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International Google Doodles

Posted on April 20, 2011 by Joelle

A little while ago, Google had a Google Doodle that was an interactive Robert Busen bunsen burner for his 200th birthday.

Bunsen Burner Google Doodle

Seeing this got me thinking, do other countries have the the same Google doodles as we do in the United States? So I did a little searching and low and behold there are Google doodles that are specific by country and region used throughout the world.

Here are some of my favorite recent Google Doodles that were not shown in the U.S. and what I learned about the featured content:

Google International Doodle Turkey


Mar 25, 2011 - 400th Birthday of Evliya Çelebi - (Turkey)
I was able to travel and spend a summer in Istanbul two years ago and now come to learn Evliya Çelebi was a traveler and surveyor himself. He details his finding in his work called Seyahatname.

Google International Doodle India

Mar 14, 2011 - Alam Ara's 80th Anniversary - (India)
The now famous bollywood film industry’s first sound film was Alam Ara, a love story between a gypsy girl and a prince. The film received so much attention that police were called in to control the crowds. This Google doodle was showcased in India on its 80th Anniversary.

Google International Doodle Portugal

Feb 04, 2011 - Almeida Garrett's Birthday - (Portugal)
The famous poet, play writer, novelist, and politician is a beloved figure of Portugal. He is also considered to be the writer that introduced the literary Romantic Era to Portugal. Regarded as a revolutionist and one of history’s greatest romantics, Google showcased this Doodle on his birthday.

These are just a couple of the international Doodles that Google has shown recently. What about you, do you have a favorite Google doodle?

 

Social Entreprenuership: Connecting Nonprofits to Industry Leaders

Posted on April 6, 2011 by Joelle

Palindrome Advisors

I recently read an article in the Wall street Journal’s Blog, Digits, about an up and coming organization called Plalindrome Advisors that deals with social entrepreneurship and I though it was worth sharing.

Plalindrome Advisors is a recently established entrepreneurship networking project that has caught the attention of many for their astounding ability to connect expert executives in technology, entertainment, business, finance, and media to nonprofit organizations who need their dexterity. Plalindrome Advisors’ projects include using the knowledge and skills of industry leaders to educate and mentor future entrepreneurs, as well as providing resources by building tools and technology for nonprofit partners.


Some of the industry leaders mentioned on their website are Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue; Dag Kittlaus, Apple’s director of iPhone apps; and Ellen Siminoff former senior vice president at Yahoo. I was most proud to see these nonprofit partners on their list as well: Children of the Night, a organization combating human trafficking; Tapestries of Hope, an organization aimed at the eradication of violence against women and children; and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines; a group of university students who work together to provide medicines and public health technologies to poorer countries. Plalindrome Advisors was referred to as the “match.com for industry leaders and the boards of nonprofits” by founder Zaw Thet, reported to the Wall street Journal.

Plalindrome Advisors purpose is to change the way industry leaders give back, and they are doing just that at astonishing rates. By connecting the right executive with the right nonprofit partner they are able to use time and resources more efficiently and at the same time create a multiplying network of capabilities.  I think this is absolutely amazing and love to see entrepreneurs using their talents and resources to benefit individuals and communities. I am somewhat shocked that I had not seen anything like this before (if there is something please let me know). It is a great idea that can both help the person investing in the company and company being invested in, and I look forward to seeing where Palindrome Advisors is able to go with it.

I love to hear about projects that companies are involved with, feel free to share what the ways your company is giving back! Also, what do you think about Palindrome Advisors?

 

Google's Recipe Search Refinement Review

Posted on March 8, 2011 by Joelle

Google Recipe Refinement

Since I spend a lot of time on Google in any given day, I love to review the new services they offer. A couple months ago I reviewed the Boutiques service, and most recently I heard about the recipe refinement and really wanted to take it for a test spin. As an avid lover of all things baked and broiled I am always in the market for new, creative, healthy and economical recipes. I cook for myself and large crowds at least twice a week and need recipes fast, that can cater to the many ever changing tastes of my guests. Here are some features that will make me come back to Google Recipe View and others that will not.

