A tool I didn’t want, think I needed and now love – Shareist

When someone first started to talk to me about Scott Jangro’s new project Shareist, it didn’t sound at all interesting.  I didn’t see the benefit, the value, etc…  The other week I finally decided to give it a shot, mainly because someone I was writing a guest post for is only using Shareist now, and I am actually amazed I didn’t try it before.  Shareist basically acts like your Social Media dashboard and a multi-functional blogging dashboard in the same place.  Here’s what I love about it, and for a change I don’t actually have many if any negative things to say about a product.

Benefits for blogging or using multiple wordpress sites.

Those of you who use wordpress or wordpress providers like studiopress (which I am starting to love), this is an awesome tool.  You can actually take all of your blogs and add them on as Notebooks.  Then you can add pages to your notebooks which work like blog posts.  You’ll see everything you need from wordpress inside of Shareist like your categories, tags, body copy, etc… and be able to post to any blog you’d like from the same dashboard.  What I also like is that I can invite people to be a contributor through Shareist and instead of having to teach them wordpress, Shareist is a much simpler platform and has an easy layout so that you don’t need to teach a new system.  (I did get confused at first, but it’s because I didn’t click on the + box to add a text box and because my computer was dying so it wasn’t Shareist’s fault.)  It’s a huge time saver for new Bloggers who have never used a blogging platform before.   The other thing that is nice is that you can also have other notebooks for other sites you guest blog on.  Now you don’t have to remember their urls or log ins and can have it saved with everything else and in one place.

Benefits for social media sites.

I love this because I can combine all of my accounts (like in Hootsuite) and have pretty much all of the functionality of social dashboards in one place at one time.  This is awesome because when I finish a blog post, like this one.  I can save and publish then instantly start to share across all the social channels I use, depending on the site.  This is a huge time saver because I no longer have to log into a ton of sites just to be able to share a link.  This is one of the biggest things that sold me on Shareist.

Affiliates

One feature I haven’t tried yet but am excited to try is for Affiliates.  With Shareist you can enter in the merchants whose programs you are in, your Affiliate ID and have Shareist automatically apply your Affiliate links off of keywords for you.  Now instead of having to have a rev. share with someone else, you can have this automatically done for you.

So far I have loved everything about Shareist except that there was no auto save when you are writing a blog post.  Luckily I posted on Facebook and within a day or two, Scott had built an auto save to help correct this.  That is one of the things I love about these tools before they get to big.  The support you get is amazing and they actually listen to and care about the things that matter to you.  This way you can get a tool that works and does almost everything you want or need it to.

Some of the other features which I haven’t used yet are the analytics, some of the app integrations and the customization you can use.  I didn’t think I’d even want to use a system like Shareist, and didn’t see a point in it until I tried it.  Now I think it is an amazing time saver and something that you need to use if you are a Blogger, Affiliate or if you do anything with Social Media.  It is an awesome free tool that you should definitely check out.

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5 Ways Affiliates, Vendors & Agencies Rip You Off with Trademarks

When I talk to a lot of companies they show me their reports and a lot of the time their agencies, vendors and Affiliates are abusing them by using their trademarks and taking credit for sales and make up for a lack of profit on their ROI.  It happens with comparison engines, media buyers, Affiliates, social media agencies, PPC agencies and almost everyone else.  When we pull out the use of the trademarks, with a few exceptions, we actually see the value they added or if they caused a loss.  We are also able to figure out if they are worth continuing with or if the company should find a new vendor.  Here are 5 things to look out for from your agencies and partners in different channels to see how they may be using your trademarks and pretending they are adding value.

1.  Trademark bidding

This is probably the most common and well known version.  People who type your trademark and extensions like url + coupons already knew about you, were checking out, saw an ad you paid for, etc…  This adds no value to you for sales that came in which is why they need to be removed to see the actual value.  By removing them from the vendors below, you can see if the actual sales driven is the most cost effective use of your marketing budget and if you should continue to work with them.

PPC agencies – Have them remove all trademarks, extensions and misspellings from their reports and give you a trademark report separate.  Now take the total amount spent, the total sales and compare it to the revenue generated.  You’ll also want to compare the average cost per sale and revenue to other channels to see if it is worth continuing with all campaigns or moving part of your budget to a different channel so that you have your most profitable PPC campaigns running and you can invest the rest of your money in a more profitable channel.  You may also want to create a metric called average revenue per sale.

This is the cost per sale divided by total revenue from that channel.  This shows you how profitable you are off of each campaign, keyword, engine, network or device on the engine or as a whole for PPC.

