The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tagging and Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing Campaigns in Google Analytics


Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) Campaigns in Google AnalyticsDisclaimer: Before I begin to cover tagging and tracking your Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns in Google Analytics (GA), I highly recommend using an integrated search marketing package to manage your Paid Search campaigns, such as Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools or Omniture Search Center. Using a robust set of search marketing tools that are integrated with your web analytics package is obviously the optimal way to go (if that’s possible for your organization). Now let’s move on!

I Can Easily Analyze Google AdWords in Google Analytics, but…
Since many companies are now using Google Analytics, I often receive questions about how to best track Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns using GA. When you use Google Analytics, your paid search campaigns using Google AdWords are tracked natively, so there is no additional tagging that you need to implement. You will be able to drill into your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords easily from within GA and view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and cost. This is a great feature, because tagging your paid search campaigns is about as fun as writing "I will always remember to tag all of my Paid Search campaigns properly." a thousand times on a chalk board. :-) So I’ve decided to write this blog post offering you a good option for tagging YSM campaigns for analysis in Google Analytics.

It’s All About the Tagging…
For those of you not familiar with tagging, it’s the process of adding querystring parameters to your campaign URL’s so Google Analytics can accurately track your campaigns. I’ve written a previous blog post about tagging emails for analysis in Google Analytics here. To track YSM campaigns in GA, some marketers are tagging at the keyword level and some at the ad level. I recently helped several clients use a technique that enables them to tag their YSM campaigns at the ad level and utilize some of YSM’s enhanced tracking parameters to analyze their campaigns in GA by Ad Group, Keyword (the keywords you are bidding on), and Raw Keyword (what people are actually entering).

YSM Enhanced Tracking Parameters (Dynamic Values from YSM)
If you turn on “Tracking URL’s” in YSM, then you can access a list of Enhanced Tracking Parameters each time someone clicks one of your keywords. You will use two of these tracking parameters for our GA tagging example.

The 2 Enhanced Tracking Parameters You Will Utilize Are:
{OVKEY} – or the keyword that a visitor clicked on. Note, these are the keywords that you bid on, not the original query from a visitor.
{OVRAW} – Yes, you got it… It’s the original query (or raw query) that a visitor entered in Yahoo.

*Note, there are several other enhanced tracking parameters available, but we’ll use the two listed above for our tagging purposes.

The Yahoo Search Marketing Tagging:
I’ll begin by providing a tagged URL below and then explain the parameters. Note, you will be tagging your URL’s at the Ad Level. So, you’ll create your ad (or access one you have already created and use this dynamic URL as the destination URL for your ad). Then you won’t need to tag at the keyword level. Yes, this will save you hours of work and hopefully meet your tracking requirements as well. :-)

Tagging Your YSM URL:
http://www.yourwebsite.com/products.asp?product-id=25&utm_source=Yahoo&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term={OVKEY}&utm_content={OVRAW}&utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen

Let’s quickly cover each parameter:
utm_source=Yahoo, This is simple, it’s just the traffic source. For our purposes we are using Yahoo to signify YSM.

utm_medium=CPC, Signifying Cost Per Click.

utm_term={OVKEY} This is the keyword that was clicked on. Note, this is the keyword you are bidding on and not the raw query. The beautiful part of {OVKEY} is that no matter which keyword was clicked on, the {OVKEY} enhanced parameter will hold that keyword. It's basically a variable for the programmers out there...

utm_content={OVRAW} This is the raw query that was entered into Yahoo. This is valuable information and I’ll explain more below.

utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen This is the name of the campaign, which will show up under the Campaigns Tab under Traffic Sources. BTW, %2B is a plus sign, %20 is a space (these are URL encoded characters, which you should always use in your URL's). You should be descriptive with the campaign name so you can easily find your campaign in the list within GA.

