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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 03, 2012

Google Knows Best

Some sweat and cussing finally got Google’s Product Listing ads working after I grokked that I had to create an ad group without adding keywords or writing ads -- Google knows best, and I needn’t worry my homely little head over the details. I still don’t quite understand what triggers these ads, where they appear, or what they look like, but the campaign came roaring out of the chute with a click-through rate over 3% (six times the rate of my main AdWords campaign) on Monday. Twenty-three clicks only cost me $0.16 each and brought three sales for an astronomical 13% conversion rate (anything over 2% is pretty good). Sadly, it faded after that debut and I ended up with another lousy week. Traffic is running at 200 visitors a day, but nobody’s buying. I blame the competing demand of back-to-school shopping.

Because Product Listing ads are built from an exported file containing my whole inventory, I get (and pay for) hits from search phrases that I would never choose to buy, such as “beach towels under $5.” I had a few towels left over from my original product assortment, which I marked down to cost years ago. All of a sudden, they sold out last week. With no ad to turn off or keywords to deactivate, Product Listing continued to send me traffic for a nonexistent product. Whereas I only used to update my product feed once a month, I must now upload a new file almost daily as products sell out and reorders arrive.

I’ve been having fun (inasmuch as anything work-related is ever fun) watching the realtime reporting in Google Analytics – that’s how I figured out the “beach towels” thing. I feel like a voyeur. On average, only 2% of my visitors ever buy anything, but watching the other 98% come and go is fascinating. 

What’s weird is that virtually all of my sales come between midnight and 11 am. I have developed this superstition that if there are no sales waiting for me when I fire up my computer in the morning, I’ll go through the whole day with nothing. 


The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease: A credit card processing company pitched me an offer good enough to tempt me away from CDG Commerce. This proposal would have cut $40 per month from an expense category that’s consistently over budget. 

The pitch looked like this:

(Existing deal from CDG)

2.35% qual (debit, and qualified)
4.01% Non qual (rewards and non qualified)
$0.10 transaction
$10 maintenance fee
$0.25 capture fee
(Proposal from competitor)

1.89% Debit
1.99% Qualified
2.47% Mid Qualified
3.47% Non Qualified
$0.10 per transaction
$0 statement or monthly fees
$0.25 capture fee
Superficially, that's a clear winner. But when I started probing I found a $10 monthly gateway fee (my current gateway is free) and a $96 annual PCI compliance fee (I currently don’t pay one). Moreover, they changed the original four-tier rate offer to a slightly weaker three-tier structure (1.99, 2.35, and 3.37%) in the contract.

Because I loathe perturbing a system that’s working and because CDG has been decent enough, I asked them to make a counteroffer. They finally came back with rate reductions to 2.05 qualified and 3.15 non-qualified…and they removed the $0.25 daily batch fee. That saves me a little money without the hassle of jumping ship and ought to bring my processing costs back into line with my budget. Assuming, that is, that I can stay afloat until Christmas season begins in another month. 

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