Friday, September 14, 2012

Cross Pen Disappointment

I use a pen fairly frequently. In fact, I use a black pen, red pen and even a red pencil on a pretty regular basis. Several years ago I found a Cross Pen that had all three functions. It was a very slim pen that had all three functions and was nice to write with. I love it. I no longer have to have 3 different pens sitting around on my desk. My oldest son had the same problem so I bought him the same pen two years ago. As far as I know, he still uses his.

If you are a parent, you know about the ridiculous school supply list for kids. My 12 year old son needed 10 black pens, 10 red pens and 12 pencils. Apparently his teacher plans on having him write a whole lot. (If you saw his handwriting, you'd agree that he needs the practice! But that's another post) Needless to saw, I refused to buy so many pens. The school also requires a very expensive calculator. I figure if he can be trusted with an expensive calculator, he can be trusted with 1 pen. I hated carrying so many pens and he complained as well. Cross Tech3 Multifunction Pen to the rescue!!

I ordered both him and my daughter each one of the Cross Tech3 pens. Being the great dad I am, I ordered them direct from Cross and had them engraved. I should have bought them from Staples and saved a whole lot of coin! But sometimes you go overboard when it comes to your kids.

My daughters pink pen arrived and it was very nice. Nice and smooth and very solid. I hope she loves it. My sons pen arrived and the mechanism only turned one way and felt very flimsy. Not very solid and I certainly did not see the value compared to what I spent on it.

I immediately called the Cross Pen company customer service to see if I could exchange it and was greeted by a woman who firmly told me the pens were only supposed to rotate one way. I replied that 2 other pens rotated both ways and felt very solid. Her reply was they must have been older pens because the new ones only rotate one way.  (I guess my daughter got a new old pen. That's ok because the new pens suck.) I asked if I could return it for an old mechanism and was immediately told no. She then said that was how the new mechanism works and if I didn't like the pens, I can return them with the return label that was included in my box.

Apparently, I'm not the only unhappy customer because Cross included a return postage paid label in my package. The sad thing is, I could have been a happy customer if she would have kept her mouth shut.

Moral of the story: Cross Pens are no longer great pens. They must be buying cheap mechanisms.

Now I get to decide if I give my son a crappy pen and hope it works for him or should I return it. Why should I need to argue with the Cross Pen Company about expensive sub standard products?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Geo-Targeting Your Ads and Social Sites is Beneficial

It’s obvious that business owners are putting their business out there online using pay per click, but one thing some don’t take into consideration is how "geo-targeting" can help cut unnecessary costs in their online business. Geo-Targeting is is the method of determining the geolocation of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP or other criteria ( In many cases, businesses focus on their unique selling proposition, and which markets to target. However, the geographical location of you potential customers can play a big role in you sale numbers. For example, if you are selling surf boards you most likely will not need to target Midwest populations. This would lead to minimal revenue and cost that could be prevented. To ensure you are getting only the most relevant traffic, ask your pay per click account manager to target only the regions where a surf board ad would be relevant such as the East and West Coasts.

Not only is it important to have your ad targeting your ideal audience, it is important in the social media world as well. Social media sites are free and therefore can only benefit your business. Your business can run specials and informational posts that will appeal to those in that area, and may generate more sales for your business. Facebook is a must in the social media world. Not only is it a great way to get your specials and information on your business out there, it is a great way to build report around your area. When people "like" your page, their friends will see that and most likely want to see what your business is all about. This will potentially build your customer base. FourSquare is a great Geo-Targeting social media site. With FourSquare, users have to "check in" to the business they are at. It also allows you to tag specials within the "check in" screen giving you an opportunity to reach more people.

