Business Intelligence should help analyze the growth 360 View

The need starts from data that has grown with business and we would like see to the 360 view of what we have done, and the usual trigger is need for
“my revenue increase”. The CEO speaks : I have had increase in sales over the year now what’s that i have done has played a role.
The manager speaks : Did my sales performance increase if yes let me see where i have been effective. I would like to dig the detail of what worked well. At the same instance a passing cloud : i need to track down the my sales indicator here on..
Certainly the story is not specific util the data(in form of stats) is put in, compared with the different periods, understand the moods of the change.
The data to study for is big now.
I know some of stratergies worked, i could see the results, now what is the direction it helped to achieve the goal that was set.
Was the revenue because of sales stratergies or
was it my customer service that helped achieve customer retention and made the customer comeback to purchase frequently, and not increasing my customer base rather
increasing the loyality for website. The customers find some one better, i have no replacement by customer base never saw an increase. next is what.
My sales will drop.
This is only one view, CEO Speaks. You want the assessment of same in 360 view. The goal is revenue increase. There are various
business operations, sales stratergies, marketing ideas that are done or planned. Connect all of them and with output as revenue, each one has too many parameters to
contribute to revenue. Using BI just to measure the output of each KPI does not help. The complex part is how all the KPI worked for a goal.  Use BI not just to measure the KPI for your important factors, use it to connect with goal.
Manager wants to connect output of promotions with sales which is connected to revenue increase, revenue again described the margin,
which describe the performance.
Next ask BI to handle this complexity of connecting, describing the performance. Let’s not see all data, it’s too much information.
KPI are meant to indicate the low and high, but on which stages was it low and high is the question that helps me understand what to do next.
CEO wants what are the contributions that have made a USP, it again connects with your revenue, as they are revenue generators.
The goal was to do ten things that are going to get me to next level. i want a monitoring system to help be track how they are performing,
and describe the growth rate using data.
Business Intelligence Platforms should be implemented to solve these problems, of answering real facts.

Google, the main target for search engine optimization, has upset some web developers
this week with the announcement that it will begin to penalize slow-loading websites
in its search results listings. “Today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms.”

Although developers have known it was coming since the search engine giant wrote about it in December, the change was formally announced on Friday via its Webmaster Central blog.

Google’s Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts stated in their blog “You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms.”

View article

While i was reading through a paper, to understand the application life cycle i have come across how the technology development focus has changed. I see we have been doing the development almost the way the Today’s software are visualized, designed.

Yesterday’s technologies, teams, applications Today’s technologies, teams, applications
Designed to last Designed to change
Tightly coupled Loosely coupled, modular
Integrated silos Compositions (of services, of applications)
Code-oriented Process-oriented
Rigid sequential development Interactive and iterative development
Cost-centered Business-oriented
Homogeneous Heterogeneous

The above tabular representation describes the direction development is moving towards. Features/Dashboards of a website are visualized to be plug-in, that works more by enable/disable methodology.  Layers of a framework are designed to interact collectively or provide a service independently.

ref :

Yesterday’s                       Today’s
technologies, teams, applications technologies, teams, applications
Designed to last                  Designed to change
Tightly coupled                   Loosely coupled, modular
Integrated silos                  Compositions (of services, of applications)
Code-oriented                     Process-oriented
Rigid sequential development      Interactive and iterative development
Cost-centered                     Business-oriented
Homogeneous                       Heterogeneous

It’s hard to keep up with the latest and greatest SEO tactics. Add thousands (or even millions of pages) and corporate hoops to jump though, and that is the hell an enterprise SEO point person deals with every day. Educating key decision makers, overcoming budget issues and keeping everyone on the same page were all challenges addressed at the Enterprise Level SEO session at Search Engine Strategies New York.

The session, moderated by Seth Besmertnik CEO of Conductor Inc,  hosted a powerhouse panel of Ray “Catfish” Comstock Director of SEO at BusinessOnLine, Guillaume Bouchard Co-Founder and CEO of NVI  and SES Advisory Board members, Bill Hunt President of Black Azimuth Consulting and SES Advisory Board member and Crispin Sheridan Senior Director of Search Marketing Strategy at SAP.

First up was Catfish.

