‘Must Knows’ on Mobile, Apps and eCommerce


By Sue Brady



It’s common knowledge that mobile is playing a bigger role than ever in eCommerce, and it’s important to understand why.


I found some interesting stats from Criteo.com that show that consumers are using multiple devices and that a larger and larger number of those consumers are completing their transactions on a mobile device. They studied over 1.4 billion transactions and found that:

  • A full 31% of all transactions happened on a mobile device in 2015
  • 35% who used more than one device ultimately purchased using their mobile
  • More than one device is used in 4 of 10 Internet transactions
  • And, those that have multiple devices are 20% more likely (than the average user) to complete their transaction on their mobile device
  • Mobile share of eCommerce transactions has grown from 27% in Q4, 2014, to 44% in Q3, 2015
  • For mobile purchases, Smartphones outpace tablets (56% smartphone vs 44% tablet).

And all that only serves to highlight that if you take transactions on your website, your mobile site needs to be consumer friendly and mobile appropriate. And mobile appropriate doesn’t mean responsive. In fact, given this data, you should ensure that your mobile website makes it easy for a user to get to, and check out from, the shopping cart. That’s not always easy to do using responsive design so look into other approaches (like Adaptive Design for instance). Here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago on why I favor adaptive design…and I still do!

Also, your website must load quickly. 40% of users will bail if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load. And each second over that sees an exponential increase in that bounce rate (source: getresponse.com).


In addition to mobile sites being of greater and greater importance, apps are gaining ground in mobile commerce. Again, more interesting data from Criteo: Of retailers that have over 25% of their transactions coming from mobile, their apps generate 58% of that mobile revenue. Their apps are converting at 3.7% times the rate than their mobile sites. And, order values were higher when a customer ordered via the app – higher than mobile browser and desktop buyers.

There are a number of online sources that give advice on designing mobile apps, and here’s a good one that covers the basics.


If you use email to sell, it’s important to know that 53% of emails are opened on a mobile phone or tablet (source: emailmonday.com). If you don’t have a mobile friendly view, almost everyone who opens your email will bail immediately. And if they open and click thru and land on a non-mobile friendly website, almost 60% will bounce!

Let this year be the year you focus on all things mobile.

New Year

5 Obvious Things you Should be Doing on your Website


By Sue Brady


It’s easy to overlook the obvious. So here are a few helpful hints to remind you of some basics to make sure your website starts the New Year on the right foot.

  1. Ask customers to take the action you want them to take.

Buy now. Learn more. Add to Cart. Checkout.

If you don’t tell your customers what to do, they might not do it. Here’s a post on this subject.

2. Make it easy for your visitors to take an action. The harder they have to work for it, the less likely they are to do it. I was on a well-known site yesterday and really wanted to add a photo book I’d created to my shopping cart. I couldn’t do it. I could clearly see the quantity button and the price (I drew the green arrow in the picture), but there was no ‘add to cart’ button. I had to completely exit out and come back in through a different set of commands before I was shown the ‘add to cart’ button.

Make it easy

3. Make your action buttons large enough so that they stand out on the page.

4. Don’t use reversed out white type in your body copy. Yes, this is one of my pet peeves, but it should be yours as well! Reversed out white type is hard on the eyes when used on more than a line or two of type. And if your web pages are hard to read, your potential customers won’t read them.

5. Have a mobile version of your website. Seriously, you should have done this a few years ago, but if you somehow haven’t, make it your next project. The time spent on the Internet via a mobile phone has now surpassed the time spent on the Internet on a desktop computer (Mary Meeker KPBC Internet Trends Report). Consumers now expect sites to be mobile friendly and will leave your site if it’s not (latest research from Google shows 29% will bounce immediately!). Plus, having a mobile friendly site helps you with your Google organic search. When a user is on a mobile phone, Google gives preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites when it returns search results.

Obvious tips, but so often overlooked. Get your website into the best shape you can so that you start 2016 off right!

Penguin, Panda, Mobilegeddon – So Many Changes!


By Sue Brady


Google makes algorithm changes on a fairly regular basis (I’ve read that they make 500-600 changes per year!) and they can have noticeable impacts to your search rankings. It can be hard to keep up and understand what these changes may mean for your website and SEO strategies. This MOZ article is a great historical perspective on all of these changes, and I’ve pulled out just a few to summarize their impacts. Note that some changes happen once as a general cleanup, while others represent an actual ongoing change to the algorithm.

