It's currently early February 2007 and another mild but busy
winter to date. After finalizing this past year's taxes it has
finally happened...we broke even for our road art festival expenses.
In 2003 we were at a 5 to 1 ratio, 2004 at 4 to 1 and 3 to 1 for
2005. So, finally for the year 2006 we were at about a 1 to 1
ratio of expenses to sales...about time. But, our in-house expenditures
were also elevated to produce the increase in sales. So, now that
we are ramped up to the new business offerings our production
expenses for this year should be back to normal and sales on the
increase with the new offerings.
All of our new offerings of graphic art reproductions are currently
online, with new ones being created monthly as the urge or request
dictates. We have also had success with our recently implemented
online order system allowing customers the convenience of e-commerce
shopping. But, the only orders have been direct e-mail contact
and not search engine query orders. Not one single online order
has come from our free Google Froogle listings or from any other
search result. Google Froogle has also recently changed their
listing requirements to include a more expanded listing of item
attributes or object details. We are still working on the listing
and have until the end of February to update our listing. But,
over the summer art festival months it was gleaned that most customers
had never heard of Google Froogle...now that is a problem. Also,
we have found out that our search definitions within Google no
longer bring up our website keywords and hence product listings
in Froogle. Our product listings are now a drop in the ocean in
Google, which has about 70% - 80% of the search market. Our search
definition in Yahoo still bring us in on the first page, but they
only have about 10% of the market. We also had to change our search
engine submission company and lost six months of hierarchy, albeit
it really didn't matter in the end...no sales.
Upon reflection of our situation of only being able to market
to the places we visit on the road, because of the nonexistent
metrics of sales from search engines, it was decided to begin
an advertising campaign with the new art prints. We looked at
Google AdWords a few years ago but were not confident in our return
on investment due to the lack of festival sales on the road at
the time. But now that our new products are selling very well
it's time to research the cost again.
We are now researching the cost of Google AdWords and the highly
important use of keywords for targeting of customers...and it's
not as easy as it looks or sounds or acts. It's a little complex
at determining and developing an advertising campaign, at least
one that will work over time, and that is exactly what it will
take...time, research and metrics.
Also, the research of keywords online has brought the stark reality
that our website pages utilize incorrect keywords to target customers...and
this has led to the following statements for the 2007 season :
New website slogan : It's not what you think how people will
search, it's how they actually search . . .
New advertising slogan : Give them what they want, but didn't
know they were looking for . . .
...got lots of work to do.
Mid March 2007 update has put a hold on our AdWord campaign as
soon it was learned that the position placement of the ad is directly
associated with the page rank of target page and therefore cost
of the ad. The lower the page rank of the target page, the higher
the cost of ad placement. Since our reformatted site, along with
file renaming clarification, has yet to be indexed on the major
search engines, it would be fiscally wise to wait until such time
as being indexed. Of course they also have to choke on and terminate
all the 404 status files that no longer exist as well as index
the current file structure and art print images.
We are also utilizing the Google Webmaster Tools account to research
site indexing and manually publish our website sitemap.xml.gz
updates. It would appear that Google is a little slow at updating
the index; they have hundreds of 404 files that have been crawled
and hundreds of new files crawled with little update to the indexing
file. Also, reformatting the website pages for proper titles and
keywords, updating the Frameset page noframes content and reviewing
and updating through enrichment the page content. Also utilizing
the W3 Markup Validation Service for website page code validation.
We had to add the DOCTYPE of Frameset and Transitional to reduce
page errors, but stopped short of correcting the few page style
errors that should be handled with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
We will leave that update for another day.
Until then, we have researched and listed our Art Reproductions
on selected major shopping websites: Yahoo Shopping, Shopzilla
and Shopping. Others were researched, but they either didn't list
their rate cards, termination guarantee was costly, site wanted
a monthly fee for listing or we had never heard of them. For the
selected sites Yahoo was the easiest and most efficient to establish
products online with, although we had to modify our Company Contact
Information page on our site. Shopzilla had problems uploading
images for all of the product descriptions which were listed within
a couple days of product feed; one week later and they still have
only listed eighty percent of the product images. Shopping site
account broke once it had trouble re-mapping the product feed
to the proper subset of Wall Art. Technical assistance, five days
later, got all of the products listed properly, but now the account
shows no products listed; one week later and technical assistance
has been aware of the issue and is trying to resolve it. Our listings
are a cost-per-click (CPC) listing with the minimum cost of $0.15
for Shopping and $0.30 for Yahoo and Shopzilla. All of the listings
appear high in search page rank, which could be for new listings,
but it's a good sign on position. On a final note, Yahoo has included
dual listings for the sports art prints, Shopping offers larger
view options and the Shopzilla product images are a little small
which lends itself to clicking for a better view. We'll see how
the basic cost return works out as well as research for optimization
on the accounts.
As it has been learned; a Shopzilla account gets you listed on
the shopping sites of Bizrate, Shopping AOL and Shop Lycos, a
Shopping account gets you listed on the shopping sites of Dealtime
and mySimon, with site reviews on Epinions. These listings also
include the search site shopping widget at partner sites which
could eventually be several hundred other sites.
