Diversified Marketing Strategies for E-Commerce Growth Webinar


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On June 20th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with Michael Manzione, the CEO and president of Rakuten and Super Logistics and Brett Rosendahl, Co-founder and President of Radd Interactive to talk about diversified selling and the strategies that you can implement in your own businesses to really strengthen your diversification strategy and grow your business.


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Jolina: Alright, welcome everyone. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to join us for today's presentation. We're really excited about talking about diversified selling and the strategies that you can implement in your own businesses to really strengthen your diversification strategy and grow your business.
Just a couple housekeeping items before we get started. We are open at Twitter, @rakutensl, so if at any time you have a question for the panel that you'd addressed during the Q&A, feel free to send it that way. You can also send us a chat in the chat feature on your WebEx control panel, and we will be sharing the full recording following today's webinar so if you missed any point of it or you have to leave us a little early, don't worry, we'll be sure to send that over to you and then you can share that to any of your co-workers or anyone you think might find some insight from today's presentation.
To get us started, I would like to welcome all of today's presenters. We have Michael Manzione joining us today. He is President and CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics. Mike, would you tell us a little bit about yourself and the company?

Michael Manzi: Sure. I've been with Rakuten now for about four years, run the company for the last year and a half. We have nine current facilities, in five states, with two opening up this Summer, or late Summer I should say. One in New Jersey and one in Chicago. We offer a full a Pre-PL service for potentially commerce client.

Jolina: Very exciting, very exciting time for Rakuten Super Logistics right now. We also have Bret Rosendahl who is joining us from Radd Interactive, he is the co-founder and president. Bret, would you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah, of course! So, I've been in digital marketing for over ten years now. I used to work for one of the top technical companies out there, split off about six years ago to start up Radd Interactive. SEO and Paid search, those are our two verticals, that's what we really specialize in, and I oversee the entire operation from campaign strategy and development, to planning and team management.

Jolina: Awesome, well very glad you could join us for today. And then we have Andrew Maffettone. Andrew's joining us from Seller's Choice, he is the director of marketing and operations. Andrew please tell everyone a little bit about yourself and Seller's choice.

Andrew: Sure, so I am the director of marketing and operations. I've been in marketing, specifically eCommerce, for a little over a decade now. I've been in and out of multiple different marketplaces, we really focus here at Seller's Choice on a cohesive branding strategy across multiple platforms as well as other marketplaces like Amazon, Rakuten, and eBay, Jet, Walmart, all that fun stuff.

Jolina: Very full, very fun stuff, indeed. All right so let's move onto the agenda. So, today like I said, we are going to be talking about the importance of a diversified sales strategy and what that means for today's eCommerce seller. Then we'll take it over to Bret to talk about implementing an SEO strategy that will attract new shoppers and a new audience, and Andrew will take it away with branding to create a loyal customer base and really for your business, over the long term. To close we'll have a Q&A, so please be sure to jot down, send over any questions that you might have for any of our panel, and we'll be sure to address those at the end of our presentation.
So with that, I will send it over to Mike.

