Nov 25
Reading Time: 2 minutes

  2017-social-media-marketing-trends

Social media is constantly evolving. Just as soon as you think you have a full understanding of a social platform, the rules change. Right now, 3.4 billion people have access to the Internet and 2.5 billion are using social media. What’s more, the number of active social media users worldwide is growing at a rate of 9% a year and does not show any signs of slowing down.

It’s clear that social media is here to stay and the future is looking exciting and promising. Advertising on social is rising and spending has grown 55% to $10.9 billion from the previous year’s $7 billion (Advertising Age). Some experts have even predicted social media to take over the marketing industry as a whole in the next few years.

This year, there have been many changes in social media marketing trends. So, you can’t assume your current marketing efforts will continue to work. It is important to look back at the recent developments so you are not surprised by changes that present themselves in the coming year.

For 2017, the following are a few social media marketing trends you are likely to see.

Chatbots for CRM
Chatbots are designed to simulate intelligent conversation without a human being present. Their prime functionality is to improve real-time engagement and offer flexibility to automate tasks. Chatbots provide a new tool for businesses to leverage and are already becoming a vital way to enhance the consumer experience.

Expiring Content
The success of platforms like Snapchat and Instagram has lead to an increase in popularity of expiring (or disappearing) content. This type of content creates urgency and prevents procrastination since these posts typically only last for 24 hours. In 2017, you can expect to see more social media companies incorporating expiring content in their platforms.

Organic Reach Gets Harder
As a way to monetize their services, Facebook, Instagram, and others are starting to cut back on the organic visibility of brands and corporations. Eventually, brands may see a drastic cut in their organic visibility unless they pay to continue achieving the same level of reach. Facebook has already begun instituting a pay-only platform so you can expect others to also jump on this trend in the coming year.

To ensure social success in 2017, it is vital to watch the changing landscape and keep reinventing your tactics. Social media may still have a long way to evolve, but the changes won’t stop here. As time goes on, more trends will emerge so make sure you are ready to capitalize on the new opportunities.

If you are a vendor with BMT Micro and you have questions or need help with your social media marketing, we may be able to help. A Marketing Analysis and other marketing services are currently available for our vendors. If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, please contact our Marketing Specialist via email at leah@bmtmicro.com for more information.

Nov 18
Reading Time: 2 minutes

  are-googles-expanded-text-ads-living-up-to-the-hype-bmt-micro

A couple months ago, we wrote about Google announcing their “biggest update to ad creative since the introduction of Adwords more than 15 years ago.” The new installment of expanded text ads (ETAs) has been a hot topic in the e-commerce industry since the announcement was first made in May of this year. But, the main interest has been in the announcement that expanded text ads would be replacing standard text ads entirely starting October 26, 2016.

Now, this date has been extended to January 31, 2017, and has left some early-adopters skeptical. According to Google, ETAs are supposed to perform better than standard text ads and increase effectiveness across all devices. But, some users believe the date extension may be an indicator that ETAs aren’t performing as well as Google initially anticipated.

The best answer we could find for this delay is from a recent conversation Frederick Vallaeys (co-founder of Optmyzr) had with a Google product manager. According to the Google product manager, “To start: quality matters. Standard ads have had years to go through numerous optimizations, and in some cases, a brand-new ETA may not immediately outperform.” So, “the date was moved back to give people more time to experiment with their expanded text ads. The extra time is important so people have the time to test and iterate ads, while also giving holiday optimizations their proper due.”

Expanded text ads are a big change for Google and quality matters. Google doesn’t launch an ad update to negatively impacts users. Ultimately, the long-term goal is that ETAs will produce better click-through rates (CTR). So, what do we know about their performance so far?

Early Performance Results
Since Google has launched ETAs, a few companies have reported the performance results of their standard vs. expanded text ads.

  • Keypath Education tested ETA vs. non-ETA ads and found that ETAs “resulted in a 25 percent increase in CTR, a 10 percent increase in conversion rate and a 3 percent degrees in cost per conversion.”
  • In one ETAs vs. non-ETAs test, CPC Strategy found that “expanded text ads performed better, but not by a significant amount.” They also found in another test “standard text ads on desktop were much higher than ETAs, costing over twice as much.”
  • Rise Interactive found that ETAs outperformed traditional ads in data collected from an ad copy test. “One of its ETAs had nearly a 50 percent CTR, which equated to the ad receiving a click for nearly every other impression.”

As you can see, performance results are a little mixed so far. But, the big takeaway from this should be: expanded text ads are coming January 31, 2017, and they aren’t guaranteed to be successful just because Google says so.

Have you tried Google’s expanded text ads yet? Let us know your thoughts and experience so far!

Nov 11

The Importance of 404 Error Pages

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

  the-importance-of-404-error-pages-bmt-micro

How often do you think about your 404 error page? If you are like most businesses, the answer is probably not that often. But, at some point in your site’s lifetime, a visitor is going to stumble onto a 404 error page (it’s inevitable). The number of these errors tends to increase with the age of your site, and the more you have, the larger the problem grows.

What are 404 Errors?
According to Google, “A 404 page is what a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site (because they’ve clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted or they’ve mistyped a URL). A 404 page is called that because, in response to a request for a missing page, web servers send back a HTTP status code of 404 to indicate that a page is not found. While the standard 404 page can vary depending on your ISP, it usually doesn’t provide the user with any useful information, and most users may just surf away from your site.