What I Like

Recipe Searching

Equally broad and specific search terms like “salad” or “cobb salad” are great for getting you on the right path to “your perfect recipe” as Google claims to help you find. I would suggest if you have an idea of some of the ingredients you would like to use, and it makes sense to include them in the search term, to do so. Some of my searches for broad terms returned a lot of results, so it would be more advantageous to refine through your search than by clicking through the ingredient refinements.

Example of Google Recipe Search


Refining Your Search

On the left hand side Google included a refinement for ingredients used in the recipe. This is great if you have a growing collection of canned foods that you never seem to use, or simply want to experiment using new foods. I found, on average, when I put in a food item as the search term I only had to refine 2-4 times to return a result I would actually want to make. During the holidays when pumpkin and cranberries seem to be flavoring everything and finding a recipe for excluding these can be difficult, the ingredient exclusion option will be very helpful! Refinements include ingredients, cook time, and range of calories. I also thought it was really great that for recipes that had ratings and Images that were viewable right from the search page without any clicks.

What Needs Work

Making Recipe View Better

I found it difficult to switch between searches as Google Recipe View saves your refinements. Searching for salad, refining by pomegranate, then changing your search term to enchiladas will result in getting a  “Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa with Spiced Chips” which is not enchiladas last time I checked. You will have to reset your refinements with every search. This could be good for people who have allergies and will need to exclude certain ingredients from all recipes but not good for the general population.

Serving Size Refinement

I would also suggest a refinement for serving size, so that you can chose larger serving size recipes when cooking for larger groups of people. Some recipes are great for 2-5 people but start to get really pricey when cooking for a large group, so having this refinement would be really helpful. Also, having an average cost per ingredient multiplied out for ingredient size would give a great estimate on how much the recipe will cost.

Overall, I think this is a really cool new feature from Google. I admit that it probably doesn’t appeal to everyone, but for those that love to cook I can’t wait to see where Google goes next with the recipe refinement, and I plan to use it a lot in the future.

What are your thoughts? Do you like to cook? Does this appeal to you? Let us know in the comments.

 

Best Practices for Ecommerce Upselling

Posted on January 27, 2011 by Joelle

To follow up on my last blog, upselling techniques for ecommerce, I have created this blog to include best practices for upselling. Upselling should be as natural a thought as helping a customer, giving ground to what is often defined but not trained or implemented.

I have included some best practices on how to train your customer service representatives and upgrade your website to incorporate essential upselling tactics.

Practice - Consider sharing what your company does with a friend, and you will find a more natural rhythm for sharing benefits. Listen to the responses that your friend has, concerns, body language etc. Body language is a great indicator to determine if you have pushed the sale to much or not. Asking them what they do or do not like about websites can also give you insight on how to improve your upselling tactics on your own site. Then lastly, assess and make improvements where they need to be made. The best way to learn to sell better is to dialog, listen and act.

Assess the Customer
- No one wants to be pushed into buying something they do not want, but everyone loves finding a sales representative that will help them find exactly what they need! Assessing a customer’s needs and potential wants is a large part of selling well. Always keep in mind that you want your customer to walk away with the best possible product, to fit as many needs as you can fill, and with the best experience you can give. Some customers will flat out tell you what they want; others you will have observe and conclude what they may want.

Pocket Upselling - This is reserve knowledge your sales associates have about the products and promotions you offer that will aid you in pulling out the best upsell option for the customer’s needs. This is not a canned response, but a unique offer based on the products or services the customer has already committed to purchasing. For E-tailers this is often utilized as “you might also like” and “other customer’s purchased” using algorithms to determine the unique product that a potential customer might be interested in. This is also why it is important for your marketing and customer service team to interact, as the deals the marketing team is pushing can be relayed to the customer service team.

Connect the Advantage - Offering “do you want fries with that” will not aid in an online upsell. Internet retailers have to communicate value and advantage. Briefly communicating the benefits to the customer through a question and partial answer are the best way to upsell. “Would you like to hear about the X product that matches your Y product? You can add this to your order for only Z more dollars.” This provides just enough information to the customer to know that there is an offer behind the question, and they may find value in it.

Demonstrate Usage - For internet retailers this is a more difficult experience to replicate, but can be done. By demonstrating and giving the customer an experience with the product will increase the value of a product in the mind of the purchaser. This can be accomplished through informative videos and experiential software development. The more product information you have available to the customer will increase certainty, which is the result of usage tactics.

