]. My above case exemplifies it better than anything. Four pints of beer that cost $10 shouldn’t cost 246% of their price to ship — especially when I am only one-hour drive away from the store’s physical location.

If you run an online store, re-think your approach today. Whenever possible, offer free shipping (over a certain amount, of course) to (a) encourage greater spending, and (b) take the “shipping cost” stress out of the equation.

Is Your Business Local? Target Your Online Advertising Accordingly!

A recent study by EyeTrackShop (ETS) has revealed that due to the way Facebook users view it (see ETS’ heatmap below), “Facebook’s page post ad visually outperforms its standard ad.” The ads that imitate posts on your timeline yield “200% higher visibility” than the right sidebar ads [more here].

However, regardless of the types of ads that you use (Facebook, Twitter, paid search campaigns, etc), before wasting your advertising dollars, tweak your settings to display your ad only to your target audience. For example, if you run a taxi service which covers Washington, DC and vicinities, no need to bid on taxi-related keywords/key-phrases nationally. Serve your ads only to Internet users in DC, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland.

Here is a Facebook “page post ad” that I couldn’t help but spot on my timeline yesterday night:

While, there are other things that could be improved here, the main one that jumps at me is that they are located in (and servicing!) Southern California. Malibu is 2,700 miles away from me. No matter how well they do their job, there is absolutely no sane way that they can wash my windows. Why waste the money on serving this ad to me?

Facebook Opens Up Your Inbox to Strangers (for $1 per Message)

If you haven’t been to your Facebook “Messages” tab lately (since Wednesday, December 19, 2012, to be exact), go ahead — log into your Facebook profile and navigate to that tab. Upon doing so, you will see the following message (highlighting mine):

So, “now anyone can message you” — whether you know the person or not; and Facebook has announced this “update to messaging” in yesterday’s blog post. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient… This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the U.S. [source]

As you can see from the above screenshot, before this change strangers could also message us, but all their messages would land in the “Other” folder. Now you may see them in the “Inbox” instead.

Reuters adds:

A Facebook spokesman said the charge for the test is $1 per message, but added that the company is still looking for the “optimum” price. Users can only receive one of these paid, re-routed messages per week, he noted. [source]

Yesterday after Jill Whalen’s Tweet based on my earlier Tweet on the subject, an array of reactions followed. Here are just a couple of them:

 

 

What do you make of it?

Keep in mind, also, that less than two months ago Facebook crossed 1 billion users threshold and it now engages “nearly half of the world’s Internet users” [source].

2 Keys to Selling on Twitter: Monitoring and Designing Conversations

Less than an hour ago I tweeted that I’ve booked my airfare and hotel for Affiliate Management Days West 2013. Very shortly after that Tweet, Mozio (which positions itself as an “airport ground transportation search engine”) tweeted right back at me:

Of course, I couldn’t help but notice this. Their Tweet was (a) relevant, (b) timely, and (c) hit the nail on the head. No, I didn’t have my ground transportation arranged yet. And guess, who I will use to find it now!

I also couldn’t help but recall Jeff Molander‘s advice. In his “Off the Hook Marketing” book he wrote:

The answer to selling more with social tools is rooted in starting conversations that are worth having, conversing in ways that align the needs of buyer and seller, and designing conversations with customers in ways that generate inquiries and sales.

The above-quoted startup has made a perfect example of a company that (i) monitors other people’s Twitter conversations, and (ii) chimes in when they have something relevant to offer. Are you utilizing these two simple keys to selling on Twitter yet?

Upcoming Speaking Appearances and AdTech NY 2012 Discount of 25%

Whether you’re dying to learn where I’m speaking next, or not, I’m gonna tell you anyway. After all, this is what this website of mine is for.

In the course of the following two months I will speak at three different conferences. Here’s the information on them (together with short descriptions of what to expect from my appearances at them):

Affiliate Management Days (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oct 9-10, 2012)

First off, less than two weeks from now I’ll be speaking at the affiliate management conference I’m chairing. At Affiliate Management Days (AM Days) I’ll be the host and the “conductor”, opening it up, setting the tone for each of the two conference days, and gearing throughout.

To get a feeling of what to expect from this one-of-a-kind conference see the agenda here.

Conversion Conference (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oct 10, 2012)

This conference will be co-located with my AM Days, and I’ll be the only person tackling the subject of affiliate marketing. My session is entitled “What Makes Them Tick? How Knowing Your Affiliates Can Increase Conversions.” Over the years I’ve seen too many merchants blaming the affiliate channel for not working, of working poorly; yet doing nearly nothing to facilitate better conversions. I’ll walk you both through the fundamental principles to understand, as well as provide you with immediately applicable ways to improve the conversions in your affiliate program.

ad:tech NY (New York, NY, Nov 8, 2012)

This one I’m especially excited about. Not only will this be my first ad:tech ever, but ours will be the only session on affiliate marketing (out of 35). “Ours” because it will be a panel (with Bob Glazer moderating, and other panelists including Brian Littleton and Samantha Howe). Title: “Affiliate Marketing Revisited: How Top Brands Are Rethinking & Refocusing Affiliate Programs.” If you want to learn how to protect and enhance your brand with affiliate marketing, how to build your affiliate team wisely – to get more out of your affiliate program, come to our session.