Why Did I Tag the URL This Way?
Good question. Because I want you to quickly access your campaign reporting in Google Analytics and be able to segment your reporting by keyword and raw query. Now, let your test campaign run for a day and then access your GA reporting. Click the Traffic Sources tab and then click Campaigns. You should see a campaign titled, “Spring+Clothing+Men”. You can review your top level information for the campaign here, like Ecommerce Revenue, Goal Conversion, and Site Usage. Click this campaign to drill deeper. Once you are in the Campaign Details report, you can easily segment the report to analyze keywords and raw queries. Click the segment dropdown and choose Keyword. This will show you the keywords (that you bid on), that led to your site. You can easily view site usage statistics, sales, and goal conversion per keyword. Click the segment dropdown again and select Ad Content. Now you are viewing the raw keywords (or the query) that people entered in Yahoo to view your ads. This is especially powerful, since you can find new, longer tail keywords for your campaigns (which will probably yield a lower CPC). You can easily export the raw keywords and then import the ones you want to use in your YSM campaigns. For example, you may be bidding on the word Khaki Pants, but you might find that visitors are entering New Dark Khaki Pants or 32 inch Khaki Pants. You would export these raw keywords and then add them to your campaign. You get the idea…

Screenshot of the YSM Campaign Reporting:
Click on the image below for a larger version:

Viewing YSM reporting in Google Analytics

To summarize…
So there you have it. A nice way to tag your YSM campaigns, save time, and accurately view your Paid Search reporting in Google Analytics. I still recommend using an integrated paid search package when possible, but regardless, this technique will definitely save you time and frustration. It’s a nice way to drill into your YSM campaigns to view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and all by campaign, ad group, keyword and raw keyword. Now, I would still love to view YSM campaigns with the ease of AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics, but for now, I’ll just keep using this technique. I hope this helps your paid search efforts! Let me know how it works for you.

GG

Related Content:
* Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns Using Google Analytics

* Site Search in Google Analytics

* The Referring Sites Report in Google Analytics

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers


How to Create a YouTube Video, Follow This Video Production ChecklistLast week, I was helping a client produce a YouTube video and I explained the various steps involved in the production process. After our meeting, it hit me that the list of steps could be a valuable blog post for anyone interested in creating their own video. So, if you are thinking about shooting your own YouTube video and don’t know where to start, this post is for you. The list below is a great starting point and covers the essential elements to consider while planning and creating your video production.

Disclaimer: Creating a high quality video isn’t easy…even if your intent is to create a low budget, guerrilla-style video. You’ll read many articles on the web about how easy it is, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Here’s what is easy: It is easy to shoot a shaky video, with bad sound, bad lighting, horrible edits, copyrighted music, and one that’s completely disjointed. But, that’s not what you want to do, right? You want a video that you can be proud of, something that’s viral, and that gets people talking. So, don’t just grab your camera, run out with a few friends, and start shooting. You might get lucky and have some good footage, but my guess is you won’t be so happy. End of disclaimer. :)

1. Concept Development (Brainstorming)
OK, so you want to create a YouTube video, but you are staring at a blank sheet of paper… Yes, concept development isn’t easy and it’s why the creative brains behind TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. can make boat loads of money. :) I recommend getting your hands on a white board, grabbing a few of your coworkers and hitting a conference room. Then begin a divergent thinking session. Brainstorm lots of ideas related to your core concept. DO NOT LIMIT ANY IDEAS AT THIS STAGE. Please, don’t let any idea killers in the room. That’s why it’s called divergent thinking… Start jotting them on the whiteboard, organized by major category (humor, serious, action, parody, etc.) If you have the right group of people in the room, then you should have a few dozen ideas on your whiteboard. During the process of working through your favorite ideas, think about the following:

a. How original is the idea? Has it been done 50 times already or is it a new angle? Will you build upon or parody an older concept? Originality is key.
b. Cost (if you have a great idea, but it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, it might not work...)
c. How viral can your concept be? Is it something you believe your target market will enjoy enough to pass along?
d. Location, location, location. Where are you going to shoot the video? Shooting a video in a baseball stadium would be great, but is that really possible? Is a park better? Do you need permission to be there? So on and so forth.
e. How complex will the editing be? Will you need to create a dozen effects for the final edit? How will you accomplish that? Do you even have the software or skillset to do it?