Are You Bundled? -
Grouping related products or services together for a lesser price than they are individually, creates a bundle. This also creates urgency, because the purchaser knows if they decided to want the associated items later they will pay more than they would at that moment. You can program this function into your website by having products that are related be bundled together for a discounted price.

Know the Difference – Your calculator needs to become your best friend. Quickly calculating the difference for an upsell and the cost associated will communicate the cost-advantage to the customer. The customer needs to quickly know what they will get, and what it will cost. They need to know what the difference is in order to measure if it has value for them. Communicating a dollar amount gives tangible worth to a trade-off. For example: “you save $5 on items X,Y & Z when you purchase them as a package”  or “for only $6 more you can add this X item that is required for installation.” 

“Is This All I Need?”- An experienced upselling sales person will never hear this phrase; they will have already offered any significant needed or complementary product to the customer and the customer will know what they are getting. If you know that a particular product is hard to match or find later, offer any complementary products like this: “I personally know that this product X is unique and difficult to match, would you like to hear about product Y, which would be an excellent accompaniment to your current choice?” This affirms the current choice the customer has already made but also gives them insight to a potential but easily avoided road block in future purchasing decisions. You may also try, “ We have excellent product X’s which will be very useful in maintaining the longevity of your product Y, these start at X dollars.” You informed them of a potential need they may have and that you have a solution to offer if they are interested.

Do NOT Badger -
Upselling is something that must be done naturally, softly, and tactfully. If a customer is giving signs that they already know what they want, and are not interested in anything else, follow their lead but follow up with an offer for future assistance. Consider planning to use one of these upselling techniques into your next website redesign, or sales call to grow sales and customer loyalty.

These are some of the tips I use when upselling, have you found any other tips that work well? Leave them in the comments!

 

Upselling Techniques for Ecommerce Part 1

Posted on January 13, 2011 by Joelle

We all have heard the phrase “would you like fries with that?” which in its most basic form is upselling. For internet retailers upselling must be approached tactfully and create an E-experience that provides avenues as well as encouragement to add value to a final purchase through incentives, bundles, add-ons, or complementary items. The online retailer must not be quick to copy and paste the “would you like fries with that” upselling technique as it is often not effective in e-commerce, even turning your customer away from your entire domain by creating uncertainty. E-commerce upselling requires more planning, more programing, and more stylistic and unique soft selling.

A sample from the top ten internet retailers support this theory:

  • Amazon offers a soft sell incentive through Amazon Prime.
  • Apple offers over 26 possible add-on’s before checkout.
  • Staples offers easy reordering options that encourage customer loyalty.
  • Walmart offers a range of complementary items in more than 4 places before checkout.

                                                        
For those skeptical or unwilling to practice upselling, the greatest opposition I have come to find is that they fear pushing customers into buying something they do not want. I must clearly state that this is not effective upselling. Effective upselling is quite the opposite, it is capturing value from something the customer does want, but simply needed to be reminded of. An example of this would be when I went to the car wash last week. I have always selected the basic wash and interior clean, but this time I upgraded! The salesman informed me that the difference between the basic and the deluxe (which was one level up) was that it included exterior wax, more detailed interior cleaning, and tire conditioner for about $2 more. He had no way of knowing that I actually would be driving some friends to an event and the extra care was valuable to me, and I was stuck in my routine and did not think to ask for additional treatment. The salesman did not push me into anything I did not want, he offered me an upgrade, and if valued I could accept.

Upselling is one of the best uses of a sales person’s time, it takes seconds to a couple of minutes and historically adds a significant margin increase. You can simply calculate the seconds in dollars that it costs a customer service representative to offer an upsell and discuss benefits, to the dollars it adds to each order that grew in value. This transforms a customer service representative from an order processor to an active sales person. Making upselling a natural part of the conversation will show that your company wants to fill all the needs of the customer and that you have the resources to do so. See my next blog for best practices for upselling!

