Sunday, August 31, 2014

25% of small business have zero presence in local search results

If 88% of consumers who search for local businesses on their mobile device ultimate call or visit that business within 24 hours, I’d want to make sure my business was found. Wouldn’t you?
Apparently 25% of small businesses have failed to get the memo, because they have zero presence in Google or Bing local search results!
Small Business Local Marketing Infographic

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How are we using socila media

Marketers Use Social Media

The PPC Search Network Campaign Launch Checklist

Even if you can launch a PPC campaign in your sleep, sometimes, things get overlooked; items slip through the cracks, and months later, you’re scratching your head wondering how a scarf ad landed users on a hat page.
It happens to the best of us. No matter how focused and experienced a PPC manager, there are endless details that go into a streamlined campaign launch.
Organization is a PPC manager’s best friend, and creating repeatable processes through detailed checklists is one way to ensure everything you can think of gets done pre-launch.
In this post, we’ll look at all the key areas of a PPC campaign, and give basic checklists for each part in preparation for making a new campaign go live.
It’s worth mentioning that the checklists in this post apply to PPC search network campaigns that are both being built from the ground up, and those being copied and pasted from existing campaigns, where all the settings are carried through. Even though the copy/paste approach is convenient, appropriate adjustments always need to be tended to, or the campaign can go off path.

Keywords Checklist

First, we’ll start with the keywords. Follow these steps to be sure you’ve tackled common obstacles in this area:
  1. Make sure all the keywords are housed in the correct ad group.
  2. Be sure you’re utilizing all appropriate match types. (And don’t forget the close variant setting is changing in September.)
  3. Make sure you look out for duplicate keywords.
  4. Check the negative keyword lists to make sure relevant keywords aren’t negated in the new campaign.
  5. Keyword lists should be short and sweet. If you have more than 20 keywords in an ad group, you probably want to break things out more specifically.

Ads Checklist

The next thing we want to do is double-check on our ads before they go live. Consider the following checklist:
  1. Be sure ads include the most relevant headline.
  2. Verify display URLs have keywords in them, if possible.
  3. Ensure you have mobile-specific ads. If it makes sense for the type of business, make the call-to-action mobile-specific, like phoning the business.
  4. Include a messaging test between the two ads you include per ad group. Create two different ad messages to test and try testing two different call-to-actions as well.

Ad Groups Checklist

Now we move onto ad groups. Standard checks and balances on the ad groups side for optimal account structure include:
  1. Review the naming convention for each ad group.
  2. Make sure the ad groups match the content that’s in them, and the keywords and ads are under the correct ad group.
  3. Double-check the ad group default bid to ensure it’s what you want per ad group.

Campaign Checklist

Reviewing the campaigns is next, and here are some of the things to watch for before launching a new one:
  1. Double-check the daily budget, and ensure that new campaigns have a decent budget to launch with. The last thing you want is to reach the max cost per click after just one user clicks through.
  2. Verify the campaign settings. When a business is in different locations, such as in the U.S. and internationally, make sure to target the right location and ad scheduling.
  3. Ensure you have your campaign set to the search network as well.

Ad Extensions Checklist

Ad extensions help businesses and prospects get the most from PPC ads. When reviewing your campaigns for launch, make sure you:
  1. Check that the PPC campaigns have all the appropriate extensions for the business. There are a lot to choose from, like sitelinks, call extensions, location, seller ratings, and much, much more.

Landing Pages Checklist

The landing page is an important part of your Quality Score. As you’re gearing up for launch, take a moment to review your landing pages, looking for all those items that help ensure the page is relevant, like:
  1. Useful content, ensuring it delivers on the promise of the ad.
  2. Strong calls to action as needed for the type of business or offer.
  3. Keywords from the ad used in the headline and copy of the page.
  4. Easy navigation, and a speedy page load time (especially if you have mobile users, Google wants pages served in one second or less).

