Featured News and Events (39)

The Yeoman team is pleased to announce the 7th update to its Website Best Practice Scorecard.  Now in it's seventh year, the scorecard let's manufacturer's and brands compare their websites against 121 Best Practices across multiple industries.

Manufacturers and publishers have a unique challenge with websites. Their sites have to combine sales, operations, marketing, support, and channel programs. These have to be organized and easy-to-follow for customers and partners. Plus they have to be 'consumer friendly' and keep up with the latest trends in devices and behavior. 

The scorecard was created by Yeoman Technology Group based on an extensive review of the top 500 websites of manufacturers, content/course providers, and publishers. This primary research was then combined with usability studies from leading consulting and analysis firms.  The result is a set of Best Practices criteria that are proven elements of successful websites and, in many cases, the expected functions of any professional system. Note that the benchmark does not rate design look, theme, colors, messaging, and etc. These are all specific creative elements that should be driven by your organization’s marketing and branding teams.

This year's scorecard was specifically expanded in several key areas:

  1. Responsive Design:  Not only are their additional requirements for mobile functionality, a key 'best practice' is the overall footprint for desktop viewing.  They majority of laptops and desktops are now wider than the standard 960 pixels of most sites.  All sites should incorporate this wider screen format.
  2. Geolocation Options:  The 'find a retailer' link is dead.  The new best practice combines geolocation targeting and interactive maps that help a user find your product.  In addition, all products should 'deep link' to partner retail sites if applicable.
  3. Live Chat: It's no longer a nice option, the best rated B2B and B2C now have some level of live chat available on the site. 
  4. Advanced Analytics:  The good news is the majority of sites now have some level of analytics running, the bad news is most aren't configured properly.  Base analytics have always been a part of the scorecard, but this year we've added requirements for retargeting, behavior profiling, and socio-economic data capture.
  5. Privacy updates:  Always boring and usually ignored, every site needs to have their policies reviewed and updated for new EU and upcoming US changes.

Yeoman's scorecard is provided to all existing clients as part of their engagement with Yeoman.  Scorecard ratings are available as a stand-alone service for $1,500 to $3,500 per site. This includes scorecard creation and formal report review.  Contact Yeoman today for a formal quote and sample

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If AI still sounds like science fiction to you, you might be in imminent danger of falling behind the competition. But it’s not too late to get up to speed and start using AI to advance your business. If you’d like to learn more, join me as I co-host the upcoming VentureBeat webinar: “AI-powered customer engagement isn’t optional anymore,” live online on Feb 27th, or on demand after that date.
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The recovering economy may make many brands think the painful digital shift they’ve been undergoing in their channels will subside as traditional retail, wholesale, outside, and catalog sales get a lift with a stronger economy. They'd be wrong. While a stronger economy will help all sales, this recovery will likely see its biggest boost in digital channels – everything from direct sales and drop ships to social commerce and Amazon domination. There's plenty for a brand to do in 2018, but here are 5 trends you should be acting on now.
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According to a recent report put together by the Baymard Institute, an independent web research company, 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned. That means that 67% of web shoppers looked around your site, picked out one or more things they liked enough to save into a cart, and then just...didn't buy them. Why not?


The four main reasons online browsers don't make that online purchase include:

1. Taxes and Shipping. Shipping just bumped a $29.99 purchase up to $41.50. The total price is too much. Bye-bye, customer.

2. Buyer’s Remorse. Shopping around and putting things in your cart is a guilt-free pleasure. But once you see everything you picked out, a sense of regret can outweigh the actual enjoyment of potentially using the product. Customers start to ask themselves: Do I really need this product? 67% of them say "no." 

3. It was fun to pretend. I was just browsing or comparison shopping. I never planned to buy the item, or I went somewhere else and got a better price.

4. Problems with the website. The website crashed or timed out, your website navigation is too complicated, the customer had concerns about payment security, or their payment was declined. Oops.


So, once they leave, can you ever lure those customers back? There are two proven ways to deal with abandoned carts, and turn some of those browsers into buyers:

  1. Ad Retargeting.  This uses cookies to track people who visited your site and show them ads of their abandoned products as they cruise around the web. Sometimes a little reminder is all they need.
  2. Email Recovery Campaigns.  You can create a series of emails that get sent out to the shopper after they have abandoned their cart and left your site. These often include a special offer, like "free shipping", that give the customers a reason to come back and complete their order.