 

Why Your Google Talk Isn't Making Friends

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Joelle

For months, co-workers have been asking me, “Why have you not accepted my chat request?” Digging into it, I soon realized that I could not invite or accept any chat requests on Google Talk. I was puzzled, I must have

invited the same person over 20 times without being able to add them. Q+A sites all over the Internet that have posed this question with no answer....until now!


I discovered that there is a button in Gmail Talk settings that says, “Add people I communicate with often to my Friends List.” This will add anyone you communicate with often from your email to your Friends List in Google Talk. I went to my contact list to discover that I had 10,000 contacts (Google's maximum), which was the reason I could not chat with any new contacts. After removing 9,982 contacts from my contact list, I was successfully able to chat with the co-workers in my office, who must have thought I was avoiding them for months.

If Google Talk has blocked you from receiving or sending invites, follow the steps below for an easy fix!

1) Open your Google Talk window > select settings.
2) In the general tab, un-check “Add people I communicate with often to my Friends List.”
3) Go to your Gmail account, on the left hand side select contacts.
4) There you will see a list of your contacts.
5) To mass delete contacts click the first contact then hold shift while clicking the last contact. This will select all contacts and then you can un-click the ones you want to keep.

Hope this helps you out!

Google's Boutiques.com: First Impressions

Posted on November 18, 2010 by Joelle

As an avid online clothing shopper, I have pretty much pinned my size and style at any given online clothing store. However, occasionally I will have a post purchase regret, normally because the item is just not quite what I wanted or is not really my style when I recieve it. Google has brought order to my sometimes shopping madness with Boutiques.com. They have devised a tool using algorithms crafted by development experts, and fashion rules controlled by designers, to help the online fashion shopper shop better. The user begins by taking a style quiz, then setting preferences like colors and patterns, and lastly they are able to refine their personal boutique by “loving,” “hating,” or saving their favorites.  All features are accessible by iPad an iPhone and the shopper can set up to receive daily style tips and recommendations. You can also browse celebrity boutiques and follow their updates to receive the latest news, as well as their new styles.

Boutiques.com Review

The style quiz is easy and fast, though I would suggest not liking any style that is truly not you. You can also simply skip the questions, but that kind of defeats the purpose as the results will be less accurate.

Google’s blog talks about the innovation of Boutiques.com and how it came about

“First we partnered with taste-makers of all types. We asked them not just to curate 10-50 great items they loved, but also to teach our site their style and taste. They did this by telling us what colors, patterns, brands and silhouettes they loved and they hated. They took a visual quiz that taught the site to understand their style genre: Classic, Boho, Edgy, etc. Our machine learning algorithms use this information to enable you to shop all of the inventory in the style of that taste-maker, on top of the 50 items they’ve hand-curated.

These days, bloggers, stylists and everyday fashionistas are expressing their sense of style online. We invited them to create boutiques so people could shop their diverse styles. But you have a unique and independent style too, so Boutiques also lets you build your own personalized boutique and get recommendations of products that match your taste”

My boutique style: Casual Chic, Romantic, Boho.

In my eyes, Google has done it again. They were able to bring good refinement to an area of the Internet that I didn't even realize was missing it! I'm excited to see where this progresses.

Check it out and give us your feedback in the comments!

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ECommerce Sites Gear Up for A Hopeful Holiday Shopping Season

Posted on October 15, 2010 by Joelle

Controversy still remains whether the economy is getting back on its feet, but research shows that internet retailers remain hopeful, Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets agrees estimating 10-15% growth in sales in 2010’s fourth quarter over last year’s holiday season.   The optimistic approach isn’t short of serious strategy; while growth is expected for two-thirds of e-commerce companies, they approach the holiday shopping season armed with free shipping coupons, increasing focus in social networking, and decreasing shopping cart abandonment.

Another survey shows that the majority of consumers plan to start their shopping trips not at the stores but online; 49% of consumers expect to shop directly on Marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay and 41% say they will start on search engines, the favorite being Google by 67% and Yahoo at 19%. Internet retailers can expect higher customer acquisition costs due to higher marketplace commissions and paid search ads during the holiday season.