There are many ways and methods to Geo-Targeting out there. It is important to get your business the most relevant traffic possible to protect against unwanted costs and audiences. Many social networking sites are great for free Geo-Targeting tools that will reach potential customers. When placing an ad in a search engine, make sure that you are hitting those areas that will benefit your business. It may be all over the world, to just the United States or its regions. You can work with your account manager to ensure that your ad is generating the most relevant traffic.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Developer Tip from Michael Roebuck

I was invited to speak at last year's Yahoo! Merchant Summit in California. During the show, several Yahoo Developers were asked to provide a 30 second "Top Tip" video for merchants. My tip focused on an easy to find and locate "Add To Cart" image. What good is having a great website if your customers can't figure out how to buy your product!!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Online Reviews are Affecting Local Businesses

For business owners, a bad review in a newspaper can be detrimental to their morale and business. With social media being on the forefront, business owners must now worry more about online reviews.

Many people are starting to communalize together via the internet through social networking and blogging. Instead of an upset customer going home and writing to their local news papers open forum, now that unhappy customer is reaching thousands upon thousands of people a day on internet review sites. Online reviews are becoming a powerful tool in the way customers decide to shop and this can make or break a business.

In a way, although bad website reviews can be a black cloud over your business, take the reviews and learn from them; apply changes that can ensure that the next customer will not have those same issues. Not all customers’ complaints will be accurate or justified, but there will be some that are. Reading the comments customers have to say about your business is almost as good as having a one-on-one conversation with them. In fact, it may be a bit better because of the anonymity of the comments; people are more apt to be honest and forth coming.

Reviews can also be a window into how your business is being run by employees when you are not there to monitor and supervise them. You may think you have hired Grade A employees, and find out in a review that they were anything but.

With all the negative talk about website reviews, let’s talk about the positives. Along with being able to fix flaws and manage morale, you can also see the positive in your business. You can find out what customers really think of your products, and maybe even find out one of their favorite products that you sell. By doing this, you can get an idea of what demographics you are hitting with your products.

If you feel that the reviews are overwhelming, invite a blogger in for a casual interview. This can give readers an inside look at your business, and what you are passionate about. It will touch potential customers as well as ones who maybe did not have a good experience the first time around. It can also give you a chance to define your business, and talk about improvements you have made since the last bad review.

All in all, with the way the consumer world is moving, it is important to know you always have someone watching. Customers are being more critical and reaching out to others on a broader scale. Being in a business means you must take the bad with the good. And while you can not satisfy every customer that walks into your door, you should know that they will be reviewing your business online.


Monday, February 20, 2012

February 2012 Yahoo! Feature Release Information

Early this week, enhancements to Yahoo! new Site Search beta, Catalog Manager, and Customer Registration features are planned to be released. The release work is planned from 7:30 p.m. PT on February 21 until 6:30 a.m. PT on February 22. As with all releases, the time and date is subject to change without notice pending quality assurance best practices. Additional information follows about the specific enhancements and changes in this release.

New Site Search Beta and Catalog Manager Features
In late 2011, Yahoo! released the new Site Search beta, which included features designed for better merchandising on your search results page and an improved search experience. This week's release adds more features designed to achieve this, and makes some improvements to the search functionality. Upon release, you will be able to:

  • Specify items to appear first in search results when a search term matches an item. For example, if you wish to show matching items with higher margins, this new option can help you do this.*
  • Enable a "quick look" view on the search results page for item results.
  • Specify categories to show in the search bar category drop-down list.
  • Make brand name letter casing consistent for all brands displayed in the brand filter.
  • Search by UPC.
  • Choose whether or not to show Customer Registration and Floating Cart links on the search results page. This option is for custom templates only.
  • Enable the new Site Search beta for stores built using Web Hosting tools.
*Note: A new "promoted" attribute has been added to Catalog Manager as part of the option to specify items to appear first in search results. Instructions for how to add this attribute will be available in the new Site Search online help section upon release.

Going forward, the new Site Search will be enabled by default in all new Yahoo! Merchant Solutions accounts.

Facebook ID for Customer Registration
Registration and authentication options for our Customer Registration system are expanding. This release adds Facebook as a provider ID shoppers can use to register and authenticate with your store. Instructions for enabling this option will be available in the Customer Registration help section upon release.

