Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
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Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
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Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
22 Feb 2015
Our latest Ask The Expert Q&A event is here!

This time our expert is renowned marketing expert and author John W. Hayes. With more than 18 years’ experience in online marketing and ecommerce, John is amazingly well positioned to answer all your questions on SEO, social media and email marketing. You can read more about John here.

A few house rules before we get into it:

  • Use @membername if you are directing a reply at a particular poster, or put your reply below a quote. It's a good idea to edit long quotes.
  • You can post about your experiences with marketing as well as direct questions - let's make it an open discussion about the use of SEO, social and email marketing in ecommerce.
  • If a question is directed at you, please reply promptly. Our members come from a lot of different timezones and might miss your reply by a day if you delay.
  • As always, keep it constructive. Post in good faith, don't take offence, and most importantly - enjoy the discussion!

  • This thread will close on Friday 27 February at 6pm GMT (1pm EST / 10am PST). Get your questions in as soon as you can to give John time to respond and answer any follow up questions.

    So, who wants to go first?
    Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
    Please follow on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+
    Boston, MA United States
    pfpcronin
    Kudos: 28
    Joined: Nov 13, 2014
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015
    Hi John,

    What are the trends of effectiveness and pricing on SEO, social and email marketing?
    Successful Transition Planning Institute
    Paul F. Cronin
    Leicestershire United Kingdom
    Crucial Music
    Kudos: 124
    Joined: May 25, 2011
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015
    Many thanks for doing this John!

    Social Media
    IS it OK to automate through Hootsuite or should I employ someone to "do" Social Media in person?

    Email Marketing
    I am in a niche market (selling collectible vinyl) How do I prepare my list for acting on a completely different product e.g. maybe a health related item OR is that a total no-no?
    Shenzen China Australia
    Tim298
    Kudos: 446
    Joined: Jun 26, 2014
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015
    I would like to know about costs again, so, unpaid marketing is interesting, and what does unpaid really mean - similar to those sites that say - start our blog for free - if 3usd per month for hosting, 89$ for a theme, security costs, etc is free then.... something seems to have gone wrong in their calculations.

    Is it realistic for someone like me that is a seller, that can write ok, that makes good connections with people, but has not great experience online to do some learning and then be able to effectively market my business, or is it better to engage an expert to do that, and if we were to engage an expert, what sort of payment package is going to be attractive - I realise that depends on the expert - but, are there methods to pay for online marketing results, rather than effort or input?

    I also would be interested to know if anyone has much info on privacy laws and buying / acquiring databases - some China companies have offered me access to their large range of database contacts, it seems any damage to come from this would go to them as they are the ones limited from using the info, but I am getting legal advice, just interested in this area.

    Any guide you could give would be great - cheers
    Bengaluru, Karnataka India
    CCO90878
    Kudos: 36
    Joined: Nov 12, 2014
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015
    Though there is multiple view and opinion on exploiting this type of marketing floating around on Internet and numerous books our experience in handling such campaigns have been sombre. Hence we would like to ask:

    Q: Is it worth the effort for serious long term businesses?

    Q: Given tightening law, rules, regulations pertaining to Data Privacy and increasing Control over eCommerce in Countries across the globe, What are the best possible strategies that have worked, in your experience? What legal assistance, in your experience, is crucial, to be in safe side of law, for Businesses relying on “unpaid” marketing?

    Q: How have you or your clients paid for this type of marketing?
    Proprietor' Desk
    Cold Current Online
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015

    Crucial Music wrote:

    Social Media
    IS it OK to automate through Hootsuite or should I employ someone to "do" Social Media in person?
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little social media automation. I would recommend that you line up several posts per day to keep your brand visible across the various social media channels that you know your customers are engaged on.

    Remember, try not to be too salesy (use social media to start conversations and engage your audience, use email to sell to them).

    The one thing you cannot automate is conversation - and it is called social media for a very good reason (so get talking).

    If you are employing someone to manage your social media activity, it is important they have a good working knowledge of your business and products, so they can quickly answer questions (or at least know who to ask to get the right answer). Your customer support/services team (as opposed to an intern or junior member of staff) - might be a great place to look for such an employee. Social media is too important to delegate to someone who doesn't know what they are doing

    Because a lot of social media can be managed via mobile devices, smaller companies might want to manage their social engagement on the fly. Social media shouldn't keep you tethered to your desktop.

