Archive for 2006

Dec 03
2006

In our discussions with customers and consultants that run PPC campaigns on their own, and in reviewing how the PPC accounts are managed, we often find opportunities to significantly enhance the performance of the PPC campaigns. We believe that it is a misconception that you can set up your account once, leave it on “auto-pilot”, and then expect good results. You might get some results, not definitely nothing to write home about. This directly applies to consultants, as your clients expect you to add value and get them better results for their marketing dollars. Once clients start seeing results, improved ROI, consultants will be rewarded generously, at least it has been the case on our experience with our clients.

What is that we will blog about? Well, improving the performance of your AdWords campaigns. Some improvements are related to the actual account/campaign/ad group structure, while other improvements can be done by applying best practices and on-going PPC optimization techniques.

In this December, our plan is to dedicate some time to share PPC best practices and useful tips and techniques. We would love to hear from you on specific areas you want addressed or specific questions you want answered. Although the tips and examples will directly be related to Google AdWords, the concepts apply to other PPC programs, including the new Yahoo Search Marketing PPC interface and the MSN AdCenter.

Add a comment with your questions and we will sure get you an answer or at least point you in the direction to find what you are looking for.

Thanks!

Oct 18
2006

In working with clients, we often come across companies both small and large that run their SEO or PPC programs in-house. As consultants, we aim to be objective and offer a recommendation that is in the best interest of the client.

Our general recommendation to clients is that you either build the expertise in-house and do the job right or you should outsource. So many times we have seen companies that claim to be running an effective PPC campaign internally, but after further examination we find that thousands of dollars are spent on an account that is running on auto-pilot and no optimization techniques or best practices have been implemented. The Internet marketing program might be running “OK” but it is no where close to the potential ROI it can bring. In one incident, we were asked to audit an existing PPC campaign and optimize its performance. One month after implementing a few best practices, we were able to achieve double the amount of site visitors for half the click spend. And this was just the beginning!

If you are planning to run your web development, web design, or Internet marketing programs in-house, invest the time in learning and mastering these fields or hiring someone with that expertise. Otherwise, work with a professional and let them do what they do best.

Feel free to contact us for further information on website design, internet marketing consulting or a free Internet Business Analysis.

Oct 18
2006

This is a post by my friend and a fellow Internet Consultant, Burns Smith, in Madison, MS. We have known Burns for almost two years now and we have worked together on several projects. Burns continues to impress us with his ability to educate his clients on the need to invest the time and effort upfront to better scope the opportunity so all parties are aware of what is involved and expectations are set accordingly. We’ve asked Burns to share his approach with us and below is what he wrote. We hope you find it of benefit to your business as well!

Burns says:

As a professional Internet Consultant, one of the dilemmas I face is at what point should I be charging for my time. I understand that any business relationship must go through an introductory stage. I also know that I must invest enough time to establish my credibility with the buyer. However, what I am selling is my time, my knowledge, and my access to a tremendous network of resources. At some point I should be on the clock and get paid for what I do. To do otherwise is not fair to me and encourages non-serious tire kickers to waste my time.

So when should I start charging for my services? After experimentation with several different approaches, I decided that the best one was to charge for my proposals. It takes a lot of my time to meet with a client, understand his or her needs, match those needs up to the correct Internet solution, and then meet again with the client to review the proposal. However, I make sure I share enough information in the initial appointment that it is very clear that I will bring value to the process. I also encourage potential buyers to check my references. If the project is not overly complex, I explain to the client that the next step of the process is going to take a significant investment on my part and the end result is that he or she will be much more educated about website design and internet marketing.

I usually throw out a nominal fee. I quite often get responses such as “I understand” or “That’s not a big deal.” For those who object, I believe I have just weeded out a non-buyer. The fee does not truly compensate me for all of the time required to generate a proposal. However, I believe these are the benefits to be gained by following this process:

  • It enhances my credibility.
  • It establishes from the beginning that I get paid for my time and knowledge.
  • It screens out non-serious buyers.
  • It helps me to understand if I am talking to the decision maker.
  • Buyers will better value something for which they have paid.
  • If they do not buy, I have at least have been compensated in some fashion.

If the project is going to be more complex, I explain that it will take quite a bit of time and analysis to scope out the project in order to set a price and that I will be charging an hourly rate in this initial stage of the project development. The client will in turn receive a detailed project definition and a price.

J. Burns Smith, Jr.
Internet Consultant
(601) 853-4449
P.O Box 1213
Madison, MS
39130-1213
www.wsistarwebsolutions.com

Oct 01
2006

Normally for a project that is either being scoped as custom or requires integration, a website development company needs to invest some time into making sure the project and work required is well understood before proceeding to offer a formal quote. We have learned through our experience that bypassing this step is detrimental to the success of the project. We’re looking at this from the client’s perspective and from our own. It helps us to know exactly what we’re committing to and the client also will have a clearer picture of what we’re building so there are no surprises.

Other companies may provide a ballpark figure or estimate based on past integrations they have done but the risk factor in that type of an estimate is very large, and usually results in a strained client/vendor relationship because of additional charges that come up when assumptions¬Ě are proven incorrect. We prefer to quote based on requirements, not assumptions, and we take the necessary steps to ensure that all possible requirements are documented clearly and understood – this method has proven to work each and every time.

