Big Commerce Datafeed Marketing for Price Comparison Sites

Big Commerce Datafeed Marketing for Price Comparison Sites

Big Commerce Datafeed Marketing for Price Comparison Sites

If you are a Big Commerce storefront owner, hopefully you have stumbled across this article in hopes to find an easier way in manipulating your datafeed for multiple price comparison engines.  Unlike some of the other well established managed shopping carts, Big Commerce doesn’t currently have any relationships with some of the large datafeed marketing providers like Singlefeed or GoDataFeed that are able to give you an edge in getting your products syndicated throughout the web.  However, don’t get too discouraged, because I’m going to unveil some secrets to save you a lot of painstaking time while leveraging the power of Big Commerce.

First, a couple of the pros of Big Commerce:

  1. It’s a great managed shopping solution
  2. It’s got a great user interface
  3. Out of the box it has tools for Google base (product submit) submission
  4. Has support for other shopping comparison websites like PriceGrabber
  5. Big Commerce has done a great job in making its product listings SEO friendly

Now the not so good:

  1. Although their system supports Google base, its very cumbersome
  2. All product exports (for shopping engines) are full exports
  3. Product based exports are time consuming especially if you have a lot of product SKUS
  4. Image URL’s and listing URL’s are not provided in an easy consumable format if you decide to export your entire product list
  5. Some fields in your product export include HTML tags that need to be stripped prior to using a datafeed marketing platform

Although no shopping solution doesn’t come with its inherit faults, the bottom above issues I just mentioned just make it slightly harder to work with from a datafeed perspective.  So less bitching and now on to a solution to help you create a great product feed.

First, you are going to have to do a full product export.  Make sure that you select “bulk edit” when doing this.  If you have done this step properly, you should hear a series of clicks and a progress bar that as it starts to build your export.  Once completed, download it to your computer and save.

Depending on your datafeed marketing provider (in this case its GoDataFeed), the header syntax is going to be different that what you receive from Big Commerce (AKA why were are having this conversation.)  For the sake of this writing, I’m going to focus more of this writing on how to deal with issue #4 above because I believe this to be the biggest time waster.

Lets start with the product images.  You’ll likely see a column that says product image number one (followed by several other columns), but you will not see a full URL to the product.  Rather, you’ll likely see an unfinished URL like /a/g/test/product.jpg or something like that.  Thus, it’s a an extension of an image folder and your job is to find the location of that folder.  In other words, you’ll need to find were the images originate from.  It should look something like thishttp://www.yourstorename.com/product-images/ (the folder is actually /product/images/ but you’ll need the whole URL structure to input into your datafeed) You can find what the URL structure looks like by simply right clicking on one of your images on your current website and seeing what it looks like.

For sake of simplicity, lets say the above URL is the root URL for all your imageshttp://www.yourstorename.com/product-images/ and you need to add that to 10k+ products.  No problem.

Open a new spread sheet and copy and paste your unfinished URL in column “B.”  Next, copy your root URL all the way down to match the number of unfinished URL’s.  Now the question becomes, how do you combine the two?  Easy, just copy both columns, open word and “paste special” as unformatted text.  Now use the find and replace function of word and find ”    “ (AKA tab) and replace with nothing.  Congratulations, you just merged two columns into a single column.  Simply cut and paste into the appropriate field in your datafeed.  Follow the same procedure for building listing URL’s.  BTW- you’ll have to do some scrolling to the right to find these.  But when you do, you can employ the same technique as I just mentioned.

The rest should be pretty straightforward as most columns can be found in the export feed.  It’s just these two fields that need a little extra work that can be time consuming.  However, hopefully the above takes the sting out of that job while keeping your work locally on your computer.!

Source: http://www.iblogmarketing.com/2012/03/26/big-commerce-datafeed-marketing-for-price-comparison-sites/

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Product Videos, Gifts and Other Marketing Ideas You Can Borrow

The January issue of STORES magazine has an article called 20 Ideas Worth Stealing.Since they’re advocating helping yourself, I figured they wouldn’t mind if I borrow a few of their ideas to share here.

The entire article is a great mix of basic marketing manners and innovations that use mobile and other digital options to enhance the in-store experience. But there are also ideas that the strictly online retailer can use as well.

Reward Loyalty

Home decor flash sales site One Kings Lane surprised 6,900 of its best customers with a special gift that shipped the first two weeks of November. Based on purchase history, shoppers received taper candles, a silver pitcher or an inlaid bone box.

If you’ve been reading my daily posts (you have been reading, them, haven’t you?), then you know this is one of my mantras. Reward, reward, reward. Getting customers is hard enough, keeping them is harder. Don’t let them get wooed away by coupon codes and deals from the competitor. Tell your best customers that you appreciate their business with a reward. Preferably one that doesn’t come with strings attached.