May, 2015 – Quality Update

This update was not widely discussed by Google and the general opinion is that rather than adding anything to its existing algorithm, Google instead rebalanced some of the existing components. In other words, some factors became more important, moving previously higher ranked factors lower. This update appears to have been a one-time thing, so if you were going to see an impact from the update, you would have by now. If you did see changes to your rankings, particularly negative ones, it’s likely to do with how Google perceives the trustworthiness and authoritativeness of your content. Here are Google’s very own tips for how to make your site higher quality.

April 22, 2015 – Mobilegeddon

This widely hyped update turned out to have a relatively low actual impact. Mobilegeddon was made to encourage websites to be mobile friendly. It impacted organic results shown on mobile devices, giving preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites in those SERPs (search engine results pages).

September 23, 2014 – Panda 4.1 Update

Those in the know (not me), have seen many Panda updates since 4.0 was launched in May, but this is the first update officially acknowledged, so it gets a .1 designation. This update was aimed at de-prioritzing ‘bad’ affiliates, keyword stuffing, doorway pages (pages that don’t really have content, but stuff keywords so that they rank highly), and other deceptive practices.

October, 2014 – Penguin 6 (aka Penguin 3.0, so dubbed by Search Engine Land)

The Penguin updates have all been about linking. This one, though it appeared ‘big’ was said to have impacted less than 1% of total English queries. If your link profiles are good ones, you should have seen an improvement in your rankings as a result of this update. But, just because you weren’t penalized by Google directly, you still may have seen a negative impact from this update. That’s because your site may be getting credit for other sites that link to yours that are now being discounted by Google. Frustratingly, you can’t actually tell if you’ve cured a Penguin problem until the next Penguin update.

I am not an SEO expert by any stretch of the imagination. But there are many out there if you need help. Here are a few I’ve come across over the years:

  • Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) is the news editor of Search Engine News and is hugely knowledgeable on this subject.
  • Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) is an expert in digital marketing, especially as related to SEO.
  • Travis Wright (@teedubya) speaks regularly on the subject of search marketing, and he used to be a stand-up comedian, so he’s funny!
  • Larry Kim (@larrykim) founded wordstream and is a search expert.
  • Tom Pick @tompick) specializes in B2B web marketing.

“Knowledge is a weapon. I intend to be formidably armed.”

Terry Goodkind




You are Losing Sales if You Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Search Terms


By Sue Brady

Clicks Based on Search Position

Consumer Clicks Based on Search Position

“But why should I spend money on my own branded terms? If someone is searching for my brand, they already are interested in my company.”

Two reasons: Competition and consumer behavior.

Competition: Anyone can buy your branded terms. It’s not uncommon for competitors to buy each other’s terms in fact so that they are showing up alongside whoever the user searched for. And, if you aren’t buying your own branded terms, chances are your competition knows that and may be seizing the opportunity to show up in a search for your brand. Why risk having a prospect click on the competition? As the graph above shows, the higher you appear on the search page, the more clicks you’ll get.

The example below shows results of a search for Ethan Allen sofas. Walter E. Smithe bought the branded term, while Ethan Allen was content to display only in the organic results.

Ethan Allen Search Yields Competitive Result

Ethan Allen Search Yields Competitive Result

Consumer behavior: According to research by Resolution Media and Kenshoo, even if you are in the top position in the organic search results, the paid ads still get over 60% of the user clicks. So you want to appear in a top spot, and you want others selling on your behalf to be visible as well.

Who Gets Position 1 in Paid Branded Search?

The obvious answer is, whoever bids the highest. But that’s not entirely accurate. One thing is for sure: you are the brand, so you want to be in first place. And if you use affiliates (aka resellers), they shouldn’t be bidding for placement above yours in branded search.  You might be surprised to learn that as the brand, you pay less than anyone else does to be in the top position because your quality score for your branded terms will be highest. This is a significant cost difference, say $.40 per click if you’re the brand, to $4 per click if you’re not. A study done by Engine Ready  shows that consumers are 3x more likely to click-thru on an ad that is in position 1 vs either positions 2 or 3 (n=192 million impressions). And position 1 garners 59% of the clicks, compared to position 2 at 15% (source: Compete.com).

Who Gets Positions 2 and 3?

Is it okay to let resellers bid on your branded terms for positions 2 and 3? It is okay, and you should allow it. Why? One primary reason is it can help you manage your competitors by keeping them out of those spots. Many companies utilize a network of affiliates and/or resellers to help them generate more customers by buying into those spots. These resellers are usually paid a bounty on an agreed upon action (sale, install, appointment). The key here is to know who is selling, how they are doing it, and to be able to manage it as best you can. If you are the brand, you get to set the rules. If others want to sell your wares, they need to play by those rules, or lose the privilege.