Enterprise SEO Challenges

  • Structure (what to do, sequence of activities)
  • Internal logistics
  • Research and development
  • Reporting/analytics/how to measure success

Catfish provided an easy-to-use , easy-to-understand table for prioritizing SEO at an enterprise level.

Get your foundational keywords & SEO elements first, then expand.

Bill Hunt came up next to discuss what enables success in enterprise SEO programs.

  • Challenges to Be Considered
    • Many brands & products
    • Multiple language versions
    • Numerous SEO programs
    • Wide range of roles to be included to make changes
  • Enabler: Global Center of Excellence
  • Enabler:  Search Knowledge Bases
    • Collect and share best practices with the wider team
  • Enabler: Search Engine Style Guide
    • A way to beat the agencies building your website into submission
    • Forces people to comply
  • Enabler: Keyword Management System
    • Ensures focus on most important keywords
    • Monitor keyword level performance across business units
    • Monitor trends and opportunities
  • Enabler: Always On – Critical Phrase Optimization
    • Identify keywords and corresponding “preferred landing pages” (make sure it’s the right page!)
    • Establish business rules to trigger page audits and PPC activities with Neo
    • Ensures focus on most important keywords
  • Enabler: Simplified Activity Reporting
    • Identify 5 things you did this reporting period
    • Identify 5 outcomes that moved the needle
    • Identify 5 things you will do next reporting period
    • Develop 3-5 minute video to highlight your reporting
    • Share results, good or bad, with everyone
  • Enabler: Deploy Business Unit Performance Metrics
    • Leverage scorecards for governance to ensure consistent global performance goals are achieved
    • Helps prioritize resource allocation
    • Effectively blend paid search and natural search for brand awareness and lead generation
  • Enabler: PR & Social Media Integration
    • Most squandered opportunity in industry
    • Share keywords and landing pages to ensure integration
    • Generates the right links to key pages
  • Enabler: Get a Handy Reference

Sheridan gave his personal corporate experience at SAP, a large multinational software company with close to 50,000 employees and 12 million users in over 120 countries.


  • Long sales cycle
  • Large sites
  • Multiple countries/language
  • Challenges of educating key stakeholders
  • Budgeting issues
  • Implementation hurdles
    • CMS issues
    • IT team challenges

Start With Business Goals

  • Branding, leads, sales
  • Search efficiency
  • Search synergy (PPC/SEO)

Prioritize Top Issues

  • Multiple languages
  • Duplicate content
    • English (global, US, Americas, Canada, UK, NZ, Australia, etc.)
    • Spanish (Spain, Mexico etc.)
  • Complex content supply chains
    • Differing models by country/region/product
  • Lack of tools and skills

Select Enterprise SEO Tactics

  • Content
    • Keyword cluster research
    • Keyword mapping = existing content + identify content gaps
    • Localization/translation
  • Local links
    • Social media/ add this
    • Local partners
  • Canonical tagging
    • Tell search engines which duplicate page is “master” to rank for that one
  • Tools
  • Training and education

Prioritize keywords with a cluster approach.

Next: Focused on Existing Content (“ah ha!”)

  • Decision makers wanted key term “solutions for small business” = 1,000 searches/month
  • BUT keyword research revealed more people search for “small business software” = 135,000/month

As Sheridan said, “Who cares what they want? Fish where there are fish!”

Net New Content: Harder Sell, Needed Proof

  • Identify content gaps
  • Create new content to match customer searches
  • Demand generation optimized the landing page (akin to PPC landing pages)
  • Convert at 2x site average
  • Then, syndicate to multiple local language sites
  • The proof in traffic and leads/ROI = buy-in and budget

Pay Attention to Universal SERPs

  • Having a #1 rank with text link isn’t the end of the story…
  • Blended search is huge- get a video in the SERPs, get maps into local
  • These results push down competition and create a grander presence for your brand

Links: Deep & Local via “add this” and Outreach

  • Allows users to share, bookmark and link
  • Sheridan got 35,000 inbound links from this!

Tools: Insights & Recommendation Engine

  • SEOlabs

SEO Driven Leads and Optimization Action

  • Promote your successes!

Lastly, Bouchard gave hope to the little guy by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of both small and large companies. Lest we forget, size impacts SEO strategies.