2. Script and Storyboard
Excellent, you have your concept and it’s a killer idea that’s completely possible to shoot on your budget. :) Now what? Well, it’s time to write your script. This is also not an easy task. If you’ve never written a script before, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in pain. If you find yourself cooking along, then you might want to do this full time. :) Personally, I love this stage… This is where you get to flesh out your concept. The script and storyboard are the foundation for your production. If you have a poorly mapped out script and storyboard, you are setting yourself up for failure. Take as much time as you need at this stage to get it right. You should determine your main characters, how much dialogue will there be, determine locations for the shoot, and of course begin writing the actual script. Just to clarify, the script covers what your characters will be saying and doing during the shoot, where the storyboard helps you map out the flow of the video. Keep in mind that the storyboard doesn’t have to be a work of art…I’ve created several storyboards that were on 8.5x11 sheets of white paper, framed with pencil, using stick figures. I’ve also developed some storyboards that were more elaborate…it’s all about timing and how involved your production will be.

3. The Shot List
By now your script and storyboard should be done. Now you need to create your shot list from your script and storyboard. A shot list is essential. It helps you determine every shot you need for your production. And it’s not just about your core shots, it’s also about getting additional footage for your edit. For example, if you were shooting at a baseball field like I mentioned earlier, you definitely need to get some establishing shots. Maybe you will pan up to reveal the stadium sign or get a 360 shot from inside the stadium. You need to think about all of your shots or you’ll find yourself cursing a lot in post production. :) The shot list can be a simple Word document listing each shot you need to capture with some notes about the scene. In addition, I would buy a clipboard and attach the script, storyboard, and shot list to it on the day of your shoot.

4. Necessary Video Production Equipment
You are getting closer to the shoot and you’ve got a solid script, storyboard, and a well planned shot list. Now you need to think about your equipment. I can write an entire post about each of the bullets below, but I’ll try and keep each description as brief as possible. Also keep in mind that this is a basic list. You can really go nuts with video production equipment, which is why the title of this section is “Necessary Video Production Equipment”. :)

a. Your Camera
Duh, right? Just like with other electronic equipment, video cameras have come down in price. Just make sure you have one (or buy one) that can do the job at hand. You don’t absolutely need a $5000 HD camera, but you also don’t want a $100 hunk of junk that captures horrible video and audio. You won’t have a chance… I’ve provided a few links below to CNET’s editor’s picks for both home video and pro/semi-pro cameras:

Pro and Semi-Pro Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-103.html?tag=lnav

Home Video Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-102.html?tag=lnav


b. Microphones
There is one thing you should keep in mind when thinking about audio. Most people don’t really notice high quality audio…they just know bad audio as soon as they hear it. They are used to great audio on TV, in movies, in commercials, etc. There are some really cost effective ways to capture quality audio and I highly recommend making the investment in a few microphones. For example, I have a great wireless lavaliere microphone from Audio Technica that only cost $50. It’s easy to use and works great. Audio is extremely hard to adjust in post production (while you are editing), so it’s critically important to capture the best possible audio during the shoot. You know the old adage, garbage in, garbage out…

c. Lighting
It’s not easy to light a set. I actually think it’s an art form! I would look into buying a professional lighting kit. If you don’t want to buy a lighting kit, then you’ll need to find locations for your shoot that provide the best possible lighting. Shooting outdoors might be a good way to go, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. If you are flexible with the date of your shoot, then this may be the way to go. Test out various locations PRIOR to your shoot and watch it back on your video monitor or TV. Jot down the best locations, lighting-wise, and try and go back during the same time of day. Lighting is another element that can make or break your production (and it’s hard to adjust in post production.)

d. Smooth Motion (Using a Steadicam or Glidecam)
If you are going to capture a lot of motion, definitely look into building or buying a steadicam or glidecam. There is almost no way to achieve smooth motion without one… Don’t believe me? Grab your camera and walk down your street while shooting. Watch it back and see how fast you get motion sickness. :) A steadicam or glidecam will help smooth out those bumps and can provide a cinematic effect that’s hard to achieve without using one. Note, you will need to practice to achieve smooth motion while keeping your subject in the frame, but it’s well worth it. If you want to build a steadicam, then check out the poor man’s steadicam. I built one a few years ago to see how it would work and it actually works really well. It cost me $25-$30 for supplies and then took me 2 hours to build. If you want to buy a Glidecam, then you might want to check out http://glidecam.com/product-2000-pro.php to learn about the Glidecam 2000. I believe it’s their least expensive product.

e. Backdrop
If you will be shooting any interviews, make sure you have a good location with a nice backdrop. If you want, you can also buy a professional backdrop for about $60-$100. If you think you’ll be shooting several more video interviews, then you can also buy a frame to hold backdrops for about $150-$200. It’s a small investment and will bring a level of professionalism to your production.