Affiliates – This is easy money with zero work for Affiliates.  It doesn’t send you any new customers or traffic and in my opinion steals from you.  The only time it is acceptable is if you own a generic url and you have competitors bidding on every other space (even then you have better alternatives that are much more cost effective).  You may allow one or two partners to bid on the term, but make sure that they aren’t bidding on the url (unless all of your competitors are), extensions like coupons or discounts and that they are also not linking to your site (because this could cause your own trademark ad to be blocked) and also have more sales coming in off of generic non trademark terms.  Allowing them to only bid on trademarks is ripping you off.  Make them have to have at least 2 non trademark sales per every trademark sale if they want to do this.  By allowing them to bid on your trademarks, you are also going to stop content and value adding Affiliates from promoting you, just as a warning.  The real solution is to find a couple of cheap PPC companies and have them bid on the trademarks for a flat fee so other Affiliates cookies aren’t over written and you aren’t being ripped off or having your competitors have access to your customers.

2.  Social Media Agencies and Affiliates with your Social Media campaigns

This is one that is insane to watch.  Companies are so obsessed with building a community that they forget to ask their social media marketing companies what they are doing and forget to measure actual revenue per fan, follower, engagement, etc… and what was actually value adding.  If the company is using your email list, your trademarks and your accounts to grow your fan base and drive sales, that isn’t always value adding.  Here are some things to look for, ask and watch out for.

Twitter – If they are using your trademark as a hashtag, they are going after people who already know about you or are already shopping and asking questions.  By using your trademarks as hashtags they are taking credit for these people who already knew about you.  Let your customer service take care of the questions and issues with social media and make them drive new sales without using your trademarks.  If they add in words or hashtags like coupons or sales, they are now possibly hurting you by reducing your margins with the discount, bonuses, commissions, etc…  You want to make sure you are managing them and making sure they are not taking credit for people already talking about you, following you, looking for you and that they are adding value from real campaigns, efforts and their own followers.  Anyone can send out coupons from your own accounts or talk about a product and drive sales.  That does not add value and you should not be paying for it.

Facebook ads, Twitter ads, etc… – This is something that I see on a regular basis.  Social Media Marketing companies showing how much they grew their clients likes and followers by spending their money on ads on social media sites.  That is a joke and something that should instantly tell you not to work with them.  Anyone can spend money and get likes or fans.  The real question is did they do it without using your brand, how much money did you get back from these new fans and followers and was it more than you would have made with other channels?

What you need to do is measure the amount of new fans and then see if you can keep track of them by name or ID and see how many turn into customers and how much money they spent.  You also need to subtract people who had been on your site already since they had exposure to you and see if the ad that was shown was branded or not.  If it was branded or incentivized the user with a coupon, don’t count it.  If it was about a topic and didn’t use your brand, it brought in someone new who was interested in the topic that your store or services help with.  That is where you get the value from and where you should be measuring the total sales from.  You should also ask your social media company for every dollar I spent, how many did I get back in return in actual value adding sales?  You probably ask all of your other vendors what your ROI is, so you should ask them as well.

3.  URLs

One common thing you’ll find are Affiliates buying misspellings of your urls.  It could be typos or variations like .co that you don’t own yet.  Another type is when they combine letters like r and n to look like an m so that they can trick your customers into clicking on their links first.  When the user comes through these urls they are usually shown an exact replica of your site or they are automatically redirected to your site through an Affiliate link.  These are current customers or people who already knew about you.  They are doing a direct type in to go to your site or something else so the Affiliate added zero value and is taking credit for someone you paid to bring in or that another Affiliate referred.  Another common thing you may find are PPC trademark bidders that copy your ads exactly and use their domain with the misspelling or typo in the url.  Other times they’ll buy variations and send people through them off the content networks so they are harder to find.  This can be tricky to catch and most companies never actually do catch these people since the Affiliates set up other sites and make the sales look legit or real.  That is why you need an actual hands on person managing your Affiliate program that can name a bunch of these types of partners instantly when you ask about them if they know any.  One other thing you need to be careful of is the user experience.  If you remove them from your program instantly, you’re customers who think they are on your site will end up on dead pages or redirects that break creating a bad user experience.  Make sure you have a plan to remove them before you act.

