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Using Analytics to Refine your Website

Ever wonder where the majority of your website’s visitors travel on your site? What they click on? How long their on there? It’s called analytics, companies use this to track their visitor’s behavior. It allows companies to keep track of specific data about items that are purchased, you learn how visitor’s navigate the site, and allows you to focus on particular ways to increase the sales for your company. For example, if you’ve noticed that many potential customers are leaving their shopping carts, you can back track their navigated pages to find what pages may need to be overhauled or slight changes to increase the amount of online sales. For the best online results, consistently checking of the websites page traffic and the popularity of specific items will allow your company to stay one step ahead of your competition.

Here are five tools to help get your company use analytics:

1. Demographics: This tool allows you to understand the characteristics of your customers like their age, and sex so you can adapt your website as necessary.

2. Geographical location: Allows you to understand where your visitor’s are coming from, and their language.

3. Behavior: this tool is great to understand how many unique visitor’s you are receiving on a monthly basis, and also allows you to see the amount of time spent on your website to help you narrow down any issues you may be having.

4. Device: this feature is very important to understand how your visitor’s are reaching your website, either by a desktop, mobile device, or a tablet, understanding this will allow you to cater to your largest group of visitor’s and potentially increase sales.

5. Visitor Flow: this is the feature where you get to see where your visitors are going every time they are on your website. This will allow you to track what pages you may need to upgrade to increase the longevity of potential customers on that page.

Tip of the Post

“Improving your website is understanding your visitors” – OBN team

Hillsdale College Wins 2nd National Championship!

Over the weekend Hillsdale College achieved it’s 2nd ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championship. The team finished with a combined score of 1497/1650 beating Schreiner University by just 20! Two of Outdoor Business Network Staff are Hillsdale College Alumni, Kyle Jazwiecki, a former Trap and Skeet shooter for Hillsdale college said:

“glad to see the college on the right path towards success and hope the best                        for them with years to come”.

Outdoor Business Network Congratulates Hillsdale College with their 2nd ACUI National Championship.

Products: Improving, Promoting, Updating

When companies develop an e-Commerce. website, the most important factor is displaying the products in a detail orientated manor while positively presenting them. No two products are the exact same, and correctly categorizing your products to ensure your specific customers are finding the products they are searching your website for. Including important product information is key, companies should focus on updated and including as much information as possible of each product they intend to sell. If a customer comes to a product page and has little to no information regarding the product itself they are three times more likely to travel to another website and buy the same product from a company that includes a lot of information.

Doing this not only increases the potential for a customer to buy from you but also increase the organic search results in search engines. Improving your search results on your own website from your products alone increases your SEO ranking within the top search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In order to achieve optimal search results within your own website each product must have an abundance of relatable content filled with quality keywords. Keywords are very important to a websites success and could be the difference between selling products to a potential customer.

Now, when selling online products another important aspect to look at is how the product is represented on the page. Yes filing in the price, quantity, size, specifications is good; but why would you want to be like every other e-Commerce page? Taking the time to create off the wall, creative content for each product will only help your business succeed in the future. An example a company that creates quality content for their products is BEAMSHOT. Beamshot took the time to create videos for their products to show the customer how their product works while how well it performs. Doing this gives their customers the assurance of receiving a good product and helps ease the decision on buying that product.

Now there are other ways to generate quality content to show your customers that whenever they visit your website they know they are going to find what they are looking for. If your company is primarily a clothing company, a good way to market your clothes is to actually take pictures of them on a person or on a manikin. Doing this provides the customer with enough visual information of how the product will look on themselves or on another human being. If your company sells specific products that only pertain to your company it is important to display each of those products with as much information as you possibly could create. Doing this leaves every question a customer could have with an answer rather than traveling to another webpage that has their answer for them. No product should have little or no information.

Some necessary steps in order to improve online products:
1. Figure out what product(s) are lacking in content
2. Enhance those product(s) by creative content and include details
3. REPEAT!