5. The Shoot
I can write 10 pages about the day of the shoot, but I’ll keep it brief. Don’t forget your script, storyboard, and shot list. Think about the essentials for your shoot. Make sure you have backups for everything. For example, batteries, microphones, video tape, battery packs, AC power, headphones, duct tape, adapters, wardrobe, etc. Capture lots of footage…you can always delete footage, but you can’t go back and get more! Even if you did choose to go back and shoot more footage at a later time, the lighting would be different, your subjects might look different, the surroundings might have changed, etc. So shoot away. Make sure you bring headphones so you can hear what your camera is recording. Try and minimize any problems before each shot. Before you end the shoot, check your script, storyboard, and shot list again to ensure you have everything you need. You should try and minimize the “Darn, I wish we would have captured more of…” syndrome. :)

6. Post Production (Video Editing)
Now that your video shoot is over, run back to your office to log and capture your footage. Actually, depending on how much footage you shot, you just might want to capture all of it. Hard drive storage is so cheap now that it just might be easier to capture all of the footage. If you need to log and capture your footage, just make sure you give yourself a few seconds before and after each clip (so you have room for editing on each side of the clip).

a. Video Editing Software
There are several popular video editing software packages to choose from. Which one you go with really depends on your requirements. I highly recommend both Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut. Both packages are not cheap, but well worth the money. In addition, I believe both have “light” versions of the software for less money. In my opinion, you probably won’t need all of the power of Final Cut or Premiere, so the light versions may work well for you.

Disclaimer: Video editing is not easy. You will improve with time, but chances are your first editing experience will not be pleasant. Keep at it, watch movies, TV shows, etc. to see how the pros do it. There’s a lot you can learn from watching Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. :)

b. Length
I would try and keep your YouTube video less than 3 or 4 minutes in length. Attention spans are lower than ever, so if your video is 15 minutes long, good luck. Keep it clear and concise. Keep your viewers in mind. Most people don’t have time to sit through more than a few minutes. Factor this in as you edit.

c. Video Bumpers
Since you’ll be providing your video on several video sharing websites (including YouTube, Google Video, Daily Motion, and numerous other video sites), you’ll want to add bumpers to your video. Bumpers are basically short segments at the beginning and end of your video that provide viewers with information about the production. This is a great place to add the product name, company name, URL, etc. In addition, since viewers have the ability to add your video to their own websites or blogs from YouTube and the other video sites, adding a URL to learn more about your subject matter is a smart idea. This is where bumpers can play an important role in driving viewers to your website or blog!

In closing, I know this was a lot of information, but I hope it gives you the confidence to produce a well made YouTube video! At a minimum, I hope this post contains enough information to get you started. I plan to write more posts about interactive video production so definitely check back often. As usual, if you get frustrated and need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me. Now, begin your divergent thinking and create a killer YouTube video!

GG

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Link Building Ideas, Teach a Man to Fish and He’ll Bring You… Links


Link Building Tip, Creating Instructional ContentWhen it comes to building high search engine rankings, building links is probably the most important thing you can do. There are obviously many factors that go into achieving high search engine rankings, but naturally building links to your website is the most important way to notify Google and the other engines that you are providing valuable content (and to prove it's valuable, other people have linked to it). Each link to your website is casting a vote for you, and the quality of the sites linking to your content is also important. For example, if you focus on business consulting, then gaining links from other business consultants is much more valuable than building links from comedy websites. I’m simplifying things a bit, but I think you get the point.

OK, I Have A Blog, But What Will I Write?
I hear this question a lot. Whenever I recommend setting up a blog, I frequently get the question, “But what will I write about?” It doesn’t matter which industry you focus on, there are always dozens of angles for blog posts. Do you sell printers? Write a blog post explaining the top ways to troubleshoot inkjet and laser printers. Are you a fitness trainer? Write about the most common ways that people injure themselves while working out and then how to correct those issues. Did you create a new beverage? Write a blog post explaining the top mixed drinks of the year and how to make them, and of course use your product for some of the recipes. :-) There’s a common thread with the examples I’ve been providing. They all teach people how to do something. In my experience with helping clients across several industries, one thing remains constant. If you teach someone to fish (or fix printers or exercise correctly or mix drinks properly), they will bring you links and exposure, which will ultimately help you increase your natural search rankings.