Runner-Up Insights

  • Smaller corporate structures and fewer departments involved…
    • …are more agile, flexible
    • …have less aversion to risk (but need to catch up with the leader)
    • …are more open to make room for SEO to bridge gaps between them and the leading brand
    • …have faster access and bigger impact on board members/key decision makers
    • …dedicate a bigger chunk of the overall budget to SEO
    • …face less risk of losing momentum
    • …don’t have a lot of other properties available to leverage existing linkjuice
    • …team up with other runner-ups and relevant verticals to compensate
    • …leverage smart crowd sourcing in order to compete in terms of content (UGC)

Leader Insights

  • Larger corporate structure and several departments…
    • …have ridged development, security and a slower release cycle
    • …have legacy products, which implies less bus model flex
    • …have heavy aversion to risk
    • …have short term management
    • …usually focus on keeping pace vs. bridging gaps
    • …have limited access and near irrelevancy toward board
    • …allocate a small chunk of their budget to SEO
    • …dumps SEO down the corporate chute - rarely a c-level project
    • …have several existing properties to spread existing linkjuice
    • …need to created global strategy

Bottom Line
With similar SEO budgets in absolute dollars:

  • Runner-up will have a better product, and possibly be bought out
  • Leader will lose momentum as stakeholders change and histories become lost or forgotten
  • Both can reach similar results online, but runner-up will generate better results over time!

Advice for Runner-Up: Leverage that agility and flexibility. Use social media and crowd sourcing to your advantage..

Advice for Leaders: Keep up momentum at all cost. Ensure ideal transitions.

When you start a website, no matter if you have chosen a top business hosting package or a cheap website hosting package, you will find various website analysis tools in your web hosting admin panel. Website analysis tools, such as Awstats, are typically included in both business hosting and cheap website hosting packages and these tools are indeed good. However, if you want options when it comes to website analytics tools, here are some suggestions.


website analysis

If you like Awstats, you will certainly appreciate JAWStats as well. JAWStats runs in conjunction with Awstats and produces more graphics than Awstats.


website analysis

Goingup! is one more tool website stats freaks will love because it offers many kinds of statistical data, which is represented in visually attractive ways. A substantial part of the functionality of goingup! is SEO-related, so if you don’t use any other SEO-tools, this tool will do this job as well.


website analysis

Clicky also made the list of useful website analysis tools not only because it has tons of great features but also because it is one of the few website analysis tools you can use from your iPhone.

Google Analytics

website analysis

Google Analytics is rightfully considered one of the best because it is really a comprehensive tool, which gives you tons of useful data about your site.


website analysis

W3Counter is a free, hosted website analytics solution for answering the key questions about your website: who’s your audience, how they find your site, and what interests them.


website analysis

Woopra is another excellent website analysis package. It has many, many features and there are webmasters, who name Woopra, not Google Analytics, the most comprehensive website analysis tool.


website analysis

W3Perl can use server’s logfiles and/or be used as a page tagging tool. The perl scripts analyze logfiles and produce HTML/PDF reports. It can be run from the command line or from the web interface.


website analysis

Piwik has all the features you can expect from analysis application. Its main advantage is that its features come in the form of plugins, which means you can choose which features to get and which to skip.


website analysis

TraceWatch lets you keep track of the visitors to your website in real time with detailed statistics and deep analysis using an innovative user interface for FREE and helps you make your website more effective. It can be easily installed on any website supporting PHP and MySQL. You only need to upload some files to your server.


website analysis

Unlike almost all the other tools on the list, which are either used on the server of their developer, or have to be installed on your web host, Snoop is a desktop application. Snoop has a Windows and Mac version and after you install it, it runs in your tray and you get notified if an important event on your site occurs.

Certainly there are other great and useful website analysis tools in addition to the ones we have listed. If you try them and see that they aren’t what you are looking for, rest assured – there are many more website analytics tools for you to try! You can always start with the website analysis tools in your web hosting account but sooner or later you will feel the need to find more tools and get more data in addition to what you are getting for free with your business hosting or your cheap website hosting.

Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Running an e-commerce website is a never-ending task, from trying to squeeze that extra bit of conversion rate out of the check-out page to figuring out which referrers give you the best traffic. There’s also a plethora of tools out there to help you achieve your goals. But which ones do what, and why should you use some of them? This article introduces some of these tools and offers a tip or two on how to use them.

