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Ecommerce Day 2016 Takeaways: Videos help sell products, UI/UX design is critical, planning a progressive rollout gives you more control and so much more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
If you're trying to grow your sales online, the Regional Ecommerce Day forum is an event you can't risk missing. From specific ways to grow your market, to resources and tools to help you connect with your customers, to investing in digital marketing - Ecommerce Day speakers covered what business owners and entreprenuers need to know to be successful in the online channel. 

More than 100 local entrepreneurs, business owners, marketing professionals, web developers, and creatives attended the annual event and had the opportunity to immerse themselves in an entire day focused ecommerce planning and strategy.
 
Speakers included business professionals from some of the largest PA-based retailers, including Listrak, Online Stores, LLC, SnapRetail, UPS,  and more. They covered a wide range of ecommerce topics, including best practices for growing ecommerce-based businesses, multi-platform ecommerce, logistics, content strategy, and even global expansion. No matter what level attendees' businesses were at, they were able to take away advice and personal anticdotes designed to help businesses increase reach, boost brand awareness, and build their customer bases. 

Here's the rundown - in case you missed it - complete with speaker presentations

Keynote speaker: Ross Kramer, Listrak
"Beyond Ecommerce: Ideas to Transform Your Business"
Ross Kramer, CEO of Listrak, has grown his multi-million dollar technology business from inception in his parents’ home to his Penn State dorm room to the new 100,000sq foot headquarters now under construction in Lititz. 

He shared his own personal experience in getting his startup off the ground, ecommerce tips, and ideas that stretched beyond ecommerce, including how attendees can find innovative ways to create a lasting business that drives value for both sides of the transaction. 

He told attendees that over the years he's learned that a strong team is the key to success, and to hire and pay for the best people you can afford, vent hires thoroughly, and to hire slow but pay fast. On the customer side, his advice to attendees was to define client segments and to specialize segment treatment. 

Ecommerce Speaker Panel  
Kevin Hickey, Online Stores: "How to grow you ecommerce business at 20% - best practices in marketing, sourcing, and systems."
CEO Kevin Hickey summarized the state of ecommerce by advising attendees that whether they integrate or compete with Amazon, they'll face uphill challenges. It comes with the territory. BUT - it can be done - and his company is a perfect example of that. 

Jeanne Cain, Nature's Fabrics: “How to use Family, Fabric, and Facebook to Grow an Online Business"
Twenty-two years old shop differently online than 50-year old individuals do. This was something owner Jeanne Cain discovered when she began selling her fabrics online. Her advice was to subcontract with the experts for web development, shipping and marketing, and focus on your core expertise - making your product. 

Sean Michaels, MaxBack: “How We Utilized eCommerce to Turn 41 million lbs of Trash into $32 million in Fundraising Cash”
Founder of MaxBack, Sean Michaels explained how his company's market was so thin, the only way it could build a worthwile base was to maximize its online reach. He told attendees to grow their markets everywhere, or someone else will reach in and take it. He also noted the importance of UI/UX design, especially when experimenting with variations. 

Tara Ronel, SnapRetail: "Ecommerce: 4 Steps to Start Selling Online"
Businesses don't have to jump into every platform and market all at once. That was the advice from CEO of SnapRetail, Tara Ronel. What customers want is compelling content delivered with consistency appropriate for specific brands. She recommends investing in creating this type of marketing content and adapting to rapidly changing trends in order to stay competitive. 

Jon Whaley, The Barn Door Hardware Store: "Multi-Platform Ecommerce" 
Founder of the Barn Door Hardware Store, Jon Whaley, told attendees that they key to success is not being afraid to fail. If you haven't failed, he told them, you're not doing enough. He discussed selling on Amazon and Etsy, as well as his own website. He noted that having a plan and good people behind your marketing strategy is key, especially when you engage in paid online advertising initiatives. 

Solution Provider Speaker Panel 
Don Mueser, UPS: "UPS Exports: Your World Runs on Logistics"
Sales manager for UPS, Don Mueser, discussed focusing on leveraging the power of logistics and expanding your marketplace by partnering with a logistics professional that can help meet your company's global shipping needs, including package and freight. 

Matthew Wiertel, Velocity Network: "The Internet of ECommerce"
Ecommerce require speed and the right equipment. CEO of Velocity Network, Matt Wiertel, advised attendees to invest smart in technology in order to ensure their ecommerce endeavors are successful. Site selection for startups and growing firms depends on internet infrastructure - it's as critical as electricity. 

Mat Silva, RendrFX: "Adapting video content strategies for social media"
Communicating with customers via video packs more context into the same read-time of one article. Chief technology officer at RendrFX, Mat Silva, discussed the huge content potential of online video, and how the companies who use it successfully to market and sell products have an edge over competition - even when market share is tight. 

Jeff McCullor, Werkbot: "Optimizing Product Pages – make it easy for humans and search engines alike."  
Before you optimize anything, you have to know your audience, Jeff McCullor told attendees. The account manager at Werkbot Studios, owner of Erie Ale Works and certified Google Analytics professional explained how websites need to make it easy for both customers and search engines (in that order) to find the information they need quickly and easily. 

