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eCommerce

How to Predict Blog Post Revenue

A recent post on Data Science Central caught my eye that could definitely be used to predict blog post revenue:

http://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/state-of-the-art-machine-learning-automation-with-hdt

The writer wrote an algorithm to predict the page views of an article based on keywords in the title and post type.  It was quite interesting as it used decision tree logic and regression, instead of pure math to achieve the results.

I’d suggest looking at the blog post category or tags to  help determine the expected revenue for the posts in addition to the current factors for better strategic decisions depending on the scope of your blog.

 

eCommerce WooCommerce

Importing Products in Multiple Languages Using WPML & WooCommerce Product CSV Import Suite

By default, the WooCommerce Product CSV Import Suite will always import your products in the default language of your eCommerce website. This can be problematic when you are working with a site that has multiple languages.

While WPML is not my language plugin of choice for WordPress, it definitely requires the least amount of work to get running with the WooCommerce ecommerce plugin. It also has several necessary functionalities that make importing products in multiple languages easier than it looks. Here’s my process in more detail.

Import Products in Default Language

A small tip, would be to have all your product images, categories, attributes and tags already uploading into WordPress. I’ve drag-and-drop uploaded over 500 images with no problem, so you shouldn’t have any problems either!

In any case, the first step is to only import the products in the default language of your theme. If you don’t do this, you’ll want to shoot yourself later on. This is relatively easy to do and if you need help working with the CSV either drop a line in the comments or read the official plugin documentation.

Export All Your Products

These easiest way to set up a unique way of detecting what products are in your default language is by exporting them before duplicating. This will allow you to create a function in Excel that can tell you if they are in the default language master sheet or not. This method of ID will only work if you are doing a bilingual site. I’m sure you can figure out a better way if you’re dealing with multiple languages. Please leave the method in the comments if you do!

Duplicate Your Products in Every Other Language

Go to the WPML Translation Dashboard in the Translation Management section. Select all your product posts and scroll down. You should see the option to duplicate the posts for your other languages. Do it as many times as needed. Be sure to have your selection only include posts that have no translation or you may be repeating the same action over and over for nothing.

Merge Proper Text for All Non-Default Languages

This is the last step on your translation journey. Export all your products and use the Excel sheet with your default language products to identity them if needed. Update the relevant information for your translations and merge. Your task is now done!

eCommerce Work

Mixing Product / Informational and Marketing Content

The last talk that I will be attending at RDV_MARKETING is the one given by some lady from Twitter. I’ll probably update to her real name later but she seems really interesting and unlike the Ulule guy has good designers.

Her talk is much more focused on tech products, but I’m going to try and convert her message fast into something applicable to eCommerce.

Product (Informational) vs Marketing Content

Product content is informational and invisible. For eCommerce, it can be navigation, product specs.

Marketing content is what causes the sale. Like product descriptions, call to actions, product stories, banners, advertising.

How They Meet

Vague call to actions, product pages, home page, etc.

Dead Zones

Places where opportunities have been forgotten. Where good copy could be present.

Example: Emtpy States

There are empty states like an empty cart or a page with empty products. Web updates or tool tips. You should not treat your emtpy like an error message but instead take the opportunity to either showcase another brand, a promotion or something like that.

War Zones

These can be considered places like products page. Where you want to be informational about the product but also really push the sale. Which one should be prioritized and how can we make peace?

Example: Product Pages

We need to use these to make pages, but they must also have a lot of information for users to be confortable. We don’t want to distract users from what the product actually is and how it can be used by how it’s going to change their lives and why they should buy it now. Not sure if this is actually a war zone, but I feel like it might be.

Content Strategies

You really need to either find peace between informational and marketing content, or choose one that will be pushed more than over. It is important to know what you want, have a structured planning process and you need to choose who is in charge of the project.

Make Something Out of Nothing

Even with something that is purely informational, you can turn it into a hybrid with marketing with the right process. The content and product aren’t what is important when working with strategy, but find the common ground. If there is something unmovable then a choice must be made.

An example from Twitter, is how they integrate marketing content in their release notes.

eCommerce Work

Crowdfunding as a Native Advertising Channel

Another post about a talk at RDV_MARKETING from the guys from Alexandre Boucherot from ulule.com. Ulule is a crowdfunding platform that has been available to Canadians for about a year.

Types of Crowfunding

There are three types. The first is the standard type like Kickstarter, Users give you money in exchange for perks. The next offers equity. That means that users get a cut of your profits. The last is where users lend you money for your products which you will need to pay back.