Tip of the Post
“quality content = better success” – Korey Pavlika

Demographics: How to Increase Customer Numbers

Demographics: How to Increase Customer Numbers

While operating a business in the outdoor industry it is crucial to understand the demographic of your current and potential customers. A demographic is the way companies understand what “type” of customers they can expect to sell their products or services to. To a marketer, demographics can be found by these 5 factors: Age, Gender, Income Level, Race and Ethnicity. These are the factors that a business owner has to take into account when marketing their business so they aren’t wasting their money on groups of people that typically wouldn’t be interested in their products or services.

Now in the outdoor industry, businesses instantly think their only demographic are the Robin Hood or Wild West sort of people. Companies have to realize that there are other demographic they can appeal themselves to. This takes time and is not as easy as just throwing marketing efforts towards something just because it sounds good! You have to do your research and take notes to ensure your efforts aren’t going to waste.

Recently, we launched a website for a company called “Grasmeyer Guns“. The first word you notice in the store’s name is the word “gun”. Most people would think of the usual gun enthusiast stereotypes, like Wild West gun slingers or tactical gun stockpilers, but, you may be surprised to find out that their target demographic was families. The owner of Grasmeyer Guns successfully created a family environment where the average customer can feel comfortable, and know you’re going to get an honest opinion on their products. The website has an inclusive feel, that gun ownership is for everyone and families can feel comfortable and save around firearms.
Doing this opening up an entirely new demographic of people to visit their business. Not every business is going to have the same demographic, there are outside factors to look at as well such as location, and competition. Standing out in your community can benefit the business in a number of ways. Consistent efforts towards multiple demographics help keep your business name and reputation stay fresh inside the minds.

No two companies are the exact same, while they may have similar standard demographics including a new demographic groups can expand the reach of your business. For instance, in the outdoor industry, firearms and archery are main topics to discuss. While most are held by men, businesses that offer opportunities and appeal to women and children have the upper hand when selling their products or services. In the last few years the sector for selling women firearms has grown exponentially while children have become more in tune with archery. As a business owner you must take advantage of these opportunities where 1 sale could become a lifelong customer.

Building an inclusive atmosphere for your customers is a key aspect of business because creating a good experience for the customer the first time potentially means more products/services to be sold to not only that customer but his friends and family in the future. Creating good experiences take time and effort to become an expert at. Companies want to create a unique experience that the customer can only get at their store.

If companies can combine expanding their demographic to reach a higher audience while creating a unique experience, you can expect to see a higher percent in sales and returning customers. Yet it is important to understand what your demographic is and the potential demographic so your efforts are not a waste of time and money. In other words, tap into the resources that make the most sense, do your research, and execute to the best of your ability.

Tip of the Post
“Expand your business by creating unique experiences through multiple demographic channels” – Korey Pavlika

Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We have discussed Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a few times before but at Outdoor Business network we cannot express enough as to how important this is for any company that is online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important, especially as customer habits and search-engine algorithms change. Customers are becoming less likely to directly engage with a business when searching for information. Most of the customers are starting their discovery process with a search which makes search the largest digital marketing channel today.

The main goal of SEO is to ensure that the content on your web pages are easily understood by the people and the search engine algorithms; so in turn can be discovered by potential customers when they search for products or services that your company offers. The search engine algorithms are extremely complex and are hard to understand, they don’t take information in the same way a person that is searching. By consistently enhancing your companies SEO, you’re ensuring that the algorithms in place

No matter how advanced your SEO program is, if customers aren’t able to find the value in the content on your web pages, then your marketing efforts are a waste. It is crucial that marketers dedicate time and effort to creating content that is useful and engaging towards their demographic. If it is possible, a company should dedicate time weekly to create content. Keywords are able to easily determine what each page is about and how the content is useful for potential customers that are looking for answers. SEO is not a one-time action; it requires constant maintenance because search algorithms constantly change and update.

Branding: Growing Companies from the Ground Up

The early branding of a small or developing company is vital to its business success.  Doing this expresses what exactly your company has to offer. The inaccurate branding of a new business can increase the difficulty for the people to understand why the business exists in the first place. Companies that are just starting out along with small businesses tend to put branding in the backseat to the other aspects of a company such as funding and product development. Doing this is a mistake because a company’s brand is one of the key factors to its success. Dollar for dollar, it is just as crucial compared to any other beginning steps of a new or small business.