Educational Speaker Sessions  
Tawnee Steinke, iGlobal Stores: “Facilitate Growth and Global expansion: International customers experience and how a business can increase their conversions by making that customers process easier”
During her educational speaker session. Tawnee told attendees that cross-border ecommerce is booming, and that by 2020, more than 900 million customers - or 45% of all online shoppers - will purchase products from another country besides their own. With cross-border ecommerce comes a myriad of concerns business owners selling online need to take into consideration, including international shipping policies, duties and taxes, international messaging, and even fraud. 

Tara Ronel, SnapRetail: "Ecommerce: 4 Steps to Start Selling Online"
Successfully selling products and services online isn't rocket science - but it does take a plan and some serious dedication. In her educational session, Tara covered four critical steps to selling online, including defining goals, deciding how to sell, establishing policies and processes, and creating a budget to cover marketing and advertising, as well as staff time. 

Bruce Burkley, YourErie: "What is GEO Fencing, GEO Targeting on mobile and How Can it Help Businesses Drive Sales? Are you ready for Digital Mirroring?"
Digital specialist for YourErie, Bruce Burkley, covered GEO fencing and GEO targeting during his educational session. He explained how these location-based marketing tactics can help businesses drive sales, especially mobile sales, which are growing each year. 

Funding Speaker Panel  
Kris Wheaton, QuickStarter
QuickStarter uses reward model crowdfunding to help local creative people get projects funded and businesses get off the ground. The company identifies creators, puts together a support team, plans and executes campaigns, and helps creators take projects to the next level.

TJ King, Bridgeway Capital

Bridgeway Capital provids funding to low-income communities; minorities, women, and veteran owned businesses; businesses ill-suited for conventional lending; and projects that improve quality of life in the region. It offers small business lending, community development lending and grands, business education services and nonprofit organziation lending. 

Maggie Horne, SBDC for the Erie Technology Incubator
The Erie Technology Incubator works with public, private and startup businesses. It's supported by Gannon University and is co-located with the SBDC and Dahlkemper School of Business. Open to startup and early state technology-enabled businesses that develop/leverage technology to grow, it provides professional mentor teams, coaching opportunities, and action items/to-do lists to help companies achieve success. 

Brian Slawin, Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP
Ben Franklin Technology Partners invests in tech-based startups and small manufacturers in PA. It provides business support services, technical assistance & entrepreneurial training, and marketing seminars. BF funds can be used for new and innovative products or processes, salaries dedicated to the projects, research and development costs, prototype materials and supplies, and marketing & sales. 

Khonsu, LLC Wins Gannon University's Technology Business Business Pitch Event

Friday, November 06, 2015

We recently attended Gannon University's Technology Business Accelerator business pitch event where winner Khonsu, LLC was announced. In addition to $10,000, the company will get:

  • Six months of incubator residency
  • Coaching and strategic mentoring 
  • Legal assistance from MacDonald Illig
  • One year of e-marketing training from the eMarketing Learning Center


Gannon undergraduate student Denys Fedorchenko, recent Gannon graduate Mollie Sebald and Gannon graduate student Eyad Ghazzawi are leading Khonsu, LLC, which provides an "Easy Tent" pole solution that allows for fast, simple installation of tent poles.

“We are delighted to partner with ETI and their fantastic start-up program and we look forward to working with the KHONSU team,” said Cathy von Birgelen, director of the eMarketing Learning Center.


Three finalists were also recognized, including: 

  • RendrFX, creator of video rendering software and marketplace pioneer 
  • DOCTOREDUP, a medications researcher and developer 
  • GUBotDev, which innovates in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones” and is led by Gannon faculty member Mark Blair and engineering and computer science students

Read more about it here.

Ecommerce Day Educational Breakout Sessions and Economic Development Services Panel

Monday, July 20, 2015

We've been recapping our 2015 Ecommerce Day Forum and sharing full video presentations of all of the sessions in our latest series of blog posts. If you've missed any, you can check out the morning sessions or the afternoon educational sessions & keynote. The presentations covered a wide range of topics and ecommerce tips and best best practices. Nearly 100 business professional in attendance benefited from the experience, skill and knowledge of the presenters, who work for (and with) some of the biggest brands in Pennsylvania. 

Today, we're recapping our educational breakout sessions and economic development services panel. 

Jeff Biletnikoff, digital marketing manager at YourErie.com, covered "Video Marketing & the Path to Purchase.” He explained how video can actually help companies shorten their sales cycles, and what kind of tools and personnel are needed to achieve this. He talked about what kinds of topics work best for video, and showed examples of successful video campaigns that he’d helped produce.