They’re not a flash in the pan…
Believe me, I’m definitely not against many forms of content for link-building, but in my experience, providing instructional content works extremely well. One reason for this is that instructional posts typically stand the test of time. If someone finds your post a year after you write it, you can still generate links. On the flip side, if you create an entertaining post (like a really funny video using your product), you might get a lot of exposure in the short-term, but it will probably fade out after a few weeks (or days). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some entertaining content generate a lot of exposure, but if I had to choose, I would still recommend teaching people how to do something.

Kills Two Birds with One Stone
For those of you not familiar with link building, the content you create is often not intended to generate sales directly. Instead, it’s there to build links and exposure, which can help increase your natural search rankings, which in turn can help you generate sales down the line. That said, the content you develop can definitely increase sales if you directly link it to solving a problem for your target market. For example, if you own an electronics repair company and explain how to perform some quick fixes on the most popular digital cameras, then you could very easily end up landing new customers from that post. They might be so impressed with the information and tips you gave them in the post, that they end up getting in touch with you when they really need their camera repaired. In addition, they might link to that post from their own site or blog and possibly add that post to popular social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, etc. I’m not saying that your link building content will always be a driver of sales, but it could be…

Brainstorm some link building ideas today…
Excited about link building? Then start today by brainstorming some ideas. Think about your customers, what would help them achieve their goals, what’s unique about your products or services, and then clean off that white board! If you find yourself having trouble brainstorming link building ideas, then contact me today. There’s a reason that my office is covered with post-it notes containing ideas for new blog posts! ;-)

GG

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

301 Redirect HTML Files Without Using ISAPI Rewrite


Using 301 Redirects When All Else FailsWhen you run a website, there are times that you'll need to redirect older webpages to newer webpages or you might want to redirect multiple domain names to a single domain name. There are two key ways to accomplish this task, issuing a 301 redirect or a 302 redirect. What you might not know is that a 301 redirect is search engine friendly and a 302 redirect is not. 301’s will safely tell the search engines that one page has been permanently moved to a new location, while 302’s tell the search engines that it’s a temporary redirect (which can cause problems down the line.) This shouldn’t be news for anyone working in the search industry, but might be news for website owners outside of the industry. My post today isn’t about what 301’s and 302’s are, but it’s about a unique challenge I ran into recently with one of my clients. We needed to 301 redirect several HTML files to new pages on the website without using the standard methods of issuing a 301 redirect. Also, the website was running on a shared server, which was an added barrier. By writing this post, my hope is that I can help some of you who might run into the same situation. More on this soon. Let’s start with a quick review of redirects.

Let’s Define 301 and 302 redirects:
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect and tells the search engines that the old webpage has been permanently moved to a new location. It basically tells Google and the other engines that you have permanently moved one page from HERE to THERE. If you need to redirect a file on your website, then you should always use a 301 redirect.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect, and is not search engine friendly. It basically tells Google and the other engines that the file in question has temporarily moved from HERE to THERE. There have been vulnerabilities in the past with using 302 redirects, which is a reason that 302’s aren’t trusted. If you need to redirect one page to another on your website, then don’t use a 302. Always use a 301 redirect when possible.

The 301 Challenge
Back to the redirect challenge that I recently faced. Again, my hope is that the solution can help some of you who might run into the same situation. One of my clients has a website that’s running on a windows server and contains a combination of HTML, ASP, and ASP.net files. We needed to redirect several older HTML pages to new ASP.net pages, which at first glance would be relatively simple to do. If you are on a windows server, I highly recommend using ISAPI rewrite to issue 301 redirects. This is similar to using an .htaccess file on a linux or unix server. You can issue one line commands using a text file named httpd.ini that sits at the root level of your website. It easily enables you to issue 301 redirects, rewrite URLs, etc. It’s a great utility to have installed…

The Shared Server Problem
Here was the problem. We couldn’t use ISAPI rewrite. The website was running on a shared server and the web hosting company would not install ISAPI rewrite on the server. Some hosting companies will and others won’t…this specific hosting provider wouldn’t after several requests to do so.