If you've got abandoned shopping carts, Yeoman can help you figure out why customers are stopping short of purchasing from you, and then develop and execute a plan to get them back. Get in touch to discuss your ecommerce issues with us today.


Source:  Baymard Institute, a web research co. based in the UK.  67% is an avg. based on 22 different studies.  http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate

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Should a B2B Brand Tweet?

 Tweeting may be darlings of retail, music, and news junkies everywhere, but should it be part of a B2B manufacturers' plan?

Sometime in 2014, social networking (including micro-blogging sites like Twitter and Tumblr) quietly surpassed all other online activities, accounting for 41% of time spent online (GlobalWebIndex).

If you looked back at Twitter in 2010, they had only 105 million users and 55 million tweets per day. Twitter now boasts ”about a billion” registered users who post  500 million tweets per day.  Digital Information World reports that by 2015, 99% of the world’s top brands have a Facebook page and 97% are active on Twitter. In fact, 46% of web users look to social media when making a purchase, and 67% of Twitter users say they are “far more likely” to buy from a brand they follow on Twitter that one they don’t—and the average Twitter user follows five or more brands.

Twitter is now the top news source for political information and trends (no surprise there)  But is it a place for a B2B brand?  Let's look at the data.  The top five reasons people follow brands on social media are:

1. Promotions and discounts

2. The latest product info

3. Customer service (lots of complaints)

4. Entertaining content

5. Ability to offer feedback
If you're an industrial manufacturer or B2B publisher, the 'entertaining content' option may make you gag, but the other 4 are noteworthy, especially if competitors are leveraging it for service and sales expansion. First steps.

Step 1: Understand where to reach your target customers

When it comes to time spent engaging, Facebook still rules, with the average user clocking almost 15 hours per week “Facebooking” across all of their devices (you guessed it, folks are on Facebook at work). Twitter comes in a distant second, but still captivates users at just under 4 hours per week, and Instagram is nipping at its heels with 3 hours and 40 minutes per average user. If you look at the number of active users for the top social media platforms, you will still find Facebook at the top with 1.35 billion, followed by Instagram (300 million), and Twitter (284 million) (Tech Crunch).  

On key point; FaceBook is unquestionably a B2C social space.  Studies show that working people DO NOT want to engage with work related manufacturers on Twitter.  Stick to LinkedIn is where the 'work social' occurs.  FaceBook knows this and has been trying to launch "FaceBook at Work" for years

But that doesn’t mean you should just go for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and then forget about it. You need to understand where your target customer is spending time—and money. Google and an hour or two of your time will help you understand who the users are on the “big” social media networks, and may even turn up some niche platforms you haven’t heard about—but should be pursuing.  For example, Shopify recently released a helpful infographic showing which sites convert the best, along with a wealth of other information about the transactions (The biggest surprise: Polyvore had the highest average order value of them all!).

Yeoman research confirms that there are over 100 different social sites with at least 1 million users, focusing on everything from consumers and engineers to teachers and doctors. You need to look at the big players as a  part of a bigger social networking approach that includes niche players for your industry.

Step 2: Understand your prospects' behavior in these sites.

Just because your prospect engages with a social network does not mean they want to do business there. There are some basic rules of thumb. For example, Facebook is not a place to push business to business sales, and LinkedIn isn’t a place to push consumer products. Make sure you know what the unwritten rules are before blundering in with your sales pitch. And please be sure you understand the lingo as well…you don’t want to end up like some of these brands, lampooned by New York Magazine for their uncool social media posts.

When determining where to spend time and effort, you need to look at every option and figure out if it meets at least two of the “Three Ps:”

• Presence: Target customers are active users of the channel
• Propensity: Customers are likely to purchase while in this channel
• Purchases: Similar products (i.e., competitors) are in the channel

Step 3: Consider other online venues that offer a bit more control over content.

The basic concept of social media is that it’s a peer to peer setting with little to no control over the postings of others. Great as a concept, but a potential nightmare for business. At a minimum, you need to setup a system to monitor comments about your company online, and a plan for addressing them.