Michael Manzi: Thank you, Jolina. So, here we have unique opportunity to have two great presenters with Andrew and Bret. And so what I'd like to do is maybe set the stage for a little bit for them. If you look at commerce marketplace today, the players are increasing on a number of platforms that you can sell from are increasing dramatically, so the shop would say the consumer has more opportunity to find a product in more places than ever before. Marketing from our perspective becomes a very, very key aspect in your company's success, and I think these two gentlemen will give us a lot of insight to how we can be successful or how we can help you. From Rakuten Super Logistics perspective, it's interesting because we're on the sidelines just as a fulfillment company, and we really get to experience with many different companies what makes them successful and not, so we kind of want to set the stage by giving you a few of those things that we think compete to that.
So, first of all, Amazon is a wonderful marketplace, and obviously we all know it's very dominant, and there's nothing wrong with advertising and selling in Amazon, in fact, we encourage it. We think it has a great place in your strategy, however, you can see by the slide here, that it is so dominant, that it kind of creates a situation where if you look at one of the common areas that a lot of companies fail in, is when they solely rely on Amazon as the single platform they sell from. One of the things we encourage you in this era of price disruption, which has now transformed into a product disruption, is to really look at other options just besides Amazon.
Couple of examples here that we hear from sellers is that if you look at the average $1M+ seller in Amazon, 66% of them fear being banned from the marketplace, as well as 64% of them are concerned about Amazon being one of their competitors. Which just further reinforces why you need to diversify your portfolio and sell on multiple platforms. We certainly think the best platform that you should sell on is your own platform and the more that you can move traffic through your own platform, the better you'll be successful and use the other platforms as a way to diversify your portfolio, test your product, and really understand the pricing metrics and dynamics that you need to use to sell better on your own platform.
So, we certainly suggest to diversify sale strategy or Amazon certainly plays a part in it, but also all of your other websites and stores can play a part in it. Again, I can't reinforce, when we look at the clients that are really, really successful, they really have a strong presence on their own website. Their own website drives a significant part of their own traffic and the other platforms just add additional revenue to it.
We see three different components to a successful company, so you can probably drive this down to ten specific things when you look at it, but to simplify, we really think that there are three things to be successful in eCommerce, and these are the three that we believe really lead to a successful eCommerce company.
And the first one show to you is obviously the product, or branding, side. Some companies do a great job on branding, and they may not even have a great product, per se, but the branding is so good, or the messaging is so good they can be successful. The companies that have great products and they have great branding, or not, we see the common issue here being a lot of companies have a common product that many other people sell, which means your branding, your marketing becomes even more important.
That's the second component to this, having a strong marketing strategy, investing deeply into marketing for your succeeding eCommerce store is critical, there is direct correlation between your investment and marketing and your success with your storefront.
The third part is customer engagement, we see companies that own the customer engagement have a better sense of how to react to their customers and how to modify their strategy to be successful. From our perspective as a [inaudible 00:08:34] we see if you have these three components fully engaged, and that's where you're really focusing your time, you will be very, very successful.
With that said, let's go ahead and move on to Bret, who will talk to us now about the SEO side of the equation for on the market. Bret?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah, sounds good, thanks a lot, Mike. Let's talk a little bit about SEO and how important it is. So, first off why does a website need SEO? Some key take away here are search right now is growing by 20% per year, so you're not getting in front of the actual people, you're going to start getting left behind. Search engines definitely provide targeted traffic, higher ranking in the first few results are critical to visibility, so you can't have everything up in those top positions, but as long as you're continuing to grow your overall first page presence, you're going to be able to get into those top positions. It really makes a big difference in terms of where you're located there on the first page. Your customers are definitely searching for companies like yours, and your competitors are most likely doing some sort of digital marketing, and most likely SEO.
So, what are the benefits of SEO? We can go ahead to the next slide. So, what are the benefits of SEO? There's quite a few of them. Long term ROI is a big one, long term credibility and positioning, increase brand awareness, you're going to bring visitors with higher purchase intent, you'll be able to drive online and offline consumer leads, which are calls, and you're also going to be able to help drive more online, direct, and referral leads. An SEO is definitely cheaper than a paper click. Fees with Google, and what not, we have a [inaudible 00:10:35] team at Google, we get a lot of the inside scoop there, but fees have definitely been increasing as well.
So, I'd also like to talk about the "Digital Marketing Trifecta". Think of earned, owned, and paid media like a tripod. Each element is important to the whole, and all contribute to a complete marketing strategy. But this illustration really outlines each element's role, and how they work together to form really cohesive marketing mix. One of the most effective driving forces of our media is usually combined with all those strong organic rankings of the search engines, and content distributed by the brand. First page rankings and good content are typically the biggest drivers, rankings on the first page of the search engines place your own media sites and content links in a position to really receive higher engagement shares and this is why good SEO strategy is very, very crucial.
I'd say a key take away around this is, earn media, the equivalent of online word of mouth, and it's the vehicle that drives traffic, engagement, and sentiment around a brand. There are different ways a brand can garner or earn media, but good SEO and content strategies are probably the most controlled and effective. Once you can actually do this, it can be hard for competitors to really catch up once you've established a real, real good strategy.
So, as far as an SEO process, I'm sure you guys are aware of it, there's a lot of different things to going on the SEO world. You can talk to a lot of different people, you could probably get a lot of different answers, there's definitely a lot of fad in the SEO industry as well. You want to make sure you have a very solid wide had strategy. The way our process works, we're a technical SEO agency, we focus on page.
Really the first week of an actual campaign, if you're working with an agency or if you decide to do this in house, is you really want to do all the proper key word and market research. You want to run and audit of your site to get an idea of what's doing well, what's not doing well. You guys are already pretty familiar with your company and your customers, but really you don't want to limit yourself to keywords.
The goal is to, you can't just go after all the really broad stuff, if you're on Google, or whatnot, or on Amazon, you've got a super, super high domain of 40, but with a really good strategy it's always ideal to go after all the very important core keywords that you want to target, but then also go after all the different derivatives and variations of those keywords. Really, everyone searches a little bit differently online. There's a lot of different third party rules that you can use, if you guys are currently doing ad words, you can get an idea of what keywords will work well on the actual page side and you can incorporate that stuff in your actual organic side as well. But, you have your bright edge platforms, your STM rushes, [inaudible 00:13:38], they all have different keyword databases, but it's going to be a good goal to go after an all encompassing group of keywords, because you're not going to be able to rank for everything.
Once you have that list together, jumping in to, really, the second part of the campaign would be an initial SEO restructure. There's a lot of different crawlers out there, we have our own proprietary patented software where we actually hired an engineer that used to work at one of the two major search engines and brought him on board. So we have our own proprietary bot, which emulates search engine spyware behavior.
We recommend really going in, running an audit on the site to look at the actual layout, the architecture of the sites, to really go in and fine tune in. Before you guys just go in and start updating things like title tags and met ascriptions and making updates to your contents, you really want to get in to analytics. Sort it by organic entrances to see exactly which page is preforming really well right now, which ones aren't, which ones are kind of medium in the road. If you go in and make changes right away on some of your higher preforming pages, maybe you change a title tag, that can definitely have a negative impact on the site. You want to make sure you're doing it right. I recommend working with an agency that really specializes in this, for you guys, my recommendation is going to be doing it on your own. You can definitely do some research about this, but writing really good quality, unique content for your site is going to be very, very important as well.
Once you guys go in and restructure the site, in terms of architecture, layouts, contents, all your meta data, you push all those updates live, then you're actually in the second phase of the campaign. In order really to get to the first page, and stay on the first page, and move up the first page, there's a lot of stuff you have to do on an ongoing basis in order to achieve those results. That's the, it's not a one and done thing, you have to be in there, log in to your CMS, literally daily, weekly, and really feeding Google very strategic updates that go in and continue to re-cache and re-index your pages. That's what Google's doing, they're crawling your site on a daily basis, they're sorting out all of the HTML they've filtered in their database, and then of course the result is given to the actual user.
My recommendation is, you want to constantly crawl your site, as your building new pages, you want to be making constant content updates, adding fresh, unique content to category level pages, product page is going to be very unique. You don't want to have too much content on the top of the page because you'll start to push products down below the fold, and that can have an issue with conversion, so having a smaller content block at the top of the pages and kind of feeding the rest at the bottom of the page, which that's not going to interrupt mobile experience, and really it's just there for the search engines. Really, you need to find someone that's going to be making constant updates to your title tags, to your met ascriptions, you want to update heading tags, your internal link structure is super, super key.
There's a lot of other third party tools out there where you can find a lot of your striking distance keywords. Those are all the rankings that you have ranked from page 2 to page 10 in Google. That's a lot of the stuff that you can go in and actually incorporate the strategy as well. I would stay away from any agencies that will guarantee you results, that's usually a big red flag. Like I mentioned, there's a lot of fads in the SEO world, building links through blogs, once google shut that down, people moved to guest blogging, after that people starting building links to infographics, which, that never really worked that well. You know, ".ed", that was the big one that Google just kind of shut down, and right now, content marketing is the big thing in the SEO world. So content is super important and you're going to need it on your pages to rank. But, content with a technical SEO, you can definitely get some real, real good results.
That's what we're kind of looking like on the actual SEO process. Again, you just have to be real, real careful on fads, there might be something that comes out that works well, short term, but you definitely ever get hit with any manual action penalties on your actual website, that could be a really bad thing. So, that's kind of what I have to say regarding the SEO process.