The brand your company creates in its face to the world. branding starts with the company name and how that name is expressed visually through a logo that portrays what the company is/does. A brand is also how your demographic customers look at your company then they associate an amount of inherent value on your business. A company’s brand is sort of like a secret promise. It is part of the fundamental principles that can be understood by any individual or company that comes into contact with your business.

Some people may ask “where” I put my brand out there or “how”. The secret is wherever you believe your company can portray themselves accurately. Small or startup businesses that have Social Medias need to also keep in mind that the brand of your business is everywhere. The importance of branding cannot be overlooked and has been proven time again that the success of a small or startup business can rely on its branding to help mature them. A business must stand behind while protecting your brand from outside sources or other companies.

Are you Mobile for 2014?

In today’s society people are always on the go, but having the technology at hand allows them to access the internet by their mobile device. The ability to access the internet with their mobile device has create a new platform for marketers and retail stores to accustom to. It is crucial for your retail store to have your website become mobile device friendly. Did you know that 46% of all online sales come from a mobile device? If your company is not mobile device friendly in 2014 you, could potentially be missing out on almost half of your online sales.

Customers reaching out to your website through their mobile device want to be able to access and navigate your mobile friendly site with ease. Therefore, it is important for your website to display only the necessary information that you want them to see that they can view on their mobile device. Doing this directs the customers to the products or categories that you want to sell the most. On top of having an easily navigable mobile device site, you must incorporate a simple check out system so your customers can buy their products in a minimal amount of time.

Other than making your website mobile device compatible, you must consider other areas where you solicit your company such as email and newsletters. In 2013 65% of all email and newsletters were opened through a mobile device and has been predicted to increase in 2014. Therefore when sending out company newsletters with your coupons, deals, or anything else you must consider making them mobile friendly as well. This way you can get a higher opening percent rate and potentially drive more customers to your online or into your store.

Following those simple guidelines your company could see an increase in sale during 2014.

Marketing through Social Media’s

Would you like to indirectly increase the traffic of your website with minimal effort involved? There’s an easy solution that will help; it’s called social media. People use social media on a daily basis, online and on their mobile smart phones while becoming an important aspect in the marketing industry. Social Medias began as a way for people to virtually connect with one another over the web.

Big companies have been using social media as a way to increase current customer relations along with appealing to a new fan base generated by your current customers through the promotion of your products. It is crucial to incorporate these non-traditional marketing tools to continuously present your brand to potential customers.  Companies tend to use more popular social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter, but those may not appeal to your customer’s demographics. I encourage you think outside of the box and incorporate less common social medias like Instagram and Pinterest as a way to stretch your online audience.

Facebook has the largest outreach to potential online customer with over 1.2 billion users worldwide. Facebook was design to make personal connections through an online profile; companies use Facebook to show what products or services they offer by a bigger preview. Another big Social Media is Twitter; unlike Facebook, Twitter is used primarily for connecting accounts with common interests through hash-tags (#). Hash-tags can be used to as a general search subject and with some optimization can increase your traffic. If your company relies on product images or like to interact with consumers through pictures; your company benefit from using Social Media’s such as Instagram or Pinterest.

Companies that incorporate Social Medias to their e-Commerce website have been able to increase the traffic of their website substantially. On average 46% of web users will look towards social media before making a purchase rather than looking at reviews. It is important for your company to integrate prompt and consistent response times if you choose to adapt to the Social Media trend.

Check out the brand new Facebook Module that highlights featured products directly onto your Facebook account!

SHOT Show University

Our President and CEO Curtis Jazwiecki will be hosting Shot Show University seminars addressing retailers and industry leader’s about the importance of online marketing within a company. His talk will focus on why you need to engage your customers and how to do so effectively. The marketing with social media speech is part 1 of a 5 session series focusing on marketing in today’s fast paced business environment. Sessions begin on Monday January 13, in Break Room 2, at 10:40 AM. For more information go to http://www.shotshow.org/education/ and or http://www.shotshow.org/shot-university-speakers#jazwiecki

Session 1: Marketing with Social Media (10:40 – 11:50 AM)                                                                                                                                                                                                  Learn the latest tips and tactics to increase the success of your marketing with social media.

