By Bruce Morin
The holiday season is in full swing. Christmas is just around the corner and now that the Black Friday shopping frenzy is over, it seems that everyone involved in marketing and retail has started looking at spending numbers. Unfortunately for brick and mortar stores, this year was not stellar. In fact, retailers in the United States gained only 2.3-percent over last year, making this the smallest increase since the last recession.
However, online shopping is another story and a bright spot for retailers, as well as consumers. According to IBM Corp., online sales rose 20-percent from last year on Thanksgiving and 19-percent on Black Friday. This seems to suggest that people are more willing to buy online than to fight the crowds at the mall. People are starting to realize that you can get the same (or better) deals online without the travel and the hassle.
This is great news for online retailers and marketers – in the paid search space, there were huge increases in spending by retailers. In fact, our partner, Kenshoo, reports a 33-percent increase on Thanksgiving and a 21-percent increase on Black Friday over last year.
“Thanksgiving and Black Friday are two of the biggest shopping days and this year both consumers and advertisers had their wallets ready”, said Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo CMO. “Kenshoo saw dramatic increases in paid search ad spend and online sales revenue on these two days signifying the peak shopping season is off to a hot start. With the 2013 calendar condensing the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we expect the torrid pace to continue”.
Not surprisingly, the largest growth was in mobile device activity. According to Kenshoo, marketers spent 79.5-percent of their paid search budgets on computers during the 2012 holiday season and only 11.8 percent on phones and tablets. This year, they spent 60.3-percent on computer ads while spending 21.2 percent on phones and 18.5 percent on tablets.
“It’s clear that the story of the shopping season to date is the mobile migration,” added Goldman. “In fact, this isn’t just a migration we’re seeing, it’s a full on revolution. With phones and tablets accounting for nearly 40% of all paid search ad spend on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, its clear marketers have multi-device strategies in place to lure consumers wherever and whenever they’re shopping”.
These days, retailers who take advantage of paid search on mobile devices are being rewarded. 55.8- percent of all paid search clicks in 2013 were still on computers, but phones and tablets represented almost half of all paid search clicks on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It will be interesting to see how this trend will affect the financial and insurance industries in 2014.
By Coburn Childs
The chances are high that, like many businesses, you’ve joined the world of online social networking. Whether you’ve gotten onto Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some other network, there are many benefits for your business in utilizing these tools. But is your business actually taking advantage of the benefits these outlets can offer? And are you even aware of social media best practices that you and other businesses should implement? Let’s take a look at a few of the best practices you can start to utilize through your social networking usage.
If you are going to go through the trouble of signing up for social media accounts, then you should take the time to remain active on those networks. Engage your customers through scheduled posts that are useful to them and relevant to your brand. Also, it will benefit you to be proactive in driving web users to visit your business’ site or other relevant resources; you can do this through blogs, links, videos, and articles that you post across multiple social networks. Lastly, it is highly recommended you always maintain professionalism online, even when showing the “fun side” of your agency or business.
To engage your market base through social networking, it is important to be as interactive as you are proactive. Social media is a great tool for customers to feel their voice is heard, so if you receive a comment or a tweet, it is very important for your business to respond to it. Regardless if the feedback of the comment is negative or positive, it is still essential for you to show that you are listening and you care. Indeed, social media sites can be some of the best platforms for you to demonstrate customer service for the whole world to see.
In order to get other social media users—and potential customers—to engage and interact with you, you need to make yourself a reputable, useful, and unique presence. Nowadays, countless outlets fight for your Twitter followers’ extremely-short attention span, so do what you can to make your posts relevant to your brand, while standing out amongst the white noise. If you’re tweeting tips or featured products you offer, get yourself on a routine and dependable schedule. The same goes for other networks, too! If you’re posting pictures to Instagram, make them unique, or if you’re running a contest on Facebook, make it worthwhile.
As an agency or small business, it may initially seem tough to grow your brand and expand your field of customers. However, with easy social networking tools like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you now have the entire world at your fingertips with the click of a button. Take advantage of these social media best practices, make them a routine, and you will start seeing results in no time!
By Shawna Arnold
Using a tracking system on your insurance agency’s website is crucial to growing in your inbound marketing efforts. Whether you’re using a free or paid tool, tracking your website is a great way to show you the who, what, when, where, and why of your traffic and visitors.
I recommend Google Analytics to all agencies that I work with. I find that most business owners with websites are using Google Analytics already, whether they or their website provider set it up. If you’re not using Google Analytics, learn more here. The best part about Google Analytics? It’s free!
For those of you using Google Analytics to track your websites (or will be after reading this post!), let’s take a look at five metrics within the platform that are not only easy to find, but can also tell you a lot about your visitors. Remember, with each visit to your website comes the opportunity to sell someone on why working with your agency is what they need, whether the visitor is a prospect or an existing client.
In Google Analytics, you have five sections under what is called “Standard Reports.” Within these sections is where you’ll find any metrics you need regarding your website:
Five easy metrics to find within these sections are:
- Organic Traffic
The organic traffic tab can be found here:
The organic traffic area will show you some of the keywords you’re getting traffic for. Remember, Google no longer provides this data for all searches. You can take an even deeper dive by adding what are called “secondary dimensions” to see what areas and devices your visitors are coming from or what pages they landed on. Overall, the organic traffic overview should provide you with some insight as to how search visitors are getting to you.
- Referral Traffic
The referral traffic tab can be found here:
The referral traffic area will show you all of the websites (outside of your own) that brought in visitors. This is where you’ll find out if sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, carriers, press release distributors, and more are bringing visitors to your website. This can be helpful in determining how effective your social media posting is in getting visitors to and traction on your website.
- Landing Pages (traffic)
The landing page tab can be found here:
The landing pages area will show you all of the landing pages on your website that are receiving traffic. More often than not, you’ll find that your homepage will receive the most traffic, but this breakdown will give you a look into what insurance product pages and service pages are also bringing in traffic.
The devices tab can be found here:
From a mobile perspective, this area will show you which devices are bringing your website traffic (e.g. iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxies, etc.). Mobile web browsing is here to stay. Make sure you have either a responsive website or a mobile version of your website to encourage more mobile users to stay on and interact with your website.
The location tab can be found here:
Within the location tab, you can see what locations across the globe are bringing visitors to your website. You can look as broad as country and as deep as city / town. You can use this data to determine any community related blogging you plan on doing as well as seeing where your clients and prospects are coming from.
Are you using Google Analytics for your insurance agency website? What are the key metrics you’re using in your inbound marketing strategy? Leave feedback in the comments and we’ll see if there are other Google Analytics topics we can elaborate on from there!
About the Author
Shawna Arnold is an Inbound Marketing Manager at Astonish, specializing in SEO and content marketing. She has been with Astonish for five years, allowing her to work closely with a variety of insurance agencies all over the country. She has a passion for SEO, content, social media, and all things inbound marketing. She thrives on educating small businesses and individuals on inbound marketing through blogging, eBooks, white papers, and more.