Michael Manzi: Good, thank you very much, that was really good information, we'll come back to the actual Q&A part in a few minutes for you, because I'm sure we have some questions regarding the SEO, so lets go ahead and move to the branding side, and Andrew can you take it away?
Andrew: Yeah, and you touched on the SEO side things very well, obviously I know that past Friday we had talked about product description and stuff like that, that's actually one of the things we really like to focus on when we do SEO on our end because the keyword research, all that, right on par, exactly. Making it more fun though, is were your can really kind of give our your own brand of voice. We actually see a lot of sellers on sites, on their own websites, but on their Amazon listings, on their eBay lists or anything like that, if you have a product description that's fun, we went through and did a client once and each product description wasn't necessarily a description specifically about the product, but it was actually a story about how someone used the product, but it was a completely made up story it was hilarious, it got a ton of attraction from people saying, "Hey, you need to come read this, this is hilarious". So we were bringing off-traffic from just people who enjoyed the content. Obviously-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:19:04]

Andrew: Just people who enjoy the content. Now obviously, we still ensure it was keyword heavy, to make sure that you're still ranking where you want to rank. But to us, it really comes down to brand loyalty. You can fight all day for keywords that you want to fight for like, oh, hey, you now, I want to rank for this, I want to rank for that, how do I get to page one for this? But the one keyword that's the easiest for you to fight for is your own word. It's your own brand name. So, it's a lot easier for me to rank for Andrew Maff than it is for a guy from Florida. That's impossible in some cases.
Plus, there's benefits to building your own brand later on down the line besides just getting more word of mouth. Next slide. A lot of people, you build a business..... 9 times out of 10 your goal is to sell it one day and start over or to just make a ton of money and retire. It's a lot easier to get a higher multiple on an acquisition when you try to sell your business later on if you have a brand because now you have a community. You have people that you can consistently reach out to. You have all these people that are easier to keep building that brand than it is if you're just transacting all the time. If you're an Amazon seller who's constantly fighting with which keyword to use, or hey, I want to tweak this because it's gonna get me .0001% more conversions every month then I'm gonna make $50 more a month, that's great. Good for you. But if you're building a brand, you can actually sell it later on down the line. It becomes an investment and it takes your company and turns it into an asset instead of just some transaction machine.
Plus, the benefit behind that which would be next slide. Product launches, when you have your own brand? 10 times easier than if you don't. If you're sitting here and you have a site and you don't have an email list, you don't have a social media following, you're just focused on driving traffic to your website, transacting, and then kicking everyone else to the curb you're not going to have anything. And when you have a new product and you go, hey. This is another great aspect of my product line. You have no one to tell it to. So building a social media presence, building an email list, having a brand that people want to follow and people can really get involved in is where it becomes a lot easier to launch a new product.
I can just tell people hey. To my community, to my social followers, to my email list, hey. I have a new product, you guys should check it out. And then sales go up and if I send them to Amazon, that immediately helps with reviews and my organic ranking. Or if I'm sending them to my own site, it just brings in more people. It's a lot easier to do new things and to grow your business if you have your own brand.
Next one. So this is kind of like how I had spoken about earlier, this is.... I wanted to find a good example for this. So this was, I've searched the Dyson vacuum filter. This is Dyson's actual vacuum filter. It's not a knock off, it's not someone else's. This is doing $10,000 a month from what we're able to tell. I used a mix of Jungle Scout and Unicorn Smasher to give me a guess. And it was ranked number 7. It's not number 1. It wasn't even being advertised. And the reason is because people searched the specific name and saw the word "Dyson" and went for them. So by just building their own brand they just feel more comfortable and they have much more brand loyalty to going specifically to "Dyson." So as Dyson started to build their own brand they didn't have to continue to fight for "vacuum filter" or for "ways to fix my vacuum." They're literally just fighting for their own word which you'll never compete with them with because that word's on every page that they have and people have started to really bring their own traction to the brand name.
We can go to the next slide. So this was a client we started to work with where we started to make every market place and every site, everywhere that this seller is. We wanted their listings to look exactly the same. And the reason really is being that, if you want to shop on Amazon or if you want to shop on Ebay, you want to shop on Rakuten, or you want to shop on their own site, you want your customer to still feel comfortable with your brand. And they want to know that they're getting a quality product because they've shopped with you before or they have some kind of insight to your brand. So you want to go in, you want to make the voice sound the same, you want the titles to look as best as they can. Sometimes you have to tweak the titles because everyone's algorithm is different, but the descriptions, the imagery, everything that you can should all look exactly the same so no matter where they find your product it always looks the same and you have that consistency. And they don't have to worry about if it's a knock off or not.
So just like this next slide, even on what we've started to do with some sellers, is actually adding buttons on their site that are linking to the listings in other platforms. Like, in this example, we decided they should probably put an "available on Amazon site" and it links them directly to their listing. And so now they're pushing all their traffic to their website, but if someone is more comfortable with shopping on Amazon, they're going to leave this site and they're going to start searching for this product but then they're going to come across the competitors. They're going to come across people that are bidding on their keywords. They're going to come across a ton of other options and they may start to shop around. In this case, you can actually send them directly to Amazon. So they're going to straight to your product listing and they're shopping with you.
Now, you can add other ones. You can add "available on Ebay," "available on Jet," "available on Walmart, Rakuten." You can add as many as you need to so that no matter where your customer is comfortable with shopping, you can let them go shop there. If you take a note from Amazon. They don't care about their sellers. If anyone here is an Amazon seller, which I'm sure a bunch of you, if not all of you, are, they never answer your questions. It takes forever to get an answer and it's because they don't care about their sellers. They're a little more inclined in how is the consumer's experience? And if you're not doing well, they're going to suspend you before they even find out if it's your fault or not. So, take a page from them and just focus more on the consumer and less on the algorithm. Focus on if they're comfortable shopping on Amazon, send them there. If they want to go to Ebay, send them there.
