The Push Back Against Gray Thursday

2 Oct

It’s not exactly news that retailers have been pushing Black Friday earlier and earlier until well, it’s Thursday. One retailer, Staples, after having opened on Gray Thursday for the last few years, has decided to close up and let its workers spend the holiday at home. Bravo for them!

In a press release,the chain announced that the deals will only be online, and that stores will stay closed…On Thanksgiving Day, customers can shop from home on and then continue their shopping in stores starting at 6 a.m. on Black Friday,” the company’s president of North American stores and online shopping, Demos Parneros, said in a statement.

Companies that choose to stay closed on the holiday should be applauded. I hope that those who choose to be good communitity citizens harvest online goodwill and good publicity, to offset any loss in sales.
Some reports show Black Friday weekend sales are actually falling, so maybe other retailers will take the high road as well.

Amazon Flex -es It’s Delivery Muscles

29 Sep

Amazon officially launched its new Amazon Flex package delivery option yesterday, using everyday drivers to deliver packages in their own cars Uber-style.

The company advertises drivers can make $18 to $25 per hour provided you are  at least 21-years-old, have a car, driver’s license, a clean background check and an Android phone. Amazon’s driver recruiting website opines that these jobs offer advantages that traditional employees don’t enjoy i.e. schedule flexibility.

Amazon Flex launched in Seattle on Tuesday and is now recruiting drivers to handle Prime Now’s 1 & 2 hour deliveries. Flex will be offered in eight other cities, including NYC.

Amazon tells the Wall Street Journal it will continue to use its previously contracted courier companies  for  same-day deliveries, but it will now also have the ability to route some orders through Flex.

“There is a tremendous population of people who want to work in an on-demand fashion,” Clark told the WSJ. “This is another opportunity for people to work with the company.”amazon flex

Google: If you have those annoying full screen app install ads, your site isn’t mobile friendly

2 Sep

Google has added an additional requirement for websites that want to rise higher in the SERPS. Tuesday, Google announced that as of Nov. 1, sites that use those obnoxious app install overlays will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.

This comes in addition to the April announcement when Google’s algorithm started favoring sites that opened quickly and easily on mobile devices .

“…sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app,” a post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog reads. “Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users because they are expecting to see the content of the web page.”

This doesn’t affect other kinds of interstitials, the post explains. Instead of app install interstitials, there are other ways to promote apps that don’t get in the way of what people are searching for, Google notes: Both Safari and Chrome support app install banners, which simply pop up at the top of a page and still allow users to view the page without having to take any additional actions.

This announcement comes on the heels of Google’s July encouragement  for sites to be more mobile friendly by alerting mobile searchers when  sites use Flash.

108 Days Until Black Friday: Everybody Waits for a 100 day countdown. Are you everybody? — Black Friday 2015 Marketing Tips

11 Aug

No need to panic but Black Friday is right around the corner. And as the good little marketers, executives and decision makers that I know you are, I know you’ve put a ton of energy and effort into your holiday planning and you are probably feeling pretty good about it. You have some promotions and special offers that are sure to excite, your social strategy is primed and ready to start conversations with the faithful, and IT is ready to handle the crush.

Time to feel good?  Of course not, there is more to do! Let’s talk numbers:

Highlights from Black Friday 2014:

2014 Black Friday online sales were up 9.5% over 2013, peaking at 8:55 a.m. PST.

>>> Pump those special offers via social media to less peak times to maximize revenue throughout the day and minimize website performance issues.


  • Historic Mobile Milestone Spurs Online Shopping: Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices have outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing. Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, up 28.2 percent over 2013.

>>> If your website isn’t mobile friendly, shame on you. Mobile is the wave of the future (and if you attend any conferences, it has been for the last ten years…sorry omni-channel you are so-ooo 2000). But with Google promising to penalize websites that aren’t mobile friendly and using it as a ranking factor in search, there really isn’t any excuse.



  • Thanksgiving Eats Into Black Friday Sales: Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 14.3 percent over 2013, with Black Friday up 9.5 percent year-over-year. Average order value on Thanksgiving was $125.25, down 1.8 percent over 2013; Black Friday was $129.37, down 4.4 percent. This trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains. Black Friday online sales were 63.5 percent higher than Thanksgiving Day. This is a decrease from 2013, however, when it was 70 percent higher as Thanksgiving online sales continue to eat into Black Friday shopping.

>>>After turkey, people sit down on the couch and plan out their Black Friday shopping. And then they start shopping when they realize they really don’t want to line up at 4am to get a $5 toaster. So plan on reaching out a little bit earlier this year and consider having a separate strategy for turkey day itself.

  • Top Five U.S. Cities for Online Shopping: New York City claimed the top spot for Black Friday online shopping followed by Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Chicago, IL. New York City shoppers spent on average $121.91 per order on Black Friday.

>>> Do you have geo targeted PPC, social and SEO in place?  Consumers are looking for product, model #, features etc…and looking to get it locally. Think about combining structured data coded onto your site with price, reviews, location, etc to stay visible during the holiday season.


  • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy:As the new digital shopping companion for many consumers, smartphones drove 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic. Yet, when it comes to mobile sales, tablets continue to win the shopping war – driving 16 percent of online sales compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones, a difference of 35.5 percent. Tablet users also averaged $126.50 per order compared to $107.55 for smartphone users, a difference of 17.6 percent.
  • iOS vs. Android:iOS once again led the way in mobile shopping this holiday season, outpacing Android across three key metrics on Black Friday:
    • Average Order Value:iOS users averaged $121.86 per order compared to $98.07 for Android users, a difference 24.3 percent.
    • Online Traffic:iOS traffic accounted for 34.2 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 15 percent of all online traffic.
    • Online Sales:iOS sales accounted for 21.9 percent of total online sales, nearly quadruple that of Android, which drove 5.8 percent of all online sales.

>>> Your website should be optimized for the device being used by your visitors. Responsive or adaptive design (your choice, don’t get me in that mess) means better user experience and better conversions. Don’t let those visitors bounce!


  • The Desktop is Not Dead: When consumers did choose to use their PC or desktop, they spent more with an average order value of $135.33 compared to $116.02 for mobile shoppers, a difference of 16.6 percent.

>>> When the real big dollar items need to be purchased, and multiple sites need to be reviewed and compared, the desktop wins.  If you are selling big ticket items, or products that are routinely reviewed, neglect the desktop user at your peril!


  • Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest:As marketers continue to rely on social channels to drive brand loyalty and sales, IBM analyzed trends across two leading sites on Black Friday – Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook referrals drove an average of $109.94 per order compared to $100.24 for Pinterest, a difference of nearly 10 percent. Facebook referrals converted online sales at more than twice the rate of Pinterest

>>>Loyal customers also serve as brand advocates, engaging with your brand online and speaking well of it offline. These customers drive 33% more sales and 18% more traffic than regular customers so engage them regularly with quality content tailored to them.

  • Less Frequent, More Targeted Email Promos*:Retailers sent an average of 5.3 emails on Black Friday 2014, decreasing more than 11 percent over the same period in 2013, as retail marketers continue to send more targeted — and less frequent — messages to shoppers. Open and click-through rates – when someone opens an email and clicks at least one link – were 12.9 percent and 2.4 percent, on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day, compared to 15.4 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, last year.

>>>For the love of all that is decent and good, stop cramming emails down your customers’ throats. One great email tailored to one customer/segment is far more productive than mass emailings indiscriminately spraying the intertubes with your product juice.

Perform some analysis on your customers. Think about the ones who have spent the most or bought most frequently, or simply those who have been long-time supporters of your company. Send them a targeted, segmented email explaining that they are VIPs to your company and that you are doing something special just for them.


The four hottest retail categories this past holiday season:

  1. Department Stores: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.7 percent. Average order value was $143.16, a decrease of 2.5 percent year-over-year.
  2. Health and Beauty: Black Friday online sales grew by 56.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 31.8 percent. Average order value was $72.78, an increase of 9.8 percent year-over-year.
  3. Home Goods: Black Friday online sales grew by 43.2 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 3.8 percent. Average order value was $238.46, an increase of 6.8 percent year-over-year.
  4. Apparel: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.6 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.2 percent. Average order value was $114.96, a decrease of 6.8 percent year-over-year.

>>> My prediction for this holiday’s hottest categories? Pet rocks and tea cozies!black-friday

Adobe Study Finds 198 million adblocking users, growing 47% YOY; Advertising to lose $21bn in 2015

10 Aug


An Adobe/Page Fair report, says that 16% of the US online population blocked ads in Q2, 2015  and that ad block usage grew 48% during the past year. Chrome, with its ease installing extensions, and with Chrome’s growth as the browser of choice have made it the major blocker of ads.

In the mobile space, Firefox and Chrome are responsible for 93% of mobile ad blocking.

400 non-blocking ad users were asked what would make them change their mind (I’m shocked that, “I didn’t know I could!” wasn’t the top answer):

  • Misuse of personal information was the primary reason to enable ad blocking
  • An increase in the number of ads was more important among millennials
  • 1 in 4 respondents aged 35-49 do not have any desire to ever use ad blocking so”ware.

I use Chrome with Adblocker Plus as well as a noscript extension to limit ads. For those sites that responsibly show ads and act as a resource for me, I try and be a good user and white list them. The problem with adblocking isn’t that it exists, it’s that so many websites are reckless and irresponsible with display advertising. Until that changes, the percentages of ads being blocked can’t help but to increase.

How do you handle display ads? Is your professional attitude different than your private behaviors? Would love to hear from you.

Robot Cars to be Common inside of 5 Years

3 Aug

Google cofounder Sergey Brin said Google will have autonomous cars available for the general public within five years.

“You can count on one hand the number of years it will take before ordinary people can experience this,” he said while at the signing of SB 1298. This bill establishes safety and performance standards for cars operated by computers on California roads.

Nevada and Florida have had similar laws in place which allows a driver to test the vehicle. Detractors fear the bill doesn’t provide enough oversight to guarantee the safety of truly driverless cars.
Google has already put in 300,000 miles of testing with its self-driving cars. Brin said the company will focus on improving sensors and hardware failure support for the technology. He said any obstacles for the technology will be the same as any system that can fail, such is the case with something like airplane flight.

“It’s a long list of things that humans have coped with in the past,” he

Configure Google Analytics to Alert You to Organic Traffic Changes

3 Aug

If you’ve ever wanted Google Analytics to automatically alert you to changes in your organic traffic, Ben Goodsell at SE Land  shows you how.


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