You probably don’t need to allow more than two resellers to bid on your brand, since there are only three paid positions in total, and you are already taking one. And your top two resellers will be more loyal if it’s easier for them to buy your branded terms over the other players.  And if they are spending more, your competition may decide not to bid for those branded terms.

How do you Enforce it?

First of all, enforcement is key or no one will follow the rules. If someone violates, you need to call them out and tell them to stop. There are a number of alarm products that can help you monitor search activity on your branded terms. Some examples are Search Monitor and  Marin Software.

What About Mobile?

The same principals apply to mobile. The big difference is that mobile only has 2 paid positions available. You still want the top position while one of your resellers can bid for position 2. With the Google Enhanced Campaigns that launched earlier this year, you can no longer create a mobile only campaign. You’ll need to manage your mobile bids as a part of your overall campaign. You can read more about that here.

This shouldn’t be minimized. You do need to be in mobile. Half (and growing) of all searches are conducted using a mobile device (source: Microsoft), and 90% of those searches lead to action, with 50% of those leading to a purchase (source: SearchEnglineLand). You can’t afford NOT to be there.

To recap, why do I need to bid on Branded Terms?

Here’s why, even if you are already number one in organic:

  1. You will pick up more clicks if you are in position one in paid and position one in organic. It’s a fact that has been proven over and over again. If you are unsure, try testing it. If your clicks (and conversions) don’t improve, then stop the campaign.
  2. Branded terms are really inexpensive when you’re the brand because your quality score on branded terms will be higher than anyone else’s. That means that you’ll pay far less per click then the next guy pays for your branded terms.
  3. You’ll be able to manage your competition better. If you aren’t bidding on your branded terms, there’s nothing to stop the competition from doing so.

Is Native Advertising the New Online Banner?


By Sue Brady

BIA/Kelsey Social Local Media Forecast, March 2013

BIA/Kelsey Social Local Media Forecast, March 2013

The idea of native advertising is to deliver content to the viewer in the context in which they are already viewing something. Advertisers like this technique because consumers view their message while they are actively looking at a page, feed, or article. The advertiser wants to make the native advertising seamless so that the consumer sees the ad as a part of what they are viewing, but not in a deceptive way. The key really is relevancy.  With the continued decline in banner click-thru rates, native advertising is proving to be a solid alternative.

It’s not a new concept in the offline world where newspapers and magazines have run native ads for years. But it’s all the rage in the online world. Native advertising on social sites is expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2017, according to the BIA/Kelsey Social Local Media Forecast, March 2013. And it’s because advertisers are seeing results. According to an IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough study using eye tracking and surveys, native ads showed an 18% lift over banners for purchase intent and consumers looked at native ads 52% more frequently than they looked at banner ads.

Mobile especially seems to be turning to native advertising. The mobile ad network Airpush, rated as the best mobile ad network in 2012, recently acquired Hubbl, a leader in mobile native advertising. The tiny ads delivered to mobile devices just aren’t impactful for advertisers, but a highly integrated native ad could be hugely effective.

Online native advertising is so new that there really are no standard rates yet. According to Digiday here’s how prices look for a few well-known publishers:

Buzzfeed: $100,000 buys 4 – 5 posts written by Buzzfeed writers
Forbes: $50,000 – $75,000 per month buys you an unlimited amount of content (3 month commitment required)
Gawker: $12,000 per individual post
Business Insider: $5,000 per post
Huffington Post: $40,000 per posted article

Social networks are also getting into the act with promoted and sponsored opportunities that are native-ish. They generally are offering cost per click or CPM arrangements. Tweets are marked as ‘promoted’ or a LinkedIn post will be marked as sponsored. Facebook has a wide variety of options for sponsored advertising that has a native feel. For instance, you can create a sponsored story when someone shares something you’ve posted, and that story will appear on the walls of that person’s followers. You can do the same when someone ‘likes’ a particular page or posts something to a wall. This explains all of their sponsored options. Pinterest has said they will start testing sponsored pins soon. This is clearly the new advertising darling.

LinkedIn Promoted Ad

LinkedIn Promoted Ad 

Facebook Promoted Ad
Facebook Promoted Ad

Twitter Promoted Tweet

Twitter Promoted Tweet

The most common metric used to evaluate native advertising is engagement, and advertisers appear to be satisfied with what they are seeing.

Have you gone native yet?