Typically, there are a number of questions especially with the integration part being related to the eCommerce and how that will relate to one another especially with the information being dynamic and transactions dependent upon this information. Some samples of questions related to integration are:

  • What is the nature of the data?
  • In what format can the data be provided?
  • Ensure data maps directly to destination or platform?
  • Within the data set, which items are updated and why?
  • Is the data constant, or are there additions and deletions?
  • How should destination handle additions and deletions?
  • How should destination handle exceptions?
  • What monitoring or notification needs to be in place?

There are a number of other questions that we usually encounter when diving into this a little further. For us at the preliminary stage of scoping, the analysis may reveal that more things to consider or that the work is straightforward. One thing guaranteed is that there will definitely be a more accurate proposal.

For further information on scoping custom or integration projects, feel free to contact one of our internet consultants at www.E-Nor.com.

Sep 10
2006

Internet Consultants (ICs) have different strategies in running their companies, some are very hands-on, and like to implement programs on their own, while other ICs tend to outsource project management and implementation to production centers, authorized suppliers, and third party vendors. In his training workshop, Feras Alhlou emphasizes the need for consultants to determine what business model best fits them and stick to that model.

I believe in on-going education though, and below is a list of recommended resources and reading for ICs to keep their skills sharpened and continuously quality internet marketing service and drive business results to their end clients. Even if an Internet Consultant (IC) decides to outsource most of their implementations, a sound understanding of marketing strategies and tactics as well as emerging internet marketing trends is vital for the success of their business. Below is a list of sites, blogs and articles on topics such as pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics (WA) and other related internet marketing programs.

If you have a tool that you think it is helpful to other Internet Consultants, feel free to email Feras and let him know about it. For more information and help on Internet Marketing programs such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Web Analytics Services, feel free to contact us or drop us an email.

Sep 10
2006

At Feras Alhlou‘s Ambassador Training Workshop in Auckland, New Zealand, the attending Internet Consultants (ICs) asked for a tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Below is a list of factors that ICs can use evaluate and implement their SEO programs. This quick post is by no means comprehensive and doesn’t provide implementation details. This post is intended to provide a quick checklist for the IC to review and use when assessing SEO implementations.

SEO implementation checklist:

  • Understand products & services being offered
  • Research the competition
    • What are other websites doing to achieve high ranking?
    • What useful products & services do they offer?
    • What useful content or ideas could be borrowed?
  • Useful questions to ask clients before implementing any SEO:
    • Has any other SEO been done on this website? If yes, what was done?
    • Who designed the website? What software did they use?
    • Has anyone done any amount of link building for this site?
    • Has the content on the website been run through a spelling and grammar check?
    • Have you ever run into problems with the search engines before?
    • Will someone be able to provide new content about specific keyword phrases or themes?
  • Onsite factors
    • Meta tags
    • Title tags
    • Keywords appropriateness or competitiveness
    • Keyword density
    • Unique/relevant content
    • Grammar/spelling
    • Unethical techniques (e.g. hidden text)
    • HTML/CSS correctness
    • Robots.txt file considerations
    • Sitemap available from any and every page
    • Geographical information
    • Site structure
    • Dynamic pages?
    • Navigation/link system
      • Navigation system so you can get to any page from any page
      • Keywords in your navigation system
      • Keywords in natural content links pointing to other onsite pages
  • Offsite factors

For more information on Search Engine Optimization services, feel free to contact us at E-Nor.

Aug 31
2006

For tips on presenting and selling PPC/Adwords, Google has a set of very good Powerpoint Presentations. You can access these presentations and other useful information by signing up for Google Advertising Professional Program (at no charge).

Meanwhile, contact us if you have any questions or need help in selling or managing your client’s PPC accounts. Feras as well as Gazlan (our Senior PPC Consultant) are both Qualified Google Advertising Individuals, (Feras is also a Yahoo Ambassador), and both are a good resource to tap into for optimizing PPC accounts of any size.

Aug 31
2006

Site migration doesn’t have to be difficult. If you can take care of a few small tasks along the way, you can make life for the search engines and your users much easier, as well as transferring value from the old site to the new one.

  • You will want to have redirect pages with links to the same content on the new site that people can click on and search engines can follow
  • Create an attractive error page that will keep visitors from leaving when, not if, they run into pages that no longer exist
  • Have a robots.txt file in the root of the website that will allow search engines to crawl freely
  • Build all your links to point to either the www version of the site or the non-www version of the site, not both!

For more information on website migration and search engine optimization, feel free to contact E-Nor.