'Tis the season for free shipping! It’s reported that 85% of e-commerce sites will offer free shipping promotions specific for the upcoming holiday season.  Top three forms of free shipping promotions this year are expected to be:
27% will offer free shipping on select products at select times during this holiday season
26% will offer free shipping on select products throughout this holiday season
13% will offer unrestricted free shipping at select times during this holiday season

Other marketing initiates internet retailers are bumping up this season are mobile and social networking. 38% of e-commerce sites plan to use texting as a way to promote sales and easy shopping cart access, and 25% plan to improve traffic to their sites through sales texts including hyperlinks directly to products. Social networking hits a high this holiday season at 91 % of internet retailers using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to market with 14% of those with “extensive plans.”

The talk of tight wallets and unemployment rates have 73% of consumers saying they will spend the same as last year during fourth quarter, and 18% of consumers report that they will spend more. Interesting. So most consumers plan to be spending the same but 90% of consumers are starting their holiday search online. This leaves huge opportunity for online retailers to capture sales before other e-tailers or retailer do, and is reflective in their optimistic attitudes and serious plans for capturing consumers.

Last year experienced record highs of shopping cart abandonment in the mid-September through Mid-November season. Researchers tie this to high volume of browsers and waiters, and predict the same for this year. The majority of online shoppers plan to research and find the best deals on the products they know they want, and then wait for the conditioned sales after Thanksgiving. 20% of consumers said they will do all their shopping online this season, and 33% will use the internet mainly for comparison, but would consider buying if they got the best deal, this is probably the biggest factor playing into high shopping cart abandonment rates. 

Stay tuned my next Holiday update will be on top selling products for this holiday season!

 

Tips on Creating a Sales Ready Message

Posted on September 28, 2010 by Joelle

As humans we are constantly sending and receiving messages. Messages can come to and from friends, employees, the culture, and the media at large. Messages can be as small as a conversation over the company water cooler or an IM chat, to a company promotion or advertisement. Individual’s response to a message is largely dependent upon the quality of the message and how the message was delivered. 


At a loss as to why your ideas are not selling? Or why your return on advertisements is continually minimal? If this is you, most likely your messages are lacking key components of a sales ready message. Creating messages with clear objectives, that have a strong call to action, are essential in seeing conversions in your message. Use the checklist below to make sure that your messages include all the essential components, and improve upon the ones that don’t.


Objective- What is your aim in sending the message? Having a clear objective will set the framework for you message, without a clear direction you are likely to have a message that has no real focus or is cluttered and conflicting. For example: When creating an email marketing campaign: What products, brands, or social networking sites would you like to see sales growth in? Tip: Keep the objective simple.


Targeted User- Who do you seek to reach with your message? Exchanging messages with the correct and appropriate audience is essential. The objective you want to send to your customers may vary by marketplace and the type of consumer engaging in that marketplace. The nature of ecommerce opens the gates, so to speak, as to whom the potential recipients of messages are. Tip: Do not make your target user group to narrow; otherwise you will limit your customer base.


Creative Messaging- How will you make your message stand out against the crowd? With the millions of messages being exchanged daily, you have to make your message rise to the top if you want it to be considered. Use mediums that are accessible by your target user and that are relevant. Be creative while staying within the bounds of the structure of your brand. You want your messages to communicate your brand image with words, images and media.  Tip: By default think outside the box, lean more on the side of creative than conservative. You can always decide to scale it back, but more often than not it will keep your messages fresh, new and exciting.


Call to Action- Does your communication seeks a response? Creating messages that call the target user to action clearly communicate that you have an offer and they can have a response to the offer. If you are saying “Buy Now, On Sale, Everything Must Go!” Do you give the customer the opportunity and channel to immediately do so? If you are not making it possible or easy for the customer to respond, it will not be a surprise when you do not reach your message objective. Make the purchasing process as easy and simple as possible. Tip: Your call to action should stem from your objective; if these do not align you need to rework your call to action.


Conversion Goals- Do you have a way for measuring your message’s success? If your goal was to increase sales by promoting a special sale, do you have a way of measuring sales from that promotion? Measuring success will help you know if your messages are effective or if you need to rework one of the messaging components. Tip: Setting a goal and forecasting the response can help with identifying changes that need to be made for future messages.

Include these five components for a better sales ready message. You will see that improving the quality, clarity, and call to action of your messages exchange will generate a higher sales response.

Message better to sell better.