If you own or operate an e-commerce webs, you’ll find one or two things that you haven’t tried before. If you’re new to e-commerce, this article should give you insight into some of the possibilities available to you as you enter the market. A plethora of merchants out there could benefit from lower-cost e-commerce help and advice. Covered in this article are analytics tips, visualisation tools, product page tips, checkout tips,li>4 testing tools to try right now and a final tip.

This article is only the tip of the iceberg. If you have any tips on usability, the check-out process, product pages, analytics or testing, please add them to the comments, so that this article becomes even more useful to readers.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that Smashing Magazine has one of the most influential and popular Twitter accounts? Join our discussions and get updates about useful tools and resources — follow us on Twitter!]


Analytics are the key to knowing what’s going on with your website. This section gives five tips for using Google Analytics to get the most out of your stats. If you have a high-traffic e-commerce website or wish to get even more in-depth with analytics, it might also be worth considering some higher-level analytics packages such as Coremetrics, Omniture or Webtrends.

We’ll focus here on more advanced analytics with the Google tool and assume that you know the basics of metrics.

Analytics Tip 1: Advanced Segments

Picture-1 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Advanced segments allow you to do everything you normally do with Analytics, but with only on a small subset of data. How is this useful? Say your e-commerce website serves both the UK and US. You could create two advanced segments, one for your US visitors and one for your UK visitors. This allows you to zero in on how your US visitors differ from your UK visitors in terms of purchasing habits, website usage, searches and so on.

Also, why not compare two or more different referrer sources by a number of metrics to see which provides better-quality traffic? The list is endless and limited only by your imagination.

Want to find out more with more examples? Read Avinash Kaushik’s advanced segments article.

Analytics Tip 2: Custom Reports

Picture-13 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Let’s face it: the default reports in Google Analytics aren’t superb; they don’t tell you what you really want to know. That’s where custom reports come in.

You can add the metrics that matter to you, on the dimensions you want to see. An example would be a report of referring websites, with their average per-visit value, bounce rates and time spent on site (see graphic above).

This report is so much more useful than your standard referrers report, with better information in one place.

Analytics Tip 3: Advanced Filters

In the example above, the report gave me 392 rows of information. In a world of top 10s and top 25s, humans can’t process that many rows and make sense of that information.

This is where advanced filters come in. If we want to find the best-quality referrers on the list, we can get Google Analytics to filter out what we don’t want. Click “Advanced filter” at the bottom of the page and add this:

Picture-21 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

This brings our 392 sources down to just 8; knowing what those 8 are is great. The filters above exclude all direct traffic (because we want to identify referring websites) and mail server referrals (we’re looking for websites), and they give us the highest success rates on per-visit value. Quick, valuable data.

Analytics Tip 4: Intelligence

Picture-15 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

This is a newer feature of Google Analytics, one that does some heavy lifting for you. Intelligence allows you to see changing traffic patterns without having to set up reports for everything you want to track. If one day your bounce rate goes up by 10%, you’ll see an alert and won’t have to rely on spotting it.

This is really useful for discovering patterns. The image to the right shows an alert we got for one of our websites for which the bounce rate went through the roof. There was obvious panic until we realized that the last date to submit orders in time for Christmas had just passed. Panic over. The message on the home page was the cause of the spike in the bounce rate. We were notified of the issue quickly and could dig right away for the cause.

Other Analytics Tools

We’ve focused here mainly on Google Analytics because it is so widely used. However, that’s not to disrespect the plethora of worthy analytics tools out there:

  • Clicky
    An interesting take on analytics: more useful standard reports and immediately accessible data, but lacks power user features.
  • Motally
    Mobile analytics. If your website has high mobile phone usage, then you should try this tool to see more in-depth analytics.


Data can be pretty overwhelming when you have thousands of entries. Visualization gives you quick insight into your data without overloading.

Visualization Tip 1: Wordle

A genius service from Jonathan Feinburg, Worlde allows you to enter any kind of textual information and get a visual representation of that text on the screen. This is very useful for getting an overall view of your keywords and the structure of what’s going into your website. My blog returns the following visualization.