Carlo Fuda, marketing director for the Mason Jar Company’s reCAP Mason Jars, discussed strategic partnerships during his presentation, "Global Brand Classico(R) Aligns with Startup reCAP(R) Mason Jars To Make a Perfect PArtnership".  Carlo explained that strategic partnerships allow brands to improve business initiatives and influence sales and marketing goals in mutually beneficial ways. Whether a company is looking to increase brand awareness, reach new markets, or gain access to specific channels, strategic partnerships can have a significant role in a company’s business plan



Sean Fedorko, director of the Technology Council of NWPA, talked about Bit Coin and how it works, as well as how business owners can decide if it’s right for them. Bit Coin uses network software to process and track payments of digital currency without a central authority or bank, allowing for fast, secure and inexpensive transactions. The unique functionality of Bitcoin software creates a potential for businesses to decrease the cost of transaction fees, attract new clients, and demonstrate competency in emerging technologies.



During their presentation, Tom & Analida Braeger of food blog Analida’s Ethnic Spoon, talked about blogging, including content creation for brands and socialmedia strategies. Analida and Tom have built their blog from the ground up, and they know that it’s difficult but rewarding work. They’ve learned some tips and techniques along the way, and shared their thoughts on sponsored posts, working with brands and social media companies, SEO & social media strategies, and more.

Economic Development Panel 

There are resources right here in the Erie region that hugely benefit growing businesses. Ecommerce Day wrapped up with an economic development services panel that featured speakers from local organizations whose missions are to provide small businesses, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs with resources and guidance to help grow their businesses and reach new customers.

Ed Barthelmes, Strategic Business Advisor of the Northwest Industrial Resource Center, discussed the organization’s mission to collaborate with small- to medium-sized manufacturers to help them improve productivity and facilitate technology advancement. Its goal is to help manufacturers in this region increase sales revenue, as well as create jobs and improve employee retention.



Maggie Horne, director of the SBDC, covered her organization’s involvement with start-ups and existing businesses, including assistance with business planning, marketing & advertising, financial analysis, market research, and more. The SBDC also provides support for companies developing new products or interested in international trade.



Cathy von Birgelen presented on behalf of Innovation Collaborative, an organization that seeks to improve and develop Northwestern Pennsylvania’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The organization partners with resource providers to improve local businesses’ access to resources and funding that can help them thrive.



Jim Kosko, director of Ben Franklin Technology Partnership of Central & Northern PA, talked about his organization and its mission to provide operational assistance, entrepreneurial support, and investment capital to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers. Additionally, Ben Franklin CNP regularly hold BIG IDEA Business competitions that award startup funds to the winners.

Ecommerce Day 2015: Afternoon Educational Session Video Presentations & Keynote

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The afternoon portion of Ecommerce Day 2015 that made the event even more valuable to business professionals in attendance, included a keynote by entrepreneur, author and international speaker Kris Jones, and educational sessions on a variety of topics, including new office technologies, affiliate marketing, email marketing – and more.

(If you missed our last post featuring the morning presentations, head here.)

Don Mueser, who started the day off discussing CommScore’s Pulse of the Online Shopper report, also presented on "Cargo Insurance Insights." He explained that 76 percent of companies have experienced at least one supply chain disruption in the past 12 months. Whether it’s a theft or a disaster at sea, cargo loss results in an estimated $50 billion each year. The answer, Don says, is insurance protection for supply chains. He warned business owners in the audience not to become complacent: “You wouldn’t think of going without insurance for your home, cars or health – don’t think about going without protection for your supply chains.”



Kris Jones Keynote: The Journey of Entrepreneurship in Digital
Keynote speaker Kris Jones has an impressive resume. He’s the founder of digital marketing services company and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay Enterprises in 2009, author of the best-selling book “SEO Visual Blueprint,” investor, international speaker, and co-founder of the personal and professional development company Aspirational.

During his keynote address, Kris discussed five proven strategies to business success, including getting clear on your outcome, knowing exactly what you want to achieve, and taking the “right risks”. He told the audience: “You can be a social/professional risk taker, but you need to be operationally risk averse.” He also explained that growth fuels a business, and business owners must be willing to fail & come back stronger.



Ecommerce Day 2015: Afternoon Presentations & Educational Breakout Sessions           

Ned Friar, sales manager at eBay Enterprises, presented on affiliate marketing and its value, particularly when the consumer’s journey increasingly spans multiple devices in the search for the same item. He notes that it’s hard to target those audiences with ads at the right time with the right products but says that’s where affiliate marketing can help.



Mark Tomasko, sales manager at Listrak, discussed "Email Marketing Automation, Segmentation, and Personalization,” and couldn’t emphasize enough the need for marketing coordinated between and tailored to each unique platform. He explained to attendees how to build a strategy around "Digital Omnichannel Marketing" to help acquire more new customers, sell more to existing customers, and increase relevancy.



Brad Wiertel, director of operations at VNET, presented on "Leveraging the Modern Office," and discussed how, because of new technology, organizations and employees are no longer bound by four walls and the 8 to 5 work schedule. In fact, more than 50% of small businesses have mobile employees. He noted that although technology has made many areas of our lives more efficient, the tools and services deployed in modern office environments are always changing, and talked about some of the latest trends in technologies that organizations are embracing to modernize their workflows and improve efficiency.


