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Whether you are a start-up company ready to break into Google Ads for the first time or a small business that has been running ads for a while, you might not have a massive budget to spend on advertising. But either way, you still need to get the word out there somehow.
Google’s Search Network is still one of the best ways to capture user intent. But if people don’t know about your products or services, they aren’t going to search for you on Google. This is where the Display Network can help out: Brand awareness is the single biggest benefit of Google Display advertising.

Here, I’m going to explain why expanding to awareness marketing on the Google Display Network is important to your account’s success. And because this knowledge is nothing without strategy to act on it, I’ll leave you with a few tips to get your Google Display Network advertising started off on the right foot.
Google Display campaigns build brand awareness
Before we get into some tactical steps, let me share a real-life scenario here and see if you have ever come across a similar situation.
I have one client who was running primarily branded, Search Network campaigns in Google Ads when we first took over the account. Because of their smaller budget, this client told me they were primarily sticking to brand campaigns because their branded terms (no surprise whatsoever) had the best CPCs and CPAs. Again, not a shock—that’s to be expected. But branded campaigns don’t help a smaller business grow.
When I suggested to this client that they should consider expanding more of their non-branded campaign efforts, they were extremely hesitant. The reason for their apprehension was the big CPC and CPA difference when comparing the branded versus non-branded campaigns.

Their hesitation is completely fair. Telling them to spend more money on keywords that are more expensive and convert at a lesser rate isn’t an appetizing solution. They pushed back and suggested that we spend more on their branded terms. The issue with that request was we were hitting nearly 100% search impression share, our current brand campaigns were not limited by budget, and there weren’t any more branded keywords we could add to the account. We were already capitalizing on all of the brand demand that was out there. Here is where the Display Network comes in. Like I said, people aren’t going to search for you if they don’t know you exist. If you want more people to be searching for your brand name, you’re going to have to invest in building that awareness.
We can also use the Display Network to build brand affinity. Larry Kim wrote a post on why brand advertising drives more conversions than you think. That post explains perfectly how the Display Network can fit right in. When we spent some budget on reaching out to new users for this client, yes, more people started searching for our brand name (not just paid searches). But we also saw our non-branded campaigns perform better. Larry sums it up nicely:
“The single biggest predictor of whether people will purchase is whether they’ve heard of you before.”
Spending money on boosting the brand helped increase the CTRs and lower the CPAs of our client’s non-branded campaigns. The more people are familiar with your brand—assuming you’re branding to the proper audience, and more on this in a minute—the more likely the trust your brand as the more desirable option.
How to build brand awareness with audience targeting
Now that we see the importance of investing in awareness, let me show you a few ways you can reach your desired users. One of the biggest initiatives in the paid media world right now is audience targeting. We are seeing the degradation of keyword match types by the search engines along with more features being released that allow PPC marketers to focus on groups of people instead of search terms. So, while we look at focusing on the user, the most important step we should take first is to find out who our target user really is.
If your business does not have a ton of money to spend on user research, it’s okay. You do not need to spend lots of budget on persona studies. There are a few free tools Google gives to marketers that better help us home in the user most likely to take action from our ads—here’s how to make the most of the top two tools for targeting on the Display Network.
Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, head over to the Audience report. Select “Interests.” Then click on “Overview.” Here, you will get a snapshot of with Affinity and In-Market audiences where your current users fall into.

The segment view will default to All Users, but you can change it to whatever you have set up in your Google Analytics. Add in the factor of the date range and your Key Metric selection, and you will get the first ten audiences for each category. You can click on each option to get deeper stats on each of the audience types if you want to, but checking out the higher level stats is a good place to start. One last factor to note: If you look in the top right corner of each category breakout, you’ll see Google is only showing you a certain percentage of users with the chosen segment. So while this is a great place to start, remember, it’s not perfect.
Google Ads Audience Insights
Audience Insights is another great free tool provided by Google. This tool is in Google Ads under “Tools,” “Shared Library,” then “Audience Manager.” By default, advertisers will see which in-market and affinity audiences the users from the “All visitors (AdWords)” belong to. Just like the audience reports we just went over in Google Analytics, the affinity and in-market audiences in the Audience Insights tool are exact targeting options you can use for the Display Network. To make the research more meaningful for the advertiser, we can change the base audience to almost any website visitor, YouTube user, or customer list audience you have created within Google Ads. Here is a small example of the types of audiences you can review using the tool.+

For this client, I looked at all users, all converters, blog subscribers, and users who logged in on the site. You’ll notice the audience categories change depending on the base audience I’m using, which depends on the audience I’m looking to use to expand my reach. The difference in audience results will help guide you structure your awareness campaigns depending on the goals of your campaign.
You may see certain audiences are grayed out when trying to review them in the Audience Insights tool. This occurs because that particular audience does not have enough users built up to be able to review within the tool. Your audience needs to have at least 1,000 users in order to break down the audiences within Audience Insights.
Whether you use Google Analytics data or the information from the Audience Insights tool, the in-market and affinity audiences you see in the results are the exact audience options we can choose to target in Google Ads. If you see consistent patterns between the various audience breakouts, you know you have a better chance of expanding to more relevant users. Take the time to conduct the extra research to make sure you’re putting ads in front of the most relevant user possible. It can save you a lot of money—or make you money—in the long run.
Remember where users are in their buyer’s journey
Another scenario—in case you are wondering, yes, I do have plenty of stories to tell—I come across when taking on a new account or working with a current client comes across when I ask for new image ads to implement. What I see a lot is the client will create one set of ads and will want to use the exact same creative for every single Display Network campaign. This is a big no-no in my book, and here is why.
Someone who has visited your website is different than someone who has never heard of your brand before. People who belong to in-market audiences are in a different “purchase mode” than users in an affinity category. Users in different audiences have different intent and are in different phases of the buyer’s journey. Start segmenting these users (as volume allows) to better control your budget and ad creative.

In the image above, you can see this Display campaign ad group breakout is by in-market audience. It would be pretty hard for the advertiser to use one set of ads and maximize the full potential of this targeting breakout. Yes, you could have a generic branding ad, but that doesn’t make a psychological connection that speaks to the user and what solutions they need in their life at the moment. If someone is looking for an apartment to rent, show that in your ad creative. If someone is looking to rent a house instead, show them a house to rent! The more you speak to the user, the better results you will see—and this will make the investment in Display advertising a lot more worth it.
Use Display to grow your business in a cost-effective way
Google gives us some great tools to better help small businesses find out who their best performing customers are and how to reach more users just like them. Staying on top of a user’s mind can lead to more people searching for your brand name or going directly to your site later on. And as more people are familiar with your brand and trust your brand, the better off all of your search campaigns will be. If people are not searching for your business name or the products and services you offer, you will have to invest in building that awareness. And the Google Display Network is an affordable way to help in that initiative.

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If you’ve every watched a sports movie, then you’re familiar with the scene where the underdog team watches video of the competition and freaks out a little because of how good they are. A seasoned coach might point out vulnerabilities in the competition, but by the end of the movie, the underdog team defeats the reigning champs and comes out on top.
There’s a reason scenes like these play out in almost every sports movie: Spying on the competition is the norm because it gives you insight into their strategies and helps you learn.
In ecommerce, part of doing business is keeping a close eye on what the competition is doing. This way you can

fill product gaps your competitors have overlooked;
upgrade your social media and advertising strategies;
update your website and content marketing strategy;
improve your pricing model; and
update your product selection.

There are obvious ways — such as low-key following of competitors on social media — that brands use to get their hands on competitor insights but there are also less obvious ways your competitors spy on you. Here’s a look at what these options are and how you, too, can use them to spy.
What are competitor insights?
Before we dive in, we should take a step back to explore what competitor insights are. Competitor insights are the data you collect on other businesses in your niche to identify strengths and weaknesses that you compare to your business. The insights help you understand how good or bad a job you’re doing compared with your competitors and help you identify what changes you need to make to stand out.
The process of collecting competitor insights includes four steps. These steps ensure that you get the information you need to add value to your products, store, and processes:

Figure out who your competitors are. Look for other stores that sell similar products, cater to the same audience, and are a similar size as you. If you’ve been selling home-decor items for a year, don’t compare yourself to Wayfair, which has been in business longer and has a large audience. Comparing yourself to brands that are further along than you gives you lots of good information, but there’s just no way for you to compete when the playing field isn’t even.
Decide what marketing pillars to focus on. When it comes to the 4P’s of marketing — product, price, promotion, and place — you don’t have to focus on gathering insights for all of these areas at once. Instead, track and analyze competitor insights in phases. For example, focus on product insights first and pricing afterward.
Create a strategy based on your findings. Once you have your competitive insights, create a strategy to incorporate them into your business. For example, if you find that many of your competitors offer more than one delivery option, test out different price points and features. Then, add the best options to your checkout flow.
Analyze the new strategy and compare to competitors again. Once you’ve incorporated the findings from your competitor insights into your businesses, reassess where you rank compared with your competitors. Are you getting more traffic now? Are your product reviews better than those of your competitors? Has your social media following grown?