Tracking Checklist

Finally, ensure your tracking is on the up and up, so you can begin measuring performance from the launch of the PPC campaign. Consider the following:
  1. Ensure the correct tracking parameters have been added to the ads’ destination URLs if the account requires additional tracking parameters.
  2. Be sure to include a goal in Google Analytics tied to the ad as needed to track conversions, as well as adding the AdWords conversion code to the thank-you page when necessary.
Although we almost always build campaigns in AdWords Editor, often we’ll post a campaign in paused mode, and view again in the live AdWords interface. The different view can sometimes be helpful in catching errors.
Once you have your campaigns up and running, be sure to check out the guide to PPC operations, which gives daily, weekly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual checklists for your PPC campaigns.
Now that you have my checklist, what’s yours? Anything you’d add that you don’t see here? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Rules for Super Effective Hashtags on Twitter

5 Rules for Super Effective Hashtags on Twitter
Want to get noticed on Twitter? Use hashtags! Using the right hashtag(s) in your tweets will bring you the relevant audience and exposure. This is also with those that you will be able to follow conversations known as chats.
How to use hashtags efficiently? How many is too many? Let's have a look at hashtags best practices on Twitter.
1. More than 3 is too many.
Social media professionals all seem to agree that 3 is the maximum number of hashtags that you should include in one tweet. Don't overwhelm your followers with too many hashtags. Instead, choose them well, the more relevant the better.
2. Stay away from irrelevant popular hashtags.
Yes, they are widely used for a reason, and you'd like to jump on that wagon. But if your tweet has nothing to do with the hashtag you use, as trending as it is, you or your brand will become instantly irrelevant to both your current and potential followers.
3. Size does matter.
When it comes to hashtags, the shorter the better. First, it will save you space in your tweet. 140 characters are not a lot, so don't use half of those for your hashtag only. Two to three words are enough, no need to make a full sentence out of it. Use capital letters for each words so it's easier to read.
4. Go specific.
Stay away from hashtags that are too general. Using #marketing or #business in your tweets won't bring you more exposure as they are widely used words. Target specific conversations instead with hashtags like #TwitterTips or #NativeAdvertising, depending on your topic. Creating a hashtag for yourself or a specific campaign is tempting. It has to be well advertised and shared though so you are sure it is used correctly... or used at all!
5. Do a pre search
Search the hashtag on Twitter first to see if it is used and by who. What kind of conversations does the hashtag trigger? Is it where you want to go?

Pinterest for Men and Women: Is There a Difference?

Pinterest for Men and Women: Is There a Difference?
Most e-commerce brands understand the importance of social media to their digital marketing strategy, but they may not have harnessed its full potential. One of the social networks many companies have yet to build a strong strategy for is Pinterest.
The popular image-sharing network has risen in popularity since its inception. But it still features a disproportionately high ratio of female versus male users. Pinterest and its fans are making efforts to rectify this phenomenon, but how can you do so without resorting to gender-based stereotypes?
Below is a discussion of Pinterest’s gender problem and how brands can appeal to men and women alike on the platform.
How is Pinterest doing right now?
As of August 2014, Pinterest sits at #4 on the list of most popular social networks. It represents 255 million users, which is close to the entire population of the US. However, Pinterest continues to lag behind Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
According to Morgan Johnstonbaugh of Crimson Hexagon, Pinterest also presents significant crossover value in social media. For instance, “1.5 Tweets were written about Pinterest” in the past three months, Johnstonbaugh points out.
The most popular topics tagged on Pinterest these days consist of crafts, interior design, fashion, and food. Sixty-four percent of Pinterest users are women, which indicates a significant disparity between females and males on the platform.
But is this due primarily to users’ self-selected preferences or does it suggest a systematic exclusion of men?
Pinterest’s efforts to draw in more males
Fully aware of the limitations of domination by one gender, Pinterest has launched a concerted marketing effort to attract more men to the platform. Their goal is to show men that the site is about more than traditionally female-driven categories and encourage them to participate in the community.
Pinterest’s campaign to bring more men to the pinning table has included:
  • Marketing imagery. Images on the registration and sign-in pages now feature noticeably more men than they used to.
  • New head of marketing. Pinterest recently hired David Rubin, the former VP at Unilever responsible for Axe advertising campaigns, to head up its gender-inclusive marketing efforts.
  • Encouraging a wider array of pin topics. Although Pinterest has developed a reputation for being a planning forum for weddings and baby showers, the network continues to market itself as a place for businesses and individuals to share pins on everything from investing tips to tech trends.
Does your business need to amp up its gender-inclusive Pinterest strategy?
Businesses currently active on Pinterest are among those that contribute the most to the diversity of content on the social network. Rather than focusing on traditionally “male” or “female” topics, they share their latest innovations, ideas, and inspirations.
Leaders in a variety of industries are helping to shatter stereotypes when it comes to which gender a specific kind of content appeals to. Whether you run a crafting business or an investment firm, your Pinterest strategy can (and should) come as close as possible to reaching the widest array of audience members.
Regardless of the dominant genders of their followers, brands succeed best at pinning as a market strategy when they:
  1. Pin useful and relevant content. Although Pinterest is a fun place to peruse interesting images, the content that will most attract the interest of potential customers provides valuable advice or tips.
  2. Share new products and inventions. Industry leaders such as GE use Pinterest to release initiatives to their followers. The people who interact with you on Pinterest should feel as though they are privy to the latest news with regard to your brand.
  3. Encourage user-generated content. Rather than telling audiences what they should use or how they should use it, let them show you (and everyone else). Ask followers to pin pictures of how they interact with your product, and everyone will benefit from their ingenuity.
  4. Create a community. Facilitating a forum where customers from all over the world can share their insights makes a brand’s Pinterest page a gathering place rather than a marketing gimmick.
With authenticity and thoughtful leadership, Pinterest and the businesses that use it can transcend the question of gender and come closer to being the social network of choice for all users.