Stay tuned for our final Ecommerce Day blog post featuring the afternoon breakout session speakers and economic development services panel!

Ecommerce Day 2015: PowerPoint & Video Presentations Will Help You Catch Up On What You Missed!

Monday, July 06, 2015

If you weren’t able to participate in our last Ecommerce Day Forum, fear not! Not only can you read a detailed wrap-up post on our blog, we’re giving you full access to all of the presentations, which are packed with ecommerce tips, advice, and stories, examples of strategies and successes, pitfalls to avoid, and so much more.

The day centered on discovering which online channels will allow you to most easily connect with your target audience, and best practices to follow in order to grow these channels and really take advantage of everything they have to offer.

The panel of speakers included some of the top retail brands in Pennsylvania, including UPS, Zippo Manufacturing, Listrak, eBay Enterprise, and more. Not only did they share their experiences using digital channels to sell their products and services, they offered valuable advice and information to the more than 100 business professionals in attendance.

Morning Presentations: Ecommerce Speakers & Panel

Don Mueser, Sales Manager at UPS, kicked off the event with a discussion about the ruthlessly efficient “flex shopper.” During his presentation, "UPS & CommScore Study: Pulse of the Online Shopper 2015," Don introduced attendees to these channel and device-switchers, and discussed their impact on retailers’ ecommerce strategies. He covered the shopping experience, as well as how mobile and social are going to affect the future of retail.


Wei-Shin-Lai, founder & CEO of AcousticSheep, shared her company’s unusual story of success. She explained to the audience that they don’t use budgets, don’t advertise and don’t look for employees with business degrees. Rather, they focus on creating a top-notch product, sending out samples to companies and individuals with large audiences, having a solid web presence (especially when peaks in demand from media attention occur), and using data from Google Analytics to understand their market.



Claudine Thiem, owner of Claudine's Consignment, discussed the need for even a small local retailer like herself to create and manage an affordable and efficient online store.  After harnessing the power of Facebook and Craigslist to expand her customer base, Claudine found an inexpensive and easy way to drive more traffic to her website, and move inventory faster – even if it hasn’t yet hit her showroom floor. She emphasized that customers have come to expect an online presence and the ability to ship products, whether they’re buying from a small brick and mortar or a big box retailer.



Dan Pastore, president of FishUSA.com, covered selling through marketplaces. While online marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay can be attractive to many companies – especially companies without an ecommerce website – Dan explains that the lack of control and access to customer data can be a huge disadvantage, and may negate the value that the marketplace brings to a company. In his presentation, "Moving Beyond Marketplaces to Control Your Future," Dan shares why companies that have achieved significant growth over time may want to consider leaving their marketplaces as part of a strategy for long-term success.



Kathy Jones, retail marketing manager at Zippo Manufacturing, helped lead the company away from fragmented branding and marketing strategies and worked to create a more integrated approach that reinforced its message and helped to build a better online presence. During her presentation on Zippo’s “Globalization Journey," Kathy shared the steps the company took to begin its global ecommerce initiative, how they learned and evolved based on past experiences, and how they plan ahead for new developments in web and ecommerce.



Mitch Silver, owner of YoYoSam.com, discussed "Growing a business in the fast changing ecommerce environment." The company started as a typical online reseller, but expanded its customer base and sales by selling through various marketplaces, developing its own brands, and offering products at wholesale prices. In addition to online marketplaces, YoYoSam sells through brick and mortar retailers, contests and industry events. While each channel has its own pros and cons, Mitch emphasized the importance of using and playing in the space his customers play in in order to connect with them. (He also demonstrated some pretty awesome yoyo skills!)



Ecommerce Day Service Provider Panel               

John Persinger, attorney with MacDonald Illig Jones & Britton, covered a hot topic at Ecommerce Day. His presentation, "Cyber Security: Proactive and Reactive Measures," discussed the fact that 54% of the security breaches that occurred in 2013 targeted e-commerce sites. The average cost of handling a breach that affected less than 100,000 records is estimated to be $5.85 million. John stressed having a plan in place to get through a security breach and tips on how to mitigate it successfully.



Mike Bukowski, SEO/SEM strategist at Tungsten Creative Group broke down Google’s newest algorithm update during his presentation "Mobile SEO: This Time Google Means Business." As mobile traffic continues to grow, the lack of mobile-optimized content is making it more difficult for web users to find the products, services and information they’re searching for. He explained what the update means for businesses that lack a mobile-friendly websites, and ways to improve it so that it’s not hit with a drop in organic search engine rankings.


Stay tuned for the afternoon video presentations coming in Part 2!

Ecommerce Day 2015: Do Your Research, Connect with Your Customers in the Online Channels they Use, & Follow Best Practices

Monday, June 22, 2015
There are so many channels available to online shoppers today, it’s imperative that businesses understand which ones their customers are using most, how they are using them, and what tools and resources are available to help companies get the most out of each. Additionally, businesses need to discover what works best for their particular business models and how to prioritize the time and effort required to follow best practices. 

