Retail Customer Data

Why do 93% of major retailers say customer profiling is important to their business strategy?

A Customer Profile gives you detailed assumptions about your customer's characteristics and behavior. It's the place to start, but the next step is to fine tune those assumptions with data generated by the actual actions your customer takes.

In the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of this information. And here’s the good news: this type of analysis is available to companies of any size, regional chains, single store operations, and even individual entrepreneurs. All you need is a Marketing Plan, an Optimized Website, a Content Strategy, and Internet Marketing Analytics. The data trails are there for you to mine.

From there, analytics tools can be used to help you learn what potential customers are interested in, how they are searching, and where your site is drawing searchers from. But it doesn’t end there. You can also decode online behavior to create more advanced customer profiles, monitoring everything from what term they searched for to arrive at your site to how long they spent on a particular page.

Local Retail Marketing OnlineThe key is to create a targeted plan to gather the information you need to make key decisions:
  • What behaviors should you track?
  • What demographic data is pertinent?
  • How comprehensive is the picture you’re creating?
  • What timeframe should you cover?
  • How does this data map to your existing segmentation?
  • What is the purpose for gathering the data?
  • What can you learn about the decision-making process of customers?
You can also supplement the data you gather on the internet with data gathered from brick-and-mortar sales. Simply by asking customers for a zip code, you can gather a wealth of data to help you flesh out a more accurate profile for your most frequent customers.

This is a process that requires experience. Even getting it 90% right can lead to you making incorrect assumptions about your audience, wasting money and effort by targeting copy, keywords, and promotions at the wrong people.  Working with an expert can help you to better look for weaknesses in your data-gathering strategy, and to understand what’s relevant and what’s an anomaly.

Let’s look at just a few ways you can get value from internet data that tracks a customer profile you have built:

Improve customer loyalty programs. The cost of maintaining a relationship with existing clients is much less expensive than seeking out new business. Are you providing the right incentives to encourage repeat business? You won’t know if you don’t understand enough about who your customers are and what they want.

Target customers with specific offers. Companies consistently see drastic improvements in lead conversions when they use more detailed information to send different offers to different customer segments. For example, a mother of a newborn has different needs than a mother of a 10-year-old, so appealing to those needs and targeting more appropriate products for a promotional mailing can result in better returns.

Capture a sale before a customer leaves the site. If your customer profiling occurs in real-time, you can monitor what customers search for, click on, and put in their shopping cart. Many customers are almost ready to make a purchase… but then don’t.  If you’re tracking your customer behavior, you can react immediately to encourage them to commit to a purchase. For example, you can send them an email offer with an additional discount or a pop-up with a last-minute special deal.

Get better ROI from marketing investments. The more granular you get in building a customer profile, the more targeted you can be with your promotions. This allows you to focus your efforts and marketing budget where you can expect the most return, whether you’re considering an event promotion, buying a mailing list, or adjusting your PPC campaign.

So how do we begin building a customer profile? The first step is to segment your best customers into lifestyle groups, which I’ll discuss in my next blog post.

Posted: 9/26/2013 2:27:06 PM by Shep Morrow

Shepard Morrow - Location Traffic

As a  marketing consultant, I find that many people have the impression that SEO is something you can do once and then forget about.

This is dead wrong. Search engine optimization isn’t static; it’s a moving target. As a business owner, you need to be aware of the changes in the field and continually fine tune your strategy to ensure that you stay top-of-mind – and top-of-page.

Changing Algorithms
Search engines like Google periodically change the way that they provide search results. Their goal is to provide the most relevant results to their users, and the more data they collect over time, the better they are able to do that. Remember, the internet is still pretty new – it’s only been around for 25 years – so they’re still learning what we want by profiling search intent. It’s an ongoing process of studying psychodynamics to better understand how people use the technology and express that in patterns of search.

This is where an internet marketing consultant comes in. Their job is to stay on top of the trends and changes so that your website is always up-to-date. As the criteria that search engines look for changes, your website needs to change as well.

Changing Audience
Before the internet, marketing research was fairly static. A business would run a formal survey, define the customers and the competition in that one moment in time, and then use that data for the next 3 to 5 years.

Today, market research is dynamic. Things change more rapidly, and you can monitor what’s happening in real time, updating the data you use on a monthly basis. If you see a new trend in queries, you can adjust your strategy or content to attract those potential customers. From my experience, the search data is anywhere from 1 to 3 months ahead of what people actually buy. This means that you are able to stay ahead of the change rather than chasing behind it.

