Information Week Interviews Pierre DeBois of Zimana: Change and Community in Analytics

In May 2017, Zimana founder Pierre DeBois was interviewed at InteropITX in Las Vegas.    Pierre stopped by the Information Week News desk to speak with Jim Conolly, Executive Managing Editor, offering his insights on All Analytics, an analytics online community, and on the state of business intelligence today.

You can also check out an article Pierre specifically wrote for Information Week. The post focuses on the growing shift in retail to mainstream e-commerce. It examines Amazon and compares its status in retail today against Sears, a stalwart department store which had a similar ascendancy in its heyday.

You can read the article,  Amazon and Sears – Tales of Two Retailers, here.

SEO Tips: Where To Start With Paid and Social Ads


The golden process in which customers magically arrive to your business after making a wonderful discovery of your website in Bing, Google , and Yahoo!

Yeah, right.

Many businesses rightly invest in their search optimization. Search traffic is a very cost effective way of gaining traffic.  But the optimization is approached with a narrow scope on top SERP as the only measure of success.  In the last two years, the inclusion of social media in search results, combined with search engine refinements means that customer can discover your business in more than one way.  In fact the latest studies reveal nuanced search results that yield more conversions in a number of instances. Overlooking these researched efforts results in an overlook of more effective marketing.

Here’s how you can take advantage of these changes to better plan SEO and paid search.

Don’t fret excessively about the #1 spot in search – it’s important to improve exposure online to a search engine, but other avenues for awareness exist online.

Not being at the top of a search result is not the death of your search exposure, let alone digital exposure, to customers. The push to be #1 or #2 is valuable, but that message has been lost in context to the search query. In the 2000s keyword was paramount, and it is to degree now.  If you were a shoe maker you would like to be on top for “shoe repair” as much as you would for your store name.

But other networked devices and platforms have sprung up, to allow your business a new way to be exposed.  Some demographics rely on search more heavily than others – B2B is good example.  But many people discover new ways to engage your site and thus, your business.

Be leery of being ranked for your brand name as an end-all for search strategy

Keep in mind – being first in SERP for your personal name or business name is sometimes not a meaningful optimization. Many black hat consultants present being number one for a store name as a value, when that rank really should come natural based on page title, URL, and page description in the HTML.

Today search that brings visits is taking the form of a question happening as frequently in an Amazon Alexa as it can on a laptop.  Google noted that smartphones are the lead in a multidevice usage. And mobile users are more than likely to take action on a query – meaning call a store or make a purchase.

Review search visits and time on site improvements   

If you have launched a site, you should review search visits and time-on-site data of your web analytics solution to gain a sense for what keywords have worked. Make a list based on the trends you find.

Compare your observations against results from a site scan in Google Adwords Manager or Microsoft Adcenter Manager.  Both can scan a site your site and return a query list of words based on the site content.

Next compare this PPC-generated list to the keyword report you have examined – you are now looking for words that are on the site but really did not generate search traffic.  These identified words are now the keywords you can focus on for paid search to bolster traffic and interest. You can also:

  • Create a paid search campaign (or PPC: Pay Per Click) that includes your target words.  You can review competitiveness and plan a trial budget in your ad manager.   Using paid campaigns can increase click through in many cases when a word appears on a search result in the organic and paid search results.
  • For words beyond your paid search budget, investigate words that are used  as a Twitter hashtag for a target audience. You can then use these words in a Twitter strategy.  You can try a specialty search engine such as 48ers to see Twitter-related query results.  Set up a column in Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or another application that monitors word usage.  Monitoring helps you understand how it is used, and make adjustments for your strategy.
  • Make sure your blog is hosted at the same service as your website.  Doing so ensures that frequent posting signals to search engines that content is being updated, strengthening how a site appears against a query. Hosting a blog elsewhere is not necessarily an SEO killer, but it does create two separate mediums that must be optimize (and can be more work for some businesses to keep up).
  • Ensure the title, meta description, H1 tags, and anchor text in your webpage code contains the selected keywords.  Moreover titles and descriptions appear in Facebook postings, so make sure these descriptions make sense and are not just a series of “keyword stuffing” lines.
  • Make sure keywords appear in the image descriptions in your website code.  Make sure the file names include those words as well.
  • Link building is valuable, but you want to focus on sites that are actively maintained and relevant to your site content. instead of requesting links, develop a contribution plan – find sites to contribute posts or to maintain profiles in which your site URL can be included.
  • Insert keywords into video titles and submit to YouTube.  Many people forget that Youtube in its self is the second largest search engine.

Discipline in implementing SEO is key to making Do-It-Yourself efforts effective.  Doing so also makes you smarter as a business owner. SEO requires an appreciation of website code and structure, but not so much as to turn you into a full-fledged developer. This knowledge can help you frame the questions you have when you later need to ask for digital marketing help.

Social ads raise awareness of posts

Social ads are important, because they allow a targeted message for people who spend a lot of time on social media.  They can be set for specific interests rather than keywords.  So a Facebook ad campaign for a ski trip would be aimed at profiles which indicate skiing as an interest.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all have social ads.  Other variations  are being developed – Facebook just announced ads for Facebook Messenger, while Amazon has been quietly introducing ads as part of its platform.   Marketers are discovering that consumers are actually starting their product searches at Amazon, with many being done via Amazon Echo.

This means to plan a solid social ad strategy, you must think of interest that your followers are generally interest in.