This process allows for a structured approach to competitive insights. And now that we have a background of how insights work, let’s look at eight ways competitors spy on each other and how you can use each one.
1. Mention: In-depth competitive analysis
More people are spending time on social media. In fact, some estimates put the average daily time spent on social media at 2 hours. Over a lifetime, that’s roughly 5 years and 4 months spent scrolling through news feeds. Users research and buy products online, which gives you a chance to learn how they engage with brands.
A social listening tool like Mention shows you how competitive marketing campaigns perform. The data you get gives you ideas for how you can adjust your own campaigns to compete better. While you can focus your insights on social media, Mention also shares insights from across the web — including competitive ecommerce blogs, videos, and forums.
Mention lets you run competitive analyses for different social media platforms as well. For example, if a competitor launches a campaign on Facebook and Instagram, you’re notified.

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How to use Mention to gather competitive insights
From the dashboard, you can create custom reports that focus on key competitors in your niche. Use your findings to upgrade your social marketing strategy to compete. For example, if your competition shares user-generated content (UGC) on social media, go one step further and create a branded hashtag and launch a contest that gets customers to share images of themselves using your products. Remember, social proof gives your products an edge over the competition.
What’s also helpful is that you can use Mention to track keywords to identify new competitors. Once you’re aware of new competition, you can create new reports that show you how these brands use social media. You’ll see what’s working and where you can add extra value to your audience’s experience.
2. Google Alerts: Track competitor updates
Similar to using a social listening tool to track competitor campaigns, use Google Alerts to monitor content that includes mentions of your competitors from across the web — on blogs, in the news, in videos, in discussion forums, and more.
Google Alerts is a service offered through Google. It is free to use and is based on the keywords you track; it’ll send you regular updates with links to the content found. Google Alerts help you stay in the know on what’s new with your competitors. By combining the competitor insights you get from Google Alerts, you can uncover new opportunities to explore.
How to use Google Alerts to gather competitive insights
When you’ve identified who your direct competitors are, add their names to a new Google Alert list. For example, if you sell coffee online, your list might look something like this:

If you’re researching specific information, like competitor promotions and product updates, add additional words to your list. For example, you can add “competitor name + product updates,” or “competitor name + Instagram” to get specific information. All instances of where these keywords are mentioned in the same article will be sent to you for review and analysis:

In this example, online coffee sellers can check out what types of campaigns ReAnimator Coffee runs on Instagram and what types of engagement posts receive.
You can even set how often Google Alerts should show up in your inbox. One option is to set up Google Alerts to send you a notification roundup once a week so reviewing competitive data becomes a regular habit. Plus, with regular notifications, you’re less likely to miss competitor updates.
3. Adbeat: Competitive advertising insights
Advertising is a powerful way to reach as many people in your target audience as possible. The more you know about how your competitors are advertising, the better. Insight into your competitors’ advertising helps you target similar audiences, on similar platforms, with targeted messages.
Adbeat is a competitive intelligence tool for advertisers. You can compare an unlimited number of businesses in your niche and see information, such as the following:

Total ad spend. This information can be filtered by day, week, and month.
Ad spend per network. Networks like Google, Outbrain, and Taboola are sorted based on ad spend.
Publishers used. Includes sites your audience spends time on. For example, if you sell books online, you can see what ads appear on book-review websites.
Type of landing pages used. This can include lead forms, advertorials, videos.
Types of ads shared. This can include pay-per-click Google ads or display ads.
Types of images and content used. This includes examples of past and current ad designs.

All of this information helps you analyze competitive ads and find elements you can apply to your own campaigns. For example, if your competitors spend a lot on PPC ads every month, and they’re growing quickly, this might be an indication for you to experiment with your own PPC campaigns that target similar products and customers.
How to use Adbeat to gather competitive insights
From your list of competitors, add their web address into Adbeat and it’ll show you a summary of ad spend, networks used, and ad types.

You have the option to dig into the data further to see what ads have been sent and when; total spend; and publishers used.
4. MailCharts: Email marketing insights to increase sales
One of the hardest tasks in ecommerce, especially when you’re just starting out, is building an email list. An email list lets you nurture leads who have said they’re interested in the products you sell. By sharing content that lets you add value to the customer experience, you’re establishing yourself as a trusted adviser that customers can rely on. The more relevant information you share, the better the chances that customers will stick around and buy more products.
MailCharts lets you see what types of emails your competitors send so that you

have an idea of what types of content to share with your own email list;
have a starting point for testing different subject lines; and
have an idea of how often to email subscribers.

You can see in real time what campaigns are running and how they’re performing.

How to use MailCharts to gather competitive insights
Once you sign up, you can see email samples based on content type. If you want to improve your cart-abandonment emails, there’s a category for this, and it lists examples of related emails from other ecommerce brands.

Within your account, you can see data on the following for each campaign you review:

Subject lines
Email frequency
Email samples
Reports on email strategy
Drip-email campaign types

This is especially helpful if you’re creating a new email marketing strategy or you want to revamp your current one. Based on the types of emails your competitors send, you can see what your audience has become accustomed to and then tailor your campaigns accordingly. You can even look for opportunities to do things differently. For example, you might want to send more than one cart-abandonment email: one reminding customers of what’s in their cart, and another that includes a discount code if they don’t return to your store for more than a week.
5. SpyFu – Competitive keyword research
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful process you can use to get your products in front of a large audience. You might have noticed that more ecommerce stores have a blog on their site. When used right, your blog can grow your audience, add value to the customer experience, and build brand awareness. Use it to share product updates, tips, and resources.
There are tools available to help you research your competitors’ SEO strategy — specifically their keyword use. This type of analysis exposes gaps and opportunities in the types of content competitors share. For example, you might find that customers who buy your electronics like to read content that focuses on tech resources and trends.
SpyFu is a platform designed to help you track the keywords your competitors use in Google AdWords, in paid advertising, and for organic Google searches. Based on the keywords you identify, you can check Google Analytics to see how your blog content ranks for these keywords and then come up with new ideas to target the same keywords as your competitors.
You can do a better job of optimizing your website and write content that ranks better than the competition’s and naturally attracts more traffic to your website.
How to use SpyFu to gather competitive insights
Enter the name of your competitor’s website into SpyFu and you will see not only how many keywords they rank for but also how many clicks they get, as well as paid keywords:

You’ll also see who your competitive brands compete with for these keywords. You might discover new competition or see that you rank better:

SEO takes time to increase traffic to your site, but SpyFu is a great tool to revisit regularly to track your progress against that of your competitors.
6. Ahrefs: Analyze content performance
There’s a lot of content on the web, which makes it harder to keep coming up with new ideas to maintain an active blog. Keyword research is just one way to grow your blog and attract readers. Another option is to take the content your competitors have already produced, see how they rank, and come up with new ways to outperform them.
For example, Vitasave sells vitamins online, and its blog focuses on recipes and nutritional information. To compete, you can share similar content but also include stats along with insights from medical professionals to make posts even more valuable.
Ahrefs is an SEO tool that lets users see what keywords competitive blog posts rank for, how often posts have been shared, and how much traffic each post gets. If we stick with the vitamin example, here’s a summary of the content you’d find in Ahrefs:

You can use this information to find opportunities to create new content that goes into more detail or gives a fresh new perspective.
How to use Ahrefs to gather competitive insights
Use the Content Explorer feature to enter a topic to see what content ranks for it. You’ll see a graph that highlights how many pages have been published over time. Keep in mind that not all of this data is from competitive sites; however, it does give you a good indication of how popular the topic is.

For popular keywords, think of perspectives that haven’t been discussed yet to attract fresh new interest and to compete with other ecommerce stores publishing similar articles.
7. Alexa: Competitive website analysis
Often, your website is one of the first places people find you online. Since the majority of shoppers research their purchases online before they buy, you want to make it easy for them to find you and browse your product pages. The easier it is for customers to find you and the types of products they’re looking for, the better their experience. Their search takes less time, and they can move through the sales funnel quicker.
Alexa is an SEO- and competitive-analysis tool that lets you do competitive website analysis to see how your website ranks for features like traffic, keywords, and backlinks compared with your competitors. You can even find other sites in your niche that are doing a good job of getting traffic. Research these sites to figure out what they do differently from you, and then customize the results for your site.
How to use Alexa to gather competitive insights
Using the Audience Overlap tool, find which sites your target audience visit, and review the types of content they’re reading. This might be blogs and product pages. The visualization feature lets you see which sites your audience visits and lets you explore information, such as backlinks and keywords, to figure out where audiences overlap and what you need to do to attract more traffic than your competition.

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8. Trust Pilot: Product reviews to enhance customer satisfaction
Product reviews offer a gold mine of information directly from customers. From positive experiences to negative ones, customers are willing to share. You can use customers’ willingness to share to learn more about what your competitors are doing well and where there’s an opportunity for you to outperform them.
A product-review site where comments are grouped together from across the web is a better option than looking for individual reviews on marketplaces where their competitors also sell products, like Amazon or eBay. This is time-consuming and makes it harder to spot trends. For example, you might identify an issue with fulfillment and shipping if customers complain about the high cost of shipping and late deliveries.
Trustpilot lets you see what types of reviews customers leave for your competitors to see. You can also see how many reviews are available and check the overall customer-satisfaction rating. These reviews can be used to find new opportunities to meet customer needs.
How to use Trustpilot to gather competitive insights
Simply enter the name of one of your competitors and Trustpilot will show you

how customers rate the seller — from bad to excellent;
how many reviews have been received; and
a list of reviews.