It’s a lot of work – it takes determination and a significant time commitment to understand and nurture each channel. But it’s absolutely critical to the overall health of both small and large businesses.

These were the key takeaways from our 2015 Regional Ecommerce Day Forum. More than 100 local entrepreneurs, business owners, marketing professionals, web developers, and creatives spent the day at the Ambassador Conference Center listening to an impressive lineup of speakers discuss not only how to get the most out of various online channels, but share stories about what works and what doesn’t work, which became valuable advice for those considering their strategies going forward.
 
Some of the largest PA-based retail brands helped attendees realize the importance of making a concerted effort to find online channels that can help increase customers and sales, and following best practices when using them to sell their products and services online. Speakers included representatives from UPS, Zippo Manufacturing, eBay Enterprise, Listrak, reCAP Mason Jars, Acoustic Sheep and more. 

While their businesses are vastly different and their approaches to selling online varied, the sentiment was the same among all of them – you’ve to be where your customers are and you’ve got to commit to doing it right. 

International speaker, best-selling author, entrepreneur and digital marketing expert, Kris Jones, gave an inspiring keynote address, and discussed his own journey of entrepreneurship and digital marketing. He talked about how important it is to get clear on your outcomes, decide what you really want, and actually work towards achieving those goals. 

Not only is it important to define your goals, Kris told audience members, it’s important to always be building your brand and to surround yourself with other people who can help move your business forward. He said the key is to “hire smart people and get out of their way.”

In addition to hearing from an extremely knowledgeable and energetic panel of speakers and great networking opportunities, Ecommerce Day attendees were able to attend educational breakout sessions in the afternoon. Topics covered included affiliate marketing, email marketing, Bitcoin, strategic partnerships, video marketing, blogging and more. 

The day wrapped up with a panel of economic development speakers who discussed various opportunities for businesses to take advantage of local support, including business services to help get started, funding, and how to connect to the right sources. 

The event was an overwhelming success. Attendees filled notepads with ideas, talked to other business professionals with similar goals and ideas, discovered new opportunities, and got actionable advice that they could bring back to the office and immediately implement. 

Sad you missed it? Stay tuned. We’ll be sharing more information and tips from the speakers, including links to their presentations. You can also check out some event photos on our Facebook page. And if that isn’t enough – we’re planning the next Ecommerce Day for spring 2016! 

Local Businesses Get Actionable Advice on Search Engine Marketing at the eMLC’s Fall Kickoff Event, “SEM IV: The Evolution Continues”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Search Engine Marketing is the process of making the products and services you sell more visible and accessible to the web users searching for them online. It encompasses a variety of different strategies, each with its own set of rules and best practices. In addition, the search landscape is constantly changing and evolving to better serve users trying to find information - which means marketing tactics aimed at boosting SEO must change and evolve as well. 

How can marketing professionals keep up with all of these changes and ensure their products and services are easily found online? The eMarketing Learning Center helped bring local business professionals current on search marketing best practices last week at SEM IV: The State of Search Engine marketing, an event that featured a panel of SEM experts who each presented on a different topic related to search. 

Speakers shared their knowledge, as well as their perspectives on how SEM has changed, how businesses are adapting to the recent updates, and where the future of search marketing is headed. 

Patrick DudaThe event featured Patrick Duda, Digital Marketing Strategist at Erie Insurance, who recently returned from visiting Google and had the opportunity to participate in SEM Leadership Forum where he was introduced to a wide range of new ideas and concepts SEM. Patrick shared what he learned and discussed a wide range of topics, including: 

  • The future of search at Google
  • Erie Insurance's SEM strategy
  • The importance of mobile
  • Google's Knowledge Graph

He also discussed the power of signals, retargeting, and a digital future in which connectivity is everything - a shift marketers must be able to adapt to. 

Other presentations included:

How We Recovered From Google's Linking Penalties, presented by Melissa Pangborn of Essentra Components. Melissa explained how a consultant’s black hat SEO tactics drastically affected her website’s search engine rankings after it was penalized by Google, and measures the company has taken to recover. Her advice to companies trying to recover from a Google penalty included consistently authoring quality content, using content hierarchy, reducing or eliminating advertisements, and removing low quality links to the website. 

Brian AmickKeeping Up With On-Page Optimization, presented by Brian Amick of Werkbot Studios. Brian discussed the ideal ways to organize and optimize your website to ensure it’s search engine friendly. Key takeaways included best practices for page titles, headers, meta descriptions, image alt tags, internal links, url format, social sharing and content. 

Google Shopping Campaigns, presented by Ryan Bardo of Myriad Core. Ryan explained how Google Shopping Campaigns work and how they can help increase a company’s visibility in the search engine results pages. He shared several helpful tips and tricks for managing successful shopping campaigns, including creating high-quality product feeds and keeping them updated, structuring shopping campaigns as you would a store, bidding based on your goals, and setting up conversion tracking to measure campaign performance. 