Session 2: New Technologies to Drive Foot Traffic to Your Store (1:10 – 2:00 PM)

Seminar will focus on the latest technologies retailers can use to leverage technology to engage customers and bring them into their retail space.

Session 3: Building a Marketing Plan (2:10 – 3:00 PM)         

Class will help retailers to understand the key components that go into making a world-class marketing plan.

Session 4: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (3:10 – 4:00 PM)

Seminar will highlight eight simple steps that can dramatically impact your search engine rankings and insure you are getting the most from your SEO efforts.

Session 5: Determine your Marketing Return on Investment (ROI) (4:10 – 5:00 PM)

Learn how to determine the financial return on your marketing plan with this introductory class.

Minimum Advertised Pricing!

It came to my attention recently that some companies/people are under the impression that we are here to enable people to violate suppliers MAP’s. That is minimum advertised pricing for those of you who may not know. It is OBN’s intent to encourage the use of MAP and to help in any reasonable way to guide our clients who may have inadvertently or intentionally dropped advertised prices below MAP. We are more than willing to assist anyone who calls on us regarding this matter. With that said I have attached an article below to give the very basics on MAP for your information. If you have any questions please call us at 800-699-0820 ext. 1.

How Minimum Advertised Pricing Impacts Your Retail or Online Store’s Marketing Efforts

by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator at www.SBA.gov

If you run an online or retail business, did you know that you might be prohibited from advertising a manufacturer’s products below a certain minimum price?

Minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies are particularly critical to manufacturers who sell their products for online resale, given the ease at which consumers can now conduct online and mobile price comparisons. MAP policies are also established to help small businesses compete and sell on service and value, rather than entering into a price war with cost-cutting big box stores.

But how legally enforceable are these minimum advertised pricing policies and, as a small business owner, is there a way to get around them in your sales and marketing practices?

The Truth About Minimum Advertised Pricing

Minimum advertised pricing only relates to “advertised” pricing and is perfectly legal under U.S. antitrust statutes. So, essentially, you are limited to advertising MAP-protected products at a certain price, but you can sell these products at any price you choose (often guided by the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price or MSRP).

What Does this Mean for Online Businesses?

Under typical MAP agreements, online retailers can’t “display” any prices that fall below the MAP price. But which part of an online store actually represents advertising display space has caused quite a bit of controversy. For example, say a product is listed on a site for $10. Once a coupon code or other incentive is applied, the actual shopping cart price could come down to $8. Is that still considered “advertising” since a transaction technically hasn’t yet occurred, or is it a commitment to buy and outside the scope of a MAP agreement?

The difference between an advertised price and an actual price that you may be charged has come under scrutiny by U.S. Circuit Courts and FTC rulings, which tend to agree that an actual price displayed in a secure/encrypted shopping cart isn’t subject to MAP – because it’s technically not advertising space, but represents an actual storefront. So in an online world, an actual price may legally end up being a lot lower than the MAP-required advertised price.

In fact, manufacturers are often advised to focus their MAP policies on advertised prices in paid search ads, shopping comparison ads, and internet landing pages but not in shopping carts or other point of sale interfaces.

Look for Alternative Ways to Discount

While it’s not always advisable to lead with price in your marketing efforts, look for other ways to attract customers without breaking any MAP agreements. For example, many manufacturers are okay with your offering free shipping, coupon codes, or a “buy-one-get-one at a discount,” if MAP doesn’t protect that other item. Essentially, as long as the dollar value of the MAP-protected product isn’t reduced, then you are okay. Be careful with coupon codes. It’s safer to advertise the coupon—not the product that it can be applied against—so as not to imply that you are advertising the MAP item at a reduced price. Instead, be clear about what items are excluded from any coupon code promotion.

The Bottom Line

If you are unsure about how your online advertising and marketing practices may border on breaking any MAP agreement you have with a manufacturer, talk to them or consult a legal attorney. Manufacturers do monitor their dealers for potential violations and the law is constantly in flux on this one, so do your due diligence.

For more information about the legality of MAP policies, check out the Federal Trade Commission Guide to Antitrust Laws.