Why Use Crowfunding

Crowdsourcing allows you to create or expand your current community. It isn’t because crowdsourcing expands your reach that it create a community. It is because it allows user to get a more behind the scenes look at product development.

It is also a great way to test interest in your product. If there is no interest in your product, it just won’t get funding. For example, test new products that wouldn’t be created unless there was a extremely high demand like a product developed in the lab that will only be launched if there are enough pre-orders. It’s also a great way to get feedback from early adopters fast.

Advertising Using Crowdfunding

As a brand, you can also sponsor projects that make sense. In a similar way as the previous post about influencers, it’s possible to take advantage of high engagement of a project’s investors to reach a new group of peoples.

For example, the National Bank of project has a profile of Ulule where they showcase the type of projects they like to invest in. Heineken and Nissan have also allied with Ulule to find entrepreneur-influencers.

FYI, this presentation was super crappy. Not only was the color scheme really hard to read on the PowerPoint, but it sounded much more like a sales pitch for their platform. I really hope they fire the designer who did the PowerPoint template. Who in their right mind thinks that blue writing on an orange background is aesthetically pleasing.

eCommerce Work

How to Be Better at Influencer Marketing

As part of the conference, Infopresse is promoting on of their paid training. This particular one focuses on Influencer Marketing. Hopefully, it’s good but it sounds like it will be just a long talk about how to get people (influencers) to promote your brand on Instagram.

Why Focus on Influencer Marketing Strategies

First and foremost, Quebec is behind compared to the rest of North America in adoption Influencer Marketing strategies. In other words, it’s going to trend soon. This matters a lot for agencies that want to sell it, but trending marketing strategies are not really always good for actual businesses.

A good reason to go forward with influencer marketing is that the reach of businesses on many social networks is getting smaller and smaller. I’m pretty sure everyone has heard comments from SMB owners about their crappy Facebook posts no longer reaching everyone who has liked their business.

If you have enough data about your target audience, influencer marketing can be a way to target a specific sub-section of your potential customers. If you know 50% of your female customers who like pizza follow a specific Instagrammer, it might be a good idea to reach out to him and see what partnership possibilities exist. It might even end up costing you less than standard digital advertising.

Lastly, many people will watch YouTube reviews or read independent blog posts when making purchase decisions.

Why You Should Pay Influencers

This is pretty obvious.

  • Reach
  • Knowledge of their audience’s content preferences
  • Guaranteed engagement

How to Choose Influencers

First, it’s important to remember their audience. No point in partnering with a swimsuit Instragrammer to sell your bikinis if her audience is mainly pervy males. While the trainer offered like a gajillion different criterias, they all boiled into two points.

Influencer’s Credibility & History

Is the influencer credible? Is she respected by her peers? Does it fit your branding? Did they work with your competitors? Have they shared racist posts?

You should always ask for their history and call people who have worked with them before. You should also make sure they are professional and will send you a report after the campaign.

Influencer’s Audience & Engagement

Does it match your demographics? Who listens and engages with their posts? Are they real followers and engagement? What social media do they use? Does it fit with your branding and marketing strategy?

Types of Influencers

Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagrammers and Tweeters.

How to Find Influencers

There are paid platforms to help you find them are ultra expensive, guarantee nothing and remove some of the personal relationships that need to be built between the brand’s employees and the influencer. The best way to do it is manually!

Some Extra Tips

  • Be aware of frauds who will not produce what you want but take your money or products anyways
  • Don’t neglect medium and small influencers, they sometimes influence bigger ones and tend to be more authentic
  • Authenticity is not always crucial. Blatant product placement can work
  • Develop programs with an influencer with medium and long term goals. It’s better than just doing a 1 time thing. Might also end up being cheaper!
  • Always mesure your results at a macro and micro scale on both a quantitative (sales, traffic, etc) and qualitative (branding, quality, beauty) way.
  • Use influencers to educate audience about your product, compare your services or drive sales from their audience.

Ethical Implications

Does the influencer need to disclose your brand is using him? There have been cases where celebrities have gotten in trouble for not disclosing their association with a brand. I personally do not see a problem with this because I come from a link building background and this already seems a lot cleaner.

eCommerce Work

Tips to Better Penetrate New Markets

I’m currently attending the RDV_MARKETING where Jamie Hebert, Spotify’s Head of Marketing is talking. For those who don’t listen to music, Spotify was introduced into the Canadian market in 2014 and is a music streaming service.