Also, many sellers take the time to respond to less-than-favorable reviews, so use their response to learn more. For example, competitors might mention improvements they’re making to their product. Take note of these so that you can keep ahead of customer expectations.
Use competitor insights to grow your business
The insights you find can be used to figure out what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. That way, you’re proactively looking for new ways to meet customer needs and outperform the competition. Make competitive analysis a regular part of how you run your business — after all, your competitors do. The more you know about your competition, the better your business becomes because you’re always adjusting.

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If you’ve been involved in a website project before, you know how nerve-racking it can be to finally give the go-ahead to “flip the switch” from the old website to the new one. There are a lot of things that need to be tested, double-checked and implemented before launch to ensure a smooth transition.
Your web development partner will have a pre-launch and a post-launch website checklist of their own, but you and your team have an important to-do list, too. Here is a list of items that need to be checked off before the big launch.
1. Cross browser testing
When you use a certain browser every day, you might assume that everyone else uses the same one and can see exactly what you see on your computer. This, however, is not the case, as not all browsers work the same way, and your website may display and act differently on each one. Therefore you need to thoroughly test your website on all browsers (i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, etc.) and all different mobile devices (i.e. iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.). The best way to go about testing is to share the staging site link for your website with a few people on your team and ask them to click through every page and every link, making note of anything that seems off or broken. It’s important that one person doesn’t do all the testing by themselves so that you don’t miss anything! Then, this process needs to be repeated after the website goes live to be sure nothing broke during the launch process.
2. Proofread content
Most websites today are set up with a content management system, and copy changes can be made quickly and easily – but no one wants to launch a website with a spelling error. So be sure you and your web team proofread the website thoroughly before launch. It’s a good idea to get another set of eyes who wasn’t directly involved in the process to review the copy as well. In addition to spelling errors, check that all phone numbers, addresses and other contact information is correct.
3. Test forms
During testing, make sure you fill out and test all of the forms on the site, such as contact forms, job applications or email subscriptions. To test, change the notification email to your own and then fill out each form on all desktop, tablet and mobile versions. Just because a form works in one place doesn’t always mean that it works everywhere. If the forms are integrated with a third-party tool such as CRM, marketing automation or email marketing, you want to make sure that all fields are properly pushing information into those platforms. After testing, don’t forget to change back all of the form notifications to alert the right people. There’s nothing worse than a prospect filling out a form on your website but no one knows because you forgot to set up the notifications.
4. Implement necessary SEO
It’s essential to set your website up for search engine optimization (SEO) success before launch. One of the most important aspects of SEO is making sure each page of your website has a unique title tag and meta description. This helps tell the search engines what content is on the page so people can search for your firm and your capabilities. Another common SEO oversight is the omission of image ALT tags, robots.txt and other technical factors. Here are some important SEO practices to remember when launching a site.
5. Set up 301 redirects
Creating a new website or redesigning your current one means that some of your page URLs will change. For example, your old website might have the URL ‘/team’ for all of your team member bios but use ‘/professionals’ on your new site. Making sure that those URLs redirect correctly after launch is critical to ensure that your users don’t land on any 404 error pages. It also helps with SEO because adding 301 redirects triggers search engines to remove the old page and only index the new page, therefore helping it rank organically. Before your old website goes away, be sure to record all of the current URLs in an excel spreadsheet and then designate the page on the new website where each URL to redirect.
6. Upload a favicon
Favicons are a small, but very important detail on any website. They are the little image of your logo or brand that appears in the address bar and tabs of your browser beside your page title. Favicons are important because they help with the credibility of your website and provide some additional branding for your company, improving user experience.
7. Page speed optimization
Your website’s page speed is just as important as the visual design and content. If a user visits your website and the page is slow to load, they more than likely will leave right away. The biggest cause of a slow website is related to image size and quality. Make sure that your images are compressed but still really good quality. The Imagify plugin on WordPress websites will do all the compressing for you and is very easy to use. Another way to help improve page speed is to enable a caching plugin such as WP Rocket. Caching plugins generate HTML pages of your website and save it on the server so that when a user accesses your site, it will pull the simple HTML instead of the heavy loaded PHP scripts.
8. Create a sitemap
When you launch a new website, search engines aren’t automatically aware of this change. In order to get them to correctly index your site and recognize the new pages you have published, you will need to create an XML sitemap. This is a specific file that lists all of the pages of your website, helping search engines understand your website’s structure and what pages are important. There are many SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO for WordPress, that will automate the creation and maintenance of XML sitemaps.
9. Install tracking codes
Your beautiful new website just launched, but do you know how users are finding it and what pages they’re landing on the most? That is where Google Analytics comes into play. Any firm should utilize Google Analytics since it’s free and easy to set up, and it’s a powerful tool to help you better understand your website’s performance. It tracks the number of visitors that come to the website, what pages they are visiting, how long they are on certain pages, etc. There are also some really great paid tracking services, such as HotJar or marketing automation platforms, that can be added to provide even more in-depth analytics for websites. Each of these tools have a unique tracking code you’ll need to add to the code of your website in order to collect data. Add these right after launch to make sure you capture all data from the start of your new site!
10. Purchase SSL certificate
Making sure your website is secure is more important now than ever. An SSL certificate not only protects your website and keeps the data between the servers and your browsers private, but Google will penalize your site and mark it as “not secure” on its search results page if you don’t have an SSL, which deters users from visiting your site. Your business is credible and secure, so you want to make sure users know that when they view your website.
11. Update the Time To Live
Time To Live (TTL) is a very important setting in your DNS record because it tells the server how long the DNS information should be cached. This should always be checked before launching your new website because it will affect how long it takes the new site to propagate on the servers. You’ll want to communicate to your web person or your IT company where your domain is registered and how short you want to set the TTL. Ideally, you want to make sure that the TTL is set as short as possible—typically 30 seconds to a few minutes.
12. Website privacy/robots
Once the website has launched, it is critical that the privacy of the website is turned to public. During development, your website is normally set to “private,” which tells search engine robots not to index your website while its under development. However, once the website is ready, it’s incredibly important to make sure this is turned to public so that people can find your new website and search engines can begin to crawl your newly created sitemap to help you show up on search engines.
Launch with confidence
Communicating with your web development partner during the launch phase is extremely important. They should have their own detailed launch list that has the technical items that are typically beyond the marketing team’s understanding. And once the site is live, be sure that you or your development partner have a plan for properly maintaining the website moving forward. Depending on the complexity of the website, there could be more items on this pre-launch checklist, but this is a comprehensive list of items that tend to apply to the majority of website projects and will set you up for a smooth and successful launch!

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Bloggers around the world hope to make money with Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, and by asking for donations via platforms like Patreon. Believe it or not, there is an easier way to make money with your blog. Today we are talking about membership sites. Specifically, we are going to help you transition from a traditional blog to a members-only website.
There are thousands of entrepreneurs and big name companies like the Wall Street Journal who currently let consumers read their content for a fee. Many sites in this category allow potential customers to read a few articles for free; then they have to sign up with either a monthly or annual membership.
Here’s how you can make the switch from blog to a full-fledged membership site.
Discover and Explain Your Expertise
The first thing you need to know about turning your blog into an exclusive website is you need to establish your expertise. If you’re like many bloggers out there, you’re covering a wide range of topics that can fit into many different categories.
When a consumer decides to join a website, typically it’s because they see value in their subscription. If you figure out your expertise before the transition, you can start focusing your content on one particular niche in your industry. On your about page — which should be available to members and non-members alike — explain why your opinion is relevant and why consumers should care.
Your expertise is going to vary based on your education, personal experience, and work history around the niche you want to cover. If you’re going to sell a marketing program to consumers, you may want to mention that you have a masters in business technology and explain your work history on your about page. This information builds consumer confidence in your brand.
Consider Your Members-Only Benefits
Next, you have to figure out if there are any exclusive benefits you would like to offer your members, aside from great content. There are tons of ways you can list the benefits of subscribing. For instance, The Wall Street Journal lists the benefits you’ll get by signing up with their membership plan. Here’s how they explain the advantages of being a member on their website.

You’re going to want to tell consumers what features you include in their premium plan. It’s generally a good idea to offer behind the scenes content, access to forums if applicable, and exclusive discounts if you’re operating an eCommerce storefront within your blog.
If you’re unsure what kind of benefits your customers want, ask them! Customer surveys on your social media accounts and website can provide a wealth of information. If you have a list of ideas for features, list them all and let consumers check the benefits that they would like to see. You can then take that information and add the benefits that consumers desire, but none of the features they ignored.
Pick the Right Software
One of the most significant changes you’ll have to make during your transition is figuring out the type of software you want to use when establishing your membership site. You’re going to want to start by choosing a membership plugin for your website. These plugins allow you to mark content as exclusive so you can prevent non-members from reading your posts. These plugins also allow you to create payment portals so new customers can easily subscribe.
Next, you’re going to want to make sure that you add Google Analytics to your website. Google Analytics allow you to track information about your audience and gain valuable insight as to what kind of content your users want to see. You can use this information to build customer personas to develop relevant content to your customers.
Finally, you should invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software to help streamline the customer service experience for those who have difficulties signing up or questions. There is plenty of different CRM software to choose from, and they all offer unique bonuses depending on the needs of your business.
Conclusion
Membership based websites are taking the internet by storm. People are eager to share their expertise and offer valuable customer experience to those interested in consuming their content. If you’ve found yourself struggling to make money through ad placement or affiliate marketing, a membership website may help launch your site in the right direction. There are thousands of approaches to creating a members-only platform. These tips are designed to get you started and help you build an excellent website directly from your blog.

