How Big Data Has Changed Online Marketing

Big data and data science have become an everyday part of retailing for many online giants. Companies like Amazon.com, Backcountry.com, Zappos.com, and many others have been actively using big data successfully for years. In the below article we explore the ways in which most ecommerce companies use these tools and how practical benefits derived.

One of the chief motivations for these companies is to develop product recommendations in order to pair customers with other products they are likely to buy through cross-selling or upselling strategies.

If for instance I am in the market to purchase a protein powder for bodybuilding then I may also be sold a creatine supplement as well. If I am in the market for the creatine, I may be also sold a monthly recurring product or supply or a more expensive brand or version of the product. In short, the goal for marketers or data scientist is to provide a reliable recommendation algorithm that will track individual consumer behavior to increase revenues.

Big Data improves shopping experience

In point of fact, the shopping experience becomes much more personalized for each consumer based on the big data and the predictions and correlations that can be drawn from it.

My unique tastes or propensities may not be so unique after all when compared to other shoppers seeking similar items in my category. Data scientist no longer need to intuit consumer behavior or shopping proclivities as data is now gathered and interpreted in highly precise and predictive formats.

Additionally, with predictive modeling companies can then make decisions not only regarding where to invest marketing dollars but also what inventory to purchase and stockpile. This may be a new line of fashion apparel or toy before manufacturers are sold out. Therefore your company may have the healthy stock to offer consumers as other retailers experience back order or do not have adequate inventory to meet consumer demand. Contrarily, data science can help retailers avoid purchasing inventory that is no longer on trend or relevant. If one is manually attempting to infer future trends based on past trends this type of analysis is largely retrospective and not prospective (and therefore of very limited value).

One may have great information of past buying patterns but in an ever shifting and dynamic marketplace this may not be the most useful in producing go-forward information or intelligence. Where many companies go awry is in attempting to manually collect information from various disparate sources and then to make the best decisions based on this limited date and their personal inferences.

In today’s environment, big data dramatically widens the field and is essential in providing decision makers with a holistic or more comprehensive universe of data. When properly interpreted by data scientist, this data creates results that can allow decision makers to make choices with more laser beam precision and to avoid costly mistakes.

The benefits of data science in the ecommerce field are manifold. They allow marketers to to personalize marketing for individual consumers through remarketing campaigns, recommendation engines, couponing, etc. As the field evolves, we are seeing the growth of apps available for many shopping carts that can apply data science to smaller privately owned or owner operated web companies. I encourage ecommerce entrepreneurs to look out of for these and to install the software to their shopping carts.

Quick Guide to Developing Authority For Your Website

Part 1 Links

Many people develop websites and assume that traffic will simply come naturally upon launch.  This is most often not the case unless one is providing external marketing or advertising, and the reality is that organic traffic generation requires many hours of hard work and the employment of the right SEO strategies.

Some of the industry’s best practices for cultivating a robust and well regarded authority website are covered in this article. Of paramount importance is this notion that the days of cheating the search engines with black hat SEO or short cut techniques to artificially boost the rankings of your website are not tenable.  While many online firms do still attempt these strategies, they run the very high risk of finding their websites penalized by the search engines.

What I encourage website owners to do is to avoid these types of approaches categorically, and spend the time and resources to properly develop their websites using the proper search engine compliant techniques.  While this will be time and resource intensive, it is well worth the investment. This includes the production of high quality content, an aggressive social media program, and a well-developed link building campaign.  At the end of the day, the goal is to produce a website that coveys the most positive user experience for your visitors.  While I will detail some of the most important strategies for this, this can also include everything from the ease of navigation of your website to the loading speed of your pages to the way your website populates to tablets and smart phones.  The central objective is the quality of the user experience to had on your site. Certainly the avoidance of visitor defection from your website or a visitor becoming frustrated with the site and clicking back on their browser to select a different result.

Two of the best way to build up authority for your website are through link development and high quality content production.  The focus of this segment of the article is to discuss the value of links and tips to generate the right kind of link. First, links constitute the equivalent of algorithmic votes in favor of your website.  The greater the quality and relevancy of these links and the strength of your link partner the greater the value of those links.