Additional Changes
In addition to the changes outlined above, several minor fixes were completed in this release. These fixes include the ability to add "Keywords" as a custom attribute in catalog manager tables and the ability to search by an option attribute in catalog manager advanced search.

Important Release Information
Once the release work is complete, your Publish Order Settings link may become active. Please note that an Order Settings publish is not required following this release. If you are using the Database Inventory feature, you will need to change your "Quantity Can Exceed Availability" settings to "Yes" for the release period. For more details about the release work, please check your Store Manager or the System Status page.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Coupon Codes and Gift Certificates

Please note Yahoo has recently fixed a bug that was allowing people to use site wide coupon codes to buy gift certificates at that discount. Many of you were using this bug as a feature. Please note coupon codes will no longer be allowed to purchase gift certificates at a discount. There is not a way around it.

For example, you will no longer be able to receive 10% off a $100 Gift Certificate by using coupon code xyz.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retail Price Matching

I'm sure you've gone into a brick and mortar store and tried to have that store match the price of a website. They probably refused.

Quite a few big box retailers have decided not to price match websites. In fact, some stores including Wal-Mart won't even price match items found on or their own company website! And now the hot news topic is about some retail stores that are charging a "fitting fee." This is a fee charged to consumers to try on clothes. The fee is refunded if items are bought. Apparently, stores are getting fed up with consumers trying on clothes and then buying them online.

Is this a good policy? After all, E-Commerce is here to stay and a very valid rival for consumer dollars. No policy is going to change that. By having a blanket online price exception, you are strongly reinforcing the message that E-Commerce sites offer better deals. And you are then robbing yourself of the opportunity to fight that perception.

You can argue that websites have lower overhead and therefore can charge less. This may be true. But to not even price match against your own corporate website! That is wrong on so many levels. A customer is in your store with one hand on an item and the other on his wallet and the retailer decides not to do business with them. Probably because the sale can't be tracked back to the website and given proper credit. Some marketing guru with a Masters Degree determined that one!

Perhaps big box retailers forget that no-one has any money nowadays. Perhaps they don't care. Perhaps they didn't have dads continually beat into them that if a customer is willing to part with his or her hard earned money, take it any way you can and thank them very much.

My guess is that is making lots of money by the mere stupidity of others. And as long as companies refuse to merge channels and work in the best interest of the consumer, Amazon will make more!

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Social Sharing Now Available In Your Yahoo! Store

Yahoo! recently announced the availability of Social Media Sharing. The Social Media Sharing feature lets you add "Share on Twitter" and Facebook "Like" options to your store's product pages, which can encourage your customers to spread the word about your products to their social media networks. This boost to your marketing efforts can help you reach a wider audience, which in turn can help to generate more quality traffic for your store.

The Social Media Sharing feature is currently supported for Editor 3.0 templates, and can be enabled from the Store Editor Variables page (requires adding CSS), or by running the Design Wizard (NOT recommended for existing custom designed stores). If you're using custom templates, this feature can be enabled by inserting a new RTML operator into your store templates and adding CSS. The CSS styles can be downloaded from our Social Media Sharing CSS reference page.

To learn more about the Social Media Sharing feature, contact us!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yahoo! Customer Manager Updates

Yahoo! has just announced the availability of the Customer Manager. When Customer Registration was released in mid-August, you were able to offer your customers the ability to register with your store, and to enjoy a more streamlined checkout process. Customer Registration is in use today by nearly 2,000 merchants with over 100,000 registered users. Until now, you haven't been able to view your registered customer data in one place.

With Customer Manager, you now have unique visibility into your registered customer data. With quick access to order history, average order value, total order value, last login date and more, Customer Manager brings new marketing segmentation capability to your business.

To view the Customer Manager, log into your store and you'll see the "Customer Manager" link directly under the "Orders" link in the "Process" column.