2013 Mobile Ad Revenue Hits $19.3B, Including Gains in Search

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and IHS released findings that show mobile advertising revenue was up to $19.3 billion worldwide - nearly doubling from the year prior.
In particular, search ads saw 92 percent growth in 2013 - almost as much as display ads.
However, globally, there are stark contrasts in the type of ad formats driving revenue. Mobile search ads dominated in North America and Europe, but not in the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East and Africa, or Latin America.  

Nearly every region showed gains in mobile search revenue, however, from 2012 to 2013:
And every region showed growth in search ads, with Latin America showing a 354 percent growth:
In July, SEW covered a report from Covario that showed mobile search advertising made up 25 percent of total worldwide advertising spend in Q2 2014 - a 98 percent increase in spend year-over-year.
In another report, eMarketer predicts North America will make up 58 percent of the worldwide mobile ad spend in 2016, with Latin America coming in second at about 23 percent.
And, with $8.85 billion in net revenue, Google came out on top globally when it comes to mobile ad revenue in 2013, according to eMarketer. Facebook showed just more than $2 billion in net revenue in 2013.
Worldwide, Google held about 56 percent net share revenue, while Facebook held about 13 percent, eMarketer reported. 
When it came to mobile ad revenue, eMarketer reported that Google and Facebook accounted for the majority of mobile ad growth in 2013. From the report:
Combined, the two companies saw net mobile ad revenues increase by $6.92 billion, claiming 75.2 [percent] of the additional $9.2 billion that went toward mobile in 2013.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Panda Has a Smartphone – Here Are 7 Things You Can Do to Test It Now

When companies are hit by Panda and see a huge drop in Google organic traffic, they often run to check their websites. They fire up Chrome or Firefox on their desktop computer and start looking around. That’s a smart thing to do, as deep Panda analysis is worth its weight in gold. But by spending so much time analyzing their websites via a desktop computer, they might be missing an extremely important segment of their traffic that’s growing every single day – MOBILE.

Panda and Engagement

In a nutshell, Google’s Panda algorithm is trying to understand how happy users are with your site. It’s more about engagement than some technical problem (although I have seen technical problems impact content quality). Sites hit by Panda often have serious problems from a user engagement standpoint, a credibility standpoint, and even a deception standpoint. You can read my previous posts about Panda to learn more about what I’m referring to.
So, understanding that Panda focuses on engagement, webmasters impacted by our bamboo-eating friend need to hunt down problematic content, functionality, usability issues, advertising issues, etc.
But while analyzing a site impacted by Panda, you may have to take a different angle with your review. Depending on your audience, you may need to stop looking at your beautiful site in Chrome on that 24-inch flat screen. Instead, you may need to pull out your phone with a 4- to 5-inch screen. Mobile traffic just might be providing Google a boatload of negative user engagement data, and that data can absolutely lead to a Panda attack.