You know, I have people say, okay. But I'm sending them off my site. You can offer a smaller discount to make sure, or a less price on your site, or you can offer them a discount if they're like a first time shopper to keep them shopping on your site and get them comfortable with the situation. Or, what you can do, which would kind of sound a little bit of a hack on, is, at least for the Amazon option, Amazon has an affiliate program. You can sign up for the affiliate program. The link for that button, on available on Amazon, actually ends up going through this client's affiliate program, and they actually get a small kickback from Amazon because you're sending traffic to Amazon. They actually don't mind, in fact, part of the information they have, encourages it. So we actually are still seeing a slightly better profit margin from the Amazon traffic that we're driving from off Amazon.
Go to the next slide. So for us, with the branding. It really is a real estate game. It's a matter of being everywhere that you possibly can. Like I had mentioned. If they want to shop on Walmart, or Sears, or Amazon, or anywhere else that they can possibly go. You have to be everywhere that you can possibly think of so that your consumer is coming across in the right places. Let's say that, you know obviously Amazon is the big winner. They're the ones that are doing the best. But that doesn't mean there's not people that are shopping on Walmart. That doesn't mean there's not people that are shopping on Jet. That doesn't mean you should ignore Ebay.
You need to know where your consumer is and you need to be there. And you need to be in front of them as much as you can. That doesn't mean posting on Facebook every 5 minutes, that doesn't mean tweeting every second you can think of. It's really a matter of just making sure that you have a presence somewhere so they can be happy. Because, hey, I like to use Instagram but I hate to use Google Plus. Or I like to use Linkedin but I don't use Cora. You need to be in certain places because not every consumer is in the same place.
Plus, in certain aspects which we've seen happen many times, and it becomes kind of a pain. Is if you only have a presence on Facebook and you only have a presence on Instagram but you're like, ah, I don't want to have a presence on Twitter. And then your company starts to grow and you realize, okay. I should probably be in other places. You have to play defense and be everywhere else because your competitors may have grabbed your username, which I've seen happen many times. Or your competitors may be going after a market that's on Pinterest that you weren't originally doing. So there's a lot of other options on where you need to be to get more consumers, but also to make sure that your competitors aren't getting them.
Go to the next slide. So, when we did these slides there was a note in here of "come up with actionable stuff." So I was like, all right, I'm gonna figure out the best stuff that I can do. I was like, done. So, I made a list.
So, the Facebook ad Thank You Campaign. Don't know. I understand why no one wants to do this and it's really because there is no return. There's no immediate return. So if I'm running a Thank You Campaign and I tell a client, Hey. You got 1500 likes in the past month from the Thank You Campaign they're gonna go, cool. How much did those people buy? And you'll be like, well. They had already bought. And they're like, so I spent that money and it was on nothing! But what you're doing is you're building the community and you're getting more people into an area where you can actually start to re-engage them. Bring them in to new campaigns, help create other audiences on Facebook. You can do a lot of other stuff by just keeping them in your community as best as possible.
The next one's Personalize a Pop up. So, we personally use Privy. There's a bunch of others out there where you can actually personalize some of these. We don't suggest going really personal. Like, don't have it be like, Hey, Zach, welcome back! That's creepy. What you want to do , is you can do, Hey! You came from... you can do it where it's like if the URL is from Instagram. You can do like, Hey, thanks Instagram! Thanks for following us on Instagram, here's a bunch of stuff from Instagram or you can do Thanks for checking out all of our emails. Because you just have the UTM tag from your emails. There's ways you can personalize it but in a category without getting super specific. Like Hey Zach, thanks for coming back, how's Florida? That gets creepy so I don't suggest doing that.
We set up automated emails of a new customer and a repeat customer, so thank you for shopping with us and thank you for shopping with us again. Its does, and we don't ask for anything. We don't give them a coupon, we don't do anything, it's literally in a lot of cases, just a personalized thank you. It's like hey, this is so and so with so and so. You don't even have to be the founder, you can be like, I'm the guy who manages the emails here and I just wanted to say thank you for shopping with us. It's literally just to let them know that there's someone here. You'll actually be shocked at how many people respond to those if it sounds like it's from a certain person. And they feel more comfortable that they're shopping with a person and not just a robot.
We do giving them a little something extra. Like, hey, throw a sticker in the box. Give them... send them a free sample. Send them an ebook in their email that they weren't expecting. There's always a little something extra that you can give them that is relatively inexpensive that will get people talking. Like a lot of people are into these, I forget what it's called, but they open the box and it's like a reveal of buying the product or something like that. Like no one seems to like... I would put confetti in a box if I could have it blow up every time someone opened a box or something like that. Give them something a little extra to talk about just because they bought with you doesn't mean the relationship should end there.
Investing in customer service. That's a big one. Most of the time, when you hear people talking about word of mouth, to me it's like, well, you know, I wasn't happy with this product and then they actually let me keep it. Sent me a refund, and sent me a new product, like it was amazing. Stuff like that really talented, good customer service people who really put the consumer first is really what helps in the word of mouth and can make your brand a lot more... a lot more brand loyalty pretty much.
And then of course, you have your loyalty programs. Of suggesting people to come in, you can share your Facebook posts. I actually think these don't work great for everyone. I think they really only work well if your company has a very good social presence or if you're very social friendly. So like, beauty products, alcohol products, drinks of any kind, DIY stuff, that kind of stuff works very well. There's some where this doesn't work too well. Like we have some B2B products where I'm like, eh, these don't work that great. But that's why I put that little asterisk next to it. But those are my things that I suggest, go do that. That's my slide.