Read the help file here: Yahoo! Customer Manager


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Google Sucks All the Way to the Bank! (My Version)

Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings and a popular SEO Consultant published an article titled, "Google Sucks All the Way to the Bank!" I highly recommend you read the full article and subscribe to her newsletter if not already.

The article basically calls out Google for the decline in search result relevancy. It seems she is frustrated with seeing fluffy informational pages show up in the SERP's instead of retail commercial websites. She blames money as the tipping point stating PPC (where Google generates its revenue) is retail and traditional SEO (free) is fluffy information pages.

Isn't that what Google wants? Of course it's about the money. I agree with Jill that search results suck but I think they suck across the board. I don't have a solution either.

I've been a long believer that content should not be king in all instances. By telling clients to add content, you are telling them to create crap. Not just any crap, but unique crap that hasn't been created yet. How many different ways can you write about a retail product? I really only care about reading features and model numbers. I then go to Amazon to read the reviews. Anything over that is fluffy junk that some person had to write to fill space. Anything extra rarely has any meaningful purpose. Any extra fluffy content should be in the "About Us" section or other areas of the website.

And before you come back and say the content should be how to use the product, and what benefits it will give you, I tell you most of that content is junk as well. It was written to satisfy Google's requirement for content and therefore it was created for Google. NOT the customer.

Don't get me wrong, there are products out there that could benefit from explicit content. And I know that when 50 different websites are selling the same products there has to be differentiation. But I do believe there has to be a better way. It just hasn't been invented or implemented yet. Which means we will continue to see fluffy content pages rise to the top of the results.

Is this really part of Google's plan to make more money by forcing retailers to use PPC? Will organic SEO be replaced entirely by paid results? I'll have to consult my crystal ball and get back with you.

One thing is for sure; As long as Google rules the world, we must play by their rules.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Michael Roebuck speaking at Yahoo! Merchant Summit and attending Developer Summit

Yahoo! is hosting another Merchant Summit for its merchants on September 13-14 in California. Michael Roebuck, President of All Web Promotion (A Yahoo! Small Business Developer Partner), will be participating in a panel discussion on Practical SEO and SEM. The session will discuss practical tools in hand to help you improve and monitor your search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) results today. Learn real-life tips to improve your ad performance and site conversion rates. Presentation will include LIVE SEO site reviews. (Michael Roebuck is rumored to be talking specifically about PPC growth techniques such as A/B testing, keyword research and a Search Query Report.)

Later on, Michael will be hosting his own Round Table Speed Review Session. Get personalized feedback on how you can improve your site - for free. You’ll have a few minutes with a range of developer partners who will each share their opinions on steps you can take to improve your site. There's never been a quicker or more cost effective way to get individualized website feedback! Be sure to sign up to see Michael or any of the other Developer Partners.

Also, everyone is welcome to stop by the All Web Promotion table. We'll have design books showing various website and social marketing designs as well as information on our email capabilities.

Following the Merchant Summit, more All Web Promotion designers will appear for an exclusive two-day Yahoo! Developer Summit. This will consist of two days of Developer Training. Several of the All Web design team will be in attendance and receiving advanced training on the many Yahoo features we customize. From Account Registration to Website Analytics. In addition to general updates and information sessions, the designers will be taking an advanced programming course and Michael will be taking an advanced analytics course. By working and training with Yahoo, we can continue to improve our services, learn about the latest offerings and bring this back where we create the best websites possible.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Interview with Michael Roebuck about the importance of on-site customer reviews

Michael Roebuck, General Manager of All Web Promotion, talks about the importance of on-site customer reviews during an interview at Internet Retailer 2010.

Click to hear Interview with Michael Roebuck

Clicking link will open new browser window and start playing MP3 file. Entire interview is 7:49 minutes.