Webrooming and BOPIS: Digital Retail Tips For Your Website, Your Analytics, and Your Business

Many retailers are realizing that a website is not a billboard or a brochure, a static object that just says that your business exists.  A site is meant to be an extension of your business.   That means it must connect to customers who are researching products and services online prior to a purchase decision.

For years consumers have been web rooming, an online customer behavior of researching products and services before going to the store.   Web rooming behaviors can include searching multiple retailers online, making price comparisons, and reading user reviews, all while  in-store before a purchase.

It differs slightly from showrooming. Showrooming involved the same in-store behavior in which customers compare prices and research features, but the activity is done in-store  instead of at home, again leading to a purchase online.    This Detroit 7 news report back in 2012, during the start of show rooming trend, notes why customers grew to like the practice and the fears of retailer future at that time. They found better pricing in stores that they could not see online,  instant gratification of making the purchase right there in the store, and the avoidance of expedited shipping costs (although more retailers are offering free shipping).

Webrooming and show rooming evolved into different consumer behaviors which emphasized smartphone usage and personal convenience. Today there is  BOPIS (Buy Online Pay In Store)  and BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store), in which customers shop at home and then pick up their item (or return it).

BOPIS and BORIS represent additional opportunities to interact with consumers, which in turn leads to additional branding and sales.  BOPIS and BORIS trigger cross device usage, an activity that marketers must account in their strategies.

The payoff is significant to creating sales. eMarketer shared a JD Software report that noted  “half of all internet users had bought online and then picked up the item in a store at least once in the preceding 12 months.” The article further notes this trend “was up from just 35% in 2015.”  You can read more about it here in this eMarketer article:

So how do marketers address these behaviors?  The first starting point is learning how these behaviors impact an analytics reporting strategy.  The following lists notes what analyst should be able to show in their reporting to understand behaviors like show rooming and :

  • Analysts must examine visits attributed to within store (show rooming)
  • Analysts must identify visitor segments that indicate online products and service research, combined with navigation to pages and buttons that support store activity such as purchase in-store or make-an-appointment.
  • Analysts must understanding how web rooming / show rooming site visitors are contributing to a goal (download, specific page, an action).
  • Analysts must developing detailed analysis of eCommerce reports to determine what products and services are regularly sought, and use some of device reports to note what share of smartphones and tablets are being used by website visitors.
  • As a consequence, the marketing team has to develop remarketing messages that supports web rooming and show rooming tactics

If these steps are not clear from the get-go, there are a few settings and adjustments that any business, from small business to the largest retailer, can make.

For starters, analysts can  consider setting an IP filter for the site traffic that takes place within your place of business. This setting will segment traffic that is contributing to conversions.

To do so start with an IP address at the retail locations – open up a browser at the site WhatismyIP to take a quick look at the IP address for a given location.

After checking the IP address, analysts can then set the analytics solution to highlight the desired segment. Several ways exist to do this, such as:<

  • A custom report in a web analytics solution that displays results that include the filter.
  • A comparison of filter traffic against industry metrics in the benchmark dashboard
  • Consider a cohort analysis when not able to identifying a segment of traffic is difficult. Start with event dates and see how purchase behavior changes by products, services, or other sales knowledge.  Examining the data can lead to new ideas about what customer segments are regularly converting, and can spark ideas of how to follow up.

To get your retail locations engaged with webrooming and showroom customers, consider the following as appeals to customer wants:

  • Emphasize in a remarketing ad or email that customers can order ahead of time, skipping crowded peak times and lines extended by in store returns
  • Use a display monitor in the store to provide more information on a product or service.
  • Pay attention to how customers purchase – that can guide decisions for data layer information used for tag managers and website schema.  Most analytics rely on JSON pairs that describe products, while schemas can use metadata which search engine can pick up readily.   For eCommerce this means reviewing product analytics reports to see what is being selected when web rooming and show rooming occurs.
  • Consider reward programs to sustain interest beyond a sales event.

Overall marketers must plan for effective cross device strategies to not only keep up with customers, but to retain them as well.

#BlackTwitter Infographic via @Peppermiller

Black Twitter has become a morphious description for a community on Twitter that comments  on social issues and ideas important for the African American community.   It is a group that is unlike any previous civil rights groups because of its digital influences and timing from the current cultural trends in the United States.

Pepper Miller created a nice infographic that covers basic stats on Black Twitter.  It is a good starter for a basic discussion of marketing to minority groups in an organic way.   While Black Twitter is not commercial in nature, appreciating sentiment can introduce  marketers to the social media profiles that interact with the group – ranging from small businesses to organizations who could be a potential partner for a service or product.

It also illustrated how African Americans use mobile access frequently. African American and Hispanic digital natives index higher for Twitter usage and, according to Pew Institute, index higher for mobile access.

You can learn more about Pepper Miller at her site You can also read a book review I wrote on Pepper’s book on African American marketing trends, Black Still Matters In Marketing,  at Small Business Trends.

Info graphic: Black Twitter Real and Influential by Pepper Miller on Scribd

Avoiding Call To Action Errors – A Small Business Trends Infographic

Our friends at Small Business Trends, created an infographic that highlights how call to action (CTA) is sometimes not much of  a call and creates little action.  CTA is an essential component in analytics. CTA is what creates a click, and drives the purpose behind an analysis.  What traffic actually clicked? What’s the significance?

Moreover, CTA must be optimized.  The phrases used as a CTA are tested in A/B tests.  Improving CTA is linked to driving downloads of an app or purchases from a cart. And there are a lot of factors to what makes a CTA successful.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn how businesses drop the ball on CTA.  For more small business news, follow Small Business Trends.

Calls to Action Data