    Crucial Music wrote:

    Email Marketing
    I am in a niche market (selling collectible vinyl) How do I prepare my list for acting on a completely different product e.g. maybe a health related item OR is that a total no-no?
    With regards to hitting your list with a totally different product related message than the original engagement - I'm afraid this is a no-no.

    Email marketing only works when it is relevant, timely and engaging. Anything else will result in losing subscribers and spam complaints. It should also be remembered that spam laws dictate that you can only target subscribers with others of a similar nature to their original engagement.
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015

    Tim298 wrote:

    I would like to know about costs again, so, unpaid marketing is interesting, and what does unpaid really mean - similar to those sites that say - start our blog for free - if 3usd per month for hosting, 89$ for a theme, security costs, etc is free then.... something seems to have gone wrong in their calculations.
    First things first - there is no such thing as cheap or expensive marketing. There is marketing that works and marketing that doesn't work.

    There will be a cost associated with content marketing (blog design, hosting, etc.) - but compare this to the cost of more expensive acquisition marketing techniques (such as paid search). I like to think of great content as a foot soldier going out and fighting for business. A well written post will have the potential to be shared widely via social media and also stick around on the major search engines for a decent length of time, attracting new views and potential customers as and when they enter your sales funnel.

    Tim298 wrote:

    Is it realistic for someone like me that is a seller, that can write ok, that makes good connections with people, but has not great experience online to do some learning and then be able to effectively market my business, or is it better to engage an expert to do that, and if we were to engage an expert, what sort of payment package is going to be attractive - I realise that depends on the expert - but, are there methods to pay for online marketing results, rather than effort or input?
    I'm a great believer the best marketing content always comes from an organic source (that means it should be created by you or someone in your business).

    In my first book Becoming THE Expert (excuse the plug) - I talk about how I have used content (blogging, PR, public speaking) to build the profile of several of the large organisations I have worked with (including ChannelAdvisor, iContact, Viralheat, etc.

    The best content solves problems for your audience. If you can solve a problem for just one customer and write about it - you are potentially solving a problem for many other potential customers.

    If you don't know what problems your customers are facing, I would suggest you pick up the phone and speak to a trusted client.
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015

    pfpcronin wrote:

    What are the trends of effectiveness and pricing on SEO, social and email marketing?
    To understand the effectiveness of any marketing campaign you need to first understand your average customer lifetime value or CLV (how much a customer will spend with you over their lifetime as a customer). Without this information - everything is guesswork. Only when you have this figure will you be able to assert whether your marketing spend is yielding the kind of results you are looking for and help you set future budgets.

    Email remains the most cost effective form of marketing (on or offline) available for today's entrepreneur. It's been around a hell of the long time (37 years) and it's not going anywhere soon. I also believe email marketing is the profitable component of more expensive acquisition marketing techniques (paid search, traditional print/broadcast marketing, etc.). If you are spending money on any other form of marketing and you are not engaging your audience with email - you will never see optimal profits.

    Social media is a little more difficult to judge (but not impossible). To see real social media success, your activity needs to be integrated across your entire enterprise (sales, marketing, PR, product development and HR). The associated costs/savings/earnings should the be appropriated accordingly.

    In terms of SEO - the landscape is changing. Today SEO has as more to do with producing great content (that your clients want to consume) that it does with optimising sites and gaming the major search engines.

    Of course, SEO (Content), Email and Social Media work best when they work together as part of a cohesive strategy. I would personally be very worried about the effectiveness of all three channels if they were being managed by separate entities.
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015

    CCO90878 wrote:

    Is it worth the effort for serious long term businesses?
    Yes - but only if you are investing in high quality content. I've said it elsewhere on this chat - the best content solves problems for your clients.

    CCO90878 wrote:

    Given tightening law, rules, regulations pertaining to Data Privacy and increasing Control over eCommerce in Countries across the globe, What are the best possible strategies that have worked, in your experience? What legal assistance, in your experience, is crucial, to be in safe side of law, for Businesses relying on “unpaid” marketing?
    As long as you are not engaging in Spam (unsolicited commercial marketing) you should have no problems, Useful online content is rarely problematic.