Jolina: Okay, thank you, Andrew. Those are some great suggestions for everyone. And actually speaking of giving everyone a little something extra. Before we move on to the Q and A, Bret and Andrew were so kind to give everyone that's listening in a free offer to spend a little one-on-one time with them. Bret, do you want to tell everyone a little bit about the SEO analysis?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah, great. So yeah, we're definitely offering up a free consultation. So we'd love to hear from you guys, you know, if you have any questions regarding anything that we went over. And then, yeah, we'd love to be able to go in and do some preliminary analysis. Crawl the site, get an idea of what's going on with your sites, show you some stuff that you're doing good, possible show you some stuff, of course, what you're not doing good and how you can probably improve that as well. So, yeah, we can actually run a full RaddBOT of the site, RaddBOT crawl. Over here on the right hand side are just some of its' capabilities. Again, to learn more about this you can go to our websites, or I would prefer, yeah, if you just want to reach out to us, we'll give you a full live demo of this and we'll explain what sets us apart from a lot of the other rescue agencies out there. But, yeah, we're excited to go through all that with you.

Jolina: Thanks, Brett. And if they want to take advantage of this, they can just email you directly at bret@raddinteractive.com?

Bret Rosendahl: Yep. That's correct. That's Bret with one T at raddinteractive.com

Jolina: Perfect. And, Andrew, I believe you have a little something special for the audience as well?

Andrew: Yah, so I mentioned a couple automated emails. So we did a whole ebook on automated emails. At least the basic ones that we think everyone should have set up and it's between 8 and 10. So it's an ebook, it's not gated. You can just go to... it's a bitly so bit.ly/auto emails-sc. It's not gated. I'm not asking for your email, it will immediately download. Just have at it. And then we'll do a 30 minute marketing consultation. We'll go through every aspect of your marketing that we can. I promise I won't try to sell you on anything. I will just go... I don't care if you have an entire in-house team, I just really enjoy doing it. So, we'll sit down and I'll dig through everything for ya.