The Mobile Connection With Recent Panda 4.0 Victims

Panda 4.0 was a huge update. I won’t go crazy here detailing the update, since I’ve already written several posts about the recoveries and fresh hits. Since May 20, I’ve been helping a number of companies with large-scale Panda attacks.
While analyzing websites impacted by P4.0, it wasn’t long before I noticed an interesting connection for some clients. One of the first things I do when jumping into a Panda audit is to perform a search history analysis. That’s where I analyze the site over time from a number of viewpoints. And one area I’ve been focusing on heavily is the percentage of mobile traffic leading to a website over time.
We all know mobile is growing rapidly, but there are still many sites with less than 20 percent mobile traffic. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a good percentage of traffic from smartphones, but it’s not a majority. Then there are other websites in a much different situation. For example, I’m helping several large-scale websites now with Panda hits that have 50 percent mobile traffic from Google organic. Yes, 50 percent.

(Hint, the Most Important Line of This Column Is Coming Up…)

So, if Google’s Panda algorithm is measuring user experience, and your site gets 50 percent of its visits from mobile, then that means 50 percent of those Panda metrics are from mobile users. I’ll give you a second to read that last line again. Yes, half of the data Google has access to while analyzing your site from a Panda standpoint would be from mobile users.
Can you see why a heavy-duty analysis of your site via desktop might not cut it while analyzing a serious Panda hit? You would be only viewing half the problem. And depending on your technical setup, fixing half the problem might not lead to recovery.

The Mobile Panda - What You Can Do Now

If you have been hit by Panda and you’ve been focused on analyzing your site via desktop only, then you might feel like eating your smartphone now. Don’t, I’m here to help. This post can get you moving in the right direction from a mobile Panda standpoint, and quickly.
Below, I’ve listed seven things you can do today to better understand how mobile users are experiencing your website. Warning, what you find might scare you. And if it scares you, then think about what it does to a Panda with a smartphone. Note, I’m not going to cover each step in great detail. The post would get way too long. Instead, my goal is to get you moving in the right direction so you can identify potential Panda problems for mobile users. Then it’s your job to dig in and fix those problems.

1. Segment Mobile Data in Google Analytics

The first thing you need to do is to hop over to Google Analytics and check out your mobile reporting. Click the Audience tab in the left menu, click Mobile, and then Overview. Then set the timeframe to before the Panda attack. I recommend checking a good six to eight weeks prior to the drop in traffic. The report will show you the total sessions broken down by desktop, tablet, and mobile.
Again, what you find might shock you. There are some clients I have that see more than 50 percent of their overall traffic from mobile devices. But don’t stop there. You want to see the percentage of mobile traffic from organic search. Click the Segmentation drop down, which should currently read "All Sessions." Then choose Organic Traffic from the System list of segments, which will filter your reporting by organic search traffic hitting your site. Click the Apply button at the bottom of the menu to apply the filter.
Quick Tip: You can create your own segment for just Google Organic traffic to see how much mobile traffic is hitting your site (just from Google). I won’t cover the steps in this column, but creating custom segments is a powerful thing to do when analyzing websites.
The big takeaway here is that you now understand how much mobile traffic Google is using to measure user engagement. If you’ve been impacted by Panda, and it’s a high percentage, then you absolutely need to better-understand how mobile users are engaging with your site and content.