Picture-16 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

What does this tell me? Well, given how much I’ve written about e-commerce, that word doesn’t appear! So, I need to pay much closer attention to my keyword selection and usage. I also need to pay attention to why the word “offline” is so big.

If you need to export more than 500 words out of Google Analytics for your keyword report, check out this tutorial.

Visualization Tip 2: Heat Maps

Heat maps give you an easy way to look at your important pages without having to scour rows of data on your top content. They also provide much-needed information on what people are doing relative to the page size, length and placement of items, which data cannot do alone.

Heatmap in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Run heat maps on your most important pages: check-out pages, product pages, search pages. This will give you quick, useful information on whether people seem to be glossing over vital information or ignoring key functionality.

Key questions could be:

  • Are people finding my calls to action (such as “Add to basket”) easily?
  • Is an important part of my navigation being ignored?
  • Are page elements taking up space that no one is noticing?

Crazy Egg is a decent heat map service. Another good tool is clickdensity.

Visualization Tip 3: Website Overlay Tool

This feature in Google Analytics overlays percentages, conversion rates and other usable statistics on pages to tell you what people have done and clicked on different pages. Most usable is that when you click on a link you’re taken to that page, with the overlay in place, allowing you to see how people are navigating the website. Did 20% of visitors go to the next most important page after this one? Is that what you were projecting? Gems of information abound.

Visualization Tip 4: Scrutinizer

Scrut in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Learning how users view your website without having to ask them can be very beneficial. Of course, user testing has no true substitute, but a few tools can help:

Scrutinizer shows you slowly how people may be viewing your website. It applies a filter over top the website, spotlighting the area where your mouse is pointing at. I don’t know the science behind it, but it might be useful to get users to perform tasks while the filter is applied; it would really show usability.

Visualization Tip 5: Feng GUI

Picture-24 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Feng GUI allows you to look at any marketing piece (including a website) to see which parts attract attention and in what order. It uses algorithms to simulate eye-tracking and is useful for seeing whether what you thought was prominent really is. Not a substitute for user testing either, though.

Product Page Tips

One of they keys to e-commerce success is a good product page. Here are a few tips to improve your product pages.

Product Page Tip 1: Obvious Call To Action

Picture-18 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Your “Add to basket” button is obviously key to your e-commerce website’s success. Make sure the button is not hidden, too small or confusing in any way. It should be above the fold and not difficult to click.

Get Elastic has a good article on “Add to cart” buttons; an oldie but a goodie on statistics, even if the buttons are a bit out of date.

Product Page Tip 2: Delivery Information

Picture-19 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Do not withhold delivery information till the last minute when people are checking out. It leads to mass frustration and ill feeling towards your website. Make sure people can see an item’s stock status (”in stock,” “out of stock,” “date expected back in stock”) and the delivery lead time. This will prevent a slew of customers from abandoning their baskets further along the check-out process.

The image above is from delivery cost, dispatch estimate and stock levels. Great job.

Product Page Tip 3: Progressive Disclosure of Information

Picture-22 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

People are very different in how they want to consume information. Some prefer social information such as reviews, ratings and comments. Others prefer technical specifications. Still others like to read a store’s description of a product (if it’s well written).

The point is to give everyone access to the information they want without cluttering the page. Whether it’s grouping information under different tabs or providing a “More details” link, there are many ways to give progressively more information. Without compromising the layout, this should give 80% of visitors what they need.

The image above is from Currys, an electronics retailer. It has main bullet points for each product and a “More info” link. The link merely takes you further down the page, but it prevents the top of the screen from being cluttered with information that many people may not be interested in.

Product Page Tip 4: Copy Is King

Make sure your copy is well written and unique. Too many websites use the standard manufacturer’s description. This harms you two-fold. First, the copy is in so many other places on the Internet that your SEO will be harmed. Secondly, you’re not giving the purchaser any reason why they should purchase that product from you. Good copy should inspire confidence in you and the product as well as give your personal slant on the product, thus building your website’s personality.

Hire a copy-writer, or do it yourself. But do it. Even if a product is your top revenue generator, still do something!

Check-Out Tips

Don’t let this last hurdle of purchasing trip you up.

