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Posts Tagged ‘data’

Google+ for brands offers seamless integration across the web

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Google+

I have come to appreciate the strategic advantage that Google has over the competition with Google+. Let’s face it, Google+ can do some very cool things that no other social network can do simply because it is, well… Google.

 

One of the most useful strategy decisions from a brand perspective that Google has implemented in Google+ is the ability to integrate the +1 experience throughout the entire web in a way that really gives the largest return on investment to a business engaged in online marketing.

 

Most people know what you can do with Facebook when it comes to your brand. You can create a branded Facebook business page, and you can place a Facebook like button on your website.

 

Now consider what you can do with Google+. With Google+ you can also create a branded business page, and you can also place a +1 button on your website. However, there is a list of things you can also do with Google+ that Facebook can never do because Facebook is not, well… Google. Such as:

 

– Associate the like button with website search results, as all website search results do have a +1 button.

 

– Associate the like button with Adwords pay-per-click ads, as all PPC ads do have a +1 button.

 

Why does this matter? With the recent releases and updates to Google+, Google has linked all of your +1 data together to make the +1 experience a seamless integration across the entirety of the internet. With Facebook, you often had one set of likes on your business Facebook page and a completely different set of likes on your website Facebook button. The two weren’t necessarily connected and promotion to generate likes was wasteful. You had to drive money to your website for one set of likes and more money to Facebook pages for another set of likes.

 

Google+ however has made your online advertising spend a cumulative endeavor. With the right code on your website and the right social extension settings in your adwords campaign, the +1 data is completely shared throughout all of your online properties. If someone gives your website button a +1, the +1 data increments on your branded Google+ page as well. The same for your PPC ad, when linked to your Google+ page, those +1 clicks are also stored and updated.

 

This all adds up to maximization of your internet marketing spend. If you are spending money to promote your business with PPC ads, and spending money to promote your website through other means, the +1 counter throughout all pages are incremented to reflect the total social value of your brand across the internet. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Google+ targeted ads come out as well, which will only further increase the +1 value of your online portfolio. It’s nice to know that Google has taken such care to plan out the +1 integration in such a way that maximizes the return on your internet marketing investment.

 

If you’re not making the most of Google+ for your small business, contact seenBEST Web Design today. We can help you create branded Google+ pages, establish a +1 button on your website or design a website for you with a Google+ button integrated, link your website to your branded Google+ page, and even help you link your PPC ads to the +1 data so you can achieve maximum results with your internet marketing budget. Give us a call today to setup a free consultation (480) 256-9010.

 


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Importing a CSV of products to Magento

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

We have recently designed a highly functional new online store for a client of ours using the advanced Magento shopping cart, taking eCommerce for this business to an entirely new level! We ran into a small snag during the initial stages of development as the client has a proprietary database system that stores detailed information for several hundred products. Their database software held everything from product name, pricing information, description. The client did not have the time to recreate all of the product information in the back-end of Magento using the built in tools. So, the challenge: How do we extract this information from their locally installed database information in a way that could be easily imported and put to work in Magento?

Fortunately, the database storing the client product details provides a mechanism to export product information to a CSV file. While it wasn’t pretty, the data was all there on the export. Sorting through 30 fields of data we didn’t need, we found fields for product name, model, color, asking price, category, and photo name. The trick now was figuring out how to map and then import this data into Magento.

The trick that helps you with a Magento import is knowing what’s absolutely necessary to import, and supplying that data in your own custom xls file. To do that, we added a product manually through the Magento interface. Here’s how:

  • Click on catalog/manage products
  • Click on Add Product
  • Click through to enter a name, description, short description, sku, weight, status (enabled), and set visibility.
  • Go to prices, enter a price, and tax class
  • Click to the inventory area and set an initial quantity, then change stock availability to in stock
  • Click to the category area and assign the new product to a category

Now save your product. If everything went according to plan, you will see your new product listed in your store under the selected category you selected previously. Great! Now that we have a functional product to work with, one that appears in the store, it’s time to export that data to a CSV file.