Then consider setting up one or more ‘Knowledge’ sites. These have the same ‘social’ elements like Facebook, but offer centralized control over who posts what. These sites are often owned by a company that sells in that industry. Some great examples include www.5sbestpractices.com (industrial), www.searchdoneright.com (technology), www.arbookfind.com (education). If customer issues come up there, you control and manage them. Investing in a Knowledge site may very well make a lot more sense than jumping into an existing social media community.


Step 4: Put social media within the context of all of your Internet channel programs.

At Yeoman, we segment the web into seven distinct channels; each with its own set of competitors, search, etc. Social networking and content sites are two. The others include Auction Systems (eBay, Liquidation.com) E-Tailers (Amazon, Overstock, etc) B2B Systems (Alibaba, Ketera, Ariba) Referral Engines (Buyerzone, Shopzilla, Nextag) and, of course, your main site.

A big mistake is to think Google (or anything else) searches all of them. It doesn’t. For example, If your potential buyers use a B2B system to look for products and you’re not there, they’ll simply go with someone else. All the search engine optimization and social networking in the world won’t help you. You need to be where your customers are likely to buy.

Step 5: Analyze, evaluate, and refresh.

The social media universe is very fluid and evolves rapidly. You will need to monitor your results and tweak your strategy on a regular basis.

Get the guidance that gets results

You need to review every online option, focusing on the customer buying potential. We can help you figure out where potential customers are and which systems you should be leveraging (direct or indirect) to get the sale.

Learn more about our Internet Sales and distribution consulting services or contact us now.

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Online price discrimination?

 If you’re shopping from a Manhattan zip code or logging in with a Mac (avg. household income for Mac owners is 32% higher than Windows PC owners), Orbitz concedes that you’ll pay more for your hotel room.  Orbitz has rolled out what it calls a “predictive analytics” initiative in an attempt to increase revenues.  Indeed, it’s not hard to find examples of different people paying different prices based on their demographic checkboxes.

Orbitz isn't showing the same room to different users at different prices, but more luxurious rooms at higher prices to certain users.

The sort of targeting undertaken by Orbitz is likely to become more commonplace as online retailers scramble to identify new ways in which people’s browsing data can be used to increase online sales.

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As the East Coast gets pummeled by the first blizzard of the year, organizations should have shifted their Sales and Marketing spend for the next two days.  It's not just the snow plow guys who are reaping benefits of snow. Regional E-commerce sales and traffic always spike during snowstorms.

How big of a spike?  A typical snowstorm can spike regional YoY traffic by 10-25%. This storm is impacting the entire Eastern Seashore, so that could drive traffic up over 30%.  If your sales team is in tune with the weather and redirects your demand gen spend (including email, Amazon marketing, Google & Bing PPC, as well as social activity) you'll see some great year over year results.  Yesterday we saw southern ecommerce revenue spiked 20% for one US retailer.  Instore traffic was going to be down anyway but the team already had a plan to shift messaging and spend to maximize the online lift.

For a brand / manufacturer, you should be able to leverage these type of events to boost your direct as well as partner sales.  

Your "storm day" action plan should include:

  • Main e-commerce site: It's easy to update the core site messaging and sliders as well as re-shift product biasing to core winter items (if applicable).  You also coordinate with any B2B or B2C partners that are having online events.  If they're lagging on offers, consider a 'free shipping day'
  • Email:  Most brands have a decent size mailing list.  An early morning email blast is a perfect opportunity to message a 'snow day sale or free shipping promo'
  • Google PPC and other online campaigns: There was an increase in all web traffic during the storm simply due to the fact that many individuals were forced off the roads.  You should have a "storm ready" PPC campaign or a set plan to boost budget regionally.  If you happen to have 'winter products' it's a great time to boost your product listing ads
  • Online Partner Coordination: Amazon, Wal-Mart, Grainger, and any other ecommerce site will likely see a nice lift in the impacted regions.  Your team should jump on this and update any campaigns on platforms like Amazon Marketing Service or Hooklogic to jump ahead of your competition.  Big ecommerce players are the primary benefactors of online sales bumps due to weather - adjust accordingly
  • Social Posts and Promos:  FaceBook and Twitter also tend to have sizable bumps during storms.  Leverage the broader marketing options available and mix in some fresh posts and updates (especially posts that point to your site or partner promos) as well as some product specific PPC.  Social tends to have softer ROI than Google, but product ads have continued to improve.