I also have a special code for you to use to receive 25% off your full conference pass. What you need to do is start here, and when during the registration process you are asked for Discount Code, enter this SPKRGUESTNY25. Registering on or before November 6th will save you most on your pass.

Hope to see you at these conferences! I’ll be giving out copies of my “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” at each!

5 Steps That Helped Increase LinkedIn Search Appearances Five-Fold

Did you know that every minute there happen 177,000 Tweets, 700,000 Facebook messages, 2 million YouTube views, and 7,610 LinkedIn searches [well, according to this source, at least]? It is the latter that impresses me most, as with the former three stats, we’re talking an ocean of data, whereas with LinkedIn searches, we’re looking at a very focused type of activity — professional searches.

LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with 161 million members” aboard, and “approximately two new members” signing up every per second [source]. Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Per LinkedIn itself they are actually “on pace to surpass 5.3 billion” searches in 2012. Dividing this by the number of minutes in a year, we arrive at nearly 10,084 professionally-oriented searches a minute, or 168 searches every second.

Wouldn’t you, as a professional no matter what it is that you do, want to take a bite of this pie of (tremendous) opportunity?! So I thought too; and without any prior study or experience went in to improve my LinkedIn profile. And what do you know! With very little effort put into the optimization of my profile, my appearances in LinkedIn search results increased nearly five-fold in two months [going from 65 in the week of May 6 to 324 in the week of July 7]:

Surely many will want to know what exactly it was that I did. And that’s what this post is for… It was the improvement in 5 specific areas of the profile that led to it. Try doing the same and see it goes for you:

1. Optimize Job Titles

As you can see below, I focused on the core things that I do: affiliate marketing, affiliate (program) management, speaking, and consulting:

2. Fill out Publications

Whether you have a list like mine, or a more modest one, it doesn’t matter. Do enter them there, using the space provided for descriptions too.

3. Enter Honors & Awards

This is another great section not to overlook. Build your credibility!

4. Expand the Summary

Use this one to the max! Present yourself beautifully; and remember to use the keywords that you want to be found by:

5. Choose your Skills & Expertise

This is one of my favorite sections. Here you can choose both the already-populated “specialties” (the ones that other people chose before you), and also enter your own:

Good luck; and if you have your own LinkedIn optimization experience to share, I’d love to learn from you! The comments area under this post is all yours.

Quantity of Quality: Thoughts on Optimum Number of Tweets per Day

If you’re on Twitter, like me, you’ve probably wondered more than once: How many Tweets are too many? What pace do my (current, and prospective) Twitter followers want from me? Hourly? Daily? Where’s that sweet spot?

I myself have been trying both frequent Tweets, and seldom ones, manual, and scheduled… And you know what? I’ve always been noticing that, as in anything, quality always beats the quantity. It may sound obvious, but hear me out. There are slow days, and days when the amount of useful data and high quality content is so massive that the task of content curation — be it on Twitter or Diigo, Paper.li or Shareist, or any other platform in-between — really becomes challenging. Do pace yourself in moments like these! Schedule the speed at which you’re going to be serving the information! A flood is never good. Not even when it’s a flood of high quality content. In fact, in these cases it is even harder to digest, and frustrating to follow (because the “end-consumer” can get quickly upset that they just don’t have the time to eat it all up).

I’ve come to the above conclusion based on my own experience (e.g. Twitter following either slows down, or sometimes even drops, when I dump too much data on their heads). But then I thought: wouldn’t it be also interesting to analyze how frequently some of the top Internet marketing influencers tweet? After some time spent researching, I’d like to show you how things look (the below order is merely alphabetical):

 

Of course, there are also such Twitter users (and tremendous influencers) as @Mashable (with nearly 3,000,000 followers, and an average of 29.4 Tweets per day), Gary Vaynerchuk aka @GaryVee (who is nearing his 1,000,000 followers, posting 35.2 Tweets every day), @ChrisBrogan (48.8), Scott Stratten aka @Unmarketing (57.3), and others who tweet at least once every hour. Most of these either have teams of people responsible for tweeting, or are obsessed (in a good way, but yes, obsessed!) with social media. And frankly, as a user, I find it difficult to follow their streams of consciousness, news, or whatever else. But since they bleed social media, we all expect them to tweet that much… Exceptions aside, it seems that 8 Tweets a day (or less) is that sweet spot. I’m at 14.6. Seems like I need to pace myself too… You?