Check-Out Tip 1: Allow Guests to Check Out

Picture-110 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

You need to be able to give very good reasons why forcing guests to register to purchase products is essential. Think of offline shopping. Do you have to open an account with a news agent to buy a newspaper? Of course not. Don’t make that mistake online. Allow guests to check out.

But you also need to sell reasons why guests should register. It’s all about making it easy, now and in future.

Check-Out Tip 2: Enclose the Check-Out Process

Once someone wants to check out, the process should be as fast and slick as possible. Remove distractions, including ads, navigation and offers that might distract them from what they are trying to accomplish, which is to pay.

Some will say this stage is a great opportunity to up-sell or feature related products. I disagree. That can be done effectively on the product page or just after the product has been added to the basket. Distracting the visitor or encouraging them to choose something else before giving you their money is an invitation to them to abandon their cart.

Check-Out Tip 3: Ask for Feedback After the Visitor Has Submitted Their Order

Once a visitor has converted, rather than show the standard confirmation page, why not also ask for some feedback on their experience? SurveyMonkey lets you quickly build an online survey, including questions such as:

  • “On a scale of 1 to 10, were you able to easily find what you were looking for?”
  • “Was there something in you particularly liked or disliked about our website?”
  • “On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy was the check-out process?”
  • “Please tell us what we can do to improve your next visit?”

This qualitative feedback is invaluable to e-commerce website owners. Sure, not everyone will fill out the survey, but several will be more than willing to voice their opinions. If you do this, though, remember to follow up to let people know what you’ve changed and why.

Check-Out Tip 4: Handle Errors Gracefully

Picture-23 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Problems occur during the check-out stage. Cards are declined, people enter invalid email addresses and they forget to specify their preferred delivery method. To cover all eventualities, you should display messages that are:

  • Contextual
    Put the message next to where the error occurred.
  • Useful
    No “Error code 21″ messages please. Write friendly, useful error messages, such as, “Sorry, we believe your email address is invalid. Did you accidentally add an extra full stop or space?”
  • Conventional
    Error messages should be red. People understand that red indicates a problem.

Luke Wroblewski has a great article on A List Apart about this.

Testing Tools

Test, test, test: the mantra of all e-commerce website creators. Only your market knows the answers.

Testing Tool 1:

Button-logo in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

At only $29 a test, delivers incredible value for the money. For $290, you choose the test to be carried out and the demographics of the audience, and hit “Go.” Not much later, you get 10 pieces of highly detailed video and written feedback. The information contained in those reports will earn you a lot more revenue than $290.

Spend some time thinking about the type of people you want to participate in your testing. If you run a baby clothing website, naturally you would want mothers to participate in the testing. However, it might also be useful to run the tests on fathers as well as aunts and uncles (typical gift purchasers) because their purchasing behavior is very different.

Possible briefs are:

  • Find, evaluate and purchase product x.
  • Find the information on delivery.
  • Purchase our gift voucher.

Testing Tool 2: Google Website Optimizer

A lot has been written about Google Website Optimizer. It’s easy to use, so give it a run. It’s great for testing different “Add to cart” buttons to see which gets a better conversion rate.

Google-website-optimizer in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

The main advantage of Google Website Optimizer is that you can test things on your actual market (whereas services like merely attempt to match your target market). This also means that you’re able to choose how large a percentage of your traffic to test and thus achieve statistical relevance.

Bryan Eisenberg has written a great book about it.

Testing Tool 3: 5-Second Test

Picture-3 in Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

This does what its name implies: gives you quick feedback on your website—entirely subjective feedback, of course, but interesting when used in conjunction with analytics to correlate the data.

It can be very useful to testing elements you want to be prominent. What’s the purpose of your website? Where’s the call to action? And exept for some premium features, it’s free. No brainer? Indeed.

Testing Tool 4: SEO Tools

SEOmoz, GeoTarget, Linkscape and Trifecta are four among many tools you can use to test your website’s on-page and off-page SEO scores. They can quickly identify problems with your website so that you can fix them and hopefully improve your ranking.

Final Tip

Technologies come and go. Who knows what we’ll be using for analytics in five years’ time or what kind of information we’ll be tracking across devices and channels. The key to a good e-commerce strategy is customer insight and engagement. In other words, find out what people want, and give it to them (in an engaging way). Always be listening, asking questions and monitoring every facet of your website, business, industry and competition, and use whatever technology is appropriate to help you achieve your goals.