Using Mobile for More than a Laugh

UK retailer Kiddiecare adds QR codes to shelf tags that link customers to product videos. Says STORES:

“Customers can use their mobiles, select the QR code and watch the video on their mobile on the shop floor, rather than having to wait for staff during busy times,” Chris Wood, video production/project manager for Kiddicare, told Video-Commerce.org. “Sometimes the floor can be really crammed with people, and staff can’t keep up with demands.”

When done right, a video makes an excellent online sales person. It’s a fast way of presenting the features and benefits of a product. It’s especially helpful for mobile shoppers since a 2 minute video is easier to deal with than scrolling through pages of product details.

Video demos have influenced my decision to purchase phone apps, electronics and even a musical instrument. There’s no substitute for getting your hands on a product before buying. For online retailers, video is the next best thing.

Out of the Box Thinking

This last idea comes wrapped in caution tape. The example STORES uses is an invention designed to stop bad breath. After spending thousands on infomercials and getting no results. The creator turned the idea over to a class of young marketing students who created a viral video. The product was picked up by a few Walmart stores and then the creator took a big chance:

Orabrush purchased Facebook ads targeting users in Northwest Arkansas, home of the retail giant. The ad read: “Walmart employees have bad breath … Walmart needs to carry Orabrush! It will sell better than anything in your store.”

Within 48 hours, Walmart e-mailed; after a few more e-mails, Orabrush geared up production to meet the 735,000-unit order.

I’m amazed that such a juvenile tactic would work, but I suppose it’s possible. Certainly, out of the box thinking has launched more than one company. How far out of the box is the question.

Before going too far afield, think about your customer and what they might find amusing or offensive. We’ve seen cases where controversial campaigns succeed and we’ve seen others that brought big companies to their knees. This is dangerous territory but it could also be the kick your company needs to go from barely breaking even to major hit.

The Five Marketing Lessons That Took Me a Long Time to Learn

Because I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs I learned early that working for yourself was a great way to make money and improve your lifestyle. However, even though I had this early drive to build businesses, I didn’t always know the right way to go about building or marketing them. In fact, through trial and error I eventually discovered what it takes to build and market a successful business, and the following five lessons are what I think to be the most important.

Being the category leader is not the only way to be successful

Everyone seems to think that if you’re not number one then you won’t have a successful business. I know I fell into this trap early in my career. Whether I was working as a marketing consultant or SEO, I tried to be number one, but it didn’t take me long to discover that being the best and being the category leader is not the same thing.

In some cases, you are number one when you dominate in revenue, number of users or market position. In other words, it’s pretty clear you are number one. For example, according to StatCounter, when it comes to browser, it’s pretty obvious who rules:

But if you are in a less-developed market, number one is often perception, which you can control with marketing. Listen, a company with a product that’s inferior to competition, yet gets a lot of media buzz, will seem like the category leader.

The clothing company American Apparel is a great example. Constantly in the media, whether for good things or bad things, American Apparel seemed unstoppable. In the case of AA, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing one of their ads or hearing about them in the news. What did they do to make that happen?

  • Controversial policies – American Apparel doesn’t outsource and often includes employees posing for their soft-porn ads, both great topics for the media to report on.
  • Adopt a social cause and make noise about it – American Apparel is behind two social causes, Legalize LA and Legalize Gay, both causes that bring them attention.
  • Break the mold for good – The majority of employees at AA are immigrants who are paid more than twice the minimum wage and offered low-cost, full-family healthcare. (It’s unfortunate that 1,500 were illegal, but the CEO claims they used fake papers.)
  • Defend your values tooth and nail. The CEO of American Apparel is unapologetic about his unorthodox polices, values and views, which adds further fuel to the fire.

Of course some argue that the AA CEO is a sleaze ball who undermines all of his good. Others argue that his behavior is part of the brand’s DNA.

Are they market leaders? Not when it comes to market capitalization. That title belongs to Burberry Group at $552.2 billion. But you wouldn’t know it if you watched the news. In 2008, the Guardian named American Apparel label of the year and in 2009 Time magazine named the CEO one of its finalist for most influential people in the world.

My point is American Apparel went from a small clothing manufacturer in 2003 to a successful business in less than a decade because they were constantly in the press. You can usually compete with the big dogs if you figure out how to get a lot of press and buzz.

Focus on the opportunity, not the market leader

Another myth about market leaders has to do with market growth or saturation. For example, early this November comScore came out with data on US smart phone market. Here’s the data as a graph provided by Asymco:

What should jump out at you immediately is the all the blue on the top of the graph. That stands for all the opportunity out there for getting smart phones into the hands of people who don’t use smart phones. In other words, it doesn’t matter who the market leader is. The game is far from over for newcomers.