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One of the biggest ways your website’s design can directly impact visitors’ interactions with your company isn’t a flashy graphic, cool video, or sleek typeface. What actually puts visitors at ease and encourages them to continue exploring your site is how simple it is for them to get around— how navigable your site is.
Easy navigation can make all the difference in keeping people invested in your website. If things are too hard to locate, unclear or nonspecific, or poorly organized, it’s all to easy for a visitor to return to their search engine and start fresh with a new website and a different company. Keeping your website navigable is one of the easiest things you can do to help people continue to explore your website, and to continue to get to know your company.
Benefit #1: It Reduces Your Bounce Rate
Even if you don’t know what the term “bounce rate” means, chances are you are already working to prevent this from happening. Your page’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your site and, instead of browsing further through your website, exit after only viewing the first page.
Google Analytics determines how many people view a single page without making additional requests to the Analytics server, with each one of these quick visits to your site counting as a bounce. This number is your bounce rate, and a lot of those bounces have to do with navigability.
You want viewers to your website to be pulled in, to investigate and learn more about your company, and hopefully develop a relationship with your brand. If visitors to your webpage can’t find what they’re looking, they’ll “bounce,” taking their search for the answer to another webpage— and another company.
With clear and intuitive navigation, viewers will find the answers they seek. When they arrive on your page, they’ll continue to browse, establishing trust in your website and your brand.
Benefit #2: It’s a Timesaver
Think about it: Nearly everyone you know has a full schedule and a jam-packed to-do list. Few people have the luxury of lots of time to poke around a poorly organized webpage. Today, answers to just about any question are available with just a few taps on our smartphones.
Visitors to your webpage are used to having a solution in seconds— it keeps their day moving at the fast pace to which we’ve quickly become accustomed.
It’s estimated that 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds actively looking at a page and taking in the content. That’s not a lot of time to get their attention, so your page has to be easy to navigate.
Having a site that is easy to navigate and locate solutions with well-displayed links not only saves your website visitors’ valuable time, but if your products or services are easy to locate, those visitors are much more likely to return to your page again in the future, too.
Benefit #3: It Converts Visits into Business
You’ve spent time on search engine optimization and beautiful graphics, but none of that truly matters without the ability to convert visits to your website into actual business. A well-organized site that is easy to find is more likely to get positive responses from visitors who will be happy to share their email address.
The easier it is for visitors to your site to interact with the information you are presenting, the more likely they are going to be to do business with you.
This fact may surprise you, but visitors to your page will form an opinion about your company within 50 milliseconds of viewing your website. That’s 0.05 seconds. A bold, well-designed site is vital to grabbing their attention, but after that, it’s up to your site’s navigation to keep that attention. 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if they do not like the layout or the navigation. Each of those lost visitors mean lost business for you.

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What Are Google Analytics Events?

Friday, 07 June 2019 by

Google Analytics Events and how to create Events tracking.
Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you see what’s going on with your web traffic. You can see how much time people are spending on each page, where they are getting referrals to your website from, and sometimes you can even see the keywords they used to find your site. But there’s an often underused feature in Google Analytics that has tremendous value for small business owners and marketers: event tracking.

Google Analytics Event tracking is a feature that enables you to record interactions with elements of your website that aren’t tracking as a standard within Google Analytics. You can track events manually, or by using the Google Tag Manager.
In this post, I’ll explain how to create the events, and why you should be creating events within Google Analytics. Events shouldn’t be confused with Goals. I’ve written about how to set up goals in Google Analytics in another post.
How to Create Events in Google Analytics
After you’ve installed Google Analytics on your website, you can set up event tracking and create events. But before setting things up, consider:

Which elements of your site you want to track – be it file downloads, or clicks on outbound links
Adopting a consistent and clear naming convention for the different actions, labels, and category options that are available to you when you set up event tracking. Every name you apply to categories, actions, and labels is shown in your tracking reports. If your naming doesn’t make sense, then your report won’t either.
Whether you want to set up automatic event tagging or manually tag the links on your site, if you have a lot of documents and page elements you want to track, it will be worth the time to set up auto event tagging and using Google Tag Events Manager.
There used to be two different ways to set up event tracking on a website for standard Asynchronous Google Analytics (ga.js) and Universal Google Analytics. The Asynchronous Google Analytics methods are now depreciated, so you should ignore any guidance that talks about using event tracking with ga.js.

Automatic event tagging, done with Google Tag Manager, will work in the following situations:

When users click on links
On submission of a form
After a specified visit duration or at timed intervals
When users click on any page element

If there are any other actions you want to track, you can set it up in Google Tag Manager. Here’s how to do it:

Log into Google Tag Manager
Select “Tags” from the left-hand side
Create a new tag and select Universal Analytics as the Tag Type
Set your Google Analytics Tracking ID
Choose “Event” for the track type
Set your Event Category, Action, Label, and Values. You can use Google Tag Manager variable names such as {{click url}}
Set your triggers as required

Check that you’ve enabled the right variables selected for your event. Create a new tag in Google Tag Manager and change the track type to event. Configure your tag by adding the values for the category, action, label, and value. Select the event the tag will fire on.
If you want to do this manually rather than relying on the automatic approach, you’ll add a custom code snippet to the link code on the items you wish to track. When the item is clicked, the element is tracked and then shows as an event in Google Analytics.
The event tracking code is made up of four elements, defined by you, to describe the user’s interaction with your website:

Category: This required field is the name you give to the group of objects you want to track.
Action: This required field is the type of interaction, such as downloading a PDF.
Label: This optional field is useful for summarizing what the event is about, such as clicks on a navigation menu option
Value: This optional field can be used if you want to assign a numeric value to your file download.

When the event happens on your website, the input for those four attributes can be useful in helping you understand what users have engaged with on your page. This is why your naming conventions are important.
The event tracking code for an event tracked link in Universal Analytics looks like this:
onclick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Category’, ‘Action’, ‘Label’, ‘Value’);”
The code is placed after the href link, as shown in this example:
<a href=”www.examplewebsite.com/report.pdf” onclick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Category’, ‘Action’, ‘Label’, ‘Value’);”>
Why You Should Create Events in Google Analytics
The short answer is you should create events in Google Analytics simply so you can see more about your conversions and learn more about what your audience is interacting with on your website. You can use the data to make adjustments to your strategy to boost conversions.
You should always set up a custom event to track any call to action clicks, file downloads (so you can see how many people are taking advantage of your freebies, or which digital products are the most popular) and more. You can see when users scroll down the page, click on video’s play/pause/stop buttons, abandon a form field, share content, move their mouse, and more.
The more information you have about what people are doing on your website (and whether they’re doing what you want them to or not) the better you can tailor your SEO and digital marketing strategies.

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If you want a high-performing online brand while keeping your operation lean, then you are going to need the right eCommerce tools, apps and resources to streamline your business and increase sales.
This week, we’ve put together an ultimate list of eCommerce tools in a variety of categories to help you ‘cheat’ at eCommerce and easily streamline your business and drive sales.
We will provide apps, tools and resources that cover your most crucial eCommerce tasks; so feel free to click one of the links below to skip to a task you need help with or would like to outsource to a top eCommerce tool or app.

Branding and design
Content marketing and copywriting
Customer service
DIY SEO
eCommerce traffic
Email marketing and list building
Finance, accounting and legal
Inventory management
Product photos
Product/supplier sourcing
PR/influencer outreach
Shipping and fulfillment
Site comparison and analysis
Social media marketing and selling
Task management
Tools and courses for eCommerce entrepreneurs
Word-of-mouth marketing/product launch
Web development tools and resources

Ready? Let’s jump in!
Branding & Design Tools and Resources for Online Stores
1. Coolors

Cost: Free
Looking to create color pallets for your branding or new brand campaigns or themes? Then Coolors is a super handy app. Furthermore, with this app, you can pick up starting colors from images to get the perfect combination automatically, customize your colors and create well-organized color profiles and schemes.
2. Looka

Cost: From $20 once-off
Formerly known as Logojoy, Looka AI-powered platform to create a logo in minutes. They have now expanded their product list to include other branding materials such as website building, business card creation, social media kits and more.
3. Tailor Brands

Cost: From $3.99 per month
Another automated branding platform is Tailor Brands. It provides not only an affordable and easy-to-use logo maker, but social media management and scheduling, online ad creation and a branding toolbox package.
4. TermsFeed

Cost: Free for basic agreements with premium agreement packages
TermsFeed is an online platform that will help you create legal policies and agreements. These include eCommerce terms and conditions, and privacy and refund policies.
Content Marketing & Copywriting Tools for Online Sellers
5. BuzzSumo

Cost: Basic free searches and business plans from $79
BuzzSumo is a search platform that will help you find the most popular (viral) social and blog content for the keywords you’re searching. This is very helpful in terms of content planning for your blog and finding possible viral content capabilities. Some of their other tools include brand and competitor mentions, and backlink and keyword tracking.
6. Content Consulting Services Guide

Cost: Varies
If you want to outsource your content, why not consider a content service? Tools and platforms such as Upwork and WordGeeks are a big asset. Whether you’re looking for a freelance writer to handle your product descriptions, a consultant to put together a solid blog topic plan or want to take a newsletter to the next level, there is a variety of content and copywriting services out there. You can head over to our Guide to Finding Freelancers for the eCommerce entrepreneur.
7. HubSpot Topic Generator

Cost: Free
If you are stumped for eCommerce blog topic ideas to match your chosen keywords, then you may want to give HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator a try. The tool will provide you with over 250 blog titles in a spreadsheet for you to use. However, not all the topics will be ready as is, and will need to be tweaked for your market and refined for your readers – think of them as a starting point.
8. Google Alerts

Cost: Free
Google Alerts will help you track your brand mentions and top topics around your top keywords. This will help you keep ahead of trending content online that can inspire your own content plans. Plus, track your competitors’ brands to see what they are up to on their eCommerce blogs.
Pro Tip: If you are looking for a more robust option, Mention is a popular choice.