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iPhone 4 Email Push Fix

I love my new iPhone 4 but it keeps pushing email to the phone even though I have everything turned off and to manual. After speaking with numerous Apple service representatives, and trying everything from network resets to reinstalling email, I finally found a senior level rep named Tom who was extremely helpful. Thanks, Tom! No-one was able to provide a solution, but Tom listened, tried, and actually called me back a few times. Here is my scenario:

iPhone Image

My iPhone has several email accounts including Gmail, Yahoo! Business Email and Mobile Me Email. I want the Mobile Me email to push to the phone immediately. This is my "emergency" email address. The other accounts are various work and social accounts that I only want to check when convenient for me. My problem was that the iPhone was pushing email from all accounts regularly. My phone was constantly vibrating or beeping to let me know I had new email. This was not going to work!!

It was actually talking with fellow employee Karl that we solved the problem. He was having the same issue. Here is what you do: Turn off Email Multi-Tasking. Yes, friends. You heard it here first and I can only hope Apple will release a future update that gives me the option to select which applications I want to use Multi-Tasking for.

Apparently with Multi-Tasking, even though you closed out of email, it was still active and therefore checking email. This may be a problem with other applications as well and may be cause for battery drain or other issues. Time will tell.

So how do you turn off Multi-Tasking? Easy. Double tap or click the "Home Button" located at the bottom center of your phone. (It's the round button with the white square on it) After double tapping, you'll see the icons of all the running applications. Find the email icon and put your finger over it. In a second or two it will wiggle and show a red circle with a line through it. Touch the red circle and it closes email from multi-tasking. Pretty easy, huh? Hard to believe several hours of support phone time (most of which was on hold) and this was the solution.

iPhone Multi-task image

It's still quirky as you have to remember to close out of email every time or the phone will continue to check. But like I said, hopefully Apple will release a fix to give us the ability to select which applications to allow multi-tasking.

You heard it here first! Hope this helps.

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AllWebEmail Among the First to Adopt eec’s New Email Marketing Standards

AllWebEmail made the news recently regarding it's standardization of terms and definitions that are used in measuring email marketing reporting as introduced by the Email Experience Council of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA/eec). This standardization will help provide consistent email metrics throughout the industry.

Read the full article here.

AllWebEmail, a division of All Web Promotion, Inc., is a leading email marketing service provider helping businesses for over 10 years to use email to effectively communicate with their customers. The company is managed by Peter Roebuck with help from partner, and brother, Michael Roebuck and has offices located in Oglesby, Illinois and Point of Rocks, Maryland.

AllWebEmail is an active member of the Email Experience Council (eec), an advocate for defining email standards and best practices, and has partnered with Return Path, Inc., a leading email deliverability authority.

For more information on AllWebEmail, their services, and role they play within the email marketing industry, please call 877-932-7766, or visit

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Michael Roebuck of All Web Promotion will be speaking at Yahoo! Merchant Summit

Yahoo! is hosting a Merchant Summit for its merchants on June 11 in Chicago immediately following the Internet Retailer Conference. Michael Roebuck, President of All Web Promotion (A Yahoo! Small Business Developer Partner), will be participating in a panel discussion on Practical SEO and SEM. The session will discuss practical tools in hand to help you improve and monitor your search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) results today. Learn real-life tips to improve your ad performance and site conversion rates. Presentation will include LIVE SEO site reviews. (Michael Roebuck is rumored to be talking specifically about Yahoo! Store Manager Features that can be used to help identify keywords as well as track performance.)

Later on in the day, Michael will be hosting his own Round Table Speed Review Session. Get personalized feedback on how you can improve your site - for free. You’ll have a few minutes with a range of developer partners who will each share their opinions on steps you can take to improve your site. There's never been a quicker or more cost effective way to get individualized website feedback! Be sure to sign up to see Michael or any of the other Developer Partners.

Also, everyone is welcome to stop by the All Web Promotion table. We'll have design books showing various website and social marketing designs as well as information on our email capabilities.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Click the link to visit Yahoo! Merchant Summit

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