His talk addresses three issues with moving a service into a new market:

  • Expanding audience once early adopters have been saturated
  • Moving from content to context
  • Adapting the service for the new audience

Moving Beyond Early Adopters

The first step he believes that any brand should do before trying to bring their services to a new country is to learn from others. For example, Target failed tremendously when trying to penetrate the Canadian market. On the other hand, GoPro has been extremely successful in making their product a internationally known brand that is accessible to more than just adrenaline junkies. Another good example would be Starbucks Canada. They began by testing the Canadian palette and what type of coffee do Canadians drink. The result was the True North Blend.

Moving from Content to Context

When users began starting using Spotify, they began by looking for specific artists or music styles. However, as they get used to the service, they begin looking for music that fits the time of day and events of their day. Instead of looking for specific songs, a user might look for a playlist that can accompany their run or commute.

They strongly believe that all content should be personalized. This is why they created Spotify Running. They noticed that many users were creating playlists for running, but multiple users do not have the luxury or knowledge to curate such a playlist. That’s why they create the service to add a layer of contextual intelligence to their content.

Adapting the service for the new market

They built a dedicated team for not only marketing in Canada but also an editorial team that builds playlists for the Canadian audience and a team to deal with independent labels and ensure Canadian have accept to local independent music.

Other than building a dedicated Canadian team, Spotify is trying to make a platform where they can showcase great Canadian talent. An example of this type of initiatve is the Spotify Sessions such as their show in Montreal with Coeur de Pirate. A weird fact is that only in Canada is that in our country these shows are not in Spotify offices! In fact, they also partner with local artists to showcase brands and help them get air play by showing the data to radio stations.

Contextuality also plays a part in adapting the service. Using a data-driven approach, they use DIB system (Data, Insights, Beliefs) when planning all marketing campaigns. They looked at the most played songs along a Toronto bus route area. Afterwards, they create a playlist for the specific bus route and looked to see the results. I’m guessing they were good as they repeated the same campaign across multiple other Canadian cities.

Lastly, Spotify creates local partnerships with many Canadian branches of big businesses. This helps increase the reach and engagement in the market. Spotify partners with local radio stations to extend radio shows into Spotify playlists.

eCommerce SEO

Creating my first eBay listings

I’ve been working on helping a brick and mortar store build their first eCommerce site. I’ve been running roadblocks due to their lack of inventory management practices. The store manager refuses to install a POS and has never had employees track their inventory daily. In order to start training the staff to keep track of their inventory and fix some small kinks in our shipping strategy, I decided to create my first eBay listings.

It may seem counter intuitive to start an eBay account for the future eCommerce store, but these are the main reasons I have decided to do it:

  • Highlight importance of proper inventory management
  • Ensure shipping runs smoothly
  • Start making some first sales
  • Motivate staff by teaching them a new skill

An interesting point brought up by Jack Stonehouse on God of SEO is that these product listings and the eBay profile itself will create some powerful links pointing to the eCommerce websites. I hadn’t even thought about that, but it’s definitely another advantage to creating my first eBay listings.

log-in-to-eBay

If you’re a legitimate company, you’ll be able create a eBay business account first. The advantages of this type of account is that you can keep your business name as your username. The disadvantage is that it requires your business tax numbers. If you’re company isn’t government approved, you’ll have to stick with a personal eBay account.

Here’s a slightly edited version of the eBay listing tutorial that I created for the store’s employees

Creating Your First eBay Listings

selling-ebay-items

After you log in to the eBay account, navigate to the “Sell an item” page. If you’re having trouble finding it, the page is in the “Sell” section of the menu.

Creating a Listing Versus Using a Template

While you can use a template and only modify the important part of the listing such as the title, item attributes and product description, this tutorial will be showing you how to create a new eBay listing from scratch. After you have created your first item, you may want to save your personal template for future use.

The only difference between a new listing and a template is that most of the information will be filled out already. It won’t necessarily be the good information for the new product you want to list.

difference between a new eBay listing and a tempalte

The first thing you will want to do is enter the name of your product. It should have all the important descriptors such as the brand, size, color and any other fact about the product that may be interesting for the typical user.

Choosing the eBay Category

choose a category for your first ebay listings

eBay will suggest a category for your listing but, most of the time, it will be a category that doesn’t truly reflect the users we are targeting. In addition, you’ll want to test out various categories to see which one works best for which type of products. That’s why you often will want to choose the category yourself or use a category that you know has worked in the past.

Describing Your eBay Listing With Item Attributes

Adding item attributes

The next step will be to fill in the attributes. Depending on the category you selected, there will be a few default ones. You’ll definitely want to create some new ones. The more item attributes the product has, the better.