Jul 19
2006

Client Background/General Information

1. e-Commerce Knowledge
Implemented an eCommerce solution previously?
–> If yes,
- The name of the solution?
- Was the solution implemented in house or with a web development company?
- Was the solution maintained (e.g. products uploaded) in house or through a web development company?
–> If no, level of familiarity with eCommerce?
- Very familiar
- Somewhat familiar
- Not familiar

2. Is the client replacing an existing eCommerce solution?
- Why?
- What features not working?

3. Client infrastructure
- Where products are produced, packaged & shipped?
- Describe existing non-eCommerce, sales and fulfillment cycles

4. Design Preferences
- Template Design (inexpensive, quick-turnaround, non-unique look & feel)
- Custom Design (expensive, 4+ weeks at least, unique look & feel)

5. Timeline
- Fastest way to deployment:
- Out-of-the-box solution (no custom development whatsoever)
- Template Design
- Client readiness (content, images, infrastructure, payment gateway, etc.)

Identify all aspects of eCommerce
A. Products
- How many products?
- How many categories?
- How many sub-categories?
- Do products come in various styles (e.g. difference colors, different sizes)
- Do you have all product description, images, pricing available?
- If yes, what format (e.g. hard copy, excel spreadsheet, etc.)
- If no, is all the information accessible form a third party?

B. Product updates
- How often do you update your product info (description, pricing, images, etc.)?
- How is product information gathered (manual, catalog, etc.)?

C. Shipping
- Do you have a preference for a shipping carrier, Fedex, UPS, USPS, Royal Mail or others?
- How do you intend on charging for shipping
- How do you intend on processing shipping, using a carriers integrated tool (e.g. UPS WorldShip)

D. Taxes
- Do you have any specific taxes requirements

E. Payment Processing/Online payment gateway
a. Do you have an existing online payment gateway?
i. If yes, please list
ii. If no, do you have a preference which gateway to use (authorize.net, VeriSign, WorldPay, HSBC, etc.)

F. Languages
- The solution default language is XYZ. Do you require your eCommerce solution to support more than one language, if so, please list.

G. Customer types
- Retail?
- Wholesales?
- Others (e.g. members)?

H. Pricing
- What is your pricing model?
- Volume Pricing?
- Do you offer different pricing for each customer type?

I. Inventory
- Inventory Management System?
- Do you intend on integrating the eCommerce solution with your Inventory Management system?

J. Accounting
- Accounting System?
- Do you intend on integrating the eCommerce solution with your accounting system?

K. Ordering
- Do you require the capability of ordering from the system admin interface?

L. Order fulfillment
- Do you manage and ship products in-house or through a third party?
- If you use a third party, do you require an automated integration with the third party?

M. Reports
- In addition to customer and products reports, are there any additional reports required?

N. Feature set
- Favorite Products
- Related Products
- Feature Products
- New Products
- Wish list
- Gift Certificate
- Gift Wrapping
- Multi-currency
- Login/account information/previous orders
- Search
- Others?

O. Other features – Do you plan on having:
- Auction
- Gift Registry
- Download on Demand
- System Admin ordering interface
- Others?

P. How do you plan on marketing the business?
- Do you intend on implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your site? (to allow for SEO friendly pages and other SEO considerations)
- Other Internet Marketing programs such as Pay-Per-Click, e-mail marketing, banners?
- How do you currently market the business offline? Have you considered Integrated Marketing Solutions to maximize your ROI?

Q. Post Project Considerations
- Web Hosting requirements: look for reliable eCommerce, secure hosting
- On-going eCommerce solution updates and website maintenance

Jun 30
2006

Your web design team used every ounce of creativity and design savvy to come up with a professional and stylish website based on the latest XHTML and CSS standards. Your marketing specialist spent many hours doing intense research and setting up an elaborate Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign. Your webmaster juggled countless keywords and Title tags to come up with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) plan. Even your domain name is catchy! You’ve done everything possible to attract people to your website and keep them there, right? Wrong!

Making a website is only the beginning. Surely there is some point in having a website. Maybe it’s to promote brand awareness, selling your products online, or providing technical support & information for existing customers. How do you know if people are navigating your website in an efficient manner, finding information or products they are looking for, or moving towards your business objectives?

Enter web analytics. The first thing you notice when you look at a web analytics report is the large amount of useful data. Imagine knowing how many unique visitors come to your website everyday, how often visitors come back to your website again, or the exact city that visitors are coming from. The wealth of information doesn’t end there. You would be able to see which marketing campaigns have the best conversion rates. You would also know specific details such as which position is giving the best click through rate and conversion rate for your PPC campaigns. You can define a business goal and a series of steps (a funnel) on your website leading up to that goal; you would be able to visually see where people are joining that funnel and where they are leaving. The information available about visitors through analytics is nearly endless: you would be able to know what web browsers visitors are using, their operating systems, and even the connection speed!

But there is more to web analytics than raw information. Back to our point, surely there is some reason in having a website. Once you are able to define business objectives on your website, you can analyze how visitors interact with your website. Whether it becomes obvious through reports what you need to improve on your website or you discover what works best through A/B testing, once you make those changes you once again observe how visitors are interacting with your website. This is the true power of web analytics – to better your business by improving your website in a methodical way. Instead of trying to guess what is wrong with your landing page or why conversion rates are so low, you can work with accurate data, do your own analysis, and come up with smart recommendations.

Web analytics is for anyone that has any kind of a website. Whether it is eCommerce, lead generation, brand awareness, or informational, web analytics will make your website better and drive business success. Contact E-Nor today for more information on what web analytics can do for your business!