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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