In short, a 404 error means that the requested page cannot be found.

Are 404 Errors Bad For Your Business?
404 errors can actually make your visitors frustrated and unhappy; and, excessive 404 errors can negatively impact your site’s SEO. Consider this, all the visitors you lose over a few broken links are equivalent to profits lost for your business.

When a visitor clicks a link on your page that takes them to a 404 error, the most common thing they do next is leave your site. According to a Webmasters’ survey, 77% of people who attempt to visit a web page but receive the 404 Error Page instead make no further attempt to access the searched-for page. When Google or other search engines see a large amount of this type of user behavior from your page, it raises a red flag. What’s more, your site can be considered poorly maintained and your search rankings can drop.

To Prevent or Correct 404 Errors

  • When a visitor stumbles across a 404 error on your website, you can re-engage them by providing relevant information, product recommendations, or a link back to your homepage. This way you can keep their attention.
  • You can create a customized 404 error page to work well with your branding and ensure your site visitors aren’t confronted with a default 404 page. Furthermore, Google also recommends: “If you have access to your server, we recommend that you create a custom 404 page. A good custom 404 page will help people find the information they’re looking for, as well as, providing other helpful content and encouraging them to explore your site further.
  • Include a search bar on your customized 404 page for navigating your site. At the very least keep your primary header navigation so visitors will be able to reach all of your major category pages.
  • Any time you conduct an update or make any sort of changes to your site, you should ALWAYS check that your internal links are still working properly.
  • Manually checking for broken links can be overwhelming, especially for large site owners. Luckily, Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for webmasters and can find broken links on your website.
  • Set up 301 redirects for old URLs. This way if a visitor clicks on an old URL, they will automatically be redirected to a page related to what they were looking for. It will also create a much better user experience for those visitors who would otherwise land on a 404 page.

Ultimately, your 404 error page should be easy to understand, accurate and helpful. It should effectively communicate why an error has occurred and offer some alternative to point the visitor in the right direction. By doing this, it will ensure traffic remains on your site even if an error occurs.

Nov 4
Reading Time: 3 minutes

  holiday-preparation-is-gray-november-replacing-black-friday-bmt-micro

For years, Black Friday has been the kick-off event of the holiday shopping season. But, as we mentioned in our previous blog post, things have changed. Last year, we saw retailers close their doors on Black Friday and push sales online. We also saw many major retailers offer holiday deals across the season rather than a one-day or one weekend of sales.

In fact, according to Brand Keys, this year will be the first time in nearly a decade that Black Friday won’t be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season in terms of traffic and sales. So, does this mean this is the beginning of an end to the longstanding holiday tradition of Black Friday shopping?

Every year consumers start their holiday shopping earlier and earlier. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), roughly 40% of shoppers have started buying holiday gifts by Halloween. The hype of Black Friday is continuing to fade due to consumers not being willing to wait until November and December to begin their holiday shopping.

As a result, retailers are now offering holiday deals much earlier in the season in order to get a jump on the competition and drive more sales. This early promotion strategy has led to many retailers focusing on deals for the entire month of November, hence “Gray November.”

“Gray November” does not mean traditional holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are necessarily dead now. It just means they’re no longer the official start of the holiday shopping season. And, the time leading up to the holiday season is just as critical as the shopping days themselves.

Surprisingly, even with Gray November, Cyber weekend continues to be strong in sales. According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2015 was the largest online spending day in history. Plus, sales in November and December are expected to exceed $630.5 billion this year (NRF).

Regardless of which day is better, maximizing the time before the holiday shopping craze is critical to the success of your sales. Retailers that ignore this shift and wait for the traditional signature days will likely miss out on gaining additional revenue. For Gray November, it is important to remember some key things:

The holidays in which you plan to participate in should be decided. The last quarter of the year is packed with holidays and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype often overshadow some days. As a reminder, the following are some popular upcoming holiday shopping days:

– November 11th: Single’s Day and Veterans Day
– November 24th: Thanksgiving Day (Gray Thursday)
– November 25th: Black Friday
– November 26th: Small Business Saturday
– November 28th: Cyber Monday
– November 29th: Giving Tuesday (or Retargeting Tuesday)

The ad channels in which you plan to focus on should be determined for your holiday promotions. Typically, it best to start advertising 4 to 6 weeks in advance of sales events in order to optimize by time, device, browser and more. But, don’t fret if you’re behind (now, you at least know what to do to catch up).

Finally, ensure that your customer service team is prepared and policies (return, refund, etc.) are in place and understood.

We hope these tips will help make the holidays a little merrier and a little less stressful for your business. If you are a vendor of BMT Micro and you are planning a Holiday promotion, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your business needs this holiday season.

Here at BMT Micro we are well aware of the increase in demand and traffic our vendors will experience with the holiday rush. We offer a quick and uncomplicated e-commerce solution that will result in fewer abandoned shopping carts over the holiday shopping season. Our system can be used to set up many different discount schemes, and our experienced customer service staff is here to give your customers a great shopping experience. Plus, we have already taken the steps necessary to ensure we are able to maintain our services at the highest level and our vendors are able to get the most out of their holiday season. If you are interested in learning more about our services and offerings please contact our vendor services at vendors@bmtmicro.com.