If you're reading this and saying 'good idea', maybe next time you need our help.  Yeoman is more than an agency or tech shop; we're doers and can help adjust and implement a plan that is as flexible as the weather is unpredictable. Get in touch to find out how.

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Amazon Brand Registry - It's Working

In our recent blog post, Amazon Brand Registry: What You Need to Know Right Now, we covered some of the advantages of signing up for the new Amazon Brand Registry. Of course the main benefit of the brand registry is that once you prove your brand belongs to you, Amazon will help you protect it against counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers. Well, it's working.
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Yeoman is often asked by clients to help identify 'gaps' in their teams' abilities to be more digitally focused.  Most companies we work with often have great sales teams, a solid marketing group, and good business analysts but they still struggle with the best way to support their sales and distribution efforts online. 
Over the years, Yeoman has found most organizations have gaps in 3 key areas:

1. Online Product Merchandising:  The actual creation of product details online is often relegated to a junior buyer, marketing associate, (or worse) an intern. The thought of what product details will be often comes last and is rushed out as the product is shipping.  Big mistake.  Building up your internal content skills is one of the best ways to improve your overall footprint.  This includes everything from best practice titles, product details, images, specifications, categorization, etc.  This isn't a one time task; it needs to become part of someone's role for three reasons:

  • Optimized Channel Content – Once you create this base of content, you need to not only make sure it gets on your main site, but on partner sites like Amazon, Wal-mart, or Graingers.  They have a massive volume of visitors and some unique ways that they present their content.  Your staff need to be able to write web-friendly descriptions and titles, as well as understand applicable keywords and categorization for each partner.
  • Content Updates – This is different from creating the initial content and is more about learning to look at high volume items and adjust the copy or add images to help increase sales.  With experience, your team will be able to take slow-moving items and turn them into top sellers.  The ability to look at overall volume across different online channels is a major competitive advantage (trust us--most companies never do this).
  • Review Management and Response – This should be the responsibility of your merchandising team (vs customer service).  Sites like Amazon rely so heavily on reviews that your merchandising team should be tasked with monitoring overall review activity and responding to product questions or negative reviews.  This is a critical part of success on Amazon or other larger marketplace sites.  Amazon does not monitor your products for bad reviews - you have to.

 2. Demand Generation Management:  Yeoman likes to use the term "demand generation" as a way to categorize the execution of the different components of your overall Marketing plan. Most organizations have good marketing visions and strategies, but most fall short when it comes to executing the actual digital plan.  One of the biggest mistakes we see is the organization outsourcing the entire demand gen effort to an outside agency, believing that they have the skills and best interest of the business. Big mistake. Your team needs to be the leader and driver of the digital programs and make sure they fit with the overall plan - especially the offline sales efforts. An agency will likely have the skills in one or more areas, but rarely has the desire to directly support all required online programs including:

  • Classic Paid Search: Including text and display ads
  • Re-targeting programs: Every visitor to your site should be part of a long term re-marketing program that is used for new product releases, seasonal activity, etc. Most organizations look at re-targeting as 30 to 90 day buckets.  We recommend thinking in 1.5 year levels.
  • Email marketing:  Still relevant and important for every organization
  • Social: Yes, we know it's the darling of most marketing folks today but are you using it properly or just following the pack?  Quick test - if you're a B2B or educational vendor, the bulk of your social posts should be on LinkedIn, not Facebook.
  • Channel Demand Programs:  This is often the biggest misstep, especially with Amazon.  The monster of all ecommerce has their own series of demand generation programs that every organization should be capitalizing on:
    • Merchant Demand Programs:  These are keyword ads that run on your merchant account.
    • Brand Page Management:  Amazon Brand Pages are a great way to represent your company and product line on Amazon.  Brand Pages allow for their own keywords campaigns as well.
    • Review Program Management:   This is a key area for careful attention, especially for new products. Your staff need to be responsible for any review campaigns as well as leveraging a feedback system to help request additional emails from customers who purchase on Amazon.  The response or updating of any questions or negative reviews will typically be the responsibility of the product merchandising team.
    • Author Page Management (for Publishers):  This is a marketing function to make sure that your listed authors are properly represented on the site.