    CCO90878 wrote:

    Q: How have you or your clients paid for this type of marketing?
    I have clients who have paid for these services and clients who have done them in-house. The best content comes from an organic source. This means if you are paying an agency to produce content - they really need to get under the skin of your org.
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    22 Feb 2015

    Tim298 wrote:

    I also would be interested to know if anyone has much info on privacy laws and buying / acquiring databases - some China companies have offered me access to their large range of database contacts, it seems any damage to come from this would go to them as they are the ones limited from using the info, but I am getting legal advice, just interested in this area.
    On the topic of buying databases - I have one word of advice - DON'T

    Email's success is based on the permission your subscribers have given you to contact them.

    If you buy a list (no matter what your broker tells you) you DO NOT have permission to contact that subscriber. Therefore a bought list is essentially spam.

    Most reputable email marketing service providers (including iContact) don't allow the use of purchased lists.

    High bounce rates and spam complaints will out any purchased list and potentially damage your reputation.
    United States United States
    Tej R
    Kudos: 170
    Joined: Feb 17, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    23 Feb 2015
    @John, Thanks for giving us an opportunity to pick your brains.

    I work with some upcoming entrepreneurs who are building stores on platforms like Shopify/BigCommerce. One challenge that is common is the lack of understanding on what are the key metrics one should measure in the first 4-5 months.

    The last thing we should do is do spend time/effort in channels which are not performing.

    Can you highlight which are the top 5 or 10 metrics eCommerce merchants should measure in the first 3-4 months or maybe till they get their first 100 orders (a good landmark?)
    Pittsburgh,PA,USA United States
    deevho
    Kudos: 72
    Joined: Nov 10, 2014
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    23 Feb 2015
    @andy@davidsdeliciouschocolates how can an underfunded website survive and flourish?and should a websites content for a niche market be directed to visitors problems or to the health aspects of the products? being underfunded how can one establish brand?
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    23 Feb 2015

    deevho wrote:

    how can an underfunded website survive and flourish? and should a websites content for a niche market be directed to visitors problems or to the health aspects of the products? being underfunded how can one establish brand?
    A website will only thrive if you invest in it and that means time and money (there are no easy answers here).

    If cash is in short supply - you must focus on producing great content which addresses your audience's problems and demonstrates how your products can solve those problems.

    You also need to ensure this content reaches as wide an audience as possible via SEO, email marketing and social media marketing.

    DO NOT write purely for SEO purposes. Your content must be engaging and useful. Engaging and useful content will drive sales and social media shares.

    Dull or uninspiring content might attract traffic - but will do little to drive engagement - so don't scrimp on the usefulness of your content (make sure it is produced by someone who knows what they are doing and understands your customers needs).
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    John W Hayes
    Kudos: 238
    Joined: Feb 22, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    23 Feb 2015

    Tej R wrote:

    Can you highlight which are the top 5 or 10 metrics eCommerce merchants should measure in the first 3-4 months or maybe till they get their first 100 orders (a good landmark?)
    The main metrics I would look at are:

    Popular Items: The 80/20 rule suggests that you will drive 80% of your revenue with 20% of your products. Learn which products work well for you and focus all your marketing efforts on these products.

    Conversion: Traffic without conversion is vanity. Take the time to test various conversion mechanisms on your site such as price point, call-to-action, images, shipping costs, layout and optimise accordingly.

    Margin: Don't be a busy fool. If a product sells well but has no margin (after marketing costs, shipping etc.) focus elsewhere.

    Repeat Customers: Are you attracting repeat purchases? These are the lifeblood of any business and developing an understand of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) will help you understand the true cost of your marketing efforts. Remember: If you are paying to acquire the same customer time and time again (through paid search or marketplace fees) you will never see the kind of profits you are looking for. This is where more efficient retention marketing techniques like email and social media come in to play.
    United States United States
    Tej R
    Kudos: 170
    Joined: Feb 17, 2015
    Re: Q&A on Ecommerce Marketing: SEO, Email, Social
    23 Feb 2015
    Thanks for the detailed answers with pointers @John W Hayes

    Repeat customers is something so critical. If we do a good job of it, ideally our cost of marketing shouldn't rise exponentially if want to increase revenue by a multiplier. You have crystallised my thoughts and help prioritise. Cheers

    Selro
    StoreFeeder
    World First
    Seller Dynamics