Changing Strategy
Even armed with all that data, online marketing consulting starts by making assumptions about what people want when they are searching for certain terms. It takes time to see the results of those assumptions. Were you rewarded by Google in the way you thought you would be? Sometimes you find that the search engine picked up on a term that you didn’t intend, or you ranked well for your desired keyword but the bounce rate is high, which means visitors didn’t find what they were looking for.

The more experience your internet marketing consultant has, the closer they will get to making it right the first time.  But even then, you can fine tune in order to improve your conversion rates. You don’t want people to just land on your website; you want them to take action, whether that means buying a product, contacting you, or signing up to get more information. By studying the analytics, you can make changes to improve your results.

A good internet marketing consultant can make sure that you stay at the forefront of everything and keep you aware of how search – and your own business – is evolving. The only way to maintain your business’s relevance is to know how that relevance is being determined.

Posted: 10/10/2012 5:23:20 PM by Shep Morrow

Online Marketing for the New Year: What to Expect in 2014

The internet evolves at lightning-fast speeds – and online marketing changes with it.

The businesses that are most successful at using the internet to drive sales are forward-thinking, flexible, and ready to adapt to new strategies as the landscape of the Internet changes. As 2013 draws to an end, now seems like the perfect time to look at what we can expect in the coming year.

First, let’s briefly look at an overview of Internet marketing’s past to give ourselves some better context.

The Beginning of Internet Marketing: Keyword Cramming and Link Building

Those who were working in the industry during the early days of the Internet may remember that, when SEO marketing began, it wasn’t particularly refined. Before Google, the biggest names in search engines were Yahoo!, HotBot, and AltaVista—all of which determined ranking largely by the frequency of words that appeared on a web page.

This meant that anyone who understood SEO could easily cram a whole bunch of keywords onto their page without sharing any really valuable content and still rank in the first page of search results. It was an easy trick for marketers, but it wasn’t particularly helpful for anyone who actually wanted to use the Internet to find products and services.

When Google came onto the scene in 1998, they quickly began changing the way we think about SEO. They introduced the idea of using links from other websites as another important metric. Essentially, the idea was that if other websites are sharing links to your site, you must be a reputable source. Google’s new system led to the practice of link building and sharing guest posts on other sites, which we still see a lot of today.

This past year, Google introduced a new search algorithm called Hummingbird, and online marketers are being forced to revise the way they think about link building and other traditional SEO practices. Let’s look at how Hummingbird and other Internet tendencies are going to continue to shape internet marketing in 2014.

Hummingbird Will Change the Way We Think About SEO

There are whole companies that have been built around the idea of creating SEO links… and they’re either going to have to rethink their strategy or go the way of the dinosaurs now that Google has changed the way they evaluate links.

SEO marketers already had to reevaluate their strategies in 2011 when Google introduced Panda, an update that targeted sites using “shady” linking practices (such as posting links on low-quality sites with lots of ads) and punished offenders in the search engine rankings. Now, Hummingbird is even more refined and looks at things like the context of content, bounce rate, social sharing, and time spent on a site to determine whether you’re actually linking to quality content.

So how will these affect the strategy of internet marketing going forward?

1.    The Human Element Matters

Google’s goal has always been to deliver what web users are looking for, and web users want authoritative information and answers to their queries, not keyword-stuffed web pages and bad links. With that in mind, online marketers are going to be focusing much more on content marketing than traditional SEO practices in 2014.

Online marketers will need to produce content that informs and/or entertains their readers, and they’ll also need to engage with consumers through social media platforms in order to become a strong voice in their industry.

Google+ is also going to be an essential tool for online marketers. (If you haven’t created an account yet, you should.) Google Authorship allows you to become an authoritative voice by attaching your image and a link to your Google+ profile to the online content you create, and while we’re not quite sure what weight they carry yet, it’s reasonable to say that the +1’s you can gain will impact your site’s rankings.

2.    Web Design Matters

You probably already know that if you have a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the late ‘90s, web users are quickly going to bounce away. However, what you may not have known is that Google pays attention to your website’s appearance, as well.

The Panda update actually allowed Google to check sites for quality and the kind of “user experience” they offered, with high-quality sites being rewarded in the rankings.

In 2014, good web design is going to be even more important. Now is the time to update your website’s design (with a focus on generating sales – not just an attractive aesthetic) if you haven’t already.