3.  Business Analytics Reporting:  If you have an existing team who is responsible for business and ecommerce analytics reporting, this team needs to step it up and start integrating digital behavior, especially web and channel activity.  We’re not talking about just sales figures.  This reporting is more about overall activity and how it relates to revenue.  Your reporting team should be tracking:

  • Key impression levels and desired activity:  Most organizations have a misunderstanding of who sales are made online.  Marketing agencies often get in trouble for claims like "Ad impressions closed 25% of direct sales" because it's simply not true.  The entire organization needs to build up their understanding of key data elements:
    • Impressions - How many times was your product or brand is seen digitally.  This includes ad impressions, emails sent, social chatter, etc.  This is a high level number that helps you see your 'depth.'
    • Desired Actions - This is NOT just sales, but includes site visits, product detail pages views, dealer look-ups, trial registrations, etc.  Every product has a slightly different path to sales.  Key actions help the organization understand if the funnel is being filled.
    • Sales Driver and Influencer Factors - A big step for every organization, especially when you're looking at direct site activity.  Yeoman has analyzed over 1 billion visits over the last 6 years in almost every industry and has found that 100% of all ecommerce sites have a percentage of visitors that are 'multi-visit' and 'multi-funnel' (which mean that some % of people come back multiple time and different ways before they buy).  Let's say that again - every business has a % of customers who engage multiple times before they buy.  Offline we all know that historically but online you can actually see it (if you look). Every campaign needs to be able to report its sales support in three ways:
      • Last click - Did an email or ad 'bring the user back" to the site to complete the sale (or desired goal)?  This is the most common way digital ROI gets reported and can severely understate the overall impact of a campaign.
      • Assisted click - Any typical company will likely see 25-75% of their direct traffic coming back multiple times before buying, requesting a quote, or competing some other goal . It's critical to report on how many times the average user returned and what % of a campaign's clicks 'assisted' in an eventual sale.  Email is a classic example of a campaign that tends to have a higher 'assist' rate than 'last click' rate.
      • Impression assist - If the user didn't click on an email, social post, or ad, but did eventually buy that 'impression activity' can be attributed as helping the sale. It shouldn't be claimed as the reason, but instead seen as part of that overall blend that supports a plan.  This type of data is trackable if your team properly configures their systems.
  • Product views and close rates (both direct and on Amazon):  This is a key analytics report that should be monitored weekly.  All the data is available, your team just needs to pull and monitor it on a regular basis.  This is a key report that helps both teams:
    • Merchandising team – Identifies items with low or high close-rates for optimization
    • Marketing team – Leverages data on volume and trends for marketing programs
  • Campaign Reports:  These would include any marketing campaigns (like Google AdWords or email) and channel campaigns within Amazon.  Your team should pull this data and integrate it with the product activity reports to give Marketing some insight on direct and indirect influencers of sales. The three buckets above should be part of any campaign report.
  • Brand and Review Performance:  Yeoman recommends that you monitor overall review performance and brand chatter online.  Review management is critical for partners like Amazon and if left unchecked, one bad review can torpedo a strong product.  Brand chatter monitoring also helps you identify potential issues or negative activity and cut it off before it does damage.  Need an example?  Ask your team to sweep your products on Amazon for you.  Chances are you'll find a top seller that is sitting with 1 or 2 negative reviews and is dying on the vine at Amazon.

Need guidance on where to begin?  Yeoman can help develop and launch all of these programs, processes and reports.  Yeoman engagements always have the goal of training and transitioning on-going tasks over to your staff, but if you prefer, Yeoman is also available to stay on and run operations on a longer-term basis, especially if your internal staff needs to build up their skills.  Call or email us today!