2. View Mobile Reporting in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)

Let’s move to Google Webmaster Tools. I still find many webmasters don’t know that you can segment mobile search traffic directly in the Search Queries reporting in Google Webmaster Tools. You can, and it’s important to analyze.
Once you access Google Webmaster Tools, click Search Traffic from the left menu, and then Search Queries. The default report will be filtered by Web (for Web search). If you click the "Filters" button, you can choose "Mobile" instead.
By selecting Mobile, you can check your trending over the past 90 days for mobile search queries. That includes the number of impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and average position. The most important columns for our purposes today are impressions and clicks. You want to take note of how many you are receiving from mobile search and compare that to desktop. Again, you are looking for the percentage of mobile traffic to see how much bamboo you are feeding users.
Once you better-understand the percentages, you can drill into the search queries and top landing pages from mobile traffic. Talk about hunting down potential problems Panda-wise...You can match queries with landing pages and then directly visit those landing pages from the reporting in GWT.
Also, by clicking the Top Pages report, you can view all of the landing pages receiving impressions and clicks from mobile users. Remember, Google is getting a lot of its engagement data from users visiting these pages. You can often find glaring problems by visiting those top pages… And if you catch a Panda hit quickly, you can click the "With Change" button to compare the current timeframe to the previous time frame.
This is similar to what I explained about running a Panda report in Google Analytics. You can identify the core content seeing the largest drops in organic search traffic after the Panda hit. I recommend exporting the reporting to further analyze in Excel.

3. Test Your Site Via Multiple Devices (and Operating Systems)

Now that you know you have a lot of mobile traffic, and that mobile traffic can be impacting you Panda-wise, it’s time to fire up multiple mobile devices. This is where it’s smart to invest in several devices for testing purposes. I always have a number of devices accessible so I can test websites across various phones, tablets, sizes, operating systems, etc.
This is where the rubber hits the road. There’s nothing like testing a website via real mobile devices. You can get an amazing feel for usability, readability, load times, advertising issues, etc.
Bonus: Once you test your site across various devices, you can check the Devices report in Google Analytics to view engagement metrics tied to specific devices. For example, does the site lag on iPhones? Are Android users experiencing weird issues causing them to bounce off the site? Look for high bounce rates, low time on site, and low pages per visit for various smartphone models or operating systems. You might uncover some interesting things.
Also, remember the reports we ran earlier to find top landing pages from mobile? Well, visit those urls via your devices! That’s where mobile users from Google are going…so you should, too. Follow the bamboo trail.

4. Use Fetch and Render in Google Webmaster Tools

Google recently released fetch and render functionality in Google Webmaster Tools (coincidentally right after Panda 4.0). In the announcement, Google explained that Googlebot can fetch the resources necessary for rendering a page and provide reporting directly in Google Webmaster Tools. In addition, Google will provide a snapshot of the rendered page so you can view how it looks. By running fetch and render, you can identify resources being blocked, like JavaScript and CSS, and view a snapshot of the page as rendered by Googlebot. Awesome.
But it gets even better. You can choose a specific crawler to view how your pages are rendered via desktop, smartphone, and feature phone. You can fire up GWT and select Crawl from the left menu, and then Fetch as Google to access the functionality. For our purposes, you can enter a URL in the text field and then select "Mobile: Smartphone" from the drop-down to the right. When you click "Fetch and Render," Google will fetch the page and render it using the necessary resources to build the page content.
Once the render is complete, you will see a note under the "Status” column. It will say complete, partial, or error. Then you can click the status message to view the page details and to view a snapshot of the rendered page.
At this point, you might notice some strange things going on in the snapshot. Did your page render correctly? Is all the content present? Are blocks of content missing, including ads? What does Google list as blocked resources and did you know you were blocking them?
And most importantly, did you realize your mobile users are seeing those problems?
As Google notes, you should not block JavaScript and CSS via robots.txt. If you do, it can’t accurately render the page. Depending on what you find, you might need to dig deeper to debug and fix problems. And that’s a good thing. You’ll at least be in the know.

5. Test Your Site Via User Agent Switcher

Although testing via actual mobile devices is the best way to go, you can absolutely supplement your analysis with various Chrome and Firefox extensions. I often use the extension called User Agent Switcher to accomplish this task. There are a boatload of user agents you can download from the Web that you can import into User Agent Switcher. Then you can easily change your user agent on the fly to view websites like you would via mobile devices.
Note, I wouldn’t rely on this method fully, but it’s a quick way to get a feel for how websites are handling mobile traffic. For example, you can see if websites have faulty redirects being triggered by user agent. You can check if blocks of content are missing when switching user agent, if the navigation breaks, or if specific user agents are triggering other problems.