David HunterNew Developments in Local Search Visibility, presented by David Hunter of Epic Web Studios. David presented on “Google My Business,” a feature that helps increase a company’s visibility in the local search results. He discussed how search results of changed over the past several years and the shift towards spotlighting local businesses in search engine results. He also discussed Google's new "business view" and the updated look and feel of Google+ for businesses. 

Search Copywriting, presented by Katie Fish of the eMarketing Learning Center. Katie discussed best practices for creating search engine friendly content that appeals to a company’s target audience. She discussed the use of long-tailed keywords, hyperlink best practices, creating content that's usable, shareable and accessible, and how to generate content. She also discussed the best ways to format digital copy so that it's more likely to be read, including using bolded text, subheaders and short paragraphs.

Mining Data & Analytics, presented by Eric Brotherson, Erie Federal Credit Union. Eric explained how a business or organization can use Google Analytics to get intel on how web users are finding and interacting with the website. He explained how to define marketing goals and track trends, and shared tips for getting great results. Key takeaways included setting obtainable goals, sharing metrics frequently with team members, and reporting on trends monthly or quarterly. 

Attendees gave the event excellent reviews and thought the content delivered was “eye-opening, inspiring and informative.” They enjoyed the coverage of a variety of topics and knowledge level of the presenters. Not only is this event a great chance to learn about the current state of search marketing, it’s an opportunity for professionals to get actionable information they can take back to the office and implement immediately. 



Missed Ecommerce Day? Watch the Presenter Videos and Download the Powerpoint Presentations

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
If you missed 2014 Regional Ecommerce Day Forum last month, you missed out on tons of ecommerce tips, stories, and resources, as well as the chance to meet and network with nearly 80 ecommerce practitioners, experts, and attendees. Not to worry! We have speaker presentations available for download and video clips that highlight some great first-hand ecommerce experiences that can help you optimize the online channel and sell your products and services online. (We also wrote a blog post summarizing the event - be sure to check it out here.)

Presentations & Keynotes

Morning Session/Part I
The morning session included presentations from ecommerce practitioners who successfully sell their products and services online to consumers and to other businesses. They shared the various paths they chose to sell online, and ways they find, attract, and convert customers. Download the ecommerce practitioner presentations

Afternoon Session/Part II 
The afternoon session featured presentations from ecommerce experts who assist and advise companies interested in ecommerce. They understand it inside and out, and know which tools, resources, marketing strategies, and even legal considerations companies must be aware of when selling products and services online. Download the ecommerce expert presentations  

Video Clips 

Attendees were very interested in Tom Braeger's presentation "Fraud is Everywhere." It's a growing concern for ecommerce businesses, and Tom shared his own company's experience with fraud and how it's proactive in catching potential thieves before they're able to complete an order. In this video clip he discusses spoof domains. 

Ed Wieczorek, web developer at USNetting, presented "The Road to Bringing US Netting Back on Course" and talked about how he helped revamp, reorganize and improve the company's ecommerce site. In this video clip, he discusses how embracing change is the only way to make improvements. 

Andrew Rademacher, owner of Lems Shoes, presented "How We Grew 300% with Digital Marketing" and explained what types of growing pains his company has experienced as its sales have increased. This clip shares the unique story of how he started designing and selling his minimalist line of footwear. 

Patrick Fitzsimmons, owner of Luggagedesigners.com explained how he went from "Ecommerce to Brick and Mortar" and discovered there was a demand from customers to see, feel, touch and test out his luggage before purchasing. In this video clip, he talks about how he adapted his business to meet his customers' needs. 

Deb Ross, director of marketing at Signal-Tech presented "B2B Ecommerce" shared her experience selling a B2B niche product online, and in this video clip, talks about how all channels, including ecommerce, must work together to support the its business goals and drive sales.

Don Mueser, area sales manager for UPS discussed ecommerce and how it relates to shipping & logistics, fulfillment, and inventory management. His presentation, "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper - A Study of the Online Customer Experience," discussed the results of a recent study conducted in partnership with comScore.

Katie Fish, a digital marketing specialist with the eMLC, presented "Google PLAs and the Switch to Google Shopping Campaigns" and explained how PLAs work, what benefits they offer to companies selling products and services online, and in this video clip, discusses how the update Google Shopping Campaigns will change the structure of PLAs.

Attendees gave this event high marks. We asked Matt Cramer, web developer at Signal-Tech, to share with us three things he learned from the 2014 Ecommerce Day Forum and he explained what he thought the top takeaways were in this video clip. 


Stay updated and get info on upcoming digital marketing training sessions, workshops, special events, as well as special promotions and discounts. Sign up for our emails.


Ecommerce Day Forum Energizes Regional Businesses

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Nearly 80 ecommerce practitioners, experts, and attendees packed the Erie Technology Incubator last week for the Regional Ecommerce Day Forum. The event, which was first held last fall and received high marks from everyone who attended, is a gathering of business professionals who have a common goal: Implement, learn or improve ecommerce activities in order to reach more customers and increase sales.