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Email Operations Review List

What are you going to do that last week of December?  Many customers are taking time off and you may find yourself with some extra time to review, refresh and revamp.  A good place to start is to review systems and procedures that you typically set and forget.  If you’re not reporting and monitoring activity on those platforms on a regular basis, you may be missing out on some vital opportunities.
Take Email Marketing for example.  When is the last time you reviewed your email preference lists, brand lists, and workflows?  It’s common to complete the initial set-up and then assume automation is working well, but we’ve found that a quick review can often uncover some easy-to-fix problems.  
Here are 4 quick steps to get you started:

  1. Log in to your email marketing platform and go to your lead database and/or customer management section.
  2. Review the lists you have set up (may be set up by brand, customer segment, or interest).  Look for any discrepancies.  Are the quantities what you expect to see?  Are the lists increasing?
  3. Check the automated workflows.  Are your customers landing in the correct buckets so that they receive the messaging that’s best for them?
  4. Check the email preference center.  Can your customers manage their preferences in a logical way without unsubscribing completely?

Sometimes a quick review can uncover new customers and new marketing opportunities.  What a great way to jump-start your new business year and make sure your customers receive the information they’ve asked for.  Happy New Year!
If you’d like us to take a look for you, let us know!  You can check out our other services by clicking here.

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Are you ready to “wow” your customers and edge out the competition in 2018? With a dizzying array of channels and marketing tools, it can be hard to know what to focus on. We here at Yeoman recommend you focus on these 6 growing trends.
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Groupon may have started life as an online coupon site, but most of its growth and revenue is due to their discount goods business, which launched in 2011. Five years and nearly $2 billion USD in goods revenue later, the company is ready to take on the world of ecommerce mega giants like Amazon, eBay, Sears, Buy.com and Jet—just to name a few.
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How to Empower Staff with Data

Data, data everywhere, and nary a data scientist in sight. Or at least, not one you can afford. It's a classic Catch-22. To thrive, businesses need to pull financial, sales, predictive, social, and other data into a complete view of the customer. But big data practitioners with fancy degrees who can bring sophisticated analytics chops to bear on that effort start in the six figures, if you can even find one.

Academics and consultants pontificate on the crisis. McKinsey & Co. exclaims that advanced big data analytics, driven partly by the Internet of Things, could increase GDP in retailing and manufacturing by up to $325 billion annually and trim nearly as much from the cost of healthcare and government services by 2020. Too bad most organizations will never be able to hire that expertise. Yep, the world's got big data envy bad, and a data scientist is the silver bullet we all need.

Here's an alternative viewpoint: You don't need them. Instead, bring big data analytics down to earth, train some people, and use the tools you have, with a few select additions. Now before you go all Pi and post N∞ comments opposing the concept, hear me out.

Read the entire article at InformationWeek http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/software-platforms/analytics-for-all-no-data-scientists-needed/d/d-id/1306607

(Written and researched by Yeoman Technologies' Mike Healey)

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name? In online merchandising just about everything.

Data quality online is one of the biggest problems manufacturers face. How good your product “looks” online (including not just clean photos, but also well-written product descriptions and titles) impacts everything from SEO rankings to customer preference to channel relations – so getting it right is important.

There’s a lot that goes into data quality. One critical element is the title. This is often the first and only information your prospect is going to see before making that all important decision to click or not to click. This snippet of text is also weighted heavily by the search engines, meaning a good title will get you in front of more prospects.

The biggest mistake we see manufacturers make is using their 'own' terms for items, assuming that everyone knows what they mean.  It's call the 'Curse of Knowledge' and can plague everyone from industrial manufacturers to beverage Companies that insist on calling their product 'soda'

At Yeoman we’ve developed a best practice for product titles, which uses a standard to ensure that the product title provides enough detail to assist the user in their search and navigation without having to see the image or read the detailed description. This provides a clearer and more consistent user experience as well as helps optimize each page for internal and external search engines. 

Seems pretty straightforward. But here’s where it gets tricky.

For example, what word do you use to describe carbonated soft drinks? According to the handy visual on popvssoda.com, there are three major regional variations including “soda” (Northeast, California), “pop” (Midwest), and “Coke” (South).

So when writing a best practice title, how do you reconcile regional variations to create a consistent experience that ensures customers can find products regardless of where they see them online (Google, Bing, Shopatron, Amazon, etc) – or where the customer is physically located?