Better Customer Service Through Transparency, Tribes, and Talent

I confess that I have a warm spot in my heart for customer service operations. It is probably because I met my wife of 29.5 years when she and I were on the customer service phones at the Polaroid Corporation. As an old phone jockey, it is apparent to me that the world of customer service is transforming. If we look back at history, we can see that the central tendency of consumer businesses is to move more and more function to the end consumer and to provide them more visibility to the availability of the product or service. As the phone grew in this country as a consumer device, clever pundits predicted that in order to meet the emerging demand for phone calls, the entire country would have to become telephone operators, and that is exactly what we are: We dial our own service. Likewise, when Michael J Cullen opened his first King Kullen store in Jamaica, Queens with 6,000 square feet, on August 4, 1930 with the wonderful catch phrase, “Pile it High, Sell it Low,” he ushered in the world of supermarket self-service at low prices. When they can, firms let customers roll their own.

Today, technology is enabling new capabilities and I see three trends which are recreating customer service in a new, more responsive, and economically efficient manner: transparency, tribes, and talent.

Transparency is best exemplified by Federal Express’s efforts over the years. They were among the first companies to “expose” their internal systems so that not only could the customer schedule pick-ups, print labels, and manage his account, but he could also see the same level of detail the firm had about the location of his shipment. Many firms could benefit by letting customers see where their product or service truly is. BMW allows people who have configured and ordered a Mini Cooper to check the status of the order, and see it location on the high seas as it is shipped across the Atlantic. So what? Well, just think about how the dynamic with your cable company would change if you could actually see if the service truck was on its way to your house. It certainly would change the attitude between the customer and the company. Heck, even the government enables you to track tagged polar bears!

Seth Godin’s book on Tribes talks about groups of people who are passionate about a topic — and those firms that are great at harnessing tribes change the nature of customer service. Dell famously converted an angry tribe into a happier one. There are tribes ready to be released about any product or service. There is a tribe who cares about airline travel; there’s one that feels passionately about the Porsche; another that obsesses over flat screen TVs. Those companies who have bad customer service are attacked by the tribe. Those who are good at involve the tribe in creating solutions for other customers. As Seth points out, tribes need to be led.

Turning to the third point, I believe unlocking talent is critical to the customer experience. (Godin talks about some of these issues under the term “tribe” but I wanted to separate talent out from tribe.) Let’s face it, most of the content that companies put out about how to use their product or service is often terminally boring, or disconnected to the real audience. Lauren Luke doesn’t have that problem. Who is Lauren Luke you ask? She has over 300,000 subscribers for her YouTube video tutorials on makeup. She has a personality and approach which sings on the small screen, and the YouTube format. The formal star-making machinery of any cosmetics company would never have found this woman; she’s not a famous actress or a model, nor does she fit some other spokesperson stereotype. Yet now she is one of the most well-known make up artists in the world. Talented users can create content that is engaging and useful — sometimes, as in Luke’s case, more engaging and more useful than the company’s own content. There is no reason that my local cable company could not have a contest for the best user-generated content on how to set up a new cable box and program the remote. Some would be fun, others clinical, and with the right contest-like structure, the end users will create something so much more engaging than any internal communications group could generate.

The general message is very clear — open up; involve your audience in crafting solutions as well as the information about your firm’s offers to other customers. The economics of this type of customer care are superior to anything that can be done with internal resources alone. When I did an analysis of a customer service organization at IBM many years ago, the codification of solutions into a knowledge base shifted first call resolution from less than 60% to over 90%. Customers were happier. The technical staff could spend their time on new products instead of chasing down customer problems. What’s not to like?

The future will be more connected, with more ability for people to share their impressions, stories and advice. In an ever-more crowded information market, the natural tendency will be for those people who lead the tribes to become important influencers. Those who generate great new content will be the market movers. Isn’t it time to get involved in this emerging customer service structure now — while there is still time to build a reputation based on “earned media”?

