Weekly Reading Picks| Volume 15

Bob’s Weekly Reading Picks

2019.4.21 volume 15


1.Your 3 Step Guide to Building a Marketing Plan That Works
2.14 Steps To Grow Your Affiliate Program
3.Best Open Source and Free Ecommerce Platforms for 2019
4.We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned
5.20 Awesome Sources of Free Data
6.What’s Working in Affiliate Marketing in 2019 by STM Forum
7.Amazon’s E-Commerce Adventure in China Proved Too Much of a Jungle

1.Your 3 Step Guide to Building a Marketing Plan That Works

marketing word cloud

Creating a System for Success

The goal is to create a system that answers two questions for every new marketing channel you’re trying out:

  1. Am I making progress?
  2. What can I do to improve?


Your objective remains the same: Make sales.
First, you’re going to take your best shot at a specific marketing channel.
Second, you’re going to measure the results.
Then, based on those results you’ll make tweaks to your initial attempt and make it a little bit better.

Stage 1: Build 

e.g. Facebook Advertising Campaign 

  • Objective
  • Landing Page
  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Ad Formats
  • Content
  • Images
Stage 2: Measure

Google Analytics

You don’t need to look at every report in there. Here is which metrics are worth paying attention to:

  • Users (in the Audience report)
  • Traffic sources (Acquisition report)
  • Bounce rate, time on site and pages/session (in the Audience report)
  • Transactions and revenue (in the Conversions report)
Stage 3: Learn
Facebook Ads Optimization

#1.Tweak Your Audience and Offer

A couple of ideas to improve this step:

  • Create ads that are targeted at your ideal customer (better text, images, etc.)
  • Select a different audience: Try a new combination of demographics, interests, etc.
  • Change your offer: Pitch your store, one of your products, a lifestyle or highly relevant content.

#2.Add in Different Types of Campaigns

1. Custom Audiences

2. Lookalike Audiences

A couple of ideas to improve this step:

  • Create different audiences and measure the response for each group.
  • Adapt your ads to make them more effective. If people have already visited your site, how could you bring them back? Showcase your best offer, give them a discount, etc.

#3.Optimize for ROI

Focus your attention on the campaigns that are profitable and ditch the ones that aren’t very effective.

A couple of ideas to improve this step:

  • Pay very close attention to the relevancy score of your ads. A higher score will lower the cost per click (and conversion).
  • Continue testing your ads and audiences.
  • Can you bring in more “cold” traffic to convert with your other campaigns?

2.14 Steps To Grow Your Affiliate Program

  • Audit of creative (text links and banners)
  • Identify the top 10 performers
  • Identify affiliates that had over 100 clicks last month
  • Identify affiliates with abnormally high conversation rates,
  • Check EPC (earning per click)
  • Check GA or internal reporting
  • Recruitment plan
  • Commission increase campaigns for placements with coupon affiliates or increased cash back with loyalty affiliates
  • Exclusive offers
  • Incentive campaigns
  • Budget for paid placements – sometimes affiliates will only give additional exposure (homepage, newsletters/emails, category, social posts) for flat fee placements.
  • Product for bloggers
  • Make sure datafeed is currently working.
  • TM+ campaign

3.Best Open Source and Free Ecommerce Platforms for 2019

  • WooCommerce (On WordPress)
  •  X-Cart
  • Zen Cart
  • Magento Open Source
  • OpenCart
  • PrestaShop
  • osCommerce
  • JigoShop
  • Drupal Commerce
  • WP eCommerce
  • Ubercart
  • Wix
  • Square
  • Big Cartel
  • Jimdo
  • Ecwid

4.We Analyzed 12 Million Outreach Emails. Here’s What We Learned

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. The vast majority of outreach messages are ignored. Only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response.

2. Outreach emails with long subject lines have a 24.6% higher average response rate compared to those with short subject lines.

3. Follow-ups appear to significantly improve response rates. Emailing the same contact multiple times leads to 2x more responses.

4. Reaching out to multiple contacts can also lead to more success. The response rate of messages sent to several contacts is 93% higher than messages sent to a single person.

5. Personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5%. Therefore, personalizing subject lines appears to have a large impact on outreach campaign results.

6. Personalizing outreach email body content also seems to be an effective way to increase response rates. Emails with personalized message bodies have a 32.7% better response rate than those that don’t personalize their messages.

7. Wednesday is the “best” day to send outreach emails. Saturday is the worst. However, we didn’t find an especially large difference in response rates between different days that messages were sent.

8. Linking to social profiles in email signatures may result in better response rates. Twitter was correlated with an 8.2% increase, LinkedIn an 11.5% increase, and Instagram a 23.4% increase.

9. The most successful outreach campaigns reach out to multiple contacts multiple times. Email sequences with multiple attempts and multiple contacts boost response rates by 160%.

10. Certain types of outreach get higher response rates than others. Outreach messages related to guest posting, roundups and links have an especially high response rate.

5.20 Awesome Sources of Free Data

  1. Google Dataset Search
  2. Google Trends
  3. U.S. Census Bureau (population, the economy, and geography.)
  4. EU Open Data Portal (geography, finance, statistics, election results, legal acts…)
  5. Data.gov U.S.
  6. Data.gov UK
  7. Health Data
  8. The World Factbook
  9. Altmetric (top 100 most mentioned articles)
  10. Open Corporates  (The largest open database of companies )
  11. National Center for Environmental Information
  12. Data Sets SubReddit
  13. Kaggle Data Sets
  14. Earth Data by NASA
  15. Pew Internet (sociological data)
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (health topics)
  17. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  18. Five Thirty Eight (data on politics, sports, science and health, economics, and culture.)
  19. Group Lens
  20. GitHub’s BuzzFeed News

6.What’s Working in Affiliate Marketing in 2019 by STM Forum

When it comes to traffic types, no candidates have been nominated for imminent extinction. But there are some that are declining and they’re mostly the older ad formats. One would be the already-mentioned POP format, followed by standard display ads (banners), which are slowly losing ground to the newer and more user-friendly Native ad formats.

Although it’s not like these will be gone anytime soon, the decline has begun. This is partially caused by regulations (such as the Better Ads Initiative from Google). Another cause is changing user habits, for example, the continuing shift from desktop to mobile formats.

Gaming: software downloads——client gaming—— app/browser gaming.
Sweepstakes: carrier billing——email or CC submits.
Nutra: trials—— straight sale
it’s still the same vertical, just a different approach

The most frequently mentioned
offer verticals:
Nutra, Dating, Casino/Gambling/Betting, Sweepstakes, E-commerce, Finance/Loans, Education/Courses, and Leadgen of all kinds.

traffic types: Except for POPs and traditional banners, which are on
slight decline, the rest seem to be either running stable or trending up.

7.Amazon’s E-Commerce Adventure in China Proved Too Much of a Jungle

When Amazon first entered China in 2004 with the purchase of Joyo.com, it was the largest online vendor for books, music and video there. Most Chinese consumers were using cash-on-delivery as their top form of payment.

Today, Amazon China chiefly caters to customers looking for imported international goods such as cosmetics and milk powder and is a minuscule player in the booming Chinese e-commerce market.

In 2003, eBay Inc. paid $150 million to buy EachNet, which was China’s top e-commerce site at the time. It later invested an additional $100 million. It struggled to keep up with Alibaba’s rival Taobao service, hobbled in part by a foreign management team that underestimated the competition and a payment system that was difficult for Chinese consumers to use. In 2006, eBay sold its China operations to internet company TOM Online .

Walmart Inc. also struggled to run an independent e-commerce business in China. It sold its e-commerce business to JD.com Inc. in 2016 rather than trying to crack the market on its own.

Groupon Inc. entered China in 2011 by setting by up a joint venture with Tencent Holdings Ltd. Within 18 months, it merged with another Chinese daily-deal site also backed by Tencent.

Single-brand e-commerce companies such as Zara SA, Nike Inc. and Estée Lauder Cos. have been more successful than multibrand competitors in China,

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