Video Conferencing – Good Alternative to In-Person Presentations?

Earlier this morning I’ve spoken in Riga, Latvia at iLive Internet marketing conference. However, I didn’t have to fly over the Atlantic for this one. This was my first time to present via video conferencing (see image by Dāvis Zeps below).

I’ll be honest with you, I was somewhat nervous about the whole idea (strangely, I would much rather be on the stage than in front of a web camera). However, after seeing that now and then others are doing this — e.g.: Bryan Eisenberg at GPeC (Gala Premiilor e-Commerce) 2011 in Romania, Smithsonian’s Michael Edson doing a number of his presentations via Skype — I decided to give it a try.

And it went very well. I would still much rather be on stage; but taking into account the time, money, and energy saved on not undergoing the transatlantic travel, it may be a good alternative in some situations.

Apparently, the audience accepted it well too; and even liked it (the first of the below tweets called it “the best presentation” of the day):

 

What do you think of video conferencing as an alternative to in-person presentations?

Mobile Apps More Engaging Than Websites

Earlier today Google has published a post on multi-channel attribution, where among other things they’ve pointed out:

We’re …seeing channels like mobile grow tremendously. For instance, mobile is now 8% of all conversions that we’re seeing in Google Analytics, and mobile conversions have grown by about 180% in just the last year.

Being a fervent believer in the future of mobile commerce, I tweeting the above stats; and received an immediate reply from an old-time affiliate marketing friend, Richard Gaskin of Fourth World Systems. Here’s our mini-coversation:

I agree, it is shocking. However, an even more enlightening fact to me is that, apparently, 81.5% of smartphone users find mobile apps more engaging than websites.

A week ago comScore published the following data:

Top Smartphone Properties by Total Unique Visitors (Mobile Browser and App Audience Combined)
March 2012
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Age 18+ on iOS, Android and RIM Platforms
Source: comScore Mobile Metrix 2.0
Audience Engagement
Total Unique Visitors (000) % Reach Browser % Share of Total Time Spent App % Share of Total Time Spent
Total Audience (Browsing and Application combined) 97,007 100.0% 18.5% 81.5%
Google Sites 93,954 96.9% 18.9% 81.1%
Facebook 78,002 80.4% 20.0% 80.0%
Yahoo! Sites 66,185 68.2% 25.3% 74.7%
Amazon Sites 44,028 45.4% 14.3% 85.7%
Wikimedia Foundation Sites 39,073 40.3% 99.8% 0.2%
Apple Inc. 38,309 39.5% 0.3% 99.7%
Cooliris, Inc 28,543 29.4% 0.0% 100.0%
AOL, Inc. 28,021 28.9% 47.4% 52.6%
eBay 27,190 28.0% 17.6% 82.4%
Zynga 26,619 27.4% 0.4% 99.6%
Twitter 25,593 26.4% 3.5% 96.5%
Rovio (Angry Birds) 25,057 25.8% 3.7% 96.3%
Weather Channel, The 24,131 24.9% 47.1% 52.9%
Microsoft Sites 23,938 24.7% 82.1% 17.9%
ESPN 23,317 24.0% 56.8% 43.2%

 

However dated, here’s another interesting piece the puzzle: about a year ago Kony Solutions reported that they were “seeing over 30% higher conversion for iPhone native app customers vs. mobile web customers” [source, emphasis mine].

Does your business have a mobile app yet? Or at least a mobile website [some guidelines here]?

Viral Marketing Idea: Optical Illusion (and How To Create One)

A really amazing optical illusion has been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms lately. And, I must admit, I couldn’t help but participate in spreading it too. Here it is [Instructions: look at the red dot on the lady’s nose for 30 seconds, then turn your eyes on a plain surface (white ceiling or clean sheet of paper) and blink as fast as you can]:

If you do it right, you’ll see this picture of Deepika Padukone, a famous Bollywood actress. Regardless of that “HM” in the bottom right-hand corner, I couldn’t confirm that the spread of this viral optical illusion “campaign” was initiated by H&M. In fact, it appears that this particular illusion is based on a photo taken from Padukone’s endorsement photoshoot of Sony Cyber-shot cameras (which you can see her holding in her hand).

Whatever it was, this brings up a very interesting idea for creating viral marketing campaigns based on optical illusion. And it is also very easy to create these negatives! For example, as shown below, to do it in Photoshop you go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (or simply hit Ctrl+I). Just remember that the colors of the original “focus dots” will change too.

If you have Windows 7, the Magnifier tool will do this for you too [see “how to” instructions here].

Are you using optical illusions for viral marketing yet? I say, it is worth a try. Coupled with smart Social Media marketing, it can bear really good fruit. Just remember to also look beyond the fun, setting measurable goals (yes, “likes” and “ReTweets” but, ultimately, leads, subscriptions, and conversions), diligently tracking them.