Attendees heard brief but informative presentations from B2B and B2C ecommerce practitioners in a wide range of industries who successfully market and sell products and services online. They offered firsthand experiences and knowledge, advice, and actionable tips that attendees could use to help their own businesses. 

After all practitioner presentations concluded, speakers sat on a panel and took questions, which allowed attendees to ask pressing questions and pick their brains. Topics covered included B2B ecommerce, fraud, small- and home-based business ecommerce, and how to handle growth and expansion. Ecommerce practitioners included:


B2B Ecommerce Practitioners
  • Thomas Braeger, manager at Lake Erie Systems, presented "Fraud is Everywhere" and explained how companies can protect their ecommerce websites against various types of fraud and charge backs, and red flags to watch out for. 
  • Deborah Ross, director of marketing at Signal-Tech, discussed "Growing B2B Businesses Through the Online Channel" and how a manufacturer selling niche products can still use ecommerce to grow sales and reach new customers.
  • Ed Wieczorek, web developer at USNetting, talked about "The Road to Bringing US Netting Back on Course" and how he helped revamp and reorganize the company's website, as well as created a better user experience.
B2C Ecommerce Practitioners
  • Andrew Rademacher, owner of Lems Shoes, presented "How We Grew 300% with Digital Marketing" and explained to attendees what types of growing pains his company has experienced as sales increase, and what he did to ensure success.
  • Patrick Fitzsimmons, owner of Luggagedesigners.com explained how he went from "Ecommerce to Brick and Mortar" and discovered there was a demand from customers to see, feel, touch and test out his luggage before purchasing.
  • Lisa Anderson-Salvia, owner of Winking Lizard Pottery, presented "From the Kiln to Texas in a Week: A Small Business Solution to Selling Online" and discussed how even a small, home-based business can use ecommerce to reach customers across the country.

In addition to the ecommerce practitioners, attendees also heard from a panel of ecommerce experts and service providers who specialize in helping companies implement, manage or improve commerce activities. The diverse panel included technology experts, professional services experts, and marketing and promotion experts, and covered topics such as choosing the best ecommerce platform for your business, using social media to drive ecommerce and how to streamline the checkout process for better conversions. Ecommerce Day Forum experts included:

Technology Experts
  • Brian Amick, owner of Werkbot Studios, explained how to select the ecommerce platform that's best for your business during his presentation "The Top 10 Technical Considerations for Evaluating Ecommerce Platforms."
  • Pauline Kraus, owner of Tavistock Creative, explained how companies can benefit from the ecommerce solution "Adobe Business Catalyst Online Business Platform," and which features and benefits were most important.
Professional Services Experts – Business & Operations
  • Don Mueser, area sales manager for UPS discussed ecommerce and how it relates to shipping & logistics, fulfillment, and inventory management. His presentation, "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper - A Study of the Online Customer Experience," discussed the results of a recent study conducted in partnership with comScore.
  • John Persinger, at attorney with MacDonald Illig and a member of the firm's new "Emerging Technologies Practice Group" discussed privacy policies, terms and conditions, and more during "The Four Legal Issues Every Ecommerce Operator Should be Thinking About"
  • Linda Richardson, owner of All Clear Translations, presented "Five Key Points to Consider When Adding Languages to Your Ecommerce Site" and explained how some companies are missing out on sales from customers in other countries because they don't have additional languages available on their ecommerce sites.
Marketing & Promotion Experts
  • Jeff Biletnikoff, digital media manager at YourErie.com, discussed retargeting as a marketing strategy to increase reach during his presentation "How retargeting & remarketing using unstructured data can help any-sized company generate more leads and increase visibility."
  • Mike Smiley, vice president of PAPA Advertising, covered the importance of content marketing and how it can be used to drive online sales during his presentation, "Content, Connectivity & Convergence: A Shared Strategy to Propel Business Growth."
  • Katie Fish, a digital marketing specialist with the eMLC, presented "Google PLAs and the Switch to Google Shopping Campaigns" and explained how PLAs work, what benefits they offer to companies selling products and services online, and how the update Google Shopping Campaigns will change the structure of PLAs.
  • Joelyn Bush, a social media consultant with reCAP Mason Jars, explained how social media platforms like Pinterest are building new features and functions that better allow companies to market and sell products and services direct during her presentation "Selling Through Pinterest"
If you missed the Ecommerce Day Forum this time around, you'll have the opportunity to attend the Spring 2015 event. Sign up for our emails and get info on upcoming digital marketing training sessions, workshops, special events, as well as special promotions and discounts.

Online Video Marketing for B2B, B2C & Nonprofits: Why it Matters & Who’s Doing it Right

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Online video marketing is on the rise. B2B, B2C and nonprofit organizations alike are realizing the importance of using video to tell their brand’s story, demonstrate product capabilities, engage with consumers, and improve organic search engine rankings. In a recent report by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, statistics showed video saw the largest increase out of any content marketing tactic in 2012, increasing by 70 percent from 54 percent in 2011.

