Tag Archives: E-commerce

Effective Social Media Advertising

Social media is perhaps the most vibrant facet of online advertising and promotion.  To professional marketers it is an opportunity to move messages and influence targeted market segments with extreme efficiency.  Here’s a few guidelines that seem to work for our clients at “R.”


Hawaiian Accessories is a retailer of authentic Island gifts and jewelry.  They have a fledgling online operation that was doing alright, but nowhere near its potential.  We suggested that we build them an online community based on popular social media like Facebook.  Our strategy was two-fold: first, to build up our followers through page “likes,” allowing us to grow a fan base that we could communicate with regularly. Almost how you would use a proprietary email list.  The second was to push specific advertising messages onto our followers timelines (Facebook home pages) that then produced click-throughs to our transactional site.

We looked at Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, but focused our efforts on Facebook for two reasons.  The Hawaiian Accessories product line appealed to an older demographic that had not yet bolted to Instagram, and continues to grow on Facebook.  Secondly, we were in a hurry to establish as large a base as possible by the retail Christmas season, and the advertising options with Facebook allowed us to get those results more rapidly.

Building an online community

Hawaiian Accessories was easy to get people to notice because their products are so visual, and don’t require much of an explanation.  We were able to attract a very high rate of “likes” by simply making an ad “button” featuring one of their signature items, a koa fishhook necklace.  This single item told people a lot about the nature of the entire line and they were either interested or they were not…right away.  Perfect bait for a spontaneous “like.” Our Facebook page had enough content to fill out the picture once they landed on it, and their strong retention rate seemed to indicate the more Hawaiian Accessories they saw the more they liked.  We also got considerable interaction with comments and questions flying around and robust viral sharing of our posts. Another aspect of Internet advertising is that your potential customer can be anywhere in the world.  Realistically, people knowledgable about Hawaiian culture were our best prospects, and there are also now large Polynesian enclaves in Las Vegas, San Diego and West Coast, not just Hawaii.  Facebook allows very precise targeting over all geographic and demographic profiles, so we could be very effective when testing new markets. With steady, albeit humble, monthly advertising budget we grew the base to over 3,000 in time for our Holiday blitz.

Subtle advertising strategies

Specific product advertising and promotions were part of our effort from the beginning, and became progressively more effective as our fan base grew. We ran some Mother’s Day specials and did promotions for other traditional retail gift-giving periods.  The ads were designed to be simple and bold (Facebook only allows 20% of the image on advertised posts to contain copy), and we usually featured only one product.  The image was linked directly to the transactional page on our e-commerce site, so that our customer was always one click away from our shopping cart while they were on Facebook.


All online activities, including social media, are designed to move the customer ever closer to the transaction.

Talk about stimulating impulse buying.  This worked pretty well, and was easily tracked in terms of click-throughs and actual transactions.  The new Facebook ad option called “boosting” also proved effective.  The Facebook administrator is presented with a pull down menu directly on the post, that allows “boosting,” which is a mini ad buy were a set budget and targeting are selected right from within the pull-down menu.  Now it is Facebook that is shopping the impulse buy, but it works fine.  The performance of the ad is easily tracked and the decision to “boost again” after your initial budget has run out is usually pretty easy to make.


One key to success with social media advertising is balance.  You don’t want to be overbearing or intrusive to the point that people consider you an unwelcome spammer.  They like your merchandise, but don’t want to be beat over the head everyday.  The pacing that seems to work was one post every other day, with an emphasis on a low-key editorial approach to the layout as opposed to a “hair-on-fire” screamer. You want to be welcome in their online social world, not an annoying distraction.

Like all social media the expense of the paid advertising component is minimal compared to the time expended by the social media administrator.  The effectiveness of these campaigns can be very impressive, if the social media manager is building the right visuals and messages and maintaining the “human” component within their cyber community.  By that I mean employing the basics of interaction so that the fans are responded to, their compliments acknowledged, their questions answered and their experience as personalized as possible. If you think in terms of rewarding them for being there…they will generally stay and be receptive.

Building successful relationship with your online customers can be very similar to bricks and mortar customer experience when it’s done right.  Social media can be one of the integral communication tools, and one of the most cost efficient,  in the customer acquisition and customer relationship phase of marketing.