Update April: we terminated our account, within one month, with
the Shopzilla network of shopping sites. The quantity of clicks
generated by the network were ten fold greater than Shopping and
Yahoo shopping networks, which have as many unique visitors per
month as did Shopzilla. The main problem with the Shopzilla listing
is the size of the product image. They ask for an optimized image
size of 200x200 pixels which they reduce to less than 100x100
pixels in size. Most of the Wall Art images listed are too small
to appreciate the product and hence get what I call the curiosity
click. The other networks have larger, discernible images and
in some cases a larger view option. Also reviewed the shopping
comparison site of Jellyfish, which utilizes the cost per sale
concept of product listings. After the research it was determined
to be the wrong type of venue for the art prints to be listed.
Update May: Google announced an update to its homepage to incorporate
a Universal Search page where by all search criteria will be available
on one page. How this will effect its Product (Froogle) and image
search and Adwords is yet to be determined, so we will wait on
the Adword campaign. Plan to look at the Yahoo Sponsored search
by the end of June since they offer to open the account with 100
dollars. Have a few designs that need to be done by the Buffalo
show before the female lacrosse players get a hold of me for only
having one male lacrosse design. Also, in the process of dropping
the state of Ohio from the show listing, the expense of the distance
far out ways the possible return on sales.
Update November: Art festival shows have come to an end for the
year. Early indications from the spreadsheet is that sales more
than paid for the cost of attending the festivals. An excellent
year...to date. The Art Reproduction pages on the website have
been updated to show the art in its various colors available instead
of listing the colors on a drop down menu. Customer feedback,
or should I say confusion, warranted the modifications. The Art
Reproductions are also now available in the 20x27 format following
a morning of figuring it out and a note from one of the shows
that some patrons had suggested it. But, it was also for producing
silkscreen photopositives with the the newly ordered Epson Piezo
Pro Clear Film using the ultrachrome pigment ink of the Epson
4800. Going to see if the cost of obtaining photopositives for
the lined masking layer of the silkscreen can be produced in-house
for about $5 instead of $25 to $150 per sheet. Also followed through
with an idea from a few years ago and ordered 11x17 sheets of
Inkpress Transparency Film that apparently works well with ultrachrome
ink. Trying to design a new product line of Art Reproductions
in 3-D in between following up with all of the design requests
from the art festivals. Got a lot of e-mail to send....
The Google Adword campaign was launched near the end of October.
It has required a lot of time to initially monitor all 18 campaigns
of sports art and gifts, but it has slowly normalized. Within
one week there had been 1.5 million impressions for the ads, but
alas no sales and a scary capped budget. Fine tuning has brought
the content network impressions way back since it was determined
that the impressions and clicks for sites like MySpace were possibly
more curiosity clicks than a sale. The negative keywords are also
currently up around 150 to 200, and increasing as required. Utilizing
tools through our ISP service, clicks are monitored to establish
metrics on the landing pages and to determine whose IP came to
visit and from where to make possible alterations to the Adword
account. The clicks are not lacking at this point...just the sales,
or the quality of the click. So, it's just like being at an art
festival, not all people who visit purchase. But, if sales do
pickup it sure beats the expense of having to drive to Chicago...tis
the season also.
December update has the Google Adword campaign completely shutdown
for both the content network and gift keyword ads. The only remaining
ad campaigns being utilized are for the art associated keywords.
We had great click through rates (CTR) for the campaigns, but
the sales return was only twenty five percent of the cost of running
the ads. We are looking at updating our Dreamweaver website software
to CS3 and getting rid of the website frame structure and window
re-sizing. This will will give us better landing page rank for
the cost per click (CPC) and a higher ranking on the search networks
with all of the content appearing on the source page. This would
update our site to the latest cascading style sheet (CSS) design
criteria and allow for certain page redesigns and overall site
experience...a very large effort...again.
The new silkscreen process utilizing the film on the Epson 4800
printer for the line masking layer was a complete success. Future
exposure times need to be extended to compensate for the slight
opacity of the film. Process photos were also taken to add to
the website showing the screen alignment process. Delivery to
the customer also went well as they placed an order for two more
silkscreen designs for this spring.
We had a few problems with a couple of framed art shipments arriving
with damaged glass over the past couple of months. The packaging
for the smaller framed art has been increased and modified to
include the stiff foam insulation. The cost of shipping and handling
in turn has increased and therefore the website shipping costs
have also increased across the board for all sizes by five dollars.
The unframed art reproductions that ship USPS have increased one
dollar due to an actual cost increase. Photos of the shipping
insulation will also be added to the website. We were also informed
that our credit card account now accepts the Discover Card as
payment at the same rates, so the website was updated to include
this payment option. These shipping and credit card changes required
modification to our customized MerchantPAL code. All went well
since an order was properly processed the following day.
It's been real
We'll have to do it again real soon.
Talk at ya.