Jolina: Awesome. Thank you for that. And here at Rakuten Super Logistics we also have a complimentary shipping analysis that we're offering you. So if you are interested in expanding your e-commerce channels to other multiple market places and you think that there is an advantage in shipping from multiple facilities, we'll do a shipping analysis so that you can see what the most cost-effective shipping method would be. Depending on your customer demographics as well as what cost savings you could possibly see shipping out of one facility, 2, 3, 4, etc. So if you want to take advantage of this, email is there below. We will be sending this presentation to everyone so you'll have everyone's contact information.
All right, and with that I want to take this to our favorite part of the presentation which is the Q and A. If you haven't already submitted any of your questions for our panel, please do so. You can do that on Twitter @Rakutensl, or you can do that in that chat feature there on your control panel.
You guys ready for some questions?

Andrew: I'm ready, let's do it.

Bret Rosendahl: Let's do it.

Jolina: Okay. All right, so let's get started. I have one here, I guess this would be for Bret. What are the top 3 criteria to consider when you're vetting an SCO company?

Bret Rosendahl: That's a good one. So, top 3. To keep it kind of short and sweet. I would say the first thing is, really setting goals for yourself. Really knowing what you kind of what, know once you contact, of course you just want to reach out to one agency, but maybe you reached out to a handful. Really setting goals, having a very good white hat strategy. Stay away from anything that's gray or black.
You know, being transparent with a company. That's very important. There's a lot of agencies out there that talk a good game and then they don't tell you what they do. That's a red flag. So I think finding a transparent company, and that's actual, the reporting as well. You know, not just some kind of very vague reporting, you want to have very detailed ranking reports, dabbing into analytics, going through those organic funnels. Paid funnels direct, of course, So I'd say reporting and transparency would be 2.
And then, 3, I would say, really proven results. You know, just because in their proposal, or whatnot on their website they've got some fancy, flashy clients on there. Get references. And call them. Don't just take it for word and say, oh, you see a big brand, they must be a really good company, you know. Make sure you find references, if you can find... if you're e-commerce, find e-commerce references. Talk to them. And have some good questions for them to answer. Don't just say, hey, you know, how was it working with them? Did you make a lot of money? Go in there having some prepared questions.
I'd say goals, strategy, reporting and transparency, and then references would be that final one.

Jolina: Great tip. Thanks, Bret. Listener asks, "I currently sell products on Amazon and my own Shopify store. To remain competitive on Amazon I often have to offer products at a lower price. How do I prevent future marketplace additions from cannibalizing sales from my Shopify site?"

Andrew: I can touch on that one. Everyone always worries about being priced under their competitors. Which really, at a certain point, if you continue to do that, it's really going to just belittle your brand. Or it's gonna belittle your entire product. A lot of people, you'd be surprised that, they may not necessarily want the cheapest product. A lot of consumers will actually go and find the cheapest one and then they'll go a couple bucks above.

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:38:04]

Andrew: Find the cheapest one and they'll go like a couple bucks above that. Because it sounds like your product is cheap and it's going to break and it's not going to last. So I wouldn't worry so much about pricing. I would focus a little bit more on how you're driving the traffic to Amazon and how you're branding it because if you're branding it correctly or if you're looking at your imagery ... If you can make your imagery look like it's a premium product then no one's going to care if it's cheaper. You're still gonna see higher conversions than your competitor's going to.

Jolina: Great. Thank you. Let's see ... Tiffany, hi, Tiffany, would like to know what do you do when other competing companies buy your products and then return them on Amazon, and state to Amazon that the item is something else than what you're selling? For example, used versus new, not working. How would you provide customer service for something like this? Good question.

Andrew: So, they're buying your products and returning them on Amazon, and they state to Amazon the item is something else than what you're selling? That's just an annoying competitor. Basically, I think that ... I don't think that that's ... How do you provide customer service for something that ... You should always be customer-friendly, and if they're leaving you a review that's negative or something like that, then you always have to respond appropriately. And it's not always like, "Oh, we're so sorry. Please send us an email." It really could be a little more of like ... It could be comical, in some cases, depending on the product line. You still want to stick to your voice that you're using. But if your competitor's buying your product and they're returning it to Amazon, I wouldn't worry so much about it, unless it's consistent. Then I would find a way to create a support ticket, and see if you can get Amazon to not let them do that, or to basically see if you can prove to Amazon they did receive what they ordered and make the competitor be forced to buy it.

Jolina: Good advice. Hope that helps, Tiffany. Here's a question ... Mike, maybe you can chime in on this one. What are some of the challenges you've seen [inaudible 00:40:21] space when launching a new marketplace? How are they overcome?

Michael Manzi: Well, I think, typically it's the messaging piece that they probably struggle with. And they think that what worked on one website, on one platform, works on another. And if you listen to our commentators, they really were specific about making sure the strategy's appropriate for the platform that you're addressing and you're evaluating that. So, I think there's, on one hand, you can duplicate the same information from one platform to another, and I think that's a good starting point. But I would also suggest not to just rely on that because your customer base might be different and your audience might be different, and I think you need to make sure you pay attention to that.