6. Crawl as Googlebot for Smartphones

Performing a crawl analysis of a website is an important and scalable way to supplement your manual audits. If a large percentage of your traffic is from smartphones, then you definitely want to know how Googlebot for Smartphones views your website.
Luckily, some of the most popular spidering tools enable you to do this. For example, both Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl enable you to change the user agent for your crawl.
Once you crawl your site as Googlebot for Smartphones, you can view the various issues being flagged. For example, you might see all requests being redirected to the homepage (faulty redirects). You might see many errors showing up during the crawl (that aren’t showing up when you run a standard crawl of the site). You might find the word count and file size to be low when crawling as Googlebot for Smartphones. And more.
All of these flags could lead to website rendering problems or the mishandling of mobile traffic. And if a large percentage of your traffic is experiencing these problems, then poor user engagement signals could be picked up by Google. And if that happens, the mighty Panda may not be happy.

7. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tools

Last, but not least, is to test your webpages via Google’s PageSpeed Insights. When you run URLs through the tool, you can view a number of important recommendations and changes directly from Google. The tool fetches each url twice, once by a desktop user agent and the second via a mobile user agent.
There is an entire section labeled "Mobile" where Google provides recommendations for speeding up the page, enhancing the user experience, etc. You might find a number of issues that Google flags that you didn’t know were problematic. You will also see a screenshot of the page as rendered on a smartphone.


On the surface, social media metrics are pretty straightforward. Click the thumbs-up icon if you “like” something, hit “retweet” if you want your followers to see something particularly interesting, tap the heart icon if you see an Instagram photo that’s particularly gorgeous.
tape measure
While companies should keep track of these measurements, you have the ability to go much deeper with your social media metrics. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media profiles in hopes of a red, blue, or orange notification in your toolbar, consider devoting more time to analyzing social media engagement using these measurements:

1. Reach

Think likes on your Facebook page, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, views/subscribers on your YouTube channel, and visitors to your blog. As a measure of potential audience size, reach helps you understand how far your content is actually going once you hit “post.”
While it’s nice to know how many eyes are scrolling through your Facebook updates, reach becomes a more valuable metric when you do some simple math to use reach to measure engagement. Choose an action or engagement number that’s important to your company’s social media goals (such as retweets), and divide that number by reach to calculate your engagement percentage.
For example: if you have 4,973 followers on Twitter, and one of your tweets gets 168 retweets, your engagement percentage is 168/4,973, or 3.4%. Now, you know that out of the entire possible audience for your campaign, 3.4% of people participated, giving you a better context for your engagement metrics.
You can also use this reach/engagement measurement to set goals for your social media campaigns. For example, maybe you want each tweet to have a 3% engagement rate or raise Facebook engagement to 5% per post.

 2. Influence

I like to think of this as the “Would Regina George talk about this at her cafeteria table?” metric of social media measurement. That is, you may be putting your message out there, but are people with influence picking up on your message and talking about it themselves- and if so, what kind of impact do these people have on their audience?
One important thing to recognize is that audience size isn’t necessarily positively correlated with influence. Someone with a lot of followers may not be able to compel their followers to complete an action. For example, think about a Twitter account that may tweet out inspirational quotes a few times a day to 12,000 followers. Would you want this account to tweet about your brand? Probably not, because the followers of this Twitter account wouldn’t recognize this account as an authority on your industry and are probably accustomed to skimming a quote and scrolling right past it, rather than using the quote as a catalyst for action. Unless, of course, your company produces inspirational-quote-of-the-day desk calendars!
You can measure your own social influence by using tools like Klout and PeerIndex, and you can also use BuzzSumo to find influencers in your industry and your area- this is also a great tool for conducting outreach.

3. Conversions

You can tweet about your latest promotions or post a quick video to Facebook showing off your latest product, but unless you can measure how many conversions these social media promotions lead to, you’re throwing darts with a blindfold on.
To fix this, institute campaign tracking in your social media efforts. First, build trackable links to use in each of your social media posts using Google’s URL builder (you may need to use a URL shortening service to make your links shorter, like Bitly). Then, use Google Analytics and set up goal tracking to keep track of your online conversions like downloads, registrations, and more. Now, you’ll be able to monitor your conversions and link them back to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can determine your ROI.
Likes and retweets are fun to get, but make sure not to focus solely on those measurements. By including reach, influence, and conversions in your social media metrics, you’ll be able to get a more complete picture of your how your audience is reacting to and engaging with the content you put on your social media channels.