Customer Service Tools for Online Sellers
9. Tidio

Cost: Free for their basic version, with pro packages from $15 per month
Tidio is an affordable live chat solution that is boosted by bots. Enabling sellers to communicate with customers quickly and efficiently, this eCommerce chat tool also includes extra features such as automatic customer lead messaging and customizable chatbots. Plus, it integrates with other tools and platforms such as Zendesk, Salesforce, WordPress, Shopify, Wix and more.
10. Facebook Messenger

Cost: Free
Compatible with Shopify, Facebook Messenger will enable you to take advantage of all its features, including automated replies and chatbots. Plus, it’s not just about customer service, with Facebook Messenger now being an effective selling tool. If you’re new to Messenger, check out our Selling with Facebook Messenger beginner’s guide.
11. LiveChat

Cost: From $16 per month
LiveChat is a robust customer chat support system for busy online stores and eCommerce agencies. Its features include visitor information, chat tags, rich message support, file sharing, chat archives, delivery status, chat window themes and customization, automatic and personal greetings, and more.
12. Gorgias

Cost: From $50 per month
Gorgias is a complete help desk tool that is specially designed for eCommerce businesses. It enables you to have one central dashboard to handle all your customer communication, across multiple channels, from one central place. Its features include being able to manage email, chats and Messenger communication from one platform, smart autoresponders with rules, internal notes, tags, ticket assignment to prevent duplicate work, customer history and timelines, and more. On Shopify? Here is the link to their Shopify app.
13. Salesforce

Cost: From €25 per month
If you’re looking for a full CRM system, then Salesforce is a popular choice. With a wide variety of options to suit any business size or type, their customer service solution offers personalized support across digital channels and AI-powered chatbots and solutions.
14. Zendesk

Cost: From $5 per month
Another awesome customer service tool is Zendesk, who label themselves as an omnichannel customer service and engagement platform. Offering a whole suite of features and products, it includes analytics and reporting, a support dashboard, help center features, live chat and more.
DIY SEO Tools, Apps and Resources
15. Ahrefs

Cost: From $99 per month
Ahrefs offers a host of tools to help eCommerce business up their SEO game. This includes competitive analysis, keyword research, backlink research, content research, rank tracking and web monitoring.
16. Backlinko Blog

Cost: Free
If you want to stay ahead of SEO and backlink trends, sign up to Backlinko’s blog for free tips to your inbox. Backlinko was founded by SEO expert and influencer Brian Dean, to share his secrets with growing online businesses.
17. KWFinder

Cost: Free basic search, then from $29 per month
Keyword research is an integral part of your organic and paid traffic strategies. KWFinder is a popular tool for doing just that. Created by Mangools, their SEO tools package includes keyword research, SERP analysis, rank tracking and backlink analysis – LinkMinder – which has free options as well.
18. Moz

Cost: From $99 per month
Another SEO analysis and research tool kit comes from SEO experts Moz. The Moz Pro SEO tool suite includes keyword research, link building, site audits and page optimization insights. Some other top SEO analysis tools include SEMRush, SEO Review Tools, and SERPWatcher.
eCommerce Traffic-Driving Tools, Apps and Resources
19. Traffic Booster

Cost: From $120 per month, including your advertising budget, to run the ads
Traffic Booster will automate and optimize Google Ads using its unique AI technology. Based on millions of dollars’ worth of online ads, it’s designed to drive the most relevant customers to the most relevant product pages on your behalf. Some of its top eCommerce merchants include Military Hippie, Beautiful Disaster, Old Guys Rule, GearBunch and more.
20. Recart

Cost: From $29 per month
Take your remarketing to the next level with Recart. Recart is a Facebook Messenger marketing app that will help you retarget traffic, previous shoppers and abandoned carts while also streamlining your whole customer journey. Its top features include:

Messenger subscription tools
Unlimited visitors and messages
Abandoned cart recovery
Product review strategies and implementation
Customer journey management on Messenger

Email Marketing & List Building Tools and Resources
21. Omnisend

Cost: From $16 per month
Omnisend is an all-in-one solution that goes beyond traditional email marketing. Therefore, along with their bulk automation and segmented email features, they provide a cross-channel messaging solution that includes SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp personalized messaging and marketing.
22. Coupon Pop

Cost: $9 per month
Grow your email marketing lists and social accounts with Coupon Pop. Coupon Pop’s features include social marketing, email leads, email platform integration and design templates to easily turn store traffic into brand fans.
23. Klaviyo

Cost: Free to try and then from $20 per month (for up to 300 contacts)
Klaviyo is fast becoming the most popular email platform for online stores. You only have to see their features to see why. With unprecedented segmentation, ROI-based reporting, one-click integration, pre-built autoresponders, email personalization, product recommendations and much, much more, Klaviyo was built for the eCommerce entrepreneur..
24. ZeroBounce

Cost: You can either pay monthly (starting at $40 per month) or buy annual credits to use the platform as you need it
ZeroBounce is a unique email verification service that enables you to keep a handle on your email list maintenance. This includes invalid email address removal, identifying and deleting spam trap emails, and valuable metadata additions to your email lists. As you know, most email platforms charge depending on your contacts. Therefore, this will help ensure you are not wasting money sending emails to invalid or spam addresses – which ultimately hurts your email stats.
Finance, Accounting & Legal Tools for eCommerce
25. Brightpearl

Cost: From $375 for customizable plans
Brightpearl is an all-in-one cloud-based platform for small to medium omnichannel and eCommerce businesses and retailers. This means it doesn’t just include finance and accounting but offers CRM, order management, batch processing and payment management in one eCommerce tool.
26. QuickBooks

Cost: Starts from $15 per month
QuickBooks is one of the most popular online accounting and finance tools for small to medium growing eCommerce businesses. It includes a variety of accounting tools and flexibility, ensuring you can track profits, expenses, sales, suppliers and profitability with ease.
27. TaxJar (US)

Cost: From $17 per month
With the ever-changing tax implications and requirements, investing in a good tax tool will ensure your taxes are always filed and up-to-date with US state tax authorities. Integrating with Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, PayPal, Etsy and many more top eCommerce platforms, TaxJar offers real-time sales tax calculations via SmartCalcs and automates your required state filings.
Inventory Management Tools for eCommerce
28. Inventory Source

Cost: From $50 a month
Inventory Source offers affordable inventory management as part of their Inventory suite. Its basic features include eCommerce platform integrations, access to their directory of suppliers, up to 50k SKUs and two daily syncs. Their pro versions allow syncing across more than one platform, unlimited daily on-demand syncs and more.
29. TradeGecko

Cost: From $39 per month
TradeGecko is an inventory management software designed by a former clothing retailer. Its inventory management product includes centralized sales channels, batches and expiry dates, locations and currencies, reports and insights, and manufacturing and shipping management features.
30. StoreAutomator

Cost: From $250 per month
Specially designed for multi-channel eCommerce sellers, StoreAutomator is an inventory and channel platform for eCommerce entrepreneurs and agencies. Some of its key features include order, channel and product management, and repricing tools for Amazon.
31. Veeqo

Cost: From £125 per month
For bigger eCommerce and omnichannel stores, Veeqo provides an advanced inventory management system that includes 40+ integrations. It includes product kit and bundling capabilities, price control, automatic stock rules and more.
Product Photo Tools and Apps
32. Photoshop and Photoshop Express

Cost: Free app and then from $20.99 per month per product
By now, you know that Photoshop is a world leading photo editor that will help you edit your product photos and mock-ups – while Photoshop Express is a simple app that will offer the basic functionality of Photoshop for free.

You can download the app here: Google Play, iTunes and Windows Store.
33. Pixlr

Cost: Free, with some purchase upgrades
Pixlr is an online photo editor offering a more affordable option for editing and touching up. Its free online editor offers a host of features. Plus, you can join 150 million users by downloading their phone app for editing pics on the go.