Online videos are a critical component of a well-rounded content marketing strategy. What exactly is content marketing? Simply put: it’s any relevant, useful information you provide your customers with that helps them solve problems or improves their lives in some way. From how-to blog posts, to product demonstration videos, to case studies that show your specific expertise in a real-world application, good content creates engagement and encourages your customers to share it with others.

Videos are one of the best ways to provide your customers with useful, relevant and timely information because they can be created quickly and inexpensively. Whether you’re offering knowledge about a particular topic or demonstrating how to create, do, organize, improve, or prepare something, videos impart information in a visual way, making their messages much more memorable than traditional forms of advertising.

In addition to appealing to your customers, online videos have a shareability factor that helps increase the reach of your message and improves brand awareness. The more useful and relevant the content is, the more likely your customers will be to share it with others.

Successful Video Marketing
While Corning’s “A Day of Glass” video has been hailed as one of the best B2B online videos ever made, NeverWet is a more recent example of a B2B company succeeding at online video marketing. A Lancaster, PA-based company, it manufactures a two-part spray that makes any material, including clothing, iPhones, and sneakers, resistant to liquids.

Its product demonstration on YouTube, which shows various liquids being poured over a wide range of different surfaces – including the CEO’s clothing – went viral last year and received more than 10 million views on YouTube. At just over five minutes, the video is longer than most product videos, but its content keeps the user interested and engaged. There’s also a one-minute version of the video with 5.8 million views.

Front Gate Bed is another example of successful video marketing. Its EZ Bed is an electric foldaway bed that features fast, simple set-up and teardown, while providing a comfortable air mattress. What better way to show its target audience how easy the bed actually is than with a video that demonstrates how effortless it is to use this bed?

More and more companies are beginning to understand that their customers have different preferences when it comes to browsing for and buying their products, and are harnessing the power of videos to improve conversions and drive product sales. A recent study by Invodo points out that about half of online consumers are more confident about purchase decisions if they’ve viewed a product video, and about two-thirds of consumers who watch online product videos multiple times convert to a sale.

Companies can take advantage of a wide range of video marketing strategies designed to create trust with consumers, demonstrate expertise, and boost sales. Some examples include:

  • Simple product videos, such as retailer ASOS’ “view runway” feature on each of its pieces of clothing. The snippet of video allows web users to see exactly what the item looks like when worn, and how it moves as the model walks in it.
  • How-to/instructional videos, such as the Home Depot’s instructional video “How to Replace or Install a Toilet,” which has more than one million views on its YouTube channel.
  • Demonstration of product features & benefits, like Blendtec’s “Will it Blend” video series. You might be familiar with the company, as they’ve been around since 2006 blending items that include an iPad, a garden hose, paintballs, a solar lamp, and a Twilight DVD to demonstrate the power of its blender.
  • Customer testimonial\product review videos help build trust and position your company as an expert in the industry. ShoeDazzle, an online company that provides its customers with shoes and accessories on a monthly basis that reflect their unique style, recently discovered the power of online video reviews. User-submitted reviews to the site and independent reviews posted on YouTube have increased traffic to its site, as well as boosted sales, with some of its most popular user-review videos garnering nearly 70,000 views.
  • Animation videos are an alternative to traditional online videos, like this one by Lucky Ant, a company that helps small businesses participate in local crowdfunding. Its video is under a minute, but explains exactly what the company does and how it can benefit its customers. For more on animation videos and how much they really cost, read this.

Not sure how to get started? Check out ReelSEO. It offers advice, how-to’s, tips and tricks, and information on a host of topics, including video industry news, video advertising, YouTube marketing, social video, video tools and software, and more.

Nonprofit Video Marketing
While not all nonprofits have a product to sell, video marketing is just as important to a nonprofit’s marketing strategy as it is for B2B and B2C companies. Whether your goal is to increase your donor base, fundraise, or grow your reach within your community, video marketing can help you tell your story and create an emotional connection with donors and constituents.

Video inspires more than just an emotional connection – it inspires action. Hope for Paws, a nonprofit based in California, rescues abused and abandoned dogs, pays for their medical care, rehabilitation and treatment, locates foster homes, and eventually finds a family to adopt the animal permanently. Eldad Hagar, co-founder of the organization, quickly discovered the power video had and successfully uses it to support and promote his cause, as well as garner donations.

Not only does he film the rescue of the dogs while he is in the process of rescuing them, he films the progression of the animals - from crate to medicated bath to surgery – showing viewers the dramatic improvement from the initial capture to the time when the dogs find forever homes. These emotional videos receive millions of views and thousands of shares across social media and the web, but more importantly, they help the nonprofit pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care for the animals they save.

If you’re looking for more video marketing information specific to nonprofits, check out YouTube’s
Nonprofits Playbook Guide, as well as “Internet Video Campaigns for Nonprofits.”


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