How Will E-Commerce Evolve to Reflect Real-World Purchasing Behavior?

Creating innovative purchasing systems to better reflect people's online behaviors can have greater influence than forcing users into a single "buy" option.
We recently had the privilege of presenting at the ClickZ Live conference in Hong Kong, where we spoke on the topic of smart analytics and how organizations can use design to make better sense and use of data.
One of our key points was around conversion rates: As marketers, we spend much of our lives trying to improve these. And often, the best we can ever hope for is an incremental improvement on an average. For all of 2013, the average conversion rate for mobile visitors to e-commerce sites across all sectors of the economy was 1.795 percent. Although ongoing, 2014 shows little sign of fundamentally changing this number.
To look at it a different way, try selling your services to a client where you deliberately and explicitly highlight that 98.205 percent of the people you direct toward your work will neither convert, refer, or return. Handshakes will be a lot harder to get.
No matter how you cut it, conversion rates for most types of e-commerce stores are abysmal. There's very little room to escape the fact that we are really terrible at influencing human behavior. Why is this so?

Where Conversion Rates Come From

Human behavior - although complex in its manifestations and motivations - tends not to change very much over time. Marketers are often charged with improving these numbers, usually through optimizations to a landing page. This often boils down to finding ways to make more people click a "buy" button.
The problem with this approach is the assumption that the behavior of users can be easily changed or manipulated toward the outcome we want them to complete. But the opposite is almost always the case: Whenever you try to change an existing behavior, you are preparing to enter a long, hard fight which you almost certainly will not win.

You Can't Change Behavior, But You Can Design for It

For e-commerce, this problem is neatly captured in the "buy" button. It is the main objective we have for every visitor we get to a page. Clicking that button is, unfortunately, also historically and behaviorally, the last thing customers are interested in doing.

"Buying" Is New, but Bartering Is Eternal

Trade is not new. It is one of the fundamental drivers of human progress throughout history, and has done more to shape the economic, political, and moral landscape of our world than any other activity in human existence.
So how did we get to a point where a force of nature has been reduced to an interaction which is, on average, 98.205 percent ineffective?
The answer comes down to understanding the difference between buying and purchasing, and how we express that in terms of an e-commerce purchase. Buying, at a discrete and fixed price, is a modern invention, and more an exception to the habits and behavior around commerce that has evolved over millennia. The department store itself - one of the institutions which caused the concept of fixed pricing to be widespread - has only existed for just more than 100 years. Rather, human behavior around commerce is geared toward negotiation and barter as the mechanism that facilitates purchasing. It is small wonder then, that most people, most of the time, do not make a purchase when visiting an e-commerce website. We are giving them a single, hard, and fast choice: buy now or leave instantly.
And given the option, we know what most people choose.

"Negotiate" Is the New "Buy Now" Button

Conversion rates - or at least the low numbers we tend to see for them - are a consequence of this dynamic. Constraining customers to the constraints of our own systems causes us to miss many opportunities.
The solution to this lies not in finding ways to modify human behavior, but in letting the systems we create more neatly reflect existing behaviors while influencing and encouraging the behaviors we want customers and users to exhibit.
It is in this context that we were recently lucky to have been introduced to a company that specializes in this type of service. And by making that change, we have seen the difference that introducing an automated negotiation mechanism to the e-commerce purchase process can make to customers and vendors.

Image used with permission from

Change the Interaction to Reflect the Behavior (Don't Force People Into the Constraints of Your Product)

In the future, we expect, and will be excited to see, the evolution of interactions around e-commerce to more accurately reflect the nuances and preferences of human behavior. Ultimately, commerce and trade are ancient human traditions, and we should be aiming for much higher impact and return on behavior than the incremental improvements we are setting as the benchmark at the moment.