Good marketing means you look at what your competitor is doing, especially if he is the market leader, but you also look around them…you look for the opportunity that others are ignoring and, if it is there, taking advantage of it without having to take on the big guys.

Thinking like a customer is essential

It’s important to remember, however, that just because you are getting so much attention doesn’t mean you will be successful. Marketing rule number one is to solve your customer’s problems.

You’ve probably heard this many times before, but it bears repeating…you must make a product that meets an obvious need. Over time I’ve developed a method when it comes to business and product development. It’s called the SIMPLE method:

  • Simple – A successful product will take the guesswork out of how it satisfies a customer’s problems. Febreeze, for example, is simple…spray and kill odors. You get it immediately.
  • Interesting – Furthermore, a successfully marketing product puts distance between it and other commodities by explaining what makes it different. All products are a commodity. The iPhone…it’s a commodity, namely a smart phone. But not just any smart phone. It’s got apps, Face Time and now Siri.
  • Meaningful – But just because you figured out a problem to solve doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. The problem has to be meaningful. Look at Square, for example. It allows small businesses to easily collect payments via credit cards. Most of these small businesses will tell you they were losing money because they couldn’t take credit cards.
  • Productive – Like being simple, a product that customers will like helps them do something they currently do…but faster, easier or even cheaper. In other words, the product doesn’t complicate the customer’s life, but offers a convenience.
  • Long-lasting – A successful product will have longevity. It will provide a meaningful solution to a customer’s problem that will be more than just a fad. And it will go through multiple generations.
  • Entertaining – This last point is important because it explains the popularity of sites like Facebook or video games, which everybody can argue are not productive ways to spend your time. However, they provide excitement and enjoyment, which is meaningful to you.

I wish I’d thought of this method before I even started in business, but maybe I can help you avoid the mistakes I made and get successful in less time than I did by sharing it with you.

Free advertising can be your best promotional tool.

If you don’t have a lot of cash and you are trying to market your company online, don’t worry, as companies have been able to succeed without spending much money on marketing. This fact becomes apparent when you see that social media advertising spend will only be $4.4 billion or 7% of online ad spend by 2016. The reason is that to set up a social profile doesn’t cost anything and ongoing costs are low.

When I was trying to grow one of my first businesses, Advice Monkey, I paid over $5,000 to three different companies to market it. Unfortunately I got zero results, so I decided I was going to learn how to do it myself. Here is a list of six marketing ideas I used that didn’t require a huge budget:

  • Blog – By now it should be obvious that blogging is a great idea for generating traffic and attention. But I still run into entrepreneurs who dismiss it for one reason or another.
  • SEO – A few companies that have leveraged SEO fairly well are About.com, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Amazon, and Zappos. And an example of a smaller company that has done this is Bargaineering, which was acquired by Bankrate for 2.8 million.
  • Guest poster – An easy way to get your company out there is to write guest blog posts on other blogs. From TechCrunch to Huffington Post, there are thousands of popular blogs on the Internet. And the one thing all of these blogs want is more content.
  • Speak at conferences – You don’t have to spend a lot of money travelling to regional conferences, but occasionally splurge and got to a national conference. You’ll get more exposure.
  • Talk shit – People tend to pay attention when someone talks trash. For example, I once wrote a blog post on Like.com and how they were messing up with their marketing efforts. Shortly after that the CEO called and offered me consulting work.
  • Do interviews – I cannot tell you how many times I simply emailed someone and asked if they would like to interview me. Blogs and media sources are always looking for content…and interviews are an easy way to get it.

Check out this article if you want fifteen other big marketing ideas for your small budget.

Social media can absolutely drive sales

I pretty much jumped head first into social media when sites like Blogger, Twitter and Facebook came on the scene. However, it took me quite a while to figure out how to use them correctly so I could drive traffic and sales to my website.

Did you that for every hour we spend on online, we spend about fifteen minutes of that hour on social media sites? This is according to Neilson:

And did you know that about half of that time we are looking at products and services? The lesson is that if you want to build a sales relationship online, social media is your best bet.

A good example of monetizing social media is Joie De Vivre, a California company that operates luxury hotels. Every Tuesday the company tweets exclusive deals to their nearly 13,000 followers who have only a few hours to act on deeply discounted deals. Joie De Vivre typically books over 1,000 room nights with these types of deals, rooms that might remain empty.

Even large companies like Virgin use social media effectively. Richard Branson says that their approach to social media is with a healthy sense of fun and attractive offers. For example, the fourth highest sales day for Virgin America came when they tweeted, “$5 donated to KIPP Schools for every flight booked today.”

Conclusion

Some of these lessons may seem obvious, others not so. I know it took me a several years to figure them all out, but once I did, building successful business got easier and easier. This is not to say that if you follow these lessons above you will be guaranteed a successful business. You will improve your chances, however.