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Instant E-Commerce Solutions

I remember getting a quote from an established Web developer back in 1998 for a no-frills e-commerce site that could hold my client’s 2,000 or so SKU’s.  They wanted $150,000, not an unreasonable amount at the time.

That was then and this is now.

Among the many cloud-based Web operations that offer great software, low-cost hosting, snap-in applications and interfaces that set the standard for usability is a turn-key e-commerce offering called Shopify.  They follow the general formula set by WordPress and sector leaders of providing low cost or free entry level access and a host of a la carte upgrades.  You can be up and running a fully functional online store with 100 SKU’s, for $29 a month, 2,500 for $59, and an unbelievable “unlimited” for a mere $179 a month. Shopify offers a host of well-designed templates, an easy user experience and payment gateway options that are easy to set up.  They even incorporate SEO prompts for your listings and a clever blog format baked into the format. The quality of the Shopify product has led to meteoric growth for its user base.  I’ve added Shopify to my palette of cloud solutions that provide cost-efficient solutions for my clients.

Even quick executions on Web assets require decent corporate identity.  Kailua Camera specializes in the new high-end compact digital products so SLR's and shutter iris symbols wouldn't work.

Even quick executions on Web assets require appropriate and professional corporate identity work. Kailua Camera specializes in the new high-end compact digital products so old SLR and shutter iris symbols wouldn’t work.

A recent project that R Strategic put together is KailuaCamera.com  They needed a transactional environment for specific Ricoh and Pentax products and needed it quickly.  No, doubt they would have fainted if given the 1998 price.  We built a Shopify solution within a couple of days, registered and  linked their URL and started an SEO program to get them on the map.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 10.54.54 AM

R Strategic is currently developing a conventional advertising campaign for the visitor industry that has attracted attention from the Pentax/Ricoh factory and distributors.  The basics of good advertising don’t change regardless of the whether the delivery is via a printed tourist publication or a pop-up on your iPhone. You still need a strong headline, a viable concept, good product photography and a call to action. Our premise is that the average visitor arrives with outdated photographic equipment, or just realized their smart phone is not up to the task.  Kailua Camera can turn that potential regret into happy memories with the latest compact digital technology.

R Strategic designed a strong message to reach new visitors and even negotiated with a local courier service for same-day product delivery.

R Strategic designed a strong message to reach new visitors and even negotiated with a local courier service for same-day product delivery.

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What Level of Internet Involvement Is Right?

Sunset Beach Colonys Website featured a successful real-time real estate auction.

The Internet is the most cost-efficient information medium that has ever existed.  Every business enterprise, no matter how humble, has the opportunity to reach an international market of billions.  But, what are realistic expectations, and what level of investment in time and money makes sense for you?

An interactive Website that R Strategic designed several years ago featured an online auction that helped to sell-out a large oceanfront project in 24 hours. Bidders from throughout the world raised the overall selling price of the development by several million dollars over the estimate. That’s an invest that really paid off.

I think there’s four levels of internet deployment, from simple to complex, with progressively more commitment and money required with each progressively larger upgrade.


This is the most common form of Website.  It is basically an  static, electronic brochure, with information about your product or service and how to contact you.  It is what the yellow pages used to be, with the one caveat that you might be harder to find unless you work at it.


This level invites your site visitor to interact and exchange information. By providing your site visitor with a dynamic experience with constantly refreshed information and features you invite repeat visits. If you can get a casual visitor to give you their email address or other contact informatioin they just became a valid sales lead.  The data these interactions generate becomes the “product” of your Web investment.


The final step in online customer/client cultivation is providing the secure environment (and comfort level) to perform an actual transaction.  This requires not only creating an atmosphere of trust, but also the actual e-commerce applications to perform the mechanics of credit card (or pay pall) transactions.  This step also means that your backend IT operations should grow to perform order processing, fulfilmentt and customer relationship management functionality.


This level is where the Internet itself becomes the primary focus of your business model.  Most or all of your business is marketed,  prospected, transacted and serviced on the Web.  You have a small or non-existent “bricks & mortar” presence.  In addition, your organization is also administrated via company internet communications procedures.  Your sales force and mangement are all administrated via Web networks.  When this model works you are on your way to becoming the next Amazon or Ebay.

None of these different levels of Internet business will succeed, however, if people don’t know they exist. Promoting your Website is the single most critical factor for developing a winning Web presence.

Next: I Built It And They Didn’t Come


Filed under Internet Marketing