34. Pixc

Cost: Either by credit system, where you pay per photo or monthly subscription from $79 per month
Pixc is a photo editing tool specially created for eCommerce product photos. This platform allows for team-project editing of product photos and platform integration to get your photos edited and online quickly and easily.

Some other photograph tools and apps for eCommerce include Clipping Magic, Portrait Pro and ShortPixel.
Product and Supplier Sourcing and Research Tools for eCommerce
35. JungleScout

Cost: From $25 for the web platform and $97 once-off for their Chrome extension
If you’re on the hunt for best-selling products, JungleScout will help you track the performance of possible trending products on Amazon. As we know, Amazon is the internet’s leading eCommerce site, making this platform and/or extension a great product sourcing tool.
36. Maker’s Row

Cost: From $35 per month
For those of you who private-label your own products, Maker’s Row is a database of Made-in-America manufacturers. The platform lists over 10k manufacturers and includes options for product idea development projects, direct messaging with factories and the option of one-on-one consultation.
37. MXED (Shopify)

Cost: Price per product varies depending on category and licensor
MXED is a dropshipping Shopify app that helps specifically source pop-culture, licensed products and merchandise. It offers automatic US-based fulfillment, margin automations, and inventory and price updates.
38. Oberlo

Cost: Free starter package and then $29 per month
Another popular product source and dropshipping tool is Oberlo. Oberlo is a marketplace that helps you find products and sell them, including the following features: product page customization, pricing automation, order and sales tracking, wishlist product creation and more. Their blog is also packed full of free, valuable eCommerce tips and hacks, so be sure to give them a follow here.
Newbie Tip: Some other sites, tools and resources to search for products include Commerce Inspector, Think With Google, Dropship Spy, Pexda, Social Mention and more.
Another similar tool to consider for sourcing and managing your dropshipping is Spocket, which includes a free basic package.
39. Online Supplier Directories

There is a host of supplier directories out there to help you find the right manufacturer for your products. A good excellent of some such directories are the Clothing Manufacturer and Suppliers Directories from A Better Lemonade Stand. Some other site directories include:

Alibaba/AliExpress
Worldwide Brands
SaleHoo.com
TheWholesaler.co.uk
Inventory Source Free Supplier Directory

40. Print-on-Demand Apps

Cost: No monthly costs; you pay the cost of printing per product
Gooten is a Shopify app that allows you to print products on demand and dropships them to shoppers. Another such popular print-on-demand platform is Printful. Both platforms ensure you don’t have to manage inventory, while reducing your risk.
41. Sourcify

Cost: Customized depending on your needs
Another eCommerce tool specializing in helping you to find the perfect supplier for products is Sourcify. Sourcify streamlines your manufacturing process, ensuring you are able to find the ideal supplier for your budget by giving you access to their database of supplier networks, and provides a very personalized service.
PR and Influencer Outreach Tools
42. Grapevine

Cost: From $597 per month + transaction fee per project
Designed to cash in on the power of influencer marketing, Grapevine provides a network of authenticated, human-vetted, brand-safe YouTube, Instagram and Facebook influencers. On this platform, you can engage directly with content influencers, book posts and pay for sponsored posts. It also includes a workflow dashboard, abilities to share sponsored posts across a variety of channels and full influencer agency services.
43. FameBit

Cost: 10% per transaction with no
If you’re looking to specifically concentrate on the power of YouTube influencer reach, then FameBit could help. With this platform, you are able to create a campaign, receive and review proposals from possible YouTube content creators,
44. Instaaa

Cost: From $76 once-off
Want to outsource your cold emailing? Instaaa is an AI-powered service that will connect you with a curated list of websites, directories and communities. The Instaaa team will craft a professional pitch with you to get your brand listed on sites or set up possibilities for product reviews or write-ups. This has the added benefits of improving your SEO with backlinks.
45. Ninja Outreach

Cost: $49 per month
Another platform to automate your outreach is Ninja Outreach. With access to millions of Instagram influencers, bloggers, business emails and Twitter influencers, Ninja Outreach offers a host of services. This includes services such as link building, guest post proposals, content promotion, sponsored post outreach and more.

Some other influencer tools include QuuuPromote and Brandwatch. If you are specifically looking for reviews and UGC tools, here’s my list of top contenders:

Annex Cloud
Pixle
PowerReviews
Refersion
Stamped
Smile.io
Trustpilot
Yotpo

Shipping & Fulfillment Tools, Apps and Resources
46. Easyship

Cost: Free to use; only pay for label purchases
Automate and sync all your shipping orders with Easyship. Integrating with over 250 courier services, this platform will ensure you can automatically offer shipping options to your customers, always ensuring they are getting the best deal.
47. Route

Cost: Free
If you’re looking for ways to protect your customers from “porch pirates” and thus improve the shopping experience, then Shopify’s Route is a popular choice.
48. Shipwire

Cost: Price on request
If you’re looking for a more robust shipping and logistics option for your medium-sized growing eCommerce business, then Ingram Mirco’s Shipwire is a good option. With a combination of global warehouses, they take worldwide fulfillment and on-demand solutions to the next level.
Site Comparison and Analysis Tools
49. Benchmark Hero

Cost: Free
Want to instantly know how you compare to your biggest competitors and other successful 7-figure online stores in your niche? Benchmark Hero is a free site audit eCommerce tool that allows you to compare your eCommerce site to thousands of large stores, pinpointing what you can easily do to improve your store today. This includes analyzing and ranking your brand’s shopping experience, technical performance, trustworthiness and marketing – for free.
Social Media Marketing and Selling Tools, Apps and Resources
50. Buffer

Cost: From $15 per month
Social management platform Buffer will allow you to manage all your social channels from one central hub. Its features include content scheduling, channel analytics, team collaboration and instant content sharing by schedule.
51. Bulk.ly

Cost: $12 per month
Bulk.ly is a social automation tool that enables you to upload bulk social content and automatically recycle and shuffle posts. Additionally, it allows you to create, allocate and assign specific hashtags to specific channels and drip-schedule loads of content.
52. Edgar

Cost: $49 per month
If you want to take the hassle out of scheduling, then Edgar will automate your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. What makes this platform unique is that it will write posts for you by automatically taking snippets from your content. Besides auto variations, it uses browser extensions to generate posts, offers category-based scheduling, continuous posting and much more.
53. Foursixty

Cost: From $50 per month
Foursixty is an eCommerce app that will enable you to display and make your Instagram posts shoppable on your site. Features include an on-site shoppable Instagram gallery, advanced analytics, scheduling and customized galleries. Another similar tool worth mentioning is Curalate, which allows you to make any social channel shoppable.
54. Kickstagram

Cost: $49 per month
If you’re looking to grow your Instagram followers, give Kickstagram a go. I don’t normally advocate for Instagram growth tools as most of them use spam bots, but this tool uses human account managers to help link your account to your ideal target audience. Meaning they promise real, highly-targeted followers, not just followers for the sake of it.
55. SproutSocial

Cost: From $99 per month
Offering an all-service solution, SproutSocial doesn’t just help you manage your social accounts but will help you curate content for your specific niche. Prime features include response management, campaign management, content development, distribution optimization, issue resolution, social CRM and more.
Task Management Tools for eCommerce Businesses
56. Asana

Cost: Free basic plan and then from $9.99 per month
Asana has a variety of task management packages to suit your needs and budgets. Including all the features you need to streamline the backend of your eCommerce business, it enables project assignment, scheduling and tracking. With file linking and discussion boards, this robust tool is an asset to a growing business.
57. Trello

Cost: Free basic package and then from $9.99 per month for more integration
Another task management tool to consider for organizing your eCommerce business is Trello. With boards, lists and cards, Trello makes team collaboration a breeze. Its main features include unlimited team boards, board automations, command admin and more.
Tools & Courses for eCommerce Entrepreneurs
58. AppSumo

Cost: Free and paid courses and services starting from $9 once-off
AppSumo is a library of tools and services specially designed for eCommerce business owners. With new offers daily and lifetime access to content and services, AppSumo is a leading resource for those of you wanting to get into the eCommerce game or hone skills needed to reach the 7-figure store success mark.
59. Skillshare

Cost: Free classes and then from $8.25 per month for full access to all content
What makes Skillshare different is that by signing up, you get unlimited access to more than 28,000 classes. Think of it as a course/lecture streaming site. Their courses, taught by industry experts, include entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity, design, photography and more.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Product Launch Tools
60. Carrd

Cost: Free basic plan, and pro plans from $9 per year
A good tool for easily creating campaign-specific landing pages for your product launches and other advertising is Carrd. It enables users to build one-page sites for “pretty much anything.” It’s simple to use, with designs responsive for any device and totally free for the first three landing pages.
61. ViralSweep

Cost: From $49 per month
Looking for ways to go viral with less hassle? ViralSweep is a marketing platform that utilizes custom giveaways to help your brands and/or products go viral. It includes everything from sweepstakes and contests to insta win and hashtag promotions.

Other similar tools worth considering include Gleam, Vyper.io, Shortstack, Rafflecopter and Woobox.
Web Development Tools & Resources
62. StoreTasker

Cost: Varies from product to product, but the average costs are between $65 and $230
Want to streamline your online store and improve customer experience? Looking to outsource skills like migrating your MailChimp to Klaviyo? StoreTasker is a web development platform for Shopify stores. They offer a marketplace of services by experts, including anything from Google Analytics integration to more complicated custom web store design or custom projects.
Some other web development platforms to consider are TaskHusky, Shopify Experts and Hey Carson.