4.  Media Companies – Media buyers will target your site with media buys based on your trademarks (they’ll pretend they didn’t know) and serve cheaper ads while charging you a gigantic markup by taking credit for sales you would have had without them.  Other times media companies will serve trademark ads on search engine content networks to make up for missing sales since they are fairly easy to convert.  One thing you need to know before hiring a media company or buying media is the adware they are affiliated with and make sure they aren’t setting their cookies and tracking ids with popups, unders, etc… on your own site and targeting your own urls.  Other media companies will have an actual non adware network that has opt in partners, but will only target your trademarks on their network.  Then they can drive low cost high ROI sales and use cheap clicks to make the conversion rate look normal.

5.  CSEs

Comparison shopping engines will start bidding on your trademarks and urls the minute you list with them.  Then they will drive people to a dedicated page or a page with your products on them on their site.  You have to check for the products you own the trademarks for, your urls and any other trademark or product you manufacture so that they can send you the traffic that uses their sites and not the traffic that you would have had without them.  You may also want to make sure you have done your own ORM (online reputation management) so that you have the top ten listing for all of your trademarks.  If you don’t and the engines rank for your products, you could now lose customers to similar products, other vendors with the same ones and also paying again to bring the customer back to your site.  Many of the engines also own other properties so you need to double check every ad and look to see which ads are for which engines and even make test purchases to see if any of the sales are credited to the engines by these partner sites which they didn’t earn.

Your trademarks are the first things unethical marketers and unethical marketing firms will go after and take credit for.  It is free, easy money and sales that they don’t have to work for.  They don’t add value to you if the agency is taking credit for them since you are the one who already generated their interest and built the market or demand, so you should not be paying out or counting trademark sales.  The only times trademarks are adding value is with your ORM SEO and when you are trying to cover space when you have a generic company name.  Make sure you know how traffic is being driven and you separate out trademarks from value adding and incremental sales before you redo your budgets and give the wrong channel more funds than other channels which are actually more profitable.  You should also talk to your agencies and vendors before working with them about how they will split out trademark sales and show value adding sales you wouldn’t have had without them.  You may also want to talk to an attribution firm or a company like mine to help figure out what is adding value and who is not.

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Facebook Trying to Become Pinterest? The Want Button.

The other day I was reading an article about Facebook wanting to include a want button in addition to their like link or button.  The want button is supposed to be able to be clicked if the person actually wants the item or has an interest, like they want it or want to buy it.  Although this sounds like it could be great for shopping and finally helping to target Facebook users into sales, it may actually make your ads less targeted to an extent; however it may also help you to hit a more targeted audience with your ads to market again to later.  I’m going to break it out into the good and the potential bad about Facebook featuring a want button.

The Good:

1.  Targeting based on groups of friends to figure out who has the most interest.  This is great for a Marketer to know because you can start to target based on interests and things groups of people have in common that click on want.  Once you have that you know what types of sites to recruit for Affiliates, who to target based on media kits and which types of sites you’ll want to go after to gain more interest with Media Buys.

By using the Facebook want button, here are some of the things you can find out what the group of people who clicked want have in common with each other.

  • schools – education level, if they went to the same, where the schools were located in the country, ivy league vs. non, etc…
  • work – where people work, what types of companies your product’s fan base work for (size, location, etc…), if you have entrepreneurs vs. 9 to 5′s and executive vs. non based on titles.
  • gay or straight – By scanning interested in you can discover if you are attracting gay people vs. straight and what percentage is bisexual or doesn’t want to say.
  • relationship status – You could discover what percentage of your fan based is married, dating people, single, etc…  Crossing this with gay or straight and gender can be a seriously powerful targeting tool.
  • male or female

2.  What region of the country the wants are in to show demand (which already exists but now product based regional demand).  This is extremely powerful because you can tell where you should run your offline ads, etc…  It can give you a much larger insight than just relying on broadcasting and orders in if you haven’t already advertised and collecting shipping data.

3.  Target based on demand and social triggers to push ads and coupons for a deal or product.

4.  Upload a datafeed of products to push them through a widget into Facebook based off of wants and keywords, then set up a PPC bidding to show the product and price and position based on the demographics above.  (They would need a quality score.)

5.  You could include a buy now after you hit want and take the person to a comparison shopping section on Facebook where people can shop by price, review and rating on the store.

6.  If you have a shopping or ecommerce tab on your Fanpage, you now have a good idea for what is trending on Facebook and can list those products first and hopefully generate more conversions.

The Bad:

1.  Ridiculous items that people cannot afford.  People may click on things that they cannot afford but want.  Versace gowns, million dollar cars or even iPhones and technology that not everyone can actually afford but seems like a legit want.