Exporting Magento items:

  • Go to system, import/export, profiles from the admin panel
  • Click on export all products
  • The default values are fine, CSV/Tab Separated, attribute names, all fields
  • Click on run profile to generate your CSV file

Now look in your Magento directory on your server, and find the var/export folder. The file export_all_products.csv will be on your server, download this to your local computer and open it in your favorite spreadsheet program (Excel works well!).

Now comes the tricky part. View export_all_products.csv side by side with a CSV of the data from your other database product. You are going to need to make the data from your previous database match the Magento data. I don’t want to tell you exactly how to do it, there are many different paths you can take to get to the same result. Find the fastest way that works for you. For me, it was as easy as deleting all of the columns from the old database CSV that weren’t used in Magento, renaming the column names to match similar columns in Magento, then creating columns that Magento needed that did NOT exist in the old data and pre-populating it with standard info. The fill function in Excel is extremely useful for this.

At the very least, you will want to make sure you have these columns:

  • store
  • websites
  • attribute
  • type
  • category
  • sku
  • name
  • url_key
  • url_path
  • price
  • weight
  • description
  • short description
  • status
  • tax_class_id
  • visibility
  • enable
  • qty
  • product_name
  • product_type_id

Try to be as complete as possible, and include as many (if not all) of the fields from the original Magento export as you can in your new set of data to import. Leaving out something important could result in a botched import!

When you’re all finished and, depending on the size of data you’re dealing with, several minutes/hours/days/weeks later, you will have a new XLS file that you can save, ready for import to Magento. Go to System, Import, Profiles. Import all products. Be sure to increase the “number of records” to a higher value, like 3, if you’ve already modified and improved your Magento memory settings. I also like to import using the MS Excel XML (save to this format first) as it’s less prone to data errors caused by improper characters in the data stream. Save the file as XML Spreadsheet 2003, change the data type, then use the upload file tool to upload your XML file.

The process CAN take a long time, so be sure you leave the import window up during the process. With a little luck, all of your products have been imported! There is a way to do this while including images, but it gets a little complicated. With the method I’ve discussed, you will need to go in and manually upload images to each item. While that can be somewhat labor intensive, I like having Magento create proper names and file sizes for me for each product.

Enjoy!


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Email Marketing – The Third Most Effective Online Marketing Method

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Online marketing today offers an incredible number of methods, a select few being more effective than the others. Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization rank number one and number two in terms of marketing effectiveness and possible ROI. So, what ranks number three? When done properly, the third most effective online marketing method is email marketing. If your business is working on a limited budget, employing SEO, SEM, and email marketing would alone guarantee significant business growth. While blogging, social media, videos, and several other techniques are still recommended as part of an overall online marketing strategy, they don’t come close in effectiveness to email marketing.

Spam in MailboxSEO and SEM are pretty straightforward and easy to understand, but email marketing confuses a lot of people. When using the term email marketing, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is SPAM. Everyone hates SPAM, right? Mass bombing your message to thousands of strangers is NOT an effective email marketing method. However, there ARE many ways to use email as a marketing tool without getting your domain blacklisted and blocked by the internet. Some examples of non spammy ways to make email marketing work for you:

  • Monthly newsletters
  • Event reminders
  • Sale confirmations
  • Quotes
  • Invoices

Just about anything your business currently does via mail can be turned into an email marketing opportunity. Emails that are already being generated for routine functions can be turned into email marketing by adding a simple line to each email pitching a new product or service, or announcing a special sale. In this fast paced world no one has time to think about the millions of messages that we are all bombarded with every single day. That’s why effective email marketing works so well. You are using a message that your intended recipient is expecting, and sometimes excited about. Since they are checking email, chances are good that they’re working, so your message will reach them in a decision making mode.

With 93% of all consumers today receiving business data and product information through email every day, any business that ignores email marketing is making a serious mistake. Once you have decided to take on email marketing for your business, the only thing left to do is find an experienced online marketing firm that is willing to sit down with you and help you put everything in place. Competent internet marketing firms will have plans setup that can help you get an effective email marketing campaign off the ground. They will work with you to integrate email marketing into your existing processes and can design a campaign for you that matches existing branding.



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