There you have it, 60+ eCommerce tools, apps and resources for streamlining your online business and ‘cheating’ at eCommerce. But before you go, I would also like to give you my list of favorite eCommerce podcasts, blogs (besides this one, of course!) and Facebook groups with valuable, high-value information and resources.
eCommerce Podcasts, Blogs and Facebook Groups

Ecommerce Fuel (podcast)

GaryVee (YouTube channel)

Kissmetrics (blog)

Online Samurais (Facebook group)

Practical Ecommerce (blog)

Shopify (blog)

StoreYa (blog)

Shopify Entrepreneurs (Facebook group)

Shopify Newbies (Facebook group)

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders (Facebook group)

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast (podcast)

Happy selling!

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Your 2019 Guide to SEO Outsourcing
If you’re the owner of a small business, you’ve got dozens of tasks on your mind: generating leads and sales, personal branding, social media marketing, employee payroll… the list goes on and on.
How much thought and effort have you put into search engine optimization?
This is the process of attracting organic (free) traffic from the search results in search engines. You need your business to appear high-up in the organic results or potential clients won’t even know you exist.
Do this process right, and you’ll get targeted traffic landing on your website to learn more and/or buy what you’re selling.
Fail, and your potential clients will find your competitors without even knowing you exist.
Often, small business owners are trying to make small marketing budgets stretch. They may even take search engine optimization upon themselves, cobbling together a DIY campaign that doesn’t get results or ultimately damages them.
Or, they hire a company that’s making them lots of false promises, like “You’ll be #1 in Google!” (Nobody can promise you that, by the way).
Here are three compelling reasons to hire a pro if you’re wondering “Should I pay for SEO?”

You benefit from an expert’s experience and knowledge.
Although nobody but Google knows the answer, it’s widely estimated that there are 200 factors used by Google’s search algorithm to rank websites and pages.
This part of your marketing is a LOT of work and responsibility—are you willing to do it yourself or trust your company’s success to an overseas firm that offers you rock-bottom prices?
If you hire the wrong company, it’s not just about poor results. Many of these companies employ what’s known as black hat techniques. These are shady practices that Google will punish you for, perhaps even by removing you from search results entirely.
A good search engine optimization strategist is on top of the ever-changing rules and trends and will play by Google’s rules. They will evaluate your competitors and help you create and implement a strategy that will get results.

One of the keyword tools your consultant will probably use.

They’ll help you create a better user experience.
When it comes to SEO outsourcing, it’s important to look at it as a holistic process. Their efforts should impact your entire website, not just the pages with optimized content.
That’s why it’s essential to find a reputable marketing company that doesn’t just focus on keywords. While targeting the right keywords and using them the right amount of times throughout your website is key, there’s more to it than that, such as:

How fast your site loads
If your navigation is user-friendly or not
Mobile friendliness

By hiring a well-rounded marketing company, your strategy isn’t just focused on keywords, but on other essential factors that can make or break your success.

They’ll analyze the data.
It’s one thing to make changes and test out different things, but how are you measuring your success or lack thereof? You’re only going to see results and improve what isn’t working if you’re diving deep into your stats and making adjustments.
If you hire an SEO specialist, he or she can provide you with stats such as:

Number of visitors
The keywords people are using to find your site
Bounce rate (how many people are landing on a page, not interacting with it and leaving)
What content visitors are interacting with
How much traffic you’re getting from social media

It’s unlikely that you have the time or training to look closely at your analytics and pull out the relevant data. By opting for paid search optimization, you can focus on what you do best within your business.
An example of Google Analytics stats your consultant will be able to analyze.

Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Specialist
You need to look at this process as a job interview. You’re hiring a VIP for your company—the person who is going to attract visitors and keep them on your site.
Before you hire another person for your team, here are six questions to ask your potential new employee:

Can you guarantee that our site will rank #1 for a search term?
This is the first question you should ask, because if the answer is “Yes,” they’re not a reputable company. Like I mentioned above, nobody can guarantee this.

How do you plan on improving our search engine rankings?
If your consultant or firm is good, they’ll have a tried-and-true search engine optimization strategy they’ll happily share with you. Watch for vague answers around linking or keyword research—there’s much more to it than that.
Speaking of links, as them about how they plan on building links. One good backlink is worth more than thousands of low-quality backlinks, and some consultants will try to wow you with the number rather than the quality.

What’s your reporting process?
Ask your potential company what metrics they track. You need to be informed of what’s happening, and usually companies send a monthly report (at least).
Be wary of those who don’t have a solid schedule to keep clients in the loop—this is often because they don’t have enough good results to share.

Do you optimize for voice search?
When you hire someone, they need to think beyond the right-now and focus on the future of your business. A short-sighted strategy isn’t going to get you results in the long run, and voice search should absolutely be on your radar.
According to ComScore, 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020, so you should be optimizing your website for voice search now.

Can you provide referrals or testimonials from clients?
A reputable company should have online referrals that include the names and organizations of those who recommend them, either on their company site, or on Google or Yelp.
If someone doesn’t have any examples of past successes, they’re not going to be able to take your business to the next level.
Here’s a good trick: ask them which client has been with them the longest. If it’s under a year or two, run! That means that they probably employ short-term techniques that don’t last.
Here is an example of some kind words on the eVision Media website:

Why should I hire you?
Listen for red flags like “We’re the cheapest” or “We get you the largest number of links.” You want to hear that their plan involves a longer-term strategy with research, implementation and testing.

These are some great ways to help you find a reputable, professional business to tackle your SEO needs. If you’re asking, “How much does SEO cost?” my answer is: that depends.
A trustworthy firm will work with you to find the package and pricing that’s best for your business.

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Blogging? Why bother?
For some businesses, writing blogs may seem like a waste of time, however, when done properly, regularly posting can benefit your company in many ways.
For starters, blogging can help to improve your SEO— with the long-game goals of building brand awareness or increasing your sales.
We’ve got five reasons why maintaining an active blog can benefit your ranking strategy:
1. Blogging Gives Your Website “Freshness”
A “fresh” webpage is one that’s been recently published, or recently updated— and publishing new or editing old blogs can add freshness to help improve your SEO. That’s because your content’s present-day relevance counts as an important ranking factor, according to the world’s largest search engine.
Data, technology and our understanding of matters changes regularly, and it’s vital to make alterations to provide searchers with the most factual, timely information.
That’s why Google’s algorithm accounts for freshness, with the search engine going as far as to say it frequently interprets fresh posts as more relevant, or “as a signal that up-to-date information might be (more) useful than older pages.”
Unfortunately, many webpages can be written and left untouched for months or years. In certain industries, this information can remain accurate. However, competitors might get an edge over you by adding additional information your content now lacks. Stay relevant in your industry by posting frequent articles, or by updating old posts.
2. Blog Posts Are a Great Place to Share Internal Links
Internal links are hyperlinks that send you to the same domain as the source page. To put it simply, interlinking is the practice of linking to your own webpages within the content of individual pages of your site. For instance, us linking to our article blog post length here is us practicing interlinking.
Interlinking on your site helps to give your domain a thing called “link equity,” or link “juice,” as SEOs call it. This gives your website depth and helps users to navigate through your site architecture or to other relevant sources on your site, which Google likes! (Spoiler alert: Google likes anything that helps improve the user-experience).

you don’t want to anger the users
You leading site visitors to other relevant links helps searchers get their answers. It also helps Google to categorize related items and to better understand the hierarchy of your website, so it can properly rank your pages. And your blog posts are the perfect place to spread and share relevant link love!
Fun fact: Did you know that linking to new posts on your homepage gives those articles more “link value?” Learn more from Yoast.
3. Blogging Helps with Link Building
When another company embeds a link to your site on theirs, it’s their way of saying, “Don’t believe me? This other reputable site agrees!” or, “I don’t have all the answers, but you can dig deeper here.”
Link building, or the practice of acquiring links from other domains, shows Google that other people think your content is great and worthy of mention. The cool thing about external linking is that it goes both ways: you can link to other domains and other domains can link to you. Blogs are a terrific linkable asset for both.
Blog posts are an enticing source to link to because they often contain valuable data or a unique theory/point-of-view— and are so easy to share (just copy the link and add some anchor text). So if you write bomb-ass content, and other sites link to it, they are helping to boost your SEO!