2.  Fake wants because it’s funny or an image or joke.  People click on things they want as a joke because they think it is funny.  Look at the voting sites that have things like interesting, useful, funny, etc…  People just click regardless of what the actual purpose or article or image is about.

3.  Abuse of the button because people don’t understand what it’s for.  Some people, probably a bunch, will actually just click on the button giving you a ton of bad and false data and bad info to target ads with.  This could be a huge issue for Facebook.

4.  Facebook is still for playing and socializing, not shopping.  Even though people want, if you can buy space or show an ad to buy a product after the want button is clicked, people still want to socialize and play, not leave and shop.  I think that selling clicks on ads or on a revenue sharing basis after someone clicks want is a huge opportunity and I would definitely test this.  It could also cause legal issues though if a manufacturer or retailer generated the interests that caused the wants and someone else jumps in because they have a bigger budget or a better marketing team and monetizes it.  If it is a small company this could be devastating to them.

5.  Can want point to the store where the person can buy it or where it was originally found?  If it doesn’t point to a product where it can be found, or if it cannot take people into a price comparison shop on Facebook, it becomes somewhat useless, except for the demographic information it can collect.

6.  Abuse from stores asking for more wants for social triggers for SEO. If this becomes a social trigger, which it probably will, large stores and people with huge budgets can place these on their sites and remove smaller companies chances of ranking, especially based on products and long tail keywords which they rely on.  Using want as a social trigger for shopping results in the SERPs will definitely skew the results and hurt a lot of small businesses.

I love the idea of a want button, but am also very skeptical about it.  This post is just opinions and nothing in it is a fact.  It would be great for you to pitch in and let me know what you think is good or bad or if you would try using the Facebook want button for advertising, etc…

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3 Ways You May Not Be Using Social Media

If your company is dedicated to having social media and building a fan base on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, ask yourself, are you using every part of your site correctly to include ways to become a fan without distracting the shopping process?  I’ve been looking through a ton of ecommerce sites lately and found a few serious flaws in plans as well as a couple of very creative ways that different companies are using social media to build a fan base and not distract the shopping process.  Here are three things you can do to help increase sales as well as grow your fan base.

1.  Customer service with live chat.  The most obvious thing here is to have the person on live chat mention to follow us and provide the customer with a link.  The problem is that this seems a bit pushy.  Instead, you can do what Zappos does.  When you open a live chat session, you’ll see their become a fan on Facebook icon.  Not only is Zappos known for amazing customer support, but because you get amazing customer service from them, it is seriously easy to want to become a fan.  One thing that Zappos is missing though is the ability to open a second window and tweet about the amazing customer support.

zappos customer service

zappos customer service

A second thing you could do with your live chat box is when a session ends, have a link to follow and like you on Facebook and Twitter.  The one thing you really need to think about though is if your employees are actually giving good customer support.  If your customers are not happy with how they were spoken to or you could not help them, this gives them a way to instantly hurt your brand online.  Luckily companies like Zappos have amazing customer support so they don’t have to worry.

2.  The confirmation page.  Although you may have a Twitter follow and Facebook like icon on your confirmation page, have you thought about letting people tweet or post that they have just purchased a product from you and what that product is?  By having a box open that says share on Facebook and Twitter and including the product in it, you can not only help to increase your sales and exposure, but many times people who are friends with other people have the same interests or like the same things so this could be an easy way to generate more sales.  Another thing you may want to do is include a Pin this on Pinterest button that lets them pin what they bought.  You’ll need to make sure you have a large image on the page though for Pinterest to be able to work.

3.   The icons you use and how they work.  This is one that I have talked about a lot.  When you place the social media icons on your site, test them all to make sure that they do not actually take the person off of your site.  Instead use icons and buttons that open a small window and let people share from there.  This way you keep them on your site and don’t let them get distracted on social media sites.  Another thing you should think about doing is pre-filling out the way the tweet, pin or share will look.

For Twitter, use hashtags in the title or the format to get more exposure.  For Facebook, try using heavily searched and relevant keywords, or terms like sale if the product is on sale.  With Pinterest, make sure you have a link back to your site so people that are reading the description can and hopefully will click through and visit you.  This is all very important to helping increase traffic, sales and not losing your current visitor that is already shopping on your site.