Issue the 301 Via ASP.net Code
So, my next move was to issue the 301 redirects via code (either through ASP or ASP.net). There was also a problem with using this technique. The files we needed to redirect were HTML files and not ASP or ASP.net files, so I couldn’t add the necessary VB or VBScript code to the pages that needed to be redirected. Moving on…

Run HTML Files Through ASP.net
My third idea was to run all HTML files on the website through ASP.net, which would enable me to add ASP.net code to each of the HTML files. Basically, when an HTML file is requested, it would run through the ASP.net engine. Then I could issue the 301 redirect via ASP.net code instead of using ISAPI rewrite. Cool, right? The hosting provider made the change on the server (running HTML files through ASP.net), but to our dismay, some of the HTML files on the site were not rendering properly. So, we reverted back to the original setup (where HTML files were not run through ASP.net). Again, moving on…

The Fourth Time is a Charm…
My fourth idea finally worked. The hosting provider basically said we were out of luck, but I wasn’t ready to give up so fast… I knew that Classic ASP is still supported on windows server, even when running ASP.net. Classic ASP was the original version of Microsoft’s server side scripting framework. The next version of the framework was ASP.net, which has also gone through its own upgrades over the years. So, I posed the question…couldn’t we try and run HTML files through Classic ASP instead of ASP.net? My client’s hosting provider made the change and bingo, it worked like a charm. We can now issue search engine friendly 301 redirects on HTML pages. Just to clarify, this meant that I could add Classic ASP code to any HTML file running on the website. For our purposes, I could issue a 301 redirect via Classic ASP code, the HTML file would be run through the Classic ASP engine, and everyone would be happy. :)

The Added Benefits of Using This Solution:
The obvious benefit is that we can now use 301 redirects with any HTML file on the website, when needed. The added benefit is that we can now also use Classic ASP code within any HTML file running on the website. Typically, HTML files can only contain HTML code (no server side functionality.) But with this solution, I can make database calls, provide dynamic content, use session variables, and any other Classic ASP functionality available. It’s a flexible solution, to say the least.

In closing, please remember the following items when you need to redirect HTML files on your website:

1. If you need to redirect a webpage or domain name, use a 301 redirect.

2. Don’t use 302 redirects. If you do, use them at your own peril. {cue mad scientist laughter}.

3. If your website is hosted on a windows server, use ISAPI rewrite to issue your 301 redirects. It's a great utility.

4. If you can’t use ISAPI rewrite and you are in a shared environment, try and issue the redirect via ASP or ASP.net code. If you are trying to redirect HTML files, you’ll need to skip to #5 below.

5. If you can’t add ASP.net or Classic ASP code because you are working with HTML files, then try running your HTML files through the ASP.net or Classic ASP engine. Then you’ll be able to add the 301 redirect code to your HTML files.

Happy Redirecting!

GG

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An E-Commerce Live Chat Case Study, Can It Help You Increase Conversion and Average Order Value?


Using Live Chat to Increase Conversion on ECommerce WebsitesOver the past year, there have been some studies completed to determine the impact of using live chat to increase conversion and average order value. Some marketers believe that providing answers to questions (via live chat) at critical stages during the purchase process can help increase your conversion rate. In a nutshell, it’s about proactively helping customers overcome barriers so they can make a purchase. A case study that comes to mind is the CompUSA Coremetrics study that showed a 10X increase in conversion when using live chat. That’s a powerful statistic, don’t you think? Let’s take a look at what happened to me the other day…

A Little Upgrade Assistance Please…
A few days ago I sat down to order a software upgrade, and before I knew it, I became part of my own case study! I was ready to place an order (literally having all of my contact and payment information entered) and then I remembered seeing a new upgrade version while quickly clicking through the website. I didn’t want to spend too much time, so I just added the version I knew that I wanted to my cart and started the checkout process. As I was entering my credit card information, a little voice in my head kept telling me to check the other upgrade version just in case… I didn’t want to lose all of the information that I just entered, so I clicked the live chat button (located prominently in the upper right-hand corner of the checkout page template.) I didn’t plan to use live chat during this online purchase…I just didn’t have a lot of time and didn’t want to re-enter my contact and payment information. I was ready to just place my original order when I clicked live chat.