Google even affirms it, saying on the Search Console Help Center that, “links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results.” They compare someone linking to you as that source “voting” for you. The search engine continues to say, “votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important.’”
What does that mean? When “important” sites, i.e. sites with high domain/page authorities and low spam score) link to you, you’ll get some of that link juice lovin’ too!
Plus, you can help your SEO by linking to other relevant sources in your own content. Google loves it when you reference other sites that it already ranks. It affirms the search engine’s notion that their results are credible— and that you, in turn, are also credible, since you reference their already algorithmically-relevant sources.
Increasing Your Domain & Page Authority
Ever heard of Moz? These SEO wizards developed two powerful SEO metrics called domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA). These search engine ranking scores range from 1 through 100— just like a test grade— and can help to predict how well a website may rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
While Google itself doesn’t use domain/page authority directly in their ranking algorithms, DA and PA scores can still give you a rough estimate of a site’s “ranking strength.” Each score is determined mainly by the number of quality links you have, and can be used in tandem with other SEOs tools to check how your blog is ranking.
Generally speaking, building more powerful inbound links on other domains can help to increase these ratings, which helps build your SEO cred’. Plus, authority goes beyond a set score and extends to establishing you as a strong contender in your industry. Learn more about creating a sense of authority here.
4. Blogging Helps You Utilize More Keywords
SEO is all about optimizing your website for search, which requires an understanding of how Google uses keywords to help categorize and serve content on its search engine results pages.
If you’ve done your keyword research properly, you’ll know which terms you can target to get more organic traffic to your website. Simply put, your blog is just another place to weave in those keywords— and each post is another page that can rank.
Want a few examples? One article that we published on our Impulse Creative blog is organically ranking for 651 keywords, as of the date of publishing this post. This article— 8 Reasons Your Business Doesn’t Appear on the First Page of Google Search— ranks on page one of Google’s SERPs for queries like “why doesn’t my business show up on Google search?” and “how to make my business appear on Google search first,” according to data pulled by SEMRush.
Your business can start attracting visitors to your domain too, with the right keywords in your blog posts. Invest in doing keyword research to create posts that gain steady traffic over time, on their own. According to HubSpot, 75% of their blog views and 90% of blog leads come from old posts.
Check out our article on Google Ads Keyword Planner Tool to discover what people are searching in your industry, and to generate content to answer searchers questions.
5. Blogs Help to Increase Traffic/Site Views & Your Source Diversity
Not only can your blog posts bring in more organic traffic if they rank on Google’s SERPs, articles can also generate traffic from other methods, including:

Direct traffic. This is typically when someone types your exact URL into the search. They are sent “directly” to your site, without needing to find you on the SERPs. Or, sometimes people bookmark your URL for quick access and can click the shortcut to ping your web address.
Social media traffic. When you post a link to your blog post on social media, users can click through from your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn to your site.
Referral traffic. If another user is linking out to your blog post, a searcher can click the link on their site to hop over to your domain. AKA the searcher is being “referred” to you from this original reference.
Email marketing traffic. If you send out email correspondence, you can share a link to your blog post with your customers or clients. If they are sent to your site from this email, you’ll receive a view count, often labeled “email marketing.”

Simply put, your blog posts are getting more eyeballs to your domain, giving users an easy way to click through to other pages on you navigation bar.
If you host your blog on a different domain than your main site’s URL— let’s say “blog.samplesite.com” instead of “samplesite.com/blog,”— it’s not going to be as easy for someone to click through to other pages as it would be reading your content on your main site. Because of this, if you have your blog hosted on a separate domain, you’ll want to make sure you’re embedding links to your main site inside of your post.
Google likes to see diversity in the traffic sources you gain, because it demonstrates authenticity. Think about it. If all your traffic came from just one source, wouldn’t that seem odd?
Getting hits from one source is a huge tip-off to Google that you’re getting fake traffic, or paying for a traffic exchange program. In terms of your AdWords account, Google says this type of channeled traffic can “result in your account being disabled,” (hint hint: because they want you to pay for their ads).
Why do you think Google Analytics shows you where your traffic is coming from? The world’s largest search engine cares about where your views are coming from, and you should too.
Improve Your Blog Ranking with Help from Impulse Creative
Do you see the value of blogging now? Not only is it an incredible way to improve your SEO, but maintaining a powerful blogging strategy can help you gain more leads and customers.
Creating a blog for the first time? We have the perfect guide for you. Download our Beginner’s Guide to Blogging for Business for insights on which topics to blog about, how to optimize your posts and more.

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One-click purchases are a rarity, rather than a reality for most businesses, and yet the standard attribution models imply that this is how purchases happen online. But companies, who are crediting only the last touchpoint in analytics for overall marketing success, are missing out on 20%-40% of potential ROI. Knowing more and guessing less about your customers’ journeys can help you recuperate that money and even multiply your marketing gains. That’s what data-driven attribution modelling is designed to accomplish.
What is data-driven attribution?
As mentioned in our previous post, attribution models that follow pre-defined rules (e.g. assign credit to first/last click) do not provide full visibility into your marketing campaigns. They are decent “patch” solutions to track certain activities, but they fall short when you want to dig into the complex customer journeys of today.
Google offers a Data-Driven Attribution (DDA) model which accounts for the importance of every touchpoint a prospect goes through before converting and determines which marketing actions played a role in the process. However, to start using this model, your business must first meet the general eligibility requirements. To meet these, you must have:

A Google 360 Analytics account which costs £115,000 per year
Either E-commerce Tracking or Goals set up
At least 15,000 clicks on Google Search and at least 600 tracked conversions within 30 days.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for many businesses, but there is another way.
Develop your own data-driven attribution model
Yes, you can develop your own model instead, based on GA data. We have built these for several of our customers and they are highly effective. And, unlike the Google model, with ours, you only need a minimum of 100 sessions per day, including traffic from all channels, which makes it much more accessible for many companies.
These models comb through different conversion paths and identify the number of touchpoints in different sequences, the order of exposure, creative assets used and several other factors to give you a complete and actionable view. The model uses the conversion path data from MultiChannel Funnels, as well as path data from customers who don’t convert.
We can then set up predictive analytics modelling that will supply your business with insights and valid predictions in near real-time. This way, you can identify winning campaigns and sequences, and make better decisions on-the-fly.
What are the benefits?

Custom data-driven attribution enables you to create a personalised model that will depict the actual state of affairs for your business. You can add, track and optimise as many channels and touchpoints as you need to fully document the different types of customer journeys.
The best part is that all insights are connected, which provides a detailed look both within and across channels. Specifically, you can unlock the following benefits:

Improved budgeting: learn how each channel contributes to your set goals and optimise your spending for different campaigns with granular precision.
Cross-channel impact analysis: lift and funnel stage reports will reveal how different channels and marketing actions affect one another.
Unified view: set up a custom set of metrics for all channels, aligned to your business goals.
Reporting flexibility: generated reports can be viewed in multiple ways, allowing different teams to instantly access the insights they need.
Performance over time: estimate and predict customers lifetime value, drop off chances and multiple other factors that impact your business’s bottom line.

Ultimately, data-driven attribution allows you to give proper credit to previously hidden actions, such as conversions that came from non-branded keywords or from mobile devices (after a visit from a desktop), as well as exercise more precise control over individual campaigns/channels. Additionally, you gain access to predictive analytics insights, showing you the scope of change you will achieve when trying strategy A, B or C.
Several brands in different industries are already seeing great results after switching to DDA:

Select Home Warranty in the US witnessed a 36% increase in leads and a 20% drop in cost-per-conversion.
Medpex in Germany generated 29% more conversions while reducing cost-per-conversion by 28% using data-driven bidding on Google Adwords.
H.I.S., a global travel brand, combined DDA with Smart Bidding and Dynamic Search Ads to boost conversions by 62% without increasing the cost-per-conversion.

What do you need to implement a data-driven attribution model?
1. Google Analytics set up and configured
As mentioned already, you don’t need to be a Google Analytics 360 customer if you want to benefit from data attribution modelling with our help. But there are still a few technical requirements you need to meet:

Active Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager accounts
Either E-commerce Tracking or Goals set up
Receive at least 100 sessions per day, including traffic from all channels.

Implementing data-driven attribution at a lower daily traffic threshold is still possible, but you won’t be getting complete value out of it at that point.
2. High data maturity
Your analytics will only be as good as your data is. Businesses that are able to gather large, consistent and high-quality data sets across the channel mix will benefit most from data-driven attribution. Specifically, you’ll want to ensure that your data is:

Source: Google Attribution 360 White Paper

Focused: it’s collected from different channels and is relatively easy-to-access.
Systematic: you are able to collect relevant data from an online/offline marketing mix, and have respective processes in place for that.

Remember: all the big data stored in your systems will have to be operationalised and prepared for further analysis. In fact, that’s what we tend to focus on during the first two months of working with a customer.
3. Aligned KPIs and business goals
Data-driven attribution works best when your KPIs and goals are compatible across channels and departments. For example, if your PPC campaign is geared towards increasing the webinar leads, your Facebook ad campaign goal should be the same.
But there are different ways to measure those goals, right? What’s great about data-driven attribution is that it allows you to look beyond the vanity metrics such as clicks or shares on social media and focus on post click insights (e.g. visits) instead.
Not every social media campaign you run may be aligned with a specific outcome, such as sales. An Instagram campaign you run might be tailored to create brand awareness in a new market. But measuring that “buzz” can be problematic. With a DDA model, however, you can effectively capture social media traffic that never generated a conversion, and analyze how it had helped the performance of other channels.
Should you implement DDA?
Depending on the company size and how much value you see in data, a data-driven attribution model can be the tool you need to help you answer important marketing and business questions, such as:

Which channels contribute more towards conversions?
Do any campaigns not provide ROI?
Are there particular affiliates that increase the probability of conversion?
Which referral sites are crucial to the user journey?
What will happen if the PPC budget gets reduced?

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