What not-so-obvious marketing lessons have you learned during your years in business?

Guilty, Hopeful, Clueless Marketers and the Need for Change – #SESCHI 2011 Keynote

This is something that is a bit provocative, but we need to change the conversation in marketing. We talk way too tactically.”

And so began the opening keynote at SES Chicago 2011, delivered by Mikel Chertudi of the SES Advisory Board and Global Media & Demand marketing with Adobe. In his talk, titled Guilty Marketers: Wasted and Wishful Multi-Channel Marketing Spend, Chertudi highlighted a few of the mistakes that run rampant in the marketing industry and asked attendees to take a critical look inside their own operations to seek areas for improvement.

Marketing: An Investment

For example, many of us still refer to our marketing budgets as spend or cost centers or even burn, he said, when we should be using words like investment. We need to change the conversation to help change the incorrect perceptions of others outside of the marketing realm.

The keynote offered several important takeaways to help marketers better allocate and invest their budgets, while getting others in their organization to advocate for the marketing department.

Chertudi quoted John Wanamaker, father of modern advertising, as he identified the CMOs greatest fear: “Half the money I spend on advertising I wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” What we think we’re generating in terms of sales, we’re under/overestimating by at least 30 percent, because the attribution models aren’t correct.

His presentation was peppered with tales from Chertudi’s professional experience in various large organizations, though the strategies discussed apply just as easily to individual marketers or small companies. In one, he explained how building a business case and bringing the heads of finance and sales in to validate his assumptions got others in the organization on board to help justify the marketing budget.

3 Types of Marketers

He points to three broad types of marketers most of us can identify with: those who are either guilty, hopeful, or clueless.

  • Guilty marketers are those who knowingly operating in a suboptimal fashion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their intent is bad, but perhaps they lack the tools they need or simply don’t understand how their own quirks and behaviors impact their abilities as a marketer.
  • Hopeful marketers, in contrast, hope their efforts are positively impacting the business, but lack the evidence to be sure.
  • Clueless marketers should know better, but no one has yet stated the obvious.

The 7 Alleged Counts of Marketing Guilt

How can you recognize these marketing mishaps in yourself or those you work with? Here are the seven alleged counts of marketing guilt, according to Chertudi:

  1. Lack of clear strategy and objectives. If we don’t have a clear understanding of what our objectives are, nothing else matters. We need to be able to quantify our results and know how they stack up against other tactics.
  2. Sloppy in our efforts to track and measure. If you use a bid management tool that’s not tied in with analytics and you’re not using one as a system of record to override the others, you’re double-counting.
  3. Assuming too much. Conversion rates to close customers – lifetime value of customers using continuity models – if you don’t know the answers, you’re assuming a lot.
  4. Too much art/right brain. How many of us have heard that the higher-ups just don’t like a concept? We can’t get wrapped up or carried away in this side of it. It’s still important to optimize and test regularly.
  5. Too much science, too much left brain. We have to be careful about how we present ourselves to customers and how we represent brands. Just because something works, this doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Your brand is so much more than your logo and all actions must keep this in mind.
  6. Short-term vs Long-term Oriented. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to accomplish short-term goals. We have to ensure that what we do in marketing doesn’t hurt the brand as a whole.
  7. Authenticity. What is it that your brand represents? What is your value proposition?

Top 3 Reasons for Being Clueless

  1. Misunderstanding our businesses. Understand which constraining factors are at the bottom of the funnel and find ways to reallocate that investment to the top.
  2. Organizational and tactic silos. Are we using disparate systems that fail to tie into one system and what is the impact across all of our channels on each others?
  3. Improperly attributing attribution models – If you don’t understand the diff between first click, last click, even, weighted – that’s a big problem.

7 Questions for CMOs

In order to help determine where problems lie and how improvements may be made, Chertudi recommends that CMOs ask at least the following questions:

  1. Which words do we use? Do we call budgets expenses, spend, cost centers, or marketing investments?
  2. Do we validate what we assume to know? Make finance and accounting your best friends by having them validate your assumptions. Don’t rely on marketing alone.
  3. Do we have a clear way to measure and track results? Can we measure all the way through to sales? If you are generating leads and can’t tie them to sales, you need to fix that – get a clear way to measure and track.
  4. Do we attribute to real results and what are the financial outcomes?
  5. Do we attribute attribution correctly? There are organizations out there cracking the code on this, but 98 percent of us likely aren’t doing it right.
  6. Is our marketing department acting like a team? Each part of the department is working towards the common goal of increased sales – understanding how each initiative works and its impact on the others matters.
  7. Are we balancing the left brain with the right brain? There must be a good balance of art and science.