Yahoo provided the following statement:
“At all levels of the company, Yahoo! is constantly exploring ways to improve the consumer and advertiser experience, including aligning products and services against the company’s vision to be the center of people’s online lives. We have decided to enter into a strategic partnership with PriceGrabber to power the Product Submit functionality of Yahoo! Shopping. The partnership will provide users, merchants and advertisers with increased service and support. This partnership will combine the Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber marketplaces allowing merchants and advertisers to gain access to a larger shopper base and users to gain access to even more products. All parties will continue to be a part of the overall Yahoo! experience and now will benefit from increased innovation thanks to the scale and resources this partnership provides. Yahoo! will continue to monetize the site through ad sales and a revenue share with PriceGrabber.”

Relatively quietly Yahoo has decided to outsource most of Yahoo Shopping to PriceGrabber. This is analogous to what Yahoo is doing with Microsoft-Bing in search — just not with Microsoft. Merchant listings will now come from PriceGrabber and e-commerce sellers will only be able to get into Yahoo Shopping via PriceGrabber or Yahoo Search (Bing).

This is interesting on many levels. It could signal the arrival of a “vertical outsourcing” strategy that moves to other verticals: autos, real estate, travel, local . . . It also seems to represent something a loss for Microsoft. While PriceGrabber has a larger product database than Microsoft there’s probably more than that in Yahoo’s decision not to simply work with Microsoft here, which would seemingly make sense given the search relationship.

Perhaps Yahoo doesn’t want to be too dependent on Microsoft across too many fronts. However, Bing sponsored search ads will be the ones that appear at the top of search results in Yahoo shopping (once the regulators sign off on the deal).

Let’s look at a page. The following represents my speculation about who will provide what going forward:

Picture 143

Yahoo! has released this help page that will answer most questions.

One of the more traditional ways of getting attention is to get your business in the news. This tradition continues strongly on the net, with businesses routinely distributing press releases and their methods even more vigorous than in the old days. One of the places to be seen is on the pages of Google News.

The news section of Google was introduced in beta in 2001 and in full version in 2006, but all that time hasn’t made getting on its pages any easier. There are certain restrictions you need to be able to work around. Optimistically for Google News is also slightly different from regular SEO methods.

The restrictions

The biggest restriction for getting on Google News is that it’s not as open as regular Google search. In the interests of providing genuine news stories, the site searches only approved news sources. Needless to say, getting your site recognized as a news source is well-nigh impossible if you’re the average business. Some sites have managed, with time, patience and a real dedication to news in their industry, to achieve this aim. Unless you have a genuine interest in your industry’s news, it’s just not worth it.

Another restriction comes in on the second level. Once you manage to get your article on one of the news sites that Google does search for News, you need to ensure it’s the kind of article that will appeal to Google. This means that a special kind of optimization for Google News needs to be performed, adding another layer of work for you and your SEO company.

Optimisation considerations

Optimisation for Google News has some similarities to search engine optimization. Keywords are still important, although you need to look at the keywords that will appeal for this specific kind of search. Some differences include:

Sources: It is thought that having your news piece appear in several places makes it more attractive to Google. This makes sense, as it shows that your article is newsworthy, but it is a shift in thinking when you’re used to SEO.

Location: A representative from Google News has said that location matters with Google News, but hinted that the usual tricks for location won’t work. Simply putting location keywords into your title and tags isn’t enough. Location needs to be mentioned throughout the story.

Other things to note

Real time is a major consideration for Google News. The pages update continuously and all of the flaws usually seen with Google’s real time efforts are decidedly absent in Google News. As a consequence, you need to consider not just the amount of time your piece is likely to stay on its pages, but when you want it to appear. Posting something in the morning is a good idea, but it may take a little experimentation before you get the timing just right.


Metrics firm comScore released some new quarterly mobile data that shows strong growth for Android handsets in the US and an increase in mobile web usage:

Picture 124

RIM showed modest growth while the iPhone’s growth, according to these figures, flattened. Meanwhile WinMo and Palm lost ground.

Of course with the advent of Windows Mobile 7 and the fact that it’s not shipping until Q4, we should see Microsoft’s current mobile OS continue to suffer declines as users either update with other platforms or wait for the new Windows 7 handsets.

Picture 125

The numbers above basically translate into just over 70 million people accessing the mobile internet with varying degrees of frequency. By comparison 158 million or more are on SMS and just over 198 million are PC-internet users in the US.


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