Charles Helping Glenn…or Glenn Helping Charles...
Here is the transcript of my live chat session so you can see how it unfolded. I provide a short analysis of this chat following the transcript. Note, when I clicked the live chat button, I had $375 of software in my cart. Also, the name of the live chat rep and the company have been changed to protect everyone involved. :-)

The Live Chat Transcript:
Please hold as we route your chat to a representative.
Welcome! My name is Charles. May I assist you with your selection today?

Glenn: Hi Charles. I have a quick question.
Glenn: I am upgrading a software package and noticed a new upgrade version available on the website.
Glenn: It looked interesting, so I want to know if I qualify for the new upgrade version.
Glenn: I do own the software packages required for the upgrade, so I’m hoping your answer is yes. :)

Charles: It would be my pleasure to help you with this.

Glenn: How much is the new upgrade version again?

Charles: I'm glad to let you know that you can upgrade to the new version for $1250.

Glenn: Charles, I thought it was closer to $500

Charles: I'm sorry. It will cost you $650 for the current upgrade you have in your cart and $1250 for the new upgrade version.

Glenn: That’s weird; I’m seeing an upgrade price of $375 for the current version since I already own the previous version and then ~$500 for the new upgrade version.

Charles: If you have previous versions of the software package, you can receive the new upgrade version for $475.

Glenn: OK, I got it…that’s what I thought I saw earlier.
Glenn: So, it's $475 for the latest version of the upgrade? I just want to make sure.

Charles: If you have the most recent version of the software, you can definitely get the latest upgrade version for $475 and the one that’s already in your cart for $375.
Charles: Are you ready to place the order?

Glenn: I’m going to think about it for a second. It sounds good, though. Thanks for your help. I appreciate it

Charles: You’re welcome.

Glenn: I’m about to add the new upgrade version to my cart but I’m still a little confused with the language on the upgrade eligibility form. Again, I just want to make sure I’m eligible for the $475 upgrade.
Glenn: It's definitely $475 for the latest upgrade version, right?

Charles: Yes, you are correct.

Glenn: Cool, purchasing now...

Charles: Excellent.

Glenn: Thanks for your help Charles. The new upgrade version seems like a really good deal.

Charles: You’re welcome Glenn, is there anything else I can help you with?

Glenn: No, I’m good to go. I’m downloading the upgrade now…and will be using it shortly. :)
Glenn: Happy New Year!

Charles: Thank you for your purchase today!


My Live Chat Analysis
To clarify, I ended up spending $475 versus $375, but for an upgrade that definitely made more sense for me than my original order. So, have you ever been in a situation like this? You know, where you are sitting on a website debating whether or not to buy something or trying to decide which version of the product to buy. To me, this is where live chat is a killer application for e-commerce sites. Charles (more on him below), definitely helped clarify the latest upgrade, if I was eligible, and waited to ensure the order went through. Charles also generated an additional $100 for the order. So, I ended up a happy customer and the software company ended up just as happy (and with more revenue!) :)

The Live Chat Challenge for Marketers
If you read the transcript carefully, then the challenges you face while implementing live chat are glaringly obvious. In the beginning of the chat, I actually knew more about the upgrade pricing than Charles did. I could have easily taken his word and proceeded with my original order... If you choose to implement live chat on your website, you’ll need to ensure your reps are extremely knowledgeable about your products, pricing, upgrades, and promotions. If not, you’ll end up looking foolish and missing opportunities to increase conversion and your average order value. Heck, you could even lose customers by decreasing the credibility you built up prior to the live chat session. Remember, the point of using live chat in e-commerce is to help visitors overcome barriers so they can move forward with their purchase… Like many things in this world, the very thing that can help you can also hurt you if it’s not used properly.

In closing, I’m a believer in any application that can help you increase conversion or your average order value while also making your customers happy. And it really hits home when it happens to you! Think about this...if Charles and his coworkers can achieve the same result 10 times per day in a 200 day work year, then they could generate an additional $200,000 in revenue for their company.
($100 increase in order value x 10 orders per day x 200 days in the work year = $200,000)

Now think about your business…do you believe that live chat can help you increase revenue while also making your customers happy? It just might be worth a try, right? Just make sure your “Charles” knows your products inside and out! :-)

GG

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