One thing that can negatively impact your sites rankings is linking to other penalized or banned sites.  This is something that any website owner should check regularly. The best way to test this is to use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to determine your full link profile.  Once you have this I would advise going through these links, one by one to evaluate each link to determine whether it is adding or detracting from the strength of your site.  Things to look for include whether that site is relevant to your category or in the same or like industry.  Therefore, if you have a site that sells wind chimes the value of link from a site in the used tire segment is dubious.

Those are links to manually remove from your website.  If it is an inbound link to you site, I would email that site and request that they remove it.  The other thing to double check on all links is what the standing is of that site is with the search engine i.e. has the site incurred any penalties itself.  One easy way to test this is to see if the site even ranks for its own URL.  If the site does not rank when you input the domain name into the search box this is a site that has been delisted by Google.

This is certainly the kind of link that reflects poorly on any of its link partners.  I refer to these are “virus sites” in that they are spreading their own contagion to other unsuspecting sites through links.  If any such links exist these should be immediately pruned.

One easy resource for producing links is by requesting that your vendors provide a link to your site.  This often happens naturally on the manufacturer site where they may have a page dedicated to where a consumer can buy their product.

This will almost automatically be a relevant website because you are selling their products and would not carry them if they were not related to what your customer are seeking. Also, if attending any industry trade shows you should be sure that your information and web address are listed on the trade show website.

Another great resource are charities or non-profits.  These are often very well regarded links and many of these charities and non-profits will mention your site as a donor on their donor page if you have supported their cause.  While you have performed a good deed here in supporting this charity or non-profit, you have also given your website a large dose of SEO juice by virtue of the link appearing on the charity’s website or non-profit’s donor page.  You can support these causes through direct donations, sponsorships, gifting them free product from your store or even offering them web development work or to assist in promoting their charity or non profit through social media and other marketing.

Government sites or educational sites are also a strong and authoritative source for links if these links can be established.  This often requires the government site or educational site to select you as a resource for more information, therefore, it is critical to offer strong content and to add value to these .edu and .gov sites.

For instance, if you are in the business of selling toiletries online you may have an article on airline approved dispensers and containers as well as offer a selection of travel toiletries for sale on your website.  This article may be a great referral site for the website for the Department of Homeland Security on an article they may have dictating travel restrictions for travel dispensers and containers.

Relevant and authoritative directory listings are also a great resource for high quality links.  We suggest starting with dmoz.org or the Open Directory Project for link submission.  While a description of dmoz.org and their mission is available on their site, this directory is aged and very well established.  Most sites that appear in this directory are individually reviewed or human audited for quality and worthiness prior to be admission.

As a result, admission into their directory is a huge boon for any website as the quality of these links are significant. Sites that are admitted to well-regarded directories are also used by the search engines, it is speculated, as a first filter regarding the quality of the site.  In other words, if your website is good enough to be selected and placed on key directory sites, then the supposition continues that the directories have performed a good amount of the vetting or analysis or review of these sites and they are sites that are therefore also good enough to be ranked by the search engines.

Press releases are a great way to create additional links and to introduce you site to various news and information sources. The goal is for these other news venues to add and then share your article with their readers.  If you have backlinks to your article embedded in your press release article this can rapidly produce value and link strength for your website both in terms of numbers of links and the quality of the sites offering them.

PR Web is generally a good resource for this and in exchange for a small fee will blast your press release across the internet.  The extensiveness of this blast is determined by the package selected and the fee paid but even their introductory package or service still offers good value.

Other things to look for is the dilutionary effects of links from partner sites.  In other words, lets assume you are receiving a link from a site that is not penalized, has reasonable authority and this can be demonstrated by the ranking it has for its own targeted keywords, the site is several years old and is in a very similar industry or segment.  If that site is sending you a link from a page that has 10 other links you are, in essence, sharing link value with these other sites.  This may be only one tenth of the value of the link in contrast to a situation where you are the only link being offered on that page.

While this is not something most website owners can control when it comes to requesting or receiving links, it is an important concept to keep in mind.

Avid Amiri
Internet Enterprises