Jolina: All right, thanks. Andrew, Bret, do you have anything to add to that?

Bret Rosendahl: I think Mike, he kinda hit the nail on the head. I think that was pretty good.

Andrew: Yeah, well done, Mike.

Jolina: Well done, Mike. Nothing to add.

Michael Manzi: I'm moving my hat to marketing next.

Jolina: All right. How do I establish brand loyalty in an industry that is highly commoditized? Good one.

Andrew: Brand loyalty is ... I feel like that's kinda dependent on the industry. There's different approaches you can go. Sometimes there's ... You have certain B2B markets, where you really need to focus less on the product and more on your knowledge of the industry. So, especially on the B2B side we'll focus on e-books, and blogging, and making sure that people are like, "They know what they're talking about. Their product must be good." Or you have the other side of things, where it's just an incredibly competitive market, and it's just something where everyone is selling the same thing, then you really need to focus on the story you're trying to sell, as well as the lifestyle that you believe a majority of your customers are living. It really can depend on the category and
the product line, really.

Jolina: Mike.

Michael Manzi: I would add that ... Going back to some of the comments that was in Andrew's presentation. I think content is king, and even it's commodity, typically you can relate some kind of content to your product to maybe make it seem more unique or that you're a little bit different. I think also the way you take care of your clients is another of separating yourselves from the competition and establishing your brand. And the third thing in the list that Andrew gave of suggestions to clients, we loved one of them. We see a lot of clients that offer something unique on their website that they don't offer on the other platforms, that help drive clients to their own website. And whether it's a certain color, a certain model, a certain product that is similar to other products sold on the other platforms, but you can't get it. You have to come to them to get it. Or maybe there's an add-on that you add to your products, so that it makes your product a little bit more special by adding this special giveaway to it. I think that those are ways that you can maybe separate yourself from the competition.

Andrew: Yeah. Things like coffee brands, or things like, oh man, the craft beer people. Like it's beer. There's no difference. There's the brand name that's completely off, it's completely different. Yeah, there's different flavors and there's different tastes, but they're all so close now at this point, that it's really just the branding. And a good point Mike brought up, too, is here in the office we have an entire staff who is obsessed with Gymshark. And they don't sell on Amazon, they don't sell on anywhere else except their website. It's just gym close. It's nothing crazy, but they have such a strong brand, and they have that tiny hint of exclusivity of by only being able to shop on their site, that it works great for them to the point where half the team takes a break every time they do a flash sale.

Jolina: Wow. That is some brand loyalty right there. Bret, for someone who is managing their own SEO, how often does it need maintenance and updates?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah, that's a good one. So, with SEO, you wanna be very active on your website. Google is constantly crawling your website, so you wanna look very relevant and proactive to them. So, you wanna be making updates at least weekly on the actual site. Having a blog on your site that's, of course, preferably forward-slash off the domain. Maybe writing in there once, twice a week, that's gonna be a nice new steady stream of content, as Google goes and crawls your site. And then yes, as far as adding fresh content to pages, which can be very important for a lot of your category-level pages and stuff like that. If you don't have content on your pages, that's a problem. You might see, well, some competitors don't have it, but they rank for it. Well, their domain authority might be a lot higher than yours, too, so ...
Yeah, being very active. You can't overdo it. So, I'd say just adding fresh content, rewriting content, and then, of course, analyzing pages on the textbook side of things, adjusting titles and metas, and making sure you talk about the keywords the right amount of times. So, yeah, daily, weekly, for sure.

Jolina: So, you think that the "more is better" approach is the what people should go with for SEO?

Bret Rosendahl: Well, it depends on kinda what you're doing, of course. But Google loves fresh content, like Mike mentioned, content is king. It definitely is. Of course, you have to do a lot of other stuff to back up the content to rank for what you wanna target. But yeah, being very active on your site in terms of on-page is definitely gonna be important. And social, too. If one thing that kind of Andrew brought up is, it's not all about the likes and stuff like that. But if you can write something very quirky, or something that people really like, those shares are what actually can help with SEO, as well.

Jolina: And Bret, you men-

Andrew: Yeah, I kind of-

Jolina: Go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew: Sorry. Yeah, sorry, I was just gonna piggyback on that. The content side, I think, especially ... And it ties into the branding and obviously it helps the SEO, but some of the clients we work with now, they're doing things that are ... They're doing blog posts that are relevant to the lifestyle, but have nothing to do with the product. You're basically giving the consumer more reasons to come to their site, even if they don't need to buy. Like, "I have no desire to buy right, but this is a really interesting piece. I'm gonna see what this is about."
I just sat in, and we were at RFC last ... two weeks ago, now. And there was a guy, he had ... They sell knives, but they had consistent blog posts of stuff about knives. It wasn't about their knives, it wasn't about anything else. It was about outdoor stuff and reasons to use knives in certain scenarios, or cooking and all that extra stuff, and it was just consistent content. But they blast it out on social and their email list, and they had such a strong community that they would all come back to the site to read this piece, which helped their SEO.