Creating custom eBay item attributes

Remember to keep the same formatting as the past attributes. The title goes on the top and the value goes on the bottom.

Adding Pictures to Your eBay Listing

Uploading pictures to eBay

The next step is to take and upload pictures of the item. Sometimes, they’ll show up upside down. If that’s the case, you can rotate them directly in eBay. In some cases, there will be no good images to use for the product. While I don’t suggest it, you can look online for a better image and upload it instead.

Writing Your Product Listing Description

Adding a description to your eBay listing

After you’re done with the images, it’s time to write the product description. I have written an HTML template which is not present in this blog post with a basic design that can be used. All that is needed from you is to change the titles and ensure the description adequately describes the product.

Don’t be shy. If you feel like writing more text, do it!

Setting Up Your Auction Price

Setting up your listing's price

I will not be getting into fixed prices auctions for now, because we will be focusing on liquidating caps on auction. If we decide to go forward and create an eBay store, we will most likely start creating fixed price listings instead. It is the only way to add item variations and showcase an inventory for a specific product on eBay.

Remember to confirm with the big boss what starting prices he would like. Reserve prices cost money, and we currently don’t want to invest a penny in the sales.

Selecting payment, shipping and refund options

I have set default values for all these options. Until further notice, please just keep the default ones.

eCommerce

Starting an Etsy shop

My girlfriend has made some really cool creations during the Holidays as gifts for our family. In fact, she made a variety of felt foods, a dog coat, and a set of plush owl pillows. Due to the fact that she would have to tailor her creations to her customers and the creation process could take a few days, it seemed smarter to start our first foray into eCommerce by starting an Etsy shop together. Actually, she’ll be the one starting the shop. I’m just going to bug her to work on it every day because I’m helpful.

What You Need to Make an Etsy Shop

You’ll need more than just an idea in mind to create your first Etsy store. It doesn’t take much, but there are a few things you’ll want to have handy during the process.

The obvious first thing you will want to do is choose both a username and a shop name. I’m not really sure why you’re forced to do both. It’s pretty weird that you can not create more than one shop per user name. In fact, you’re encourage to just register a new username if you want to manage a second Etsy shop.

As I haven’t done much research on Etsy SEO, I won’t claim that a keyword rich shop name will help you in the internal search results even if my intuition suggests it.

etsy shop name

Next step is to start listing some products. In case you didn’t do your research before reading this post, Etsy charges $0.20 for each product listing and takes a 3.5% commission on your sales. Having taken a look at eBay and Amazon listing fees lately, it doesn’t seem that bad in comparison.

Remember good pictures and copy writing are the core to any successful eCommerce product. It’s no different for Etsy. My girlfriend wrote some decent copy, but she will definitely need to get a better picture of her handmade decorative owls.

In addition, you need to know how you will price your items. While looking at your competition can help you see what people are willing to pay, following a simple pricing formula like this one can be helpful. You should have the weight and the size of your products on hand as you will also need to figure out the shipping costs.

Last but not least, you’ll need to have your checkbook handy. Etsy deposits money to your bank account, so you’ll have to share your banking information. It’s kind of like they are an employer that wants to deposit your pay directly into your bank account.

That’s all folks. You now have a basic Etsy shop running. Next step will be read more about Etsy SEO and designing the look of the store.

eCommerce PHP

How to translate a Magento theme in six easy steps

I’ve been pretty busy at work these last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I have given up working on any of my learning projects. I’ve begun to translate a Magento theme. I was afraid at first, but translating a Magento theme is actually quite an easy process. It’s actually simpler than trying to make a WordPress theme multilingual using WPML.

Get Translation Files For Default Magento Interface

The first step is to go ahead and download the official Magento translation packages. Be sure to download the actual package and not the inline or string list. I won’t be using those translation methods in my guide.

Once that is done, decompress the file and upload the /app folder of your Magento store’s root directory. It’s easy-peasy.

magento translation root folder

Create Store Views For Every Language

how to translate magento theme configsNow that the Magento translation files have been uploaded on your serve, it’s time to create the various store views associated with each language.

First, navigate to System/Manage Stores which can be found easily by using the Magento backend’s header menu. From here, you’ll be able to create new store views as well as edit the names of the existing ones. I suggest you change the default store view’s name to English to keep your naming convention convenient.