Good question.

At Yeoman we’ve developed a best practice for product titles, which uses a standard to ensure that the product title provides enough detail to assist the user in their search and navigation without having to see the image or read the detailed description. This provides a clearer and more consistent user experience as well as helps optimize each page for internal and external search engines. 

Give us a shout – we specialize in making sure your online data quality is top notch – no matter what kind of soda-pop your customers prefer.

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Quick question: What do digital strategies and bankruptcy filings have in common?
Answer: Nothing, except that if you don’t have the former, you’ll likely end up with the latter. Don’t believe us? The list of companies that have “reorged” during the last four years is a veritable who’s who of entities that failed to make the leap to digital.

In retail, think Thomasville/Lane Furniture, Brookstone, and Loehmann’s. In education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Cengage Learning. In publishing, Gatehouse Media and Reader’s Digest. In manufacturing, Kodak, Exide, Oreck, and Hawker Beechcraft. Even in the technology world we saw two pioneers fall: SSD maker OCZ and venerable video game creator Atari.

Some blame the recession, but technically that’s been over for two years. In fact, if you strip out the real estate and financial firm bankruptcies typically associated with the downturn, most sectors are trending up. However, there’s a catch and caveat. Retail, manufacturing, distribution, publishing, and education have a common challenge: Growth in these industries is coming only from organizations that are digitally integrated. Legacy firms that haven’t made the leap are stuck.....

Yeoman President Mike Healey and InformationWeek Reports have combined to release a new research report on the state of digital transformation, listing best practice and biggest mistakes.  Our exclusive research shows critical gaps impacting 65% of enterprises surveyed.  Left unresolved, they may end up a shadow of themselves.. (Source: 2014 InformationWeek Digital Research Survey)

Download the entire report at InformationWeek Reports -- http://reports.informationweek.com/abstract/83/12521/IT-Business-Strategy/The-Business-of-Going-Digital.html

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A recent Yeoman study of over 1,500 items sold on Amazon from a leading US manufacturer found a whopping 70% contained errors or did not follow Amazon’s best practice recommendations for providing product details. This study further showed the same level of inaccuracy on Google and Bing product searches. This is a maddening problem that plagues manufacturers in every industry. Once a product is “out there,” resellers, partners, distributors and reviewers end up shaping and revising the product details that your customers are going to use to make their purchase decision.

Products sold by Amazon definitely had better data quality, but less than 4% could be considered 'optimized' with the proven best practices for any item:

  • Descriptive title at least 50 characters long (including brand, purpose, color, and set/quantity info)
  • Multiple images of product
  • Bullet/summary list of product features
  • Complete description that includes product benefits, usage instructions, what's in the box, and etc.
  • MSRP reference price
  • Proper brand name and manufacturer info
  • Mfg part number, ISBN, or UPC
  • Proper categorization within Amazon browser tree


This isn't necessarily Amazon's fault. Amazon relies heavily on third party merchants as part of their product information set. Manufacturers who don’t understand how product details evolve online end up with a mish-mash of ‘ugly baby’ product details that hurt their sales - both offline and online. 

To address or avoid data quality problems, make sure you have these three key components in place:

  1. Baseline data components in an accessible format. It's amazing how many manufacturers and publishers claim they have great data only to find out its on a spreadsheet somewhere in engineering or marketing.  If you're data isn't in an easily accessible format that partners can use, you can't expect them to get it right.  There are 64 "standard" fields that every manufacturer could pull together and offer up to their partners.  Do you know what they are?
  2. A monitoring program for your online product set. If you don't have a program that monitors your product details on the major channels (including eBay, Amazon, and the general web) you can't take any action.
  3. A product detail action plan. Once you've begun monitoring, make a plan to address bad data as you find it. This includes:
    1. Registering with Amazon brand registry (key for disputes)
    2. Addressing any trademark or misrepresentations on Google or other sites
    3. Providing easy access to your product details (either via website or product feeds)


Yeoman specializes in working with manufacturers and publishers to help you understand your online sales and distribution channels.  Contact us today for a review and assessment of your current data quality online.  We've helped scrub, clean, and optimize over 500,000 items in the last year alone! 

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