3.    Mobile Is the Reigning King

Speaking of web designers, you’ll want to work with someone who has experience with mobile platforms, because mobile marketing is going to be an even bigger deal this upcoming year.
In 2012, 46% of Americans owned a smartphone, and that number rose to 56% in 2013. As smartphones get cheaper and more accessible, that number is going to rise even higher, which means that a lot of people are going to be accessing the Internet on their phones.

If your website is not optimized for viewing on a mobile screen, your audience will quickly find another site from a mobile-friendly competitor that can meet their needs. Not only that, Google is now generating different search results depending on if you’re using a computer or a phone, and sites that aren’t optimized for mobile are going to sink below those that are.

4.    If You’re Not Active on Social Media Yet…You Should Be

Although Google won’t say exactly how social engagement affects your SEO rankings, it certainly seems that the sites doing a good job of maintaining a social media presence are faring well.  

Think about it: if you’re engaging with followers across multiple platforms, you’re increasing awareness of your brand and encouraging others to talk about you. When you start building up buzz, you drive traffic back to your site. Staying active on social media has been a good practice for businesses ever since websites like Facebook and Twitter became such integral parts of the way we communicate online, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Will Your Business Harness the Power of Internet Marketing in 2014?

It’s always been the job of the marketer to pay attention to trends in communication, and now that smartphones and the Internet are a part of everyday life, we need to pay even closer attention.
The businesses that fare best in 2014 (and the long-term) will be the ones who can adapt to new practices and communicate effectively with the modern consumer.

Posted: 1/6/2014 10:50:06 AM by Shep Morrow

Internet Marketing: Family Business

If you have a local family business that’s been around for a while but has now gotten into trouble or sales are slowing, chances are good that your success came from providing a high level of service and advertising locally via the Yellow Pages and through word of mouth courtesy of your long term clientele.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where change is happening faster and faster, and lots of small family businesses are getting left behind and forgotten.

Engaging in a major marketing push that involves radio, television, and billboards just isn’t in your budget, though, so you’re not sure what to do. How can you remind people that you’re there and attract more sales? In a closely held business change can be difficult, as often the culture is built on relying on the owner's specific way of doing things. Customers are percieved as the relationship the owner has had with specific clients.

Family Business: Internet MarketingTwo simple words: get online.
The internet is ideally suited to help businesses with a lower level of cash flow to get the word out about what they do. In fact, online marketing can be more effective than traditional marketing methods when used corrected. The key is to find a professional who can work with you to create a plan that’s specific to your business and who knows how the market is trending and what the latest techniques are.

That consultant must also have experience for facilitating change in a closely held business.

The use of
Internet Marketing can be the beginning of a new sales strategy, and can affect how the company is organized to serve customers and grow.

Get listed. Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of people don’t really use things like the Yellow Pages anymore. When they want to find a local business, they go online and type their search into Google. What that means for you is that you at least want to make sure that your business can be found on places like:
  • Yelp
  • Citysearch
  • Google Places
  • UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
How you list your company can make a difference for how often you are found, so it’s helpful to consult with a professional. Then once it’s up and running, be sure to pay attention to the various directories just in case you receive any customer complaints; it’s always best to respond quickly and kindly so that other potential customers will see that you actually care about their experience.

Create (or update) your website. A website will help potential customers to view you as a legitimate and viable choice, and if you do it well, can become extremely lucrative. You may already have a website, but if you’re interested in expanding your audience, this isn’t enough. You need an SEO (search engine optimization) plan that involves learning the search terms most likely to drive business to your company and figuring out where and how to implement it in conjunction with the site.

The best way to do this is to build the search terms you want to rank for into the DNA of the website itself by using the terms in the titles, headings, and subheadings of pages, as well as sprinkling them throughout the body of the content. Doing this makes search engines prioritize your site more, which will cause it to appear higher in search rankings.

Expand your online offerings. Digital marketing can also involve offering downloadable white papers to convert leads, online videos to showcase your expertise, a blog with ongoing content to keep your search rank high, and setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts to increase the number of ways that potential customers can reach you and find out about your content.
Doing this is not only a great way to bring in more business from nearby, but also let customers from around the country and the world to learn about you. Build an online cart and checkout system, and you might find yourself experiencing a nice bump in sales from areas you never would have expected.

The best part is that it costs a lot less to seek out people and engage with them online than it does to market in practically any other medium, and it’s a lot easier to tell if your methods are working or not. If you haven’t looked into internet marketing for your family business, and it’s remaining stagnant or floundering, there’s no time like the present. Contact a Marketing Consultant at Location Traffic.
Posted: 1/11/2013 12:36:28 PM by Shep Morrow