Jolina: Makes sense. And Bret, you've mentioned briefly, the blog should preferably be forward-slash off the domain. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah. Whatever the way it's set up now, I would leave it. But if you don't have a blog on your website, it's usually best to have it forward-slash, rather than being on a sub-domain. You just get more credit from your overall domain in terms of building up pages, overall popularity of it. If you are on a sub-domain, that's not a bad thing. You can still be on your sub-domain. You can also incorporate internal links or text links from blogs to point back at the specific pages to help give that extra movement, matching parameters, intra-text links, those can be important. Don't overdo them, of course. Make sure they're done very naturally. But, ideally, if you don't have a blog, you want to create one, yeah put it on the forward-slash.

Jolina: Got it. Thanks. We have time for a couple more questions here. Is it better to have a consistent branding strategy across multiple platforms, or to customize depending on the platform?

Andrew: I should have assumed that one was for me, sorry. We like the consistent branding across all of them. In terms of different algorithms, your keyword approach may be different. So, Amazon's algorithm's a little bit different than eBay's. But in terms of your branding, your branding should always be consistent and really not changing in any way. You might wanna tweak maybe like different lifestyle photos on eBay versus Amazon to change it up a little bit, but otherwise we think that you should keep the voice and the branding, the look, the coloring, your logo, everything should be the exact same on every marketplace and every platform that you're on.

Jolina: Great. Thanks, Andrew. Let's do one last question here. What metrics do you use to measure branding and SEO? I guess, you can all take a stab at that one.

Andrew: Bret, you wanna start or do you want me to start?

Bret Rosendahl: Yes. Could you say that one more time for me, please?

Jolina: What metrics do you use to measure branding and SEO?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah, you can go ahead and start on that one, if you'd like, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah. So, that one ... So, to me, branding is building a community of people that believe in your product or your brand. So, if you had to go, "Okay, how strong is your brand? Well, I need to give you a number, it's X." I would say you'd look at social followers, as well as your email list. Those are the two solid metrics, where you can go, "I have X amount of whatever." Cause page traffic, things like that, you could just be running ads to anyone and everyone, so you really wouldn't that that's branding. And you can't really measure brand awareness for people out there who just know your site, but don't have social or email for whatever weird reason. But, I think if you needed a specific metric, I would look at social followers and then the email list.

Jolina: Great.

Bret Rosendahl: Yep. And on the SEO side of things, in terms of metrics, rather than getting very granular in analytics, at the end of the day, guys, it's all about profits and revenues. So, really in order to get there, having a very strong first page presence for a lot of those very important keywords. As you build those keywords, that's where you'll start seeing all of the organic traffic coming in through analytics. And then, of course, as everything is tracking correctly in analytics, it will all be about revenues. But I would, really KPIs that we focus on a lot with our clients, it's first-page presence, organic traffic and users, and then organic revenue. Of course, we get into bounce rates, and transactions, and that kind of stuff. But I think at the end of the day, it's those three things, yeah. Keywords, traffic, and revenue.

Andrew: Actually, in terms of metrics for SEO, I actually have a question for you, Bret. Moz ranking or Alexa ranking, or other?

Bret Rosendahl: Oh, that's always a good one. Out of the two, I'd say Moz, for sure. Of course, they both use toolbars and whatnot to track a lot of stuff, but I'd say probably Moz is better than Alexa. But ... They're just numbers, of course. There's a lot of different views on things, but I'd say Moz over Alexa. More people are using Moz, I would say.

Andrew: Yeah, I agree.

Jolina: Good question, Andrew. All right, so we are running out of time here, so I'd like to wrap it up. If we can just get some closing thoughts from the panel. What is the one take away that the audience should have from today's discussion? Bret, why don't you start?

Bret Rosendahl: Yeah. I think as far as ... Just like I said, what Mike mentioned earlier, you don't wanna have all your eggs in one basket, so having a very strong organic presence is gonna be very important. And if you're gonna be doing it yourself, or finding an agency, just make sure you're doing all the right things. Because, of course, if you don't do the right stuff, you can definitely mess stuff up. But having very good, unique content on your sites, and then really just dialing in the actually architecture, including all the metadata, is gonna be super, super important for the site to get it to perform. And be active, as well.

Jolina: Be active. Great. Andrew, what do you think the audience should take away from today?

Andrew: Me, a takeaway, I would say be everywhere you can, look and sound the exact same wherever you are.

Bret Rosendahl: I like it.

Andrew: Straight and to the point.

Jolina: I like that. And Mike, if you don't mind closing us off with some closing thoughts for today.

Michael Manzi: Yeah, I think the information was valuable, and I would encourage anybody listening to engage these guys further to help themselves. We clearly see in investment and marketing, for all of our e-commerce companies, really does pay off. And those who do it well, significantly gross sales, and we certainly would encourage everybody to continue to do that.

Jolina: Thank you. Well, thank you all for joining us. Thank you so much, Bret, Andrew, and Mike for taking some time today to share some knowledge with everyone that's listening in. And I wish everyone the best of luck in growing their business. And if you do have any questions, contact info for everyone will be on these slides, and we'll send those out as soon as we can. Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you.

Michael Manzi: Thank you, everybody. Bye.


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