Social media is a great way to build a following and help to increase your sales.  You just have to be smart about it.  Don’t let it distract your customers and remember that not every social media channel or site is geared towards driving instant sales.  Sometimes you have to collect their information or data so that you can remarket to them later and then turn them into a customer.  You also don’t want to distract anyone who is already on your site or get them to leave your site since they are already looking at your products and shopping.  Think about what you are doing and where you are asking people to follow you or become a fan.  Then think about your customer service and if it is good enough.  Are you making it easy for people to share their purchases after they have already shopped and are you making sure that people are using the correct keywords when they tweet?  There are a ton of ways to help increase your following and sales by using social media icons on your site, you just have to think about how well you provide a service and where the correct places to use the social media icons are.

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5 SEO Mistakes With Pinterest

Pinterest is a somewhat new social media site that has begun to explode thanks to it’s aggressive app that pushed its way through Facebook and addictive pinning habits that many people, mostly women, are hooked on.  One thing that you don’t see is them ranking high for products inside many of the search engines.  Even with their strong and aggressive apps, their addictive site and ability to go viral, they have serious SEO issues.  By making a few simple and obvious changes, Pinterest can take over, start becoming a shopping comparison engine to raise money and completely grow their traffic faster and for free, not to mention make a ton of money.  Think about these 5 seo mistakes and then what may be missing from your site as well.

1.  Their URL Structure

url structure on pinboards

url structure on pinboards

 

Pinterest Product URL Mistake

Pinterest Product URL Mistake

 

The url structure on Pinterest is great for the boards.  They use dashes and have the keyword name of the boards.  The issue is when you click onto the pins.  They have sloppy urls.  Although the products and copy is there, the url structure is numbers and slashes and that’s all.  If they would make it about the product, be more easily or even able to be crawled, etc… then they could start ranking all of the user generated content with keyword rich urls and take over product rankings.  By enabling the pinned products to be crawled and ranked they could really increase their traffic (There is another example of a product page with an ugly url below, but it isn’t being crawled), but they’ll also have one other issue to worry about.    (Now with that said, they do have other pin pages which are able to be crawled and do have good urls like in the image below.  But those pages have a url redirect issue which is number 3 on this post.)  One other issue is that when you do a site:pinterest.com query in Google you get 33 Million+ pages indexed, but they are all user profiles from a spot check I did.  When I did site:pinterest.com/rollerbladerdc I noticed that they only pulled my profile and non of my boards, products, etc…   This is a crawling and indexing issue.

2.  Duplicate Title Tags

If you look at the two example images above, you’ll notice that even though the url changes, the title tags don’t change.  If they would enable products to be crawled and indexed easier, or more clearly, they’ll have to fix their title tags since when you click on a pin the title’s stay the same.  One thing they are doing that is good is not allowing some of the duplicate pages to be crawled.

3.  Product URL Redirects and 404 Dead Pages.

If you notice in the top image I capitalized the P in pin.  This caused a 404 error page.  When I capitalize or lower case letters in other pages, some redirect correctly while others turn into 404 pages.  If you would build backlinks to the pages and the same url gets indexed that way, while a page with the lower case that works is indexed, you create an issue for the Search Engines.  They should be redirecting all urls to the same one to prevent duplicate content and pages from being able to be indexed.  The 301 redirect is perfect for this since it says that the same copy will be on this page.  Then they can use canonical tags to show which is the page to index.

Pinterest URL Redirect Issue 404 Page

Pinterest URL Redirect Issue 404 Page

Pinterest URL Duplicate URL

Pinterest URL Duplicate URL

4.  Pinned Product Page URLs and Title Tags

In this example I pinned a product this morning.  The issue with this is the Title Tag.  Look how long and ugly it is.  They need to find a way to shrink it back down.  Also, they use the board as the first part of the title.  What they may also want to look at is pulling keywords or having a product title space placed into the add pin section and that can become the title and then they can auto import the description up to 150 characters or whatever their optimization limit is, in for the description tag.

 

pinned product url

pinned product url

5.  Alt Tags and Image Names

When I was searching through the code on the pages I noticed one obvious SEO mistake for images.  They did name their alt tags on their images correctly which is awesome, however they did not name the image when uploaded into the actual urls.  Instead of a giant string of numbers.jpg, they could have easily taken the alt tag and used that name and then maybe added numbers if it is duplicate to the image name.  This would probably help them with image searches inside some of the major Search Engines.

 

image names

image names

Pinterest is an awesome and addictive site where you can build a following and fans for your blog as well as make money.  They have grown virally by using aggressive apps and Facebook as well as by word of mouth.  By fixing a few things within their site they could really take their SEO to the next level.  Think about the basics that are missing from your site and see if you have any of these issues as well and think about how you can fix them.

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