Once, you’ve created the store the views. You will have to navigate to System/Configuration and ensure that you set the current configuration scope to your new language. Select the appropriate language from the locale dropdown on the General/General configuration page.

french-locale-magento-translation

Why Your Theme Isn’t Fully Translated

After creating the store views and associating them with the appropriate locale file, you might notice that some text portions of your Magento theme have already been translated in the front end. This is because those particular strings use the same wording that is used in the default Magento theme. Yet, most good Magento theme developers will have modified the default text and added strings of their own. In addition, you’ll most likely have created a number of static blocks and pages that will need translating as well.

Don’t worry! You’re halfway through translating your Magento theme.

Depending on how many pages and static blocks you have, that might have been a lie. This is where actual Magento translation grunt work actually begins.

Translate All Static Blocks

Navigate to CMS/Static Blocks. Go through every single block that currently exists, and set their store view to your default language. In our case, it’s English.

translating english static block

Next, you’ll want to start creating blocks that will replace them in your translated Magento theme. You’re best bet is to come up with a naming convention that will make it easier when it comes to translating your pages. In my case, I tend to append a language code such as _en or _fr to all my static blocks.

translating french static block

Once that’s done, verify that you have not forgotten to translate the actual content of any of your newly created static blocks for your new store views. If you don’t translate them, you won’t end up with a fully multilingual Magento theme.

Translate All Pages

Repeat the same process that you have just done with the pages found in CMS/Page. The only difference is that you’ll have to keep an eye open for calls to your static blocks.

Whenever you see something similar to {{block type="cms/block" block_id="static_block_1" template="cms/content.phtml"}}, you’ll have to be sure to append the appropriate language code to the store view you have selected for the page.

Verify Store View Theme Configurations

how to translate magento theme configs

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to skip this last step. Some Magento themes reference static blocks in the System/Config and you’ll need to ensure that each store view references the right CMS static block.

You’ll want to go through each part of the config and look for mentions of static blocks. Remember to select a store view as the current configuration scope.

In addition, you may also encounter a few options that require either custom HTML or text. You’ll have to change those as well to ensure that the last step runs smoothly.

You’ve almost successfully translated your Magento theme!

The last step may be the most tedious one, but over 80% of the translation job is now done.

Complete a Magento Translate.csv For Your Theme

Now that all the text that can be customized in the backend of your Magento theme has been translated, it’s time to fix all other text. Open up Excel, or whatever spreadsheet editor you prefer, and start jotting down all the text lines lines that still do not appear translated in your theme in the first column. In the next column, write the translation as it should appear on the new store view.

Save it as CSV and name it translate. Upload translate.csv to the appropriate language folder in your Magento theme’s locale folder. In some cases, you will have to create a folder. This is often found in a similar path to ../app/design/frontend/default/theme_name/locale/language_name.

Dealing With Variables

Remember that not all information displayed in your theme is 100% static. In some cases, the code used to display the text includes a variable. Usually, you can use %s to take the place of that variable in your translate.csv. If that doesn’t work, check the actually php code that is displaying the text and use the exact same variable that you see there.

Congrats! You are finished translating your Magento theme. If you know of easier ways or spotted a mistake feel free to call me names.

I also don’t mind hearing you complain about CSV and quotation mark problems too.

eCommerce

Only tip you need for choosing a Magento theme

I’ve been playing around with Magento for a few months now. I’ve used a handful of different themes, learn to install them, modify layouts, design static blocks, upload products in a few different ways, and a lot of other little things.

I’m definitely not a Magento expert and I doubt I will ever become one, but I have one tip to share with you guys for choosing a Magento theme. It is literally the most important lesson I have learnt because ignoring this one tip is led me to waste hours upon hours of time fixing, debugging and abandoning certain themes.

Choose Recent Magento Themes Only

Recently, I found a Magento theme I really liked on ThemeForest. I played around in the demo and bought it. I didn’t look at the date of the last updates, the comments or the reputation of the theme’s author. That was a huge mistake!

I ended up learning that some of the functionalities not only didn’t work using the latest version of Magento, but were also unusable with the latest version of PHP. I would of learnt about this by reading the comments and could have anticipated this even faster if I had just looked at the time of the last update.

It was an eye opener that you should always do your research before you buy.

Bonus Tip: Verify Theme Support is Free & Accessible

If you are going to forego my piece of advice, you should at least follow this bonus tip. Before finalizing your purchase, double check to see if the theme’s author offers free support and responds to comments on the theme frequently. ThemeForest allows you to easily see whether theme creators answer comments rapidly and if they take the time to update their themes frequently. You might even want to visit the creator’s official site to take a look at their updates and other themes too.

Trust me, you really don’t want to buy a theme from two years ago and discover half the functionalities no longer work. The theme author either ignores your comments or refers you to a paid support forum.