I'm noticing more and more retailers on Twitter these days, and I expect this trend to continue through 2009. So I thought I would share some tips and tools for ecommerce Twitter marketers.
Sync Your Blog or RSS Feed to Twitter
Twitterfeed and Hootsuite (formerly Brightkit) allow you to very easily Tweet anything you publish by RSS including contests, new products, product-back in stock, news, deals-of-the-day and new blog posts.
(No that's not a typo. It says Anti Monkey Butt Powder).
For example, Musician's Friend could tweet its Stupid Deal of the Day by Twitter every day automatically by signing up once with Twitterfeed or Hootsuite. Unfortunately, twitter.com/musiciansfriend has already been brand-jacked by someone, so they'll have to get creative with its Twitter Name. (As of today, it could scoop up twitter.com/stupiddeal or /stupiddod (deal of day) -- hurry Musician's Friend!)
This also brings up another tip - register a Twitter account for your brands today even if you're not using Twitter to avoid such a problem down the road.
There's no limit to how many RSS feeds you can tweet. You can even tweet others' feeds if you want (for example, if you sell a certain city's sports team merchandise, you could sync with updates from the team's home page or game recaps from the news.
There 2 major advantages of Hootsuite (winner of this year's Shorty Award for best App) over Twitterfeed:
- You can manage multiple Twitter accounts through one interface with Hootsuite and schedule tweets in advance. So you can have dedicated deal-of-day account, new products and customer service accounts and manage them without logging in and logging out. Plus, you can stagger your deals of day in advance - set it and forget it.
- If you're tweeting out links (your calls-to-action) you want to measure if people care. Hootsuite will show you stats on how many people click on links you tweet:
Hootsuite shortens your links using its own ow.ly service, so you will only get stats for ow.ly links, but they will track if your tweet gets re-tweeted by other Twitter users so you can see the full impact of your seeded (or Tweeded) links, even if they're clicked through social media aggregators like Friend Feed.
If you're not using Hootsuite, you can still track how often your Twitter links get clicked in Google Analytics (or the analytics tool of your choice). But, it's complicated. Here's why:
1. Since most URLs get shortened to ow.ly, is.gd, bit.ly or one of the many shortening services, all traffic that came from Twitter might not show up under the Twitter referral source. And, sometimes your Twitter links end up in FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook or MyBlogLog aggregators:
2. You can see which Twitter profiles referred the most traffic to you by clicking "Twitter" in your Referral Source list to see detail. It should look something like this:
The problem is "Home" referrals. They include any user who clicks on a link from their Twitter feed rather than another user's profile. Not perfect tracking, but interesting nonetheless.
3. Google Analytics doesn't show you which individual tweets are most popular. (I chatted with Hootsuite and there may be a way down the road to import Hootsuite stats into your analytics program, but not yet). There IS a workaround if you must track everything in your analytics package (sales conversion and ROI, for example) which is to tag your links with campaign parameters before shortening and sending them out.
Tracking With Campaign Parameters
Create a URL like:
And paste it into a URL shortening tool like this (Hootsuite will create an ow.ly link for you):
The short link will redirect to a copy of the landing page, registering as an entry page that will appear in your analytics reports (in Google this appears under Site Traffic / Referral Source).
Hat tip to the Epik One Analytics Blog on this one.
Unfortunately this will only track links you generate, not organic tweets about you by other Twitter users. And if you use automatic RSS tweeting, this won't work because the link will shorten without parameters.
I hope you all are using at least the free Google Alerts service to notify you when your name, brands, important products and other trademarks are being mentioned online, if not a more sophisticated tool like Trackur for your general reputation management.
But Google Alerts isn't good at reporting what the Twitterverse is saying about you. I used to enjoy a tool called Tweetbeep which would send alerts to my inbox for whatever keywords I wanted to track. Unfortunately it's been down for a long time now. Fingers crossed that it rises like the phoenix or something emerges to take its place.
Alternatively you can subscribe via RSS to individual searches using Twitter's search engine.
What I preferred about Tweetbeep was it would report all your tracked keywords in one daily beep, rather than signing up to each search's feed.
TwtQpon is a free coupon generator specifically for Twitter. You can create a coupon with a description (max 140 characters, of course), coupon code, URL (landing page), photo and optional expiration date. Here's an example:
You can also promote your deals through CheapTweet which is like Digg for tweeted online deals.
Check out the guidelines for how to get your deals included.
Curious how popular your brand is compared to your closest competition? You can quickly create a bar chart at Tweetvolume:
Or, how popular are various brands or keywords of products you carry on your own site:
Keep in mind that retailers that tweet themselves will naturally be higher, as will retailers with affiliates who use Twitter as a channel to broadcast deals and coupon codes.
Bonus: No Turn on Red has built a Twitter-aggregator for some of the largest retail presences on Twitter that updates itself every 30 minutes so we can get a *bird's* eye view of how they are communicating (deals, links, customer service, random thoughts etc) for inspiration.